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Monday, January 19, 2015 - 18:42 by David

So you've lost your Antichrist, what do you do ?

Go looking I suppose.

And that's exactly what Crowley and Aziraphale do. But where to start...?

Well to ACTUALLY start this episode we have recruitment into the Witchfinder Army, and (Peter Serafinowicz please take note), a MORE than pitch perfect introduction of the Witchfinder recruiter in Clive Russell. The word BONKERS looms up, trips you over and performs a jig in your chest. 

Then something that I hate everytime I hear it on a radio program, the recap speech added into the dialogue. There must be a better way of doing this , how about a "Previously on ..." pre-credits, or a small narration at the start . I know its for those that haven't heard it before, but you don't get it in books just in case someone starts in the middle.....

Ok - rant over...

What we get then is the narrative picking up with the 2 leads heading back to the baby-switching nuns to try and find out what's actually happened to Satan's little one (and his cute toesies), with an 11 year old trail to follow. 

In the meantime we meet up with Adam, the actual Antichrist, who has been raised as a middle class English kid in a middle class English village to average parents, and as such thinks that just because a witch/pagan happens to have moved into the village doesn't mean that it gives you the right to start assembling the kindling....

Adam seems like a bright, friendly and above all MORAL kid, with a few close friends and a hellhound. A hellhound designed to be defined by its name, that ends up being called ....DOG, a perfect name for a small mongrelly terrier like beast with an inside-out ear.

So nothing to worry about then...

Apart from the fact that regardless of the intentions of the actual Antichrist, Armageddon is still  on the cards and supernatural forces are gathering.  

A better episode than the opener (despite the introductory recap). We get a lot of introductions.The Witchfinder Army, Anathema the local witch, Adam and pals (one of whom is really irritating after only a few words. If his speech impediment is real then he has my sympathy, if not then stop it , it's horrible). We also get a proper introduction to Agnes Nutter's book of prophecy (not to give it it's real title), and a hint of a couple of sinister characters..

We see some magical activities performed by the two leads, and the whole episode felt a lot better for having less Peter Serafinowicz in it. 

Prophecy for episode 3...

Winter is comi...

Sorry...

Armageddon is coming...

Rating:
7
Topics:
Monday, January 19, 2015 - 17:37 by David

It's been a while since I read this book from Messrs Pratchett and Gaiman.

Years in fact, so the details are hazy. That should help me treat this as a nice surprise for the Xmas season (as you can see I started this episode review ages ago but didn't get around to finishing it until the New Year).

So, in the beginning we have 'In the BEGINNING', Garden Of Eden, Angels, Demons and the Fall.All that malarkey.

The two main protagonists are introduced as Crawley and Aziraphale, Demon and Angel buddies, who are embroiled in mankinds' exit into the big bad world. They spend the next few thousand years going native and getting comfortable. It's a fine life being supernatural in the world of men.Living and LIVING (although within the bounds set by their respective bosses), the Angel is now a bookstore owner, the demon a corporate shark. 

Then the inevitable happens and Judgement Day preparations begin. The Antichrist arrives in the form of a baby to be planted with an American Ambassador so the countdown to destruction 11 years later can begin...

Suffice to say, since this is a comedy , it doesn't pan out that way. Babies are tricky things, especially when you're trying to switch them around with only chatterbox satanist nuns (you don't get to type that very often!) for help, and a third unexpected infant in the mix.

Having read the book (which is great by the way. Two aspiring young authors, they may be ones to watch), I know there's a lot to cover, and in the main, one of the book's strengths is that there isn't a lot of padding, there are a lot of plot threads, and the production team should be applauded for trying to be so faithful. 

There's a problem though.

Crawley, or Cowley as he wants to be called. Or rather Peter Serafinowicz's characterization.  

His performance as Crowley is not what I was expecting. Speaking in a deep voice is all very well, but most of the time he comes across as slightly detached, almost narrating, very little apparent emotion. It deadens the comedy and comes across flat. 

The picture I have of Crowley from my interpretation of the book (and I admit that everyone will have different visions in their head) , is one of a confident but ultimately very nervous figure, riding the ragged edge of destruction, one wrong move away from condemning everything to the Armageddon and desperate to prevent it, always trying worm his way out of his demonic obligations, and thoroughly horrified by the machinations of his 'Management' . 

Like a condemned convict , frantically trying to convince the guy holding onto the electric chair switch that "It's a wonderful day for golfing, why don't you pop off for a quick 18 holes eh? I'll strap myself in and pull the lever myself , don't you worry about it. You can trust me .Right?"

This radio version of Crowley is too confident, too suave, it's being played a bit too much like a demonic James Bond - the George Lazenby one...

There is some counterpoint to this, Mark Heap is perfectly cast as Aziraphale, overly fussy, slightly bemused but not wet and ineffectual. 

On a story level ,this episode is all just set up, the supernatural buddies try to influence the budding Antichrist to be a bit less keen on mass extinction, but both are having their respective divine (and not so) orders. 

Things come to head when they realise that the demonic hell-hound despatched to be the child’s companion and guardian hasn't arrived, despite assurances from BELOW that it's been despatched and well on its way to its master.

