Hey Dead-heads, it’s Ryne from The Moon is a Dead World. It’s getting pretty crazy this time of year, with lots of horror TV additions. This week we add American Horror Story: Freak Show to the cast. I’ll be covering that, Resurrection, and Sleepy Hollow for now. Kevin‘s taking The Strain, and Stalker. Shawn’s got Supernatural, Gotham, and Z Nation.
Resurrection: “Echoes” – Sunday, October 5 at 9 PM
Agent Bellamy found out he actually died last week on the premiere of Resurrection, and while that didn’t exactly have a profound effect, it did at least add a bit more to the stagnating premise of the show. There’s only so much returning one can take before it becomes annoying, and I feel like Resurrection has nearly hit that point.
The reason for that is simple: any time the show feels like it’s flagging, it can introduce a new character to make things interesting again. It feels like a cop-out, something that the show did last episode; bringing Fred and Henry’s mother Margaret back from the dead forces a lot of emotional tension, and in “Echoes,” it sets up new, “dark” elements that can come to the surface.
The show’s method is less pronounced in this episode, however, and it’s a better-paced hour. For one, “Echoes” does get to the heart of Henry’s frustrations in life; Margaret, wanting to see the Langston Furniture Co. factory, is devastated to learn that it’s become an eyesore after Henry sold it off. There’s drama here, and part of that comes from the tragedy of Henry’s life. Even so, Margaret has other needs for the factory besides reminiscing over it, and Resurrection finally seems to present a new complexity in its mythology of returning people.
There’s a new returned this time around, but unlike the others that have come back, this guy’s sick. He seems to be choking on smoke, and since a fire was the cause of his death, it’s kind of disturbing to the rest of the living that some people might come back suffering. While “Echoes” doesn’t cover much about this guy, it sets up a premise about potentially ill returned people that sets the stage for future episodes, especially considering Bellamy’s involvement with a government invested in the happenings.
Jacob experiences his own odd occurrence – dead birds begin to fall from the sky, and he picks them up and puts them in a shoebox. The significance of this event is lost, and really Jacob doesn’t get a lot of screentime at all this episode, but again, these are all pieces that Resurrection can put together over the course of this season.
“Echoes” is a much better episode than what we’ve seen so far from Resurrection, and it’s nice to see that it’s settling into a groove after a rocky start. Although the subject matter of the series is still questionable, the movement toward a darker tone is welcome.
The Strain: “The Master” – Sunday, October 5 at 10 PM
This week’s new episode of ‘The Strain’ marks the thirteenth episode in the first season and the series as a whole and is also the Season One Finale. The episode is titled ‘The Master’. The episode begins with Gus awakening in an empty room, tied to a chair. Then we see the vampire enter that previously took him and that has also been helping humans in addition to eliminating other vampires (or Strigoi) throughout the season. While Gus assumes he is merely going to kill him, the vampire instead cuts Gus’ restraints and explains that he would not bring him this far underground merely to feed on him. While Gus is still understandably hesitant to trust the creature, his actions speak to the truth of what he says and he leaves Gus free and unharmed, asking that he follow him; we are also treated to one more scene with Gus and the vampire towards the end of the episode and while I won’t give away any big spoilers for those who still haven’t yet watched the finale, I will say it brings something I’ve been waiting for from the books into the fold; something that also really brings things to a new level.
The episode focuses for the most part on our heroes as they begin to plan and implement a second attack on The Master in order to hopefully end this whole mess for good; taking what they already know into account in order to make certain that they stand the best chance at success possible. With the others having convinced Eph that it’s not safe to leave Zach alone with his mother now turned and therefore surely trying to seek him out, Eph and Setrakian provide Zach with a silver forged sword of his own to use, Eph reluctantly agreeing to bring him along on the attack. With the whole team together, they make their way again into the realm of The Master yet again in one final attempt to take him out for good, resulting in a pretty badass battle.
I must say that with the first season now wrapped, I still absolutely love this show. As a huge fan of the books (yes, I know I’ve said that three hundred and twenty seven times now) I don’t think I could be more pleased. It was quite refreshing to see them take some painful and heartbreaking (as well as downright disturbing) elements from the novel and not veer away, instead tackling them head on and staying true to the novels. The first season pretty sufficiently wrapped up the first book which makes me think their plan to keep the show to five seasons (one season dedicated to each of the first two books and three to the third if I remember correctly) is still well on track and if the subsequent seasons keep things going the way they currently are (which I’m guessing they quite likely will) I’m pretty thrilled to continue seeing this fantastic book series come to life at last and can’t wait until next season.
For those unaware, ‘The Strain’ has been renewed for a second season by FX and will be returning next summer mostly likely. I’ll of course be back here covering the second season as well for DEADtime and hope to see the rest of you continue to join us then, as well as for the bundle of fall show’s we’ll be covering in the meantime!
