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Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Ascension (2016)
Grant gets his "Absolution"
Everything that led up to this kicked me in the rear. "All Inhumans were made for a specific purpose" - Lincoln. What is Lincoln's purpose? We find out here.
It's "Follow Yo Yo's Cross" - As we already knew DaisySkyeQuake had seen it floating in a quin-jet before blowing up. That's what she gets got letting herself get touched by an Inhuman who could cause people to see "their own deaths".
This episode presents us with "Free Will vs Predestination" or rather, Free will vs Determinism. My vote always goes to Free Will, and thankfully Daisy's Free Will was stymied by Lincoln's.
But this episode puts a Lid on the Grant Ward tale, and in such a way as to redeem himself. Of course, he is no longer Grant, but Hive/Maveth- But Maveth's unique talents allowed him to actually be Grant, one last time- And to remember things he had done as Grant that were good. Meanwhile, Hydra finally gets iced. But as you know, there are new bad guys, watch out for Watchdogs, Ghosts, and guys with flaming skulls- and "life model decoys"
Bad Santa 2 (2016)
Definitely missing Bernie Mac and John Ritter
But it's almost as funny as the first one, this sequel has the same quirky characters the first one had, parodies of real people types, sometimes believable. That's why I enjoy these so much. Especially Mike Starr as "Pedo Santa".
Thurman Murman returns, exactly the same as he was before, except now 21. Kathy Bates joins Willie Soke and Marcus Skidmore to do "One Last Job". But as the details unfold, we see it's a job that Willie is not too comfortable with, even with his low standards.
But it's a showcase for all kinds of new inanity. And although not near as great as the original, there are still some very good Billy Bob moments, as he fornicates, drinks and stumbles through one more Christmas. His final revenge on Marcus is classic.
Of course, the outcome of the "Job" was too predictable, but to have any other outcome would not have been realistic, at least for Willie and Marcus. It's a 3-way "cock-up" this time.
Enterprise: Demons (2005)
Excellent wind-up for the last stretch.
This final 2-parter gathers up everything that has happened so far in Season 4 and dumps it into two beautiful Episodes.
Speaking of Beautiful, it's Travis' Ex, the lovely Johanna Watts as Gannet Brooks. A "So Called" Reporter, you'll find out why later. Peter Weller is yet another reactionary Meathead Sean Hannity-type who has done some very bad things.
Harry Groener from TNG "Tin Man" is a future politician, "Nathan Samuels", who used to be a member of the Xenophobic Group "Terra Prime". which is a lame future version of the lame "America First".
As Samuels tries to preside over a meeting of ambassadors from several planets, the Brietbart of the future has been soapbox- spouting, and people eating it up because of, of course, the Xindi wiped out 7 million people. Isil hasn't quite caught up with that yet, although Germany surpassed it previously, and people forget that Nazism started with Xenophobia. Then came the Deportation forces and the Concentration camps.
So, this preliminary meeting of the "UFP" does not bode well, because of this Breitbart style Xenophobia spreading. Phlox had been targeted during "Home" by a redneck in a bar.
Other things that didn't help much were a woman appearing and dying in front of everyone from a Disruptor blast, cryptically saying "They are gonna kill 'her'", whoever 'her' is.
And then it appears that Starfleet Security wants to shovel it all under the carpet. Archer finds a way around it, and Malcolm must needs meet his "Section 31" associate once more.
This 'Sode is a bunch of puzzle pieces being creatively put together, and it's marvelous. But just wait until the Conclusion!
Enterprise: Terra Prime (2005)
The real Series Finale and a dire warning for 2017, which was ignored.
"These are the fantasy TNG Holodeck Voyages", I don't consider it as part of this show even, it was Braga's final failed attempt to make one more TNG Ep.
So from now on I ignore it. That episode should NEVER have been made. To Blazes with Braga, because of him, many talented people lost their jobs. I'd rather see the cast and crew doing what they are best at: Making TREK shows, rather than remembering Trek shows at Conventions.
I had dismissed and panned this show, mostly cos of the canon- breaking writing and too-human Vulcanians. Imagine the head of the Vulcanian government in collusion with Romulans and acting like one himself? The excess emotions and bombing a sacred temple with people in it not a big enough CLUE? I could not swallow the multiple 24th century anachronisms, the multiplex time paradoxes, although the one on "Carpenter" Street" in Season 3 was great. I thought T'Pol sucked, but that was before I knew she had been exposed to a toxic emotion- causing Trellium-D Overdose. Now that I can see the progression of her Character, Jolene did a swell job at playing a Vulcan on the deteriorating side.
