Good Omens Review

  • Series Title: Good Omens
  • Season: Mini-Series
  • Episodes: 6
  • Discs: 2 (Blu-Ray)
  • Network: Amazon Prime / BBC
  • Cast: Michael Sheen, David Tennant, Frances McDormand, Sam Taylor Buck, Adria Arjona, Michael McKean, Miranda Richardson, Bill Paterson, Jack Whitehall
  • DVD: Widescreen Blu-ray (R1, NTSC)

This review contains spoilers for Good Omens.

Good Omens is a 6-episode mini-series adaption of the novel of the same name by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. The series follows Aziraphale (an angel) and Crowley (a demon) for 6000 years, though the vast majority of the series focuses on the last 11 years before the End of the World. Though Aziraphale and Crowley are meant to watch over and prepare humanity for the coming apocalypse, the two become comfortable in their respective positions and even become friends. And the series really does emphasize the friendship between two people who are, by definition, very different.

After the introduction of Aziraphale and Crowley, we see Crowley deliver the Anti-Christ to a convert of demonic nuns who are supposed to see he is substituted for the child of a spoiled, rich, American ambassador. However, another couple arrives at the convent hospital the same night. In a sequence illustrated with 3-card monte, the baby is delivered to the wrong couple and the Anti-Christ is raised by a typical English couple in Tadfield. The couple name their child, whom they don’t know is the anti-christ, Adam. The wealthy, privileged American couple, at Crowley’s suggestion, name their child Warlock. For 11 years, Crowley and Aziraphale look in on occasion on Warlock, not realizing that things have Gone Horribly Wrong.

It isn’t until Adam/Warlock’s 11th birthday that Crowley and Aziraphale realize something has gone wrong when the promised Hellhound never arrives at Warlock’s photo op with his adoptive parents. Meanwhile, Adam is playing in the woods with his three friends, when a dog approaches them. Adam wants to keep the dog, despite his own (adoptive) parents having previously told him he can’t have a pet. He names the Hellhound, Dog. And thus, the hellhound rather than being vicious and scary is a small black and white dog that’s loyal to Adam, but would never hurt anyone. This also starts the countdown to the end of the world.

Crowley and Arizaphale figure this out, decide they like their jobs on Earth, and they each have no desire to “serve” in Heaven’s or Hell’s final fight to the death after the Earth is destroyed. Most of the rest of the series involves their trying to prevent the apocalypse. But considering they don’t even know who the Anti-Christ is, they aren’t having much luck.

Meanwhile, Though Shalt-Not-Commit-Adultery Pulsifer, gets ready to burn a witch in 1600-hundreds England. When he and his crowds appear at her door, she accuses him of being late. When she’s burned Pulsifer and his crowds are destroyed in an explosion because Agnes, as we learn later, had loaded herself with gunpowder and small metal objects like nails and pins. Agnes was a prophet and wrote her prophecies down in a book, that is handed down among the women of her family. But unlike most books of prophecy, Agnes’ prophecies are always accurate, if at times hard to understand. The current owner of the book is Anathema Device. She travels to England from San Francisco to prevent the end of the world. She arrives in Tadfield, meets Adam, and his friends, and even meets Shalt-Not-Commit-Adultery Pulsifer’s decedent, Newton – who by chance had been recruited into the Witchfinder Army by Shadwell, the sergeant-general.

All the characters converge and things start happening. But in the end, after feeling his power, Adam (along with Newton and Anathema) rejects it, decides to stop the end of the world (his friends influence him in this) and he even rejects Satan (his father). Crowley and Arizaphale are to be punished for “not doing their jobs” by their respective bosses, but find a unique way to get out of it.

But really, that is plot – what this series is really about is a friendship, a strong friendship between Crowley and Arizaphale. And it’s also, in the end about more romantic relationships especially Newton and Anathema and Shadwell and Madame Tracy (the madam/psychic/etc who has the apartment below his). Despite what could be dark subject matter – the series has a lighter touch. I read the novel years ago, and remember it being more funny, but I enjoyed how the series presented the story. I recommend this mini-series.

