The Librarians Season 2 Review

  • Series Title: The Librarians
  • Season: Season 2
  • Episodes: 10
  • Discs: 3
  • Network: TNT
  • Cast: Noah Wyle, John Larroquette, Rebecca Romijn, Christian Kane, Lindy Booth, John Harlan Kim, David S. Lee, Richard Cox
  • Format: Color, Widescreen, NTSC, R1

The second season of TNT’s The Librarians brings back Noah Wyle for the first two episodes and the last two episodes. The series is a sequel to the Librarian movies, and the first two episodes play like one of the movies, as the Librarians are reunited with Eve and Flynn for four separate quests at a museum only to have to face down Moriarty, a Fictional, and Prospero – Shakespeare’s magician. Prosero is determined to change his fate and not follow the story as written by Shakespeare.

Unfortunately, we really don’t see Prospero or Moriarty until the last two episodes of the season, which also bring back Noah Wyle as Flynn, the Librarian. The opening and closing two-parters are great, and could even be viewed together, without watching the intervening episodes. The stand-alone stories, featuring the younger Librarians are hit-or-miss. John Larroquette is wonderful as Jenkins, caretaker of the Annex, and with the library back – now the Library as well. The first episode without Noah Wyle gives us background on Stone and his issues with his father (a real piece of work). “The Cost of Education” could have been a fun HP Lovecraft-type story – instead it’s full of stereotypes about college life. Not only that, but the young, gifted, highly intelligent woman – very like Cassandra, is talked into leaving university and pursuing magic – without even being a librarian. It was an annoying episode. The episode, “And the Hollow Men” brings back Flynn, but has a strange quality to it. As you can tell from the title, “And the Infernal Contract” is a tale of Faust or the Devil and Daniel Webster set during a mayoral race in a small New England town. “The Image of the Image” is a fun version of the story of Dorian Gray, though, like the previous episode, it was painfully obvious where it was going from the beginning. “And the Point of Salvation” was extremely fun – from Jenkins actually casting a spell to call and bind the fairy Puck (fitting in nicely with the Shakespearean theme of the season) to Jones and Stone binding over figuring out the video game they are stuck in – it’s much more unique than many of the other stand-alone episodes of the season. I also loved the growth in Jones’ character, though they punched the reset button on that at the end of the episode.

The final two episodes bring back Moriarty and Prospero – not to mention a trip through time, and Shakespeare. It’s the type of fun the show is known for and was so prevalent in Season 1. Eve and Flynn also have great chemistry in the episode. And I loved the cameo of the TARDIS and the Back to the Future DeLorean in the time machine room.

Overall, though I enjoyed season 2, Prospero was such a great villain I wish we’d seen more of him. And Moriarty was written and played brilliant as not the epitome of evil, but a complicated man trapped by his circumstances. I’d still recommend the series though.

Danger Mouse – Mission: Improbable Review

  • Series Title: Danger Mouse
  • Season: Mission: Improbable
  • Episodes: 7
  • Discs: 1
  • Network: CBBC
  • Cast: Alexander Armstrong, Kevin Eldon, Dave Lamb, Stephen Fry, Shauna MacDonald
  • Format: Color, Animation, Widescreen, PAL, R2

Danger Mouse was a much-loved British cartoon from the 1980s. Featuring a white mouse (Danger Mouse) with a black eye patch, his hamster assistant Penfold, and his boss, Colonel K, the series was fun, clever, and full of puns, cultural references, and silliness. This new series keeps the same characters, including the villainous Baron Silas Greenback and his assistants Nero and Stiletto. The new series also introduces Professor Squawkencluck, a female scientist who develops Danger Mouse’s incredible gadgets and acts as the scientific brain for the group’s missions. She’s basically DM’s Q – and she’s a chicken. No, she isn’t afraid of everything – she’s literally an animated chicken with a Scottish accent. Meanwhile, Colonel K also has a hologram copy of himself.

The new Danger Mouse has some very funny moments in these first seven episodes. However, poor DM is not a very clever mouse – and he’s pretty incompetent with technology – which irritates Squawkencluck, Penfold is the same old Penfold, sensibly scared by the situations he and DM find themselves in. However, Penfold gets to shine in two episodes, and his friendship with Danger Mouse is particularly strong in this updated version.

As one would expect in an updated modern version of a classic from the 1980s, the animation is better and more modern. DM’s science and tech is also more advanced. Yet, the show keeps the characters, including the villains from the original show. The episodes without Greenback are better (and that is the majority of the episodes on this collection). I also really liked Pandamonium – a giant panda who’s basically a big dummy, but lovable. He’s used by Baron Greenback in the first episode, then appears again on his own.

