‘The Originals’ finest season yet falters and ends more like a series finale

The fourth season of ‘The Originals’ just came to a close and it had been, up to a point, the best season the show has had storytelling wise. The Mikaelson siblings had all been on the same page for the first time in so long, Hayley and Elijah were finally being given their chance to truly be together and grow as a couple, Klaus was finally finding his place as a father, Vincent was finally being treated as the powerful ally he is, Marcel had broken free of the constant cycle of pain caused by the Mikaelson’s and Freya had finally been granted a dynamic love interest.

The Hollow and all the drama that came with it had been genuinely entertaining and interesting to watch at all points. Then episode ten came (which in and of itself wasn’t actually a bad episode, just a catalyst for the lackluster end of the season) and you could almost pinpoint the very scene where Julie Plec returned to a more active role in the show instead of strictly focusing on the final season of “The Vampire Diaries.”

Tonight’s finale felt less like a season finale and more like the end of a series. And if it were just the end of the series I’d probably have loved it. No, the concept of the Mikaelson’s (especially Klaus and Elijah) being separate forever doesn’t sit that well with me, but if it were the end I could learn to live with it. However, the beautiful emotions of the finale were sullied by the fact that it is coming back next season.

Splitting them up is actually a devastatingly beautiful end for this show, but now it’s no longer an option. Because they’ve done it and the emotion of it will be lost when the series returns next year finding an inevitable way to reunite the Mikaelson’s together again in New Orleans; all curses, spells and amnesia broken.

Instead Plec has opted to use what could have been a suitable series finale as a season finale that justifies yet another time jump. Time jumps have become a crutch for Plec, so much so that by the time “TVD” came to a close I didn’t even know what year it was supposed to be.

A time jump for this show now means years lost of Rebekah and Marcel’s epic romance, heartbreaking separation we won’t see any of and most notably the loss of young actress Summer Fontana. Considering their casting for a love interest for Hope, it’s doubtful Fontana will be returning next season seeing as seven-year-olds don’t have love interests. Child actors coming into a show in the middle tend to not go well, but Fontana stood out all season long as a stellar performer and will be missed.

And then there’s Elijah. Beautiful, kind and flawed Elijah; again were this the end of the series I could be pleased with him getting to start completely fresh, even if it’s technically the worst trope in the world amnesia, and have a peace this life has never granted him. I’d be at peace with it even though it means splitting up Klaus and Elijah, whose relationship has been the ultimate standout of the shows entire run for me (nothing quite gets me in tears like the two of them sharing an emotional brotherly moment). Instead he’ll only experiences a few years of peace till it all comes crashing down around him.

And then of course there’s his relationship with Hayley. The relationship ending is one thing, Elijah wasn’t wrong they truly were doomed from the start, but Plec’s reasoning behind splitting them up, the hypocrisy of her calling it toxic after an incident that was entirely out of Elijah’s control while she allowed so many other actually toxic couples to receive happy endings (i.e. Delena, Kolvina, Klaroline one day inevitably). She did to them the similar thing that she did to actually healthy couple Josh and Aiden a few seasons back and to Steroline and Bonenzo on “TVD.” She allowed them to be given endless foreshadowing to a happily ever after, a way out and then blew it up for no actual apparent reason. But instead of killing off one half of this couple, she called him a monster and gave him amnesia. Elijah as a character deserves better than that.

But you can’t not give props to Daniel Gilles for working with the material he was given. That man never ceases to act the hell out of all he has, even if it’s nonsense.

The season was incredible to a point, but then Plec’s focus came back and Michael Narducci was already halfway out the door and instead of the story he spent all season crafting Plec set up a finale that felt too final for her fifth season. Narducci will be deeply missed next season that’s for sure.

I won’t quit watching it, I’ve loved too many of these characters for too long to do that, but I do hope that next season is its final. The end won’t be as satisfactory as this one could have been as an end, but at least then it’s only 13 more episodes where Plec can bulldoze over everything that’s good.

‘Sense8’ and ‘The Get Down’ are the Netflix shows you’re probably not watching but need to

“Sense8” and “The Get Down” are two very different shows in terms of plot, but the thing they have most in common is that they’re Netflix’s greatest offerings that are severely underrated.

