Thursday, August 6, 2020

Altered Carbon - Nightmare Alley

With Takeshi Kovacs (Anthony Mackie) falling into the hands of his enemies, who still believe him to be the assassin they are after, "Nightmare Alley" provides the opportunity for the season's torture episode. After identifying as Kovacs, our hero is sentenced to death in the Circle where warriors in sleeves of his closest friends are sent to kill him in the middle of an arena. Helping to tilt the odds against Kovacs, Carrera (Torben Liebrecht) pumps our protagonist full of drugs prior to sending him into battle. The structure of the episode allows for supporting characters from the show's First Season to return as Ato Essandoh, Martha Higareda, and Dichen Lachman all return as the sleeves of killers out to win the big prize. Quellcrist Falconer (Renée Elise Goldsberry) is meant to be the fourth killer, but the real one shows up adding extra drama to the night's proceedings.

Cursed - Nimue / Cursed

Based on Frank Miller's re-imagining of the King Arthur legend through the eyes of the girl who would become the Lady in the Lake, the first two episodes of Cursed introduce us to the outcast witch Nimue (Katherine Langford) who is scorned by her village for believing she was cursed as a child (a sequence shown in flashbacks in the second episode of the series). The maurading of Christian zealots known as the Red Paladins, out to destroy the Fey (all magical and non-Christian souls), leads to the destruction of Nimue's village, the death of her mother (Catherine Walker), and a destiny entrusted to her to see a sword delivered to Merlin (Gustaf Skarsgård). I've seen both better and worse versions of the King Arthur legend, but, despite the slow moving first episode (and her inexplicable sudden control of a sword), I do like Langford in the role of the series' lead.

Batman: The Adventures Continue #9

The tale of Jason Todd begins here. Batman's second partner was skipped over in the Batman: The Animated Series run which featured Dick Grayson in the role at the series outset and Tim Drake in the relaunch of the show. Todd was a controversial character in comics, likely why the series chose to ignore him, but after teasing us with the character lurking in the shadows for several issues Batman: The Adventures Continue #9 finally gets things started when Todd's stakeout of the Joker ends poorly leaving evidence for Batman to discover that his fallen protege has returned (although no word yet on how the comic will explain those events).

Tara Strong - Samurai Jack: Battle Through Time

Tara Strong discusses voicing Ashi in the new video game Samurai Jack: Battle Through Time

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Locke & Key - Trapper/Keeper

The second episode of the series centers mostly around the family settling in to their new surroundings. In one of the episode's best scenes, Kinsey (Emilia Jones) has another freak-out with Scot (Petrice Jones) and his friends when shooting a scene for their homemade movie triggers flashbacks to her father's death. Nina (Darby Stanchfield) meets a childhood friend of Randall's (Bill Heck) and learns about a tragedy which he never spoke about and Duncan (Aaron Ashmore) doesn't seem to remember (making it seem very key related, despite the official story of a drowning). Tyler (Connor Jessup) faces some temptation in trying to fit in with a new crowd and Bode (Jackson Robert Scott) gets a return visit from his Echo (Laysla De Oliveira) who is enjoying the use of the Anywhere Key.

Darth Vader #3

Looking for answers concerning the fate of Padme Amidala, Darth Vader returns to Naboo with Sabé encountering a pair of familiar faces in Gregar Typho and Tonra and more painful memories.

Stargirl - Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. (Part One)

The first-half of Stargirl's Season One finale gives Barbara (Amy Smart) a close-up look at Courtney (Brec Bassinger) in action when Icicle (Neil Jackson) sends Sportsmaster (Neil Hopkins) and Tigress (Joy Osmanski) to murder the family as the heroes evacuate and hole-up in a cabin to plan their next move. There are some nice moments of parental pride not only in seeing Courtney kick some super-villain ass but seeing her daughter with her friends and the relationships she's built in their new home. Rick (Cameron Gellman) is finally able to crack his dad's journal, and Beth (Anjelika Washington) is able to find the ISA's manifesto, giving the new JSA a clue to the ISA's plans (which, aside from murdering 25 million people in the course of a half-hour, turns out to be not that awful).

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Warrior Nun - Proverbs 31:25

"Proverbs 31:25" feels very much like the second-half of a two-hour network pilot introducing more important supporting characters and slowly bringing the various plot threads together in the final moments. Ava (Alba Baptista) spends more time with JC (Emilio Sakraya) and the squatters, going with them to a party at Arq-Tech where the company is unveiling new technology based on the same sacred artifacts the Church has been keeping under wraps for generations. The two opposing characters of interest here are the scientist (Thekla Reuten) using Divinium in the experiments and Cardinal Duretti (Joaquim de Almeida) who opposes any such research (and is also tied to the secret arm of the Church that runs the assassin nuns). Meanwhile, the nuns led by Lilith (Lorena Andrea) have been tracking the demon tracking Ava as all paths converge at the party and setting up Ava's introduction to a hidden world in the next episode of the series.

