In Defense of Toy Story 4 and the How the Saga Ends

Well, I’m way late to this particular party. I actually first saw Toy Story 4 a while back. Even at that time, it had already been out for a year. I wanted to write something about it then, but I never got around to it. I hardly write anything new on this blog. But every time I see someone bemoan the ending of Toy Story 4, I feel the need to defend it, and I suppose I just saw one too many rants against it, so I finally had to sit down and write this damn thing.

I understand why some people see Toy Story, Toy Story 2, and Toy Story 3 as the perfect trilogy. I understand why some people refuse to see the 4th one. They don’t want to ruin the trifecta by adding any further “canon” to the story that may change how they view the narrative or the characters. But the makers of Toy Story 4 knew that, yes, kids watch these movies, but so do the adults that grew up with them. With that in mind, they slid in a message that I believe was wholly for the grown-ups watching. It’s the reason the franchise ends how it does.

To truly explain what this franchise means to me, we have to go way back. I was six when the first Toy Story movie came out, two years younger than Andy is in that movie. Still, in the film’s target demographic. But Andy aged a little more slowly than a real-life kid. So while he’s 17 in Toy Story 3, I was 21 when it was initially released. Yet, there was a feeling of “growing up with” the movies.

As a six-year-old, I thought the original Toy Story was special. Historically, it still is. And a great movie besides. The thing is, as I remember it, my family had a friend who worked at the studio. They sent me a box of toys that tied in with the ones in the movie, and we got to see the actual film at the El Capitan theater in Hollywood. The El Capitan also had a huge room full of games and other activities. The activity that stands out the most was the Army Man obstacle course. They strapped our feet to these long rubbery strips, and we had to get across the course, walking the way the army men do in the movie. (If I’d been a little older, I likely would have found that more fun. I remember it being difficult and getting frustrated.) All this to say, it was an EVENT. Six-year-old me had never encountered so much build up over a single movie. Add to that how goddamn good Toy Story is, and it will always hold a special place in my heart.

In that respect, Toy Story 2 couldn’t possibly measure up. Right? I was probably just a tad older than who it was aimed at. Despite a four year gap between movies, Andy is only one year older. But the themes seemed a lot more grown-up. I’ll come back to that in a second. Still, I was sure lightning wouldn’t strike twice. Surely this wouldn’t be able to replicate the magic of the original.

O ye of little faith. Toy Story 2 is at least as good as the original. It might be better. It’s too close to call.

When the third one came around, the final movie of the trilogy, the stakes were high. To ensure they’d hit it out of the park, they hired an academy award-winning screenwriter to pen the final installment. It’s written by Michael Ardnt, who wrote Little Miss Sunshine. My favorite screenplay of all time. And he didn’t disappoint. Toy Story 3 exceeded expectations for the third and, what we believed to be, the final time. It was much more emotional than its predecessors. They had taken the 11-year gap between movies into account, and Andy was suddenly 17 and going away to college. Despite almost being out of college myself, it still had a huge effect on me. The younger adults in the theater were trying to hide their quiet sniffles. The parents were outright sobbing. It was the perfect ending to a near-perfect trilogy.

There was one major character missing from that final movie, though. Bo Peep. The closest thing to a love interest for Woody. They mention the fact that she was one of the toys they had to part with. But we aren’t given much information other than that. Unfortunately, Bo didn’t have a terribly strong personality. She wasn’t the most poorly drawn character. But her loyalty to Woody was always overshadowed by Slinky Dog, and she was a couple of years too early to get the Disnified Strong Female Character treatment. Or else a tomboyish charm, like Jessie. And Jessie firmly slotted herself in the female lead slot for the sequels. It seemed they weren’t really sure to do with Bo, other than relegating her absence to a cautionary tale for the others. She was also a character who would have just enough sting to feel we’d lost someone significant without wounding the audience too much.

This finally brings us to Toy Story 4, the themes, and why giving the franchise this new ending is actually kind of kick-ass. The recurring themes in the first three films are all about friendship and loyalty. TS4 flips those themes on their heads. I don’t really think TS4 is as much of a kid’s movie as its predecessors. I think it was made for adults that grew up with the trilogy and had a new message now that they were moving onto a new stage of their lives. It was released nine years after TS3, and though Andy was no longer in the picture, the now-30-year-olds watching were wondering, “I built these positive friendships just like you taught me to. But life is moving along. What happens next?”

And I want to make this clear: friendships are important and precious, and you should hold on to the good ones. And a little distance shouldn’t necessarily spell the end of a friendship if it’s something both parties want to hold onto.

But when you’re around this particular age, people that used to live around the corner…don’t anymore. They begin moving away. Several people very close to me moved out of state, and then, the year this movie came out, it was my turn. I initially thought it might be a temporary arrangement. Then I met someone. I suddenly had to decide how permanent this move was.

It would mean putting distance between myself and the place I had considered to be home for the first 30 years of my life. It would mean putting distance between myself and my friends and family. So, yes. Full disclosure, my feelings toward Toy Story 4 have a lot to do with my personal experiences at the time.

I also want to talk about Woody’s loyalty and who has it over the course of the movies. In the first, it’s to Andy. The other toys are a distant second, but ultimately Andy is who matters. Buzz’s appearance tests that. Woody needs to decide if his own need to be the favorite toy is outweighed by what would make Andy happy. By the end, Woody makes room for Buzz in a way that they can all be happy. In the second movie, that’s tested again, except this time, Woody decided not to return to Andy. I swear, everyone forgets that. His loyalty shifts to Jessie, Bullseye, and Stinky Pete, realizing that the museum is their chance at happiness. Until Andy’s other toys come and have to convince him, he says he’s even excited about making the trip to what would have been his new home in Tokyo.

The idea of Woody leaving his old friends had already been established in the second movie. When Andy’s toys come to rescue him, he says, “Well, I guess you wasted your time.” Of course, Woody ultimately suggests the Roundup Gang join him instead, and they agree (except for Pete, who becomes the villain). So Woody doesn’t have to choose between the two groups.

In the third movie, Woody’s allegiance is twisted again. This time he is committed to joining Andy at college, while the other toys will remain in the attic to hopefully be passed down to Andy’s own kids a decade or so down the line. Woody’s at peace with that too. It seems he’s leaning back towards taking care of Andy. By the end of the movie, Woody finally has to choose if he’ll stay with Andy and be separated from his friends or if he will stay with his friends and lose his kid. But his kid isn’t a kid anymore, and I think that’s the reason he chooses to move on with Bonnie, even though their connection isn’t as strong as the one Woody had with Andy.

So when TS4 picks up, right on the heels of TS3, Woody is clearly missing that special something he had with Andy. Okay, I have to back up AGAIN. Toy Story 4 actually starts in the past. Andy is older than in the first two movies but much younger than he was in the third. His little sister, Molly, has grown out of her more baby-ish things and is giving them away. This includes her Bo Peep lamp. If you’ve forgotten, Bo Peep was a figurine that attached to a lamp. And she was Molly’s, not Andy’s.

When Bo is about to be taken away, Woody goes after her and offers to sneak her back, but she rejects the offer. She’s ready for the next adventure and isn’t as concerned about holding onto a kid who’s grown out of her. Bo then suggests that Woody come with her. And here’s the thing, HE’S 100% GOING TO. He barely thinks about it, but he’s going to give up home, his friends, and Andy and go with Bo. Then Andy comes rushing out in a panic because he can’t find Woody and, at the last possible second, Woody says goodbye to Bo and lets Andy find him. And he’s not over it. He wasn’t over it in Toy Story 3 either, but in Toy Story 4, we have a better understanding of why.

