Monday, May 15, 2017

A Happy Ending. No, Really. Serious. That's The Ending. Go Home. Why Are You Still Here?

Recap/Review Of Once Upon A Time - The Entire Last Bit. SPOILERS!


I'd like to say that I fell off the OUAT blogging wagon because of some kind of illness or crazy-life thing that was completely out of my control and that took all of my time and attention away from fun things. But honestly? I didn't really feel like talking about it too much. It happens.

But after the events of the Season 6 finale (hereafter called the Not-Series-Finale), I felt the need to talk about everything that's happened since this post. In-universe and otherwise.

The Black Fairy was a heinous bitch. There. I said it. You know how much I hated Cora? Fiona was all of that, plus a side of Dolores Umbridge. This was no more evident than in the finale, where she became Season 1 Regina all over again. I kind of want to go back and rewatch Season 1, just to remind myself how much I despised Regina back then and also to reflect on how much worse it could have been. Then again, that was probably the point - you're supposed to hate the Black Fairy for everything she's done to Emma and Team Storybrooke.

But Fiona's evilness had one good thing about it - it gave all the heroes a chance to have one more big hurrah before everybody (mostly) splits off into other enterprises. I actually enjoyed revisiting the Enchanted Forest with everyone in their present-day personas. I also would have enjoyed exploring more of those other realms again. But, time was limited.

Before the finale, though, a few things -

- Fiona's backstory - Don't care. She got everything she deserved.

- Rumple could have been a Savior - Well, crap happens. Though that angle makes the Dark Swan storyline even more layered and interesting.

- The Wedding Musical - What's not to love? Captain Swan gets married, people get to sing, the Dark One makes a joke about not singing. And Zelena's number was my favorite (Hook's was great too, but they used that as one of the sneak peek promos, so it kind of lost its "oomph" beforehand).

So... where do we go from here? Henry at some point goes to live in the Enchanted Forest, grows up, has a daughter, entrusts her with the storybook, and they all end up back in the real world with Henry repeating his mother's origins.

I sure hope this just isn't a carbon copy of OUAT 1-6.

From the cold open of part one, I had the thought that the dad in the EF could be an older Henry. The fact that he had the storybook kind of solidified that theory. And then it turned out I was right.

What do I think of this "twist"? Um... I'll get back to you on that. Honestly, the whole show could have ended with the pseudo-Thanksgiving dinner at Granny's and I would have been satisfied. I even would have been okay with the "Henry! I'm your daughter!" stinger being the ending. Tie that ribbon around the package as if to say "they still had adventures and you'll just have to explore those in your own theories."

But ABC had to renew the show, flagging ratings and all.



Truthfully, I'd pretty much said all my goodbyes to this show - and when the onslaught of announcements came that most of the cast wasn't coming back, I figured that was that. But nope. The suits at ABC want to keep it going. For reasons that have nothing to do with storytelling and everything to do with beating a dead horse.

I dunno... maybe the show will feel new and exciting with different characters and storylines. But I have my doubts. I just don't want this to turn into something that we're begging for it to be canceled because it's overstayed its welcome.

But at least the Charmings finally moved out of that itty-bitty studio apartment and got an actual house. About barking time.

***
What's next? I haven't really decided. I haven't been terribly inspired by a lot of the TV shows I typically watch lately. I'll finish watching this season of Agents of SHIELD, even though I'm kind of "meh" on the whole endeavor. The DC TV universe lost me at the midseason finales (honestly, four separate TV shows was a lot to have to keep track of. Made even more obnoxious by the fact the CW took the shows off Hulu and put them on their crappy in-house app). Even Doctor Who has been going full potato over the last little while (I'm still going to give it a few more episodes before I declare it a lost cause. At least, until next season). I do still have the Sailor Moon recaps to get through, though. And if Viz ever gets off their collective rear-end and released the new dub of the third season of Sailor Moon Crystal, that would be nice.

Maybe I'll go back and read more books or something. I'll think of something to write about. There's always something.

(That's my "I'll always find you," btw.)

Monday, April 3, 2017

They Call Him Barkeep

Review/Recap of Once Upon A Time Episode 6.15 "A Wondrous Place" - SPOILERS!


Never miss a chance to appreciate a good "ayebrow" :)
As much angst as they tried to put into this episode - it really wasn't that sad. Or suspenseful. And I never felt like there was a whole lot at stake here (except for one thing, which is probably obvious). Don't get me wrong - that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy the episode. In fact, it was quite fun!

The prospect of Princess Jasmine and Ariel working together fills my Disney fangirl heart with much glee and joy. Along with Belle, those two were the Disney Princesses of my formative years (though I don't know out OUAT!Belle would have been able to join the party, given that she has other things in this storyline to worry about. And yes, that is a welcome concept). So, Jasmine and Ariel are besties and it's great!

The only thing in this episode I could even be remotely worried over is the good ship Captain Swan. After last week's *headdesk*-inducing stupidity, I really couldn't stop rolling my eyes at Emma and everyone thinking that Hook had abandoned her. Okay - fine. He kept a secret and wasn't sure how to tell the truth, or even if he should (again, would it have been really so horrible if Hook had just kept quiet about Charming's dad? Years had passed, everyone had grieved and moved on. I'm just... GAH!)

But AFTER EVERYTHING YOU TWO HAVE BEEN THROUGH - how can you possibly think that he would have just taken off or that any of this was solely his fault? Other than the fact that Emma pretty much told him to pound sand. And Storybrooke is not that big of a town.

I dunno - there's been plenty of Idiot Ball being thrown around the last few weeks. I still can't believe that this almost become too much for Emma and Killian to overcome. Sure, they can face down giants and demonic Lost Boys and wicked witches and evil queens and dark magic and the FREAKING DEPTHS OF HELL for each other. But one minor misunderstanding? That's what nearly kills your relationship?

BLAH! And again I say BLAH!

I did appreciate drunk!Snow playing darts with those viking dudes, though. That was fun.

As for the Aladdin and Jasmine plotline - it was a good sideshow from the manufactured Captain Swan drama. I did appreciate the parts with Aladdin and Jasmine separately trying to get relationship advice from Killian and Killian just being annoyed with them. It was also nice to have their True Love story work out the way it did as well. I mean, that was basically a foregone conclusion, once Jasmine figured out what the crap was going on.

Also - Oded Fehr as Jafar.


Yep. That is all.


Just how fun was he as Genie-Jafar? As though I couldn't love him even more! And I don't typically like evil villains. But, it's Oded Fehr! Come on!

(I think I need him and Victoria "Cruella" Smurfit to come back and snark at each other. I would enjoy that very much).

I'm trying to think if these kinds of last-minute misdirects have been part of OUAT for a while and I'm just now noticing them, or if they've just gotten better at doing them. Because I figured Aesop-as-the-bartender was just a way for Emma to voice out loud what bothered her the most about Killian leaving.

BUT THEN, we end up with him really being Gideon and he has the "tears of the Savior" (since when is that a thing? Good grief - making up magic rules as we go...) So that means that Killian can't come back until Emma does what he wants?

And it's like - Oh NOW Gideon wants to ask for help? After he's been a jackhole and threatened everyone and been a general annoying pain-in-the-neck?

If he'd gone the "ask for help" route before, I'm certain Emma and Team Storybrooke would have been more amenable to giving him what he wanted. As it is, he's just been a smarmy, petulant, little Justin Bieber clone that nobody (except his parents, I guess) wants around. And he almost broke Emma and Killian up, which I can never forgive.

