The Rise of Skywalker is a disappointing finish to the Star Wars saga

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (TROS), aka Episode IX, is a sci-fi action movie that’s the last film of the new Disney Star Wars trilogy, and ideally, it is meant to bring a satisfying conclusion to the “Skywalker Saga” that George Lucas created over 40 years ago.

Instead, it’s a movie that races at a blistering pace from the start, giving viewers no time to stop and reflect about what just happened. By the end of the film, you’re simply too exhausted to process everything. The visuals are great, and there are some decent moments in the film. This is the first film where the three major “good guys”: Rey, Poe, and Finn, spend a decent amount of time together. Despite the rumors of reshoots and multiple cuts of the film, it does manage to put together a semi-coherent, if not a very satisfying, story.

If you’re not a huge Star Wars fan and/or you just want an opportunity to shut your brain off for a couple of hours and watch a visual spectacle, then The Rise of Skywalker delivers. If, however, you really like Star Wars, or appreciate things like story and character, or if you’re not a fan of the previous Disney Star Wars films (especially The Last Jedi), The Rise of Skywalker is not going to take you to a happy place.

WARNING: THAT’S THE END OF THE NON-SPOILERY REVIEW.

What follows are my actual thoughts about The Rise of Skywalker, and I’m going to spoil the shit of it. If you HAVE NOT seen The Rise of Skywalker, TURN BACK NOW!!!

HERE THERE BE SPOILERS!!!

There’s a moment near the end of the film that if you blinked, you may have missed it. Two of the female characters in the film share a brief kiss. They’re not major characters at all. In fact, I couldn’t tell you who they were except that the one was an older woman who was one of Leia’s friends/co-workers in the Resistance. 

The Rise of Skywalker echoes the final season of Game of Thrones — the film is solely focused on moving you from plot point to plot point, and it doesn’t want to you think about whether it makes sense. Even when what’s happening in the scene is significant, and probably should pause and allow the audience to feel the weight of what’s going on, TROS doesn’t have time for that. Instead, TROS only slows down to introduce new characters, who are mostly there to assure the audience that Poe and Finn are red-blooded heterosexual men, and/or buy time for the bad guys to show up. 

After seeing The Rise of Skywalker, it’s clear that as much as Disney wanted to make the last three Star Wars films, they had no real plan as to what should be IN those films — other than not to use any of Lucas’ ideas. In fact, even though J.J. Abrams and Lucasfilm deny it, it seems pretty clear that there were multiple cuts of this film, and the released version is just another spliced cut from prior versions. 

The net effect is that the movie feels rushed. There’s no time to explain about why this thing happened; just accept it and move on. Or, worse, things are brought up  in the film, then are simply never resolved. 

I would not be surprised, if, like Justice League, fans will eventually start demanding the release of the rumored “Iger cut” or the “Lucas cut”, hoping that a better version of the Rise of Skywalker existed at some point.

In some ways, The Rise of Skywalker, was kind of doomed from the start. After allowing Rian Johnson to have free reign with The Last Jedi, and the ultimately divisive reactions to that film, J.J. Abrams was left with a bit of bad situation. Abrams had to find a way to either a) just run with what he was given, or b) try to find a way to “undo” elements of The Last Jedi so he could tell a new story, and/or c) find a way to “redeem” the brand and bring back fans who did not enjoy either The Last Jedi or other Disney Star Wars films. Instead, he went with d) all of the above. 

Obviously, J.J. Abrams is not the guy you need if you need someone to devise a creative way out of the corner you’ve written yourself into. Sure, he can make films that are great visually, but he’s not much of an original writer. 

That said, there are elements in this film that, had they more time to be fleshed out (like say, over the course of a trilogy?), had potential. They do finally keep Rey, Poe and Finn together for a good part of the film, but there are no pauses to allow the them to really just “hang out” together, so nobody really develops any further from who they were in the first film. Rey now wants to be a Jedi, but what about Poe and Finn? Why is Chewie still around?

There’s an attempt to give Rey a story arc, to try make her less of a “Mary Sue” by having her have doubts and/or new powers that she’s not entirely in control of. However,  by the time you realize that Rey may have an actual character arc, she’s back to using powers she’s never had before. At one point she runs away, but instead of giving her a chance to express her feelings, she’s quickly given a pep talk and sent on her way. Also, her doubts/fears are never brought up when she’s facing Palpatine, who should have easily exploited such weaknesses. 

— Sigh —

Let me throw in a few things that I like about the film. 

The visual effects are top notch as always with these films — with one glaring exception. Oscar Isaac and John Boyega are great given what little they had to work with. Ian McDiarmid clearly had fun with being Palpatine. Adam Driver is clearly the best actor of the group though, and I think if the films had focused more on his story than Rey’s, we might have had a much better series. The soundtrack was also pretty decent, but like the film itself, nothing memorable.

Okay, I’m just going to make a list of things I don’t like about the film:

1) The Return of Palpatine (dun dun DUNNNNNNN)

This happens in the opening crawl. By the way, Palpatine’s back. He’s broadcasting from somewhere and talking shit about a “Final Order” and making new threats. Supposedly, the good guys have some ridiculous time-table to stop him, like, 16 hours?, or something. It doesn’t matter; the time is just there to arbitrarily move things along, and the cast will constantly remind you.

Why is Palpatine back? HOW is Palpatine back? The film’s not going to tell you. 

Supreme Leader Kylo Ren (I know, right? I snickered when I saw this, too), though, doesn’t like the thought of someone challenging his “authoritah”, so he goes on the hunt for a thing – a Sith Wayfinder – that will show him the location of Palpatine. 

Kylo finds Palpatine in the unknown regions of space. Palpatine tells Kylo he’s been the voice in his head all these years; he’s been secretly running things the entire time. Palpatine says he made Snoke, and you think, oh, maybe this is figurative, until Kylo walks by a vat of fresh Snoke clones growing in a vat. Instead of killing Palpatine, Kylo decides to accept Palpatine as his new boss, since Palpatine’s got a fleet of ships that he refers to as his “Final Order”. In theory, the combined might of the First and Final Order will finish taking over the galaxy and establish a new Empire. 

But why? Isn’t the First Order basically in control at this point? The Resistance is mostly dead, so why hasn’t the First Order already established the “new” Empire? 

Anyway, Palpatine orders Kylo to go “kill the scavenger” (meaning Rey), so he goes on the hunt for Rey.

I get that since Snoke was killed in The Last Jedi, they needed a new bad guy. It was clear that Kylo was never going to be him, or at least, he was going to continue to be conflicted. But, they could have built something around that. They would have been better off introducing Darth Plagueis or some new evil entity. Simply recycling Palpatine feels lazy.

2) Rey’s Family

This was a major f**k you to Rian Johnson, but it’s also really disappointing. One of the few good aspects of The Last Jedi was setting up the idea that Rey could be this powerful while being nobody. Rey is not a Skywalker, or a Kenobi, or related to anyone from the other films. Even the last bit at the end, where the little boy appears to have Force-pulled a broom to his hand, fed into that idea that anyone could be a Jedi. 

Abrams plan? Nope. F— that, Rey is Palpatine’s granddaughter. *sigh*

3) Palpatine’s Plan 

I’m not sure Palpatine even knows what his plan is in this movie. He wants to bring about a new Empire. He wants to kill the last Jedi (Rey). But, when Rey shows up, he decides, no wait, I want you to kill me. He says he’s been preparing a Sith ritual where if Rey kills him in anger, then his spirit and power would flow into Rey’s body. He’d effectively take over Rey’s body. Then, the film tries to spin this as the only way to save her friends is to complete the ritual (the scene basically echoes the same sequence between Luke and Palpatine in Return of the Jedi). Palpatine even opens up the roof to the Sith temple so he can shoot Force lightning at all of the Resistance ships and disable them (the Imper… I mean, Final Order ships, apparently had Force Lightning Plot Armor installed with their new Death Star guns). It’s meant to show Rey just how much peril her friends are in to pressure her into giving in (just like ROTJ)

Oh, yeah, the thousands of Final Order Star Destroyers all have Death Star guns on them. We don’t see this until an hour and a half into the film, and I’m almost shocked there wasn’t this brilliant bit of dialogue after the main characters learn about the guns: 

“They have Death Star guns!” 

“They have Death Star guns?”

“They have Death Star guns”

Why so many ships? The tech used in the Death Star was a HUGE deal. It was a bit of a shock that the Empire even had the resources to build a second one. Then, they built Starkiller Base, which was like Death Star 3.0, and had an even BIGGER Death Star weapon. Palpatine, though, for reasons, found a way to cram the power and tech of a Death Star into a Star Destroyer, and then made hundreds of them. Since there’s so many ships, and they all have this power, it negates the original impressiveness of what the Death Star could do in the original films.

