Archive for February, 2011

How shall I kill thee?  Let me count the ways….

I sat down this week prepared for a more mild episode with a lot of backstory about Stefan and how he went from Dark to Light.  Well, in true Vampire Diaries fashion, I got exactly what I thought I should from the preview – plus about a billion other exciting things.  This show week after week blows me away with the way it’s paced and written.  Every time I think there can’t be more to the episode, they come back with even more excitement.  It really is a “thrill ride” – unlike many movies that advertise themselves that way.

We start the ep with the aforementioned flashbacks, and get to watch Dark Stefan tormenting the Gilbert family.  He’s gone whacko and is killing everyone around town, and it’s Damon who is the voice of reason telling him to tone it down.  The excuse for this balst from the past?  Turns out Elena, still at the cabin from last week, is reading the Gilbert Journal aka Vampire Diary aka Slayer Guide Book.  She gives Stefan a weird look and he decides to tell her his story, a la Lestat.   I wasn’t really very interested in this, but basically it involves him killing lots of innocents, then getting found by Lexi, who takes him under her wing and explains to him that he has blocked out the side of him that feels pain, but once he unlocks it he’ll also be able to feel love.  Oh joy, corny much?  We are also reminded later that Damon unceremoniously killed Lexi in season one.  It almost seems like the writers are regretting that decision, but oh well.  The main point of this is Stefan wants Elena to not give up on life/love/Stefan.  But girlfriend is dead set on being a martyr, so what can ya do?

In the mean time Bonnie is basking in the afterglow of her hot kiss with Jeremy.  Or is she?  When he comes up to her all she wants to talk about is witchcraft so he is suitably dismayed.  He asks her if she wants to “hang” and do some witch stuff and eat at his place so she says yes.  Boy Warlock briefly appears to confront her but they basically ignore his sorry ass.  So she comes to the house, and Jeremy has gone all out with takeout food and candles, hoping he can finally get some.  Bonnie is surprised, because she is apparently an idiot, and realizes “oh it’s a date…”  Duh, bitch!  Horny teen on the prowl who you just tongue meshed last night.  In order to not scare her away, he downplays the 10 hours he spent prepping to get laid and the 20 pack of condoms he bought, and tells her instead they can just practice spells, after awkwardly confirming that she did indeed at least enjoy the kiss.  She agrees and they settle down to do some casting, amazing us by stealing flame from a candle and putting it in her hands.  Uhhh, OK, I thought she could do that a long time ago.  Whatever, they babble about draining power, so Jeremy askes her to drain his fluids, I mean his life force, and just as they are about to get into some serious draining, Daddy Warlock appears, throws Jeremy on the wall and bitch slaps her down.    He then proceeds to threaten her and steal her powers.  Ouch.  Now as much as I am not a big Bonnie fan, I was really hoping she’d go Dark Willow on his ass and take him down a notch.  But alas, it looks like we are going to be saddled with a couple weeks of Jeremy comforting Bonnie about losing her powers.  Yawn.

Now on to the main plot.  There’s some intro with Jenna hanging with Elijah (cute couple!) to visit the old family areas, and he’s searching for some old graveyard.  I honestly wasn’t paying much attention.  Alaric drops by and is jealous, plus Jenna has been giving him the cold shoulder ever since Uncle John infected her with his annoying doubts about Isabel.  The scene goes nowhere but somehow they all end up at the bar and Heroes galpal suggests they all have a fun dinner party at Damon’s.  Woot!  Man I wish I could have gone to this party.  Elijah is delighted, and shows up later at the house.  He tells Damon, who by the way is planning to kill him with the magic dagger and voodoo ash (given to Damon by John who is apparently very trustworthy), that if he tries anything less than friendly, he’ll kill everyone in the house and steal Elena to boot.  Damon’s like, no way bro, I just wanna hang with you!  Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that just before this, Damon goes to visit Katherine, who’s all decrepit waiting for blood.  I guess he wasn’t 100% stupid as he wanted to make sure John wasn’t lying, so he goes to confirm the dagger’s powers with someone even more trustworthy: the chick who’s lied, broke his heart and betrayed and kicked his ass a dozen times.  Yeah, that’s where I’d go for my critical life and death info too.  He also apparently had time to stop by Forever 21 and pick her up some nice new dresses, cuz that’s just how he rolls.  She ends up begging him to not kill Elijah (promising to help him save Elena and fight Klaus), because then she’ll be stuck in the cave forever (since Elijah was the one who compelled her there).  Damon just taunts her some more and tells her she’s revealed everything to him, muhahaha!

So they have a fun dinner with Alaric, Jenna, Uncle John (who shows up uninvited), Heroes chick, Elijah and Damon.   Why can’t we all just get along because I would watch a show just about these guys having dinner parties and givign each other weird looks every week.  Damon eventually lures Elijah into the study where he’s got the dagger stashed, and is planning to make his move.  But at the same time, Elena at the lake house is busy reading the Handbook and confronts Stefan about the dagger.  But then she reads -wait for it- the dagger if used by another vampire will kill the vampire too!  Damn those witches for making so many funky rules with their artifacts.  It’s like a RPG item with too many modifiers.  Dagger of Elder Vampire Slaying: requires white oak ash to activate, +100% damage to Elder Vampires, not usable by vampires, must also be…. (oops not yet).  Stefan calls Damon but his iPhone isn’t on him, what’s up with that?  So he calls Alaric instead, and just in time Alaric interrupts what might have been a big disaster.  They head back to the dinner table for dessert, and as Jenna goes to the kitchen to bake her pie, Elijah again threatens everyone for good measure, but just as he talking BAM he’s stabbed through the heart and he dies.  Surprise!  Alaric has used the dagger and totally caught me off guard.  He’s human, so it’s OK!!!  Hooray!  Elijah is dead.  Again!  So let’s hurry up and chop him to pieces and then burn all the parts…  or not.  It’s probably better to just leave him untouched like we did last time, because nothing bad happened, right?

Next scene we see the bromance boys (Alaric and Damon) throwing Elijah’s body in some dungeon room.  I guess Damon had time to grab the dagger and he makes some bitchy remarks to Alaric, who tells him he’s his only friend so he better be nice.  These two need to get a room and be done with it.  Seriously, though, am I the only one who remembers Damon killing Alaric?  Oh well, I guess it’s all relative if you have a resurrection ring.  On a side note, it’s kind of cool how there are no repercussions to dying and coming back to life if you have one of those rings.  Pretty sweet. 

