Creepshow S01 E03 Serves Up Some Just Deserts

After a brief hiatus, I am back to talk about Creepshow S01 E03. Why the hiatus? Well, last week at work was super busy. And, my internet was having some issues, thanks to my living in China. Fortunately, work has slowed down, it’s the weekend, and the ‘net issues are no more. So, all is well once again in the world of Ian.

The image shows trick or treates with a caption that says All Hallow's Eve, the first of the two stories mentioned in this Creepshow S01 E03 review

This week’s, or rather last week’s, installment of Shudder’s anthology brings two tales of deserved comeuppance. Now, this isn’t anything new to horror anthologies, see nearly every episode of Tales From the Crypt. In fact, it’s not even really new ground for this show. See episode 2. Still, these types of stories are fun. After all, most of us enjoy seeing terrible people get what they deserve.

The first tale in Creepshow S01 E03 is ‘All Hallow’s Eve.’ From the beginnig of the story, there is a sense of somber unease permeating the whole affair. It’s an effective and affective touch, considering what happens. We meet Pete and Jill in their costumes. They are Gold Dragons, a club of sorts, and they’re waiting for their fellow group members. Immediately something feels off about them. Pete, dressed as a hobo, mentions something about the rules, and Jill says something about this being the last time they will be together. If that’s not some ominous shit, you and I have different definitions of ominous.

Creepshow S01 E03 All Hallow’s Eve is Suburban Gothic

Once the gang assembles, they are off terrorize the neighborhood. I must admit, the fear these kids inspired in the people of the neighborhood intrigued me. I wanted to know what the story was, though I did guess it pretty early on. To be fair, it wasn’t that hard to spot. Still, it would have been nice if the mystery had gone on a bit longer. Still, it’s a pretty neat episode. And while it’s not scary, it is spooky with a surprising amount of heart and emotion.

Gothic literature often deals with mysteries, dark secrets, betrayal, crazy women in attics and the men who put them there. All Hallow’s Eve doesn’t have attic ridden loonies, but it does have mystery, murder, and dark secrets. This story is Suburban Gothic.

Visually, the episode is fairly standard, though the break-in to Mrs. Hathaway’s house is a stand out. Odd angles disorient the viewer, and add something different to the episode.

Overall, it is hard to argue that this is the strongest entry in the series. However, it is a solid entry, and it is a bit different from what has come before. My only two gripes about this tale are that the mystery isn’t as mysterious as I would have liked, and we see what happened to the Golden Dragons. It wasn’t superfluous, but it also didn’t feel necessary. My dislike of its inclusion probably speaks to my feelings about the mystery.

I did really like the kids’ acting. Jasun Jabbar Wardlaw Jr. as Binky was especially good. He was funny, as well as a ball of perfectly contained rage. The standout of this segment for sure.

The Man in The Suitcase Is Uncomfortable

The second tale found in Creepshow S01 E03 is the Man in the Suitcase. This story opens with Justin, a down on his luck college kid. His dad is mad at him for under performing at school, and his girlfriend Carla just dumped him. To make matters worse, he’s stuck waiting on his luggage at the airport. Things are looking bad for poor old Justin, and they don’t look like they will improve any time soon.

However, he does catch a lucky break because just when it looks as if it won’t get his bag, it falls down the carousel. He grabs it without a second thought and heads home, getting stoned on the way. Now, as viewers we know something is off about the suitcase. In fact, if we paid attention to the title, we know there is a man in it. We may know that someone is in the suitcase, but we don’t know when he will reveal himself, and we don’t know what he will be like. To the show’s credit, it plays with that expectation, quite a bit, keeping him in the suitcase for a lot longer than I thought they would.

When Justin does finally find him, we see a man so contorted he looks as if every bone in his body has been broken and rearranged in order to make him fit in the luggage. He begs Justin to help him, but when Justin tries to move one of the man’s feet, the man screams in pain and spits out a gold coin. See, when he feels pain, he produces gold coins. Yeah, this is weird, but Justin is in desperate need of money. Plus, the man tells him to stop trying to extricate him from the suitcase and to try later.

Would You Hurt Someone For Money?

From this point on, it’s not too tough to see where this is going to go. If the man produces money when he’s in pain, then hurt him and make money. This is a pretty brilliant setup, as well as an original one. Plus, it brings the idea of morality into the story. Is Justin willing to hurt this man in order to solve his own financial problems. The short answer is yes, but there is more to it than that.

Suffice to say, that the man in the suitcase has a secret. It takes a while for him to reveal that secret. And a lot of torture at the hands of Justin, his ex-girlfriend Carla, and his roommate Alex. But when he reveals his secret, it is sweet, inevitable, and in hindsight, obvious.. And, it’s made evens sweeter by the fact that the wicked are once again punished.