If Palpatine announced a threat with a deadline, why isn’t he already moving his ships into position? Why are they all just sitting there waiting for the Rebels… er, Resistance to find them? 

So, first Palpatine wants Rey dead, then he doesn’t. Then, Kylo/Ben shows up to stand with Rey against him, and Palpatine suddenly realizes that Kylo and Rey are a “Force dyad” that hasn’t been seen in generations. Palpatine can use the dyad to rejuvenate himself, for reasons, so he proceeds to drain the life force out of Kylo and Rey. 

But, he doesn’t kill them.

Rey recovers, and so, Palpatine shoots Force lightning at her. She blocks with her lightsaber for awhile, then decides she needs two lightsabers. Two lightsabers, also for reasons, does the trick, and she’s able to reflect the lightning back at Palpatine. 

At this point, Palpatine should have said “ow” and stopped doing that. Instead, he keeps going and effectively kills himself. Someone on YouTube pointed out, this is the third time over the course of the Star Wars movies that Palpatine has been seriously injured or killed by his own Force lightning. You’d think he’d have learned at some point.

  • Force lightning: Good
  • Force lightning in your face: Bad

Strangely, despite the fact that Rey does kill Palpatine in the end, his life force/powers don’t take over Rey’s body, also for reasons. The entire final confrontation with Palpatine is pretty sloppy. 

Beyond that, this is f**ing Palpatine we’re talking about — the guy that was playing 10th dimensional chess around the other characters throughout the other films. Normally, we see that he’s many moves ahead of the other characters, but in TROS, he’s just making it up as he goes. 

 Then again, since Rey won, and technically, she’s a Palpatine, I guess that means — Palpatine won after all?

Also, bringing back Palpatine cheapens the end of Return of the Jedi, where Vader turns on his master and destroys him in order to save Luke. This is the most disappointing aspect of the film because it shows how little Disney cares about the original IP they invested in.

4) Rey is still a Mary Sue

Sure, they try to show her training, and failing, and she suddenly has doubts about her path, and she has a vision of “dark Rey” and all that. Again, because of the rush, there’s no weight to it. 

But, she killed Chewie, you say? Uh, no she didn’t – that was the first of many death fake-outs. Later, for reasons, she runs off to hide like Luke, but Luke appear, gives her a pep talk (with a bit of a blatant f**k you to Rian Johnson), then sends her on her way.

This time around, Rey has force healing. When she’s pissed, she can cast Force lightning. She was raised on a desert planet, but she’s able to sail a skiff on water during a storm with waves so high that even the natives wouldn’t willingly sail on it. She knows how to pilot First Order craft with no problems. She can fly an X-Wing with no training. She can Force “teleport” to send Kylo/Ben a lightsaber when the plot needs her to. When she beats up the new character, Zorii Bliss, she immediately likes and trusts Rey. 

It also doesn’t help that it feels like Daisy Ridley is phoning in her performance. It’s clear she wants to move on from Star Wars, but then again, based on recent interviews, so are the other major players.

5) The Death Fake-Outs

Ugh. The first time they try to pull this, it’s bad. Really bad. Everyone sees there’s only one shuttle that takes off from the desert planet, presumably with Chewie on board. Then, Rey accidentally blows it up. Again, there’s no dramatic pause here for effect. The characters briefly feel bad, then move on. Abrams then reveals to the audience – aHa! – It’s a trick. Hux tells General Pryde they have a prisoner, and shows us Chewbacca. When Pryde asks, didn’t the ship blow up, and Hux replies, oh, there was a second shuttle.

Riiiiggghhht.

There’s C-3PO’s dramatic sacrifice, which just felt wrong. None of the new characters really like Threepio, so really, they’re perfectly fine with wiping his memory in order to get the translation of the Sith dagger. The film lets Anthony Daniels have his dramatic exit, which was mostly spoiled in the trailer, or so you would think. By the end of the film, though, R2D2 mostly fixes him. 

Poe’s old flame, Zorii Bliss, lives on the planet that Palpatine destroys along with the little puppet droid hacker dude, so it looks like they got blasted to bits. Nope, they’re both fine and show up in time for the final fight.

Rey delivers a fatal blow in her latest fight with Kylo, but feels bad, and heals him. Later, Rey dies in the confrontation with Palpatine, which actually would have been an interesting ending. Nope, Abrams pulls a Star Trek: Into Darkness, and has Kylo/Ben crawl out of the pit Palpatine tossed him into so he can sacrifice himself and revive Rey. They kiss to please all of the Reylo fans, and Abrams can pretend that Kylo was redeemed. 

6) Kylo’s “redemption” 

Yes, Kylo has been shown throughout the new trilogy as struggling between the light and the dark sides of the Force. However, when he’s given a chance to show mercy, he doesn’t. He still kills millions of people. 

He’s ordered to kill Rey, but instead, he plots to turn her to the dark side, and together they’ll rule the galaxy, just like Vader wanted to do with Luke. 

But so did Vader, you say. True, Vader’s actions did not completely redeem him, but Kylo’s actions certainly don’t either. He did nothing in the final fight except finish off the Knights of Ren, and then, only with Rey’s help. He’s only there for the Reylo moment. 

And let’s be honest: why should Rey have the hots for Kylo? She saw him once with his shirt off? In the course of these films, he’s kidnapped her, tortured her, murdered her first father figure (Han), tried to kill her on at least two occasions (maybe more?), tried to use the Jedi mind trick to order her to bring Luke to him, and lured her to Snoke’s ship only to bring her before Snoke. In both TLJ and TROS, he’s only interested in turning her to the dark side in order to consolidate his power (before he turns to the light). 

To Reylo fans, though, this somehow makes Kylo a keeper. I don’t get it.

How about this idea? Rey sacrifices herself to give Kylo/Ben the chance to stop the Emperor, and he does, giving him some bit of redemption by stopping the immediate threat. Rey has died, and Kylo/Ben cradles her, then kisses her goodbye. 

Now, Ben has a chance to begin a true redemption arc where he dedicates the rest of his life striving to live up to to Rey, Leia, and Luke’s example by trying to do some good to make up for all of the bad things he’s done.

That alone could have been Episodes X-XII, or a new Disney+ series, although Ben living and Rey dying probably would enrage the Reylo fanbase even more.

7) Scavenger Hunt

Now, we’re on to the mystery box that Abrams loves to use in all of his films. Here, it’s a convoluted mess. First, they go to find an “ancient” Sith dagger that, for reasons, Lando AND Luke were unable to find. Then, they have to find someone to hack C-3PO in order to get him to translate the Sith runes on the dagger. 

The dagger sends them to Endor, where, you know, the second Death Star didn’t disintegrate but instead huge chunks of it crashed into the moon, and there are many sections that are mostly intact. If you happen to stand in the exact spot on the moon, and use a thingy on the dagger, it will show you the approximate location of Palpatine’s secret stash abroad the Death Star. 

All this is for one of two Wayfinders that have Palpatine’s location, which Kylo destroys just as Rey retrieves it. The only reason the Resistance is able to find the location is because Rey runs off with Kylo’s ship, which has the other Wayfinder. It’s that Wayfinder that Rey eventually uses to send the location of Exogol to the Resistance.

So, really, the entire scavenger hunt was kind of pointless. 

8) ReyLo, but no FinnPoe

The only two characters in these films that have any major chemistry together are Finn and Poe. Rey and Kylo have a bit of chemistry, I guess. But, the entire Rey/Kylo interaction doesn’t exactly represent a healthy relationship (see above).  It’s not Padme/Anakin levels of bad, though. However, if anyone in this film should have kissed at the end, it should have been Finn and Poe. 

It’s actually pretty funny how the movie goes out of its way to give both Poe and Finn love interests in this film. Finn actually spends much of the film being almost uncomfortably obsessed with Rey’s location at any given point, and yells “REEYYY!” a lot.

Hell, they wouldn’t have even needed to show them kissing. At the end of the film while everyone is celebrating, Poe gives his old flame, Zorii Bliss, this little look and head nod, silently asking “so, you wanna hook up?” Zorii shakes her helmet with an emphatic “no.” But, swap Zorii out with Finn, and Finn could just look at Poe for a long second, then shrug his shoulders, and nod, and the two of them walk off screen. Don’t show anything and leave the audience guessing. 

9) Lightspeed Skipping

It happens very early in the film, but it’s insane. The Falcon is now able to “lightspeed skip” — meaning, they make a quick jump to lightspeed, stop, then jump again, rinse, repeat. Again, never mind that this breaks all of the “rules” of lightspeed in the Star Wars universe. The worst part is that they’re being pursued by TIE fighters that are now a) capable of also flying at light speed, and b) capable of tracking them through light speed. Dumbest. Idea. Ever.

