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Umbrella Academy Review – Reunited & It Feels Not So Good (2 x 05)

THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY (L to R) ROBERT SHEEHAN as KLAUS HARGREEVES, EMMY RAVER-LAMPMAN as ALLISON HARGREEVES and ELLEN PAGE as VANYA HARGREEVES in episode 205 of THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY Cr. CHRISTOS KALOHORIDIS/NETFLIX © 2020

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In episode 205, “Valhalla,” of Umbrella Academy, the Hargreeves siblings have finally reunited once again, but each of them has personal issues they need to resolve before they can work together as a team. The Handler sets a trap for the Swedes, and Lila blows her cover.

This episode is a pleasure to watch for a lot of reasons, but the main draw is the excellent choice of music throughout.

From the opening sequence highlighting Pogo and human Grace’s backstory with the song “Major Tom (Coming Home)” by Peter Schilling, the incorporation of music into the narrative was taken to another level, and rather than become a distraction, most of the song choices add a pleasantly surprising element into the mix.

 

In one instance, The Interrupters’ rendition of  Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy” plays as Five fights with Lila.

In this fight, it seems that Lila has teleportation-like superpowers, which would make sense because she could possibly one of the children born in 1989 (like the members of the Umbrella Academy were) as she’s shown to be a young girl in 1992 in the last episode.

Meanwhile, the episode is generally geared to a more positive tone that’s both funny and uplifting at numerous points.

Except maybe during the Viking funeral when one of the Swedes was killed by the trap set by the Handler.

Hargreeves Family Reunion

The team gets back together in Elliott’s residence as they discuss what to do about the coming apocalypse.

Diego insists it involves their father, Reginald, and suggests they hunt him down and kill him. But Five disagrees and only wants to interrogate him.

In one particularly hilarious dialogue between the siblings, Vanya says the most sensible thing when she asks the question:

“Has anyone done anything to screw up the timeline?”

At first, everyone falls silent, but then start pointing things out that each of them has done during their time apart and blame each other since any of them could have jump-started the apocalypse.

Their involvement in the timeline certainly suggests this because Diego stalked Lee Harvey Oswald, Luther associated with Jack Ruby, Klaus started a cult, and Alison got involved in the local civil rights movement.

Vanya rules herself out because she’s become a nanny at a farmhouse in the middle of nowhere, but the team doesn’t write her off since she started the original apocalypse in the first place.

As Klaus hilariously put it “Is it because of Vanya?” he asks getting dirty looks from everyone, “What? It’s always Vanya.”

The meeting ends when Luther walks out and declares they shouldn’t do anything about it because they might be the ones responsible for actually pursuing a solution in preventing the apocalypse.

Twisting the Night Away

After their family meeting goes awry, Klaus, Alison, and Vanya go to the parlor to unwind, drink, and dance as they discuss their respective love lives.

They come to the disturbing conclusion that every member of the Hargreeves family sucks at love, and the healthiest relationship any of the siblings have had is Five and his mannequin girlfriend, Dolores, in season 1. Which is a pretty low bar, to say the least.

So after an uplifting music montage to the tune of “Twisting The Night Away” by Sam Cooke, Klaus decides to go back to his cult to release them from his influence, and both Alison and Vanya go to their respective newfound love interests to repair and resolve them.

Meanwhile, Luther and Diego receive an ominous invitation from Reginald for a “light” supper. So things are about to get real since Reginald seems to have tracked the siblings down, and plans to confront them head-on.

Viking Funeral

One of the Swedes dies as a result of the Handler’s trap, which she framed to look like Diego had done it by using one of his knives as bait, which Lila had taken from him when they slept together two episodes prior.

The highlight of this story arc, however, is the use of a Swedish version of Adele’s “Hello” which plays during the Viking funeral scene where the two remaining Swedes pay their respects to their fallen brother.

The result is awesome because, despite no lines from the stoic Swedes, the scene is somber yet hilarious at the same time.

