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Posted by Mark Oshiro

In the fifth episode of the second season of Enterprise, a Porthos-centric episode ends up being not nearly as good as I would have expected. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.

Trigger Warning: For discussion of death of a pet.

I really did want to like this, but it’s such an odd story, mostly due to the tone. I can’t imagine something more serious than the possible death of a beloved pet. And while “A Night in Sickbay” addresses this, there’s a starkly comic vibe to the story that never quite feels like it belongs. On top of that, the Kreetassan plot feels like it exists for the circumstance only, so that makes… well, there are three stories here that are all tangentially related to one another and vary wildly in tone.

It’s a lot to take in. As someone who grew up with plenty of dogs and cats, I felt distracted by Porthos’s condition. It’s hard to focus on anything when a pet is ill, and I will say that this episode does do a fine job portraying that. This is the most irritable and irascible that Archer has ever been, so he always seems frayed at the edges. That’s a good thing! It’s a believable portrayal of something that’s horrific to go through. And I also understand how humor can be a beautifully distracting thing to have when you’re dealing with something this stressful.

Yet the idea of sticking Archer and Dr. Phlox together in sick bay for the night only works some of the time. It’s not these actors’ fault, mind you, and there’s a wonderful wackiness to watching them clash. But the humor intended in the many scenes Archer and Phlox have with one another feels crass at times. If someone had been confined to sick bay for a reason that was sillier, I doubt I would have had as much of a problem dealing with the tonal dissonance. However, was this the best episode for gross-out humor regarding Phlox’s body? Or the time to be jokey about Phlox’s many animals that he keeps for medical reasons? Or for this exploration of the way that Archer and Phlox are so totally unlike one another?

See, when “A Night in Sickbay” abandons the pretense of making us laugh amidst worrying if Porthos will die, it actually becomes a much stronger episode. My favorite part of the whole thing is when Archer asks Phlox if he misses his family. It’s here that we learn that Denobulans are poly, y’all. THEY ALL MARRY MULTIPLE PARTNERS AND CONSIDER THEM ALL PART OF THE FAMILY. Obviously, I was excited to get confirmation that at least one major character in the Trek universe didn’t fall into familiar patterns, but even if that reveal hadn’t happened, I appreciated that this script found ways to get Phlox and Archer to open up about themselves. Watching them bond and learn more about one another was a fantastic thing!

Maybe not in every case, though. I can’t say I find myself too thrilled about the development of Archer’s attraction to T’Pol. If she didn’t remind me too much of Seven of Nine – the undeniably pretty outsider who causes people to struggle with their attraction to her – then I wouldn’t call foul here. But the dynamic is so similar! It just doesn’t hold any interest for me, especially not this early into the show. I AM NOT OPPOSED TO ROMANCE, but I just want T’Pol developed further before we possibly head down this path.

Other than that… I don’t know, this just didn’t click with me. It needed more focus at times, and perhaps it’s all just a matter of taste rather than anything worthy of a deep critical analysis. At least Porthos is alive by the end. THAT IS ULTIMATELY ALL THAT MATTERS.

The video for “A Night in Sickbay” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

Mark Links Stuff

– Please visit my new site for all announcements. If you’d rather not have to rely on checking a website regularly, sign up for my newsletter instead! This will cover all news for Mark Reads, Mark Watches, and my fiction releases. 

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Posted by Mark Oshiro

In the first episode of the fifth season of Steven Universe, Steven confronts Lars. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Steven Universe

In more ways than one, Steven Universe does a wonderful deconstructing what it means to be a hero. Sometimes, it’s through the complicated stories about people doing terrible things in the name of what’s right. Yet in “Stuck Together,” the writers take to task the idea that being heroic has no real emotional affect on a person. Now, that’s an absurd thing to say about Steven, of course, because I can’t imagine a character more emotional than him. HE IS MY BEAUTIFUL CRYING BOY.

Within the context of recent events, though, I found this episode a revelation. We’ve all seen the heroic sacrifice; we’ve all seen a protagonist offer themselves up to save a friend. What’s rarer, though, is the aftermath, and that’s why “Stuck Together” felt so huge to me. The entirety of this episode takes place within the spaceship that’s heading back to the Homeworld, and it’s an examination of the compartmentalizing that Steven must do to present himself as a fearless hero. His foil, then, is Lars, the character who saw danger and ran away from it to hide.

Yet this story doesn’t paint Lars as a villain. If anything, he’s tragically relatable. That doesn’t mean he shouldn’t apologize to anyone or hold himself accountable. Rather, while literally stuck in this predicament, Lars and Steven fight over whether or not being heroic is worth it. Oh, Lars certainly doesn’t think that’s what they’re talking about, BUT IT IS. He devalues himself; he devalues his contributions; he devalues his worth. Above all, though, he is afraid. That’s not a surprising revelation to any of us who have been watching this show; his fear has manifested as anxiety for a long time. But he admits it so starkly while stuck within Topaz, and it was HEARTBREAKING.