10) Leia’s Death

My biggest issue is that there’s no weight to this scene; it happens, and the film just moves on. Even Avengers: Endgame took a minute to pause once they learned of Black Widow’s sacrifice. 

I don’t mind that she used the last of her energy to reach out to Kylo/Ben, even if it just distracts him for a moment. It’s not clear if the vision of Han was Leia’s doing, and I’m sure there will be internet discussions about that. Kylo thinks it’s just a memory in his head. But it causes Kylo to switch back to the light? This is another big moment that should have been given more time/weight.

The only gut-wrenching bit in the entire film is Chewie’s reaction to Leia’s death, but nobody’s got time for that.

11) The Dagger

Part of the scavenger hunt that the gang is on is to go to a place to find a thing that will give them a clue to the location of the next thing, and they find an ancient Sith dagger. The dagger supposedly contains the location of the only other Wayfinder out there that can give them the location of Palpatine. 

So, “ancient” Sith dagger, right? They get the dagger translated, which takes them to Endor, where the second Death Star was not vaporized, but somehow massive parts crashed on the forest moon. The dagger has a thingy that, if you stand in just the right spot while looking at the Death Star wreckage (you know, something that happened 30ish years ago), you could see the exact location of the secret room where Palpatine stashed the other way finder. 

There’s more. The guy that had the dagger was sent to kidnap Palpatine’s son/daughter and his/her wife/husband and his granddaughter. The guy got the parents, but for some reason, didn’t get Rey, even though the film shows that they were all on Jakku. The guy uses the knife to kill the parents, and Rey eventually has a vision of all of this. 

Even if you ignore the “ancient” aspect of the dagger, why does the dagger exist at all? If the guy that owns it was on a mission for Palpatine, why not just give him directions on how to get back to the Unknown Region? If you don’t trust the guy, have him meet up with someone you did trust and have them fly back to you. What about all the ships what would need to deliver resources and/or personnel to build and man all of these new Star Destroyers?

Why does Star Wars need to have a Raiders of the Lost Ark moment, where you have to stand in a specific spot on land and pull the thingy out in order to see the location? Why not just put a tracker beacon on it? Or something? 

12) No Limits 

There are no limits in this film, and that alone kills much of the magic in Star Wars.

  • Kylo is able to Force teleport a necklace by grabbing it from her neck during one of their Force Skype conversations. Rey is able to send Kylo/Ben a lightsaber in a similar manner later in the film.
  • Rey is able to jump over Kylo’s TIE Interceptor, then use her lightsaber to cut through a wing and disable it. 
  • The ship crashes at full speed, rolling to an eventual stop in the desert, and Kylo walks out of the wreckage without a scratch.
  • Rey and Kylo can both Force pull a transport out of the sky. 
  • Palpatine can shoot out Force lightning that impacts thousands of Resistance ships, but no Final Order ships.
  • Palpatine has somehow built and manned a new fleet of thousands of ships, all of which have Death Star tech capable of destroying a planet. 
  • Rey is somehow, without training, able to block/absorb Palpatine’s Force lightning, then, with a second lightsaber, is able to deflect it back at Palpatine, which kills him. 
  • Palpatine is able to drain the life force from both Kylo/Ben and Rey, but not enough to kill them (for reasons). 
  • Rey is able to Force heal any wound, including a fatal lightsaber blow. 
  • Ben, now back in the “light”, can transfer his life force to resurrect Rey.
  • Force ghosts can interact with the physical world when the plot demands it. Luke appears and catches a lightsaber when Rey casts it into the TIE wreckage. He’s later able to pull a Yoda and raise his X-Wing out of the sea. Later, when it would make sense for the Force ghosts to appear and help Rey in her fight with Palpatine, they don’t. 

The Force powers are now so incredible, there are no real consequences to anyone’s actions. Even death doesn’t matter, because someone can bring you back, or, if you’re a Jedi, you can appear as a ghost and interact with the physical world.

13) Space Horses

*Sigh* Even though the Lando and everyone he brings with him have no trouble flying into and out of the space around Exogol, the Final Order ships need to be guided out via transmitters. Of course, there are only two: one on the ground, and one on the command ship. Why? Why can’t all of the FO ships just get the coordinates and go like everyone else?

Anyway, when the Resistance shows up, and the new General Pryde realizes they’re going for the ground tower, he turns it off and switches to the tower on his ship. So, General Finn, who is leading the ground assault, heads for the command ship, where he leads an attack with team of people riding “space horses” on the deck of a Star Destroyer. It’s not in space, but it is flying. None of the bad guys think to tilt the Star Destroyer over to one side and let the ground assault slide off. 

14) What did Finn want to tell Rey? Why does it matter?

It’s another example of how the film brings up something and never resolves. Early in the film, the gang is being sucked down into quicksand, possibly to their deaths, so Finn, thinking “this is it” — yells at Rey “there’s something I have to tell you” — 

But, they’re sucked down into the sand before he tells her. Of course, it turns out they’re all fine; they end up in some type of tunnel system underneath the sand. Then, Rey asks Finn what he wanted to say, and he’s like “Never mind. I’ll tell you later.” 

What? Hell, even Poe is curious, and asks Finn about it twice in the film. Finn never tells Poe or Rey what the big secret was. 

The obvious answer is that Finn has the hots for Rey, But, Abrams supposedly admitted later the secret was that Finn was “Force-sensitive.” In theory, Rey, being super powerful in the Force and all that, would likely would have known that. It’s never resolved, so why keep it in the film?

15) The Knights of Ren

Hey, look, we finally get to see the Knights of Ren. Cool, right? We’ll finally get to learn who they are and why they exist and all that, right? Nope. They chase the gang around the galaxy and generally arrive too late to be effective, and then they serve as a brief obstacle for Kylo/Ben to fight through near the end of the film. 

16) Lack of Rose Tico

There are a lot of people pissed about this, but I’m actually glad Rose Tico’s role was reduced in this film. I actually thought they could cut her entirely and it would have been fine. 

It’s not that Rose Tico is a bad character. She started off being kind of interesting. I didn’t even mind the social justice perspective she had, even though it made little sense in the middle of a Star Wars movie (especially since all of that had zero impact on the plot). I despised how they used her at the end, and the cheesy line she had with Finn after stopping him from sacrificing himself. That’s not the fault of the character or even the actress; that’s just bad writing. 

She’s only in The Rise of Skywalker at all for fan-service, and she adds nothing to the story. Either give her something to do that’s relevant to the story, or don’t put her in the film. 

17) Finn’s Force Sensitivity

It’s not that I mind that Finn is Force sensitive, but it just feels like fan service at the point it finally comes up. Of course, it’s also weird that Finn has spent a LOT of time around some  really powerful Force users that never detected it. Leia sensed who Rey was, but didn’t know shit about Finn? Come on.

18) The Rise of “Skywalker” 

As soon as I heard the title of the movie, I suspected that Rey was going to take on the Skywalker name in some way, shape or form. 

This was really just another fan service moment. Going back to Tatooine, having Rey say the name, and looking off into the twin suns’ sunset. I just don’t feel ike it’s particularly earned. I know they were going for the “ooh, look, see how we tied it back to the original film” moment, but it was still strange. Luke hated living there, and Leia had zero ties to it. 

And why Skywalker? Of the two, Rey was much closer Leia than Luke, so why not take the name Solo, or Organa? 

19) Chewie Gets a Medal

Why was this so important? 

Is that enough? I’m sure I could think of more if I have more time. I just don’t want to though. 

I had already watched a number of spoiler videos before going to see the film, so none of this was really surprising — outside of the fact that many of the spoiler sites got so much right. Most of my viewing experience was shaking my head in disbelief.

Looking back, I actually liked some of the new stuff in The Last Jedi after seeing it the first couple of times. It was interesting because someone did what I wanted: they tried to do something new with Star Wars. 

Rewatching it later, though, made it less endearing. Luke’s arc was probably the best arc, and it was clear that was the direction they were heading in from the Force Awakens. With Luke in hiding, it really meant only two things: 1) He’d been exploring the dark side and/or had grown powerful enough that he didn’t trust himself with the power and secluded himself to protect everyone else or 2) He’d failed at something, and the guilt of that failure consumed him. 

Once we learn that Kylo Ren is Ben Solo, it was pretty clear that when we saw Luke, chances are they were going to present him as a broken man. And, in TLJ, they did exactly that, but then, they gave Luke a bit of a chance to redeem himself. 