The episodes on the Mission: Improbable are:

  • Danger Mouse Begins Again
  • Planet of the Toilets
  • Danger at C-Level
  • The Other Day the Earth Stood Still
  • Welcome to Danger World!
  • Big Head Awakens
  • Greenfinger

Overall, though some of the episodes were very funny, I missed the puns and cultural references of the original series. This show was fun, but more aimed at children than the all-ages original series. It’s not awful, but it’s not as cleverly-written as it could be. A solid 3 out of 5 stars.

The Librarians Season 1 Review

  • Series Title: The Librarians
  • Season: Season 1
  • Episodes: 10
  • Discs: 3
  • Network: TNT
  • Cast: Noah Wyle, John Larroquette, Rebecca Romijn, Christian Kane, Lindy Booth, John Harlan Kim, Matt Frewer
  • Format: Color, Widescreen, NTSC, R1

TNT’s The Librarians is the sequel series to three made-for-TV movies starring Noah Wyle. I have reviewed those films on this blog please see links below.

The first episode of The Librarians plays like another “The Librarian” TV Movie, as Noah Wyle returns as the Librarian, Flynn Carsen, working out of The Library hidden beneath New York’s Metropolitan Library, and home to a collection of hidden knowledge and magical artifacts. Flynn meets Eve Baird, his new Guardian. They discover someone is killing off potential Librarians, and gather together three people who were also meant to become Librarians: Jake Stone – a oil rigger with a 160 IQ with an encyclopedic knowledge of art history, architecture, and related areas; Cassandra Cillian – a woman who’s brain tumor makes her both a synesthetic (someone who sees numbers as colors; or associates complicated formulas with smells) and a genius at math; and Ezekiel Jones – a thief. Together, Flynn, Eve, and his new Librarians try to stop the Serpent Brotherhood, led by Dulaque (Matt Frewer) from using Excalibur and the Stone to release magic into the world. They fail. Eve is nearly killed, Cassandra betrays everyone then comes back to the fold when she realizes her mistake, magic is released, and Dulaque escapes. However, all is not lost, Flynn survives, Charlene and Judson release the Library into Space and Time to prevent Dulaque from taking it or destroying it, and Flynn realizes he’s going to need help from his new recruits. He turns them over to Jenkins at the Library Annex to solve mysteries and capture magical artifacts, and leaves to find the Library.

The new team, under Jenkins, works to find and return to the Annex dangerous magical artifacts, and to help people threatened by the newly released magic in the world. From a town threatened by fairy tales, to the Minotaur, to helping Santa bring good will back to the world, the Librarians travel far and wide, helping people and putting down magical threats. The episodes seem to be self-contained however, every story brings them an element that ends up being extremely important to the final episode of the season. In the final story, Flynn returns again, and they attempt to bring back The Library. Dulaque arrives, kills his assistant Lamia, and opens a door to the River of Time and the Loom of Fate. Dulaque cuts the Threads of the Loom. Eve and an alternate non-Librarian version of Flynn must find a way to stop Dulaque. The leap from reality to reality finding alternate Librarian versions of the Librarians: Cassandra – a powerful magic user from a world filled with dragons; Jones – a scientist in a world where most of the population has been turned into ghosts; and Stone – the Librarian. Eve and these alternate versions must find a way to repair the Loom, stop Dulaque, and prevent Eve’s death. Along the way, we discover Jenkins’ secret past, as well as Dulaque’s “real” identity.

The Librarians is a fun, light, enjoyable series. It has magic and adventure, and for the most part no one is really ever harmed. Noah Wylie appears periodically through the series, and the episodes are always better when he’s there. However, the Librarians and their Guardian form a D&D-type adventuring group: The Soldier (Eve Baird), the Thief (Ezekiel Jones), The Scientist/Mathematician (Cassandra Cillian – rather than a Magician); and the Historian/Art Expert (Jones Stone). It’s a slightly more modern version of D&D heroes. Recommended.

