This Week on TV, Mar. 9, 2019

Spoiler Alert!

For the moment, Gotham is the only one in my lineup airing, and it’s about to end forever. But we have a few weeks to wait between this episode and the next one anyway, it would seem. It was a good episode, but not really great, ya know? I think they’re rushing things a bit too much, trying to wrap up and get everything done a little too quickly. But, still, it was good.

Gotham

5.09 “The Trial of Jim Gordon”

You know how you sometimes wish everybody’s crap would just be magically worked out already? Yeah, there’s a reason they don’t actually do that. On the one hand, it feels cheap and unrealistic, and on the other, it’s very surprising when it suddenly happens in the middle of a story that has thrived on drawing out the emotional torment.

That’s a bit what it felt like in this episode. They rushed through working things out, some of them very significant, and it came out feeling a bit… lackluster. Which seems to be a recurring trend in these more recent episodes. Perhaps tying up loose ends crowds out the usual devices for building tension? Either way, it is what it is, I suppose.

Jeremiah’s mad scheme may have been stopped, and everyone saved, but it resulted in a severely-poisoned water supply. Fox and his team have developed the means to clean it, filter out the toxins, but it’s slow going. With the available supply of clean drinking water at critical levels, Gordon sees reunification with the mainland as their only hope of survival, and the only hope for reunification is to persuade the government that it’s safe to take Gotham back into its fold, which means things need to be safe. To that end, Gordon has a plan: convince the gangs to commit to a ceasefire.

Penguin hosts the gathering of chaos, which, after the military purge of a couple episodes, there’s quite a few more of the vile gangsters left than I would have thought. They all want to kill everyone else, but Gordon makes his case: they need the government to save them, so they can either fight over what little water left, eek out a few more months, and then die… or they can stop killing each other and live. The attitude of “kill or be killed” will just get them killed.

Unfortunately, the moment Gordon’s done, someone shoots him.

It’s not necessarily fatal, but there’s not much even Lee can do for him with such limited resources. She just pulls out the bullet fragments and bandages him, once Bullock, Harper, and the others manage to carry him out of Pengun’s lair to her infirmary.

Bullock takes command of the GCPD in Gordon’s absence and hunts the shooter. Penguin gets a well-deserved punch or two to the face before he points out the shooter was outside. Bullock is able to retrieve a fragment and, pieced together with what Lee fishes out of Gordon’s gut, finds the initials VZ. Victor Zasz.

Zasz is a bit crazier than usual, but it turns out Ivy has him enthralled. She has a plot in motion now, with several moving parts. When it seems that Zasz hasn’t quite killed Gordon, and gets himself arrested, courtesy of the GCPD and Alfred, she shows up to bust him loose. He distracts everyone else in the lobby – Bullock is right, it’s getting annoying how often they get shot at within their own precinct, and it used to be such a rarity – while she makes to finish the job herself. Bullock suits up in heavy armor while everyone else keeps Zasz busy – and all of them miss – so he’s able to just take Zasz down with his fists.

Lee had a little argument with Gordon before the big meeting. It felt a bit automatic, really, but whatever. She is looking down the barrel of raising Gordon’s kid, somewhat alongside Barbara, and she is highly interested in Gordon living long enough to be there. When he’s injured, her fears are on the brink of realization, and that’s only the latest in a long-running pattern. He’s practically addicted to nearly getting himself killed. Somehow, something about this needs to change. Something’s gotta give.

Whatever it is, though, after a talk with Alfred about raising kids, Lee is able to commit to standing by Gordon’s side, whatever he does. Which, I suppose, is supposed to make it all the more tragic and tense when Gordon’s heart stops beating and Ivy breaks the syringe with the adrenaline in it. Lee is ready to commit, and Gordon is left to die, even if Ivy is staggering away with a fresh bullet in her.

Gordon spends most of the episode in a delusion of a trial about whether he lives or dies. He is both the defendant and the prosecutor, and the subject matter is all his failures, all the death around him, how Lee has hurt so much because of him, how the people of Haven trusted him and died for it… that sort of thing. But as he is on the brink, he sees Lee holding his baby. He wants to hold the child, but his arms are strapped, so Lee drops the baby to the ground. And Gordon, wanting to be a father, finally wants to live.

Gordon wakes up then, and he immediately asks Lee a very important question.

Elsewhere, Selina has also been dealing with Ivy. Bruce takes her on a surprise date, one where he confesses that he’s been thinking of leaving Gotham, after all the harm he’s inadvertently brought upon it (like Gordon). The discussion barely starts, however, before Ivy interrupts, enthralling Bruce and having a familiar goon try to kill Selina. Selina deals with the goon easily enough, then catches up to Bruce at Fox’s water treatment facility.

Ivy’s plan is to kill everyone and everything that isn’t a plant so the plants can supposedly thrive freely. Not going to work that way, I think, but she’s crazy. Bruce enthralls Fox and the plan proceeds, but Selina knocks Bruce and then Fox back to their senses and they stop it. All is well.

A month later, Gordon and Lee get married. Bullock performs the ceremony, makes it amusing and touching at the same time. Bruce kisses Selina while everyone applauds the bride and groom. Happy moment.

Barbara is less happy. She did as Bullock demanded, keeping the gangs from tearing each other apart (by poisoning and blackmailing them), but it’s just not enough. Penguin thinks she was hoping to convince Gordon that she could be redeemed, but that’ll never happen. So, as the sub slowly progresses, Barbara decides to take the child and leave Gordon behind. He’ll hunt her to the ends of the Earth? Let him.

So… Ivy launches a fairly good plot that gets foiled fairly easily, Gordon has one of the more lackluster inner journey wake-up calls we’ve yet seen and marries Lee, Bruce is thinking about leaving but we know he never will (at least, not for long), and the series finale looms ever closer.

So much ground to cover, so little time!

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All Aboard! Additions to My Pirate Crew!

Yohohoho! Ain’t this a popular one!

This tag is making the rounds fast, and it’s coming back around again already! I swear, I’m seeing my fellow anime bloggers getting tagged second and third times all over the place! I guess it’s my turn for Round Two, eh?

My thanks to Matthew of Matt-in-the-Hat for the tag! 🙂

The rules, once again:

  1. Display the My Pirate Crew logo and add ‘My Pirate Crew’ as a tag.

  2. Thank the blogger who nominated you and post a link to their blog.

  3. Link back to the original post here (so I can compare your crews to mine).

  4. Select seven anime characters and give them a position on the crew. These are the positions you can to fill. Warrior, sniper, chef, doctor, scientist, navigator, strategist, mechanic, entertainer.

  5. Nominate 5-10 bloggers.

  6. Set sail and rule the seas!

Now, I do have to admit… when I first made my crew, I kind of fell in love with them! What can I say? I am a sentimental fellow! So, instead of starting again and making an entirely new crew, I thought to myself… what could I add to round things out a bit?

Thus, I present some comrades, rather than competitors, for my crew! Hey, we’re heading out to rule the seas, there’s bound to be occasion for needing a bit of help, ya know? So all aboard, everyone, and let’s set sail! 😉

Heh, and since I managed to make my first crew almost entirely female before I even realized it, I might as well keep it going! 🙂

First and foremost, there were two roles I left vacant in my original crew, whose value would be tremendous. I am pouncing on the opportunity to fill them first: the Sniper and the Entertainer.

