“You’ve Changed, Man” rumbles through a whole lot of ideas in quick succession. The newly zen Chidi, who shall now be referred to as Zen Chidi, pulls out his trusty blackboard and writes out several new, better versions of the afterlife to try out.
Zen Chidi is great. He is a totally different man – he’s confident, smooth, good at making decisions – but Zen Chidi doesn’t feel like a falsity. Our Chidi is definitely still in there, as we see his face light up when he does spins on his roller skates, and talking philosophy still gets his engine running.
On the way to appeal to the judge, the crew jumps from location to location, not doing much more than talking, and the episode does meander a bit. I find it tempting to criticize it for that, since by the end of the episode all of the initial ideas presented by the humans to save the afterlife essentially become meaningless, but if the crew had found an answer right away, I would be criticizing it for making the solution too simple.
I suppose this is a lose-lose situation in that regard, and if I had to lean towards a side, I’d choose the version where we see them constantly pitch different afterlives because it helps the episodes on two levels.
One, the search for the perfect afterlife is a good parallel to Judge Gen’s search for the Earth reset button; our crew journeys across the afterlife to propose different afterlife styles, and Gen journeys through the Janets for the button. The journey through the Janets is a ton of fun. Despite being revealed very recently, Disco Janet fits right into this world, and I 100% believe Gen would get distracted by Disco Janet’s rad void. Gen has always been a bit flighty and casual, so instead of feeling like a stretch to extend her search, this diversion just feels like a natural extension of her personality. (Somehow, neutral Janet’s was still my favorite void, though.)
The other reason I don’t criticize the meandering A-Plot is that I think it’s important to see the process of creating a new afterlife because it makes their final solution feel more earned.
The show has earned this moment as well, as the plan for the afterlife is one that reflects one of the greatest lessons of the show so far; learning. Instead of being punished forever for their sins, Zen Chidi and the gang suggest that every human should be placed within a particular test to see if they can overcome their shortcomings, and if they fail, they’ll be rebooted over and over again until they can get it right.
I love this idea, and I love the message that it sends to viewers. Try over and over again to improve, and eventually, you will. When Judge Gen and Timothy Olyphant question the validity of this process, Jason accurately points out that it’s already worked. (More than once, of course, if we count good ol’ Brent as well).
Gen isn’t the only one who needs to be convinced to reboot the afterlife instead of Earth, though. Head demon Shawn also has a vote (so do the Good Place Committee, but they’ll say yes to anything), and unlike Gen, Shawn is not impartial. One would assume this would make him harder to convince, but instead, it becomes the key to winning him over.
Shawn has always enjoyed torture and has always been shown as a demon who runs his office with a hammer. He despises Michael for betraying him and constantly reminds him of how successful “good old fashioned torture” is.
With these traits, I was quite nervous during the final proposal that he’d disagree. He has been so opposed to everything the humans do I thought that he would say no to any idea that didn’t have him coming out on top, so the way the show hinted at his change of heart didn’t ring true to me.
To my initial relief, he didn’t agree, but soon Michael is back at it convincing him. This time it works, and for a moment I felt the character of Shawn had been slightly betrayed.
Then Michael says one very important line, “You wouldn’t have let me try the original experiment if you knew things were working.”
I always had found it a little odd that Shawn green-lit the original experiment and allowed a reboot, and then became an immediate antagonist who was against the neighborhood. I passed it off as a slight character adjustment as the show developed, but now it seems (even if just by luck) that his characterization has been more consistent than I had given credit for.
Shawn himself was getting bored with normal torture, so he agreed to allow Michael to try something new. When it failed he refused to accept any part of the failure and put it all on Michael, and found a new joy in tormenting them. Michael realizes this and uses it to his advantage, first by getting Shawn to admit that he’ll be bored once he can’t torment Michael anymore. Then he tells Shawn that this time, instead of just watching the new experiment, Shawn can be part of it.
There is no reasoning the judge will listen to, but Shawn, because of his personal investment in not just torture, but keeping his life engaging, decides to try something new. He comes full circle here, completing an arc that happened under his human suit all series, and displays true character growth by admitting these feelings and shortcomings to Michael.
