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The X Files: My Struggle III (2018)
Sadly, not a joke
This is quite possibly one of the worst pieces of television ever made.
It starts off with a pompous pre-credit sequence designed to have the audience laughing in derision as the credits role.(The Smoking Man faked the moon landing!)And then it goes downhill from there, as it becomes clear that Chris Carter had no idea how to get out of the corner he wrote himself into at the end of the last series...so he writes off the previous season's finale as a dream.Yes, really.And just when you think it can't get any worse, Mulder starts doing voiceovers.I'd like to think this is a deliberate pastiche of film noir detective stories but given how ponderously serious the rest of the episode takes itself, it's probably not meant to be as funny as it is.
Sadly, two of the worst parts of The Dream are apparently true.The Cigarette Smoking Man is alive and Monica Reyes is working for him.The latter feels like an attempt at camaraderie with everyone who thinks Season 9 isn't proper X-Files.("Hey, that character you hate for not being Mulder or Scully has turned evil!")But it's a slap in the face for anyone who followed the show loyally.The only thing this character has in common with the kindly quirky Mulder-substitute of the original run is that they're played by the same actress.Fan favourite Skinner isn't treated much better, abruptly being shady and untrustworthy.Meanwhile, likable new additions Einstein and Miller are reduced to a cameo, as if they only had the actors for a day and wanted an excuse to put them in the credits and pretend this is a continuation of the previous episode.
On the plus side, the mythology is starting to at least vaguely resemble that of the original run and it looks like we can write off the non-sequiturs of the previous season premiere as another smokescreen like Gethsemane/Redux.And the idea of two ex-Syndicate members creating a rival conspiracy to the Smoking Man is intriguing.But there's no plot, no story, just exposition that may or may not be contradicted later and action sequences thrown in to make sure people are awake.At the end, having neither learned nor achieved anything of significance, Mulder and Scully just shrug their shoulders and decide to investigate some unrelated cases.
Oh, except it's not over as we get a final revelation to make us all groan in disbelief as Chris Carter once again decides to explain something he's already explained differently.And it's an explanation that people joked about 18 years ago then waited to hear what the real story was.Honestly, how many times is the Cigarette Smoking Man going to be proclaimed as someone's father?This is at least the fourth.
It's the 21st century and The X-Files still doesn't have a clue where it's going.
Home and Away: Episode #1.6462 (2016)
"They're going to get themselves killed or they'll get caught"
This is the point.The point where we have to admit that the Home and Away they we knew is dead and gone.The show that began in 1988 would never have allowed two such reprehensible characters as Josh and Andy to drive off into the sunset, having killed four people and got away with it, while cheery music plays.When Evelyn is the most moral character in the episode, you know you're in trouble.Matt cheering on a cold-blooded killer responsible for the death of one of his best friends causes him to lose a lot of sympathy.That's before you even get on to the farce of their escape, with Josh, an effective life prisoner, having a single easily bribed guard and being taken out to a public road where any psychotic brother can drive past and pick him up, and the police unable to catch a vehicle that's right in front of them.What a pathetic joke of an ending to six months of turgid storytelling.
Sitting awkwardly alongside this sickening dross is a story about Nate and Tori being cute before he gets attacked by a psycho with a syringe. Who'll probably be forgiven and dating Kat by the end of the year.
Home and Away: Episode #1.6461 (2016)
"So the HSC's important, but you and the baby aren't?"
It's frustrating that the script seems to expect us to be on Leah's side, after she's driven VJ out of the house with her constant nagging and inability to treat him like a grown-up when he's apparently about to become a father.Billie's unease about how things have happened is understandable but it seems like Leah's portrayal as supportive is slightly rose-tinted.At least Phoebe seems okay with having VJ around.
Josh is another character that the script seems to expect us to be on the side of and it's hard to see why.Everyone trudging through his cell to say goodbye to him as if he didn't kill someone is frustrating, as is Andy's continued illegal actions to try and get them both off the hook.But it won't actually happen...right?
Home and Away: Episode #1.6460 (2016)
"I've grown attached to this tiny little thing"
A mixture of the good and the bad.We finally get a pay-off to Alf's behaviour after about two weeks worth of bullying people.It's a storyline that deserved about half the amount of episodes it's had devoted to it, but at least he finally realises how stupid he's been and accepts Roo, Matt and Justin's assistance.