Logical conclusion? 

Hound with master, Hound not here. Bugger! 

Since we concentrate on this pair for the majority of episode 1 there's not really that much else to talk about. 

It's an ok start, but not as entertaining as I was expecting, it seemed flat , stiff, which is odd given the depth of experience of the production team.

There are loads more eccentric characters and situations in this book, so I'm hoping that the future episodes perk up a bit. I hope things become a bit more engaging,as I found myself drifting a few times.

So on to Episode 2….

Rating:
6
Topics:
Sunday, January 18, 2015 - 21:25 by David

It's on my list okay ?!?!

It's on my list of books regarded as classics that I might one day get around to reading. Maybe. If I run out of other stuff to do . And I get the time. Here it is presented as an Amazon TV Pilot.

There is a reason why it hasn't jumped to the top of the pile, the premise has put me off.

Stop me if you've heard this before ....

America has been taken over by....

(Dramatic Chord) ....

NAZIS !

NO... WAIT ...

COME BACK ..!

I HAVEN'T FINISHED....

Oh well ..

I'm going to write a review anyway!

For starters, the opening credits manage to get the premise across in a few seconds, a feat rarely achieved, but given the familiarity of SOME of the storyline that shouldn't be difficult. Take a map of the USA and stick a swastika on it and bingo were in alternative Earth/History territory and instantly....lots of people turn it off. They shouldn't though. The title sequence is quality, a soulful, almost funereal version of 'Edelweiss' mournfully sung over WWII newsreel footage superimposed onto arty shots of American iconic monuments.

Hang on though...

What's this? There are TWO flags over the USA , Nazi Germany in the East AND Imperial Japan in the West, with what appears to be a buffer zone between them. 

The head spins with the possibilities .

Well not really.

But it should, given that the original story was penned by the master of weird Phillip K. Dick back in 1962, it was probably a precursor to many of the clichés associated with the Allies losing the war. That said, the story may not have been written as a cliché but in the 53 years it's been around it will now be part of a whole familiar genre.

So given that the premise is a dead cert then , we'll be looking for a resistance movement...

Check...

Bully boys on the streets...

Yup.

Daring escapes from the clutches of evil fascists .

You got it.

American women teaching Aikdo to Japanese men ...

Err....

American Women shopping for Chinese remedies in an alternative medicine store.

Umm...

And it must be 1946 with Adolf Hitler in the Whitehouse (we must be on safe ground with that one...).

Sort Of..

It's 1962, and the Washington has been destroyed by an 'H' bomb. Hitler is still around though, but not in the best of health, with speculation that his part in the Thousand Year Reich will be over in the next few months, the West-coasters are worried that his replacement will be converting the Japanese controlled states into a radioactive slag-heap.Tensions between The Greater Reich And the Imperial Pacific States are cordial on the face of it but very strained underneath.

We have central characters from both coasts. In the east Joe Blake joins the resistance minutes before the Brownshirts arrive. He's now on the run with a truck and a map. In San Fransisco, its Julianna Crane, who's sister Trudi is euphoric that she's found 'The Reason'.  Later that night Trudi is lying in the street with a fatal hole in her chest after first thrusting a mysterious package at Julianna. The contents of this package is a film that Julianna can't stop watching, purportedly clever fakes of an Allied victory produced by the titular 'Man In The High Castle'.

Julianna sets off with the film to the neutral zone (no, not that one) in her sister's place to find out whats going on. 

Joe is heading for the same place. 

Whilst in the background, the authorities on both coasts are chasing them down. 

Its worth mentioning Rufus Sewell as the prime Nazi officer here, sadistic, scheming and thorougly nasty. He berates one of his torturers for not beating a man after the victim has been beaten into a permanent coma. He wants to send a message, but not the one you think. 

There seem to be a few different threads here, and lots of intrigue and counter-intrigue. Its complex and isn't spoon feeding its audience.

It feels like a superior production in visuals and sound and manages to evoke a real quality alternate history. There's a fatality to it, no-one is happy, only a few brief moments from Trudi that we see the day before she dies. 

Extermination of the non-pure is an accepted way of life. At one point, flakes of ash drift over Joe from a hospital, the local deputy calmly telling him which particular group is being incinerated today.

I liked this Pilot and hope it gets to be series, it needs viewers so please watch and vote at Amazon. 

If it does pick up a series it certainly seems to be worth buying into. Especially if it's to resolve the wonderful cliffhanger at the end of the pilot.

More?

Ja, Amazon San...

Rating:
8
Topics:
Saturday, November 29, 2014 - 17:00 by Yumster

Apologies for the delay all, my daughter caught the beginning of this episode and decided she would like to watch them all with me so I had to start again! Almost caught up now.

So how does this episode compare to the previous one? At first glance its another meta human baddie of the week episode. Fear not though, all is not as it seems.

So the team are out at a bar where Barry is trying to get drunk, but thanks to his metabolism just can't. It's great to see the guys out of the lab to be honest, although I am not sure how Cisco (Sisko?) got served, he looks about 16. During this a young lady appears to be robbing an office building and ends up bombing it.

