The end is nighIt's exposition time in Westworld, y'all! So Bernard was created because Ford wasn't able to recreate true emotion. Only another host could do it. Maybe this is analoge to programming we have now. In the early days of computing coders needed to code in assembly, tell the computer every operation it had to do. Nowadays we have higher level programming, in some cases we can even talk in natural language to it. So i think the way Ford works is not so far away to the way we work with computers. For me it is totally logical, that just hosts can model their own emotions, fulfill such a complicated task. My current Arnold-Theory is, that he was a host, that Ford created to do a similar task. But it got out of hand. So Bernard is Arnold 2.0.Ford also quotes Mary Shelly's Frankenstein: One man's life or death were but a small price to pay for the acquirement of the knowledge which I sought, for the dominion I should acquire and transmit over the elemental foes of our race.It is a bit to on the nose for my taste, but i guess this late in the season they really to tell it to the last viewer, who didn't already understand.One gripe i had with the episode was, that apparently you can photoshop people out of surveillance footage. Who thought this was a nice feature to have? "Oh, and make sure we can edit our security tapes. You know...just in case" "Of course, that is not at all creepy and suspicious"
I really liked that intro. Although it wasn't necessary, it was a nice way to explore Elliot's state of mind. And it is another way to interpret his perspective of the world. For Elliot the world must look like a sitcom. On the top-layer it's intact, everyone acts happy and problems doesn't seem to be grave, but it's just an illusion, fake as the greenscreen. Problems and dysfunctional relationships are laughed away, which compares to the real world, where Elliot sees how people always try to overplay their personal and societal problems.But the producers need to be careful to don't overplay this creative tidbits in future episodes, otherwise it tends to distract from the main plot and becomes just a gimmick. In general it seems to me that Elliot's plot is underdeveloped in this season, in this episode specially. He doesn't need to be the protagonist necessary, i can see him more as a commentator as well, but he was developed as a lead. Now he is more of a supporting character.The strength of the episode lies with the women, as it was built up in the former episodes. Angela and Darlene have an intriguing dynamic and they focus on hands-on hacking, which made this series unique. It shows also, that, when they focus on just two story arcs instead on for or five like in the last episode, they have time to develop it better and make the whole thing coherent.
Oh good. You didn't need me at allI must admit, Amethyst is my least favorite Crystal Gem. It's not, that i don't like her, but i can't really connect with her goofy and irresponsible nature. (What does it say about me, that i am more in Pearl's side here? ;) )But in this episode, Steven Universe delivers an emotional sucker punch, where i felt so sorry for Amethyst that i just wanted to hug her (thankfully Steven did that in the end).In Mr. Greg we've dealt with Pearls problem to deal with the loss of Rose. We have a couple of episodes where we deal with Garnets emotional problems, but there are just a few episodes that deal with Amethysts emotions. I think she is constantly insecure for her imperfectness. We hear Jasper say, that Amethyst should have been as big as Jasper. Amethyst tries to mask her insecureness with goofiness but in this episode it really broke through. Jasper was made for fighting, and she does that not only on a physical level, but is also really good at making her opponents insecure. Without the support of Garnet and Pearl, i think it really got to Amethyst and we'll see that pan out in future episodes.On a lighter note, we finally saw Stevonnie fight. I loved how they stood up to Jasper. Not only in an physical way, but also in an emotional way. They didn't let Jasper get to them on a psychological level like Amethyst did. Maybe Fusions are also stronger in a psychological way. Garnet barley shows emotions, because Ruby and Sapphire keep each other in check. Maybe it is the same with Connie and Steve and other fusions. The insecurities and inabilities of the fusionees are negated by each other and only or mostly their positive attitudes are prevalent.