So of course the show makes it worse by having Steven admit that he is probably just as scared as Lars. Gods, that monologue is so amazing, y’all. Again, it’s not like it’s surprising that Steven is frightened even when he’s making these heroic choices. But in that moment, these two characters open up to one another, and they are blissfully vulnerable. Lars actually says something optimistic, which is so unlike him that Steven practically asks him to go back to being a pessimist. It’s honestly one of my favorite scenes in the show…

…AND WAS INCREDIBLE ENOUGH THAT TOPAZ SPOKE. Oh my god, WHAT A SHOCKER. First of all, I’m glad that by having Topaz speak and revealing more about themselves and their fusion partner, the show doesn’t allow her to follow into that continued trope of having their large and butch characters to be antagonists. Instead, Topaz bursts into tears over Lars’s and Steven’s conversation, and she admits that she wishes she could be honest about the other Topaz. UGH, THIS SHOW IS SO CANONICALLY QUEER IT HURTS ME. Because here’s another non-straight relationship presented to us unapologetically, and it feels different. It’s not like Garnet and her fusions, either! Plus, you could easily read a whole host of themes surrounding repression into this character, so EXCUSE ME IF I GO AHEAD AND PROJECT ALL OVER TOPAZ. Like, #me? There’s probably a whole lot of you out there who see a character who has a near-breakdown over just wanting to be honest with someone they care about, but social norms prevent you from doing so.

H E L P.

Which is why I was so upset by Aquamarine’s treatment of Topaz. There’s an interesting moment towards the end of this that I don’t want to ignore, but it was clear that she view Topaz as lesser than her, and thus, she could treat her terribly. So… why didn’t she shatter Topaz? Why did she agree to let Topaz stay together event hough she obviously looks down on fusions? IS THERE SOMETHING ELSE GOING ON HERE?

Whew, what a premiere. I’m so glad I don’t have to wait for the next episode.

The video for “Stuck Together” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

Mark Links Stuff

– Please visit my new site for all announcements. If you’d rather not have to rely on checking a website regularly, sign up for my newsletter instead! This will cover all news for Mark Reads, Mark Watches, and my fiction releases. 

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Posted by Mark Oshiro

In the forty-fourth episode of the second season of Gargoyles, the gargoyles must defend their nemesis from an all-powerful being. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Gargoyles

Sometimes, the most obvious answers are right there in front of me. I was so convinced of how obvious it was that Titania was Puck that I ignored the more obvious clue: Titania and Anastasia Renard were both voiced by Kate Mulgrew. I EVEN POINTED THIS OUT AND JUST ASSUMED THAT THE SHOWRUNNERS HAD CAST HER BECAUSE WHY NOT.

OH MY GOD. I’d say I’m embarrassed but this is just par for the course with this show, y’all. “The Gathering, Part One,” presents the newly-reunited clan with one hell of a dilemma: what do you do when your number one enemy needs your help? What do you do when the victim of a terrible injustice is someone you hate? Do your ethics still apply, or is the situation too personal?

There’s a bit of set-up here before we get to that critical point, and I’m impressed that there’s still room for mysteries and revelations for these characters after so many episodes. Yet this also comes off of “Future Tense,” so the fact that Alexander Fox Xanatos has now been born feels like the start of something terrible. It’s just that, for the time being, that terrible thing was not what I or anyone else expected. (EXCEPT FOR OWEN. HOW THE FUCK DID HE KNOW ANASTASIA WAS TITANIA??!?!?!? WHY ISN’T HE STICKING AROUND? I NEED ANSWERS.) Oberon’s Gathering – which is shown to us briefly in an early part of this episode – has an unintended consequence for Fox and Xanatos. Initially, I couldn’t see how this story would evolve from the Gathering into something that warranted more than one part. So, Oberon’s children returned, all except for Titania and Puck. (And I still believed at that point that they were the same person.) I side-eyed the fact that a lot of characters we’d met were Oberon’s Children because it’s still invoking that trope of taking cultural beliefs and stripping them of their meaning. (Which I talked about in “Heritage.” This also retroactively makes the events of “Cloud Fathers” susceptible to the same criticism.) Otherwise… they were back home! There was fighting! The Banshee was forbidden from using her voice as punishment! So… what else was left? Getting Puck, who had told Goliath in “Future Tense” that he didn’t want to return.

Given that we had watched the Children return home to Avalon, I was bothered that we didn’t get the same sequence for Elisa, Bronx, and Goliath. I really wanted a moment where the Brooklyn Bridge or Manhattan Bridge came into view, especially since Gargoyles had been building towards that for some time. Granted, I was satisfied with the reunion in the clocktower, and LORD DID IT MAKE ME TEAR UP. I’m so glad that they got home safely and that the magic of Avalon let them go! But – again – I couldn’t see how any of this was connected.

The key, however, was Alexander. Alexander, who was born of Fox, who was TITANIA’S DAUGHTER, and who wasn’t trained in magic and THUS IT NEVER DEVELOPED IN HER, but Alexander… oh, he’s magical. So how do you stop someone like Oberon from getting what he wants? Iron, sure, but even that weakness isn’t absolute. Owen seems to have done his homework, employing a number of devices and science shit I don’t understand to counteract Oberon’s power. That doesn’t help the MILLIONS OF NEW YORKERS WHO ARE PUT TO SLEEP BY OBERON. WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH THIS SHOW.

What I’m most interested in going forward is how the gargoyles and Elisa are going to deal with this hellish reality. They refuse to help Titania, and she warns them not to interfere. We all know they aren’t going to do that, but what are the consequences of this? Is Xanatos going to actually appreciate them for this, or is he just going to continue being the worst? I have some faith in Owen’s defensive measures; he clearly knows what he’s doing. Goliath and Elisa know about the iron weakness, but… what can they possibly do when he’s grown to the size of a giant??? Will Oberon’s children be okay with this? Will Titania retaliate?

THIS IS SO GREAT AND SO DISTURBING.

