Categories
Television

Titans: S3 Ep. 11 Review – “The Call is Coming From Inside the House”

GateCrashers’ Titans coverage returns with myself (Bree) and my partner, Jon! We’ll be covering each episode release as they drop. The show has a lot of sentimental value to us on a very personal level, our coverage will be what is essentially written conversations with two sections; a very spoiler-free approach followed by a spoiler-centric one. Without further ado, our spoiler-free segment begins here!

Bree: The team fractures yet again in the wake of their mishap with the GCPD. Will Crane and Red Hood be able to pick them off, one by one? 

Jon: Gotham City has become a complete wasteland in the wake of Crane poisoning the water supply. The Titans are out of options, public enemy number one AND are now left without a headquarters to regroup and plan their next attack. Things are not looking good for them.

Bree: Raven has returned and is turning over stones the team had previously left unturned. Donna is also trying to strategize the best way of helping the citizens of Gotham as well as the team with the limited information she has. A familiar face is back to help her the best way they know how! Starfire is alone and caught up in the past, what will her flashbacks reveal about the present? With 2 episodes left after this, things really feel like they’re coming down to the wire. 

SPOILERS BELOW

Jon: Donna finally makes her way into Gotham just in time to see it tearing itself apart giving us real “No Man’s Land” vibes for all you Bat-fans out there. And who is the only one who can help her find the rest of the team? None other than our future boy wonder Tim! We get to see a wonderful display of how much time he has dedicated to his detective work on Batman and the Titans in this episode. I find it absolutely hilarious that the one picture that is front and center by his screen is of Donna.

Bree: Titans’ Tim 110% makes Donna fancams and I love him for that! My heart also melts a little every time he calls her “Miss. Troy”. He’s just such a delightful character, his passion and optimism cut through the show’s darker moments. I gotta have a little rant about Starfire’s big moment fizzling on the delivery, though. Waiting for Season 3, Episode 11 to see any part of Tamaran felt like ordering an expensive plate that took over an hour to come out of the kitchen and it’s a glorified appetizer. It feels like they’re continuing to withhold the meat of her story from us, and I just cannot fathom wh(ite)y. 

Jon: 2 seasons later and we only get a taste of what Tamaran COULD be. While it left me wanting more, I will admit it was beautifully done. It doesn’t simply look like this wonderful oasis but an actual place that you can see and touch. Great work by the crew on the interior of the throne room for making it seem like an actual place but also very alien at the same time. Scarecrow also seems to be going down another journey of his own after listening to Bruce’s logs on him saying that at most he sees Crane as pitiful and not as terrifying as his other villains. All this while Crane stops off for a quick snack. You wouldn’t like Scarecrow when he’s hangry.

Bree: I did absolutely adore what we did see of Tamaran, but I’m left feeling “too little, too late” about it. The setup just felt incredibly random too, what was the point of connecting her flashback to some stranger’s baby? Crane is starting to reach levels of near over-saturation for me personally, and although I like his scenes individually, the momentum of the overall plot has been declining since episode 8. I’m a little disappointed that the entire season of a TITANS show is in and about Gotham. Especially when there are core character’s that have yet to have a single episode dedicated to them entirely. 

Jon: Agreed! Besides Kory, the other choice is Beast Boy. At best we have gotten his origin and that is about it. We finally see him meet with Raven this episode and find out that the bats that seem to be talking to him are leading him to the same Lazarus pit that was used to bring Jason back from the dead. If he doesn’t at least turn into a bat by the end of the season or anything else besides a tiger, I will scream. Ryan Potter feels totally underutilized.

Bree: Oh absolutely! He’s such a hard-working and capable actor, it’s a shame that he’s always running support for other character’s making mistakes. I do like that he simply dug around the manor to figure it out though, I like the idea of the house having its own secrets and mythos. I’m not even going to get into the FINAL moment of this episode until next week because it feels MESSY.

Jon: I’m still trying to process it all……….

CLOSING REMARKS

Bree: Episode 11 marks the third to last episode of the 13, and we’re now left to wonder if they’re going to stick the landing in the final 2. I can’t say that I’m incredibly optimistic, and the last 2 episodes were perhaps the weakest in the season thus far.

Jon: Here’s hoping that the crew really is saving the best for last and this is simply the calm before the storm. This season must finish stronger than the last 2. Staying optimistic but I reeeeealllllllllllly hope they leave Gotham after this.

