TV Thursday – 5/23/13

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You gain a few, you lose a few.  On this week’s TV Thursday, Arrow, Elementary and Doctor Who all go off until next season, but I decided to take a look at Orphan Black, something that came on with the return of Doctor Who a couple of weeks ago, and I actually like it so I’ve run through most of the first season.  However, unlike what I did with the first season of Continuum, I’m not going to review the whole thing in a week.  I’ll look at the first four episodes this week, the next four next week and get back on track the week thereafter.  It’ll give me something to write about now that all the regular TV shows are through.

Thumbs UpArrow #1×23 – “Sacrifice” – There are some things I was right about and some that I wasn’t in my guesses last week.  Let’s get right to work.  We open with Ollie hanging in Malcolm’s “dungeon”, he tells Malcolm that he’s responsible for everything that Oliver has become.  “Sorry about that,” says Malcolm, explaining that the reason Oliver can never beat him is that doesn’t know what he’s willing to sacrifice to win the fight.  That word gets used a lot in this episode, at least 7 times that I can recall, and, of course, there are lots of sacrifices made by lots of characters.  We leap back to the island, just as Fyers is about to shoot down the plane.  Oliver cuts the ropes with the knife that the now-dead Yao Fei gave him, leaps up and stabs the missile operator.  So much for Oliver not being a capable fighter.  Fyers launches the missile, but while Slade fights off Fyers’ men, Oliver and Shado jump on the launcher and try to turn the missile around.  Shado, who seems to have a lot of technical knowledge for a lawyer, gets thrown from the launcher, leaving Oliver to redirect the missile.  It falls on Fyers’ camp, killing just about everyone in it.  Funny how nobody on the plane seems to have ever noticed they were being fired upon, nor did they see the giant explosion when the missile hit the ground again.  They never reported any of it because nobody ever came to the island to check it out, Oliver was stranded for years afterwards.  We’re supposed to assume that Slade and Shado were killed in the blast, but of course, they survived, although were injured.  Fyers grabs Shado and tells Oliver he doesn’t have the guts, to do what it takes to save her.  Oliver puts an arrow in Fyers’ chest.  I guess he was wrong!  Back in Starling City, Oliver tries to escape but is cornered by a guard.  Diggle comes in to save the day, saying he bugged Oliver’s shoe.  Back at the lair, Oliver calls Detective Lance and tells him about the bomb in the Glades.  Lance tells his superiors that he’s had contact with the Hood for a while and gets suspended.  Apparently, nobody takes the threat seriously until Moira calls a press conference and admits that she’s been a part of the conspiracy and that everyone had better get out of the Glades because the bomb is going to go off soon.  Tommy meets up with his father and is told about the Undertaking.  Tommy thinks his father is crazy.  Big surprise there.  Felicity figures out where the bomb has to be, but since Oliver and Diggle have to hunt down Malcolm, they call on Detective Lance to go defuse the bomb with Felicity’s help.  There is a wonderful scene where he calls Laurel and tells her that he’s not going to make it out of this, I actually started to think that he was going to die, even though plot-wise, losing their only “in” with the police department makes no sense.  I’m glad he didn’t die, I really like Paul Blackthorne’s acting.  I will say that the earthquake devices weren’t that impressive, as I was looking at them, all I could think of was “knock it over and it’s harmless”.  As the people in the Glades run for safety, Thea races to rescue Roy, because apparently she thinks he’s too deaf or stupid to figure it out when the police on megaphones start telling everyone to evacuate.  Together, they steal a truck, but as they are making good their escape, someone stops them and demands that Roy help rescue a bus-load of people.  He tells Thea to go on without him.  Oliver and Diggle fight Malcolm, but he’s kicking their asses.  Eventually, Oliver decides to jam an arrow through his own chest and into Malcolm, saying that he’s finally realized what he’s willing to sacrifice to win.  It was kind of stupid because he could have easily stabbed Malcolm without impaling himself.  Self-sacrifice for the sake of self-sacrifice isn’t all that impressive.  However, Oliver realizes that there is a second bomb and that Detective Lance has only defused one of them and time is running out.  Laurel is being an idiot and hanging around her legal office in the Glades.  She tries to get out but is buried under a pile of rubble.  Oliver races to save her but Tommy gets there first, setting her free but getting a piece of rebar through his chest for his trouble.  Oliver finally arrives and finds Tommy dying.  He apologizes for everything he’s done wrong and Tommy keels over.  Okay, it was a great episode, don’t get me wrong, but I think that some of my guesses would have been better than what actually happened.  The reason I didn’t pick Tommy as a potential corpse is because his role in the story was essentially done.  His father was in custody, the company was kaput, his relationship with Laurel was over, there was really no reason to keep him around anymore.  Therefore, any real emotional impact to losing the character was going to be minimal.  I suppose it would have been the same if they had killed Walter, he was already walking off the show, I just felt that there would have been more impact to the death of a character who was blameless and innocent and Tommy really was neither.   I will say that we’ve not seen the fate of either Roy or Thea, although we know Roy got signed as a series regular for next season, along with Felicity Smoak, so we know they’re safe.  I’m still convinced it should have been Thea who died, it would have driven not only Oliver but Roy to fight crime in the city a lot more than Tommy’s death could.  Tommy and Walter should have been written out of the show, but I suppose that if we want to drive Laurel toward her eventual destiny as Black Canary, the death of Tommy could fulfill that role.  I guess we’ll have to see where it all ends up when the next season of Arrow starts in October.

