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Television

CW’s Nancy Drew Could Do Something Great: I’m Afraid They Won’t

CW: This will contain spoilers for all of Nancy Drew up to Season 3, Episode 6 (which I will try my best to contain to the most relevant bits), as well as mentions of stigmatization of neurodivergence and mention of the murder of a queer woman.

[You can stream the current season on the CW’s app or their website at https://www.cwtv.com/search/?q=nancy%20drew and previous seasons on HBOMax.]

The CW’s Nancy Drew series is one of the most criminally slept-on TV shows right now. The spin on the plucky young detective novel series provides a thoughtful, timely, and entertaining teen drama/thriller/horror show at a level of quality I just haven’t seen anywhere else. Though off to a rocky start as it found its identity, the show majorly hit its stride with “The Hidden Staircase,” in which Nancy Drew (Kennedy McMann) revisits an old case. You see, the show updates its Scooby-Doo-like “magic is a trick of con artists” with actual, terrifying monster designs that are unique and compelling. So the criminals shrouding their acts in superstition are often actually harboring deeper metaphors about the darkness within themselves and society.

To add to this, the cast of characters is filled out with career-making performances of deep characters and clever scripts. Characters and motivations are clear, complex, and ever-shifting in believable and entertaining ways, and even the scariest of monsters and weirdest of souls can be seen as true people with feelings, wants, and needs. The cast is big but not unmanageable (this household particularly loves the ever-embroiled-yet-clear-hearted Ace played by Alex Saxon). You still get the occasional guy who was murdering people just because he thought a monster was cool or the racist cafe owner who mostly served as an easy plot motivator, but that’s not why we’re here.

A painting of a young French woman, Odette, shown on a smartphone.

We’re here for two characters. The woman in the picture, Odette Lamar (Anja Savcic), a young, wealthy French lesbian who was kidnapped and ferried to the Americas to be drowned for her fortune, became a vengeful ghost. George Fan (Leah Lewis), eldest of four girls to a drunken medium, is the owner, proprietor, sole manager, and overall pillar of the gimmick seafood restaurant “The Claw.” The two have a fateful encounter when George and her friends investigate the aforementioned ghost, and through a complicated series of events, George ends up dying from a falling harpoon in said gimmick restaurant.

Luckily, the ever-resourceful and knowledgeable Nancy Drew rushes to a storehouse of magic relics for a shroud known to raise people from the dead. George sharply inhales, and then we move to the group gazing contentedly across the water as the sun rises. George steps away to get the others drinks and begins to sing a song in French, a language she does not understand. Standing behind her reflection, we see Odette.

This happens because of a complication (among many others) that the shroud acted as a kind of “spiritual flypaper,” as one character would later put it. It captures every nearby spirit and forces them into the same body. Since George had recently died and Odette’s spirit was nearby, both spirits entered the same body. It serves as a dramatic stinger to bring us back after the show’s break, as well as a defining moment of both characters’ arcs for the coming twenty or more episodes.

Odette looks out from a mirror as George mindlessly sings a song in French, a language she does not know. (season 2, episode 5).

This happens because of a complication (among many others) that the shroud acted as a kind of “spiritual flypaper,” as one character would later put it. It captures every nearby spirit and forces them into the same body. Since George had recently died and Odette’s spirit was nearby, both spirits entered the same body. It serves as a dramatic stinger to bring us back after the show’s break, as well as a defining moment of both characters’ arcs for the coming twenty or more episodes.

In the next episode, George has her usual mannerisms, knowledge, and personality. But she keeps drifting off. She causes a kitchen mishap when she grabs olive oil instead of the oil she knew the recipe called for; she goes into a coughing fit and stares into the distance until the panic accompanying the smoke alarm pulls her back. And later, she gets lost in the middle of a conversation and sings a song to herself in French. She doesn’t remember any of this. On account of her death, her loved ones set up a sympathetic ear for her to talk out her trauma.

She describes her death as similar to sinking in water until she didn’t feel anything. Ace (love him) asks, “Is that where you go when you drift off?” to which she says that she doesn’t know where she goes. After George voices her concern of feeling “normal,” Ace says, “You’re still you, but you gotta keep reminding yourself that.” Later, George uses this strategy to confront her trauma. She looks into a mirror and says, “I’m still me. I’m here, and I’m still me.”

Offscreen, Odette calls, “I’m here, too,” revealing to George that she and Odette have been sharing a body since the accident.

George, out of focus in the foreground, makes eye contact with Odette, reflected in a mirror in the background.

Now we’re at the meat of it: The drama and the “horror” at this moment are layered. The audience is left with a lot of questions about what this means for George. Is Odette just pretending to be George to enact some kind of violence upon our beloved cast? Can we ever truly be rid of Odette? What control does George have? Can we predict what George or Odette will do next? Is George still George?

These questions are at the heart of a ton of stories you’ve no doubt seen or heard of before. The spectacle of possession or of multiple personalities is not new to fiction; it’s not even new to George! In season 1, she’d been possessed by the ghost of a recent murder victim. The possession was violent and draining, threatening to kill George in under 24 hours, yet Odette had been with George for weeks at the time of these events. When asked about it, she says that her relationship with Odette feels different, and she’s right! It is different in more ways than she knows, even. In my read, George and Odette have a relationship more akin to read-world plurality than to a typical possession.

Likely, you’ve not heard the term plurality mentioned about a person before, but you’ve almost definitely heard of it as a person having “multiple personalities” or Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). There’s a whole host of recognizable characters that fit the bill: Norman Bates, Frances Dolarhyde, Gollum, the guy in Fight Club, and James McAvoy in Split. Every single one of them is violent, unpredictable, and unstable. They’re monsters, manipulators, and murderers. They’re constructed to be easy to malign and hard to empathize with unless they “change channels” and mimic the mannerisms of a sad child.

Poster for M. Night Shyamalan’s Split (2016) depicting a man casting multiple distinct shadows.

But again, George and Odette don’t have that. They’re two people with distinct memories, mannerisms, interests, knowledge, histories, and even sexualities. Rather than a literal rampaging beast with super strength or a homicidal mother stapled onto an otherwise normal (if not a bit odd) person, George and Odette come off as two people who just happen to share the same body. It’s awkward and sudden but not horrifying. The great thing that the show is doing here is taking a reality for many people that is often used for horror and is giving it a kind of banality.

George, realizing that the previous person in her position was institutionalized, saying “He went insane?” (season 2, episode 8).

Yes, the real-world experience mirroring a literal ghost possession is far from a perfect metaphor, beyond the implication that this could only happen to a person through supernatural means. Not every plural system (meaning the collective of individuals who share one body) has distinct personalities in the way that George does, just as not every plural includes people with distinct histories or accents or sexualities. The experience is just as varied among those who identify as plural as it is between any group of people you could gather in a room. Just as with any other group, terms and preferences vary based on context and the individuals involved. Some people may identify as having multiple personalities, some may identify as having DID, but others may feel uncomfortable with referring to their plurality as being a “disorder.”