What i noticed first in this episode was the color coding. Steven wears a light pink, puffy jacket while Connie wears a dark green hoodie (which made her look like Link, even more with the sword :D ). I like to think they consciously reversed the colors on them to contradict mainstream gender roles. This even more reflects in the dynamic of Connie and Steven, not only in this episode. When Steven got stuck in the snow after he rolled down the hill, Connie offers him help and he takes it. That is only a small gesture, but it isn't often in any show, even more in cartoons, that the male protagonist takes the help of his female sidekick. Connie is not only the girl, that is dragged along, she is a vital part of the team. She has the fighting and snowboarding skills. She is determined. In the end the whole story arc wasn't about Steven but about Connie and her relationship to Pearl. I really love to see her in episodes, because every time her story arc is as much important as Steven's.I think the whole episode is about realizing you need and asking for help. Stevens accepts Connie's help to get out of the snow and in a bigger arc Connie realizes she needs help with the monster, and calls Pearl. In any other show it would play out like this: Connie overestimates her strength and ability and tries to take on the monster until in the last second she is saved by Pearl and then Pearl teaches her about taking help etc. But Pearl told them already they should call her when they are in danger. It really angers me, when plots are woven around the fact that a team doesn't hear on each other, but the in this case it is the opposite. Again SU tries to go new ways in terms of story telling and character building.Also i really like Connie's relationship to her parents. In a lot of cartoons, parents are antagonists or at least hurdles that the kid protagonist has to overcome to advance in the plot. I think this is because kids often see their parents this way and so they can connect easily to it. But Connie has a strong bond to her parents, and naturally shows them all her pictures of her adventure. It doesn't come to her to have secrets before her parents. And why should she? They are her parents and only wish the best for her, even if the best is to fight monsters with a sword. I think it is okay to have secrets from parents but it is also important to show in such cartoons that healthy parent-kid-relationship is based on trust and truth.
S.S. MiseryIt's obvious, that the whole Lapis-Jasper-Storyline is about toxic relationships. And they done it really well. People stay together not only for external reasons (for the kids etc.) but also for internal reasons. As Lapis say, she kind of misses Jasper. It is an unhealthy urge to surround oneself with people that drag you down. But i think the underlying motive of Lapis Lazuli is depression. First of all Lapis is blue, she is literally feeling blue all the time. Second she shows symptoms of depression (i am not a psychiatrist, though, so i could be wrong). No motivation to do anything, Steven has to urge her to come on the boat. Blaming herself for everything. Making herself miserable because she thinks she deserves it. Maybe, like Centi, she is corrupted in her own way. It isn't just fixed with repairing her gem. It was a melancholic but also lovely episode. It was satisfying to see her stand up against Jasper. But i think that won't be the last of it. You can't overcome such unhealthy relationships with a bang, and i think the show runner know this.I am not sure how i should interpret the title. Neither Steven nor Lapis nor Greg where alone in this episode. Maybe it's about Jasper, but i think it's more meta. Maybe Lapis is feeling alone at sea. She thinks nobody is there to help her, nobody can help her. But in reality she has a lot of people who like her (Steven, Greg, Peridot). She feels alone, but her friends are close, just behind the horizon.
#shortysquadAfter the excellent episode Mr. Greg this was a real classic one. One gem learns something about herself and reveals a fact about Homeworld. I became a real Peridot-Fan while her transformation from an antagonist to a protagonist. This is for me the quintessence of SU, don't fight your enemies but make them your friends. Peridot is a tragic figure, like the Crystal Gems she gave up her initial ideology to fight Homeworld and still struggles with her new life and her decisions. But we can see all this in "realtime". Furthermore i hunger for every tidbit about Homeworld. Now we know, why Homeworld has this expansion drive: They need resources because HW itself runs out of them. We know already that the farming of Gems needs a lot of planetary resources and maybe even Homeworld is used up in this process. This subtle world building is another aspect what makes SU great.In the episode itself i think i see a commentary on millennials and their connection to technology: As we know now, Peridot is an Era 2 Gem, who, because of the lack of resources, has not the ability to shape shift and therefore uses technological advancements. In the real world, baby boomers depleted more or less the resources of planet earth, ruined the economy and the now emerging generation, the so called millennials, are relying on technology instead of the old ways. Despite this technology being an integral part of the society, both at Homeworld and here, the older generation looks down on the younger for the extended use of it (like Amethyst trying to convince Peridot, that she doesn't need their tablet). In the end Peridot shows that she developed her own abilities, which are connected to her reliance on technology. I would be very interested if someone has a similar theory or another one.
Any comedy that starts with Bill Murray has an instant bonus with me (but then the sudden realization comes to mind, that one day also he will die and that it is inevitable...oh boy)The chemistry between Danny McBride and Walton Goggins is excellent. Every scene where they interact with each other directly is so well written, so good acted out and so perfect cut that it is both, funny and intense. Although the focus in the pilot lies on McBride's character Neal Gamby i want to see more of Goggins' character Lee Russell. He reminds me of an less empathetic, more evil Dean Craig Pelton from Community (Darkest Timeline!).But apart from the two headliners the show felt very weak. Very cliché black, female and female-black characters. Specially at the end where Neal and Lee team-up against Dr. Brown i can't help my self but to feel a bitter after taste. Two white men team up against one black women?. I don't want to take this too seriously, after all it is a comedy, but with all that is going on in the real world (e.g. Leslie Jones being harassed until she left Twitter) it just felt weird for me. My hope is now that this will resolve it self in following episodes. I think they needed the time to develop the protagonists, who are great together. Maybe they will develop the supporting cast a bit more in future episodes (i think they will, but i wanted to write down this concern i had).