Moral of the Story: You can never go back to a first impression.

Next week -



Oh - and why did Ariel keep the ring after Agrabah was freed from it? Might that come in handy later?



Hold onto that thought.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Ones Who Are Worthy - Review of "Power Rangers" (2017)

SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS.

Seriously - there are going to be a TON of spoilers in this review post. Proceed at your own risk!

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...

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Enough of a buffer? Sure hope so.

Ahem - okay. Now to begin.

OMG THAT MOVIE WAS AMAZING AND AWESOME AND I FEEL LIKE I'M TEN YEARS OLD AGAIN!

Yes, I have more coherent thoughts on this film. The most pithy of which is that movie was better than it had any right to be. That is not a criticism of the movie or the franchise as a whole. But let's deal with reality here - Power Rangers is the ultimate in '90s camp. It is cheestastic to the nth degree. If future generations ever want to understand what the 1990s were like, a good place to start would be the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers TV series.

It was never meant to be anything more than a low-budget, cheaply-made show to put on the Fox Network's after-school block of programming for kids. Probably sell some action figures and make some extra cash on the side. But a phenomenon? Twenty-plus seasons and several iterations of the series? Multiple feature-length films? Still going strong even when the initial target audience is well into adulthood and having their own kids? Puh-leaze...

And yet - here we are in 2017 and the franchise is getting a serious movie update. Not just an update, but the hopes that an entire movie universe could be built around it and maybe compete with big dogs like Marvel and Star Wars. Like, people working on this thing actually care about the property and want to see it succeed at the box office. Actual Characters and Actual Storylines are being developed with a keen attention to who these people are and why we should give a damn about any of it.

Oh yes - and add in technicolor superheroes with giant dinosaur robots that fight evil monsters terrorizing planet Earth.

This movie is an origin story. But it's more than "Here kids - you get superpowers now go fight evil." Nope. These five teenagers have to EARN their Zords. And they all have a long way to go. Each of them are screw-ups in their own way. Maybe they're not all intentionally rebellious, but you probably remember your teen years - trying to be an adult but failing miserably. Pretending like you don't care what people think of you, but you do. Even more, caving to peer pressure and realizing that you care what you think of yourself, even more than anyone else.

The kids in this movie are real kids. All trying to figure out their lives, even though some of them should have it figured out. At least, according to everyone around them.

What sucks for these guys and girls is that their powers are based on their connection to themselves. Which involves opening up to each other and accepting one another's faults and weaknesses - not posturing or posing or trying to look like anything other than what they are. And trusting the others not to use that as a weapon.

It's logical to start with Jason (since the movie does). Star high school quarterback, small town hero, has his ticket to his future basically punched. Then he pulls a really stupid prank, gets caught by the police, panics and causing untold amount of property damage, screws up his knee, and his football career (complete with college scholarships) is gone. Oh - and he gets to go to weekly detention with a bunch of losers and ne'er-do-wells. YAY.

And then there's Billy. Good grief - that boy is the innocent little puppy dog you want to take home and take care of and make sure none of the bigger, meaner dogs come after him. It's established earlier that Billy is autistic, so there's a lot that he doesn't understand from others and he encounters a lot of trouble because of it (through no fault of his own). But rather than be some stupid stereotype, the story plays with a lot of his character's strengths. And, man, does RJ Cyler knock the performance out of the freaking park! There is humor in his character, yes. But it's never mean-spirited or rude. It's endearing and heartfelt.

There's one point where Rita Repulsa refers to Billy as "the pure of heart" and, really, that's Billy's role for the team. He is the heart of this group. In fact (I told you there'd be spoilers), when Rita kills Billy, that's when the team fully gels. Sure, they'd been getting to that point and making good progress, but it was the loss of someone they all cared about (that they didn't realize how much they all cared) that pushed them into that team cohesion. It's like - Billy was fully on-board with this superhero thing from the beginning and his sacrifice was needed to inspire that in the others.

(Billy does get better. Through some space-alien technology thingummy - it all works out and he survives. Suffice it to say, as much as the Rangers team needed to learn to trust each other, Zordon also needed to learn to trust this new group of kids. Even he had a bit of a character arc, which was nice.)

Kimberly's an interesting one because you don't find out her story for a long time into the movie. And the whole time, you're thinking "Oh no - what could have happened to her to make her talk about running away or just not wanting to deal with it?" Don't know about anyone else, but my mind went to some pretty dark places. Her issue? She spread a nasty rumor about a friend and felt like the worst human being on the planet because of it. Compared to what some of the other Rangers confess to, that may seem tame. But I liked how that guilt weighed on Kimberly. Like, her trials wasn't because of difficulties with her family or bad circumstances or some misunderstanding. She made a mistake and she needed to learn to forgive herself for it. She was embarrassed by her actions, thinking that they made her a bad person.

Now, with the other two - Zack and Trini - there wasn't a whole lot of time spent on their backstories (it's kind of hard to balance a full story with five main characters). But we did get enough to understand where their characters were coming from (and they'll probably get more treatment in the sequels). Zack's mom is terminally ill and he has to take care of her. To the point that he doesn't always go to school, nor does he go home at night for fear of waking up and finding out his mom passed away in the night.

Trini doesn't fit in with her "perfect" family and is point-blank rebelling against their normal life. And she just doesn't want to let anyone in - she does her own thing and nobody's going to tell her what to do. She's the most reluctant of the Rangers, it seems. It gets to the point where Rita offers to spare her life if she tells Rita where the Zeo Crystal is (the source of all life on planets and Rita wants it because, evil). I half-expected Trini to accept Rita's offer and be the snake in the grass. But she actually goes to the team and tells them what Rita's plans are and warns them that Rita is going to destroy the world the next day. So, consider that a trope averted.

There's just a lot of heart in this movie. So much that, when this group of strangers actually starts coming together as close-knit friends, I actually felt a little teary-eyed at it. Keep in mind, this is freaking Power Rangers. That campy, corny show that kept me mindlessly entertained in my childhood. The one with all the silly catchphrases and 90s-isms. And - yep - they made it emotional and serious.

That's not to say there is no humor in this movie. Nope. The training montage where Alpha 5 tries to teach them how to fight has its share of comedy of errors. Zack hijacking the Mastodon Zord before he's morphed was pretty funny (the van full of nuns he almost ran over was hilarious). Like I said, a lot of Billy's moments were just pure joy and heart. And there's a moment where Trini and Kimberly are in the Krispy Kreme (yes, Krispy Kreme - we'll get to that) and they're "fighting" over the last bit of donut. For all of Trini's standoffishness, you can see that the two girls are starting to become friends.

After all the heaviness of the kids coming together as the team - it's after they learn to morph and get the Zords and take off after Rita that the fun begins. And I was LAUGHING throughout that whole sequence. Not because it was unintentionally funny or that I was making fun of it - I was just amazed at how much FUN I was having watching these new Rangers take on Rita's Putties and Goldar. It was like - we had the big, weighty stuff. Now we needed the payoff of all that work this team put into becoming a team. And once they were through those obstacles, everything else seemed easy (even when Goldar had them burning up inside their giant mechs and they all almost died in the Zeo Crystal - but that just made a giant Megazord. Or, as Billy almost called it, Mamazord. I would have liked Mamazord, actually).