Thunderbirds Are Go Series 2 Volume 1 Review

  • Series Title: Thunderbirds Are Go
  • Season: Series 2 Vol. 1
  • Episodes: 13
  • Discs: 2
  • Network: ITV
  • Cast: Rasmus Hardiker, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, David Menkin, Kayvan Novak, Rosamund Pike, David Graham, Sandra Dickinson, Angel Coulby
  • Format: Widescreen, Color, DVD (R2, PAL)

Thunderbirds Are Go is a CGI animated modern updating of the Gerry Anderson Supermarionation series. The series is action-packed, and several stories in this volume see one of the boys in life-threatening danger. Volume 2 has stories set in several environments as well, from the deep ocean to outer space to Europa and Mars. The opening episode introduces a new continuing villain, the Mechanic, who has some relationship with The Hood. Meanwhile, the Hood is in a Global Defense Force maximum security prison. The Mechanic makes huge, and dangerous, mechanical devices, almost evil Thunderbirds – and he defends his nefarious plots with “mechs” – drones that attack whatever he wants. The Mechanic controls his drones with a virtual reality suit, moving his hands in front of a heads-up computer screen, to control his drones. The search for and to stop the Mechanic is a continuing theme for the set, with the final episode seeing International Rescue, Lady Penelope (with Parker and Sherbert) and the Global Defense Force attempting to stop the Mechanic from breaking the Hood out of prison.

The rescues and disasters in this season are huge, but often work to rescue one or two people not rescued by more conventional means – much like the original series. Kayo (the updated version of Tin Tin) gets a considerable amount to do – and her role of “Covert Ops” now is integrated into International Rescue. She not only gathers intelligence, but uses her skills to get inside dangerous areas to get people out. And her vehicle Thunderbird S – Shadow is pretty awesome. Speaking of awesome, Lady Penelope’s pink Rolls Royce is incredible! I seriously want her car. Fab 1 can fly, hover, it’s a submarine, and it’s capable of traveling through underground tunnels. Fab 1 was impressive in the original series, but the new one? It can do just about anything.  Lady Penelope, Parker, and Sherbert are fully integrated into the Thunderbirds Are Go stories, with the three working to find out more about the Mechanic and how he’s connected to the Hood.

The opening story is really big and full of heart-pumping action, though Gordon and Alan are not part of the actual rescue. It also introduces the Mechanic – who pilots a giant drilling and refining factory, without care to the destruction he causes, or even the two geologists who are trapped in a giant crack in the Earth caused by his machine. But from the beginning it’s also clear that the Mechanic is somehow connected to the Hood.

There is more characterization of the boys in this volume for the most part. Kayo and Lady Penelope get to do a lot more. And even Grandma Tracy gets to dispense wisdom. It’s nice to see some women in the show. Overall Thunderbirds Are Go is extremely good. It’s full of plenty of action. Yet the emphasis for the Tracys is always on rescuing people, or saving people from harm. The Tracys risk their lives to help others, and that’s an important message. Overall, it’s a fun, exciting, action-packed, and positive series that is incredibly fun to watch. Highly recommended, especially for children aged 10-16, though adults can enjoy the series, I certainly did. Previous volumes are also reviewed on this blog.

iZombie Season 1 Review

  • Series Title: iZombie
  • Season: 1
  • Episodes: 13
  • Discs: 3 (Blu-Ray)
  • Network: CW
  • Cast: Rose McIver, Rahul Kohli, Malcolm Goodwin, Robert Buckley, David Anders, Aly Michalka
  • Format: Widescreen, Color, Blu-Ray, NTSC

Olivia Moore, Liv to her friends, was a driven, A-personality doctor, engaged to Major Lilywhite, and happy with her life. Then she goes to a boat party where things get way out of hand, between the drugs, an energy drink called Max Rager, a fire, fights, and all hell breaking loose, Liv barely notices when she’s scratched by one of the guys at the party. She falls or dives off the boat, and wakes up on the shore, in a body bag, craving brains. Liv is a zombie. She quits her job at the hospital, and dumps her fiancé, then gets a job at the morgue so she has access to brains to eat. Ravi, her boss at the morgue, is the only one know knows Liv is a zombie – she doesn’t tell her family, her roommate, Payton, or Major. But all is not hopeless for Liv, she discovers that when she eats someone’s brain she takes on their personality traits, and has visions of how they died. Liv soon partners with Det. Clive Babineaux, a new Seattle police detective to solve murders. Liv’s excuse for how she knows so much about the victims? She’s psychic.