First things first: MILLIE BOBBY BROWN IS A FRIGGIN' REVELATION AND SHE DESERVES AN EMMY!The finale Episode showed once more how good the set-design was. You could see that the Upside Down was full of real props. Also the Byer's house had a real development. I told the story of the whole show in the background. It was like a focal point of the whole plot. Furthermore it showed the strength of the series storytelling: Chief Hoppers backstory was hinted in some previous episodes and one could already think, that his daughter is dead. So the flashback didn't feel forced but natural. On the other hand the finale showed how bad the CGI was. It begun with the CGI flies in Episode 1 and continued through the whole show. It's sad, that they didn't try to make more with physical props. Like the portal. Did it have to repair it self and therefore needed CGI. I don't think so. It would be fine, even better without. The last scenes in the Byer's house gave me last one kick in the gut. There are so many unanswered questions: What are those slugs. We saw them in Barb's corpse earlier. Why put Chief Hopper food in that box. It is obviously for Eleven. Where is she? Who and where are One to Ten?Some thoughts on season 2: Now that the expectations are so high i fear that season 2 will feel worse, even it isn't. This show hit me from nowhere, this advantage will season 2 don't have. Maybe a time jump? (But i want to see the actors again). I really hope the Duffer Brothers will take their time and won't become the Wachowskis (Matrix --> Matrix 2+3).Conclusion: Stranger Things showed us that you can build on existing themes and tropes and at the same time do something completely new. I think Netflix will learn something from this: Don't just continue an existing IP (Full House, Gilmore Girls). Nostalgia is prevalent in today's pop culture, but that doesn't mean viewers want to see old things with a fresh color. In building on a whole decade of cinema and Zeitgeist, the Duffer could develop new ideas. It's like: We like the 80s but we don't want to retell them. There are still new stories in this period that cinema and TV just hadn't time, money or motivation to tell. For that i am eternality grateful.Good Night, readers, good night.
The romance between Mike and Eleven was a bit unnecessary i think. I get that it should heighten the stakes and the finale but i like Millie Bobby Brown so much as Eleven that i didn't really need it. Anyway, now that we have it i am very pleased with the execution. It felt so innocent, so sweet. They are friends, but they feel that they feel more for each other without really knowing that.The chase and the whole beginning before the intro were excellent. This is 80s-Spielberg at it's best. .I have a question about the Lando-Theme that Dustin evoked: He said "That doesn't feel good" repteadly in this dialog. But wouldn't it make more sense if he would say: "I have a bad feeling about this", like Han Solo, who was betrayed by Lando? Did Disney or Lucas Film trademarked that sentence? Also, is Mr. Clark a CIA sleeper? He knows about sensory deprivation tank and how to build one, about multiverse-theories but acts like a really average guy. That is very suspicious! Maybe we should open this curiosity door.At the end of the episode, where the two henchman of the lab, the woman and the man appeared i had one thought: Anti-Mulder-and-Scully.
I wanted to write this in earlier comments: Does anyone think of Black Mesa while the Hawkins Lab scenes (the current time, not Eleven's flashbacks)? specially when they send in the one dude in the Upside-Down. That could've been Gordon Freeman.Anyway, as a i expected the protagonists are shifting now in the offensive. But i cringed on Hopper's plan. What was his exit strategy? I know, he is more an intuition type, but that was seriously dumb. Another thing that felt out of place was the scene at the vigil with Mr. Clarke. Firstly it was an unusual amount of explanation for Stranger Things, secondly this punch-a-pencil-through-paper-explanation was very cliché. And not 80s cliché, i looked it up. It was first used in Event Horizon in 1997 (or has Mr. Clarke the ability to watch movies from the future, which would be awesome btw.), then recently in Interstellar. I really enjoyed the duo Nancy-Jonathan. Nancy finally left her 80s-trope-shell and showed some soul. The confrontation developed both characters much further.Speaking of Duos: Joyce was in combination with Lonnie also very good. She used her maniac energy, that she had built up in the last episodes in converted it into an emancipatory act. One final thought, that i also wanted to write in earlier comments: I think they showed the monster too early. We saw already the head and parts of the body in episode 3 or so. I would've wished they wanted until the end of this episode to show anything of the monster directly. So the picture analysis in the dark room and everything else connected to finding the monster would have had so much more impact.