Both shows made their return to Netflix recently with incredible episode runs and yet if it weren’t for following the main accounts for the shows, there’d be next to no buzz about the shows anywhere. When new episodes of “Orange is the New Black” or “Stranger Things” drop everyone seems to talk about them, dress up in costume and scream from the rooftops about how good the shows are.

Meanwhile “Sense8” and “The Get Down” only get the recognition of the little fanbases that exist for them, even though they are just as good, if not better than those popular hits. Both shows feature diverse casts, interesting storylines, diverse LGBT rep, well written characters and a range of dynamic onscreen relationships both platonic and romantic.

Created by the minds behind the “Matrix” films “Sense8” is one of the most original, and unexpectedly sense making, sci-fi shows available right now. Its quality could probably only be rivalled by “Orphan Black” and its cast may not be well known, but they’re putting out Emmy worthy performances every episode. The concept of eight strangers being psychically connected across the globe seems like a far-fetched concept, but it’s presented in a visually stunning and deeply human way that makes the series an easy one to fall into.

“The Get Down” is likely the most well written musically based show to ever air on any platform. Unlike most musical shows that fail to deliver in story, but constantly deliver in music “The Get Down” delivers constantly on both with an incredible young cast who will hopefully go on to have long and impressive careers. Set in the late 1970’s the series spotlights a neighborhood and a community that’s never been shown before all through the lens of the fall of disco and the rise of hip-hop.

Both shows are timely, even if one is set in the past, visually gratifying and completely unique. In a time where there are literally hundreds of television shows available these two are standouts that everyone should give a chance to.

So if you’re willing to watch kids chase after monsters, you should also be willing to watch kids struggle to rise up in a tumultuous music industry. And if you’re willing to watch a show about a women’s prison with a boring lead, then you should be willing to watch a relatable sci-fi show with a dynamic lead cast.

‘The Get Down’ Part’s I & II and ‘Sense8’ seasons 1 & 2 are currently available to stream on Netflix.

We need to talk about how good ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D’ is right now

Anyone who’s watched the Marvel series “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D” since the beginning will be the first to tell you that the series has always had an incredible cast of characters but not so incredible overarching storylines. The only time it found itself truly living up to its potential was near the end of the first season when it was affected by the cataclysmic events of “Captain America: The Winter Solider.”

Then at the end of their third season “AOS” made their greatest creative decision to date, they finally dropped the dead weight villainy of Ward and embarked on a new, fresher journey. Now in its current fourth season “AOS” is the best it’s ever been by far, especially here in its second half.

The Ghost Rider portion of the season was strong, but then the introduction of a little android named Aida changed the entire landscape of the series. The LMD (Life Model Decoy) storyline took off and for the first time “AOS” became something it’s never been before, consistently compelling. The LMD lead to the Framework which lead to where we are now one week before the season finale.

The storylines have been poignant, timely (hello commentary on the U.S. political landscape) and well-written every single week. Each week you’re left on the edge of your seat eagerly awaiting what comes next.

And because of that quality writing the actors have all been on fire this season. Clark Gregg and Ming-Na Wen have always had incredible chemistry, but it’s seemingly increased tenfold this year. Chloe Bennett has added more layers to the enigma that is Daisy Johnson. Henry Simmons has finally been given the chance to build Mack’s backstory, including his relationship with his brother and the heartbreaking loss of his infant daughter. Elizabeth Henstridge more than proved her acting chops last season when Jemma found herself trapped on a planet alone, but has brought her ability in emotional scenes to even more heightened levels this season.

And then there are the two biggest standouts of the year. The two who frankly could win awards for their performances this season if the Emmys would every actually acknowledge a show like this: Iain De Caestecker and Mallory Jansen. For years we’ve seen De Caestecker play the sweet, monkey obsessed genius Fitz, this year however he was tasked with playing a version of Fitz that was cold, ruthless and downright evil. A task he achieved chillingly well. Watching the Fitz of the Framework has almost been like watching a completely different actor take on the part.