The Rookie Season 1 Review

  • Series Title: The Rookie
  • Season: 1
  • Episodes: 20
  • Discs: 4 (DVD)
  • Network: ABC
  • Cast: Nathan Fillion, Titus Makin Jr, Melissa O’Neil, Alyssa Diaz, Eric Winter, Afton Williamson, Richard T. Jones, Mercedes Mason
  • DVD: Widescreen DVD (R1, NTSC)

The Rookie reminded me of the 1970s cop shows I watched as a kid – shows like Police Woman or SWAT or The Streets of San Francisco, basic but watchable shows with great characters and lots of action – that had a very black-and-white view of policing. The series has, of course, been updated both in terms of technology and in terms of casting – the three rookies are Fillian, an Asian woman, and an African-American man who happens to be the son of a police officer. And it turns out there was a 1970s show called The Rookies with three male rookie LAPD officers, co-starring Kate Jackson as a nurse and wife to one of the officers. But that doesn’t make The Rookie a bad show – it’s nostalgic and incredibly fun to watch. The show is set in Los Angeles and filmed there. And, though I used to get annoyed with “everything filming in LA” even if it was set somewhere else, after a decade or two watching television shows filmed everywhere else for economic reasons – it was surprisingly nice to see Los Angeles again. The early episodes really show off LA in all it’s sunny, star-studded glory.

Nathan Fillion is John Nolan, a 45-year-old who joins the LAPD after his life falls apart – he’s divorced, his construction business has failed, and he’s decided to restart his life and do something he’s always wanted to do. He also has a son, Henry, who is away at college. Initially, John’s age and sudden life change is a source of rubbing and annoyance to other officers, especially his sergeant. But as John consistently proves himself – the other officers learn to respect his life experience. John is also incredibly empathic, which helps him to de-escalate situations with criminals and civilians alike. Between his life experience and his people skills, John is turning out to be a good cop – which isn’t to say he doesn’t make mistakes, he does, as do the other rookies. The show is about how the rookie year is a chance for the rookies to learn through experience.

Each episode of The Rookie usually starts with a brief, often humorous scene that feels like it was pulled from the real-life experiences of police officers. These scenes aren’t connected to the main story of the week, usually, but they are fun and they make The Rookie enjoyable and fun to watch. Each episode then follows the three rookies and their Training Officers (TOs) from roll call to end of shift. Early episodes of the season emphasize the variety of situations the new officers face in their day – from the absurd to the dangerous. Later episodes get a little bit darker – but this is never an overly grim series. We see the officers date, some, and at times learn about the home lives of the rookies and their TOs, but the show emphasizes the job, not who is dating whom, which is refreshing.

I recommend The Rookies if you are looking for something light and fun. Yes, it ignores the darker and more racist actions of the LAPD, as well as the lack of education of officers that commit those crimes. But if you want to want Nathan Fillion in a great role, again, and just kick back and binge something fun to watch, then watch The Rookies. I will definitely look for the second season this Summer on DVD.

Doom Patrol Season 1 Review

  • Series Title: Doom Patrol
  • Season: 1
  • Episodes: 15
  • Discs: 3 (Blu-ray)
  • Network: DC Universe (Warner Brothers)
  • Cast: Alan Tudyk, Diane Guerrero, April Bowlby, Matt Bomer, Timothy Dalton, Brendan Fraser, Joivan Wade, Phil Morris
  • DVD: Widescreen Blu-Ray (R1, NTSC)

This review contains spoilers for the first season of Doom Patrol.

Doom Patrol is weird, wonderful, strange, and extremely good – and it’s not your same old-same old superhero show. It’s a deeply psychological show that aims to really show what mental illness is like for the people that have it, which is a vastly different approach to a superhero show. Nevermind being screw-ups, the Doom Patrol is doomed to never be successful.

The pilot and first episode of Doom Patrol are narrated by Mr. Nobody, whom it turns out is the villain. His narration pops-up occasionally throughout the series, especially in the Penultimate Patrol and the finale. Each episode of the series also is the “blank Patrol” or the “something Patrol”. Also, the Chief, played by Timothy Dalton, is kidnapped by Mr. Nobody in those first few episodes, so the Doom Patrol are trying to find and rescue their chief, who we do see occasionally in the series – including a flashback episode that somewhat explains why Niles Calder is interested in the unusual in the first place.