Defiance #1×06 – “Brothers In Arms” – Nolan meets up with an old military buddy, Eddie, who is tracking down a crazed Castithan genius, Pol Madis.  Madis was responsible for designing explosive devices that killed many people in the war, including half of Nolan and Eddie’s squadron, and Eddie wants to bring him to justice.  Or does he?  The second they started talking about bringing him to the Earth Republic, I knew they wanted him alive so they could exploit his skills.  Come on, all of these shows have an evil government entity that exists only to screw people over.  Why none of the characters aren’t painfully aware of it, I’ll never know.  Nolan puts Madis in jail and he takes Eddie down to the bar/whorehouse where they meet up with Kenya.  Eddie says he doesn’t want to take Nolan’s girl, but Kenya says nonsense and drags Eddie to a room, but has second thoughts and gives him a threesome instead, on the house.  Alright, this whole relationship thing is really getting on my nerves.  Maybe it’s my inherently conservative values, but the whole “she loves him but she wants to keep screwing other guys” thing really bugs me.  I don’t care if it is her job, I don’t care if it is something she loves to do, if you meet someone that you want to be with, as is the clear case with Nolan and Kenya, you don’t keep rubbing it in their face, which is exactly what she does constantly.  Nolan goes to Amanda and tries to talk her into giving Madis to Eddie, but Amanda has already called the sleazy Earth Republic and is going to turn Madis over to them.  In walks Connor Lang, an old “friend” of Amanda’s, now a high muckety-muck with the Republic and makes some vague threats to her, but she demands that the only way he’s getting Madis is if Defiance gets an irrevocable right to a mag-lev train.  He never agrees one way or the other.  Irina and Tommy flirt a little more, which means Tommy tries to get Irina into bed and she ignores him.  I know she’s not human, but what a bitch!  Meanwhile, Madis gets a “present” that helps him escape from his cell.  Seriously, the Defiance jail is so ridiculously insecure, I’m surprised the locks on the cells work.  They cell is so small though, I have no idea how Madis survived the explosion, there’s really nowhere to hide.  Madis takes off to Datak Tarr’s house and uses a bit of his technological prowess to “encourage” his cooperation. but Datak hints to Nolan that something is up and they get followed.  After re-capturing Madis, it’s revealed that the Earth Republic wants him alive so he can continue his destructive work, although Madis would much rather go to the Votanis Collective in Brazil where he’ll get a better shake.  Instead, Nolan puts a bullet in his head to keep his research from going to anyone else, just as the Earth Republic guys show up.  They claim that Nolan is a murderer, but let’s be honest, Madis was an escaping prisoner, a murder charge would never stick.  At best, Nolan would just disappear into the bowels of the Earth Republic, he does have a quarter million dollar bounty on his head after all, but Eddie takes the fall for it and heads off to the Vegas prison with the Earth Republic goons.  Sorry, but Defiance doesn’t have a good record of criminals they send to Vegas actually getting there.  This isn’t going to be any different as it’s revealed that he’s got the same kind of explosive that released Madis hidden in his boot.  What is it with the authorities that they can’t search prisoners well?  We also see more of the McCawley saga, former-mayor Nicky and her creepy henchman Mr. Birch meet up with Quentin while he’s reading the book they found hidden in Luke’s room.  He’s been deciphering the glyphs, but isn’t it a bit dangerous to be doing in the open?  After all, they know that Luke was killed because he knew about the secret room in the mines, but the room isn’t that secret as Nicky reveals she’s been there and knows all about the glyphs.  How is that, if I remember right, Rafe and Quentin only found the chamber a couple of episodes ago!  Rafe wants Quentin to get rid of the book and the “key”, but Quentin refuses.  After all, isn’t that the secret to finding out about Luke’s death?  Isn’t that the whole reason the Volge attacked in the first episode?  Destroying it seems a bit silly.  Later, though, Mr. Birch breaks into the McCawley house and he ransacks Quentin’s room, looking for the “key”, only to be surprised by Quentin’s unexpected return.  Quentin has apparently been seeing or hearing his dead brother and in the ensuing battle, murders Mr. Birch.  No, I don’t mean accidentally kills, I mean he chokes the life out of him at the direction of his “vision” of Luke.  How is this going to affect Nicky’s search for these secrets?  She doesn’t seem to be the kind of person who can get things done on her own.  Finally, Nolan meets up with Kenya, who dumps him because he’s “not her type”.  Funny, her type seems to be anyone with a dick.  She is right though, she can’t really dump him because that implies they’re officially together, something that’s just not true.  Someone sends Amanda flowers too but we’re not sure who.  And the kicker, we see Datak Tarr going to Doctor Yewll to get Madis’ little “present” removed, he rolls over uncomfortably while she holds what looks like a big enema tube.  Can’t say I feel too sorry for him.  So this raises a couple of questions.  First, we’ve never really thought of Datak Tarr as a loyal, caring Defiance citizen, but apparently, that’s how he thinks of himself.  We know that he’s been giving money to the Voltanis Collective, but I suspect Madis is correct, he does it out of guilt, not because he really supports them.  He’s got a good thing going in Defiance.  Secondly, we don’t know if Quentin is crazy or what, but I suspect he’s not.  I think that the “key” is a piece of alien technology that is affecting his mind and probably did the same to Luke before him.  I wish they’d get deeper into this mystery, the symbols in the mine are supposed to have been there for a long time, probably since at least the early 1800s, it has to have some deeper meaning, perhaps it holds the secret of the entire Voltan “invasion”.  And lastly for this week, what’s going on with Doc Yewll?  Madis said he was a fan of her work during the Pale Wars, so clearly she’s not all happiness and light like we’ve been led to believe.  There’s something dark lurking in her past, I wonder what it is?  This is one of the best episodes of Defiance to date and although it’s taking a week off, I’ll be back to keep watching.