So if this sounds like a mash-up of Psych, Quantum Leap, and The Walking Dead, it somewhat is – yet… there is more. As the season progresses, it moves from establishing it’s universe, to a medical thriller. Liv gradually learns just what made her a zombie, as well as who. Liv even makes another zombie herself, accidentally, which leads deeper in to a conspiracy involving the Max Rager energy drink and a designer drug called Utopium. Liv’s personal life gets more and more complicated as well. Major works at a homeless shelter for street kids – but the kids are disappearing. He takes advantage of Liv’s friendship with Det. Babineaux, to have someone look in to it. But he’s never satisfied to let the professionals do the work – and slowly uncovers the zombie conspiracy of Seattle. Blaine, the zombie who made Liv a zombie, is a drug-dealer type, supplying brains to Seattle’s zombies. He works out of a butcher shop called Meat Cute. But Blaine isn’t above making someone a zombie so that he has a steady supply of new customers.

iZombie is a complicated mix of police procedural, paranormal mystery, and SF. It has that 20-something vibe of most CW shows, but it’s a bit more grown-up and sophisticated than Supernatural. I was expecting more humor, but the complicated nature of the continuing storyline drew me in. Season 1 still had a bit of a set-up feel, despite the breadth of material covered in the season. iZombie is based on a comic published by Vertigo Comics, the adult/mature readers imprint of DC Comics.

Once Upon a Time Season 5 Review

  • Series Title: Once Upon a Time
  • Season: 5
  • Episodes: 23
  • Discs: 5
  • Network: ABC
  • Cast: Jennifer Morrison, Ginnifer Goodwin, Lana Parilla, Josh Dallas, Jared Gilmore, Robert Carlyle, Emilie de Ravin, Colin O’Donoghue, Sean McGuire, Rebecca Mader, Liam Garrigan, Gregg Germann
  • Format: Widescreen, Color, DVD

Last season, both halves of the season, “Frozen” and “Queens of Darkness” featured female guest heroes, villains, and storylines. This season was decidingly more male, though there is a lot and I do mean a lot going on. Stories, myths, and Disney/Pixar films that Season 5 of Once Upon a Time did their own take on included:

  • Dark Swan
  • King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table
  • Brave
  • Hercules (and his girlfriend)
  • Hades, King of the Underworld
  • A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (mention only)
  • Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Plus the return of the following characters from previous seasons:

  • Ruby, the wolf (of Little Red Riding Hood)
  • Evil Peter Pan
  • Mulan
  • Zylena, the Wicked Witch of the West (Oz)
  • a grown-up, more bad-ass Dorothy (Oz)
  • Cruella deVille
  • Liam, Hook’s brother (and a more detailed look at the brother’s back story)
  • Cora, Regina’s mother
  • Henry, Regina’s father
  • Neal, Henry’s father and Emma’s ex

If that sounds like a lot – it is. The first half of the season is extremely confusing. However, the second half of the season, though at times also pulling in a great deal of conflicting plot threads, manages to pull things together, as well as return to Once’s theme of redemption for characters oft thought as “evil”.

The season opens where the previous season left off, with Emma as the Dark One. With a little help from Zylena, our characters travel to another realm, and immediately meet King Arthur, and search for a way to get Merlin out of the tree he’s trapped in, which, eventually leads to a quest to find Excalibur. However, the first season cuts back and forth in time – and it’s some of the most confusing time and realm jumps that Once has ever done. In the first episode, the main characters return to Storybrooke, with Emma as the Dark Swan, having, apparently embraced the darkness – and everyone else having lost their memories of the six months they were in Camelot. Emma is angry about something but we don’t know what. I found the switching back and forth between Camelot and Storybrooke, not to mention the various time-jumps in Camelot to be really confusing. Several times, I’d watch a scene then realize, “Oh, they are in Camelot. Or, oh, wait, this must be Storybrooke.” Since Arthur, his knights, and many of the main characters are transported back to Storybrooke with our main characters, it adds to the confusion. That Emma, Regina, and the Charmings wear their contemporary clothes from Storybrooke in Camelot on all but the most formal occasions, such as the ball, also adds to the confusion.

