250 reviews of time travel TV, movies, books right here

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Banshee 3.8: What Did Rebecca Find with Burton?

Some memorable scenes with Hood versus Chayton in tonight's walloping episode 3.8 of Banshee - memorable, to say the least - but the scene that most provokes is what Rebecca found with Burton, when she tried to seduce him, and put her hand down his pants.

As is so often the case with Rebecca, the expression on her face tells much of the story.  In this case, it was one of, well, horror may be too strong a word, but is in the right vicinity.   She certainly didn't find what she expected, and what she found was ... well, more than enough for her stop the seduction.

My first thought was that maybe Burton is a woman, but that doesn't seem quite right, either.  What happened to him in prison - in another strong scene in which Proctor discovers him - is likely the source of the answer.    And, not to be too graphic about it, but likely something was badly maimed, or worse.   Leave it to Banshee to bring us down this path, as we struggle to learn the origin of this charismatic character.

Meanwhile, in New Orleans, Chayton put up a better than good fight, but the inexorable logic of the narrative - meaning, Hood couldn't die - not to mention moral justice, demanded that Chayton be the one who was ended.   The coda, of his body with the fish, provides a good couplet with his rising out of the water the last time we thought he might be dead.

So a major bad guy is gone.   But the heist last week has set a new enemy against Hood and his friends.   And this one combines not only considerable strength and savvy - as did Chayton - but a team who can help him figure out what happened, i.e., how he managed to be robbed.

As we see in the diner, he's well on the way to figuring this out, and acting upon it.  Should be a strong two concluding episodes of this season, as Hood struggles to stay on top and ahead of this.

See also Banshee 3.1: Taking Stock ... Banshee 3.2: Women in Charge ...Banshee 3.3: Burton vs. Nola ... Banshee 3.4: Burton and Rebecca ... Banshee 3.5: Almost the Alamo ...  Banshee 3.6: Perfect What-If Bookends ... Banshee 3.7: Movie with Movie

Like crime stories that involve the Amish? Try The Silk Code


Friday, February 27, 2015

12 Monkeys 1.7: Snowden, the Virus, and the Irresistible

All hell - i.e., the deadly virus - almost breaks irrevocably loose in episode of 1.7 of 12 Monkeys tonight, as Cole races back - a week back - to stop this in 2015.

Here's background story, clearly revealed at last: There's an ancient virus, dug up, then genetically modified to be the stone cold nearly instant killer which, as we know, all but wiped out the world.   It all starts when the CIA sends the virus to Chechnya to kill Edward Snowden - in this story, one Adam Wexler, who even looks like our Snowden, though.   Wexler's story - as we soon learn, and as he comments near the end of the episode - hinges on a real virus, in contrast to a computer virus, in a nice play on words and reality.

Now, in order for Cole to stop the plague, he has to destroy to the virus in Chechnya before it spreads any further.  To do this, he has to travel a week into the past, as I said.   But here's the kicker: Cassandra knows that Cole will stop the virus from spreading, all right, but by sacrificing his own life.  Should she warn him, in the hope that Cole can somehow still stop the virus without losing his life?

In a lesser, more conventional narrative, she would have figured out a way to warn him, in the hope that she would be able to have her cake and eat it - that is, save the world and Cole, too.  But this 12 Monkeys series pulls no punches, and provides no easy outs.  So ... it looks at the end of the episode as if the virus is stopped and Cole indeed dies.

So, for the second week in a row, one of the two major characters has died.  Except, with Cole on the loose last time, he was able to save Cassandra.   Will she be able to bring Cole back now?

But there's an even deeper question: would Cole even exist in a world in which the virus was stopped?  12 Monkeys has already indicated the most fundamental reality about time travel, with the saving of Cassandra:  no one is unalterably dead in a world animated by time travel.   But will Cassandra have the memory to change Cole's death, in a world in which the virus and therefore he never arose in the first place?  This, by the way, is just one iteration of the heart-breaking deepest truth of all that, even if the virus and plague are stopped without Cole dying in the process, Cole still therefore wouldn't exist as we know him in the plague-riven world in which time travel was perfected and enabled him to go back in time and meet Cassandra - because a world without the plague would not have created our Cole.

