Categotry Archives: Spoilers

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On Re-Watching Supernatural

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I started re-watching Supernatural from the beginning this past Wednesday… it’s familiar, it’s comforting, it’s straightforward and uncomplicated, and it’s been helping me cope with the exceedingly complicated world beyond the TV screen. I’m not going to dwell on that in this post, though. This post is also not about the problematic parts of the show, though I’ll certainly talk about that at some point. What I do want to talk about is that I forgot how charming Supernatural is right from the beginning. I’m fairly certain this isn’t just my affection and familiarity talking… in fact I’m certain this is exactly how that affection began.

I talked about Supernatural at length on an episode of the podcast, but I’ll give you the rundown here as well: it’s about the Winchester brothers, Sam and Dean, who hunt supernatural creatures, live on the road in cheap motels, and make money by gambling and committing credit-card fraud. It’s largely of the monster-of-the-week variety with a big bad that ties each season together. But from the very first episode it’s so much more than that: the thing that makes the show such an obsession with fans is that the relationships between the main characters feel real, consistent, and fully realized throughout the series.

The series begins by showing us Sam’s apparently normal life… he’s just graduated college, he’s about to attend law school, he’s got a girlfriend he loves. Then his older brother Dean shows up and tries to convince Sam to come search for their father, John, who Dean meaningfully says is on a “hunting trip” and hasn’t been heard from in three days. It’s immediately clear that Sam’s relationship with his father and brother is strained, and as the show progresses it explores the messy nature of familial love, and later the love found in platonic friendships. (Romantic love exists occasionally throughout the show, but it’s rare, fleeting, and largely unimportant.) The lead characters—who are all male—have conversations about their feelings every episode, and just as often there are scenes where the actors subtly express all the complexities with only facial expressions or tears. Throughout the first season Sam struggles with feeling torn between leaving a normal life behind and the loyalty he feels towards his family. Dean suppresses jealousy that Sam ever had a chance at a normal life, hides the weight of responsibility he feels under jokey bravado, and desperately tries to maintain peace between Sam and their father John, the only two people he has in his life. John can be brusque, unhinged, and hyper-focused on the job, but it’s also clear he thinks he’s doing the right thing to keep his boys safe from all the horror he knows is in the world. And in between they kill monsters.

I suspect that this is one of the main reasons that the fan-base is largely female… the focus on feelings and interpersonal communication is far more interesting to us than the “will they or won’t they” romantic plot of so many shows. This may seem counter-intuitive when you’re scrolling through Tumblrs full of fan-fic and art devoted to placing the male leads in sexy situations with each other, but I think the truth is that most fans (including the fan creators) want those fanciful ‘ships to remain separate and sacred from the show’s canon.

So the show began with the right ingredients to create its current fan-base, but then that fan-base began to influence and cultivate the show into something even better. The show’s creators and cast are very connected with the fan community through conventions and social media. But they also respond within the show with easter eggs and entire meta-episodes, the best example of the latter being the 200th episode, “Fan Fiction,” which can only be described as a love letter to the fans. That relationship between the creators and fans feels unique and collaborative, like friends snickering together over inside jokes. And it’s yet another relationship that forms the backbone of the show—though to be clear it’s not exclusionary… the fan community is warm and you’ll quickly be welcomed into that click.

I’m afraid I’ve made it sound too soapy… is the series still a fun horror/fantasy escapist show? Absolutely, but that’s not what makes it special. I think after 12 seasons I have sometimes lost sight of that… I still heartily recommend it to people, but I’ve occasionally felt like it’s inertia that’s drawn me back season after season. Re-watching from the beginning has reminded me why I fell in love with the show and why it’s not even a guilty pleasure… it’s just a pleasure.

 

 

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Episode 61 – Daredevil

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Is there such a thing as a murder triangle? Watch Season 2 to find out.
Is there such a thing as a murder triangle? Watch Season 2 to find out.

After a festival of bizarre tech issues, it’s finally time for Daredevil 2: Elektra Boogaloo. Mary and Rob are all caught up, while Paul don’t give a fuck. We still dive into spoilers, so beware if you haven’t seen it yet and don’t want to learn its dark secrets prematurely.

