“Soldiers today.” – Sherlock Recap – The Final Problem

Source: sherlockstuff

Sherlock, Season 4, Episode 3
“The Final Problem”
Posted by Sage

I considered breaking with our recap naming convention to call this post an “in defense of” piece. I can’t divorce my experience watching “The Final Problem” from the high rate of angry feels (and dearth of good feels) stirred up by the first two episodes of the season. So when the first few minutes of “The Final Problem” felt like a return to form for Sherlock – at least a return to the more madcap storytelling of season 3, which I loved – I produced my ticket, loaded up my luggage, and got on board. Did it make any sense? Barely. Was it a blatant attempt to have it all ship-wise? You better believe it. But this finale had all the nerve and zip I’ve come to expect from this show. I’ve been down enough on this season; I deserve to get a little enjoyment out of what might have been the last ever episode of Sherlock, in spite of its manifold problems. Sometimes nostalgia deserves the win.

The show’s primary concern has always been the humanization of Sherlock Holmes. Above all. And while I don’t believe that all antisocial people are created by a traumatic childhood incident, I believe the series was always determined to give us a REASON for the consulting detective. (“The roads we walk have demons beneath.”) If that weren’t the case, there would have been no job for Eurus Holmes, a lost sister drawn in the fashion of Hannibal Lecter. (And even he was allowed to have books.) Sherlock incorrectly diagnosed himself as a high-functioning sociopath – he’s just a big softy with an avoidance complex. Eurus is the only sociopath produced by her family. And while her empathy chip is busted, she can do virtually anything she sets her mind to. There’s always been a somewhat rational explanation for events on Sherlock (“It’s never twins.”), but Eurus breaks that mold. Mycroft and Sherlock’s sister introduces a supernatural element. Her brain has advanced to a state that’s beyond what we’d call possible. Her will is extraordinarily potent, as is her intellect. Eurus isn’t magic in this context – just an anomaly. But she may as well be a sorceress. Seeing her standing expressionless in her cell, hair hanging around her face, I couldn’t help thinking that Eurus is a grown-up Matilda Wormwood, if her story had gone very, very differently.

Source: shrlckholmes
 

Funny that Moffat and Gatiss were deadset on over-explaining Sherlock’s emotional state, yet let the entire episode run wild under the broad hand wave of Eurus’ powers. On the other hand, I was perfectly happy to set rationality aside for the 90 minutes. We’re asked to right at the beginning, when it comes to light that Eurus dressed up as Faith Smith, exchanged texts with John, and then pretended to be the grieving man’s therapist just to announce her presence to her big brother. (Bus Girl is the inexplicable piece and a transparent effort to persuade the audience to forgive John because it’s not REALLY cheating if you’re swapping emojis with the criminally insane. I RESIST.)

Look, it’s frustrating that – in a season where one female character was thrown in the fridge and another handed mostly recycled material – Eurus Holmes exists in order to make men REALIZE things about themselves. The narrative isn’t any kinder to her than it has been to Molly and Mary, and Mofftiss stepped WAY out of bounds with that unproductive conversation about Eurus’ deviant sexuality. But I could also argue that Eurus’ Saw murder spree happens as a direct result of one man deciding that he knows what’s best for her and another deciding that what’s best for HIM is to erase her existence entirely. She couldn’t be handled. They couldn’t burn the witch, so they locked her away. Then Mycroft USES her brilliant mind whenever it is convenient for him. Eurus is called upon to save people living lives she won’t get to have. Like, I know she’s remorseless, but I also get why she’s angry.

Source: cumberbatchlives

Eurus does succeed in dismantling the stories the three men in her web tell about themselves. His sister is Mycroft’s most fatal mistake. He’s one genius level under “telepath killer” and his claim to fame is that he’s always in complete control. But The British Government’s approach to the largest problem ever to plague his own family turns out to have been tremendously wrong. (“I’m not asking HOW you did it, Idiot Boy…”) John still believes he can be a “soldier today” when the situation calls for it, but his practicality stops right before the ability to execute a man to save another life. And Sherlock, as has been pounded into our heads by now, is not immune to sentiment at all. He feels things very deeply, even though he tried to force those emotions out of himself the first time they became too much to bare.

Does Sherlock’s sister know the difference between a game and a massacre? The show tries to have it both ways with Eurus. Sometimes she seems not to understand the full effect of what she’s doing. But in other moments she’s downright Moriarty-sinister. She’s the most interesting villain we’ve had all season, but the fuzziness of her character is set in high relief when that guy actually shows back up. Jim Moriarty is shoe-horned into this story to within an inch of his (ended) life. Just for fun. But that tracks, because fun is his number one reason for doing anything.

Source: majorlyobsessed

Sometimes you don’t know how starved you’ve been for a character until you openly weep at his five minute cameo. The flaws of this episode are many and dumb, but god, I could watch that helicopter entrance on a loop for the better part of a day. I might have, actually. The glasses. That suit. The soundtrack. His love of theater. I don’t buy that Eurus would send for Moriarty or that Mycroft would allow it, but I DO buy that Moriarty would show up to Sherringford practically panting with desire to find out what’s up. (“You’re a Christmas present.” “How do you want me?”)

“Do you like my boys?” Source: majorlyobsessed

(I did fear for one brief moment that Eurus had dominated Moriarty like she does everyone else and had been controlling him for the past five years. But I suppose she can turn it on and off and what she needed from Jimbo was his own personal expertise. It would have broken my heart if they’d erased everything about him.)

Moriarty didn’t live to see it or gain anything from it, but the booby-trapped haunted house he designs with Eurus does bring Sherlock’s carefully constructed facade crashing down. She’s obsessed with her brother’s deductive skills, which she must have noticed about him when they were children. What seems rather pointless while Mycroft, John, and Sherlock are racking their brains over Eurus’ puzzles is explained to some degree when we learn what she did to get herself locked away. Victor Trevor was the game. Young Eurus reasoned that if she took something away from Sherlock that he loved very much but left a trail for him, then he’d be playing with her while he followed it. But she overestimates her brother’s abilities and underestimates his emotional distress. She didn’t mind that Victor Trevor died, even if her original intent wasn’t necessarily to kill him. Either Sherlock would be enticed by her brilliance or she’d lose him forever. When her experiment failed, Eurus literally set her life on fire. There was nothing left.

Source: rominatrix
 

Johnlock fans who were hoping for something more definitive from this episode were disappointed. (Hey kids, death threats are what we might call an overreaction. Also illegal!) But all these connections between John and Sherlock’s “Redbeard” point to the arrival of John Watson in his life as the moment that Sherlock began to untangle himself from all those emotional security systems he put in place. He blocked out all memories of Eurus and turned Victor Trevor into a trusty dog because he couldn’t live with what had happened. That ought to have closed him off completely to someone in serious danger of getting as intimate with him as his childhood bestie.

 
 
Source: stephnstrnge
  Continue Reading

“Once more unto the breach.” – Sherlock Recap – The Lying Detective

Source: sheldedlex

Sherlock, Season 4, Episode 2
“The Lying Detective”
Posted by Sage

We are officially going around in circles. Then we are backtracking and going on random tangents and we don’t even get the satisfaction of tormenting Mycroft while we do it.

“The Lying Detective” brought so many of Sherlock‘s favorite devices limping back into an already overstuffed narrative. Were there fun moments? Sure. Was the emotion real? Sometimes. Did Martin Freeman break me with this acting? Absolutely. Even though the pacing of this episode made it an easier watch than “The Six Thatchers,” it still collapsed in the center under the weight of everything it’s trying to do.