Back in the lake house, Elena is still reading ever so slowly from the Handbook.  Apparently there’s some empty pages or page breaks because it takes her a while to find out that you can kill the elder with the dagger and he will only stay dead as long as you leave the dagger in the body.  Yes I LOL’d here and almost threw my remote at the TV.  So Stefan calls Damon to tell him about this little glitch, but when he goes to check, surprise!  The body is gone and we know Elijah is gonna be all kinds of pissed.  Why he didn’t slaughter everyone in the house first, I don’t know, but he decides to go straight for Elena at the lake house.

The ongoing subplot with Alaric and Jenna gets some brief screen time, as she confronts him about Isabel and he just stares into space, so she starts crying and whining about not being able to trust him.  Annoying Uncle John promises to help him but he wants his resurrection ring back first.  So Alaric hands it over, but taunts him by reminding him he and Damon are best buds, and Damon will be pissed that John tried to trick him.  Clearly the whole point of this scene was to make sure the audience knows exactly who has the resurrection ring.  It’s John, aka The Highlander, aka The Horrible Actor who Dies but Keeps Coming Back.  Yes, we get it writers, you love him and will continue to resurrect him to punish me.

So now we move on, and Elijah is at the lake house, and he’s ready to kick some ass.  He grabs some pebbles and uses his patented “quarters” move to blow down the door.  He tells Elena he can’t come in but he can wait her out.  Stefan cowers behind a wall and tells Elena to go deal with this mess (OK that didn’t really happen but whatever).  Elena’s like, don’t worry, I can handle this Elder Smelder Vampire, you go get prettied up for me.  So she comes out Full-On Elena style and bitches at Elijah yet again to make a deal.  He tells her no more bargains, he’s gonna kill everyone.  She tells him she still has one more card to play, the martyr card!  And all the fans know she can’t wait to play it.  With her dead, there is no more doppleganger to lure Klaus out.  Elijah says there’s no way Stefan will let her die, and she says F- that, he’ll turn me into a vampire just like Katherine and yuor plan will still be foiled.  Elijah, being wise after thousands of years, calls her bluff, but clearly he has underestimated just how wackily suicidal this girl is.  She’s been itching to kill herself for many episodes now so she takes delight in stabbing herself with a dagger.  Elijah is like, damn this girl is really f-ed up, and immediately concedes, promising her everything she demands (again) – man she is really good at manipulating centuries-old vampires.  He yells at her to let him heal her, and she jumps into his arms, pulls out the dagger… and STABS him to death!  I’ll be honest, I jumped out of the seat her and yelped in delight.  I totally did not see that coming, and I have to give it to the writers and Elena for keeping me on my toes the whole way.  We then see Damon come out and reveal he brought the dagger, brilliant!!!   She stares down the worthless vampire brothers and tells them – all right you little bitches, stop hiding things from me, from now on we do it MY WAY, we gonna throw down Elena-style!  Now I’m a bit bugged they still don’t bother dismantling Elijah’s body, but choose instead to just leave the dagger in place.  This irritates me because it means any time someone can just pull it out and he’s back again, again.  Oh well.

So after a big sigh of relief and thinking the episode is over, I smile as there is still one more scene!  Damon comes home and sees his hot chick showering, so he’s ready to have some fun.  But wait, that ain’t the Heroes chick, it’s…. BAM!!!  Katherine!!!!!  She stands there naked and asks for a towel as he stares and drools.  She tells him she’s played him yet again – killing Elijah actually freed her, it was always part of her plan.  But…. she’s here to help take Klaus out.  Exit, stage right.

Whew, that was a doozy of an episode.  I love being caught off guard, even though I feel like a tool for getting tricked, TWICE, and also I don’t see why these tools don’t take better precautions with their elder vampires.  But I forgive them for giving me such delight, and can’t wait to see what’s coming next.


Richard: V #2.6 – Siege

Wow, right after I blasted the last episode and was ready to drop the show into Never Never Land, the powers that be gather themselves and deliver what has to have been the best episode of V to date.   It’s not that the plot or story was spectacular, in fact most of it was downright senseless, but that they finally chose a tone that suitably acknowledged the severity of the situation that the show is actually conveying.  Aside from the torture episode, for the most part no one seems to be taking this alien takeover seriously. 

Let’s take a step back, and just imagine that we are being “visited” by giant spaceships that are hovering menacingly in the air over all our major cities.  No matter how benign and smiley and “of peace” the aliens appear to be, are you really telling me people wouldn’t freak out and prepare for the worst?  Maybe in the 80s, but in this day and age, the majority of society is just so much more jaded and, for lack of a better word, cynical.  We’re quick to judge and assume the worst, and I don’t care how many times an alien gives me a goofy smile, I’m still going to assume they are here to rape my planet.  What happened to Trust No One?

Back to the show, Anna is going full bore to take out Oded Fehr and his Fifth Column nutjobs.  She sends Ryan out again with the same tired threat to his baby, and shockingly, he complies.  More shockingly, he is kidnapped within 5 seconds.  Awesome plan, dude!  Anyway, someone should just kill that stupid alien baby, it’s just getting in the way, and it doesn’t seem to have any cool powers like the original hybrid Starchild.  Bored now. 

Meanwhile Juliette has been suspended from the FBI because of her entanglements with Priest Evil Tom, and is meaning to take the day off to spend with Krychek and Tyler/Doofus so they can reunite as a family.  They have a sweet family moment and Tyler is just so happy he could cry, at which point I pretty much guessed Krycheck was done.  Anyway, duty calls, as Oded tells her he has captured Ryan so she teleports over to his base (btw has anyone noticed that it seems like everyone, humans and aliens included, seem to just teleport to whatever location they want to be at?  whether it’s Anna’s ship or in New York, they just get to where they want to be.  Nice!).  Anna finds out the location (she had someone tracking Ryan which apparently he also knew about. Huh?) and decides it’s a great time to take out Juliette AND Krycheck to get her paws back on Doofus, even though just last week she told us she didn’t *really* need him.  I guess she has a lot on her mind so I’ll forgive her.  She arranges it so that the FBI will send their entire force to kill Oded, and with all their forces they’ve pretty much got the base surrounded.  Juliette comes up with the brilliant plan to kill 2 birds with one stone, making it seem like she is Oded’s hostage (so the FBI doesn’t suspect her anymore) and hopefully finding a way to get them all out alive.   She even has Oded bitch slap her a couple times to make it look real.  The audience accepts this misogyny because we all know in real life Juliette would make Oded her bitch.

