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X Company: Remembrance (2017)
Satisfying Series Finale for X Company
Series finales can be tricky things. People look forward to them as momentous events, but this can sometimes lead to expectations not being met (Lost, for example) or developments that fans don't like and have no further chance to have fixed! (I'm looking at YOU Xena: Warrior Princess!!)
For me, X Company really got gripping and enthralling in season 2 once the Fabers became a bigger part of the mix, and this season has been pretty damn stellar in terms of drama and the moral quandaries in which our heroes have been placed.
The latter part of this third season's McGuffin, Operation Marigold, was not that important except that it provides the motivation for our team. They aren't ending World War 2, so it can't be as huge as the Dieppe landings or assassinating a major Nazi figure - not if the show is to remain believable. So the WHY is not that important. What matters is Neil is in prison and the team's mission to kill the scientist behind Marigold is in danger of failure because of him, but even more so, because Faber is wavering. This leads to a tense finale where Aurora, Faber and Schmidt come (sort of) clean with each other at the barrel of a gun! I especially liked the call back to episode 1, where Aurora dons a yellow dress (great with Evelyne Brochu's colouring!) for her mission at Nazi HQ. Aurora has been just a phenomenal character throughout the run of this series. I only started watching X Company after becoming a fan of Evelyne Brochu's work on Orphan Black. Yet I really fell in love with Aurora. She has been thrust into perilous situations time and again, has been torn by the things she as had to do, yet she is strong and resolute throughout. I loved that at the end of the episode, when we see briefly where the characters end up, Aurora is back out in the field in Belgium undercover. Brochu has been fantastic at portraying Aurora's choices and their consequences. I was glad we had a nice little resolution to her friendship with Sabine, and how Sabine was altered. And while the Aurora/Alfred fans enjoyed the liaison between them last week, this finale showed her endgame was not to settle down with a man, but to keep fighting for the cause. A true hero. In terms of characters, Franz Faber comes a close second on my list of favourites. We saw him go through so many changes of heart in this episode alone. During the series we have seen him act incredibly brutally, shooting people without qualm, torturing Alfred and more. Perhaps it isn't a good thing to sympathize with a Nazi, but we feel at heart, he has good in him. At the opening of this episode, he and his family are in danger of being exposed so he decides to hold back and is prepared to sacrifice the team. Faber owes nothing to them and despite not supporting the gradually revealed atrocities being committed by the Nazis, he isn't willing to die for no reason. Therefore the climax of the episode (where Aurora reminds him of his Downs son Ulli and why fighting with them is the right thing to do) is pretty heart breaking and powerful. Faber's sacrifice makes sense in that of all the characters - with the exception of Sabine's father Schmidt - he is the one with most blood on his hands left. He is not going to start working openly as a resistance fighter and it is unlikely he would escape a war crimes trial with the people he has killed. Quite honestly, I was a bit surprised Aurora, Alfred, Neil and Krystina all survived. Surprised but pleased. Too many series finales feel they need big sacrifices to end a show, however, having lost 4 original team members over the 3 seasons, there has been a fair death toll that no more deaths was pleasing.
As a series finale this one was very satisfying, although I would argue better dramatic episodes have come before it. These last 2 episodes have been directed by series creator Stephanie Morgenstern, and while I applaud her step behind the cameras - there aren't enough women directors and she has been at the heart of the show - I think visually they were not as striking and beautiful as some. However, emotionally and performance-wise, they were as good as the show at its best.
I'm sorry to say goodbye to Aurora, Alfred and Neil. I think there are many more stories that could have been told by the show. Still, this particular chapter and particularly the compelling stories with the Fabers were probably done. I hope in years to come other fans around the world will find this show and enjoy the exciting and involving stories of a fascinating time in history.
X Company: Friendly Fire (2017)
The end is nigh...
With just one more episode to go in the show, this episode sets up quite a few things, but is a bit of a lull in the tension after a run of amazingly taut and tense episodes. Now in Berlin, the team must bargain with Faber who is holding Sinclair's son. He arranges to trade him for the tape of Sabine incriminating herself. However Franz has even more going on, as his Nazi bosses have uncovered his dealings with Sinclair and the gang. Franz convinces them he is cultivating them for information but is clearly losing control of the situation as Neil, Sinclair and his injured son are captured. Meanwhile Krystina (yes, she's on field assignment finally!) is buttering up a nervous art dealer whose exhibit is about to become a booby trap so the team can kill the scientist at the heart of operation Marigold. Aurora and Alfred 'discuss' things - one for the shippers there - while Sinclair makes the ultimate sacrifice as he knows he will not be able to hold out if his son is tortured in front of him.
With just one episode left, there is a bit of moving of people into place while having Aurora and Alfred reconcile and be together smacks a little of fan service. Confession time, I've never cared for Sinclair, so his story line with his son and his death didn't really move me. However, I appreciated the story implications. The boss of the team is gone and his sacrifice made sense. We now have Neil in custody, Faber's allegiance unclear and Aurora, Alfred and Krystina on their own with a task that seems impossible.
