Sunday’s Wisdom #211: Loving Family

“How you feel about your family is a complicated thing… Deep down, you always love them.”
– Marley, Home Alone

This is just a snippet from a conversation between Marley, a grandfatherly man, and his neighbor Kevin, a young boy.

The boy is regretting how he’s behaved towards his family, and the grandfather is regretting how sour things are between him and his son. In the boy’s case, he’s found himself unexpected parted from his family, and in the grandfather’s case, he and his son haven’t spoken for years because they both lost their tempers. The separation is rather painful, but this conversation helps both of them deal with their issues a bit.

In Marley’s case, Kevin advises him to call his son and try to reconcile in the spirit of Christmas. Marley is man enough to admit he’s a bit afraid of being refused, but Kevin urges him onward. If he tries, it might work, or maybe not, but at least he’ll know. When the two part ways, Marley simply says, “We’ll see what happens.” And there’s a note of hope and courage.

As it happens, it works out. The movie ends with families reuniting and reconciling. How’s that for a Merry Christmas, eh? 🙂

Of course, there will still be issues ahead. There will almost always be something to fight about, but what’s that really matter? It’s family. It’s worth it.

Family can fight, and hurt each other, and resent each other at times. Family can do and feel most everything. There can be so many aspects to family relationships, because we, as humans, are complicated creatures, and we’re all thrown together with all our issues, individual and shared. At the very core of things, however, we’re family. That’s a powerful bond of love, even when it’s been discarded.

Love, and the bonds it creates, can withstand being hammered, twisted, crushed, stretched, burned, frozen, drowned, tied into knots, cast aside, even forgotten, and pretty much anything else.

Anger, sorrow, bitterness… these may try to bury love, but they simply can’t match it, and they certainly can’t destroy it. Love endures most anything.

Yes, love endures.

That doesn’t mean it’s easy. It doesn’t mean we should give our family limitless leave. It just means that love is powerful and resilient, and worth taking a risk for, especially with family.

I know that whatever problems we’ve had in my family, and whatever problems I am sure we’ll have in the future, I love my family, and I always will.

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This Week on TV, Dec. 1, 2018

Spoiler Alert!

With Thanksgiving last week, there was nothing to report on last week, but The Gifted returned this week, after the horrific cliffhanger of the previous episode, and it came out swinging. Skipping straight to it:

The Gifted

1.08 “the dreaM”

So, after their moment of triumph was turned inside-out, the Inner Circle is reeling as much as the world around them, none more so than Lorna.

Andy is in denial, trying to say that Rebecca “lost control,” when she obviously did not. Between his feelings for Rebecca and his delusions about the original Fenris being anything but monsters, he’s quick to make excuses for her, no matter the massacre she just enacted with a smile before his eyes.

The rest of the Inner Circle are a bit more realistic. When Rebecca ditches them during their escape, most of them bend their efforts into finding and catching her. What was supposed to be a lightning rod to attract more followers has instead become the opposite. Like the Alamo, Pearl Harbor, and 9/11, it strikes a match to hostilities against the party responsible, which, as most people know nothing about the Inner Circle, becomes all mutants in general. The entire region erupts in flames and anti-mutant violence, including, but not remotely limited to, the torching of a foster care facility with mutant children inside. All because of Rebecca. So, yes, the Inner Circle is after her.

Most of them, anyway. Lorna is all too happy to see the crazy girl go, and she’s shaken unlike ever before. I mean, she’s not the most innocent person, what with that airplane she tore apart in flight, but simply tearing thirty-seven random people to pieces, smiling, just because, and before any of them could lift a finger to stop her? Lorna is horrified, and scared for her daughter. Dawn is her first priority, and if she’s not safe with the Inner Circle, especially with Rebecca around and the world rioting around them, then something needs to change.

That goes into this episodes flashback. Or, rather, multiple flashbacks, this time.

Lorna knew very little about her father growing up, but gossip in her small home town indicated that he was a powerful mutant with the Brotherhood. About the nearest thing to contact they had was one present, an M-shaped medallion, on her thirteenth birthday. On top of her abandonment issues and her shame at a connection to a villain, she was the weird, bipolar, green-haired mutant girl. That’s a lot to be angry about, which wasn’t helped by how much she stood out in her small home town. She got into trouble pretty regularly, and did not make anything easy for her adoptive mother.

Later, as she and Marcos contemplated their child, Lorna had one overwhelming desire: that they not be like their fathers. Marcos certainly wouldn’t be like his, that much has been clear from the outset. Lorna, on the other hand, is becoming very much like hers. She joined Hellfire, an enemy of the X-Men, to fight for mutants against humans, and she has blood on her hands, so that’s plenty of similarity already. But now, she has to contemplate doing as her father did: parting forever with her daughter.