Less successful is the way John changes his mind about fostering.This should be a reinstatement of the show's core concept of opening your doors to children in need, but instead it comes across as Marilyn being selfish, the Palmers unable to survive as a couple without a child to keep them together and Leah guilt-tripping John into doing something he didn't want to.
In fact, it's a pretty poor episode for Leah...and indeed Zac, as their appalling parenting tactics are laid bare.Hunter wanders around wallowing in self-pity, yelling at a typically clingy Olivia and burning any trace of Charlotte(because heaven forbid she be viewed as a human being)and Leah and Zac just sit back going "Well, we'll help him when he wants us to." VJ chooses to support his pregnant girlfriend who's just had a scare and they try to bully him into studying for a qualification that he doesn't particularly want or need.Him announcing he's moving out really is a moment to cheer.
Home and Away: Episode #1.6459 (2016)
"Rough night, huh?"
This is...a bit better.The Alf storyline continues to let it down with even Matt's blunt honesty fail to have any impact.Once more, Roo seems to tell everyone except Alf that his decision to close down the bait shop makes no sense.Meanwhile, John finally challenges Marilyn's desire for foster children and asks her if he's enough for her: She ultimately decides he is, even if she seems less than certain.
Chris and Olivia continue to work well and it's a shame it's taken this long for them to be a team.Chris once more comes up with an unorthodox method of counselling and ultimately Irene benefits from Billie's assistance, in a scene that is just dripping with hidden meaning.Billie and VJ continue to be sweet together and it's to be hoped that Billie's alarm at the end is just misdirection.
Home and Away: Episode #1.6458 (2016)
"It looks like you're thinking of working, which is way too soon"
So we get an explanation for the Morgans, although it's still rather garbled and feels like no-one really knows how witness protection works. Or, indeed, what they're being protected from and why.Lara is increasingly feeling like a mere plot device, not helped by the fact she looks a lot older than Mason.And we're treated to another daftly named hit-man.
Someone seems to have goofed and given Alf and Irene the same storyline, as they both insist on carrying on as normal when they're not up to it, simultaneously expecting everyone else to carry them while yelling at them when they try and help.In fact, Marilyn's storyline isn't much better, as she sulks at John and acts like he's the one in the wrong when he's already bent over backwards to accommodate her whims.
Home and Away: Episode #1.6457 (2016)
"You're not exactly a good horse to bet on, Barrett, so why should I?"
Andy once again proves what a thoroughly unlikable individual he is, outright betraying Ash and Kat who have both given him more help than he deserves, just because he thinks Josh should get away with killing someone.Ash really should have listened to Justin, who's in a more tolerable mode today and shows he has morals that the outgoing characters lack.
Phoebe is slightly annoying with Brody but probably works better with the Masons than with the Braxtons.Alf's attitude towards the bait shop continues to be illogical if understandable but it's a shame Roo doesn't give him a proper talking to.
Evelyn is only in the episode to feel sorry for herself and cause conflict between Mason and Lara.Mason finally reveals the family's secret at the end...shame it's something half the audience already dismissed as being too ridiculous.
Home and Away: Episode #1.6456 (2016)
"He did the right thing by coming forward"
Josh finally gains the backbone to take responsibility for what he's done...a concept that is completely lost on Andy, who is soon coming up with plans to save someone who doesn't want saving, sacrificing Ash and his misguided loyalty in the process.It's another frustrating spanner in Ash and Kat's relationship, with the latter realising that the only criminal left unpunished is her.The reveal of Josh as the killer gets a typically low-key reaction from the other characters, with the likes of Zac and Hunter pretty much taking it in their stride.
Meanwhile, Alf continues to be a difficult patient and his desire to keep the bait shop open seems to serve no purpose other than creating conflict.Mason is a bit of an inconsistent character, managing to get up Nate's nose but charming Alf and Roo.
Home and Away: Episode #1.6455 (2016)
"I'll always be someone that killed somebody"
So Josh accepts his fate and so does Evelyn.What you think of their farewell scene probably depends on whether you accept them as a together-forever couple or not, but I guess it was needed.Matt feels like a bit of an intruder, while Andy gets successfully tricked into unincriminating himself.
Hunter's community service is laughable, with his supervisor betrayed like a villain simply for not being a pushover and the over-the-top collapse of new boy Jordan in order to vindicate Hunter's complaining. Zac does need to learn some objectivity.