The video for “The Gathering, Part One” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

Mark Links Stuff

– Please visit my new site for all announcements. If you’d rather not have to rely on checking a website regularly, sign up for my newsletter instead! This will cover all news for Mark Reads, Mark Watches, and my fiction releases. 

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Posted by Mark Oshiro

In the fourth episode of the second season of Enterprise, THIS IS SO MESSED UP. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek

Trigger Warning: For consent and body horror.

HELP. I WAS NOT READY FOR THIS TO BE A SEQUEL TO “MINEFIELD.” AND IT’S A LARGE REASON WHY IT’S SO GOOD. AND I’M SO DISTURBED. AND IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT.

Just… holy shit. I love a mystery that is this compelling and unnerving and then COMPLETELY STICKS THE LANDING. That is so hard to do, especially when it felt like all the disparate pieces of this story did not seem to fit at all. For the life of me, I could not figure out what the catch was. Why was this Tellarite repair station so relatively cheap? Why the hell did this computer appear to have killed Travis? WHAT WAS IT THAT MADE ARCHER SO CREEPED OUT BY THIS PROCESS?

Until we reach that answer, this is a cleverly executed science fiction story, something that honestly felt like a novel more than a television show. That’s a common way of praising the writing for this medium, I know, but it’s a great method of conveying the depth that’s given to us in a relatively short time. The script for “Dead Stop” does not rush through the motions; instead, it moves at a slow pace, revealing each new facet of this repair station meticulously. Right from the start, instinct and savviness tells us something is wrong with this place, and thus, Archer becomes the avatar for the audience. Look, all of us know that this station felt too good to be true. A repair station in the middle of nowhere that perfectly adapted its docking bay to the shape and size of Enterprise? Surely, that’s not just a neat bit of technology, right?

Then, it’s revealed that there aren’t any people onboard the station, and I WAS READY TO NOPE OUT OF THERE RIGHT THEN. An abandoned station is the most stress-inducing trope for me because I always want to know why it’s so empty!!! The writers know this, and they knew that once we found out how much the repairs would cost, we would all be suspicious. That’s the brilliance of “Dead Stop,” though. This script isn’t condescending to the dedicated Trek viewer. Instead, it exploits our familiarity with many of the tropes deployed throughout, and it leaves us bewildered and uncertain. Is this all a trap so that the Tellarites can gain information about other ships and species? Is there a hidden cost to the repairs? See, I spent this whole episode waiting for the other shoe to drop, and THIS SHOW KNEW I WOULD DO THIS. I felt personally attacked by everything here!

I’m also glad I don’t have to write an essay about how fucked it up it was to kill off Travis. WE ARE ALL RELIEVED, HONESTLY. Yet even in that, you’ve got the same dynamic: the show wouldn’t really kill a main character in such a ridiculous and meaningless way, right? (It’s at this point that a certain character from The Next Generation and another one from Deep Space Nine screech at me from beyond the grave.) So why the hell had the computer on the station done that? If it hadn’t killed him, then WHAT THE FUCK ACTUALLY HAPPENED? None of this made sense to me!

Now, I could see someone feeling like the resolution of this episode was a bit rushed. It’s certainly a story with little closure, since Dr. Phlox is only able to make an educated guess as to why this computer kidnapped Travis and then duplicated his body and left it behind on Enterprise. Given what T’Pol and Archer found in the central core, I’d say that Dr. Phlox’s theory is correct. But the why is left out of all of this. Did the Tellarites deliberately construct a station to steal living beings to use their brain’s computing power? I’m more inclined to believe that the AI or computer system adapted in the absence of any living programmers. In order to survive, it “stole” the means to improve its abilities.

It’s a meaningless act, sure. The computer can’t really be evil in a way we could categorize it, and that makes this that much more disturbing. No one will probably ever get the closure they need, and certainly not Travis. That final image is so creepy, too, since it’s entirely possible that the station will continue repairing itself, and then the cycle will commence again. Y’all, this was like a Twilight Zone crossover, I swear. IT WAS SO GOOD.

The video for “Dead Stop” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

Mark Links Stuff

– Please visit my new site for all announcements. If you’d rather not have to rely on checking a website regularly, sign up for my newsletter instead! This will cover all news for Mark Reads, Mark Watches, and my fiction releases. 

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Posted by Mark Oshiro

I can’t believe it’s been FIVE MONTHS since I last did one of these, BUT HERE I AM. Time for me to make a fool of myself on the Internet!!!

All right, let’s go over predictions from last time:

  1. We will see Jasper again. OH MY GOD.
  2. There will be one episode at the barn with Lapis and Peridot. There were more than one!
  3. We’ll see the Rubies again, but not Eyeball/Doc. I believe I got this wrong, but blame it on it being FIVE MONTHS since I saw these episodes.
  4. We’ll get an episode about the Diamonds. OH, DID WE EVER.
  5. We’ll see some of the corrupt creatures that Jasper captured. H E L P.
  6. Another kindergarten will be revealed. Okay, now I just flat out have a bad memory. I don’t think we saw another one? 
  7. Steven will fuse with Pearl at one point! I tried. 
  8. Connie will get another training episode. Oooooh… I don’t think my prediction counts.
  9. We’ll meet another gem we haven’t seen before. so many
  10. We’ll meet another type of gem we haven’t seen before. SO MANY.
  11. MORE BISMUTH. UNBUBBLE BISMUTH. TRAGEDY.
  12. Steven will learn how to un-corrupt gems!!! I would still love to see this. 
  13. We’ll see Sapphire and Ruby in one episode. YES. AND IT WAS GREAT.
  14. This season’s big arc: the Diamonds trying to retake Earth. Oh god, I wasn’t even CLOSE. I wasn’t ready!!!
  15. The other arc: Steven learning the truth about who Rose Quartz really was. I still think this is an appropriate guess, and it’s gets to the core of the show, so now I’m realizing it can’t REALLY be answered before the show ends?
  16. There’ll be another musical episode. I’M COUNTING A FEW.
  17. STEVEN GOES ON THE INTERNET. THE BEST. He made references to it, but I won’t count this because it has to be a full episode about it.
  18. I’m scared. As you should be.