Jansen on the other hand has been evolving a character that could have been nothing more than a robot into a terrifying creature all season long. From Aida the seemingly simple LMD to Agnes the completely kind and normal human to Aida the threatening, overpowering LMD to Madame Ophelia Hydra and now to the terrifyingly human and destructive Ophelia, Jansen has been an evolving revolution to watch. In one season on the series Jansen has managed to create a more dynamic and interesting villain than Ward was in three entire seasons. The woman has given a more than Emmy worthy performance all year long.

Next week the epic season comes to a close, though I’d say it’s a safe bet some things may be left on the cliffhanger, with what will likely be the best season finale it’s had to date. “AOS” has yet to be renewed for a fifth season, which would be a bad call on ABC’s part if it doesn’t. Hopefully it’ll receive renewal in the next few days before upfronts and if you’re one of those people who dropped the series during its slower times take the summer to get back into it; it’s more than worth it.

“Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D” airs its season four finale Tuesday, May 16 @ 10/9c.

UPDATED: A fangirl’s definitive ranking of the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has become known for their amazing films since 2008’s “Iron Man.” But we all know that some have been better than others and some have just fallen flat. So let’s rank the movies so far from worst to best.

Now updated to include this weekend’s latest Marvel release, which nearly drops all the films in the MCU down a notch.

*Authors note: in complete honesty I never could be bothered to even watch ‘Doctor Strange’ hence it’s absence from this list.

14. ‘Iron Man 3’

iron-men-3-wallpaper

I know people love this movie and it made all the money but the third Iron Man stand-alone tried a lot of things and most of them didn’t work. The film’s villains fell flat compared to the first two films and it didn’t seem to know just how to handle Tony’s world post “Avengers.” The biggest problem was the new director; Jon Favreau was sorely missed behind the camera.

13. ‘The Incredible Hulk’

the_incredible_hulk_2-wallpaper-1920x1200

While Mark Ruffalo has mastered the character, Edward Norton’s turn as Bruce Banner was enjoyable. The story was solid and didn’t try to simply redo the first film, which we should never ever speak of. The film successfully redeemed the Hulk name in the MCU, but wasn’t a stand out worthy of a higher spot.

12. ‘Thor: The Dark World’

36519-thor_the_dark_world_wallpaper

This sequel wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t as good as its predecessor either. Loki yet again stole the show, but supporting characters like Lady Sif and Fandral deserved more screen time than they were allotted. Jane could have used more to do than damsel it for the better part of the movie as well.

11. ‘Iron Man’

url

The movie that started it all started it all with a bang. Tony’s enigmatic personality was brilliantly played with the utmost perfect casting decision of Robert Downy Jr. Because of the incredible director/actor duo of Downey and Favreau Marvel’s new era was reigned in pretty perfectly.

10. ‘Ant-Man’

marvels-ant-man-official-movie-poster-050615-feat

“Ant-Man” could have been a trainwreck. When the longtime connected director and screenwriter dropped out of the film fans were worried, but the tiny hero rose above the negativity. Paul Rudd perfectly combines humor and hero as Scott Lang and the movie proved itself to be a standout in the MCU. Ant-Man is a lesser known Marvel hero and the movie gave the character a well-deserved spotlight.

9. ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’

Age of Ultron 1

While not everyone loved the Avengers follow up you can’t deny its awesome villain and witty dialogue. Also for those long suffering Hawkeye fans like me this movie finally gave him some well-deserved screen time. Not a perfect film, but a solid ending to Joss Whedon’s time with the MCU.

8. ‘Thor’

THORRRR

Chris Hemsworth was another perfect casting choice by Marvel and no one expected this film to be as good as it was. “Thor” could have been ridiculous, draped in too much out of this world mythology, but it wasn’t. And of course we can’t overlook the fact that this movie graced the world with the rise of Tom Hiddleston who stole every scene he was in as Loki, Thor’s mischievous little brother.