Creepshow S01 E03 Has Two Strong Tales of Justice

Of the two stories in this episode, I preferred The Man in the Suitcase. It feels more confident in its telling, and it is a bit more visually interesting. Plus, it saves the resolution of the mystery for the end. Unlike All Hallow’s Eve, it is not very easy to guess what is happening with the man in the suitcase. Sure, we can maybe guess nothing good will come of the situation, but as for how, that’s a bit more difficult. I liked the thematic link of morality and justice because it such a staple of schlock type horror, and it is done well in this episode.

I am happy to say that I’m still enjoying this series, and it is well worth the subscription to Shudder. I’m looking forward to watching and reviewing episode four.

Have you seen this episode? What did you think? Let me know in the comments, and thanks for reading.

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Creepshow S01 E02 Tales of Horror and Vengeance

Creepshow S01 E02 tells two very disparate tales. There is a little bit of thematic resonance between them, but not much. The first story Bad Wolf Down concerns a combat unit in WW2. The episode opens with American GIs fighting a bunch of Nazi soldiers. The GIs are in trouble and have to retreat. Soon, they find themselves in an abandoned jail where some obvious shit has gone down. Though, I do have to say, it takes them a while to notice that some shit went down.

The image shows a comic book cover as featured in Creepshow S01 E02

Seriously. I understand they are in a stressful situation, and maybe not thinking straight. But, they don’t check the room or look for danger. They just kind of hang out and slowly realize something is amiss. This isn’t a deal breaker, but it did strain my credulity. I know, I know, complaining about credulousness in a s show lie this is silly, and I agree. Still, the key to maintaining suspension of disbelief in any type of creative endeavor is not to break the illusion. Unfortunately, Bad Wolf Down did that a few times for me.

That is not to say, however, that I didn’t enjoy this story. I did. The characters are definitely archetypes and don’t bring anything new to the genre. There’s the asshole sergeant, the tough but fair captain, and the young kid who believes in God. But, that’s okay. The actors perform their roles well enough, and Jeffrey Combs is always a welcome sight, especially when he’s chewing scenery.

As one of the thematic elements that ties the two stories together is vengeance, I need to talk about that. First, we get vengeance in the form of Combs’ Nazi commander. The GIs killed his son, and they must die for their transgression.

Creepshow S01 E02 Bad Wolf Down Hamstrung By Budget

The second form of vengeance in Bad Wolf Down is the captain getting revenge on the sergeant who left him and the rest of the unit to die in jail. I don’t want to spoil too much, but you can probably guess from the title that there are werewolves. Yes, this is a werewolf story, and that’s cool. There aren’t enough of those thanks to vampires and zombies getting all the action.

The budgetary constraints seep through in this story. Werewolves require transformations, which I imagine are costly to film. This episode solves the problem in a clever way: flipping through the pages of a comic book to show the change. We still get to see the Wolfmen wreak havoc, which is nice.

The ensuing slaughter after the change is also good fun. Though, I must say, it felt a little lackluster. I don’t know if it was lack of tension in the fight, or just that everything looked a little fake. Whatever it was, I wasn’t as excited as I wanted to be. Still, it was great fun.

Creepshow S01 E02 The Finger

Of the two stories told in Creepshow S01 E02, I prefer The Finger. It’s got a macabre sense of humor, and a strong sense of the story it wants to tell. Bad Wolf Down knew the story it wanted to tell as well, but it didn’t quite feel as assured as The Finger does.

The Finger is the story of Clark Wilson, ‘the only man who walks in LA.’ Clark is a loner whose family abandoned him, and good riddance. His ex-wife Samantha only thought he was good for reaching high shelves. His stepson stole his car, and his stepdaughter was a meth head who offered him sexual favors for him to keep her secrets. Thankfully, he did not take her up on such offers.

If one of the themes of Bad Wolf Down was that of relying on others in times of trouble, The Finger goes in the opposite direction. Clark has no one, and furthermore, doesn’t seem to want anyone in his life.

So, Clark is a lonely web developer who collects discarded things. Yes, he collects trash on his walks and brings it home. One night, he finds a weird and gross looking finger. Now, a normal or sane person would leave the finger alone. But Clark is not normal, and he may have a few screws loose. So, he takes the finger home and starts researching what kind of animal it belongs to. He can’t find anything, but he does accidentally spill beer on it. The finger soaks up the liquid immediately.

We All Need Friends

This is some freaky shit, and if it were me, or any other right thinking individual, I’d get rid of that finger. Instead, Clark puts it in a butter dish and then places it in the fridge. The finger soon grows into an arm, and then into a fully formed murderous monster. Of course. Anyone surprised by this probably shouldn’t be watching horror. In a twist, though, the creature befriends Clark, and they hang out. Clark has found his comrade, and Bob, the cutest monster you’ll ever see, has found his.