Was this character arc for Shawn preplanned? Maybe. I have a suspicion they just found a way to make it all work here at the end -and it does work.
But ya know what? Right now, everything on this show is working.
- Loved our quick spread of philosophy this episode. There are a lot of fascinating concepts and ideas to dive into, but if you do so, don’t forget to strap on some roller-skates.
- I got a bit nervous the series was going to take us to a place where the humans come up with an afterlife that still sent people to be punished for eternity, and I am so glad they come up with something better and more in line with the show’s messages.
- Disco Ball marble is A+ writing.
- A puppy cannon is so wrong. I love it.
- Timothy Olyphant is a great stand-in for the audience asking all the questions at the New Afterlife Proposal. They could have just had Gen ask all of these, but it is more fun bringing in a fresh face for a moment instead (and in a way natural to the show).
- Chidi is just the idea guy.
Nancy Drew Review – Haunted Corpse (2×06)
We’ve dealt with plenty of ghosts and unsettled spirits in Horsehoe Bay, but Nancy has opened up a whole new can of… demonic spirits.
I thought that there couldn’t be anything scarier than Lucy Sable’s spirit, but I was dead wrong. The Lamia (don’t hold me accountable for the spelling on this one) was ten times more terrifying, and I think that has to do with the simple fact that he reminded me of the boy from The Grudge.
It’s safe to say, I’ll be having plenty of nightmares of him popping out of Nancy’s kitchen cupboard. We knew they were building up to the moment, and yet, it still made me jump several feet in the air.
The Lamia was a direct-result of Nancy’s ambush on the Historical Society, in which she opened up all the vaults to find a way to save George and inadvertently released the most dangerous of spirits into town.
The Lamia was the first, but absolutely not the last of the terrors coming their way. And if this is the first, I shudder to think what else is in store for our Drew Crew.
Thankfully, it looks they’re up for the challenge.
When the episode picks up, it’s been two weeks since their battle with the Aglaeca where they declared victory and beat the curse. Everyone is kind of thriving in their post-survival reality, but looks can be deceiving.
The moments of bliss and joy are short-lived, and the moment an opportunity presents itself to get involved in yet another supernatural mystery, everyone is game. Well, everyone except for Nick — he’s clearly the only sensible one.
They were like “are we really ready to invite all this back into our lives?” and everyone was like “let’s do it!” No hesitation.
It’s a much different tone than the one they had prior to facing the Aglaeca where they blamed Nancy for all their problems and for dragging them into the mess in the first place.
The demonic spirits inhabiting town may be Nancy’s fault, but they all willingly decided to perform an autopsy on a haunted corpse as it gave them a “sense of purpose.”
Personally, I’d run the opposite way and let Nancy deal with the mess. I don’t have the stomach for cutting open aged corpses filled with occult symbols that randomly start to bleed fresh blood, but that’s precisely why I’m not part of the Drew Crew.
Nancy’s lucky to have a group that will get down and dirty with her… literally.
Nancy was the only one who seemingly didn’t catch a break during the two spiritless weeks as she was arraigned for breaking into the morgue and punished with serving community hours in said morgue. That’s the true meaning of “ironic,” Alanis Morisette.
And yet, there doesn’t seem to be a more fitting place for Nancy than the morgue.
In case anyone was wondering why they were ever terrified of morgues, the clanking from one of the steel body fridges was a clear reminder.
Again, a normal person would bolt upon hearing a knocking while alone with several dead bodies, but not Nancy. She opened up the body bag and pulled out the insects from the corpses’ mouth like it was no big deal!
The corpse ended up being an evil entity masquerading as a human (though, who really looked at that corpse and thought it was a human?!) that sought out children.
It was a nice addition to include to coroner’s son, Leo, as the child who was being protected by the spirit of the Lamia’s victim.
We haven’t seen children get sucked into the supernatural world, but realistically, children are more in-tune with these kinds of things and we usually just shrug them and their “imaginary friends” off the way Connor and Nancy did at first.
But in this case, Leo was actually talking to his action figure (not a doll!) and was trying to inform them about the dangers looming large.