Anna then sends her lead engineer down to make sure Krycheck also will be in the building, but he doesn’t have to try too hard because the dunce is already on his way after seeing the news report of Juliette as a hostage.  Evil Tom also catches the news (after being kicked out of the Catholic churchdom) and arrives at the scene to do useful things like watch in dismay.  There’s some pretense of an alien sleeper giving Krycheck the info to make it inside, but in any case soon enough he’s in with Juliette in time for them to share a sweet reunion kiss.  If anyone wasn’t sure he was dead this episode at this point, they just haven’t watched enough TV.   Ditto on Oded who shows Juliette the sad picture of his wife he carries around (shades of Lost’s Sayid, maybe?).  I thought he had maybe a 50/50 chance at that point.

Things start to go sour and the plot continues to be kind of a mess, but a briskly paced one to make it more forgivable.  Oded calls his suicide bomber squad outside to grab some hostages, who are all then brought inside the building.  We don’t see it but I guess the bombers then take off their bombsuits and throw them all in a pile next to Oded but don’t bother disabling them.  It’s a big building, but I’d definitely want to store all my bombs next to Oded, too. 

In a V-only “twist,” Anna then calls Hobbs (Terrorist) and essentially activates him, reminding us of the deal he had with Marcus, and reminding me with a slap in my face for making fun of this plot point last week.  Apparently they have his wife too as a hostage (sigh, really?  more female hostages?  more betrayal in our crack team?) and force him to use some magic device that will set off the suicide bombers’ bombs.  This would effectively kill everyone inside the building (if you were counting that includes Oded, Juliette, AND Krycheck, along with a horde of 5th column soldiers).  I can’t say why she had to have Hobbs do the deed, aside from the sheer fun of it, but whatever.  Not to mention he doesn’t bother getting anything but a one second verbal confirmation of his wife’s voice.  Oh well, we don’t have time for pleasantries in this episode.

I then lost track of the timing, but Oded basically tells Juliette he’s going to sacrifice himself, but luckily his second in command (some squirrely looking dude in the background who I’ll just call The Squirrel) knows everything he does about all the contacts and information regarding the 5th column’s resources and armies.  But he’s putting her in charge, because he sees something special in her.  I think he saw the episode of Lost where she threw down with Kate and kicked her ass.  So they plan to send Squirrel out with the hostages, and so the whole group is led outside.  Things seem to be going well until Hobbs activates the magic device and the building explodes (presumably eating up Oded and maybe Ryan) and all hell breaks loose.  People start randomly shooting at each other, and OF COURSE they keep shooting at the line of hostages exiting the building.  Now here I have to ask who the f-ing f was shooting at these people?  The FBI or the 5th Column?  Because there was absolutely NO REASON for anyone to be shooting at them.  Now maybe we are to assume it was supposed to be stray gunfire, but really, these guys could use some advanced training because all of the stray fire seems directed at the hostages, in particular our sad X-Files reject, Krycheck.  

No surprise, he gets shot multiple times and dies in Juliette’s arms (at least he got to kiss her once beforehand), just in time for Doofus to arrive and see him dead.  Of course at this point all the “stray” gunfire has stopped, as they only needed enough to take out Krycheck.

In the aftermath, Doofus is all kinds of pissed, and instead of comforting his mother, he bails to go do spaceship training.  She begs him to stay but he blames her for his father’s death, at which she finally slaps the little snot the way we all wish we could.  But unlike the rest of us who would have liked to continue beating some sense into him, she immediately apologizes and he’s out the door, leaving her devastated.

A little while later, she is MAD.  She’s going DARK, and I LIKE IT.  She assembles her remaining forces and tells them she’s been left in charge of the 5th Column’s suicide armies, and in a riveting speech, she is ready to go on the offense.  No more Ms. Nice Juliette.  She’s going to pretend Anna is Kate and kick her ass two ways to Sunday.  Juliette’s feeling confident, and can anyone blame her?  Let’s take a quick look at her awesome team.  Priest Jack, having lost his collar, tells her he was a soldier once and he’s ready to do it again.  Level UP!  Soldier Jack at your service.  Bailey is there too, and he’s ready to….. report like there’s no tomorrow.  And last but not least, we have…. Hobbs, the one who just betrayed her and got her ex-hubby killed.  She tells him she’s kept him on a leash too long, so she’s ready to unleash him Wolverine-style.  I’m going to call him Wolverine from now on unless he completely disappoints me. 

If that moment wasn’t enough, we get a final scene where Supergirl is wandering the ship and happens to see her mother teleporting up from the Diana dungeon.  Lucky catch!  She drops down and finally gets to meet her grandma, who tells her they have a common enemy:  Smiley!  This looks to set up next week’s bitchslapfest between Anna and Supergirl, and I for one can’t wait.

I really hope they can maintain the “upgraded” pacing and tone of the show in what will no doubt be the last few episodes of the series.

This weeks starts out kind of odd but builds up nicely to a shocking conclusion.  Shocking because any true soap fan would have seen it coming a mile away.  The writers are definitely good at keeping you sidetracked with what looks like a conventional X-Files episode, while simultaneously building up to what’s really important to them (and us). 

Last week we were promised in the preview that we’d get a “can’t miss” episode, but the first half plays out kind of slow and very episode-of-the-week-ish.  The only catch is we are back in the Altiverse and faux-cused on Faux-livia (See what I did there?  Clever huh?  Sorry).  Anyway, apparently she is back to normal and her hot boyfriend (introduced a while back) is back in town and ready to get. it. on.  She’s a bit hesitant, and gives him numerous signs and looks that things aren’t perfect, but he’s a guy and he’s very horny, so he chooses to ignore them to get some action.  Everyone knows on this series who is going to put out and who isn’t.