Let’s start with Toby Jones as the odious Culverton Smith, a wealthy philanthropist who moonlights as a serial killer. I’m surprised any scenery was still standing after Jones chowed down on it all, but hey, that’s why you hire him. Culverton is the jolliest murderer you’ll ever meet and so eager to share his deeds with an audience that his board meetings always come with a complimentary mind-eraser. But who needs an explanation of why anyone would agree to be hooked up to such an IV, even if asked by someone they trusted, let alone a creepy little troll like this? There are cereal/serial killer jokes to be made!

Source: bbcsherlocksource
 

How many more times will Sherlock tell us that no, actually, THIS is the worst and most heinous criminal he’s ever encountered? Whatever their methods and motives, so long as Sherlock writes all its uber-villains to be overly articulate, pompous, joyously maniacal, and just half an IQ-point less sharp than its hero, those variations barely register. Andrew Scott’s Moriarty is unsurpassable. And yeah, the show blew that wad in season 1. But that’s no reason to turn every Conan Doyle bad guy into the same monologue-crazy gentleman psychopath.

So Culverton Smith’s taunting of Sherlock wasn’t as effective as it should have been. It did eat up plenty of time though. None of that time was spent explaining what Culverton’s endgame was or how he’d planned to get Sherlock in one of his hospital beds. (I don’t know how he could have anticipated what happened in the mortuary.) He grandstands with his guests in the children’s ward, behaving a way that made me wonder who would ever let him speak to kids, fortune or no fortune. Nothing about Culverton Smith is lovable. He’s off-putting and scary, even when he’s smiling. He’s so clearly operating on some strange and separate plane yet no one but Sherlock and Watson appear to be repulsed by him or even the slightest bit concerned. I wondered at first if we’re meant to be seeing his behavior through Sherlock’s eyes – that in his drug-stupor he was looking beyond the facade and into the guilt. The show could have also made a more trenchant point about the leeway we give to the rich. But as it was, Culverton’s strange personality just hung there, unexplained and unquestioned.

Source: sannapersikka

I’m going to put my murder weirdo hat on right now and say that it is EXTREMELY unusual for a serial killer to want to stand out like Culverton does. Some are extremely anti-social. Most blend seamlessly into their communities. Ted Bundy was famously charming. It’s not Culverton’s hinting at his atrocities that’s unbelievable, it’s that he’d draw attention to himself in other ways, putting his name on hospital wings and appearing on television. His methods are interesting though, and I do appreciate how the show melded the “The Dying Detective” plot with the very true and very fascinating story of H.H. Holmes, the serial killer doing big, big business in Chicago during the World’s Fair. (Have you read The Devil in the White City? You get on it, and Leonardo DiCaprio, get on that movie you promised me.) He’s committing mercy killings minus the mercy and he’s doing it in a tricked-out MURDER hospital. (“I like to make people into things.”) Still, Culverton Smith falls short of being the terrifying presence Sherlock intends him to be because THERE ARE NO VICTIMS. I mean, there are meant to be many, but why are they locked out of the story? It was a nice character detail to show Lestrade so broken after hearing part 1 of Culverton’s lengthy confession. (He’s a good man.) But without context, the whole case felt so…impersonal.

Source: londoncallingsigh

Naturally, it’s all about Sherlock, who we know from the episode title is keeping something from us. It’s back to another familiar well with the detective getting himself hooked to achieve a goal: this time, it’s to court the sympathy or at least the presence of John Watson. John, you’ll remember, decided to break all ties with Sherlock after the death of Mary.  His grief has left him temporarily incapable of taking care of Rosie, and he takes offense at his shrink approving that choice out of pity. “Why does everything have to be ‘understandable’?” he asks. “Why can’t some things be unacceptable? And we just say that?” John Watson is so alone, with no company but his dead but still cheerful wife.

It’s common in Sherlock for people to communicate with themselves by communicating with their concept of another person, usually, that’s achieved by Sherlock in his mind palace. But there’s something unkind about putting Mary in this position, following John around, existing to only motivate his participation in the world or to stir up his guilt. She’s dead and she still can’t catch a break. Selfishly, I loved seeing Amanda Abbington again. She’s a master of the reaction and made for a charming personal ghost – as nurturing, mischievous, and on Sherlock’s side as ever. And even though the manipulation was strong and so predictable, Mary’s presence broke up the anger that rightly dominated most of Martin’s performance in this episode. She tries to remind him: “John, you’ve got to remember, it’s important: I am dead.” But John refuses to register this information. His stubborn denial was this episode’s most moving moment, though I expect Team Johnlock will disagree. (I’ll get to it, dain’t you worry.)

Source: livingthegifs

High Sherlock is still a sight to behold and I applaud the unabashed Britishness of having Benedict Cumberbatch roaring the most famous speech from Henry V for no detectable reason other than his training. (Question: if Sherlock doesn’t need room in his brain for the solar system, how come Shakespeare gets a spot? Answer: He’s a romantic, duh.) The visual bravado of the scene comes to its slow-mo/sped-up climax when Mrs. Hudson drops Sherlock’s tea so that she can get a grasp on the gun he’s been waving around. (“Of course I didn’t call the police, I’m not a civilian.”) And prepare to hate me, because I’m about to rain on your Hudders parade.

“That’s good.” Source: livingthegifs

I miss the subtlety of early Sherlock, where Mrs. Hudson would make reference to her checkered pass and then chuckle and pass the biscuits. (That never happened exactly so, but you get the drift.) Now all subtlety is gone. Mrs. Hudson drives an Aston Martin like a coked-out 007 and evidently has the upper body strength necessary to shove a 6′ tall man into the boot before she does it. She doesn’t need to do these things to prove to me that she’s a badass. She always has been; those original episodes show us that she endures what Sherlock puts her through because she cares about him but also because she loves the danger.

Source: conduitstr
 

Continue Reading

“The danger was the fun part.” – Sherlock Recap – The Six Thatchers

Source: 1985

Sherlock, Season 4, Episode 1
“The Six Thatchers”
Posted by Sage

As dangerous as it is to hand too much of a popular series over to fanservice, so too is it to treat your audience like adversaries. That’s the feeling I got when I watched the Sherlock Season 4 premiere — like the show was all puffed up and encroaching into my space, daring me to turn against it. “Give the people what they want,” John says. “No, never do that,” Sherlock counters. “The people are stupid.” Why do I get the feeling they were talking about us?

Where was the joy? The giddiness? I felt like my heart would burst during the majority of Season 3. I was so happy to be back watching such a clever and sleek show with characters I adore. Not here. Sherlock is always self-aware, but usually in a way that lets fans share its ego. This episode felt interminably long, because it seemed as if we were no longer included in the fun. “The Six Thatchers” was a dour installment that set up what looks to be a dour season. As Mary says in her video message to Sherlock, “The danger was the fun part.” A slow march to the gallows is not.

The case isn’t tremendously important, but the circumstances surrounding Sherlock’s return are. He must have subconsciously worked out the majority of his issues with the ghost of James Moriarty during his drug trip in “The Abominable Bride,” because “The Six Thatchers” finds him interested in the villain’s next move in his “posthumous game,” but not so preoccupied as to withdraw from life. (This is Sherlock Holmes we’re talking about, the measure of successful social interaction is different.) Anyway, Lady Smallwood, Mycroft, and the rest of their Rulers of the World knitting circle make quick work of absolving Sherlock of the murder of Charles Augustus Magnussen. They rescind his death sentence so he can sniff out the metaphorical bomb Moriarty left ticking away somewhere in London, and Sherlock is only too delighted to tell them that there’s currently nothing to be done in that regard. (“I’m the target. Targets wait.”) He returns to Baker Street and his expectant friends.

