Fellow Liberal Dead-heads, this is Ryne from The Moon is a Dead World. I’ve signed on to do a sort of recap/review of each week’s horror hits, so welcome to DEADtime TV. Again, Kevin Lovell helps out with a review of The Following, and Shawn Savage joins in with a review of The Walking Dead! Plus, find a review of the premiere of Hannibal as well.
The Walking Dead: “Inmates” – Sunday, February 23 at 10 PM
Another week, another episode of The Walking Dead has passed. If I’m being honest, I’m not disliking the season thus far, but I feel as if it is much weaker than season 3. The whole time the survivors were holed up in the prison, everybody wanted them to get back on the road. Now they’re back on the road, and I feel like the series has taken a hit in the quality department, once they actually hit the road. The good news, however, is that I highly doubt we’re going to be spending much more time on the road. We’ve already been introduced to a group of characters that will essentially lead to an all new setting, and all new bad guys. Whether or not that will solve the supposed woes of the season, remains to be seen. I’m not a Walking Dead hater. In fact, I’m a huge fan of the show. I can, however, admit that it hasn’t been consistently amazing, like most of the big shows that people follow, especially on Sunday night.
I’ve heard mention, from people mostly unfamiliar with the comic book series, that Abraham, the newly introduced character appears too “cartoonish”. I think it’s a fairly decent representation(so far) of one of the better characters from the books. We’ve had limited exposure to him, so it’s hard to make a call yet, as to whether or not he will be done justice, but I’d argue that we’re off to a good start, at the very least. I’ve also heard some that ARE familiar with the books, state that his appearance is off, mostly due to the fact that he’s a little more pudgy than muscular. I guess that’s a fair point, but if I’m being honest, when they teased him at the end of one of the previous episodes, I was pretty impressed. i actually grabbed one of the books off of the shelf, and showed my wife what he looked like, and she said she thought it was spot-on as well. Of course there’s no right or wrong in a situation like that, it’s all up to the viewer’s own interpretation. I’m just saying that, as far as Abraham goes, I have no cause for concern, at least not yet. I am, however, interested to see how they are going to pull Negan off. Negan, if you are unfamiliar, is one of the bad guys from the comic book, and he also makes The Governor look like a pre-school teacher. Negan is ruthless, brutal, and extremely profane. So, here’s hoping they pull him off somewhat well.
As far as an episode goes, this pretty much falls in line with what we’ve been given so far during the second half of this season. There was a little more zombie action, so if that’s the reason you watch the show, then I suppose you are in for a treat. Other than that, there was nothing really worthy of noting, other than there were zombies, and they met their brutal demise. I debated, seeing as this post is going live on a Monday, as to whether or not I should include a review of the episode that just aired last night. However, I think I’ll just save it for the next issue of DEADtime TV. For one thing, I haven’t had the chance to watch the episode yet, but I would also like to have something to write about next week, so as not to upset the balance. If fan reaction is anything to go by, the recently-aired episode may be one of the weakest yet. Hopefully we start reigning things in, and close the season out on a strong point. If you are unaware, we do a weekly Walking Dead related podcast, if that is your type of medium. If you’d like to check out what Heather and Jeff have to say on a per-episode basis, you can head over to the podcast page, and check it out for yourself. Until next week, homies, when we return with the new issue of DEADtime TV. This time, I promise it will go live on Sunday evening, at the very latest.
The Following: “Fly Away” – Monday, February 24 at 9 PM
This Monday The Following continued its second season with what I felt was one of the best episodes of the season to date. It really brought things to a new level, brought back in a character I truly loved in a wonderful way, as well as had (at least to some degree) a moment that I personally had been waiting to see occur all season that definitely brought a smile to my face.
This week’s new episode of The Following marks the sixth episode in the second season of the series and is titled “Fly Away”. This week’s episode starts with Mark finding out that Gisele was (as well as another) killed by Ryan Hardy. As his twin brother Luke plans to find and kill Hardy, Hardy and Max pass some information along to Mike Weston, whom after finding that Carroll really is alive and Hardy was correct all along, comes alone to join their lawless crusade to find and kill Carroll as opposed to bringing the cavalry.
As I said last week, I feel the sophomore season of The Following continues to improve each episode, and I definitely stand by that statement after this week’s fantastic episode. For those who have been following DEADtime TV’s previous editions, you’ll know my bitterness at the lack of their properly utilizing the character of Mike Weston, and I could not have possibly been more thrilled with their start to a complete redemption of that error this week. I’m really enjoying this season more and more and am drooling in anticipation of what will happen next and where everything is going here. I would absolutely love to see The Following get a third season next year, so my fingers are crossed for that and all of you fellow fans out there, make sure to keep watching every week. Nine episodes remain in the second season and just as Fox did last year, they are airing all of the fifteen episodes in the season straight with not a single week off, which is a move I really love and it’s quite nice to see Fox actually treat a show properly as we all know that is certainly not always the case.
