Riverdale Season 2: Five Questions we have after episode 7

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The latest episode of Riverdale was another entertaining offering from the subversive teen drama – but it also opened up a lot of questions. 

As Jughead is drawn deeper and deeper into Serpent activities, an affair between Sheriff Keller and Mayor McCoy is revealed, and the Black Hood swears vengeance, there are a lot of questions to ask – and a lot of answers we need to find. 

Here are five questions we need answering after the latest episode of Riverdale, Tales from the Darkside.

Each and every one of these is actually labelled “five questioned we need answering” over at Metro, because it took me the duration of the series – significantly over six months! – to realise that “five questions we have” is a better grammatical formation of what I was trying to say. I’m not sure what I was going for in the first place.

Something kinda, I guess, not threatening obviously, but direct and emphatic and a little “woah” while still being serious, you know? Hopefully you know, because then at least someone would.

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The problem with Nazi allegories in fiction

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Of note – simply because it’s right around the corner, and a pretty good indication of what I have in mind – is the upcoming CW DC crossover event. Crisis on Earth X is set to unite the Arrow, Flash, Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow heroes in one great big extra-dimensional fight against their alternative selves from Earth X – a secret world where the Allies lost the second World War, and all our heroes are thus Nazis.

There’s something uncomfortable about this, I think, in a way that’s not necessarily easy to articulate. It’s not that it’s normalising Nazis, exactly, because it isn’t. Rather, it’s rendering them as objects of fantasy, villains that exist only in secret alternate earths – when that isn’t really the case. It doesn’t matter if you refer back to the idea of the awful atrocities committed (and the special crossover does put concentration camps in a key role), there’s an implicit suggestion that these are ultimately just cartoonish figures by placing them in that role.

An attempt to articulate something I’d been thinking about for a few years now; I also spoke a little about Star Wars, but the main focus is Arrow etc, because it was timely. I’m quite behind on the Arrowverse shows, but I did watch the Crisis on Earth-x crossover. It was… quite something.

Looking back, this article actually posted the same weekend as one of the more egregious of those New York Times Trump voter profiles, about a man who was a literal Nazi, being celebrated because he actually quite liked Seinfeld. Which was patently ridiculous, and got me pondering the role of fiction in reaching this climate. The above is very much a starting point rather than the definitive word on the comment, but I think it gestures at something that’s broadly on point.

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Doug Liman on his latest movie The Wall, growing as a filmmaker, and more

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It was a chance to grow as a filmmaker. I make… most of my movies are completely different than anything I’ve ever done before. In this case, this was going to be one of the biggest challenges of my career, because I do have a short attention span and one of the ways in which I have consistently dealt with it is by having a lot of spectacle, and a lot of characters, and a lot of locations, and a lot of different moving parts. You never get settled into any one thing for too long. This was going to push me to grow as a filmmaker, and then to maybe not use some of the ‘copouts’ I’ve used previously in my career.

My interview with Doug Liman, about his filmmaking career. We also spoke about the upcoming Chaos Walking movie that he’s working on.

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Alex Lawther on The End of the F***ing World, his creative influences and more

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I read somewhere, someone much more eloquent than me, saying “it doesn’t matter if [a character is] likeable but they have to be interesting“. You don’t have to like them, but you have to want to know what happens next. Even if you hate them or you’re scared of them or if you… as long as they’re not boring you, because boring is passive.  It’s not so much not being liked… they cause you to be interested in them actively and to see where their objectives are going to take them. Which I think is the analytical way of putting it, yeah.

This is one of my favourite interviews I’ve ever done, because I absolutely loved talking to Alex Lawther – he’s just wonderful, I’m a huge fan. I promised to learn French for him, in fact. (At time of writing, and by writing I mean editing all my old posts for the new wordpress site, my duolingo streak is 177 days.)

(I would continue to talk about how great I think he is, but… well, I don’t want to overdo it, you know?)

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Everything you need to know about the Doctor Who Christmas Special, Twice Upon A Time

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It’s the final story of Peter Capaldi, one of the best Doctors we’ve ever had, as well as the epic conclusion to writer Steven Moffat’s seven-year tenure on Doctor Who. 

With the wonderful Rachel Talalay directing, Mark Gatiss guest starring, and acclaimed actor David Bradley bringing Doctor Who’s origins to life, this is set to be an hour of television you just can’t miss.

Part of me is looking forward to this; another just can’t handle the idea of losing Peter Capaldi as the Doctor.

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Does Eko’s interactive comedy That Moment When represent the future of television?