Source: sirjohnwatsons
 

Unsurprisingly, my favorite parts of this episode were all domestic. Pregnant Mary heaving about the flat, weighing in on cases. Sherlock’s amused smile when John and Mary simultaneously shut down his offer to give their unborn baby his name. Molly teaching Mrs. Hudson how to focus John’s camera. Sherlock trying to explain his rather reasonable expectation that Rosamund Mary Watson NOT throw a toy back at him that she appears to want. Greg and another Scotland Yard officer making small talk on the landing while they wait for their consultant to be free. Sherlock showing off photos of his godchild to his brother, who offers the kindest compliment he can muster: “Looks very…fully-functioning.”

Source: sherleck

Finally, Giles Greg offers up a case that’s worthy of more than a chat in the living room with Sherlock and John’s balloon stand-in. But determining the cause of the sad end of Charlie Wellsbury isn’t something to be done with a Holmesian flourish. The most dastardly thing the family has done is to have a shrine to Margaret Thatcher.  And though she was no picnic, that certainly doesn’t make them deserving of what happens to their son. This boy cut a trip of a lifetime short to travel thousands of miles to wish his father a happy birthday. He dies alone; his body is burned beyond recognition. But there’s no murderer but Death himself. Death does not always arrive in the body of enemy, but it always gets its man. In the market at Baghdad or outside an English estate.

Sherlock has tossed off condolences before, but he’s never sounded more genuine than when he tells the Wellsburys how sorry he is for their loss. Would it have been any comfort if the great Sherlock Holmes could have identified some nefarious plot and apprehended an assassin on whom they could lay their anger and grief? Maybe. As it is, it’s a hopeless, purposeless death that propels the rest of the episode.

“Well, I like you.” Source: 1985

The episode lags a bit after Sherlock discovers that first missing bust of The Iron Lady. Because the busts don’t matter – only what’s contained within. The dog sequence is cute, but unnecessary. There’s only the symbolism of the market, and the episode was heavy on the symbolism already. Craig is a chubby and bespectacled hacker stereotype in a show that doesn’t need one. (One of the most thrilling things about Sherlock is that – besides the texting – the detective is rather old-school in his methods.) Anyway, while I understand that A.J. is a broken and desperate man, I would think that a world-class secret assassin would know when he was creating a pattern. But he doesn’t, and Sherlock heads him off at the home of one of those crazy Thatcherites. It was brilliant throughout, but I want to especially acknowledge the work of first-time Sherlock director Rachel Talalay here in the fight scene, particularly as A.J. and Sherlock grappled in the pool.

Sherlock gets the upper hand, smashes the bust, and then looks among the shards for the Black Pearl of the Borgias – a link to Moriarty. Instead he sees Mary’s A.G.R.A. flash drive. Sherlock said earlier that he knows when the game is on because it’s his lifeblood and what used to be his only bliss. But Sherlock’s eyes are panicked as he tries frantically to discern who this man is and how he’s linked to his friend. This isn’t a game he wants. It’s all well and good when he’s playing fast and loose with his own life. But there’s nothing to love about a threat to Mary, John, and their baby girl.

Source: rosegoldsherlock
 

Confronted with the drive, Mary tells Sherlock what the acronym means and why she and her three compatriots each carried one. Their last mission went belly-up during a coup in Georgia; Mary believed she was the only one who’d escaped alive. Her past is catching up to her again. And though she’d prayed it wouldn’t, she’s been honing a protocol for that very occasion. Because Mary is a PRO. Since the moment he met her, Sherlock has known that Mary Watson is capable of taking care of herself. He even tries to send John home to be on baby duty in this episode so that he can Mary can follow a lead together. She’s a combination of Sherlock and John: an intelligence agent AND a soldier, smart, always aware, and willing to do what is necessary. She goes on the run – a wife and mother throwing her own peace away so that she can protect her family. And what does Sherlock do? He undermines her agency by tracking her movements and then going to COLLECT her, like an errant child.

Source: sir-mycroft

Continue Reading

“Sounds a bit soppy, this: love conquers all.” – SDCC 2016, Part III

Con Friends are the Best Friends

Con Friends are the Best Friends

Posted by Kim and Sage

Everyone knows that a massive part of San Diego Comic Con involves making tough choices. It’s no secret that Hall H is the place to be on Saturday but it’s ALSO no secret that if you want to score one of those coveted seats, you basically have to lose all of Friday in the name of sitting in the Next Day Line. While we had a BLAST camping out for Hall H in 2015, the idea of camping out for Saturday held ZERO appeal for us, not only because we would have missed all the awesome panels Friday had to offer but because the weather was UNUSUALLY hot and humid for San Diego. People had literally started camping out for Saturday by the middle of the day on THURSDAY, leading to a veritable umbrella city being set up in the parking lot of Joe’s Crab Shack. People were ordering umbrellas from Amazon Same Day Delivery to be sent TO the line and posting pictures of their intense sunburns on Twitter. There were reports of chairs actually leaving divots in the asphalt because it was ACTUALLY melting due to the intense sun. NO THANKS. I love the Marvel Movies as much as the next person, but unless it was guaranteed that Chris Evans was going to French kiss me (Sage: or one of his costars. That would work too.) and Tom Hiddleston was going to public renounce the sham that is Hiddleswift, the idea of waiting close to 36 hours in a parking lot for footage that would be on the internet minutes later felt ridiculous. So until SDCC comes up with some way to curtail the camping (which they won’t because that’s what makes headlines), Saturday Hall H will never be a thing for us. And you know what? That’s okay.  As you will see, there is so much that SDCC has to offer that you can miss the marquee panels and STILL have a full day. Besides, we knew Benedict Cumberbatch would be waiting for us on Sunday. –Kim

Off-Site Mania

IMG_9979

After spending the majority of Friday cramped between manspreaders and oversized cosplay in panel rooms, we thought Saturday would be a good day to stretch our legs and hit the off-sites. San Diego Comic Con is known for taking over not just the convention center, but a lot of real estate surrounding it with branded exhibitions and activities. One of the most popular set-ups is Zac Levi’s NerdHQ, which has its own sort of mini-con benefiting Operation Smile with its impossible to get into Conversations For A Cause and Smiles for Smiles photo ops. We were shut out of those tickets again this year, but it’s always worth the walk to the San Diego Children’s Museum to see what vendors are handing out free ‘ish and what kind of photobooths we can make fools of ourselves in.

IMG_0235IMG_0234
Head Over Feels was here.
 This year’s NerdHQ was a haven for gamers, so there wasn’t much for a couple of hand-eye-coordination-challenged idiots to do there. We moved on to Entertainment Weekly’s Con-X, located at the far corner of the marina. We were among the small group gathered at the gates when it opened, so we had no trouble snagging free Krispy Kremes (best giveaway in history), screened-to-order t-shirts, and photo ops with Tony & Steve, the real American Horror Story: Hotel set, and corpulent space gangster, Jabba the Hutt.