Outside of fiction, the most popular depictions of plurality have led to a host of horrible practices and discrimination with people believing plurals to be anything from mildly untrustworthy to subjects of full-blown demonic possession (remember that last one for later). You can find more info here.

Even within the show Nancy Drew, this stigma is prevalent. Ralph, the previous person to use the same shroud George was revived with, had what Nancy calls “two other drivers in his head” (though the more broadly-accepted term is “alters”). As they come to learn, Ralph’s position led to his institutionalization. What the audience is supposed to consider “horror” visibly shifts at this moment. The worry is no longer “What danger could they pose to us?” but rather “What horrific treatment might society impose upon George and Odette?”

Odette and Bess Marvin (Maddison Jaizani) ice skate together, holding hands.

The drama of their situation comes more in the adjustment and in how to tell other people more so than playing up the “horror” of having more than one possible voice or personality. And it makes for some great television! For the rest of the season, Odette is treated as any other character in this drama. She and George have their own character arcs, love interests, personal dramas, etc. They quarrel, they communicate, they set ground rules and healthy boundaries, and they learn to coexist with each other! Their at once intertwined and solo story beats play to the unique situations that only being plural and adjusting to being out as plural in various environments can provide. The show had two people living in one body in a way that I legitimately don’t think I’ve ever seen or heard of in the media.

Above all else, I love the banality of it. For a short time, the show depicts multiple characters just living in a single body no differently than it would quirky roommates. I love it to the point that I was talking about it with my plural friends. I recommend it to so many people, and I think Season 2 especially is some of the best teen drama and pop-horror content available.

But, uh-

Ace and George sit in a diner booth. Ace, possessed by George’s grandmother, gives her a palm reading and says, “Your palm has changed.”

The show is far from perfect, especially in the first couple of episodes. Weird stereotypes and plot choices make it feel like a different show than the one I preach about. Towards the end of Season 2, Ace is possessed by George’s grandmother,  and his actor lip-syncs along with a Chinese voice actor as she warns George through voice-over. She delivers what I believe to be a relatively contrived plot device: Because of Odette’s connection with George, she says through Ace, George’s fate is driven to match that of Odette’s. From this point on, everyone in the story believes that George has a maximum of 10 years to live because of her soul’s tie to Odette.

The sudden, fated complication in their relationship was… weird. And sudden. It reads as the act of about a dozen people with writing credits across the series having different ideas of this plotline direction, especially since George doesn’t act on this information for quite some time. Odette, though…

Odette, reflected in a mirror, looks at George. George says, “What, like lock yourself up inside?”

In the season 2 finale, Odette and George share a number of fun conversations that show a healthy and entertaining partnership budding between the two. Then Odette basically says, “Okay, since I’m killing you, time to hide forever now. Bye!” Odette has an emotional goodbye to close out one story arc, and that’s just… it? Everyone kind of accepts that Odette as a person is now just turned off like a light switch.

 George’s arc in season 3 so far deals with her romance and attempt to build a life while reckoning with her severely shortened lifespan. In episode 6, she decides that she’s done dealing with this fate reportedly brought upon by her entanglement with Odette. She seeks out some dangerous methods to disentangle their souls, ultimately landing on one called the soul-splitter.

 Based on the history of the show to have characters making poor decisions course correct or realize their mistakes and make amends, I’m cautiously hopeful that the show is faking out and has better things ahead for Odette especially. Part of this optimism is based on the number of characters telling George how bad of an idea it is to use something called the soul-splitter! I’m predicting that this won’t “cure” George and will instead cause some other circumstances that bring her relationship with Odette into a new light. Hopefully, this won’t require Odette to make another sacrifice out of nowhere again.

Father Shane (Mackenzie Gray) tells George “The device wasn’t called a soul-untangler”.

George has a conversation with an expert on the soul-splitter who says that it was developed as a method to extract “any aberrant behavior from an individual” because they believed it to be the result of demonic possession (remember that one?). To top this off, the soul-splitter was conspicuously only developed by first-wave American colonizers and during the Civil War, times in which correcting “aberrant behavior” would’ve been extremely desirable to those with the means to do so.

This story going one way or another won’t make or break the show for me. I’m actually reasonably confident the writers aren’t even aware of the space they’re writing in, but they’re here. Despite all this, I worry that this really cool and unique plural-but-also-not-quite-plural representation is going down the drain in service of another story. With the episode airing November 19th being titled “The Gambit of the Tangled Souls,” I’m sure we’ll get some answers very soon, one way or another.

Here’s to hoping.

Written by @CaseyCrook

Categories
Episodes Television

Doom Patrol: Season Three, Ep. 10 ”Amends Patrol” Review

Well, this is it. Season three of Doom Patrol had its finale yesterday, and we’re here to discuss everything about it. A lot happened, so let’s start from the beginning, shall we?

At the end of the previous episode, the Doom bus crashed thanks to Kay’s newly discovered powers and Keeg’s explosion. Rita’s stretched across the road, Jane is unconscious, Keeg is wounded and dying, and there’s not a thing to do about it. Fortunately, the Fog comes to the rescue. We didn’t how what was going to happen with the Sisterhood after the Eternal Flagellation. Their job was done, but it still seemed like there was so much to do with them. The show even seemed to agree, as she takes everyone except ‘’Bendy’’ to the Doom Manor and reunites Jane with the other alters and rekindling their romance. It was a cute moment, and it’s great to know they’re not leaving it behind just because that storyline ended.

Photograph by Bob Mahoney/HBO Max

Meanwhile, Mallah, whose job was to discard Cliff’s brain and Madame Rouge, lets them live and decides to part ways with the Brain to live a peaceful life. Inadvertently, he gives her the idea to use the giant robot we saw back in season one, which was also dumped in that same place, to exact her revenge. Which she somewhat gets, partially destroying Cliff’s body, leaving the Brain to crawl and hide. However, in her way to do the same to the Doom Patrol, Cliff takes control of the giant robot and tries to talk her out of it, planting in her mind the possibility that she might not be as irremediably bad as she thinks she is. Madame Rouge’s desire to be good is something we’ve seen throughout the whole season. When she recovered her memory, being evil felt like the only thing to do because there wasn’t any other path in her eyes.

One person whose path was particularly unclear was Rita. Even the Brain, after she reaches the Brotherhood hideout, tells her that he can notice she’s been walking the line between right and wrong. This is what ultimately helps her realize just how much she had fallen into her despair. So as she says while throwing boiling water into the Brain’s brain, ‘’I am motivated by love.’’ thus prioritizing her friends and the memory of her boyfriend instead of her revenge. This, coupled with her development during the past with the Sisterhood alone, marks a gigantic step for her. But there’s even more to it when you count what the rest of the Doom Patrol is doing.