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That Moment When stars Milana Vayntrub (Sloane in This is Us, and soon to be Squirrel Girl in Marvel’s New Warriors) as Jill, the character we control through each episode. Vayntrub is nothing short of excellent throughout, with great comic timing; she delivers a heightened performance, in pretty much exactly the way a series like this demands. In a way, it’s almost difficult to imagine the series working as well as it does without her, given how perfectly Vayntrub embodies her role here.

There’s a nice, clean aesthetic to the show – each different option is presented with a pencil sketch cartoon, representing the choice made on Jill’s behalf. It’s a subtle thing, but it’s one that’s important to get right – making sure the options aren’t intrusive, making sure it remains a cohesive whole, keeping it stylish. It’s the sort of thing that could have gone wrong, easily, but the fact that it does work is indicative of the attention to detail across the series.

An article on a new, interactive show from Eko.

I’m not convinced this sort of interactive television is ever exactly going to become the future of television – or, at least, we’re a long way off from the point where it’s going to be possible to create something that is a properly interactive narrative, rather than the sort of almost a video game kind of thing we’ve had so far.

Still! That Moment When is quite charming, and even if it is only a point of curiosity, I’d say it’s worth checking it out.

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Marvel’s The Punisher was surprisingly good, if not exactly great

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As an exploration of the Punisher’s morality, the series is admittedly somewhat lacking. The villains of the piece reflect the same ideology as Frank; both the larger military-industrial machine willing to commit war crimes and an individual lone gunman who believes the end justifies the means, the antagonists of this series are Frank’s equal and opposite. And yet while the series deliberates, it’s unwilling to truly grapple with the question of what separates them – ultimately, the only thing that makes one a hero and the other a villain is who the series is named after.

Despite this, though, The Punisher is able to find a degree of depth elsewhere. Encouragingly, it avoids fetishizing violence particularly, wallowing not in a hail of bullets and gunfire but taking the time to indulge in slower, character-focused scenes. Jon Bernthal’s performance is key to this, anchoring the material as he elevates it; often the more compelling aspects of the series are the moments when Bernthal is allowed to move beyond the militaristic posturing and show a certain vulnerability to his character.

In hindsight, I wonder if I was actually too positive here – in my surprise that it wasn’t worse, I was maybe too forgiving of all the ways it was still pretty bad. Definitely, that line about fetishizing gun violence should have been way more heavily caveated.

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Riverdale Season 2: Five questions we have after Death Proof

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The latest episode of Riverdale was another entertaining offering from the subversive teen drama – but it also opened up a lot of questions.

As the Southside Serpents are drawn into a conflict with the Ghoulies, Betty gets closer to uncovering the identity of the Black Hood killer, and the mysterious Sugarman is revealed, there are a lot of questions to ask – and a lot of answers we need to find.

Here are five questions we need answering after the latest episode of Riverdale, Death Proof.

It took me ages to work out how I was meant to spell “Ghoulies”, and I’m pretty sure I still got it wrong.

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Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 Episode 9 Review – Into the Forest I Go

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I think it’s fair to say that this was the best episode of Star Trek: Discovery so far.

Certainly, it was a better episode to end the series on than last week’s would have been – indeed, I’m surprised that it was ever seriously the plan not to have this act as mid-series finale. (Conspiracy: This episode was always intended to be the mid-series finale, and the move forward was staged as a show of support. Probably nonsense, but I’m sticking with it.)

In a way, what this episode achieves is fairly simple – but no doubt deeply difficult to pull off. Slick, confident and engrossing, it was one of the most exciting hours of television that Star Trek: Discovery has offered so far. From the tense infiltration of the Klingon ship to the surprisingly stressful spore jump sequence, the episode was an absolute delight. Stamets’ spore drive jump was particularly impressive, actually – embodying exactly the sort of ingenuity and use of technology to solve problems that I’ve love to see more of from Discovery in future.

This episode was one that I really, really enjoyed. Admittedly, I don’t think my review was ‘up to it’, as it were – it’s a little rushed, and not as analytical as I’d have liked.

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Everything you need to know about The Crown series 2

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Series 2 of The Crown is set to be another 10, hour-long episodes. It’s going to cover the end of the 1950s and the beginning of the 1960s, taking the royals through what proved to be a particularly tumultuous decade – the chaos of the Suez crisis, Princess Margaret’s controversial marriage to Lord Snowdon and Philip’s rumoured affairs will all feature as part of this series.

You should watch it because it’s a hugely acclaimed, big-budget series that looks like it might be set to improve upon the first. If nothing else, you can definitely guarantee that Claire Foy will be amazing in it, pretty much single-handedly making The Crown worth your time.

Here’s my article on The Crown. Give it a read!

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