As the inevitable violence poses a direct threat to our lives and freedom, and thus our wonderful enjoyment of our entertainment, the Sniper role gets filled first! On which note:

Sniper: Tanya Degurechaff
Saga of Tanya the Evil

I must admit, when I thought of snipers, Tanya did not leap to mind at first. Heck, thinking of people I want to be around, Tanya did not leap to mind either! But she does possess some long-range skills, combined with impressive mobility and formidable firepower. Her personality might leave a great deal to be desired, but her skills and intelligence are unquestionable. That makes her not only useful as a sniper, but also as a secondary strategist alongside Mavis.

Hah! Now there’s a thought! Tanya, as part of our crew, may be surrounded by sweethearts with nerves of steel, but I would be so much money to watch see her and Mavis working together! It’s would be hysterical! Maybe some of Tanya’s rough edges will get worn down, eh? We saw that in her own anime, actually, and there weren’t that many sweethearts around her then.

And now that our survival is… well, the odds are ever more in our favor. 😉

And now that we have taken care of that, it’s  time we filled the last slot, for Entertainer!

Entertainer: Isuzu
Log Horizon

In complete honesty, I was heavily tempted to pick Brook, from One Piece. But, I figured that was kind of cheating, especially with Nami as my Navigator. 😉

Most of the entertainers I could think of… well, they were definitely skilled, and I’ve nothing against them, but none of them just quite seemed to fit, ya know? Some were too loud, not quite good enough, had only one trick up their sleeves, or needed entire groups when I was looking for an individual. With Brook to measure up against, it was an uphill battle.

Then I remembered Isuzu.

She’s a sweet young girl, caring, and very talented. She has skills and soul, both learned from her father. She has a pleasant voice, well-crafted instruments, and colored lights. She wants to wander, to see the world and make people smile with her music. She has a strength to her character, a spirit and force of will that makes her formidable. And she can even cast literal spells with her songs, so she won’t hold anyone back in a crisis.

It’s just… well, it feels like the natural choice, ya know?

So, now we have full bellies, healthy bodies, a functioning ship, a direction, a plan, brains and brawn, a sharp eye to strike our foes afar, and a bit of light and warmth to make our days and nights at seas more pleasurable.

It’s a good crew… but we can shore it up a bit. 😉

I was feeling like Mavis and Aisha, now with the addition of Tanya, could handle most anything to come our way, but it still feels a little out of balance, ya know? Like, we need someone else, a fourth member to make our trio a proper combative squad. In particular…

Warrior: Lucy
Elfen Lied

You want someone who can kick butt and mow straight through whatever stands in our way? Lucy is a one-woman army! She is cutthroat and precise, exceptionally capable on any battlefield. Her invisible limbs would come in handy in everyday life, of course, but they give her a tremendous advantage over the enemy.

She’d make an especially good partner for Aisha, I think. Aisha’s range is more limited, and the disconnect between that and the range commanded by Tanya and Mavis both is a bit telling. Lucy bridges the gap, giving Aisha someone to stand at her side and watch her back, and vice versa.

And you gotta admit, an extended amount of time traveling the seas, freely, with some friends, would do Lucy a world of good.

And now that our fighters are stocked up to become a formidable fighting force, I want to think defensively again. As anime has constantly demonstrated, the ability to block or throw a punch is dwarfed in value when compared with the ability to get back up after taking a hit. In that spirit, I’m recruiting another medic!

Doctor: Megumi Takani
Rurouni Kenshin

I was thinking of various superpowered healers, but… well, we already have that, so I am prioritizing knowledge and steady nerves over everything else.

Megumi is a skilled, capable doctor. Put her in a crisis, and she is in her element, calm and focused. She can learn anything she doesn’t know, and having a practical doctor on hand can do wonders. We wouldn’t have to rely too much on Sayumi, and we could handle injuries and ailments that are more nuanced, and thus require something more than a simple restoration to how things were before.

And while we’re dealing with preparedness, let’s add more brains to the brawn to keep the ship running and the power of knowledge on our side. 🙂

Mechanic: Mei Hatsume
My Hero Academia

Sure, she’s a bit crazy, in the sense of being very enthusiastic, but at least she has passion, and I’ll take that over anything else any day! 🙂

She’s clearly intelligent, clever, and good with her hands. Everything she comes up with is proof of that. And it won’t hurt to have someone around who can build excellent gear for both the ship and its crew. That can make a profound difference in any crisis. Who better to craft the tools which will enhance our capabilities, eh?

I’m sure she and Winry will have lots of fun together!

And speaking of fun

Scientist: Bulma Briefs
Dragonball franchise

I wanted Bulma badly from the get-go, I am not passing up the opportunity twice! 🙂

I mean, just imagine what Bulma, Washu, Mei, and Winry could do together! Oh, the possibilities! They’d be every bit as formidable, in their own way, as the more combat-based team of Aisha, Lucy, Tanya, and Mavis!

Oh, fun times await! 😀

And finally, to keep us all fueled up and fit for action, as we now have a lot of formidable stomachs and surely don’t want to overwhelm the Master Chef, let’s give him some help, eh? How about a cute little assistant who’s just a little ball of cheerfulness?

Chef: Sasami Masaki Jurai
Tenchi Muyo

…I rest my case! 😉

So, that’s it! Two tags, one crew! Whatcha think?

Now, for some tags! I pick…

D&A Anime Blog
BiblioNyan
Terranceacrow
DerekL
Jiraiyan
Thethingsiveseen

Have fun! 🙂

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Cowboy Bebop: Absolutely Awesome

Oh, yes. I do not hesitate to step into the territory of legends.

Cowboy Bebop is one of the most classic and influential cult favorites in all of anime. It’s not just another title, it’s a phenomenon, a piece of our history now which came out right when anime was finally getting some proper footing in Western media, breaking the trail for many titles which have followed since. It is, in many ways, an example of the medium at its greatest peak. May it never be forgotten. 🙂

Heh, seriously, this show is great.

Following the crew of the titular ship, The Bebop, this show chronicles the episodic adventures of Spike Spiegel, Faye Valentine, Jet Black, Edward Wong, and Ein. Spike is probably the single coolest character in all of anime, Faye may well be the sexiest woman in anime (a very fierce competition), Jet is a magnificently strong character, while Ed and Ein are goofy and adorable geniuses. Together, they hunt elusive, notorious bounties throughout the solar system, battle dangerous criminals, and fight to survive despite consistently terrible luck.

It’s fantastic!

The show successfully blends science fiction with gritty realism, balancing witty humor and the violence of hard-boiled noir tragedies, discussing human nature and failed dreams, all to beautiful animation, music, and voice acting.

(bit of trivia: Ed is apparently based on the behavior of the show’s famous soundtrack composer, Yoko Kanno)

I say again: fantastic.

It’s very episodic in nature, a point for and against it, as most of the stories it tells exist entirely independent of one another, but there remain traces of an overall plot that builds to a heart-breaking crescendo. Twice. It’s not for the faint of heart, or the younger members of the audience, as vivid, graphic, and emotionally gripping as it is, yet it remains fun and largely satisfying. A part of me always hates stories with so much death, yet they’re so often absolutely compelling and meaningful, none more so than Cowboy Bebop.