The world is burning around them, Rebecca is dangerous, and the Inner Circle has limits. Lorna has due cause to worry for Dawn’s safety. Esme conjures an option of sending Dawn to Switzerland, as the USA is highly dangerous. Lorna almost does that, even taking Dawn to Marcos so he can say goodbye. That is one of the most painful and heartbreaking scenes yet on the show, but what option to these two parents have? Lorna can’t protect her within the Inner Circle and Marcos is part of a disintegrating Underground, so how can they possibly keep her safe? But… Switzerland?! Who’s going to be her parent over there?

I think that’s when Lorna really decides. She does as her father did, entrusting her daughter into the hands of her adoptive mother. She understands more than she did, and is able to admit that she took her frustrations out on the woman. She’s sorry about that now. This, which she once resented her father for, is the best idea she can come up with. At the very least, she knows Dawn will be loved. Sometimes that’s all that really matters. It’s a small solace to Marcos, but Lorna takes another step towards being like her father. She takes her father’s medallion and reshapes it into a head ornament, a crown or tiara or whatever it is, a’la Polaris from the comics.

Of course, turning it from red to green wouldn’t be covered under her magnetic powers, but whatever, it’s TV.

Over on the Underground’s side of things, they, too, are reeling from the news of the massacre. John goes on the Inner Circle’s trail, with Clarice following despite how she’s fairly certain it’s a stupid idea. They pick up on Rebecca’s trail, and eventually catch up with her. She tells them the Inner Circle was after something called Regimen and, somewhat hilariously, warns them that they don’t know what they’re in for. I mean, seriously? The mass-murdering psychopath is is warning them like that? Wow.

John is stoked to have another lead to follow, but Clarice is less enthusiastic. She’s tired, weary from the night of pursuing Rebecca, and weary from the fight, and the worry for John. She’s just so tired, and a part of her is closing off from John, as surely as she closes the bedroom door between them. Trouble in paradise.

Finally, the Struckers have more success in their endeavor than they ever dreamed of. The doctor lady remembers Reed, remembers his condition, and is able to help in every way. She’s built a career and a school on the idea of helping mutants whose powers are so dangerous and difficult to control that they’re more like high-risk disabilities. She and the people working for her apply all their knowledge and skill towards finding answers and creating solutions for people in otherwise untenable situations, like Reed.

For the short-term, she’s able to recreate the serum that suppressed Reed’s powers to begin with. They need something better, though, because if his powers manifest for a second time despite the serum, it will probably kill him. That’s where Lauren comes in. With samples of her blood, they can figure out something more effective and permanent for her blood. And, hey, that lab tech had good manners and wasn’t too bad to look at! He even takes Lauren around the campus, shows her the virtues of “normal” life.

I have to say, what he doctor and her people have built, it’s not a bad thing. It’s safe, they live in peace, they can do all the normal things that normal people can do and take for granted, and she clearly doesn’t see mutant-kind as something to cure. It’s not a bad thing. But, like the Morlocks, there’s something off about it. There is such a thing as valuing “normal” a bit too much. The Morlocks are themselves, but they hide in the sewers. This institute is above ground and normal, but there’s something just a bit suppressive of individuality about it.

Mutants are gifted, after all, and a quick and easy fix for their problems comes with a subtle cost.

Still, I was waiting for the real other shoe to fall. Especially as the doctor’s virtue was quickly extended to inviting the Struckers to her home for dinner. She was feeling towards them and Reed’s father. She even had a music box that once belonged to Andrea von Strucker, the only memento Reed’s father kept of his family. She gives it to Reed, now.

All in all, she seems like a veritable saint, right?

The shoe fell only right at the end of the episode. It turns out Lauren and Reed’s unique situation can yield unique fruit, namely: the means to suppress the X-gene across the board. The doctor’s brother, it seems, founded the Purifiers, and earned his sister’s hatred for it. I mean, hating fellow humans for something they have no choice about? But what if they did have a choice? What if she could provide that choice?

That… that is horrifying.

The means to undo mutantkind? To make everyone “normal,” by their definition of such?

I can hear it now. “We just want to help them!” By taking away what’s unique and powerful about them.

The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.

So, Marcos loses her daughter, Lorna loses a bit of herself and steps further into the darkness (without Dawn… ah, I see what they did there), Clarice is in the dumps and shutting down, John is driving onward with stubborn enthusiasm, Reed and Cait have overwhelming hope for the first time in awhile, which their daughter has to contemplate robbing them of in order to stop a quietly rising nightmare advanced by people with noble intentions who are trying to help them, Rebecca is on the outs with the Inner Circle after committing mass murder, and they catch up to her right at the end, with a knife at her throat, and all of this while the world around them is burning.

Not a good day for pretty much anyone except the Purifiers.