There are, fortunately for the narrative, several ways out of at least this episode's rendition of the paradox.   One is that Cole didn't die when the rockets hit, because he was pulled out of that time by Jones in the future. Another is that, for reasons we don't quite understand, Cole's death did not result in the virus being eradicated - maybe there is another test-tube of it somewhere -  which means that the plague will still happen, which means that Cole will meet Cassandra, which means she can figure out a way to save him.

Ain't time travel grand?  I don't know, I've never done it, but it sure is something irresistible in 12 Monkeys the series.

See also 12 Monkeys series on SyFy: Paradox Prominent and Excellent ...12 Monkeys 1.2: Your Future, His Past ... 12 Monkeys 1.3:  Paradoxes, Lies, and Near Intersections ... 12 Monkeys 1.4: "Uneasy Math" ... 12 Monkeys 1.5: The Heart of the Matter ... 12 Monkeys 1.6: Can I Get a Witness?

podcast review of Predestination and 12 Monkeys

 three time travel novels: the Sierra Waters trilogy

 photo LateLessons1_zpsogsvk12k.jpg
What if the Soviet Union survived into the 21st century,
and Eddie and the Cruisers were a real band?

The Chronology Protection Case movie 

~~~ +++ ~~~


Bosch: Second Half: As Fine as the First

I saw the rest of Bosch on Amazon  Prime last night, and, like a fine bottle of wine, it was as good as the beginning, which I reviewed here a few days ago.

Speaking of libation, I even learned something new in the series.  Bosch orders a "flat tire" bottle of beer.  I looked it up, and I'm going to try one myself at the next suitable occasion.

The story continues with its two-edged plot - that is, two kinds of murders, which may or may not be related, but continue to intersect almost until the end of this first season.  I won't tell you the ultimate outcome, but will say it that we get a great ride, alternately harrowing and satisfying, to get there.

What is most memorable and appealing about Bosch the character, and therefore Bosch the series, is the integrity he's able to maintain amidst the corruption and lies and near-corruption all around him. And he does this not in a high-handed way, but as someone who truly struggles with the difficult decisions and choices constantly thrown in his way, and pertaining not only to his professional but his personal life, which are almost constantly intertwined in this story.

Indeed, we learn more about Bosch's personal story in the second half of the season, with more about his former wife - a former profiler now working the people and odds in Las Vegas - and their daughter.  The acting continues to be top-notch, even in the smaller roles, including Scott Wilson (the memorable Herschel from The Walking Dead) and Alan Rosenberg (L.A. Law).   And the story lines of the supporting characters are rich and intriguing, including at least one unexpected affair with a colleague.

In addition to all of this, Bosch provides a complex political chess game, the outcome of which we don't discover until the very end.   Bosch the character is almost perfectly situated on this board, right in the middle, between the street and the upper brass, each of which want a different piece of his soul.

I'd now rate Bosch as one of the best cop shows ever on television, right up there, in different ways, with The Shield and The Wire.

See also Bosch: First Half: Highly Recommended

                   another kind of police story 


Vikings 3.2: Leonard Nimoy

News of Leonard Nimoy's passing came just as I was starting to write a review of the excellent episode 3.2 of Vikings, on the History Channel last night.   In many ways, the spirit of going beyond the well-trodden universe depicted so well in Star Trek, with Leonard Nimoy's Spock at the intellectual helm, is derived from the real Vikings in our history, whose story is now being told so compellingly in the TV series.

Of course, the Starship Enterprise never approach a planet or a shore with heads of their vanquished enemies hanging from their ship.  This was one of the most powerful scenes, not just in last night's episodes but in the entire series, because it showed, without words, just how brutal and frightening our Vikings could be.

Who would be the Spock in our Vikings crew?  He would have to be Floki, who has a lot of Spock's smarts, but is far crazier than Spock, except during the Vulcan Pon Farr mating frenzy.   But Ragnar is closer to Kirk, more violent than the Enterprise captain, but equally strategic and brilliant, and probably better adjusted, emotionally, in terms of wives and families.   Back to Floki, he also bears a resemblance to Scotty, since Floki's knowledge of boat craft helped launch our Vikings across the waters in the first season.

Other than the heads on the ships, the most memorable scenes in last night's episode were of women, in various stages of dawning love and other emotions.  My favorite, for some reason, was of Althelstan, practically being propositioned by conventions of that time.  I'm wishing nothing but the best for him. Meanwhile, Lagertha and Ecbert are clearly moving closer together, and there's some sort of early chemistry between Princess Kwenthrith and Ragnar.