The characters are:

“Crazy Jane” – she has 64 multiple personalities, each with their own special abilities. The personalities exist in the “underground” a place we visit once. Jane is the primary. Everyone calls Jane by her name of Jane, though her birth name is possibly “Kay Challis” we learn later. Other personalities include: Hammerhead – a foul-mouthed, angry, extremely strong woman (in the underground she is bald and a punk); Baby Doll – with pigtails, and a giggly manner she’s both sweet and annoying in equal manner; Penny Farthing – a young British Cockney girl who’s purpose is to run; Silver Tongue – when she speaks her words appear in copper letters which she can then use as a weapon; and The Secretary – who we only see in the Underground, a stern woman, with severe dress and hair, but she seems to be in charge of keeping Jane’s head together – organizing the personalities and preventing further harm from coming to Jane.

Cliff Steele (Robotman) – a race car driver, who is in a horrible accident. The Chief transplants his brain into a robot body. At first we, the audience, like Cliff think he was in an accident on the race track. But he avoids that, then is a normal traffic accident late at night. The accident kills his wife, and he thinks his daughter too, but later he discovers she survived. Cliff had been raised in an abusive home, and he and his wife fought constantly and both had constant affairs.

Rita Farr (Elasti-girl) – A movie actress in the 1950s, she complains about a “disfigured” cameraman then falls through a wooden pier into an African river, where some strange substance enters her. Now her skin and form aren’t solid and she has little to no control of the situation. We usually see Rita losing control of her form by her face drooping or her legs turning into a goopy mess.

Larry Trainer (Negative Man) – A test pilot in the late 50s/early 60s – Larry is testing a new plane when an extra-terrestrial creature enters the plane. He crashes – and is rushed to a secret government facility. He is extremely radioactive and has to wear special bandages to prevent harm to others (he discovers this when he accidentally kills all the doctors and nurses at the first hospital he’s taken to). The creature inside him can leave, but when the Energy Spirit leaves, Larry is knocked out cold. Larry is also gay but hides it from nearly everyone.

Vic Stone (Cyborg) – He’s been Cyborg for an unspecified amount of time, but ends-up joining the Doom Patrol due to complications. He’s a friend of the Chief but has a complicated relationship with his father, Dr. Silas Stone, whom he doesn’t quite trust.

All of these characters face serious mental issues. Jane is the most obvious – her multiple personality disorder was caused by abuse – and the meta abilities were caused by the same agency that got their kidnapped Larry, giving her some sort of injection. At times Jane is the most normal of the group.

Rita’s ability is a visualization of body dysmorphia. As an actress, especially from the 1950s, her looks were her livelihood – and we often see Rita checking her makeup in a compact, or sitting in front of a makeup mirror. As we learn more about her, we find out she was also a victim of the “casting couch” – forced to provide “favors” to get roles. Rita Farr isn’t even her real name, but her stage name – further complicating how she sees herself.

Larry cannot accept he is gay. He has a wife and children, a job in the military as a test pilot, and pretty much has faked his entire life to create an appearance of “being normal”. He’ll have the occasional affair or fling with a man but cannot commit or even admit who he really is. Through the season, we see Larry slowly grow to accept who he really is.

Cliff is the son of an abusive father, who becomes abusive and a womanizer as an adult. But he also, despite the bravado, is close to accepting his faults and becoming a better person.

Even Mr. Nobody has only one talent – to manipulate people (and he manipulates all of the Doom Patrol, even the Chief, throughout the season). He has ideas about weapons and such that he thinks will gain him membership in the Brotherhood of Evil, but his lack of follow-through gets him fired instead, and his wife leaves him.

Vic Stone is still coming to terms with being Cyborg and is deeply distrustful of his father. He’s trying to find his own place in the world.

Besides Mr. Nobody, the villain of the piece is The Bureau of Normalcy – a “secret government agency” that both Larry and Niles (the Chief) had worked for at one time. The Bureau seeks to lock-up, study, turn into weapons, or just out and out destroy anything that isn’t “normal”.

Doom Patrol is visually stunning, weird, wonderful, and a must-see. Highly recommended.

