The Uncanny Valley

Elizabeth Bridges - Writer, Professor, Reviewer

Tag: S1 (page 1 of 2)

“Welcome to Purgatory” – Wynonna Earp 1×01

WELogoI’m gonna be honest – for anybody interested in women-positive and/or queer-positive television, 2016 has been, in short, devastatingly awful. But thanks to Emily Andras of Lost Girl fame and her SyFy series Wynonna Earp, I’m happy to say we got at least one bright spot. I’m also happy to share my fun with you in this rewatch-recap series. Needless to say, MEGA-SPOILERS ahead. Continue reading

The Perils of Childhood – Stranger Things, Season 1

Note: This review is spoiler-free.

netflix stranger things posterStranger Things (2016) is an 8-part Netflix series by Matt and Ross Duffer, aka the Duffer Brothers, whose previous credits include some episodes of Wayward Pines and assorted films and shorts featuring tales of the macabre and the uncanny. It’s hard to name the genre that Stranger Things falls into. I see it as an onscreen carryover from the speculative fiction subcategory known as “weird fiction,” which blends elements of plot-twisty sci-fi, fantasy, horror, and the supernatural – the genre of Lovecraft, Poe, Serling, and contemporary author Jeff Vandermeer. Continue reading

Crime and Punishment – The 100 Recaps, S1 E4 “Murphy’s Law”

In case you missed it, this recap series begins here. Here’s the episode index.

S1E4wellsgraveOpener: Clarke stands in the woods by Wells’ grave and then instantly pulls knife on Finn who, to be fair, sneaks up behind her. Good grounder instincts, Clarke – you’re learning. Also, was this some kind of foreshadowing?  Continue reading

Hiding in Cars with Boys – The 100 Recaps, S1 E3, “Earth Kills”

In case you missed it, this recap series begins here. Here’s the episode index.

We start this installment with a flashback scene featuring the Jahas and the Griffins watching a soccer game together. An old Earth soccer game that’s like 100+ years old. So basically they have endless recordings of pre-apocalypse entertainment to view. I suppose they could watch whole seasons of sports and not know the outcomes if they choose not to look them up, so maybe this is fun? This detail about Ark life is both strange and sad, but it is believable. We all have to get our entertainment somewhere, right? We also see that Clarke’s and Wells’ families were friends.

Poor Jasper. Get well soon! Really soon, okay?

Poor Jasper. Get well soon! Really soon, okay?

Back on the ground and in the present, Jasper is recovering in the drop ship, but it’s clear he’s in a lot of pain and anguish. Because he’s moaning. A LOT. Many of the 100 sleep outside so they don’t have to hear it, but everyone still can. And it’s already annoying to all of us.

A tween-aged girl named Charlotte wakes up from a nightmare, and Clarke comforts her. She keeps seeing her parents get “floated” from the Ark. She was a prisoner because she assaulted a guard when she saw her parents’ things getting taken to a “redistribution center” on the Ark. This explains why even fancy Ark people’s clothes look shabby. This isn’t Star Trek where they have replicators to make everything for them out of thin air. Goods have to last as long as possible. Probably everybody wears hand-me-downs from possible dead people. This might also explain why we see Clarke in the same shirt all season. Not that I’m complaining about Clarke’s very flattering shirt. More on that later.

RIP, Trina and Pascal - our first redshirts

RIP, Trina and Pascal – our first redshirts

Uh oh – acid fog time! It starts looking like Lost what with the creepy cloud from nowhere, and anybody who gets a whiff of it starts coughing. Some kids have to run for cover. Unfortunately, Trina and Pascal, a couple out to go snog in the woods, get redshirted by the fog right away. So we’re down to… 96 of the 100? Or maybe 95 and a half depending on Jasper’s condition. We’ll see I guess.

On the dropship Clarke tries to help Jasper, and everybody just wants Clarke to kill him. Especially Bellamy, who voices this to Clarke before leaving on a food-finding mission. “Down here every life matters,” Clarke tells Bellamy. She’s obviously on the “mercy” side of the mercy-vs.-power dynamic that I mentioned last time. She is Abby’s daughter, after all, and had apparently been apprenticing with her mother in medicine before she got imprisoned.