This story is funny in all the right macabre ways. Clark is likably unlikable, and breaks the fourth wall quite a bit. He’s cynical and jaded, but doesn’t grind the audience down with these aspects of his character. There is not a lot of momentum to this story, but the humor and Bob kept my interest even when the action wasn’t moving at a quick pace. I enjoyed the storytelling as well as the inevitable conclusion to this story.

Final Thoughts

Overall Creepshow S01 E02 is a strong addition to the series, though it is weaker than the first episode. It doesn’t have as many scares, and the creepy factor is lower as well. Still, it feels like the source material, and offers up some good entertainment. Well worth watching, I’d say.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments. Thanks for reading.

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Creepshow S01 E01 Two Tales of Horror

Creepshow S01 e01 premiered on Shudder recently, but I hadn’t had a chance to watch it. Well, that has finally been rectified, and I am happy to say it was worth the wait. This episode, like all the upcoming ones, apparently, has two stories in it. I like this format because it gives us more bang for our buck, and helps ensure there is all meat, no filler.

The picture shows the logo from Creepshow S01 e01

The first story, Gray Matter, is a telling of the Stephen King story of the same name. It’s about a teenage boy, Timmy, and his Daddy. I read the story yeas ago in middle school, so I don’t remember all the details. I do remember that it was creepy (duh! it’s King), and the show definitely lived up to that promise. The plot is simple. Timmy’s Momma dies, leaving him and his father alone together. Daddy, who always enjoyed his Friday night Harrow’s Supreme beer starts drinking excessively. Then, he loses his job and starts watching afternoon soaps. Grief does strange things to us all.

When we first meet Timmy, it is in a general store on the night of a big storm. He has come for a case of Harrow’s. The Sheriff and the town doctor are in the shop, shooting the shit like always. These little moments between characters establish their relationship and let the reader know this is something they do. As far as quick and effective world building and place setting, there are few better ways to do so.

As the story continues, we learn that something nasty has happened to Daddy, after all this is a horror story. I won’t reveal too much about the details, suffice to say there are some gruesome effects and a good sense of dread throughout the short.

Creepshow S01 E01 House of the Head

This is the second story of the episode, and while the colors are a little brighter, the story is just as dark, if not darker. House of the Head tells the story of a little girl and her dollhouse, so already it’s freaky. I mean, come on, dollhouses can be quite scary. Not always, sure, but more often than not. Or is that just me?

Anyway, Evie, the girl, has a new ‘one of a kind’ dollhouse–which adds to the unease. Anytime something is ‘one of a kind’ in a horror story it’s never good. It’s never, oh, that car is one of a kind; it will get you where you need to be and never break down. No, it’s more, that car is one of a kind and it will kill all your friends and drive you to madness.

The dollhouse is nice, though, and Evie has inhabited it with a nice family called the Smithsmiths. They have a dog, a son named Ethan, and all is well when Evie leaves for school one morning. However, things change quickly. Upon her return home she sees that a new inhabitant has move into the house: a disembodied head.

The picture shows the head of the house of the head from Creepshow S01 e01
Hell No! I see that, I’m burning the damn house down!

If I found this head in my dollhouse, I would freak. Not Evie, though. She’s just all, you don’t belong here, whatever. As things progress she gets more and more creeped out by the head, but she never loses her wits. She just buys more dolls that she thinks can solve the problem for her. I won’t say how things end, but I will say Evie is full of hope when she leaves the dollshop with her new Native American doll.

Thematic Similarities Between Episodes

Overall, Creepshow S01 e01 is a strong start to the series. The two tales they chose resonate thematically with each other because they both present children dealing with horrific events. Also, they act as a nice contrast to one another. Gray Matter is shot in odd angles and has a very dark aesthetic. The lighting is dim or nonexistent, which really amplifies the feelings of terror.

House of the Head on the other hand, is brightly lit, and shot in wide open frames. Even though most of the action takes place in Evie’s bedroom, the episode never really felt claustrophobic to me. Despite the well lit shots and feeling of space, there was still a strong feeling of unease in this story as well.

I wouldn’t say that either tale is particularly scary. There aren’t jump scares or things like that. But, I will say a feeling of fear and despair permeates them, which is a different kind of horror. It may not scare you in the moment, but it has greater potential to keep you awake at night, turning your head at noises in the dark.

Final Thoughts

One thing I didn’t like was the repetition of ‘Daddy’ in Gray Matter. They used it so much that it became annoying, and I wanted them to find a synonym.

