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 Bates Motel as well.
The Walking Dead: “Still” – Sunday, March 2 at 10 PM
Oh, The Walking Dead, you silly goose. To call “Still” a filler episode, would be like calling Shaq a big motherfucker. This episode is the very definition of filler. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen an episode of TV drama that even remotely compares to the level of filler that this was, and I watch Supernatural. Seriously, I understand the need to cater to the Norman Reedus fanbase, but how about peppering it in throughout an episode, instead of wasting an entire 40+ minutes of the season on something that doesn’t do a single thing to drive the focal narrative towards any sort of destination. We’ve just introduced new characters, which also mean that some even more important characters are on the horizon. We’re running out of season here, so why would we take a complete break from the story for something as asinine as this? At least they were somewhat honest, in a moment later in the episode, when Daryl and Beth are technically “giving the bird” to a burning structure. They’re really giving us the bird. They know what they did, we know what they did. But, they also know we’ll be back next week regardless. I share in your sentiment, Daryl and Beth.
This entire episode, features only Daryl and Beth. If that’s not bad enough, the purpose of the episode is for Beth to find some booze. All of the things they could be doing right now, searching for the others, finding some actual shelter instead of hanging out in the woods with some pans tied to a string, finding food, water, fresh clothes and supplies… Nope, we have to find spoiled little brat Beth her “first drink.” What? Yes. Look, I understand that, every now and then, we have to take a break from the main narrative in order to give the characters a breather, but I don’t think it’s a good idea to waste an entire episode in doing so, especially when there are so few episodes left. One interesting thing, at least somewhat, was seeing Daryl finally break his cool, and lose it for a minute, bludgeoning a zombie to pieces with a golf club. Those of us that pay attention to the patterns in this series, wouldn’t be in the wrong to suggest that he might bite the dust soon. It’s highly unlikely, due to ovaries, but following the pattern that has already been set, anybody that gets a little extra character development generally meet their demise shortly thereafter.
There’s not much more to say about this episode. It’s one of the few in the entire series, that you could skip entirely, and not actually miss anything, as far as the story goes. I’ve read some varied reactions. Most people in my circle seem to agree that it was a crap episode, but some disagree. Some outside of my circle seemed to have loved this episode, and more power to them, I suppose. For me, it felt like a complete waste of time. I think it’s pretty obvious that they are saving the introduction of Negan for the season finale, and then we’ll have to spend all summer wondering how things are going to play out. I get it, it’s a ratings tactic. The first episode back from a long break needs to have a strong reception. I just hope there aren’t any more wasteful episodes like this left this season, because I think it will seriously hurt the overall impact that the season has. So far, the first half of this season was much stronger than the last. They need to pick up the pace, and finish on an extremely strong note, otherwise most people will probably consider this to be the weakest season of the series. See you again next week, hopefully with some better things to say.
Bitten: “Prisoner” – Monday, March 3 at 8 PM
As the title of this episode suggests, “Prisoner” is about a person held captive in the Stonehaven camp. His name is Cain and we’ve met him before and we also knew he was being held prisoner last episode, and so Bitten again retreads areas of its plot that the audience is already familiar with, circling back around on its arc this season which simply boils down to: “there are bad mutts out there that don’t agree with Stonehaven’s rules, and we need to put them down, but we’re having trouble tracking them.”
Elena sets out to find more information about a poison that was used on Jeremy during his stabbing; her source is Cain’s girlfriend, a human who knows all about the werewolf culture and so, per Stonehaven and Jeremy’s orders, should be killed to protect the secret. But Elena believes the more important element is figuring out how to treat Jeremy, so she lets Santos and Leblanc go in order to give Jeremy a blood transfusion to treat his ricin contamination.
News flash: unless we’re meant to suppose that because Jeremy is a werewolf he fights poison better, a blood transfusion is probably not going to magically cure a ricin exposure. With that little irksome detail out of the way, however, this subplot with Elena is all over the map. We know little about Cain’s girlfriend, and this interview with her isn’t substantial in the least.
However, it does lead to the one effective scene in all of “Prisoner,” an interrogation with Cain where he reveals his true feelings for his girlfriend while chained up in front of Clay. Clay repeatedly questions him about his allegiance to his girlfriend, even bringing up a sinister revelation about the werewolf community – any human who knows the secret of the werewolf needs to die. Yikes! Yet Bitten doesn’t dwell on this fact; it capitalizes on Cain’s weakness and kills him off (we think, although I wouldn’t be surprised if Clay only castrated Cain).
Generally, though, “Prisoner” is another installment of how to prolong season 1’s boring plot progression for as long as possible. Yet again the audience is left with a feeling that nothing has fucking happened. Elena’s lover Paul gets closer to the truth about her, though that only takes a few minutes of the episode. And Nick, the guy no one knows or cares about, makes advances on some chick who we also don’t know. Entertaining, or simply filler?