Bellamy leaves Murphy in charge of the camp in  his absence. To which I say, really? Murphy? I, for one, have not forgotten that he held a girl over a fire for no apparent reason last episode. We already know Murphy is terrible. But Bellamy is kind of terrible right now too, so it figures I guess.

Clarke examines the grounder medical techniques used to keep Jasper alive. The spear wound has been cauterized but it’s still getting infected, so Clarke tries to cut away the infected flesh, resulting in – you guessed it – more blood. Seriously how is he not dead yet? Together with Wells and Finn she discovers that the grounders have used some kind of coagulant made of seaweed to treat Jasper. Okay really mostly Wells figures this out, since apparently he’s the only one who paid attention in their widely blown-off Earth Skills class.

We get another flashback to Jake (Clarke’s dad) and Abby, in which the two argue about letting people know about the impending Ark life support failure. Jake can’t promise that he won’t tell. ::sigh::

Isn't this just a lake? How is there seaweed?... Never mind.

Isn’t this a lake? How is there seaweed? Never mind.

Clarke, Finn, and poor third-wheel Wells go on a hunt for the seaweed. While the two guys argue about who will go in and actually get the stuff out of the water, Clarke dives in and goes after it. We are now three for three in terms of young ladies diving into water and getting their shirts all wet. Plus Finn last episode, but who cares about Finn? No one. That’s who.

Bellamy and company find some kind of pig, and we get more Lord of the Flies / Survivor realness in this scene. Luckily we don’t actually see the pig get killed. But I had seriously started to wonder how they’re not all starving. Pigs it is, then.

On the way back from the seaweed mission, the acid fog reaches our non-redshirts, and they realize they have to hide. They dive into a half-buried old car, and they use the old dorm room weed-smoking trick of stuffing the door and window cracks. Having no towels on hand, they use their jackets. Finn has found booze for them to pass the time together. Clarke refuses at first because she is No Fun, but then Finn gives her a line about alcohol being an adolescent rite of passage, so she replies, “Far be it from me to stand in the way of tradition,” and downs some of the booze. Really? That’s all it takes?

Bellamy and Charlotte duck into a cave to get away from the acid fog. Somehow the fog kind of blows past them when they get out of its way and into the cave. I really don’t understand how this fog works, I guess. While waiting for it to pass, they have a heart-to-heart about Charlotte’s nightmares. Bellamy gives her the stupid and cryptic advice of “slay your demons while you’re awake.” He also adds, “weakness is death, fear is death.” Weakness and the avoidance thereof will again become a theme in the show as it progresses. “Slay your demons, kid. Then you’ll be able to sleep.” Worst. Advice. Ever.

Finn, Clarke, and Wells are now drunk in the car and engaged in a heated discussion. Topic: Clarke is No Fun. We learn that Wells betrayed Jake Griffin’s plan to inform people about the oxygen crisis, and Clarke had trusted him with that information. She gets really worked up about it, and Finn tries to calm her down. Finn: “Take it easy!” Clarke: “I have no idea how to do that.” We know, honey. We know.

Back at the dropship, Jasper’s moaning is basically unbearable at this point, for the audience as much as the characters. Monty and Octavia seal the door to the ship’s upper level so Murphy can’t get up there and kill the poor kid. For the first and only time, I might have to agree with Murphy.

In another flashback, we see Jake get arrested for treason due to his plan to spread the word about the life support failure.

Clarke, Wells, and Finn are finally able to leave the car, which is great since things got super awkward back there. Clarke goes ahead, and Finn and Wells chat for a bit. Finn seems unsure whether Wells really did inform on Clarke’s dad after all.

Clarke runs into Bellamy, and they find Atom, who was overtaken by the fog while out with Bellamy and Charlotte on the food run. Sadly, Atom is covered in gross acid-induced boils and appears to be in a lot of pain. Clarke and Bellamy decide together that he can’t be saved, so Clarke soothes the poor guy by singing him a lullaby while she mercy kills him by stabbing him in the neck. It’s really touching and sad. Clarke is proving to be a really strong character, and I like it. Charlotte wasn’t supposed to see this, but she has watched between some trees. Just what this child needed: more trauma.

