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TV Thursday - 8/21/14 - Cephus' Corner

TV Thursday – 8/21/14

August 21st, 2014

TV Thursday Header

Another week, another TV Thursday – 8/21/14. This week, I start taking a look at a lot of episodes of The Almighty Johnsons, as well as continue to work through the rest of the summer shows, many of which end this month as we get closer to the fall premieres. So is a series about a bunch of reincarnated Norse gods actually good?  Read on and find out.

TAJ

Thumbs UpAlmighty Johnsons #1×01 – “It’s a Kind of a Birthday Present” – This is another one of those shows that Syfy is playing as a “Syfy Original”, even though they had nothing whatsoever to do with making it, they just bought the rights from New Zealand, years after it originally aired.  In general, it’s the story of the Johnson family who, unbeknownst to youngest son Axl, are the reincarnations of Norse gods.  So let’s get right into the story, shall we?  Axl and his roommates are coming out of a convenience store with beer for Axl’s 21st birthday party when he’s almost run down by a girl, Stacey, who claims she was looking up at the meteor shower in the sky.  Axl invites her to the party and, after sticking a dagger in her boot, she goes with them.  We meet Axl’s family, brothers Mike, Anders and Ty, all of whom seem to have strange abilities.  The party goes on, Axl and Stacey end up out back on a trampoline and as they fumble with each other’s clothes, Stacey pulls out the knife to kill Axl, but just then, there’s an earthquake and in the confusion, Stacey runs away, leaving her dagger behind.  The next day, Mike visits cousin Olaf, they all have a ceremony to attend and can’t be late. Axl wants to take roommate Gaia to a bar but she’s got to go to work and the brothers have plans for Axl anyhow.  They take him out into the woods and reveal to him that he’s a reincarnated god.  Olaf, who he thinks is his cousin, is actually his grandfather, he’s incredibly long-lived.  After performing the ritual, which includes Axl getting naked and holding up a sword so that lightning strikes it, they turn to Olaf to find out which god he actually is, but Olaf has been knocked on his ass.  They drag him back to the car, they have to get back home for Axl’s next party, now that he’s officially 21.  They dump Olaf in a bed to sleep it off while they party.  On the other side of town though, a number of women, including Stacey, get together.  Apparently, it had all been a ruse to kill Axl before he became a god and fulfilled the prophecy.  Since Stacey failed, they send off someone else to make an attempt.  Olaf finally wakes up and starts dancing half-naked with a lamp, the boys grab him and drag him off to the garage where they talk about Axl’s godhood.  He’s supposed to be the reincarnation of Odin,  but only if five omens come true.  Most of the omens, including fire in the sky, the earthquake and a bloody sea, have come true, the only one left is for Axl to have two hearts. Frustrated, Axl goes back out to the party where Gaia, who clearly has a big crush on him, invites him back to the apartment, but a mysterious woman wearing a white archer outfit catches his eye, you might say magically, and he pursues her.  She tells him that if he can catch her, he can have her and they run off down the street.  Finally, she pulls an arrow and tells him that she’ll only give herself to a powerful god.  He says he is a powerful god and when she fires, he catches the arrow.  She pulls another and he thinks that he can catch it again, but this time, it goes through his hand and into his chest.  She runs away and the brothers catch up and get him to the hospital.  The doctors say he was incredibly lucky, if the arrow hadn’t gone through his hand, it would have killed him.  As it was, the arrowhead lodged between his ribs and cannot be removed.  She shows them an x-ray and it looks like a heart.  Axl has his two hearts.  The brothers gather around Axl’s hospital bed and reveal the rest of the truth, that he has to find his true love, the reincarnation of Frigg, and if he doesn’t do it before he dies, all of the brothers will die. “So no pressure then,” says Axl.  The first episode is largely set-up, it introduces the brothers, the mysterious group of women who want to destroy them and the whole situation, which may be ridiculous but it’s still interesting and fun.  All of the characters are great, I never saw any of them that I didn’t buy, although granted, this is the first episode so I have no idea where things are going.  It’s probably a good thing that the Norse gods are not really known for being supernaturally powerful, they were more superior warriors, swinging broadswords and battleaxes, than casting lightning bolts left and right.  Sure, we all know Thor, but the actual myths are a bit more low key. Where most of the shows I watch are pretty serious, it’s really nice to have a show that’s very light-hearted and is happy to laugh at itself and its premise.  Now sure, we don’t know much about the world yet but I’m left wanting to find out more.  I want to see what happens between Gaia and Axl.  I want to see why the cabal wants to kill the Johnson boys.  I want to see Axl’s search for Frigg.  I want to see them succeed because most of the boys are just likeable.  That’s a rarity in so many shows where every character, “good” and “bad” are really scumbags that have no redeeming characteristics.  This isn’t like that.  Sure, we’ll find more complexity to the characters as time goes on, but at the center, they’re genuinely good people for the most part.  I really wasn’t sure what to expect, I knew it was a comedy, I knew it was about Norse gods, I knew it came from New Zealand, but now that I’m an episode in, I really want to see the rest of the 10 episodes in the first season.  I give this a two thumbs up, if for no other reason than it’s not typical fare that I usually review.