SWAG

SWAG

After Con-X, we made a stop at the Hyatt where SDCC keeps its panel swag. It’s an efficient system. When a studio wants to give out freebies to panel audiences, they send in a group of volunteers to hand out color-coded tickets. During posted hours, attendees can stop by the fulfillment room to pick up their goodies. Our haul included a Colony beret, an exclusive Moana print, and a super-cute Orphan Black muscle tee. When you know this is an option, it makes it especially tacky when Hall H presenters prefer to go over time handing out swag just so they can get b-roll of Hall H fans going all Oprah’s Favorite Things. (Ahem: Warner Bros, Marvel.)

IMG_0251

We were assured by a panel neighbor earlier in the weekend that the tiny Mr. Robot off-site experience was “worth it.” Unfortunately for our feet and nerves, we didn’t realize just how intimate or time-consuming that exhibit was. We got in line around 11:30am, half an hour after it opened. The line was a block and a half long; in SDCC terms, nothing. “This will be fine,” we said. “It’s not too bad,” we said. Smash cut to four hours later when we’re still in line, seething while the staff marches in industry VIPs and press ahead of all the fans who’ve been sweating in the sun for most of the afternoon. (We know you had a press preview night, USA. THE JIG IS UP.) Our wills were tested that day. So much that I swear, I started hallucinating Christian Slater too.

IMG_0248

Holy shit, there he is

But we were committed, and hey, at least we got fsociety masks for our trouble. (I wish the street team would have been handing out those sick hoodies instead, but we’ll take what we can get.)

Being a part of an anarchist hacker conspiracy is NO reason to give up glitter make-up.

Being a part of an anarchist hacker conspiracy is NO reason to give up glitter make-up.

Okay, so it WAS pretty fucking cool. Even through my grumpiness, I could appreciate the work that went into the off-site. The waiting area was a replica of the Mr. Robot repair shop, all for the touching. We rifled through work orders, read jotted phone messages, and held an original Gameboy in our hands for the first time in about 25 years.

IMG_0255

Most of the paperwork in the exhibit looked like the standard business of an electronics shop in the ’80s. But Easter eggs were here and there for those observant enough to catch them. This one was my favorite:

IMG_0263

“1 Human Soul: $9.99”

The waiting area could MAYBE fit 10-12 people at a time. By twos and fours, those people were led into the next room where we were handed our virtual reality equipment. (VR was all the rage at SDCC this year.) Then we were directed into a full-scale replica of Elliot’s apartment and instructed to take a seat wherever we liked. (We chose the bed, for obvious reasons.) After some brief instruction, we pressed play on an original Mr. Robot vignette, written and directed by showrunner Sam Esmail and starring Rami Malek and Frankie Shaw (Shayla). It was beautiful and melancholy, with the added benefit of the sensation of Rami speaking to you right in your ear. You jerks don’t have to stand in line for four hours to watch the scene; the official Mr. Robot website has the clip in various formats, including regular old desktop. (Spoilers for season 1!)

We snagged some extra shirts from the off-site (with permission!), and we’re giving them away on Twitter! Go follow us and RT this tweet for your chance to get one. –Sage

Geek & Sundry Afterparty

IMG_0275

We emerged from the Mr. Robot site in desperate need of food and ice-cold beverages. Being hangry is NEVER a good thing at SDCC and there’s only so much satisfaction Cliff bars and trail mix can bring, so we set off in search of sustenance. With most of our usual Gaslamp haunts being backed up to 45 minute to hour-long waits (“I CAN’T WAIT IN ANOTHER LINE RIGHT NOW.” = us), we opted to ignore my carefully curated list of places we wanted to eat in favor of just going to whatever joint that would be able to seat us right away. Lucky for us, we discovered a new go-to place for next year in The New Yorker. GUYS. The San Diego pizza (spinach, bacon, pepperoni, and gorgonzola) changed my life. BONUS: we were able to go halvesies on our pizza, which let us try the Buffalo Chicken version as well. It just goes to show that you can rarely go wrong food-wise with ANYTHING in the Gaslamp District.

Revitalized by pizza and beer, we made a quick pass through the convention center to pick up some art and then we made our way home for a disco nap before getting dressed up for the Geek and Sundry Dance Party. (Sage: We WILL put on something cute and dance tonight, DAMMIT.) We’ve said before that Comic Con parties are a massive crapshoot and rule held true here. We arrived at the club an hour before the party was set to kickoff and found a minimal line, which blessedly assured that we would make it in.

Here’s where I am gonna go off on a rant about line etiquette though. We got in line at 8 PM, an hour before the doors opened. There were two girls in front of us who we chit-chatted with because what else are you going to do when you’re standing there for an hour? One girl left to go to the restroom, and when I scooted over to make room for Sage to sit on the ledge, the girl’s friend snapped at us for trying to take HER friend’s spot. We assured her that we were just trying to give each other room so we could all sit, we were in no way trying to push her friend out of line. Later, as the line started to condense, more and more people started JOINING these two girls in line. At first it was just two…then two more…then three. Soon, there were TWELVE new people ahead of us in line. A line that now was stretched blocks long. NOT COOL. I realize that we were ALREADY fragile from the 4 hour wait for Mr. Robot earlier that day but that is what kicked us into Sage-Rage and K-irritation. You don’t DO that. We knew it wouldn’t affect US…but what about the people at the end of the line who had been waiting just as long? Sage tried to be nice, but these girls KNEW they had pulled a fast one, as they blatantly ignored Sage when she tried to confront them. One of the latecomers dared to have words with her about how she needed to RELAX. HAAAAAA. While I furiously ranted about the bad form on Twitter, tagging Geek and Sundry every time, Sage tried to flag down a security guy to report the line cutting. The security guy offered to escort us into the party but did nothing to remove the offending parties, which was upsetting. The line-cutters KNEW we were trying to get them kicked out, which resulted in more than a few salty remarks being tossed back and forth between us. TL;DR: people are assholes and Sage and I are ALWAYS looking out for the people in line behind us. You’re welcome.

Actual picture of us in line.

Once in the party, we were greeted with a dance floor full of nerds. While that sounds promising, everyone knows that the success of a dance party hinges on the DJ.  This DJ was THOROUGHLY committed to the whole “geek” theme. While he had flashes of excellence, playing our jam “Africa” and half of “Backstreet’s Back at one point, most of the music consisted of house mixes of TV theme songs and video game music. That’s right. At one point we were actually expected to be dancing to music from “Final Fantasy” which is basically like asking us to get down to the Shire theme from The Lord of the Rings. (Cue me standing in the middle of the dance floor making a turtle face and wondering what in the hell was going on.) And after witnessing an entire room of fanboys losing their SHIT over the Pokemon theme playing, we NEVER want to hear shit about demanding to hear One Direction EVER again. EVER.