Bellamy and Clarke reach some kind of unspoken understanding, and seeing that Clarke will take a life if it comes to that, Bellamy now trusts her call on keeping Jasper alive. He recognizes that if Clarke has hope, then there’s hope. This creates a rift between Murphy and Bellamy. Fine by me! Bellamy seems less shitty now.

Another Ark flashback: Abby gives Jake’s watch to Clarke because he wanted her to have it. Later, Clarke shows up at Jake’s floating just in time to say goodbye to him. He is executed and it’s incredibly sad. This scene really demonstrates the harsh, inhumane nature of life on the Ark. And it’s important for us to remember this when we want to start judging the grounders later. The Arkers have more technology, but they aren’t really all that different. Survival requires a certain level of harshness, but how much and when and how? That’s the question that we’ll revisit.

Clarke and Octavia use the seaweed concoction to help Jasper’s wounds. After he stabilizes somewhat, Clarke talks to Wells. She has realized that it was Abby who betrayed Jake to the authorities, not Wells after all. So Wells let Clarke hate him so she wouldn’t have to hate her mom, and he forgives Clarke for hating him. He is a really nice guy. Yay, Wells!

Meanwhile, Octavia, Murphy and Finn continue drinking the booze Finn found, and Jasper finally wakes up. Yay, Jasper!

The 100 -- "Earth Kills" -- Image: HU103d_0130 -- Pictured (L-R): Izabela Vidovic as Charlotte and Eli Goree as Wells -- Photo: Cate Cameron/The CW -- © 2014 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Hoe don’t do it. ::stabs Wells anyway:: Oh my God!

Wells is on guard duty that night, and Charlotte comes to join him. Things are all cute until Charlotte talks about slaying her demons and suddenly stabs Wells in the neck the same way she saw Clarke do with Atom. Her demon was Wells’ dad for being involved in her parents’ floating. But poor Wells had nothing to do with that. Wtf, Charlotte? She even sings him the lullaby in a creepy way. No!!! Not Wells – he was the only nice, non-skeezy guy we had left. What now? Shit.

One thing’s for sure, we really see consequential effects of post-traumatic stress here, and it is pretty realistic, again underscoring the inhumane aspects of Arker policies and practices.

I’m also going to state here for the record that I think it was really stupid to get rid of Wells. He had a lot of unused dramatic potential and was a very strong character. I liked the dynamic between him and Clarke even though there was clearly going to be some “but you’re my best friend” style unrequited love in the near future with them. He was also the only major male character of color and seemed like he was going to be a permanent part of the cast. Instead he basically gets redshirted, in the classic Star Trek mode of redshirting characters of color. Only Wells seemed like a longterm part of the group, so we are really struck by what an injustice this is. Bummer, The 100. Way to engage in inadvertently (I hope) stereotypical sci-fi tropes.

Yet, at the same time, I get what they were doing here. The 100 has now proven itself to be unafraid of Jossing us (from Joss Whedon). This show will not back away from killing off major characters that we already really like. Anything can happen now. Shit. What have we gotten ourselves into?

Bonus Questions: Where are all the knives coming from? Are they making them? Did the dropship have a few knives on it? And how is it that Clarke and co. had to stuff the car windows with jackets, but Charlotte and Bellamy just get in a cave and they’re safe? Lucky wind direction, I guess.

Wet T-shirt: Clarke, for the second episode in a row (Were her clothes even dry from her dip in the river last episode?)

Cleanliness: I have to imagine they pretty much all smell now.

Best Hair: probably Octavia, but really no one right now

Worst Hair: Jasper, but to be fair, he’s semi-dying, so he gets a pass

Injuries: still Jasper, but he’s getting better

Death/Dismemberment: Trina and Pascal (Sorry, kids! Snogging in the woods is never a great idea when Bad Things are afoot.), Atom, and our poor dear Wells (We hardly knew ye!)

Moral: Drinking does not make you More Fun. Sorry, Clarke, but right now everyone’s right about your lack of fun. Get more fun!

Index of Episode Recaps

Respect my Authori-ty! – The 100 Recaps, S1 E2 “Earth Skills”

In case you missed it, this recap series begins here. Here’s the episode index.

Our second episode opens with a brief monologue from Clarke establishing the premise of the show, much like the “one girl, in all the world” intro we got with Buffy for the first few seasons. Makes sense if you want to clue in new viewers. Continue reading

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