VERDICT: 9.5/10

As mentioned before in this article, Umbrella Academy raised the bar when it comes to incorporating music into their stories, and “Valhalla” certainly did a masterful job in evoking a lot of comedy and meaning into scenes simply by picking the right song to underscore the tone they were going for.


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Lorenz Bacani is a pop-culture enthusiast who's trying to watch as many good comic-book movies and TV shows as superhumanly possible. He received a bachelor's degree in Journalism and New Media at California Baptist University. Wrote for a news tabloid, worked for a couple of non-profits, and dabbled in some photography (mostly for Instagram purposes). He is probably currently binge-watching an old TV show for nostalgia.

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Lucifer Season 5A Review – Let’s Get Celestial!

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Lucifer only gets better with each subsequent season.

Starting off as the little Devil that could, Lucifer began with a strict procedural setting, and while Lucifer sticks to the mold for the most part, with its growth and network change, it has more room to stretch the mold. Moving to Netflix was an obvious blessing for the series, allowing each episode to reach new heights as it can play with mature content with episode length that works for the series and not for ads and scheduling necessities.

Thank the Devil for the streaming model.

Sidebar: If you haven’t noticed, I’m going for Devil puns whenever I find the opportunity.

Following the trend of growth, Lucifer’s first half of season five is the most impressive run of episodes the fantasy procedural has aired yet. With intriguing enough ‘case of the episodes’ that directly push character growth and spiritual revelations, Lucifer does what many other shows that share an audience cannot do: it stays true to its characters and knows what its fans want.

Lucifer luckily was saved due to the passion of its fans and the potential the series showed from the beginning, and the creators don’t take that lightly. Lucifer hits the sweet spot of avoiding a premature cancellation and respecting its fans to the point where characterization and dynamic relationships remain at the forefront of the series and aren’t sacrificed due to plot or boredom.

Lucifer is what fantasy television should be. When watching this show, I, like many others probably wondered, asked, “How is this so good?” But the question remains: Is Lucifer great or is everything else kinda bad?

We hypothesize: a little bit of both.

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One of Lucifer’s mightiest strengths is its talented cast and the immaculate chemistry each cast member has with each other. The first part of season five is no exception.

While Tom Ellis always has an acting challenge in front of him with the complexities of playing the Devil, season five presents even more of a challenge as he plays both Lucifer and his brother, Michael, and Michale pretending to be Lucifer.

Tom Ellis rises to the challenge. He plays the two characters with ease, reminding the audience of his acting chops. Michael is significantly different from Lucifer, and that’s not taking the accent into account (which felt surprisingly wrong after watching Lucifer for four seasons).

Michael only plays his charade for a short amount of time, thanks to the knowledge of Lucifer’s friends and family around him. It doesn’t take Chloe long to figure out that Lucifer isn’t Lucifer, which is impressive. Many creative teams would have let the act play out for longer, opting for dramatics instead of consistent characterization, but Lucifer knows better than this. It puts character above all else, a nice change of pace for the genre, respecting not only the Lucifer, Chloe, and their relationship, but the relationship that fans have for these characters as well.

However, Chloe did not escape Michael’s initial manipulations unscathed. As a final curtain call, he informs her of the truth of her existence, which sends Chloe into a spiral, to say the least. It’s impossible to blame her, however, that’s a bomb if there ever was one.

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Thankfully, Lucifer’s return helps Chloe process this information and move forward. That’s not to say their eight-episode journey is a smooth sailing one — Chloe struggles with how to deal with Lucifer with this newfound information and Lucifer wants to make sure Chloe is okay before he returns to Hell.

Until Amenadiel returns from watching over Hell and informs Lucifer that Hell no longer needs a caretaker — which is highly suspicious, quite frankly.

However, some of Lucifer’s best character work is done through Lucifer and Chloe’s relationship, and the repercussions their newfound honesty and self-awareness have. Both characters have different insecurities that have rung through the course of the series, but never before have they bounced off in such a rapid-fire way as they do in the first half of season five.

After Chloe is able to accept her newly-realized role in the world, which is now celestial in a way even deeper than it was before, and is able to resume her relationship thanks to Amenadiel, it begins to affect Lucifer’s powers — namely his “mojo” and his vulnerability around Chloe, which sends both of them into bouts of analyzation.

