Unfortunately, due to technical issues, there will be no review of The Night Manager this week, so let’s jump right to…
Once Upon a Time
I would like to know what is up with all the smoke-spewing underworld chimneys. And how did Hook’s face get so messed up? Questions that have not yet been answered.
The title of this episode, Labour of Love, in conjunction with the next episode, Devil’s Due, might mislead one into thinking this is a double episode about a birth of some kind, but the “labour” of the title is actually in reference to Hercules (who we really should be calling Heracles if we’re using the Greek name for Hades, but that’s another story). Similar to the season 4 episode where Frozen’s Anna teaches stable-boy David how to fight, this episode’s Enchanted Forest flashback is one big training sequence, where Hercules trains the young (we’re talking pre-Huntsman) Snow White the ways of the warrior.
Much like last week’s episode, I’d be annoyed that we’re getting another Snow White flashback, but here too it serves to fill in a gap in the backstory, without clogging up the timeline or making contradictions. “Bizarro-Storybrooke” (as Regina calls it) features fair screen-time for most of the main characters on their ongoing search for Hook, and focuses more on Hercules (though at the expense of an underdeveloped Megera).
This episode has a great atmosphere, really emphasising creepiness of the Underworld. I particularly enjoy the Hansel-and-Gretel Witch, who runs the Bizarro-Diner. Also they refer to Hercules as a demi-god, which means his backstory is probably much more myth-accurate then the Disney movie. That’s a plus.
This episode does feel a lack of Mr Gold. You can’t help but wonder where he is this whole time. Sulking in the diner or hanging out in his shop with his dad? Instead we get a bit more Hades, who continues to be fabulous (and sort of extravagantly whispery. It’s odd) There’s also the return of Cruella, in just two brief scenes that feel like they could have waited for the next episode. Cruella was the most “fun” of the Queens of Darkness from season four, and she suggests the return of the Author arc, so I’m glad to see her back, so long as this season doesn’t end up feeling too overstuffed.
Gold’s back next week, and hopefully Cruella and Henry’s arc will see a bit more expansion, so I’m looking forward to it. Both Hades and Cruella feel like they aren’t revealing everything. I’d like to see a twist to the tale in the near future.
I am highly enjoying Gravity Falls, to the point that it’s going to be hard to restrict myself to less than ten episodes a week. I do this for you guys.
In episode 1, we had our little hint of mysteries to come, with Grunkle Stan sneaking into a secret passageway behind a vending machine. We haven’t seen much of that thread developed since, but between episodes 3 and 10, the show starts developing its arcs. First up was the introduction of Lil’ Gideon as a villain set to reappear, as well as rivals for Dipper and Mabel in the form of Pacifica and Robbie. The episode ‘The Time Traveller’s Pig’, whilst not my favourite, really shows in its last few minutes just how clever this show can be (and I daren’t spoil it, but you should know that I was going back and re-watching the first few episodes after I saw it).
I am noticing a trend where, in episodes where the twins are split up into separate subplots, it’s Dipper who gets the more interesting and fantastical plotline, whilst Mabel gets a more comedic one with fewer stakes (such as trying to match Stan with the diner waitress, or getting Stan over his fear of heights). This does work with their characters (Dipper is more serious and mature, Mabel is more friendly and comedic), but it does mean that Dipper is getting a bit more development (and is currently my favourite character). The best episodes are those where the twins stick together in the main plot, or those that seem to tie into the arcs.
And here’s a taster of what to look forward to next week, in anticipation of Season 2 of…
It’s generally accepted at this point that the Netflix series’ Daredevil and Jessica Jones might well be the best content the Marvel Cinematic Universe has to offer. Without the restrictions a movie puts on tone or running time, the shows are able to freely develop their characters and create deeper and darker storylines than anything the films have to offer. And whilst I’m generally glad of the lighter tone of the MCU compared to some drear and drab franchises, I also welcome a change of pace.
Which brings us to the much anticipated Daredevil, season 2. There’s excitement over the appearance of the Punisher and Electra. Will Wilson Fisk – hands down one of the best MCU characters, let alone antagonists – return? Will the new costume look good in action and will the Netflix shows keep bending over backwards to avoid mentioning the events of the Avengers movies?
I’ll start watching over the next week, and try to get through more than one episode per week. One thing I do want to mention, however, is that I’m all that fond of the Netflix principle of releasing every episode of a season at once. I understand the theory and I know some people like it very much, but it makes it very difficult for someone like me – who doesn’t really have the inclination to marathon more than 2 episodes at a time – to avoid spoilers for later in the season. So please, guys, if you’ve seen all of season 2 already, don’t spoil things for the rest of us. Thank you!