But still, parties are always what you make of them, and we had a grand time surrounded by our lady friends who were all dresses as Sith Lords in Corsets. We laughed at the ridiculous music, drank overpriced beers, danced with glowsticks, and gulped down the poorly made mixed drinks we scored when Felicia Day finally announced the open bar. Parties, much like SDCC itself, are what you make of them. As much as we would have liked to party all night, Sunday Hall H was calling our name, leading us to retire before midnight. Just call us SDCCinderellas. –Kim

IMG_0014

Glow crowns FTW

Continue reading

“There’s always two of us. Don’t you read The Strand?” – Sherlock Recap, The Abominable Bride

the abominable bride

Sherlock, New Year’s Day 2016 Special
“The Abominable Bride”
Posted by Sage

If you follow Head Over Feels on social media (and you’d better), you perhaps noticed that we didn’t give off our usual hum of anticipation leading in to a brand new episode of Sherlock. Truth be told, I found it genuinely difficult to get excited about a special that looked for all the world like it was going to be some kind of dream or alternate reality adventure, totally outside of the actual show canon. “The Abominable Bride” was a standalone story that put us right back where series 3 left off…and it wasn’t. I admire Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat for their determination to have their cake and eat it too, even if that doesn’t work out for them all the time. But when years pass between our appointments with this Sherlock and Watson, why not be bold?

sherlock set

Look, this Victorian Inception thing either worked for you or it didn’t. But the conceit gave the show’s brilliant production and design staff another way to shine; their care and attention to detail showed in every frame. At last year’s Gallifrey One convention in Los Angeles, I was privileged to spend an hour in a hotel boardroom with Sherlock production designer Arwel Wyn Jones and a dozen other fans, 12 Angry Men style. That’s nearly a full 11 months ago, but he was already neck-deep in preparations for “The Abominable Bride.” The task that was keeping him up at night around that time? Finding era-appropriate versions of Sherlock and John’s signature arm chairs.

Production designers spend their lives considering minute details that only the most attentive of viewers will even consciously note. And that’s why we love them. But the scarcity of the new Sherlock episode to the people who make it shows in the final product. In “The Abominable Bride,” I see a piece of work that’s been made in its own sweet time with the cool, shrugging confidence that can only come with runaway success and a heavily tumbled slash ship. I also see that the artists behind the show had months (and years in the case of the writers) to think about how to do it and how to do it right. Contradiction, my dear Watson. It makes for a divided audience. About a third of my Twitter timeline really hated this episode.

Me? I’m fine. “The Abominable Bride” didn’t have the giddiness of “The Sign Of Three” or the cold dread of “The Reichenbach Fall,” and believe me, I’ll get to the problematic bits. Still, I enjoy Gatiss and Moffat’s textual high-fiving over their own cleverness – you kind of have to, to be a fan – and the one-off did push the story forward incrementally. Or at least, a couple of characters.

Though the first five minutes did nothing to allay my fears in that respect. The episode opens and proceeds for a while as a straight-up Victorian re-telling of “A Study In Pink.” John Watson is injured in the war; runs into his old friend Stamford, and meets his new flatmate Sherlock Holmes whilst he’s wailing on a dead body in a morgue. It’s all very twee, aside from Martin fucking Freeman. Sherlock is always Sherlock – a “man out of his time” or any time. He’s timeless. But “Bride” showcased the traditional Watson who runs parallel to the modern one in Freeman’s performance. He plays this Watson so differently, though there’s never a doubt that the partnership is still the same. As always, I marvel at his talent and get more excited when I should when he gets to yell.

good lord

Then the episode fast-forwards a bit to an established sleuthing duo returning home from another adventure that’s sure to be written up for publication in The Strand magazine. The time-warped Baker Street is proper thrilling, as is the appearance of Mrs. Hudson. She’s the first in a series of women to be overlooked and undervalued in the episode. And while she may be used to reading her name in a perfunctory context in John’s stories, she’s not over it. “Well, I never say anything, do I?” she challenges her tenant. “I’m your land lady, not a plot device.” (THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT A PLOT DEVICE WOULD SAY.) Inside their rooms is another woman is taking drastic steps to be seen. Mary Watson resorted to gaining access to 221B as a client, since it’s the only way by which she can see her husband. Not that her husband is really worth the trouble. 0/10 recommend dating or marrying 1895 John Watson, ladies. His painfully bored wife misses him, and offers up her assistance on the next case. “What would you do?” John asks her, befuddled by the suggestion that she might be of help. “Well, what do you do?” Mary shoots back. He doesn’t have much of an answer.

Sherlock ignores the domestic happening behind him and murmurs some foreshadowing about going “deep” within himself for a case. (“Ummmm…” – Tumblr.) Then a pair of mutton chops walks in, followed quickly by Detective Inspector Lestrade. He’s shaken, and certainly there on business. But first, a drink. (“Watson, restore the courage of Scotland Yard.”)

waltz

Lestrade (still FINE AS HELL, even with the face-warmers) begins weaving the tale of Emilia Ricoletti. On her wedding anniversary, Ricoletti put on her wedding dress, smeared red lipstick onto her mouth, and then stepped out onto her balcony in full view of the busy street below. Bystanders ran for cover as she shrieked (“YOU?”) and fired shots at the ground, the whole ordeal ending when she pointed the gun at herself and pulled the trigger. Or so that’s what rationality would predict. Later that night, none other than Emilia Ricoletti’s husband Thomas meets “the bride” on his way out Lime House. The dead woman, whose body he was certainly on his way to identify, shoots him in front of several witnesses and disappears into the foggy night.

bride

I want to talk about storytelling for a minute. It’s happening on every level of Sherlock. Every case starts with a story, whether that comes from the law or from the client. It’s never nothing. There’s never no information. There’s a version of events from a specific point of view. There are prejudices and assumptions about what humans are or are not capable of. It’s Sherlock’s job to suss the truth the out, his lack of emotion (keep telling yourself that, Shezza) making him the ideal editor to cut through the bullshit. (“Poetry or truth?” “Many would say they’re the same thing.” “Yes, idiots.”) Once that happens, the story is re-written yet again, this time by John Watson. Whether he’s writing for a blog or for the Strand, he’s writing for an audience now. Sherlock’s work doesn’t make him a legend. John’s stories do. And they’re nothing without a little flair. My head canon is that every Sherlock episode is a “filmed” version of a Watson blog entry, and maybe the cases themselves weren’t quite so melodramatic. It’s all about framing, you see.

Lestrade’s narration is enhanced by a cool visual trick. The Sherlock crew set up the sitting room of 221B in the middle of the street where Thomas Ricolletti is shot; the camera zooms in and out of the meeting of minds and back to the murder, so it’s as if Lestrade, Sherlock, and Watson are actually witnessing the crime. That technique also backs up my unreliable(ish) narrator theory. The sleuths are seeing events as Lestrade describes them. He’s the storyteller.

Not that Sherlock trusts him. The first stop is the morgue, to ascertain whether or not what’s on the slaaaab is truly Mrs. Ricoletti. A “moron” has strapped the corpse to the table (hi, Anderson!) and is rewarded for his stupidity with verbal abuse by “Hooper,” the mustachioed, no-nonsense coroner. I do believe I love this. Modern Molly is a very feminine character who doesn’t see why her desire to date, wear lipstick (right shade or not), or be a low-key cat lady should at all undermine her authority in the lab. (Or in Sherlock’s mind palace. HM.) Molly could have been written into this special as a barmaid or something and the cross-dressing out of necessity could have been given to a female character who’s less stereotypically girly. But our Molly Hooper is a little ruthless. And she’s certainly brave. I could see her gaming the system to live the life she feels she deserves and do the work no one could do better. My shipper heart also leapt at the brief yet weighty interactions between Holmes and Hooper. There’s something about Holmes not noticing something very off about the coroner that calls back to the bad timing, misunderstandings, and tentative healing of their 21st century relationship. I ship it in every era.

