‘Shadowhunters’ 2×17 review: mirror, mirror

As the season winds down, ‘A Dark Reflection’ definitely got dark.

Let’s begin with a Lightwood sibling who’s finally back on her game. Izzy had a nice episode this week. Her relationship with Max is so protective and sweet, but Max is too smart for his own good. Isabelle’s scenes with Simon were also nice giving us that first taste of the future that the pair could have. Her highlight of the episode was however the conversation with Maia. These two should absolutely have more scenes together.

Luke has finally gotten some screen time of late and it’s always delightful. From that little dad chuckle™ towards Simon to the scenes between he and Magnus, Luke once again was a highlight of the episode. He’s a calm in the storm, a level head and his involvement might just keep everything from falling apart totally. Hopefully, he can talk Magnus’ storm down a bit more with those docile level headed dad leader ways of his that Isaiah Mustafa plays so perfectly next week.

Speaking of Garroway’s, seeing Cleophas again was nice. Lisa Berry is an incredible actress and her willingness to drag Sebastian and fight back against Valentine was fantastic to watch. Garroway’s really know how to kick ass that’s for sure.

Sebastian and Valentine are terribly villainous together, but kudos to Elliot for trying, though it is nice to know that Jocelyn is still screwing over her terrible ex-husband from beyond the grave. Also a shout out to Alec for continuing to not truly trust Sebastian you may have made some bad calls this week, but this is definitely not one of them.

Which brings us to Alec’s very bad choice this week, a lie that will cause some brief heartbreak for everyone’s favorite pair.

The most serious angst for Magnus and Alec has hit, but it’s not the kind of unnecessary angst we’re so used to seeing in tv couples (cheating, unnecessary deceiving, biphobia, pressuring someone to come out, *cough, cough the books*). This is the kind of argument that was bound to hit them one day. Alec sits in a very unenviable spot between his duty to the greater good and his duty to the love of his life. Magnus sits in a very similar position. Their relationship will always be heavily political, there will always be factors that will leave them in tough spots and sometimes they won’t make the right choice. This relationship is so deep, but also still so new. Should Alec have told Magnus about the sword immediately? Maybe, but you can understand from his side why he didn’t, how he’s still learning to balance his professional life and personal life in a way that no one gets hurt. Magnus is rightfully angry. And that fire and rage was played incredibly well as usual by Harry Shum Jr. The whole confrontation between the pair was different from what we’ve seen from them before and a stark contrast to the soft date night that began the episode for them. As usual though no matter what the chemistry demands, Shum Jr. and Matthew Daddario knocked it out of the park.

This fight’s not over, rightly so, but these two are strong and next week it’s bound to take them to even deeper and more meaningful parts of their relationship than they’ve been at before.

Other bits for review: Sebastian you incestuous weirdo get off your sister, Alec if you’re sweating so much that you can’t eat lobster off a fork from your boyfriend maybe it’s a sign you shouldn’t be lying, kind of had to LOL when Jace was openly insulting Johnathan right in front of him, the mirror is an actual compact mirror which I expected it to be larger, and Maia, girl, where do you buy all your clothes?

Next Week: Pretty sure *spoiler* isn’t actually dying, Malec are gonna break our hearts but simultaneously rise us up with a couple long overdue flashbacks and the Garrobane BROTP continues to sail on a mission to the Seelie court where putting any trust in the queen is likely to be a very bad idea.

‘Shadowhunters’ 2×16 review: family complications

In this week’s Paul Wesley guest directed episode ‘A Day of Atonement’ family took the forefront and things got more complicated than before.

Alberto Rosende and Alisha Wainwright were easily the highlight of the episode giving us our only dose of Downworlder for the week. Together they are an absolute delight. Their chemistry is fantastic and their ability to riff off one another is incredible to watch. Simon has a lovely family; it was nice to see him truly get a story that was about him, his religion and his family and not centered on Clary. Maia getting a lot more depth was also a nice touch, she has such an interesting back story that hopefully they delve into more.

The Lewis family weren’t the only ones facing down drama; the Lightwood’s had their fair share as well. There are three things that Matthew Daddario plays best as Alec, sass, brotherly protection and being in love with Magnus. And he played all of those incredibly well, even though Magnus wasn’t in the episode; he defended his relationship, confided in Izzy and had no time for his father’s excuses.