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NOTE
While discussing the various gangs, we were wracking our brains to come up with the name of the Latino gang. Turns out they didn’t really have one–they were just “cartel gangsters.” We’re not sure if that flat, boring name reflects their own icy professionalism or the writers’ decision to anonymize nonwhite bad guys on the show. What do you think?

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Episode 60 – Civil War

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Another clear example of media bias against your favored candidate.
Another clear example of media bias against your favored candidate.

As Captain America: Civil War draws near, Rob gives a quick 101 on the huuuuge comics event that spawned its primary conflict, if not exactly its plot. Whether you’re leaning toward Team Cap or Team Stark, the writers at Marvel need you to understand that you are supporting difficult moral choices. There’s death and drama and fascism and Canada and Aunt May in peril–it’s worth a read, even if the series ends with a disappointing shrug followed by a Major Character Death*.

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* Which lasted about two years. Time flies when you’re a Dead Major Character!

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Episode 57 – The X-Files with guest star Jo Jo Stiletto

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The truth is I want to believe out there.
The truth is I want to believe out there.

We turn our steely gaze to The X-Files now that its new season has crept to a weird, abrupt halt. As ever, Rob and Paul couldn’t quite make it all the way through six hours of viewing in time to record the show, but Mary and special guest star Jo Jo Stiletto more than compensated with their deep, unsparing knowledge and affection for the series. We had a blast gabbing with Jo Jo, and will be sure to have her back as soon as her busy schedule permits.

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ABOUT OUR GUEST
Jo Jo Stiletto is a burlesque producer, performer and historian who explores the intersection of feminism and pop culture. As an expert on burlesque and fandom, she has presented at events like the National Women’s Studies Association’s Annual Conference, GeekGirlCon, Nerd Nite, and has been interviewed by the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, NPR and more. Her works have included sold‐out events like Whedonesque Burlesque, The Burl‐X‐Files, Bechdel Test Burlesque and Guardians of the Sexy with Emerald City Comicon.

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Episode 48 – Jessica Jones

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It's not ALL dark and broody.
It’s not ALL dark and broody.

Marvel’s second Netflix series dropped just over a month ago, and it’s surpassed Daredevil in our affections–something we really didn’t think was possible. Like all great genre work, it uses its fantastic elements to illuminate real-world issues faced by real-world people. Its exploration of the effects of rape, domestic abuse, and PTSD feels true and compelling–and it’s presented in a way that makes it accessible to viewers who may not be immediately sympathetic. And yet somehow the show is also deeply entertaining. Truly we live in an age of miracles.

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LinkHole: E3 Edition

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E3 Roundup collage
OH WOW MUCH GAME SO UPCOMING

E3 is all wrapped up, and the announcements came non-stop. Here’s some stuff we’re stoked for and some stuff we want to know more about:

Fallout 4
This is a biggie for us, we’re all devoted fans of the series. Rob already talked a bit about it when the trailer was released, and additional info on gameplay has only piqued our interest. Plus! Not only is the game due for release this holiday season, there’s now an iOS game called Fallout: Shelter to tide us over until November. (Fear not, Shelter is coming to Android, just not for a few months, sadly.) (That warm sensation you’re feeling is Rob’s white-hot rage radiating through the aether.)

Rob [via Facebook]: “Bethesda just dropped a bunch of new intel on Fallout 4…and I’m both wildly excited and a wee bit anxious. Will this be the game that finally teaches me to love crafting? Saying your game is like Minecraft doesn’t make me reach for my wallet. But I’m not kidding anyone–I’ll be lost to the world on November 10.”

Mary: I’m a relative new-comer to Fallout compared to these two, but I’m all in and super-excited for this edition. I’m already playing Fallout: Shelter on my phone, and while it’s basically SimCity: Apocalypse, if you have any love for this universe, you’ll probably want to grab it. I’m not gonna lie, I’m even considering getting that sweet collector’s edition so I can get my own Pip-Boy. I never buy collector’s editions, but the cosplay possibilities might be more than I can resist.

Assassin’s Creed Syndicate
Mary: It’s hard not to see this trailer through the lens of last year’s Unity debacle… but let’s just be glad that Ubisoft is listening and has given us an excellent playable female character. Evie Frye is exactly the female assassin I want to play and Victorian London is an enticing location, especially the steampunky version shown in the main trailer and the gameplay walkthrough. Of course, I love this series more in theory than practice, but I’ll probably pick it up.