This is a lot to begin with without adding Chloe’s very human insecurity about not hearing Lucifer tell her he loves her in exact words.

However, Lucifer handles their issues with both humor and grace, using very physical manifestations to represent the headspace each resides in as they tackle these newfound bumps in their relationship.

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Maze’s arc stands out as season five’s most emotional arc so far, as she embarks on a journey of facing the root of her abandonment issues. After being abandoned in one way or another by the major players in her life, Maze truly begins to feel alone, and the weight of existing soulless weighs heavily on her. She even perceives abandonment from Linda in a way, due to Charlie, but Linda acts as her rock this season and her shoulder to cry on.

Maze’s story is heartbreaking, from the moment when she showed up to find her mother has died, to the very end when she makes a desperate choice for an option that Lucifer never presented to her (probably because Michael is playing her and she can’t have a soul).

But Maze’s story and journey are the most soulful of them all.

Lesley Ann-Brandy is perhaps the MVP of season five so far, bringing life to Maze’s story while also excelling in the heavily genre-ed episode, “It Never Ends Well for the Chicken” where she plays the root of it all, Lilith.

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The rest of the cast play smaller roles in the first half of season five, but with eight episodes still to air, there’s no doubt that season five will give them all their due, as Lucifer is a show that knows how to give all of its players interesting arcs and respects its character and fans to provide proper closure, as this season was written as a final season before later finding out about its season six renewal.

Linda spends most of the season supporting Maze and being an obsessive new mon in between, but she is explored a bit further as she reveals her past with abandoning her baby which complicates things temporarily with Maze. This also indicates why Linda before has expressed her belief that she is going to Hell. And with God in the mix… she may very soon find an answer to this question.

Amenadiel also serves as a supporting player the first half of the season, but his best episode, “Detective Amenadiel” more than makes up for it with both an emotional and heartfelt story, with his interactions with the nuns also providing Chloe with more insight on her situation and on Lucifer himself.

Amenadiel’s biggest moment of the episodes aired doesn’t occur until the final moments of the show when his stress about his son allows him to stop times once again, leading to the revelation that his son is mortal. This, combined with the appearance of his Father are sure to launch Amenadiel into a larger role in the second half of season five, giving Amenadiel much more to come to terms with.

Dan, who seems to have a less important role most of the time, especially since his unawareness regarding celestial matters, finally gets his celestial cherry popped. His reaction is probably the most relatable one of all. Another victim of Michael, he attempts to kill Lucifer to protect Chloe and Trixie, which would be easy to sympathize with even if Michael had nothing to do with the train of events.

Kevin Alejandro, who also directs the final episodes of 5A, does a fantastic job showing the confusion, heartbreak, and fear that Dan experiences throughout the revelation and aftermath, leaving a usually lackluster character much more intriguing.

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Lucifer’s first half of season five is sold all around, but perhaps the weakest link of the run would be Ella’s plot with Pete aka The Whisper Killer. That’s not to say her arc is bad! It’s not. The struggle of being drawn to people who aren’t right for us is something that many people can understand. And Aimee Garcia plays Ella fantastically — from the crime scene to looking at herself shamefully in the mirror after hooking up with another no-good man.

And while her the heartbreak of finding out that the first good person she found was actually bad could lead to dramatic development moving forward, the plot still feels a bit far-fetched and contrived, even for a show about angels and demons.

Still, the reveal is well executed and besides the slight forcefulness of this arc choice, Ella is still such a loveable character, and with Lucifer centering itself in hope and change, Ella can be expected to overcome this hurdle in her personal life (and finally be inducted into the Celestial club).

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Lucifer’s first part of season five is an unarguable success. Even beyond characters, dynamics, and lore, Lucifer succeeds in the procedural aspect as well, providing intriguing mystery-of-the-weeks at a mock Mars base, a convent, a writers’ room, and not to mention its flashback noir episode.