Meanwhile, the Alt-Fringe team gets a case involving some bioterrorist dude who infects people with some disgusting beetle bug that we get lots of gross special effects from.  Bugs crawling all over, out of peoples’ noses, etc.  Since Alt-Broyles is dead, the goofy burned boy (let’s call him Human Torched) has apparently taken his place as boss.  Why on earth didn’t they pick Alvarez (I mean Charlie) to do the job, or perhaps get someone who looks like they had not just gone through puberty?  Even Fauxlivia looks like the more experienced between the 2.  I guess being burned alive and surviving it gets you an easy promotion.  Something to remember in this bad economy. 

In between the craziness we get a cut to Walternate talking to his wife, played by the lovely and ever exotic Joan Chen.  And by lovely, I mean she is a freaking mutant who apparently does not age.  She looks exactly the way I remembered her from around 20 years ago, luminous and almost glowing with classic Asian beauty.  I kept staring at the screen and looking for wrinkles or some sign she was not a lizard with human skin painted on.  Walternate meanwhile looks like a sharpei, with enough wrinkles to scare anyone into submission.  Anyway, Joan yammers on about how awesome he is, and he whines about not wanting to sacrifice any children even for the greater good.  That’s the only line he’s drawn, which kind of doesn’t make sense when the *fate of the universe* is at stake and he’s previously been shown to be willing to make any sacrifice.  It’s all in all a bizarre, needless (well not needless as I’m sure they are foreshadowing “something”) and creepy scene.  I love Joan but have no idea why she would play this role because seeing her in bed with him gave me the heebee jeebees.

Anyway, the creepy bio guy has some aspiration to resurrect some long forgotten species of beetle, and thus achieve immortality in the annals of science, yada yada yada.  To do so he just needs to perfect his bugs to be more resilient, and a couple human hosts to get the party started.  Really no one cares about this, because as already revealed, the only thing important to us now is the soap opera plot.  The gross effects make for a good diversion though.  Bio guy realizes all of this too so he knocks Fauxlivia unconscious and seals Human Torched in a refrigerator.  Irony much?  We then see her coming to and drinking the same water he used to infect his previous victims.  Uh oh, this is really bad news for our spunky heroine.

Now by the second half I started wondering exactly what was going to be so special about this episode.  I figured someone important to the main plotline was probably going to die and for a moment I wondered if they’d really put their twist on and kill Fauxlivia.  Too bold.  Or maybe have to freeze her in some stasis to save her life from the crazy beetles.  Too predictable.  Instead the writers go full-soap, revealing Fauxlivia was never infected and instead that she is – wait for it – preggers!!!  I have to say I was totally ashamed at myself for not figuring this out.  I’ve seen dozens of Chinese soaps where I was able to predict who was going to get pregnant and when.  But here I didn’t catch on until I saw the ultrasound and realized where they were going.  Even then I thought maybe the baby would be in jeopardy from the beetles, but no such luck.

In a conventional soap I suppose this would just be a standard bump in the road.  But on Fringe it’s a masterful twist to the core story.  Fauxlivia eventually admits she still loves Pacey, breaking the heart of the beau who is trying to propose to her, and now she is pregnant with Pacey’s baby.  Wow.  How can he not choose the Altiverse now?  Is he willing to kill off his gal and his own baby?  AND Joan Chen?  Things are not looking good for our Olivia, or our sad reality.  It’s hard enough to compete with a smilier, happier, friendlier, and sluttier version of yourself.  And now there’s a baby as well?  Damn, I’m booking a zeppelin to the Altiverse NOW.

Richard: V #2.5 – Concordia

Mike and I often openly wonder how certain shows get written and produced and out the door to the public without detailed scrutiny.  I’ve said on more than one occasion that these network execs need to get their heads out of their asses and hire the 2 of us to just look over their shows before they waste too much money and embarass themselves.  We wouldn’t charge that much, really.  Seriously, shows like The Cape, Heroes, No Ordinary Family, V – you have to wonder if there’s a room full of retarded monkeys churning out scripts at random.  Now I’m the kind of guy who’s happy to check his brain at the door when I sit down to relax and watch some TV, but please don’t insult my intelligence and then spit on me to boot.   It’s unfortunate for the networks these days that audiences are much more sophisticated (and jaded) than they were 20 years ago.  It’s going to take a little more than hot chicks running around in spandex and swallowing fake chocolate covered mice to keep us interested.

But enough ranting, this week’s V involves Anna’s latest plot advancement, or as I call it, whatever the monkeys came up with while sitting on the toilet a day before shooting begins.  The aliens are apparently going to build some giant palace structure called Concordia to hide (or house?) their plans to breed with human females.  There’s no real indication just what type of breeding is planned but either way, Anna’s brought in her top engineer to oversee this awesome feat of awesomeness.  Why do they need these giant buildings?  Who knows?  Maybe there will be a ton of eggs.  Or a ton of women.  Or they read the reports and think the population is really *that* obese.  Or maybe the buildings weren’t really that big, and I misunderstood.  The thing is, and it’s not hard to wonder, why these aliens with such vastly superior technology are willing to waste all their time with the pretense of being “of peace” in the middle of their invasion plans.   I mean, seriously, what are the major threats to their spaceships?   Did they watch Will Smith in Independence Day and mistake that for a documentary?  Or maybe they thought Jeff Goldblum had some new viruses he could infect them with.

Then again, given how dense Anna seems to be, maybe they should be afraid.  She spends her energy cultivating her daughter, who wants to betray her, Bailey, who wants to betray her, Juliette, who wants to betray her, Ryan, who wants to betray her – well, you get the idea.  The only one who’s on her side is Doofus, who by the way in this episode is turning 18, and we all know just how useful he is.  Speaking of which, the writers seem loathe to tell us exactly what is so “special” about Doofus, aside from him being a total tool.  OK I guess he’s a pretty boy tool, but still.  In one scene, Anna says its because he was “chosen” by Supergirl.  But all the work they’ve been doing down on Earth seems to indicate there’s actually something special about him genetically.  Who knows?  Of course just when you think they established he is critical to their plot, they do a 180 and Anna goes Yoda on us and tells us “there are others.”  OK, whatever.  So half the storyline is devoted to Juliette and Anna trying to one up each other on who can give Tyler/Doofus the better birthday gift and thus keep him in their clutches.   Juliette enlists Krycheck (Doofus’ dad) who is looking old and haggard and not nearly as cool as he did on X-Files.  Anna enlists The Engineer on her side.  Seriously, this is what they think audiences are into, the battle for who gives the best presents to claim Doofus’ soul?  I would have bought him an iPad, which I’m pretty sure would have won.