Everyone wants to go there, Barry because he is the hero, Eddie because its his job and Iris because she is annoying. She goes to see if she can catch the 'streak', and manages to see Barry doing something actually quite awesome (if you suspend physics slightly). Now there is a window cleaner that for some bizarre reason is on his own, up the side of a building in the evening, in the dark, cleaning an office block. Why? Can you see the dirt? Why are you on your own? Anyway the explosion knocks the platform around and lo and behold he needs saving.Barry does this by running up the side of the building to get him and running back down again! It looked cool I have to admit. So Iris catches him in the act, which just fuels her curiosity.

During the investigation the military take over. Barry talks to Dr Wells who provides a bit of a back story, they did experiments on soldiers. Those mutant soldiers just get everywhere don't they? The team get the name of the woman robber and Barry goes to check her house out and it turns out that she can convert anything she touches into a bomb. Somehow though she doesn't have to float around naked, then touches Barry's outfit which then explodes. Luckily he got it off in time.

Cisco is annoyed at this back at base until he sees her picture – yes she is hot. After some investigation, and Bette (Plastique) showing up at the lab, it seems that Bette is looking for the person that operated on her, thinking that's why she has the power to blow things up. She wants it gone, but it turns out its related to the accident after all. This is the same universe as Superman, why can't someone be a meteor freak instead? There is bomb shrapnel in her body and it can't be removed. Sounds a little Iron Man to me, but still cool.

Dr Wells shows his dark side again in this episode, manipulating Bette into going after the general to kill him. There is a bit of history there as the two worked together in the past on various things including no less than Grodd. Barry finds out she might be trying to kill the general (after the team track her location) and goes to stop her. He succeeds but not before she gets shot. She doesn't manage to tell Barry that Wells gave her the idea before she dies though.

In another very cool scene Barry has to take Bettes' body to safety as it has become unstable and will explode. He does this by running on water – actually this is awesome. He drops the body and runs back .

The Iris side story is getting a little annoying to be honest. Just tell her already so we can have a moment like when Oliver Queen tells his best friend he is the Arrow, now that was an AWESOME scene. Barry as the Flash goes to have a talk with her to stop her writing about him, but it just makes her even more adamant, she even puts her name to her blog. She is a clever girl surely she can see the danger? Nope. Barry goes to talk with er as himself and that goes even worse, Iris can tell something is up but of course Barry can't say what because of her dad. So they agree not to see each other for a bit. I had hoped this will leave her out of the story for a bit but I suspect not.

All in all there was a lot in this episode, but it didnt overwhelm me (until I started this review). It flowed together nicely and this time only Iris was annoying. There are some cool scenes and hints to the larger world.

Keep them coming!

Rating:
7
Topics:
Tuesday, November 25, 2014 - 17:34 by David

Some people eh? 

You're born to a billionaire family, become a self-impoverished philanthropist doctor treating the poor of New York. 

You end up receiving an award and it goes straight to your head. 

Through the skull and into the brain in fact.

No misconceptions here, no trying to hide that it's a murder. 

Henry and Jo investigate the wealthy college friends of the dead doctor, and instantly you don't like any of them. There's "Jittery coke-head boy" , "Arrogant lawyer girl" and "Slimy corporate tosser lad". Not one sympathetic character among them. Yes, the rich are wankers,and if you renounce your wealth for altruistic reasons then your reward can only be a pointy crystal trophy straight into the cerebellum.

The investigations centre around a date tattooed on the dead mans chest and a secret from years before. 

Secrets figure large in this and there's a thing that is buried. They're trying for subtle allegory, but it comes across like Brian Blessed with a megaphone SHOUTING about how subtle he is.

There's a parallel in the past, with a flashback to what prompted Henry to give up general medicine and adopt a wholly cadaver clientele. Henry witnesses a street shooting and tries to help but also ends up in the firing line.  

I have a problem with this. Not as a piece of narrative, but the reason given at the end of the episode cannot possibly fit into Henry's life logically. I can't say more without spoiling it, but if you think that Henry has been a doctor in a war zone, then he must have come across this situation before.

Elsewhere, Lt "What's-her-name-again?" is concerned about Jo's mental health after killing the psychopath last week. Finally, something for the second string characters to do other than stand around being impressed by Henry. 

Unfortunately, this subplot is a bit ham-fisted, there's also a periphery character in the main plot that is introduced in such a way that I was instantly suspicious. It's sometimes unavoidable in a weekly tv show, but it took too long to introduce him for what was supposed to be a minor line on enquiry, and the alarm bells sounded.

It would have been better to have rolled out Jo's issues over killing over a couple of weeks rather than introduce and conclude it in the same episode.Still, I'm glad that I'm not the only one that has noticed that it's time for the other characters to get some airtime. 

However,Lucas still appears to be completely superfluous "Comic" relief, no point to him, get rid.

None of the bigger arc plot this week, so we're essentially back at killer of the week. 

Henry does however die in this again (two in two weeks) , and we see him pop up in a different setting.  Does he always come back in rivers, or will he be popping up naked in a public swimming pool at some point?

Now that I mentioned Brian Blessed earlier, I really want him as a bystander pointing and shouting at the resurrected doctor shouting ...