Photograph by Bob Mahoney/HBO Max

Cliff apologizes to her daughter and even recovers the things from his roommates he sold on the internet. But the same problems he has been having since season two continue, and the robot goes out of control towards Cloverton. Larry tries to help after merging with Keeg in a briefly heroic moment where he realizes he doesn’t have as much control over his powers as he thinks. However, the merging still indicates a prominent equilibrium absent before. Flit manages to teleport inside the robot, where Jane tries to stop it without success. They have a tender moment that further explores their bond as Cliff thanks her for always putting up with her, and Janes proceeds to hug him.

However, in what feels like the culmination of three seasons, twenty-nine episodes, and a lot of suffering, Rita gets ahold of her powers. As if it was a page from the comics, she grows even taller than Cliff and stops him in a beautiful callback to the pilot when Cliff says he ‘’Wants to go home,’’ to which Rita answers, ‘’We can do that’’.

Photograph by Bob Mahoney/HBO Max

That brings us to the end of the episode, the end of the season. The doomies now have decided: maybe they actually can be a superhero team. Or at least just a group of people trying to do good. We don’t know what changes we might encounter next season; Cliff is still in the giant robot, Jane is fighting with Dr. Harrison to be the primary, Vic no longer has superpowers, and Rouge sticks with them in an attempt of redemption. However, I think everyone watching Doom Patrol trusts these writers in whatever they decide to do. Besides, this time is different. The people who followed Doom Patrol since its announcement, or even since season two, must remember the wait and uncertainty regarding the renewal after each finale. There’s no show like Doom Patrol, and the fact that it has three seasons is an amazing achievement in itself, but this time we had confirmation that there’s a fourth season in the works almost a month before the season three finale. I think that’s worth cheering for. The season might have ended, and the reviews with it. But GateCrashers will be back with more Doom Patrol coverage next season (or maybe even before!).

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Episodes Television

Doom Patrol: Season Three, Ep. 9 ”Evil Patrol” Review

The Brotherhood of Evil

Following the end of the previous episode, this penultimate chapter starts with a flashback of Rita’s past with the Sisterhood to set the mood and get deeper into the emotional aftermath of Laura’s betrayal. Despite Rita’s want for vengeance, her enemy flees the scene after stating her plans of reuniting the Brotherhood of Evil, and she’s left with one option: Ask the Doom Patrol for help.

Photograph by Bob Mahoney/HBO Max

As never seen before, things in the Doom Manor seem to be going well. Apart from Cliff, who’s still battling his brain disease, everyone is trying and apparently succeeding at getting better. Kay is in control of her body after every alter except Jane disappeared, Larry is taking care of his larvae child, and Vic is living no longer as Cyborg after the synthetic skin surgery. Unfortunately for Rita, this means they aren’t the help she wants in their current state, either because they have no powers or because they’re busy. The only one willing and capable to help is Cliff, ready to kick some ass to distract himself from his problems until Clara gets there to make an appointment with the doctor.

That’s where everything goes sideways, as Laura gets tasked by The Brain to kidnap Cliff, successfully doing so by infiltrating the manor as Cliff’s grandkid, in a scene that could be the definition of nightmare fuel, where Laura is mid-transformation between the baby and her real shape.

This is about Cliff!

Photograph by Bob Mahoney/HBO Max

The Doomies get to work motivated by Cliff’s kidnapping, traveling in their bus to the Brotherhood of Evil’s retirement home in Florida. It’s here where it becomes evident Rita’s true intentions. Though she pretends they’re fueled by the same reason as the others, Larry calls her out during a discussion for being only interested in getting her revenge. The show made us question if she really was the same after recovering her memories until now. She reveals she had a whole different and better life, and the Doom Patrol are just strangers to her now. This somewhat translates to the rest, as the facades they were putting up fall, and they themselves realize they’re not doing as well as they thought. It all culminates with the bus crashing in the road, thanks to Jane’s (or Kay’s) breakdown that reveals unknown sonic powers, as well as energy from Larry’s larvae that caused an explosion.

While they crash, The Brain changes bodies with Cliff, and we find out his robot body is actually a mix of science and magic, which could be useful for Cliff in the last episode. But for now, he’s left in a jar that Mallah throws out in a forest along with Rouge, who they betrayed.

It doesn’t feel like home anymore

Photograph by Bob Mahoney/HBO Max

There’s an immense sense of finality in this episode. Not only for the lack of Vic’s and Jane’s powers but because they don’t seem to want to be together anymore. The Doom Patrol was a family, a found family. But what happens when the members no longer want to be a part of it? It seems possible that the team as we know it will cease to exist. Maybe the writers want to explore other members from the Doom Patrol rooster in future seasons? Whatever happens, we’ll be getting our answers next week as the season finale of Doom Patrol’s third season arrives. 

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Television

Doom Patrol: Season Three, Ep. 8 ”Subconscious Patrol” Review

Recap of Bird Patrol

Last week’s episode served as a continuation and conclusion to the Sisterhood’s backstory, and I quite loved it. In fact, I think it was easily one of the five best episodes of the show. We get to learn not only what Dada meant at the beginning and what it means now as an idea, but we also get to know each one of these people. We’re shown what they want and how they escape the tragedy of life. Their braveness against an organization that treats them as inferiors and how they cope with it. It was heartbreaking to see what happened to Malcolm and how it affected them. I thought it would also be interesting to see just how much Rita has changed after spending decades together with them and even planning all of this. She’s no longer the Rita we and the Doom Patrol knew, and it opens a lot of doors to develop how she fits there now.

Meanwhile, the Doomies were doing their own thing. Jane kept defying the other personalities, Vic talked to Roni about his decision to undergo a process that would replace his technological tissues with synthetic skin, Larry puked a baby in the form of an alien worm which he left in the woods, and Cliff kept spiraling into his disease and overuse of pills. Busy with their own internal problems as they always are, the Sisterhood completed their maybe-not-as-evil-as-expected plot and brought forth the Eternal Flagellation, leaving the episode in a cliffhanger.

Deep into the subconscious

We now know what the Eternal Flagellation was all about when the Doom Patrol changed realities with their subconscious to try to make a breakthrough as they relive their worst memories. It’s so amazingly deep and impactful I’m not even going to try to describe it. I believe this is the best Doom Patrol episode yet, and you should watch it for yourself. 

However, I’ll give all the praise I think it deserves. In this episode, we get to see the whole cast interacting with each other except for Rita. That means Brendan Fraser and Matt Bomer interacted with Riley Shanahan and Matthew Zuk, the physical actors for Negative Man and Robotman respectively, which is greatly appreciated. Everyone gets a chance to shine, and let me tell you, they shine. For people who watch Doom Patrol is no surprise that these people are amazing actors. Every breakdown, joke, and gesture they make never feel planned out by an actor, but by real people, that are experiencing real life as much as we do. But I think even those people could be surprised, as I was, at the level of acting that can be seen here. The psychedelic nature of the show allows it to get into otherwise impossible situations, like the characters having a conversation with their conscious-now-corporeal selves, and it pays off with some of the best moments of the show. These are not problems that can be solved in a storyline of 8 episodes. It’s deep underlying trauma that will forever affect these characters in one way or another, but they can learn to get better and live with it, just as any other person can.