Thumbs DownDoctor Who #7×13 – “The Name of the Doctor” – Before I get going on this review of the season finale, I just realized that this last group of episodes with Clara reminds me a lot of season 5 of Fringe.  It’s just shit.  I can’t help but remain convinced of this after seeing the opening to this episode where Clara is revealed to only exist to save the Doctor.  Granted, it was fantastic seeing all of the former Doctors wandering around, but seriously?  I know that so much of this is just set-up for the 50th anniversary celebration near the end of the year but it left me shaking my head.  We start off with a psychic meeting between Vastra, Jenny, Strax, Clara and River Song, who are concerned by a death-row inmate’s knowledge of the Doctor’s most deeply held secret.  During the meeting, Whispermen arrive and murder Jenny in cold blood and take Vastra and Strax hostage.  The Doctor learns of this from Clara and faces his worst nightmare, the one place that a time traveler can never ever go, his own grave.  Well… why not?  It’s not explained very well.  It’s not like a time paradox will occur, after all, we’ve seen episodes where the Doctor has run into his past or future selves, if that’s not bigger paradox material, I don’t know what is.  Of course, the Doctor goes off to Trenzalore anyhow and encounters the Tardis, which is breaking down and has leaked it’s larger inside to it’s outside, making it huge.  Ghostly River Song shows up, supposedly only visible to Clara through their psychic link and everyone winds up inside the massive Tardis with the Great Intelligence, who vows to step into the temporal rift, which is all that’s left of the Doctor after he dies, and utterly destroy everything the Doctor has ever done or will ever do, at the cost of his own life.  He leaps through the rift, followed by Clara, who realizes she has no reason to exist other than to save the Doctor.  After saving the Doctor throughout history, she’s left dumped in his personal time vortex where she meets a Doctor she’s never seen before, played by John Hurt, who has supposedly done something so horrible that the Doctor has to keep it a secret forever and take it to his grave.  Um… okay.  Now there are a lot of problems with this episode, problems that really make no sense.  Take River Song, for instance.  We know that she and the Doctor have been moving through time in opposite directions.  We know that she died in the first meeting with the Doctor, the excellent (and frankly the only worthwhile appearance) in the Forest of the Dead.  I’m just wondering when and where River and the Doctor actually got married since it seems we’ve seen most of their time together and it’s never happened.  I’ve honestly hated the whole River/Doctor thing, I wish that she, like so many other Moffat creations, had never been brought back past their initial incarnation.  She was great in that first story, not really at any time since.  The weeping angels were amazing the first time out, horrible in every subsequent appearance.  So are we supposed to think that River Song, immediately after the end of The Angels Take Manhattan, went to the Library and died and that’s why she’s now a “ghost”?  While I suppose it’s nice enough to see the final goodbye of the character, when everyone involved can travel through time, why should there ever be a final goodbye, especially when we’re told that there’s a huge chunk of time that we’ve never, and will probably never, seen?  And then there’s Clara.  I suppose that it’s marginally clever that the reason the Doctor keeps running into her is because she’s scattered throughout his history, saving his life over and over and over, but that brings up some problems.  We see in this episode that she helps the first Doctor, William Hartnell, pick the correct Tardis before going on his first trek.  That’s sort of clever, I guess, but it makes me wonder why the 11th Doctor didn’t remember that happening?  She said that most Doctors didn’t even realize she was there, but we know that there are some instances where he absolutely did notice her, but I guess he didn’t bother realizing she was around until the last Christmas special?  It all came off far too Forrest Gump for me.  Now on to the final issue, John Hurt is revealed to be an incarnation of the Doctor, who was not actually the Doctor, but has broken “the promise” and done something so horrible that Matt Smith’s Doctor won’t recognize him.  So where does he fit in?  Is he an incarnation later on down the road or is he an incarnation from the past that people don’t count?  It doesn’t seem to make much sense that he’s a future Doctor-without-the-name since it’s widely regarded that the Doctor only gets 13 regenerations and then he dies, placing Hurt in the future means that there is only one regeneration we don’t know about left.  My personal feeling is that Hurt represents the time where the Doctor-without-the-name ended the Time War that fell between Paul McGann’s movie version and Christopher Eccleston’s rebooted TV version.  The 9th Doctor seemed genuinely haunted by what happened in the Time War, leading me to conclude that whatever happened there could not have been considered a “Doctor” moment.  If you look at what he’s wearing, it seems to be both the waistcoat of Paul McGann and the leather jacket of Christopher Eccleston, pointing to a mid-way point between the two. The other possibility that was raised is a point between the 12th and 13th regenerations, explained in the 1980s story “The Trial Of A Time Lord,” where the Master says the Doctor was known as the Valeyard, “an amalgamation of the darker side of the Doctor’s nature… your penultimate reincarnation… Somewhere between your twelfth and thirteenth regeneration.” While the Valeyard is mentioned in this episode again, I sort of have a problem with “predicting” a future story that won’t be told for several years, long after not only Matt Smith leaves the show, but whoever plays the next Doctor leaves as well.  It seems a bit dubious.  It also seems to me that this is a call back to a line several yars ago in “Beast Below” where the Doctor says if he lobotomizes the star whale, he’ll have to call himself something other than the Doctor, this really seems to resonate with the thought that the Doctor-without-the-name would be something in the past, not something in the future.   The Great Intelligence doesn’t seem to be such a fantastic villain, although the idea of going through history, totally destroying all the good work the Doctor has done and ultimately wiping him from history, he’s certainly a dick.  Yet he’s hardly the only villain who wants to wipe the Doctor from history in revenge for all of the plots the Doctor has foiled.  I was a bit critical of all of the Doctor Who baddies trying to lock the Doctor away in the Pandorica, this seems like a step down to me.  And is it just me, or are the WhisperMen just a take-off on the Gentlemen from Buffy the Vampire Slayer?  In the end, while it wasn’t a horrible episode, I think the past half-season has been mighty disappointing.  I don’t much care about all the secrets of the Doctor, I’d rather see him traveling through time, solving problems and having a good time.  That’s really the essence of what Doctor Who has always been and something I think we’ve gotten away from in recent years.  I don’t want to see a romance, I don’t want to see a mental breakdown, I want to have a fun ride.  Can we get back to that please?