Something else that was cool was all the Stephen King references in Gray Matter. There is a missing pet board with Church and Cujo. There is mention of something scary in the sewers. And I am sure there were more that I missed. And while I loved the references, I did find them a little distracting because I wanted to pay attention to them as well as the story. Still, I did appreciate them.

Oh, and the nod to John Carpenter’s The Thing at the end of Gray Matter was great, too.

Have you seen Creepshow S01 E01? Did you like it? Leave your thoughts in the comments please. I will be reviewing the episodes as close to their premiere as possible. A new episode drops every Thursday (Friday for me). I will try to have my review up by Saturday my time. It might be difficult, though, because my internet in China is not always 100% reliable.

Thanks for reading.

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The Boys E04 Supes Are People, Too

The Boys E04 presents viewers with the largest peek into the world yet. We have already seen Supes acting terribly, consequences be damned. While plenty of that still happens in the episode, characterization expands to show that Supes are people, live complicated lives, have emotions, fears, and regrets. As the best example in the episode, Deep extols to his therapist the virtues of dolphins, while lamenting how the rest of the Seven treat him. He calls himself the ‘diversity hire.’ This scene plays out in earnest fashion. We can almost feel Deep’s shame and rage and sadness for being a creature of the land and the sea. It is tempting to feel sorry for Deep in this scene.

But you know what? Fuck that guy. The Deep doesn’t deserve pity, not after what he did to Starlight, and she’s probably not the only person he’s sexually assaulted. The Deep is not a good guy. He is not a stand up fellow. And he certainly doesn’t deserve redemption or sympathy. I’m just sad that the dolphin he tries to save suffers from his incompetence.

Another example of The Boys e04 focus on the humanity of its characters is Translucent. Turns out, he had a kid, information that throws Hughie for a loop, which is understandable. After all, Hughie did press the button that detonated the bomb that killed the Supe. Granted, giving the Supe a son just to stir emotions is a cheap technique. Yet, it works in this instance because it so cliche, and that is what I realized about The Boys after watching e04. This show is taking the piss, as they say, out of superhero storytelling. Going into the show, I knew that, or at least should have.

The Boys E04 People Are Flawed and Dangerous

However, if you’ve read my review of the first episode, you will see that I felt the show lacked something. I couldn’t put my finger on it then, but maybe I can now. The missing element for me through the first two episodes especially was the overall point. Those episodes moved so quickly that they did not have time to build the larger world.

In contrast, The Boys e04 takes some time to breathe, which is funny to say. This is not a slow episode by any definition. Even still, it manages to develop the characters, the world, and stakes.

These stakes range from deciding to free a woman locked in a cage, to letting a passenger plane crash and then using the tragedy for gain. In the case of the latter, Homelander makes that decision.

He and Maeve are sent by Madelyn Stillwell to stop a group of terrorists who have hijacked the plane. They arrive, making short work of the bad guys. Homelander then smiles for the passengers and gives them a round of applause for being so brave. Here, he’s the quintessential superhero. He’s Superman: caring and friendly and optimistic. Which is, of course, bullshit.

There is another terrorist in the cockpit and before either Supe can stop him, he shoot the pilot, and Homelander tries to fry him with his laser eyes, but hits the console instead. Claiming no other choice, he tells Maeve that they have to leave and let the passengers die. She reluctantly agrees. As they try to leave the ship, Homelander reveals his true colors.

The image shows Homelander from The Boys e04. His eyes glow red and the caption reads, 'You stay the fuck back, or I'll laser you, goddamn it!'

In The World of Supes and Norms There are No Hereos

So they let the plane crash and take the passengers with it. Homelander may be a remorseless prick, but Maeuve isn’t. The tragedy clearly affects her, and she sheds tears for the dead. Homelander, on the other hand, seizes the opportunity to take advantage of the crash. He blames the government for not allowing Supes to be part of national defense, and uses the crash as a rallying call to get people excited about the idea of Supes in the military. Like the sociopath he is, Homelander politicizes the deaths of people he chose not to save. He is a prick.

The Supes are not the only one who get to spend some time developing their characters. The Boys get their share as well in e04. We learn Butcher had a wife or girlfriend. And we know she’s not in the picture any more. We don’t know what happened to her, but we can probably guess it was a Supe. My guess is Homelander because Butcher has talked about getting the evil Superman.

We also see Hughie on a date with Annie January aka Starlright. They’re bowling and having a good time, but Hughie also has a mission. Butcher wants him to bug Annie’s phone. During the date we learn that Starlight is a good person through and through. Or at least, that’s how Hughie sees her. I’m not sure if I trust her, though. Typically in stories like this if someone is too good to be true, they usually are. I would be happy if Annie turned out to be exactly what she says. That would be a refreshing twist in this show. A bit of light in the darkness if you’ll excuse the pun.