Categories
Television

Titans: Season 3, Ep. 10 “Troubled Water” Review

GateCrashers’ Titans coverage returns with myself (Bree) and my partner, Jon! We’ll be covering each episode release as they drop. The show has a lot of sentimental value to us on a very personal level, our coverage will be what is essentially written conversations with two sections; a very spoiler-free approach followed by a spoiler-centric one. Without further ado, our spoiler-free segment begins here; 

Bree: This week, the Titans are Public Enemy #1 in Gotham City. With the exception of Donna and Raven, who are just re-joining the action. However, Donna is also fighting personal demons of her own this episode.

Jon: GCPD are completely overwhelmed with the major population of Gotham being poisoned by Crane’s fear toxin. With the Titans being hunted by the entirety of the city, who will rise up and help the citizens? Jonathan Crane has the perfect idea of who that someone should be.

Bree: An attempt to do what they think is the right thing backfires for the team, and the fallout triggers major consequences. Every team member has their own idea on how to solve things from here on out, and this season is building up to the inevitable climax of everyone’s decisions. 

Jon: Some Titans are willing to take more drastic measures than others, and it leads their teammates to begin to doubt them.

ON TO SPOILERS AND OUT OF CONTEXT MEMES

Jon: Throughout the season we have watched Crane’s plans come to fruition and ultimately blow up in his face. Watching him land on his feet and spin the entire city being poisoned as the Titan’s fault has been absolutely amazing. Even when backed into a corner he still manages to get what he wants AND make the people of Gotham accept Red Hood as their new Bat…..I mean savior.

Bree: I do like Crane and appreciate that they want Vincent Kartheiser to shine as an actor without being underneath a mask- and he certainly does! However, I would like to see him put on the mask just once. We know he has it. Hopefully, that’ll be in the final confrontation. Donna was the standout for me this episode again, closely followed by the conversation between Starfire and Blackfire in the Church. The show just gets Donna in ways that have been lacking in comic media for me, lately. 

Jon: YES! People on the crew took a great amount of time to make one of the best live-action scarecrow masks and we want to see it in action! The standout in the episode for me was Damaris Lewis. She really just commands every scene she is in and shows off great acting skills with simple facial expressions and not even having to say a word. She made an entire crowd of violent people stand down with a simple stare making sure they knew what she is capable of.

Bree: Indeed! She has fantastic body language. Blackfire’s attitude towards the Titans seems to be shifting, despite their fairly up-front acceptance of her. Perhaps this will be the beginning of her change in allegiance. Poor Conner this episode though, guy couldn’t catch a break. 

Jon: Our boy is just trying to be a good boyfriend. 

Bree: Boy was ready to roll her joints and do her taxes. Superboy? More like SuperSimp (non-derogatory). 

Jon: His reaction to Kom getting shot was somewhat understandable, as that was a huge betrayal on the GCPD’s part. The guy Conner throws into the stone gateway is most definitely SUPER DEAD. The Titans are stuck between a rock and a hard place with no friends left in the world, except Babs……but she gets arrested after seeing the injustice towards them and helping them escape. Our team needs a win.  

Bree: Things are looking DICEY!!! Three whole episodes to wrap this all up, I really have no idea how they’re going to do it. 

Jon: Also can we get a shout out to Ryan Potter who is one of the hardest working people in the room. He has some of the best action sequences this season and they seem to get cut short every time he transforms! He needs to learn how to dodge tranq darts. I hope we get more screen time as Season 3 comes to a close. 

CLOSING REMARKS

Bree: If you’re not a Donna Troy stan by the end of the episode, watch it again! We seem to be very close to the climax of the season, and it’s prime popcorn-eating fare. 

Jon: Allegiances are slowly changing. Blackfire is beginning to question how the Titans do things. Crane has everyone from the GCPD to Jason in his back pocket. How can all of this be resolved in 3 episodes? I have absolutely no idea, but I AM HOOKED!

Categories
Television

Titans: Season Three, Ep. 9 “Souls” Review

GateCrashers’ Titans coverage returns with myself (Bree) and my partner, Jon! We’ll be covering each episode release as they drop. The show has a lot of sentimental value to us on a very personal level, our coverage will be what is essentially written conversations with two sections; a very spoiler-free approach followed by a spoiler-centric one. Without further ado, our spoiler-free segment begins here; 

Jon: Episode 9 is finally here and showing us what’s become of our youngest Titan, Raven. As she continues her training on the island of Themyscira and tries to find a way to bring Donna Troy back from the grave after her untimely demise via carnival electricity,

Bree: This episode also tells us more about the newest addition to the character roster, Tim Drake. Old friends reappear, as well. Different approaches are taken to the cinematography and visual style of the show, and I think they’re quite effective. Themyscira wasn’t necessarily a major part of the entire episode, but what we did see of it was quite beautiful and very detailed for a show that isn’t connected to Diana.