The Eternal Flagellation

Here we finally have the answer to all of the mysteries this season has set up! And believe me, it is great. Contrary to what I believe after watching the last episodes, along with her memories, Rita got all her insecurities and problems back, which makes more sense. Although she is still changed. We learn she traveled to the future to catch Rouge, who was sent to destroy Niles’ legacy by the Brotherhood of Evil and has been plotting the Eternal Flagellation this entire time with the rest of Dada.

I think it’s a satisfying conclusion for a nice mystery that doesn’t overstay its welcome or tries to be unnecessarily clever and fails at that. It feels completely natural and leaves you wondering the ramifications it will have for the two episodes left. Personally, I hope they will keep this up in future seasons, as it adds another fun layer to the plot and feels organic with the way the show works.

You seriously wanna spill our shit?

I know exactly which are my favorite moments in this episode, but I couldn’t decide just one. The acting and script are amazingly stellar as always, and being at this point in the season’s plot allows for some incredible moments of progression. Rita’s discussion with Rouge feels like a fascinating allegory for the abuse of power and its effect on the individuals who hold none while having a great bouncing off between the actresses. When it comes to the rest, it’s equally perfect. Cliff’s voice breaking and his crying when opening up about what makes him ashamed, Larry deciding to do better for himself and literally holding his own hand, Jane’s anguish after a heartbreaking revelation from Kay, and Vic’s struggle for identity and the things he lost are all incredibly well done, and in my opinion, make this episode the best Doom Patrol episode yet.

Categories
Film Ranking

The Definitive Ranking of Scooby-Doo Movies Pt. 1

10. Scooby-Doo! & Batman: The Brave and the Bold

Scooby’s canon is surprisingly deep (and convoluted). At this point, they are a part of the DC universe as much as the DC universe is a part of Scooby-Doo, which I think this movie gets. It’s not just a crossover with any version of Batman, but with Batman: Brave and the Bold, which ran from 2008 to 2011, a TV show that focused on team-ups the caped crusader had with other heroes. In this movie, Mystery Inc. is invited to a secret, exclusive club of detectives from DC with members like Batman, Martian Manhunter, or Plastic Man. As an initiation ceremony, they have to choose an unsolved case from the club and get attracted to the only case Batman could never solve, which is restricted. As always, everything goes sideways, turning into a fugitive story coupled with the mystery and the mythology from the dark knight and his super friends.

9. Scooby-Doo! and the Curse of the 13th Ghost

If you checked our TV show ranking, you should know that I’m a 13th Ghosts apologist. It’s a very creative show that stands out from the rest of the franchise with wonderful things like Vincent Van Ghoul. Sadly, that show never really got an ending, as it was canceled with only 13 episodes and one ghost on the loose. But thirty-four years later, we got a continuation with Scooby-Doo! And The Curse Of The 13th Ghost. Everyone (except Scrappy, who is still trapped in WB’s basement) returns for this movie that adapts the old show to the modern style of the franchise, in the finale for an ancient adventure that could decide the world’s fate.

8. Happy Halloween, Scooby-Doo!

This is what would happen if you combined Mad Max: Fury Road with Scooby-Doo, and I love it so much. A sneaky crossover with Batman without Batman but with his villain, Scarecrow, this movie is perfect for Halloween. You have murderous sentient pumpkins, Elvira Mistress of the Dark, Scarecrow, and lots of mystery. But it’s not exactly a slow-paced movie, as the gang and a bunch of survivors find themselves driving top speed through a highway as the pumpkins pursue them. As the cherry on top, it also has one of the best portrayals of Daphne in the whole franchise, balancing perfectly how badass and unhinged she is.

7. Scooby-Doo! Abracadabra-Doo

As the first movie from the new and current era of Scooby-Doo (Although somehow 11 years old), Abracadabra-Doo brought a lot of change with it. This was the first time Matthew Lillard voiced Shaggy after Kasey Casem’s retirement, and the art style was completely changed from what was seen last time in the previous era. Now the mystery geeks are allowed to go back to their darker roots with threatening mansions with dim lighting. While it’s not so much horror-oriented as it is dark fantasy, it has a fun and engaging story with amazing animation that could rival that of Zombie Island.

6. Scooby-Doo! Frankencreepy

This feels made with love for the Scooby-Doo franchise, and for me, that’s all I need to say. But for the reader’s sake, I’ll expand on that. The instantly recognizable choice about the movie is the aesthetic, as it takes place in a gothic, stuck-in-time town that lends itself to some terrific shots and a great atmosphere. Despite the dark aesthetic, it’s still intended to be a funny movie, which it achieves with some great gags, like Freddy mourning the Mystery Machine or Velma going crazy. It goes deep into the Scooby-Doo lore with lots of references and call-backs while making an identity of its own, making it a must-watch Scoovie.

5. Scooby-Doo

Even though it’s practically a cult movie at this point, I think there’s still a lot of things to say about it. Most people know that it’s insanely funny and a great time to watch even after countless rewatches, which is totally true. But I also think it’s an actual great movie. It wanted to be an adaptation of a really goofy cartoon, and it’s understated how good of a job it does at that. The sets are wonderfully over-the-top. The whole presentation of Spooky Island feels out of Where Are You. The actors are instantly iconic in their roles. It’s impossible to imagine someone else portraying them, even if there are a lot of purposeful differences between their animated counterparts. And talking animation, I can imagine it was truly difficult to capture the dynamism of animated characters in live-action, which I think they totally got, with a combined effort of the editing, the performances, and the script. I would say it couldn’t have been done better if it wasn’t for the amazing second part, which we’ll be discussing soon.

4. Scooby-Doo and the Alien Invaders

Most people think that after Zombie Island, the quality of the three subsequent movies declined, which I don’t think it’s true. The horror elements were significantly lower. That much it’s true. But while Cyber Chase decides to be a departure influenced by the changing technology in society and in the franchise, the first three are an exploration of Americana horror. Alien Invaders explores the growing paranoia around extraterrestrial life and hidden information by the government, taking place in New Mexico, in a town full of rumors and its own alien witness. It also has probably one of the top three songs in the franchise and one of the most memorable characters too. It’s the one I have the most nostalgia for, and with that said, I cannot recommend it enough.

3. Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island

If you somehow didn’t know, this is what most people consider to be the best Scooby-Doo movie ever made, and I totally see their point. This movie finds the gang in their adult years, mostly separated by the pass of time, and the search for the mystery present in almost every other iteration is absent after the first 20 minutes. It’s the horror itself that lures them and drives the story, creating a sense of isolation, inescapability and urgency. Most of the gags are gone, and in their place, there’s silence and suspense. It feels like a proper horror movie with the Scooby-Doo characters thrown in it, and there’s a lot to love about that. Even beyond how good it is on its own, Zombie Island revitalized the franchise after its first hiatus and set the path for its future, making it probably the most important piece of Scooby-Doo media there is.