As i expected the wow-effect wore a bit of in the second episode. But still i enjoyed it a lot. After they set up their general nostalgia-flair and their very well written and acted characters, this episode showed us, what i think is the key element that makes and hopefully will make this series so lovable. It is a dichotomy of the protagonists between being an 80s cliché and a human being with a soul (although i am not sure that all protagonists are human beings...). There are some scenes in this episode that really stung right in my heart, for example at the beginning, when Eleven lies there and starts crying. It felt so true. I remembered all the times as a kid when i was sleeping somewhere besides my own bed and felt homesick. So well play by Millie Bobby Brown! And also when Chief Hopper says how in the city he only dealt with strangers and now it was his friend. Those scenes are maybe easy to write, but not easy to act without it feeling acted but real.Furthermore the story is really interesting. I have absolutely no idea how it will unfold and that happens rarely these days. There are so many possibilities and Stranger Things makes not the mistake to explain anything. It's show, don't tell how i wished i would see more in the mystery and sci-fi genre.I gave the episode 8 points because i want to keep some reserve for episodes that really overwhelmed me.
Strange is the new OrangeDo you like one or more of the following movies: E.T., Nightmare on Elm Street, Poltergeist, The Shining, The Goonies.If yes, Stranger Things will take you on a nostalgia filled joyride, that will bring you back to your childhood before the TV or in the cinema like never before (even if you wasn't a kid in the 80s). If not, you will watch one of the best Netflix-Shows ever. Stranger Things is extremely atmospheric with an eye for detail like i never saw before. The show-runner Matt and Ross Duffer breath 80s nostalgia but don't make the mistake to use it as an end to itself. The pilot shows us engaging characters, from the four friends to the nervous wreck of a mother, played by Wynona Ryder, all inspired by the 80s but revitalised by 2016-Peak-TV-writing. I really tried to find some negative aspects in this first episode, but the only thing i could say is, that it sometimes goes over the top with it's 80s clichés. For example the storyline with the sister and her boyfriend serves no real purpose in connection to the rest of the plot. Merely a trope. And maybe it cuts too fast from children-mystery to Drama, then to Romance and back again. But that is overshadowed by the general love that was put into making this series.Let's see how it holds up in the next seven episodes. I am excited!
I will be writing about Episode 1 and 2.
This season premiere was perfectly paced and very atmospheric. I think the general theme of the episodes and also this season is illusion. Mr. Robot talks about how reality is just an illusion, Phillip Price talks about how the government creates an illusion and Elliot tries to build himself an illusion of a normal life. This illusion equals normalcy and routine. There is this IT-saying: "Never touch a running system". And i think Mr. Robot (the show) tries to transfer this proverb to the real world. You should never touch a running system, even if you can improve something, because it causes disruption. That is what government and the society is about in general (in the thinking of Mr. Robot). But what does a hacker? He/She touches a running system. Sometimes to cause harm and chaos, but often hackers hack something to improve it. Lifehacks become a whole new meaning in this context.The second part of this illusion-theme is the connection to magicians. The show confirms this magic connection in the QR-Code Easteregg, which leads to http://www.conficturaindustries.com/. If you google Confictura, you get to a handbook for stage illusionists . I remembered what i learned about magic tricks from The Prestige: There are three stages. The Pledge, where you set up the trick ("Look at this bird. Just a normal bird!"), the Turn (Bird disappears) and finally the prestige (Bird reappears). I think you can see this three stages in the season one finales and the two episodes in season two. Tyrell Wellick meets Elliot in the season finale (The Pledge), Tyrell disappears (The Turn) and at the end of episode two he reappears (The prestige). . Maybe we see more magic tricks in this season.Some other observations: I really liked the acting, specially of Rami Malek and Portia Doubleday (Angela). Angela turned full American Psycho, i was amazed by her powerplay in the PR department. I would like to see her rise to a corporate power woman (and then her eventual fall). Rami's pivot of acting was the scene where he started laughing at Mr. Robot. That was a Joker-worthy performance. It really frightened me. We are also introduced to FBI-Agent Grace Gummer. I think she will be the counterpart to Elliot and fsociety in general. I liked her performance (Anyone else thought of Elsbeth Tascioni from The Good Wife?) and i am looking forward to see more of her.To sum it up, this season beginning was fantastic and shows how good Mr. Robot is. Pacing, Atmosphere, Acting: It all was on pint and although the series is often slow paced it never gets dull.