Hey Deadheads, it’s Ryne from The Moon is a Dead World here with all the horror TV shows for the week. As we move into the Halloween season, more and more will be debuting. This week, Shawn adds Z Nation to the mix, and DEADtime TV finishes off The Leftovers and Teen Wolf. Kevin is on Vacation, so coverage of the rest of his shows will be on hiatus for the time being.
The Lottery: “St. Michael” – Sunday, September 7 at 9 PM
Perhaps The Lottery has settled into a groove of mediocrity, or perhaps I’m just more willing to allow it to be that way. Whatever the case, I didn’t hate “St. Michael” like I did last episode, nor did I love it; it simply was, and like a Lifetime movie, The Lottery sat there and allowed me to absorb it without much trouble.
The problem that The Lottery experiences in nearly every episode is that its twists are obvious – painfully so. When Alison with one L discusses her relationship with James and their fateful meet-up at St. Michael, and then the mystery seems to point directly to the island, it’s like there’s a giant neon sign saying “Something is going to happen to James here!” Because that’s the way The Lottery is.
When you stop and think about it, there’s this odd surrealism about the show. Why aren’t these very smart people figuring out things at the same rate the audience is? Is the government’s involvement in the fertility crisis really such a surprise, when all things point to them? Not really – but The Lottery‘s naivete, and its consistency in pointing out the obvious at all times, is at least the same every episode.
Like in “St. Michael,” when the episode telegraphs that the president’s wife Gabrielle is really just using Perry until she can be fertilized with one of the 100 embryos. There’s no question that this is occurring; it’s jaw-dropping that Perry doesn’t realize it as well. Maybe she’s not fit to be a human being, much less a mom, if this is escaping her. But The Lottery continues to play this game where it thinks its audience isn’t going to catch on to these things, then multiple episodes later it reveals it like this is some sort of development.
So far The Lottery has yet to surprise me; it doesn’t even really invest me. The characters are difficult to relate to, because for being so high in the government, they all act pretty stupid. The plot, too, is progressing in the way you would expect it to: people discover corruption, attempt to fight it, and then encounter more problems, while the lottery continues to find its 100 candidates. Both subplots are actually diverging, making the show a frustratingly fruitless watch.
The Leftovers: “The Prodigal Son Returns” – Sunday, September 7 at 10 PM
The Leftovers’ season finale doesn’t answer many questions, so if you were going into “The Prodigal Son Returns” expecting to find out what the Guilty Remnant want from the people of Mapleton, or why the disappearance occurred, or even where our protagonists the Garveys go from here, you’ll most likely be disappointed with this episode.
And The Leftovers sort of realizes this – it recognizes that no answers are given, that the viewer is left in a haze after the GR unveil their very offensive campaign to force everyone to remember the disappearance. Nora Durst, coming face to face with her family at the breakfast table in the same way they left on that day three years ago, writes a letter to Kevin about what she’s going to do now that she realizes she can’t forget (as she tried to do after Wayne’s hug). In it, she states that she doesn’t know if there is a way to move on – she is unsure where to go from here, and if anything can be alright. There’s no real conclusion she can draw – everything just is, and it’s difficult to cope with.
That really sums up the frustrations that people have had with The Leftovers since the season began. Too often it has felt like the show is moving without a sense of direction, that there is no point on the horizon that marks the destination. “The Prodigal Son Returns” hammers that point home; it feels less like a season finale than another continuation of events. There’s no solid conclusion, no small resolution besides an introduction of more mysteries. There will undoubtedly be people who get to this point, stop, and say that they can’t continue hoping The Leftovers makes a move towards a storyline that’s less broad.
But that is the point of this show. If you’re not tuning in to be hopelessly depressed, to simply exist in the show’s world, then you will always be slightly unenthused with its direction. Just like the characters’ lives, there is no anchor to the plot; it is drifting, untethered, and allowing its story to evolve organically.
There is no easy way to review “The Prodigal Son Returns.” On the one hand, it is just as consistent in its plotting and emotion as it has been all season. It explains the importance of last week’s flashback and the way it was sequenced – we needed to see where everyone was when the disappearance occurred to see the Guilty Remnant reenact it.
At the same time, it does not feel like a season finale, or even that there was a momentous shift in tone here. Kevin pulls Matt into the death of Patti; Jill joins the Guilty Remnant despite her mother’s warning; Tom is left alone to care for Wayne’s baby after Christine ditches him; Wayne himself dies, wondering if he was a fraud.
These are presented to the audience, they’re tactfully structured, and they’re also answerless. What does it mean that Wayne believes he might be a fraud? How does Jill’s decision to join the GR affect Laurie? And how does the town recuperate from the terrible things that happened on the fateful day when Kevin happened to be out of town, burying a body?