Don’t miss an all new episode of The Following this Monday’s at 9/8c on Fox, following the season (or series? its fate has yet to be determined at this point) finale of ‘Almost Human’ so make sure to tune into both!
Bitten: “Stalking” – Monday, February 24 at 10 PM
Haven’t Bitten‘s characters been stalking their prey the entire show? Correct me if I’m wrong, people out there who read DEADtime TV and also watch Bitten (which I’d venture a guess as maybe 2%), but the show seems to be trying to create a world where characters unexpectedly turn on each other, where drama reigns supreme and where the people in the show are those we like. I’m just saying, all of the tension the show tries to ramp up is kind of forced because, let’s face it, we don’t have a character study a la Breaking Bad here.
But at least “Stalking” takes some form of action; before, Bitten has been fine with forcing Clay and Elena into tracking mutts down without any sort of climax. They find the person but miraculously they’re not at their home, so they’re forced to regroup and wait for another person to attack before figuring out that a defensive strategy probably isn’t the best solution.
It’s revealed, finally, that Daniel Santos, a slimy wolf dressed in nice clothing, is leading all of the mutt serial killers including the beefy Cain. Surprise? Not really – it’s been purported that he’s been the bad guy all along, but the show seems to think that it’s a shocking reveal all the same. The characters certainly are surprised.
So Jeremy decides now’s a good time to ramp up an attack on Santos and his legion. They devise a meeting spot where they can be alone – this translates to them both bringing their armies. But Santos has the upper hand, setting up a (quite obvious) trap for Jeremy and killing his wolf brother Antonio in the process.
From there, “Stalking” sets its sights on tracking down Cain, who Jeremy feels is a weak link and will cave after interrogation. That’s where the titular action comes in, with Elena and Clay tracking his movements until they corner him at a store.
Its all plausible enough but, like most Bitten episodes, extremely boring. There is tension during the two fight scenes, but it always surprises me that this show about werewolves is relatively free of the creatures. There’s one shot of Elena as a wolf fighting Cain in wolf form, but one would think that Jeremy and Antonio would turn when threatened so severely.
Bitten‘s also trying to juggle a couple of other plots, one with Logan and Rachel now that she’s pregnant, and the other with Elena’s boyfriend Philip, who is working on a political campaign with the video footage of Elena attacking another wolf. Both are pretty scattered, disconnected from the plot at this point except for their tenuous strands. But it’s good to see Bitten trying to include other characters that aren’t at Stonehaven, because that setting is where the show runs into trouble.
Though “Stalking” is probably one of the better episodes this season, it doesn’t alleviate the terrible pacing of the show. Bitten has not found its niche yet, and after seven episodes, it’s hard to imagine it ever will. There will still be people who enjoy it – mostly those lovers of fantasy romance – but otherwise the show seems doomed to be a less than mediocre series.
Helix: “Level X” – Friday, February 28 at 10 PM
I’ll be the first to admit that Helix has lost some of the charm that it had at the outset of the season. When Alan and company were called in to investigate a potential virus outbreak at Arctic Biosystems, I was invested: there was dread in the fact that any moment could spell infection for the CDC. A paranoiac claustrophobia set in – potentially anyone could be a vector waiting to happen, and one couldn’t tell until it was too late.
Now that Helix has moved away from the virus itself in order to explain away some of its mystery, there’s less tension and more talking. The Ilaria group has brought a lot of that to Arctic Biosystems. Since they are now targeted as a research facility that has a potentially world-affecting virus, Ilaria is interested and ready to raze the site and start fresh.
It’s in the show’s best interest to change its scenarios up, though, and it’s still a program that excels at being confined. In “Level X,” Alan and Julia are tasked with traipsing down to a secret floor where all of the vectors have swarmed, with Peter as head honcho. There’s a storage area in X where all of the Narvik viruses are kept; since Hatake killed Sutton last episode, he surmises that Ilaria will quickly send an army to the base and take whatever strains of Narvik they still have, bent on world domination.
Hatake has become the good bad guy in a sea of bad bad guys, which makes the beginning of the show seem sort of ironic. Sure, he’s been keeping secrets from the CDC, but for their own good – he’s been messing with heavy shit, and now it’s come to bite them all in the ass. It makes his character a bit more complicated than the show initially previewed, especially because his relationship with Julia keeps getting more complex.
“Level X” tackles that to some extent as Julia stumbles upon a staged version of a cabin she remembers staying in as a child. Except when she confronts Hatake, he reveals it’s not a replica – she actually stayed at Arctic Biosystems with her mother, and they were together even if Julia doesn’t exactly remember it. He also reveals something else with the absolutely cheesy yet only-fucking-Helix line, “You have your father’s eyes.” Dun-dun-dun goes the timpani, and Julia very nearly passes out.