Did I mention “fantastic?” 😉

The heroes are fun, the villains are twisted, nasty, and vicious (the pun had to be made), the many characters we meet are human, and therefore what happens to them always carries some weight, even if one can predict fairly awful things happening to the majority of them after awhile. This is not a “happy” story, after all.

Should you watch it if you want a warm and fuzzy love story? No. How about a happily-ever-after fantasy? No. A child-friendly comedy? Nope. This is nothing so gentle as any of those. It has a lot of tragedy, and so a number of episodes can be downright depressing, eerie, even unsettling. While this, combined with its episodic nature, can make it feel a bit long at times, it treats its subject matter with due gravity. It takes loss seriously, and so it has an undeniable emotional impact.

One could make a surprisingly reasonable argument that, for anything ill which might be said of it, Cowboy Bebop may be the single greatest anime ever made. It’s certainly a masterpiece.

Rating: 10 out of 10.

Grade: A-Plus.

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Sunday’s Wisdom #224: For Each Other

“Part of being a family is that we can be strong for each other.”
– Bruce Wayne, Gotham
Season 5, Episode 8, “Nothing Shocks”

This quote comes pretty late in the series, towards the end.

Throughout the entire previous show, we’ve had Bruce and Alfred largely operating out of Bruce’s family home, Wayne Manor. But a truly crazy man just blew it up in the previous episode. Their home, an iconic location in the story, and the physical embodiment of Bruce’s ties to the past, to his parents, is gone. Alfred feels like he is to blame for that, because he wasn’t strong enough to stop it. So, his determination is never to be that weak again.

That’s what prompts Bruce to say the above quote, and it rings with truth. To Alfred, it’s a reassurance that he doesn’t have to be “the strong one” in this relationship. Indeed, there is no such thing, or there shouldn’t be. We’re all weak at some point. That’s why we need each other to rely on.

The very fact that we have our relationships in the first place is proof that we shouldn’t even attempt anything so unhealthy as to be the stronger person, the one who is never weak, who cannot be weak because their loved ones are counting on them to be strong and so we must carry the entire weight of the world on our shoulders alone and never bend a knee nor shed a tear nor bleed nor laugh nor…!

You see what I mean? 😉

It’s not okay to do that to oneself. Eventually, we’ll break, and then what becomes of our loved ones? For their sake, just as much as our own, we must learn to lean on them.

Being strong for each other cuts both ways: it means letting ourselves be weak enough to need them.

There is no shame in being weak, especially when it’s only sometimes. That’s what family is for, to be strong for each other, and to be relied upon.

Of course, it is also not okay to wallow in our weakness and use it as an excuse for bad behavior, but that is very different from letting others be there for you.

All of this strikes a chord in me, personally, because of how often my family has been strong for me. It has long been one of my deepest desires to be strong for them in return. I have no idea how well I’ve succeeded in that, but I will always try.

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This Week on TV, Mar. 2, 2019

Spoiler Alert!

This was a good week, if also a sad one.

The Gifted delivered a powerful finale for its second season. And now, if it’s renewed (which, I do not know if it has or not) we must wait months for more! 😦 Ah, well, ’tis life!

And Gotham had no less than three villains to deal with, delivering a great deal of tragedy. 😦 And how many episodes are left in the series now? Not many, I know that! So much ground still to cover, so little time! How are they going to do it?

But that’s still for the future. For right now:

The Gifted

2.16 “oMens”

I’m not sure that was the best title for this episode, but it’s a pretty awesome season finale anyway. 😉

The Inner Circle has been thrown a curve ball in the desertion of two of their most powerful and high profile members, but Reeva adapts rapidly, which is fairly effective for any leader. Too often, people can get set on completing furthering a plan, a mission, an agenda, etc. in only one way. When something comes up to make that impossible, adaptation is required and flexibility pays off. Reeva is determined enough to push forward and adaptable enough to work around and through the unexpected changes. She is formidable indeed.

With two goals in mind now, namely adapting her plans and wiping out the traitorous competition, Reeva juggles various aspects of the evolving situation with skill and grace. While the Underground determines how best to stop her, Reeva moves against them first, by calling Ryan and sending in the Purifiers, like she did with the Morlocks.

Over in the Underground camp, things are pretty straightforward. They don’t have much in the way of manpower or allies anymore, but they do know where the Inner Circle is, and they have a firm knowledge in how important it is to stop them. So, rather than challenge them to a straight up fight, a pitched battle with fallen on both sides, they elect to just use Fenris. Cait hates that idea, but her children are up for it, and the others know they have no options. Unfortunately, the Purifiers show up before they’ve moved out, with Turner at their head.

Whatever Turner’s issues with having exterminated the Morlocks were, they aren’t holding him back right now. The Purifiers, armed and armored, move with coordination, sealing off every possible escape (since Clarice isn’t there to help them), and waiting their prey out instead of invading. It’s simple and effective, and minimizes the risk. Turner is even able to reassure bystanders and his own men, and the cops won’t interfere, not since Reed killed Wilson, not that they would have helped the Underground anyway. Turner is driven, and his prey is trapped.

Always expect cornered prey to put up a fight.

Cait and Reed fetch guns from downstairs, John, Lorna, and Marcos burn evidence, and Lauren and Andy keep watch. That is, until they notice that the door is open after it was shut. Fade has come, with the Frosts in tow, to retrieve Fenris. They never stood a chance.

Reeva was able to adapt one part of her plan, using explosives instead of Lorna to knock out communications, but to take down SS national headquarters, she needs Fenris. Fade gets them in and out of the building, no matter Turner’s precious encirclement, and the Frosts mentally compel the Strucker kids to come along. They take them through the tunnels and bring them to their target. They resist, as much as they can, but even with Esme questioning things, it’s futile.

The real problem with taking down an agency headquarters, really, is that any such association can just grow a new head. The destruction is terrible (and this is the first time we actually get to see Fenris in action, what it actually looks like), and the losss of life is horrifying, but SS is an agency. It’ll just come back, which makes it all the more tragic for just how useless it will truly be, in the long run.

Still, the damage is done. Both to SS and to the Struckers, who were forcibly compelled, and now have bleeding noses.

As for the Underground, they manage to wriggle out of this very tight spot they’re in, but it’s a near thing.

John and Turner now have history between them. Turner lost him once, and Turner took Clarice from John. Thus, Turner will focus on John even as John focuses on Turner. It’s a gamble, but John manages to draw all the Purifiers towards him as he takes them all on, and then, when they turn to shoot at the car which breaks through their encirclement, he vanishes in the other direction. He’s thirsty for revenge for Clarice, but he doesn’t let it consume him.

That said, he’s on the brink anyway when Erg finds him in an alley, bleeding. These two men, they, too, have history, most of it highlighted by their disagreements. But they’ve both lost dear ones to Turner and the Purifiers, they both lost Clarice, and they both have the same determination, and the same enemies. So, John punches Erg to charge him up, then Erg takes down Turner’s crew, and John takes Turner down.