Young Justice Season 3 Review

  • Series Title: Young Justice – Outsiders
  • Season: 3
  • Episodes: 26
  • Discs: 4
  • Network: DC Universe (Warner Brothers)
  • Cast: Jesse McCartney, Danica McKellar, Nolan North, Khary Payton, Stephanie Lemelin, Zehra Fazal, Troy Baker, Jason Marsden, Greg Cipes, Alyson Stoner, Mae Whitman, Zeno Robinson, Tara Strong, Bryton James, Jason Spisak
  • DVD: Widescreen Blu-Ray (R1, NTSC)

Young Justice is an excellent series about the younger superheroes and protegees of the major heroes in the DC Universe – don’t call them sidekicks. The show had two popular and critically acclaimed seasons on Cartoon Network before being abruptly canceled because rumor said the show didn’t “sell enough toys”. Fans set out to bring the show back, and it finally arrived on DC Comics’ new streaming service DC Universe.

The new season is just as good as the previous ones – and gets back to the feel of the first season, with references to The Light, Vandal Savage, Darkseid, and even War World (which is now under the control of Savage). But many of the episodes concentrate on the characters – and what it means to be a teenager, especially a teen with superpowers. Starting in Markovia, where Nightwing hopes to break up a meta-trafficking ring including a lab to “activate” the metagene, the operation doesn’t go to plan. The King and Queen of Markovia who have opened the border to refugees from the rogue state of Qurac and announced an anti-trafficking initiative are murdered. Their second son agrees to have his metagene activated so he can protect Markovia. Their oldest son takes over but is under the control of his general – a conservative Xenophobe who wishes to exile the protected refugees and not only turns a blind eye to meta-human trafficking but was behind the lab in the first place (in collusion with Lex Luthor and the Light). The older brother exiles his younger brother. Also, their younger sister, Tara has been kidnapped and is still missing. She also is a meta. Brion, the younger brother, now a Meta, eventually using the code name Geo-Force, joins the team.

Next, the team of young heroes is contacted by Orion of the New Gods because something is happening on his home planet of New Genesis. The team discovers that someone is impersonating Orion and other New Gods and intimidating the “bugs” who live on the surface of New Genesis. Forager, one of these bugs helps the Young Justice team and joins them, in part because he can’t stay on New Genesis – it’s too dangerous.

Also, joining the team, a young girl, named Violet, whom one of the team sees dropped in a pit with other dead teenagers but she isn’t dead. It isn’t quite evident immediately what Violet’s powers are. She has a Halo around herself (thus her superhero name of “Halo”), can make shields and defensive weapons. She also cannot die, as her healing powers bring her back. Eventually, it’s discovered she is fused with a Motherbox from New Genesis and she can make Boom Tubes.

The season alters between episodes about the various characters – checking in on characters from previous seasons, and also developing the new characters. Violet’s character takes several episodes to develop – we know some things about her immediately, but not everything. Fred Bugg/Forager is a marvelous character and a bit more complicated than he seems at times. Prince Brion/Geo-Force spends a lot of time insisting the team find his missing sister, Tara, but when they do – it becomes very complicated since she’s under the abusive thumb of Slade Wilson. Brion is also exiled from his own country. This season also introduces Victor Stone – Cyborg, who is having a very hard time adjusting to his new identity. The season also opens with Batman withdrawing from the Justice League in protest to Lex Luthor’s restrictions on the League placed through his role as president of the United Nations. Batman takes several people with him to form “Batman Inc.” Jefferson Pierce, Black Lightning, retires at the same time after thinking he killed a teenager who had been turned into a Meta. Nightwing takes Black Lightning under his wing, no pun intended, and he joins the Team unofficially.

Batman Inc. isn’t really seen, but it’s clear they are manipulating events, behind the scenes to give the Young Justice team good publicity (which sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t) and to battle The Light and G Gordon Godfrey – a tabloid television journalist who’s a real pain.

Halfway through the season, once Tara is rescued and reunited with her brother, and Cyborg joins the team but is still learning how to control his powers that come from a Fatherbox, Beast Boy proposes a new direction for the Young Justice team. Calling themselves “Outsiders” – they are to generate good publicity for all metas, including young meta teens who have been rescued from meta trafficking and are being housed in the Justice League’s Teen Center. Beast Boy’s day job is playing “Commander Tork” on “Space Trek 3016” produced by GW Goode Studios run by Gretchen “Granny” Goode. Early in the season, the Young Justice team discovers the Virtual Reality goggles her company is producing are being used to tempt young potential meta children and teens away to be kidnapped by traffickers. Later, they discover “Gretchen” is none other than Granny Goodness from  Apokolips. Beast Boy is in charge of the positive image campaign and social media for the Outsiders.