There's a decent moment for Irene which reminds us of everything she's been through lately, while Marilyn learns that John's experiences in her absence have changed him.
Home and Away: Episode #1.6454 (2016)
"Yeah but you said you're sorry"
So, Hunter gets away with everything.Well, it's to be expected, as is the way that everyone has just shrugged it off and carried on treating him like a cute little cherub.There does seem to be an odd attempt to invoke the spirit of Home and Away here though, with Zac encouraging him to make the most of his second chance.Time will tell.
It's ironic to see this juxtaposed with Josh yelling "Things will never be normal again!" at Evie.Cos, hey, they will if you're still under contract.The blossoming friendship between Matt and Mason is interesting, while Brody struggles to contain his Bad Boss tendencies. But they are only directed at Phoebe, who admittedly is just trying to be a good friend to Billie.Finding out the identity of her attacker, instead of giving her closure, has just opened up barely healed wounds and left her more determined than ever to hide what happened to her.
And Alf was grumpy.
Home and Away: Episode #1.6453 (2016)
"Don't you just hate it when real life gets in the way?"
So...we finally get the identity of Billie's attacker.Tessa de Josselin and Isabelle Giovinazzo hit it out of the park in their scenes, to the point that you almost forgive the ease with which Billie gets past a police guard.But there's a whole heap of denial that she's not willing to get past yet.
Andy as a moral voice is pretty much impossible to accept but it is good to see Kat realising she's being hypocritical over Ash.There's a nice bonding scene as Nate and Ash discuss the policewoman.We're no closer to learning what's going on with the Morgans but Brody seems determined to knuckle down and build a life and manages to encourage Tori to do the same.
Home and Away: Episode #1.6452 (2016)
"You look a lot better than the last time I saw you"
So, Irene's finally back with us: It's a moment to cheer when she knocks out Mick, even if the way she bumps into Chris and Olivia straight afterwards is a bit of a stretch.The reveal of Mick's identity isn't much of a surprise, we've already had one bluff this season.Chris and Olivia struggle with what to say, although it's nice to see Leah and Marilyn supporting her, even if Marilyn is frustratingly self-centred elsewhere.
Roo goes behind Alf's back and hires Justin, which she's probably going to get hell for at some point.And Justin is back to dictating who his family can associate with, which isn't a particularly attractive quality:Tori ending her friendship with Nate as a result is rather disappointing.
Home and Away: Episode #1.6451 (2016)
"As if you're gonna wake up just because I'm here"
Marilyn's return...kind of reminds me why I haven't really missed her that much.The character continues to be in full-on caricature territory and the constant fawning from Alf, Roo and John doesn't really ring true.Neither does Alf's recovery, although it looks like it might not be as simple as him just waking up.
It's a bad move for the show to put Olivia in a situation where she has to choose between saving Irene and saving herself and have her choose to save herself, even if it does try to stop us noticing by have her find Mick's hideaway.Because yes, Mick's been keeping Irene hostage for weeks and no-one's noticed.We're way past the point where the audience actually cares, we just want it to be over.
Home and Away: Episode #1.6450 (2016)
"You can't do this, he hasn't done anything wrong!"
Despite Josh's arrest, the murder storyline continues to be running on the spot.Kat wants Josh to confess, Evelyn doesn't, Josh decides to confess and then doesn't, Kat blames Ash.And Evelyn issues a pretty empty threat to Kat.
There's some lovely scenes between VJ and Billie, with the latter actually seeming to be a good influence despite her deception.It's certainly enough to counterpoint Zac indulging in some meddling that seems to have been written for Leah.
So, after what feels like six months but is actually about two, Chris and Olivia finally work out that Irene's been kidnapped.Hopefully there's an explanation coming for why her captor's suddenly revealed it now.
Home and Away: Episode #1.6449 (2016)
"You really are an expert at stuffing things up"
Kat's credibility as a police officer is at an all-time low: She's covered up two murders and here lets a dangerous repeat offender back on the street without a second thought, while insisting it's all Ash's fault.The leniency shown towards Hunter, who has just stabbed someone while out on bail for putting someone else in hospital for months, is ridiculous.So too is the utterly pointless speech Hunter gives to Andy, who quite clearly couldn't care less.
So, having assassinated Ash's character, it's now Zac's turn.His unsympathetic attitude towards Billie and berating VJ for trying to be responsible (in his own VJ way) is deeply frustrating, as is Ash bullying a schoolboy instead of supporting his sister.