Gotham: “The Balloonman” – Monday, October 6 at 8 PM
I know most of you are up-to-date on Gotham by this point, but I just now finished The Balloonman episode, and I have to say that I am still enjoying this show. It has some areas in which it could improve, but that’s what the latter half of the season is for, right? On top of Cobblepot being back in the city, just plotting his reign, the city now has a vigilante known as The Balloonman. He has been taking out some of Gotham’s trash by connecting them to a stolen weather balloon, and launching them in the air. The group spend most of the episode, running down leads, trying to take the vigilante down before he kills again. Meanwhile, Gotham’s upper-class scumbags are still operating as usual. Not a lot of activity on that front this time around, things are in-motion, and will come to fruition soon, but for this episode, it serves as mostly background.
It’s pretty clear at this point that a big part of Gotham is going to be Penguin. I know he’s one of the most memorable Batman foes, but it seems weird for his character to be the focus so early into the story. That being said, he is definitely the best thing about this show. Robin Lord Taylor does such a good job with his role that I can’t imagine anyone else playing it after this show. Granted, he hasn’t actually become Penguin, yet. He’s still just Oswald Cobblepot, but it’s already clear that his villain is going to be epic. With all of the bad guys on this show, for Cobblepot to be as interesting as he is can’t just be a coincidence. I like where his story is going, and I like to see Gordon and Bullock beating the streets of Gotham as the core focus of every episode. This is a pulpy-noir crime show, with elements of DC Comics favorite characters peppered throughout, and I think that’s what I was wanting from the show in the fist place.
The Balloonman wasn’t all that interested, but it sets the precedent for future vigilantes in Gotham, which, I mean, Batman, ya know? It’s interesting to see the concept being birthed, instead of going into Gotham with it already established. The Balloonman was fed up with the corrupt system, and opted to take the law into his own hands, and eliminate some of Gotham’s more prolific offenders. While his heart was in the right place, the show stops to visit with young Bruce Wayne, who makes a quick comment that by killing people, The Balloonman made himself as bad of a thing as the bad guys that he targeted. As we all know, for the most part, Batman doesn’t kill people. He kicks their ass, sure, but instead of enacting final justice, he leaves them for the actual cops to deal with. It’s interesting to see this code being born. The show has remained interesting so far, and I will definitely be continuing to watch/cover.
Sleepy Hollow: “Root of All Evil” – Monday, October 6 at 9 PM
Sleepy Hollow finally gets to take a breather from all of its running around dealing with Horsemen of the Apocalypse in “Root of All Evil,” though it’s not really much of a break considering the work Ichabod Crane and Abbie Mills have to put in this week. Most importantly, though, they get to team up with a new recurring character played by Matt Barr named Nick Hawley.
This week, there’s no immediate emergency with Katrina. Instead, Abbie and Ichabod find that Henry has put special coins into circulation that cause the holder to act on their dark sides – the thoughts that they have that they probably wouldn’t think about following through on are brought to the surface, and the holder can’t do anything but think about the vengeance they want. The coins were originally from Judas, and there are supposedly thirty out there passing from person to person.
At first, the coins fall into the hands of a banker who wants to take the money that she sees pass through her hands every day; then a man makes an explosive to get back at his father. Ichabod knows something’s up, and that’s how Nick gets pulled in: he’s sort of a black market trader specializing in things like illicit coins, someone who Abbie’s sister Jenny has dealt with in the past, and his knowledge comes in handy for Ichabod.
There’s a few revelations in the episode to keep the pacing. It turns out Benedict Arnold came into possession of a coin before becoming a traitor, reinterpreting history and his character. And it’s also revealed that the new sheriff in town put Abbie’s mother into the psych ward, prompting both Abbie and Jenny to wonder why.
Like most of Sleepy Hollow‘s episodes, there’s a camaraderie shared by Ichabod and Abbie, but Nick fits well in that space. There wasn’t anything lacking, but introducing a new character could bring up some issues between Ichabod and Abbie – namely trust, which is a big part of Ichabod’s speech at the end of “Root of All Evil.” There’s a lot the show can do with Nick, and though this episode seems to end his involvement, it’s clear he’ll be back throughout the season.
Trust is also a factor between Abbie and Jenny this episode, because Jenny’s perturbed that Abbie sides with the sheriff after a discussion about their mom. They’ve had a tough relationship in the past, and “Root of All Evil” draws on that once Jenny comes into contact with the coin.
It makes sense in the reality of the show, and despite closely resembling another show with similar horror themes (Grimm, “Three Coins and a Fuchsbau”), it’s another great episode in a sequence so far from Sleepy Hollow.