So fast forward to Woody reuniting with Bo in the middle of TS4. She’s…different. In the first two movies, she’s flirty, girly, loyal, and pragmatic. She’s team-Woody during the first TS. Even when the other toys turn against him. Aside from one line of dialogue—after first seeing Buzz, she can be heard uttering, “I found my moving buddy”—her flirting is directed only at Woody, and he clearly reciprocates her feelings. Her characterization in that first scene of TS4 seems about the same. But after that…

They really ran a risk of taking her character too far, making her a super-soldier ninja spy. Instead, she’s hardened but also savvy, witty, and competent. Her skirt now doubles as a cape, and her little lost sheep have become her devoted sidekicks. She has connections and acquaintances that are borderline friends, but she’s a “lost toy.” She’s on her own, independent, and she isn’t looking for anyone else. She was once in love with another toy (Woody), it didn’t work out. She’s not happy about it, but she’s moved forward.

So when Woody appears unattended on a playground, she thinks he’s a lost toy too, and maybe, just maybe, they can stay together this time.

Over the course of the movie, it becomes ever more apparent that Woody isn’t really going to all the trouble he’s going to with Forky just for Bonnie. She’s upset to lose Forky, sure. But she’s five. She’d recover. The real reason Woody is going to all that trouble is that he’s feeling obsolete, so he’s creating himself a position of responsibility. Woody was used to being the leader of Andy’s toys. And he was good at it. But now Andy’s toys are Bonnie’s toys, and Bonnie’s toys already have a leader. The truth is Bonnie would get on just fine without Woody too.

In the end, Woody must again reexamine his loyalty and make a decision: go through the motions with Bonnie, so the “Andy’s toys” unit remains together. Or go on a lifetime of adventures with the one that almost got away.

Woody chooses Bonnie. It was at this point in the movie that I had a terrible sinking feeling. I was watching a parallel to my own life being played out on screen, and my stand-in, Woody, was making the opposite choice that I had. I wasn’t surprised. What would Pixar be saying if they made all those movies about how friendship and looking out for your friends were of the utmost importance if Woody decided not to stay with them at the end? Except Woody had repeatedly decided to part with them. In the second movie, he was going to go to the museum, in the third movie, he was going to go to college, in the opening of the fourth movie, he was going to leave with Bo. In each case, he had to be talked out of it. And in each case, the deciding factor had come down to Andy. But Andy isn’t here anymore. So what’s your fucking excuse now?! Huh, Woody?! I deserve an answer, goddammn it!

Woody rejoins Buzz, and Buzz says to him, “She’ll be okay.” Oh, will she?! I was an emotional wreck. Bo was being rejected again, the one character who didn’t get the happy endings all the other toys did. And my childhood franchise was telling me I’d chosen wrong. Well, you know what, TS4? I think you’re wrong! and another thing—

“Bonnie will be okay.”

Sorry, what now?

I started crying even harder.

Buzz and Woody both know that Woody’s heart has never belonged to Bonnie. He loves his friends. Of course, he loves his friends. But he can’t stay there just for them. He needs to move on and find a purpose for himself, even if that means leaving loved ones because the right place for them is with Bonnie. It’s a powerful and grown-up lesson we don’t often see in children’s movies. It was one last lesson for the lost toys and the lost 30-year-olds.

For some people, the right thing to do is to move on. And if you’re lucky, ridiculously lucky, there may be someone with who you get to do that moving on. That’s very cool.

On the whole, TS4 is funny, charming, heartbreaking, inspirational, and has an incredible message. On a personal note, it spoke to me and connected with my own story. Woody gets it. Thanks, Pixar.

And they lived happily ever after
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My Two Cents on “A Wrinkle in Time”

I saw A Wrinkle in Time the day it came out, and I have some things to say.

I grew up on Madeline L’Engle books. The first book of hers that I read was A Wrinkle in Time. And it never occurred to me that it fell out if date. But here’s something I just realized about L’Engle: her characters speak in a way that’s very forward and frank. It’s actually unusual to see in a contemporary movie.

I looked at a couple of reviews that were critical of this, claiming the filmmakers were talking down to the intended audience. I don’t think that’s true. The characters are simply very straightforward, they speak the words that most of us only dare to think. Maybe that sometimes comes across as cheesy, even idealistic, but it’s a real disservice to deny those thoughts. And I’d argue the dialogue was well-written. On several occasions, I found myself thinking, “that’s a good line.” But if you don’t like that, then no, you probably aren’t the audience for this movie, and you can skip it. However:

The characters had to speak the way they did to keep the message of the movie intact. It’s easier to give in, be ugly, say things we don’t mean, hide the truth or hide the light. That’s that’s how the darkness, “the It,” wins. Speaking openly is the only thing that shines the light.

Not that many other things weren’t adapted substantially from the source material, but the heart of the story laid in their candor. And I found it massively refreshing.

On top of that, it builds breathtaking worlds and creates an expansion of our own.

At the end of the movie, I was a little embarrassed to find myself sniffling. Then I realized I was hearing many sniffles around me. One girl asked why her mother was crying.

Then on the way out, I was walking behind a group of kids that were Meg and Calvin’s age, all shouting over each other what their favorite part was.

Aren’t those the things a movie is meant to do?

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I Watched ‘The Emoji Movie,’ So You Don’t Have To

When I first heard this movie was coming out, I thought, well, sure. Of course. And it will be a monstrosity. It’s nothing more than a money grab. But I’d said the same about The Lego Movie. That sounded like a quick easy way for the studio to make a buck and then to really cash in on merchandising. What they made was a good little film that left audiences feeling upbeat. Sometimes, that’s what you need from a movie.

And then there’s Pile of Poo on Apple  like this. I’m not asking for Citizen Kane, but the filmmaker’s could have spent a moment more on social commentary or little nods to the parents being dragged along to this frenzied technicolor-fest. Or they could have made, I don’t know, a single decent joke in the whole of the film. They chose not to.

So let’s follow along:

Our protagonist, the “meh” face emoji (who is named Gene), has a problem. He wants to show emotion, but is doomed to be “blasé” about everything. And when he’s not, the other emoji are mildly annoyed. The horror.

But wait! Quick break to remind you that Sir Patrick Stewart is actually in this movie, playing the emoji-ment of poop, when they could have cast him as the live long and prosper sign. And we’re back.

Speaking of hands, the hand emojis are all characters themselves, and they all have faces. It’s terrifying.

But right off the bat, I have some questions. Apparently, the emoji have offspring, and they all give birth(?!) to the same emoji, rather than hybrids. Like, a “meh” and a “meh” have a “meh.” Instead of a “happy” and an “annoyed.” So there are multiples of all the emojis. Why? And then, Gene is really nervous, because it’s his first day on the job (we know this because we’re told so, despite his being well known in the town). But their faces all look the same. How do they know who they are when they aren’t making their assigned face? They’re IDENTICAL.

And then the kid whose phone the emojis all live in tries to use the “meh” face (Gene), and Gene is so nervous, he makes a weird face. Could these stakes be any lower? But wait! Gene becomes labeled as a “malfunction.”

The “smile” emoji sends the anti-virus team after Gene (um, fair enough. There’s a problem with the technology). He narrowly escapes by…leaving the room, and teams up with “high five” emoji, and they head off to get “reprogrammed.” Also, the high five emoji is just named High Five, unlike the “meh” emoji, who gets a name.

Side note: there’s this recurring thing where the hands can make it look like they have abs, and it really grosses me out. Other than that, I’m mostly bored.

There’s an hour left.

Anyway, Gene’s parents decide to go looking for him (okay, movie. I will give you points for casting Steven Wright as Pa “meh”).

Then there’s this scene where they go into the…um, I don’t know what to call it. We’ll go with Bad Boy app. The phone they’re on has an app disguised as a dictionary, where the kid stores all the secret stuff he doesn’t want anyone to see. This movie gets super sketchy really fast. And here we learn that the screenwriter doesn’t know what internet trolls are, and has only heard about them from the teens sitting at the Starbucks table next to him, where he was writing this Pile of Poo on Apple . And you can tell this is a rough area, because the music playing is, get ready for this, “We’re Not Gonna Take It” by Twisted Sister.