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This is So Neat

Neat? Why, yes, I am, thank you for noticing! Ok, maybe not when it comes to cleaning my room, but, still, in a not-quite-so-literal sense…

…oh, it’s my blog that’s neat? That too, yes, thank you! (waves regally, “no autographs please”)

Heh, in all seriousness, thank you, Winter, for the nomination. I had fun! 🙂

The rules:

1. Display the Award Logo.
2. Thank the blogger who nominated you and post a link to their blog.
3. Answer the questions of the one who nominated you.
4. Nominate 7-10 bloggers.
5. Ask them seven questions.

So, as for the questions.

The questions:

1) If you could Blue-Skadoo into your television or monitor, what show would you choose and why?

Big Bang Theory. I’m less likely to die in that one than most others I can think of.

2) Once inside your show, what would you do?

What do any of the other geeks and nerds do? Look for “the one.” 😉

3) If you could meet one fictional character for a date at a coffee shop, who would you choose?

Nami, from One Piece.

4) What are some of the questions you would ask?

No idea. I’m terrible at dating.

5) You have been placed in a fighting game and your about to do your signature move. What is the name of your move and what do you do?

Crystal Cannon! (shooting a force-field beam)

6) Your opponent’s life bar just depleted and you won your match. What is your winning phrase?

Strong silence. Because I am the strong, silent type. By which, I mean I can’t think of anything. 😛

7) And lastly, question number 7!

Yes. 🙂

Now, for my nominees:

Ty, the mind behind Why We Still Love Anime 🙂
Irina, as it’s been awhile since the last time you got this one 😉
Kimchi
Remy, a newer new friend of mine, let’s get to know him! 🙂
Spooky Redhead… again. 😉
Shaddowcat
Lethargic Ramblings

I choose you!

And as for questions:

(becomes a hunch-backed old man in a robe with a croaking voice) “What is your name? What is your quest? What is your favorite color/the capital of Assyria/the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow/is that an African or a European swallow?”

I love that movie! 🙂

And as long as I was in the mood, I had some fun coming up with questions. I look forward to your answers!

1. If you could be any animal, what would it be and why?

2. If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?

3. You have a hundred trillion dollars to spend on something to improve the world. What do you do with it?

4. If you could meet with any three historical figures, who would you choose?

5. What is one thing you would like to see change anywhere in the entertainment industry?

6. What is one technology or scientific knowledge we don’t have yet but wish you could live to see?

7. You have a magical genie, like the one from Aladdin. What are your three wishes?

Have fun! 😀

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Sunday’s Wisdom #210: By Our Own Will

“It’s your life. You’ve got to live it your way.”
– Jim Kido, Digimon
Season 1, Episode 38, “Prophecy”

I remember back when Digimon first came out. As we followed this group of kids and their digimon friends, I didn’t really think anything at all about the inclusion of all their families in the cast and the story. It’s kind of depressing, now, to think of how much the show stands apart from so many other anime simply with that. I mean, I know Japanese culture encourages independent behavior at a much earlier age, but, still, families are important. They support, shelter, encourage, question, advise, oppose, fight, forgive, love, and so many other things, which are key to the experience of defining oneself.

When we meet Joe’s brother, Jim, he immediately takes on a role in support of his little brother. They haven’t seen each other for a bit, it seems, and the first thing Jim asks about is Joe’s objective in life, to become a doctor. Jim seems a bit skeptical, which Joe’s digimon friend takes issue with, not realizing Jim’s motives for questioning Joe’s goal. See, he intends to become a doctor, but only because his father, also a doctor, wants him to do so. As capable as Joe is, he’s also a boy standing in his father’s shadow, living as his father directs.

Jim makes an opportunity to give his brother this particular bit of advice. He knows Joe can be a doctor if he wants, but he also knows it takes more than smarts. It takes a personal resolve and backbone to truly be a doctor (or anything else) instead of just some guy doing a job. He needs to take the wheel into his own hands and steer his life himself.

Joe eventually does just that, partially because of how he grows throughout his adventures. Incidentally, he does become a doctor, but for digimon, not humans, so it’s not quite a fulfillment of his father’s wishes, but it’s what he wants to do with his life.

I believe I commented once, way back towards the beginning of this blog, about humble victories being every bit as great as the ones we all read and sing and tell stories about. To me, that’s what Joe’s story, especially, is about. He faces the end of the world more than once alongside his friends, but it’s the life he lives afterward which is the real victory. Indeed, that is the story of most of the kids in this story, which is another reason I love it, but there’s a reason Joe is the one to hear this from his brother.

Now, of course, I do not want to diminish the importance of our loved ones and all the advice they can give us. Joe’s father wasn’t a bad man at all, quite the contrary. It’s merely that Joe represents us in how we sometimes fall victim to what other people think is best, instead of deciding for ourselves. And we absolutely must decide for ourselves, or there will always be something missing.

No matter our accomplishments, if they aren’t ours, seized with our own hands and by our own will, we will have deprived ourselves of something vital, and so we will always be less than we might otherwise have been.