On a couple of other fronts, Balleseros gets out of his holding cell to stop Ilaria from burning down the entire town on the outskirts of Arctic Biosystems. They know too much, and Anana is one of them. Balleseros’ relationship to the girl is interesting, and Helix is doing a good job of keeping the romanticism to a minimum while hinting at their flirtations.
Sarah’s involvement in “Level X” is confined to her falling ill with a seizure that exposes what everyone has seemed to missed about her, even during health evaluations – she has a tumor that’s slowly killing her. While Alan preps for surgery, she reveals that they may have slept together in front of Julia, prompting a hilarious awkwardness between her and Alan. His response is basically, “Well, yeah, I’d better deal with this,” while scratching his head and blushing a red slightly darker than the vector bile.
While “Level X” is slightly cleanup from last episode’s killing of Sutton, there’s some good drama when Julia and Alan head to the vector-ridden floor, and Helix continues to develop its characters by putting them in situations where they’re forced to accept truths either forgotten (Julia) or unknown (Alan). Next week, it looks like shit really hits the fan when one guy tries to smuggle Narvik out of the base, so that should be a fun time. Here’s hoping more virus-related incidents are afoot, though.
Hannibal: “Kaiseki” – Friday, February 28 at 10 PM
Bryan Fuller’s Hannibal is back and I couldn’t be happier. Back in my review of the pilot episode, I noted that I didn’t like a lot of what the show was doing, and boy how my tune changed after catching episode after episode of psychodrama and complex characters. When we last left Hannibal, Will Graham, our protagonist who was helping the FBI analyze and track down serial killers, was arrested for the murders of five people. Hannibal, his psychiatrist and pal, helped him think he actually committed the crimes by planting evidence and manipulating him while Graham was under the psychological effects of encephalitis.
“Kaiseki” is a big season premiere that picks up immediately where the show left off, but not before jumping 12 weeks into the future to show us a fight sequence between Hannibal and Will’s FBI boss Jack Crawford. It’s an explosive first scene, not only because of the tension inherent to a fight but because Crawford considers himself a friend of Hannibal’s, a person he trusts immensely (he also thoroughly enjoys his cuisine).
It’s clear that Fuller and co. are working towards this sequence the whole season; we’re treated to the endgame, but how we get there will be the focus of season 2. Can this get the audience any more pumped for what’s to come? I think not, and I really like how Hannibal sets this season up right from the start – we know what to expect, but not the reason.
It’s an excellent psychological experiment, too, much in line with the show’s tonality. Will this play out how we expect, with Hannibal’s framing of Will coming out to the FBI? Or does the fight signify something else that will be a twist in this season? It’s all speculation, but I’d imagine there’s more to it than just a simple scuffle because Crawford has stumbled on Hannibal’s secret.
But that’s just the first scene, which you could have caught before the premiere on the Internet anyway. “Kaiseki” backtracks to Will still in prison right after he’s arrested for the murders, with all of his friends, including Crawford, Dr. Alana Bloom, and scientist Beverly Katz, astonished at how they could have missed Will’s insanity. They blame themselves, and Hannibal attempts to pretend to blame himself, and in a way, “Kaiseki” reveals that he’s not as happy with his victory as one might expect.
The interesting part of Hannibal is that it manages to focus on so many characters’ thoughts at the same time. “Kaiseki” spends a lot of time with Will, attempting to remember how Hannibal put thoughts into his head, but it also centers around Crawford and Alana as they attempt to piece together how they could have missed something so obvious. Perhaps this episode lingers too long on their characters without actually touching on an internal FBI investigation that could leave Crawford without a job; but all the same, the fallout from Will’s arrest has put all of Hannibal‘s characters in uncomfortable situations.
And who is having the worst time of it? Hannibal himself, who sits alone in his therapy room somewhat hoping Will will walk through the door. He enjoyed picking apart Will’s self-obsessive thoughts, exploring how Will’s mind worked as he attempted to think of himself as anything but a monster. Hannibal relates to his psychiatrist Dr. Du Maurier (hello Gillian Anderson, you’re looking beautiful) that he almost wishes Will were not in jail so he could watch him tick, and it seems to hint towards an arc this season where Hannibal will actually help Will get out of jail.
Due to the show’s ability to empathize both with the protagonists and the killers (including Hannibal), its characters and their motives become complex and intricate, as winding as any serial killer’s brain. While “Kaiseki” does begin a new episodic killer arc with a murderer who hunts down people by color palette and then injects them with silicone to preserve them, the episode is less focused on that idea than it is on the immediate repercussions of Will’s arrest.
That’s fine with me, although Hannibal does always have some seriously demented killers on its hands. “Kaiseki” is a welcome return for the series, and it feels like we’ve never had a break between seasons. Fuller’s series is intensely smart, grim, and powerful, and if you haven’t watched it yet, now is a perfect time to start before things really get messy.
Join us next week for more DEADtime TV with regular coverage of Helix, Hannibal, The Following, The Walking Dead, Bitten, and now joining us, Bates Motel season 2!