Cuphead
This lovely bit of insanity is hand-drawn, hand-inked, and brilliantly captures the animation style of the 1930s. Coming to Steam in 2016, Cuphead also features original jazz recordings and according to their website, “is a classic run and gun action game heavily focused on boss battles.”

Mary: I’m definitely checking this out as soon as I can.

Unravel
Reminiscent of the quiet melancholy and beauty of games like Limbo or Journey, Unravel is the tale of Yarny, a character made of yarn that slowly unravels as you progress through the gameplay. So far no release date has been announced, but it appears that the game will be available for both PC and console. Learn more at Unravel’s website.

Lego Dimensions
Dimensions is Lego’s answer to Skylanders.

Mary: First of all, can we talk about how adorable that trailer with Joel McHale is? I love the Lego games and am particularly excited by the IPs included here (SO MANY IPS!! Portal!! Back to the Future!! Lord of the Rings!! OMG!!). I’m not sure I can afford to get caught up in collecting all the minifigs, but the temptation might be too great.

Xbox One will be backwards-compatible with Xbox 360 games.
Sort of. Let’s call it “backwards compatible.”

Paul [via Facebook]: “They’re starting with a list of 100 by the holidays (there’s a couple dozen now), and they’re going to add more based on gamer feedback. Presumably it will be most big games eventually–but also presumably, I’ll never get to play Earth Defense Force 2017 on the One.”

Rob: This may be too little, too late for me, especially given Steam’s announcement of real live Steam Machines coming out soon. I haven’t done my homework yet, though.

Also note: Until this fall, you have to be in the invitation-only Xbox Preview program to play the 360 games. Here’s a list of the current titles (including BattleBlock Theater!).

The Kinect is dead. Or is it?
Yeah, so it looks like we won’t have the Kinect to kick around any more…for a while.

Rob: Note that Microsoft was quick to cover its butt and let us know that some forthcoming games will use Kinect, but it rings kind of hollow to me. While the tech has just never been quite ready, it was still a rare and wonderful example of Microsoft taking a risk in the console market. I wish they’d been able to deliver on its promise, but I feel confident that future generations of controllers will have some Kinect genes in their DNA.

Ashen
Mary: This looks very cool, and I’m a sucker for open-world RPG. Not sure how I feel about the faceless avatars, but I’d at least like to try it out.

Rob: This looks beautiful. I love the facelessness, mostly because it feels like a stab at uniqueness in a market filled with Uncanny Valley residents. But I have a bad feeling I’ll be more interested in watching Ashen than in playing it.

Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2

Paul: This is maybe my favorite shooter ever (as discussed in our very first episode of Nerdhole!), and certainly my favorite game so far on the Xbone. PvZGW2 looks just as lovingly and conscientiously done as the original, with many improvements (detailed by Kotaku here) that address my main complaints about the game. First and foremost, they’ve added split-screen, side-by-side-on-the-couch multiplayer. I also love that every game mode is getting an offline AI mode—and, not surprisingly but thankfully, all your characters and upgrades will transfer.

The Walking Dead: Michonne
Breakout character Michonne gets her own Telltale game!

Rob: Well, this sounds like fun. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the first Telltale TWD game, but I’ve come to believe that may have been controller-related frustration, as I’ve had great good fun with subsequent Telltale games. We don’t know yet whether Danai Gurira will voice the character, but we can hope.

Mass Effect: Andromeda
It’s not out for well over a year, but Bioware had to shake things up a little with this announcement.

Rob: Wow, the trailer is fucking gorgeous. I was a very late Mass Effect adopter, but I’ve played each of the three titles many times through and will no doubt dive into this as soon as it comes out.

No Man’s Sky
This long-awaited exploration game (on its second E3 now) finally gets a preview.

Paul: I’ve been waiting for this forever, and my expectations are admittedly probably too high. I’ve been imagining my ideal crew of repurposed Mass Effect characters, privateering around a sandbox galaxy and occasionally landing the Mako for open-ended planetary exploration and swashbuckling. It’s still hard to tell what the game’s actually “about,” but … my expectations are (probably appropriately) muted. I hope the prosaic-looking pieces that we see here come together into something more. Watch the video and see what you think.

