Hey all, it’s Ryne from The Moon is a Dead World, again leading the DEADtime TV discussion for a new week of horror TV. This week marks the season finale of The Following, so Kevin Lovell will be ending his coverage of that show for another year and we’re sorry to see it go. No fear, he’ll be back to cover new shows very soon! Shawn Savage resumes his coverage of From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series since that is back from break, and unfortunately so is Resurrection.
Resurrection: “Schemes of the Devil” – Sunday, April 27 at 9 PM
Resurrection has, for much of its first season, gotten lost in the mundane plot of its returned people; they come back, their families, friends, and neighbors react to them, and then something bad comes about. Or they simply disappear. The show has worked in such a cyclical pattern that it’s been incredibly easy to foresee what will happen next, and unfortunately, it makes it almost pointless to spend an hour watching an episode that spins circuitously around the plot material.
But “Schemes of the Devil” is a little different, because there’s substance underneath the endless stalling. While Resurrection‘s eight episode season should allow quite a bit of action – being that the truncation of its arc gives the showrunners little time to mess around – it comes down to the final two episodes to really push the show to go somewhere. “Schemes of the Devil” does this, sort of, but then again, it relies on the same minutiae that has made this season such a chore.
Caleb is gone; this has been an element of the plot since around episode 5, but Resurrection continues to harp on it like mad. Now it is Rachael’s turn to go missing, but we know that she’s been kidnapped by the brother of that dude Caleb killed, because he wants revenge and wants to know where Caleb went. Clearly, no one is using their head, or if they are, they’re just not thinking smart. Rachael doesn’t know anything, but it doesn’t matter anyway, because in a boring stand-off she’s shot and dies yet again.
Meanwhile, Jacob meets a little girl in old clothes, creates a friendship, and then is told he can’t see her anymore. Is it because she’s odd, or because Jacob could be kidnapped by people looking to find Caleb, or because… returned person? Any number of things, but the secret that “Schemes of the Devil” thinks it’s hiding is blatantly obvious to the viewer – that girl’s another returned person.
She’s not the only one that’s coming back – in fact, at the end of the episode when “Schemes of the Devil” actually hits its stride, it seems everyone from Arcadia has come back from the grave. It presents many different possibilities, including the somewhat-comedic reactions of dead people from past generations to things like computers and gravel roads. But it also doesn’t change much of anything about the show’s premise – the town is still unable to figure out what to do with these people, and they just keep coming.
While it’s nice to see Resurrection varying its ideas at least a little bit, with some added emphasis on major plot development, it’s hard to overlook that the show is often very noncommittal about its premise. There’s just not a lot more to do with the idea of returned people resuming their lives years after they’ve died; it’s time for Resurrection to take a huge turn in its season finale or risk not being resurrected for a second season.
Salem: “The Stone Child” – Sunday, April 27 at 10 PM
“The Stone Child” frontloaded its plot quite a bit in its series premiere, so “The Stone Child” does a bit of backstepping to give the viewer some more characterization for its main cast. Mary Sibley is very clearly one of the biggest villains in the show, although she is joined by a host of others in Salem that also want the witch hunt to divert Puritan attention from the ones who really do the devil’s work; our protagonists, though, are further clarified in this episode. John Alden, the rugged borderline atheist of town, already stumbled upon the witches’ sabbath with his friend, but he enlists the help of the questionably reverential Cotton Mather, hoping they can figure out what’s really going on.
We lost Giles Courtney to a crushing last time, but this time, Salem is much more focused on the exposition of the plot. Alden and Mather head out into the woods where the sabbath took place, finding a hollowed out portion of tree that etches writing into Mather’s hand; they also find a pile of bodies, and discuss why there’s still madness in Salem despite the apparent witch’s death. Meanwhile, Mary Sibley continues to be the queen witch of Salem, not only overseeing most of the town’s societal obligations but also forcing pregnant unwed women to confess their sins and the men who’ve gotten them into such a terrible mess.