In that moment, we see something profound in these men. Both sides hate each other. Like, really, truly hate each other. They have been terribly hurt, they have had their dear ones taken from them, some of them vanishing into shadows on the streets, some swallowed in prisons and labs, and some shoved into the grave. John has been beaten down more than most, lost more than many, and Turner himself is responsible for much of it, but now that he has the man at his mercy… he refuses to kill him. Maybe it’s out of mercy, out of decency, I like to think that. Or maybe it’s because he doesn’t want to be like Turner, who is lashing out at the entire world, harming mostly people who had nothing to do with his daughter’s death. Or maybe, as Turner seems to want, in his heart of hearts, nothing more than to die, in hopes of seeing her again and ending his pain, John simply refuses to give him what he wants.

Whatever it is, the difference between the men is clear: one is consumed by his pain, and the other isn’t.

Cait, Reed, Lorna, and Marcos manage to catch up to the Frosts and take back Andy and Lauren. The damage to SS is done, and the young Struckers are exhausted and injured by the compulsion, but they got them back, at least. And what really makes the difference, in the pivotal moment, is that Esme wants to be free. She is an individual, no matter what her sisters say, and she appreciates free will. That was the source of her doubts earlier, and now, when Lorna taps into that and her sisters try and say she doesn’t matter, it distracts them. Marcos manages to take both of them down, though without killing them. Esme refuses to leave her sisters, but she lets the others go without further dispute.

So, John, or Thunderbird, is down, albeit with Erg to look after him, thanks to the Purifiers, and Fenris is down, thanks to the Frosts. The Underground managed to take down both sets of enemies, but they’re down to no more than four able-bodied fighters now, and they still have the Inner Circle itself to take on within its own headquarters. Steep odds, that. Still, needs must, so they do. For the first time, after dominating for the entire season, the Inner Circle has someone take the fight to them.

Marcos and Lorna are an effective pairing on the battlefield. We’ve seen that before and this is no exception. Though they inadvertently find the Inner Circle’s entire remaining crew loading up explosives, instead of already being out causing more mayhem, the two of them hold their own against the entire lot. It’s an even fight, though, which could turn either way at any moment. Their way is effectively stopped, and they can’t move forward.

One saving grace is that Fade finally gets shot, courtesy of Cait, when he attacks Reed. Cait may be a normal human, but she can still shoot straight. 🙂

This is it, the moment this entire season has been building towards, a crescendo not one but two seasons in the making. And they have one more curve ball to throw us: Reed Strucker.

The flashbacks, more than one, in this episode tell his story, as it was before the first episode of the show.

On that big day, July 15 (I think), where a mutant march turned to madness, Reed came home as quickly as he could, to his wife and children. On that day, he felt… called. Like he couldn’t sit on the sidelines of whatever was happening anymore. That was the day he decided to join the mutant-related division at the prosecutor’s office.

Years later, when Lauren called him to come get her from a party that she accidentally broke every window at, he came. He has always been out to protect his family, his children. And he told her that evening, sometimes things happen for a reason.

Many things have happened since, haven’t they? Reed has fought against mutants, he has fought for mutants, and he has wrestled with his own abilities. All of it has led him here, to this moment, and what a moment it is.

The enemy, Reeva, is able to disable people with her voice, to disrupt their control over their powers. It’s not so great as it might seem (if she were attacked from several directions, she would be at a severe disadvantage), but Reed can’t control his power anyway. Indeed, ever since he stopped taking the serum, he’s barely been holding it together, literally. So, if Reeva hits him and all that disintegrating energy is released… yes, it will kill him. And her. And everything and everyone else in the immediate vicinity.

It’s going to happen eventually, the power will kill Reed anyway. But now that they can’t properly fight their way in, they need to shift to finishing the mission, taking down Reeva, and getting out. More to the point, if Reeva dies, then the entire debacle ends, and his children are safe from her forever.

He does it.

He kisses his wife, she cries and covers him, and he goes in, alone.

Reeva, last surviving leader of the Inner Circle, waits upstairs, at the top of her tower. And who confronts her? Not the mighty Polaris, or the fierce Eclipse, or the indomintable Thunderbird, or even the terrible Fenris. It’s just Reed. A regular man, a husband and father, practically a nobody in the great games she has played. The most disappointing of them all, in her view.

Yet, ideally made by hands of fate for this very moment.

She screams at him, that mega-operatic megaphone that brings down everyone else, and he does fall to his knees. But then he gets back up, no matter how hard or how long she assaults him with her voice. His power rises, the power of the Von Strucker family which she so coveted, and here it is, all for her… in her face!

Both of them, and the upper portion of the building, are made even less than dust as he unleashes his power all at once.

Reed Strucker is dead, and his family and friends mourn. His children speak of what he died for, and it is good. He died for the things which are worth dying for. A small memorial is put together on a humble roof.

Cait, Lauren, and Andy are safe, with each other.

Erg patches John up.

Lorna and Marcos visit their daughter together.

Turner is recovering in a hospital.

Benedict Ryan suddenly confesses his crimes, with Esme mentally urging him on. I imagine this means she and her sisters got away.

Erg calls them all together to speak of helping others. As Cait says, they’ll make a new Underground.

Then John senses her coming. Out in the parking lot, Clarice pops out of a hole in time and space, with longer hair and a star-like object, perhaps a weapon, in her hand, saying she has something they have to see. One jaunt to an apocalyptic future (I assume and hope), here we come!

…aaaand that wraps us up for the Season 2! There is plenty of hate and violence and wrong to address, as there always will be, and the damage done is extensive, but the Inner Circle is dead, the Purifier leadership has been taken down, and several heroes are still standing, ready to rebuild what has been destroyed and face all the challenges of the world head-on, like a family. A very strange family. 😉

Gotham

5.08 “Nothing Shocks”

Last episode, almost everything was connected. This episode, we have three separate adventures, following the three usual plot divisions which have been so prevalent on the show: Penguin, Gordon, and Bruce. Each deals with their own supervillain of Batman mythos in a trifecta of tragedy, madness, and suspense.

In Penguin’s corner, things are a bit tense between Penguin and Riddler. Riddler has been working hard to figure out all the systems for the submarine they’re building. He’s a bit miffed because it doesn’t look like Penguin’s doing anything. Penguin protests, because he’s providing all the wealth they’re taking, but even that, as Riddler points out, was provided by his thugs, who he immediately killed. The argument is put on hold, however, when Penn arrives, alive and toting a dummy named Scarface. And Scarface holds the two men at gunpoint, demanding all the wealth Penguin has.

It’s one of the more surreal instances of madness we’ve seen on the show, I must say. Penn, at his lowest and barely alive, found a vessel on which to project everything he wants to be but believes he can never be: tough, unyielding, and dangerous. He’s been pressed down so hard for so long, especially under Penguin’s heel, that he’s suppressed all those traits, and now his near-death experience made that bubble burst, and broke what sanity he had. He is immensely frustrated at having been used like a puppet, then discarded, chewed up and spat out, but that’s what Penguin does. So now he’ll get what he wants by taking it, but he can’t do it himself, he believes, so… he has a dummy to do it for him.