Meanwhile, Eli Cohn and the “Big 4” decide enough is enough – they need to take Anna down now and “win the war.”  Eli wants to go with his favorite method: human bombs during the celebration announcement of Anna’s Concordia contraption.  Apparently he has a whole army of martyrs who can’t wait to blow themselves up for the cause.  Ryan and Terrorist are good to go, but Juliette and Evil Tom resist.  They are unwilling to sacrifice some innocents to save the entire freaking planet.  Clearly these people have not watched 24 or Aliens, because otherwise they’d be a little more willing to do what it takes to get the job done.  The FBI, though just a tad suspicious of Juliette, naturally decide she’s the best person to oversee Anna’s security for the function.  Of course she’s the best choice, it’s not like she’s lost 2 partners in a couple weeks and/or been seen with a suspected/known Fifth column member.  I’d hire her 9 times out of ten!

When Anna wins the war for best bday gift, Juliette goes berserk and decides to throw down.  No one’s stealin my baby, she cries!  So she comes up with a better assassination plot, she’s gonna set it up so the Terrorist can snipe Anna from afar.  We then get an award-winning juxtaposition sequence where Juliette simultaneously plans out the sniper attack AND the defense against it.   Brilliant!!  I can just see the writers patting themselves on the backs and doing a smug Anna smile of their own when they wrote this.  Oh, we’re soooooo clever!  Could we *be* any more clever?  Anyway, the “master plan” basically boils down to something a 2 year old could come up with.   Evil Tom causes a distraction while Juliette lets the sniper and Eli in.  And really that’s it.  Oh yeah, Eli Cohn, leader of the Free Peoples and Humanity’s Last Hope, is going to be used as a spotter.  Oded Fehr, why?

Now I’m all for using my imagination, but this show makes it painful.  Aliens, really powerful aliens, are here – and our best defense is a rogue FBI agent, an ex-priest, an ex-terrorist, a turncoat alien, and a stupid reporter past his prime.  I weep for all of us.   When Joshua was still on our side, it kind of evened the odds a bit, but this season there has been no mention of alien supporters, so our heroes are on their own.  I guess we have Supergirl too, but unless she brings her Supergirl powers it’s looking pretty thin.

At the last second, Ryan flips and warns Marcus about the attack.   Marcus tells Anna and she has him go up the podium instead.  At which point, the terrorist dude, forgetting about his plotlines/deal with Marcus from last season (it was just a dream I guess), decides to just take him out instead.  After much drama, they take the shot and he’s left in critical condition.  Anna is pissed and glares at Juliette for failing.   Juliette’s boss and co-worker both turn on her as well, and now she’s under investigation.

There are so many interesting ways they could have worked the plotlines for V, but sadly none of them are being used and in their place is left shoddy writing and mediocre acting from a lot of pretty people.  I’m guessing no renewal for this show.

In an overload of cute coincidences, we get a heart wrenching (literally) Valentine’s episode that happens to be numerically episode 2-14.  Could they really have planned it this way?  Who knows?  In any case, as has been consistent with the show, we get an abundance of everything and the core plotline moves with alarming speed, while simultaneously keeping an eye out for big soap opera moments. 

The WW pack is pissed off and licking its wounds.  In comes a fresh faced smart kid WW (FFWW) who seems to know all about the moonstone and the breaking of the vampire stuck-in-nighttime curse.  Essentially it’s framed as whoever controls the moonstone controls the fate of the WWs vs the vampires.  He gathers the remaining WW bunch and they decide they have no options but to go full bore and attack ALL the vampires in town.  Sure, why not?  It’s not like it’s been established that a single vampire (or witch) can render a pack of them useless in mere seconds when it’s not the full moon.  But they know this is Vampire Diaries, and everyone’s powers vary as they need to, so they are probably hoping for the best. 

Meanwhile, we get a gratuitous shot of our 3 girls in bed together after their slumber party from last ep.  Stefan calls Elena, who falls off the bed, and they decide to go off on a romantic trip all on their own, mostly so she can get away from her dad (the ever annoying Highlander).  On a side note, I hate to rant but this guy (David Anders) is so freaking annoying, and he just won’t die.  Seriously, he doesn’t die.  And even when he does die (in various shows, no less) he finds a way to come back.  Whoever his agent is deserves a big bonus.  Anyway, back to the romantic trip to the family Lake House.  Elena is hesitant at first since she hasn’t been there since her parents died, but eventually Stefan convinces her to create some new memories there (aka sex).  We get a few more cute moments and some “romance” Stefan/Elena style (yawn), which eventually leads to the real reason they are here (sex).  To find a hidden chamber which houses all sorts of Vampire Slayer (TM) equipment, as well as another journal with lots of vampire killing info.  Sweet!  What excellent timing.  All that stuff would sure be nice if I had to fight The First!

Back to the pack, Go Pack Go!  Damon and his boytoy Alaric are licking their wounds after a meaningless confrontation with Elijah, who has come to town ostensibly to promote a new book or some such nonsense.  Elijah shows Damon who’s boss as they establish that he really is an elder vampire and can kick Damon’s butt whenever he feels like.  Alaric does nothing but make some off hand comment about how Elijah has great hair.  Really?  Someone please get this guy something useful to do!  He was in Blue Crush for Pete’s sake!  Damon as usual likes to mouth off, so it’s amusing to watch as he yet again gets pwned by a stronger vampire.  But he knows he’s the breakout star of the show, so he laughs it off and gets Alaric to bring him drinks.  Earlier, Alaric had a run in with the Highlander who, in the most annoying way possible, threatened to reveal his secrets to Jenna.  So he whines about not wanting to lie anymore to her, while Damon looks bored and we are too.  It’s cute how these guys are best buds now, even though Damon killed him last season.  Luckily there’s no short supply on resurrection rings (or for that matter daywalker rings – the gear in this show is top notch), and the Highlander reminds the audience that Alaric has one (setup for later in the episode much?).   