With Leo protected, the Lamia set its sights on George’s sisters, but Nancy followed through, as always, to save them from the monster’s grasp.
Honestly, all of the occurrences leading up to the Lamia’s attack were far more interesting than the attack itself, but that probably because we knew it would never actually do any harm to Ted and Charlie.
It was fitting that they relied on the souls of the dead children for help while Horeshoe Bay was celebrating All Hallow Tide, a holiday that honored the dead.
By defeating the Lamia, they were able to honor and help 13 young souls finally find peace.
Maybe Nancy’s “accidental” act of releasing malevolent spirits from the Historical Society will pay off if they manage to vanquish them and help all trapped spirits move on.
The episode struck a good tone between comedic and creepy/gruesome. The series has managed to figure out how to not take itself so seriously while scaring the crap out of us simultaneously. It’s admirable.
Everyone’s comedic timing was on-point, but per usual, Bess and Ace were the stars.
Between Ace’s game night jokes and asking if the corpse followed Nany home, to Bess saying they should do the autopsy in the living room cause it’s more spacious than the kitchen and channeling Boxy to communicate with the kid — it was all so great.
Also, Nick has a terrible English accent.
While it initially seemed like they put all of the Aglaeca drama behind them that wasn’t entirely the case.
The Lamia was connected to a group of women who first called upon the Aglaeca, while George also had an encounter with her body-snatcher.
Throughout the episode, George was also experiencing head rushes and lapses in memory, which audiences knew had to be related to the shroud that brought her back to life.
I was right when I said the ghost staring back at her in the mirror after she was revived looked just like Odette.
George came face-to-face with her in the bathroom, and it’s clear that she’s sharing a body with the ghostly spirit. But why?
Does Odette want to take over permanently? Does she want another chance at life? Why didn’t she just disappear peacefully into the night?
Will George remember this encounter?
At this point, supernatural cases seek Nancy out. She doesn’t even need to leave her house for a corpse to land at her feet!
And that’s going to be even more true when she starts her part-time gig with Carson Drew.
Finally, someone outside of the Drew Crew is acknowledging Nancy’s detective talents rather than shrugging them off as an annoyance. Carson is right to think that Nancy could be his secret weapon to winning cases as she’s the most clued-in person in town.
Just imagine how much Det. Tamora could have benefitted from working with Nancy instead of forming a hostile relationship.
Connor experienced the supernatural occurrence first-hand, which strengthened his relationship with Nancy (and you know it’ll be helpful to have a friend at the morgue that she can ask for favors). I imagine if Tamora also witnessed something unexplainable, he’d be forced to believe Nancy’s involvement is more crucial than he’d like to admit.
Are you ready to see the Drew dream team in action? Do you think Carson is ready to be exposed to the supernatural world?
What do you think their next threat is? And what’s going on with George?
Sound off in the comments below!
Riverdale Review – Mothman (5×06)
You never truly get over the first day of school jitters, even seven years after you’ve graduated.
Veronica, Betty, Archie, and Jughead returned to Riverdale High on Riverdale Season 5 Episode 6, but this time, they weren’t students, they were teachers.
Archie was spearheading the RROTC, Jughead was teaching English, Veronica tackled Economics, while Betty handled Shop Class, which personally, I found to be the most interesting. I would’ve never pegged our sweet FBI recruit for a car gal.
Everyone was there to restore Riverdale to the great town that it once was, well, aside from all the murder.
But in a weird way, it’s almost as though they’ve never really grown up.
This criticism is specific to Cheryl, who still seems way overly invested and possessive over the Vixens.
It’s a bit strange that she would get upset and jealous over Toni reviving the cheerleading squad when she had seven years to manage the team and hid out in Thornhill.
But it’s obvious that this is how the show aims to bring back Cheryl to some sense of reality, and it’s better that she’s at least involved in the school functions rather than hiding in her mansion afraid of some made-up Blossom curse.
If everyone is going to get a gig at the high school, it only makes sense that Cheryl and Toni return as co-HBIC’s.
Riverdale’s success went against Hiram’s plans to destroy the small-town, so he sent his goons from the Stonewall Prep football team to start a fire at the school and send a little message.