7. ‘Iron Man 2’

iron_man_2_widescreen-wide

Easily the best of the Iron Man stand-alone films, this one brought us a new side to Tony and the romance we all saw coming. The introduction of Black Widow was in its own way overdue since she should be in everything since the beginning of the creation of all things Marvel. Sam Rockwell, while a ridiculous villain, was brilliant as he tends to be in every role he tackles. The return of Nick Fury and Phil Coulson also made this movie the finest of the Iron Man films.

6. ‘ Captain America: Civil War’

captain_america_civil_war_8k-wide

“Civil War” isn’t a great Captain America movie but it is a well done Avengers movie if we’re being honest. While Steve and Bucky’s relationship still takes center stage in the film, it could have been focused on even more. Because of that it’s amazing. The Steve/Bucky dynamic is one of the most intriguing and deeply emotional connections in the whole of the Marvel Universe and Sebastian Stan and Chris Evans continued to portray it perfectly in this film. Black Panther’s introduction also set’s up for what is hopefully an incredible future onscreen for the character.

5. ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’

maxresdefault

He’s the first Avenger for a reason, because he’s awesome. Steve Rogers is the everyman, nice guy that everyone can get behind. You root for him at every turn and his first major movie is an excellent portrayal of the hero origin story. With a supporting cast comprised of brilliant actors, like the most kick ass woman in the MCU, Hayley Atwell nothing about this movie falls short. Captain America’s first major on-screen appearance proved why he is the man known to always lead the Avengers.

4. ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’

GOTG 2

Let’s be honest, you put Andy Dwyer in space with a talking tree and a gun toting raccoon you expect it to turn out as a cheesy laugh-riot comedy. That wasn’t the case, though the film is definitely funny it’s also a surprising space epic for the ages. “Guardians” was an unexpected hit with an amazing ensemble cast and a story that was oddly relatable. No one expected to shed tears over a tree and a raccoon, but this movie made us all do that.

3. ‘The Avengers’

Avengers 3

No matter how many Avengers movies they make the first one will always be the best one. It was the first time a superhero team-up had been successfully done in a major film and it was executed brilliantly. Whedon perfectly encapsulated the struggle of bringing together a team of unlikely heroes with a great story and script that was portrayed with the stellar performances from the entire cast. The reality is every Avengers movie will have to live in the shadow of the original triumph.

2. ‘Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2’

The second installment of the “Guardians” franchise isn’t just amazing because of the cutest dancing tree in the universe, much like it’s predecessor it maintains humor throughout but also brought new depth to the beloved crew of characters. It also continues to benefit from it’s separation from the rest of the MCU, no pop up appearances of Tony Stark taking over or anything of the like allow the film to just be about this ragtag group of heroes we’ve grown to love. Great music, witty dialogue, excellent performances all around and an unexpectedly poignant commentary of what it means to be family all made up for not only an incredible Marvel film, but just an incredible film overall.

1. ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’

Captain America The Winter Soldier Cast Wallpapers

The second stand-alone film for Cap very nearly put every prior MCU movie to shame. Winter Soldier gets everything right. Every actor is perfect, especially Sebastian Stan who gives an incredibly emotional performance without saying a word for the better part of the movie. The action is thrilling, the story takes the superhero movie to new political thriller heights and the direction from the Russo brothers is compelling and holds your attention from start to finish. Just as every future Avengers film will live in the shadow of the original, it’s safe to say that every stand-alone Marvel film will have to live in the shadow of “The Winter Soldier.”

 

 

‘iZombie’ and the Blaine situation

“iZombie” has been the best show the CW has to offer since it began. It’s mix of humor, drama and crime solving has always been flawlessly delivered by a stellar cast.

One member of that stellar cast is David Anders who has played the vicious, cold-hearted Blaine since the start. Blaine was established from the very beginning as a villain and his actions over the seasons have only solidified that he’s a villain meant to be a character you love to hate.

Near the end of last season however, “iZombie” made its first real story misstep giving Blaine amnesia and putting him in a relationship with Peyton. A story that’s continued into its current season.