So, not the worst? But oh, the possibilities going into season 5. I’m so thrilled!

Mark’s Predictions for Season 5

  1. We will get a scene (or, ideally, an episode) devoted to Steven confronting Lars about what he did when Sadie needed help.
  2. Steven won’t even find Lars until halfway through the first episode.
  3. The ship WILL make it to the homeworld.
  4. There will be some sort of public spectacle involving Steven being asked to answer for the crimes of his mother.
  5. Steven will be pardoned in some way rather than be convicted.
  6. Steven and Lars will get sent home.
  7. But not before Lars tries to make some sort of heroic sacrifice to make up for his fright from earlier.
  8. There will be an episode devoted to Lars and Sadie reuniting and dealing with COMPLICATED FEELINGS.
  9. There will be another Lapris/Peridot episode.
  10. We’ll see another Aquamarine and another Topaz.
  11. I will at some point be unable to tell what color a new gem is because I’m a mess.
  12. We’ll find out how Pink Diamond died.
  13. We’ll see the Rubies again.
  14. I legitimately have no idea what the season-long arc will be, though. Not one clue.
  15. So… uh… messed up?
  16. I’m afraid again.

Onwards, friends!

Mark Links Stuff

– Please visit my new site for all announcements. If you’d rather not have to rely on checking a website regularly, sign up for my newsletter instead! This will cover all news for Mark Reads, Mark Watches, and my fiction releases. 

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Posted by Mark Oshiro

In the forty-third episode of the second season of Gargoyles, I cannot deal with this episode, and it’s all your fault. Yes. You. If you’re intrigued, then it’s time for Mark to watch Gargoyles

Trigger Warning: For death, poverty, and ableism.

YOU ALL DID THIS TO ME, WHAT THE FUCK JUST HAPPENED.

  • I can’t.
  • This is perhaps the most fucked up time travel story I’ve seen in a long time
  • Children watched this.
  • Adults watched this.
  • EVERYONE WHO WATCHED THIS WITNESSED NEARLY EVERY CHARACTER DYING TRAGICALLY ON SCREEN.
  • And then the climax of this nightmare is not, “Oh, it was all a dream, don’t worry!”
  • NO, IT’S THE MASSIVE SUGGESTION THAT THIS FUTURE WAS A GLIMPSE OF THE REAL THING.
  • WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO ME
  • Can we talk about how brutal this episode is and why it is designed that way?
  • Until the reveal of Puck, I had no theory as to why the Avalon magic had sent Goliath and the team forty years into the future. If Goliath wasn’t going to use the Phoenix Gate, then what was so important about events that happened in a time period so far away? I could understand Avalon sending them to the past, but the future?
  • I have to give this show credit: this is one of the most bewildering Mark Watches experiences yet. I almost can’t believe how quickly the plot twists and shocks rolled out in “Future Tense.” This episode drops us into a nightmare and never once gives a chance to breath or process anything that happens. We go from the reveal of a dystopic Manhattan to Xanatos’s guard robots to Matt Bluestone rescuing Goliath FORTY YEARS IN THE FUTURE. The worldbuilding done here might be sparse, but it’s incredibly effective. We learn how Manhattan’s residents are subject to daily patrols by a vicious security force, all while they wait for this inevitable “utopia” that Xanatos continually promises. Everyone lives in abject poverty. Manhattan is literally cut off from the rest of the world, surrounded by pollution, and a place of endless terror. And for what? An ego play. A chance for Xanatos to achieve the combination of supremacy and power he always wanted.
  • And then we meet the people of the future. Brooklyn is still the leader, but he’s far more cynical. For what it’s worth, he’s also clearly in charge, a massive change from the reluctance we saw from him earlier this season.
  • Broadway was seriously injured during one of many wars over the years, though I must provide some criticism of this. The writers invoke a trope (probably unknowingly) that’s common with blindness: the “alternate” version of a character in a dark world being disabled. Like that’s the worst thing a person can be is blind, you know?
  • Lexington was made or willingly chose to become cybernetic, and my guess is the latter, given that he was the behind this entire Xanatos utopia. And really, that should have been my clue that this was all a trick: why would Lexington willingly do something so horrific? Why would he betray everyone he had ever known? And for what?
  • But at the time, I bought this. It felt horrifying, but well-constructed. And that’s what worries me: a character like Puck probably could see possible timelines in the future. How much of this was a construction or a fabrication? How much of this was borrowed from things that very well could happen?
  • I CANNOT BELIEVE HOW MANY CHARACTERS DIED ONSCREEN AND HOW CASUAL IT WAS. Claw, Brooklyn, and Bluestone are murdered in a matter of seconds and then THE SHOW MOVES ON. Broadway’s death is just COMPLETELY UNFAIR.
  • And yes, there’s technically the chance that none of this was real, but does it also mean that it doesn’t matter? In this context, I’m actually not sure, and it’s why “Future Tense” unnerved me as much as it did.
  • I wasn’t ready for one goddamn second of this. LEXINGTON AND DEMONA WERE TOGETHER. CHAVEZ’S DAUGHTER WAS THERE. DEREK AND THE REST OF HIS CLAN WERE DEAD. EVERYTHING WAS THE WORST.
  • I still can’t.