Lucifer is unique because in a climate with differentiating opinions on what shows should provide and how much weight creators should give their fans, Lucifer transcends all of this. It provides interesting and fangirl-worthy relationships, dynamic character development, interesting supernatural lore, and fun episodic mysteries which are interestingly symbolic to the characters’ personal struggles.

And with a cliffhanger culminating with an angelic fight and an appearance from Dennis Haysbert’s God, there’s hardly any qualms to be had with Lucifer’s new installment.


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Away Season Finale Review – Did the Atlas Crew Make It to Mars? (1×10)

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Away Home Review Season 1 Episode 10

The final episode finds fans asking one question: did the Atlas crew make it to Mars?

But there’s really no question about it. If Netflix wants a second season, you know that the crew had to make it successfully to Mars. If the crew died, any hope of a second season would die right along with them. 

The crew geared up to initiate descent on Away Season 1 Episode 10, which came with its own set of concerns. Admittedly, the dream scene at the beginning was a cheap way of throwing us off — it’s annoying when shows do that, but at least it painted a realistic picture of what could happen if one of the 42 steps in the landing sequence didn’t go as planned. 

The hurdles Team Atlas has gone through up until now are othing compared to breaking through the atmosphere in a fiery can… which has a hole in it, might I add. 

And then… touchdown. 

As Neil Armstrong once said: “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

The Atlas crew just did what no one else was able to do before them. 

It was a victory not just for the U.S but for the world, which is why it was awesome to see that Lu decided to go against the international agreement and take a photo with the whole team. 

None of us know what went into this agreement for her to be the first person to step foot on Mars with an iconic photo, but it’s crap. This mission wouldn’t have been possible without a joint effort, so why should one country get all the recognition? Especially when the country didn’t even want the woman who made the achievement to take credit as the CNSA asked her to put her reflective vizor down

What a way to stab the person in the back who willing to die to bring honor and pride to her country.

This is her moment, but it’s also their moment. And talking to Misha about how he adapted ahead of everyone else and was the “first Martian” convinced Lu that no one can take this away from any of them.

The series wasn’t without its flaws, which explains the harsh criticism from fans who were expecting a more space-centric series, but it was a show that united instead of divided and instilled hope. For that reason, I’m looking forward to a second season. 

It was great to see the growth of each crew member as they gave a shout out to their families.  We’ve seen so much of Emma’s interactions with Lex and Matt that it wasn’t as significant as Misha telling his grandchildren to be proud of their mother because he is (Lu’s suggestion), Kwesi thanking his mother for instilling in him the faith needed to complete this mission, or Lu telling her son to follow his passion. 

Getting to Mars was just half the battle but now, Kwesi has to prove that this desert can sustain life by planting a garden. Their work is only just beginning.

At least now the crew has learned to get along and value each other in a way that allows them to work together cohesively. It’s not only promising for the future but also brings a fun dynamic to the team that we didn’t get to see previously. 

Though, I’ll be the first to admit I’m not entirely sure where the series plans to go with the romantic tension between Ram and Emma. She attempted to make it clear that she didn’t share his feelings, but if that were true, she wouldn’t feel compromised as a Commander. 

Emma would never cheat on her husband in normal circumstances, but three years is a long time. You begin to miss that physical connection with someone, so I can see them exploring some kind of emotional cheating, which yes, is still cheating. I’m not exactly opposed to Ram and Emma getting together, but I am opposed to it when you look at how secure her life with Matt has been. 

Then again, maybe they have some understanding since they knew they would be separated for so long?

I’m also unclear about Matt and Melissa’s relationship. Why did she have to develop feelings for him and worse, tell him about it? I’m telling you, the minute you leave the planet, women begin moving in on your man! 

Personally, Away would’ve been better off just keeping all romantic relationships out of the picture, especially after they spent so much time building up Emma and Matt into this solid unit. 

Other big moments in the episode included Lex testing negative for CCM, admitting that she loves Isaac, and her dad finding out that she spent the night with Isaac on Melissa’s watch. All moments potential but fizzled out against the backdrop of a Mars landing.

What did you think about the series as a whole? Are you looking forward to a season 2? Sound off in the comments below! 


