Friday, March 16, 2018

My Review of Gotham's 4x14: "Reunion"

Written by Peter Blake
Directed by Annabelle K. Frost

Ivy: "You always did think you were better than me."
Selina: "That's not true, I was your friend. We were friends, Ivy. You said so yourself."
Ivy: "That was a long time ago. I'm a different person now."

If ever there was a thing that Gotham has consistently gotten right in terms of comics, it would be that somewhat complicated dynamic that both Catwoman and Poison Ivy have shared with one another. We've seen them both as friends and as enemies and in simultaneous books at the same time, a bit of both.

With this arc, we've seen that come to fruition here. Selina had been keen on actually helping Ivy to begin with but when the latter decided to go down the genocidal path, that was a line Selina wasn't willing to cross. In some ways, it makes sense that Ivy's final confrontation wasn't with Bruce or Gordon but instead one of the few people who has been kinder to her than most in her short enough life.

I'm glad this episode didn't end with Ivy either killed off or getting a spell in Arkham or somewhere else but instead, we got a rather complex confrontation with herself and Selina as the latter ensured that Ivy wouldn't be able to use the remaining Lazarus water for any more plant based experiments. I liked the mulling over of their friendship and how it served as a means for the pair of them not to kill the other. Given that the title for the season finale has also been spoiled online, I'm also hoping that we're not going to have too long until Ivy shows up again.

As for Ivy's general plan, it's interesting that she went after Bullock to avenge her father's death before leaving him to take out Gordon so she could cause her own havoc at a Wayne Enterprises event, even if she failed on both accounts. Credit to the show though for this Ivy arc and making her a compelling antagonistic while at the same time not also abandoning other storylines this week. Peyton List did make a considerable improvement with her performance this week.

Ivy wasn't the only dangerous female character to cause chaos this week. Leslie's attempts of getting Sofia onside resulted in her hand being smashed and getting quickly dethroned from the Narrows as Sofia got her own revenge on her sister in law. However while Sofia might be enjoying her shot of victory now, it seems that with Gordon on the warpath and a team up between Oswald and Edward, things are going to get very bad for her sooner than later.

The Ed plot this week saw himself being deceived into helping Oswald while trying not to kill Leslie but seeing the pair reunite certainly made for a good use of Oswald's screen time but this wasn't the only reunion as both Gordon and Bullock and Bruce and Alfred patched up their differences as well with some choice moments shared between all the characters in their scenes together.

- I noticed that Ivy's hair was a lot redder this week. Would you say auburn or scarlet though? I think the former perhaps. Ivy even wore a bit more green this week as well, including nail polish.
- Liked the shout out to both Essen and Barnes this week. I'm still surprised the latter hasn't resurfaced though there's still eight episodes left for him to do so.
- No Butch/Grundy, Tabitha, Barbara, Jerome or Ras this week.
- Chronology: Not long from where A Beautiful Darkness left off.

Reunion certain delivered in it's one to one scenes - Selina/Ivy, Gordon/Bulock. Leslie/Sofia, Bruce/Alfred and Oswald/Edward while providing a decent enough (and I hope temporary) exit for Ivy at the same time. I guess with this arc out of the way, it's time for a prison break and Sofia's downfall to look forward to.

Rating: 8 out of 10

My Review of The Assassination Of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story - Creator/Destroyer

Written by Tom Rob Smith & Maggie Cohn
Directed by Matt Bomer

Modesto: "You're not upset because I stole, you're upset because I stopped."

So for the penultimate episode of this series, it's case of Mommy knows best and Daddy is quite literally the worst for both Gianni and Andrew but mostly the latter's past was emphasised as Gianni's brief scenes as a child in Milan discovering his love for fashion and gaining his mother support generated the least amount of focus in favour of Andrew once again.

I know it's been the main focus of the season - the Andrew side of things but I was really hoping that with the title for this one, there would've been something of an even focus on both him and Gianni but I digress. On one hand, there's some terrific acting in this episode like there has been all season long but on the other hand, this was an episode that needed a trim.

I'm not sure we needed to see so much detail on Andrew and his family leaving Manila and coming to America as well as the focus on his father, Modesto and the role he played in Andrew's sense of entitlement. That said, a genuinely riveting performance from Jon Jon Briones as Modesto certainly did help the episode along though.

It was easy to see why Andrew went from fearing and idolising his manipulative father to loathing him when he realised that Modesto's stealing didn't leave to much in the way of actually saving money, considering how quickly Modesto had abandoned his family when he was caught out in the end.