The video for “Future Tense” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

Mark Links Stuff

– Please visit my new site for all announcements. If you’d rather not have to rely on checking a website regularly, sign up for my newsletter instead! This will cover all news for Mark Reads, Mark Watches, and my fiction releases. 

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Posted by Mark Oshiro

In the third episode of the second season of Enterprise, THIS EPISODE IS INCREDIBLE. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.

Trigger Warning: For brief discussion of aquaphobia

You know… Malcolm Reed gets in a lot of life-or-death situations, doesn’t he? Him and Tucker are constantly NEARLY DYING, and lord, this example is somehow a billion times worse than when Malcolm nearly froze to death. It’s also a vastly superior episode because… well, let’s talk about that. It’s not that “Minefield” is trope free or anything. There’s still an element of familiarity to this script, but I found myself enraptured by how this all unfolded. It came across as so urgent, first of all, but that doesn’t mean the writers traded suspense for flat characterization. Much more so than “Shuttlepod One,” this episode explores character in a way that the former lacks.

Which is fascinating to me, since both episodes have Malcolm Reed in them as a focus! Yet there’s a stark difference here, and it’s evident in the opening scene of “Minefield.” At the time, I didn’t understand the importance of Malcolm’s awkward behavior during breakfast. He seemed so deeply uncomfortable with the very idea of being social with Archer, and I chalked it up to a lack of experience. We’d never seen him have a meal with his captain, so maybe he’d have to adjust!

Yet the writers build off of this after Malcolm volunteers to defuse a mine that becomes lodged on Enterprise‘s hull. (THAT EXPLOSION WAS SO SCARY. BLESS THE SPECIAL EFFECTS OF THIS SHOW.) I figured that the only tense thing we were going to deal with was the meticulous defusing of the mine. Right??? That was bad enough. No one knew why there were mines surrounding that planet; no one knew what sort of people had deployed them; and Malcolm basically had to make educated guesses as to how he could stop this mine from exploding.

Look, I just love writing where a very difficult and challenging thing happens and the text explores the aftermath. This is exactly what “Minefield” does by having another magnetic leg of the mine attach to the hull of Enterprise THROUGH MALCOLM’S LEG. It is a painfully visceral sequence, and it immediately changes the stakes. The tension. The fear! And unlike “Shuttlepod One,” the conversation that Archer has with Malcolm while he tries to defuse the mine comes off as meaningful. Important. Revelatory! It doesn’t come off as trite as I expected, and that’s particularly because of how deep the writers go in exploring Malcolm. Faced with the possibility of his death, Malcolm is shockingly honest about his family’s history and the legacy of heroism. I do think this goes a long way in explaining why Malcolm’s father behaves so strangely towards him. I believe we knew that Malcolm had not pursued a career in the Navy and that his position in Starfleet was a point of contention for his father. But this adds layers to that. Malcolm has aquaphobia, more specifically a fear of drowning. And he’s not even the first member of his family to have it! WHICH MAKES MATTERS WORSE! His great uncle (I may have gotten that familial designation wrong) not only joined the Navy despite his phobia, but he “faced” it and DIED IN THE VERY MANNER HE MOST FEARED WHILE SAVING HIS SHIP.

My god, practically ANYONE would develop a fixation or a complex over heroism, duty, and fear after something like that, right? I can easily imagine the sort of pressure Malcolm was put under while growing up. I can imagine the crushing disappointment when he chose not to do as his great uncle did. And this episode does an incredible job of gradually leading us to that point where Malcolm unhooks his oxygen tube from his tank in order to sacrifice himself. Without that build up and without the emotional context, that might have seemed uncharacteristic and strange. Instead, Archer’s talk with Malcolm reveals the complicated reality of Malcom’s insecurities and fears, and it’s a heartbreaking thing to watch. Just that morning, all Archer wanted to do was to get to know his Armory Officer better, AND THEN THIS HAPPENS.

Oh, and no big deal, this episode casually features humanity’s first contact with the Romulans, NO BIG DEAL AT ALL.

I admire this episode because it’s got such a skilled balance between plot and characterization, and I know that’s not easy to pull off. BUT THIS EPISODE DID IT. Bravo, Enterprise, and bravo to John Shiban, who did a lot of great work on The X-Files!

The video for “Minefield” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

Mark Links Stuff

– Please visit my new site for all announcements. If you’d rather not have to rely on checking a website regularly, sign up for my newsletter instead! This will cover all news for Mark Reads, Mark Watches, and my fiction releases. 

[syndicated profile] markwatchesstuff_feed

Posted by Mark Oshiro

In the twenty-fifth and final episode of the fourth season of Steven Universe, Steven discovers what Aquamarine’s and Topaz’s mission was. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Steven Universe.

I’m just so overwhelmed by this.

Since the beginning of this whole show, Steven has lived in the shadow of his mother. It’s an immutable part of the narrative, which is why “I Am My Mom” feels so huge. After struggling with his own sense of worth, after dealing with his growing abilities, after discovering this massive intergalactic war, Steven has finally made the decision to deal with what was left for me. And it’s really a tragedy if you think about it! Steven never asked to be a part of this. He never made the conscious decision to start this war, but he sure as hell has grown up within it. He has had to deal with consequences of this war, regardless of whether he’s wanted to our not.