Jon: Jay Lycurgo continues to impress as Tim Drake. For someone who has been suddenly thrust into the world of capes he always looked at from afar he continues to impress with how much knowledge he has collected along the way. Not to mention without the help of a trusty bat computer. 

ON TO SPOILERS AND OUT OF CONTEXT MEMES

Bree: YO….Hawk coming back. Even as a ‘ghost’, it was a lot of fun to see Alan Ritchson again. 

Jon: FACTS! Our favorite loudmouth Titan is back and easily the best part of the episode which only makes us miss him more and more, gone too soon. Seeing him and Donna reunite one last time is both incredible and a tear-jerker at times.

Bree: I think Donna was ultimately the stand-out of this episode for me. Donna Troy has one of the messiest origins in comics. She’s died across multiple timelines, only to be revived in a way that somehow gets more confusing each time. The anger she felt about her death on Titans felt very meta, it was cathartic to have a variation in which she’s aware of that and allowed to be angry about it. 

Jon: It was refreshing because let’s be honest the way she went out at the end of Season 2 is complete bullshit. Just as bad as her family being completely wiped out in the comics without any explanation.

Bree: yeeeaahhh….it’s a big ol’ mess. Love that she got her lasso and Sword! We stan a Girlboss! I wasn’t keen on the Amazons being religious fundamentalists but at least they seemed to meet Rachel halfway in the end.

Jon: Same! However, by the end of the episode, it was a pretty nice way of teaching Rachel some spiritual truths. Also, can we all appreciate that Hawk managed to summon up a pair of nunchucks? Which, I am more than certain, are a nod to his time as a Ninja Turtle (even though it technically should have been the twin sai).

Bree: They seem to be taking a fairly unique approach to Tim Drake but so far he’s incredibly likable. His gushing about how great the Titans are was very endearing and ultimately felt like what we as fans would want to say to them. 

Jon: Nothing feels over the top with Tim. He doesn’t feel entitled that he should be a Titan simply because he discovered their identities, which I was initially worried about. I must admit I was not previously a huge Tim Drake fan, but Titans is quickly changing how I feel about the character.

CLOSING REMARKS

Bree: Just an all-around great episode. The emotional beats land every time, the action sequences are fun, and they took some chances with different visual styles that ultimately paid off.

Jon: A great rebirth for a former character and a beautiful send-off for another. This episode will make you laugh and cry at the same time.

Categories
Television

Titans – Season Three, Ep. 8 “Home” Review

Bree: Episode 8 marks just past the halfway point of the 13 episode season and things are really heating up! New relationships are forming, old ones are rekindling, and others’ are falling apart. Tim Drake gets a proper introduction and is shaping up to be an excellent adaptation of a fan favorite character.

Jon: Crane’s plans have come to a screeching halt since the last episode and we begin to see how that affects his and Jason’s power dynamic. Could our former boy wonder still be lost inside that red helmet? Only time will tell as the rest of this episode plays out.

Bree: This episode does an excellent job at balancing its focus equally for each of the main characters. Everybody has a memorable moment in this episode. While they dig a little more into Crane’s backstory, Starfire is still struggling with unknown elements of her past. Which feels very; “As one door closes, another opens”. The pacing of conflict is very effective this season, I’m on the edge of my seat while not feeling like my attention is divided between too many plot threads.

Jon: Tim finally get his time in the spotlight this episode. He’s truly living up to his comic book counterpart. Showing off his mastery of detective skills will turn him into a great asset for the Titans going forward.  

ON TO SPOILERS AND OUT OF CONTEXT MEMES

Bree: Alright, we gotta start with the elephant in the room. The elephant that broke a bed. I wasn’t initially keen on the idea of Blackfire and Conner but they’re writing the pair exceptionally well. 

Jon: STRAIGHT TO HORNY JAIL THE BOTH OF THEM! For the speed in which this took place and where they both are in their lives (very short for Conner) it feels very natural and is pretty adorable.