To live our own life, we must live it by our own will.

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Sunday’s Wisdom #209: Grateful Thanksgiving

“Do you remember our first night here? It was all so new and exciting. A world of endless wonder. I’m just so glad that we got to see it.”
– Myka Bering, Warehouse 13
Season 4, Episode 18, “Lost and Found”

When Myka says this, she is saying it in the shadow of quite possibly dying from cancer. When facing the end, of course one looks back on what’s come before, and the last few years of her life have been filled with danger, terror, heartache, loss… and endless wonder. That last is what she is remembering most, regardless of the rest.

She’s not cursing her death, she’s just thankful for her life.

There is a dignity and poise to that, a wisdom that comes from living life well enough to recognize what’s good about it even when something has gone wrong.

And there, you may see why I thought of this moment in the same week that my country celebrates Thanksgiving. 😉

To me, Thanksgiving has long been a time to remember that there is always something to be thankful for, no matter the trial and tribulation of our lives. Indeed, there are so many people suffering from so much loss, and yet they manage to keep smiling, because they remember what they still have.

Gratitude is a defining virtue of human decency, essential to keep if one wants to be happy.

(this is one of many reasons why I hate the Black Friday shopping madness)

Personally, when I think about my life, I can’t help but remember all the blessings I’ve had, and still have, within it. I have all of my necessities provided for. I have modern amenities. I have some things which are, quite frankly, luxuries. I have good, tasty, nourishing, filling food. I have good, clean, comfortable, intact clothes. I can clean and groom myself easily. I have a good roof over my head, with heating in the winter. I have an AC unit for the summer. My job might not be glamorous, but it’s a job, and a good job, and it pays the bills. I have my blog, and I have all of you, my wonderful audience. 😉 I have a community. I have friends. I have family. I have my dogs. I have a place to belong. I have my religion and the freedom to practice it. I have so many good memories. And I have stories, stories, and more stories to feast upon!

And that’s just scratching the surface! 🙂

In short: I have so much to be thankful for. And I am.

So, Happy Thanksgiving!

And if you’re not in America, have a great week anyway! 😀

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This Week on TV, Nov. 17, 2018

Spoiler Alert!

The Gifted might be the lonely little last survivor of my lineup at the moment, but wow does it deliver some powerful punches! Personal drama, family drama, societal drama… it’s all one and the same here. Not a bad accomplishment, that.

The Gifted

2.07 “no Mercy”

This week’s flashback: Reeva.

It turns out that while Reeva will manipulate, betray, and murder, this is actually her while actually trying to not be a monster.

In her mind, it’s all justified by her goals. The motivation behind those goals is in her past. The story she shared with Andy, we see it.

She was at a mutant gathering, one where her friend brought up the subject of how the mutants were being slowly driven out simply by people refusing to rent or sell to them. It’s a very powerful form of discrimination, refusing shelter, of all things. Reeva’s friend was saying they should go door-to-door and nudge the humans out. Reeva argued against that, and the two of them argued after. That’s when a trio of human thugs came to vandalize the building. One of them shoved Reeva, and her friend defended her forcefully. It was a rapid escalation, with a lethal outcome.

I can’t say Reeva’s friend was a particular victim, with what she was intending to do, and with her ability apparently having a serious physical effect on her opponent, possibly even killing him. The man standing next to him came to bust up a building, and stabbed a woman instead, as she seemed to be killing a man, who had only shoved Reeva, albeit forcefully. It seems to me that both sides were in the wrong, though the humans, right then, were definitely more wrong.

Part of me thinks that Reeva’s friend was simply wrong for reacting so aggressively. But, then again, if it were a simple human woman who just kicked the guy’s ass, or even pulled a gun on the men threatening them, wouldn’t we be praising that? But toss in mutant powers, and suddenly it’s too much? Hmmm, no, I don’t think that’s quite right. Should she have been more passive? Just let them damage the building, just let them hurt Reeva? No, that would be a definite no. So, what else should she have done?

It’s quite the moral quandary: nothing wrong with defending oneself and one’s own, but one can still do so the wrong way, with too much aggression. So, what do you do? How do you stop a situation like that while also defusing it, especially when at least one side, probably both, don’t want to be defused?

Whatever should have been done, it didn’t happen. Reeva’s friend was stabbed right in front of her, a moment etched forever in her memory.

To keep something like that from happening, ever again, that is how Reeva justifies her actions.

On the one side, that means she will do anything, including annihilating anyone in her way swiftly and without mercy.

On the other, so long as she gets what she wants, she has no desire and sees no purpose in wanton bloodshed.

That is her dichotomy. That is how she can live with being a monster, because she tries not to be. It doesn’t change that she is one, mind you, but she doesn’t like it. That’s an important distinction. It means that she can, at times, be reasoned with.