While Alec and Robert’s relationship is seriously on the rocks, at least they can say it’s better than Valentine and Johnathan/Sebastian. Will Tudor, like the character or not, is playing him to a creepy and menacing level that’s impressive to watch. He feels more like a villain than he ever did in the books and far more than Valentine did all of season one. That being said, now both hitting their full evil potential Alan Van Sprang and Tudor are likely to reign over terrifyingly for the final haul of the season.

Meanwhile Jace and Clary went on another unsanctioned wild mission that’s likely to have some consequences. While it wasn’t necessarily bad to watch it was the weak point of the episode, it could be that their story is the most close to the books it leaves less to be surprised about. However Izzy coming to their rescue was nice to see. She and Alec have truly gotten back to their bond that existed in season one and it’s such an amazing part of the series.

Other little bits to love include Simon’s delightful grandma, the angel must have some great moisturizer and didn’t this episode just feel so very “The Vampire Diaries” in its tone?

Next Week: when will they let Malec rest and everything is exploding for everyone.

2017 Emmy nomination hopes

In the age of Peak TV there’s a whole lot of television and performances out there; so many performances that some slide under the radar, especially in the vast field of comedy. These are a few of the best episodes, performances and overall shows that deserve a shot at a win this year.

Comedy

Brooklyn Nine-Nine

The show absolutely deserves a nomination, but in particular the writing for the standout season four episode ‘Moo Moo’ deserves to be nominated and win an Emmy this year. The episode tackled racial profiling within police departments and was handled with surprising grace, appropriate humor and a proper serious tone as well. Terry Crews gave an incredible performance in the episode, as he always does, as did Andre Braugher. Both actors should earn a nomination as well.

Maya Rudolph as Dionne Warwick

While the latest season of “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” started a little slow, the absolute highlight of the season had to be Rudolph’s unexpectedly hilarious performance as famed musician Dionne Warwick. Her voice, her grace and those damn Baby Corns made Rudolph one of the best things that has ever happened on the series as a whole and more than deserving of a guest star nomination.

Atlanta

It’s likely that “Atlanta” will get nominated for its fantastic first season, but I just wanted to mention it because it deserves it so much. Donald Glover especially deserves a nomination for his lead role.

Master of None

The second season of Aziz Ansari’s Netflix comedy was unique and well done just like it’s first. But the season’s pinnacle ‘Thanksgiving’ episode needs a nomination for writing. If ‘Parents’ was the standout of season one ‘Thanksgiving’ was definitely season two’s. The story of Denise’s life long journey towards coming out to her family was so well told I actually cried during the scene where she tells her mother, played wonderfully by Angela Basset who should also earn a guest star nomination.

Drama

“The Americans”, “The Americans”, and “The Americans”: probably the most underrated series that’s pure Emmy bait yet never wins anything. That’s all I have to say here, just give those people all the Emmy’s already.

Genre Shows

In general I’ve chosen that the hill I’ll die on is the insistence that more than two fantasy/sci-fi genre shows get any sort of awards recognition. Some in particular standout more than others though like “iZombie’s” Rose McIver and “Orphan Black’s” Tatiana Maslany. While Maslany won last year, she truly deserves to win every single year though sadly Maslany missed the Emmy eligibility period this year due to the shows summer status. Meanwhile, McIver is churning out different performances and personalities every week to absolute perfection but is constantly overlooked because of the network she’s on and the type of show she stars in.

Seeing ‘Luke Cage’ earn a number of nominations would be a dream come true as well. That entire series was well-crafted, brilliantly acted and visually stunning.

Here’s hoping some of these hopefuls will earn their well-deserved nominations this season.

2017 Emmy nominations will be announced Thursday, July 13.

‘Shadowhunters’ 2×15 review: one relationship ends while another grows even stronger

This week saw Sebastian show his true form, a father/son bond that’s highly underrated, the end of one relationship and the even deeper strengthening of another. So let’s get into ‘A Problem of Memory.’