And that’s messed up. It’s a messed up thing to have in your childhood, and yet, here’s this bright boy, this beautiful beacon of joy and hope, who is so willing to help his friends and his family, who is willing to risk himself to save others, who is willing to sacrifice his life if that means he can save Earth. On top of it all, he’s also willing to be responsible for what he’s done, and in this case, he blames himself for Aquamarine’s mission. (Moment of silence for my inability to tell apart characters and for thinking that topaz is a blue color? I DON’T KNOW GEM STUFF, I AM A MESS.) I feel more forgiving towards Steven than he does for himself because… well, it’s not like he knew that his conversation ages ago to Peridot would lead to this. However, Steven is aware of what he HAS chosen to do in the recent past, and I interpreted his actions as being a response to that, you know? He’s been dealt a complicated card in life, but that doesn’t mean he relies on that to dodge responsibility.

That’s not the only factor at play here, though. Aquamarine and Topaz are formidable foes, and it’s been awhile since the team was up against people who seem so impossible to beat. Aquamarine’s powers are just RIDICULOUS, y’all. What is that wand??? What else can it do? Where does it get its powers??? What do the other Aquamarines do? I’m guessing all the Topaz gems are soldiers or warriors. Why don’t they talk??? Are they not supposed to? (Let me put my critical hat on, however: this is yet another instance of a large, butch gem being coded negatively. Granted, I know very little about the Topaz line of gems, so maybe the initial characterization will be subverted or something, but as it stands, it’s not a cute look, especially after the Bismuth affair.) These characters left me feeling bewildered, and ultimately, I still have no idea how any of the gems could have fought them off. Even Steven’s protective bubble couldn’t poof Topaz. At best, Steven was able to free the humans from Topaz’s weird fusion ability. Plus, it’s not like any of these fighters are unskilled or out of practice. As far as I could tell, Topaz and Aquamarine were just better.

Then we’ve got Lars. Y’all, the show doesn’t even deal with the ramifications of what he does here, so I’m assuming I’ve got to wait until season 5 to see it. Steven hasn’t even realized that he’s still onboard the ship!!! Oh god, that conversation is going to be so painful. Lars chose to run and hide rather than save Sadie. Or even attempt to save her! You could see the heartbreak on Sadie’s face when it happened, but it was also clear that Lars was more scared than he had ever been in his whole life. I don’t feel like this show is gonna ignore the implications of this, so HERE’S TO HOPING SEASON FIVE RUINS ME FURTHER.

I actually have high hopes for season 5 because this set-up is already so immense. Steven reveals his mother’s gem to Aquamarine and convinces her to take him instead. (Seriously, that scene is amazing, especially Steven loudly proclaiming that he is his mother. MY HEART.) It’s remarkably in-character for him, but it also holds so much promise. Will we learn the truth about Pink Diamond, or will we learn more about Rose Quartz? Will Steven be held accountable for his mother’s crimes? I don’t see the Diamonds as being understanding of this young kid, but YOU NEVER KNOW. Ah, I’m so glad I don’t have to wait for the start of season 5, either. I NEED MORE.

The video for “I Am My Mom” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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Posted by Mark Oshiro

In the forty-second episode of the second season of Gargoyles, Oberon returns. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Gargoyles. 

You know, I didn’t realize how much I am into this trope until now, but here it is: the otherwordly, godly being who is humbled and realizes how much they enjoy and respect those who they previously saw as inferior. I did not believe that we were going to end at that place because OBERON IS TERRIFYING. Most of “Ill Met By Moonlight” felt like a boss battle to me, especially when you’re playing a game that’s more open than most and you accidentally wander into an area of the map where you should be level 40 but you’re level 6 and everything hurts forever.

Oberon’s arrival answers few questions about his children, who apparently are still being called back home. Instead, there’s a more immediate problem: a whole bunch of people now live on his island, and he wants them all gone. Obviously, this is a huge problem because Oberon had abandoned the island a thousand years before, and all these creatures and people had made it their home. But the conflict felt so much more complicated to me than that! That’s partially due to the fact that we still don’t know why Oberon waited so long to return or why this all felt so urgent. He didn’t want them gone in a month or two; he wanted them gone IMMEDIATELY. What for? Spite? Because he’s powerful? Or is it because of that “Gathering” mentioned at the end of the episode?

Regardless of the reason, there’s still such an admirable amount of tension and frustration built into “Ill Met By Moonlight.” Until the non-competitors are given a hint by Titania in regards to Oberon’s weakness, there is no hope whatsover. Even with a limited amount of power, Oberon comes off as invincible. Nothing works against him, so all Angela, Gabriel, and Goliath can do is escape each attack and then run away. So it’s an intense cat-and-mouse game that unfolds onscreen, and not once did I ever feel like those three gargoyles had the upper hand. It’s an interesting choice for the writing because usually, our heroes gain some ground against the antagonists, yet there’s nothing in this episode. It’s just one nightmare after another, including that incredibly close call in the volcano.