Almighty Johnsons #1×02 – “This is Where Duty Starts” – I think since I’m doing so many episodes this week, I’ll keep the recaps as short as I can.  This week, Axl is out of the hospital and now he’s a bit hesitant to start looking for Frigg, even though Anders is really pushing him into a cross country screwing spree because he really, really wants all of his godly powers back.  The problem is, Axl has never been with a woman before and he’s scared, especially after he meets Gaia’s friend Jaime, who he really likes and thinks he might want to spend pretty much all of his time with.  However, Anders has other plans, he thinks that a blonde bombshell named Karla might just be Frigg.  He gets Axl a gig as the team mascot and after a fight with the other team’s mascot, Anders pushes Axl into her bed following a volleyball game.  They do the deed  but Karla ends up knocked out, apparently having an Odin overload in the sack.  This seriously freaks Axl out and he runs back to Jaime, but she, Gaia and Zeb were at the game and saw Anders, Axl and the hot girl leave together.  Jaime says she’s no longer interested and leaves.  Mike reveals to Axl that being a god isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be, years before, Rob, a friend of the family and he went to a pool hall to test out his newly found powers and while hustling pool, they got into a fight with their victims and Rob ended up getting knocked down, hitting his head and he’s been in a coma ever since.  However, ever since Axl’s ascension to godhood, Rob has been speaking in the ancient Norse tongue from his hospital bed.  That’s not weird or anything.  Also, Mike and his wife Valerie have been trying desperately for years to have children but it hasn’t been working, it’s suggested that god sperm might not work on human eggs, but Olaf says that’s not a problem, he’s been having human children for decades, his sperm works just fine.  This will come back to haunt him in later episodes.  Honestly, I can sympathize with Axl, he’s really being pushed to sleep with every potential woman who could be Frigg that he can, he’s even reminded that she could be 70, she could be a lesbian, he just has no way of knowing if she’s even been born yet.  The reincarnation of a god can come at any time and apparently, failing to fulfill the quest results in a horrible natural disaster that will kill all of the brothers and thousands of other people as well.  That’s probably not a good thing, but Axl doesn’t want to just run around sowing his seed either, he doesn’t want to be another Anders but he doesn’t want to let his brothers down either.  Still, listening to Anders costs him a potentially really nice relationship with Jaime, leaving him in a really difficult position and a very narrow line to walk.