I will be more than overjoyed when the first season of Bitten comes to a close, because it has been a long, overdrawn, and boring run so far, and the show seems to have little aspirations of doing anything besides sitting around, panting with its tongue sticking out.
The Following: “Sacrifice” – Monday, March 3 at 9 PM
For those who didn’t see the news announced a couple of days ago, Fox has officially renewed The Following for a third season, so we can all rest assured that the series will indeed be coming back next year. As we all know, this makes the more than likely season ending cliffhanger somewhat more bearable knowing the show will indeed return next year with some closure to these events.
This week’s new episode of The Following marks the seventh episode in the second season of the series and is titled ‘Sacrifice’. The new episode focuses on Joe, Emma and Mandy as they make their way into a new cult and try to fit in with this group, while remaining on their guard as the cult’s motives and intentions are highly questionable. While I don’t want to ruin big events for those who have yet to see the new episode, I will say it got pretty wild.
The episode also focuses on Ryan as he tries to find Max before time runs out after she is kidnapped by an associate of Lily’s and a videotape of said abduction is sent to Ryan. He, Mike and the FBI must race against time to find her before its too late and Ryan loses the one person left in this world that he truly cares for. Once again, I won’t ruin the outcome, but I will say the episode ends with a very shocking and truly sad moment, though it is not in any way what the viewer might expect.
While I know opinions vary regarding the sophomore season of The Following (just as they do regarding the show overall) but I personally am continuing to find myself loving this season more and more every episode and cannot even begin to imagine just what might be in store for us as the second half of the season progresses.
Don’t miss all new episodes of The Following every Monday at 9/8c on Fox. -Kevin
Bates Motel: “Gone But Not Forgotten” – Monday, March 3 at 9 PM
The return of Bates Motel gives us a little bit of everything to ready the viewer for a new season. When we checked out at the end of season one, Norman was returning home from his school prom, bloodied and beaten and drenched in rain. He had been at his teacher’s house, the buxom Miss Watson, getting “cleaned up” from his recent fight, and then, after she started changing nearly in front of Norman, he blacked out and raced out of there. Miss Watson’s bloody corpse was left behind.
“Gone But Not Forgotten” picks up in the aftermath of that moment, when Norma gets a call from the school principal telling her that Miss Watson has been murdered. Now she knows Norman’s got some problems, and that he was close with her, so she’s suspecting something, and when Norman begins to lose it at her funeral, there’s a lot to question.
And Bradley, Norman’s crush, jumps off a bridge after she learns of her dad’s secret relationship. She can’t take it, turns to suicide, and makes a big splash throughout the community.
But Bates Motel doesn’t linger on the moments directly after Miss Watson’s death. It jumps ahead four months, when things seem to be going back to normal. The motel’s business is booming; Norman’s doing okay, it seems; Dylan is still working for his pot business. Bradley has just gotten out of a mental hospital and returned home. The show bypasses all of that drama, which probably could have been a season in itself, to explore other areas of the show.
One of those is Norman’s increased obsession with death. He always has been sort of interested in the subject, taking up taxidermy thanks to Emma’s father; but now, he’s started regularly visiting Miss Watson’s grave site, and Norma is not okay with this.
Yet “Gone But Not Forgotten” focuses less on Norman than it does on Bradley and her determination to get to the bottom of her father’s adultery. Her own obsession is probably one of the lesser plots of Bates Motel that anyone is interested in, so it’s strange that the premiere of season 2 settles on her story as the most important. There’s a moment where Bradley does something she probably shouldn’t have, and runs to Norman for comfort, and that’s where it seems their stories will interlock; however, Bradley isn’t a well-developed character, so the show’s reliance on her story is a little erratic.
The best part of this season opener, though, is Vera Farmiga as Norma. She’s been quality since the show began as the overbearing mother, but in “Gone But Not Forgotten” she gets to be the town’s pest as well. Hearing that a new road bypassing her motel is being green-lit early, she heads to a town meeting to voice her concerns and has a complete meltdown, spouting off about whores and drugs and how that’s life. It’s great fun, something I’m looking forward to seeing each week.
Bates Motel‘s return is a little shaky, but there is equally as much to like about the premiere as there is to criticize. This is an episode that’s meant as a lead-in to the events of this season, and the wheels are certainly turning. But “Gone But Not Forgotten”‘s reliance on Bradley as a central character needs some work, or at least a deeper connection to the Bates’ than offered so far.
Helix: “Fushigi” – Friday, March 7 at 10 PM
Helix adds even more elements to its already bloated repertoire in “Fushigi,” a title that means mystery or secret in Japanese. At least the show has slowly been divulging more and more information in each episode, because it’s starting to hit the viewer with so many twists and turns that it’s hard to keep up.