So far, the most amusing thing about this movie is how many emotions the “meh” emoji conjures up, when the only emotion I can manage is “meh.”

Then they meet this hacker girl, who’s supposed to be able to reprogram them. I’m entirely unclear on what she’s supposed to be. She’s not an emoji? So what is she? She looks like an emoji, except her color is a little subtler than Gene’s.

I’ll be honest I watched this movie in increments: Break 1.

'The Emoji Movie' Named Worst Picture At The Razzies


*sigh* And we’re back.

Candy Crush! That’s an app! 😒 I feel like I’m supposed to be impressed simply because I recognize this. It’s just lazy writing! And we get it. High Five likes candy. Can we please move on with our lives? He isn’t even making jokes, he’s just really animated. And it’s an animated film. He can’t help it.

Kitten video for the win! Thank you movie. I needed that, so I wouldn’t smash my head through the TV just to end this.

Note to everyone: eating food you’ve thrown up is just gross. Not funny or cute. Disgusting.

And now there’s a dance app. Here’s the thing, watching real people dance is impressive. Watching animated emoji dance is not. And, oh, God, no! They use “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” by Wham! That song is my personal curse. Ask anyone. It’s a malevolent little ear worm.


And then High Five appears to have died. I feel nothing. I’m rooting for the kid to get his phone wiped by the tech support people.

And again the movie decides to illustrate exactly what an internet troll is not.

Also, the smiley emoji seems to think that if she can erase the malfunctioning Gene, the other emoji will be safe from the phone being reset. That kid has an appointment, and his phone’s been acting weird for awhile now. Even if it’s normal for 5 minutes, he’s gonna get it reset.

We’ve reached the firewall. I’m taking Break 2.

Image result for emoji movie gene

Me too, dude.

This is good example of a wasted opportunity. Give us a little suspense and humor. Maybe THIS password will work. Explosion. Pause. Gene: did it work? But no, we just get a series of faces that we see on our phone every day.

This is the point when I realized just how easily they could have gone with the Inside Out route and made us care about the real kid in the real world, but he’s featured so little that it’s hard to care much what happens to him.

So Gene is rebuffed by the princess and feels “meh.” I guess…problem solved?

Gene voluntarily goes back to headquarters at the end, making the plot line of the parents looking for him entirely pointless. At this point, I was actually angry.

Of course we’re treated to an obligatory montage to remind us all just how boring this movie really was, as the phone gets erased. REALLY SLOWLY.

But Gene sends himself as an animated emoji to the girl the main kid has a crush on in a last ditch effort not to be erased, despite the fact that Gene’s parents, High Five, and the entire town have already been deleted. And the girl comes up to the boy, because luckily she happens to be in the same phone store (who hangs out in a phone store?) and says, “I like that you’re one of those guys that can actually express his feelings.”…By sending an emoji? REALLY?! THAT’S, LIKE, THE OPPOSITE.

So the boy stops the phone erasure, just before Gene is deleted. AND EVERYTHING THAT WAS ERASED JUST COMES BACK.

And it’s an animated kid’s movie, so there has to be another dance. At least it’s over.

Unfortunately, I was glaring through the credits when I discovered Mike White wrote on this. Why is it so terrible? Although he’s one of three writers, so I don’t know how much input he actually had.

In summation, this movie isn’t even amusingly bad, like I thought it would be. You’d get as much entertainment by scrolling through the emojis on your phone. It’s just bad. In the now immortalized characterization by Patrick Stewart: Pile of Poo on Apple .

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Kilgrave’s 10 Most Disturbing Uses of Mind Control

In celebration of season 2 of Jessica Jones being released on Netflix, I looked back at season 1.

The true sadism behind season 1 baddie, Kilgrave, is that he always forces others to carry out the evil actions he wants done.

For this list, I’m leaving out anything he made Jessica do. That could fill up a whole list on its own, and much of it’s off screen before the series starts, and I wanted to focus more on the uses we see the effects of. Though I’d like to give an honorable mention to the victim who garnered the comment, “I once told a man to go screw himself. Can you even imagine?”

10. Donald Abandons His Son

We don’t see this one first hand. Through the Kilgave survivor support group, we hear several people recount their run-in’s with the psychopath.

It’s likely that the worst is Donald. His son was in the car with him, when Kilgrave decided to make Donald his chauffeur. Donald’s son was being fussy, and Kilgrave told Donald to leave the kid behind and drive away. Donald went on to be charged with child abandonment.

Donald’s son and the kids Kilgrave forces in the closet are likely to keep future psychiatrists employed for years.

9. Threatening to Kill the Entire Police Force

David Tennant GIFThis entry wins for eeriest. Jessica walks in to find the entire station has drawn their guns and are all pointing them at each other. They all look as though they’ve been frozen in time, except for occasionally blinking.

Moments later, Kilgrave confronts Jessica, using the entire station as leverage. Kilgrave throws around some verbal abuse, terrorizes Jessica, and disappears again. But before he leaves, he tells them all that this was a joke, and they’ll find it funny. Sure enough, everyone, other than Jessica, who’s immune to Kilgrave’s powers, bursts into smiles and laughter. But it’s not happy laughter. It’s forced, and it makes your skin crawl.

8. Kilgrave Replicates Jessica’s Childhood Home

This one’s actually really horrific. It’s basically a way for Kilgrace to retcon his way into Jessica’s past and rape her childhood memories.

All he has to do to get the house, is buy it from the residents. And he doesn’t even force them to move. He buys it from them for twice what it’s worth and puts the neighbors to work, finding replications of all the house’s items he’s seen in old pictures.

Kilgrave then convinces Jessica to live in the house. Being in the house is difficult for her anyway; it’s where her family lived, but her family’s all gone now.

7. Wendy Tries to Kill Hogarth with 1000 Cuts

Divorces are always difficult. Wendy and Hogarth’s was especially messy. Almost as messy as their marriage.

Hogarth makes the mistake of taking an injured Kilgrave to Wendy after he escapes from Jessica.

He quietly let’s them argue, soaking up all the information he can, waiting to use it against them. Wendy makes the mistake of using the metaphor of Hogarth killing her with 1000 cuts. So Kilgrave tells Wendy to kill Hogarth with 1000 cuts, allowing him to escape. After he leaves, Wendy attacks, counting each cut she gives to Hogarth. Pam shows up before Hogarth is murdered, but Wendy is then killed in self-defense.

6. Robyn, Malcolm, Jackson, and Donald Are Nearly Hanged

This could arguably be placed higher on the list, because of what happens in the fallout.

Kilgrave abducts Hope after she’s released from jail (for a crime Kilgrave forced her to do). Jessica attempts to rescue her, but Kilgrave anticipates her response. He has mind control over Robyn, Malcolm, Jackson, and Donald, all wearing nooses and standing at the edge of a counter.

Hope realizes that Jessica will have to choose between saving her or the others, so Hope slits her own throat, leaving Jessica to save the members of the support group and Kilgrave without collateral.

5. Hope Kills her Parents

The moment that ended the first episode of the season is one of the harshest. It sets the events of the series in motion. Hope’s murders, under Kilgrave’s control, push Jessica to fight back against Kilgrave, when she originally wanted to run away.

Hope’s parents came to Jessica, asking her to help them find their missing daughter. After discovering her disappearance is connected to Kilgrave, Jessica must undergo a harrowing rescue.

Once she returns Hope to her parents, Jessica thinks the whole messy case is in the past, only to discover that Hope is still under Kilgrave’s control. She shoots both her parents, apparently a safeguard Kilgrave put in place before she escaped.

4. Ruben Kills Himself

Ruben’s live was already being controlled by his overbearing sister. After developing a crush on Jessica, Ruben would make banana bread and bring it to her apartment/office.