So, I had mostly ignored Enterprise all these years. But that was MY Bad. After Binge Watching the whole show just now, there are many good things about it. "Is it Star Trek?" YES. And this episode here, and the one prior to it, are the appropriate Series Finales this show deserved.
Season 4 was quite a bit different. It was made during the great "Change" - Shows no longer had 26 Eps per season, like Enterprise 1st 2 seasons. Season 3 got 24 Eps and season 4, only 22. But those 22 were not individual episodes, but rather little 2-3 Ep vignettes, which propelled the story toward THIS Ep.
I had trouble with "Arik Soong" and his Mulleted "Arguments" I like to call them, and I had a lot of trouble with the "Vulcanians with Testosterone" Eps. But even those had some good things and some great story elements.
But these last 2 Eps, which are the actual season and series finale, reflect the crappy things that are happening in the US this year, Xenophobia has made it into the White House. These episodes were merely a warning made during the last time we had a reactionary governing us, people forget that this country was almost destroyed that time too. How fast can 8 years of forward progress be eradicated?
So it is best to remember this episode: And also the fact that most decent people in this country won't put up with what John Frederick Paxton (Peter Weller) and the Xenophobe in the White House are pushing.
Ironically, this is not the first time Peter Weller plays a reactionary Meathead in Trek, he was a similar Meathead in "Into Darkness". In Fiction, the reactionaries get their just desserts. Sometimes, they get what they deserve in real life, too.
Enterprise: Damage (2004)
This episode must have PO'd many Trekkers.
This is Enterprise version of "In the Pale Moonlight" from Deep Space 9. In both episodes, The Sisko and The Archer have to toss Ethics out the nearest Airlock in order to accomplish a more important Goal. For The Sisko it was to get The Romulans to scrag their "Non Aggression Pact" with The Dominion, for Archer, the stakes are just as high.
The Xindi are almost finished with their Planet-Obliterating weapon, And Enterprise is falling to bits.
The one difference between what happened "In the Pale Moonlight" and here is, in "Pale Moonlight", nobody else other than Elim Garak knew what had been done. But in "Damage", it had to be done with the Enterprise Senior Crew participation.
Casey Biggs shows up as yet another Alien, he was Legate Damar on DS9. Tucker Smallwood (From Space: Above and Beyond) is a Xindi council member, and for the first time we get to see one of the "Sphere Builders", played by Josette DiCarlo. Also, Scott Macdonald (Who was "Tosk" in DS9 and a Romulan Subcommander in TNG) is the main Reptilian Commander, who shows up for a few minutes at the beginning of this debacle.
The "B" Story in this episode is T'Pol's struggle with a sensitive issue, and it is driving her to take crazy life threatening chances.
All in All, many things are happening in this pivotal Ep. If I had seen this back when it was originally aired, I know I would have hated it. I despised this show for many years, on the basis of "These are the Voyages", but this was unfair to the 97 other great episodes this show produced. I am finally able to watch this show from start to finish, and it is much better than I remember. Probably because when I watched it On Air, all I had was a crummy 24" Magnavox TV, and it was broadcast in 4:3 rather than the 16:9 format I'm seeing it in now. And 7.1 Surround sound. Never knew the deck-plates of NX01 hummed like in TNG.
Enterprise: Stratagem (2004)
Where is the Ragtime piano music?
Season 3 was a lot better than I remember it being, and this episode was one of the best of the series.
Randy Oglesby returns as "Degra" (The creator of the Xindi weapon) and he is with Archer in what appears to be some beat-up Malosian shuttle, being chased by other Xindi. The appearance is that some years had gone by, and they had escaped from a Xindi prison-cesspit and were cellmates at such a place - and, had even becomes friends. Degra seems to have memory loss but Archer mentions the after effects of (Regulan) Bloodworms, which we get to see.
Is this an another alternate future episode? Where's Daniels? But he's not there, so something else must be going on.