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Jurassic World Is Super Fun Despite Its Shortcomings

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Check out all the majesty.
Check out all the majesty.
Let me start with this: Jurassic World was never going to surpass the experience of seeing the original Jurassic Park in the theater in 1993 for me. It was the first time we saw real dinosaurs on screen (well, real-ish… more real than the stiff, plodding dinosaurs of movies past.) Jurassic Park‘s dinosaurs were smart, fast, felt like real animals, and they were brought to life in a way we’d never seen before. Yes, it was chock full of scientific inaccuracies, but that hardly mattered to the dinosaur-lover inside of me… I was Alan Grant, tearing up at the majesty and magic of the creatures, just as Hammond intended.

So Jurassic World was never going to be that. But it was also never going to disappoint me… I already knew there was a gang of velociraptors rolling with Chris Pratt on a motorcycle. And that was every bit as awesome as I anticipated… in fact all of dino-action was FANTASTIC. From the pastoral grandeur of the roaming herds of herbivores to the over-the-top, kick-ass climactic fight scene, Jurassic World DELIVERED. And seeing the park taken to the logical conclusion was satisfying, as were all the winks to the fans and nods to the original film. I loved it. I loved every minute of that stuff. I laughed with childish glee. If you’re at all hesitating, it is ABSOLUTELY worth seeing this in the theater, because the magnitude and action are the best things about the film.

That being said, literally every female character in this film is an eye-rolling stereotype or a prop. I mean, it’s not like anyone is well-written, but it’s particularly egregious with the women. This movie couldn’t be any more male-point-of-view. The main female character, Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) is a lazy 1980s cardboard cutout of a corporate ice queen who doesn’t know how to have fun and is completely out of touch with her environment. Also probably she wants babies because every human female wants babies. Judy Greer—as Claire’s sister and the boys’ mother—was criminally underused. She has a weird melt-down at one point that’s completely unsupported by the plot, and also she’s sure her sister wants babies. The other female cast members include the older son Zach’s girlfriend (prop); Zara, Claire’s assistant (prop); Vivian, from the control room, who refuses the advances of her co-worker but also cries alot (I know people had just been eaten, but none of the dudes are crying!); and all the girls Zach looks at (also props).

The 22-year-old Jurassic Park was infinitely more feminist. In that film we only had two female characters but they were both solid. Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) is a badass, she’s clearly respected in her field, she’s not afraid to call people out, and she doesn’t burst into tears at every possible turn. Lex (Ariana Richards) was actually an improvement from the novel… sure she’s not thrilled about the outdoors, but it seems to do more with her being a computer geek (sorry, hacker) than a girl. And she helps save the day on more than one occasion… she distracts the raptors in the kitchen, and she knows the “Unix system.” Weirdly, even the female raptors in the original film were better written: they were calculating clever girls, whereas Blue and her gang take orders from a man. They couldn’t even write the female dinosaurs correctly!

This all makes it sound like I hated the film, but I honestly didn’t… it was everything you want and expect from a dinosaur-fueled thrill ride. In conclusion, I give Jurassic World 10/10 Barbasol Cans for awesome dinosaur action and nostalgia, but only 7/10 White Suits for mild sexism and exhausting tropes.

And now for some spoilers:

Continue reading →

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Episode 31 – New Upcoming TV Series

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Screen shots of AKA Jessica Jones, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow, and Heroes Reborn
(from the top) A.K.A. Jessica Jones, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow, Heroes Reborn
This week we’re talking about upcoming new TV series that we’re excited about, including a few that are new all over again. We start off in-depth with A.K.A. Jessica Jones, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow, and Heroes Reborn, and end with a lightning round of all the other things we’re looking forward to. There’s one Arrow spoiler from last season’s premiere, but you probably already know if you’ve seen anything about Legends of Tomorrow. Still, heads-up if that sort of thing bothers you.

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Episode 28 – Avengers: Age of Ultron

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Avengers splash panel
Avengers getting comics action right.

Just to make this 100% clear, we are spoiling the hell out of Ultron this week. We all love it, you should go see it, but save this episode for later if you want to keep your innocence intact.

We goob out at some length about the latest pillar of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Joss Whedon’s last contribution to its canon. It’s good! We had fun! You will too! Details and spoilers lie within.

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We referenced a few reviews in the show:

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