hooper hooper 2

Anyway, the dead body is (or was) unquestionably Emilia Ricoletti. The only change from the body’s previous day spent in the morgue is the smear of blood on one finger – the finger “she” used to write “YOU” in her own blood on the wall. (Anderson’s precautions aren’t so stupid after all, maybe.) Watson offers a meat-dagger-quality theory that Sherlock shoots down immediately: twins. SECRET twins. (“This whole thing could have been planned.” “Since the moment of conception?”) The good doctor does make a helpful note on the way out, however. The body shows signs of consumption. Sherlock doesn’t hear this part, since he’s already decided he’s learned all he can from these people. (“Thank you all for a fascinating case. I’ll send you a telegram when I’ve solved it.”)

never mention me never mention me 2
Oh, and there have been more murders pinned to “the bride.” All men, which has Lestrade shaking and Sherlock scoffing. It’s copycats, the detective reasons. With hysteria in the wind, why not add the bells and whistles the public associates with this ghostly terror to throw Scotland Yard off the actual scent? Sherlock’s interest in the case waning, Mycroft sends for the men to call on him at the Diogenes Club. But before that, we get a very strange scene between Watson and his maid. Mary isn’t in (and hasn’t been much since she received a cryptic telegram at 221B); the maid is quite intentionally impertinent in asking about it. John’s response is such a perfect jab at the designation between real duties and “women’s work.” (“If it wasn’t my wife’s business to deal with the staff, I’d talk to you myself.”) This hint at the conspiracy behind the city under siege would have worked better if the maid had appeared in one or two more scenes to underline the role she plays in the Watsons’ life and how enraged she is at being ignored. Instead: fat suit Mycroft.

wilder wilder 2
Besides the fact that Mycroft Holmes is quite rotund in the Arthur Conan Doyle stories, I don’t understand this choice. I suppose the goal was a spot of dark comedy, with Mycroft eating himself to death just to win a bet with his brother. But it doesn’t fly. It’s too meanspirited a take on Modern Mycroft, who’s come to show real regard for and loyalty to Sherlock. The visual gag is easy and vile; John’s sign language hack-job is just as predictable, but much less uncomfortable. The success of the scene is that it’s where I began to really question what was going on backstage of this episode, if you will. Mycroft does delight in being the puppetmaster, but the way he fed this information to Sherlock and Watson (a Lady Carmichael will lead them to the perpetrators of these acts, “an enemy we must lose to…”) is too contrived for a regular Moffat/Gatiss script.

cards right cards right 2

Brother Mine meets with Lady Carmichael, who also has a story to tell. Her husband has been acting strangely since the morning he received five orange pips in the mail (classic Holmes reference), apparently an omen of death. “She’s come for me, Louise,” he chokes out. From that morning, he’s a haunted man. This is terrific news in Sherlock’s book, since it gives him a solid opportunity to see “the bride” in the flesh. Or not, whatever.

Sherlock: “Eustace is to die tonight!”
Watson: “Holmes.”
Sherlock: “…And we should probably avoid that.” 

The boys take a field trip out to the Carmichaels’ country mansion. On the train, Watson’s uneasiness starts to show. He’s accepting the stories as they’ve been told to him. Based on the witnesses and the positive morgue ID, there can be only one conclusion: Emilia Ricoletti is terrorizing men from beyond the grave. He forgets how facts can be twisted, until Sherlock accuses him of letting his pathetic fancy run wild. “Since when have you had any kind of imagination?” Sherlock asks. “Perhaps since I convinced the reading public that an unprincipled drunk addict was some kind of gentleman hero,” Watson answers back. And….fair.

come to mention

Sidebar: I love it when Sherlock gets all macabre and says things like, “There are no ghosts in this world, save those we make for ourselves.” I bet you all a million dollars each that James Franco has whispered this exact sentence into the ear of at least one NYU co-ed while drinking small-batch whiskey from a chipped coffee mug in a Brooklyn speakeasy.

Eustace is not psyched about being the carrot dangled in front of a misandrist spirit. He even attempts to convince the detective that his wife is overreacting, even though he was the one sobbing on the floor in his pajamas the night before. Sherlock will have none of it. He met Lady Carmichael and in an instant knew that she wasn’t the type to be held hostage by a scary story and a creaky step on the stairs. “She’s not a hysteric,” Sherlock reminds her husband. “She’s a highly intelligent woman of rare perception.” He does smell one rat in the house though. And I wonder if Sherlock’s enthusiasm for this rather dangerous plan has anything to do with his assumption that Eustace probably deserves what’s coming to him.

rare for us

“Mm, I should think so. Murder on the knees.”

At last, we’ve arrived. The gay greenhouse scene. *cracks knuckles*

Continue Reading

“Sleep claims us in the end.” – Doctor Who Recap – Sleep No More

rasmussen doctor who

Doctor Who Series 9, Episode 9
“Sleep No More”
Posted by Sage

I’m sorry, Rasmussen, but no. “Sleep No More” won’t be added to my list of surefire Doctor Who conversion episodes. It’s not an episode to hook a pre-Whovian. It’s not even an episode in which a crazed fan like myself can find much to love. I embargoed my own opinion until after my second watch of the episode, and that viewing simply confirmed what I suspected on my first: “Sleep No More” is inelegant, toothless, and an irksome waste of our last weeks with the Doctor and Clara. It breaks my heart to feel this way about a Mark Gatiss episode when the man has given me so much. I’ll never forget “The Sign Of Three,” Mark. Not the meat dagger or the waltz lessons or the stag party. We’ll always have “clueing for looks,” you and me.

And I feel a little used, I gotta say. Because “Sleep No More” could have been great. Unfortunately, the plotting and pacing were such that I don’t feel that a traditional recap structure even makes sense. And regardless, that’s not the way that I can come at this one. Festivus is just around the corner anyway. Thus, an airing of the grievances is timely. So, I present to you, my four major complaints about “Sleep No More.” If you don’t have anything nice to say about subpar episodes of Doctor Who, come sit next to me.

1. Found Footage Can Suck A Dick

I really hate that I can see the origin of this idea in the way that it was shot. The gimmick of the episode being presented in all “found footage” was so obvious and transparent that I was immediately questioning where the rescue crew’s “helmet cam” feeds were really coming from. I’ve never seen a Paranormal Activity film, but I have seen other horror movies that tried to copycat and then twist the device. It’s happened so often in the last 10 or so years that any savvy viewer is bound to be looking for the twist: who’s filming, who’s watching, and why. There’s always an attempted rug-pull and it never has the desired impact. At least for me.

assess stress assess 2

I want to believe that Doctor Who has enough momentum in the tenth year of the reboot to ignore trendy techniques in the name of just telling the story. Especially one that’s so clearly on its last legs. Also, I’m not getting any younger and found footage makes me dizzy. I don’t want to suffer through my TV.

2. The Villain Was Weak Sauce

sand

We haven’t had the monster romp yet this season. (The Zygons so don’t count.) And the monster romp is a perfectly welcome departure from the mythological arc of any series of Doctor Who. I can get down with the silliest ones – never forget that I am and forever will be a “Love And Monsters” defender – but the “Sleep No More” story left much more sensible ideas on the table. As the Doctor and Clara wander a dead space station orbiting Neptune in Earth’s 38th century, they happen upon a rescue squad from a moon called Triton who are there to find out why the base went dark and what happened to the operational staff. The whole group end up being pursued by giant, dull-yellow dust monsters with gaping mouths, no visible eyes and a hunger for humans. Certainly, these creatures are responsible for the disappearance of the other crew. The audience makes the connection between the Sandmen and the experimental sleep pods on the base before even the Doctor does. The only thing I should know before the Doctor does is who or what has a crush on him. Also frustrating is that the purpose of the station itself was never adequately explained. I assume that the Morpheus pods were being “tested” there, since Rasmussen was dogged in his attempts to unleash the Morpheus signal on Triton. Of course, the reveal of his plans in the final act negates the only information we have been given. Why were there multiple Morpheus pods if the pods themselves were unnecessary? If Rasmussen only needed to blast the signal into universe to spread the seed, then why did he need the rescue crew to nap inside the machines? And when did they even do it? I’m getting ahead of myself and the plot holes are piling up like my laundry. BACK TO THE MONSTERS.