This isn’t really about the Blaine/Peyton/Ravi love triangle, though not a fan I get that Peyton doesn’t deserved to be judged for sleeping with Blaine when she did. She didn’t know who he was really or what he’d done, she wasn’t with Ravi. (Though I could probably write a whole other piece about the nonsense of that love triangle: both Ravi and Peyton have made mistakes, but non so damning that Ravi, the man of color, is framed to be the mess up while Blaine, the white homicidal maniac, is alright). It’s such a CW plotline, a thing iZombie has usually been above and avoided.

This is more about the simple fact that by giving Blaine amnesia and having a woman who’s been fairly sensible and strong fall for him they’re actively trying to make us forget that he’s not a good person. Prior to his amnesia Blaine showed no regard for others nor any remote desire to redeem himself in any way. Then enter the amnesia and since he can’t remember he was horrible he tries to be less horrible.

Personally, amnesia storylines are one of the most overused and unnecessary trope storylines especially when used in this context. It’s similar to when “True Blood” gave Eric amnesia and had Sookie fall for the amnesia ridden version of him. Somehow amnesia made her also actively forget the terrible things he’d done.

Blaine DeBeers is a murderer and manipulator who’s used harming others for his own gains his whole life, but especially so since becoming a zombie. Now the show seems to be retconning these facts (or attempting to) for both the audience and the characters themselves, sans Ravi who’s not having any of it.

It’s not a personal desire to see Peyton with Ravi or anything of that nature (Ravi could do better honestly), it’s the simple fact that all these characters are smarter and deserve better than to seemingly forgive a man like Blaine just because he’s lost his memory.

He’s still the man who murdered kids that Major was in charge of looking after, he’s still the man who murder Lowell a man Liv loved, he’s still the man who’s largely responsible for Major being a zombie (remember how he tried to murder him?), he’s still the man who’s killed and turned and blackmailed an unknown number people. He did none of that for survival or self-defense, he did it all simply because it made him rich and he could. Amnesia doesn’t change that, and doesn’t change the personal crimes he’s commited against these characters.

Just because he’s charming, good looking and has been given amnesia doesn’t mean we the audience or the characters have to or should forgive him. He didn’t choose this ‘redemption’ and once he gets his memory back (if he does) it’s likely he’ll revert to his old ways, especially with his father and Don E threatening everything he’s built.

Where are Liv and Major warning Peyton and completely distrusting him as they always have? How is Liv expected to look a man in the eye who she watched murder her boyfriend in cold blood? Where’s Clive in general in this mess? Cause we know he’d be on Ravi’s side in holding onto good old fashioned distrust of Blaine.

Think of it this way if Ted Bundy suddenly got amnesia would all be forgiven and you start dating him?

Maybe this is too quick to judge, but it’s been done on so many shows before it’s hard not to recognize the pattern. “iZombie” airs on the CW on Tuesdays @ 9/8c.

Popular shows on the bubble: what deserves renewal and what maybe doesn’t

As we approach the end of the season for many shows a number of networks have yet to make officials decisions on some longer-running established shows. But do all these bubble shows deserve a renewal or is it time to let some go? And will they even get them if they deserve the chance?

New Girl

The producers of “New Girl” were well prepared since mid-season for the fact that they might not get a renewal and it showed in their satisfying season finale. That being said though the finale was satisfactory bringing Nick and Jess back together finally and announcing Cece’s pregnancy the long-running comedy deserves a shot at one last ride. If for nothing else we all absolutely need to see what a Winston Bishop wedding looks like. Renewal seems likely, though chances are the renewal will be a short order final season.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine

If there’s any comedy on TV right now that doesn’t get the respect it deserves and deserves at least a seven season run its “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.” While “B99” has always been a show living on the bubble it has managed to survive through to its current fourth season. That being said things aren’t looking good after Fox’s decision to have an excessive long mid-season break and now the decision to double episodes to finish out the season. It deserves a renewal more than any other comedy on TV.

Gotham

Much like “B99” Fox sent “Gotham” away for a long mid-season break that ends Monday. The comic book inspired series has been at its best this past season especially with its rise of Ed Nygma, Barbara Kean and Tabitha Galavan. While no renewal has come through yet it’s likely the heroes and villains of Gotham City will return for a fourth season.