Elementary #1×23-1×24 – “The Woman/Heroine” – It’s a two-hour season finale so expect this to be a very lengthy review!  As we found out last week, Moriarty is real and is obsessed with Sherlock, even though Sherlock is convinced that Moriarty is smarter and more clever than him.  At the end of the last episode, Sherlock and Watson found Irene Adler, Holmes’ former girlfriend who he thought was dead, but had instead been apparently held hostage for more than two years of psychological torture by Moriarty.  Well, they surmised it was Moriarty, the only person Irene ever saw was a man in a mask that called himself Mr. Stapleton.  Of course, Mr. Stapleton is a clear reference to a character in the original Holmes story “The Hound of the Baskervilles“.  We spend much of the first episode in flashbacks, experiencing how Irene and Sherlock first met and how their relationship progressed.  Frankly, I’m not all that impressed with past-Irene, she seems to be someone I would never like or respect, but considering what comes later, that’s not really surprising.  She seems to be a bit sociopathic, treating Sherlock not as an individual, but as an experience to be savored and cataloged.  Holmes, however, feels that what happened to her is his fault and he recuses himself from the present-day case to spend all of his time caring for Irene.  He sends Watson on to help Gregson and Bell solve the mystery though and, while she’s initially hesitant, ends up being just as good as Holmes at detecting clues and teasing out facts.  I love how smart she’s written, she’s not Holmes’ student, she’s every bit as good as he is.  Watson’s clues lead to Isaac Proctor, a man with a double life that even his family doesn’t know about.  Proctor escapes and is revealed to be an associate of Moriarty, who agrees to smuggle him out of the country if he’ll do one last job.  However, Proctor goes rogue and decides he’d rather kill Holmes so he invades the house and shoots Holmes in the shoulder and is just about to finish the job when he’s shot from behind by Irene… but it isn’t just Irene, she’s actually Moriarty!  She reveals that in England, Holmes had foiled several of her plots and that made her curious, so curious in fact that she wanted to get to know and study Holmes close up.  I guess this is why she was so “off” in Holmes’ past, she never really cared about him, she was just playing a role.  Clearly, Moriarty is psychotic, she’s unable to care about anyone but herself and while she’s a genius, I think her inability to understand or emulate emotions is one of her weaknesses.  She reminded me a little of Dexter Morgan in the first couple seasons of Dexter.  I want to pause here and reflect on just the first episode, if I may.  Irene turning out to be Moriarty was a real surprise, I hadn’t even considered it as a possibility, although in retrospect, I should have.  In the original Holmes novels, Irene Adler appeared once in “A Scandal in Bohemia“, although in other unofficial works, she is mentioned in passing as a possible love interest of Holmes.  Holmes mentions her as the only woman ever to beat him.  Given that they’ve already done some gender-bending in the show, with Watson being cast as a female, the idea of a female Moriarty is hardly unprecedented.  We move on to the last episode now, as Watson finds Holmes lying shot on the floor and he insists that she remove the bullet and refuses any pain killers, insisting that he is a former addict and he needs to keep his head clear.  He spends the rest of the episode in pain, with his arm in a sling.  He forces himself to focus on capturing Moriarty, although he isn’t very successful as she’s able to successfully carry out her plot to kill two people by blackmailing a former international criminal into committing the murders, thus earning herself a billion dollars.  Unable to deal with his failure, Sherlock apparently relapses and overdoses on heroin.  Moriarty, confused by the act, comes to see Sherlock in the hospital and admits, on hidden tape recorder, that she was responsible for not only the murders, but for driving Sherlock into his addiction in the first place.  However, Sherlock never really took drugs, it was just a ploy by himself and Watson to lure her into a confession.  She is arrested by Gregson and the evidence is turned over to the police.  In the end, Sherlock, to show his admiration for Watson, names a new species of bee after her.  He is emotionally inept so I guess that’s the best she can hope for, but it was great to see such a touching moment, especially since they don’t talk about his bees all that often these days.  So now Moriarty is in prison and Holmes is a bit disappointed, having foiled the mastermind genius in such short order and to be honest, I’m a bit disappointed as well.  Surely, she’ll escape from prison and return to being Sherlock’s foil in the future, but I wasn’t expecting to even find out who Moriarty was this season, much less have the cat let completely out of the bag.  Still, since Moriarty in the original books wasn’t that big a deal, maybe getting it out of the way right off the bat is a good thing.  Holmes fans were expecting Moriarty, Elementary gave them a damn good story about Moriarty, now they can get on to other things, with the expectation that sometime in the future, she can come back.  I don’t know how Holmes will deal with the emotional trauma of learning that the only woman he ever loved, not only didn’t love him back, but was just using him to further her criminal undertakings.  Is this something we’ll see him deal with next season or will it be dropped entirely?  I hope for the former. 