HENRY'S ALIVE!

We can but dream.... 

Rating:
6
Topics:
Monday, November 24, 2014 - 21:27 by David

And so to the end of the series.

As with Series 1, we end with a review for Uljabaan. 

Unlike last year however, this time he's not looking to impress. Quite the reverse. He's had enough of his lousy posting and he wants out. Lucy has finally put a spanner in his works, or rather chewing gum in his matter manipulator, it apparently amounts to the same thing. 

So after being forced to clean his equipment himself to avoid only being able to replicate 1980's rom-coms, he decides that this invasion is beneath his dignity and decides to con his superiors into believing that Earth is more militarily advanced than the Geonin believed, so it would be better to call the whole thing off. 

Lucy and Katrina, happy at last, finally get to dial up the resistance thing with alien weaponry, supplied to fool the assessor,(including a working replica of a very famous weapon. One that absolutely shot first).

They'll show this Alien reviewer who's boss. 'Nuff said!

Conversely, the Lyon parents realise with horror that the end of the Invasion means that their village will once again resume normal life, several years after they stopped paying the mortgage...They do the only thing they can do in this situation, toady up to Uljabaan to see ithey can get cash out of him. 

None of the above goes to plan.

The assessor is perceptive, efficient, and unfortunately Uljabaan's Ex...

Back to a decent level of episode this week after last week's dismal effort. Lucy particularly is great this week, showing a lovely vicious streak and wonderful joy at getting a really cool gun. Katrina is consistent with the self-centred character who wants to take credit for everything, and her parents are nicely sycophantic and oily.

The Computer is definitely top of the pile of characterisations as far as I'm concerned, and I'm going to miss his dry reproaches of his underachieving master. 

 Would I want to listen to another series?

Hmmm...

Yes, I think so, but I think that it needs a few changes to make that an instant affirmative.

The Sci-Fi elements. The writer and producers shouldn't be too coy about a few more fantasy elements. The audience they have will be made up of a lot of people like me who listen to it precisely for those elements, and the show is at its weakest when it's just pitching for the mundane.

The Villagers. There must be more oddball characters in this village. We've seen a couple over the last 6 weeks, but they've been kept at a minimum. Surely enforced isolation is going to bring out the loons!

Uljabaan. Bring back Julian Rhind-Tutt. 

The Main Human characters. Lucy is a much stronger character this time , with a greater presence to counterpoint Katrina,who I'm beginning to not like very much. Richard is ok, but a bit underdeveloped. Margaret gets on my nerves even more than Katrina, BUT,the difference is she's supposed to. Even so, keep her in small doses.

So. 

As we leave Cresden Green much as we found it at the start of the series, Uljabaan's memory wipe starts to kick in and the mental fog descends, we say goodbye to.....

Erm..

What was I saying. 

Why am I in this field...

And what am I standing in ?

Urgh!!!

Rating:
7
Topics:
Sunday, November 23, 2014 - 22:11 by Spindles

Firstly, an apology: It's taken me far too long to get around to writing this recap. This is for a very good reason. Frankly, It has annoyed the piss out of me.

As anyone reading these reviews will probably know, I'm getting a bit fed up of all the flitting around that's going on this season. I accept that, in this day and age, we need a little bit of flair in the direction and cinematography of a show, but to purposefully leave threads hanging for weeks on end is just plain rude.

This error in storytelling is further compounded when you take a plotline that has been running over the last two seasons and completely undo it over the course of 42 excruciating minutes. I'm not sure about anyone else, but I feel cheated. To turn the whole 'Get to Washington, Wipe out the Zombies' plotline into a red herring basically means there is nothing left in terms of ongoing plot, other than whatever is going on with the Beth/Carryl trifecta.

Bitching and moaning aside, there were some really good character moments in this episode as we get to see a bit of Abraham's background and his first encounter with Eugene. There is also the terrific Zombies vs Water Cannon scene which provided some much needed light relief to a season that seems to be taking itself a bit too seriously.

All in all, I'm very disappointed with how this episode has changed the whole dynamic of the show. I feel like we've been lied to for the best part of a year. You are really going to have to work hard for the rest of the season to rebuild that trust Walking Dead.

Rating:
3
Topics:
Sunday, November 23, 2014 - 21:40 by Spindles

Obviously, since last episode, John has managed to once again give Zed the slip. This minor annoyance prompts Zed to use her psychic artistry once again in order to track down John & Chas' batcave. A couple of Doctor Who references later and now that the gang's all back together, it's off to solve a mystery.

This week's conundrum seems to revolve around the coveted single from Misplaced Abortion which, having rendered Rich temporarily deaf in season five of Skins, is now hell bent on freezing Constantine's old pals to death and subverting innocent children. This is no odder than the actual plotline which has a recording of the voice of Lucifer wreaking havoc upon the world.

This episode finally introduces us to one of the character we've all been waiting for since the series started: Papa Midnite. And he was absolutely awesome. Major respect to Michael James Shaw for his interpretation of the role. I hope to see a lot more of him in forthcoming episodes.