In Camelot, Arthur turns out to be a really bad king, and not the king of legend. This Arthur is manipulative, insecure, has a really bad case of impostor syndrome, and over-compensates for his own inadequacies by shifting blame to everyone else. He uses magic to control his wife and kingdom. He acts like a teenager who never grew up and has far too much power. Whereas I liked Evil Peter Pan from season 3 (and the young actor was fantastic!), I did not like Arthur at all. When I watched part 1 of the season last year, I thought they had simply cast a bad actor as Arthur (because it was hard to follow the plot week to week). Re-watching on DVD in a much more compressed time-frame, it wasn’t the actor’s fault – but Arthur was poorly written. Other than all his faults, there wasn’t really a reason for his behavior. Regina became the “Evil Queen” because her mother told her she could be with her beloved boyfriend – then killed him horribly in front of her for her “own good”. Zylena became the Wicked Witch because Cora abandoned her, leaving Zylena with a deep-seated sense that she was unlovable, worthless, and incapable of being happy. Zylena also was incredibly jealous of Regina. But Arthur? All we can tell is he doesn’t feel like he deserves to be king, or he’s so afraid people will find out he’s a fraud so he goes to incredible lengths to stop them (including trapping Merlin in a tree, exiling Lancelot, putting his wife under an obedience spell, and doing the same to his entire kingdom). What was disturbing about the Arthur plot was it takes a hero and makes him a villain – and it doesn’t give Arthur a good reason for being a villain. This Arthur also kills one of his loyal knights (talks him into suicide) for absolutely no real reason. Arthur frames his own knight for stealing from the Camelot camp near Storybrooke, then when he’s placed in jail by David (Prince Charming), kills him and disappears the body – so he can claim the man used a “magic bean” to return to Camelot. This is ploy the Charmings and the rest of the heroes see through immediately, so there’s really no point to Arthur’s actions. Done right, Arthur and the Knights of Camelot can be a very good story, for me, Once Upon a Time did not tell the story right.

Interwoven through the first eight episodes of season 5, we find out Emma’s story. As the new Dark One, she has visions of Rumpelstiltskin (Robert Carlyle) who encourages her to embrace her dark powers. Since we see her as Dark Swan in Storybrooke, it appears that she will. At times, the discussions of Light vs. Dark, whether it’s Emma’s Light Magic or just her general decision she has to make for which Side she will serve sound very Star Wars. There are characters who seem to quote Yoda, when talking to Emma about her choice.

The first actual person Emma meets in the Enchanted Forest is Merida, aka “Brave”. Merida and Emma both want a “wisp” to led them somewhere. The wisp is a McGuffin, though Merida needs it more than Emma. While Rumpelstiltskin urges Emma to kill Merida and take the wisp – David, Mary Margaret, and the rest from Storybrooke arrive and take her to Granny’s Diner which landed in the Enchanted Forest thanks to a magical tornado. Merida goes on her quest, finds the wisp, and loses it. Merida later on meets up with Mulan who teaches her how to fight, goes on a quest herself to find a magical helm (which Arthur had stolen from her father or so she thought) and discovers her father is an honorable man. She also learns how to be a good and just queen. Part of her learning is that even though she finds the helm, she doesn’t turn it over to the “evil witch” citing that, as a weapon, it’s too dangerous for anyone to have and she will destroy it. Merida’s test however, was just that – if she had turned it over, or even just kept it, she would not have been a good queen.

Mulan is also having issues – but teaching Merida, and meeting Ruby (of all people), helps her over-come them.

Ruby, in turn, ends-up in Oz, assisting Dorothy (now grown-up and bad-ass), whom she’s fallen for. In the end, the feeling is mutual (when Dorothy is put under a sleeping curse, it is Ruby’s “true love’s kiss” that wakes her). Their kiss is magical. I loved the new Dorothy (not to mention that Ruby, Mulan, and Dorothy – although an odd mix when you consider the source material – sparks on-screen). I enjoyed those episodes, and wouldn’t mind somehow seeing more of Dorothy and Ruby. Maybe Ruby could adopt the name Ozma?

At the end of the Camelot plot, we find out what’s happened to Emma. Hook was wounded in the throat during a skirmish with Arthur. The cut is from Excalibur. When Emma tries to use her magic to unite the two halves of Excalibur (the Sword, and the Dark One dagger), Hook collapses. His wound re-opens and he starts dying. Emma, in tears, cannot face the death of her true love. She stops the spell to reunite Excalibur, places everyone under a forgetting spell, and sends Granny’s, everyone inside, and the population of Camelot to Storybrooke. This returns us to the beginning of episode one, where everyone arrives but with no memory of the previous six weeks.