Unfortunately, it also means that even she didn’t realize what she was doing by bringing Rebecca into the Inner Circle. Just as madness cannot comprehend reason, people with reason are always surprised by people who lack it. It’s strange to say, but if Reeva were actually a bit worse, she might have been better able to stop what happened at the end of this episode.

It being a doozy, I’ll come back around to that.

For the moment, we have three particular threads to follow in this episode. There’s the Inner Circle, who dominated this episodes, and the Underground, of course, and Turner.

Our Underground friends have been pushed in ways which can scarcely be understood. They just lost big-time with the loss of another station, and everyone in it, and another friend murdered. They don’t have much of anything anymore. Even helping one single mutant deal with abilities running amok is a strain.

It’s a very traumatizing experience for Reed, having everything he touches fall to pieces. Even so, his first concern is protecting his family. He keeps them away so he doesn’t hurt them. His thought is to leave, so he doesn’t draw attention to them and the Underground. Even if he ends up in SS hands, at least they could secure him so he doesn’t hurt anyone.

Lauren and Cait are a bit less keen on giving up. With John, Clarice, and Marcos helping, they move Reed to the clinic, which is torn up so much that no one will notice a little more damage, and no one unfriendly is watching it anymore. Metal seems to be the best deterrent to Reed’s powers, so they reinforce an ambulance with it to take him there, and Reed lays down on a metal bed to try and get some rest.

The Struckers have been through a lot, and they have little besides their resolve to face this together, as a family. To which end, Cait thinks she has a line on a scientist who could help. A colleague of Reed’s father while he was working on that suppression idea of his. Now she heads up an entire lab, and she might be the only living person with some proper insight into Reed’s condition. So, they need to go see her.

Just getting Reed to agree to that much is difficult. It’s a huge risk, taking him that far. But Cait is determined, and she shows Reed that it can be done… by taking his hands with hers. And nothing happens to her. It’s a powerful thing, human touch, especially when you’ve been deprived of it. So, Reed agrees.

As for the trio of their friends, tensions are rising. John’s suffering from another defeat, which stings especially as the Inner Circle’s mutant uprising is swaying the rest of the Underground off-screen, and Marcos has to be the one asking questions and urging serious talks, but Clarice’s deal comes to the forefront of things.

Clarice is wanting to think more long-term, instead of just stumbling their way through an unending series of crises. Her connection to the Morlocks comes out as well, which she gets defensive about, always trying to turn it around, but she finally fesses up. And, really, her reasoning, getting the help they need, for John’s sake, isn’t too faulty. But she’s wrong on a couple of things. The Morlocks are, as Cait puts it, a mutants-only group of separatists. And while Urg talks about not hiding who they are… they are hiding. In the sewers. That might be a way to survive, but it’s not a worthy end goal, I think. Urg’s wit and rhetoric would make me as wary of him as of Reeva.

I’d also be wary of the Purifier leaders. Turner meets one, a successful man with his own talk show and, as he puts it, a line to the president: Benedict Ryan. Turner’s a little surprised by this, but takes it in stride. What makes him hesitate and initially refuse Ryan’s offer to bring him on the show and tell his story is his loyalty to the agents at SS. These are people he trained with, fought with, lost friends with, and who had his back as much as they could. Ryan wants to expose SS for covering up what really happened in Atlanta, but Turner doesn’t want to just throw all his old friends under the bus en masse. So, he refuses. At first. He has a big row with his new Purifier friend over this before relenting. He doesn’t want to name names, but he’ll do it.

And when they hear about what happens at Creed Financial… well, it very much encourages them.

Speaking of, we circle back around to the Inner Circle, engaging in a little bank heist.

Reeva manipulates an executive, Darius, into deactivating the mutant detection system, which gets them in the front door. The poor man thought he was dating a wonderful woman, a woman who made him smile for the first time in two years after his wife passed. Reeva, for her part, seems to really like Darius, but she doesn’t hesitate to force him, even by threatening his young sons. To her, it’s simply what she has to do, no matter if it hurts him, no matter if it hurts her as well. She simply does it.

Front door, open.

The Inner Circle walks in and takes over the place in short order. Reeva and Lorna disable and disarm the guards. The Frosts, sans Esme, who is babysitting and charged by Lorna to take care of Dawn if anything happens, round up the employees and record a confession for the internet. Rebecca, with Andy at her side watching her back, turns the adamantium vault door inside out, ripping it apart in the process. Reeva escorts Darius down to the vault to give them, specifically Sage, access to the accounts, and they take it all, never minding the innocent people who will lose their businesses and their homes just because of what bank they did business with.

Video uploaded, over a hundred million stolen, hostages secured, police still incoming. All in all, very successful.

Until they take their eyes off Rebecca.