Though Jessica had little interest in Ruben, she seemed to pity him. Though socially awkward, Ruben was perhaps the most innocent character in the entire season.

It was simply bad luck that he came to Jessica’s door when Kilgrave broke in, and Ruben admitted he had feelings for Jessica to Kilgrave. Kilgrave set the stage for Jessica to discover Ruben, in her bed, throat slit, the knife still in his hand.

3. Malcolm Becomes a Junkie

When we first meet Malcolm, we assume he’s like any number of unfortunate New York residents hooked on drugs. The truth runs deeper than that.

6 months prior to the start of the season, Malcolm had been leading a reasonably comfortable and normal life. He was in college, wanting to become a social worker and help people. Then Kilgrave got to him. He turned him into a drug addict and had him move into Jessica’s apartment and spy on her.

It’s even worse in retrospect, because Malcolm becomes such a strong ally for Jessica. Kilgrave goes on to try to kill Malcolm later in the season (see #6). Luckily, Jessica manages to save him.

2. Simpson Attacks Trish

Attacking Trish is severe, if not unexpected. Trish, without question, is the most important person in Jessica’s life. What makes Simpson’s attack worse, is that he gets tangled up in the Kilgrave situation, creating complications for Jessica.

He has fewer and fewer qualms with killing people, and Jessica and Trish find it harder and harder to get him to leave them alone. He then takes too many of the wrong pills and becomes a dangerous antagonist in his own right, becoming more like his comic book counterpart, Nuke.

1. Luke Is Mind-Controlled

Jessica and Luke are yin and yang to each other. The woman strong enough to break anything and the man who can’t be broken.

Throughout the season, Jessica is hiding a dark secret. That, while being controlled by Kilgrave, she killed Luke’s wife.

But after repeatedly running into Luke, Jessica falls for him. She tries to keep her feelings out of it, but fails. But look seems to feel the same about her, until he discovered the truth walks away.

After his bar is destroyed, they’re reunited, and he tells her all the things she wanted to hear. Particularly that he forgives her. They track down Kilgrave only for Jessica to discover that ever since finding Luke at the bar, Luke was under Kilgrave’s control, and everything he said to her was from a script Kilgrave had written for him. The only way for Jessica to snap Luke out of it is to, literally, shoot him in the head. Luckily, he survives, but their relationship’s been a little rocky since then.


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Thoughts While Watching Mute

-I’m going into this knowing very little about it, but I think that can often work in a film’s favor.

-Interesting. This has the filter of a cyberpunk neo-noir film, but with a different color scheme.

-The future is amish.

-I spoke too soon. The cyber has indeed been punked.

-This couple is cute. I can only assume something terrible is going to happen to them.

-Ah, strip clubs. The old standby for dystopian futures.

-Mickey from Doctor Who has arrived on the scene to be a complete asshole.

-Can she maybe change into something a little warmer than a towel before you rush her outside?

-Aww. Leo’s sad face is very hard to watch.

-Oh, it’s Christmas in the land of graffiti and trash can fires. That’s festive.

-Leo, as a character, is actually a really good artist.

-Seriously? You’re firing him after he was the one who got hit in the head with a table? Okay, he did start it, but he was provoked! And the other guy definitely ended it.

-Luba’s bedroom is clearly in the red room from Twin Peaks.

-Wait, that’s Robert Sheehan?! I didn’t recognize him at all, and I’m a massive Misfits fan.

-Who throws a bowling ball like that?! You’re gonna throw your back out!

-Between this and Altered Carbon, I’m gonna be dreaming in neon.

-Not the beautiful car!

Alexander Skarsgård in Mute (2018)-Is it a coincidence that he keeps running into the same 5 people?

-All our screams are the same underwater.

-Hells bells, phone numbers from the future are epically long. I wouldn’t be able to remember all that.

-So he’s missing part of his memory. Or someone erased part of his memory?

-Bill can be a terrible person, but he’s not a bad dad. He’s trying.

-All this futuristic tech, and yet children’s playgrounds from the future look exactly the same. Oddly comforting.

-Okay, but Bill must have known Duck was a pedophile. His reaction to finding the cameras is appropriate, but overdue.

-Bill didn’t beat him up enough.

-Right. Now I’ve got it. Leo’s girlfriend is Naadirah, who used to be married to Bill. But Leo doesn’t know that. And the person Naadirah needed to tell Leo about was her and Bill’s daughter. But then Bill kidnapped Naadirah.

-I changed my mind. Bill is evil. Bill can die. Kill Bill.

-Maybe don’t taunt security…

-Oooo, Leo’s putting those woodcarving skills to use in a very different way. Carved himself a bat.

-I am curious. Where did Leo pick up these fighting skills?

-It’s a tricky movie. There are so few people to root for.

-I don’t like how easily Bill handed over the keys. Gotta be a trap.

-Can we not open the plastic and check to be super sure she’s dead?

-You joke, but we’ve seen him fuck people up,  and now he’s mad.

-Bill’s mute too now. I see what you did there.

-Oh, you stay the fuck away from that kid! She’s the only person who isn’t awful.

-I don’t care for this open throat surgery. Ew.

-I will be sorely disappointed if this movie doesn’t end with Leo beating Duck to death with a bat.

-Or drowning. I’ll take drowning. It’s a nice bookend to the opening scene.

-Leo looks almost horrified to hear himself speak.

-I’m concerned there’s a moral to Leo finally having a voice that I’m missing. Beyond the basic fact that he’s able to use speech to save an innocent.

-Oh, shit. Duncan Jones lost his mother the year after his father (his father, David Jones, is more widely known as David Bowie).

-Compounding that with the themes of the movie, I feel like it must have been hugely personal.

-But it seemed to wander somewhere between a Kill Bill style revenge film (complete with the daughter’s rescue) and an art house think piece, without really being either. I think my problem is with the writing. Not dialogue-wise, but in story and theme.

-Personally, I would have restructured it in such a way that somehow his disability was the thing that made the difference or saved the girl, though I don’t quite have the specifics.

-Or maybe that’s the boring film structure hammered into me from screenwriting class, and the whole point was there’s wasn’t anything good about being mute, it just sucked.

-To end on a positive note, I will say that’s it’s very much my aesthetic brand in the first place (seriously, can I reboot Max Headroom?) and visually compelling for sure. So, the directing worked for me. There are worse ways to spend 2 hours.

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The Best and Worst Companion Exits on Doctor Who

The Gallifrey One convention is coming up, and in the meanwhile, I’ve been watching a lot of Doctor Who. Companion exits are often a pretty big deal. Occasionally they just sort of wander off never to be sen again, but when they’re done correctly, they really leave a mark. I’m discounting those non-exits, and this list has nothing to do with how I feel about my characters. Just how they left the show.

Let’s start with the good ones.


5. Jo Grant Doesn’t Say Good-bye

Jo falls for a, surprise surprise, scientist, and is engaged before the end of her last serial. So that was a bit quick, but it’s easy to buy that she’s really happy. The Doctor reads the writing on the wall. He can’t bring her around on his adventures. She has a life to attend to and has outgrown her assistant role. The Doctor doesn’t like goodbyes, so while everyone is celebrating, the Doctor slips away. Jo, for her part, chooses not to dramatically chase after him and demand a proper farewell. They each know what the other would say. Bittersweet, but far from tragic.

4. River Song Goes on the Longest Date Ever

River is never a full-time proper companion, like the others on this list, but she spans 3 Doctors and is one of only a few to actually marry the Doctor. Technically, her story ends the first time we meet her, but her exit from the show happens in the Christmas special “The Husbands of River Song.” After watching the previous three companions die  in their last episodes, the idea of watching another companion meet their end was heartbreaking. But River’s story ended with her getting a 24 year long date with Capaldi’s Doctor, and the words “they lived happily ever after.” That’s about as good as a companion can hope for.