Emma is saved from being the Dark One. But Hook becomes the Dark One. Emma has to kill Hook with Excalibur to save him and he dies. But Rumple had tethered the Dark Magic back to the Dark One dagger. Rumple is now the Dark One again and Killian’s been taken to the underworld. Emma, Snow, David, Rumple, Belle, Regina, and Henry travel to the Underworld to rescue Hook. They are in a town that looks like a destroyed Storybrooke with red skies, where they discover Hades is Lord of the Underworld. Regina meets Cora (her mother) again. Cora tries to use Regina’s father to manipulate Regina, but Regina, much more grown up now, doesn’t fall for it. In the end, Henry Sr. is able to finish his “unfinished business”, make his peace, and literally walk into the light. Freeing Henry’s soul let’s the broken Underworld Storybrooke clock move forward one minute – and angers Hades. Soon Emma (now having prophetic dreams), Snow, and Charming meet Hercules and his girlfriend. Discovering that both were killed in a quest to destroy Cerebus (who now guards the path to where Killian is being held), the Storybrooke heroes help Hercules and his girlfriend – who walk into the light. Fortunately, this doesn’t become an every episode thing. Bringing back the dead, though, is a theme. Rumple runs in to his dad, Peter Pan. Pan is just as evil as ever, and at first it seems Rumple will work with Pan. But instead, having found a way to destroy Pan forever, with water from the River of Souls, Rumple actually destroys Pan. However, Rumple is too late to stop Belle, who discovers he is now the Dark One, from putting herself under a sleeping curse. Meanwhile, Killian, once rescued by Emma and company, meets his brother, Liam. In “The Brothers Jones”, we discover their full background. Their father sells the two into servitude on a ship. When Liam gets old enough to try to break the contract by joining the Royal Navy and getting a signing bonus (for both him and his younger brother, Killian), Captain Silver gets Killian drunk and steals all their saved money. Liam tears up his papers with the Navy, and stays with his brother. When the Captain Silver steers the ship into the eye of a hurricane to get a fabled gem, Liam attempts to raise a mutiny. It works somewhat, but Liam still feels forced to make a deal with Hades to see to it that he and his brother survive. Hades even “gifts” Liam the fabled gem. The two brothers survive, are found by the Navy, and we know much of the rest of the story from season 3. In Underworld Storybrooke, both Killian and Liam show an incredible amount of hero-worship vis-a-vis each other. They are both willing to sacrifice themselves for each other. Fortunately, Killian is able to save Liam, who, with his dead crew, who now know the truth, also all go into the Light. But, the details of Hades story are lost. Still, having now lost close to a dozen souls, Hades is very angry, not only are Snow, Regina, and Emma tied to the Underworld by having names on gravestones – but the entire group is now trapped in the Underworld.

Zylena, having had Robin’s baby earlier in the season, becomes a character similar to first and second season Regina – she’s “Wicked” but we want her to become good. And similar to how Regina’s love for Henry made her a better person, and eventually her own sort of hero; Zylena, though still manipulative, does honestly love her baby daughter. Sadly, Zylena also believes she is not lovable and that no one could ever love her. Part of why she wants her baby at first, is she thinks a child will love her. But we also have an episode where a young Regina plays with one of Cora’s magical items and is knocked cold and remains unconscious. Cora finds Zylena and convinces her to use her magic to save Regina – something Zylena does easily and effortlessly. However, as she sees the two young girls becoming friends, and even almost acting as sisters – though neither knows they are sisters, Cora decides to separate the two. Cora tells Regina she can’t have friends or rely on anyone but herself. Then she has Zylena taken away, and wipes the memory from both of them. Throughout the back half of the season, Regina is constantly trying to help Zylena, trying to work with her – but since she also seems to always be asking Zylena for something, Zylena thinks Regina only wants to use her. When Cora decides to tell the two the truth, that they met as young children, and were, for a time, sisters, it becomes enough for Cora to also walk into the Light. And Regina and Zylena are more united.

However, to make things more complicated, Hades also appears to fall in love with Zylena. At first Zylena rejects him because she feels she can’t be loved. Then Zylena tries to figure out if Hades is honest about his feelings. At first Regina tries to convince Zylena that Hades doesn’t love her, but someone will. Later, as the two are united as the sisters they are, Regina tells Zylena to try – try to make Hades a better man. Yeah, the god of the Underworld, a better man. It doesn’t end well.

Hades and Zylena return to Storybrooke. Hades meets Arthur, and kills him. Hades then tries to convince Zylena they need to attack first against Snow, and David, and Regina, and the rest of the Storybrooke characters, whom he tells Zylena are after them and will never let them live in peace. Zylena points out they can live in peace, just find a nice house in Storybrooke and settle down. Hades reveals his hand that he’s a lot more interested in power and destruction than in settling down. But before Zylena can leave on her own, Robin and Regina show up. Hades unleashes a magic attack towards Regina, but Robin gets in the way. Robin dies. Zylena is appalled. But it’s Gold who uses a magic crystal from Zeus to get rid of Hades – in another bid for power. Gold is also still trying to bring back Belle, who is still under a sleeping curse.