I didn’t mind bringing up the ideas of the side-effects of war, how people are suffering and others are profiting from war without being directly involved in the conflict. However, none of that had any direct connections to the overall story of the film. Both ideas would make more sense being explored in a TV series, where they have more time to build up some stories around those ideas, and even have the protagonists do something to help. 

The most tear-inducing scene to watch in these three films was Luke’s scene with Leia in The Last Jedi. Rian Johnson had the sense to pause everything and let the audience focus on these two characters for a few minutes. It wasn’t just Luke saying goodbye to his sister; it was Mark Hamill saying goodbye to Carrie Fisher. 

But, after one viewing of the Rise of Skywalker, I don’t feel anything. Or, I guess I do feel something, since I’m about 6,000 words into a blog post about what I didn’t like about the newest film.  I didn’t shed a tear for Rey’s near death, or Ben’s actual death, or any of the “deaths.” Even Leia’s death didn’t really affect me, and that was disappointing. 

 At the end of three films, I never learned anything more about the new characters to make me like or hate them any more than I did at the beginning. Sure, Kylo stopped being an emo asshole. Finn had the most complete arc in The Last Jedi, and sacrificing himself would have been a great way to complete his arc. But, they robbed him of that, and then, did nothing with him afterward.

It’s clear Disney (or at least Kathleen Kennedy) doesn’t care about the IP they bought from Lucas, which is the most disappointing aspect of all of this. 

At the time of the acquisition, Kathleen Kennedy declared that most of the novels, comic books, and other material created outside of the movies would now be separate from the Star Wars canon — the “Extended Universe.” Only the films, the existing cartoons, and any new novels and films would be considered canon. The reason, she said, was she wanted new creators to have the freedom to explore new ideas with Star Wars without being constrained by all of the material that came before them. 

For the new Star Wars trilogy, they only kind of explored new ideas in a single film. Instead of following Marvel’s example and finding people who knew the material and appreciated/loved the existing lore, they just hired a “big name” director who had zero interest in Star Wars. Instead of exploring new ideas, he mostly just re-hashed material from the original films. There were other directors attached to some of these projects, but when it was clear they were not following the “Disney plan” — whatever that was, they were dismissed. 

I don’t even buy into the age-old argument that these films were meant for 8-10-year-olds. I’ve seen most of the Clone Wars and Rebels tv shows, and both of those shows had episodes that contained more “adult” material, and still told a better story in a 23-24 minute episode than the Rise of Skywalker did in almost 2 1/2 hours.

I know that the Star Wars films, despite their groundbreaking elements, are not the best narrative stories ever put to film, and even they didn’t plan everything out between films. 

But, since 2008, we’ve been living in a world where super heroes are living on both the big and small screen. There are fantasy and science-fiction shows out there that have captured the minds of millions of fans. Look at the success of Game of Thrones (except for season 8). 

Sure, many of these shows are not for kids, but my point is, we’re at kind of a renaissance when it comes to fantasy and science fiction in film and television, and as such, we as an audience now expect more from these shows. 

I was excited when Disney announced they were going to finally make episodes 7, 8 and 9 and complete the Star Wars saga. When they announced they were bringing back the original cast, I hoped that the original cast was simply there to kind of hand things off to a new set of characters. The original cast would make cameos, but everything else would be a new story with new characters for us to learn to love as much as we loved the originals.

Sure, Disney did introduce new characters, and some had interesting back stories, but they never delivered on bringing something completely new to the table. Both Clone Wars and Rebels, where the show runners there did know and care about the Star Wars lore, did deliver on creating new and interesting stories. They even succeeded in creating a new strong, female character: Ahsoka Tano, who has become a favorite for fans of the tv shows. 

But, the newest trilogy and the new characters just didn’t have the same resonance as the original cast. So, we’ve arrived at the end of the Skywalker Saga that could have had an amazing and satisfying ending, but instead has ended in disappointment. 

So, after all of that, how would I rank the films? 

  1. The Empire Strikes Back
  2. A New Hope
  3. Return of the Jedi
  4. The Force Awakens
  5. Revenge of the Sith
  6. The Last Jedi
  7. The Rise of Skywalker
  8. Attack of the Clones
  9. The Phantom Menace

If you want to add Rogue One and, *sigh*, I guess, Solo, then the list would be:

  1. The Empire Strikes Back
  2. A New Hope
  3. Return of the Jedi
  4. The Force Awakens
  5. Revenge of the Sith
  6. Rogue One
  7. The Last Jedi
  8. The Rise of Skywalker
  9. Attack of the Clones
  10. Solo
  11. The Phantom Menace

The only glimmer of hope I have for Star Wars and Lucasfilm comes in form of the Mandalorian. It’s the first live-action Star Wars television series, and so far, the press has been pretty good. I haven’t watched it yet; the rumors about the Rise of Skywalker made me super-hesitant to watch anything else. Maybe I’ll be disappointed about it, too. 

However, the Mandalorian was created by Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni, both of whom have some great backgrounds with franchises. After all, Favreau’s Iron Man kicked off the Marvel cinematic universe, and Filoni has been behind both the Clone Wars and Rebels tv series.

Maybe, just maybe, Disney have learned their lesson with the films, and, while they take a break from creating new films, take the time to find creators like Favreau and Filoni who can both build something new with Star Wars while still respecting the canon. 

Imagine if Disney/Lucasfilm could find the equivalent of the Russo brothers who could do for Star Wars what those two did with the Marvel films. Those would be Star Wars films worth seeing!

Until then, though, it’s probably for the best that Star Wars takes a break.

So angsty…

 I’m apparently on a streak of watching Netflix teen-angsty shows right now. The Society is another one of these shows that asks: What if X happened, but instead of it happening to everyone, it only happened to teenagers? 

In this case, a New England small town’s entire teenage population finds themselves in an “alternate” version of their town in which they are the only people living there, and possibly the only people anywhere. So, it’s up to the teenagers to figure out how to cope with being in a world without parents, or laws, or internet. They have to try to rebuild a society (roll credits!) of their own in order to survive long enough to figure out how they got there and if or how they could get back home. 

Basically, it’s like a lite version of Stephen King’s Under the Dome, but filled with teenage angst instead of adult drama. It doesn’t go as dark as King’s version, and there are certain elements that the kids don’t have to deal with at all, but it’s very similar.

The show takes place late in the school year (likely May), and the town has a strange smell permeating the area. Apparently, it had appeared before recently, and the town leadership hired someone to “clear the air”, but, now, it’s back. 

For reasons, the town decides that they’re going to pack up all of the high school kids and ship them off to a nearby camp for 10 days, while everyone else stays behind (adults, all the little kids, pets, etc) to deal with the smell. I know. I know. 

Anyway, the kids load up on the buses in the evening, and while they’re driving around that night, there’s a big storm. Then, the buses stop, announce that there was a mudslide blocking the road to the camp, so the buses have brought them back home. 

It’s the middle of the night, and nobody is there to greet them. Parents are also not answering their cells. The kids simply shrug this off and head home for the night. When they get home, they can’t find anyone there either. 

The next morning, the kids regroup to try figure out what’s going on. Nobody can find their families, they can’t reach anyone on their cell phones besides each other, and there’s no internet!!! Someone gets smart and hops into a car, figuring they’ll just drive over to the next town and see what’s going on. They get to the town’s border to find that the road is gone and blocked by a massive forest. The check the other end of town and find the same thing. In fact, it appears there’s a forest surrounding the entire town (there’s a dramatic pan out to show a nearby bridge with train tracks crossing underneath, and we’re shown that the tracks now end in forest).

Dun…Dun…DUUNNNNNNN!!!

Oh, man, what on Earth are a bunch of teenagers alone in a town with absolutely no adult supervision going to do???

(Throw a HUGE party, of course)

After a few days of partying, one of the main characters, Cassandra, who is quasi-popular but also the student body president, decides that they should probably start thinking more about how they are going to survive long term. She starts setting up work assignments, consolidating the housing (which the rich kids hate sharing their mansions), etc.  They assign a group of kids to start investigating what happened and why they’re where they are. 

They’re worried about the food supply and kind of worry about the water and electricity. Although they do guard the local grocery store, nobody seems to follow up on how they’re getting water or electricity and what they might need to do to keep all of that running. They pick up trash, but there’s no discussion of where it goes (I figured the town landfill was likely outside the town, and they wouldn’t have access to it)

Two kids do find out that there was a deal between the town and a man who was to be paid $1.5 million to get rid of the smell. For whatever reason, once he did his job, the town leaders (some of the kids parents) decided not to pay the guy. Some other details are revealed, but the show doesn’t follow up on them at all until the last episode. 