But since Archie is never one to back down without a fight, he decided to revive Riverdale’s football team, the Bulldogs.
I’ll admit that it was sad to see that the team, which has brought so much pride to town, was a “thing of the past.” However, with the right coach, it could be the town’s pride and joy once again.
Hope can go a long way. Hiram knows that, which is why he’ll do anything to see Riverdale fail.
Interestingly, we’ve yet again returned to the Hiram versus Archie Andrews dynamic. Archie will forever remain a thorn in his side.
It’s also upsetting to see Reggie side with Hiram; he’s lost sight of everything that’s important.
Archie runs into a bit of trouble securing funding for the football team. He tries to play to “dead brother” card to Cheryl, but it doesn’t go well.
Why do they think Cheryl has the money to singlehandedly fund the town? Even if she is selling fake art and passing it off as the original, it’s not her responsibility to dole out mounds of cash for the local high school.
He eventually resorts to asking Veronica for help, and if you thought it was weird asking your ex for $20K (even though she was more than happy to contribute to her beloved Bulldogs), just imagine how weird it is to get pushback from her overly jealous husband.
There were some cute moments between Ronnie and Chadwick, but ultimately, he’s a snake that’s controlling and doesn’t have Veronica’s best interests at heart.
He brought up doing nice things for her like singing karaoke and being nice to her friends as if they were some kind of chore or like he was doing her a favor to keep her happy. In a normal relationship, those are acts of love.
It was the final straw – well, that and finding out that he’s been secretly chatting with Hiram – that convinced Veronica that they needed to take a break.
Veronica was living a fake life in New York, but by returning to Riverdale, she once again remembered who she was and what mattered to her.
She and Chadwick simply aren’t on the same wavelength.
However, I don’t want her and Archie to get back together in the near future either.
Archie’s relationship with Betty is really growing on me; it’s refreshing and fun to watch. (More of my thoughts on that here!)
Of course, sneaking around when you’re in your mid-twenties should be a lot easier, but I’m not going to complain about that Titanic re-enactment in the car either.
Things between them are steamy.
And if we were just to revert to the previous couples, hitting reset on the show would all be for nothing.
Plus, there are definitely some sparks flying between Jughead and Tabitha Tate.
While the show never established how old Tabitha was, the fact that she made six-figures in Chicago and could have taken a CEO job at any point alludes to her being around the same age as Jughead.
Initially, Tabitha was a little weary of Jughead, but he seems to have grown on her as she’s even offering to help him work on his story!
Aside from his brief interactions with Archie, Jughead spent much of the episode secluded from his old friend group and getting more familiar with his new boss.
He interviewed Tabitha for his small-town story, but she did him a solid and set him up with Dreyfus, a local who told him his story of the Mothman, who kidnapped his friends working the mines and took them abroad some kind of ship.
Yes, it sounds like folklore, but may I remind you that the mines are near Greendale, and we know that supernatural entities are in abundance there. (It’s a Chilling Adventures of Sabrina reference.)
Jughead’s investigation led him to the realization that all of Dreyfus’ friends that went on the ship passed away from cancer. Coincidence or is there something more awry at play?
He also mentioned that the ship was in the woods in a cave off the Lonely Highway… and you know what else was last seen on the Lonely Highway? Polly… three days ago.
Is there a chance the mothman is connected to Polly’s (and Freaky’s) disappearance? My gut instinct tells me there is.
Betty put her FBI training to use as she investigated what happened to Polly. She learned that Polly would frequent truck stops to sell Jingle Jangle and hook up with truckers (boy, did her life really take a turn!) using Nedlist (lol) to set up meetings.
Betty tracked down the last trucker Polly arranged a meeting with (Truckerboy69… really?!), but he informed her that Polly ran off that night in a panic.
Betty then turned to Alice for help and together, the sleuthing mom-and-daughter duo located a bunch of Polly’s things on the side of the road. She eventually decided to ping Polly’s phone, which likely should have been her first move. Betty, Kevin, and Alice then took look around the marsh area at night (because waiting till morning would have been too logical) and stumbled upon a corpse’s hand sticking out from the ground. Does it belong to Polly? We’ll have to wait to find out.