Meanwhile, there’s a striking sequence in which the other inhabitants of Avalon discuss Oberon’s weakness and whether they should even be trying to defeat him. IT’S SUCH A COOL MOMENT, and I’m floored that the writers thought to address this. Because it is true that, despite his absence, Avalon “owned” Avalon. It was his island, and to him, these other beings really are invaders. Granted, the closest analogy I have to what they are is refugees, since the gargoyles were brought to that island while the humans were escaping persecution in their world. It’s such a meaty question to ponder, even if it isn’t explored more than a minute or two. Who belongs there? Is it fair for Avalon to have them removed or tormented just because it was once his?

I think the answer to this lies in the theme of Oberon and his children. If they were sent to live amongst humanity to learn a lesson, then this was a lesson for him. His arrogance and sense of superiority made it impossible for him to see any sort of possibility in these people. They were beneath him, and he dealt with them with that in mind. Yet without flinging a single punch at him, a group of them won the battle. WITH JUST THE RINGING OF A BELL. It’s a blow to Oberon’s ego, but it’s a necessary one. Look how much he changes by the end of the episode!!!

So.. who exactly was Titania? Someone we knew??? WHAT??? And what’s the Gathering? Probably that magic that is pulling Oberon’s children home, I’m guessing. But… what’s the magic of Avalon? You know, the one sending the others on missions around the world. I always assumed it was linked to Oberon, but he did not make one mention of it at all! I’M LOST.

The video for “Ill Met By Moonlight” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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Posted by Mark Oshiro

In the second episode of the second season of Enterprise, T’Pol tells a story. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek

This is like a more charming version of “Little Green Men,” or perhaps a spiritual successor to “The City on the Edge of Forever,” which isn’t a suggestion that this is merely a copy of something that’s come before. Indeed, there’s a lot here that made this feel unique. For one, it’s a bold choice in terms of focus because the entire episode is devoted to three characters we’ve never met and will likely never see again. It’s an extended flashback AND a story within another story. And it’s all about Vulcans!

Ultimately, I thought “Carbon Creek” was endlessly charming and endearing, which is a feat in and of itself, given that T’Mir, Stron, and Mestral themselves were often so stoic. (Well, maybe not Mestral, but more on that in a bit.) As a storyteller, T’Pol is very matter-of-fact, which is not that surprising, but what thrilled me about this was all the small moments that revealed that Vulcans are not as un-emotional as they claim themselves to be. Here, after crashing on Earth in the 1950s, three Vulcans (including T’Pol’s great grandmother!) attempt to survive on their own before being forced to interact with the people of Carbon Creek, Pennsylvania. The writers exploit a lot of the awkwardness and tension that I expected from this sort of scenario, so in that sense, this was familiar. They’re aliens trying to blend in with humans while avoiding detecting. Of course, there’s gonna be a lot of culture clashing that almost risks spoiling who they really are.

Yet the big thing that distinguishes this from the episodes I mentioned at the start of this is the character work. You can see a similarity between T’Pol and her great grandmother, T’Mir, though T’Mir is much more rigid and strict than T’Pol usually is. There’s Stron, who is unimpressed with humanity and just wants to get home as quick as possible. But Mestral finds humanity fascinating AND THEN PROMPTLY BREAKS ABOUT A BILLION PROTOCOL OUT OF THIS FASCINATION. But it’s rewarding to watch this because he’s so sincere about everything he does. From his decision to hustle people in pool to make money to his interest in Maggie, he commits to everything so completely. He doesn’t half-ass anything in this episode. Why? Well, unlike T’Mir and Stron, he’s willing to engage his emotions. Mestral begins to develop an intense compassion for humanity, and I’m not just referring to his romantic interest in Maggie. That’s a part of this, too, but in hindsight, I see how Mestral rethinks his perception of humans and adjusts himself accordingly. He goes from a curiosity to caring. Look how determined he was to risk himself, his well-being, and the safety of the Vulcans so that he could rescue the other miners! Yes, it was the kind of behavior that could have gotten them all discovered, but that’s partially why this was so rewarding to watch. Mestral became emotional about humans. OF COURSE I WAS GONNA LIKE THIS.

Yet this transformation is not reserved for Mestral alone. T’Mir developed a quiet compassion within “Carbon Creek” as well. She comes to see the tragedy in how money can often limit a person’s opportunities, no matter how “fair” this is or not. Should she have intervened? According to Vulcan protocol, no. She should have left Billy alone and let him delay going to college. BUT SHE INSTEAD “INVENTS” VELCRO, SELLS IT, AND THEN GIVES THE MONEY TO BILLY. Also: oh god, how cheap was tuition back then? I don’t even want to know because I’m sure it’ll make me mad.

So, is every detail in this episode true? I think I’m delighted more by the idea that T’Pol made some of this up; that implies that she’s more creative than she’s letting on. But I don’t doubt that first contact was made in Carbon Creek over two hundred years prior. Instead, I’ll just accept T’Pol’s story at face value. It’s just a story, right?

The video for “Carbon Creek” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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Posted by Mark Oshiro

In the twenty-fourth and penultimate episode of the fourth season of Steven Universe, Steven realizes that residents of Beach City have gone missing. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Steven Universe

By virtue of the fact that I’ve watched season four over the course of many months, I felt like “Are You My Dad?” hit a whole lot harder than if I had watched this straight through. So… yay? Except BOO TO MY HEART, which was not ready for the final scene of this episode. I wouldn’t say that the hints towards this end were subtle, necessarily. It was pretty blatant that two creatures or people were stalking about Beach City. But this episode reveals that everyone who saw them disappeared shortly afterwards.