It's "The Sting" if course, and you have to feel sorry for Degra as he falls prey to Archer's tricks. But this scam was masterfully executed, it fools us during the teaser even. But when Degra reveals he had a hard time making a weapon that killed 7 Million people, it hands Archer an in for future (real future this time) encounters with Degra and other members of the Xindi Council.
Season 3's episodes all string together to create one huge 26-hour tale, and this episode marks the point at which things start going a bit better for Enterprise.
Enterprise: Strange New World (2001)
Braga's introduction to Horror stories
This episode had me gripping my chair.
It starts out as your basic "Protocol" argument between Archer and T'Pol, Archer decides to ignore T'Pol's suggestions and beams down an "Away Team" to check out what looks like a fabulous Planet.
But great weather turns into a storm, and then things start happening, trapping the Away team on the surface. And then the fun really starts, until the paranoia sets in, affecting even T'Pol.
I had never seen this episode until it came up in my Player. In a way, the "Protocol" argument is something I can imagine happening. Larry Niven explains Space Exploration thus: "Anything you don't understand, is Dangerous until you DO understand it" and that certainly applies here, this planet could have endured a bit more scrutiny before people were shuttled down to it. And then leaving people on the surface overnight was rather stupid, this wasn't a National park with a Ranger station nearby.
There were moments in this episode that were enjoyably startling, and Braga's concept of turning an Away Mission into your basic Nightmare, I'd say it was successful.
Enterprise: Rogue Planet (2002)
As much as I agree with other reviewers on this one...
I rather enjoyed it.
I had to dismiss the concept that a Rogue Planetoid would have not only a breathable "M-Class" atmosphere and temperature, but green plants without any Sunlight to make them green. But I suppose the "Greens" department didn't have time to paint them purple or whatever Colour plant life would have in such an environment.
What I enjoyed was the Archer plot that included a "Woman" from a poem he read, and the nature of who that woman really was. In my mind, it was a nod to Odo and the Shapeshifters from DS9, which was my Favourite part of that series.
And the fact that they kept the nature of these Rogue Inhabitants a mystery until the end of the episode. It was also a statement about people who will hunt endangered animals, with no thought to species survival. Even if the animals on our planet are not intelligent, we are the stewards of all life on earth, we have a poor record on how we deal with that stewardship. And today, we have leaders who don't seem to care about that, who would destroy our natural parks just for Profit and "Free Market" sake. They can't seem to get a grip on the fact that these are limited resources and should be respected and protected.
What I enjoyed was Archer's discovery of the issue and his tactful handling of the problem at hand.
Finally got this series loaded into my Plex server
And it's mostly pretty decent, at least the first two seasons. Actually, I wholly enjoyed the 3rd Season arc. I noticed that John Shiban, part of the X-Files "John Gilnitz" Trio, had been added to Season 2 as a producer and writer. His episodes were particularly good.
I'm surprised Rick Berman actually worked as a writer for a lot of this, some of his episodes were halfway decent as well, but I remember when this was Airing, I didn't like that from the start they had yet another "time travel" arc with the Suliban and the "Temporal Cold War" which heated up and sucked Jonathon Archer in from "time to time". I attributed that to Braga's writing, sometimes his time conundrums were good, other times, not so much. But I have to give the guy credit for an occasional "Horror" tale, those worked well in Trek. Especially in the time frame that Enterprise was supposed to be telling.
There were too many "24th century" anachronisms, Trek canon from TOS describes the technology of the time as being much more primitive. For example, in "Balance of Terror" we were told that the first war with the Romulan Star Empire was wrought with ships that had no sensors or visuals compared to the TOS era. But yet, the NX01 had a Screen that was comparable to NCC 1701's, or TNG. And TOS had transporters that were not instant like TNG's, yet the NX01 seemed to be almost 24th century quality. And Doctor Phlox, as much as I like John Billingsly, just had to many gadgets that were even ahead of TNG/DS9/Voyager tech.
Nevertheless, this show was still Trek, and now that I can watch it episode by episode, it appears to be much better than my first impression. So I give the whole series a high rating, maybe not each episode. And of course, I thought the last episode was a disgrace and an insult to the series and the actors who had worked so hard to make it happen, not to mention we had already known that Riker was not playing "Cook" on the Holodeck, he was doing calisthenics with Worf instead. The insensitivity of that episode shocked me.
But revisiting this series today, when it was good, it was extremely so. Especially when we get around to "Carbon Creek".