Riddler knows that Penn, or Scarface or whatever, is going to just shoot Penguin and probably him too, so he airs his own frustrations, his own grievances, and forms a bridge between himself and the lunatic with a dummy and a gun. That buys some time, as Penn and Scarface discuss the merits of escaping on the sub with Riddler, just enough for Riddler to slap together a ploy. Penguin buys more time talking to Penn and Scarface, admitting his wrongs and his failings as a friend, while Riddler edges closer to his goal: the sonar he’s been working on. He presses a button, startling and stunning Penn with the sound, and Penguin pounces. The two men wrestle, but Penguin manages to shoot Scarface’s head off. That breaks Penn’s ability to be aggressive for the moment, and just to make sure it doesn’t come back, Riddler shoots Penn in the head.

All in all, it’s a rather therapeutic bonding moment for the two men. They’re practically made to be best friends with each other, a fact which makes them laugh over the body of the man they just killed.

Bruce and Alfred work have a case brought to them. There’s a shelter, some people who have been huddling together and weathering the storms of Gotham, but their safety has been violated. A woman comes to them talking about something in the sewers, people gone missing, and her husband gone to look for them with some others. Of course Bruce and Alfred aren’t going to fail to answer someone crying for help. They briefly consider telling Gordon, but Alfred thinks Gordon and the cops are spread thin as is. They do this one on their own.

Down below, in the darkness, the two of them consider the situation they’re witnessing. The sewers are right next to the river that is currently saturated with Jeremiah’s toxins, and who knows what prolonged exposure to that would do to a man? They find out soon enough, when the woman’s husband comes screaming at them, with a monster pursuing close behind. It’s not much of a Killer Croc, as of yet, but still very tall, very strong, flesh mutilated and warped, and ravenous for human flesh. It’s hard to even hurt the enemy, but Bruce improvises throwing weapons (predecessor to the Batarang), which injure it, and Alfred unleashes an unholy rain of fists on its face. Bruce actually has to pull him off.

That, as it turns out, is the result of some misplaced blame. Alfred feels like it’s his fault that Wayne Manor was destroyed, severing Bruce’s connection to the past, to his parents. As Bruce puts it, though, part of being family is being strong for each other. Wise words, and Alfred sees before him a wise young man. Bruce says he had a good teacher. Touching moment between the two of them. 🙂

So, they rescue a man, reunite him with his wife, subdue a monster… and it illustrates that spirit which will drive them to work independently of the police for the protection of the people of Gotham for many years to come. 🙂

Finally, there’s Gordon’s corner. Someone just walks into Barbara’s club and kills two retired detectives. It’s even more unusual considering that it’s Dicks that seems to have done it. You know, Bullock’s old partner from way back in the first season, the cripple stuck in a wheelchair. Makes the walking, let alone the killing, a bit unlikely.

Bullock, Dicks, and the two victims only have some sparing connection between them. They worked a case together, involving a woman who murdered her rich, rich husband. There wasn’t much physical evidence, but there was a young girl, their daughter, and it was her testimony that put her mother away forever. She, Jane, went into foster care, in and out of institutions, ended up at Arkham, supposedly dead, and in the hands of Hugo Strange. From him, she gained the ability to disguise herself so perfectly. Just one touch of the skin, and she can mimic everything about that person’s appearance.

The girl who can be anyone sees herself as no one. Thus, Jane Doe. And she’s out for revenge.

Bullock was a rookie at the time, and eager to make detective. The woman was guilty of murdering her husband. She admitted to it when she was arrested, but then she recanted. With no evidence to speak of, he leaned on the little girl to talk, and she did. That moment, that decision, caused her tremendous suffering ever since. Bullock didn’t know until it was too late, the man had abused both his wife and his daughter, so it wasn’t so cut and dry as he thought. Now the ghost of the past comes to kill all the detectives involved. The two old men at the bar were just the start. When they catch her, she changes into Bullock himself, and kills Dicks as well. Three down, one to go.

Bullock… he tries. Jane escapes by impersonating Barbara (they stretched a bit with how quickly she got out), and Bullock pursues her all the way to her home. He tries to talk her down, even gets her to show him her face, not nearly something that needs covering up. But she is adamant. The only way it ends is when one of them is dead.

As you wish, Jane.

Bullock shoots her straight through the heart.

Probably one of the roughest days Bullock has ever had, on a personal level.

So, Jane Doe, Scarface, and Killer Croc. Just another day in Gotham!

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Place to Place: Adorable and Fun

It’s amazing how used to something you can get. When this anime first came out, I knew it under the name of Acchi Kocchi. Apparently, it has since been officially translated in English as Place to Place. I prefer Acchi Kocchi, but whatever. 😉

Looking for a slice of life comedy with much cuteness, zero advancement of plot and/or relationships, and a whole lot of laughter?  We’ve got you covered!

Place to Place follows the hilarious, and slightly exaggerated, adventures of a group of high school friends. Each episode, divided in half, tells two new stories featuring our central cast as they go to school, go out, go camping, play games, etc. With the various twists, jokes, and zany antics, it’s a pretty fun ride, full of laughs.

For our main characters,  we have: Io, a most handsome young man, calm and composed, generally intelligent but clueless about his own heart-throbbing influence; Tsumiki, a cute girl who was probably a cat in a past life, is much stronger than she looks, and is hopelessly in love with the clueless Io; Hime, a sweet, angelic girl with the pure, innocent heart of a princess, so of course she’s airheaded and clumsy; Mayoi, the enthusiastic mad scientist girl who loves chaos and is absolutely my inner imp let loose; Sakaki, a young man who is a kindred spirit to Mayoi.

There are several recurring characters who make their own contributions to the show’s hilarity, but it mostly follows these five.

And… that’s really most everything that can be said about it. It doesn’t advance any overall plot, and the relationships remain in the end exactly as they are in the beginning. It’s just a number of half-episode stories featuring the hilarious escapades of adorable characters. Somehow, it just works. I love it. 🙂

Oh, and I love that snowball fight! 😀

So, in what is probably the single shortest review I’ve ever written, I recommend Place to Place if you just want to have a fun time and laugh for a few hours.

Rating: 9 stars out of 10.

Grade: A-Minus.

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Sunday’s Wisdom #223: Think it Through

“Let me get this straight: you think that your client, one of the wealthiest, most powerful men in the world, is secretly a vigilante who spends his nights beating criminals to a pulp with his bare hands, and your ‘plan’ is to blackmail this person? Good luck!”
– Lucius Fox, The Dark Knight

Best scene in the movie, I say. 🙂

A young man, capable with finances, stumbles onto a massive, powerful secret, and his first impulse is to cash in, big time. He’s worked hard, he’s smart, he deserves something, right? So he approaches his target, makes his case, establishes his superior position (he thinks), and makes his demand.

Said demand, and everything else, is utterly demolished with the above quote, and it is glorious.

Not to mention funny! It’s the unspoken realization that the would-be blackmailer has utterly failed to think this through that makes this scene so hilarious, as he realizes just how badly this could end for him. He did not stop to consider what might go wrong, envisioning only that everything would go right. Greed makes for haste, it would seem, and, as a very old adage observes, haste makes waste.

It always pays to take a moment ask yourself, “Is this a good idea?”

