SDCC 2016 ‘The 100’: The Earth Strikes Back!

by Agent Alicia Glass (a.k.a. Pandora the Punctuation Horror)

Welcome back to what is arguably the most popular and controversial CW show, all at the same time! War with the Grounders and potentially the Ice Nation, internal strife with Pike, the AI Ally trying to take over what’s left of the world and the destruction of the City of Light, plus let’s not forget burgeoning gay romances and a whole lot of death; all make for a compelling show we just can’t seem to stop watching and commenting on!

The San Diego Comic-Con panel for The 100 featured Eliza Taylor (Clarke), Henry Ian Cusick (Kane), Lindsay Morgan (Raven), Marie Avgeropolous (Octavia), Chris Larkin (Monty), Richard Harmon (Murphy), and Executive Producer Jason Rothenburg.

The panel started off with a ton of applause for the stars and then went right in to the sizzle reel for the previous season, with a surprise twist at the end – the Earth literally strikes back in season four, with what appears to be floods and other major destruction. And that is the theme for the next season, the natural disasters to try and survive, while Clarke and others wonder, with all they’ve done to survive, do they now deserve to?

Eliza Taylor sports a charming Australian accent, and is always gracious to her fans, especially the ones who come to the mike to ask fan questions dressed as Clarke, or even Lexa. She stated softly that Finn’s death was the hardest scene she had to film thus far, and of course Lexa’s death too. She also charmingly stated that it was a good thing the filming crew were so good at their jobs, because for the climactic love scene between Clarke and Lexa, she and Alycia Debnam-Carey couldn’t help but keep giggling with each-other while in bed.

Marie Avgeropolous is right proud of the strength of her character Octavia, and promises her warrior has gone even darker this upcoming season, due to the loss of Lincoln and all. She doesn’t preen when fans compliment her on such a strong female character, saying rather, “Women have always been strong, and I’m so grateful to be on a show that values that – examples of empowerment should become the norm.”

Avgeropolous went on to laughingly tell a favorite story of a difficult, though amusing, time on set. During the scene in season three where Octavia is attempting to convince Lincoln to go get Luna, Avgeropolous was supposed to be cleaning the hoof of the horse her character was riding. And well, the horse was, how can we put it, “at attention,” we’ll say, so they had to keep changing camera angles because it looked like Avgeropolous had taken a sudden interest in beastiality. The horse trainer, who was nearby, eventually told her to flick the horsey intruder with a stick, gently, because that would make the “at-attention” go away. And the Comic-Con crowd had absolute hysterics!

Richard Harmon is forever an amused prankster, and took a few moments to himself to admire the large happy audience, before plunking down to deliver glib, grinning one-liners, like how, “Murphy is everyone’s favorite cockroach.” He gleefully displayed chipped, dark nail polish to the cheering crowd after being accused of enjoying makeup on set, drawling about he had originally auditioned for the role of Bellamy and how different that would have been.

Chris Larkin was much more lively than his character Monty on the show, trading off happy one-liners with Harmon, whom he sat next to on the panel. His scariest moment on the show thus far was learning to drive stick, as he grinned, “There’s nothing scarier than driving at night, in fog, with a huge camera mounted 2 feet away from your face on the rover, being driven by someone who’s only driven stick for an hour!”

Rothenburg dropped several surprises on the happy crowd, such as the fact that Roan and Indra are both indeed alive in the new season, and that Roan (Zack McGowan) will be joining the show as a cast regular. Rothenburg also promised that the very first episode of the new season addresses the power vacuum left in the Skycrew camp. He even stated that originally in the season three finale, Jasper was going to kill himself at the end, but that that ending, even though the crew did indeed film the whole thing, was too dark even for Rothenburg himself. And don’t think we’re not all grateful for it; The 100 is plenty lovingly dark already.

The 100 will flood its way back to us adoring fans in 2017!

‘Childhood’s End’: The Kids Really Did Do It

by Agent Alicia Glass (a.k.a. Pandora the Punctuation Horror)

Due to time constraints and far too many new and hopefully great Syfy shows being previewed before their actual beginning run in January 2016, Pandora is reviewing the Childhood’s End middle and finale episode together. Embrace the madness!

‘Childhood’s End, The Deceivers’: Do what, now?

It’s completely possible to tell that this is the middle episode, and indeed, it feels very much like the show-makers were flummoxed here in the center. I’m guessing the Arthur C. Clarke story the show is based on (I haven’t read it) has a middle act that is ill-defined or hard to explain in visual terms without giving the final act completely away.

We know this middle episode is supposed to be the setup for whatever happens to the children in the final act, but the setup seems to almost entirely hinge on the Greggson family and the wife’s current pregnancy. We came all the way to South Africa on the flimsiest of pretenses, no-one seemed to have any concern over the idea that a pregnant woman will be flying in a Guilty Spark-like alien pod to get there, and it wasn’t odd at all that the whole family, including small boy, were invited. There’s that crazy room with the alien version of a pearled Ouija board, and while it’s fine to see (Christian) in that familiar power-impotence role of his, most of the scene seems … contrived? The possibly-pregnant-with-alien-baby woman is made to use the alien Ouija board to send a glowy message to … someone, while Karellen himself powerlessly pleads with … someone, to accept their destiny. We almost feel sorry for him.