Simon had a rough night that turned into an even rougher day when he found himself accused of murder. Alberto Rosende continues to be such a standout in this series; playing heartbreak equally as well as he plays nerdy innocence. Rosende also shines at his brightest when he’s not tangled up in the love triangle drama and on his own more which he did exactly that this week. Along with him was Luke, who’s so frequently underused which luckily wasn’t the case for once. Isaiah Mustafa never ceases to play Luke with an air of endless kindness and outstanding leadership and his relationship with Simon is always such a delight to watch.

Meanwhile Sebastian got somehow impossibly creepier. Will Tudor plays this character to such a level of disturbing, quiet villainy that you’re always frightened by whatever he’s doing. His easy deception of Aline just shows how terrifyingly dedicated to his rouse he is. Now united once again with his father, it’s no doubt that he’ll find a way to get even more disturbing, a task Tudor surely can handle.

And then there’s Magnus. Beautiful, broken Magnus finally hit a point where he couldn’t continue to hold it all in after what happened back in 2×12 with the body swap and damn was it heartbreakingly beautiful.

Opening with Alec waking up to an empty bed was a soft way to start a hard conversation. Not only do we get to see Magnus and Alec being cute and soft and teasing in the morning together, but also there’s how far they’ve come. A season ago Alec Lightwood had resigned himself to a lifetime of waking up in an empty bed and now he’s grown so accustomed to waking up beside the love of his life every morning the concept of waking up alone four mornings in a row is unfathomable and leaves him worried. His worry continues to show through the episode, he doesn’t want to drag Magnus into anything involving Valentine, he doesn’t want to push him to talk but he also is so palpably worried about the man he loves. Unlike the last couple of episodes, where he let Magnus deflect his worry he stood more resolute in getting Magnus to open up. He knows Magnus, he says it himself, and he knows he’s hurting. Alec is so wildly in love with Magnus and he can’t stand watching him be in pain.

While Matthew Daddario played Alec’s concern and unstoppable love perfectly Harry Shum Jr. played Magnus’ vulnerability and heartbreak in a way that left you in tears.

His airy start, yet again deflecting Alec’s concerns, then transforming into clear agony was yet another display of how damn well Shum Jr. emotes with just the look in his eyes. The simple moment of looking in the mirror absolutely desolate to the next second looking at Alec with a completely cheery smile shows how quick he can flip the switch to put on the façade. Then later in the episode when he lets the façade drop completely you’re left with your heart on the floor. Magnus opening up to Alec, tears falling, a tremble in his voice might be Shum Jr.’s best performance in the series to date. Magnus has likely never told anyone the story he tells Alec, at best Catarina and Ragnor likely knew. But here he is opening up to someone he loves, someone he can trust completely that doesn’t judge only loves and trusts right back. Shum Jr. puts Magnus’ vulnerability on display, his heart in his hands almost literally handing it to Alec. And where in the past that vulnerability was likely thrown back in his face instead it’s embraced and accepted.

Daddario and Shum Jr. are electric in their scenes together whether they’re light or incredibly heavy like they were this week. The absolute trust on Magnus’ end and the absolute conviction in his reassuring words on Alec’s were beautiful. They continue to seamlessly play the soulmate, love of each other’s lives status the pair have to absolute perfection.

Other bits to love: Luke literally becoming a ‘sips tea’ meme, Ollie (who hopefully stays out of trouble), Raphael’s loyalty to Simon as someone under his protection even though Simon doesn’t always appreciate it, Alec reaching out immediately in bed for Magnus (they damn well better wake up together next time we see that), actual ray of sunshine Aline Penhallow, add ‘When things get crazy don’t push me away’ to the iconic parallels of true love inventors Malec along with ‘I love a challenge’ and Jace getting at least a tiny bit of revenge towards Valentine.

Next Week: ‘The Vampire Diaries’ alum Paul Wesley directs, Simon has an uncomfortable family holiday gathering and Valentine’s on the loose so it’s off to Idris we go!

REVIEW: ‘Baby Driver’ mixes music, heists and unique humor seamlessly

Director and writer Edgar Wright knows how to make a damn good movie, it’s a fact that’s been cemented over the years in his numerous cult classics, but “Baby Driver” takes the director to whole new level of brilliance.

From start to finish “Baby Driver” holds your attention and keeps your body humming. Take Wright’s ability to write perfect dry humor, wildly choreographed car chases (as well as possibly the best damn foot chase ever seen in a movie), a stellar cast and music being used in a way it never really is and you have a film that’ll easily be one of the best of the year.