Hughie Makes A Choice

I didn’t really wonder if Hughie would follow through with the mission. I figured he would. But, I will say, I dislike him for it. As I wrote above, I don’t completely trust Starlight, but I don’t want her trust betrayed. She seems like a good and moral character, so of course she gets taken advantage of. To paraphrase Darth Vader, she’s far too trusting.

I understand why Hughie bugs her phone for both plot and character considerations. If he doesn’t bug the phone, then the narrative runs the risk of stalling because a new plan needs making. From the standpoint of the character, he is still reeling from Robin’s death, and he world he has entered. Bugging Starlight makes sense, and gives him something to focus on. It’s too bad, though. He could have trusted her, and made a new fried. Erin Moriarty and Jack Quaid have good chemistry together and are fun to watch on screen. (Although, it must be said that Moriarty has natural chemistry with everyone she shares a with.) It’s going to be sad when his deception is what causes her to lose her faith in people starts dating Homelander.

Hughie made his decision to betray the trust he and Annie have started cultivating.

The Boys e04 Frenchie Endangers the Mission

Like Hughie, Frenchie is processing some shit. Unlike with Hughie, though, we are not privy to the force driving Frenchie. He finds a woman in a cage guarded by men with guns. Instead of leaving her in the cage, he does what most decent people would, and frees her. This turns out to be a mistake. She’s a Supe and a killer, and now she’s on the loose. The Boys track her in the C-story of e04, and Frenchie lets her go each time, claiming she is a good person.

And really, that last point is what the mission statement of the series seems to be right now. There are no good people, only bad people. This is a nihilistic view to be sure, but one that fits well with the world of the show. Supes are commercialized, and crime fighting is staged and approved by corporate interests. They do it for a paycheck, not for Peace, Justice, and the American way.

Now that the show has come to a place where I realize this very simple and easy fact, I am enjoying the series much more. This has been the best episode of the series so far. It manages to do a lot of good character work while moving along at a breakneck pace.

Have you seen The Boys e04? What did you think of it? Is there something I missed in my review? Got questions or something to say? Leave me a comment, and click the follow button to subscribe. Thanks for reading.

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The Boys E03 Super Heroes are Commodities

The Boys e03 pushes Hughie’s quest for vengeance against A-Train forward, while doing some admirable world building. If the first episode was about Supes not acting heroically, and episode two was about how terrifying a world with Supes would be, The Boys e03 examines how they fit into the public eye.

One of the most powerful scenes in this episode is when Hughie returns home to get some fresh clothes. Posters of The Seven, and other heroes line his walls. While Hughie may not seem to notice the posters as he packs, I did. Seeing the superhero propaganda on his walls gave me an “Oh shit” moment. Because how awful would that be if you had posters and toys of the person that killed your girlfriend. The social implications are vast, and it is a wonder more people in the world don’t hate Supes.

When he does soak in the fact that he had an A-Train funko pop he tears the posters from the walls, and breaks whatever else he can. Hughie is in shock from the events of last episode. Destroying the merchandise offers Hughie a chance for catharsis. For me, this is the series at its best, and is definitely more what I expected from the start.

Starlight Makes a Choice in The Boys E03

The parallels between Starlight and Hughie also continue to develop, albeit in disparate fashion. Previously, Starlight got in trouble for performing a heroic act without permission from her corporate overlords at Vought who call her in for a meeting, possibly to fire her. However, they decide not to fire her. Instead, they bring in the marketing department to develop and sell an origin story. They also provide her with a new costume that she resists. The new costume is skimpy, with a plunging cleavage line. In short, it’s a woman’s superhero costume.

The image shows Starlight's new costume, which she wears in The Boys e03 despite it conflicting with her morals

Starlight tells Madeline Stillwell that she has a right to present her body however she wants. Madeline agrees, but says the only way Starlight gets to do that with The Seven is to wear the new costume.

The pain of the choice is clear on Emily Moriarty’s face as it runs a spectrum of nuanced facial expressions. The actress has really shined in the roll, portraying perfectly slide from idealism to cynicism. She looks sideways at the uniform, head tilted back, shoulders up. Her body language expresses resistance to the idea. However, as she considers the offer more thoroughly, her shoulders relax in resignation, and her head slumps. She exchanges exploitation for membership, and takes another step further from her moral center. Her quote to Hughie at the big race says it all, “I don’t know if they really want you to be a hero. I think they just want you to look like one.”