3. Ian and Barbara’s Adventures in Photosnaps

Ian and Barbara didn’t choose to go traveling with the Doctor. They were effectively kidnapped. And through that they taught the Doctor and learned from him and became friends. But it was never their choice to travel. So when they find a way to get back to Earth, they have no plan, don’t know what they’ll tell anyone, but know it’s time to leave the Doctor. They’re home. They’re together. They’re happy. We see them in a series of snapshots, which serves to show them running through the city. The last time we see them, they’re laughing, arms around each other.

2. Rose Tyler Doesn’t Hear the Way That Sentence Ends

I’m referring to Rose’s original ending here. Cause that’s really her exit as a companion. For a whole slew of people, this was the first time they’d had to say good-bye to a companion. And this was a traumatic scene. The Doctor’s only able to say see her through a projection (and has to burn up a sun in the process). Rose reaches for him, but he’s no more than air. She finally professes her love out loud, and all that’s left is for the Doctor to return the sentiment. But before managing to say it, the connection is broken. And Rose is left crying on a beach, forever separated from the Doctor (until she’s not).

1. Sarah Jane Smith Walks Home

While we’re on the subject of heart-wrenching endings, there’s Sarah. When she and the Doctor get in a fight, the best mate relationship that makes the two of them so comfortable together is shattered, but not out of character. Sarah storms off and the Doctor gets a call to return to Gallifrey. She comes storming back with all her things, bluffing that she’s going to leave. And he tells her, yeah, she is. Her heartbreak is palpable. It never fails to choke me up. Apparently, the actors rewrote this scene, and I can’t imagine it being done any better. It’s simple, but powerful.


5. Bill Dies Repeatedly

I found the depiction of violence against Bill uncharacteristically graphic. Compare Clara’s death when the raven flies into her chest and vanishes with the gaping hole where Bill’s midsection used to be. To then put Bill in scene after scene depicting her fear and frustration, because she doesn’t know she’s been physically and mentally mutated, upset me. Considering the context of the the show, its audience, and its characters, we could’ve pulled way the hell back and still delivered an emotional and meaningful ending for Bill. But no. And then she died as a Cyberman. Sorry, but her running off into the stars with a girl she barely knew just didn’t cut it for me. I’m still pissed.

4. Susan Is Left Behind

Hartnell’s speech is great, but I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: the Doctor leaves his granddaughter stranded in a Dalek-infested post-apocalyptic wasteland without any shoes. And it’s not her choice. She should come back as a vengeful villain.

3. Peri Dies…Maybe

This whole thing is just weird. But it takes place smack dab in the middle of “The Trial of a Time Lord,” so it was always gonna be weird. We hear abut Peri’s fate through the Doctor and other Time Lords’ distorted memories. She was, apparently bound and gagged by an evil slug monster. He then replaced her brain with his own in her body. So that’s bizarre and creepy. Of course, later in the serial the writer’s seemingly back-tracked and revealed that Peri hadn’t died. Instead, she had married a warrior, Yrcanos. But this feels entirely out of character. It seemed more an attempt at a quick fix to erase her death.

2. Jamie and Zoe Forget

For me, the worst way to write out a character is to take away their memories. In the case of Jamie and Zoe, the show makers were in a bit of a bind, having created two amazing, loyal characters who would never leave the Doctor. Not in their right minds. It’s hard enough seeing them say good-bye, but because the Time Lords are dicks, they also erase their memories, so they will only remember the first time they met the Doctor. This is awful for Jamie, since he’s arguably the best friend the Doctor had before or since, nor would he have any memory of Victoria or Zoe, and he was dropped back to his own time mid-battle. It’s terrible for Zoe, who lost all the character development she’d had over the season.

1. Donna’s Memory Is Erased

I had a hard time choosing who would get the top spot between the double-whammy of Jamie and Zoe losing their memories and Donna losing hers. I eventually went with Donna for one reason: the Doctor’s the one that does it to her. In order to save her, the Doctor has to erase ALL memory of himself from her mind. She understands that and is still screaming at him not to do it, making the whole situation feel very memory-rapey. At that point I think Donna (and I, as a member of the audience) would have preferred a noble death (if you’ll pardon the pun). It’s also difficult, because Donna never saw her own worth until she went traveling with the Doctor. She’s amazing and deserves to know that.

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The Wayward Sisters Come Home

We finally got to see the Wayward Sisters in action last week via their backdoor pilot on Supernatural. It had a lot of ground to cover, and if someone who wasn’t watching Supernatural to begin with tried to pick it up here, they’d probably be pretty damn confused. But that was because they didn’t back pedal and try to jam a bunch of already established backstory into one episode, which meant it got to jump straight to the action.

One of the most exciting things was seeing the six leads come together at long last. When we last left our heroes, Claire had struck out on her own, Donna was sheriffing, Patience had gone to warn Jody and Alex of a vision of Claire’s death, and Kaia was magically flung to the side of a road, while Sam and Dean were flung into what Kaia dubbed “The Bad Place.”

The episode opens with Claire showcasing some badassery, and I have to say, as the character I was most worried about them screwing up, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed her throughout the episode. She beats up some werewolves, then gets a call from Jody saying, ahem, “It’s Sam and Dean. They’re missing. They were on a hunting trip and I haven’t heard from them for a few days.” So, yeah, that was me you heard screaming on the night of the premier. But, like, in a good way. We’re in the Supernatural universe, and this is how the fun starts.

Claire agrees to go back to Jody and Alex, where she meets Patience. Claire seems suspicious of her at first. Maybe it’s that Patience is in her old room (then you shouldn’t have left Claire!), maybe it’s that she doesn’t believe Patience is psychic, as she claims, or maybe it’s that she fears Patience being a psychic will make Jody overprotective (Jody’s the exact right amount of protective, as far as I’m concerned).

Alex is working as a nurse at a nearby hospital, a hospital that happens to be treating Kaia, after she’s found by the road. Claire goes to Alex, trying to convince her to dig up information, when they discover Kaia. Claire and Kaia try to sneak out of the hospital when they’re attacked by a Bad Place monster. Unlike the vampires and werewolves we’ve seen the women fight before, these are new monsters. They kinda look like evil teenage mutant ninja turtles, but it’s fine. Just as it seems Kaia and Claire will be bested by the creature, Jody shows up to rescue them. Because she’s the best. Always.

Now that Jody’s collected all the girls, who are hellbent on saving “the boys,” she decides it wouldn’t hurt to get a little more back up, and she enlists the help of the upbeat neighboring sheriff, Donna Hanscum, who comes bearing all the gifts: weapons, the likes of which the girls have seen nothing before.

Do they all know how to use these weapons? Nope. Do they have time to learn? Hell no. They arm themselves anyway and head off to the rift where the Winchesters are. And the monsters.

Throughout the episode, Claire and Kaia have a few heart-to-hearts. They’re the two most troubled characters and are able to relate to one another. At one point, they have a scene very reminiscent of Jaws, in which they compare scars. If I didn’t know better, and I DON’T, I could see them setting up a queer romance between the two. What the ending of this episode means for that raises some questions, but I’ll get to that in a bit. The creators did promise diversity, and diversity stretches beyond race.

This is a subject that Supernatural has struggled with in the past, with gay characters either being the subject of ridicule or the butt of a joke. Even later, when some of these characters were given more depth, they landed squarely in the “bury your gays” trope trap (*cough” Charlie *cough*). This could be a step in the right direction. But this is all massive speculation.

This is still Supernatural,  so we also check in with Sam and Dean a few times, and for a couple of guys who’ve been tossed out of their own reality, they seem in reasonably good spirits. I got a couple legitimate chuckles from their exchanges and was glad that we were seeing ALL the characters at their best. Though they are beginning to worry about things like food sources, and there’s this mysterious figure they keep glimpsing, who goes on to tie them up and bang on this giant gorilla skull, like it’s a dinner gong.

