REVIEW: BATES MOTEL – SEASON 5

MAIN CAST

Vera Farmiga (The Conjuring)
Freddie Highmore (The Good Doctor)
Max Thieriot (House At The End og The Street)
Olivia Cooke (Ouija)
Nestor Carbonell (Lost)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Kenny Johnson (Cold Case)
Ryan Hurst (Taken)
Brooke Smith (The Silence of The Lambs)
Isabelle McNally (Before I Disappear)
Austin Nichols (The Day After Tomorrow)
Jillian Fargey (Protection)
Damon Gupton (Whiplash)
Natalia Cordova-Buckley (Agents of SHIELD)
Rihanna (Battleship)
Teryl Rothery (Stargate SG.1)
Raphael Sbarge (Once Upon A Time)
Aliyah O’Brien (If I Stay)
Ian Tracey (Sanctuary)

Bates Motel, which was always plotted to be a five-season story, closed its doors for business this year with a 10-episode run full of stunning tragedy, deft surprises, and a nice sense of closure. Overall, with Seasons 4 and 5 being representing the very best of the series, Doing the Marion Crane Psycho-arc midseason (with a fun bit of stunt casting in Bates super-fan Rihanna) allowed the series to officially state, before the end, that things would be playing out differently than the classic film it was adapting. If you still, for whatever reason, were under the assumption that Psycho was the endgame, you’d have to adjust your expectations and get ready for the show to take you to a brand new place. Freddie Highmore was exemplary throughout this saga, as Norman often underwent massive mental meltdowns and changes that caused him further bury himself in delusion. He had a good few years, between seasons, of living within his demented fantasy life, but he was always on borrowed time. It could never hold. By the end, all that was left of him was a beat up boy who just longed for everything to be different. I loved how, during this final this season, the show got to explore, more in depth, the Mother persona and how she reacted to Norman’s rejection. She’d actually take over, black Norman out, and hit up bars to hook up with strangers — men, in fact — using Norman’s body. It was a fascinating discovery. Especially since Norman would never allow himself (because Mother was watching) to get close to any other woman. His nagging subconscious would always interrupt and disapprove. All of this meant that when Marion showed up at the motel, Norman wasn’t “Hitchcock Norman.” He knew more about himself, and knew enough to spare her life.He also came to realize all the horrors he’d committed as “Mother,” which then caused him to commit his first — I suppose — enlightened murder. Oh, he was still in a fever, or haze, when he stabbed Sam in the shower, but he also wasn’t Mother. He was Norman and he was stabbing away. Because of this clumsy clarity, Dylan managed to live through the series because Norman held back. He controlled Mother. In fact, looking back, Dylan and Emma, along with their child, were the intended survivors. Everyone else had to drop away in order for them to emerge as something new and, hopefully, happy.Caleb, Chick, Romero and, finally, Norman had to pass so that Dylan and Emma could, presumedly, rise up from the ashes. I guess you can count Emma’s mother as part of this cleansing fire too. Everyone who complicated their past, separately, could now do so as one collective ghost. And Dylan’s final “handling” of Norman — which he didn’t want to do but got tricked into doing by Norman himself — was laced with the show’s permeating theme regarding the harmful effects of denial and inaction. Norma let Norman’s illness progress too far. Dylan left them both behind even though he knew Norman was dangerous, and even suspected foul play. In the end, guilt played a huge factor in informing Dylan’s sense of responsibility toward his bother.The one thing, story-wise, that Romero’s rage did, was allow us to see Norman once last time. If Norman has remained incarcerated, and assumedly sentenced to death or life in a hospital, Mother may have been all that was left of him. Norman’s insane life of illusion was a noble feat and an understandable ideal for the young man, so to have the final season begin and end with that concept — though the final version was a truly and desperately warped version of the already twisted idea — felt right. And this final season was thoughtful and provocative end to a complex multi-year tragedy.

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REVIEW: AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.: SLINGSHOT

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CAST

Natalia Cordova-Buckley (Los Simuladores)
Clark Gregg (Avengers Assemble)
Chloe Bennett (Nashville)
Yancey Arias (Legion)
Alexander Wraith (Westworld)
Jason O’Mara (Son of Batman)
Ming-Na Wen (Stargate Universe)
Iain De Caestecker (Filth)
Elizabeth Henstridge (Wolves at The Door)
Henry Simmons (Noo Good Deed)

agents-of-shield-spinoff-hunter-bobbiThe miniseries was released on December 13th. Released in six episodes ranging from three to six minutes, fans get some insight into some missing time between Season 3’s end and Season 4’s start, which is a great bonus because these scenes are not needed to enjoy the main show but are a fun extra. We watch as Elena signs the Sokovia Accords, becomes a SHIELD agent under Mace’s control, and tracks down a criminal. Plus, the old 0-8-4 from Season 1 is also involved because, as any fan of the show knows, it’s all connected! In fact, Slingshot references a lot of things in Agents Of SHIELD and even the MCU, so it fits in well.16174889_1836004673347908_6687458020023952722_nAnd, if that weren’t enough to convince you, know that Slingshot stars all the other SHIELD characters, too, interacting with Yoyo in interesting ways, which really made the series seem like a bonus AoS episode. While I’m very glad to get this bonus material, I wish it were a bit longer. The whole thing only takes about 20 minutes to watch. Because it was so short, things moved very quickly and felt a bit rushed.So how can you watch Slingshot? If you have the ABC app, they’re all on there for your streaming pleasure, but, if you’re like me and reside outside of America, ABC so nicely put them all on YouTube, so you can watch them there.aiden-romero-300x169I liked Slingshot, overall. Seeing more of Yoyo was awesome, and, despite the time constraint, these episodes had some humor, some romance, some action and some drama. What more could I want? I think it was great of Marvel and Agents Of SHIELD to end the year in such a fun way, and I hope the success of this leads to more miniseries in the future.