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Away Review – Spektr (1×09)

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Away Spektr Review Season 1 Episode 9

Atlas is inching towards Mars, but you didn’t expect them to get there without yet water system issue, did you?

On Away Season 1 Episode 9, it’s made abundantly clear how much NASA (at least the TV version of NASA) needs to improve its water filtration system. Without oxygen and water, the crew cannot survive. You’d think there’d be better ways of guaranteeing a backup. 

You’d also expect a team of people who were smart enough to get jobs at NASA to provide some kind of solutions, but instead, it all hinges on poor Matt’s shoulders, who seems to be the only one who has any ounce of critical thinking skills. 

Darlene and George gave up way before they should have, which is infuriating because they essentially gave up on their astronauts before they should have. 

I can understand wanting to prepare for the worst, but that shouldn’t take precedence over finding a solution to the problem. Also, how great was their last message? “It was worth it,” perfectly sums up what the crew has been feeling throughout the trip. 

If you didn’t realize by now, the water filtration system — the system that was supposed to get them through the remainder of the two-week journey — just gave out. Kaput, as Misha would say. 

The fear of dehydration began to settle in as they realized they only had 72 hours before they began to experience symptoms that would affect their ability to get anything done. 

Matt’s first plan was to drill through the walls of the ship and siphon out the water that’s shielding them from the radiation. You’d think they’d need that water to remain in place because, you know, it’s shielding them from radiation, but regardless, the plan failed as Ram drilled through the wall and air began to leak into the crew chambers as it depressurized. Yep, that’s definitely terrifying.

Realistically, I’m not sure how accurate any of this is, but it sure kept the episode dramatic and suspenseful, so from a viewer’s standpoint, it was fine.

After evacuating to safer ground, they began to come to terms with the reality that they would likely die before they even made it to Mars. 

As Lu pointed out, she was prepared to die on Mars, but she couldn’t fathom dying on a spaceship en route. And I’d have to agree — out of all the obstacles, to die of dehydration due to a mechanical error when you could practically touch Mars from the ship is grounds for annoyance. 

However, Matt, who was determined not to lose his wife, came up with one last plan that used static electricity to pull water out of the outside of the ship. 

Of course, that required another… you guessed it, spacewalk. 

How much hell can this crew go through? Ram and Emma were prepared to do anything at this point to secure their survival and really, this was their only option. 

Again, I’m not sure if this would be possible in real life, but despite all odds, they made it work and secured bags upon bags of water. 

Great. I’m more concerned with the romantic tension between Ram and Emma. One could argue that they were on the brink of death, or, at least, mentally convinced they were going to die in space, so Ram decided to get everything off his chest including his feelings for Emma. 

And again, when they got back from the spacewalk and successfully collected water, you could blame the adrenaline rush for their near kiss. But I pointed out in my previous reviews that this seems to have been bubbling up to the surface way before, especially for Ram. 

Here’s the thing — Ram could feel some type of way about Emma, but she didn’t seem to be giving off a vibe that she wasn’t into it. It was more along the lines of “we can’t do this” because it’s wrong rather than “I don’t want to do this.” 

I find this concerning. I’m not a fan of the series diving into the love triangle trope when there’s so much more that could be explored. 

Maybe it was just a heat of the moment situation because again, both of them thought they were going to die, but we’ll see.

Now that they both survived, Ram will have to deal with the repercussions of baring his soul to his Commander. Way to make things awkward, right?

Back on Earth, Lex was a mess as she worried about her mother’s survival. And honestly, it’s a hard thing for a teenage girl to have to deal with. Nothing about her life is certain right now and every time she gets a phone call or text or hears the doorbell ring, her mind immediately goes to the worst place possible. 

It’s a good thing she made up with Isaac and he was able to get her mind off things for just a little while even if it was with church, chili and kissing. 

Otherwise, she’d just be sitting there drumming up the worst scenarios in her head. 

We’re almost at the finish line. How do you think it’ll end? Will the crew make it safely to Mars? Will they encounter yet another hiccup? Will Pegasus greet them with all the supplies necessary for their survival? 

Sound off in the comments below! 


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