There were some truly inspired moments in this episode, including John's attempts to block out The Devil's Vinyl with The Sex Pistiols. Genius. And Chas' unique solution to the problem of turning off the power at the radio staion. We also get yet more references to Newcastle, Astra and whatever the underlying bad influence in the world is. I kind of want it to ramp up the storyline a bit now and have more than fleeting appearances for the Archangel Perrineau. There's only so much artefact/monster/spirit of the week that I can stomach before I start to tire of the formula, notwithstanding the still excellent dialogue.

No sign of cigarettes or lighters this week.

Rating:
8
Topics:
Thursday, November 20, 2014 - 14:23 by Ferg

So, my review of episode six can be pretty much summed up with a single, telling picture.  A little something that the props department handed to Jim Caviezel and said, 'Bet you you can't look casual carrying one of these puppies...' 

Reese with a big gun
'Nuff said, really...

As episode starters go, we're informed that a guy 'jumped' out of a building to become sidewalk salsa and the police aren't really paying any real attention to it, while Samaritan is aware of the communications going between who ever assisted the jumper and the owner apparent of the truck (or at least its cargo).  But John isn't involved - he's beating up a man in an eaterie because the man in question is annoyed that the pastry chef has slept with his wife and intends to shotgun him to death (like there's much of a grey area when it comes to shotguns...).
And so I want to point out something that's intrinsically important to this series - Ramin Djawadi.
Ramin Djawadi
That's him.  He's the chap responsible for some of the most notable scores in television and movie soundtracks at the moment.  The 'Peter Dinklage Tune' for Game of Thrones, the power guitars of Pacific Rim, the futuristist tones of the the first Iron Man movie, the one good thing about Blade: Trinty and most recently Dracula Untold... and that's just the stuff I've been paying attention to (oh, and the Strain, now... took my time over that one...).
I just want to take a moment and praise this chap for a job damned well done.  Each of these shows and films have acquired a soundtrack that simply buries itself into your collective memories because of their simple, yet provocatively enduring, grace.  When it comes to doing a themed piece of music for a project most of Hollywood is looking toward this fellow with dollarsigns for eyes due to the atttractive nature of the sound he attaches to the project: whenever John Reese gets in to a serious scrap or Finch suddenly finds himself getting hacked by Samaritan the music associated with the scene is urgent and threatening, leading to the very element of what Person of Interest is: a thriller.  And that sums up Djawadi's music, it's thrilling!  So there.
Oh, and while the intro music to The Strain is short, it is so unbelieveably effective - the whole Armenian hammer dulcimer tone is utterly compelling.  Just saying...

Shaw however is actually not enjoying her part of the puzzle, in so much that she gives the most wonderful (and sexiest) grunt of annoyance to appear on television EVER!  I dare you not to find it attractive.  I dare a woman not to feel for her, given that her objective works in an insurance office on her day off and happens to perhaps the most boring fellow she has had to track yet.
Meet Walter...
Walter
Yup... the costume department has done a wonderful job trying to make him look both boring and interesting at the same time, and yet there's a bit of controversy about this particular character, as Shaw finds out as Walter slips up as he consoles the sister of the man that jumped at the beginning of the episode, implying that he is in some way involved with the investigation surrounding the man's demise.  Walter, it appears is leading soemthing of a double life, which is where the likeness to Walter Mitty abruptly ends, in my mind.
You see, there's a few folk out there that believe that Walter is actually Person of Interest's nod to Thruber's short story character, and perhaps it is, but in that case I'm not impressed as Walter Dang is in fact utterly proactive, while Mitty is entirely passive and henpecked.  And don't get me started on Ben Stiller.  Seriously.  That guy... he..., makes me all kinds of angry.

But Shaw isn't going to get to play with Walter for much longer and manages to escape the insurance company without having to threaten anyone... sadly.  Instead she's heading back to the Finch Cave (yup... looks like I'm sticking with that one...) to play Nerd while Finch is over in Hong Kong attending a conference as Prof. Whistler, amongst other objectives, but more about that later.
Reese is following Walter as he scales the hotel that Abel fell from and Reese notices that Walter is packing a firearm, one which Shaw notes is unregistered and therefore breaks with Walter's hitherto spotless record, and as the two of them investigate further, Shaw discovers that the SIM card that Walter swapped earlier is, in fact, from Abel's phone.  How did he acquire it and what does he have to do with Abel's 'flying squirrel impression'.  Suffice to say, Walter is anything but the mild mannered insurance underwriter that he has been portraying, and why has his number come up?

Further searching has turned up that there is no digital link between Abel and Walter, but Abel had been texting a fellow by the name of Banks Van Hess, a member of the Ports Authority, which, oddly enough, Walter has just pulled up at an airport.  And finally the penny drops; a security guard stops Walter, only for Walter to introduce himself as Detective Jack Forge and flashes a badge at him and blags his way in to the secure records.  Reese is actually kind of impressed!  It turns out that Walter / Jack is looking for Van Hess as well but is about to discover more than he bargained for.  Van Hess is pleading for his life when he is executed as Walter walks through the door: he's got the drop on the bad guys and even draws his side arm with practised fluidity, only to be out-psyched as the perps draw down in response.  Walter is fast on his toes and pulls the door shut as he flees, narrowly escaping four rounds.  He closes another door behind him as the two masked goons set fire to Van Hess's offices, and then turns in to Reese, pauses, and then takes a swing which John dodges without even trying.  He then slugs him once and throws Walter over his shoulder and leaves as bullets start tearing up the place.  Possibly his easiest impromptu extraction to date.