It was also this realisation about his father that somewhat sent Andrew down on his own path of lying as well, given the whoppers he told the pharmacy manager at the end when applying for a job at Thriftys. Now that we've gotten Andrew's fairly elongated backstory out of the way, next week can actually focus on the aftermath of his most famous and final of kills and conclude the series.

- Good guest actors with both Edouard Holdener and Billy Cruz playing younger versions of both Cunanan and Versace this week.
- Again no Gianni, Donatella and Antonio in current day scenes but there's always the finale for that.
- Matt Bomer directed this episode, so it's nice to see he's still involved in the Ryan Murphy TV universe while this is the only episode co-written as well.
- Chronology: Both 1957 Milan for Gianni and 1980 and 1987 in Manila and the US for Andrew and his family alone.

Creator/Destroyer felt like a filler episode at times with too much focus on Andrew and not a desired split between both him and Gianni when it comes to origin stories. It's not a bad episode as such with some great guest performances but it certainly could've done with a shorter running time in order to convey the same message. Hopefully the finale will give the series a good conclusion.

Rating: 6 out of 10

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

My Review of Legends Of Tomorrow's 3x14: "Amazing Grace"

Written by Matthew Maala & Tyron B. Carter
Directed by David Geddes

Elvis (to the ghosts): "Come on in. All are welcome here."

Well, this was another fabulous episode. Having the King himself appear, bringing in the final totem and the death of a rat all made for one hell of a great episode. This is what I've consistently grown to love about this show. All these strange ingredients that shouldn't work but ultimately do but where do I start?

I guess the obvious place is to talk about the King himself - Elvis Presley. Guest star Luke Bilyk might not entirely look like the infamous rock and roller but I think he did a fantastic job in the role that Nate's fanboying while a tiny bit much actually worked a treat even if you had Amaya's gentle scepticism to counter the former's overt enthusiasm.

I did like that Amaya had her own connection with Elvis when he was talking about his own twin brother, Jesse (who we briefly saw as a ghost here) and his comments about objects connecting to the deceased clearly resonated with her. It was also perfect considering that the final totem was actually in Elvis's guitar as well.

Having Death be the final totem actually makes a lot of sense and this episode we saw it cause chaos by raising the dead before Elvis sang them back to existence. Also if the trailer for next week hadn't given things away, then I think we all could've guessed that Sara will end up being the one who'll have to wield that particular totem fairly soon to deal with Mallus.

As for the rat part of the episode - alas, poor Axel. I had forgotten about the little guy, so having him die here came as a bit of a shock. I love that Ray actually organised a funeral for Axel and that Mick and Sara attended it too with the former being genuinely mournful for losing another friend. Plots like this shouldn't work so well but on this show even a funeral for a rodent seems to provide some of the best moments for our main characters.

Keeping with great moments, I am loving Wally's addition to this show. This was basically his first episode as a team member and they already found a way for him to use his speedster powers and actually take the slow path in order to solve a problem (reasoning with Elvis's uncle). Anyone who was worried the guy was going to be shortchanged on this show really shouldn't be if this episode is anything to go by. Plus, his budding friendship with Zari is pretty fun to watch as well.

- I liked the music store owner talking to Elvis about Robert Johnson at the beginning of this one. Now that's another future episode possibility in the making.
- Zari feigning ignorance over Ray's chore chart was funny. Constantine also got a shout out here, which nicely sets up his return next week.
- No Ava, Gary, Rip, Damien, Nora or Kuasa this week. I was genuinely surprised that Damien and Nora alone didn't pop up to snatch the death totem.
- Chronology: 1950 Memphis for most of this episode.

Amazing Grace definitely pushed the lines of cheesiness even for this show and there were times when it really could've been too much but I think they did well getting the right heartfelt moments and pushing the main storyline along. I also think there's no doubt that Nate and Amaya will definitely be going back to Zambezi together at some point too.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Monday, March 12, 2018

My Review of How To Get Away With Murder's 4x14: "The Day Before He Died"

Written by Joe Fazzio
Directed by Scott Printz

Laurel: "Tell me who killed Wes?"

Um, we had the answer for that question last season but it seems that we're getting it again with Sandrine also (and not surprisingly considering the last few weeks) had some role in Wes's death when she called Jorge who then got Dominic to deal with Wes. Dramatically, the scenes played out well but it didn't leave quite the impact it was hoping for.

Probably because as I pointed out the whole thing was telegraphed from the last couple of weeks and also here during the flashbacks to Wes and Sandrine interacting with each other as the latter tried to pay Wes off so he'd dump Laurel, only for him to refuse and eh, the rest is kind of history at this point.

