Friday, March 24, 2017

Colony 2.11: Twist

Colony 2.11, aired earlier tonight, offered a different format - a series of segments, each titled Bram, Will, etc - telling a partially overlapping story from each of their perspectives.  (In an interesting coincidence, the penultimate episode of Bones earlier this week was presented in a similar format.) On Colony, this approach allowed for nice twist at the end.

The single story was an attack on the posh residences of the Green Zone - an attack of the Red Hats, with Bram joining in, unbeknownst to his parents.   Bram and his partner enter a home - we learn later, the temporary residence of a big shot, Ambassador King.  Bram's partner is killed.  Bram escapes, enlists the aid of his aunt. and eventually gets back home.

He tells his parents what happened, and says in response to Will's saying/asking if Bram shot his partner's killer that he wanted to, but couldn't.

But, in the final scene - from the Ambassador's perspective - we learn that it's the Ambassador who kills Bram's partner, and Bram in turn kills the Ambassador.

Now ... this was clearly, at least partially, in self-defense.  Bram did have the option of running, but the safe thing to do was kill the Ambassador.  But why, then, did he lie to his parents?

The answer conveys the important lesson this fine episode: Bram has changed.  He's more complex than we might have given him credit for.  He's choosing to play his cards close to the chest, not be accountable to his parents, and go his own way.

This makes him a more interesting character.   We'll see how this plays out in the next two episodes - and, with any luck, in a third season next year.

See also Colony 2.1: Prelude ... Colony 2.2: 1969 ... Colony 2.3: The Wall ... Colony 2.7: Countdowns and Intentions ... Colony 2.8: What Passes for a Happy Ending ... Colony 2.9: Together Again ... Colony 2.10: The Fight Continues

And see also Colony 1.1: Aliens with Potential ... 1.2: Compelling ... 1.5: Questions ... 1.6: The Provost ... Colony 1.7: Broussard ... Colony 1.8: Moon Base and Transit Zones ... Colony 1.9: Robot Arm ... Colony Season 1 Finale: Not Quite Enough

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Designated Survivor 1.13: Regrouping

A slightly less explosive episode of Designated Survivor - 1.14 - easy to do, in view of the surprise killing of VP by his wife, and her following suicide, last week.  This weeks was a good time to shuffle the desk a little, with a variety of changes including

  • Aaron out and Emily in as the President's Chief of Staff.  Kirkman is understandably suspicious of him, and we're given at least some reason to think this ourselves at the end of the episode, but I'm still not buying it.  I think Aaron will come down as a good guy before the season concludes.  In the meantime, it's good to see Emily dressed up for her new, more important position.
  • Kirkman's wife and kids are off to Camp David.  Actually, this strikes me as a bad idea, and not just because Kirkman will miss them.  I think his family is indeed safer in the White House than up in isolated Camp David, where I predict we'll see them attacked by helicopter or whatever before the season is over.
  • There are some brand new, old players afoot - new, in that we haven't seen them before, old in that they are a former Secretary of State and a former President.   The former President, especially, should have some interesting story lines - including his take not only on Kirkman but who was behind the explosion.
So, with this deep breath and clearing of the decks, we're off to the conclusion of this first season of this wild new series.  Unlike Homeland, Designated Survivor strikes me as just a little too insane to really happen - but that's what makes it such harrowing fun.

See also Designated Survivor: Jack Bauer Back in the White House ... Designated Survivor 1.2: Unflinching and Excellent ...  Designated Survivor 1.4: "Michigan's on the Verge of Anarchy" ... Designated Survivor 1.5: The Plot Thickens ... Designated Survivor 1.6: The Governors ... Designated Survivor 1.7: Reassuring Fiction ... Designated Survivor 1.8: Kitchen Sink ... Designated Survivor 1.9: Hacked! ... Designated Survivor 1.10: Who Was Hit? 
Designated Survivor 1.12: Boom!

  terrorist squirrels and bombs in NYC

Penultimate Bones

Bones pulled out all the stops - and tugged at all our heartstrings - on its next to last episode this week.

Especially good to see -
  • Cam and Aristoo getting married, in a joyous ceremony.
  • Angela's pregnant - presented in a clever bunch of miscues.
  • Did I hear Angela say something to Hodgins about a doctor - could that be something hopeful about his paralysis?
  • Zack Addy getting his sentence drastically reduced, with Bones and Caroline both playing important roles.
Aubrey's love-life was unfortunate, but you can't have everyone having an happy ending.  But the most unfortunate development, to say the least, was the explosion at the end.  We had to have something like this, too, because Bones is, after all, a story about criminals.