Orphan Black #1×01 – “Natural Selection” – The story begins with Sarah, a drug-dealing loser who has a boyfriend that beats her up and a daughter that she can’t take care of.  When she runs away from her boyfriend, she encounters another woman, Beth, on a train platform.  Beth looks exactly like her, but is apparently troubled as instants later, she throws herself in front of an oncoming train.  This is just the kind of lucky break Sarah was looking for, she steals the dead woman’s purse and decides to become Beth in order to clear out her bank account.  Unfortunately for Sarah, Beth’s life isn’t as easy as she had hoped, Beth is a cop with a drug problem who has just been involved in a civilian shooting and is facing an internal review board.  Initially, Sarah-turned-Beth has no idea what to do so she drinks soap which causes her to vomit and her hearing gets postponed.  Beth’s partner, Art, won’t let her go that easily though, he was protecting her when she shot the civilian and he cleaned up the drugs and put a cell phone in the victim’s hand and now  stands to lose just as much as she  does if his involvement comes to light.  He “borrows” all of the money that Sarah had stolen from Beth’s bank account and holds it hostage, pending her clearing the tribunal.  At the same time, Sarah’s ex-boyfriend, Vic, comes looking for her and she and her foster-brother Felix, who is the only one who knows what’s happened, use Beth’s death as a way to clean up the mess.  Felix goes to the morgue and identifies Beth as Sarah and a grieving Vic forces Felix to hold a memorial service for Sarah.  Unfortunately, in the confusion, somehow Sarah’s daughter Kira finds out that she’s supposed to be dead and she sends Felix to let Kira’s caretaker, Mrs. S., in on the “secret” that Sarah had faked her own death to get away from Vic.  Meanwhile, Beth’s boyfriend, Paul, comes home to find Sarah and she ends up jumping him to keep him from asking too many questions.  It turns out there’s more to Beth than there seems, she’s got birth certificates for multiple women, several cell phones and there’s more to this whole situation than meets the eye.  One of the woman she has a birth certificate for, Katja, starts texting her on the pink phone and eventually they meet, but it’s like looking in a mirror, they are more identical than identical twins.  As Katja starts to explain things, a sniper puts a bullet in her head.  Just as Sarah is escaping from the sniper, Katja’s phone rings and Sarah answers it, leaving us until the next episode to see what happens.  All right, first off, let’s be straight about something.  Sarah is a fucking slimeball.  She’s not just morally ambiguous, she’s immoral.  She’ll screw anyone over for a buck or for convenience.  She is a horrible absentee mother.  I cannot stand Sarah at all, but luckily, after she spends a little time in Beth’s skin, she starts to adopt a lot of Beth’s mannerisms.  Now Beth isn’t that great either, she’s a drug addict (although luckily, Sarah doesn’t adopt that habit) and she doesn’t seem to be the greatest girlfriend in the world, although certainly she’s better than Sarah.  The interesting bit and the hook of the series is that Sarah and Beth and at least a couple of others are identical clones.  Who cloned them, why they were cloned and what’s going to happen to them is the point of the storyline.  Clearly, Sarah has no idea she’s a clone at the beginning of the story, but it seems like all of the other identical women we’ll meet over the next couple of episodes are aware and she has to race to catch up.  This might be difficult considering Beth was supposed to know a lot about the clones and now Sarah, playing the part of Beth, can’t seem to not understand it all.  Even though, so far, both Sarah and Beth are less-than-likeable characters, Tatiana Maslany has been doing a  truly amazing job keeping all of the different personalities separate.

Orphan Black #1×02 – “Instinct” – We jump into the second episode with Sarah driving around with the dead Katja in the back seat.  She answers Katja’s phone as Beth and discovers that it’s yet another clone.  She tells them that Katja is dead and is told to dump the body, get a skin and hair sample and retrieve her briefcase which has information that the clones need.  She buries Katja in a shallow grave, hoses all the blood out of her car and goes back to Katja’s hotel where someone has tossed the room.  After putting the cost of the repairs on Katja’s credit card, she retrieves the briefcase which she had in the hotel safe.  Sarah, in her Beth guise, meets up with Art, who is none too happy with her.  He gives her the files on the Chen shooting and tells her to memorize her story so they can go back into the review board and get her back on active duty.  She takes them home that night for a cram session, then threatens the police psychologist, when she tries to restrict Beth’s return to duty, with prescribing too many drugs and the psychologist relents.  Beth goes into a second review board and aces it, almost certainly getting returned to active duty.  Sarah looks in the briefcase and finds files and blood samples for several other clones, including one that is local named Allison.  Sarah tracks her down and finds she’s a soccer mom.  When she  confronts Allison at a soccer game, Allison is understandably pissed off and insists they meet later in Allison’s basement.  Sarah brings Felix, who really hates suburbia, and meets with Allison and Cosima, yet another clone.  They’re none too happy that she broke the first rule of Clone Club, but end up accepting Felix into their little group.  So far, we know of five clones, Sarah, Beth, Katja, Allison and Cosima, but clearly there are more.  Someone is out to kill them all, but nobody knows where the clones came from, who is responsible, or who is after them.  Other than learning that there are a bunch of clones, we don’t really learn anything special in this episode, which is fine, we need to let Sarah settle into her new role as Beth, who has a very complicated life to deal with.