2. Scooby-Doo! and the Witch’s Ghost

Yes, it might be a hot take to have this higher than Zombie Island, but I have my reasons. Continuing with the Americana horror, and this time it’s witches! The mystery gang meets a famous horror author named Ben Ravencroft, who invites them to Oakhaven, his hometown. Here we have one of the reasons why this movie is great: Not only does the main cast do an amazing job again, but we have Tim Curry as Ravencroft, who we know elevates instantly everything he’s in. And he’s not even the most recognizable character to come out of this film! We also meet the Hex Girls for the first time, a rock band of three eco-goth Wiccans. They were iconic right out of the gate and have become arguably the most popular side characters in the franchise. But even outside those great characters and incredible performances, we have an old-timey town during fall, a fun villain, and equally impressive or even better animation than in Zombie Island. Instead of having the plot and pacing of a horror movie, it goes back to something nearer to the Scooby-Doo formula while maintaining the previous movie’s philosophy, ending up as a great combination of both.

1. Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed

Yes, this is the best Scooby-Doo movie ever made, and I will fight anyone who disagrees. While the first live-action movie distances itself a bit from the source material by having a different tone and some plot choices like breaking up the gang at the beginning, the sequel is Scooby-Doo through and through. Everything I said about why the first one is great is still true here and even better. We have iconic sets like Wickle’s mansion or Mystery Incorporated’s HQ. There are so many wonderful comebacks from classic monsters, which the franchise never took advantage of, and the mystery is pretty cool with an appropriately very over-the-top main villain. We also have some great character arcs for the whole gang, like Velma learning to be vulnerable with other people (Despite the studio forcing the character to be straight to demonstrate that), Freddie realizing and correcting his toxic masculinity, Shaggy and Scooby’s desire to feel like heroes. The one who doesn’t actually apply is Daphne, with some scenes only exploring a bit how other people keep seeing her as a useless member in Mystery Inc., but she’s still awesome as always with the perfect performance by Sarah Michelle Gellar. This movie captures perfectly what Scooby-Doo is with unlimited fun and creating something of its own at the same time, making it, in my opinion, the best Scooby-Doo movie ever made.

Categories
Comics Television

Young Justice Phantoms: “Involuntary” Review

Young Justice Season 4 continues as the drama on Mars heats up, literally and figuratively, and there’s one hell of a shocking conclusion that Dan and Ethan are still trying to come to terms with. So let’s dig in, but first, some non-spoiler thoughts.

Ethan: We’re back and wow, this season of Young Justice is off to a hell of a start huh? We’re only 4 episodes in but even with just that we’ve had some of the best character work the show has ever delivered. I’m excited to dig into this episode, especially the final few minutes. Dan, what did you think of this week’s episode?

Dan: Another week of world-building on Mars!!! I really love how they are fleshing out this story, its characters, and world. I love seeing the growth of all of these characters we have known for so long as well!

If you haven’t watched this episode yet, stop here before you hit the spoilers!

Detective Comics Comics TV

Dan: Young Justice is constantly pulling from its own history in storylines and character elements. Everything feels connected without many threads trailing off to nowhere. It feels like every arc we have seen in previous seasons has been building to something. Different elements are continuously introduced but older ones are not forgotten. For example, the attack in this episode was brought to you in part by Apoklips for M’comm’s role in things that happened on New Genesis in the previous season. 

The show has been building its own unique version of the DC universe and making it completely its own. It’s so interesting to see it on such a large scale. We had some elements of it in Justice League Unlimited but this feels like the evolution of that with a lot more going on thematically. Characters grow and change like they do in the comics. It all keeps me very connected to it. What’re your thoughts on it as compared to DC Comics?

Ethan: The evolution of Justice League Unlimited is the perfect way of describing this, and something I’ve long thought to be true since YJ’s original run. Getting to see everything play out and build on itself is a delight. The fact that we can trace back a lot of what we see in Martian society this episode to Season 1 is wild. Even wilder is that it’s consistent. There aren’t glaring continuity issues like you may see in the actual comics. This is definitely a positive to having a guiding voice, in this case, Greg Wiseman, be at the forefront throughout the show’s run.

Can we talk about Apokoliptian Tech for a Moment?

Dan: There is a major weapon in the episode that is derived from Apokiliptian Tech. I feel like there are so many stories about Apokoliptian tech in comics and especially DC Cartoons. It’s a phrase that is just stuck in my head and I want to paint you a mental picture. Darkseid, ol’ fire and brimstone, spends most of his time standing on his balcony above the fire stacks just being ominous right? Now, the suggestion that Apok Tech is super-advanced insinuates that there is an Apokolips silicon valley. There are Apokiliptian tech bros out there setting up start-ups on that hell planet. Their offices, much like Earth’s tech start-up scene, are full of pompous sociopathic leaders who offer “benefits” in lieu of proper pay and the promises of a “positive company culture” that is as toxic as one of Granny Goodness’s training seminars.

Ethan: Umm, you good Dan? That was an odd tangent to go on. I can’t believe you photoshopped something based on a start-up joke you came up with in the moment. Anyway, Apokiliptian Tech? Very cool, hoping we get some *PING*’s from the Mother Boxes soon. That would be dope.

Chasing Shadows

Ethan: So… Did not see that coming. While the various castes of Martian society gather to celebrate Prince J’emm J’axx’s birthday, Conner, M’gann, and Gar continue their investigation into the King’s murder. They discover that the Sorceress-Priestess S’yraa S’mitt (who was to officiate Conner and M’gann’s wedding) is responsible. With her now arrested, the celebrations continue, until Conner, thanks to his super-hearing, picks up something happening below the auditorium the crowds are gathered at.

And this is where the shock of the episode is delivered. Being planted beneath the celebration by a still unknown person is the Apokiliptian bomb designed to kill the Red and Green Martians that was given to M’comm by DeSaad. With no way to disarm it, Conner instead breaks through to the lava flowing below the auditorium, where he safely burns away the virus within the bomb. But, also within were trace samples of Kryptonite, and Conner falls into the lava. M’gann can’t pick up his psychic trace. It seems as if Superboy is dead.

Now, first off, I can’t say for definite I believe that Conner is dead. Young Justice is a show built on twists and turns, so there’s a chance he’ll be back somehow. Maybe this is all a ruse, maybe he’ll be magically resurrected (perhaps with a mullet?), maybe the Legion members who have been trying to avert some tragedy will save him. I don’t know, but what I do know is that in the moment, seeing M’gann’s reaction, it hurts. If this is for definite, the rest of the season is gonna have a hole in its center as one of its best characters is no more.