Okay - the Krispy Kreme thing. Much has be said about the obvious product placement. Honestly, after the fuss so many people made about it, I thought there'd be more to it than there was. I think there were three scenes where "Krispy Kreme" was shoved in at every turn and corner, but after that - nothing. In fact, Jared said that he wasn't quite sure if it was product placement, or just a joke (to be sure, he knew it was product placement. But it was done in such a way that it was corny enough in a Power Rangers movie not to be product placement. If that makes sense).

And, yes, there was plenty of cornball camp to remind us what we were watching, exactly. Not so much that it overpowered the rest of the movie. But the sudden inclusion of the original "Go Go Power Rangers" theme - like, full-on the TV theme, not redone or rebooted with some modern-day rock group doing vocals - as the team was heading out with their Zords to fight Rita. Also, the part when they've formed the Megazord and the thing falls flat on its face because they haven't figured out how to control it. And even the prank Jason pulls with the cow at the beginning of the movie.

Yes, folks. There is camp in this movie. Just enough to make it work.

I also must make mention of the cameos. Because how could you have a Power Rangers reboot without throwing in one or two cameos? I wasn't sure who would show up, exactly. I did see that most of the original cast had gone to the movie premiere and that was pretty cool. But I kept an eye out for who they could have put in the movie. And I full-on applauded in the movie theater when, at the end of the big battle when the citizens of Angel Grove were coming out to survey the damage, none other than Jason David Frank and Amy Jo Johnson were front and center of the crowd, taking pictures of the Megazord with their cell phones and grinning at each other like they were still Tommy and Kimberly of twenty years ago.

In fact, I'm headcanoning it that they WERE an older Tommy and Kimberly who were still together after all this time.


Will make things interesting in the sequel *cough, cough, mid-credit-scene, cough*

I know I've gushed at length about this movie. And I'm sure that after some time, I'll think of flaws and things to nit-pick about it (I do with they'd given us more backstory on Zack and Trini, but like I said - sequels!) But for a first-watch of a movie that I had no idea what I was going to to get, I was pleasantly surprised how much FUN I had watching this movie. And that's what I've felt has been lacking in movies lately. There's been so much focus on "diversity" and checking off census ticky boxes to make Tumblr happy, that the stories have suffered because writers have been focusing on the wrong things (it's like we have to have crappy social preaching before we can be entertained. If the entertainment ever gets there, that is). And much has been made of Power Rangers's diverse cast. But I was more interested in the characters as presented, because the story made them interesting (and the actors each made those characters interesting as well).

Character and story first, then worry about their genetic makeup and what-have-you afterward. And really, I think they got it with this one.

Now they've done such a good job with one movie, the pressure's on to do a repeat. And if they're going the direction that I think they're going to go with the next, there is SO MUCH potential for good storytelling and characters. The pieces are there - they just need to be in the hands of competent creators and entertaining storytellers.

Go, go Power Rangers writers. You've got this.

(I am so sorry for that pun. But I had to.)

Monday, March 27, 2017

Running Away From Your Problems

Review/Recap of Once Upon A Time Episode 6.14 "Page 23" - SPOILERS!


Isn't it nice when a show FINALLY voices what you've known about a character FOR FOUR SEASONS???

Welcome to Once Upon A Time - where the audience knows more than the people actually writing the damn show.




















Sigh... anyway.

Last week when I saw the promo for this episode, I figured this was going to be yet another cheap installment of "Regina vs Her Own Darkness" and bemoaning how she never gets a happy ending and she's an evil villain and can't ever be redeemed... blah, blah, blah....

If you've been following this show for any length of time, you know the drill by now.

I really didn't expect the Evil Queen storyline to be taken care of, though. I thought they'd just put off the problem to be solved another day (or never, the way these people are practically married to the old hag). So, I will register my complete and utter surprise that the Writers Room actually said - YES! Regina is OFFICIALLY redeemed and is No Longer A Villain! (at least, not in the traditional way).

Thanks for putting your stamp on something that's been official in the minds of your audience for a good four YEARS, guys.

I did like the twist that Regina needed to love herself to finally achieve happiness. That's a theme that's severely lacking, not just in popular culture, but in the world at large. Seeing as my job is to cover news and politics (and I'll try not to get too political here - I reserve that for other forums), I see this nearly every day. People are upset because Politician A said this, or Politician B did that, or Political Event X didn't go the way they wanted, so now they have to throw a hissy fit and act like immature children and annoy people with their bullshit. And it's not even the big political stuff - the internet is fueled by outrage culture on every side of the political spectrum. You HAVE to be pissed off at someone else's mistakes and you never, ever, ever, EVER try to look at it from their perspective. Heaven forbid you stop and think about the times that you did something stupid and, but for the grace of God, your misstep didn't become public fodder for some clickbait tabloid covered with janky internet advertisements.

Nope. Everyone has to be upset about EVERYTHING. Too much looking outward for outside causes to their problems, while never considering that their discontent with their own lives might actually be more internal. And lest you think I'm pointing fingers, I am very well aware of these failings in myself. I hate to admit it, but there are moments where I feel like I'm the worst human being on the planet and I will never achieve my glorious happy ending (or happy continuation, as I like to think of it) because I'm just not good enough at... whatever I'm trying to be good at.

In fact - going back to a moment in this episode, the one where Evil!Regina modified Cupid's arrow to find the person she hated the most and she ended up looking in a mirror - I've wondered sometimes if that's really why I hate looking in mirrors. Not because I find them creepy or disconcerting, but because I don't want to look at myself any more than I have to.

Okay... that went somewhere I wasn't expecting it to go. But I guess that's a sign of a really good story - it makes you look at yourself and helps you learn and grow in ways that aren't immediately obvious. Maybe help you find out things that very few people think about. Sure, it's easy to measure success in terms of career or family or hobbies. But even those successes don't ring true forever (goodness knows I've been blessed with good things in my life, but I don't always feel like I am) and you have to find your self-worth from within, not from how amazing other people think you are.

That's kind of why I think the whole self-esteem movement is full of BS. That was all about telling people they're special snowflakes and to ignore all the negativity and haters and critics. Nobody ever internalized it, so when they did run into problems, they - well - they ignored the criticism and refused to learn from the experience and just complained about it. By contrast, self-worth comes from a place of accepting your flaws and weaknesses and making them work for you, instead of sitting down and whining that life isn't fair because you had a bad day or something. That's why there are people who have encountered horrible things like debilitating illness, cancer, terrible accidents, sudden deaths of loved ones - but they still remain happy and positive and grateful for the things they do have.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that your happiness is dependent on your outlook on life. That's something that I'm working on learning and balancing with all the other things that I do.

For all the things I complain about with this show, that's honestly why I come back to it. For gems like this one. Keep in mind - the only reason Regina hated Snow was because Snow told a secret when she was a child and it led to the death of someone Regina cared about. Horrible, yes. But an innocent mistake that Snow White never thought would have the consequences that it did. Not when she was so young, anyway. The villain in that situation is - and always will be - Cora. And she's been dealt with already. So, no need to continue beating that dead horse. Literally.

(I may or may not be calling Cora a "horse." I've called her worse, so shush.)

And then... there's Captain Swan...


...sigh... what am I going to DO with you two?

Okay - I can understand why Killian is conflicted about the situation he's in. I really can. He's the type of person who would feel guilty about his past bad actions. He would feel like he needs to pay for his mistakes. Eye for an eye, and all that.

But the fact that he does feel bad and that he feels like he is unworthy of Emma and the accompanying happiness that a life with her would bring him is precisely why he is worthy and deserving of such! He accepts

When Emma found out about Killian's role in her grandfather's death (a grandfather that she never knew, by the way), I actually thought her attitude about it was going to make things okay - reminding Killian that Snow and Charming would forgive him and they knew that he was a changed man and that wasn't the kind of person he was anymore. But THEN - she has to go "If you can't trust my family, then we can't be together."