Orphan Black #1×03 – “Variation Under Nature” – There are reasons we don’t let idiots bury bodies, the police located the body of Katja within a couple of days of Sarah dumping her, but luckily it got chewed up by mining equipment so nobody notices that Katja looks just like Beth.  However, Sarah is an inept cop and Art tells her that she’s grounded until he can be sure she’s running at full capacity.  She’s never fired a gun before but Art wants to see her performance at the firing range so Allison gives her a quick training session, having been taught by the real Beth, and Sarah impresses Art enough to get back into his good graces.  Felix babysits Allison’s kids and teaches them how to crossdress.  It’s hard to imagine a more flamboyant gay character on TV right now.  Allison tells Sarah that she, Beth and Cosima teamed up for mutual protection and that she’s the one who gave Beth the $75k that Sarah, and later Art absconded with.  Sarah meets up with Cosima in a bar to give her the briefcase and learns that nobody knows who created the clones or why someone wants them dead, but it started in Europe about six months before.  They know of nearly a dozen clones, several now dead, but who knows how many there actually are.  Worried that fingerprints from Katja will match Beth/Sarah, she sneaks into the lab and erases the results.  Yeah, because nobody ever has backups of e-mail?  Sarah, as Beth, learns that there were motorcycle tracks at the scene of the shooting and this leads to a stolen motorcycle that may or may not belong to the killer.  She and Art go to check it out and are ambushed by the killer.  Sarah leaps to protect Art, but he is shot in the neck and Sarah chases after the sniper, only to get blindsided by yet another clone, this one from the Ukraine.  The new clone, who Sarah learns later is named Helena, thinks Sarah is really Beth and threatens to kill her, only to pause when Sarah tells her that she’s not Beth long enough for Sarah to plunge a piece of rebar into her side.  Helena drops her sacrificial knife and stumbles off.  Art is thankful that Beth saved his life and gives back her money.  We also find out that Helena’s body is covered in scars as she pulls the rebar out and patches her up.  As soon as I saw that, I was thinking about Silas, the albino monk character in The DaVinci Code and predicted some kind of religious fanaticism.  There were a lot of problems in this episode to be honest.  The idea that Sarah, even though it was dark, completely failed to notice the massive quarry next door to her body-dumping site is a bit ridiculous.  Worse, the idea that Helena rode a stolen motorcycle to her assassination spot, then parked it at her apartment for all to see, is absurd.  I find the idea that Beth was driven to suicide because of the stress she  encountered trying to protect the clones to be silly as well, after all, she’s a cop and cops are supposed to deal with stress every day.  There has to be some reason why she offed herself that we haven’t seen yet.  Please, come up with a better reason!