Sleep is my reason for being. Sleep, chunky peanut butter, and Harry Styles. I only leave my bed in the morning because I know it will feel like actual sweet heaven to return to it at night. I agree with the Doctor: “Sleep isn’t just a function. It’s blessed.”

wipe the sleepwipe the sleep 2
I never feel less human than when I’m running on inadequate sleep. Everything falls apart. My motor skills slow; my control over my emotions disappears completely. I eat poorly, and I can kiss any thoughts of productivity goodbye until after I put a dent in the debt. Sleep deprivation is linked to weight gain, depression, memory loss, and even some cancers. It played a role in the disaster at Three Mile Island, the Exxon Valdez spill, and countless other accidents. The danger is already there. It is built in to our bodies. Now, I liked the idea that even if the “chemical benefits” of sleep could be distilled and distributed (or “colonized,” as Chopra says) that the loss of the act of sleeping would still harm humanity. Let’s do that. Let’s talk about how maximizing productivity doesn’t make us gods. Let’s talk about how surgically removing the restorative process that keeps us alive would turn us into something different than what we are. (The Doctor: “A HYBR-” Me: “NO.”) So we’ve got this product (almost always a dirty word in Doctor Who) that strips humans of an under-appreciated but vital part of their design. Would it not follow then that the malevolent force to be reckoned with would build on the very real consequences of denying a body sleep? YOU KNOW IT WOULD. But instead: sleep gunk monsters.

sleep sleep 2
sleep 3 sleep 4
Sleep gunk is hella gross, okay. But it’s also so satisfying when you get to wipe away the build-up you get from a nice long weekend snooze – the kind where you don’t have set an alarm. Sleep gunk is evidence of a night well spent. Isn’t that a good thing? Not in this story. Any interesting points brought up by Chopra’s objections that could be neatly linked to a critique of 21st century industry and the lionization of workaholics are gone as soon as the Doctor identifies the organic matter than makes up the beasts. SLEEP GUNK MONSTERS. Could no one at the BBC put a stop to this?

Continue Reading

“Stories Can Make Us Fly.” – Doctor Who Recap

Posted by Kim

Doctor Who Series 8, Episode 3

“Robot of Sherwood”

Like Clara Oswald, I have always had a thing for Robin Hood.

As a child I was entranced by Disney’s Robin Hood.  I loved the catchy songs (Everybody sing! “Ooh-de-lally, ooh-de-lally, golly what a day!”) and the animals dressed as humans (Monica Geller’s nightmare) and all the jokes (which as an Adult, I find it’s definitely one of the most clever classic Disney scripts).  My early teen years were defined by Kevin Costner in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.  To twelve-year-old me, there was nothing more romantic than the moment where, after showing Marian his treasure trove, he wrapped his arm around her and took her down via the rope pulley.  The “Will you do it for your King?” “No.  I’ll do it for you.” exchange wrecked me.

I mean, COME ON.

After my first seventh grade dance, I came home upset that I’d never been asked to slow dance (fittingly the last song of the night was “Everything I Do (I Do It For You)”).  I went up to our den, pulled out our Prince of Thieves laser disc (LASER DISC I AM SO OLD) and soothed my wounded soul with Robin of Locksley, prompting my mom to have one of MANY talks with me about making sure that I knew that these stories weren’t real.  Of course I knew it wasn’t real but that didn’t mean that I couldn’t believe in the IDEALS that Robin Hood stood for, I countered.  We could all stand to believe in Robin’s code of honor, in his chivalry, and in his sense of justice.  So needless to say, when I learned that the Doctor would be meeting Robin Hood this season, my reaction was the same as Clara’s…

Why has no one made a gif of this that flashes “FANGIRLING”? Internet, I expect more of you.

The plot of “Robot of Sherwood” was simple enough: The Doctor and Clara travel to Sherwood Forest (“MY CHOICE”) where to the Doctor’s chagrin and Clara’s delight they encounter Robin Hood and his merry band of men.  They discover that the nefarious Sheriff of Nottingham (sadly not played by Alan Rickman) has an army of robots and has been gathering gold to fuel their spaceship.  The Doctor, Clara, and Robin must band together to stop said spaceship from destroying the earth.  They do and everyone lives happily ever after, just like in all the stories.  The end.

“Robot of Sherwood”, penned by our pal Mark Gatiss, was not the most complex or thought-provoking of all time, and that’s completely fine.  Not every episode of Doctor Who needs to be a deep rumination on the human existence…thank GOD it’s not actually.  As much as we love episodes like “Into the Dalek” or “Forest of the Dead” or “A Good Man Goes To War”, it would be exhausting to watch them week after week.  You need episodes like “Robot of Sherwood” and “Unicorn and the Wasp” (which many compared this episode to) to give the audience some RELIEF.  What this episode WAS was the definition of a good old-fashioned ROMP, full of zingers and great character moments…and then it smacked you with some feels right at the very end.  It was a fantastic chance for Peter Capaldi to show off his lighter side after the two darker adventures that kicked off the season.

I VERY much appreciate that Mark Gatiss didn’t try to reinvent Robin Hood here.  He resisted the temptation to make Robin self-examining or dour (don’t even get me started on that Russell Crowe movie, you guys) but truly made him MERRY.  Tom Riley perfectly embodied the cheeky charm of Robin Hood and served as a wonderful foil to Capaldi’s Crotchety Doctor.  It’s no wonder that the entire episode was a drawn out dick measuring contest as Robin and the Doctor bickered and one-upped each other.  The Doctor, in his insistence that there was no way that Robin could be anything but a Robot, was at his petulant best in this episode from his spoon fighting defense of the TARDIS (“Like I said…MY BOX”) to his participation in the archery contest (“I cheated.”).  The Doctor is never a fan of NOT being the most clever person in the room and Robin brought all of that out in him.  And the more riled up he got, the more Robin enjoyed pushing his buttons.  It was a delight to watch.

Clara: There was supposed to be a plan. Do either of you have a plan?

Doctor: Yeah, of course I have a plan.

Robin: I, too, have a plan.

Clara: Okay Robin, you first.

Doctor: Why him?

Clara: Doctor, shut up. Robin, your plan.

Robin: I am … biding my time.

Clara: Thank you, Prince of Thieves. Last of the Time Lords?

Doctor: Yes, I have a plan.

Clara: Can you explain your plan without using the words “sonic screwdriver”?

If you did not clap with delight at that scene, then something is wrong with you.  Series 8 has been a great one for Jenna Coleman so far and Clara continued to shine in this episode, from her all out fangirling over Robin all the time (and showing him great compassion) to her being ONE HUNDRED PERCENT DONE with said dick measuring contest between her two heroes to her using her feminine wiles to outsmart the sheriff (and then threatening him when he made a pass at her).  The sheriff’s men had it right when they chose Clara as the ringleader of the group.  She WAS running the show the entire episode.  I feel like finally that they are giving Jenna Coleman solid material (not just relying on her “spunk”…even though that was employed to the fullest extent in this episode.  But in a grounded way) and that they’ve figured out Clara’s character at last (3 good episodes for her in a row = an OFFICIAL trend).  Much like Martha Jones, once they freed Clara Oswald of her crush on the Doctor, her character soared.  A year ago, if you would have told me that Sage and I would be planning to do a Clara ribbon at Long Island Who this year, I would have laughed at you.  But we are.  That’s how far she has come.  Bravo.