What were your thoughts on this shocking conclusion, Dan?

Dan: Well after I went into detail about how much I love this relationship, my thoughts are really just a lot of screaming. I cannot believe what happened and was just taken aback. I do love that Young Justice never throws its punches lightly. Wally died early on in the show and has not been brought back, so clearly, the creative team doesn’t play games.

What was even more interesting is that when Superman came to help, he was weakened because there was kryptonite in the air. It’s clear that Apokolips is looking to help take as many players off the map as possible to clear the way for whatever they are planning. 

Let the Credits Roll

In which Dan and Ethan discuss the small character moments that play over the end credits.

Dan: I need to be alone right now.

Ethan: PAAAAAIIIIIIIINNNNNN.

Categories
Comics Television

Young Justice Phantoms Episode 3 Review: It Ain’t Easy Being Green

Dan: Another week of our favorite team of superheroes with big emotions (not that one). This week’s episode was very heavy for a character who’s been given a lot more emotional depth in this show than he had in his other animated outings. We didn’t mention this last week but the new title card is really cool. Ethan, how are you? Ready to head back to Mars?

Ethan: I’m doing good, thanks Dan. Definitely better than the ceratin hero we get a spotlight on this week that’s for sure. Things are heating up on the red planet, and it seems like disaster is just around the corner so let’s dive right in!

If you haven’t watched this episode yet, stop here before you hit the spoilers!

Family Matters & Sacred Traditions

Ethan: Throughout the episode, we get to find out more about Mars traditions. The wedding preparations for Miss Martian and Superboy’s upcoming nuptials are truly fascinating to watch, especially the bridal party’s telekinetic construction of a ceremonial arch that will be used in the wedding. This leads to a frank conversation between M’gann and her older sister, J’ann about their childhood. How M’gann felt ostracized for being part-White Martian, that her sister, who is a full Green Martian, never stood up for her family. It’s a powerful scene brilliantly acted by Danica McKellar and Kari Wahlgren that isn’t neatly resolved at the end, but we instead see the beginning of the road to reconciliation between the two sisters.

Meanwhile, the groom and his groomsmen are busy making the base for the arch to be placed on. While doing so, Conner discusses with M’aatt, M’gann’s father, how his marriage with Em’ree resulted in her family disowning her, except for J’onn, Martian Manhunter, who not only accepted them but also from his time on Earth learned to accept the couple for everything they are. It’s another really well-done scene showing how Young Justice is just as good, if not more so, at the quiet, conversational moments between characters as it is in the big superhero action scene.

And one last point, it’s a delight getting to hear Carl Lumbly as M’aatt, continuing his longstanding tradition of playing Martians in DC projects, from Martian Manhunter in the DCAU to J’onn’s father in Supergirl. He remains, as ever, great.

Dan: So I was raised Irish Catholic and the only traditions I know are shame and repressing almost anything I can. But, recently, I attended a Jewish wedding of two of my dear friends where I was enlisted to help the family put up their Chuppah. I had zero idea what I had been recruited to do but I spent some time with the builder who taught me all about the tradition and symbolism. It’s a canopy under which the couple is wed that symbolizes the home that the couple will build together. 

What M’gann and Conner are building for their ceremony evokes that ritual-type item to me. That it’s symbolic of them both bringing something to build something that lasts. That each of them brings their trials and tribulations to create something new together through marriage. Seeing these traditions and things of Mars shows a fully realized culture which is something I would love to keep seeing explored in the series.

Beast Boy, that’s it. That’s the title. 

Dan: Beast Boy hasn’t been a huge character in the comics since the New Teen Titans run from Marv Wolfman and George Perez other than his YA books. In the main line, it seems like no one really knows where he fits in my opinion. During the New 52, he felt like he was tacked on to any story he was on. He was also red which I dug but that’s another story for another day. Most people know the character from Teen Titans the show and Teen Titans Go which have brought a lot of character elements that have stuck with him such as his veganism. But what Young Justice has done with the character and continues to do with him is some of the best material this character has gotten.

Last week, it was clear Garfield was going through it. Beast Boy typically is a very happy-go-lucky character with a huge heart but we haven’t seen that this season. We have seen Garfield who seems a lot more distant and quick to anger. When the Prince tries to download all the facts of the murder of his father, Gar transformed into a martian beast and nearly attacked him. 

We met that beast again today when he saw Markov rising from the lava during Superboy’s trial. But, uh, Markov wasn’t really there. It’s pretty apparent that Beast Boy is dealing with some lasting trauma or some sort of PTSD after feeling like he failed as a leader of the Outsiders. What are your thoughts on this?

Ethan: Oh man, it is, as the kids say, a lot. Seeing Gar go through this pain is a tough watch, but I think something very important for the show to give to audiences. We mentioned this last time, but having a character accept help for their mental health, especially a superhero, is not a common occurrence, at least not until recently. Now getting two characters seeking this kind of support out after only two weeks of the show being back on the air, it’s great to see. And it being done in such a beautiful scene makes all the feelings I was getting while watching this go down all the more profound. Even if there is a bit of a mystery as to who exactly it is giving Gar this help. Speaking of which…

Legion of Super Creepers (Or Voyeurs, up to you)

Dan: Ethan, I am going to be real honest with you. I don’t know diddly squat about the Legion of Superheroes. Jake read nearly all of it in the last year or two so I only know what I have gotten through osmosis jones. I know they’re from the future, Jim Shooter wrote them when he was like 12 (He is 6’7 and a smidge inches tall by the way according to the official Marvel Handbook), and they are a lot of people’s favorite thing. 

Ethan: So yeah, I’m in pretty much the same boat as you. I’ve not really read much of the Legion, and what I have has been from writers who aren’t great people, or maybe haven’t had a good grasp of given the myriad characters’ unique voices. But I do know enough to tell you that the three Legion members who have traveled back from the future, who we see shadowing our heroes on Mars are Saturn Girl, Phantom Girl, and Chameleon Boy. They seem to be on a mission to avert some sort of disaster from happening. What that is I don’t know, but if it’s big enough to cause them to intervene in history, we should be worried.

Dan: Anytime a future person comes back to the past, it’s gonna be a bad time. Other than Booster Gold who is a delight and an absolute hot mess.

Let The Credits Roll

Dan: If you haven’t figured it out yet, moments where characters interact about almost mundane things are ones that work so well for me. So a call between a husband and a wife talking about their baby makes me happy. Now, if you have known the brand for long enough, you know that the Super Sons are SUPER important to us. So when the husband and wife in question are Clark Kent and Lois Lane, that means the baby is Jon Kent. So these credits lead to me screaming through Slack to Ethan before he watched the episode. You can hear how excited and nervous Clark was when Lois said his eyes were glowing red. 