One of the big difference between Star Trek and Vikings is that women have much more major and active roles in Vikings.   This reflects the difference, not in the past and the future, but in the 1960s and the 2010s - or the time the two series were and are being created.   Were Viking women really that prominent in our history?   Probably not, but they're great to see in this series, as exhilarating and cosmic in its own way as  Star Trek.  I hope both live long and prosper.

See also Vikings 3.1. Fighting and Farming

And see also Vikings 2.1-2: Upping the Ante of Conquest ... Vikings 2.4: Wise King ... Vikings 2.5: Caught in the Middle ... Vikings 2.6: The Guardians ...Vikings 2.7: Volatile Mix ... Vikings 2.8: Great Post-Apocalyptic Narrative ... Vikings Season 2 Finale: Satisfying, Surprising, Superb

And see also Vikings ... Vikings 1.2: Lindisfarne ... Vikings 1.3: The Priest ... Vikings 1.4:  Twist and Testudo ... Vikings 1.5: Freud and Family ... Vikings 1.7: Religion and Battle ... Vikings 1.8: Sacrifice
... Vikings Season 1 Finale: Below the Ash

historical science fiction - a little further back in time


more about Star Trek in this anthology:  Boarding the Enterpise

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Bosch: First Half: Highly Recommended

I binge-watched the first half of Bosch on Amazon Prime Instant Video last night.  Herewith a brief, nonspoiler review.

The series is superb, and a worthy addition to streaming masterpieces such as House of Cards and Peaky Blinders on Netflix, and what The Man in the High Castle promises to be on Amazon.  These shows are spearheading a new revolution in television viewing, as far ahead of most cable today as cable was to network television when it first unveiled The Sopranos in the late 1990s.   The capacity to binge watch - available with cable usually only for series already aired, or after the DVD was released - has been coupled on Netflix and Amazon with a pace in the narrative that we've not quite seen before on the television screen.

All I'll say about the narrative of Bosch, at this point, is that it's a story that seems old for an instant - about a Dirty Harry kind of cop - which quickly pivots to originality, and surprises with twists and turns in every episode.   The writing is joyfully literate.  In the very first episode, a character asks, can you "humor us about the humerus bone"?   Bosch's love interest, a lawyer turned cop (itself a pretty original character) who wants to be a detective, is said by Bosch to have gone from "the briefcase to the billy club".   And there's a meta-quality that runs through the entire story - Bosch lives in a fancy apartment, with a great view, far above his pay grade, because he was paid a lot of money by Paramount for a movie about one of his cases.

The acting is outstanding. Annie Wersching - of 24 fame - plays Bosch's aforementioned love interest, and she's never been better.   Titus Welliver puts in the best performance of his career in the title role, and that's saying a lot, since he hit the note so well in his stint on Sons of Anarchy.  Jamie Hector from The Wire plays Bosch's partner, and Lance Reddick of Fringe as well as The Wire is on hand as the Deputy Chief aka Bosch's main boss.

It's tough, as I said, to get a fresh take on a police procedural, a genre as old on television as Dragnet in the first golden age of TV in the 1950s.  But Bosch - based on the novels by Michael Connelly, who co-created the series with Eric Overmyer (The Affair, Treme, and Boardwalk Empire are some of his credits) - has somehow managed to give us a police story we haven't seen before, and it's a riveting tale indeed.

See also Bosch: Second Half: As Fine as the First

                   another kind of police story 


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Walking Dead 5.11: The Smiling Stranger

Another thoughtful episode of The Walking Dead this Sunday - 5.11 - in which our heroes are given the dilemma of what to do with someone who shows up, out of the blue, proclaiming and seeming to only want to help them.

Rick, unsurprisingly, is on the verge of killing this smiling stranger, and restrains himself to the point of just punching him out.   But Michonne and Maggie think otherwise - and, for some reason, trust the stranger.   In the end, their take carries the day, and the only one who supports Rick's distrust at all is Carol, who helpfully tells him even when he's wrong, he's right.

And I'm with Rick and Carol - why should our people trust anyone, after what they've been through? Michonne's argument that there has to be a better way may be true in the abstract, but what is it about this stranger which leads her to believe that he's the one?

Presumably what's going on here is that Michonne is so weary of leading this crazy life - and who can blame her - that she's willing to throw good caution to the wind, and Maggie, Glenn, and even Daryl apparently agree with her.  But surely this is a very dangerous gamble.