Reeva never even considered harming the employees, and, in fact, expressly forbade it. She gave Darius her word that everyone would be safely released to go home to their families, and she meant to see that promise kept.

Lorna may have blood on her hands, like everyone who was on that plane she ripped apart, but she would never have considered harming the employees.

The Frosts have done cruel, homicidal things as well, with little remorse, but always for a purpose, and always to people who either hurt them or could threaten them, and often at Reeva’s orders.

Andy simply wouldn’t have dreamed of hurting anyone he didn’t need to. As powerful as it felt to be Fenris alongside Lauren, he’s still a good, sane kid. He was shaken even by the simple, brief confrontation he had with his sister. And let’s not forget, he looked at what the von Struckers did before and excused it as anti-mutant spin. Basically: he’s not a killer, and certainly not a murderer.

They’re all caught off-guard by Rebecca.

They all turned around to walk out the door, not guessing that she would linger. They should have known who and what they were dealing with, but they didn’t. Andy even urged her to tap into her anger when she tackled the vault. He didn’t realize that she’s no victimized lamb. He better realize it now, because she just committed an atrocity.

She got a little mad at what one guy said, so she murdered everyone. A complete massacre.

And where all the others were horrified, Rebecca smiled.

Episode ends with the Inner Circle fleeing the scene, their triumph turned as sour as it can possibly get.

Gee, I wonder if this might come back to bite them, and all mutants, in the very near future. You know it’s bad when even the freaking Inner Circle is going to suffer from the fallout which is certain to follow.

So, the Underground is fractured yet again, the Struckers are going through Hell, the Inner Circle just had a great victory up until their resident psychopath slaughtered everyone on a whim, which is going to be a lightning rod to the Purifiers exactly when Turner legitimizes them in the eyes of the public.

Yeah… not a good day to be a mutant.

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RIP, Stan Lee

A man who came from little and did much. A man who served when his country needed him to. A humble, hard-working man, easy to like and worth admiring. A man who revolutionized superheroes and told good stories, and stands as one of the outstanding figures of an era. He will be deeply missed.

Thanks for all the adventures and inspiration.

And about the only thing left to say:

Excelsior!

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Sunday’s Wisdom #208: Selfless Satisfaction

“They risked themselves to ensure the safety of others, and there was something deeply satisfying about that.”
– From The Blood Debt, by Duncan M. Hamilton

In the third and final installment of Hamilton’s Wolf of the North saga, the lead protagonist, Ulfyr, has gained plenty of experience to look back on. At this point, he’s on a particular quest, but the has momentarily paused at a village he was passing through. There were unsettling things happening, which caused the locals to ask for his help, and he gave it. The situation proved unexpectedly dangerous, so he wasn’t able to handle it alone, but some of the village men stepped up, faced the threat alongside him, and together they prevailed.

The next day, Ulfyr noticed a shift in how these men held themselves. They stood taller, straighter, with pride. It reminded him with striking similarity of how he and his friends, warriors and defenders of their homes, had held themselves back in his homeland. In both cases, these were men who faced danger, faced their own fear, for the sake of their families and their community. It is only natural that such men stand tall after doing something so brave and selfless.

Indeed, it is natural that a man be satisfied with himself right after doing something good.

For all that the world tells us to be selfish, to look out for ourselves, to savor all the momentary pleasures it might offer, there is still something deep in our souls that craves something more than all of that. The very core of humanity is selflessness, compassion, the ability to care as much or more for others than for ourselves, followed by the choice to act in accordance with that ability. The satisfaction of this desire is joyful indeed.

A far less worldly source tells us that there is no greater love, meaning no greater act of love, than laying down one’s life for one’s friends. It is the ultimate form of compassion, to place oneself between another person and any threatening danger.

Those who defend us, our lives, our freedom, our safety, and do so regardless of the price they may pay for it… these are men and women who have demonstrated exactly that same love.

Many of them die.

Many come back maimed and scarred, physically or otherwise.

Many carry the eternal burden of lost friends, or sights seen and deeds done that give them nightmares forever.

Many return and end up forgotten and neglected by the very same people they fought and suffered for.

None are perfect. All of them may make mistakes, some of them very bad, before, during, or after. But all of them, at one point, signed a blank check up to and including the loss of their life, in service to others, such as me and my loved ones.

For that, they have my eternal gratitude.

Thank you, veterans.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

Stand tall. You deserve to be satisfied with yourselves.

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This Week on TV, Nov. 10, 2018

Spoiler Alert!

Right. I’m calling it. Due to a lack of ability to follow properly, I am officially dropping Doctor Who and Black Lightning from my lineup. On the bright side, I now have some room to fill out in my weekly lineup, so I can shop around for new shows to follow. 🙂

As for the last standing show in my lineup, the only one running at the moment, The Gifted once again delivers!

The Gifted

2.06 “iMprint”

We got a lot of insight into the Frosts this week.