In a quick aside, Mary states that she’s very close to her grand rites, with a hunter’s moon coming with the death of nine more innocents. The reasons for all of this are quite slim despite “The Stone Child”‘s moments of exposition. But the biggest reason that Mary tends to be an uninterestingly villainous character is because there’s nothing more to her than wretchedness, corruption, and apparently the guidance of the devil. Though “The Vow” attempted to humanize her with the romance between her and John Alden, “The Stone Child” does little with her character besides show just how evil she is.
Salem does not care for classiness, by the way, and runs headlong into whatever overtly disgusting things it can. It loves the frog-gorging scenes, which it uses again, but the viewer also gets a stillbirth stone baby popping out of a poor woman’s vagina (with amniotic fluid spilling upon the floor) and the beautiful outpouring of urine from a hanged woman’s loosening bladder. Ah, Salem, American Horror Story has certainly rubbed off on you.
It’s not that this is a bad thing, or even that it’s unwatchable, but Salem is certainly as messy as that aforementioned show. The biggest drawback, though, is that this show can, and sometimes does, drop into tedium because of its Puritanical setting. “The Stone Child” is a more consistently minimal approach to the show than the pilot, but it’s also noticeably less interesting.
My hopes are that Salem figures out exactly who its central characters will be (Mather is an odd choice, and his gullibility is extremely annoying this episode), that it will cement stronger relationships, and that it will spend more time developing Mary into a person rather than devil’s disciple. That’s a lot of ground to cover, and it might even sound like Salem isn’t worth watching; I’d argue that, for now, because the premise is good enough to allow this show a few more episodes’ leeway.
The Following: “Forgive” – Monday, April 28 at 9 PM
The time that we fans both dread and anticipate is finally upon us as this week’s new episode of The Following marked the fifteenth and final episode in the second season of the series, titled “Forgive.” The sophomore season’s final episode begins at the exact moment where the previous episode ended, with Joe holding a gun to Mike’s head as he kneels before him. Naturally Ryan gives himself up in the nick of time against Mike’s insistence that he simply finishes things and shoots Joe. Soon against all better judgment, Ryan and Joe are forced to join forces when they discover that Luke intends to kill Claire should Ryan fail to deliver Joe to them alive. This episode mainly focuses on one direct set of events as opposed to the standard switching between groups (aside from some switching between Ryan/Joe and the twins in the earlier parts of the episode), which is no surprise considering all paths have pretty much crossed at this point.
Now that the entirety of the series’ sophomore season has completed, I must say I thought it was a significant improvement over the first season in almost every way but one. I felt the ending was a little off beat for the tone of the series and I was hoping for something a little more extravagant, conclusive and possibly shocking and unexpected as well. The season ends with a cliffhanger of sorts as fans would surely expect, though nowhere near on the level of the first season’s insane cliffhanger ending. Overall I still think the second season was an improvement over the first (which I also absolutely loved and praised) and I couldn’t be more excited to see where The Following will take us in its third season which Fox has already renewed the series for.
Make sure to tune in next year when The Following returns with its third season on Fox.
Bates Motel: “The Box” – Monday, April 28 at 10 PM
Bates Motel is to its season finale, and “The Box” sets everything up nicely for a climactic showdown, not just between Zane and Dylan or Norma and Nick Ford but also between Norma and Norman and Normand and Sheriff Romero. This episode allows for multiple interactions between characters that don’t normally happen under regular circumstances in that finale, even when it ostracizes Norman from the proceedings and finds Emma on the outskirts of the drama.
Last episode, Nick Ford was carrying out his plan to get Dylan to kill Zane by threatening Norma; in “The Box,” he follows through by kidnapping Norman, forcing him into a small metal box out in the woods, and leaving him to his own devices. While Bates Motel doesn’t focus on Norman’s actions this episode, it sure does feature a plot that entirely revolves around him. Norma, panicked that her favorite son has gone missing, enlists Dylan’s help to get him back. Though she doesn’t say it explicitly, there’s a sense that she’s asking Dylan to risk his life to save Norman not because it’s the brotherly thing to do, but because Norman is more important to her. That’s Vera Farmiga’s acting chops right there – major props to her for seeming so desperate.