I'm guessing there may be at least one more death to come. Will Neil be the one? Alfred? I'm going to be very upset if it is Aurora!
X Company: Naqam (2017)
I have really enjoyed the addition of Madelaine Knight as Heidi this season. She has been a fascinating but dangerous character that Aurora has had to handle carefully, cultivating her friendship to get to the inner circle and working with her. However, after the scene as the end of episode 7, Heidi knows there is more to Aurora and this episode deals heavily with Aurora and Heidi's relationship as things come to a head.
All of this is happening as the team are preparing to head to Berlin and the McGuffin of the season, Operation Marigold and its plan to manufacture synthetic fuel.
The confrontations between Heidi and Aurora in the jail cell and their ultimate fight in the woods are especially satisfying. Aurora shows her strength physically as well as mentally as she manages to keep Heidi from discovering the truth, while ultimately letting her know her true identity. Thanks Madelaine Knight, but Heidi really did get what she deserved from badass Aurora! I just don't get why this show isn't popular all around the world, more than just in Canada. I'm a Brit and I think many people here would enjoy it. Great drama, super acting and characters you really get invested in. Yes, even the Germans!
X Company: The Hunt (2017)
Wow, what an episode! Aurora is put in a real moral quandary about how far she will go to maintain her Nazi cover and is forced into a pretty terrible act! The horror of the Nazis plans are even more to the fore in this episode as their policy of 'clearing' Polish villages is put into action. Meanwhile Livia's father seems even more taken than ever with Aurora under her German cover as Helena, and invites her to Berlin.
I'm not sure which is more horrifying; the classification of the children in a Polish school as potential Aryans or the hunt of the title that turns into a literal man hunt or the 'gift' Livia's father brings to his daughter near the end of the episode. We also have a rather shocking last scene in Faber's office as Aurora, disgusted with herself, can't face Alfred and Neil and gets into a rather heated discussion of morals with an equally self-hating Franz, who had been forced to face the fact his is just as bad as the Nazis soldiers he commands to kill women and children. Their desperate clinch is seen by dah-dah-dah, the villainous Heidi, still smarting over being usurped as Nazi lady of the hour. This was one of the most tense and nail-biting episodes of the season, with our team forced to do terrible things and try to prevent even more terrible things! Evelyne Brochu and Torben Liebrecht are especially good in this episode. I am not that familiar with the actions of the Nazis in Poland, the rugged resistance and the way the Nazis treated them so the drama was compelling - as always.
X Company: Supply and Demand (2017)
The plot thickens
After a run of highly tense and dramatic episodes, this one is more of a plot build up one as the pieces are being moved into place for later in the season. Heidi is turning out to be the monster we might have suspected as she plots the 'clearing' of nearby towns, working out which of the locals can be German-ized and who is heading for the camps. She also disposes of the Jewish office workers with barely a thought. Meanwhile, Sinclair's decision to send to green rookies to Poland to help the team maddens Krystina, although when the true reason emerges, it is pretty chilling.. Albert is getting friendly with the local station master and his attractive daughter to try to track shipping in the area, while Faber tries to find out what Operation Marigold is. Sabine finally seems to be coming on side after realising the locals did not 'donate' their clothes to the needy Germans!
The show has set some very high standards for tension and drama, but this episode's best moments were less high stakes. The unfolding horror of Heidi's work, the realisation that the young raw recruits were sacrificed for the mission, Harry getting a letter from his niece. A quick shout out to Morten Suurballe who plays Sabine's father, Schmidt and is really effective as a scary Nazi!
X Company: Promises (2017)
Another one bites the dust!
SPOILERS AHEAD! The team head for Poland and have a highly eventful rail journey. While Aurora tries to build bridges with Sabine, her friend Heidi appears, but before long, the train is attacked by Polish resistance fighters. They take Franz hostage, demanding the release of captured resistance members. Meanwhile, Harry, Alfred and Neil are loaded into a cargo wagon with Jews being shipped to labour camps. Faber's plans to take them from the wagon as a way of getting them to Poland is thwarted as he is now a prisoner himself. After the women and children are unloaded and more Jewish men are loaded, it is clear the train is heading for the death camps. After working with the other prisoners to escape, many are shot down by the Nazis - including Harry! I must admit I always found Harry pretty obnoxious, especially after his revolt against Aurora last season, but I was still surprised to see his demise in this episode. For the show to have any semblance of realism, the casualty list has to be high. Not sure how many resistance agents survived for long, but not that many I would assume. The standoff between the Polish resistance and the Fabers, Aurora and Heidi on the train was very tense and exciting. Aurora had to try not to give herself away on several fronts. Heidi shows there is more to her than just a feisty society girl. She recruits Aurora for a job being 'the pioneers of the new Germany.' Will she be an ally or (more likely) a dangerous enemy?