The episode continues to be fast-paced and high-spirited with the girls stepping in to save Jody and Donna at one point and them all growing together as wonderful family unit, despite the fact that none of them are blood relatives. As an old friend once said, “family don’t end with blood.”

In the end, it’s Claire and Kaia who end up traveling into the Bad Place and finding Sam and Dean…


But I digress.

Just as Sam, Dean, Claire, and Kaia are escaping back to their own reality, the mysterious hooded figure reappears, flinging a dagger at Claire, but Kaia knocks her out of the way, getting stabbed herself. She’s going to die. She knows it, Claire knows it, but Claire seems to be thinking “well, she doesn’t have to die alone.” All the time, the hooded figure continues to approach them. Then Claire falls back through the rift and it closes up behind her, sealing off the dead Kaia and the hooded figure.

Claire’s an emotional wreck. Jody cradles her, where she lies on the floor, and Patience realizes what her vision meant. She had been seeing Kaia’s death and its fallout all along, not Claire’s. Would it have made a difference if she had known? Likely not. Both girls were going in knowing how slim the chances were of them coming out again.

Sam and Dean thank them all, they wouldn’t have lasted much longer in that place, remarking on the family the women are forming. Then they set out to look for their own. Jack and their mother are still trapped in yet another alternate reality, and they’ll likely need saving.

Claire vows to find the hooded figure responsible for Kaia’s death, whatever it takes. But in the end it looks like the figure may come to her. Another rift has opened up somewhere else, and the hooded figure steps through. The figure lowers the hood, revealing…

Okay, here’s the thing. If you’re anything like me, then you already had this pegged. In the other alternate reality, several characters, who were dead in the Winchesters world, were still running around. So I figured whoever was in that Kylo Ren cosplay was going to have a face we recognized, the figure seemed to be female, and if this is a storyline that carries into the spin-off, then the character would likely be someone from the episode, rather than the vast cannon of Supernatural characters. And the actress who played Kaia was supposed to be one of the regulars, but it sure seemed like Kaia was dead.

So when alternate reality Kaia lowered her hood, I did not have an “Oh, gasp. I’m so shocked it’s you” reaction. If that’s what they were going for, it didn’t work. But I still had an “Oh, shit” moment. She’s in our world, she’s on the move, and she’s killing characters we like.

Overall, I think this was a stellar episode. If nothing else, it was a great episode of Supernatural, but I think the CW would have to be crazy not to order a full season of Wayward Sisters. It had great ratings, and the social media presence was incredible. But let’s make it impossible for them not to order a season. Keep writing about it, keeping making art around it, tag it in your tweets, share this article (I’d appreciate that on a personal level), and share others like it.

The Wayward Sisters have all come home. Because that’s where the monsters are. And they’re gonna give ’em hell. I just hope we get to see it.

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Top 10 Syd Barrett Songs (non-Pink Floyd)

Syd Barrett, with his nursery rhyme lyrics and rhythmic guitar strumming, was an unfortunate casualty on the road to rock and roll music as we know it. This isn’t to say he died as young as some of the other greats (though he wasn’t really old, dying at age 60), but he was unable to continue creating music after his mental illness (presumed to be schizophrenia) became unmanageable, and he was forced to part ways with the band he formed: Pink Floyd.

Unfortunately, he isn’t remembered as well as musicians like Hendrix, Morrison, and Joplin. But after forming Pink Floyd, and before he left our realm of “reason,” he released lesser mentioned solo material, all the while experimenting with what music could be. Since there weren’t any rules to rock music yet, he got to make a few.

And this is really just a starter kit. If you like these and aren’t familiar with his music, check out the rest of Madcap Laughs and Barrett. There are many great songs. But here are my top 10, in order of release.

Love You (Madcap Laughs)

The tinkling of the piano sounds like something out of a saloon in the wild west. It’s upbeat, while seeming effortless and maintaining its even rhythm.

The chorus employs every overused trope-y cutesy name. However, at one point, the official lyrics seem to be “ice cream, ‘scuze me,” but could just as easily be “I scream ‘scuze me’,” which I quite like, because at that point in the song he’s introducing or reintroducing himself to the person the song’s about.

You can just picture a guy either trying to get a girl’s attention from far away or even being close up and speaking much louder than he intended: “SCUZE ME! I’VE SEEN YOU LOOKING GOOD THE OTHER EVENING!” Like that.

And then: it just ends. All of a sudden. The instruments all simultaneously stopping on a pinpoint.

Here I Go (Madcap Laughs)

One of the more accessible tracks from Syd, “Here I Go” is fairly simple in its story, a love song with a bit of a twist ending. But, as almost always is the case with Barrett, there’s a little more to it than what’s on the surface.

The song actually becomes extremely meta when you realize it’s about the very song he’s playing. One of the lyrics refers to the song as “kinda catchy,” and that it definitely is. It’s just really fucking cute.

I think the stand out lyric is “so now you see my world is…” and then he doesn’t complete the thought, the next line being “because of this tune” of this tune.” Which is more accurate as to how people talk really, than a grand love song. If we could see him (and he weren’t playing a guitar), he’d be gesturing vaguely around.

Octopus (Madcap Laughs)/Clowns and Jugglers (Opel)

The reasons I’ve put two songs together like this is that there are two versions of the song on two different albums, each with its own virtues.

“Octopus” has a slightly harsher sound to it than many of Syd’s other songs. Quick short strokes and over-enunciated words, emphasizing “T” and “K” sounds. And in the chorus he really let’s himself wail, unafraid of the occasional voice crack.

“Clowns and Jugglers,” the latter version of the song, starts with a rattatat drumming, like toy soldiers, By the end, the sound becomes psychedelic.

All the song is really about is wandering around a carnival. And there’s this one ride that’s shaped like an octopus. Not so mad and non-sensical. Just a really good song. And another really good version of that song.

Feel (Madcap Laughs)

I probably wouldn’t have put “Feel” on the list on the merit of the song alone. But several tracks from Barrett’s albums include him talking to the guy recording him in the booth.

I kept checking to see if this was because I’d reached the bonus tracks (and he does a lot of talking on those), but nope! It was actually a regular song released that way on purpose. Cause, why not? Who says you can’t?

And I know he’s not the only or first person to do it, but I can think of several other songs since then that have a bit of talking, just left in there for ambience. They’re part of the songs, not only auditorily, but the way we think of them. The spoken words are as important as the lyrics or the music. And some of that wouldn’t have stuck around if it wasn’t for people like Syd doing weird shit on their albums.

Baby Lemonade (Barrett)

“Baby Lemonade” has an intro that work’s almost as its own tiny track. It’s a good way to start an album. That almost western twanging guitar is in there, starting the song off alone.

I heard it was Syd warming up, and attached by Gilmour, who was one of the album’s producers. It’s worth noting that both David Gilmour and Rick Wright played on Barrett’s albums.

When the rest of the instruments join in, the tone shifts. I think Syd’s saying a lot in the lyrics on this one.

It’s message, whatever it really is, isn’t cheery. It starts on a drab scene, and he’s comparing someone or something to clowns and suggesting a cold audience applauding at their antics, quite possibly commenting on his own experiences playing live music.  He seems frustrated and lonely, but it’s a great song.

Rats (Barrett)

Repetitive in both its music and its lyrics, “Rats” creates a sense of anxiety, an air of restlessness.

The lyrics that don’t repeat, seem like a stream of consciousness, and while love is mentioned several times in the former half of the song, it seems anything, but romantic. Rather the ending lyrics (the bit with the rats) seems more at the core of the song, which, of course, is more likely a metaphor for people feeling unneeded and unloved, simply trying to keep out of the way.