Almighty Johnsons #1×03 – “God’s Gift to Zebras” – As if being told you’re a reincarnated god isn’t enough, Axl starts to realize that there might be some benefits after all.  He notices that women are staring at him wherever he goes.  Olaf tells him that he’s like a new zebra at the zoo, all the old zebras know there’s something new about him but really don’t know what it is.  When Axl goes to the library to do some research on the Norse gods, he runs into Sonja, the librarian, who tells him in hushed tones that she’s Frigg.  Unsure what to do, he goes back to talk to his brothers.  Meanwhile, Ty is also having some weird experiences with the ladies. When he’s called out to do an emergency repair on a club’s refrigerator, the owner of the club, Helen, gives him an apple martini and he starts to feel warm inside, which is odd because he’s the god of darkness and cold. Axl goes back to see Sonja and over coffee, she invites him to a party for the gods at her house.  This makes everyone suspicious, but after checking Sonja out, they agree that Axl can go.  The lady gods are also suspicious, they check out the genealogies and think Sonja might, just might, be the one.  Maybe.  However, when Axl gets to Sonja’s house, it turns out to be a meet up for an online MMO based on Norse mythology.  All is not well, Michelle arrived before him and told Sonja that he was trolling online message boards looking for women.  Axl and Michelle sword fight to the amazement of the partygoers and Michelle escapes, having potentially ruined Axl’s chances with the not-Frigg Sonja. Ty and Helen start to heat up, they hit things off wonderfully and end up back at Ty’s shop/home where they get it on.  It starts snowing and Helen reveals that she’s a goddess, Idun.  The sex is great and Ty thinks he’s in love, but Odin breaks the bad news.  Just like Odin is forever connected to Frigg, Idun is forever connected to Bragi. That means if she ever meets Ty’s brother Anders, she will immediately fall in love with him and it will end badly for them, as it has many, many times in the past.  Heartbroken, Ty goes to break up with Helen and she understands, she’s not a one-man goddess after all, and he goes to drown his sorrows with free drinks at the bar, he runs into Dawn, Anders’ secretary/partner and they have a drink together.  This is twice in a row that Axl has had his love life ruined by his godhood, or at least by the other gods and goddesses that surround him.  Olaf admits that they wouldn’t know if there were more gods living next door, something that becomes important pretty far down the line. Michelle tells Axl that the goddesses run New Zealand and they don’t want the gods to get their powers back and rule.  Maybe if Axl had been a bit quicker, he could have suggested that the gods don’t want to rule the land and maybe, just maybe, the gods and goddesses ought to get together for a chat.  After all, I would assume that once Axl finds Frigg, everyone gets their powers back, they’re going to have to have a discussion sooner or later.  

Almighty Johnsons #1×04 – “You Gotta Love Life, Baby” – It seems that Axl is starting to enjoy the chase, going out with Anders every night, getting drunk and chasing beautiful women.  On the other hand, Mike and Valerie have been desperately trying to have a child and failing.  They have gone through two rounds of IVF treatments and nothing.  Add to that, he’s having trouble at work, a lazy sub-contractor has left him with a house with a leaky roof and an irate customer, plus Axl had been working for him and he’s not the most energetic employee ever.  Valerie is pissy because of the hormone treatments and to make matters worse, one of Olaf’s conquests, Rhiannon, shows up at the front door pregnant.  Of course, Olaf has been through this many times, he’s ready to pack up and take off, something that upsets Axl, but Olaf explains that he’s done the family bit before, his wife and kids age, he doesn’t and eventually he has to leave to avoid being found out.  It’s just easier to run away and not deal with the problems. Mike is upset at himself because clearly, Olaf has no problem making humans pregnant. Valerie is upset because there’s a pregnant woman in the house and she desperately wants to have a baby.  It’s a general mess for everyone involved.  Ty tries to convince Rhiannon that if she doesn’t want the baby, she should give it to Mike and Valerie but she doesn’t know what she’s going to do and she leaves with a friend.  Meanwhile, Anders is having a problem with Rosie, a client who got caught on camera having an affair with a married celebrity and now, she’s being blackmailed.  Anders blows the whole thing off and tells Dawn to take care of it.  Dawn, taking Ty along for support, gets the DVD back after Ty uses his cold powers on the blackmailer, but when Dawn turns over the DVD to Anders, he has an evil idea.  He puts the video on the Internet, then goes to the celebrity, Mana, and says he’ll help him recover his credibility.  It seems that Rosie had given him a cold remedy and they want to claim that, combined with alcohol, but not mentioning the line of cocaine he did, was responsible for his actions.  Rosie goes to Dawn and is upset that this is all making her look bad, she might lose her job from the bad publicity.  Ty tells Dawn that she’s too good to work for Anders and tells her to wear earplugs when she quits so Anders’ godly powers of persuasion cannot convince her to stay.  She quits and feels great about it, but Anders comes to visit her and tells her that he had it all under control.  Mana came off looking like a victim, Rosie ended up being a sex symbol and got a promotion, plus magazine covers and the company that made the drug says it’s selling better than ever as an underground aphrodisiac.  Everyone wins. He then begs her to come back to work but she at least gets a raise out of the deal. Axl gets to grow up a little bit, mostly because his brothers are such children and Ty falls for Dawn, which I think is kind of sweet.  Just four episodes in and the characters are advancing nicely.  From what I hear, following episode 6, things really get going so I’m looking forward to that.