X Company: Frontiers (2017)
X Company has really ramped up the tension in the last 2 seasons and this is another tense and exciting episode. With Faber in the hands of the Polish resistance, Alfred and Neil have to tread carefully to keep him safe but not give away their secrets. With the recent loss of a team member, Neil especially struggles to keep himself on task. Meanwhile, Aurora's new job with the rather mysterious Heidi sounds pretty shady - resettling newly arriving German into now empty houses in Poland..
As always, this show is beautifully acted. I don't get why X Company isn't a bigger hit outside Canada as the storytelling is well paced and the characters very engaging. You get the feeling there could be big trouble ahead for Aurora if suspicion fall on her. Livia's father clearly has a soft spot for her, and maybe that will help keep her safe. Faber's commitment to helping the resistance will be shaken after his treatment at the hands of the Polish fighters, so will be continue to be an ally for the team? Look out for a cameo from TV genre legend Amanda Tapping as one of the agents training the newbies back at Camp X.
Benoist is super charming!
Now starting its second season on The CW, Supergirl is one of my favourite shows. Its chief strength is Melissa Benoist as Kara Danvers aka Supergirl. I found her kind of annoying when she was on Glee (although she has a terrific singing voice) but Supergirl is perfect for her. Benoist imbues the character with a dorky adorable charm, yet also sells the action scenes.
A big strength of the first season turned out to be Calista Flockhart as Cat Grant, whose snarky wit yet ultimately decent heart turned out to be a winning combination. The relationship between Cat and Kara (and Cat and Supergirl!) was really well handled.
All of the supporting characters are charming and likable - although I still don't think they have done enough to make James Olsen anything more than eye candy yet. His upcoming season 2 story line as vigilante The Guardian isn't filling me with confidence.
Chyler Leigh as Alex Danvers is high on my list of favourites, and the bond between the Danvers sisters is the real heart of the show. Leigh and Benoist work well together.
Early episodes did show one of the ongoing weaknesses - and one common to the Berlanti verse DC shows and that is bringing in a villain for a episode, only for them to be defeated without leaving much of an impression. There have been a few duds on Supergirl too, and the ongoing season 1 arc with the Fort Ross aliens, Myriad and Astra and Non was only partially successful. (I miss Astra and Laura Benanti!) Already, Brenda Strong as the mysterious Doctor from Project Cadmus is shaping up to be a menacing foe.
While there are aliens and bad guys to battle, the tone of Supergirl is generally fun and cheerful. Kara is a delightful character, although the series highlight for me is the season 1 episode 'Fallen' when Kara becomes infected with Red Kryptonite and becomes much LESS of a sweetie! Benoist was fantastic as the mean girl Kara.
Clichéd and dull
This show appeared on my Amazon Prime recently. I knew nothing about it and hadn't read any reviews, however as it had Martin Freeman I thought I'd give it a go. While I just about made it through the pilot, I won't be watching any more! They are clearly trying to be 'edgy' and 'daring' with so many sex scenes in the first episode. However I am so bored with crime show featuring appalling men we are supposed to find so fascinating. Yes there is an equally horrible female character too, but everyone talks like they think they are The Wire or True Detective, yet the show did nothing to make me invested in these characters. The plot didn't draw me in, the sex scenes were repellent, most of the characters were unlikable and clichéd.
No idea if it gets better and don't care to find out. There are so many fantastic shows around now, a derivative and unlikable one like this doesn't do enough.
X Company (2015)
Getting Better and Better!
I came to this show as an Orphan Black fan wanting to see what Evelyne Brochu was up to but gradually got drawn in by the great plots and surprisingly good acting.
I had heard of the SOE based in Britain during WW2 and seen films like Carve her Name with Pride starring Virginia McKenna in the past. There are also the French Resistance dramas like Secret Army (and 'Allo 'Allo I guess!) but hadn't heard of the Canadian special operations group. I was surprised and interested to read some of the stories about the real X Camp on the show's website/FB page.
As for this show, the team took a while to bed in and the actors to settle into their characters. As a fan of Evelyne Brochu I of course loved that she got so much to do and Aurora is a fascinating character. I was kind of glad they bumped off her romantic interests Rene so early on...apparently! Jack Lasky as Alfred the memory man was an odd character at first, but he's grown on me a lot. Indeed going into season 2, the changing character dynamics definitely made me more interested in all of the team. (Boo hiss Harry!) Season 2 was very strong with the emphasis on the Germans Franz and Sabine Faber and I was not surprised to see Torben Liebrecht had won an award for this role as Faber is a really interesting character - although I am curious to see what they do with him next after the season finale! Whereas season 1 had quite a few 'missions of the week' I think the longer story arc of season 2 really made the show take off. Some great tense drama and some really fascinating plot twists.
Having come for one actor, I really have grown into a fan of the show and am looking forward to season 3.