Oh yeah, there’s a short sequence regarding the reporter (some chick I last saw in Heroes) Damon played with last week, who he has compelled into falling in love with him.  I guess she’s his diversion from Elena and it’s kind of sweet that he puts on a scarf for her to cover up the bite marks.   So anyway, Alaric is finally leaving, (I guess they just hang out all day/night, it’s not like he has to teach or grade papers or anything), Damon’s resting and whack, there’s a sound and Damon finds poor Alaric “dead” yet again, as the camera pans to his resurrection ring a few times to make sure we remember he’s not *really* dead.  Yay, the pack is here!  Damon fights but gets subdued again, overwhelmed by the numbers (plus he’s already hurt), and soon enough, FFWW is torturing him with a contraption straight out of Saw (to get the moonstone), and even cleverly references the “torture porn” genre.  Kudos to you FFWW!!  I’m thinking this is a cool new character I could like.  Damon laughs it off, again knowing he’s a bigger name than any of these losers, and continues to taunt the pack even though we don’t perceive any advantage he might have, aside from knowing Alaric is lying there and can theoretically come back to be even more useless than he was earlier.

Back in town, the Scooby Gang is back at it.   Luckily the writers have contained them into this minor subplot so we are spared too much of Bonnie.  So the witch, her drooling slave Jeremy, and Caroline (slumming it a bit this episode) have devised an awesome plot to kidnap Kid Warlock and pump him for info, Salem-witch style.  Bonnie makes some sexy eyes at him which is apparently enough to get him to lose his senses and drink a roofie, and the team grabs him and goes.  Jeremy asks Bonnie if she’s strong enough to cast her spell because he’s so sweet and sensitive, and always so concerned about her, but she tells him she’s fine as she can apparently gain all sorts of power from a few 99 cent candles they picked up at Target.  She has him fetch a bowl of water so that Caroline can gossip with her about what a hot piece of young beef Jeremy is.  After a few more giggles and acknowledgment that they are both damaged goods and should settle for whatever comes along (yes I’m sure everyone feels sorry for these girls to be stuck with Jeremy and Matt), Bonnie is ready to cast her mind control candlespell.  Warlock Boy resists and says he’ll be killed for revealing info, but Bonnie sucks it out of him regardless – the big news is in spite of keeping her protected for the interim, long term they are going to have to sacrifice Elena.  Shocker!  The Scooby Gang is not amused by this at all so they immediately call Stefan and tell him the bad news.

At the house, Stefan confronts Elena about the plot reveal, and she admits she always knew she’d probably have to sacrifice herself.  Stefan yells at her and calls her a wannabe martyr, it’s “tragic” he tells her, because she’s so young and awesome.  She’s like, yeah whatever dude, I’m so awesome I can save all you losers, so leave me alone.  Secretly I think she knows that with all the witches, resurrection rings, vampires, vampire diaries, and handbook journals lying around, she probably has a pretty good chance of coming back even after dying.  Here’s hoping she becomes a Slayer.  Anyway, Big Bad WW from last week brings Tyler to the house to get her.  He neutralizes Stefan and has Tyler watch him while he terrorizes Elena, who gets to do her “run around the house and hide” act yet again.  Is there anyone better than her at running around houses being chased by bad guys?  I think not.  She uses some clever tricks to elude BBWW, while Stefan confrotns whiny Tyler and tells him his new buddies lied to him and are planning to kill Elena.  Faster than you can say flip flop, Ty’s back to the good side and Stefan is easily able to rip BBWW’s heart out, which is apparently the optimal way to kill WWs (established when they killed Mason earlier in the season).

Speaking of which, back at Damon’s house, just as the torture is getting good, who walks in but Elijah, he of the “great hair.”  He makes short work of the WW pack, and gets the record for most beating hearts extracted in the least amount of time in any show to date (I think).  This scene is all cool, and just when I think he might spare FFWW for future fun, he rips him a new one.  Oh well.  Jules actually gets away but no one seems to care, because Elijah is more concerned with taunting Damon and reminding him how many times he’s had to save him.

Whew.  That is a ton of action and plot reveals for a single episode and I know I still missed some stuff.  We end the ep with Tyler saying a heartfelt goodbye to Matt and giving his blessing to him to take care of Caroline, before driving off with Jules.  It looks like they are writing him off for now – but given the curse stuff needs a WW to be sacrificed, I’m sure he’ll be back later.  We also get the long-awaited kiss between Jeremy and Bonnie, as she finally acknowledges she wants to “ski the slopes” with some “hot” young stuff.  So it looks like we’ve got all the couples roughly together just in time for Valentine’s, hooray!

Next week looks like some flashbacks where we get to see Dark Stefan.  Should be fun.

Every time I think I’ve pegged The Vampire Diaries as my favorite currently running sci-fi show, Fringe comes along and fires back with an even more compelling episode.  This week the preview looked like a traditional episodic X-files-ish monster ep, so I wasn’t really expecting much.  But as has often been the case with Fringe this year, the writers have effectively blended a monster-of-the-week storyline seamlessly with the meta-plot arcs.  This has made the show much more compelling all-around IMHO, as you are constantly rewarded with little tidbits of information that may (or may not) be relevant to the “main” plotline.  For those of us drawn by the Pacey-Olivia-Fauxlivia love triangle, this week hits a major milestone that will forever change the way we watch the rest of the show.  Yes, I will be bold and call it a game changer.

But I’m getting a little ahead of myself here.  The story begins with some scientist celebrating and then getting a creepy doll gift which shoots some gas on him.  The gas ends up melting his bones and he’s left in a disgusting crushed up state.  Turns out Walter is somehow related to this type of stuff (of course, is there anything he hasn’t worked on in the past?) yada yada yada.  More importantly when they get to a later paralyzed victim of the same “villain,” Walter decides to enlist one of his old X-Men, I’m sorry, I mean one of his old test subjects who conveniently has the power to read minds.  We’ll call him Jean Grey because I don’t remember his name.  Jean is living in a desolate area on his own because he can’t quelch the voices he hears, effectively it’s driven him kind of crazy when he’s around too many people because he can’t drown out the voices.  Apparently he has not had the benefit of his mother training him to focus and relax while sitting on the top of a ferris wheel (see No Ordinary Family for details).  It’s actually dealt with more realistically than many standard telepath plotlines, as the writers try to address the conesequences of really being unable to turn off such an ability.

Conveniently, though, he can’t read Olivia, because she is special.  OK, fine, I’ll buy that.  She can walk between alternate universes so of course a telepath can’t read her!  This makes for some nice bonding between the two, since he can refreshingly let his guard down around her without knowing what she is really thinking, and to him it’s a major relief.  Now normally this should lead into a romance (see Twilight) but we don’t have time for this on Fringe.  We already have to deal with the greatest love triangle ever devised, so no time for extraneous mind-readers, unless they serve to advance the plot.  And advance it he does!  Eventually he helps stop the bad guys from releasing more chemical vengeance, but honestly no one really cared about that storyline.