To help the kids adjust, Cassandra and her friends, who have basically become the leadership, decide to have prom, and it’s a good night for most of the kids. Then, someone decides to murder their leader, Cassandra. What are they going to do now?

So, yeah, there are some interesting bits to the show, as the kids decide how to try to organize some type of society and a set of rules to live by. Most of the drama, though, spends a lot of time on who’s trying to hook up with whom. Sometimes, the decisions don’t make sense.

For example, for reasons, they decide to put Cassandra’s little sister, Allie, in charge. Why her? Was there not a student-body vice-president or another senior that could have taken over? Or, simply, nobody wanted the responsibility.

So anyway, on top of trying to deal with all of this responsibility dumped on her head, Allie’s also presented with a possible suspect in her sister’s murder. She now has to figure out how to arrest the suspect, detain him, set up a trial for the accused, and then, figure out what the convicted killer’s sentence should be. 

In other places, the situations fall flat. One night, a storm causes a blackout, and suddenly, some of the teenagers decide to loot the local hardware store for all of its flashlights. Other teens show up to stop them, and a major fight breaks out. Only… this is supposed to be kind of a rural small town, so blackouts from thunderstorms, and equally likely, snowstorms, would be a thing. Most homes in the area probably have plenty of flashlights, and lanterns, and a few may even have generators. The point was to illustrate what would happen if chaos took over the town, but it just felt like a really weak example. 

Although Allie has a pretty good character arc, most of the characters are pretty one dimensional, and it’s a shame that they couldn’t have at least played with creating some before and after situations. Like, for instance, one of the guys is revealed to be an actual diagnosed psychopath. Why not give him a redemption arc in this new world? Instead, he’s stays true to type. 

Daybreak, another teenagers in a impossible scenario series, at least manages that. All of the major characters in that show have a pre- and post-apocalypse life, and sometimes, it creates tension between the characters.

The series ends with the town getting ready to have elections for a new mayor and, for the first time, a town council, and looking for some land to farm because they’re realizing they’re going to run out of food. There’s a huge twist though.

There’s also a mysterious ending that will have viewers wondering what is really happening – even possibly wondering if the kids are all dead? We won’t know until season two.

It’s not a bad show. Allie is great to watch, and a few of the other characters are interesting. Campbell, the town psychopath, oozes menace in every scene he’s in, and Elle, who enters into a relationship with Campbell (and everyone forgot to mention to her that he’s crazy), is fascinating to watch as she struggles with being stuck in this situation with Campbell. But, most of the characters are pretty basic. Most of the guys are all brainless or douchebags. Harry is a rich asshole. The football players are all dumb jocks, except for one, who has a BIG secret (and I bet you can’t guess what it is!) Even Will, who is supposed to be the “poor kid with a heart of gold” – the resident “nice guy” – spends a lot of time trying to get laid. 

Most of these characters are what I would consider to be “upper middle class” who have likely never worked a day in their life. So, there’s some fun in watching them trying to figure out how to do certain things, and begin to understand that there’s a lot of stuff that happens that they simply never appreciated. A couple of the characters realize that someone needs to learn to be a doctor/nurse to all of these kids. Next season, they’re going to have to figure out how to farm, and it’s not clear if the town contained a tractor supply or anything that might have farm equipment for them to use. They’ll likely have to go “old school” on farming. 

The only other disappointment about the show is that it really loses focus on anyone looking into where they are and/or why they’re there. They tried to explore the woods in the first episode, but unfortunately, a girl is bitten by a snake and has an allergic reaction to the poison and dies. So, for that reason, they simply abandon investigating their surroundings until the last episodes, when, over five months later, a small team goes looking for farmland outside of the town limits. The mystery of how they got there in the first place doesn’t really come up again until the last couple of episodes.

But, overall, it is a pretty decent show. I think the show could have been a lot better if they had focused more on the kids actually dealing with their situation instead of just the usual teenage drama. The five month time jump between episodes six and seven is pretty jarring. The show is certainly setting up that things will be harder for the kids in season two, so maybe the show runners will find more things for the kids to do and and find some personalities for the other characters.

Daybreak Review

Have you ever wanted a Zombie apocalypse show more in the vein of comedy-horror like Zombieland instead of The Walking Dead?

Have you ever wanted to throw in a whole bunch of teenage angst into said zombie show?

If so, then Netflix’s Daybreak might be for you. 

At some point in the near future, some world leader or leaders decide it was time to start a war, possibly via Tweet, and they nuke California (and presumably, other places). The “nukes” were destructive, but somehow only killed off most of the adult population. The rest roam the streets as “Ghoulies” – basically zombies that mindlessly repeat the last sentence they said before dying. For example, the characters encounter one Ghoulie who was thinking about “10% off yoga pants.” But, basically, the only people who survived the bombs more or less intact are all of the teenagers. 

Oh, and no guns, because California, I guess? And, pets, have mutated. The only real example they show is a pug that has mutated to maybe 10 times his normal size.

Josh, an admitted “C-level” student who moved to Glendale from Canada, has found that he may have been a bit of loner and bullied and had no friends in high school, but he kicks ass in this new post-apocalyptic world. Like Zombieland, Josh and other characters constantly break the fourth wall and converse with the viewer. Like Zombieland, Josh has a list of “rules” for surviving in this new world.

It’s been six months since the attack, and instead of uniting together, the teens have carved out territories that match the same cliques they had in school. The Jocks have taken over the high school campus, and have built a “Mad Max” inspired gang lead by the school’s best football player. The 4-H’ers are off in another part of the city. The cheerleaders have declared themselves “Cheermazons” and took over the country club. One social outcast had the foresight to take over the local mall. There’s also a mysterious boogeyman called Baron Triumph that rides a Triumph, captures kids and eats them.

Josh, though, continues to run around on his own, but he has a mission. The girl he likes, Sam, apparently left him a Post-It Note at his apartment shortly after the attack, and his mission is to find her and save her. Early on, the show is pretty vague about whether or not this is a mutual relationship.

Josh eventually does make a couple of friends. One is Angelica, a 10-year-old super-genius who is a sociopath that Josh used to babysit. The other is Wesley, a black jock who previously bullied Josh, but who left the Bro Jocks and has now declared himself a Ronin on a mission of redemption for his past mistakes. Wesley was inspired by watching “kung-fu” movies, but constantly references Japanese concepts. 

The first couple of episodes mostly establish the world, and most of the other episodes flesh out the back stories of the various characters. There’s definitely plenty of teen drama, but the show doesn’t take itself that seriously. The only “new” aspect I can say about the drama is that Josh is written with the basic premise that all white teenage boys, even the “nice” ones, are jerks. Seriously, the character feels like he’s been pulled out of an 80’s John Hughes movie dropped into a modern teenage drama, like 13 Reasons Why. It really stands out when all of the other major characters feel more “modern” than Josh, especially with regards to his relationship with Sam.

For some extra meta, Matthew Broderick appears as the boring old school principal in flashbacks, which should be amusing for Ferris Bueller fans. He probably has his best moment in episode four, where, in a flashback, he deals with parents and a kid who want to buy his way into better grades in order to maintain his football eligibility. Broderick plays the character so straight it’s hard to tell if he’s enjoying the role.

Overall, though, as long as you can set aside your suspension of disbelief (and the show will stretch it — like when the nuke goes off within visible range of the homecoming game, and everyone just ducks and covers to protect themselves from the blast winds), it is overall pretty entertaining. It has more than enough funny moments to offset the cringe-worthy ones, there are a few decent twists in the overall story, and you may only find yourself yelling at the TV a few times (mostly at Josh). 

The show also leaves itself wide open for a second season, provided Netflix gives them one.

While it doesn’t break any new ground, Daybreak is an uncomplicated comedy-horror show that’s worthy of a weekend of binge-watching. To me, after watching some of the more recent and more serious teenage dramas (13 Reasons Why, Euphoria), that’s not such a bad thing. 

Game of Thrones Recap S8:EP5 “The Bells” or “Let’s nuke the series from orbit; it’s the only way to be sure”

Ugh, Game of Thrones, for fuck’s sake…

WARNING: This is a spoiler-laden rant about Game of Thrones. If you have NOT watched the latest episode, DO NOT KEEP READING!!!

LAST CHANCE!

HERE THERE BE SPOILERS!! YARRR!!!

Now, granted, there are some pretty great visuals in this episode of Game of Thrones, which you may or may not appreciate depending on how much you’re yelling at the screen over the horrid writing that came along with those visuals.