“The Box” is mostly about getting Norman back, but Emma’s role in things ramps up considerably. She’s been away from the main plot for much of this season, and the show kind of draws attention to that – she complains that everyone ignores her, even though she feels part of the Bates’ family, and it seems as much a reference to her involvement in the series as it is her mistreatment from Norma.
Again, the episode continues to rein in the drug trade that has felt so distant from the overarching plot, with Dylan actually managing to infiltrate Nick Ford’s compound enough to kill him with a fire poker; however, he doesn’t get to Norman yet. Unfortunately, it feels a bit too easy, especially when getting to the stupider Zane is so difficult; perhaps that’s attributed to Ford’s naive comfort.
But the best part of “The Box,” like many Bates Motel episodes, is the last few minutes. Carlton Cuse drops more secrets on the viewer, and on Norman as well – stuck in the box, Norman is brought back to that night when he went over to Miss Watson’s house, and he realizes that he really did kill her after having sex with her. While it’s not a huge surprise to the audience, the real revelation is that now Norman knows he’s a killer; it’s an interesting twist that will surely guide the season finale.
I’m really looking forward to both where the next episode heads and where season three will go from here, now that Norman understands his true nature. How it changes him will define what happens next year, and there hasn’t been a more exciting time for Bates Motel.
From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series: “Pandemonium” – Tuesday, April 29 at 9 PM
The shit has hit the fan, so to speak. In the last episode of From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series, we were treated to the innards of the infamous Titty Twister bar, but in this episode, the transition that the film made, from gritty road movie, to full-on vampire film, comes to fruition. It also happens to be one of the best episodes of the entire series. I had my doubts, after episodes two and three floundered about, but as the show has gotten deeper into the story, and gave us a little more information as to which direction it might be going, things are getting deeper, and far more interesting. It still has some easily solvable problems, like some of the casting choices, and some of the stranger casting. The lack of profanity is perplexing as well, especially considering how the iTunes/Canadian Netflix version of the last episode introduced nudity to the mix, but it is still holding my attention pretty well, despite those things.
In this episode, Richie realizes that Santico Pandemonium is the mysterious woman that has been guiding him through ominous waking dreams and visions. As viewers, we also realize that Santico Pandemonium is a far more important character than we could have ever expected. Yeah, we’ve seen some flashbacks to her being thrown in a pit of snakes, but that could have just been explanation for her character’s usage of snakes in her stage show. As it turns out, she’s sort of the boss of this little sect of snake-like vampires. We’ve been led to believe that Carlos was the big man at the table for most of the show, and it turns out that he’s nothing more than her loyal servant. That seems to be a theme with this show, some characters are not what they seem. Some are less important than you’d assume, while others are far bigger pieces of the puzzle. Even if this isn’t the best written show on TV, it’s still getting pretty damn interesting.
Ranger Gonzalez can’t seem to quit getting himself captured and tortured. And now, in his tunnel-visioned quest to kill the Gecko Brothers, he went and got himself bitten by a snakepire. I have no idea what will come of this, but it’s interesting, to say the least. Also, as it turns out, this sect of vampires are apparently low on the totem pole when it comes to monsters. But, after hosting some of their superiors, they take steps to move a few rungs up the ladder, and take a few of their enemies out. One thing that bothered me just a little, is that Cheech’s “PUSSY PUSSY PUSSY” speech from the movie has been butchered, here. They only mentioned the word “pussy” once, and even then it was in Spanish. That’s one thing I don’t understand. They’ve said “pussy” and dropped several F-Bombs in Spanish, but none in English. If it weren’t for the constant uncensored movies they air on the network, it wouldn’t even be a question, but since they clearly don’t care in that instance, I can’t quite figure out why they’re watering down their flagship show. And yes, this means there is no “What we are dealing with, is fucking vampires” rant by Seth. I don’t need profanity to have a good time with a show/movie, but when it feels somewhat neutered by its absence, it becomes an issue. It’s not a deal-breaker, by any stretch of the imagination, just odd.