In addition to that cliffhanger, Hiram also sent Archie yet another message by setting a fire all around the perimeter of his home. I guess the message was “don’t play with fire,” and look, I get that Hiram goes to extremes to get what he wants, but almost killing someone is a bit much, don’t you think?
Overall, it was an interesting episode that set up plenty of new mysteries for audiences while also taking a sentimental trip down memory lane by focusing most of its events around Riverdale High.
Other Small Town Musings
- Hiram loves Doritos… who knew?
- It’s hard to do justice by “Shallow” but Veronica and Chadwick killed it!
- Nana has really upped her fashion game! Also, how is she still alive?
- There was a brief Chilling of Adventures crossover when Dorcas made an appearance as Cheryl’s art appraiser Minerva Marble.
- Doris Bell is one little snitch! Keeping Cheryl informed about what happens at Riverdale High is one thing, but giving intel to Hiram? Not cute.
What did you think of tonight’s episode of Riverdale? Are you enjoying the post-time jump reality?
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Superman & Lois Series Premiere Review – Hello, Smallville! (1×01)
Superman makes his epic return to television… and Smallville, once again.
The CW reintroduces the well-known superhero to the Arrowverse lineup. This version of Clark Kent and Lois Lane first made their debut on Supergirl, but based on the pilot, it’s clear that Superman & Lois will allow Tyler Hoechlin and Elizabeth Tulloch to explore the characters outside of the rushed and compact constraints of their sister-series (or cousin-series if you will).
And when that happens – they soar to new heights!
Regardless of whether you’re a fan or not, Superman is a character we’re all familiar with through various comics, movies, animated shows, and TV dramas. But for the first time ever, we’re meeting a Clark Kent that’s hoping to be a father first and foremost.
With family drama at the forefront, the show offers a much different experience than the other superhero dramas while also embracing a more character-driven narrative and a raw and unfiltered sincerity that’s much appreciated.
For this Clark Kent, raising twin teenage boys – Jordan and Jonathan – is equally as important, if not more, than his responsibilities protecting the rest of the world.
It’s a side of Clark that hasn’t been explored much, which many fans have said was a “turn off” from tuning into the show.
And I’d agree, initially. My reaction to the trailer and premise was “ugh, teenagers, because, let’s be honest, the idea of a superhero juggling parental responsibilities doesn’t seem all that exciting on paper.
But surprisingly, it works really well as, maybe for the first time, it makes Superman more relatable and down-to-Earth. Alien abilities aside, he’s just a “meh” dad who regularly misses important family events and definitely has a favorite son.
He’s also accused of abandoning his hometown and raising privileged city teens who are far removed from the harsh and bleak realities of Smallville, which Sarah (the daughter of Clark’s high school sweetheart, Lana) sums up as “a sadness” with communities overrun with drug addiction. That’s briefly mentioned but not truly tackled in the pilot, so we’ll see if it comes into play in future episodes.
After getting fired from the Daily Planet (even Superman experiences job cuts and layoffs) and losing his beloved mother, Clark and Lois uproot their lives and leave Metropolis for the small-town appeal of Smallville, his childhood stomping grounds, where they plan to restart the farm and live a more low-key life.
Clark’s desire to be more dad and less Superman might not be what fans signed up for, but the action never takes a backseat despite his desire to be more present in the boys’ lives.
The supersized pilot episode kicks off with an efficient montage that briefly sums up Clark and Lois’ history in a few minutes. It skips from his pod crashing in Smallville to the couple meeting for the first time at the Daily Planet to their wedding, and other milestone moments.
Their established and secure relationship allows us to move past the first-love and romantic struggles that tend to be at the forefront of other Arrowverse shows, and it’s refreshing to see a TV couple defy all odds and work together through the everyday problems that arise.
However, this is still a CW series, so those soapy high-school romances you anticipate from every teen drama are centered around Jonathan and Jordan. For now, Jonathan seems to have a stable girlfriend at home (can’t see that one lasting), while Jordan makes a few missteps with Sarah. Do I smell a love-triangle brewing? At this point, I’m conditioned.