Really, Emma? REALLY????

So, Killian seeks out Captain Nemo and the Nautilus (I forgot that they were still in town, honestly) and resolves to leave Storybrooke with the crew of the submarine "To go out and find himself" so he can prove he's worthy of Emma and her family. Because running away from your problems is the PERFECT way to fix your life.


WHAT ARE YOU TWO CHUCKLEHEADS DOING???? You have gone to hell and back for each other - quite literally! If you two STILL don't know that you are the best things that happen to one another, there is NOTHING that is going to convince you that you both are deserving of being happy!

GOOD GRIEF I AM SO DONE.

The good news is that Snow (unknowingly) intervenes with her typical bubbly "I'M SO HAPPY FOR YOU TWO!" personality and that reminds Killian that he's being an ass (and so is Emma, in her own way) and it's time for him to patch things up with Emma and proceed with this engagement as originally planned.

The only mistake from here on out is Killian saying goodbye to Nemo and company on board the Nautilus - but that's only because Gideon is a piece of cow excrement and he took over the Nautilus operating systems in order to send Killian away from Storybrooke and Emma (apparently, True Love is what's going to save Emma from Gideon and the Black Fairy. GEE, WHO WOULD HAVE SEEN THAT COMING??)

Which, I'm all... once the sub is far enough away, couldn't Nemo and crew just take control back and zip back to Storybrooke? I'm sure there's some loophole that's going to be abused in the next episode. Because - DAMMIT, this SUCKS!

Next time -



If I don't see Gideon's head on a pike at some point, I'm going to be royally pissed.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Do As I Say, Not As I Do

Review/Recap of Once Upon A Time Episode 6.13 "Ill-Boding Patterns" - SPOILERS!



I forget - which Rumple are we dealing with again? The guy is so two-, three-, and four-faced that I have a hard time keeping track what's going on sometimes.

I still have no idea what Gideon's plan is or even... why. I mean, I can understand why the Black Fairy would want Emma dead and out of the way (villains' motivations aren't that difficult to decipher, especially when it comes to disposing of the heroes). But Gideon's plan makes absolutely no sense. At all.

Perhaps if we knew what kind of trouble "his people" were in or even who these people are. Does it never occur to anyone to, you know, ask for help?

And since when did Savior magic operate the same way as Dark One magic does? That is, you kill the Savior or Dark One and then you get the magic. That's never been established and it's strange that we're operating under the assumption that it's verifiable fact.

Or, at least, letting Gideon operate under that assumption. I mean, if he REALLY wanted to be all diabolical, he'd kill Rumple and steal his Dark One powers.

Maybe that's what the Black Fairy meant and Gideon got it wrong? Wouldn't surprise me. Gideon really hasn't proven himself to be a mental powerhouse, after all.

Anyway - Rumple's second son's confusion aside, I quite liked this episode. They certainly played fast and loose with the timelines, though. How long did the First Ogres War last, anyway? Long enough for pre-Dark-One-Rumple to join the army against the ogres, maim himself to avoid going to battle, come home to his wife and infant son, his infant son grows up, his wife leaves him for an adventuring pirate, he becomes the Dark One, his son gets older, he becomes known for his dark magic rather than being the village coward...

Yeah, that was a LONG war.

I did like the nuances in Baelfire's character, however. That he wasn't always opposed to his father's use of dark magic and even went so far as to indulge in a bit of darkness himself. And then Rumple does the whole "Do As I Say, Not As I Do" thing to preserve Baelfire's innocence, even if it meant alienating Baelfire further (and we all know how THAT turned out).

I'm finding it hard to be pissed off at Rumple. Even though he's unapologetic about his addiction to dark magic, his desire to keep it for himself does come from a place (in part) of not wanting it to taint those closest to him. Only problem is that by hoarding it for himself, he continues to push his loved ones further and further away. Though Gideon did seem sufficiently impressed by it.

Maybe Gideon is finally the son that Rumple deserves. And no, I'm not comfortable saying so.

Poor Belle.

Other things:

- The actor that plays Beowulf was fantastic. Though he did have that crazy-eye thing going for him (maybe it was the angle they had to film him, since he was so insanely tall?)

- Archie Hopper... *shakes head* he tries so hard for all these Storybrooke weirdos (and I mean that in the most affectionate way).

- I completely forgotten that they'd turned the Evil Queen into a cobra. This whole time, I could not remember for the life of me where she ended up. I knew they hadn't gotten rid of her completely. I figured that she had slunk off to some cupboard that the Writers Room had all nice and comfy for her until they got sick of Lana Parrilla not sneering at everybody.

- Sooooo... it's Evil!Robin and the Evil Queen, huh? What is this ship, Dark Outlaw Queen? Though... after seeing Sean Maguire at Salt Lake Comic Con FanX this past weekend, and given a few things he hinted at during that panel - I'm rather intrigued to see this villainous side of Robin Hood. And - after that little taste of Zelena and Hades last season (Wicked Hell), I wouldn't say no to having a purely evil ship on this show. Kind of mixes things up. And, I guess (if we have to) - it makes for a pretty strong break from the Outlaw Queen ship that we came to know and love over previous seasons.

Still don't have to like that part, though.

- Last, but certainly not least - Captain Swan is getting married! YAAAAAAAY!!



But of course, we have to insert HIGH DRAMA in all this nonsense. Because though Killian is wracked with guilt that he really shouldn't be (dammit, Pinocchio!!) and he wants to come clean to Emma and David and everyone in the Charming family. The whole time Hook was telling Archie that he could just keep the secret and take it to his grave, I was screaming at the TV - "Yes! Do that! No reason to bring it up at all!"

I mean, all that drama with Charming's dad was dealt with so perfectly in the last episode - as well as in prior episodes. The family has grieved the tragedy and they've moved on, as is healthy and natural. Beyond just keeping the secret in order to stay in David's good graces, why would you want to rip open that healed wound again? It would be kinder not to say anything.

Leave the issue alone, have a wedding, celebrate the future, and let the ghosts of the past bury themselves. Stop picking at those old scars, for the love of Pete!

(I know - that's too much to ask from this damn show.)

Next Time -



Sigh... I know an OUAT over-promise when I see one. I don't really have high hopes for this big "showdown" between Regina and Queenie.

But if it FINALLY means the end of the Evil Queen, I will gladly take it.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Jared Watches Sailor Moon Crystal: Episode 12 - Enemy, Queen Metalia

A cliffhanger is no way to end a blog post! So, let's get back to it!


This facial expression kind of becomes Usagi's default for a while.
Jared: Dun-dun-dun... okay, that music is weird.

Sailor Moon is in shock upon finding that the evil dude that she's been fighting is indeed her main squeeze. Which prompts an "I Know You're Still In There, Fight!" moment, almost verbatim.

Gah - I read so much TV Tropes...

Anyway, Beryl tries convincing Sailor Moon that Mamoru is dead, even though the other Guardians know that Beryl is full of it. Sailor Moon needs to listen to her friends more often, quite frankly.

After the opening credits, we get this splash image -



Jared: ... what does "toxic metal" even mean???

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you - my husband's thought processes...

Meanwhile, Sailor Moon is going through the EXACT SAME mental battle that she just went through at the end of last episode (and won). She can't fight her Mamo-chan because... she just can't! For... anime reasons.