Ansel Elgort plays Baby as caring, innocent and calm to an impressive degree. He doesn’t say all that much in the long run, but you feel like you know everything about him by the end and a lot of it comes from the small interactions he has with strangers and the kindness he radiates. There’s also the wonderfully tender relationship he has with his foster father as well as his new love Debora.

Eiza Gonzalez and Jon Hamm are delightfully deceptive as the wildly in love and incredibly dangerous married couple Buddy and Darling. Jamie Foxx is well crazy as he’s aptly named Bats. Jon Bernthal makes an all too short appearance and leaves his mark even though he’s not seen again.

And then there’s Doc the seemingly dastardly, yet also unexpectedly kind leader of the pack played perfectly by Kevin Spacey. Aside from playing him evil with a soft spot for Baby, he also delivers some of the best comedic lines of the film in a delightful deadpan (especially his final moment where he references Monsters Inc.).

Its pop culture references and witty dialogue are such a part of what Wright does so well and the cast manages to pull it off seamlessly.

Then there’s the music. After coming out of “Baby Driver” it’s very likely you’ll find yourself wondering if movies have been using music wrong up until now. Every song is perfectly chosen and you can’t believe no one has ever used these particular songs in this particular context before. And then there’s the simple way the music flows with the action. At the open of the film you find the words from the song following Baby around on street signs and graffiti; then it’s in sync with every turn of the wheel, every shot from a gun. Music isn’t just in this movie it’s a character of its own. The attention to detail is astounding and the work that the team behind this film put into it is so impressive.

The film has an aesthetic and style all its own. It’s classic, timeless and yet modern. It shows very Americana esque, showing Atlanta in a way that’s not shown often enough because too many people think of the “The Walking Dead” when they think of the Georgia city. It’s a heist movie, but it’s also a car chase film; and yet it also manages to be a love story.

“Baby Driver” is absolutely unique.

‘Shadowhunters’ review: a look back at the first four of 2B

Full disclosure this was going to be a first five review, doing a nice fifty-fifty split on 2b, but then those 2×15 promotional stills came out and I can predict that review will be so long it will be uncontainable and deserved its own solo piece. So here’s a quick review rundown of the first four episodes of 2B.

Episode 11 ‘Mea Maxima Culpa’:

  • A nice welcome back, featuring at least a few brief moments of peace before everything went to hell again.
  • Luke and Maia were a huge highlight; seeing them work together again on a united wolf front after quite a bit of confrontation in 2A was fantastic to see. There was more for Luke to do in one episode than in the bulk of 2A.
  • A lot of solid foreshadowing for Magnus’ 2B storyline as well as the potential of the Downworlder uprising.
  • Bless them for ending that sibling weirdness immediately between Jace and Clary.
  • Sebastian’s introduction into the world was well done; Will Tudor instantly proving he’ll be an alarming addition to the cast. He’s clearly capable of playing the seemingly friendliness of the character and the dark disturbing monster we know him to truly be

Performer of the week: Dominic Sherwood, emotional and impressive. He continues to really tap into Jace and make me like a character I could not even stand in the slightest in the books.

Episode 12 ‘You Are Not Your Own’:

  • Body swaps are usually poorly executed by most shows. They either chose characters that are too similar, use a character that’s only in the one episode as one of the swappers or the actors just can’t pull it off. That wasn’t the case in this one. They absolutely chose the right two for the plot, performance wise Alan Van Sprang and Harry Shum Jr. completely nailed it in this episode.
  • Though it’s bothersome that the continuation of Malec having casual intimacy, touches (only on Alec’s end obviously in this one) largely occurs when it’s not even Magnus, I’m glad to see it looks like a possible continuing trend for equal intimacy and time in upcoming episodes.
  • Simon and Izzy have more romantic chemistry than Simon and Clary by far; I’m actually looking forward to the very slow burn that’s inevitable between them.
  • That final scene between Magnus and Alec was way too short. I didn’t expect a rousing romantic reunion, not after what had just happened, but 30 seconds is not enough. I don’t expect resolution, I know that that’s coming in the next episodes with them getting closer and understanding each other even more, but still the final Climon/Sebastian scenes were unnecessary and Magnus and Alec needed a more extended scene at the end. Even if it had been simply an extra minute or two of them just sitting together.