Okay, maybe not always, like if the building is on fire and the only way out is through the window. Then again, as vital as speed may be, if it’s feasible to grab the nearest mattress and take it out with you to cushion your fall with, or use drapes as a rope to lower yourself a bit more gently and shave off some of the actual falling, or something like that… well, there are worse ideas!

It is usually a good idea to stop and think as much as possible.

When you are about to embark on some grand plan that will yield magnificent results if successful, that is an excellent time to stop and ask yourself how it can go wrong. That’s what professionals do, in every field, and in every endeavor. They look for what can go wrong and they prepare against it. If they can’t prepare, they at least weigh the risks of failure, and then they prepare for failure, to soften the blow as much as possible.

Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst, as they say.

Is it possible to overthink things, to overdo it and prepare too much? Yes, moderation in all things is the ideal. Still, I’d rather be loaded for dinosaur while facing a bear than loaded for bear and find myself facing a dinosaur. Of course, it wouldn’t hurt to be ready for a swarm of insects, too. 😉

It is certainly a good idea, when challenging someone or something far more powerful than yourself, to stop and scheme a bit, rather than just charging in head-on. That is, if you want any chance at success, at least, rather than ending like a fly casually swatted out of the air.

Walking into an office to blackmail Batman without a second thought qualifies one much more for the latter.

Have I mentioned how much I love this scene? 🙂

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This Week on TV, Feb. 23, 2018

Spoiler Alert!

Another spectacular one-two punch between The Gifted and Gotham. And I just love that I can keep saying that! 🙂

The Gifted brought us slowly down from the action of last week while increasing the emotional tension, resulting in a long-awaited return and mending of fences, the lines between friends and enemies clear again at last. Just in time for the finale!

And Gotham thrust Bruce Wayne into a personal crucible with the mad machinations of his most enduring enemy, which he needed the help of his most steadfast friends to escape from, all while everyone tries to rise from the ashes only to fall flat again, even when they win. With just a few episodes left in the series, the question of Gotham’s salvation hangs over everyone’s head.

A good week! 😉

The Gifted

2.15 “Monsters”

As much as they kept up the tension, and showed how they were all reeling from the massacre of last episode, they did, at least, give us a little relief, a moment to come down and breathe again.

Turner had the smallest part of the episode. He is finally beginning to actually process the information right in front of him. He went down into the sewers expecting to find the Morlocks set up in a terrorist camp. Instead, he found evidence that they were just people protecting their families. That’s when he starts feeling the first lick of heat from that special Hell which awaits mass murderers, and suddenlty he’s like, “Did I do something bad?” Uh, yes, Turner, you did.

What really hits him is the children. After all, he’s been on this anti-mutant crusade of his all because of his daughter, his little girl, so seeing proof of children, especially little girls, among the people he’s murdering is just a little upsetting to him. He’s off-kilter. He’s not able to lead like that, so Wilson (whom I’ve been calling Stan) sends him off to clear his head while he leads the Purifiers in helping the police round up and murder the scattered, straggling Morlocks and any other mutants they find. When Turner raises the issue of mutant children, Wilson says they’d just turn out like their parents. All mutants are monsters, after all, and humans have to kill all the monsters.

What else did Turner expect? Wilson murdered a mutant kid in cold blood just a couple episodes ago, after the boy had surrendered and agreed to be interrogated. Did Turner think mutants were never kids themselves? That they never had kids? That they just spontaneously sprung full-grown and lethal out of holes in the ground? It says something when even a willing child-killer like Wilson has put more thought into this than Turner has.

Turner uses the down time to actually research the Morlocks, and the worst thing he finds about them is an another mutant-hater who condemns them for stealing food and supplies. That’s it. That’s the worst of it, and it further indicates a population just trying to survive in hiding, in the muck and darkness, protecting their children. With the evidence in front of him and his heart wavering, Turner goes to Ryan, who brushes it all aside, like flushing shit down the drain, in favor of recent intel about a massive mutant attack coming very soon, and the Purifiers must fight on in Wilson’s memory.

Oh, yes, Wilson meets his end when he meets Reed in an alley and gloats about how they’re going to exterminate all mutants. Wrong thing to say to a stressed-out father and husband trying to save his family and happens to have the ability to make whatever he touches disintegrate. I am shedding more tears for Reed, after doing something like that, than I am for Wilson.

Things in the Underground are upended yet again. They manage to get a number of the Morlocks to the scrapyard, but they can’t possibly keep them there for very long, and plenty of them are undoubtedly caught along the way. John is devastated by Clarice’s death, immediately clashing with Erg, then punching a wall to dust, then unable to even track because his senses are overwhelmed with her, and nothing else. He has to sit this action out, which he is remorseful about later, but there is no shame in having to take some time to process, even in the middle of a crisis. Marcos, Reed, and the rest all step up instead.

Cait and Lauren are unable to get there charges to safety, so Cait makes the choice, and it is a terrible choice, to scatter. If they stay together, they all get caught, it’s true, but the Morlocks came to them for help, these kids got into her car because they trusted her in their most desperate hour, and she has failed to honor that. She makes sacrifices, and makes it look easy. It’s very unsettling, and Lauren is not comfortable with it, but it is what it is. On the other hand, when attention comes to them, and the cops are surrounding the empty factory they’re hiding in, it’s possible that they’re the ones drawing attention away from the others. That’s when Cait shows that she’s not looking out for herself, but for her daughter. She’s willing to sacrifice herself, without hesitation, to give Lauren a chance to escape.

It’s amazing, the paper-thin dichotomy between what is selfish and what is selfless.

Fortunately, not only do Lauren’s powers return, but Marcos and Reed, who is getting a handle on his abilities, arrive to get them out. Marcos hides their approach by absorbing the nearby light, though, in my opinion, the lights going off and on and off and on might attract attention too. Then Reed, with a little coaxing, makes a hole in the side of the building. They make a clean escape.

Finally, something goes right! And it doesn’t even stop there!

Reeva is happy as a clam at high tide. Massacring the Morlocks not only removed dissension, and potential competition, but it also cleared out the sewers so the Inner Circle could move through them freely. The Morlocks were literally in the way of her plans.

Reeva’s basic plan, now that the fire stoked and the iron is hot, is to strike hard and destroy the government institutions, like SS, which are their enemies. In don’t particularly mind SS being reduced to rubble and ash, but it’ll be another slaughter, followed, apparently, by the Frosts forcing people to believe that the only solution is two nations living apart from each other. Short-sighted, that, as the mutant homeland, even if successful, can be destroyed, as surely as the Morlocks camp. But short-sighted or not, it’s all going down the next day. Everyone has their job, and Lorna is the only one not entirely on board with it.

Lorna talks it over with Andy and Esme, and is a bit surprised by both conversations. Andy, it seems, learned about doing what’s necessary and making sacrifices from Lorna, like when she pulled that plane apart in the air, killing everyone on board. Esme simply doesn’t see another alternative; they do what they have to do. Maybe, but Lorna is officially out. She’s gathered all the information she can, the critical moment has arrived, and she can’t be part of what Reeva is doing.

She almost leaves Andy behind. But Reed asked her to bring him home, so she stops. She talks to him, and tells him the truth, including Reeva’s connection with Ryan and the massacre of the Morlocks at her direction. It’s all a lie, Andy realizes, and Rebecca died for it. (actually, she died trying to kill everyone and would have felt no remorse for it, but that’s a minor detail at this point) And with the truth unveiled, Andy sees himself no longer as a hero… but as a monster.