Bree: Yep! Conner has elements of the “born sexy yesterday” trope, but the show avoids the creepy aspects by fleshing out what he does have in common with Kom. And it’s important that Conner isn’t isolated, he’s developed other relationships besides Kom. The romance isn’t responsible for his entire world view, as the worst offenders of said trope tend to lean into.

Jon: One of the other highlights of this episode is Tim Drake who finally gets to show off his detective skills. Proving to Dick that he first discovers his secret identity because of his aerial acrobatics, he calls out Dick and the entire roster of Titans with hard facts that could come across as actually believable rather than Tim just knowing who they are because of who his character is supposed to be. Someone get Jay Lycurgo a super-suit YESTERDAY!

Bree: Indeed! I’m honestly iffy on Tim Drake as a whole, sometimes he works for me, and sometimes he just doesn’t. Titans Tim thus far is very charming and earnest, it’s quite possible he’ll be my favorite version yet! Oh! And Crane is actually starting to become scary. I like the stoner act and it was a fun refresh on his character but he’s gotta live up to his name. 

Jon: Yes! At the close of the episode, we see Crane with only a baseball hat and gun which sent shivers down my spine. One can only imagine how frightening he was in his prime while donning the actual scarecrow mask.

Bree: Kory’s visions keep getting weirder and weirder too and I’m loving it. They’re building an excellent foundation for her this season and I just hope they commit to finishing the house. Oh! And lastly, Beast Boy will hopefully now have something to do. I really hope they let him be very important in the forthcoming confrontation with Jason.

CLOSING REMARKS

Jon: An absolute mountain to things to unpack this episode. Jason is struggling with his inner demons, and Crane becomes more desperate and dangerous as time goes on. Will things actually work out with Blackfire and Conner? Most of all, who is Dick Grayson’s tailor ?! 4 episodes left to go until what seems like to be an explosive finale!

Bree: This is perhaps the most “Titans” centric episode this season, and perhaps proves that the writers are learning from past mistakes. Gotham is presenting ever-evolving challenges for the team, and we seem to be nearing the “sink or swim” moment for the team.

Categories
Comics

Is Titans United #1 New Reader Friendly?

Those familiar with HBO’s Titans will recognize the lineup in Titans United. Nightwing, Starfire, Raven, Beast Boy, Red Hood, Superboy, Donna Troy, Hawk, and Dove are together again for a new, 7 issue mini-series from Cavan Scott and Jose Luis. Although the book is using its connection to the show for advertising purposes, it quickly establishes that the mini-series will ultimately not tie itself to the shows’ specific continuity. 

Issue #1 of Titans United is a fairly fast-paced start to a new adventure for the team. Within the blockbuster action, Cavan manages to include a bit of breathing room for showcasing relationships within the Titans. The team dynamics will be familiar for more regular readers, but some new conflicts are simmering as well. Particularly, with the addition of Red Hood as a roster regular. The art is well done and the designs are some of my favorites for these characters yet! 

Overall, the plot is fairly straightforward without being remotely boring, making Titans United #1 a great place to start for anyone that is vaguely familiar with the IP from any type of related media (comics, cartoons, HBO series). There are bits and pieces from almost every iteration of the team sprinkled throughout the book, making it very easy for fans of any version of the team to find something they like. However, the lack of character introduction makes me hesitate to recommend it to those that are completely unfamiliar with the property. 

Titans United #1 is a great start to a story that all fans of various Titans media are likely to enjoy!

Categories
Television

Rita Farr and the Grotesque

Grotesque [groh-tesk]: Adjective. Odd or unnatural in shape, appearance, or character; fantastically ugly or absurd; bizarre.

Rita Farr is grotesque. She remembers when she wasn’t. Her room is filled with memorabilia and posters from her days as a Hollywood Starlet. The four walls of her bedroom envelop the few that enter in a soft, romanticized cloud of 50s and 60s nostalgia. As we, the viewer, learn more about Rita Farr, the actress, and Rita Farr, the Elasti-Girl, the more we see that perhaps the grotesque had been part of her story all along.