Luckily, cooler heads prevail and Sailor Jupiter arrives on the scene, having gotten out of her Dark-Kingdom-Induced-Brainwashing-Coma-Thing.

The other girls take the hint and join in the fun.

Jared: At least they have shields now.

That does seem to help. Though the Command Center isn't taking the abuse very well. 

Sailor Mercury: Hyperspatial Sphere Generate!

Jared: That's new.

Mercury summons an alternate-dimension-portal thingie so their fight doesn't bring the building down around their ears. It's kind of nice when superpowers allow heroes to not completely destroy their surroundings. 

Beryl gloats that the Sailor Guardians are still going to lose, even though they are no longer on Earth. And then she unleashes her Ultimate Weapon: her hair.

Jared: That's a LOT of hair.

True. Though given how insane Usagi's hair is sometimes animated, I wonder if she couldn't learn to do something similar.

Beryl continues to rant about the day she pledged herself to Queen Metalia and her ultimate goals and she's starting to look like she's gone completely off the deep end.

Jared: She's got the nutso-face going on.
I could make a joke about several politicians right now,
but I will refrain.

Venus - it's always Venus - provides the needed backstory: Beryl was the ringleader of the malcontents on Earth that caused all the death and destruction. And it was due to the fact that Prince Endymion didn't choose to love her.

Honestly, there could be an ENTIRE spinoff anime about how the Moon Kingdom fell, if they ever wanted to do something different from the oft-repeated storyline. But I shan't get my hopes up.

The girls band together and kick Beryl's ass. It's pretty epic. Jared doesn't say... well... anything through the whole thing. He's definitely engrossed in the story.

After Mercury identifies Beryl's weakness and Venus and Mars run block, Sailor Moon lunges at Beryl with the sacred sword and catches Beryl's necklace with the blade. And that causes Beryl to lose her powers.


Jared: I guess that kind of renders the whole thing about "toxic metal" moot.

He's still on that? Sigh...

Beryl does get in one more taunt about Endymion belonging to the Dark Kingdom, which Sailor Moon (FINALLY) rejects. That makes the Crystal - still in Tuxedo Mask's hand - glow all hopeful and shiny and stuff.

Jared: Why did he have the Crystal and not her?

Me: He was just holding onto it for her.

Not coincidentally, Beryl's necklace shatters into a million tiny pieces and she's suddenly having a REALLY bad day. 


Jared: Oh, my eyes! Glass shards in the eye - not a laughing matter.

To add insult to injury, Beryl starts shriveling up with the loss of her powers.

Jared: Oh... you got old. You got UGLY.

Beryl laments the fact that she and Endymion never had a chance... because she never actually talked to the guy.

Jared: Creepy stalker to boot! WHOO!

Remember kids: Poor Communication Kills.

Jared: Wait - she wasn't reborn? She was just hanging around this whole fricking time?

Me: Yep.

Jared: That's just sad.

It's amazing the lengths evil will go to for revenge.


The sacred sword suddenly turns bright and shiny (and probably no longer toxic), complete with some unknown language that Sailor Venus (yep, Venus) informs us that says something about praying to the Moon and the rebirth of some sacred power that will restore their kingdom.

Jared: Who is speaking that language? How could they read it?

Another thing for Jared to obsess over? Maybe.

Elsewhere, Queen Metalia takes her position back as the Big Bad of the piece and again turns Tuxedo Mask against the girls. He attacks them, then takes the sword and the Crystal and goes off... somewhere. Sailor Moon - IN HER INFINITE WISDOM - follows him. Alone. 




Jared: That... was probably a bad plan.

Me: Just a little bit.

Jared: Leeettle bit... yeah.


I have no reason for screencapping this - other than I think
it's really, really cool.
After the mid-episode eyecatch, we're back to Sailor Moon in hot pursuit of Tuxedo Mask. Who is suddenly no where to be seen.

Jared: How did he get that far ahead of her?

Me: Time and space, something or other

Physics are just weird in this dimension, I guess. But, eventually, she does catch up. 


Tuxedo Mask: I didn't think you would follow me here.

Jared: Hey, he can speak now!

I think Beryl just wanted a silent boy toy to follow her around. It's pretty creepy if you think about it too much.

Sailor Moon tries to get through to Tuxedo Mask the reasonable and civilized way. It doesn't go well.


There's going to have to be some serious couples therapy
after this is all over.
Meanwhile, the Sailor Guardians and the cats are trying to figure out where Usagi ended up. The computer figures out that she's somewhere in the Arctic, so that's where the girls are headed. 




However, the way the scene is framed - first with the girls flying through a snowy landscape and then cutting back to the Command Center with the cats - is pretty confusing for a moment.

Jared: Then what was that glowy yellow thing, then? Are those out of order or something?

Editing, what is it?

The scene finally settles on the girls finding their way to the entrance to the Dark Kingdom through D-Point in the Arctic. There, they meet up with the Generals. Angst ensues. 

Sailor Mercury: How can we fight them now?

Sailor Venus: We don't have a choice! They don't remember who they really are. We're the only ones who can help them!

Jared: Help them to death! Then be sad about it...

Elsewhere, Sailor Moon is squaring off against Tuxedo Mask. A red, glowing, evil Tuxedo Mask...

Jared: That's not good...

Complete with the shrieking of the damned coming from Queen Metalia.

Back with the Sailor Guardians, the girls try to reminds the boys about their promises to protect the prince. Appealing to their better natures doesn't seem to be working out so great, sadly.

It's not looking so great for Our Intrepid Heroes.

Luna to the rescue! She translates the funky language on the sword and that does A Thing for Usagi. She unleashes her biggest Power Of True Love shot and... we'll come back to that.

And the girls... well... duty before personal life, I guess.

They attack the Generals and somehow that brings back their memories of being good guys. Sort of a "life flashing before your eyes" deal. Except they each have two lives flashing before their eyes.

Also -

Jared: They're not dead!

Funny how things turn out.

Except... Queen Metalia gets pissed and we can't have a happy little side story going on (after all, how would these four fit in during later seasons?)

Queen Metalia: Weak-minded fools! All those who resist the darkness much perish from its awesome power!

Jared: Oh... well.

Yeah, that crater there? That's where the guys used to be. Dammit. 

Jared: DANG. Crater.

The girls all break down in tears at the sight.

Jared: This is why we can't have nice things.

To put kind of a happy spin on this (sure?), the guys' voices speak from beyond the grave and encourage the girls to go save the Moon Princess

I just... I would have liked that storyline to have been given better treatment. More time to be fleshed out and worked on. That's all.

Maybe in a hypothetical prequel about the fall of the Moon Kingdom. That will never get made because we have to tell the same story OVER AND OVER AGAIN.

Sigh... anyway...

Neither Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Mask are looking so great in their battle against each other. Tuxedo Mask isn't willing to back down, though. Sailor Moon is out of obvious options, which prompts a mental visit from Queen Fairy Shady Serenity. Which leads to a reconsideration of... less obvious options...


This can only end in tears.
Jared: That little bit on the end makes for a crappy sword.

My husband's priorities, folks.

Right as Usagi takes up the sword, that's when the girls show up. And, apparently, the power of True Friendship is no match for the bad conclusions Usagi comes to when all she has to depend on is the memory of the mother of her long-dead previous incarnation who didn't exactly Make Good Choices either.



Usagi (internal monologue): Mamo... are we star-crossed lovers? Always destined to end in the same fate?