Supernatural: “Black” – Tuesday, October 7 at 9 PM
Supernatural is back. Some of you may see that as a bad thing, but those of us that love it are overjoyed. I’ll be the first person to admit that the show should have ended several seasons ago, as the constant dying and coming back to life in some form is getting a little old, but most of the things that made me love the show in the first place are still present, so even if I think the continuity is getting a bit ridiculous, I still tune in. If you recall, last season ended with Dean dying, yet again. Only this time, he’s back as a demon. Oh, boy. These dudes cheat death more than any other character in the history of entertainment. I’m going to allow it though, because in the first episode back, we are treated to Dean and Crowley, teamed up for booze and womanizing, and they truly make a great team.
That’s certainly the highlight of this episode, too. Dean and Crowley, getting drunk, starting bar fights, and picking up women. While they have all of this fun, Sam is back at the bunker, working tirelessly to figure out a way to bring Dean back. After he figures out that Dean is with Crowley, he makes a few threats, and goes on his way to track them down. This is the first episode back, so really most of it is spent setting things in motion for the rest of the season. If you watch Supernatural because you love the characters, then you will like this episode. It’s mixing things up a bit, pairing people that don’t normally have the opportunity to be paired together, which works in the show’s favor. As much as I love it though, I really hope they bring it to an end sometime soon. It’s not going to happen, as I think the next season is already ordered, but as much as I enjoy it, it’s really somewhat of a ghost of its former self, in a lot of ways.
I love that there is series-wide continuity, but one of the things that made the first two seasons so strong is that they were constantly hunting down different monsters, which allowed the creators to pay homage to a different horror film in every episode. As of now, the focus is mostly on the main story, with a few hunting episodes sprinkled in for good measure. If they would bring the main story to a close, in a way that would allow the two main characters to continue living, they could keep the show going for an undetermined amount of time by turning the focus back to the monsters and the hunting, giving the writers the freedom to do pretty much anything. I’m sad that the spinoff didn’t come to fruition, because that type of freedom exists before you establish a central focus. Despite my complaints about the show overstaying its welcome, I still had fun with this episode, and I think this will be another fun season of the show.
Stalker: “Whatever Happened to Baby James?” – Wednesday, October 8 at 9 PM
This week’s new episode of ‘Stalker’ marks both the second episode in the first season and the series as a whole. The episode is titled ‘Whatever Happened to Baby James?’ The episode begins with a teenage girl who is home watching her little brother. She begins to hear strange noises, almost as if someone is in the house which immediately worries her, because as she explains to her friend on the phone, she believes someone has been following her recently. After exploring the house, she realizes someone is indeed inside and runs to find her little brother. After retrieving him, they make their way out of the house unharmed and to her surprise she slams straight into someone; a person fortunately turning out to be simply her neighbor.
The episode once again introduces us a bit more to our regular character’s, builds on some storylines already established in the first episode and of course largely focusing on the most recent case for our team to tackle. As Jack’s wife ends up coming face to face with him when their offices at work clash on a case, she threatens to expose him and take action if he’s not gone immediately, hinting that there may indeed be a much darker side to the man than we’ve yet seen. Beth’s new stalker (introduced last week, the episode ending with him outside her home staring on creepily) continues to toy with her; while the team must at the same time also figure out just who was after this girl and as they make their way deeper into the case they come across some shocking revelations that change everything.
The second episode of ‘Stalker’ definitely held up with the impressive first episode if you ask me and I am really continuing to love this series more each week. I love the fact that each episode not only plays off as a cop show episode, but at the same time almost a mini horror movie as well, really bringing that Kevin Williamson touch; with recurring themes and story lines additionally present which is great to see as I’m always a fan of show’s that continue to pull you further in with their continuity. I can’t wait to see what the series has to offer with the third episode and I hope to see the rest of you back here next week for our continuing DEADtime TV coverage of the series.
‘Stalker’ is currently airing its debut Season Wednesday’s at 10:PM on CBS.
American Horror Story: Freak Show: “Monsters Among Us” – Wednesday, October 8 at 10 PM
American Horror Story has always drawn from all sorts of horror tropes for its past three seasons, crafting an abomination of different ideas that sometimes just don’t come together very well. It has to do with the show attempting to mix in too much crazy at once; there’s only so much that can be crammed into one season without an overload. The latest season of American Horror Story, titled Freak Show, clearly draws on Tod Browning’s Freaks for inspiration; yet the result is another hodge-podge of elements taken from all sorts of genre greats.
The premiere episode of this season’s story, “Monsters Among Us,” begins with a look at the freak who will become one of the important elements of this season: Bette and Dot (Sarah Paulson), Siamese twins of a sort with one body and two heads. They’re found after a milkman discovers their mother murdered in their home, and after a few rumors get around Jupiter, Florida, Elsa Mars (Jessica Lange) heads to the hospital to check her out.