Defiance #2×09 – “Painted From Memory” – After Kenya came back in the last episode, we knew something was wrong.  After all, last season, Stahma poisoned Kenya and buried her out in the middle of nowhere, she really can’t be back, can she?  But if she is and she remembers what happened to her, that can spell the end for Stahma.  In fact, Kenya has memory problems, she can remember her captivity but she can’t remember much else.  As Amanda starts to bring her back into public, Stahma sees her and runs away, fearing the consequences of meeting Kenya face to face but she really has nothing to worry because Kenya doesn’t really remember much about Stahma.  Irisa calls Nolan and says she’s staying with Sukar because he is sick and she’s nursing him back to health. Nolan isn’t happy about it but he agrees.  When she hangs up, Irisa is surrounded by pilgrims coming in from all over and she tells Sukar that this is the will of Irzu.  Nolan and Tommy talk and Tommy is very unhappy that Nolan is sleeping with Berlin. He says she’s a big girl and she can choose who she wants to sleep with.  Tommy throws a punch and puts Nolan on the floor, but he agrees he deserved that one, but Tommy only gets the one.  Tommy tells him to consider why Irisa is avoiding him.  Yeah, I probably would too.  Nolan brings Kenya into the lawkeeper office and shows her some of the things they found at her captivity site.  She recognizes a hammer and says that someone from the Votani Collective broke her out of a glass case with it.  She starts to remember being underwater and seeing the man in the goggles killing several human doctors. They’re going to kill her too until they realize she’s Amanda’s sister and could be useful. Before she’d drugged, she sees that one of the dead humans had a screaming eagle tattoo. That sounds familiar to Nolan, he takes her to Berlin and she has a similar tattoo, a regimental insignia.  Berlin knows exactly which group has the tattoos that Kenya describes:  J-division, special forces.  Datak and Stahma go out into the wilderness to see Kenya’s grave.  Datak is very suspicious of Stahma and doubts she actually killed Kenya, but they find the grave as Stahma described it, covered with lavender flowers, but the flowers have spread all across the landscape.  Datak digs up the grave and finds Kenya’s skull.  Yes, she’s really dead.  He buries it again, saying it’s no longer their problem. Stahma, however, is disturbed by the whole thing, she had strong feelings for Kenya and she goes to Amanda, saying she got news through the grapevine that Kenya really is dead and the person in Defiance is an imposter.  Amanda does not react well, she tells Stahma that if she ever breathes a word to that to anyone, she will kill her.  Stahma backs off.  Pottinger and Yewll can’t understand how Kenya is alive either. They know the real Kenya is dead, this one was taken from one of their facilities, she’s really an Indogene/human hybrid, programmed with Amanda’s memories that were taken a couple of episodes ago.  That’s why Kenya doesn’t remember anything that Amanda wasn’t present for.  Yewll, worried she might remember what happened, says she will perform a chemical lobotomy and when she tells Amanda and Kenya that she’s heard from a colleague how to recover memories, she takes them to her office and starts to pump her full of chemicals.  However, Kenya remembers something, she sees Yewll, although she doesn’t know it’s Yewll, and stops the procedure.  Nolan and Kenya are talking and she wants to form some new memories, even though Nolan is with Berlin now.  As she undresses, Nolan notices that the scars she had from her ex-husband are gone and he rushes out of the room.  Kenya is very disturbed by this and pulls out some of her hair, revealing Indogene skin underneath.  Pottinger goes to see Amanda and says that since Yewll’s treatment didn’t work, they can send her to a specialist in New York but Amanda says no.  Kenya rushes to Yewll and tells her to fix her.  Yewll says she has a couple of months of life at best and Pottinger comes in and shoots at both of them, trying to cover his tracks.  Amanda finds Kenya stealing money out of the safe and says she knew that’s where to find her because that’s what she’d be doing.  Kenya knocks Amanda down and vanishes.  Yewll asks Datak to help her escape, he and Rafe take her to an abandoned Union Pacific station and tell her that it is her new home.  Kenya winds up on a train out of town, unsure how long she’ll live.  Stahma goes back to Kenya’s grave and erects a gravestone.  Amanda holds a memorial for her sister at the NeedWant and we get a flash to the mask worn by Kenya’s captor.  It’s revealed that the captor was Rafe McCawley’s son Quentin.  Now I never really bought Kenya’s return and while I really enjoyed seeing her and Amanda together again, it just wouldn’t have made any sense to have her back in the show. I’m glad they didn’t stretch it out too long, getting her re-integrated into the series, then revealing she was a fake.  Much better to get it over with, it was a distraction at best, having nothing to do with the actual plotlines this season.  We get to see that there is more to Yewll and Pottinger than meets the eye and if Pottinger is really evil, Amanda is in real danger being around him.  This was much more of a character episode than a plot episode and we need some of those once in a while.  If Ywell is really gone though, who gets to be the doctor of Defiance?  I guess time will tell.