The episode opens with Daenerys locked away in Dragonstone. She’s not eating and not sleeping and refuses to see anyone. Naturally, Tyrion decides that he can cheer her up by revealing that someone has betrayed her. Daenerys, though, feels like everyone has betrayed her, including Jon. Tyrion reveals that it’s Varys. Dany already suspected as much, and quickly puts together the pieces that Varys is now on “Team Jon”. She knows the reason this is all happening is because Jon decided (for reasons) to reveal his true parentage to his sisters. Sansa told Tyrion, who then told Varys, who is now trying to tell anyone he can, which is exactly what Dany warned Jon would happen.

Jon opts to drop by to see how things are going. He’s arrived in time to watch Varys get barbecued, and he has another “chat” with Dany. By chat, I mean make out a bit before Jon pushes Dany away.

Mind you. I’m like 99% sure that NOBODY in the show has said anything about Dany being Jon’s aunt, and certainly these two HAVE NOT! Yes, I know, many fans may understand this, but I’d argue that casual viewers would not, especially since this is THE CORE OF THE FUCKING CONFLICT between them. It’s frustrating because one conversation between these two characters could lay out this conflict (Jon’s weirded out about being in love with Dany and being related to her, which is probably a big no-no in the North, where Dany is okay with it because she was raised as a Targaryen and Targaryens were fine with incest. The crux is that Dany wants Jon to embrace the incest part of his family heritage, but not his claim on the Iron Throne — should they win). Since nobody appears to love her in this kingdom, Dany decides she’s going to rule with fear.

Tyrion once again tries to convince Dany to not kill everyone in King’s Landing, and says if the bell towers are ringing, it means that the city has surrendered and they can stop the siege (of course, this is the first time we’ve heard anything about bells meaning any such thing, but whatever). Dany reluctantly agrees.

Jamie has been captured by Dany’s ground forces trying to return to King’s Landing, so Tyrion goes with Jon to perform a little treason of his own. He frees Jamie, then tells Jamie to get to Cersei, convince her to ring the bells and surrender the city, then escape through the same secret cove Tyrion did previously and be free to live out their days together. There’s a great, touching goodbye between the two brothers.

Then comes the morning of the attack. Although they capture Jamie, the Hound and Arya cruise on through Dany’s army with no problem. Jamie also slips into the city.

Euron is out in the bay with dozens of ships armed with the spiffy scorpions. The Golden Company marches outside the gates, ready to go toe-to-toe with Jon’s ground forces of Unsullied, Dothraki and Northmen.

And here’s where things go horribly wrong. Among the scenes of Lannister and Greyjoy men prepping for the coming battle, we’re shown shots of the scorpions – specifically that the magic easy-loading, rapid-firing that can easily be armed and fired by one man are gone. Each machine takes a crew of men to painstakingly load and arm the scorpions, which matches what we saw with Bronn in Season 7, but NOT what we saw in the previous episode. (You know, where they could hit a moving dragon at long range with precision and fire at will) So, something is clearly amiss.

Dany decides to attack by diving at the ships with the sun at her back, making her hard to spot until it’s too late. For this battle, the scorpions also returned to having plot-convenient stormtrooper-like accuracy, so, combined with their now slow-reload times, Dany and Drogon make short work of the Iron Fleet and fly off unscathed. She quickly moves on to the walls of King’s Landing, where she easily decimates the scorpions on the walls.

Dany’s signal to the ground troops to attack? It’s when Drogon explodes through the gate behind the Golden Company, raining fire and debris on the sellswords. (See? Cool visual!) She and Drogon roast most of the Golden Company, leaving her ground troops with an easy march into the city.

And, at that point, the battle is basically over. There’s some fighting in the streets, but it’s not long before the Lannister troops realize they’re outmatched. There are cries in the streets to “ring the bells” – because apparently everyone in the city knows about this bell ringing thing. Dany lands Drogon on a parapet while they wait for the bells.

Jamie hasn’t been able to reach Cersei, though, and as he opts to try get to her through the cove, he runs into Euron, who has a) survived and b) arrived at the exact same spot at the exact same time as Jamie has because of course he does.

Jamie and Euron duel for Cersei? And, Jamie wins, but not without getting very fatal blows from Euron, yet he can still stumbles on into the castle.

Someone eventually rings the bells. Jon sighs, thinking the job is done. Everyone stands down.

Except…

Dany, who has won the day, glares angrily at the Red Keep. After a minute or so, she decides “fuck it” and takes off with Drogon. Then, she proceeds to lay waste to the entire city of King’s Landing and everyone in it. After watching Dany fly off, Grey Worm decides to “fuck it” as well and he and the ground troops begin killing everyone on the ground.

This is the moment that is already causing huge debates online. I’m on the side that even with the hints that Daenerys could be brutal, I think they’ve taken too many shortcuts in this season. Her “descent” into becoming the “Mad Queen” isn’t shown to us, especially after spending so much time trying to turn her into someone more heroic.

Because the show’s creators are entirely focused on hitting all of the plot beats they’ve planned for the last episodes, they’ve completely ignored the characters in the story. So, much like Dany, characters are making bonkers decisions that run completely against their typical behavior, and it ruins the overall effect. Daenerys’ fall is just the most egregious example (so far).

Jon, of course, mostly stands around doing nothing, as he gawks in shock as Dany and his own troops decide it’s a killing free-for-all. He eventually kills one of his own men trying to rape an innocent woman. Eventually, he realizes that Dany may have forgotten she has men in the city and is just as likely to kill all of them, so he orders everyone to fall back.

Instead of seeing a final conflict between the two queens, Jamie and Cersei wind up trapped underneath the Red Keep. They’re trying to escape, but find that the exits are sealed, and wind up dying together as the Red Keep falls on top of them.

Oh sure, there’s a Cleganebowl, which was fine, but there’s no final confrontation between the two Queens, which was really disappointing. Qyburn dies as well, and I imagine a lot of people cheered at that (I did).

And Arya… there’s a good, what, 15 minutes of watching Arya try to escape the city? After entering the keep, the Hound convinces Arya to turn back; don’t let her quest for revenge consume her as it has for him. Go and find a way to live (and maybe murder fewer people?)

So, Arya leaves, but now, she’s on the ground scrambling with everyone else trying to escape Dany’s wrath as she continues to rain fire and destruction down on King’s Landing. After so many close calls it almost becomes laughable, Arya conveniently finds a “pale horse” in the aftermath and rides out of the city.

And. That’s it. Daenerys wins! The Game of Thrones is over! Right?

ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?!?

No. Not really.

The most frustrating thing is that so many of the character missteps could have been fixed. The creators are so focused on just getting through their plot beats that not once did they take a step or two back and think: “Whoa, hold on. Why is character X doing Y?” A couple of scenes here, a few lines of dialog there; it might not fix everything, but it would have helped connect some of the dots.

One day, maybe, we’ll get a chance to finally read how George R. R. Martin would have ended the series, and it’ll (hopefully) be a more satisfactory conclusion. That’s assuming GRRM gets around to finishing the series.

But, so far, this season has been a pretty mixed bag. There have been some great moments, but overall, the story is simply flying through the plot beats to get to the finale.

There’s no right way to fix it either. Should HBO have stuck to their guns and kept the show running? Let Benioff and Weiss leave the show and hand it off to someone else? Pushed them into doing two full seasons? There’s no guarantee a new team would have finished the show any better, and more likely, things could have gone a lot worse. If the shows creators are burned out, forcing them to produce more episodes would have also likely created a few more “stinker” episodes just to meet the commitment.

It’s just a shame to see a really great show finish up this way.

Game of Thrones thoughts – S8-04 – Last of the Starks

This is a continuing series on the final season of Game of Thrones.

WARNING: THERE ARE SPOILERS!!!

YOU’VE BEEN WARNED! If you keep reading past this point, you either don’t care about GoT or about being spoilers because I will be talking about things that happen in the episode.

HERE THERE BE SPOILERS…

Okay, so, let’s quickly recap the Long Night (episode 3) death total. Apparently, I was completely wrong about some of the characters surviving the fight. In fact, all of the major characters, and most of the minor ones, survived the night.

I did go into this week’s episode expecting things to be kind of slow after last week’s epic episode, but it was kind of “meh” instead.

The first, say, third of the episode was pretty good. The survivors of Winterfell are given a chance to mourn the dead and celebrate living.

The Gendy lordship scene was a bit odd. Danaerys starts off by acknowledging first who his father is, then goes on about how his father tried to murder her and her brother when they were young, and finally decides oh, you’re a hero of this battle, so I should make you a lord. So, she does. She recognizes him as a Baratheon, and names him lord of Storm’s End.

This prompts some cheers amongst the crowd and begins the celebration.