Elsa is a recruiter for her freak show attraction, and despite a number of freaks on-site, she doesn’t have much going for her show. There are few customers these days, perhaps because she doesn’t do enough advertising or maybe because they’re just not interested in the freaks that have now become somewhat commonplace. But a two-headed woman is something that Elsa thinks can bring the customers in, and she quickly works her magic on Bette and Dot.
Freak Show devotes its time to a number of characters besides Bette and Dot; Jimmy Darling (Evan Peters), a man with deformed hands, is another highlight of “Monsters Among Us,” and it’s nice to see Peters getting more screentime after last year’s Coven. The episode takes time to nail down the requisite parts of what it means to be a freak; the group sticks together because of it, Elsa draws on their lack of self-confidence, and others tend to find them all repulsive in an entertaining sort of way, almost like toys at their disposal.
It’s not too different from what you might expect of the freaks, although “Monsters Among Us” does pull in some interesting ideas. Namely, there’s a sexual fetishistic encounter with Jimmy Darling’s malformed hands, something that creates an interesting dynamic between freak and regular people: freaks are something to be used, maybe for money, but they’re rarely depicted as anything more than that. While Freak Show hasn’t given us many scenes where freaks and the “normal” collide, what “Monsters Among Us” shows so far is that there’s a gray area for all of these people.
Besides the freaks at the show, though, there’s also a rogue killer clown roaming Jupiter and murdering people in their houses. It’s the creepiest aspect of Freak Show by far, complete with terrifying clown make-up; it reminds quite a bit of Rubber Man and the mysterious killer of Asylum, but Freak Show spends a bit more time with the clown to explore his psyche. Note: he’s fucking crazy.
However, there’s not a good balance between the two arcs. The clown seems more like an offshoot of the plot than anything else, sidelined throughout much of the second act so that “Monsters Among Us” can explore the way the freaks band together to save Dot and Bette from getting arrested. Hopefully in later episodes the clown becomes a more important part of the story besides simply killing off people left and right.
It’s important to note that Elsa gets a song in her freak show, the David Bowie hit “Life On Mars” – get it, her last name is Mars and such? Those that know the song also know that it wasn’t written until well after Freak Show‘s time period, but who cares because this is AHS and it doesn’t have to, you know, be factual and stuff. It’s clear that this season will again be about an aging Lange character who wants to relive her glory years, this time wishing she was a notable singer.
It’s a promising, if somewhat predictable, opening for American Horror Story: Freak Show, but one that definitely hints at something a bit darker this year. If the themes in “Monsters Among Us” are any indication, human cruelty will be a big topic; while that’s standard fare for a show about “freaks,” it’s nice to see the show taking this to heart with a tasteful portrayal of the people who put on the show.
Z Nation: “Home Sweet Zombie” – Friday, October 10 at 9 PM
It was bound to happen, with such a strong first 4 episodes, Z Nation had to take a break and give us its version of character development. So before it even gets going, you know what it’s going to be. In all honesty, I didn’t mind it. The actual character development was awful, though. This character, as strong as she has been all throughout the season, suddenly breaks down and is willing to die in a zombnado because she misses her husband? I just don’t buy it. It was corny, and made me like her character less. That being said, though, there was still fun to be had within the fifth episode of the show. Some things I loved, and some things I hated, but I still felt like I got my money’s worth in entertainment.
Let’s be honest, here. This show is a production of The Asylum, and presented by SyFy. When this episode begun, almost immediately we are clued into the fact that a storm is brewing, and the survivors could be facing off against a tornado as well as zombies. From that point on, it is impossible to get it out of the back of your head that a zombnado is coming. Clearly this was a purposeful device, because it was so obvious that it managed to build suspense. We know this goofy thing is going to happen at some point, but not when. And then, when it was delivered, it wasn’t done as over-the-top as it could have been. It was a quick reference to the Shark movie, and a brief encounter with zombies being spit out of a tornado.
So this was Z Nation’s version of a “slow” episode. If that’s the case, I think I’ll be okay with it when it happens. It’s unnecessary, and sort of brings the breakneck pacing that the show had built thus far to a complete halt, but even in its weakness, Z Nation manages to entertain. What I like about it, is that in this show, drama is solved within a single episode, as if it were a sitcom. Events like re-visiting your old town and seeking out a loved one that is thought to be alive on any other show, would be dragged out for episodes upon episodes. In this universe, as corny as it is to be doing what they are doing in the first place, it doesn’t waste our time and a portion of its season exploring all of the emotions involved with the situation. Single serving drams, to borrow from the Palahniuk. We’re five episodes into Z Nation, and it hasn’t caused me to give up yet. I think we’ve got a potential winner on our hands with this one, if the gore and gags remain consistent.
Next week, The Strain‘s gone, but we have so many other shows to deal with that you won’t be missing it too much. Shawn will take on The Walking Dead again next week.