Jared: OH GEEZ!!! SERIOUSLY?? That's your plan???



To make things worse, Usagi turns the sword on herself.



Jared: *facepalm*

I blame Queen Serenity. I always do.

Jared: HER PLANS SUCK! You don't win the fight by killing yourself! It doesn't even make sense...

I think this episode broke my hubby...

Me: Are you heartbroken over this?

Jared: Nah. It's not going to stick.

He's fine.

***

Next Time: Episode 13 - Final Battle, Reincarnation

Previously: Episode 11 - Reunion, Endymion

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things

Review/Recap of Once Upon A Time Episode 6.12 "Murder Most Foul" - SPOILERS!

Can I just pretend the episode ended on Captain Charming
being best buddy bros? Please?
Sigh... that ending.

But before we get there, there's a beginning and a middle to tackle. So let's do this.

Robin Hood gets to be the "Fish Out Of Water." Erm... again. Though this time, it's even MORE Fish-Out-Of-Water-y, because this version of Robin Hood didn't live the life that the previous Robin Hood did. In addition to figuring out how alarm clocks work, Robin is trying to work out his relationship with Regina and - he/not-he has a daughter with Regina's sister... oh good grief, this is going to get complicated.

At least Regina is realizing how nutty this all sounds to an outsider.

Though that bit with Snow giving Regina "advice" was kind of out of left field. Not Snow's advice, per se. But given the rest of the episode centered on Charming losing sleep (literally) over his dad and refusing to wake Snow up until this mystery is solved... I just was left wondering "Why are you awake, lady?"

Timey-wimey, etc.

So - tonight the part of Hamlet will be played by David Nolan (does that mean Hook is Horatio?) Seriously, this whole episode was basically a riff on Hamlet and Charming trying to avenge his father's death at the hands of (he thinks) the evil king who... stole his twin brother thanks to a deal with Rumple... Okay, it doesn't quite parallel completely, but it was still a clever spin on it. Not to mention a good way for the OUAT Writers Room to incorporate Shakespeare without us having to do a whole "Journey From Storybrooke To Stratford-upon-Avon!" story arc in a future season.

(Okay, it would be more like the Globe Theatre, but my version sounded better in my head.)

But what I did like about this episode was the treatment of Charming and Hook's relationship. At first, I thought they were going to be taking some MAJOR steps backward, seeing as how these two are practically best buddies. I even mentioned it last week with the promo - I have no idea how they go away with calling Charming and Hook an "unlikely partnership." Seriously guys - are you watching the same show I am? Even without their respective affections for Emma (David as her dad, Killian as her main squeeze), these guys respect the hell out of each other and have done so for three seasons running.

But then, it turns into Killian being David's Voice of Reason, once it's clear that David has gone completely 'round the twist, thanks to his worry over Snow, Emma, and now discovering that his father might not have died in the way that he was led to believe.

Killian isn't so much an "unlikely partner" as he is the designated driver (when he's not handcuffed to a bike rack, that is).

I did appreciate August being able to give David a sense of what Papa Nolan's last hours were like - that he hadn't fallen off the proverbial wagon and slid back into his drunkard ways. That he was actually trying to piece their family back together, even if he was unsuccessful. That was a beautiful and touching scene. Killian later asking David for his blessing in proposing to Emma was just the cherry on top of the feels sundae.

(It's amazing that the OUAT writers could pull that off. I mean, could you imagine me saying that anything else would be more exciting to me than impending wedding bells for Captain Swan? Kudos, writers. Kudos to you.)

But... sigh... the ending.

The MINUTE that August rode up with those storybook pages, I KNEW something was going to go tits-up. August coming in on his bike NEVER ends in anything good. At first, I thought he was going to try to stop Killian from proposing to Emma (how he would have done that directly, I haven't a clue). I breathed easy again when he was just dropping off the pages... but then Killian looked at the pages and THAT'S when I knew that... well... see the headline of this post.

OF ALL THE PEOPLE to flashback and show killing David's dad for real... WHYYYYYYYY did it have to be Captain Hook? Why couldn't Evil King George's mooks just done their job and we could have gotten on with our lives?? I mean - David proudly acknowledged that Killian had come a long way from being that murderous and terrible human being that he used to be - why can't we just enjoy a lovely character moment and reflect on the personal growth of our beloved pirate captain?


Ugh. Anyway.... NEXT WEEK -



Rumple-centric? Is this Kylo Ren facing down Han Solo? Hm... the mind boggles...

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Lay Off The Rum

Review/Recap of Once Upon a Time Episode 6.11 "Tougher Than The Rest" - SPOILERS!

Ah - the ending of yet another hiatus. Let's go -


The first thing to note about this mid-season/spring premiere thingie is how unassuming it was. Granted, that probably has more to do with the fact that they aren't starting up a brand new story arc in the middle of a regular season scheduled. The entirety of Season 6 is one big long story, which I think was sorely needed to inject some life back into this show. Let characters grow and develop in the storyline you've given them. Don't just hop around collecting live action Disney characters like you've only got an hour at Disneyland and you have to get EVERYBODY'S autograph for some inexplicable reason.

(You do that, you end up with Emma Watson staring blankly at you from her glorified cosplay on a movie poster.)

Like I've said before, the OUAT writers have improved their storytelling and their pacing. And I hope that this continues.

Special praise (and I almost can't believe I'm saying this) goes to Regina. For - at the proverbial eleventh hour - actually LISTENING to someone (in this case, Emma) who says "Screw fate and destiny - what do you want in your life?" And, wonder of wonders, Regina takes Emma's advice. And she is amply rewarded for the risk that she took in bringing wish!Robin Hood back to Storybrooke with her.

Sure, Outlaw Queen is basically going to have to start from square one, but they've laid the foundation for their relationship to come back into the forefront and I couldn't be more pleased. Especially since the Evil Queen is still prowling around and Regina's been constantly wrongfooted because of that. I can't help but think that Robin Hood being around again will help solidify her confidence in herself again.

Next Topic: Kylo Ren... I mean, Gideon. He is soooooo not the big villain that Emma has to fight in the end. The kid is a glorified boy band reject. He's trying to come off as a badass, but he's so pathetic about it that the rest of us are just laughing at him. I know that Adam and Eddy are big Star Wars fanboys and I seriously can't help but wonder if this is their way of paying homage to The Force Awakens.

I mean, Emma basically sneezes at the kid and he runs off pouting like a little punk.

To make the metaphor go even further - that would mean that Grandma Black Fairy is the REAL badass villain of this piece, not unlike Kylo Ren's grandfather, Darth Vader (I'm discounting the whole Emperor puppeteer in the background - we have time for only so many parallels). Grandma sends the snot-nosed kid to act all tough and pose for the camera, when in reality she's just biding her time before she can swoop in and take over Storybrooke.

I dunno - it made sense in my head.

Speaking of family matters - Rumple might be thinking about not being such a rat bastard anymore? Possibly? I don't anticipate that he'll change all that much (though if the Kylo Ren thing goes through to its natural conclusion, Gideon might come to a point where he actually is okay with offing Daddy Fearest... let me play around with that one a while longer). I'm not saying that Rumple is ready to be all White Knight Charming Fairy Tale Hero - but I feel like there are small sparks of goodness trying to break through his crap. Even when Belle is in despair over their son and she looks like she's toying with the idea of flirting with evil darkness - Rumple seems to be the one pulling her back.

It's a subtle moment at the wishing well - but I caught onto it. I'm certainly not getting my hopes up for a Rumple redemption, but I'm open to the possibility.