Extant #1×06 – “Nightmares” –  We still don’t know exactly what Molly’s baby is, nor why Sparks and Yasumoto want it, but we know that it’s powerful and dangerous now. The fetus controls the mind of a worker, causing the alien symbol to appear on the back of his head, he goes mad, kills another co-worker after seeing a dead co-worker named Sarah.  Sparks orders Gordon Kern to destroy all footage of the event, even though Gordon says that this isn’t something that can be hidden.  If the fetus is this powerful at this stage, what will it be able to do once it’s born?  Clearly, and Molly figures this out down the road, the alien used Molly to bring itself to Earth, whatever is in the fetus, it’s just an alien presence wrapped in a human skin.  Sparks goes into the room and the fetus gives him a vision of his dead daughter Katie.  Harmon Kryger, who we haven’t seen in a couple of episodes, steals the fingerprints of Gordon while he’s visiting an inhalation bar, then gets into the ISEA and steals the footage from the Aruna.  The Aruna was the second ship that was sent up at the same time as the Seraphim but all hands, including Sparks’ daughter Katie, were lost when aliens invaded and caused them to kill each other.  Kryger slips Molly a disposable cell phone and tells her to meet him the next morning so he can show her the footage.  John gives Molly a listening device that she can plant on Sam so they can figure out what Sparks has on her.  She “accidentally” bumps into Sam and sticks the device to her hand and Sparks wants to know exactly what’s going on, he’s still convinced that Sam is working with Kryger and Molly.  Sparks is pretty paranoid, I wonder if some of that comes from his contact with the alien.  Through the transmitter, Molly finds out, at least the broad strokes of what Sparks has over Sam and she understands that family comes first and that Sam isn’t working with the enemy.  She goes in to see Sam for a checkup and through “code words”, tells Sam that she understands and believes in her.  Molly has to get to her meeting with Kryger though, but Gordon and his security goons are following her, trying to get Kryger so they can get the footage back.  As all of this has been going on, Ethan had a dream and since he’s not programmed to have dreams, John rushes him down to the lab for a checkup.  Julie, who was late to the office because she was working out, apologizes to John for her behavior in the last episode and while, on some level, I think he understood what she was saying but he’s got too much going on to pay attention. Ethan is performing much more efficiently than before his “accident”, but John promised to go with Molly to meet Kryger so he rushes off, leaving Ethan with Julie.  As the meeting nears, Molly sees Gordon and his goons and calls Sam, telling her that they’re meeting elsewhere so she can inform Sparks, get in his good graces and get the hounds called off.  Molly, John and Kryger meet, he gives them the footage, which is encoded and he can’t break the security.  They take the file back to the office where John tries, unsuccessfully, to crack the security but Ethan finds he can do it easily.  They watch the video of Katie and realize there’s something much more going on here than they thought. As Katie stands up, they see that she has the same alien symbol on her stomach that Molly had on hers.  Ethan even draws the image that he saw there.  Unfortunately for Kryger, Gordon does catch up to him after the meeting and knocks him out with an electronic device to the head, but we know he’s not dead because he’s still scheduled for other episodes this season.  I really like Kryger, I don’t want anything bad to happen to him.  He might be paranoid, but he has a reason to be.  It’s clear that his primary reason to be around is to pass on exposition to Molly, but he’s still an interestingly paranoid. The biggest thing in this episode was Ethan’s character growth, he went from being a generally annoying little robot kid to a character that’s starting to really matter to the overall story.  He’s becoming both more human and more android all the time, doing things that he isn’t programmed to do, or even thought possible to do.  I was very underwhelmed by Ethan for the first couple of episodes, now he might be more of a partner in the conspiracy than we thought.  I’ll have to keep a closer eye on him. The other thing that happened that I didn’t mention, Julie met a man named Odin while working out.  It was funny that I also watched The Almighty Johnsons just after watching this, both of which have an Odin.  Anyhow, Odin has an artificial limb, which Julie helped develop so she invites him to the office to repair a faulty part and he gets to meet Ethan. I’m thinking Odin is a plant, trying to get in to keep an eye on Ethan, which makes me wonder who could be behind him.   After all, Sparks works with Yasumoto, who set up John’s lab, so it couldn’t be Sparks or Yasumoto.  Who else is left?  Someone we haven’t seen yet?  I don’t know.  I really want to though.  Where I didn’t know what to expect from this show, I’m really on board with it now.