But I'm too worried about any of major characters not surviving.   First, to jump to the meta-level for a moment, Bones wouldn't do that to us - end the series with such an unhappy ending.   But also, we saw in the coming attractions that Booth and Hodgins were alive and conscious.  Bones may be in worse shape, but she'll pull through.

And you know what?  I think everyone will survive - including Aristoo.  The Jeffersonian will be demolished, but not our characters, who made it real.   I'm an optimist - I think there's even a chance Aubrey will find true love.  Because that's always been the way of Bones.

See you next week, with one last review.

See also Bones 12.1: Back in Business ... Boned 12.7-8: Loss and Recovery

And see also Bones Back for Season 11: Aubrey and 'Audrey' ... Bones 11.2: Back in Place ... Bones 11.5 Meets Sleepy Hollow 3.5: Time Travel ...Bones 11.10: Shake-Up ... Bones 11.11: Meets Ironside ... Bones 11.18: Meta-Bones ... Bones Season 11 Finale: The Ultimate Intern

And dee also Bones 10.1: The Fulcrum Changes ... Bones 10.2: J. Edgar and the DNA Confession ... Bones 10.3: Meets Rush and a Dominatrix ... Bones 10.4: Brennan and Angela on a Bench in the Playground ... Bones 10.5: Two Jokes and Three Times ... Bones 10.6: A Thousand Cuts ... Bones 10.7: The A-Word and Quarks ... Bones 10.8: Daisy's Doula ... Bones 10.9: The Milgram Experiment and the Birds ... Bones 200: 10.10: Just like Bogey and Bacall ... Bones 10.11: Life after Death, and Sweets in Wonderland ...Bones 10.12: The Digital Revolution ... Bones 10.13: The Almost-Serial Killer ...Bones 10.14: meets La Parure ... Bones 10.15: Cards in Hand ...Bones 10.16: Hodgins' Money ... Bones 10.17-18: Bullies and Capital Punishment ... Bones 10.19: Do You Buy Booth's Gambling Addiction? ...Bones 10.20: Intimations of a New Jeffersonian ... Bones 10.21: Ten Years Isn't Enough ... Bones Season 10 Finale: Rehearsals for Retirement?

And see also Bones 9.1: The Sweet Misery of Love ... Bones 9.2: Bobcat, Identity Theft, and Sweets ... Bones 9.3 and NCIS 11.2: Sweets and Ziva ... Bones 9.4: Metaphysics of Death in a Television Series ... Bones 9.5: Val and Deep Blue ... Bones 9.6: The Wedding ... Bones 9.7: Watch Out, Buenos Aires ...Bones 9.8: The Bug in the Neck ... Bones 9.9: Friday Night Bones in the Courtroom ... Bones 9.10: Horse Pucky ... Bones 9.11: Angels in Equations ... Bones 9.12: Fingernails ... Bones 9.13: Meets Nashville, and Wendell ... Bones 9.14: "You Cannot Drink Your Glass Away" ... Bones 9.15: Hodgins' Brother and the Ripped Off Toe ... Bones 9.16: Lampreys, Professors, and Insurance Companies ... Bones 9.17: Spartacus in the Kitchen ... Bones 9.18: Meets Day of the Triffids ... Bones 9.19: The Cornucopic Urn ... Bones 9.20: Above the Law ... Bones 9.21: Freezing and Thawing ... Bones 9.22: Promotion ... Bones 9.23: The New Intern ... Bones Season 9 Finale: Upping the Ante

And see also Bones 8.1: Walk Like an Egyptian ... Bones 8.2 of Contention ... Bones 8.3: Not Rotting Behind a Desk  ... Bones 8.4: Slashing Tiger and Donald Trump ... Bones 8.5: Applesauce on Election Eve ... Bones 8.6: Election Day ... Bones 8.7: Dollops in the Sky with Diamonds ...Bones 8.8: The Talking Remains ... Bones 8.9: I Am A Camera ... Bones 8.10-11: Double Bones ...Bones 8.12: Face of Enigmatic Evil ... Bones 8.13: Two for the Price of One ... Bones 8.14: Real Life ... Bones 8.15: The Magic Bullet and the Be-Spontaneous Paradox ... Bones 8.16: Bitter-Sweet Sweets and Honest Finn ... Bones 8.17: "Not Time Share, Time Travel" ... Bones 8.18: Couples ... Bones 8.19: The Head in the Toilet ... Bones 8.20: On Camera ... Bones 8.21: Christine, Hot Sauce, and the Judge ... Bones 8.22: Musical-Chair Parents ... Bones 8.23: The Bluff ... Bones Season 8 Finale: Can't Buy the Last Few Minutes