October Faction - Presidio

The first episode of October Faction introduces us to monster hunters Fred (J.C. MacKenzie) and Deloris (Tamara Taylor) who head back to their hometown with their son Geoff (Gabriel Darku) and daughter Viv (Aurora Burghart) after the death of Fred's father (Stephen McHattie) who was also a member of the shadow agency. "Presidio" doesn't offer much in the way of monsters other than a short tease prior to the credits and a relatively uneventful encounter back home at the supermarket. Instead, the episode mainly centers around the wake for the departed patriarch while dropping breadcrumbs who the monsters are and beginning a confusing subplot about the daughter's mystical abilities (which may or may not have been linked to a carnival fortune teller machine?). I may eventually circle back around to October Faction, but the first episode doesn't do enough to sell me on the adaptation of the IDW comic just yet.

Red Sonja #17

Red Sonja begins her new role as general for the forces of King Jo'Khan of Khitai as she moves the child army into the mountaneous region of Venhya. Strategy is the main theme of Red Sonja #17 as Sonja recognizes the limitations of her forces and the challenges that presents against the superior numbers of her enemy. Choosing to take a nearby fortress through subterfuge before the larger force arrives offers the opportunity to defend against an oncoming force rather than fight against overwhelming odds.

Red Penguins

Red Penguins looks back at the Pittsburgh Penguins owner Howard Baldwin bailing out the once great HC CSKA Moscow hockey team. Completely unprepared for what they were getting into in a country still struggling with replacing Communism with Capitalism, the Penguins hoped to lay the foundation for Russian players making their way to Pittsburgh and the NHL. A young marketer named Steven Warshaw was sent over to try and drum up support for the flagging team and bring a bit of capitalist know-how and 90s marketing to the former Soviet Union.

The engaging documentary is a bizarre tale including interviews from both American and Russians about the partnership which only lasted two years but involved a strip club under the hockey rink, free beer, a culture clash, the Russian mob, a potential business partnership with Disney, the Russian Army, corruption, and the theft of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Despite the insanity and mismanagement, the Russian Penguins (as they were rebranded) were a short-term success only to be mismanaged leading to the end of the team and leaving behind a bizarre legacy and a legend of dazzling failure.

Monday, August 3, 2020

The Umbrella Academy - Right Back Where We Started

After ending the First Season of the show with an apocalypse, Season Two opens with another one. Picking up from the cliffhanger ending, "Right Back Where We Started" opens with the members of the Umbrella Academy being dumped in Dallas in the 1960s. Although the each end up in the same spot, they arrive months or years apart making them unaware of where the others have disappeared to. Five (Aidan Gallagher) is the last to arrive, appearing in the middle of a Soviet invasion of Dallas and a nuclear attack on United States soil. With the help of Hazel (Cameron Britton), Five returns 10 days prior in hopes of reuniting his family and preventing the end of the world (again). However, there are a trio of odd gentlemen who apparently have other plans.

Altered Carbon - Payment Deferred

Takeshi Kovacs (Anthony Mackie) begins his search for the talented killer he believes to be masquerading in the skin of Quellcrist Falconer (Renée Elise Goldsberry). He's not the only one looking for Horace Axley's killer, as the leader of a Protectorate squad (Torben Liebrecht) cuts out local police and assumes command of the investigation which he is certain will tie back to a terrorist plot. Carrera (Liebrecht) has added incentive to investigate the crime as the sleeve he mistakenly believes responsible for the murder is Protectorate property which Kovacs is walking around the city in.

Angel + Spike #12

"All the Devils Are Here" comes to a close as Angel holds off a possessed Gunn who takes a run at Kate Lockley while the fate of the Feeder demon demon, and major repercussions for herself, comes down to a choice for Fred.

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Transformers: War for Cybertron Trilogy - Siege Part 1

Set prior to the Autobots and Decepticons leaving Cybertron for Earth, the new series Transformers: War for Cybertron Trilogy opens with the war between the two races of transforming robots still raging on their homeworld but with the Autobot forces dwarfed by the might of Megatron (Jason Marnocha) and his Decepticons. Bumblebee (Joe Zieja) is introduced as a scout who has yet to take a side in the fight, but leads Wheeljack (Bill Rogers) to a source of Energon the Autobots desperately need to continue the struggle. Caught by Jetfire (Keith Silverstein) and his Seekers, the pair looked doomed until the arrival of Optimus Prime (Jake Foushee) to stand-up to Megatron and provide enough of a distraction to get everyone else out alive.

Super Dinosaur - Big Brother

When the probe from Inner Earth returns with three hatching dinosaur eggs, Super Dinosaur (Mac Heywood) immediately bonds with the trio of disruptive mini-dinos despite being told that they will need to sent home to Inner Earth. After being exposed to DynOre, returning them to Inner Earth is no longer a possibility and the rambunctious trio go wild in the Dynamo Dome. As the humans struggle to catch them, SD finds a different way to reach them proving his worth as a big brother. "Big Brother" is a great mix of chaos and fun while touching on themes from earlier episodes of SD's isolation from other dinosaurs. While the trio aren't sticking around, they do get a new home at an Earthcore facility allowing for the possibility of their return later in the series.