At this point, there are multiple teams: the traditional Young Justice covert ops team, the Outsiders public PR team, and Batman’s Batman Inc. undercover team. It’s not clearly spelled out who is on what team, and there is overlap – but the show now has much more intrigue and covert operations feel to it, much like the first season. This doesn’t overshadow the character relationships though, which are really what makes Young Justice special. The series also has an extremely large cast, with pretty much any and all DC characters appearing at least once. The core for season three though is: Nightwing, Superboy, Tigress (Artemis Crock), Violet, Brion, and Forager, Beast Boy (Garfield Logan), Will Harper, Cyborg, M’Gann, El Dorado, Impulse (Bart Allen), Static, Wonder Girl, and Terra (Princess Tara).

I highly recommend Young Justice as a whole and Season 3 in particular. It is a series that is complex and multi-layered and you do need to watch each season in order to really catch everything that is happening and all the connections and characters. Seasons 1 and 2 are on my re-watch list at which point I will need to see this a second time. Highly recommended.

Thunderbirds Are Go Series 3 Vol. 1 Review

  • Series Title: Thunderbirds Are Go
  • Season: Series 3 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)

This review contains spoilers for Thunderbirds Are Go Series 3, Volume 1 (episodes 1-13).

Thunderbirds Are Go continues to be one of my favorites shows that I catch-up on via DVD (since I don’t have streaming access and I cannot watch it on Amazon Prime, the US distributor). The series is a worthy successor to the original Gerry Anderson Supermarionation series broadcast on ITV in the 1960s. The animated series uses CGI and model work. It is also incredibly fun – with plenty of action, characterization and memorable moments. It short, it’s enjoyable to watch, and one of the few shows I watch that I’d recommend for younger children as well as adults.

Series 3 kicks off right away by introducing the Choas Crew: Fuse and Havoc. They are out to cause, well, as much chaos as possible, and they have special equipment and vehicles in a similar manner to International Rescue. The Choas Crew is also working for the Hood. Unfortunately, as a season-long villain (or half-season I should say since once again the DVDs only include the first half of the season) the Choas Crew really has no motivation and there’s no good reason for their actions or their partnership with the Hood. Over the course of the season, we learn a little bit about the Choas Crew, but not enough to make them a truly interesting villain. The Mechanic is mentioned a few times, but not shown – both by the Hood, who wants to free him and use him again in his nefarious plans, and Brains, who wants to find a way to permanently free the Mechanic from the Hood’s control. Hopefully, when the second part of the season finally arrives on DVD, these threads will be wrapped up – the Choas Crew will be finally defeated and turned over to the GDF, and maybe the mentions of the Mechanic will have a purpose.

However, Thunderbirds Are Go Season 3 vol. 1 does have some great episodes and stories. Ned Tedford and Gladys the geranium show-up again. This time, the GDF has transferred him to the World Food Store to protect a repository of seeds that can be used to raise new plants in the case of a disaster. Of course, Ned has Gladys with him. When the Choas Crew attacks, International Rescue responds – but the Seed Store has its own defenses, including a deadly gas, and growth serum stores. Needless to say, Kayo, Ned, and the GDF’s Captain Rigby barely escape the gas (probably Halon or something similar) but poor Gladys gets hit with the growth serum! Still, Ned has carefully curated her seeds and cuttings and starts a new baby Gladys after losing his original plant. Even so, it was sad to see poor Gladys go – she and Ned have been through so much together!

“Night and Day” has Alan and John helping a mobile mining and storage crew on Mercury. Due to the extreme heat on the planet’s “day side” – their operation must continually move to stay in the dark. When an accident means they can’t move – it’s International Rescue to the, well, rescue. I liked this one very much – Alan was a bit more competent than the youngest Thunderbird pilot can sometimes be shown to be, and it was great to see John in a more action-oriented role, instead of simply managing communications on Thunderbird 5. Plus the rescue itself had some very intriguing aspects to it and the photography and animation were awesome!