Ethan: DAN. DAN. DAN. We got Jon Kent. He’s in the show. Yes he’s only a baby right now but he’s here and I couldn’t be more excited. Now I don’t expect him to have a big role yet, given the diapers and everything, but I sure hope there’s enough story left in the show for us to see him eventually take up the mantle of Superboy, and in turn, perhaps see Clark retire and pass on the mantle to Conner. I’m going off on a tangent that’s not really necessary but I’m just SO EXCITED. And I’m in full agreement on a scene like this, the mundanity of the conversation being something I love to see in my superhero stories. And based on the now three-credits scenes we’ve had this season, I feel like it’s only going to get better from here.

Categories
Comics Television

Young Justice Phantoms Premiere Review: Whelmed with Feelings

Young Justice is back folks! Season 4 had a surprise debut during this year’s DC FanDome event. Dan and Ethan are here to review it so strap in for a look at Young Justice Season 4, Ep. 1 “Inhospitable” and Ep. 2 “Needful”. In the premiere, Superboy, Miss Martian, and Beast Boy take a trip to Mars, where political machinations are underway that could spell doom for Martian society.

Dan: ARE YOU KIDDING ME YOUNG JUSTICE IS BACK BABY!

Ethan: Yeah buddy! I’ve been so pumped for this since it was announced.

Dan: What are your feelings about Young Justice, Ethan?

Ethan: Oh it’s just great isn’t it? Getting to see so many of the younger heroes of the DC Universe get the spotlight is a treat and I was heartbroken after the cancellation at the end of Season 2. So you can imagine how happy I was when Season 3 was commissioned years later. I was prepped for it to be a victory lap, a chance to close off the open threads and say goodbye to these characters. Instead what we got was just the beginning of an even bigger story that’s now being brought into focus with Season 4. How about you Dan, what are your thoughts on Young Justice?

Dan: I wasn’t able to watch the first season as it was on, I think Jake was the one who told me I needed to watch it actually. But since the first episode I saw, I have been in love. I am a huge Jackson Hyde fan if you didn’t know. Young Justice is, for me, the place that Jackson was able to develop and become what he is today! So I cannot say enough good things about this show. Most of my roommates in college and I watched this show on repeat so I am a die hard fan. After it was cancelled…my heart was a bit broken for a long time.

Life on Mars?

Ethan: So the Mars politics in this episode are really interesting. We’ve got on one side the Red Martian leadership dealing with the death of their King and wanting to extend a hand of friendship to Earth so that they’ll have allies against the impending threat of Apokolips. Then you also have the Green and White Martians blaming each other for the death of their King, while both harbor a deep mistrust of Earthlings.

This all comes to a head at the end of Ep. 1 when, as the Zeta Tube that will connect Mars with Earth is activated and Martian Manhunter is stepping through to test it out, it explodes. Luckily, J’onn survives but Mars is now cut-off from Justice League support. M’Comm, brother of Miss Martian is arrested for the crime but there’s no evidence to back this up. 

While Conner and Garfield are approached by the Red Martians for help in solving the death of their King, M’Comm, now freed, meets with DeSaad, agent of Darkseid, and is given a virus bomb that would kill every Red and Green Martian in two days. It’s safe to say this ain’t good folks. Dan, what were your thoughts on how these first two episodes of the season handled the politicking going on in Martian society?

Dan: So before I get into the politics of the whole thing, I need to comment on the designs of the Martians in this show. They truly look alien, which is to say they look a bit terrifying and otherworldly which I super love. I would kill to see them in live-action at some point. One of the first series I read all of growing up was Grant Morrison and Mark Waid’s run on JLA, which featured the White Martians who looked very different under artist Mike S. Miller’s pencil. This show seems to be mashing that up with a bit of Riley Rossmo’s designs from his Martian Manhunter run with Steve Orlando, but with their own unique features. The look, it’s very good.

We typically also don’t see a ton of Mars as a fully functioning society as we do here (other than Orlando and Rossmo’s run which you should read). So seeing the different social classes they have, their traditions, and professions on Mars is such an interesting world to explore. Even if they are all at each other’s throats.

For the topic of race that is covered in these episodes, I cannot comment directly on it comfortably. I am a white man and I can only really see these things from my perspective. It was really drives home that biologically everyone is the same and everything on top of that is a social construct. It’s a point they are not coy about and it’s well ingrained into the plot so it didn’t feel super hamfisted in there. It is handled a lot better here than in the comics before it in my opinion. Not sure if its the best but it’s something. I’m curious to see where it all goes.

True Romance

Dan: Young Justice has spent 4 years carefully balancing so many storylines with multiple groups and different characters. There have been so many dynamics that have been built between characters. Not many have been as strong as Superboy and Miss Martian. Their love has grown since they first met in the first season. Two absolute outsiders on a team of people who were all looking for a place to belong. One not from Earth looking to become more accustomed to the ways of her uncle’s new world and learn what it means to be “human”. The other is Cadmus’ experiment at creating a human, one with both alien and human DNA from two of the opposite ends of the spectrum of the world with Lex Luthor and Superman living inside his blood. 

Now I will admit I have no close connection to either character outside of this show. Sure, Superboy in his leather jacket is maybe the best costume period but beyond that…they aren’t my favorites. But here? Getting to see them dance with one another in Mars’ Sacred River was actually a truly touching moment. I have rewatched the scene a few times because it’s not something you get in a lot of superhero media. These human moments of total vulnerability are absolutely magic to me. We often get to see characters punching baddies and saving the planet but having moments of true emotional exchanges are my bread and butter.

After the ceremony of receiving “The Gift of Love”, they share the moment of dancing in the air above the river as they reminisce. They talk about how they have known each other for 10 years and how they have grown to love one another so much. I couldn’t help but get a little misty-eyed but I kept coming back to this scene. It’s only now that I realize why, these are moments that I never thought I would see. When Young Justice was canceled on Cartoon Network, I felt that the era of DC cartoons being so emotionally driven and impactful had ended. But now I am seeing these two preparing for marriage. For such a long time, I never thought I’d see them again. DC consciously has been doing shows with weight, heart, and moments like this that will keep me tuning in each and every week. (Warner, if you are reading this, please send tissues for the wedding?)

Ethan: Yeah, I think you’ve hit on my exact thoughts regarding Conner and Megan’s relationship so perfectly I don’t have much else to add. Getting to see it grow over the past… decade (I feel old) has been a true delight. I just think they’re neat.

Let the Credits Roll

Ethan: For anyone who may have missed the fascinating voiceovers that play over the credits to each episode let me give you a quick breakdown of what happens. The first focuses on Violet in what seems to be a counseling session with Black Canary. In it, they are reevaluating what is important to them, and whether they consider themself Muslim. The second is a voicemail from Garfield’s girlfriend, Queen Perdita. She’s missing him while he’s on Mars but acknowledges that they are both incredibly busy at the moment, between her work helping Markovian refugees arriving in her country and Gar’s work with the Outsiders.