To me, the Gendry/Arya scene felt forced. Sure there’s an attraction there, but I always got the vibe that Gendry (until last week) thought of Arya as more of a sister than a potential lover. Sure, Gendry was drunk and excited that he’s a lord now and could marry a lady like Arya. Alas, no, Arya shoots him down, and I think a sober Gendry would have known better.

Yep, I’m totally fine with Jamie/Brienne hooking up. I’m not so thrilled with the final scene between those two. If, after Jamie tells Brienne that he will always pick Cersei, she knocks him on his ass, then storms away with tears in her eyes, I would have been fine with that. I’m not as thrilled with her just standing there crying though; it felt completely out of character.

Then there’s Jon/Dany. It’s an interesting conflict between the two. Jon is hung up on the idea that she’s his aunt, but Dany cares more about his claim to the Iron Throne. Jon feels obligated to tell his sisters, but Dany understands that if he does, it won’t stay secret for long. She also understands that it won’t matter what he wants, once people learn who he is, especially after seeing the people cheer for him earlier that night. She begs him to keep it a secret, but Jon refuses.

And – then – the show goes sideways –

Jon tells Sansa/Arya who he is, via Bran (who apparently is only still around to relay this info). He swears them both to secrecy, but the first chance she gets, Sansa tells Tyrion, who then tells Varys.

Instead of resting their men and trying to rebuild their forces, Dany pushes to go for King’s Landing. Everyone reluctantly agrees.

Jon decides to lead the forces on land, and so says goodbye to his friends. He does not, however, say goodbye to Ghost!!! For fucks sake, man, could you not have spared a minute for your dire wolf??? The shot of a sullen Ghost watching his master leave is just as sad as watching Brienne crying after Jamie leaving.

Strangely, this seems to be the last scene for Tormund and Sam/Gilly, so why not simply have let them die during the battle, other than to give them “happy” endings, which generally don’t happen in Game of Thrones.

Arya and the Hound decide to ride off to King’s Landing. They both say they have some killing to do. Presumably, the Hound wants his shot at the Mountain, and Arya will want Cersei.

My prediction there? Jamie will probably be the one to kill Cersei, adding Queenslayer to his list of titles.

Oh, and somehow, Bronn just strolls into Winterfell and finds Jamie and Tyrion drinking together. Bronn happily threatens to kill both Tyrion and Jamie if they don’t come up with a better counter-offer to what Cersei is offering to kill the two of them. Tyrion offers him Highgarden, and Bronn goes on his merry way.

Then…

There’s a “fast travel” moment – and Dany, her dragons, and what’s left of her fleet are arriving back at Dragonstone. Dany is flying casually on Drogon with Rhaegal next to her. Suddenly, Rhaegal is slammed with a giant crossbow bolt. As he struggles to stay in the air, another pierces his neck, and he tumbles into the sea. Dany turns to find some of Euron Greyjoy’s fleet coming around a bend of a cove –

In the time since their meeting and supposed cease-fire, Cersei and her team have a) redesigned the scorpions, b) mass produced them (as we learn later), including mounting them on Euron’s ships complete with custom squid-like appendages to keep with Euron’s motif, c) the new scorpions are also magically auto-loading (unlike the version Bronn had to use in season 7) d) Cersei/Euron figured out that Dany was heading back to Dragonstone, e) so Euron sat around waiting for days for them to reappear, and f) somehow managed to get the drop on a rider on a dragon who should have seen the ships long before they saw her.

Oh, it gets better. Dany opts to charge the ships. There’s a moment of tension as she charges at them and Euron lines up his shot, but Dany finally relents and turns back. At this point, after Euron and his men hit Rhaegal with deadly accuracy at long range, now plot-conveniently suddenly have Stormtrooper accuracy while Dany, at a much closer range, turns and flees the scene.

Also, never mind the fact that Dany could have veered left, then once out of range, quickly double-backed around the same island “concealing” Euron’s ships and blasted them to shreds before they could come about. I suspect she’ll think of that in next week’s episode.

Bummed he can’t kill the last dragon, Euron turns his scorpions on Dany’s fleet, and once again, he and his men are deadly accurate and quickly destroy the last of her fleet. Somehow, Euron manages to capture Missande while ignoring all of the other survivors from the destroyed ships.

After, there’s a new discussion at Dragonstone where everyone does what they can to prevent Dany from tearing off to King’s Landing and burning it to the ground. They’re aware that Cersei is bringing all of the locals into the city, creating a human shield. They convince Dany to give Cersei a chance to surrender before destroying the city, so the people will “know” that it’s Cersei’s fault that they’re being burnt to a crisp.

Later that evening, there’s a long discussion between Tyrion and Varys about whether Danaerys is really the right person to sit on the Iron Throne, especially now that they have another option (i.e. Jon). Tyrion sticks to Team Dany, but Varys seems to be leaning towards Team Jon.

Jamie, after deciding to stay with Brienne in Winterfell, learns from Sansa about Euron’s ambush at Dragonstone, and everyone figures Dany’s going to burn King’s Landing to cinders. That night, Jamie decides to go back to Cersei. This brings an annoying scene where Brienne begs him to stay, and says that Jamie is a good man. Jamie tells Brienne a brief list of things he’s done and would have done for Cersei, and leaves Brienne in tears.

Of course, for one final, tense scene, we have Dany, Drogon, Tyrion, Grey Worm and I guess the Queen’s personal guard of Unsullied rally outside the gates of King’s Landing. Oh, and look, now every parapet of the castle has one of those new auto-loading scorpions upon it. Cersei is feeling pretty smug at this point, and has Missande in cuffs with her (and others) above the gate.

The hands of the respective queens walk out to the middle. Tyrion offers Dany’s terms of surrender, and Qyburn counters with Cersei’s offer for Dany to surrender or they’ll kill Missande right now. Tyrion tries to convince Cersei, and she has the Mountain lop off Missande’s head. Dany simply storms off.

And, for whatever reason, Cersei just lets them walk away. She’s got Dany, Tyrion and her other leaders right there, in range of her archers, and Drogon is riiiiight over there, maybe in range of the scorpions. Why she doesn’t take her shot and finish “the whole lot” right then is beyond me.

So… yeah. The episode was a mixed bag. The first half was pretty good, and the second half was a mess. Cersei has been reduced to a one-dimensional Bond villain. The writers seem to be pushing Dany to becoming the “Mad Queen.” Jon will likely try to do something honorable and get himself killed.

We only have a couple of more episodes left, regardless. I would guess that next week will be the final battle for King’s Landing, and the last episode will wrap up all of the loose ends after the battle?

Maybe it’ll end up with: Hail Queen Arya, First of Her Name, Slayer of the Night King, and Ruler of the Seven Kingdoms?

Gotham – Ugh

My quick thoughts on Gotham.

I had really hoped that they would take the story elements from Batman:Year One, which is as much Gordon’s story as it is Batman’s and use that as the foundation for the series. (If you’re a Batman fan and haven’t read Year One, you should – it’s one of the best Batman stories out there)

I guess they should put a disclaimer or something that this series will not tie into the movies? Or, maybe it will tie in with Batman v. Superman (ugh)? 

The pilot was okay. The fact that the story is set back at the point Thomas and Martha Wayne are murdered makes me wonder what they’re going to do with 15-20 years of time to kill. (I’m assuming Bruce was 8 — the show makes him look 10-11 — when his parents were killed and probably in his 20s when he becomes Batman)

The overall plot eventually wound up being mildly interesting, but too many elements where thrown in that get in the way. Instead of making a good police show about Gotham, the producers seem to be determined (at least for now) in beating people over the head with reminders that – “Hey, this is a Batman show – but without Batman.”

I’m also not thrilled that other police characters from the “current” Batman are now in the past. it feels like some of the characters were forced into the story because someone scanned through the Batman comics and picked up on them. They didn’t read the story, just kind of skimmed through the comics and brought things in without thinking of how they fit in the context.

Case in point: Officer Montoya – I suspect she’s only in this series to play on the idea that she’s had some type of prior relationship with Gordon’s fiancé, Barbara Kean. Kean appears to be a based on Kathine Kane, aka Batwoman, and she doesn’t belong in this story. 

Don’t get me wrong. I have no problem with the possible lesbian relationship between Kean and Montoya. To me, though, if you want to do a Batwoman TV show, then make one. It’s a disservice to that comic to just force a few elements of those characters here.

The really really annoying thing though? Sticking these not-so-subtle references of characters from Batman’s rogues gallery in the show. This feels like an bad corporate decision. Wouldn’t it be “cool” to show younger versions of Batman villains? 

The short answer is: No

Someone watched Kick-Ass and thought a young Catwoman would be cool to add to the show. Someone else thought it would be cute if Riddler was working for the police. There are four of these characters appearing in the pilot alone, so I shudder to think of how long this will keep going on. Scarecrow is young Bruce’s psychologist helping him deal with the death of his parents? Mr Freeze is driving an ice-cream truck? 