Orphan Black #1×04 – “Effects of External Conditions” – We start off at the point we left the last episode, with the assassin clone Helena performing a bit of surgery on herself, but we find it’s in a random family’s house and she’s discovered by a young boy.  She doesn’t harm him but she does leave a bloody mess in the bathroom.  Via Skype, Cosima, Sarah and Felix figure out that the knife retrieved by Sarah has special carvings on it.  Cosima suspects that the killer is a religious fanatic, something I said about the last episode, didn’t I?  Sarah as Beth and Art investigate the family home and the boy identifies the killer as female by pointing to Sarah.  He also gives her a paper toy she had created, covered in her blood.  This leads them to the shooter’s lair, which is filled with religious symbolism.  Meanwhile, the shooter sneaks into the police station, disguised as Beth, and re-arranges their crime board.  She also leaves some clues for Sarah, calls Paul and tells him to come pick her up, etc.  Paul is painfully slow, I must say.  He doesn’t arrive until Helena leaves and Sarah gets back, which seems like a couple of hours.  This causes a couple of events to occur.  First, Paul shows up and is confused that Beth doesn’t really want to go with him.  Honestly, just get rid of this guy, his entire purpose in the show seems to be to show up at random for sex.  The real Beth was going to break up with him anyhow, ditch the moron.  Secondly. the message that Helena left for Sarah was a video, recorded at her desk, that claimed that Beth had murdered Maggie Chen on purpose.  She starts the video, it’s absurdly loud and she never tries to pause it or turn down the volume, she just looks around like she doesn’t want anyone to hear.  Third, Helena tells Sarah where she is, in the apartment of Maggie Chen.  Sarah writes it down on a pad of paper, then leaves the pad sitting in the middle of her desk where Art can find and decipher it easily.  So anyhow, Sarah goes off to meet with Helena, who has been hanging out in Maggie Chen’s apartment cutting herself with a razor.  Of course, this is the same night that Sarah is supposed to be meeting with her daughter Kira, the only chance Mrs. S. is giving her.  Sarah could easily have just gone over there and seen her daughter, but instead has Felix recruit Allison to pretend to be her at the meeting, something that Kira sees through immediately.  Allison swears her to secrecy and promises to come see Kira the next day.  Wonder who might actually show up this time?  Anyhow, Sarah finds Helena in the apartment and it seems like Helena really wants Sarah to shoot her in the head, but when Art shows up and bangs on the door, Sarah lets Helena escape rather than let her partner find two of them in the room together.  Helena does tell Sarah that Beth’s shooting of Maggie Chen wasn’t an accident, Chen knew something about the clones and Beth killed her to protect the secret.  Helena, bleeding badly, collapses in an alley, right in front of a man who had apparently been waiting for her, he puts her into his van and drives away.  Sarah calls a meeting with the police chief and Art and resigns from the force.  Why?  We don’t know.  After all, Sarah had agreed to keep pretending to be Beth because they needed the resources of the police department.  Has this suddenly changed?  I liked the bit with Allison playing Sarah and having to learn to be less refined, I think Allison has a stick up her ass and she needed to learn how to relax.  The speech that Felix gave about Sarah risking her life to save the clones and their children and not deserving to lose her own child because of it was great and it clearly impacted Allison.  I think Allison really got attached to Kira in the short amount of time that they were together, mostly because we’re supposed to think that the clones can’t have children of their own, after all, Allison’s two kids are adopted and this marks Sarah as the special one of the bunch.  As I’ve already said, I think they need to jettison Paul, they haven’t proven him to be anything special or mysterious, he’s just a random fuck partner for Beth, I see him as just an excuse for a little raunchy action.  One problem that I have though is that the police department seems to be pretty incompetent.  Nobody has any clue that Art and Sarah’s assailant is female, but she sure left a lot of blood at the scene and it’s not that difficult to tell gender from a blood sample.  It sure isn’t going to take a week to get the results back, crime labs aren’t that slow today.  They should have known almost immediately what the gender, and in fact a lot of details, about the shooter from the pool of blood she left at the scene.  And seriously, did we really need to see Felix painting in the almost-buff?  Seriously?  And finally, while I called the whole religious cutting thing last episode, we got a very good look at Helena’s body this episode and they didn’t really plan it very well.  We see that she cuts herself with a razor blade but there’s no way she can make most of those cuts on her back that way.  They’re also not flagellation wounds like we saw in DaVinci Code.  I’m sure it was done for effect, but lots of people, myself included, want a bit of realism in our science fiction. 

Psych #7×12 – “Dead Air” – We start off with a flashback to 2009, where Shawn and Gus are on a radio show hosted by Crock Daniels, a radio personality that essentially makes fun of them.  Leap forward to the present where Shawn’s father is having a cookout for Shawn, Jules, Gus and Rachel and they turn on the radio to listen to Crock’s show.  Suddenly, they hear Crock getting shot to death on the air and they race to the radio station.  Gus and Shawn run into Miranda, the station’s owner, who is more upset about lost revenue than in Crock being shot on the air.  Now she needs someone to take over so Shawn volunteers and has perhaps the worst radio show of all time.  Miranda develops a thing for Gus though and she replaces Shawn with the “Player Named Gus” show.  In fact, Miranda spends most of the episode trying to hook up with Gus and Gus spends his time being true to Rachel.  Shawn and Gus interview the rest of the staff at the radio station and it’s suggested that Miranda lost a ton of money because her deal to sell the station to Clear Channel fell through and she didn’t have the funds to keep paying Crock’s exorbitant salary, but that turns out to be false, Miranda is a multi-millionaire who could easily afford it and Crock was the best investment she had made on the station.  When someone tries to kill Gus in the parking lot, Shawn realizes that there are common callers between Crock’s show and Gus’s show, maybe one of them did it.  They meet up with Laura, a crazed fan who was president of Crock’s fan club and has now developed a crush on Gus and think there’s a guy named Bob who is stalking Laura and killing off his competition.  They  try to lure out Bob while Jules stays with Laura, but Shawn comes to think that Laura, who is more than a little crazy, is actually Bob in disguise, he has her arrested and they all think things are back to normal.  Unfortunately for Gus, the real Bob comes to kill him and while he panics and eventually mans up by smashing a bottle of champagne over Bob’s head, giving Lassie a chance to tackle him, they finally catch the real killer.  Rachel and Gus talk and she reveals that she has to go back to England for 6 months because she’s only here on a tourist visa.  Once she’s gone, Gus talks to her and realizes she’s with Max’s father and that things between them won’t ever be the same.  It’s a sad ending but I don’t really find myself caring if Rachel ever comes back, a bit part of me hopes she never does.  I was initially pretty supportive of the relationship, after all, Gus usually dates psychos or has to deal with being a third wheel around Shawn and Jules, so I thought he deserved a bit of happiness of his own.  However, when she brought Max into the picture, I turned against her and she has been a genuine buzz-kill for the show in every episode she’s on.  Gus deserves better.  I’d be happier if he could be with Miranda, the sex-crazy millionaire radio station owner than with Rachel.  Still, it’s the interaction between Shawn and Gus that makes the show work so well, no matter what romantic relationship either of them are in, it can’t get in the way of the Shawn/Gus dynamic or it kills the show.