In something of a denouement, it turns out that the strange is gay - which is an interesting twist (and the second twist of this sort in this past weekend's television, the first having been on Black Sails) - but does this make the stranger, or his partner, more trustworthy?  

Significantly, the episode ends before we see who and what resides behind the locked gates.   So we've yet to get a definitive answer about whether Michonne's trust is justified.   Kudos to The Walking Dead for setting up, out of almost nowhere, a very compelling scenario, even if it did get off to a slightly shaky, not fully motivated start.

See also: The Walking Dead 5.1: The Redemption of Carole ... The Walking Dead 5.3: Meets Alfred Hitchcock and The Twilight Zone ... The Walking Dead 5.4: Hospital of Horror ... The Walking Dead 5.5: Anatomy of a Shattered Dream ... The Walking Dead 5.6-7: Slow ... The Walking Dead 5.8: Killing the Non-Killer ... The Walking Dead 5.9: Another Death in the Family

And see also The Walking Dead 4.1: The New Plague ... The Walking Dead 4.2: The Baby and the Flu ... The Walking Dead 4.3: Death in Every Corner ...The Walking Dead 4.4: Hershel, Carl, and Maggie ... The Walking Dead 4.6: The Good Governor ... The Walking Dead 4.7: The Governor's Other Foot ... The Walking Dead 4.8: Vintage Fall Finale ... The Walking Dead 4.9: A Nightmare on Walking Dead Street ... The Walking Dead 4:14: Too Far ... The Walking Dead Season 4 Finale: From the Gunfire into the Frying Pan


no cannibalism but at least a plague in The Consciousness Plague

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Black Sails 2.5: Twist!

Black Sails 2.5 was chock full of surprises and revelations, tonight - the first and foremost being -

The affair that Flint was having in London before he became Flint was not with Thomas's wife Miranda but with Thomas.  This explains a lot of things, including the somewhat strange relationship he had with Miranda last year, and the way Flint was drummed out of town by the British Admiralty earlier in the show tonight.  They wouldn't have been anywhere near as angry or disgusted with him, if he had been in bed with a married woman.   Score one for Black Sails in the unexpected, very well played twist department.

And in a lesser but still significant surprise,  Rackham decides to take Max not Anne with him on his ship, when given the choice (according to what he tells Anne) of being able to bring just one of the women on board the ship.  I discount his convoluted explanation to Anne, and assume his decision reflects how much more he enjoys Max and her charms in bed.

And, if that's not enough, we find that Billy is not only alive but freed, after all.   He was one of the top three or four excellent characters last season - bringing him back into the action promises to be good.

The powerhouse revelatory episode ends on a cliff hanger, as have most of the episodes this season. Vane has realized that there's no way he can beat Flint's superior forces, so he goes for the strategy of cutting off the head of the attacking force.  This one-on-one contest couldn't have happened at a worse time for Flint, as he's just come back in touch with his love for Thomas, thanks to Miranda.   There's no way the series will allow Vane to kill Flint at this point - not to mention what that would do to our novelistic knowledge of the pirate - so it will be interesting to see who and what gets Flint out of this.

But he will now be a different, far more complex character in this series, not just interested in gold, but in finding some equilibrium for himself in this unforgiving world.

See also Black Sails 2.1: Good Combo, Back Story, New Blood ... Black Sails 2.2: A Fine Lesson in Captaining ... Black Sails 2.3: "I Angered Charles Vane" ... Black Sails 2.4: "Fire!"

And see also Black Sails: Literate and Raunchy Piracy ... Black Sails 1.3: John Milton and Marcus Aurelius ... Black Sails 1.4: The Masts of Wall Street ...Black Sails 1.6: Rising Up ... Black Sails 1.7: Fictions and History ... Black Sails 1.8: Money


pirates of the mind in The Plot to Save Socrates 

Banshee 3.7: Movie within Movie

A good Banshee 3.7 last night, excelling in what Banshee does best, stretching the form of narrative on television in unexpected ways.   This time it was a fine movie within a movie, with our core of anti-heroes finally getting around to doing their heist, which is brought to us by a bevy of hand-held and stationary cameras, marked "Hood" (shot from his perspective), "Cover shot," etc.   This made for a suitably choppy mix for a disconcerting robbery which almost went bad.

Job is worried that Hood's head isn't in this game.  Hood decides he needs the heist to get his head back in the game, and guess who's right.   Hood sees Siobhan and gets lost in his illusion of her for several crucial minutes, giving the military who are being robbed a crucial jump in this action. Fortunately none of our people are killed or even captured, but it still made for a powerful few minutes of action television.