Media that criticizes Hollywood isn’t necessarily a new thing (Eyes Wide Shut, 1991. Mulholland Drive, 2001) or disappearing (The Neon Demon, 2016. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, 2019. Brand New Cherry Flavor, 2021) angle for film and television. Hollywood studios have had and continue to have an industry monopoly, and they often operate on very top-down, hierarchical management. As the #MeToo movement has helped uncover, this type of labor organization is often unjust to the many and discriminates against women and minorities in particular. Different elements of said industry pitfalls have made it into the aforementioned films. Although the visual approach and messaging often vary greatly in these types of films, they do generally have one thing in common- violence. Violence often leaves behind grotesque forms- Rita’s accident was horrific, her mother often inflicted emotional abuse upon her, her bosses were opportunistic and would hurt her to benefit themselves. Rita herself inflicted violence on others to maintain her place in the pecking order.

The interesting thing about portraying violence in media about media is the juxtaposition of romanticism. Films and TV make us feel things. We like to feel things. We know they’re scripted and fake, but we don’t particularly care. It’s an escape, reality cannot interfere too greatly, or the fantasy is lost. Rita Farr, the actress, was a Sweetheart, women wanted to be like her, and men wanted to be with her. At least, while she was still booking productions. Hollywood is an industry in which the idea of you is sold for profit. You are discarded when you can no longer reproduce the idea of yourself that the people want. 

Rita’s accident meant her career was over. Her physical affliction meant she could no longer produce Rita Far, the product. The oozing, grotesque lump her body occasionally turned into wasn’t what the people wanted. So, the question is, why did she get this affliction in particular? Body horror is often a visual indication of feeling “monstrous” or a mark of guilt. A way to turn something ugly on the inside outwards so it can be seen and interpreted by an audience. When Rita had her accident, she was already dissatisfied that her career was easing into stagnation. Guilt about the things she had done, and her mother had done for her, to secure the career she had up until then was creeping in. With the assistance of a rotting piece of wood and a loud splash, all these negative and ugly feelings bubbled up to the surface of her skin. 

Rita Farr is a phenomenal actress. She deserved every role and every bit of praise she got. She loved being an actress. However, the industry no longer loved her, and she had forgotten who she was without that relationship. I believe she would have become a different type of ‘monster’ had she continued on the path she was on, and the accident never happened. The ending of her story wouldn’t have been much different from the ending of The Neon Demon or Eyes Wide Shut. A single, sudden act of violence divorced her from her former life and set her on a different path, like cauterizing a wound. She initially viewed the accident as the worst possible thing to happen to her, but once she let Rita the Actress subside, she discovered Elasti-Girl.

Violence will always be a fact of life and will leave behind the grotesque parts of ourselves in its wake. What ultimately matters is how we cope and the environments we surround ourselves with.  Elasti-Girl likes living in Doom Manor, a place that might have scared Rita Farr, The Actress. Doom Manor is special because it’s a place committed to growth without judgment. Every resident unites as a victim of circumstance, but they’re working together to create better circumstances for their future selves and others. What was once a manifestation of Rita’s fears and anxieties became a source of strength and a means to connect with others like her. Although her room remains a bastion of escapism, she finds herself leaving it more and more often to venture out into the world. Parts of her still ooze and hurt, but she’s with others that understand. It’s never too late to reinvent ourselves or leave the places that do not love us to find the ones that do.

Categories
Television

Titans – Season Three, Ep. 7 “51%” Review

GateCrashers’ Titans coverage returns with myself (Bree) and my partner, Jon! We’ll be covering each episode release as they drop. The show has a lot of sentimental value to us on a very personal level, our coverage will be what is essentially written conversations with two sections; a very spoiler-free approach followed by a spoiler centric one (with a few jokes and memes, as Titans S3 is headed towards very meme-able territory). Without further ado, our spoiler-free segment begins here!

Bree: Scarecrow is gearing up for the final act of his schemes, and the Titans are racing to out-think him. They split into two different approaches, with Dick and Barbara utilizing one strategy and Kory and Blackfire trying another. Jason is still struggling with being on Crane’s leash and his allegiance may shift yet again.

Jon: Crane himself knows he is at a very pivotal moment in his plans to distribute his new fear toxin and it is causing him to become a lot more dangerous and shows us why he is one of the big bads of Batman’s rogue gallery.

Bree: Starfire and Blackfire also get the opportunity to reveal more about life on Tamaran and the events that lead up to Blackfire’s departure. They’re relationship continues to add nuance and depth to the individual characters while providing an interesting foil to how the Titans approach the concept of found ‘family’. 

Jon: Barbara is also given more time to shine in this episode as she and Dick try to stay one step ahead of Jason and Crane resulting in a fan favorite cameo that is sure to have Titans, Birds of Prey, and Batgirl fans cheering this episode. So much to nerd out about.