Zylena opens a portal (at David’s request) to send the various extra characters back to the Enchanted Forest or where ever they happen to have come from. However, it back fires and Zylena, Snow, and David are caught in the portal and immediately end up in a jail. They are in the Land of Lost Stories, though, being in a jail, it’s a while before they know that. In that land, they run into Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Meanwhile, Mr. Gold has gone to New York, with Belle, to perform a spell to revive her – a spell that must be cast in the Land Without Magic.  Also, Henry and Violet, his first crush, run off to New York. Henry’s decided to destroy all magic because he thinks it’s bad. The two teenagers go to the New York Public Library to do research, and find dozens of storybooks. Emma and Regina follow Henry to New York. The two get a txt from Granny telling them what went down in Storybrooke. By the time they catch up with Henry and Violet, Henry has found the anti-Grail, which will destroy magic. In the midst of Gold’s spell to wake up Belle, Henry destroys magic. Opps. Henry immediately realizes he’s made a big mistake, because without magic, they can’t get Snow and Charming back.

Emma tells Henry a story about a wishing fountain – and everyone goes there – where Henry makes a stirring speech, a lot of people throw pennies into the fountain, and the wishes bring back out characters. This includes Jekyll, who uses his separator formula to tear the Evil Queen out of Regina (who has, apparently, been like a recovering alcoholic – and who fears returning to evilness).

Season 5 of Once Upon a Time was, well, I don’t want to call it a mess – because, overall, it was entertaining, and parts of it were really, really, really good. The large guest cast was excellent. Although I found Arthur annoying at first, on a second watch-through, he got better. Hades Shatner-like diction became annoying by the end of the season though. However, I’m getting a bit tired of the idea that every single one of the storybook characters is so obsessed with the idea of Predestination, destiny, and fate. The “evil” characters, such as Regina, and even Zylena, are determined to believe that because they were once “evil” they are fated to never be happy. And in a sense, in the show’s universe and worldview they are right, because Regina has lost, what, three boyfriends now? And the first time someone really seems to love Zylena for who she is – he turns out to be a raving meglomanic who simply wants power, no matter who he has to crush to get it. Even Gold (Rumple) continuously chooses power over the love of a good woman. And Belle is finally fed-up with his choice of power over her. Unfortunately, Belle’s response is to put herself under a sleeping curse – effectively “refrigerating” a fiery, intelligent character who keeps Gold both honest and as a character the audience can relate to.

Secondly, season 5 of Once Upon a Time, was one of the most unFeminist seasons ever on the show. Season 4 had women as leads in both halves of the season, and showed use both good and evil women. Season 5 starts off praising the male hero by bringing in Arthur and his knights, as well as Merlin. That might have been OK, if Arthur hadn’t been quickly shown to be a weak, ineffective king with an inferiority complex. Showing Arthur as a lousy king was a bad move, in my opinion. And, if they were going to do that, the strong Storybrooke woman, especially Regina, Emma, and Snow, should have been able to take the king down. Instead, Regina and Snow (and at times Belle – who’s become the group’s “researcher”) are pitted against Emma. Yes, the early part of second half of the season explains that – Emma did it all for Hook. But at much as I ship Emma/Hook, having Emma make bad decisions due to doomed love puts her right back at the beginning of Season 1, where she’s in jail and pregnant. We also see Snow having to run off some bandits when she is still young, and her father is away. Snow as always been remarkably strong. Feminine, but very strong, and often badass. Yet, who teaches her to fight? Hercules. That completely takes Snow’s power away. It diminishes her. It destroys her agency. It says she couldn’t possibly become a hero without the help of a man. And that she couldn’t learn to fight without a man either. It was much more satisfying to see Mulan teaching Merida how to fight. Besides, Merida was already kick-ass with a bow and arrow, Mulan only helped her to learn hand to hand combat. But taking one of Once Upon a Time‘s strongest women and having her completely unable to fight without a man showing her how? I didn’t like that at all.