So, back at the precinct, Walter Dang / Det. Jack Forge is explaining to John Reese / Det. John Riley about the case they are both apparently working on, and Fusco is included since the suicide has fallen on his desk since it turns out that it might not be a suicide at all, and Forge has managed to acquire a lead via Abel's phone... the one without an evidence tag... because it 'fell off'.
I need to remember that line.
For all those time when someone asks me about something that I failed to do or want to cover up, I need to remember to simply say, 'It fell off.'
Evidently, it's fool proof.  I'll let you all know how that works out for me...
Fusco is less than impressed to find out that Reese is harbouring a guy that is pretending to be a cop (one appears to be more than enough for him as it is).  It doesn't help that once the two of them turn around Walter's done a runner straight out the front door.  Good lad...

Bear is not eating.  He misses Harold and Shaw is accusing him of going all Belgian Super Model on her.  That dog is super well trained.  For the record, most of the cast and crew would like to adopt Bear.  He has effectively become the show's mascot and with good reason.
Bear vs Grumpy Cat
And you know he could...

Walter fails once again to say anything to Helena at work, but Shaw has discovered some new information: Abel had discovered that he was transporting weapons and ammunition illegally, and even worse, this wasn't just any old guns and ammo, this was High Explosive (HE), High Explosive Incendiary / Armour Piercing (HEIAP) and Semi Armour Piercing High Explosive / Incendiary (SAPHEI) munitions - the kind of stuff that doesn't just make big holes; it makes REALLY big holes in stuff like tanks... for giggles.  Seeing that on screen implies some serious military porn right there, it's like the whole season premiere of The Last Ship in less than a second, and we haven't even seen them being used yet... AND WE WILL!!!  Oh yes, we will... TWICE!
Take that Michael 'Talentless Wannabe' Bay...
Shaw now has a good reason to leave her desk... the same way Walter receives a couple of phone calls, from sources unknown, who appear to know of his double life.
Walter is abducted for all of five seconds, and we are privvy to what Walter doesn't see but certainly hears as three gunshots are heard and his captors are incapacitated in short order, only to have Reese lift the hood in time to spot a new vehicle pulling up.  Out pops a masked man with a VERY big rifle.  Action ensues and, adding that wonderful RP gaming twist, Reese rolls a 1 and fumbles reloading his pistol, dropping his magazine to the floor and is at the mercy of a damn big gun death.  Fortunately, he's not the only one on the scene, but for those of you who need to see it again, here it is:
Man in the Suit with Big Gun
Italian suit, hair gel, possibly some decent cologne, polished shoes and a high calibre anti material rifle.  Just taking the gun out for a stroll, baby, yeah...
It's at this point I want to point out that the director is Stephen Surjik - a director from loads of shows including Warehouse 13, Burn Notice, Flashpoint and the ill-fated Intelligence.
Stephen Surjik
You've seen his name behind a lot of episodes recently because his TV work has really played out well for him, since his films don't get quite the same response, namely Wayne's World 2 and Weapons of Mass Distraction, but then his TV work appears to be more his thing, and when he can offer up shots like those above with some cracking composition and action sequences like the one just described, it's apparent that he has an eye for the dynamic sequences - keep an eye on this one: I suspect we might be seeing more of him...
But I digress...

And Walter isn't thick, he knows who Reese is.  He even points out that Reese is like a super hero, which John flatly denies, only to have two cars pull up, a classic and a hot rod, Fusco and Shaw get to do the whole walk against the wind, bad-ass stroll in to dialogue and Walter to assure him that he most certainly is.
Meet the Barret XM109.
Barret XM109
There you go, Michael 'What's a Transformer?' Bay.  That's how you do military porn.  And I'm only writing a review.  Understand?  Tantalise, tantalise, BIG REVEAL!  It's why Transformers and Godzilla didn't work - and while I know he had nothing to do with Godzilla, you can probably see where I'm coming from with the whole military porn failure thing.  Plus there was nowhere near enough Godzilla in that movie (and they wasted all of the good actors for the military fools and drama baggage no one could care less about... but I'll save that for another time, I suppose).
Okay, that's enough of the military porn.... for now...  I'm digressing again...

And then there's the quote of the show, possibly the whole season,
Walter: 'How do you do that thing with your voice?'
John: 'What thing?'
Walter shrugs...
Genius... thanks Surjik.  Well executed.
So John stashes him in the precinct and explains in short order that Shaw is NOT his girlfriend, Walter asking with due concern and exasperation "Why not!?".  Because they'd kill each other, I figure...
But trouble is afoot at the Circle K / Precinct (see what I did there?)
An FBI guy turns up to acquire Walter, while Fusco realises that there's something wrong in lock-up just a moment too late.  He's knocked out and the big ass gun is stolen, and Walter is narrowly kidnapped a second time (or was it merely a distraction to give the others a chance to coplete their work?  I suspect the latter, to be perfectly honest), and John realises that a new player is involved in this particular instance: Elias.
So John pays Elias a visit and is greeted with one of the most magnificent collections of firearms I have ever seen in a show, or a movie for that matter.  Seriously, Tom Clancy (may he rest in piece) would have had something very pleasant to say about that amount of ordinance.  If even a fraction of that kit is used in the show Michael Bay would be out of a job.