There are so many excellent police shows out there that they could borrow from, I’m not sure why they couldn’t simply make it a good police show.

Take us back in time to the time before Thomas and Martha Wayne are killed. Maybe months? Show us that Gotham was a good place to live, but the first seeds of corruption were already appearing. The death of the Waynes could have made a major statement to the characters in the show and the people of Gotham in general if it had been used later. 

Year One would have been a better point in time to start the show. Gordon has just arrived in town. The town is already corrupt. The show focuses on Gordon trying to do the right thing while facing an uphill battle inside an already corrupt police force. You could even have the show without Batman – directly. He appears and all the cops have to go on are the descriptions from the criminals, Gordon eventually is ordered to try capture the “Bat-Man.” and we could see him stage stings to try lure him out of the shadows.  Eventually, Gordon wonders if stopping the Batman is such a great idea because he seems to be pissing off all of the right people.

Alas…

Maybe they’ll find a way to make the show work, but right now it’s not high on my list of shows to watch. 

Of course, I say that, and yet I suffered through the most of Agents of Shield last year.. 

 

Happy 30th MTV!!!

Now that’s a scary thought…

MTV is older than the last girl I dated… :  )

It’s hard to imagine the 80s without Music Television – you know, back in the days when the station played music videos.

We had heard about MTV, but growing up in West Texas meant we were at least a year or so late to the game. We had to beg our parents to add the channel to our cable subscription (and probably had to beg our parents to even get cable).

But, once we had it, especially during the summer, when we were home and anywhere in the proximity of the living room television, MTV was on. That was assuming, of course, Dad wasn’t watching anything else.

Instead fo just heairng the bands, we could see them. Before long, everyone was trying to do something different with their videos. Some would just be weird, some were artistic. Others would wisk us off to exotic locals or simply push the limits of sexuality on television. A few would push the limits of technology (remember Money For Nothing?)

I was trying to think of a list of things that were so cool about MTV:

1) The videos, obviously. How many 80s bands kicked off their careers or were propelled to superstardom through MTV? Duran Duran, Madonna, U2, Howard Jones, Def Leppard, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Dire Straits, The Fixx, Billy Idol, Men at Work, etc etc. How big would Michael Jackson be without his videos on MTV?

2) The original VJs. They all had distinct personalities, and every guy had a crush on Martha Quinn.

3) The crazy contests where if you were lucky you might appear in a video or have your favorite band play at your house.

4) World premiere videos. Depending on the artist, you had to be there to catch the “premiere” of the latest and greatest video. Of course, if you missed it, chances were pretty good you could catch it again in a couple of hours. How many people remember catching the 20 minute premiere of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”?

5) The impact of adding pop/rock songs to movie soundtracks. I think “Footloose” had a major impact on this as well, but think about how many 80s movies had a pop/rock soundrack (and of course, related music videos) to go with it? Imagine “Top Gun” without the corresponding “Highway to the Dangerzone,” or “Ghostbusters” without its themesong. Hell, imagine any John Hughes movie without the soundrack. How many proms in the 80s just had to play “If You Leave” by OMD? Would Prince have made “Purple Rain”? Would Madonna be an actress?

(ok, forget about that last one)

It wasn’t all good – after all, MTV helped advocate the concept that “image is everything” where the music/talent eventually didn’t matter as much so long as the video worked (see – Brittney Spears)

Plus, MTV somewhat pioneered “reallity television” that now dominates most of the channels today.

Of course, these days, with the internet and access to video software, it’s easy for just about anyone, not just the bands, to come up with their own interpretations of videos for their favorite songs. It’s not MTV, it’s YouTube.

One of the other cool things is that XM satellite radio has brought the original MTV VJ’s back, and they can be heard on the 80s channel (and a couple of others).

So, MTV may not be what it used to be, but there are still ways to get a taste of MTV back in the “good ol’ days”

“I want my, I want my, I want my M… T… V…”

LOL! Clueless, greedy eBayer in Dallas

Oh, man, you have to watch this video…
 greedy ebayer
The story is about a woman who brought along $16k in cash with the plan to buy someone’s place in line at an AT&T store, then buy every iPhone they had in stock. Why? So she could turn around and put them up on eBay, hoping to sell them for outrageous amounts.
What she doesn’t plan on is 1) Apple having plenty on hand, and 2) didn’t make any effort to find out how many the store would actually sell her.
So, the cameras follow her up to the line at 5:45 pm. She offers $800 to the kid at the front of the line who’d been there since 8 am or earlier. She gets in line, and sure enough, she’s the first one in the door. The cameras catch her smug look as she thinks her brilliant plan is about to come to fruition. Then, hilarity ensues when she learns, as everyone else already knew, that she could only buy one phone.
Sadly, they don’t show complete footage of her getting pissed off, but the reporter mentions she was clearly pissed. She was even more pissed at the guy who took her money, who already knew the limit on phones. He got to buy the phone and every accessory he could possibly want.
Kudos to this guy for getting a “free” iPhone and toys out of the deal, and for pissing off the greedy, clueless eBayer who wanted to shaft everyone.
Course, with stories floating that AT&T was forcing people to buy accessories with the iPhone, she probably would have been pissed anyway when she found out she’d have to buy cases for all those phones — depending on how much she had to bribe someone to let her buy more than one phone.
But, if you’re reading this, greedy eBayer, I’ll let you have mine for a mere $1200, with case. : )

Lana Lang Must Die!!!

One of the things that I’ve been doing lately is trying to study plots of my favorite TV shows. Once you spend an hour watching a show with a very good story, like Heroes or Lost, it’s hard to go back and watch something that’s not so well thought out, like Smallville.
It occurred to me that Smallville really needs to end this season, but it also needs to end in a way that allows the mythology of Superman to continue. To do this, I think Lana Lang has to die.
Smallville, for those of you who don’t know, is a show about Clark Kent, a not-so-typical teenage boy, and about his awkward teenage years. Kent also happens to grow up to become one of the most famous characters in modern-day literature: Superman. Yeah yeah, someone will complain that “comic books” aren’t “literature,” but you can’t argue Superman’s existence in the public consciousness of our society.
Anyway, the show is currently limping its way through its sixth (and hopefully) final season. I’m not sure at what point the show “jumped the shark,” but this season, in spite of adding new and less than exciting super-heroes, has been less than thrilling to watch.
Continue reading “Lana Lang Must Die!!!”

Ahhhh! A snowflake!!!! EVERYBODY PANIC!!!

Yes, that’s right. North Texas is experiencing the first winter storm of the season.
How crazy is it? Well, it was 79 degrees yesterday. Today, the high was 35. And that was at 4 am. It’s been dropping since.
Plus, we’ve got sleet and a bit of snow. But, that was after the rain overnight.
Ice transforms all of the overpasses and ramps here into new arenas of fun for Texas drivers. And we have a LOT of overpasses and ramps.
Unlike most parts of the country, we usually stay warm enough most of the year that we miss out on snow entirely. Instead, we get sleet/ice storms. At least on pure snow, you can get some traction. On ice, it doesn’t matter what kind of drive you have, it’s spin city for everyone.
It’s interesting to watch the local news around this time too. A couple of fox 4 reporters probably needed a change of pants after recording a truck losing control on a highway at around 5 a.m. this morning. In the video, we see the truck hit the brakes and swerve to miss two other trucks previously wrecked, only to skid directly towards the cameraman. Fortunately for them, there was a guard rail and it held, so we see the truck catch the rail and slide down just to the left of the cameraman.
On the way home this afternoon the high five exchange was already shut down on one side from a multiple vehicle pile up. There will probably be some footage on tonight or in the morning of people trying to use the ramps on the high five or 190 exchanges only to discover they’re coated in ice. For those of you that have never seen our interchanges, the ones I am referring two link between two major highways, with two or more layers of bridges and ramps towering up to 100 ft above the lowest level.
The scariest part of driving in it isn’t the ice itself. It’s the other drivers. Sadly, most Texas drivers don’t encounter ice often enough to remember how to drive on it. A lot of them simply ignore it and drive as fast as they would on a normal day. Others believe their 4-wheel drive vehicles are impervious to any forms of harm and drive the same. But equally dangerous are the few who go the complete opposite way and crusie down a left lane of a major freeway going 15 mph when its clearly not warranted to drive quite that slow.
Fortunately, we only have to endure the ice tomorrow morning (it’ll be a good day to go in late to work). Tomorrow’s forecast? Sunny and 49 degrees, which should be good enough to melt all the crap from today. : )