Thumbs DownPerception #3×09 – “Silence” – Once again, it’s those absurdly rare disorders that take center stage on Perception.  That’s a problem, as I’ve mentioned before, it’s really like they found a book of rare neurological disorders and are going through it week after week.  Sorry, every episode doesn’t have to be about something super-rare that nobody has ever heard of.  Anyhow, at the beginning, a sniper shoots up the front of the FBI building, hitting one agent, Nina, while everyone else dives for cover.  Kate calls in Daniel because the shooter abandoned his gun and left piles of numbers all over the scene. Daniel is convinced he has a disorder that involves obsessive counting. Daniel thinks he wasn’t shooting at the agent, he was shooting at the x-ray machine since he hit it with 10 out of 13 shots.  However, when Nina’s partner Jeff is shot outside of the hospital after visiting her, that theory goes out the window.  Or does it?  It doesn’t take long for Kate to realize that Jeff and Nina were having an affair and that Nina’s husband killed Jeff, but who shot Nina?  Yes, back to the original storyline.  Searching through employee records for the building, Daniel finds a man who worked for the IRS who filed multiple disability claims, saying the x-ray machine harmed him.  However, the man is gone and after they go to his apartment, which is covered in tin foil, Daniel finds a book in code, the last entry of which says “Only Dr. Chandler can help me”. They go visit Dr. Chandler and he says that the man, Alex, complains of sensitivity to electronic energy. Daniel realizes that if the man is hyper-sensitive to extreme low-frequency rays, the only place he could go to be safe is an area set up by the government where all ELFs are outlawed to keep them from interfering with the radio telescopes located there.  He and Kate jump a plane and find a small town where there are no cell phones and lots of people who claim to be hyper-sensitive, who came to feel better.  While all of this is going on, we revisit Donnie and Shelby, who he met last week and thought he was going to have yet another affair. It turns out she wants him to run for political office and he agrees. However, the announcement party is going to happen while Kate is away on a case and Kate really doesn’t like Shelby and hates them spending any time together.  I do too, I had an immediate negative reaction to Shelby, probably for good reason, clearly, based on how she acts in this episode, they’re going to have Donnie at least tempted by her and that, I think, bodes very poorly for any kind of relationship.  I’ve been saying that for weeks, these two characters really don’t give me any confidence in their maturity, commitment or ability to work together, either with each other or anyone else.  Donnie, especially, is a child.  Kate isn’t that much better.  Seriously, Daniel, the head case, is probably more stable than either of them.  Anyhow, back out to the middle of nowhere as Kate and the sheriff get tipped off that there was automatic weapons fire up in the hills.  While they’re investigating, Daniel sees Alex come to the cafe, but then he drives away and Daniel steals a car to go after him.  Okay, I know he hasn’t driven for 20 years, but seriously, nobody who has ever driven in their lives is that bad at it.  Nobody.  So he drives out into the woods and finds the cabin that Alex is hiding out in and gets taken prisoner.  Alex is full conspiracy theory insane at this point but Daniel manages to talk him down and they go out to sit in the woods and talk.  Police snipers see them and even though Kate says that Daniel will get through to him, they shoot Alex in the chest where it magically gets stopped by a Morgan silver dollar in his pocket.  Yeah, as Daniel says, the chances of that are absurd.  Alex is saved and Daniel and Kate get ready to go back to the city.  Back at the party, you can see that Donnie and Shelby are getting uncomfortably close, which made me want to throw something at the TV.  I hate stupid crap like that.  This was a double hit of super-rare medical conditions that Alex had, both the counting thing and the hyper-sensitivity, the idea of going out to the dead zone came completely out of the blue, the whole Donnie/Shelby thing, I’m just not impressed this week at all.  This screams “filler” all over the place.  I hate fillers.