Bree: Some relationships are heating up while others are cooling. The drama is ever changing on Titans!

ON TO SPOILERS AND OUT OF CONTEXT MEMES

Bree: Kom’s magical girl transformation though. I’m always floored by every new bit of Tamaranian lore we get. They’ve done such an excellent job of modernizing the comics while incorporating input from Anna and Damaris. 

Jon: It is definitely a strong point of this season! The attention to detail makes Tamaran feel like an actual place then just another piece of comic lore. Blackfire’s Sailor Scout transformation was by far the best suit-up scene in the show. The suit itself is a perfect rendition of the comic costume and is modernized just enough to feel real. Probably my favorite suit amongst the Titans. Huge shoutout to LJ Super Suits who keep knocking it out of the park with the wardrobe EVERY SEASON.

Bree: Just so freaking cool. Chills. I do wonder if Kom will ever go full baddie, only time shall tell. Oracle was really neat as well!

Jon: To be completely honest… I hope she doesn’t and gets to stick around longer. The inclusion of Oracle was a surprise. The show has stepped away from making Oracle just a program and went full Brainiac. How does the rest of the GCPD not know it’s below them?! Savannah Welch continues to impress more and more as Babs and is finally showing just how powerful her intellect makes her.

Bree: The same way they know Dick kidnapped Crane and didn’t do anything about it after the fact. I do love this Barbara more than I’ve liked most other Barbara’s. I can’t say I’m keen on Dickbabs being a thing in a Titans property but alas. OH…also the bit with Kom and Conner flirting during battle could have been the beginning of a porno and I would have bought it. I like horny TV so I’m not complaining, just one of the quickest pairs to form thus far. 

Jon: (SCREAMS IN HORNY JAIL). We are treated to our first scene of a present-day Dick/Babs Relationship, and while I personally have my reservations about them it was done well and does not feel forced. Savannah and Brenton do have great chemistry in the scenes they share.

Bree: And Gar finally gets to do things! Glad they’ve set him up as the softie of the team, a much better idea than the casual sexual harassment committer that exists in some other Titans media.

CLOSING REMARKS

Bree: Crane, Barbara, and Gotham continue to be a big part of this episode. However, there is a good half dedicated to the Titans themselves. The show is getting better at balancing screen time! The combat continues to be rad as heck and the big group moments are very fun.

Jon: The Titans are finally unified and make their first real strike back against Crane. It feels so good to see our heroes pull together and finally get a win. Let’s hope the momentum carries onto the next episode.

Categories
Television

Titans – Season Three, Ep. 6 “Lady Vic” Review

GateCrashers’ Titans coverage returns with myself (Bree) and my partner, Jon! We’ll be covering each episode release as they drop. The show has a lot of sentimental value to us on a very personal level, our coverage will be what is essentially written conversations with two sections; a very spoiler-free approach followed by a spoiler centric one (with a few jokes and memes, as Titans S3 is headed towards very meme-able territory). Without further ado, our spoiler-free segment begins here; 

Bree: Despite the title of the episode, I would argue that this is the Blackfire episode. She really steals the show here and lightens the tone after last week’s darker episode.

Jon: Anna Diop and Damaris Lewis continue to have great chemistry and really make us believe they’re actually siblings. Great acting from both actresses.

Bree: Blackfire is also introduced to Conner and Dick for the first time, and the clash of ‘cultural’ differences makes for some really comedic dialogue. This episode also introduces a new villain that goes by Lady Vic, whom readers’ of Nightwing’s solo comics may recognize.

Jon: Barbara also gets her time to shine this episode with an all new spin on her origin and her relationship with Dick. The comic nostalgia in the climax of the episode with her is sure to have any comic fan jumping out of their seat and cheering.

Bree: Indeed! The dialogue, the pacing, the acting, the combat direction…everything is firing on all cylinders this episode and it’s my personal favorite of the new season so far.

ON TO SPOILERS AND OUT OF CONTEXT MEMES

Bree: The buddy-cop moments with Dick and Kory are so great, I could easily do an entire episode(s) with them solving scooby-doo esque mysteries. She’s the only one that consistently has a boot on his neck and sometimes he needs it. I appreciate that she patched him up too, I like how strong they’re making her this season but it should be balanced out with some more compassionate moments.

