Arrow Thoughts & Open Thread: Birds of Prey

Arrow[SPOILERS BELOW FOR LAST NIGHT’S EPISODE OF ARROW.]

I’m in a weird place with Arrow recently, where I’m still enjoying it, mostly, but I feel like what the show cares about and what I care about are pretty different. So while I thought last night’s episode was mostly fine, I am surprised to see reviews calling it “perfect” and saying that everything Huntress-related is The Best. Which really just means that those viewers’ wishes are more correctly attuned to what the show itself is trying to do, and I’m probably in the “wrong” here, and this is basically just a roundabout way of saying that I don’t have a whole lot to say.

What I do have:

  • Felicity: “Or as I like to call her, Oliver’s psycho ex-girlfriend hellbent on revenge against her father.” Sara: “Ex-girlfriend?” Oliver: “That’s what you took from that sentence?” Thank you, Oliver. Priorities, Sara.
  • “I’m still facing sanctions from the bar.” “Ah, I’ve got a buddy on the disciplinary committee, I squared it for you.” I have a lot of questions about the Starling City bar association, not least why Laurel is referring to herself as a lawyer in the past tense when she’s “facing sanctions” rather than, you know, actually disbarred.
  • Felicity: “Anyone with boobs can get a frat boy to do anything.” Oliver: “I was a frat boy.” Felicity: “I rest my case.” Heh. I like snarky Felicity better than pining Felicity.
  • Oliver: “It’s not like Helena to show restraint.” Sara: “Sounds like you have a type.” Point, but also, again, priorities, Sara.
  • Oliver: “I thought I was helping you control it.” Roy: “You are. I mean, I can’t look at a bowl of water without slapping it.” HEE.
  • Oliver should know better than anyone that just telling Roy to stay away from Thea for her own good will never work. But I liked that Roy realized the risk he was posing himself and then followed Oliver’s advice. (But I enjoy the Roy/Thea dynamic, so I hope this situation doesn’t last long.)
  • “Unfortunately I decapitated the engineer.” Oh, right, this is why I love this show.
  • “I created the Huntress.” “Yeah, well you created Slade too.” These people are really into taking credit/blame for everything, huh?
  • “See this, Mr. Donner, is what happens when you let freaks with masks run wild.” Heh.
  • The courthouse scene was interesting because Oliver was there as himself, which curtailed his options of how to actually help. And: Oliver: “I’m with Lance as Oliver and he just called the Arrow.” Felicity: “Oh. Oh. It’s getting really hard to keep track of who knows whose secret identity.” Confusing for us too!
  • “Are you one of the good guys?” “No. But I’m friends with them.” Interesting.
  • Laurel never recognizing Oliver in “disguise” is one thing, but not recognizing her own sister when she’s just wearing a tiny mask is completely ridiculous.
  • “Does this make us girlfriends?”
  • “Helena, don’t kill him. You can never come back from that.” “It’s too late. I’m already gone.”
  • Love Ollie basically buying his way into a police interrogation room. I like a boy who throws his money around occasionally.
  • “I have to say, I’m impressed. I’d have thought blackmail was a little dark for you.” I like Laurel’s darkness.
  • “You’re the only one who does lie to me, Ollie. You’re the only one who doesn’t keep secrets from me.” Oh, Thea.
  • I loved the tiny wordless moment toward the end of Diggle comforting Roy.
  • When Slade picks up Thea, they act like they’ve never met, but I thought they had, at the house. No?

TV News: Sleepy Hollow, Arrow, Emerald City, Turn, Wallander

John NobleWell, this is exciting news: John Noble and Lyndie Greenwood have been promoted to series regular for season two of Sleepy Hollow.

Jessica de Gouw is returning to Arrow.

NBC has given a ten-episode order to Wizard of Oz show Emerald City.

Stephen Root and Ian Kahn have been cast in Turn.

The BBC has picked up season three of Wallander.

Dracula Thoughts & Open Thread: Let There Be Light

Dracula[SPOILERS BELOW FOR THE SEASON FINALE OF DRACULA]

Dracula came to an end (at least for now) last Friday, and to be completely honest, I’m still not sure how I felt about it. I think most of what I said last week about it not being good enough to love or bad enough to just enjoy snarking at it, though the finale was nicely dramatic and brought a lot of things together in a way I wasn’t sure it would manage. I love finales that burn everything down, metaphorically, and this one did it literally as well. Some things I particularly liked:

  • I’m honestly not sure how the blood of Christ somehow got involved in this (I might have missed something), but that was a delightfully crazy addition.
  • Van Helsing dancing/conducting/smashing things in his lab to “In the Hall of the Mountain King” was an amazing scene.
  • I am choosing to believe that Renfield is fine until we have definite evidence to the contrary. Shh, leave me alone in my denial.
  • The vampire kids!
  • I loved that the electricity stuff stayed so important as a plot and that in the end Grayson’s machine itself was turned against him as a weapon.
  • Aww, Grayson killing Jayne instead of turning her. That’s quite a gift, from him, at that point, though I guess he doesn’t want her as a vampire enemy, either.
  • And Lucy killing her mother!!
  • I’m glad the show went through with the payoff of Mina and Grayson finally getting together, even if I have issues with the historicity of basically all the romantic subplots in this show. (I know, I know, a vampire show and this is what I complain about being unrealistic?)
  • And I love the idea of Harker and Van Helsing teaming up to bring down Grayson. That right there makes me want a second season.

Who else stuck with the show to the end? What did you think of the season as a whole? If it comes back, will you be watching?

Dracula Thoughts & Open Thread: Four Roses

[SPOILERS BELOW FOR LAST FRIDAY’S EPISODE OF DRACULA]

I just . . . I don’t know, you guys. The penultimate episode of the season seems as good a time as any to take stock and admit that this show just hasn’t quite grabbed me – or at least produced discussion fodder – the way I’d hoped and expected. I’m not sure exactly why, as it certainly has a ton going on, and almost all of it is elements I like conceptually, but somehow it has never quite gelled for me. Maybe I needed it to be either really genuinely good or so bad I could just snark about it, and it’s somewhere in between. And I think the show sounds crazier on paper than it actually feels while watching, which is a weird place to be. Sometimes there’s just too much going on to eke all the amazing insanity out of any one element – for example, “Dracula tries to take over the world via alternative energy” is a concept I loved but the show never had enough time to spend with that to really give me much to say about it most weeks. (And then there’s the love triangle, but I talked about that last week, so I’ll just revisit it after the finale, in case anything is resolved.)

If the show comes back for a second season – no decision has been announced either way as yet – I’m sure I’ll watch, as I do like it that much, but I’m not sure I’ll try to write about it every week again. Or I’ll do something else with it, like “5 Ridiculous Things That Dracula Somehow Made Work This Week.” Hmm. Thoughts/ideas? Has anyone else stuck with this all season?

Anyway, some things that jumped out at me this episode:

  • “Surely you can’t still believe that Grayson is a vampire!” Oh, honey.
  • When Lucy’s talking to her mother, she seems awfully convinced that her mother will have enlightened views on sexuality, especially for, you know, Victorian England.
  • “You must forget about Jonathan.” “What?” “Please don’t ask me any questions.” Sure, sounds legit.
  • Okay, this is the sort of thing I do love about this show: someone actually, seriously pasted together a ransom note from letters cut from the newspaper.
  • “I hate hospitals.” “You know that’s going to be a problem when you become a doctor.” Heh.
  • Mina has dreamed about Ilona since she was a little girl?? Well, that’s fascinating, and I’m sad we only have one more episode to unravel that.
  • As I wrote in my notes at the end, “Oh my God, Lucy!” And oh, Dracula, I’m not sure the punishment quite fits the crime here.

Dracula Thoughts & Open Thread: Come to Die

Dracula[SPOILERS BELOW FOR LAST WEEK’S EPISODE OF DRACULA]

Things are amping up a bit on Dracula as we head toward the end of the season, but I still found this episode to be pretty uneven. I find the machinations of the Order and the way they tie in to finance and industry to be really interesting, but I feel like they don’t spend enough time on them to allow the audience to really understand what’s going on, so I’m left saying “Wait, what?” a lot of the time. And sometimes I can’t tell whether things are being left deliberately mysterious or whether I’m just not getting it. I did like that they finally started talking about Dracula, by name, this week, so that’s something, and the show managed to make both Harker’s confrontation with Davenport and the scene where the missing children are discovered to be genuinely tense, if not quite frightening.

I think my main issue is that the episode focused so much on Mina’s feelings, and at this point I kind of just don’t get them. Other than the show wanting to have yearning and pining and a love triangle, why is she still with Harker, exactly? We know what Grayson actually is, but Mina doesn’t, so why wouldn’t she go for the adoring rich guy who encourages her career and to whom she is clearly very attracted? Especially when she’s been having so much conflict with Harker, and been so disappointed by him? I’m just not buying it. I’m also not quite clear on why Grayson says he must stay away from her for her own safety: safety from his enemies, or safety from him? Because if it’s safety from his enemies, obviously she’s in danger anyway. If he’s afraid that he himself won’t be able to resist biting her, at least that’s a bit more coherent.