For one, their behavior. They don’t just dress alike and talk in unison for the fun of it. It doesn’t even occur to them not to, because they’re so accustomed to being like one entity instead of three. With Esme burned by Marcos’ touch, her sisters are a bit sour at having to keep their arms covered so no one sees her burn. When Esme makes a small mistake that seems to have ruined things, her sisters say “we broke it, we‘ll fix it.” Only, that last bit was supposed to have been said by Esme, but she hesitates, and doesn’t have the same attitude as her sisters. There’s some division going on here, they’re falling out of sync with each other, and they’re getting irritated by it.

And with the three of them, their inner struggles, usually more well-hidden among normal people, are spelled out more clearly as they actually argue about it out loud instead of in their heads. Using their abilities, for instance, to control, spy, manipulate… it’s what they do. It’s what they were specifically made for, and taught to do.

Yes, they were made. In a lab. They’re clones (fans know who of). They were made to take information from mutants who just wanted to protect their families. They were made to control others. The moment came where they had enough, and overcame their oppressors, but they failed to save two of their number. There were originally five of them, and two were held back, kept in their collars, as leverage. When the three who survived made to escape, they thought they could save their sisters, but they failed. They felt them suffer and die. They experienced dying, and lived through it.

Small wonder they’re so sore at humans, with that as the defining experience of their lives!

And now they have a chance to strike back, not only at humans in general, but at the people behind their creation and their loss.

The company is called Creed, I think. They have lots of money, and they’re heavily involved in anti-mutant activities, including sponsoring the Purifiers. It would not surprise me if they had some connection to Trask as well, but that’s neither here not there at the moment. They’ve developed a mutant-detecting security system and deployed it in one of their banks. Reeva intends for the Inner Circle to hit said bank in full force. What the exact goal is, we don’t know yet, but it’s definitely an aggressive maneuver, and dangerous.

As such, Andy, Rebecca, and Lorna are being driven hard in their training, such that Lorna is getting a bit annoyed. She has a daughter in need of constant attention at the exact moment her attentions are being occupied with training. She has a daughter that needs her to survive at the exact moment they’re gearing up for something that will obviously be very risky. She has a daughter that she will be a mother to, and so she intends to keep her fate securely in her own hands. That means not being kept in the dark about the impending op.

Reeva really doesn’t like that. Forget how she wanted Lorna for her spirit in the first place, and how she’s used to being a leader, she’s supposed to fall in line and be a good little pawn! And forget Esme’s point about how they can’t control Lorna forever, Reeva doesn’t care about forever, she cares about immediate results. And forget how Andy and Rebecca would react, if Esme can’t convince Lorna to cooperate, they’re to do whatever it takes to make her fall in line. About the only ground she gives is letting Esme tell her about the mission beforehand.

Lorna, for her part, is mostly placated by this, but when Esme accidentally hums her family’s lullaby, Lorna realizes that her arrival just after Dawn went to sleep was no coincidence. She really does not like Esme being in her baby daughter’s head, not for any reason, not even for a moment, and she does not hesitate to make her displeasure known by choking and hoisting Esme with her own necklace.

I can certainly appreciate a parent’s protective instincts, and it is important to set boundaries early on, like, “Stay out of my daughter’s head if you value your life.” 🙂

With the Inner Circle on the verge of collapsing over this – and that would be such a shame, wouldn’t it? – Esme opens herself up to Lorna, by way of apology and explanation. She shares what happened with her sisters, and she shares what she gained in that moment within Dawn’s head. She knows pain, and has known little else, but love? That’s new, to the point that she makes a solemn, tearful promise that she would and will do anything to protect Dawn, including protecting Lorna.

It’s an intense moment between the two women, and it convinces Lorna to go along with the op, next episode.

Back over on the Underground’s side of things, Cait and Lauren go to talk to Rebecca’s psychiatrist, while Reed trains with John. In the latter case, Reed is at a disadvantage compared to his kids, who don’t have their own lifetime of experience working against their ability to adapt. Reed wants a quick fix, a single solution like a silver bullet, but that’s not how this works. Indeed, to master his abilities, it seems he must master his issues, which, he’s still trying not to face them. It’s a good thing to want to move forward, Reed, but sometimes you just gotta stop and sort yourself out.

On that note, we see some old, friendly faces again. When Purifiers, under Turner’s rising leadership role, start targeting the Underground itself in earnest, they begin by bombing a church. This drives the innocents inside towards the local Underground station, overloading it. These people need help, so they go and help. It’s good to see friends who haven’t become enemies, especially when all the people who used to help the Underground are abandoning them. One of said friends, Shatter, gives Reed some very good advice, sharing his own story about when his powers first manifested.