The Boys E03 Revenge is the Name of the Game

For his apart, Hughie is drunk on the power he felt when he pressed the button on the bomb. He tells Mr. Milk–a new addition to the team–about it, and MM nods. Then, he warns Hughie about taking it too far. But for Hughie. there is no such thing as taking it too far. A-Train killed his woman and disrupted his life. Nothing short of total vengeance will suffice.

To this effect, Frenchie, Butcher, Hughie, and Mr. Milk pay a visit to Popclaw. Popclaw is A-Train’s girlfriend. MM and Hughie bug her apartment, and as they leave they bump into A-Train. Hughie stares at the Supes who killed his girlfriend, waiting for acknowledgement. There is a moment of silence which A-Train asks if Hughie wants an autograph. Instead of keeping quiet and just moving on, Hughie says he thinks they’ve met before. A stupid thing to do.

I understand that Hughie is pissed A-Train can’t even pay him the courtesy of remembering him. Plus, he is still riding the adrenaline wave. But, this was stupid and could have gotten both Hughie and MM killed. Revenge is their purpose, but they need to be smart about it. Hughie forgot that for a moment.

Homelander and Queen Maeve

This episode also brings us our first glimpse of Queen Maeve in action, and she kicks ass. Then she has a team-up with Homelander, and things go less well. The series has been hinting that Homelander is a violent psychopath with amazing powers. The Boys E03 makes that clear. Homelander is the kind of guy who will punch through a man’s chest, and then get mad at the dead guy for getting blood on his gloves. Homelander is the kind of guy who will threaten an ex-girlfriend with death if she ever moves on. Murderous Superman is not necessarily a new concept, especially not in comics, but it is something we haven’t seen a lot of in movies and TV.

Power Corrupts and So Does Compound V

By establishing Homelander as the biggest prick of them all because he’s the most powerful, the show subverts Superman. And in so doing, it provides a fresh take on the superhero genre in the medium of the screen. If the biggest hero can be a villain, then there are no heroes. Everyone is already a villain, or one in waiting. Even Starlight has slipped. She wants to be part of The Seven so badly that she’s willing to compromise her values. No one is safe from the corrupting influence of Supes.

How far Starlight will go to maintain her position in The Seven is a question worth asking. On one hand, similar to Hughie, it seems that she will do anything to be a member. On the other hand, when she gets leered at and told to show her tits, there is a flash of indecision. I expect the show will delve deeper into this aspect of the plot and her character, but I don’t expect her to abandon The Seven.

Finally, and returning to the idea of superhero marketing and image, A-Train has a big race. If he loses, he is out of The Seven. Here is yet another instance of people doing whatever it takes to be part of the biggest superhero club around. Only in the case of A-Train that action is to take superhero steroids, also known as Compound V. The drug greatly enhances super abilities, but the user loses some control. A-Train was on V when he ran through Robin.

This episode is the best one so far. Have you seen it? What are your thoghts? Let me know in the comments.

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The Boys E02 Superheroes are Terrifying

Now this is more like it. The Boys E02 provides what I felt the first episode lacked, enough satire to fully subvert genre expectations. By focusing on aspects other than over the top violence, this episode manages to highlight the social problems caused by Supes. Granted, the first episode did this to a degree. After all, Robin’s death is the driving force behind Hughie’s quest for vengeance against A-Train.

Additionally, this episode builds on the social impact Supes. First, we see A-Train visiting a child with terminal cancer. A-Train arrives, all smiles and arrogance. Then, the kids says he wanted Translucent because Translucent is his hero. A-Train tells the kid he’ll teach him how to run when he gets better. The child does not take these words well. The whole scene is awkward and hilarious in a terrible way.

The picture shows Homelander from the Boys S02

The Boys E02 focuses mostly on Homelander as well as the fallout from episode one. Again, I am going to be as spoiler-free as possible in this review. Still, there might be some spoilery things in here. If you care, there’s your warning.

The choice to develop Homelander is a wise one. As the Superman analogue, he sets up a myriad of expectations for the audience. Such expectations should already be shifting after his actions in E01, but we still don’t know much about him. Here, we learn that he wants to be more than just a pretty face, and also that there is some darkness in him, and is the darkness that makes him scary. From when we learn of Homelander’s darkness until the end of the episode, his presence looms large. He shifts from the typical Superman archetype, to something reminiscent of JMS’s version of Hyperion in Supreme Power.

The Boys E02 There Are No Heroes Only Supes

Meanwhile, Hughie and Butcher are still trying to resolve their situation. The trouble is, they don’t have any good options. This story line pushes Hughie closer to the edge as the time to make a choice draws near. We learn that the Butcher is a mercenary who specializes in subduing Supes. Admittedly, I found the beats in this plot line a little too predictable. I understand the need for these scenes, and they do a lot of good work portraying Hugie’s struggle. Yet, the outcome never really seemed in doubt.