CBS:  PLEASE, please, please, use a fraction of that kit in an action orientated episode of gun-totting, knee-capping, John-Woo-ing, bad-assery and make a billion movie-lovers happier by putting that talentless, pathetic, joy-killer out of work forever.  Because Transformers, that's why.  Just sayin'...

Elias divulges to John that there's been some messy dealings and the guns are actually still out there in a truck and Walter's phone with Abel's SIM card is the treasure map to the truck.  Cue Walter being kidnapped (AGAIN!) and John getting shot in the arm (AGAIN!).  Seriously, if we ever see Reese's left arm it should be just a mess of scar tissue and pocked abrasions.  Swiss Cheese has fewer holes, and yes, I just went there...
Turns out, though, it wasn't Elias that took Walter this time.  The other player, the group run by the Armourer is actually at play and is straight to the truck and acquiring their goods, only Reese and Fusco have tracked them down and brought some friends: Elias' hench-goons, including Scarface with big ass gun.  The firefight is short and wonderfully choreographed, proving once again that a plausible action sequence can be done quickly and to great effect with all the punches thrown and making the heroes look awesome in the process.  Not to mention big damn holes: I really wouldn't want to have had to mop up the guy that if hiding behind the container that Scarface shoots with the Barret.  A pressure hose would be easier and just rinse him in to the river nearby.
But it's Elias that has the last word...
Elias and the Armourer
The Armourer is in no way impressed by Elias' offer to save his life and won't sell out who is behind it all; but Elias already knows and when the Armourer attempts to kill Elias Scarface puts him down in a heartbeat.  Dominic and the Brotherhood are up to no good and it appears they have their hands in the weapons trade as well as all the other big pies.  Elias is far from happy.
Walter is returned to the office where he works and is thanked publicly, and more importantly in front of Helena, for his assistance taking down a weapons trafficking ring.   Apparently, it was just a scratch.... :D
Walter goes on to tell John about the Man in the Suit.  Turns out, Walter wasn't such a bad detective after all.  Walter closes down by taking Helena to one side and having a chat about her brother Abel.  Nice wrap up for that number.

Under a bridge, Elias and Dominic meet.  It's a social call but not an entirely pleasant one.  Elias explains that he's been out of the picture for a little while, but that's soon to change and he has no interest in interfering with Dominic's business, but Dominic believe Elias is intruding and the two of them part on less than amicable terms.

So where is Finch in all of this?  Why, he's in Hong Kong.  Playing a new game.
Welcome back, Finch, you've been away too long.  For the last few episodes he's been flying a little blind and out of gas, but now that he's 'had a talk' with the Machine, (or Smaraitan?) he's got a long term play and it starts here.  With Elizabeth Bridges (Jessica Hecht).
Jessica Hecht
Mathematician and technology company CEO, Bridges is sponsoring the conference that Finch is visiting and he carefully introduces himself and the two of them bond over their mutual love of mathematics, if not the methodology.   For me, this is the science fiction bit of the show I love and so I've saved this part for last: for those of you that actually like to geek out a bit, this is for you.
In short: Finch is going to steal her laptop, install some stealth software on to it and then give it back to her via a chap he's paid to rob them and then take a dive when he belts him with a brolly.  Awesome stunt too, considering hie's on a motorbike at the time, but the real strength to this episode is in the underlying science of the episode and the chemistry of these two characters.  Personally, I'd like to see Bridges again and I utterly suspect her Number to come up at some point in the none-too-distant future.
Meanwhile, Bridges has been dying to meet Prof. Whistler because she's wanted to tell him that his piece on 'Precautionary Principles on Neuro-Evolutionary Decision Making' is wondeful but all of his conclusions are wrong, which Finch / Whsitler reacts quite surprised by.  She even goes so far to say that his paper 'couldn't have annoyed me more even if he'd tried'.  Despite the obvious disappointment (nicely portrayed, Emmerson... again with the facial subtlety) he challenges her as soon as she mentions innovation, by referring to her as being a proactionist.  This disarming comment has her hooked from the word 'go'.
Now for the standard audience, this is wonderfully written: what is essentially very complicated behavioural study of Artifically Intelligent algorythmns and their development in relation to Human participation is made snappy and quintessentially interesting for the layman viewer, not to mention managing to add a hint of sexual tension.
Meet Ashley Gable.
Ashley Gable
This fearsome writer and producer is one of the crew responsible for a couple of episodes of Buffy and has worked with Bruno Heller on The Mentalist.  There aren't a lot of pics out there of her and there's not a lot of info in the public domain on her, but here's hoping she's going to turn up more, because her writing on this episode is sheer genius.
Bridge's arguement is that people have a right to science, while Finch's arguement is that of people having the right to responsible scientists.
So much has been implied in so few lines of dialogue that it brings me such joy to feel the underlying geekery imposed on the characters: here we have Finch's cautionary nature as a mathematician and as a man that has created an A.I. and shackled it in such a way that it can operate and save people but essentially fears the uncontrolled application of such technologies, while Bridges believes that true science needs more freedom in order to allow for true evolutionary leaps to occur naturally.  There is a subtext of these two individuals comparing parental beliefs and how they would bring up an artificially intelligent child, and it is enthralling.
Add to that the later conversation about their personal favourite mathematical formulae: Finch prefers Pythagorean Trigonometric Identity: a very practical and direct conclusion with stable values and absolutes which, as far as maths is concerned, infallable, while Bridges approaches with Euler's Identity - a considerably prettier, more aesthetic, positively romantic calculation that discovers a link between 5 repeating variables in mathematics (1, 0, i, e and Pi).  These formulae are absolutely characteristic of the characters themselves: it coms as no surprise that these charatcers would pick these as their favourites and for the characters to react the way they do when comparing these personal affectations, it reinforces their chemistry. Shame that's when they're 'mugged'.  Story gets in the way of a Geek Romance but that's just the way of things, I suppose.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pythagorean_trigonometric_identity
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euler%27s_identity
For the record, I discovered that Emerson doesn't actually write the Chinese characters from the back of the bike, to be able to read and write old Chinese dialects like the one in the show requires a higher understanding of Chinese as the characters can be misinterpretted if the characters are repeated incorrectly (as actually happens in the episode, since 'Finch' copies the one from the bike incorrectly), but since Finch is a master at all of the above (including being able to read braille on sight, like he did in the episode 'Nautillus' earlier on in the season) we'll forgive any discrepancies.  ;)
Bridge's company, Geospatial Analytics, is creating an algorythmn that interests Samaritan, and Greer has no idea why but since Samaritan has promised a serious donation to the company it will be intrinsically involved from here on in, and Finch has already played what could well be the winning hand.
Welcome back, Finch.  The game, as they say, is afoot.