Unfortunately, it’s all a trap. The Purifiers tracked the mutants to the Underground station, and now they attack in force, surrounding the building and filling it with knockout gas. Only a handful make it out of the room, and they’re facing gunfire at every exit. Clarice is out cold, so they can’t portal out. John is conscious, but definitely feeling the effects, he needs help to get out. That leaves Reed, Marcos, Shatter, and a couple kids. Enough to put up a fight, but not enough to win. They must find a way to escape, or they’re all dead.

Reed digs deep to make an opening in the wall, to get to another exit underground. Everyone else has to cover him, including the kid who stuns one man, Marcos laying down cover fire, and Shatter, who charges out and draws enemy fire. He takes out one of the Purifiers, but Turner shoots him with something high caliber, straight through the chest, right around the heart. He dies, his body falling to pieces. Another friend down forever, and so many more taken by the Feds, courtesy of the Purifiers.

And what really gets me is how Turner actually said, “Don’t make me do this,” before murdering Shatter in cold blood. Yeah, as if anyone was making Turner do anything. He killed a man who was only defending his own, and he kept a piece of him.

I will admit, when they mentioned the higher ups taking an interest in Turner, and they’re obviously referring to Creed, part of me wanted to hope that maybe Turner was doing all of this as some kind of deep cover op. I mean, the mutants are perfectly innocent ninety-nine percent of the time, but the Purifiers and they’re ilk come along and attack them. It’s feasible that an agent with a believable history could work his way towards the upper echelons of their leadership, to take the organization down. It would fit. But that’s likely just severely wishful thinking on my part.

At the end of the day, the Purifiers won this round, and hundreds of innocent mutants lost, including one who laid down his life for his friends.

Oh, and Reed apparently can’t turn his power off. He found the on switch, but where’s the off switch?

Things went only slightly better on Cait and Lauren’s side of things. They got the information they needed, yes, but it’s not exactly comforting. They pose as Rebecca’s family, but that gives them away immediately, because Rebecca doesn’t have family anymore. She killed them. She turned them inside-out. The psychiatrist has a video to prove it, of an unfortunate assistant in the asylum who thought she was on her meds at a moment when she wasn’t, and… well, they don’t show it, and that’s pretty much all we need to know about it.

Andy’s girlfriend is a full-on murdering psychopath. Oh, sure, she was among a bunch of mutants who were all innocent and wrongfully imprisoned, but being among the sheep does not make a wolf one of them.

All in all, a bad day for the good guys. About the only “good” thing, and it’s questionable at best, is how Lauren and Andy had another talk in their dreams. Andy is confident in his growing strength, and though he regrets hurting his sister, he’s not backing down from it. Just the opposite, he’s full of swagger as he tries to convince her to join the Inner Circle. She’s obviously tempted, but that’s before she sees who they recruited in Rebecca, and put right next to her brother. With that in mind, she’s determined to beat Andy over the head if need be to bring him back and get him away from Rebecca.

Interesting detail: she can get hurt in these dreams, as proven by pricking her finger on something. Hm.

Also interesting detail: who was that Reeva was texting all lovey dovey?

So, Turner’s getting deeper in with the Purifiers, including spilling blood for them and helping them adapt and evolve, a bunch of mutants got snatched all at once, Shatter is dead, other friends are captured, another Underground station went under, Reed’s powers just went nuts the moment he finally used them on purpose, Lorna and Esme are bonding, Rebecca is proven crazy and homicidal now, Andy is still drinking the Inner Circle cool-aid right next to the crazy, homicidal girl, Lorna almost quit but was talked out of it by bonding with Esme, who is growing apart from her sisters, who are forever psychologically scarred in hatred of humanity, so the Inner Circle will launch a pivotal operation with a united front… is anything good ever going to happen for the heroes ever again?!

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Sunday’s Wisdom #207: A Single Spark

“I might only have one match, but I can make an explosion.”
– from “Fight Song,” by Rachel Platten

Something so very small, even just a flicker of light and warmth, can become so much more, so very fast.

It’s a remarkable thing.

As I understand the entire song in general, it’s about taking what you have, however little it is, and making something of it, no matter the naysayers and unbelievers. An inspiring message, I think, and this is my favorite line about it.

A single match, a single light, small and transient in the darkness. It’s not impressive on it’s own. It does not seem at all noteworthy or even worth noticing, one might think. It’s just there and gone, and doesn’t provide much in the way of illumination, not even relative to how shortly it burns out. And yet, it is still a flame, however small, and it does shed both light and heat.

Depending on how it is used, it could give life to a candle that can last for hours, or a lantern that can be seen for miles from atop a lighthouse, or kindle a stove, a hearth, a campfire for food and warmth in the winter, or ignite a great bonfire around which people dance, or a forge that is used to craft humanity’s tools, or give life to a brush fire that consumes all in its path.

There is no blaze which has ever burned that did not begin with a single spark. Not even the stars themselves.

So who’s to say that your small, humble light cannot become anything more? 😉

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