Warehouse 13 #4×14 – “The Sky’s the Limit” – Now that Artie is back, it’s clear that he’s not doing well.  We saw last episode that Steve has been spying for the Regents and they’re going to do something but we don’t know what.  Artie almost has a breakdown while trying to water Leena’s plants and tells Claudia and Steve to get the hell out of his sight, and oh yeah, go to England and find an artifact that is causing long-shot horses to win races while putting their jockeys into the hospital.  Pete and Myka are sent off to Vegas to investigate the deaths of several people who apparently fell from a great height.  Neither case was all that interesting, I’m afraid.  Claudia and Steve stumble their way around England, flashing badges that mean nothing whatsoever and are somewhat surprised when nobody cares.  The only link between the horses is that they had all gotten medical attention for abusive treatment just before their races.  Now you’d think that the vet would have reported her suspicions to someone, but apparently not.  It was a horse-lover who was using an artifact on the horses to get back at the jockeys for their treatment, but he gave up far too easily.  Didn’t he know what he was doing or the potential ramifications of his actions?  He put people in the hospital in critical condition for crying out loud!  Back in Las Vegas though, Pete and Myka were having a moderately more interesting case.  They were trying to find an artifact that allowed levitation and this led them to Monty the Magnificent who claims he can levitate people without using magic.  Monty is an old-school Vegas magician who is on his way out when he comes up with this new trick.  Another magician, the seriously dickish Val Preston, tries to steal his secret and ends up dead.  Good riddance, he was a complete jerk anyhow.  However, it seems like there’s a downside to this gimmick, anyone who is levitated once will, under the right conditions, simply take to the skies again and will end up street pizza.  Pete ends up taking a flight and then, when Monty and his granddaughter take over a performance that was supposed to feature the now-dead Preston, Pete starts heading for the sky for the second and last time.  Monty’s granddaughter has a gold medallion belonging to Saint Cupertino which lets her do the levitating, Monty is totally in the dark, he thinks it’s really magic, but Pete convinces her that she’s killing people and she lets Myka bag the medallion.  Monty is devastated, he’s lived his entire professional life trying to find real magic so they take him to the Warehouse and show him real magic.  I guess we’re supposed to think he pocketed an artifact on the way out, but come on, they can’t be *THAT* lax on their security, can they?  Well, maybe they can, after all, they pretty much let anyone into the Warehouse these days.  The Regents hired someone to take over Leena’s boarding house and keep an eye on Artie.  Abigail Cho is actually a psychologist who wants to help Artie get over the trauma of his murder of Leena, but he immediately gets upset and she starts suggesting the use of artifacts to control his anger.  She should get the boot at that point, I’d never pay a psychiatrist who wants to drug a client into oblivion rather than solve the underlying problem and that’s essentially what she wants to do, just with “artifact drugs”.  However, Artie finally relents and agrees to talk to her, which I suppose is a good  thing.  Finally, we see the return of Charlotte Duprix, who we last saw in the episode “The Living and the Dead” where she was revealed to be the wife of Count St. Germain, several hundred years out of time.  She scopes out the Warehouse, saying she has a plan for getting inside, then we see her again in England, following Claudia and Steve around.  She takes a picture of Claudia and sends it to someone, saying “this is your target”.  There was an underlying message in this episode that artifacts, no matter how noble the intentions of the user, are dangerous.  The boy who was trying to stop horse abuse ended up harming the riders.  Rose, the granddaughter of Monty the Magnificent, only wanted to make her grandfather happy but ended up killing people.  Even Abigail, in wanting to medicate Artie with an artifact, ran the risk of causing additional harm.  Artifacts are dangerous, no matter how they are used, Abigail called it when she said that Artie had a tremendously difficult job keeping track of the Warehouse.  With great power comes great responsibility and all that. 

Best of the Week:  It’s going to go to Arrow.  I had two choices this week, Arrow and Elementary, but in the end, I thought Elementary dropped the ball when it resolved the Moriarty storyline too quickly.  Arrow wasn’t perfect, but I think it posed enough questions to keep me looking forward to next season so it’s going to get the nod.

Worst of the Week:  The worst for the week has to go to Doctor Who, which has struggled through this half-series with a genuinely uninspired “impossible girl” storyline.  The idea that Clara is everywhere in the Doctor’s past, protecting and saving him, but he just never noticed it seems a bit absurd and where the Great Intelligence had a lot of potential, I found it squandered in this cheap suicide plot.  About the only saving grace was the revelation of John Hurt as a Doctor-not-the-Doctor, at least it’s something interesting to think about, I just hope that when the series returns next year (ignoring the 50th anniversary stuff for the moment), I’m not terribly disappointed by how it’s resolved.

Other Stuff I Watched:  Mythbusters #11×03, The Nerdist #2×06

Okay, I wanted to get this off my chest… I’m really starting to hate The Nerdist.  I’ve never been a big fan of Chris Hardwick, he strikes me as a geeky used car salesman, but at least when the show was a half-hour long, it was fun, they’d have people on and talk for a couple of minutes and that was it.  Now, it’s like watching a geek version of the Tonight Show.  Seriously, it’s a talk show, they put people on I don’t care about, they play a stupid trivia game, they have on a truly awful comedian and they do some really stupid crap with Matt and Jonah.  It’s just not funny anymore, it’s annoying.

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