REVIEW: AGENTS OF SHIELD – SEASON 3

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MAIN CAST

Clark Gregg (When A Stranger Calls)
Ming-Na Wen (Stargate Universe)
Brett Dalton (Lost In Florence)
Chloe Bennet (Nashville)
Iain De Caestecker (Filfth)
Elizabeth Henstridge (Reach Me)
Nick Blood (Trollied)
Adrianne Palicki (G.I. Joe: Retaliation)
Henry Simmons (NYPD Blue)
Luke Mitchell (The Tomorrow People)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

William Sadler (Iron Man 3)
Constance Zimmer (UnReal)
Andrew Howard (Bates Motel)
Matthew Willig (Year One)
Juan Pablo Raba (The 33)
Spencer Treat Clark (Mystic River)
Blair Underwood (Gattaca)
Daniel Roebuck (The Man In High Castle)
Powers Boothe (Sin City)
Jack Guzman (Power Rangers Wild Force)
Nelson Franklin (New Girl)
Mark Dacascos (Kamen Rider Dragon Knight)
Dillon Casey (Nikita)
Natalia Cordova-Buckley (Los Minondo)
Adrian Pasdar (Heroes)
Bethany Joy Lenz (One Tree Hill)
Ravil Isyanov (Bones)
Titus Welliver (Lost)
Reed Diamond (Dollhouse)
Alicia Vela-Bailey (Lights Out)
John Hannah (The Mummy)

After its rocky start, Agents of SHIELD had turned into a much more entertaining, involving series by its second season. Season 3 of the Marvel series found the show operating on as strong a level as the year before, There was a lot to enjoy. The show used the mid-season split to essentially divide between two villains – both played by Brett Dalton. In the fall, Dalton was still playing Ward and in the spring, he was Hive (walking around in Ward’s dead body). Overall, the fall run was very Strong and cohesive. The rising threats, including Gideon Malick and Lash, were intriguing, the storyline about Simmons’ time on another planet really compelling and the tragically short love story between Coulson and Ros (a very strong Constance Zimmer) played well – even if his quest for revenge after Ward shockingly killed her was a bit heightened, given how quick their relationship was.That aforementioned Simmons storyline was a standout, with Elizabeth Henstridge and Iain De Caestecker both doing excellent work, as Fitz did all he could to rescue Simmons, only to find she had changed while she was gone. It all led up to the phenomenal episode “4,722 Hours,” which is the best hour of Agents of SHIELD to date. A very offbeat, ambitious episode, “4,722 Hours” took place almost entirely on the alien planet Simmons was trapped on, with only her and the Earthling astronaut she discovered there, Will (Dillon Casey), anchoring the story. The reveals in this episode set up a love triangle that felt earned (something that often isn’t the case on TV shows), as we could understand the pain this situation was causing both Fitz and Simmons, and feel sympathetic towards both of them. Once more, I have to note that these two characters have come a long way since the show began, backed by two great performances.You really can’t go wrong with Powers Boothe as a villain and it was very fun to see the veteran actor greatly expand upon his shadowy role in the Avengers as Hydra leader Gideon Malick. The way they used Malick to connect some dots on Hydra history from the MCU was cool and in his final episodes, he did a great job showing the loving father beneath the scary façade – who realized too late he was messing with the wrong Inhuman alien-god creature.We also had Lincoln and the Secret Warriors. The idea of the Secret Warriors was cool, as Agents of SHIELD amped up its superhero side and we met characters like Joey (Juan Pablo Raba) and Elena/Yo-Yo (Natalia Cordova-Buckley), There was a lot of teasing and set up here with some payoff. When this team within the team finally went on their first mission, in “The Team,” it was immediately followed by them turning on one another, with no time to really see what their dynamic might be like.Lincoln’s character got an expanded role, His best material was early in the season, when he was on the run and refusing to join SHIELD. But once he was part of the team (officially or not). Daisy herself however, fared better. Now fully aware of and embracing her Inhuman heritage and superpowers, she was re-introduced as a kick ass, capable superhero. The early days of Agents of SHIELD pushed “Skye” too much as being special when she hadn’t earned it, but now, it was much easier to buy into her transformation and Chloe Bennet flourished showing off Daisy’s dangerous physicality, which allowed her to blend martial arts with those increasingly powerful earthquake powers.Among the rest of the cast, Mack (Henry Simmons) was a very likable, easy too root for part of the team in Season 3, and making him and Daisy field partners turned out to be a clever pairing. May’s storyline was mostly cantered around Lash and the reveal he was truly Andrew, which initially was very compelling. Hunter and Bobbi continued to be a cool couple, and getting Bobbi back in the field after the early episodes was easy too root for. The two got a big, sad  send off for a spinoff that now isn’t happening. As for Coulson, his aforementioned romance with Ros worked well, and him killing Ward was a suitably big moment. Some of his angst and guilt over that murder felt a bit unfocused in the spring run, but there was some good material here as well – including the show retroactively accounting for Coulson being so damn adoring and protective of Daisy since the beginning.Brett Dalton had done great work on SHIELD since we learned Ward was a Hydra agent, taking the bland boy scout he appeared to be and subverting it in a big way. And I was glad that SHIELD’s creators never tried to redeem Ward or put him back on the team somehow – we understood what shaped him, but also never forgot he was a broken, bad person. However, it was time for Ward to go and the Hive storyline allowed them to put him to rest for good.Season 3 was a great season to a continuing great addition to the MCU.