We also learn more about how fighting crime for the Vought corporation works. And, I would say, it works about the way you’d expect. Vought uses the most advanced technology to predict where crimes will occur, and then they send their heroes there. It’s all very efficient, but doesn’t lend itself to feeling heroic.

I appreciate this look at how the sponsorship works. On one hand, it s not surprising. If superheroes did exist and they had corporate sponsors, thing would most likely operate in this fashion.

Character Studies

The subversion of the Superman type in the form of Homelander, along with the corporate control aspect play into the theme of The Boys E02: the loss of innocence. In fact, that seems to be the overall series theme. We see this in the general portrayal of Supes in this episode, as well as the characters of Hughie and Starlight.

Each character’s story contains darkness and difficult choices. They both death with pain and loss of innocence, though in very different ways. Hughie has access to a support group. It’s dysfunctional and horrible and is going to get him in trouble, if not killed. He is grieving for Robin, and trying reconcile his need for vengeance with his need to maintain his innocence.

In contrast, Starlight processes her loss of innocence by asserting herself, and unleashing her anger against a couple of deserving assholes. She is alone and has no support structure. She can’t tell her mom for fear of disappointing her, and she has no friends. Starlight regaining some confidence is important for the character and the story. Plus, it gives us a chance to see a Supe actually doing something super heroic. Of course, she faces punishment for performing an unsanctioned Super activity, further driving home the point that there is no place for heroics in the superhero business. Plus Erin Moriarty kills it as the determined and near-desperate Starlight, infusing her performance with a contrast of nuanced emotion and bright-eyed optimism.

All in all, this episode was stronger than the first one, and I have hope that I will enjoy the show if they continue in this vein.

Have you seen The Boys E02? What did you think. Drop a line in the comments if you feel inclined.

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The Boys E01 Superheroes Suck

The Boys e01 (The Name of the Game) introduces us to a world full of superheroes patrolling the streets and fighting crime. Only, these heroes are dicks, rapists, and criminals. Think of The Watchmen mixed with Squadron Supreme, and you may have some idea of what to expect. The series is based on the comic series co-created by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson. I haven’t read the comic, and I don’t know if I will. This review refrains from spoilers by not describing events, but rather providing overall general impressions.

The Picture Shows the Seven, a team of superheroes in The Boys E01

Watching this series opening episode, I kept wondering what the joke was. The set up is straightforward enough: The Boys e01 exists in a world where people with super powers are part of daily life. From this premise, the show extrapolates that people with powers would be greedy dickheads. On one hand, this is always a fun idea. On the other hand, it’s only fun if there’s a punchline beyond Ha superheroes suck!

As the first episode, The Boys e01 delivers on establishing the world, characters, and tone. That world, however, is brutish and horrible. It is a world where costumed Supers, sponsored by the Vought corporation, can murder and rape and steal at will.

There is fridging and superhero on superhero rape, and it is all played seriously, which is good as these are serious topics. But, the episode doesn’t really explore these topics, rather treating them like the tropes they are. So, instead of providing viewers with something fresh, the episode leans heavily into traditional superhero conventions. I suppose I was looking for a bit of a bigger twist.

Did you watch The Boys e01? Are you planning to? If not, why are you even reading this? If you have, comment and let me know what you think.

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Netflix Takes Suicide Blame due to 13 Reasons Why

Netflix takes suicide blame because of 13 Reason Why. Researchers at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital have found that in 2017, the suicide rate among the between 10 and 17 crowd was at a five year high. This increase happened the month following the show’s debut. And now people have blamed Netflix for this increase in suicides.

The image shows a poster for 13 reasons why, the show for which netflix takes suicide blame

This is awful. I haven’t seen the show, but it’s always felt skeevy to me.
However, correlation does not mean causation. Is it possible ’13 Reasons Why’ influenced these poor kids to take their lives? Yes. Is it provable? Hard for me to say. Should Netflix have been more responsible with how they marketed this show? Probably. But, I can’t blame Netflix or this show for the increase in suicides unless I want to start blaming TV and video games for violent behavior.

I am not saying it’s impossible that this show influenced children who were already emotionally frail and a danger to themselves to take that next step. However, I am saying, it certainlty wasn’t the only thing.

Regardless, it is a damn tragedy that these kids took their own lives. It’s a tragedy their candles were snuffed out too soon. The fact that we don’t take the mental health of our children seriously is the larger issue. If we took the time to listen to and care for the children in our society, maybe, just maybe, we could prevent this.

Netflix Takes Suicide Blame, But Other Share the Blame, Too.