Okay, enough heavy stuff -  Old Captain Hook. He is in a grand total of ONE scene, but does he EVER steal the damn thing. I mean, it wasn't even completely necessary for him to make an appearance in the Enchanted Wish Realm - his absence could have just been dismissed as "He's a scoundrel and a pirate - what would he have to do with the Royal Charmings?" But they make the effort to bring him in for a spot of comic relief.



I may be biased, but it was the best scene in the episode.

Another scene I quite liked was the flashback scene (the only actual flashback we got - not complaining!) of young Emma meeting young August and they talk about The Ugly Duckling. Not only that, but that actually serves as part of Emma's origin story (and he we thought we knew all there was to know) - namely how she got her last name. Dozens of fanfic authors have assumed that "Swan" came from that first family who adopted her, but gave her back when she was three. But nope - like everything of value that Emma has, it's something she claimed for herself. Maybe it wasn't something that was extremely vital to the plot, but it was a sweet detail and one very much in line with her character.

All in all, this was a nice ease-back-into the story and helped remind us where everything's been and get the audience back up to speed. Next time, it looks like there are Shenanigans Afoot (complete with Captain Charming antics! Though... probably not in the lighthearted and friendly manner we're accustomed to seeing from these two) -



"Unlikely pair." Oh please... ABC promo department - have you been WATCHING the same show as the rest of us?

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Jared Watches Sailor Moon Crystal: Episode 11 - Reunion, Endymion

Episode 11! Yes, folks - we made it!


Note: Yes, this blogging project has been on a bit of a hiatus. There is a very good reason for that - one that I should have noted earlier than this and for that, I apologize. If you're friends with me on Facebook or listen to the podcast I co-host, The Five(ish) Fangirls, you may be aware that Jared and I are expecting a baby!

Yes, we're both very excited.

What we didn't anticipate (well, I didn't) was how very literally "sick and tired" I was going to be throughout the first trimester. These past couple of months have been some of the most exhausting and hit-you-with-a-brick-wall that I have ever experienced. I count my blessings that I have a job that allows me to work from my living room couch, because I highly doubt I could have handled leaving the apartment for a typical 9-5 day job. And even though it sounds easy, writing for a political blog is also mentally tiring. It was not uncommon for me to come to the end of my work day and have no energy for anything other than pulling up something mindless on Netflix or YouTube or watching Jared work his way through Fallout 4 (Nuka-World is awesome, by the way). Most of the time, I just slept (when I wasn't huddled over the toilet, that is. Sorry for the TMI - that's just the nature of pregnancy).

So, no extra-curricular blogging for me in the beginning of 2017. The good news is that the first trimester is over and I'm starting to feel MUCH better now. Not 100%, but better enough that I can do things other than work, sleep, and puke. I am determined to finish this project before Tiny makes his/her big debut later this summer (August 3 is our official due date). All of Jared's reactions to the episodes have been already recorded - I just have to turn them into blog posts (though he keeps asking me when Season 3 is going to be dubbed. And, frankly, I have no idea. What the hell, Viz??)

With that note of housekeeping out of the way - on with the show!

***
Ahem - Episode 11! We made it!

After the last episode's moon-sized truckload of FREAKING INFO DUMP, we return to the action, already in progress -

And by "action," we mean Usagi having a dream/nightmare/talking to herself -

Usagi (to herself): Where am I? Is this the Moon Castle?

Jared: Wasn't she just here a minute ago?

As is typical of these dreams, Something Ominous is approaching from the shadows.

Usagi: Wait! Tuxedo Mask!

Jared: Dutch angles everywhere!

Luna wakes Usagi from her dream right when Tuxedo Mask disappears. Something that Usagi characterizes as the dream "just getting good."

Sure, Usagi.

Luna reminds Usagi that she's always there to talk, if Usagi needs it. They've all been through a lot and it's important for them all to stick together. It's quite the sweet moment for the two of them.

Cue the opening theme, and we're off! Sort of...

Jared (heavy on the sarcasm): Wow. That is a really dynamic splash page. there. What a lovely drawing of his ear.


Sheesh. Must I do everything around here?
Yeah, I have no idea what they were thinking with this one. Literally ANYTHING would have been better. The image Hulu has as the thumbnail for this episode would have worked! 

Episode packaging critiques aside, the episode continues. Somewhat.

Jared: Did the budget run out or something?? No one in the background's moving!

I don't have giffing capabilities to show this, so it's not really worth trying to illustrate this with screencaps. But he's right. The only movement in these next few scenes is Usagi walking down the sidewalk. All the background people are frozen stiff. And I note that we watched the BluRay version of this episode, not the rushed job initially put out by Toei for digital distribution.

I'm not one of those butthurt idiots who screeches on Tumblr about how much Crystal sucks because of the lack of an animation budget and time and whatever. But I will admit where they could have done better. However, I still maintain that these first two seasons are much prettier than the washed-out and toned-down look of Season 3. But we'll get there - if Viz could ever be arsed to put out a dub of Season 3 on Hulu or something, that is.

Usagi muses to herself about the Silver Crystal and how it's lost its initial shine, resolving to herself to be a strong leader.


Luna: I'll be at the Command Center if you need me.

Jared: They've gotten a little less careful about her talking in public.

Me: Were they ever that careful?

A Super-Mysterious-Figure bumps into Usagi and she drops Mamoru's broken watch out of her pocket (Japanese schoolgirl uniforms have really crappy pockets). The watch starts moving again. Gee - I WONDER...

Mr. Super-Mysterious-Who-Isn't-That-Mysterious comes to Crown Arcade where Motoki is talking to his friend, Endo. Motoki recognizes Mr. Mysterious as "That High School Kid Who Was With Usagi The Other Day."

Yep. Totally mysterious.

Mr. Mysterious does some evil-magic-thing and makes both Motoki and Endo forget what's going on - and Mr. Mysterious takes the Endo's place at the arcade.

Jared: BIG GLOWY EYES.

This is going to end in tears.

Jared: MIND CONTROL POWERS!

I think Jared just summed up every evil-doer in the Sailor Moon canon.

Motoki (under mind control): Yes, you are Endo...

Jared: That... makes no sense. But who cares? MAGIC!

Now you're getting it, dear.

A woman named Reika comes into the arcade to drop off a book for Motoki. 

Jared: Now we've never seen her before ever, right?

Me: Right.

Reika (sees "Endo"): Is that the guy you're training?

Motoki: What are you talking about? That's Endo. He's been my best friend for years!

Ah! Reika's going to see right through this... or not.

The book Reika brought is about, conveniently enough, about geology. And four minerals in particular.

"Endo": Jadeite. Nephrite. Kunzite. Zoicite.

Reika: Wow, you really know your minerals!

"Endo": Just those four. They're special to me.

Jared: *inelegant snort* Yes. It's good to see mind control keeps him creepy.

Elsewhere, the Sailor Guardians are heading over the Ami's apartment... while also carrying around the sacred Moon Sword. In the open. In broad daylight.

Jared: Hey! Why don't you bring the sword into town? That's just... yeah.

Usagi practically FLIPS OUT over how posh Ami's home is.

Usagi: There's even marble in the lobby!

Jared: *laughs*

Right after that, Minako wonders if she looks suspicious carrying the sword around like that. Jared doesn't say anything, but he does look appreciative that the episode did address that issue.

Up in Ami's room, the girls shatter a diamond with the sword. Ami further explains that the sword is made of elements not found on Earth and that they're even toxic.