The other good fight also features Carrie, but this time with Gordon as her partner, taking on a group of young guys whom Deva has elected to spend some time with.  Nothing too wrong with that, until the guy Deva is especially beginning to like pulls a gun on Gordon.  Carrie and Gordon not only take care of business, but sleep together in the aftermath.   One way of looking at this is full-fledged adults can sleep with each whenever they want, but not so their teenaged kids, which seems a little unfair to the latter.   On the other hand, it was good to see Carrie and Gordon together again, at least for this interlude.

Rebecca's story feels a bit forced - I don't quite believe her when negotiates on her own - and the Chayton part of the episode was predictable, another retelling of the tale of the woman who takes in a wounded snake and heals it, only to be bitten by the snake as soon as it sufficiently recovers.   But this sets up next week pretty, well when Hood and Brock, whose head is also not quite in the game, will be going after Chayton in New Orleans.

See you then.

See also Banshee 3.1: Taking Stock ... Banshee 3.2: Women in Charge ...Banshee 3.3: Burton vs. Nola ... Banshee 3.4: Burton and Rebecca ... Banshee 3.5: Almost the Alamo ...  Banshee 3.6: Perfect What-If Bookends

Like crime stories that involve the Amish? Try The Silk Code


Friday, February 20, 2015

12 Monkeys 1.6: Can I Get a Witness?

Another tight-as-a-drum time loop - that's good - 12 Monkeys 1.6 tonight, in which the main new character introduced is a Witness, whom we know almost nothing else about.  But the Witness is clearly unclearly important to the story, and, besides, I always liked the Marvin Gaye song, which is why I gave this review this title.

The loop starts with the alternate reality - a different 2043 - we saw a glimpse of at the end of last week's episode, in which our team in the future under Jones is in pretty bad shape, including Jones no longer really being in charge.  Ramse's on hand with a missing eye, and his presence in this shaky future gives Cole a chance to tell Ramse he's a good man in any reality, which was probably the best line of the night.

The source of the alternate altered future is Cassandra's death in 2015, during or after her kidnapping that we also saw at the end of last week, and Cole's job as he goes back to the past from the alternate future is to stop Cassandra's death at all costs.  He has a pretty strong motive - he not only cares deeply for Cassandra but needs to prevent the degraded future that her murder will for some reason bring into being.

Ironically, in a nice touch, though Cole (of course) saves Cassandra, her saving brings her closer to her former guy, Aaron, who as a result of what he sees in this episode finally realizes what Cassandra has been contending with these past two years.  His apology to Cassandra is a good moment, but, sentimentalist that I am, I'm still hoping she somehow ends up in Cole's arms - in at least in some reality that we get a look at.

Her rescue involves Cole almost running into himself - always a good moment in a time travel story that takes its paradoxes seriously, as 12 Monkeys most enjoyably (for us if not the characters) does.   When Aaron, not the best with a gun, shoots the first Cole - something that didn't happen last week - our current Cole feels the pain in the place from which the bullet was removed in future.  Here's a quick flow chart if that seems unclear:  Cole 1 (last week's Cole) is not shot as he's yanked back to the different 2043, from which he's sent back to 2015 to save Cassandra.  During this rescue mission, Cole 2 (this week's Cole, from a future in which Cassandra is dead) accompanies Aaron, who shoots Cole 1.  Since Cassandra's not yet saved, Cole is still sent back from the future to save her, but this Cole 2 suddenly feels the bullet wound.

See, this is why a witness is important - these time loops can get complicated.  And, although the mission ends on a successful note tonight, with Cassandra saved, we learn that these jaunts through time are taking their toll on Cole, who needs not only a witness but a plan to stop the virus before he runs out of time.  Because, even with time travel, time is not infinite - especially if the time travel leeches the time traveler's existence.

See you next time with a review of the next episode of this series that does time travel the way it should be done.

See also 12 Monkeys series on SyFy: Paradox Prominent and Excellent ...12 Monkeys 1.2: Your Future, His Past ... 12 Monkeys 1.3:  Paradoxes, Lies, and Near Intersections ... 12 Monkeys 1.4: "Uneasy Math" ... 12 Monkeys 1.5: The Heart of the Matter

podcast review of Predestination and 12 Monkeys

 three time travel novels: the Sierra Waters trilogy

 photo LateLessons1_zpsogsvk12k.jpg
What if the Soviet Union survived into the 21st century,
and Eddie and the Cruisers were a real band?

The Chronology Protection Case movie 