Millennium: Skull and Bones (1998)
The last day of a Good Woman
In "The Hand of St Sebastian", it was revealed and/or intimated that Cheryl Andrews had some nefarious activities going on, which were not precisely authorized by The MillenniuM Group, she had been working against her own group, and working with some nasty looking characters to obtain the "Hand of Saint Sebastian", a Relic that the Group had been fighting the Church for ownership of. Don't trust everyone who says "This is who we are". But WHY was she doing this? This episode explains why, but, well, it's complicated, folks. I'll try to explain this without using spoilers.
In this very creepy episode, her actual fate is addressed, and it had been determined by a man named "Homer J Petty". But who is that?
A huge graveyard is found which would have been buried by a new freeway construction, and as Emma Hollis scrambles to identify 43 (42?) sets of skeletons, Peter Watts mysteriously appears, apparently to "help" the FBI, but we know it is to look over Hollis' Shoulder and make sure she does not find out what we know Frank already knows, about who is responsible for that mass grave.
We also meet a hapless man named "Ed" (Arye Gross) who had stumbled upon the reason for this graveyard years ago, and is afraid for his life. It had driven him into a life of secret seclusion, as he documented each of the 43 (43) people who were buried there.
While Frank tries to protect Ed, Hollis sticks to the mundane legwork of identifying 42 (43?) bodies, and gets stuck on the 43rd body - The Body of Cheryl Andrews - Which is not even supposed to be buried there. And, she's not buried there. While Emma finds out "where", Franks finds out the more important question, "Why?"
So. We *know* that Andrews had been arrested in Germany for the St Sebastian fiasco, so why is she here? I don't think these two episodes conflict in that area. In fact, when Frank accounts Andrew's last steps, he does state the reason why she had been in Germany, and it was the same reason given in "Hand of St Sebastian". It's just that, there was more to her visit to Germany than we knew from that previous episode, and this episode fills in those gaps. She had of course participated in an uncharacteristic attempt to steal the relic, but we also know she was in Germany in the first place for the reason Frank had found out in this episode-- Which might even explain why she turned against the Group at that time.
You see, MillenniuM fans, Cheryl had found out what Frank eventually had found out about the Group, but she was painted as the "Bad Guy" in the earlier episode. Ironically, it turns out she was an ally that Frank never knew about, had probably come to the same conclusions about the Group Frank came to in Season 3. So, she was the first. Frank had finally pieced together the whole story in his summary, which he narrates to "Ed".
It's best to watch the two episodes back to back. As with the X- Files, an arc started by Morgan/Wong was continued by Chip Johanessen and Ken Horton: But the details are all here about the Morgan/Wong story: When we run into Cheryl in the Elevator in Germany, she states right there, her reason for being there, and it's the reason Frank gives in his summary.
In Emma's investigation, she sees what Watts had planted for her to see, but as Hollis is the consummate FBI investigator, she comes across the name "Homer J Petty" in relation to the Freeway that was being built to hide the bodies, and he was the last person to see Andrews alive. And as she follows the final clues, it's at that moment she realizes Frank is not simply delusional as Watts says he is - But that he was right all along. When she is two feet away from evidence that would prove this, Peter Watts shows up and makes it go away.
Getting back to Ed, he had been seeing people vanish because of something they had seen or heard, and was afraid for himself. And at the exact moment Hollis finds the clue to end all clues about Homer Petty, Frank with Ed come face to face with the person who left those clues - And Ed has a "special vision" of his own, he can see who Petty really is.
All through this episode, Petty (Bob Wilde) is watching Hollis and is constantly as Watt's side. But Petty is not Petty. The credits at the end of the episode identify who he really is. Oh, he was Petty, alright. But why is this character always with Peter Watts? Why was the Toothpick-Chewing Man always in Director Kirsch's Office in The X-Files? Same reason.
In Season 1, Cheryl Andrews had always been depicted as someone who was of extreme help to Frank. I could never swallow that she had turned coat, and this episode validates her apparent "breaking bad". I think this episode was written to explain this about Andrews, so I just accept it that way. Of course, "Hand of St Sebastian" was a great fun Ep, the same way this Ep is the Epitome of creepiness that represented MillenniuM. But I think the point of this episode isn't really the Ed arc, the Hollis arc, or the Andrews arc, it what Frank tells Emma: "The Truth Matters".