Take, for instance, the new major development in this episode: a scientist sneaks off the base with vials of the Narvik virus, intent on giving them to the Ilaria group to ensure the virus remains instead of being destroyed by the CDC. Alan and Julia are led to a station 50 miles out from Arctic Biosystems, where the scientist attempts to make contact with Ilaria using their radio system; they manage to stop him from getting away, but are hit with a barrage of bullets from a sniper who also wants to snag the virus.
While that’s going on, they find a small hatch that takes them to a basement with a man named Gunner chained up. He’s got Julia’s silver eyes, and he claims he’s been there for 29 years, left to live on without food or water thanks to Hatake. The creepiness factor of this idea is immense, and it’s aided by Anders Yates’ performance. Julia wants to keep him alive, but he claims that the longer she lives, the worse her life becomes, hinting that the silver eyes given to her by Hatake indicate immortality.
It’s a truth Hatake confirms when confronted by Julia back at the base; she doesn’t get a lot of answers, but he does reveal there are more people that are immortal, and they helm the Ilaria group. Helix continues to get cloudy about its multiple viruses, but it’s an interesting prospect all the same, one that promises more explanation over time.
The other subplot of “Fushigi” lies with Sarah, who has been suffering from her tumor for a while. An MRI scan reveals metastasis to her spinal fluid which will quickly reach her brain, but hints from Hatake reveal a miraculous change in Julia’s DNA after her Narvik infection. It appears that for whatever reason, the infection caused a regression in her DNA to resemble that of a newborn, a healing process that could effectively cure Sarah’s cancer if she were to inject Julia’s DNA into the tumor site.
This is a lot to take in, and a big jump from what we’ve known about the virus so far. With that said, it was pretty clear that Helix would use the virus to heal Sarah, because it’s unlikely the show will let her die. “Fushigi” doesn’t explain why Julia’s DNA must be used instead of, say, Hatake’s, which raises a question of why Julia is so important. Likewise, the final scene where the vector Peter sits staring at various pictures of her points to something about her that makes her a sort of vector queen.
So where are we going? It’s hard to say, and that’s both the allure and flaw of Helix. “Fushigi” is an interesting episode that does take time out to focus on where Julia and Alan’s relationship went wrong, and it spends time with Balleseros and Anana as they finally explore their love for each other in a hate-filled kind of way. These moments are minimal, but they do leave many more areas for the show to target. Helix continues to defy expectation, but it treads a fine line between being surprising and annoying.
Hannibal: “Sakizuki” – Friday, March 7 at 10 PM
“Sakizuki” works very hard to set up Hannibal‘s second season arc, and it does so with gusto. Putting Will Graham in jail would seem a difficult obstacle to work around; with him out of the way, the show needs someone to take his place at the focal point of the show because it doesn’t make sense to center around his stay in the criminally insane asylum. So instead of featuring one character to maintain as protagonist throughout, Hannibal has crafted threads of consequences for each character associated with Will, and follows each of them now that their original understanding of him has been tainted.
It’s a dangerous move, because the multiple perspectives juggled by the show could get lost this season. So far, though, Hannibal is carefully navigating its way through the minefield. In “Sakizuki,” the show has time to involve the most important secondary characters of the show while allowing screentime for even the tertiary people on the outskirts of the main plot. Hannibal, who has taken the place of Will as a consultant for the FBI, is the keystone that holds the structure together, with all of the other elements of the episode spiraling off because of him.
The major conceit stems from last episode’s new serial killer, a man who has been injecting heroin into his carefully selected victims, then giving them a silicone treatment to preserve them, and finally stitching them together into a complete color palette in a water tower. After a living victim shows up with a different MO, the FBI begins to question who’s behind the murders, with Hannibal leading the investigation.
But forensic investigator Beverly asks Will for his help with the investigation, not only because he is one of the best in the craft but because she wants to believe that he’s innocent. “Sakizuki” finds a way to draw Will into investigations even though he’s locked up, and it also gives the show new character interactions. Plus, Will’s interviews with Hannibal pit the two psychiatrists against each other; Will is giving the FBI accurate information, and Hannibal is giving them false truths, and both realize what the other is doing. It makes for tense moments where both are at risk.
Hannibal’s psychiatrist Dr. Du Maurier is also drawn into the plot after she decides to cut ties with both the FBI and Hannibal. It’s a dangerous move that leaves her vulnerable to both parties, but it also facilitates help for Will – as a person who knows Hannibal’s culpability, she may be able to look past the seemingly obvious evidence against Will. Thankfully, that might be the only thing that gets him an innocent verdict.
As noted before, there are a ton of threads sewn into “Sakizuki,” but the key to these scenarios is that they are all interlocking. It’s a lot to balance, but “Sakizuki” in particular is able to cement seemingly disparate moments into a mural not unlock the killer’s in this episode.
We’ll catch you next week on DEADtime TV with all the regular coverage, plus Resurrection and From Dusk Till Dawn premieres! Oh shit, how am I going to watch all of this TV and what have I gotten myself into?