Then, there’s the fact that it’s been almost two decades since the Overlords arrived, and Ricky hasn’t heard from Karellen in quite a while, until an out-of-the-blue midnight visit in Ricky’s barn. What’s Karellen doing here after all these years? Well, Ricky is sick. Karellen wants to apologize for that, he thinks it’s entirely possible all those previous visits to the Overlord spaceships did Ricky long-lasting harm. But more than that, Karellen drops the devastating bomb that Ricky can’t have children. Notice how it all spirals back to the children?

It takes a lot of heffle and feffle to get there, but eventually we all learn that the exposure to the spaceship isn’t what caused Ricky’s infertility, Karellen chose to do that himself. Why on earth would he sterilize one of the few humans he can actually call friend? Because the inevitable BigBad is coming, it involves the children, and like the tidal wave, cannot be reasoned with or stopped. It seems this lush amazement we now call our planet and the peaceful (if not completely cow-eyed) existence humanity now leads comes at the heftiest price imaginable: our children. And Karellen wanted to spare his friend Ricky from that kind of pain, which is an interesting, if a bit twisted, compliment.

These two main plot points are the only real meat of this middle episode, with mini, flitting stories wandering near these two major events like lost fireflies. It would have been entirely possible to pare down the middle episode to an hour, to make room for more commercials for new Syfy shows.

 

‘Childhood’s End, The Children’: Damned kids, get off my lawn!

ChildhoodsEnd_hero_Karellen

And so, here we are at the finale and Milo is once again narrating in his admiring and yet totally paranoid fashion, how the earth has changed since the arrival of the Overlords nearly twenty-five years ago. The Greggsons had their alien-touched daughter, Jennifer, approximately four years ago, and she has a noticeable effect on, well, all the children. Ricky’s officially dying by much more than increments now, and Karellen wants nothing more than to save his human friend by sticking him in The Hotel Room forever and ever.

Far too much attention is paid to Ricky and his plight. Don’t get me wrong, the prophet of the Overlords was used pretty harshly and Mike Vogel’s latest role after the cancellation of Under the Dome is fairly well done. It’s just that Ricky’s inability to reconcile the death of ‘the love of his life’ and the woman who chose childlessness in real life just to be with him, while heart-wrenching, has no real bearing on what’s happening to the earth or humanitys children. It just happens to be a sad parallel story that minorly showcases Karellen’s reluctance to see Ricky, his one and only true human friend, finally die. Oh, let’s not forget, a poison that Ricky voluntarily took on when he became the ambassador between the Overlords and humans.

Jake Greggson decided he had had enough when the children start acting really strange around Jennifer, so it’s off to the last free city of mankind, called New Athens. Here, the man who passes for mayor welcomes the Greggsons more or less warmly, touting the freedoms of the city and humanity in a place where supposedly the Overlords won’t interfere, a place alive with old human passions like art and music. This seems to impress the already-nervous Greggsons, and they gamely make a go of settling in and just living, despite still being followed by children who seems to view Jennifer like the newest messiah. The manner in which the mayor unapologetically tries to explain his artistic passions, especially after the loss of his daughter, rather reminds me of the interesting and all-reaching storyline of God-Emperor of Dune: without conflict of some kind, without passion, humanity stagnates. But that’s just a philosophical thought that’s nothing in the face of the Overmind’s all-reaching plan.

What about the Overmind, you say? Stay with me here, this gets a little complicated and a good deal of it was glossed over on the small screen. Like, once again, the translation of the thought Arthur C. Clarke tried to express in his story was impossible to translate into understandable visual terms. The children have all flown away, the mayor is crying over a freaking nuclear bomb and a bottle of wine, and Milo has determined he’s going to go with a shipment of zoo animals to the Overlord homeworld and figure out once and for all wth’s going on. Maybe even stop it if he’s stupid-lucky. Bu,t Milo can only guess at how long the trip to the Overlord homeworld and back will take, so he could be gone from his love-lady for 100 days or 80 years, give or take. But determined he is, so he stows away with a squid in stasis and manages to indeed make it to the Overlord homeworld, to witness for himself the awesome presence of the Overmind, the  collective consciousness of this universe, the thing/it/whatever that commanded the Overlords to oversee the changes to the earth.

The scene between Milo and the Overmind is … strange. Trying to visually explain such deep concepts is very hard for a movie with a giant film budget, never mind a miniseries on tv. But, to bring us back full circle to the intro of the first episode, where Milo was talking to a mini-bot about being the last man on earth, Milo insists on being brought back to an Earth he wouldn’t recognize, 85 freaking years after he left it. His love Rachel is quite dead and while turning her into a popsicle might have been Karellen’s idea of a gift, it doesn’t go over well with Milo. He insists on going back to Earth’s surface, dead with nuclear fallout and a severe lack of humanity, as Jennifer-the-chosen-one winds up the last bit of food energy the earth has for her final melding with the Overmind!

Knowing the end really is nigh and there isn’t a thing in heaven or earth that he can do about it, Milo begs Karellen to save one thing, just one thing of human culture, don’t let us go quietly into that good night forever. I thought it was lovely that music, in particular a well-played classical violin, was the Overlords choice, and they promised to leave it playing in the space Earth used to occupy, for whomever came by. And that’s it folks: the earth is gone, the Overmind won, the legacy of humanity lives on forever in our music, and this time, the kids really did do it.

XXX