The Originals

The CW is notoriously known for quick renewals and low ratings. If you’re on the CW as a mid-season series and haven’t been renewed by your fifth episode it’s concerning, hence why “The Originals” is sitting heavily on the bubble. The “Vampire Diaries” spin-off is having an incredible current season in terms of story and characters, probably it’s best yet but the ratings have not been reflecting that. It truly deserves another season, if for no other reason to wrap up, but it’s currently sitting in a spot it could go either way.

iZombie

Much like “The Originals” the lack of an early renewal on CW is concerning. “iZombie” is the best show on the network, but often the most underappreciated as well. Though personally certain plots in the current season have been less than desirable (i.e. Blaine’s amnesia, the love triangle nonsense), the show overall is still worthy of a shot at continuing on. The question is does the CW still find it lucrative especially with its ever-growing DC superhero landscape? Much like “The Originals” it could truthfully go either way.

Agents of SHIELD

Since moving to a new timeslot this year “AOS” hasn’t performed as well which is ironic considering it’s been better this season, especially this current second half of the season with the LMD and Framework storylines, than it’s ever been in its four season run. The Marvel series has long been a show  with incredible characters, but less than impressive overarching storylines, that’s changed lately but the ratings haven’t reflected that (seeing a theme with a number of these shows?). It deserves another shot at a new season and being Marvel you’d think it’d be safe, but ABC proved it’s not scared to cancel Marvel shows last season with it’s horrible axing of “Agent Carter.”

Once Upon A Time

“OUAT” has had an interesting and let’s be honest cheesy six year run and of all the long-running bubble shows it’s probably the only one that really doesn’t need another year. Truthfully logic and the actual use of fairy tale stories flew out the window seasons ago. With the wedding of the one couple it seems fans still care about coming soon and a lot of stories (sensibly or not) being wrapped up if “Once” doesn’t make its return next season it wouldn’t be the worst thing.

Also, NBC has yet to decide the fate of freshman comedies “Powerless” and “Trial and Error,” the latter fell flat but could go either way on renewal and sadly though “Powerless” absolutely deserves a chance at a second season things aren’t looking too promising.

Most decisions will be made by early May at the latest so soon we’ll find out the fate of some fan favorite shows.

Why we should be talking about ‘Power Rangers’ LGBTQ+ rep more than “Beauty and the Beast”

Recently two films got a lot of attention for their first time LGBTQ+ representation. And after seeing both “Beauty and the Beast” and “Power Rangers” this weekend, the one that got the more attention definitely was given too much credit.

Being bisexual I welcome any and all representation, but I saw so many people talking about how Disney was introducing its first ever queer character in Le Fou, Gaston’s sidekick, while I saw only one article discussing the fact that “Power Rangers” was introducing the first ever queer superhero on the big screen.

Sure, “Power Rangers” didn’t have Trini blatantly state her sexuality or have a love interest (not that there was time for that), but they made it clear she was not straight, while if I hadn’t heard about Le Fou in the media prior to seeing the film I never would have noticed it. It’s never acknowledge directly in dialogue and  the moment that had conservative southern moms boycotting the film where Le Fou dances with another man is roughly two seconds long and barely noticeable.

You can’t really compare the two considering “Power Rangers” not only more directly acknowledged it but also had representation in more way than one with an actually diverse cast, including Trini who is played by Mexican American actress Becky G.

Disney and Disney owned properties have had the chance to go there before with LGBTQ+ representation, most recently with obvious space husbands Chirrut and Baze in “Rogue One” or definitely not just bros being bros Finn and Poe in “The Force Awakens.” Not to mention Marvel seems to refuse to use any of their canonly queer characters in their films or actively interpret any of the Steve, Bucky and/or Sam scenes the way the rest of us have.

“Power Rangers” is likely to become a franchise where in future films Trini’s character and sexuality can be explored more, whereas there won’t ever be another live action “Beauty and the Beast.”

The point is there’s representation for representations sake, which is what Disney gave us with a highly publicized queer character who’s sexuality was never really blatantly acknowledged, whereas “Power Rangers” actually gave intersectional representation that has potential to grow in the future.