The Last Ship #1×09 – “Trials” – We’re getting down to the wire, just one more episode this season and, all things considered, I’ve really liked this show.  Following the discovery of a vaccine that works on monkeys, now Rachel has to move on to human trials and make sure it really does stop people from coming down with the disease. However, we first have to visit with Chandler’s family, hiding in a cabin. His father, Jed, drags a deer carcass back home, hoping to share with a neighbor but he’s told that one of the people in the house has contracted the virus.  He leaves the deer and paints a red X on the door to mark an infected household.  He gets back home empty-handed and tells Chandler’s wife and son that hunting was scarce.  Chandler’s wife volunteers to go out and scavenge the parts he needs to fix the radio so they can contact the Nathan James. He isn’t happy that she’s going that far out but she says she’ll be careful and will take a gun.  Back aboard the ship, Chandler holds a memorial service for Cosetti and his body is dumped overboard.  He says he’s tired of losing people and wants that to be the last service he has to hold.  Quentin thanks Chandler for saving his family, even though he doesn’t deserve it.  He’s back on Rachel’s team, although she’s somewhat resentful because he hasn’t been there for the hard work.  Rachel is resetting the lab for human trials, she says she wants to get six volunteers of various age, racial and other factors to test the effectiveness of the vaccine.  Tex doesn’t think anyone will sign up, but Jeter is the first in line, he says they need someone from the command staff and he’s the perfect candidate.  Besides, he’s already had all the testing done.  Chandler and Slattery are surprised at how many people show up to volunteer.  They get their six, Jeter, Tex, Andrea, Kara and two others.  Rachel injects them with the vaccine and after they’re all in quarantine, shoots them up with the virus.  Things go well for a while, there are no major ill effects except for some fevers, but when one of the subjects starts to go delusional and her brain shuts down due to high fever, it’s clear that something isn’t working.  This is made even more clear with the first victim dies, apparently of the virus.  Quentin tells Rachel that the vaccine isn’t working right, it’s supposed to bond to the virus and give the body enough time to generate antibodies.  He suggests giving them a transfusion of Bertrise’s blood, but that much would kill her.  She volunteers anyhow and even though she’s really weak, the last five volunteers get her antibodies directly, but it doesn’t work.  Chandler goes out to talk to Green and he tells him that Kara is pregnant.  Shouldn’t they have caught that in the pre-injection physicals?  Rachel doesn’t know what else to do, the vaccine kept the monkey alive but not the people? Then she realizes that the human gene that was grafted to the virus by Sorenson is the problem.  Bertrise’s blood isn’t cloaking Sorenson’s added gene, meaning the virus is still able to infect and kill the volunteers.  She reasons that if she injects the primordial strain, the body will be able to react to the pure strain and come up with antibodies that will wipe out the virus entirely.  She tries it and it works, everyone recovers.  Kara is told that her baby will be born with a natural immunity to the virus.  Bertrise wakes up and is happy to see that everyone is okay.  Chandler talks to an exhausted Rachel and she says that not only did they create a vaccine, they created a cure, they can help people who are already affected by the virus, not just keep people from getting it in the first place.  That’s a good thing because back at the b-story, Chandler’s wife is checking out the electronics store when outside, a guard encounters someone who is infected. He shoots her, but the wife is hiding just inside the building.  When she runs to escape the guards, she passes by the infected woman, becoming infected herself.  She goes back to the cabin and probably infects her son and Chandler’s father as well.  That was nice of her.  I hope the Nathan James hurries, they were talking about where they can mass produce the vaccine and were talking about the CDC and naval bases, but doesn’t the virus kill in just a couple of days?  Isn’t it almost certain to kill Chandler’s wife and family long before he can produce much vaccine?  Or do they get special treatment?  Of course they get special  treatment!  The problem though is that with the virus being cured, what is there to do in a second season?  Is this planned as a done-in-one?  We’ve thought that for other shows, that they really only warranted a single season treatment and they’ve kept going and going and going like a diseased Energizer bunny.  Of course, it was just announced that they did get renewed for a second season, this time 13 episodes instead of 10, I know it’s going to be about distributing the vaccine to the world and fighting against the Russians and other groups who want to hoard and control it, I just hope it’s done well.  One more to go, I hope it’s really good.