Did I mention gore? Holy hell! For a show that’s been pretty tame on the gore front thus far, this episode featured some of the goriest stuff I’ve ever seen on TV. Fully visible disembowelment, brutal decapitations and more occur when the shit hits the fans, and it becomes humans versus vampires. There is some CGI blood spray, which annoys the shit out of me, but it is probably some of the best looking CGI blood spray I’ve ever seen. Beyond that, and a few CGI puncture wounds, though, the rest of the gore effects were fully practical. No nudity, this time around. There was a scene where Santanico Pandemonium was bathing in blood, and her full figure was in-frame as she stood up, but the naughty bits weren’t visible. It played it off as if she was so covered in blood that you wouldn’t see her nipples and bush piercing through, but in reality, she was probably wearing pasties and a thong that were blurred digitally in post. Overall, this was an excellent episode. I know several of you quit watching after the third episode, so allow me to make a plea. Get caught up with this show, because it is so far removed from the poorly done second and third episodes that it almost resembles an entirely different show. At least watch two more episodes after the point where you gave up. If you don’t like it after that, you’re not going to like it. I have a feeling a few of you detractors may be converted by what came after that, though.
Hannibal: “Naka-Choko” – Friday, May 2 at 10 PM
“Naka-Choko” takes a defining turn from the rest of this season’s plot; whereas much of the first half of season two has spent its time developing Will’s fortitude as he contemplated what he has to do to bring Hannibal down from his high perch, this latter half has seen a complete change in Will’s character, never moreso than in this episode. While it’s been clear that Will has been keeping his enemy close, resuming his visits with Hannibal as a means of picking the man’s brain while he figures out what to do, “Naka-Choko” stylistically compares Will to Hannibal in a number of scenes.
The episode picks up directly after Will’s forced encounter with the killer from last episode, Randall Tier, with Hannibal assisting in the cleanup of the body. It’s a moment that puts Hannibal and Will into a state of equality, of even-steven, and when Tier’s body parts show up artfully on one of his skeletal creations in the Museum of Science, there’s a sense that both are working together for some end goal. For Will, it might be just to get out of the murder; for Hannibal, it’s a sinister plot to pull Will to his side.
It’s much like what he’s doing with both Margot Verger and her brother Mason, who appears in this episode as a heir to a pig farm where he has been conditioning his boars to want to consume human flesh. Hannibal has been attempting to talk Margot into killing her brother for some time, but after failing at that scheme, he meets with Mason in person, suggesting he might find therapy a boon. Mason is an interesting character; played by Michael Pitt, he has a glamour to him that belies the obvious nefarious schemes going on under the surface. His part is small in “Naka-Choko,” but his time will surely come.
Margot spends some time with Will, and despite her lesbianism she slips with him in a seductive scene that pairs their sexual adventures with Hannibal and Alanna’s; then, in a dreamlike state, they’re all next to each other in bed. Slow dissolves of reflections into liquid also mirror Hannibal and Will, seeming to compare them as two alike persons now instead of opposition, a sentiment that Alanna brings up in the last few minutes of the episode.
But “Naka-Choko”‘s emphasis on Will’s change is a bit hasty considering how slow the show generally works. Will goes after Freddie Lounds this episode after she gets too close to Will’s background with Hannibal, and it’s a particularly brutal scene that doesn’t jive with the rest of Will’s actions. In the scenario, Will is meant as an apprentice to Hannibal, and he even takes up cooking lessons with a slice of “pig.” But this is a huge stretch from where Hannibal was headed just a few episodes ago as Will took up the cause to collapse Hannibal’s empire. There’s no certainty that Will is actually looking to help Hannibal, but it’s also not out of the realm of possibility that Will has descended so far into his own psychoses that he follows Hannibal’s every word.
“Naka-Choko” is still good Hannibal, but the new turn for Will feels just a tad bit forced. Still, it’s interesting to see where Hannibal will take Will, and how the Vergers will factor into this change. I would imagine the Vergers will play a larger part next season, and that the final three episodes will focus on Jack Crawford’s growing interest in the Hannibal/Will dichotomy, but we’ll see!
That concludes The Following, but we’ll soon be adding Penny Dreadful to DEADtime TV’s coverage – Shawn will be checking that out in the coming weeks. Next week, Bates Motel will wrap its second season, so another show will leave the DEADtime TV ranks. Don’t miss any horror TV and stick with us for next week.