And see also Bones 7.1: Almost Home Sweet Home ... Bones 7.2: The New Kid and the Fluke ...Bones 7.3: Lance Bond and Prince Charmington ... Bones 7.4: The Tush on the Xerox ... Bones 7.5: Sexy Vehicle ... Bones 7.6: The Reassembler ... Bones 7.7: Baby! ... Bones 7.8: Parents ...Bones 7.9: Tabitha's Salon ... Bones 7.10: Mobile ... Bones 7.11: Truffles and Max ... Bones 7.12: The Corpse is Hanson ... Bones Season 7 Finale: Suspect Bones

And see also Bones 6.1: The Linchpin ... Bones 6.2: Hannah and her Prospects ... Bones 6.3 at the Jersey Shore, Yo, and Plymouth Rock ... Bones 6.4 Sans Hannah ... Bones 6.5: Shot and Pretty ... Bones 6.6: Accidental Relations ... Bones 6.7:  Newman and "Death by Chocolate" ...Bones 6.8: Melted Bones ... Bones 6.9: Adelbert Ames, Jr. ... Bones 6.10: Reflections ... Bones 6.11: The End and the Beginning of a Mystery ... Bones 6.12 Meets Big Love ... Bones 6.13: The Marrying Kind ... Bones 6.14: Bones' Acting Ability ... Bones 6.15: "Lunch for the Palin Family" ...Bones 6.16: Stuck in an Elevator, Stuck in Times ... Bones 6.17: The 8th Pair of Feet ... Bones 6.18: The Wile E. Chupacabra ... Bones 6.19 Test Runs The Finder ... Bones 6.20: This Very Statement is a Lie ... Bones 6.21: Sensitive Bones ... Bones 6.22: Phoenix Love ... Bones Season 6 Finale: Beautiful

And see also Bones: Hilarity and Crime and Bones is Back For Season 5: What Is Love? and 5.2: Anonymous Donors and Pipes and 5.3: Bones in Amish Country and 5.4: Bones Meets Peyton Place and Desperate Housewives and Ancient Bones 5.5 and Bones 5.6: A Chicken in Every Viewer's Pot and Psychological Bones 5.7 and Bones 5.8: Booth's "Pops" and Bones 5.9 Meets Avatar and Videogamers ... Bad Santa, Heart-Warming Bones 5.10 ... Bones 5.11: Of UFOs, Bloggers, and Triangles ... Bones 5.12: A Famous Skeleton and Angela's Baby ... Love with Teeth on Bones 5.13 ... Faith vs. Science vs. Psychology in Bones 5.14 ... Page 187 in Bones 5.15 ...Bones 100: Two Deep Kisses and One Wild Relationship ... Bones 5.17: The Deadly Stars ...Bones Under Water in 5.18 ... Bones 5.19: Ergo Together ...  Bones 5.20: Ergo Together ... Bones 5.21: The Rarity of Happy Endings ... Bones Season 5 Finale: Eye and Evolution


the Sierra Waters time-travel trilogy

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Humans 2.7-8: Universal

A great season 2 2-hour finale of Humans here in the U.S. on Monday night, which featured all kinds of powerful developments, including
  • Karen becoming a single mother.   I'll really miss Pete, but this is a good development for the story.  Especially moving is the last scene with Karen and the boy, and how his achievement of sentience stops her from driving into roiling water.
  • Renie turning out to be a human girl, mimicking a synch.  This was a nice touch, unexpected, and worked well against Sophie's emulation-of-synch story.
  • Leo losing the digital part of his brain.  This will make him 100% human, an important turn, unless he or someone figures out to reinstall the digital component.
  • The synch-free town, and Joe's moving to it, was another nice touch, and a logical step in the story.
  • The conclusion of the Athena and her daughter story was immensely moving, and provides good material for future seasons - how will this disembodied AI relate to all of our synchs?
But the master stroke was the resolution of the Hester story - how she threatened the Hawkins family, how Mia sacrificed herself to stop that, how Niska was needed, though, to finish the job - and, most important, how all of this led to every synch in existence now achieving sentience.