The Strain #1×06 – “Occultation” – What interests me most about the TV version of The Strain is the differences and the variations from the written and comic-adapted versions. We saw quite a bit of that this time around and that made for an exciting and interesting episode.  After all, when you’ve read the book and the comic, you know where this thing is going, it’s really only fun when you’re blindsided by something new. It’s not the destination that really matters but the journey. We open up with Eichorst having a man captive, he’s been using him to feed on until the Master’s plans come to fruition.  That’s an interesting idea, actually, one that doesn’t appear elsewhere. I’m not really sure how that works though.  In the book, at least, they went into great detail that the rest of the Vampire Lords were very careful to kill their victims so that more vampires weren’t created.  It was only the Master who let them change into new vampires. That’s done by the transmission of the little worm things into their bloodstream and they carry the virus.  So how is Eichorst able to stop the transmission of the worms?  If he doesn’t, his victim starts to change into a full-blooded vampire, for lack of a better term, in just a few days and is therefore useless to keep feeding on. Inquiring minds want to know.  One thing we didn’t see at all this week were any of the “survivors”.  That’s a good thing, even though two of them are now “dead”, or deader, I guess, Luss and Bolivar are still out there somewhere.  We need a break from that storyline. So anyhow, Eph is now on the run from the feds, who suspect him in the murder of Captain Redfern.  He manages to get in to see Zack and Kelly, even though that annoying asshat boyfriend of hers is there, and tells them to get out of town immediately.  Of course, the asshat calls the FBI, who arrive to arrest Eph in front of Zack.  What a jerk.  Kelly thinks so too, she tells him she’s reconsidering being with him. It doesn’t really matter in the long run, she’s already made her bed and she’s going to die… I mean lie in it.  Yeah, no spoilers, right?  The eclipse is coming and everyone is buying glasses so they can look at it.  The rat population is increasing too, as Vasiliy and a couple of his exterminator competitors discuss and they’re really thankful for all of the overtime.  Vasiliy goes to see his father, a new part in the story, and begs him to take his mother out of the city before it’s too late.  It doesn’t work, of course, but at least he tried. It’s kind of a touching scene where we  get some more exposition about Vasiliy’s background.  So now that Eph is in custody, we get the FBI playing bad cop/asshole cop until he tells them he’ll take them to where the bodies are hidden.  They get into a car, but are stuck in traffic.  Eph recognizes the coroner from the first couple of episodes, running through the streets.  He attacks a woman in a car and the FBI agents jump out to stop him but are both attacked and drained.  Eph gets out, gets the keys to the handcuffs and says he told them so, which he did.  He heads to Setrakian’s pawn shop where he finds Nora and her mother, who had run out of their apartment, fleeing from the same FBI threat that had netted Eph.  Setrakian says that while they’re both there, he has a new plan.  There was also a bit with Gus and Jim, where Eichorst ordered them to retrieve Redfern’s body and dispose of it.  Gus says he’s not working for Eichorst anymore, but Eichorst keeps threatening his mother.  Gus’s friend gets dragged into it against his will, but after the job is done and they’re walking home during the eclipse, Bennett, the coroner, comes at them, it being dark and all, and Gus is forced to kill him. Well not kill… you know what I mean.  In the exchange, one of the worms gets into Gus’s friend and then the cops arrive.  Yeah, that’ll end well.  There are a lot of nice little touches this week.  Setrakian visits the home of one of the dead airline passengers and finds a bunch of vampires in the basement.  He can’t fight them all so he goes upstairs and blows the house up.  Vasiliy goes back to the office and discovers that his boss and the secretary are both now vampires.  He also discovers how effective sunlight is.  The eclipse, once again, is a pretty wasted set piece, we wouldn’t have missed a thing if it had never been mentioned in the story.  I wish it had actually meant something worthwhile but it really didn’t.  We’re not quite half-way through the first season and things are really moving.  Now all of these separate stories are going to start colliding and the small tales will become one big tale that goes on for seasons to come.  I can’t wait.

Best of the Week:  The first episode of The Almighty Johnsons gets the nod.  It’s fun, it’s funny, it’s entertaining and I really enjoyed the premise.  They say that the first five episodes are a little bit of a slog but I’ve really loved them.  If this is the calm before the storm, I’m really looking forward to the storm after episode 6.

Worst of the Week:  I hate that it keeps going to Perception.  Not only did they overly-rely on the rare disease aspect once again but this was also a filler episode that really didn’t mean anything.  Just too many bad parts, a weak plot and painfully obvious plotting with regard to Donnie’s political campaign.  They’re doing everything they can to break up Kate and Donnie and honestly, they might not be mature enough to be together anyhow.  Very disappointed.

Other Stuff I Watched: The Wil Wheaton Project #1×12, Kamen Rider Gaim #27-33, The Six Million Dollar Man #3×18-3×21

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Cephus' Corner

A Place to Share my Geeky Side With the World. Comics, movies, TV, collecting, you name it, I indulge in it.