Jon: Starfire is truly the voice of reason for Dick and the rest of the titans. The scenes between Blackfire and Superboy are a nice comedic breath of fresh air. It’s straight to Horny Jail for her.

Bree: We don’t even know if Conner knows what sex is but I guess we’ll be finding out soon enough!

Jon: Whoever is in charge of the choreography for this show is not getting paid enough. Lady Vic is vicious and lives up to her reputation in every action scene she is in. Great sword work from the actress and her stunt double. Barbara also gets to showcase her skills when she busts out Escrima sticks of her own in a scene ripped straight from the Birds of Prey comic that brought a tear of joy to my eye.

Bree: Lady Vic is legitimately so cool it’s hard to hate her.

Jon: Why do we both wanna go out for drinks with Lady Vic right now? 

Bree: Truly! OH, speaking of drinks, Brenton in the backwards baseball cap didn’t feel right. I mean it tracked with the phase of Dick’s life they were tapping into but it was slightly jarring. 

Jon: Dick was not a Kriss Kross fan for a reason and we now know why. 

Bree: Very glad Kory and Barbara are seen mostly getting along. I pray we do not go anywhere near that dreaded Nightwing Annual in later episodes. 

John: GIVE US MORE KORY/BABS SOLIDARITY!

Bree: Just gals bein’ pals !!!!!

CLOSING REMARKS

Bree: Fans that were disappointed with the more Gotham centric episodes are sure to love this one! The cast continues to be incredibly delightful and the light comedy sprinkled throughout episode 6 really allows their natural charisma and chemistry to shine!

Jon: A fantastic continuation to the previous episode and just enough of a departure from the comics we all know and love to keep the story fresh for new eyes. Looking forward to the inevitable descent into darkness for Blackfire and how the chemistry between her and Kory will change due to it.

Categories
Television

The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf Review

The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf– A return of the franchises’ trademark grimdark fantasy, with some new life and humor interjected as they dip their toes into animation for the first time.

The cinematic universe of The Witcher continues to expand on Netflix with a new film animated by StudioMir (The Legend of Korra, Voltron: Legendary Defender, Kipo and the Age of WonderBeasts). The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf is partially a prequel to the live action television adaptation Netflix also produces, as the story follows Vesemir, Geralt’s mentor, prior to the events of the TV show. 

Although the film is technically a prequel, I would discourage the Nightmare of the Wolf as an entry point into the franchise, as the story is very fast paced and does not dedicate very much time to exposition of the lore. It’s easy enough to grasp as a stand alone, as the world of The Witcher is somewhat tropeish within the medieval fantasy genre, ​​but references are made to the established world-building with little explanation. Additional context from the TV show, video games, or books would enhance your perception and enjoyment of the Nightmare of the Wolf, in my opinion.

There are many moments that soar within The Nightmare of the Wolf, as well as a few parts that fall flat. Firstly, the animation is absolutely phenomenal. My jaw was continually dropping. I was initially apprehensive about some of the character designs, but seeing them within the expansiveness of the entire production put my doubts to rest. The backgrounds balance painterly elements with a sharp understanding of simplifying the natural world that’s reminiscent of The Last Unicorn– albeit, with a much different approach to colors and less abstracted elements.

The cast of characters is relatively small and more or less contains the story to Vesemir’s perspective, with some additional insight from Tetra, Illyana, and Deglan. Each character has a unique motivation propelling them forward, and the final confrontation is a clash of ideals just as much as swords. There’s some interesting things going on with the ethics of being a Witcher in a world with a declining monster population and a pre-industrial capitalist system of economics. However, I feel that this was slightly underutilized. Nightmare of the Wolf does succeed in illustrating the process of making Witchers, far more than the TV show has to date. I enjoyed the film but would have preferred a 12 episode series, something that balanced the day to day tasks of monster killers with the bigger plot coming to a head in the finale. 

To conclude, The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf is a very fun way to spend an hour and 20 minutes and offers some unique insights into specific elements of lore the rest of the cinematic universe hasn’t quite reached yet. I would even argue it’s worth watching for the animation quality alone. However, the pace of the film ultimately left me feeling that it existed as an appetizer for the new season of the live action show that’s dropping in December.

DISCLAIMER FOR PROBLEMATIC CONTENT (MILD SPOILERS AHEAD)

The books that spawned the spin offs were written in the 70s and 80s, and although Netflix has done a decent job at modernizing certain elements, it’s difficult to completely erase the “fantasy races exist as a vehicle for White people to roleplay being victims of racism” trope that’s baked in. 