I did like the scenes with both Laurel and Sandrine when the latter was confronted by her daughter and those mischievous phone records but it was oddly the weakest point of an episode that fortunately had a few more things going in it's favour.

First of all, Bonnie managed to figure out that Denver stole the hard drive and has been playing the Keating 4 and Jorge against one another. Unfortunately the episode then ended with a car crash so it seems that perhaps the show has killed Bonnie off for good. Except knowing this show, it'll probably turn out to be someone else who was killed but either, it doesn't look too promising for Bonnie.

Not that Denver was the only problem for the Keating 4 this week. Simon was wake and the gang went from contemplating putting a pillow over his head to having Oliver marry him for a green card, which shows there's no in between for this lot at times. Thankfully Annalise had a slightly better (but still risky) plan with forcing Simon into agreeing into being a whistle blower. I have to admit, I actually felt sorry for Simon here.

As for the rest of the episode, I'm glad that we got some lovely scenes with Annalise and Frank and her and Isaac as well with the latter taking responsibility for his recent relapse. I'm also glad that Asher found out about Michaela and Marcus and that the show seems to be addressing her own issues with what she wants as well. Whether or not those two get back together, I'm not sure if it should happen even though I do like the pairing.

- Sandrine's comments on Laurel's need to fix men actually did tie in nicely to that argument she had with Wes before he died. Good one, show.
- I liked Michaela and Tegan's conversation in the bathroom. When this whole Denver/Jorge storyline is done, maybe she could be a future ally to Annalise.
- Wes's little shower moment was clearly a nod to a classic Dallas storyline, except Wes is still death.
- Chronology: Not long from the previous episode left off. Also eight months since Wes's death.

The Day Before He Died isn't the strongest penultimate episode we've had but it's definitely got enough going for it to be engaging though. I will be happy though to see the back of Laurel's family after next week's finale and let the ghost of Wes rest properly next season as well.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Saturday, March 10, 2018

My Review of Gotham's 4x13: "A Beautiful Darkness"

Written by Tze Chun
Directed by John Stephens

Ivy (to Gordon): "First I was a seed, then a sprout and now I've bloomed."

Last week gave us something of a taster of Ivy 3.0 in action and this week went full bloom with her being the main antagonist and let's just say, if you're a fan of the traditional version of the character, this episode might appeal to you a lot.

Peyton List could still do with emoting a little better but so far, she's doing a pretty decent job as Ivy opened the episode by paying poor Wayne Enterprises employee Roland a house call and murdering him in front of his family and a horrified Selina, who quickly turned on her and was forced to team up with Gordon in order to stop Ivy from causing more havoc this week.

Of course, Gordon wasn't really that effective against Ivy. Before he got to her, she had already the GCPD into her super fans, kidnapped Lucious in order to take Project M, paid Bruce a visit to poison him and oh, also came up with a way to amplify her already impressive powers. How the show plans to defeat next week should be very interesting to be honest.

I quite liked seeing Gordon and Selina working together against Ivy and I also liked the latter addressing her not very pleasant history surrounding her parents and Gordon during her face off with Jim as well. I also liked Lucious getting a bit more screen time, even if he was Ivy's love slave for most of his appearance this week. As for the Project M being Lazarus water, well, this along with a certain nightmare sequence will ensure that Ras will be back very soon as well.

Getting into the nightmare sequence - I guess we should thank Ivy for poisoning Bruce. Aside from the fact that it's clearly snapped him out of his bratty phase that was wearing thin, there's also the fact that when he wasn't seeing both Jim and Oswald in future looks along with Selina, Barbara, Bullock, Leslie and Alfred in other roles (as well as Ras slicing his face off), he also got a glimpse of his own future. I know the trailer already spoiled it but seeing those bats was still a surprise moment nonetheless.

Away from the Ivy and Bruce storylines this week, Oswald was having a rather rotten time in Arkham with Jerome going out of his way to make him his pet project and Edward being a bit too happy to gloat while also asking for help in his own way. I'm not surprised that Jerome is playing a long game of his own while having his own way in Arkham but I also think whether Oswald likes it or not, he's probably going to end up needing Jerome's help for his own escape plan too.

As for Sofia, she's enjoying the queen of the underworld role a bit too much and right now, she's got no threats to worry about. Oswald's locked away for the present, the Sirens are on her payroll and she has Gordon where she wants him over the Pyg situation. Not to mention the fact that Leslie is also being pulled into her orbit, which can't be good for either of them.