And a deliciously ironic cliffhanger which demonstrates how Josh and Andy's attempts to defy the law are only making things worse for themselves.
Home and Away: Episode #1.6448 (2016)
"This restaurant's seen enough idiots trying to punch each other out"
There's a deliciously post-modern touch to Phoebe's reaction to the truth about the Morgans, as if she's slowly twigging that she's got herself mixed up with the replacements for the Braxtons.Justin continues to lay down the law with Mason and it's hard not to hope Mason ignores him.
Alf's plight oddly seems like an after-thought with the scenes of everyone sitting around waiting for news starting to get a bit samey. And the Nate and Tori scenes feel like an idea someone had that they didn't quite know what to do with.
The Barrett drama is as frustrating as ever.Evelyn is selfish, Josh is cowardly and aggressive, and Zac doesn't seem to care that his son's mother was murdered, basically telling Hunter to get over it.Hunter's attack on Andy is vaguely satisfying, although it'll no doubt get glossed over and the logic of Hunter thinking Andy was a "good guy" continues to be deeply flawed.
Home and Away: Episode #1.6447 (2016)
"When I get back, she'd better be gone"
There's an odd coda to Skye's storyline buried in here which leaves the viewer with the strong sense of a scene being cut.This is followed by Alf being magically transported to hospital, which probably was written that way.Alf has never looked older than he has here and it seems there's not going to be a with-one-bound-he-was-free this time.
There seems to be an attempt to integrate the Morgans in the cast with Justin being involved in Alf's storyline and Brody continuing to associate with Phoebe.The introduction of Mason's girlfriend seems a bit pointless, but perhaps it's there to indicate the sacrifices they have to make for...well, we don't know yet.
Home and Away: Episode #1.6446 (2016)
"Is it the bacon or the eggs that you don't understand?"
Olivia manages to be annoying and self-centred even when she's worrying about Irene.Not that there's any point to that storyline since for the umpteenth time a facile message convinces everyone that she's fine. There doesn't seem to be much point in Hunter suddenly pretending that he cares about Charlotte either.And why is Andy still at the police station?They're not doing something stupid like delaying charging him, are they?
There's a good role for Alf, who gets to show his fiery side with Justin. And it's nice to get an update on Maddy.But things don't go too well for Alf from then on, meaning Justin is left playing the hero.
The Nate/Tori storyline never really catches fire, consisting of a nurse we've never seen before being obnoxious and Nate making a speech that would probably have everyone thinking he's lying in real life.
Home and Away: Episode #1.6445 (2016)
"What kid wouldn't want his mother checking up on him when he's with his girlfriend?"
There's some more lovely stuff between VJ and Billie.His indefatigable behaviour is very endearing ("Are you still here?I broke up with you, that means you leave!") and Billie seems to be committed to making the arrangement work.Olivia gets taken to task about her bratty behaviour and Billie manages to be the better woman.Meanwhile, a number of long-standing plot threads get referenced...including one from way back in 2007.Possibly accidentally.
Alf and Matt teaming up to help Roo is an interesting combination and the subtle way Matt moves back in with Roo is very well done.Good to see a line drawn under things with Maddy as well.Meanwhile, John also gets to draw a line under things with a proper farewell with Skye.It's a decent last glimpse of a character that was rather wasted but remained likable.
Home and Away: Episode #1.6444 (2016)
"I hate to admit it but I've kind of got used to it"
This actually isn't all that bad.Phoebe's awkwardness about her random hook-up is delightful and Brody is shaping up to be a good addition, although Justin seems to have gone from annoying to merely dull.There's a great use of Chris, and it's good to get some follow-up to John worrying about Skye, even though the jobsworth social worker is rather pointless.
After a few episodes of being almost tolerable, Olivia is back to being an obnoxious brat, taking up a table in Angelo's without ordering anything, excluding Billie from the conversation and then finally making a personal attack on her that's not only unpleasant but also supremely hypocritical.It's a shame Billie takes it to heart.
Matt moving out leaves Roo even more isolated and she's soon telling stories to Bernice to feed her addiction.There's a good use of Matt's history which allows him to see through Roo's play acting.