Let’s step back a moment now, and reflect on the Epic Love Triangle, since this is my first Fringe episode review here.  The writers have devised the ultimate triangle, between a man, his love interest, and the alternate universe version of his love interest.  How do you compete with someone who is essentially you, but without all the baggage of being tested like a lab rat for most of your life?  The details of how they “engage” with each other are even more tantalizing.  Just as our hero, Pacey, has revealed his true feelings for Olivia, and she tells him she feels the same, they are pulled apart as he decides to head back to the reality he came from.  She brings him back to our reality (from his rightful one) with the implied promise that they are going to start a relationship together. 

But wait!  The alternate Fauxlivia takes her place and the relationship begins with her, with him believing it’s the “real” Olivia; he sees differences that he likes (like she’s finally willing to do him and she smiles more), but he attributes this (as most ego-centric men would) to her being with him.  Of course she’s a happier, more fun person now that she’s with me (Pacey)!  Later after he realizes he’s been duped and the real Olivia is back, who’s to blame for the mess?  To further complicate matters, it’s established that Fauxlivia is/was really falling for Pacey as well.  So both versions have feelings for him, and in spite of what he tells the real one (that his intentions were always devoted only toward her), the fact is he only developed a “complete” relationship with the alternate one.  They were practically living together before it all fell apart.  Complicated much?

This just makes everything that much more juicy and heart-wrenching.  Real Olivia feels violated, jealous and generally weirded out that someone else was living her life.  She can’t help but wonder why someone who loves her didn’t recognize it wasn’t really her.  Pacey feels duped and confused but still wants to reconcile (or does he?).  She forgives him, kind of, but still has lingering doubts, and little reminders creep into their relationship – such as Pacey getting her a slightly different mod on her coffee (good job doofus).  Everyone knows a sensitive dude like Pacey would never f up his lady’s coffee order.  Freudian slip much?

So back to the show.  Olivia tries to encourage Jean to live his life more “normally” – essentially to put himself out there with a girl he likes.  He tries to explain that being able to read minds is not the same as her dimension hopping power, it actually has immediate, painful consequences.  Like finding out what people are really, honestly thinking about you.  It hurts because generally, people suck.  Even the best of them.  Finally to shut her up he reminds her that he *can* read Pacey’s mind, and he gives her an un-opened letter.  The reveal?  Shock of all shocks, he *does* still have feelings for Fauxlivia.  Dun dun dun!  I’m sorry to say that the dude hasn’t been laid in the 3 years the show has been on, so it’s not too big a surprise he still has fond feelings for the version of the chick that actually puts out.  OK, that sounded a bit crass, but seriously, time to step it up, Real Olivia.  Get in the game and get yourself some Pacey.  He’s never been better than he is now as Dark Pacey.

Now here’s the kicker.  For those of us obsessing over the soap opera plotline, we don’t have to feel like tools anymore.  Apparently the soap opera plotline IS the real plotline.  BAM!  In the final scene,  creepy Massive Dynamics lady goes to talk to the mysterious bowling dude guy from season one (I think), who proceeds to tell her that the fate of which universe survives is dependent on which of the Olivias Pacey chooses!  WTF?!!?  This is simultaneously the most inane and most awesome plot development ever.  It makes no sense whatsoever but who the heck cares, because THE FATE OF THE UNIVERSE lies in one man’s pants.  Go Pacey Go.  I don’t know about the rest of you, but I say it’s time for Olivia to get a make-over, hit Victoria’s Secret for a nice teddy, and get her game on.  This ain’t just for love anymore, now it’s about survival.

Absolutely fantastic.  And next week’s episode is billed as the one you “can’t miss.”  I can’t wait.

This week we feature the triumphant return of a fan favorite, The Highlander aka Uncle John Gilbert aka Elena’s long lost birth daddy and Jeremy’s uncle.  OK let me be clear, I can’t stand this guy.  Every time I see him I think to myself why is an old Doogie Howser on the screen, and why has he forgotten how to act.  He annoyed me in Heroes, he annoyed me in 24, he annoys me in Vampire Diaries.   When he’s on screen I can’t help but wonder how he keeps getting work, and why it’s always on my favorite shows.  So that’s the bad news.  He’s back in town professing to want to help protect Elena and the gang but poor guy, no one seems to trust him.  Maybe it’s because he tried to kill pretty much everyone last time around, or maybe he just annoys them as much as he annoys me.  The opening scenes are mostly people bitching at him while he tries to ingratiate himself back onto the show.

Here’s the good news though: somehow his grating presence doesn’t take away from yet another awesome episode.  We start and end with naked Damon dealing with his “issues” – is he good, is he evil, why is he fighting his nature for someone that doesn’t love him.  He has another great scene with Elena (they have about 10 times the chemistry that Elena has with Stefan) where every look seems fraught with meaning and sexual tension. 

But quickly the plot goes elsewhere as the gang is faced with Tyler and his new WW friends causing problems.  They capture poor Caroline and proceed to torture the crap out of her.  I must say the girl does a great job of screaming in pain, I found it tough to watch and couldn’t wait for her to get out and kick some WW ass.  While it’s not explicitly said, I believe they wanted to convey this was the equivalent of her getting raped in terms of being violated.  Apparently the WWs know all the buttons to push and exactly how best to torture a vampire.

Stefan and Damon proceed to try to liberate her (of course they conveniently don’t bother bringing their uber witch offense, or even Alaric to help.  Heck even Jeremy and Elena might have been useful in this fight).  I guess they weren’t expecting an entire wolfpack to show up out of the blue so I guess I won’t blame them.  After a great fight sequence, they eventually get worn down.  Tyler is dumbstruck for most of it and doesn’t do a thing except for finally freeing Caroline from her cage.  It’s too little too late as the remaining WWs get the drop on our beat up triad of vamps.  And then comes the deux ex machina.  Out of nowhere the even more uber Daddy Warlock appears and neutralizes all the WWs with a wave of his hands.   I love how easily the witches and warlocks render everyone else worthless.  Apparently he is honoring the deal Elena made with supervamp Elijah to keep them all safe.   Now any smart (or vengeful) vampire would have likely taken the opportunity to kill all those crazy killer WWs, but that’s just not the style for our gang.  I guess they want to make sure the bad guys rest up for the rematch.  I don’t know about you, but if some psychopathic WW dude just horribly tortured me for hours, I would go and chop his head off to be sure he didn’t come back and bite me.  But I guess that’s just me.