How can a monster like himself just go back home? How can he go back to the family who saw his darkness? Doesn’t he belong with the other monsters, in the Inner Circle?

“…here is a riddle to guess, if you can, sing the bells of Norte Dame: what makes a monster and what makes a man?”

Actually, one can make a number of parallels between Turner and Frollo right now, but I digress.

This week actually hit the idea of monsters and men pretty effectively. Lorna, Marcos, Clarice, Cait, even Lauren, they’ve all done some monstrous things, and now Reed has one to add to pile: he killed a man, Wilson, because he was angry and he wanted to. So, when he gets the chance to talk to Andy, and Andy shares his fearful certainty that he’s a monster, Reed is able to say, “If you are, then so am I.”

Taking that one step, to go back home to love and family after having become something you weren’t before, can be immense. Sometimes the best way to help that along is to simply say, “You won’t be alone here.”

It works. Andy returns home. The prodigal son returns at last, and he is welcomed with joy and open arms by his father, mother, and sister all.

Lorna comes back to Marcos, her ties with the Inner Circle severed, and they, too, embrace.

It’s a happy, tearful moment, and it’s not quite done.

On the roof, John stands before the storm, sharpening his tomahawk, when he hears her voice saying his name. Clarice. Rather: Blink. He acccepts her name now, and sends up a silent prayer for her return. That might even be possible, as she was in her gateway when it closed, so where she is, we do not truly know. The space between spaces, perhaps. Is she gone? Is she lingering? Is she a ghost? No idea. But it’s a moment of hope for a reunion, and in that hope, there is peace, if also longing.

Everyone joins John on the roof, including both of those who left and have come back. Lorna holds out her hand, but John hugs her instead. They are family. Family. And, after all that’s happened, all that they’ve suffered and lost and argued and fought, they stand there, fractured, but together again. Whole, despite their losses.

Now they just have to deal with the Purifiers on one side and the Inner Circle on the other. On which note, Lorna and Andy’s desertion the night before their big day does not go over well. The Frosts find Reeva questioning their value and Esme finds herself being blamed by her two sisters. Reeva dismisses the loss, however, as mostly symbolic. Establishing the mutant homeland on the foundation of two famous mutant families, the von Struckers and the Lenschers, would have been a powerful symbol. Now, it’s just a shame that they have to die. She dismisses them that easily, just like the Morlocks, and Sage, and the previous Inner Circle, and everyone else she’s killed. Now two of the Innner Circle’s founding families will end at her order. I imagine Magneto and Fenris are rolling in their graves at that.

I wonder how long before the Frosts find their number is up. Or maybe it’s part of the plan for them to die and Esme’s the rogue element in their shared consciousness that can stop it.

So, in short, everything’s gone to crap, the pivotal battle looms in next week’s season finale, and the enemy on either side will show no mercy to the Underground… yet, there is a hopeful note in how they are finally united again, and Turner is finally asking questions he should have been asking a long, long time ago.

Gotham

5.07 “Ace Chemicals”

That ending! Jeremiah would be offended to know that the best humor of the episode had nothing whatsoever to do with him, haha! We’ll get to that in a bit, though. First, the heavy, then the light.

It has been five days since Jeremiah nabbed Alfred Pennyworth, and Bruce is holding himself together rather well for being out of his mind with worry and dead on his feet. Gordon tries to bench him, make him get some rest so he’s sharp instead of a liability, but Bruce goes out searching anyway, whilst Gordon, Bullock, and Harper investigate a case.

In the latter case, they find four men with fake mustaches and Z’s carved onto their chests, and tattoos of chess pieces. They were running away from someone last night, and that someone launched a rocket with green, flesh-rotting gas at them. The tattoos are the best clue Gordon has to follow, as they identify the men as gangsters from the Narrows, so he goes to Lee.

Lee is just a little preoccupied with Barbara, who wants Lee as her doctor. It’s a strange relationship they have, mostly consisting of past hostilities but now working in service of the baby Gordon put in Barbara. Lee’s condition, however, involves Barbara talking to Gordon for a bit. He’s going to be involved in this baby’s life, and he knows Barbara isn’t exactly a candidate for Ideal Mother of the Year. Yeah, that moment of solace he took with her is exploding in their faces ever more. But, on the bright side, perhaps this is how Gordon gets his daughter, so, there’s hope!

With Lee’s help navigating the Narrows, which have been ravaged, and right after she put so much work into it, Gordon follows the Chess Boys’ trail up in the direction of near where the bodies were found. Evidently, they cleared out of the Narrows only to walk into the jaws of something even worse. Lee and Gordon find a factory, Ace Chemicals, up and running, manned by a hypnotized crew. Tetch makes his entrance, followed by Harley, during the ensuing brawl. There’s too many, and Harley really tips the scales. Captured, Gordon and Lee nearly have a moment, but they elect to focus on surviving and thwarting their enemies. Obviously, Jeremiah is still alive, and he, via a phone with a big antenna, gives Tetch instructions on the hypnotism he wants performed on them.

Bruce is a bit dazed, perhaps, but there’s no mistaking it when he steps on a newspaper with his murdered parents at its headline. He hears them, then, two people whom Jeremiah has crafted to look like them. Disoriented and tired and driven, Bruce exercises no caution whatsoever as he follows them down the tunnel Jeremiah had dug, coming out in Wayne Manor, to find Jeremiah, the fake parents, and Alfred, the former having had Tetch hypnotize the rest.

It all turns out to be a crazy scheme to “connect” with Bruce. He wants to matter to Bruce, to be the star of the show, to be the center of Bruce’s universe, the man he’s always thinking about. So he’s reenacting the murder of Bruce’s parents, the most important moment in the boy’s life, in order to take the role of the murderer for himself. Love, he knows, is not going to bind him and Bruce, so he settles for hate. He maneuvers skillfully, using bombs to keep Bruce in check for the short-term, and using Alfred to distract him as he makes his exit. Bruce barely manages to get Alfred out before the bombs go off… and Wayne Manor is reduced to rubble.

Alfred comes out of the hypnotism right about then. He’s injured, so he can’t keep up, but he can make his own way out, at least. He sends Bruce off with reassurances and follows after as quickly as he can manage. Fortunately, after Bruce’s departure but just before Alfred’s he someone else arrives at the end of the tunnel: Selina and Penguin.

Selina’s plan is simple: she and Barbara use Penguin to find a way off the island, then they kill him and take everything he’s stolen, which is most everything valuable left in Gotham. Barbara’s in, but getting out is a bit tricky, what with the river water mined and ready to blow anyone who tries crossing to kingdom come. Selina comes up with the idea of using Jeremiah’s tunnel, but that, obviously, turns out to be a dud. But with Alfred coming out, Selina is made aware of Jeremiah’s continued status as a living being and Bruce’s plight in Jeremiah’s mad scheming. She hesitates only long enough to threaten and nearly kill Penguin then and there, and then she’s off and running.

Penguin thanks Alfred by pointing him vaguely towards the Green Zone and leaves. Not a particularly gracious man, that.