Continue reading

“Here be dragons.” – Sherlock Recap

Sherlock His Last Vow John Watson definitely in danger

Sherlock
Season 3, Episode 3: His Last Vow
Posted by Sage

Anxiety. Dread. Ice cream. Alcohol. These are what Sherlock fans usually bring with them to a finale episode. Especially after the relative lightheartedness of this season’s first two stories, we seemed to be due for a haymaker right to the heart.

But even though Sherlock Holmes killed a man and John Watson’s new wife put a bullet in his best friend, “His Last Vow” was almost cheery compared to “The Reichenbach Fall.” I mean, Moriarty is back. And we did miss him. Very much.

Charles Augustus Magnussen is no Moriarty. Jim Moriarty is a cuddly little bastard. He carves private messages into apples. He has a Bee Gees ringtone! I’m not sure I’d turn down brunch with him. Sherlock tells us that Magnussen makes him feel physically sick, so chances are he’s used that “the whole world is wet to my touch” line more than once. We meet him as he’s intimidating Adelaide Brooke Lady Elizabeth Smallwood into dropping an investigation into his influence over the Prime Minister. He licks her face – so close to her eyeball that I actually wish I were dead – and in between shudders of revulsion I wonder just what was in the water at the Mikkelsens’ house.

Sherlock Magnussen licking face

“My brother was right – people are delicious.”

Magnussen deals in information. Everyone has a weakness or two – “pressure points,” he calls them – and he uses this knowledge to hold people hostage. Sherlock is initially hired by Lady Smallwood to do something about this “shark,” which is how he ends up in the same smack house where John Watson goes to retrieve his neighbor’s junkie son.

Sherlock well I'm not now

“I’m undercover.” “No, you’re not.”

The original Sherlock Holmes was fond of cocaine, which was totes not a big deal in the 1880s. Our Sherlock has substance issues too. He claims he’s undercover for a case. He is – he hopes to draw Magnussen out by advertising his drug habit as a pressure point – but John isn’t buying that as the only reason he finds “Shezza” lying on a dirty mattress in a pair of – gasp – sweatpants. And now is not the time to fuck with John Watson. He’s living in the suburbs, he’s bored, he’s dreaming nightly about war and Sherlock Holmes, and he’s just desperate for an opportunity to stick a tire iron in his pants and go sprain some people. “It’s just a tiny bit sexy,” Mary tells him, as we all nod furiously at home. “Yeah,” he answers. “I know.”

Sherlock Molly slap

Also not thrilled with this development is our favorite pathologist, Molly Hooper. (Sherlock looks so busted when John calls her from the car. He doesn’t want to disappoint her again.) Molly Hooper got to snog and slap Sherlock Holmes in the matter of one series. Somewhere out there, The Woman seethes with jealousy. “How dare you throw away the beautiful gifts you were born with? And how dare you betray the love of your friends? Say you’re sorry.” She may say it louder now, but Molly has always called Sherlock on his shit. (“You always say such horrible things.”) And by not letting him off the hook for his bad behavior, as everyone else tends to do, she actually gets real apologies from him. But not this time. “Sorry your engagement’s over,” he counters, making this the third consecutive episode where he’s brought up Molly’s relationship status in conversation. He’s being petulant, but this low blow feels so much more personal than his usual lashing out. We don’t get an answer to that question because Molly won’t take the bait. But we see her flinch at the pain of it, and what is going on with these two?

In related news, I spent an hour tonight looking at Molly Hooper-inspired sets on Polyvore and pricing colorful sweaters.

Mycroft Magnussen going against me

Mycroft has engaged Anderson and his Holmes fan club to clear 221B of whatever gear his brother has hidden before Mrs. Hudson finds it and tries to sell it, probably. He clenches up at the mention of Magnussen, riling up John and Sherlock with his warnings to leave the creepy guy alone. Mycroft knew then that Magnussen would try to get to him through Sherlock; he’s aware of his own pressure point. Can I get some pity for Mycroft Holmes, over here? This poor guy has spent his entire life protecting his brother, and it’s definitely not because he’s getting any credit for it. (“Your loss would break my heart.”) What must it feel like for him to see Sherlock connect so easily with John? Maybe that’s the real reason he skipped the wedding.

Sherlock Janine His Last Vow lap

Which brings us to the Janine problem. Sigh. As delightful as it was to watch Sherlock Holmes cuddle with buxom brunette and to watch John Watson reacting to Sherlock Holmes cuddling with a buxom brunette, the Janine storyline irks me still. We see that Sherlock has regressed since faltering at the wedding – it’s not a stretch to imagine that he’d push his sense of decency far enough aside to use a woman for the sake of a case. But Janine: how could you? The girl fawning all over the detective can’t be the same one we met when John married Mary. That lady was savvy and cool and figured Sherlock out in one afternoon. They understood each other. They were partners-in-crime. Now she buys this doting boyfriend act? Whatever happened to, “I wish you weren’t…whatever you are”? Is she really so desperate for a ring that she’s not the tiniest bit suspicious that her detective boyfriend wants access to the heavily guarded office of a controversial and dangerous man? Did she fall onto his penis and forget her own name? That is a hallmark of a Moffat woman, I suppose. We’re supposed to be okay with all of this after the scene in the hospital when Janine turns out to be just as capable of exploiting people as Sherlock and they forgive each other. But the assassination of her character isn’t just infuriating. It’s totally nonsensical. Here again we have Moffat refusing to honor the agency and truth of a female character, choosing instead to manipulate her so that he can get from story point A to story point B a little faster. Sherlock could have just as easily buddied up to Janine and engaged her in the plan. She even says so herself. “You shouldn’t have lied to me. We could have been friends.”

Sherlock His Last Vow Mary Morstan liar

It’s almost a comfort to know that Sherlock Holmes can still be surprised by people. And he can, very much, be blinded by sentiment. Despite all the clues – which he later recounts, because he noticed them all on some level – Sherlock doesn’t deduce Mary’s secret. He just doesn’t want to. Yes, Mary Morstan is more than she initially seemed. But as we got to know her in the last two episodes, I became more and more adamant in my belief that she couldn’t possibly be revealed as a true bad guy, especially once she became pregnant. And I refused to believe that her relationship with our John was a lie. So, our Mary has killed a few people. Who on this show hasn’t? It’s practically a requirement to hang with this crew. She didn’t betray John. That would have been unforgivable.

Sherlock Mary It's What You Like

In fact, she’s the perfect match for John. I love that the prototypical Dr. Watson – the one who just wants his chair and a cup of tea and “I say, old chap” and all that – is just a story that John tells himself. That is not who he is. He is as addicted to danger as Sherlock – maybe even more so. And he subconsciously picked himself a (nearly) rehabilitated assassin for his bride. What’s the big deal? I’d pity the nice, normal girl without a cat burglar outfit stashed in the back of her closet, who gets involved with these psychopaths. As Moffat said to Vulture, “Have we forgotten that John shot someone in the back in episode one? And then had a giggle about it?”

Continue Reading