Instead, we tell them to suck it up when they get bullied. We shame them for getting sexually assaulted. Our continued destruction of the planet has to cause them anxiety. We allow mass shooters to bring guns into their schools. Furthermore, we pressure them to succeed in life and love. We tell them they need to do well in school. They hear the constant refrain of hard work equals success.

As adults, we instill in them the sense that they have to be the best thing ever, otherwise they are failures. It’s all too much for a teenager to take. What’s more, they shouldn’t have to. We need to be more understanding and aware of what our children are going through. Every adult has been through puberty. We know what it’s like, even if we don’t remember. At that age, it can be difficult to understand what is happening to us. Moreover, it can be difficult to understand how temporary those times are. As adults, we need to be there for the younger generations in any way we can. Not to do so is doing them a disservice.


This Netflix show may have contributed to these awful deaths, but it is far and away the main reason. Again, I am not defending the show or Netflix, but I am saying that if we are going to place blame it might be easy to blame a show, but it’s more worthwhile to take the harder route and look at our own actions and how our inaction has kept the door open for kids to think suicide is their best and only option.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments.

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Star Wars Needs Mandalorian

Star Wars Celebration 2019 happened recently, and it brought tons of news. First, of course, was the trailer for Episode IX (read my reaction here). Overshadowed by all the hoopla concerning Rise of the Skywalker, was something that Star Wars needs: the Mandalorian. Why do I say this?

The Star Wars galaxy is huge. It encompasses countless planets and citizens, and yet, the majority of the stories we have seen and read follow a select group of those inhabitants. The prequels, the Clone Wars animated series, the Original Trilogy, and the new movies all focus on the Skywalkers in some way. Now, don’t get me wrong; I dig the Skywalker saga. It is arguably what made the franchise so successful in the first place. However, with such a large canvas for storytellers to use, I am disappointed the galaxy feels so limited.

The Image shows what Star Wars needs: the Mandalorian in action. He is shooting a blaster pistol at some unfortunates.
The Mandalorian, played by Pedro Pascal. Image from the teaser trailer.

Star Wars needs to feel bigger, and finally it will because of the Mandalorian. Set five years after the Return of the Jedi, the series will give us our first glimpse of something new. Will it still rely on the films? I am certain, but I do hope that it won’t have the titular character chasing after Solo or Skywalker. In fact, I hope the characters we know from the movies are nowhere to be seen or heard. Maybe a mention of how they are fighting the remnants of the Empire, or establishing a government. Those things I could live with, but nothing more.

Star Wars Needs Original Mandalorian Stories

There are plenty of stories to tell using the premise of a Mandalorian bounty hunter (who isn’t Boba Fett) that we don’t need the OT characters. Instead, have this warrior working for a criminal organization, bringing in the rabble. Maybe he used to work for Jabba and is now freelance. I want them to use this opportunity to explore the seedy underbelly of Star Wars. As a bounty hunter, his options are limitless.

Show us new locations and introduce us to new characters. Expand the galaxy to the size it deserves. If the creative forces can do this, then I will be there for it. Who am I kidding? I am already there for it. I think I am more excited about this than episode IX, mostly because it is something new.

Han Solo was an anti-hero turned hero. Rogue One fully introduced the idea of gray morality to the Star Wars universe. The Mandalorian has the opportunity to expand on this under developed aspect of the galaxy. Not everyone needs to be a big hero of destiny, nor do they have to be absolute evil. The far away galaxy needs a bit of moral ambiguity. It creates interesting and entertaining story opportunities, and helps people relate to it.

Personally, I love the good is good and evil is evil aspect to Star Wars, but I also welcome the development of a different type of character. The galaxy is a big place with enough room for all types of characters.

The Stories I Want

I am about to start an Edge of the Empire Role Playing game with some friends. They want to play bounty hunters and smugglers, and while I haven’t seen the Mandalorian, it has already helped me by providing a sort of context. Right now the idea is the players have to hunt down a Twi’lek who stole sensitive information from their boss. They need to retrieve the information and return the thief to face punishement. It’s a simple setup, but I think it has lots of potential.

As I was planning this adventure, I started thinking about the kinds of stories I want from the Mandalorian.

I want heist stories, intrigue stories, investigations and kidnappings. In short, I want crime stories set in the Star Wars universe.

In addition to the types of stories I mentioned above, double crosses always work well in criminal underworld tales. A Star Wars story about how the Mandalorian’s friends double crossed him could be a lot of fun. In fact, such a story could set up a Lone Wolf and Cub type dynamic with him turning to bounty hunting to fund his vengeance.

Stars Wars needs the Mandalorian and the stories it can tell. I have faith that they can tell good ones.

What about you? What stories or jobs do you want to see the armored warrior participate in? Are you excited for this show? Tell me in the comments.

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