Home and Away: Episode #1.6443 (2016)
"Then you must already have your answer"
Three story lines of variable quality.Viewers with long memories are rewarded with Andy's murder of Jake finally exposed.By this point, Ash is the most sympathetic character around, apart from McCarthy who's having to deal with the fall-out of his colleagues' incompetence.Kat is just too self-righteous, refusing to take responsibility for her decision to illegally cover for Josh, while Evelyn is manifestly selfish and Josh is just cowardly.
The end of the Phoebe/Dom storyline just demonstrates how pointless the whole thing was, just a way of keeping Phoebe occupied for a few weeks. But she's already moved on to her next conquest.The Morgans continue to be one of the best things on offer, with them starting to integrate well with other characters, although even Tori is bemused at being made Phoebe's new best friend.Brody's spat with Leah...actually makes Leah come off badly.Mason is turning out considerably likable and even Justin is improving.
Home and Away: Episode #1.6442 (2016)
"He killed someone.No-one, no matter what the circumstances, should get away with that."
Wow.The Brax/Ricky stuff has to feature some of the worst writing and plotting in the history of television.Absolutely nothing about it rings true.It just expects all the viewers to be idiots and accept Brax's thirty second explanation about Sam confessing to mean that everything's great and it'll be sunshine and roses.No mention of all the crimes the police should be arresting him for.No mention of all the enemies he was meant to be hiding from.No mention of the fact Ricky stayed away from him because she knew that he'd just drag her and Casey into another nightmare if she let him back in their lives.Even Ash and Phoebe are left shaking their heads at how ridiculous it is and vowing never to mention it again.
The Barrett storyline is only marginally better.A lot of people talk about doing the right thing but none of them do it.Kat talks about bringing Josh in but can't be bothered to tell the truth to the police or search a tiny garage for him.Josh talks about doing the right thing and turning himself in but doesn't.Evelyn is momentarily shocked that she's sleeping with a killer then isn't.Andy looks for a way out of the situation and eventually comes up with one that should, at least, seem him get some long-awaited comeuppance.
The introduction of the Morgans is better.Brody and Mason are instantly likable and even Justin is getting there, even if he does look and act worryingly like Andy 2.0. In fact the person who comes out of it worst is Ash, picking a fight for no real reason.
Home and Away: Episode #1.6441 (2016)
"This isn't right, Ash, it's never been right"
Well this is the pits.We're in full-on villain protagonist mode here, as it feels like we're meant to be cheering on Ash and Andy as they seek to help Josh get away with killing someone.Kat discovers her conscience a bit too late and shows the competence that allowed four different people to track Charlotte down before her on the night she died.The Josh/Evie stuff falls flat, although it does seem to move the plot forward a bit.And the Ash/Kat relationship, which looked like it was going to be different from the usual police officer/reformed criminal relationship...turns out to be exactly like all the others.
Nearly as bad is Nate and Ricky having constant conversations about how much she loves Brax, all of which lead up to the ending of Brax turning up to aggravate everyone.Because Nate's got a wife for sale, I guess.
Home and Away: Episode #1.6440 (2016)
"It's time Miss King's killer was brought to justice"
Kat continues to be a rubbish police officer, Josh continues to be a cowardly scumbag, Evelyn continues to think the world revolves around her.The much-vaunted murder mystery has long since turned into a snooze fest as we wait in vain for someone to actually slap the handcuffs on the culprit.
Skye and Tank get one scene but otherwise the episode is made up with other characters worrying about them.Olivia spends far too much time fawning over Hunter when the episode would be ten times better without him.It's nice to see Chris supporting John in a neat reversal.
Ricky and Nate's storyline continues to drag on, but at least the marginally more interesting Ash and Tori get thrown into the mix to add some variety.
Home and Away: Episode #1.6439 (2016)
"After everything that's happened, it's nice that they've found some happiness"
VJ and Billie continue to be sweet together, and this is one of those episodes when you can ignore the more annoying aspects of their storyline.Leah is well-intentioned but withdrawing her offer to Billie is rather cruel and Zac doesn't give her entirely good advice.There's a lovely little bonding moment where Billie tells Leah about her childhood.
Hunter and Olivia are as appalling as ever, with Hunter being put up on a pedestal for not having sex with her for a few hours.Meanwhile, as one psycho is treated like a saint, one ex-psycho continues to be bullied and harassed.Greg finally gets tired of Tank not being given a chance and decides they need a fresh start, but Skye and Tank aren't interested in a fresh start that doesn't involve each other.What follows is a damning indictment of the town's attitudes...but they probably won't notice.