 

Outlander Season 2 Review

  • Series Title: Outlander
  • Season: 2
  • Episodes:  13
  • Discs:  5
  • Network:  Starz/BBC
  • Cast:  Caitriona Balfe, Sam Heughan, Duncan Lacroix, Tobias Menzies, Romann Berrux, Andrew Gower
  • DVD: Widescreen DVD (R1, NTSC)

I enjoyed Season 2 of Outlander even more than Season 1. The first episode actually takes place in 1948, with Claire returning to Frank in her present. Frank proves to be a very understanding and loving man, even vowing to care for Claire’s yet to be born child as his own. Thus the rest of the season is a flashback. Episode two opens this flashback in 18th Century France. Claire and Jamie go to see his cousin – noting that “I seem to remember you have a head for figures,” the cousin heads off on a wine-buying trip, leaving Jamie in charge of his wine shop, as well as giving he and Claire the run of his household. Thus the two have their needs met, and are placed to quickly to move in circles of the French court. Claire, determined to prevent the disaster of Culloden, talks Jamie into sabotaging Bonnie Prince Charlie’s attempts at raising money (later in the season this seems to suggest Claire and Jamie may have caused the disaster they are desperate to prevent). Jamie spends his days running the wine shop and his nights hanging out with Prince Charles and the Jacobite supporters in a brothel. Claire, meanwhile, makes friends in the aristocracy, including Louise and her ward, Mary. Claire, however, being a practical and modern woman, is bored. She has nothing to do, not even housework as the servants in her household do everything for her. Claire ends up working as a nurse at a charity hospital run by nuns, and befriending a local apothecary. This first half of the season is brilliant, the clothes, and the opulence of the French court are beautifully rendered, and Claire gets a beautiful wardrobe. Jamie is no slouch in the clothes department, as he manages to make 18th Century men’s fashion look good. Though, fortunately, he never dons a powdered wig – even in the most formal circumstances. Though some of their plans succeed, Claire and Jamie also make enemies in France. In the end, a friend gets the price removed from Jamie’s head and he and Claire return to Scotland (in part because they are no longer welcome in France – Jamie is arrested for dueling with Jack Randall; Claire is, yet again, accused of being a witch; and Claire also has a miscarriage and her first child with Jamie is stillborn.)

In Scotland, Claire and Jamie, now in much more practical, but still gorgeous clothes, travel first to Lollybroach to visit with the Murrays. They then travel to the castle of Clan MacKenzie to try to rouse as many troops as possible for the Jacobite rebellion. Yes, after half a season of Claire and Jamie trying to crush the rebellion by diverting it’s finances – the plan now is to see that the Scots win. Sigh. But the story draws you in, despite the shadow of disaster that hangs over the entire situation. By the end of the season, Claire reveals she is, once again, pregnant. Enjoyable is not the best word to describe the second half of the season – the “fish out of water” humor of part one is gone. However, it is very good, and addictive. Several characters from the first season return, played by the same actors. The scenery is gorgeous and wild. The costumes are really good, and authentic-looking. And it’s the middle of a war – there’s dirt, blood, mud, and death. But remember how the season started? Yeah, even more than part 1, we feel the inevitable coming – Culloden and Claire’s return to 1948.

The last episode of the season, takes a time jump forward for Claire. It’s now 1968, and she and her daughter, Brianna, visit Scotland for the funeral of Rev. Wakefield. Claire’s daughter begins to fall for the grown-up, Roger. We find out Frank is dead. Claire is now a surgeon. Brianna is an angry girl, having recently lost her father. She discovers that Claire went missing for three years – and that during that time she had an affair with her real (biological) father. Claire tries to explain the truth, but no one believes her. By chance, Brianna sees a lecture by a Scottish nationalist. This nationalist turns out to be Geillis, the “witch” burned at the stake in season 1, but not before revealing she’s from 1968. Claire finds her notebooks, and discovers she’s been taking “courses” at the local university. Unlike Claire who accidentally traveled through the stones; Geillis is obsessed – with Scottish nationalism, with Bonnie Prince Charlie and the rebellion, and with learning what she needs to know to live in 18th century Scotland. However, she’s also extremely dedicated to her cause, and a bit mistaken in her beliefs as to how the stones work. The season ends with Claire, Brianna, and Roger seeing Geillis disappear through the stones, and Claire learning that Jamie survived the rebellion. And thus we will have a Season 3.

Outlander is a gorgeous show. The costumes are beautiful. The settings are beautiful. The characters and their motivations are clear and make sense. What Claire and Jamie do, even when they are swept up in events beyond their control, makes sense. The story is from Claire’s point of view, though we see Jamie on his own dealing with Prince Charles in France, and the Scottish generals and Clan leaders in Scotland (rather than disappearing and reporting back to Claire). The acting is always top notch. I enjoyed Season 2 very much and I highly, highly recommend it.