The small-town, high-school aspect of the series strongly delivers on showrunner Todd Helbing’s desire to draw inspiration from shows like Friday Night Lights and Everwood, and it’s largely why it feels like a standalone series from its Arrowverse counterparts.
The twins are polar opposites; Jonathan is a star quarterback and all-around popular kid, while his brother, Jordan, feels like a loner and struggles with social anxiety disorder.
And while they initially seem pigeon-hold into their roles, the series quickly breaks free from tired tropes and cliches as their performances gain depth and they emerge on their distinct paths.
Kent doesn’t waste any time filling in his son’s of his secret identity, though, it’s such a bummer to see the series play into the secret identity issue. I can understand others possibly not putting two-and-two together, but how inept do Jordan and Jonathan have to be in order to be fooled by some steel spectacles protecting the identity of the Man of Steel.
Parents get away with lying to their kids all the time, and with Jonathan’s extracurriculars, it’s more believable that he would be less perceptive of the situation, but since Jordan immediately picked up that something was off when they were nearly crushed to the death in the barn, you’d think he wouldn’t be fooled by a pair of glasses.
Initially, Clark isn’t interested in cluing his kids in about the truth and stripping them from their innocent childhood – after all, it’s a big secret to carry, and one slip up could cost them everything – but the barn incident is a catalyst as it establishes that one of the twins has powers just like their father. Even then, he’s hesitant about it until the twins confront him after finding the pod that brought him to Earth.
Clark becomes a sort of mentor while the superpowers become a bit of a foil to “life’s lessons” for the teens finding their place and purpose in the world.
Jordan struggles more than Jon, who can’t seem to figure out if being special is a good thing or if it makes him more of a freak.
Though, I do enjoy the idea of someone struggling with mental health and social anxiety disorder being painted as having superpowers. Heroes are always portrayed as flawless, but it’s about time that we explore the idea that a hero might not always wield confidence and courage right off the bat.
Amidst the family drama, there’s a subplot that focuses on Superman’s latest armored foe, Captain Luthor.
The action and fight scenes between these two deliver a blockbuster experience that almost feels too mature for The CW at times. There’s no denying that the visual-effects far excel what we’ve seen from other Arrowverse shows, and it elevates the experience to the point where it almost feels like you’re at the movies (if movies survive in the post-COVID world).
While there’s nothing new about the Luthor and Superman rivalry, this Luthor is unlike the ones we’ve come across before. For starters, he’s traded in his tux for a metal suit that allows him to compete with the likes of Superman. What do you think his deal is?
Embracing a longer-form arc with a compelling villain rather than doling out the disposable case-of-the-week villain is refreshing, as is avoiding the “group of computer nerds waiting to help the hero” trope.
It’s yet another way the series aims to carve a distinct path.
Sam, the general at the DOD, seems to be the only one in Superman’s corner, and that’s because he’s personally connected to him – he’s Lois Lane’s father and Clark Kent’s father-in-law. Let’s keep it in the family!
The series is called Superman AND Lois for a reason – Lois is a hero in her own regard.
She’s not just in her husband’s shadow or reduced to taking care of the kids in his absence; she has her own career as a successful and inspiring journalist.
After Morgan Edge buys the Daily Planet and sets his sights on Smallville, something doesn’t smell right to Lois and she vows to do something about it.
Edge and Kyle, Lana’s husband, both strike the note of “villain.”
Despite being a necessary counterpoint to Lois, Kyle defends Edge and believes his interest in the town will provide some necessary job creation. It’s a socio-economic sub-plot that I find myself engrossed in considering how it relates to our current realities.
The pilot isn’t groundbreaking, but it does leave plenty of potential for the future by introducing compelling and dynamic characters and villains, stunning visuals, and a relatable family that just so happens to have superpowers.
The mature yet simultaneously teen-focused approach is a nice change of pace and sets the scene for a series that’s grounded and knows exactly what it wants to be – something entirely different from what we’ve seen thus far in the Arrowverse orbit.
Superman’s mass appeal and the rural setting, reminiscent of the previous Smallville (originally on The WB before going to The CW), will also work in its favor.
Alert the Smallville Gazette – we have a hit on our hands!
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