Bruce arrives at the theater to find the fake parents in the audience as Jeremiah’s murderous parody of The Mark of Zorro plays on the screen (and this explains those four men with bloody Z’s carved into them). On cue, the fake parents leave, and Bruce tries to save them. Unfortunately, Jeremiah simply shoots them off-screen, and uses Gordon and Lee as stand-ins for Bruce’s parents instead.

Fortunately, Jeremiah’s meticulous attention to detail overlooked one thing that fateful night: the cat on the catwalk.

Selina arrives and saves the day, but Jeremiah’s backup plan remains in full force: he has a truck full of those rockets, and not only will they rain destruction down on the survivors of the ruined city, but it’ll bring the impending reunion of Gotham with the mainland to a standstill. With no time to disarm the rockets, Gordon drives the truck straight into the river. The reunion is forestalled anyway, but nobody else dies that night.

As for Jeremiah, he engages Bruce in a fight on a walk overhanging green vats of the chemicals. Bruce makes it clear that he thinks nothing of Jeremiah, a very strong moment, but Jeremiah lashes out so violently… he accidentally sends himself into the vat below. He survives, somehow, but he doesn’t seem to have any brain activity. Bruce and Selina stand triumphant while he lies comatose and wrapped in bandages in the hospital.

Lee and Gordon have that moment, where he confesses to her, she makes it clear that she doesn’t know what to do, he stops her from leaving only for her to slap him (as she should) and then kiss him (which she shouldn’t, I think).

Finally, back in Penguin’s corner, he goes to Riddler for help getting out of Gotham. Riddler agrees, so they can escape, but then they find Barbara at Penguin’s place, ready to shoot him dead. Riddler sees immediately that Barbara is pregnant, so Penguin quickly offers to bring her with them. Leave Gotham, with a fortune, instead of raising her baby in one of the worst hellholes on Earth? Yeah, anyone would take that deal. The plan: Penguin and Riddler will build a sub that can detect and avoid the mines. Barbara expects to be called when it’s done.

And the final line, when Penguin so nervously asked in feigned joy, “So who’s the lucky father?” And she snaps at him! Oh, there’s not really that much laughter in this show, but that was great! 😀

So, Jeremiah is finally out of the picture for awhile, the reunion is forestalled but coming, Selina and Bruce are on the same page, the criminals are plotting to escape… and we have three episodes left, I think, to cover a few hundred days, the setup for Bane returning with all those soldiers, and tie everything up to end the series with Bruce fully becoming Batman. That’s a lot of ground to cover, still!

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The Sakura Cyber-Nuclear Book Bomb

I know absolutely nothing about this book, but I am a sentimental sort and this is for a good cause, so I’ll help publicize it a little. I hope we all like it! 😉

Follow the link below!

http://monsterhunternation.com/2019/02/20/cyber-nuclear-book-bomb-sakura-intellectual-property-by-zach-hill/

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Anime Review: Servant x Service

Somewhat continuing this month’s Valentine-inspired theme of love stories, we have a slice of life dramatic comedy which follows a group of civil servants in their day-to-day lives, as well as the developing relationships among them.

Servant x Service is one of those anime that surprises you with how much fun it is. I mean, it sounds like it should be fairly dull, really. Just following the employees of some public town office? That ought to be boring! But it’s not. It’s hilarious.

Exciting, no. Hilarious, yes.

The setup is used fairly often these days: use a public work space, often in a service industry, add characters, give them a dash of quirks and issues, and see what happens. The characters and their relationships, both friendships and couplings, will develop in slow, small ways as they go about life in a setting that, for being so normal, turns into a surprising box of crazy as long as these people are in it.

Naturally,  with the setting fairly normal and the plot fairly slow, the most critical element is the characters. We need to like them, feel for them, understand them, and maybe even see a bit of ourselves in them.

Leading the cast, more or less, is Lucy Yamagami. She’s disciplined, capable, hard-working, an avid bookworm, and mostly grounded and reasonable. (and she is… generously endowed, we shall say) The one issue she always loses her head over is her name. When she was born, her parents asked for suggestions, got a number of them, and used all of them. So she has about a millions middle names, which she was always teased about and has become quite sensitive over it. Her parents were generally good, though, so she restricts herself from lashing out at them, and she refuses to simply change her name for their sake. Instead, she wants to find the civil servant who simply approved her name without questioning her parents about it and complain. This is why she became a civil servant in the first place: to take revenge on someone.

Next to Lucy comes Yutaka Hasebe. He is a genius, learning and mastering things with relative ease, but always taking it easy. He doesn’t take most things seriously and seems more devoted to slacking off than anything else. Still, he gets his work done, he helps others, and he has a multitude of surprising depths and skills. In many ways, he and Lucy are perfect for each other, complementing and completing each other to find balance.

Yes, Lucy and Hasebe are the main couple of the show, and they are adorable both as a couple and as individuals. As for the rest of the central cast:

Saya Miyoshi, a friend and coworker, is calm and patient, spending an inordinate amount of time listening to a little old lady who eventually arranges for her to meet her grandson. The man, Joji Tanaka, is generally professional in his behavior and very responsible… a little too much so, as he is still obsessed, a good decade or so later, after a minor offense he gave to Hasebe and still wants to make right in ludicrous proportion. That’s when we see Miyoshi shine, because while she is long-suffering, when she puts her foot down, she is immovable and unyielding. It’s a good combination for tempering Tanaka’s more extreme flaws without simply demolishing him outright.

Megumi Chihaya is quiet and intelligent, a long-running temp who loves to make clothes and cosplay. She clearly wears the pants in her “secret” relationship with Taishi Ichiya, a largely-spineless supervisor who is more concerned with imperious little sister Toko than anything else. Toko, in turn, has a fascination with public service laws which is more about being around her brother than most anything else, and who remains devoutly clueless of her brother’s relationship with Chihaya. It’s an unorthodox three-way relationship, to be sure, but one which has been working thus far, albeit in a strange way. To be sure, dealing with the siblings and their issues takes a quiet, enduring attitude, combined with a firm insistence that things move forward at some point.

Finally, the district manager of the entire office is so shy that he comes into work as a remote-controlled stuffed bunny, so we never actually see him, though we do meet his daughter, one of Toko’s friends from school.

So, that’s three couples and a few extras. You see why I’m reviewing this in February. 😉

Out of these three couples, I love all three mostly because of how good for each other they all are. I also like how real they felt, having disagreements and misunderstandings which could be believed and which add… not necessarily tension, because the show does not do tension, but flavor. Flavor is good.

And… that really sums up the anime as a whole, already. Thirteen episodes, and not much at all happens in them, really. Yet it’s fun and entertaining, though generally in a very low-key way. It doesn’t tell much of a story beyond how these characters began, but it leaves off in such a way that feels fulfilling. The couplings may all come about in an unusual manner, but they’re oddly satisfying and feel right by the end, leaving off on a hopeful note that everyone can be happy, though that won’t always be easy.

Servant x Service may seem a bit slow in its pace, but it’s amusing and doesn’t overdo the drama. It has enjoyable relationships and believable, healthy couplings. I like it, quite well. 🙂

Rating: 8 stars out of 10.

Grade: B-Plus.

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