In “Deep Water” – Gordon, Lady Penelope, and Parker have to rescue a mother and son who were checking on the Supreme Barrier Reef, a project to replace the destroyed Great Barrier Reef when their sub is destroyed by acidic water. Rescuing people quickly turns into trying to clean-up/stop an environmental disaster as Gordon and Lady Penelope must locate a leaky tanker and remove it from the Ocean Floor before the entire area is destroyed, including the new coral that’s started to grow beyond the Supreme Barrier Reef. The story is tense, has a great message (something unusual for this show) and the rescue and removal of the tanker is pretty cool.

Having given Gordon his own episode, Alan and Kayo get their own story in “Endgame”. Alan has been playing an online massive multiple player game called, “Cavern Quest”, but no one shares his interest or his enthusiasm for the new “Cavern Quest” theme park opening in a week. But when the Choas Crew attacks the park and an emergency call is sent out, Kayo is sent to respond, and Alan aids her virtually. Kayo meets Aezethril the Wizard, and real-life game designer, who is in trouble because the Choas Crew stole his wand before trapping him in the first cavern of the theme park. The wand controlled the actual holographic theme park, and without it, the only way out is through. Kayo and Aezethril must play through the game, stop the Choas Crew and their destruction of the park, and escape. Aezethril is voiced by Slyvester McCoy (of Doctor Who and The Hobbit)! Kayo chooses a sword as her weapon, Aezethril adds a hammer to his costume, and Alan holographically joins them. They play through the game, cavern by cavern, until reaching the final test. As silly as it sounds, I loved this one! The dynamics between Kayo, Alan, and Aezethril worked really well, and Sylvester definitely is enjoying himself!

The final story, “SOS” is another two-parter, like the opening one of the set, though the first part does have a definite end. The second-part makes up for the lack of a cliffhanger in the middle by ending on a cliff-hanger – and it’s a big one. The story itself involves the spaceship Calypso returning to Earth from its deep-space mission. And not only is it returning, but it is also about to crash into planet Earth. International Rescue must work together to rescue the crew, it’s data, and in part two – Braman. When the Choas Crew intervenes in Gordon’s ocean rescue/salvage operation, it’s Gordon who must soon be rescued by his brothers. Braman’s eventual rescue leads to a startling cliffhanger, as I mentioned.

I still recommend this series. The rescues are great. I love the interaction between the characters, regulars, reoccurring characters, and guests. I didn’t find Havoc and Fuse that interesting – their destruction vehicles seriously seemed solely designed to sell toys. But I still seriously love watching this show. And it’s good to see something positive, with the Tracy family (and their friends and associates) risking their own lives to rescue people in impossible situations, for no other reason than because someone has to, otherwise those people would surely die.

Read my review of Thunderbirds Are Go Series 1 Vol. 1.
Read my review of Thunderbirds Are Go Series 1 Vol. 2.
Read my review of Thunderbirds Are Go Series 2 Vol. 1.
Read my review of Thunderbirds Are Go Series 2 Vol. 2.

Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 Review

  • Series Title: Star Trek: Discovery
  • Season: 2
  • Episodes: 14
  • Discs: 4
  • Network: CBS (CBS All-Access)
  • Cast: Sonequa Martin-Green, Anson Mount, Doug Jones, Anthony Rapp, Mary Wiseman, Emily Coutts, Michelle Yeoh, Shazad Latif, Wilson Cruz, Mary Chieffo, Jayne Brook
  • DVD: Widescreen DVD (R1, NTSC)

The second season of Star Trek Discovery is very different from the first season, and much more like a traditional Star Trek series. Captain Christopher Pike is appointed the new captain of the Discovery, while the Enterprise is in spacedock for repairs. Seven strange “red signals” have appeared, signals which have some connection to Spock and Michael. Michael is Spock’s adopted sister, having been raised by Sarek and Amanda after the death of her parents. The Discovery follows the signals, also discovering the mystery of the “Red Angel” – a mysterious being that appears in times of crisis and seems to help.

Each episode of the series focuses on these two missions – the Red Angel and the signals. We also see Ash on the Klingon homeworld, but only briefly as for political reasons he is unable to remain as the Chancellor’s consort and he and their son go in hiding. L’Rell even claims she executed Ash and her baby to prove her loyalty to the Klingon Empire. The child is sent to a Klingon monastery. Later, Captain Pike will go to the monastery to obtain a Time crystal – and see a horrifying vision of his future as a result.