This already had consequences for our heroes - Karen's boy becoming sentient - and it opens up an infinite number of possibilities for next season.  Our synchs will no longer be unique.  That already began to happen in Season 2, but this will be opened full throttle, everywhere, in Season 3.  Humans is an outstanding series, highly recommended to anyone who likes Westworld or any kind of robot fiction.

See also Humans 2.1: Westworld meets Nashville ... Humans 2.2: The Consciousness Code ... Humans 2.3: Motives and Uploads ... Humans 2.4: Android Orgasms ... Humans 2.5-6: Children

And see also Humans: In Ascending Order ... Humans 1.7: "I Think You're Dead, George"

 photo THECONSCIOUSNESSPLAGUE5_zps8e1b18e3.jpg

The Americans 5.3: The Cowboys and the Bugs

Philip and Elizabeth got to be cowboys in The Americans 5.3 tonight - well, at least he was wearing a cowboy hat, and she had it on, too, as she sort of seduced Philip in her tight jeans in their hotel room out in Oklahoma before the mission.

And that mission was a piece of work,  in which Philip and Elizabeth are trying to nip in the bud some nasty biological warfare, 1980s style, in which the U. S. is breeding bugs with an eye towards destroying the Soviet food crop.  One of the themes this year is how close to the brink the food supply already is back in the U. S. S. R., so this bug thread has a special relevance.

I have no idea, of course, whether the U. S. was ever breeding such insects.   It reminds me of the science fiction in one of my novels, The Silk Code.  But what would I know?  I'm just a writer and a professor with no knowledge of what our super-secret spy agencies did back then.

Or, for that matter, what they're doing now, just as I have no idea what the Russians today are really up to.  But all of that is another reason why The Americans is so especially relevant in 2017.

I should mention that I'll be giving an address in Moscow about fake news next month - via Skype - which, though I'm very much looking forward to it, I'd rather be giving in person, so I could see first-hand what's really going on there.  From what I understand, the food has much improved.

But I digress.  Back in The Americans tonight, we have a very strong ending in which Philip asks Elizabeth if they're going to tell their daughter about their killing the bug guy - especially powerful, since Elizabeth has begun to tell Paige at least some of what they're doing, including looking into the bug threat.

And I'll be back here next week with another hard-bitten review (sorry, this is no time for humor) of this dangerously pertinent series.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Big Little Lies as of 1.5: Multivalent WhoDunnit

Big Little Lies, as of its fifth episode on HBO this past Sunday evening, continues to be one of the most unusual, provocative, appealing, and original shows on television - continuing to demonstrate that HBO has a unique beat on television, that you find nowhere else.

At this point, we still don't who the killer or the victim is.   In fact, just about everyone has a motive for killing someone, not just Jane, whom we saw in close enough proximity to the man who raped her and fathered her child that she might well have killed him, off camera at this point.  The multiplicity of suspects makes Big Little Lies somewhat akin to a classic Agatha Christie story, except the suspects are suspect for different potential victims, and, again, we don't yet even know who the victim is.

Perry and Celeste, for example, could each easily be the killer of the other - Perry because he's a keg of violence on a short fuse, Celeste to defend herself against one of Perry's assaults.   And, while we're on anger, Renata has plenty of it - justified insofar as her daughter is being bullied and bitten - but likely directed at the wrong person, Jane, which gives Renata a motive and again Jane in defense of herself or her boy.

Madeline and Ed seem to be most peaceful, but even they have the potential to murder.  Ed is already suspicious that Madeline has been having an affair, and there's no telling what he might do if he sees and finds out more.  And Madeline - well, in some ways, she's the most fascinating character on the show.  Superficially, she's the most by-the-book and conventional of the women.  But she has a wild side, and a propensity to express it, as whens she admits to grabbing Joseph's "ass" - prelude, in effect, to their car crash.

And the acting that animates this complex story is, as I said in my previous review, just all around superb.  Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, and Shailene Woodley could and should each get Emmys for their performances, and Laura Dern, too, for supporting actress.  And the men are putting in memorable performances, as well, with the less time they have on screen.

Speaking of less, my only regret, as I often say about these short series on HBO and elsewhere, is that they're short.   Let's hope there's at very least a second season.

See also Big Little Lies: Big Good, Truly