- Oswald in the clown costume and the mime act with Jerome. I'm not even going to question how things are let slide in Arkham.
- Why the heck was Bullock holding onto a rooster in Bruce's fantasy sequence? Actually come to think of it, why was Leslie dressed as Cleopatra too?
- No Tabitha or Butch/Grundy this week.
- Chronology: Six weeks since the events of Queen Takes Knight.

A Beautiful Darkness did a great job in setting up Bruce's future and while the Oswald/Jerome and Sofia subplots worked rather well, this was definitely Ivy's moment to shine and cause mayhem and she did it with aplomb. I am hoping that when her arc ends in the next episode, it won't be too long before she sprouts up again.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Thursday, March 08, 2018

My Review of The Assassination Of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story - Ascent

Written by Tom Rob Smith
Directed by Gwyneth Horder-Payton

Andrew: "If they could see me now."
Norman: "Who?"
Andrew: "Everyone."

Credit given where it's due, this episode felt slightly more like an even split between Andrew and Gianni with both of them getting nearly equal amount of screen time, instead of the focus being predominantly on Andrew as it has been for the majority of the season.

Delving into the Versace aspect of things first, we saw him in Milan running his business and also arguing with Donatella on what would actually sell, fashion wise with Antonio trying to be a neutral party with the conflicting siblings for the most part.

It was nice to see both Edgar Ramirez and Penelope Cruz properly play off each other this week and I think they did a great job in the scenes where they designed that rather risque dress, only to later fall out over it when Gianni's ear cancer storyline also came to a head in this episode as well, forcing Donatella to take over the company while her brother recovered in Miami. Giving the siblings the focus they needed was something of a nice change for this episode.

Of course seeing as this series has mainly been about Andrew more than his famous and final victim, the focus also went back to his disdain at working at Thrifty and his mother buying cheap ice cream, so he decided to do a little escorting on the side, only to be told by a madame that he wasn't what they were looking for.

Giving that Andrew's biggest issue is people saying no to him, it wasn't too much of a surprise that he decided to go independent on the escorting front and with this plotline we saw him meeting and seducing Norman Blachford and Lincoln Aston (Todd Waring), the latter whom also had grown weary of being used by Andrew before he was murdered by another man.

I have to admit I was actually shocked to see a grisly murder in this episode that didn't actually involve Andrew (even if he did tell Bond to run after killing Lincoln) but the latter's violent streak did come out when he attacked his mother though and next week, it seems we're getting more from that destructive relationship as well.

- Jeff made another appearance here as did David, given that we finally got to see his first meeting with Andrew. The latter then stole his story in order to charm Norman into moving into Lincoln's house after his death.
- The episode mostly got things right - Donatella's dress, Gianni's ear cancer, the extent of Andrew and Lincoln's relationship and the latter's murder.
- The escort scene however and the ex-wife bits were somewhat exaggerated regarding Andrew.
- Chronology: 1992 for most of this episode.

A bit stronger than last week's episode, I did like that Ascent was a bit more balanced between the screen time allotted to both Andrew and Gianni this week. I also appreciated more on Gianni/Donatella this week and that bit with David Madson was still a nice highlight but it is a good thing that we're heading into the final hurtle with the series now.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

My Review of Legends Of Tomorrow's 3x13: "No Country For Old Dads"

Written by Keto Shimizu & James Eagan
Directed by Viet Nguyen

Damien: "I'm so going to kick my ass."

There's something rather reassuring in the knowledge that even Damien Darhk can find himself rather hard to deal with as this episode decided to treat us to two versions of the guy and play daddy/daughter mission with himself and Nora. With Ray as their occasionally cheerful and rather useful hostage. Hell we even got a scene where Ray told Damien how to tie him up before he got himself gagged and left to get himself out of his bind.

I have to admit there was something rather amusing about seeing Damien and Nora talking about dating apps and the latter giving her father hell for underestimating her at times. Even though the character has arguably been overused by now, I genuinely found myself actually enjoying Damien this week, especially when he was determined to fight his younger self in order to save Nora, who needed a moment of selflessness in order to activate Amaya's totem.

For the majority of the episode though we had Ray and Nora forced into an alliance in order to get a scientist to hand over the secret to cold fusion for Damien's maniacal plans to work and taking out the obvious fact that Brandon Routh and Courtney Ford are married in real life, the two of them worked well together. Ray's charming self even rubbed off on Nora, much to Damien's chagrin but it wouldn't be the first time though.

Even though Damien is basically a dictator in waiting, I did like that the episode explored his genuine concern for Nora and that he expressed some regret in using her as a vehicle for Mallus. Of course the moment he does something delightfully mundane for Nora as to bring her a hot chocolate, that was the same moment when Mallus decided to take an even bigger grip on Nora.