Hah!  You Missed! 

PS:  Why is it taking so long to get PoI season 3 on a Region 2 port done?  It's been over in the US for a while now and and it's not like it's not popular over here (becaue it really is!).  Just sayin'... 

Rating:
9
Topics:
Tuesday, November 18, 2014 - 17:51 by David

I'm always surprised by how easy it appears to gain access to secret meetings in high security buildings without anyone raising the alarm.

Where are the security services, cameras, checkpoints, armoured doors? Why aren't sensitive meetings held on the top floor of skyscrapers? Why does there always seem to be easy access via fire doors?

HYDRA agents brazenly walk into a UN meeting and start disintegrating people while Gen. Talbot is speaking. This sparks global outrage, which is the natural consequence of melting Italian ambassadors.

S.H.I.E.L.D. are splashed all over the news as terrorists. Talbot is answering to his "tame" senator, who happens to be Christian Ward, brother of Grant Ward who is currently being all concilliatory and cryptic in Coulson’s basement.

Newly returned Simmons recognises the weapons used from her HYDRA infiltration, and May, Morse and Hunter go searching for the HYDRA quartermaster that she identifies. 

Much bickering between the ex's ensues. Strangely this tempers Hunter somewhat, and the one-sided whining now has a focus that makes him more sympathetic. I'm not sure if this is a good thing , I was enjoying calling him a dick every week, it feels like I've been robbed of a guilty pleasure.

The elder Ward brother makes a bid to get his hands on his sibling, and there's a very real suspicion that the family falsehood gene is strong with both of them. 

Fitz and Simmons are united, and the broken scientist gets to let her know that he is not at all happy that he was abandoned in his time of need. He wants to know why, but she can't tell him. The real reason is revealed later with not a little emotion, but it’s still not revealed to Fitz. 

In the meantime agents from both sides converge in Europe. Fisticuffs are on the cards when things go sour.

Whilst May slugs it out solo, the Morse and Hunter team show the qualities that ruin a good solid marriage...extreme violence, and making your (ex-)wife acknowledge that she owes you something. Think about these two items together. Then run away at high speed...

This episode felt a little flat. Not treading water exactly, there was plenty of action and intrigue, but this was moving pieces round the board to get them into position for something later, so although there was a lot of exposition and arc plot discussed, it didn't go anywhere until the last couple of minutes. 

We get to see that both Ward brothers are nasty in their own way,the mystic symbols make an appearance in yet another place, and Gen Talbot starts to thaw out in his attitude to the S.H.I.E.L.D boys and girls. 

There's a one-liner threat from a very unusual source, one that I really would like to see realised.

The Obelisk/Diviner doesn't directly appear, but the weapons used to melt the politico's are clearly derived from it. I hope the Obelisk does something more than just the transmutation/disintegration bit. If that's all it does, why bother with it, HYDRA can already turn people into coal dust without a problem?

So pieces slotting into place , it looks like we’ll be seing a few different plot threads in the coming weeks, possibly with two mad Doctors on one side and the two mad Grant brothers…

...on the same side as well

Rating:
7
Topics:

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