“The Prodigal Son Returns” doesn’t explain. It simply gives us these events, lets them play out, and then lets them end without warning. It leaves us with a blank black screen with Nora holding Wayne’s baby and Kevin and Jill walking home from a near-death experience. Their decisions, the consequences for their actions, and the meaning behind them are left unexplored, waiting for next season.
It’s a ballsy move, and it’s difficult to understand the motive behind it. Maybe we’re all overthinking it – there might not be anything more here, and I keep coming back to that note from Nora about her drifting aimlessly without purpose. Maybe it’s the same with The Leftovers. “The Prodigal Son Returns” is another good episode, yes, but the feeling that not much has changed from when we began pervades.
Teen Wolf: “Smoke and Mirrors” – Monday, September 8 at 10 PM
This week’s new episode of ‘Teen Wolf’ marks the twelfth episode as well as the season finale in the fourth season of the series and is titled ‘Smoke and Mirrors’. The episode begins with Kira awakening in what appears to be a dark and dank abandoned area. Shortly after awakening, she is attacked by one of Kate’s berserkers. She begins to fight back and see’s the eyes, as well as the tattoo across the arm and she comes to realize the berserker is actually Scott. Unable to kill him, she is presented with a whole new problem in her current imprisonment.
The episode focuses for the most part on the majority of Scott’s pack heading to Mexico in order to try and rescue Scott and Kira from the clutches of Kate. While most of them head down there, Lydia is attacked by one of Kate’s berserkers at the school in what she begins to realize was merely an attempt to keep her away so that she couldn’t predict an inevitable death. Meanwhile Stiles, Derek, Liam and the rest arrive to come into contact with the berserker (that unknown to them is Scott) and a full on battle ensues, especially when more folks show up to the gunfight than they might have imagined. The real question is whether they will figure out its Scott before it’s too late.
Now that ‘Teen Wolf’ has officially wrapped its fourth season (in what I felt to be a pretty intense and satisfying finale, quite likely the best season finale of the show yet) it’s going to be a bit before it returns, but for those who weren’t already aware, rest assured it has already been renewed for a twenty episode fifth season. Due to the large season order, one can only assume it will be split into two ten episode half seasons, similar to how season three was aired, although no official word on a premiere date or month has been announced at this point.
Z Nation: “Puppies and Kittens” – Friday, September 12 at 10 PM
Oh, yay. Not only do we have another zombie show on TV to cover, but this time it is at the hands of both SyFy, and The Asylum. What could go wrong? I guess that the two studios, both well-known for churning out complete garbage, saw the success of AMC’s The Walking Dead, and decided that they wanted in on some of that action. You know, because the only thing that makes The Walking Dead popular are the zombies, right? If it weren’t for the damn gap in between True Blood ending, and the rest of my shows starting up, I might have gotten out of covering this one, but I needed something to write about, so here we are. Z-Nation opens up the way almost every low budget zombie movie does, with the infestation already occurring. We’re told of the scope of the event through recreations of news broadcasts. The actual story kicks in, 3 years after the initial infection, and we’re told that the president is dead, all governments have collapsed, and that there is no cure. Two members of some kind of military squad are left behind in a prison, when they are instructed that they have to get the doctor that is currently working on a cure in the prison infirmary, and any other survivors, to some location in California. I’m also reminded here, that I still haven’t forgiven Harold Perrineau for what his character did on Lost. He’s one of the few recognizable faces they have brought in for Z-Nation, along with DJ Qualls. I’m a fan of both actors, so we’ll see how long they last.
I’m going to be honest here, I went into Z-Nation expecting to loathe it, and walked away feeling entertained. The show takes a couple of not-so-subtle jabs at The Walking Dead, such as the group of survivors finding a baby, but quickly does away with it the way that most of us wish they would do on TWD. Also, That Harold Perrineau thing? Yeah, I don’t think he’ll be back for the second episode. The one thing that Z-Nation did that I REALLY enjoyed, was make us feel comfortable with Perrineau’s character, assuming that he is really important, and then killing him off before the end of the first episode. Not only killing him, but having him devoured alive, without the camera focusing elsewhere. This was one of the grisliest deaths I have seen on TV, and of somebody that we were led to believe was the main character. That was a ballsy move, but for me, it worked. Yeah, the whole zombie baby thing was done in the Dawn of the Dead “remake”, but here it was actually entertaining, rather than annoying. They took a wholly stupid idea, and actually pulled it off in a creepy, and effective way. I never thought I’d say this about this show, as it is a SyFy original produced by The Asylulm, but I am actually looking forward to the next episode. With Perrineau’s character a pile of guts on the floor, that leaves American Werewolf in Paris’ Tom Everett Scott in charge of getting the one and only survivor of a zombie attack to California, in order to produce an anti-virus. I’ll be right here, letting you know if the second episode manages to carry over the energy from the first.
That’s it for this week! The Leftovers and Teen Wolf leave us, but Z Nation is in, and we’ve got quite a few new premieres coming up very soon. More to come, so stay tuned – we’re hitting DEADtime’s stride!