Other favorite lines and points of interest:

  • One of the best parts of historical scenes on many shows: flashback hair!
  • Mina’s father is awfully enlightened for his time and social position.
  • “Who do I kill?” “Perhaps may I suggest no one, sir. Maybe just this once.”
  • “You make me want more than I could possibly have. You make me want to walk in the sun. I belong to you and you belong to me.” I may not be quite buying this whole situation, but that’s a heck of a declaration, I’ll give him that.
  • “Mr. Harker worked out just as you planned.” Well, that’s exciting. I wonder exactly what Grayson’s plan was and when it started.

Dracula Thoughts & Open Thread: Servant to Two Masters

Dracula[SPOILERS BELOW FOR THE MOST RECENT EPISODE OF DRACULA]

I’m finding I don’t necessarily have a ton to say about this show week to week: I’m still enjoying it well enough while finding it ridiculous and vaguely baffling. Unlike a lot of other viewers, I actually really like the energy stuff, which had a big role again this week. I like it partially because it seems so weird and random, but at the same time makes total sense: Of course someone who couldn’t go in the sun would be heavily invested in the quest for artificial light. And I enjoy the way it pulls in actual issues of the time. Of course, now Grayson can go in the sun, at least for short amounts of time, and the way it has only increased his yearning to be human is fascinating. He tries not to feed, only to be overcome during a dance with Mina and have to run away from her, and he somehow blames Van Helsing for it all: “You’re more of a monster than I am, and some day, I will kill you for it.” And while Mina seems to be starting to acknowledge her connection and attraction to Grayson, Harker is starting to see through him, but realizes that Grayson has made him do his dirty work and so can blackmail him into keeping secrets. By the end of the episode, Harker has gotten himself mixed up with the Order of the Dragon, and I’m very curious to see how this all shakes out – and how long Harker and Mina’s engagement can actually last before Harker rebels against the third person in their relationship.

Dracula Thoughts & Open Thread: Of Monsters and Men

Dracula[SPOILERS BELOW FOR THE MOST RECENT EPISODE OF DRACULA]

Grayson, out in the sunlight! That’s really the main thing that stuck with me from “Of Monsters and Men.” His motivations here are fascinating – on the surface of it, he obviously wants to be able to walk in the sun for convenience and to make it easier to keep the secret of his vampirism, but he also clearly enjoys walking in the sun for its own sake. For someone who is so into the power he gets from his vampirism, it’s clear that a lot of him really just wishes he were human. Of course, it’s not yet clear for how long he can be outside, which led to “I’ve never been quite so motivated to be concise in all my life,” obviously the line of the episode.

Elsewhere, Mina and Harker continue to get a bit more complex; I love how skeptical they are of Grayson’s interest in them. They anticipate their vows a bit – because Harker feels threatened? – and then Harker suggests eloping and also leaks a story to the papers; while he claims that the latter is because it’s in the national interest to have the information out there, and I’m sure that’s part of his motivation, I’m curious as to whether he’s deliberately sabotaging Grayson as well. We also learn a bit more about Mina’s motivations for her scientific studies – her mother died of cancer, and now she wants to “cure death,” which is a rather portentous thing to say on a vampire show. And just to make Mina’s life even more complicated, Jayne encourages Lucy to act on her feelings toward Mina, undoubtedly for her own nefarious reasons – trying to isolate Mina, maybe?

Dracula Thoughts & Open Thread: The Devil’s Waltz

Dracula[SPOILERS BELOW FOR THE MOST RECENT EPISODE OF DRACULA]

The day of Mina and Harker’s engagement party is finally here, but they’re distracted, Harker by his work for Grayson researching the military situation and Mina by dreams about Grayson. But are they dreams? He’s a vampire. He could easily actually be showing up in her room. I thought this was deliberately left ambiguous, but I’m curious what you all thought. Semi-relatedly, I’m curious about whether you think Harker and Mina would have been content together if Grayson had never gotten involved, or if the way he’s acting as intermediary and puppet master is manipulating them but also holding their relationship together. For how long will Harker be as easy to control as Grayson seems to think he is?

But I was really more interested in the Renfield plotline this week. Poor Renfield was kidnapped and tortured in an attempt to find out what really mattered to Grayson (and therefore could be used against him) – “Who does Mr. Grayson love?” was the refrain of the episode. And the answer was pretty obvious even before Grayson appeared to save is man – it’s not romantic, but Renfield is one of the (very) few people he definitely cares about and will risk himself to protect. Will his enemies continue to be blinded by class differences and Renfield’s race, or will they start to see this vulnerability?

Other thoughts:

  • The class issues that came up in regards to Harker and Mina’s party and Harker’s friends and connections were interesting – the treatment of class continues to be maybe the most nuanced thing on the show.
  • I always love a good dance scene. Especially a waltz!
  • I like how whenever anyone brings up the fact that Grayson is pretty weird and mysterious, the answer is always “Meh, he’s American. They’re all insane.”