~~~ +++ ~~~


Vikings Season 3 Premiere: Fighting and Farming

Vikings was back for its third season tonight, with a fine episode capped off by a rousing great battle and victory by Ragnar and his English allies over less than half of the English allies' foes.

Had Ragnar taken on the entire force, our Vikings might well have lost.  But in the key moment, Ragnar realizes that the two enemy forces are too far apart to come to each other's aid during the battle.  So Ragnar attacks the weaker force.

Ragnar, in other words, continues to be not only a fearsome warrior but a brilliant strategist - one, moreover, able to make the right decision on almost a moment's notice.   A savagely intelligent opponent indeed, and an apt personification of why the Vikings conquered so much and so far our real history.

Meanwhile, there's some good supporting character development.  Ragnar's son Bjorn is better than ever, and is soon to be a father himself with his shield-maiden Porunn, thus recapitulating Ragnar and Lagertha.   But Lagertha is now coveted by the Wessex King Ecbert, who shows her the farmland that drew the Vikings to England this time around.

But history shows and this narrative demands that the Vikings will take a long time before they settle into farming, even in the lush lands away from Scandinavia.  This is the Shakespearean tragedy underlying this story of the Vikings on television.   Ragnar longs for the peace and contentment of farming with reliable crops and temperate climate.   This life seems right in his reach now that he's in England.  But his prowess as a warrior is irresistible to Ecbert, who won't let Ragnar have the farm until all of Ecbert's enemies are vanquished.  And once ignited, England will just be the beginning of Ragnar and the Vikings' lust for new lands to conquer.

Glorious and sad for Ragnar, good grist for the story that is ahead this season of Vikings and beyond.

See also Vikings 2.1-2: Upping the Ante of Conquest ... Vikings 2.4: Wise King ... Vikings 2.5: Caught in the Middle ... Vikings 2.6: The Guardians ...Vikings 2.7: Volatile Mix ... Vikings 2.8: Great Post-Apocalyptic Narrative ... Vikings Season 2 Finale: Satisfying, Surprising, Superb

And see also Vikings ... Vikings 1.2: Lindisfarne ... Vikings 1.3: The Priest ... Vikings 1.4:  Twist and Testudo ... Vikings 1.5: Freud and Family ... Vikings 1.7: Religion and Battle ... Vikings 1.8: Sacrifice
... Vikings Season 1 Finale: Below the Ash

historical science fiction - a little further back in time