Suru has a health crisis, but when Discovery goes to his home planet, through complex means, it’s discovered that he is evolving into the advanced form of his species – a form largely without fear, and the planet’s apex predator which nearly wiped out the Ba’ul – the other species on the planet and the one that uses technology to cull the Kelpians. Suru helps his people to evolve.

Slowly Michael, Pike, and others solve the mystery of the Red Angel and of the signals. It does work as a series-long plot, with several interesting stops along the way. And Pike is an interesting captain, logical, calm, focused, and driven. He doesn’t rely too much on his instinct (Like Kirk), but he’s colder than Picard. And Pike has an inclusive style of leadership that brings takes into consideration the opinions of others on his staff, without more formal command staff meetings.

Section 31 again rears its head and proves to be very much the villain of the season.

Overall, I preferred Season 1 of Star Trek Discovery – it had some real surprises and pulled no punches in showing the compromises that happen when the Federation is at war. Season 2 isn’t bad, but it’s much more predictable and feels very much like traditional Star Trek, with traditional storylines and characters. Whereas in Season 1, Michael was the point of view character but she was flawed, and the season was very much about her learning things and changing her viewpoint, in Season 2 she’s very much a Mary Sue – everything revolves around her, and considering her still rather low rank, she spends too much time telling her captain what to do. She’s also become much less flawed, which is a problem. I will say though, I really liked the actor playing Spock – once they got him back from a Section 31 prison (it’s complicated). I also liked Pike – he’s a bit cold, but he fits with his crew.

Overall, recommended. If you watched only a few episodes of Season 1 of Star Trek: Discovery and thought it “really wasn’t Star Trek“, Season 2 is probably much more to your liking. There also isn’t much overlap between Season 1 and 2, so it’s perfectly possible to start with the second season without being extremely lost.

Read my Review of Season 1 of Star Trek Discovery.

 

The Handmaid’s Tale Season 3 Review

  • Series Title: The Handmaid’s Tale
  • Season: 3
  • Episodes: 13
  • Discs: 4 (Blu-Ray)
  • Cast: Elisabeth Moss, Yvonne Strahovski, Amanda Brugel, Ann Dowd, Joseph Fiennes, Madeline Brewer, Alexis Bledel
  • Original Network: Hulu
  • Original Production Company: MGM

This review contains spoilers for Season 3 of The Handmaid’s Tale.

At the end of the previous season, June gives her baby to Emily and sends her off to escape Gilead, while she remains behind. Season 3 opens with Emily and the baby continuing their escape and successfully obtaining asylum and refugee status in Canada. Emily brings the baby to Luke and Moira, and after a period of adjustment living with them, she locates her wife and son. By the end of the season, she’s returned to her profession as a doctor.

In Gilead, June returns to the house of Commander Lawrence, where she discovers he’s a psychopathic game-player and his wife is ill and not always able to get the medications she needs due to the laws and rules of Gilead. June is determined to see her daughter, Hannah, and try to get her out. She also has a young walking partner, who constantly repeats the Gilead Party Line. June doesn’t pay as much attention to this as she should. Finally, a plan is made for June to see Hannah at her School for the Domestic Arts, using Mrs. Lawrence as a cover. It doesn’t work – and soon after Hannah and her Commander and his wife are moved again. Not only that, but the entire household – Martha, Handmaid, even Guardian are executed by Gilead, with the Handmaids literally pulling the ropes to hang them.

June’s walking partner gets pregnant but doesn’t immediately reveal it to her Commander. Aunt Lydia has June publically shamed. June fights back by claiming her walking partner doesn’t want her baby – and the girl is publically shamed by Lydia. A few episodes later, in a sequence without much explanation, the girl goes crazy and starts firing a gun in the market. She is shot down by a Guardian in front of Lydia and June. The woman is taken to a hospital and put on life support until her child is developed enough to be removed by Cesarian section, then she is allowed to die. Aunt Lydia forces June to remain in the room, on her knees. June slips into a deep depression and altered status. She even takes a used scalpel from the sharps container and attacks Serena when she visits, as well as harming herself. The doctor examines the cut and asks her how long she’s been suicidal. At first, June insists she isn’t but realizes that she is – and that she has been since she realized she’d probably never see her daughter again.