I have been wondering in the last few weeks if we're going to get some form of redemption for Nora and Kuasa and this episode seemed to push the idea a little further. With Ray seeing the potential good in Nora and confiding in Nate about it, we also had Amaya and Zari meeting one of the former's ancestors who also hinted at Kuasa also being a future ally as well, even if she seemed more than keen to torture Ray at the start of the episode.

As for the rest of the episode, Wally finally joined Team Legends and despite some tension with other members (he really put his foot in it with Amaya), Sara seemed more than happy to have him on board while Ava got a promotion following Grodd making an appearance to kill Bennett off screen. However thanks to Rip being his usual secretive self, we now know there's something up with Ava and considering the title of an upcoming episode, I think I know what it is.

- That Upswipe company Ray worked for at the start of the season made a reappearance. I did laugh at Damien swiping past Cupid too.
- Wally proved himself by swiping the fire totem that Damien was trying to get repaired this week as well.
- Don't worry, Ava, I have yet to see Hamilton too. I feel your pain.
- Chronology: 1960s Berlin for most of the episode.

No Country For Old Dads was certainly the most Damien/Nora heavy episode going but it was also rather entertaining to boot. A good episode for Ray as well and a good way to add Wally into the team. Yeah, I think I rather liked this one.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Monday, March 05, 2018

My Review of How To Get Away With Murder's 4x13: "Lahey V. Commonwealth Of Pennsylvania" (& Scandal's 7x12: "Allow Me To Reintroduce Myself")

Written by Morenike Balogun & Sarah L. Thompson
Directed by Zetna Fuentes

Olivia: "If you lose this case, it will set criminal justice reform back decades."
Annalise: "You don't think I don't know that?"
Olivia: "Then think about accepting some help. That's all I'm suggesting."

Okay, on a scale of things that were always inevitable at ABC, a crossover special with Olivia Pope and Annalise Keating happening was always going to happen. I think the fact that it took until Scandal's final season and How To Get Away With Murder being truly established perhaps was the best time to do this.

With the former show, I haven't been watching as avidly as I had done in previous seasons but I made an effort to watch both episodes and it seems that Mellie Grant is President and both her and Olivia had a rather public falling out that saw the latter resigned from being the President's fixer while Olivia's former Gladiators (Quinn mainly) seem a little too hell bent on sabotaging her, only for them to have a bit of a change of heart towards the end of the first half of this story.

The nuts and bolts of the first half involves both Annalise and Michaela coming to Washington DC in order to get Olivia on board to help overturn the Supreme Court with the face cases surrounding Nate's father. It would've been a little predictable for Annalise and Olivia to clash and that's exactly what happened throughout the crossover in various parts.

To be honest, I liked that there was some tension with the two of them. Aside from it being a great way for each of them to deconstruct the other before realising they actually work pretty well together. To say both Viola Davis and Kerry Washington play off each other brilliantly would be underselling but damn it, they do and every Annalise and Olivia scene is marvelous to watch over and over again.

As for the face cases itself, there were a few predictable bumps along the way, which was good for putting both Michaela and Marcus to use and we had both Olivia helping an initially crumbling Annalise along with the latter delivering an impassioned speech that certainly helped to postpone things for a bit. While the face cases was the thing to engineer this crossover, there were plenty of other things to keep things ticking along rather nicely.

For Olivia, there was an element of using her team up with Annalise to curry herself some favour and rebuild herself which several characters seemed more than happy to point out while Annalise also had to deal with her ailing mother appearing on the scene, news about Isaac taking an overdose and the episode ending with Simon waking up, which was definitely not the news that Annalise was expecting to hear at the last minute.

- Liza Weil was previously Amanda on Scandal, so it's a bit disappointing that Bonnie didn't get to interact with Olivia.
- Michaela and Marcus had sex with each other and Connor/Laurel/Oliver realised it quickly. I'm also glad that Frank told Laurel about her mother's connection to Wes though.
- Pretty clever of ABC to get an actual re-enactment of the TGIT promo with Olivia and Annalise actually having some wine and popcorn in one scene.
- Chronology: Not long since Ask Him About Stella.

Crossover wise, both Allow Me To Reintroduce Myself and Lahey V. Commonwealth Of Pennsylvania did an excellent job of having both Olivia Pope and Annalise Keating's worlds come together in a rather solid way. I don't know if we need a repeat of this next season but I certainly wouldn't object to one either way though.

Rating: 8 out of 10