All the elements together create a hypnotic effect. Placing it between “Is It Obvious” and “Maisie,” makes the three tracks seem to work as part of a larger whole, the pace becoming slower and Syd’s voice getting lower. The guitar part playing during all three, while different, is similar enough to create an arc.

Effervescing Elephant (Barrett)

Jungle sounds set the scene for this track, and an upbeat tuba accompanies the song as a stand in for the ill-fated elephant. The track is less than 2 minutes long, and the music doesn’t start until 20 seconds in, and continues for 20 seconds after the song ends.

Of all Barrett’s songs, the lyrics to this one sound the most like they could be a children’s book. With wild animals, a Suess-esque rhyme scheme, sound effects, the afore mentioned tuba, and the jaunty tune, this track’s delightful.

It seems like it should have some sort of moral to it, but I can’t figure out what it would be, other than don’t be an elephant when there’s a tiger nearby. Though when you listen to the elephant sounds after knowing how the story turns out, it’s a little disturbing. That elephant sounds distressed.

Lanky, Pt. 1 (Opel)

Well, you can’t make a list of Syd Barrett songs and not include a track that’s purely 5+ minutes of instrumental only music. At points it’s reminiscent of “Interstellar Overdrive,” but with chimes and bongos.

The title of the track also tickles me. While it’s possible there was meant to be a follow up, it’s just as likely Barrett never intended a Lanky, Pt. 2. I wonder if the Kinks took a cue from that for their album titled Lola vs. Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One, which was never to have a sequel. Combine that with the fact the Lanky ends with the instruments seeming to sort of just peter out, almost as though the musicians all became distracted by something outside the studio and just sort of wandered off, and it really seems to suggest it ends in the middle.

Wouldn’t You Miss Me (Dark Globe) (Opel)

“Dark Globe” first appeared on Madcap Laughs, but when Opel was released, this track was titled “Wouldn’t You Miss Me (Dark Globe),” and I like this version better.

Not unlike “Octopus” and “Clowns and Jugglers,” the version of this track on Madcap Laughs is a little more manic sounding. There was clearly a theme he was going for on that album. The Opel tracks seem to be more mellow versions.

This particular selection hits me for certain lines that sound as though they’re almost prophetic, specifically “please lift a hand. I’m only a person” and “wouldn’t you miss me at all?”

Unfortunately, suffering from a disease that so little was known about at the time, he didn’t get that help. But he is missed.

Bob Dylan Blues (The Best of Syd Barrett: Wouldn’t You Miss Me?)

This song appears to have been written earlier than most of the others, though it wasn’t released on any of Syd’s albums (it was recorded while he was working on Barrett).

Syd, like many artists in the 60’s (and forever after), was greatly inspired by Bob Dylan. So, Barrett wrote a Bob Dylan song. And it’s really good. The lyrics are from Dylan’s perspective, and it showcases the folksy and bluesy style to Syd’s music that is sometimes overshadowed or overlooked by the rock and psychedelia he became famous for.

This song is pure charm and admiration. It would have been written not long before he formed Pink Floyd, and there’s a freshness and optimism to it that’s atypical of most of his music, but a very welcome turn. So maybe it’s actually a perfect note to end the list on.

Syd Barrett performing in 1964

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8 Stand Out Stories for the 12th Doctor

We have a new Doctor. But with each new Doctor comes the end of an era. And each era comes with incredible episodes. So I compiled a list of my own favorites. And a lot of what’s on here are likely not the ones you were expecting. But these are the 8 stories from the 12th Doctor’s era that made me want to run off on an adventure,  take on an army of monsters, or hide behind the couch.

In chronological order:


Oh, HELL no!

This is, arguably, the first time we see the real power of this incarnation of the Doctor. And it’s a little…scary. But scary is good in Doctor Who, and this isn’t the only scary story I’ve included on this list even.

It plays on a very common fear that many children have: there’s something under the bed. Even as an adult, and I’ve talked to many people who are the same, I never let my leg or arm hang over the side of the bed. And I sleep on a mattress atop a boxspring atop a bed shaped wood shelf. There couldn’t be anything under the bed. Yet, that’s the rule, you never hang a limb outside the bed. Something will grab you.

The twist ending with the childhood Doctor’s ankle being grabbed by Clara hiding under the bed was brilliant, the episode has some really nice timey-wimeyness, and it creates a lovely creepy atmosphere that sticks with you.

It lost a little favor with me as I was waiting for the episode to be the beginning of a search for Gallifrey story arc that we never got, but if I can keep that out of my mind, this episode, as a single, is a knockout.

Mummy on the Orient Express

Not sure if my distaste for Clara is exacerbated or alleviated by the fact she gets to wear this dress.

It’s trains and the 20’s and a mummy, but also it’s space and time travel with Queen covers, and if that’s not enough for you, then I don’t know what you could possibly want out of life.

Much in the way that I adore “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship,” this one just ticks all the right boxes. While I wouldn’t put it on the same level as “Listen,” as far as the scares go, I do think it’s got a cracking monster and people keep dying, so there’s a definite threat that will keep you hand-wringing. And the clock (which was an idea apparently added by Moffat, despite the episode being expertly crafted by Jamie Mathieson) was a great touch.

And, oh, how I wish Frank Skinner’s character could have left with the Doctor and Clara at the end. He could have made a great part-time companion. Just popping his head out beneath the TARDIS console, as he did repairs.

The costumes and sets are especially fun in this one. The blend of past and future, or maybe more accurately, the future’s take on the past, is really fun to see in action. Plus, there’s that “are you my mummy” call back.


I’m very much not a Clara fan, but I was delighted by how much this episode delighted me. She’s joined by Rigsy (another great coulda-companioned, written again by Jamie Mathieson), while the Doctor is trapped in a rapidly shrinking TARDIS.

The Doctor is incapacitated for almost the whole of the episode. So Clara has to go do the investigating Doctor-y things with some instruction from the Doctor, while he tries to get the exterior of the TARDIS back to its original size. And Rigsy, who they meet early on in the story, basically has to play companion for them. I admit seeing the roles all switched around is a good bit of fun.

All the while, they’re in danger of these graffiti monsters catching them and turning them two dimensional, while the monsters themselves, become multi-dimensional. This leads to some really interesting shots, forcing director Douglas Mackinnon to get creative.

Of course, what people really remember, and why I love it so, are all the visual gags with the Doctor stuck in the tiny TARDIS, having to spider hand walk it around and everything, which succeeds at being properly funny.

The Magician’s Apprentice/The Witch’s Familiar

The two parter nature of series 9 let’s the stories really take their time. Sometimes the stories feel long, but in this case there was enough going on to keep me interested, and it’s one of the better Dalek stories we’ve had in a good long while.

I’d argue we really get Missy, who I LOVE, at her best here. As evil and nasty and dangerous as ever, but absolutely necessary. And she’s not even the bad guy! No! We’ve got to deal with Davros, in the ultimate if-you-could-go-back-in-time-and-kill-Hitler-would-you allegory. Not the first time this was done on the show, but still very effective, with the Doctor forced to face little boy Davros and decide his fate.

The Doctor riding into a medieval arena on a tank, while playing electric guitar is probably the best re-introduction to a character ever (and a great way to signal “this ain’t your series 8 12th Doctor”).

My only disappointment was, when Missy stuffs Clara into the Dalek casing, I thought the narrative was gonna wrap around, so it turned out Clara became Oswin from “Asylum of the Daleks,” which turned out not to be case. But it doesn’t really track when you think about it, and it wasn’t the story being told.

The Woman Who Lived

If you’ve spent any time on my blog, you’ve probably pegged that I’m a Maisie Williams fan. So I was a little let down by “The Girl Who Died,” which both introduced her character and was written, in part, by Jamie Mathieson, who had never let me down before.