I think these end-credits scenes, voiceovers, have the chance to be something really special for Young Justice. It allows us the time to dig into the thoughts of a certain character on themselves or someone else. Already in Ep. 1, we’ve got Violet, and the show itself, addressing one of the biggest criticisms of Season 3 with their relationship to Gabrielle Doau, the person whose body Violet now lives in. I’m not the right person to speak on how well it handles this, but I was glad to see the show right out the gate deal with this complicated situation. What are your thoughts on these small character insights Dan?

Dan: The reason I wanted us to talk about this is because of these small moments that we are getting more insight into these characters. I wanted to focus on the first of the two episodes because it was really important to me. Black Lighting has put a focus on mental health for every team including the Justice League so Meghan and Black Canary are doing check-in sessions with members. I do not think this exists as a thing in any other series. 

I know comics have had “therapy” issues and things like that but a member of a team making mental health a priority for its members is something that is so valuable in my opinion. Seeing heroes discuss their mental health could be something that makes someone seek it out themselves. Sure, that may sound silly to some, but you really do not know where people find that small push in life to take a chance at helping themselves. Things like this have always put Young Justice a step ahead of the rest for me. 

Categories
Episodes Television

Doom Patrol: Season Three, Ep. 6 ”1917 Patrol” Review

This new episode waits for no one and starts right where we left off the last episode, with Rita stealing Laura’s time machine and going back in time. But while the main focus seems to be with her, this episode manages very well to balance the storylines of everyone in the cast, feeling like a real milestone for everyone. But let’s start with her for simplicity’s sake, shall we?

We see the journey in time and witness the same thing that happened to De Mille, happen to her, as she loses all memory of who she was before that. She gets captured by the Bureau of Normalcy, where she meets with the real Laura De Mille. This confirms that Rita is, in fact, not Laura, as a lot of people theorized. But let’s get back to business, as then she meets with the Sisterhood of Dada: a group of outcasts forced to work for the Bureau, only saved by Laura, a meta-human pretending to be just another fascist scientist.

I’m a big fan of how they’re approaching the Sisterhood. There were tons of ways they could do it, but it seems they’re going for a comic-accurate route where they’re not even villains. In Morrison’s run, the Doom Patrol agree with them and has to question (Just Cliff, actually) why they want and need to see them as villains. The scene where they dance together in the Fog’s mind and when they decide to go against the Bureau’s rule that set them apart like pariahs are some incredible scenes that perfectly encapsulate everything this show is, in my opinion.

While Rita (Or Bendy, as they call her) becomes a member of the Sisterhood and helps develop what they would later be, we’re taken to the future to explore the rest of the cast. At this point, seeing Cliff is more painful than anything else. We see him be irrationally aggressive towards Vic and Laura and get addicted to a browser game, talking with a cam girl and betting. We see him behave in a way close to his personality and do things that would normally make us laugh, and maybe they do this time too, but then you realize that his behavior is just a product of Alzheimer’s taking over him rapidly over time. I have no idea where this will end. We know that he will meet with The Brain, so maybe something will happen there that will cure him, but I have no idea.

On another note, Jane dares to help Kay take control of her body despite the rest of the Underground’s opposition. It’s a heartwarming sequence where we see her experience the real world after 70 years of guarding herself against it, and surprisingly, everything goes great. While seems like there’s gonna be some consequences for Jane, for now, it’s just a gigantic and happy milestone for Kay. Very appreciated between all the depression.

But she’s not the only one who takes a step towards getting better, as both Larry and Vic progress so much in this episode. After talking with his son, Larry is finally able to forgive himself for not being there for his children after his accident, no longer asking for forgiveness on his son’s part, but letting him feel whatever he feels, even if that’s not what he would want.

Lastly, there’s Vic. What Lloyd said in the previous episode makes him realize that despite all he has done as Cyborg, he still doesn’t know who he is. Vic decides to go to a clinic that specializes in synthetic skin, and it’s honestly impressive how amazing Joivan is here. He already proved he’s an amazing actor, but the way he successfully conveys the hopefulness intertwined with a bit of fear Vic is feeling in that moment is subtle but impactful. I’m extremely curious to see what’s next in Vic’s life.

This may feel repetitive, but this is, once again, an amazing episode and one of the bests of the show. With every week that passes and the more we see, I’m more convinced this is the best season of Doom Patrol so far.

Categories
Television

Aquaman: King of Atlantis is a Home Run for the Underwater Hero

Growing up, Aquaman was my favorite superhero and is still to this day. Finding others who felt the same way wasn’t easy. Everyone else loved Batman, Superman, or the Flash. We all know the jokes about “he talks to fish” by now and how that became a really popular sentiment as I grew up. There is so much more below the surface of this but it doesn’t matter anymore because in 2018, I sat in a packed theatre full of people there to see Aquaman. My hero. Now, Aquaman is a character you can find almost everywhere. It’s only right that he get a cartoon fit for a king.

Aquaman: King of Atlantis is an absolute riot. When the first stills of the series were shared on line, a lot of people were quick to write it off for it’s outlandish animation style and goofy aesthetic. When I saw it, all I could think about was a whole new generation having an Aquaman cartoon while all I had was cameos. The show follows Aquaman, a freshly minted King of Atlantis after defeating his half-brother Ocean Master. It serves almost as a sequel to James Wan’s film, who serves as the show’s producer.

The first of three hour long chapters is called “Dead Sea” which follows Aquaman, voice by Cooper Andrews, and Mera, voiced by Gillian Anderson, as they go to look into the mysterious disappearance of one of Atlantis’s outposts at the edge of the kingdom. Through the adventure, we meet some delightfully vibrant characters that glow with the shows style and humor. The story showcases an Aquaman who is just learning what it means to be a leader and more importantly, a hero. The humor is sometimes aimed at Aquaman but it’s never in a way that makes him a joke as we have seen in media for years prior. The action sequences soar high to take full effect of the larger than life animation style of the show. Each swing and punch is larger than life in a way that brings pizazz to the show unlike any other superhero cartoon out right now.

One aspect I wanted to focus in on was Arthur and Mera dynamic with one another. Cooper Andrews and Gillan Anderson have a great chemistry in their voice acting as these characters. Mera is a Plan A punching-type character while Aquaman tries to figure things out with a bit more logic before punching. Their back and fourth in the first special is never bickering but more the playful banter of a young couple on a grand adventure. They’re both so much fun. There is a running gag of Mera not understanding baseball that is one of the funniest bits from the premiere. Another important thing of note is that Mera is never treated like a sidekick in the show, she is always Aquaman’s equal which is important because Mera could quickly become a hero for young kids as well. Both have their shortcomings which they overcome. I could watch the two sit and talk in a ship for hours.

As soon as I heard the angelic over the top theme song, I knew this was going to be a treat of a show. From start to finish, I was laughing with a big smile on my face. I hope there is a kid out there who is waiting for this to come out on Oct. 14th on HBO Max because they cannot wait to see their hero. It would have meant the world to me at a young age so I hope it finds it’s audience.