Now back at the Commander’s house, June gets access to records of Handmaids and their children. She finds out Janine had a son that was taken from her by Gilead, only for that child to be killed in a traffic accident. All of the Handmaids we know through June have also lost children. June has an epiphany and changes her focus. Instead of focusing on her daughter only, she decides she’s going to get children out. Any child. As many as she can. When she talks to the Martha network about this – she gets an incredible amount of support, more than she could possibly have expected. By focusing on others, on her fellow Handmaids and their children, June grows and also gets help, whereas before the Handmaids and Marthas were getting tired of her selfishness. June works on getting help from Commander Lawrence by promising to take his wife with her to escape to someplace she can get the medical help she needs.

The second half of the season focuses on June and the Martha Network trying to set up this escape. There are setbacks, but June’s determination wins the day. She returns to Jezebel’s to convince the bartender there to help the Handmaids. They know he brings in regular shipments by plane of contraband, so June wants to use the plane as an escape route for 52 children. Billy seems uncommitted, but as she’s leaving June is spotted by the Washington DC Commander of Gilead who forces her to an upstairs room and tries to brutally rape her. June kills him but then shuts down in shock. A Martha finds her, one she had chosen to be saved from The Colonies. The Martha helps June get out of Jezebel’s and she and her fellow Marthas burn the Commander’s body and clean-up the mess. No one in authority ever realizes he’s dead, they just think he’s missing. Meanwhile, Serena becomes more and more determined to get her daughter, Nichole, back from the Canadians. This had resulted in the Waterfords, Aunt Lydia, and June taking a trip to Washington DC where Haidmaids cannot even speak, their lips are sealed together with metal rings. But Serena realizes that despite her husband’s assurances – he has no intention of actually getting Nichole back. Serena works with an American spy to get herself and Commander Waterford to Canada to face war crimes accusations. Serena gets immunity by testifying against Waterford. So now, the Waterfords are in Canada facing war crimes charges (Serena is charged with separate crimes later on), and the Commander they met in DC is dead. Furthermore, Billy decides to help the Marthas and Mayday is a go – June and company will rescue the children. As her new Martha tells her – she is “fucking fantastic”.

The details of the plan have a few setbacks, especially when a Martha brings a child to the house, gets cold feet, and decides to return to her mistress. But the younger Martha in Commander Lawrence’s house, Sienna, points out that because they don’t have any transport that they can go through the woods to get to the airport – it’s shorter. The route also proves to be safer, with less chance of getting spotted. They reach the border of the airport only to face fences and guardians on the lookout. June decides she will create a diversion while the Marthas find a safer way to get to the actual plane. Handmaids and Marthas return and help with the diversion – throwing rocks at the Guardians. It’s women armed with rocks versus men in black with machine guns, but the women actually do okay, definitely providing the needed distraction, even though some are shot and injured. June further leads a Guardian into the woods – he shoots her, but she gets him, at gunpoint, to call in the all-clear before she shoots him dead, then collapses. The plane, with the children, escapes. Later the plane lands in Canada and Moira and Emily are leading the refugee aid. Luke looks on in hope to see June. Rita tells Moira that June did all this – pointing to the rescued children.

Back in Gilead, six Handmaids find June and carry her off. June is injured but alive.

Going into Season 3, I was expecting to see June meeting with the Resistance and becoming a Harriet Tubman of Gilead – leading others out but staying herself to continue to help the Resistance. It takes June about half a season to come to that realization. She does help the Resistance throughout, using Commander Lawrence’s house as a safe place. One woman she smuggles through she’s told isn’t going out – she’s going deeper in, as a chemist, she can make bombs to be used by the Resistance. This knowledge is part of June’s journey to becoming a leader, not simply another victim. Her Epiphany after kneeling, for months, watching a woman as a human incubator (a metaphor for how all Handmaids are treated in Gilead) is the second step in her journey. Seeing how much help she is offered when she becomes determined to save others, strangers, children but strangers she doesn’t know is the final step. June has gone from being fundamentally selfish and getting others killed to becoming a Resistance leader who saves lives. I cannot wait to see what she does in the next season!

I highly recommend The Handmaid’s Tale. From the premise, it might seem like it would be depressing, difficult to watch, or angering – and it is, but it is also hopeful and just a really well-told story. The acting, cinematography, and stories are excellent.

Read my Review of The Handmaid’s Tale Season 1.
Read my Review of The Handmaid’s Tale Season 2.