The Nightmare of the Wolf is perhaps one of the more egregious offenders of that trope, as Vesemir is the lead and anyone familiar with the character will know he has many sad tales to tell. The opening sequence is a Black family of royal status getting brutally murdered by a monster, the only child to survive exists on screen for another minute in order to “vouch” that it was in fact a monster and not a Witcher that killed his family. There’s also one character that is queer coded in a way that isn’t outright terrible but not great either- and he falls into the category of sad endings as well. 

This iteration is also more generous with gore and blood than the TV show and games, and much of this violence is happening to children. This is narratively handled with the impact and sorrow it deserves, but I would discourage watching if you think that is something that will bother you.

The world of The Witcher is often grimdark, and Vesemir certainly doesn’t get a Hallmark ending either. However, due to the smaller scale of the cast and run time, the animated movie isn’t able to dull the disproportionate impact on Characters of Color the way the TV show is able to do. 

Categories
Television

Titans: Season Three, Ep. 5 “Lazarus” Review

GateCrashers’ Titans coverage returns with myself (Bree) and my partner, Jon! We’ll be covering each episode release as they drop. The show has a lot of sentimental value to us on a very personal level, our coverage will be what is essentially written conversations with two sections; a very spoiler-free approach followed by a spoiler centric one (with a few jokes and memes, as Titans S3 is headed towards very meme-able territory). Without further ado, our spoiler-free segment begins here; 

Bree: This episode follows Jason in the days leading up to his untimely demise and reveals how he managed to seemingly return from beyond the grave. A few new supporting characters are introduced, including Dr. Leslie Thomkins and a friend of Jason named Molly. Both characters reveal more about the inner workings of Jason Todd. His relationship with Bruce also gets a spotlight.

Jon: The episode also does a wonderful job of breaking down the psychology of Jason’s inner struggles, even with the physical threat of Deathstroke long gone. Showcasing that beyond the capes and the cowls and underneath the masks these are real characters under a tremendous amount of trauma and PTSD.

Bree: Oh, and there’s a crap ton of easter eggs sprinkled throughout this episode. Just a complete buffet of stuff to nerd out over. 

ON TO SPOILERS AND OUT OF CONTEXT MEMES

Jon: I truly have to commend Iain Glen’s “Bruce” in this episode. He does a great job at portraying a better relationship with Jason then just considering him another soldier in his war. Even to go as far as referring to him as his “Son” which i thought was very heartwarming and a nice departure from the usual hardened vigilante we know.

Bree: Bruce was great but I think my personal favorites for this episode were Dr. Thompkins and Molly. The former was a nice nod for those that are comic readers and the latter was an original character, but both fit into the universe incredibly well. I hope to see more of both of them! Oh, and Crane continues to be incredibly entertaining.

Jon: Jonathan Crane continues to be one of the best surprises of this season for sure and I am glad that he has stuck around longer then I earlier anticipated. His ploy to get Jason to spring him from Arkham was done masterfully and executed perfectly. This is the seasoned Jonathan Crane I feel that most fans were hoping for.

Bree: Yeah, I was surprised that there actually was a Lazarus pit. My running theory was that Jason had faked the entire thing and gotten his academy award winning moment as a theatre kid. I do like what they’ve done with the Red Hood origin story, different enough to keep comic readers guessing on the specifics but similar enough that the character remains familiar.

Jon: YES! It is different enough to keep the character feeling fresh after we have been exposed to him for so long. The intensity of Curran Walter’s portrayal continues to shine through every scene that he is in. From cutting off heads to blowing some guy’s head off in a warehouse to helping some poor kid who was picked up by human traffickers. Even though he is a little off his rocker, Jason is still trying to do the right thing. 

Bree: Perhaps! I honestly don’t mind the idea of him remaining an antagonist and never quite getting the anti-hero thing right. We shall see! Oh, and reverse engineering the fear serum was cool as hell. 

Jon: Also shout out to the makeup team working on this show. I never thought we would get to see the Joker’s handy work on Jason with the crowbar but there it is and it is so gnarly it almost made me want to look away.

CLOSING REMARKS

Bree: A fun little episode that seems to be giving the audience a breather before the 2nd half picks up the pace. 

Jon: A very good look into the mind of Jason Todd that just makes me want the next episode that much more!