“The Woman Who Lived” really stands on it’s own. Though it’s set up as part 2, really it’s not connected to any of the episodes. Considering how important Williams’ character becomes, I’d have been curious to see “Girl” sprinkled in earlier in the season and “Woman” later. Anyway, point is, the episodes are totally different, and I love what they did with Williams in “The Woman Who Lived,” riding in like she’s Adam Ant in a music video.

It feels like a good old-fashioned “let’s go on an adventure” episode, the likes of which we hadn’t had in awhile, with Ashildr as the unmanageable companion. But there were also some real issues that went along with her immortality that were touched on.

Ashildr really gets a chance to arc in this episode, more than any of her others, and the Doctor gets the chance to make some puns, and they play just lovely opposite each other. The setting, the tone, the atmosphere, I just want to crawl into this episode and play awhile.

The Pilot

In which we are introduced to the infectiously enthusiastic Bill. If you don’t like her, put this post aside a moment, you seem to have misplaced your soul somewhere. She was the right companion at the right time.

Clara knew as much about the Doctor as anyone. Bill knew nothing about him. After two and a half seasons with the girl who had literally wandered around in the Doctor’s time stream, your zeal may start to waver. Seeing the 12th Doctor from a new perspective gave us yet another re-introduction. The 12th works as a professor at a university, giving him a place to show off, while keeping him grounded.

The student/teacher relationship that the two quickly form, while it was done with the 7th Doctor and Ace in the classic series, wasn’t something that the show had done anything with since it’s reboot. It works really well in contemporary times.

“The Pilot” is fast paced and has enough intrigue to keep you interested without making you want to claw your ears off with frustration. And we’re given the thread of Heather, who, while I wish she was further established over the series, is important in the finale.

Thin Ice

We get to visit regency era London, play at a carnival atop a frozen lake, and watch the Doctor punch a racist in the face! All in the course of a single episode! Bill’s excitement at her first real outing in the past is a big part of what makes this episode so joyous.

The Doctor is really in his element here, getting to show off his historical knowledge, while also having to use his detective skills. He eventually learns the “monster” is not so monstrous and gives it its freedom. Again, we’ve seen similar stories on the show before, but the execution of this one maybe works best of all. The Doctor even manages to set up some street urchins with a pretty hefty fund.

I love all the costumes in this episode. Obviously the main costumes that the Doctor and Bill wear throughout, but also the regency-era scuba gear they need when they go under the ice. It has an air of steampunk about it.

There’s also a lot of fun with the sonic screwdriver, which, now that it’s a screwdriver again, I found very enjoyable. Admittedly, it’s very sciency-wiency, but in a very entertaining and true to form science-fantasy way.


This is the other spookier episode on the list. Space suits that can control you, blind you, or kill you is properly chilling. It makes for the Doctor doing some really top-notch bluffing. Evil suits not enough? He may just blow himself up!

It’s a space set episode, which we hadn’t had in awhile and I think it was a nice place to slot it in. As much as I love the show jumping around in history, it’s cool to have these more science fiction feeling episodes in the middle of it, all technology gone wrong and evil corporations and running out of oxygen in space. The idea of oxygen, something so basic to human survival, being considered a commodity is the stuff of great dystopia.

This episode employs the stranded without the TARDIS situation. It’s the perfect set-up for a Monster in the House style story. The Doctor without his TARDIS is always a heartbreaking thing, and whenever they’re reunited, it feels like a huge triumph.

The episode opens with the Doctor saying “space, the final frontier,” and even I, who am not much of a trekkie, felt a little trill in my heart at the idea that the Doctor is a part of the same geeky fandoms that the fans are.


That’s my list! Bracing myself for the hate at not including “Heaven Sent,” but the truth of the matter is it just isn’t one of my favorites and it’s my list. So there. But really Peter Capaldi was magnificent, and it breaks my heart that he’s no longer the Doctor. Now I just have to wait for Jodie Whittaker to mend it.

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Running Commentary of “Home” (The X-Files)

Okay. I’m a massive fan of The X-Files, but when first watching the show all the way through, I skipped the episode “Home.” I was watching it with my mother and she didn’t want to sit through it again.  I also have a friend who stopped watching The X-Files after this episode, because she was so disturbed by it. On top of that, there are all these stories about how they wouldn’t rebroadcast it, about it being the first episode of the series to get a viewer discretion warning and TV-MA rating, and it all built up this kind of mystique in my head. But I decided to be brave and watch the episode (in the morning. Before work. With daylight. And total control over volume and playback). Let’s do this.

It’s a cute house, really. Bit of a fixer upper…

-Yikes. That opening is unsettling. Though nothing necessarily paranormal happened.

-Mulder is a child. Whenever they’re at a crime scene he has to play with the victim’s/suspect’s/witness’s stuff. Put the baseball down.

-Interesting. Mulder and Scully don’t have the same picture of an idyllic lifestyle.

-I can almost hear banjos dueling in the distance.

-Ew! Ew. Ew. You kept the dead baby on a tray in the fridge? With your food?! Eeeeew!

-Loving the Andy Griffith references.

-Always with the flirting.

-I’m expecting to hear a chainsaw revved up at any moment…

-But why does the Peacock family choose to live in the dark like that in the first place? Actually, to be fair, I usually keep the curtains drawn as long as possible. But I’ve not boarded up my windows yet. Yet.

-Mulder going into yoga poses to pick up the TV signal is a problem today’s kids won’t understand.

-Are the Peacocks wearing goth lipstick in the scene where they all pile into the car?

-“Maybe you don’t have to lock your doors around here.” There’s  a murderer on the loose, Mulder! How ’bout tonight we lock the door?!

-I’m terrified for Sheriff Andy.

-Yep. There he goes.

-Could they smell the wife? Cause I’d actually count a heightened sense of smell as a plus on the evolutionary track.

-I get that they’re inbred, but they’re also all incredibly deformed, which could just be a different thing. Like, do they ever address how long this family’s been like this? It couldn’t have been more than two generations, right? Also, they really remind me of something…

Buffy vampires. That’s what it is. They look like Buffy vampires.

These lovely gentlemen kill newborns.

-Ooooh, Deputy Barney’s out for blood.

-I don’t wanna know what happened to the chickens all those feathers belong to.

-Bye, Barney. But, like, obviously that was gonna happen.

-Maybe they should have more than 2 people handling the Monster House job. Though now I’m really hoping for some serious Home Alone antics.

-Ohmigod. Scully speaking Babe to the pigs. But, of course, that’s the command to herd sheep, not pigs. I presume that’s why it isn’t working.

-Yes! Indiana Jones house!

-Mulder’s reaction to the news about Elvis has me in stitches.

-Okay, so I had already heard about the mother under the bed, which makes this all…well, less surprising, I don’t know about less disturbing. Also, there are a lot of women being stowed under beds in this episode.

-“They’re such good boys.” They’re really not.

-WHY ARE THEY IMPERVIOUS TO BULLETS? And baseball bats for that matter?

-She’s not there…how…

-Just chilling in the trunk (no, I know what was actually happening in the trunk. They just had to cram a little more incest in the end).

-That seems risky though. What if he locked himself in and couldn’t get back out? I’ve never been locked in a car trunk before. How do you get out of a closed trunk?

-Aaaaand the song “Wonderful Wonderful” is effectively ruined for me now.

-Other than the fact that they’d been shot a dozen times before going down, which was never commented on, there was nothing supernatural about this case, and I don’t understand why Mulder and Scully were specifically assigned to it, and the audience subjected to it.

Okay. It actually wasn’t as bad as I was expecting. But I think a lot of that can be chalked up to the fact that I knew what it was about going in. And I knew that the limbless mother was under the bed. I had really built this one up in my brain, based on everything I heard about it, but I’m actually feeling pretty okay. Almost…I’m tempted to say underwhelmed, but that makes it sound like it wasn’t good. I’m not saying that. It’s a great episode. I was just expecting nightmares.

But no time to linger. I have a re-watch to finish before the new episodes come out in January.

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