Caroline is suitably hurt, both physically and emotionally, and tells off the worthless tool Tyler for not doing more to help.  You go girl.  She also pushes Stefan away, who keeps offering to help her as she insists she is fine, and lies to Matt about it as well (sadly he catches her in the lie).  But this all just a classic Kevin Williamson setup, as he ends the plotline with the best scene of the night, as Stefan enlists Elena and Bonnie to come to her side for an all-girl sleepover while some awesome music from the soundtrack plays in the background.  If that didn’t bring a tear to your eye, you’re just mean-spirited and a Caroline hater.   

Speaking of Bonnie, another winning episode for her.  She changed her hair again and it looked great.  Plus she had very little dialog, aside from brushing off Daddy Warlock and making googoo eyes at Jeremy.  This is just the right amount of all these side characters, keeping them literally in the background is perfect.

The ep ends with another classic “twist” – Daddy John visiting Katherine and alluding to some sinister plan he is working on with her and Isabelle.  Was anyone really surprised to find John had an ulterior motive? 

Anyway, easily the best episode of 2011 so far.  Caroline is quickly becoming my favorite character on the show and she gives yet another remarkable performance.

This was a fitting title for the episode, because everything about it was unholy.  I admit I fell asleep somewhere midway through the show, but woke up in time to rewatch and experience the unholiness of Morena Baccharin’s brilliant performance as Anna.  Each week she defies all logic with her “acting” and trust me, years from now this will define “camp” in the 2000 era moreso than Jane Badler did as Diana in the 80s.   In fact, watching Jane Badler now playing against Morena, she seems like a pretty high quality actress. Go figure.

Anyway, I told Mike I was going to patent a new drinking game where you take a drink every time she does her own patented “devious alien smile.”  Of course in this ep if you did that you’d likely be drunk within the first 10 minutes.  Now don’t get me wrong, I love me some Morena but what the heck is she doing on screen?  It’s like someone told her to act like an alien and she interpreted that as making devious smiles at everything and everyone at the drop of a dime.  Her daughter, her mother, her enemies, her subordinates, the pope, the baby, the camera – pretty much whatever she can smile at, she will.   I guess she is trying to convey that she knows something you don’t, but unfortunately more often than not her character is oblivious to everything around her.  Is there anyone that *isn’t* planning something behind her back?

This week somehow everyone has convinced themselves that Evil Tom (the priest dude, see reference page for details) is a major threat to the aliens.  These are aliens who can harness blue energy, kill with their tails, fly spaceships across the universe, turn the entire sky blood red, yada yada, but they are afraid of a single priest talking trash about them in a run down church.  Yeah, OK.  Now we do get the reveal that Tom is a “warrior priest,” i.e. he killed some peeps back in the day.  So of course he is a massive threat to the Alien Empire and must be brought down.  By the Pope.  Errrrr.  A few evil smiles and magic tricks later, Anna gets her way and all Catholics are ordered to stay away from Evil Tom and his 5th Column ways.

Even Doofus gets in on the act, trashing the church with his buddies while making sure to film it on his iPhone so everyone can see it.  Oh yeah, of course he loses his iPhone so that his mom can conveniently pick it up later.  Supergirl, fly away!  You can do so much better!!! 

In the mean time, Juliette is saddled with another new partner, who turns out to be an ex-friend or something that knew her before.  Is this a budding love triangle or just a nuisance?  Looks like the latter as he shares info with her boss that she’s been slumming it with Evil Tom on the side and lying about it.  How is it that all these uber aliens with their super technology plus all the people who seem constantly suspicious cannot figure out that Juliette is leading the 5th Column?  I’m betting if she wore a T-shirt with a 5th Column logo on it they still wouldn’t get it.  Anna would smile at her and make some comment about the shirt like she knew something, then turn around and let us know she was completely oblivious.

I don’t remember much else about the episode, except a brief appearance by Oded Fehr as a terrorist version of the 5th column.  Say what you want, but he gets stuff done.  And he’s not limited by being stuck with a bunch of goofballs.  Also more annoying scenes with the hybrid baby, Anna and Morris Chestnut.  All meaningless and filler.  No sign of Diana or Reaper this week and the terrorist dude had no lines.

I give this one a B for entertainment, C for plot.

Another solid episode of our favorite vampire and werewolf show.  Yes, there are more than one of these now (see “Being Human”) so we can’t just call it the vamp/WW show anymore.  Ian Somerholder is in prime form this week as he tries to deal with the love of his life and his new girltoy, plus a new WW chick who seems bent on killing him and assorted random villagers.  That’s more than enough for anybody in a single week.  Damon goes “dark” (again) by episode’s end which really comes as no surprise after having to kill his “friends with benefits” Rose in an all around touching death sequence wherein he controls her dreams and stakes her just as she is relaxed and happy.  I love the use of the dream control power which Mike assures me was introduced in the original premiere.

While I always enjoy watching Elena running around scared and screaming, it seemed a bit forced in this episode.  I loved her scenes with Rose when they didn’t involve the traditional “I’m gonna surprise you by standing right in back of you when you turn around” sequence. 

Meanwhile in Vampire 90210, Caroline is busy choosing between her hunky football player suitor and the new WW in town Tyler.  Personally I’d say it was an easy choice, one is a blond hunk whose bite won’t kill her, the other is a whiny annoying tool who doesn’t seem to know the first thing about WW lore.  Oh well, whatever, there’s no accounting for taste.  Still she manages to get the best line in after both studs try to kiss her and get to second base.  My girl’s not having any of that though.  She is a vamp with a purpose.  I don’t know what is yet, but I have faith in her.

This episode thankfully featured no scenes with witches or whiny little brothers, and not much of Stefan either.  Thumbs up for all of that.  But thumbs down for the “surprise” return of John Gilbert (David Anders aka The Highlander – you’ll have to go way back to Heroes to figure out that reference).  This guy is annoying in every show he’s on, but he keeps getting work.  How he does it I have no idea.