Performer(s) of the Week: Alan Van Sprang and Harry Shum Jr., both actors completely managed to capture the others character in tone of voice and down to even the way the characters carry themselves. It was wildly impressive to watch these two perform as the polar opposites of the characters they portray week to week. They also managed to not only nail each other’s characters, but also make the fact that the other’s didn’t figure it out till it was almost too late believable because it was so strange to see those personalities coming out of a different faces.

Episode 3 ‘Those of Demon Blood’:

  • The social commentary wasn’t perfect but was surprisingly well handled. Best represented through Maia, Luke, Raphael and Simon’s comparisons to real-world things.
  • Magnus and Alec working through their stuff, Alec knowing Magnus isn’t okay, working together that’s what I live for. Not breakups cause it gets hard, genuine feelings and emotions and having each other’s backs, that’s what I live for. Disagreements that result in growing, heartache that heals overtime together on a united front. Matt and Harry continue to have chemistry that’s to die for. That being said that balcony intimacy at the end should have lasted longer considering Malec are an emotionally evolved and in love couple. Don’t get me wrong I’m all for Jace and Maia, all for it, but equal screen time and physical levels of intimacy for the shows only same-sex couple is all I’m asking for.
  • Magnus getting to be carefree for a moment was a nice thing to see. You can’t blame Dot for going for it I mean its Magnus, but sorry girl that man is in deep with the love of his life A. Lightwood.
  • Alec’s development finally coming to a head in this episode was incredible. He’s still not perfect, he’s still learning, but he’s the first one to stand up for each of the Downworlders not just the one he’s in love with. Also now HEAD OF THE NEW YORK INSTITUTE as he should be.
  • Imogen is well played, so well-played you genuinely hate her.
  • Kickass Raphael and Meliorn was a welcomed thing. Izzy and the Ex-boyfriends made for an unexpected dream team (and a possible band name if they ever want).

Performer of the Week: Alisha Wainwright, she continues to be a standout in the series as Maia. She was absolutely incredible in this episode; her tenacity and kindness all on display.

Episode 4 ‘The Fair Folk’:

  • Let’s start with the fact that the sets for the fairy realm are very pretty. And in an unexpected twist the Seelie Queen is younger than expected and incredibly cunning and dynamic. I even found myself interested in the Simon, Jace and Clary stuff even though I knew how it would play out in the end. Alberto Rosende plays heartbreak well that’s for sure.
  • Love her or hate her Maryse Lightwood is trying to make amends, be a better person and a better mother which is lovely to watch. Much like the scene with Maryse and her son’s back in 2×08, her interaction with Isabelle was beautiful and heart wrenching. Nicola Correia-Damude is such an amazing piece of the secondary cast.
  • Luke finally got an episode that had a whole lot of his side of the things that are happening and damn was it good to see. He and Alan Van Sprang play that volatile former friendship so well and Isaiah Mustafa held an assertiveness to be reckoned with in that scene.
  • Alec has a long fight ahead of him against the clave, but watching him be a fair and right head of the institute was fantastic to see. His leadership combined along with his powerful boyfriend set the tone for their incredible professional power couple status. And of course that cheeky little scene between Mr. Lightwood and Mr. Bane was everything.
  • Sebastian’s true colors are beginning to show and Will Tudor is absolutely terrifying. I personally look forward to seeing he and Alan Van Sprang truly get to interact as the duo some of us already know them to be.
  • And on a closing note if the Downworld leaders and Alec are going to have regular meetings, can we always see those?

Performer(s) of the Week: Isaiah Mustafa and Nicola Correia-Damude, both were incredible in different ways this week. When Correia-Damude is given emotional scenes to work with she absolutely shines and Mustafa brought a rage and a calming leadership that the show needs to utilize more often. His scene facing down his former parabatai was one of the best moments for Luke and for the show.

Next Week: No new episodes sadly, but after the Fourth of July holiday we’re back for the final six episode stretch. And the next one looks very promising bringing a long overdue Clary and Simon breakup and some casual and deeply emotional moments that will hopefully be incredible and lengthy for Magnus and Alec.

‘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.