Jared: And here I am handling it with my bare hands! After breaking a - I dunno - five thousand dollar diamond!

Side Note: "Toxic Sword" should be the name of a metal band.

Ami: Everything from the Moon Kingdom was turned into this toxic stone.

Jared: WHY ARE YOU CARRYING IT AROUND??

The girls are more concerned with mourning the Moon Kingdom, which used to be shining and beautiful, but is now a desolate rock.

Makoto: Ami, are you trying to tell us that the enemy turned our kingdom into a dead planet?

Jared: Dead planet?? No! Wherever would you get that idea?

And, wouldn't ya know it, Usagi is fast asleep on the couch through this whole thing. The girls decide to let her sleep.

Jared: Worst. Slumber party. Ever.

Usagi later leaves Ami's place and inexplicably heads to the arcade (even though she practically LIVES there normally). Motoki greets her like usual - and she recognizes someone quite familiar.

Jared: CREEPY EYES!


Usagi tries to figure out what's going on with this "Endo" character - and why he looks and sounds so much like Mamoru. It has been established that Usagi is not the brightest lightbulb in the bunch, admittedly. But seriously - come on girl!

Luna - ever the brains of the outfit - followed Usagi to the arcade and realizes that he's the same guy that bumped into Usagi that morning. But... that's it. 

Jared: LUNA! ARE YOU BLIND??

Me: For the benefit of the recording, Jared is now waving his arms around incredulously. He has lost all capabilities of human speech.

Luna calls the other girls to get their short-skirted behinds down to the arcade. They make it and THEY'RE the ones who figure out what's most likely going on. TEAMWORK!

Jared: Now, admittedly, mind control isn't the first thing you think about. Except - LAST EPISODE! They mind-controlled the four... guys! They KNOW she has that power!

"Endo" is creepy as hell and Usagi gets the crap out of there. Smart girl.

The next day, Ami and Makoto ask Reika who the smeg this "Endo" guy is. Reika tells them that she knows of an Endo that Motoki's friends with, but it's not the same guy.

Reika: That guy supposedly goes to our college too. But I've never seen him there and my friends haven't either.

Jared: But he's perving on this fourteen-year-old girl, you know. That's a problem with changing the cover story.

After the arcade closes, Motoki and "Endo" stay late while "Endo" mutters about the Command Center (brainwashing, you know). Mako-chan gets bold and she walks in the arcade to confront "Endo." And it's a beautiful sight to behold. Finally! Some action!
Righteously-pissed-off-Mako is the best Mako.
"Endo" attacks her off-screen. Jared didn't say anything about it. I just like the scene, that's all.

The other girls rush to the scene of the crime and find Mako slumped over and weakened in the Command Center (dammit). And the alarms start going off.

IT'S A TRAP!


Now-Obviously-Mind-Controlled-Mako tries to make a grab for the Silver Crystal, but not before Rei knocks her out.

Jared: MIND CONTROL!

Tuxedo Mask (what?? You mean it was him the WHOLE TIME??) reveals his evil scheme to get into the Command Center under the Sailor V game. Usagi can't believe it.

Drama ensues. As does Sailor Guardian transformations, at Minako's orders. Because Minako is clearly done with this BS. 

Jared: Once again proving, the sergeant is more intelligent than the officer.

Me: What?

Jared: The sergeant always knows what's going on more than the officer does.

Can I just say how much I adore that Jared's assigned military ranks to the Sailor Guardians like this? (Well, for Usagi and Minako, at least.) Of course, he's steeped in military sci-fi and other such background knowledge, so it makes sense that he would do that. I just take it to mean that he's enjoying this, even with all the sarcastic comments.

Everyone gets transformation sequences! Well, most everyone. Mako's still knocked out. She'll get her chance, though. And Usagi's still in BSOD Mode.

Jared: Oh, I guess there was time for it in this one. It's the full-blown sequence this time! No cutting corners!

I know it can get tedious to watch all of the henshin sequences, but they are so gorgeous in Crystal with the blend of CGI and hand-drawn animation. The colors are bold, the effects are beautiful, and the girls look amazing. And we haven't seen the full things for quite some time. If I remember right, this might be the last episode of this season that we see them.

I'm well aware that many fans' mileage may vary on these henshins, but I love them! And it's my blog. So, suck it.



Venus, Mercury, and Mars all do their intro speeches and it's time to kick ass!

Basically, Venus keeps the Silver Crystal from getting stolen from Mind-Control!Motoki, because Usagi is still in shock. And Ultimate Betrayal takes some time for her to shake off.

And then there's Evil!Tuxedo Mask. Somehow "he's too powerful" and ends up with the Silver Crystal anyway.

Jared: How is he too powerful?

Mercury and Mars try to get the Crystal from Tuxedo Mask, but to no avail. And Usagi just freaking stands there! And utters probably the most inane line of the entire series (but we forgive it because, Usagi. She kind of has a one-track mind on these things).

Usagi: Why? Why is everyone fighting Tuxedo Mask?

Jared: Okay, I get her not doing anything. But - do something!

Luna even tries to break Usagi out of her BSOD funk - to the point that the CAT jumps into the fray. The freaking CAT, you guys.

Though I do wonder - how the story would have gone if Usagi had gone to the Dark Kingdom with Tuxedo Mask. Evil!Sailor Moon - sure, it's been done to death in fanfic (with varying degrees of quality). But in canon? Would be interesting.

Luna goes after Tuxedo Mask because that is NOT the man Usagi loves and, dammit, Luna's going to prove it! 
"What does that make us?" "Big Damn Heroes." "Ain't we just."


Luna: I'm your partner, Usagi. I know who your true love is. That man is an imposter and I will not let him hurt you!

DUDE.

Neither of us said much during that scene, and for good reason. And major props to Luna's English voice actress - Michelle Ruff. 'Cause THAT was quite possibly the best scene we've had from her Luna in this entire series thus far. All of the new dub voice actors do a great job and this is one of the great shining moments.

But Luna's heroics are short lived because - well, cat versus human. Even without magical powers, the odds are not great. Tuxedo Mask tosses Luna aside like a rag doll and she's knocked out. And THAT'S what breaks through to Usagi. Tuxedo Mask would never do that to Luna.

Naturally, it's time to make up!



Jared: I thought there was a circlet that went with that.

Oh yeah - Sailor Moon's tiara isn't a tiara anymore. It's just a crescent moon mark on her forehead. Because, princess.

Sailor Moon's love for Luna and her friends activates the Silver Crystal and it's go time!


Everyone, please welcome Usagi Tsukino to the party!
Jared: DRAMATIC MUSIC

This should work, right?

Usagi: You are an imposter. You are my enemy. You hurt Luna and you hurt my other friends too! I will never forgive you!

You know what they say about hell and a woman scorned.

Jared: Healing everyone doesn't include him, apparently.

Nah, that would be too easy.

Jared: OH!

And this is where Beryl decides to poke her nose into the proceedings. Bitch.

Sailor Moon is then informed that she really was fighting Mamoru the whole time - an evil, brainwashed version that deserved to get his ass handed to him. But yeah - it's him. And Beryl's going to make him kill Usagi.

Damn Beryl. Ruining all of Luna's hard work getting Usagi's head screwed on straight. Feh.

Jared: MIND CONTROL! I mean, seriously - it's been a thing for episodes now!

***
Cliffhangers suck, don't they?



***
Next Time: Episode 12 - Enemy, Queen Metalia

Previously: Episode 10 - Moon