And while most of this episode is a set-up for something else, it’s not without meaning or emotional power. If anything, it’s kind of sad. We’ve never seen Sour Cream look so dejected as when he’s setting out to plaster the city with posters advertising his missing brother. The same goes for the eerie vacancy inside Big Donut, which is always so full of life and energy. Once you take Lars and Sadie out of the picture, it’s just creepy.

That’s a large part of the tension of “Are You My Dad?” We know that the people of Beach City make it such a vibrant and wonderful place. So what happens when those people are missing? How does Beach City feel then? That sequence where Steven wanders the boardwalk is a great example of how the show uses open space to unnerve the audience. Doesn’t the arcade just feel wrong without anyone in it? It’s the characters who give it life, who make it feel like a place you want to be. Thankfully, Steven finds Barb at the Big Donut, but they’re together for only a few minutes before they realize that this might be the start of something terrible. For the most part, Steven is alone.

Until her. I am not sure if her name is Topaz (was she referring to herself in the third person???), or if that gem was referring to someone else. But up to this point, we’d never seen a gem quite like Topaz. And I had so many questions upon her appearance! What role does she perform within gem society? Why did she act like she was innocently looking for her father? HOW CAN SHE EVEN HAVE A FATHER? What’s with the tear? WHERE DID SHE EVEN COME FROM?

I think it’s natural to assume the worst, and even before the reveal of what she was doing (alongside someone maybe named Chompers???), I figured she had to have come from the Homeworld. After everything that happened at the start of the season, it was only a matter of time before Homeworld retaliated. But… what the hell kind of retaliation was this? An innocent looking gem asking people for her dad? WHAT IS GOING ON?

In hindsight, I see how the writers set this up for maximum impact aside from how creepy it was. Once Steven and Connie head out to find the unnamed gem, there is just so much hope. I LOVE THEIR CONVERSATION. And after all the training that Connie had done, I felt like whatever they faced, at least they had a chance. But the reveal of what was behind those shadows was so completely out of left field that NO ONE, NOT EVEN THESE CHARACTERS, WERE READY. Just… WHAT IS THAT GEM??? If the blue one is Topaz, WHO IS THE OTHER ONE? The one I thought was called Chompers??? How can they just fuse organic bodies within their own? WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH THIS SHOW? I recognize that this has a very common structure for hero narratives, given that the final image is absolutely Steven at his lowest. He’s been knocked out, and he’s watching these horrifying gems (ONE OF WHOM HAS A WAND WHAT THE HELL IS THIS HARRY POTTER SHIT) leave with his friends fused inside of them.

I don’t even have a theory. I am just messed up.

The video for “Are You My Dad?” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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Posted by Mark Oshiro

In the forty-first episode of the second season of Gargoyles, the team travels to Flagstaff to help Elisa’s father resolve a part of his history. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Gargoyles.

I still see some of the same problems within this episode as I did in “Heritage,” especially the cardinal sin that we non-Native and non-indigenous folks commit so frequently: equating every tribe and nation with all the others. This episode did feel closer to something far less ambiguous than “Heritage,” but as far as I could tell, the writers still appeared to have grabbed customs or visual references from multiple different groups and combined them all in one. Like, are these people Hopi? Navajo? They could certainly be both, but the episode doesn’t ever make that case at all.

It didn’t help that the flashback at the start of “Cloud Fathers” tread familiar ground. That whole set-up – Peter leaving home despite his father’s protestations – seemed to be the same thing we’d already seen. Peter rejected his heritage and his traditions to seek a better life in the outside world. IT’S BASICALLY THE SAME STORY. Thankfully, that’s about the only thing that the two episodes share. Instead, this is about how Team Gargoyle guides Peter Maza back to his home and what that means for him. Initially, he just wants to stop Xanatos, A NOBLE CAUSE INDEED. There’s something deeply satisfying about that, y’all, because it shows that the Maza family cares about the world independent of Elisa. They’re not involved because of her. And I respect that the show is willing to give us glimpses of their lives outside of the main action, you know?

I’ll also admit that I love the trope of someone being introduced to something fantastical – like Peter learning of the gargoyles – and then refusing to believe a separate fantastical thing. LIKE COYOTE THE TRICKSTER GOD. Dude, there are living, breathing gargoyles literal inches from you, and you don’t want to believe in one of the gods of the religion you were raised in? “Cloud Fathers” paints Peter as stubborn, both in the flashback and in the present time. He’s incredibly resistant to change! And it made me wonder: how had he reacted privately after learning about Derek? About where Elisa had been? I got the sense that it was much harder for him to acclimate to new things than his wife, who dealt with the strangeness of Elisa’s life in stride. But that stubbornness wasn’t just a negative thing, and I’d argue that his dogged pursuit of the truth led him right where he was supposed to be: in Xanatos’s warehouse.

I haven’t said it in a while, but: fuck Xanatos. Y’all, he openly brags about being a villain in this episode! It’s him at his most antagonistic, his most egotistical, his most uncaring. There’s a vicious criticism of cultural appropriation within this story, intentional or not, since it’s about how Xanatos re-purposes and steals things of great cultural value for his own need. The sacred carvings he uses to lure Coyote to that site represent this perfectly: he takes them and gives them a new meaning. They’re part of a trap, not a cultural tradition. He also melts down the Cauldron of Life to make Coyote 4.0’s new suit. Nevermind the cultural meaning of THAT, either! We don’t even find out what happens with that vat of acid, which probably destroyed those carvings.

Xanatos is unchecked greed. He is the force of capitalism within this story. He does what he does because he wants to and because he can. He always escapes responsibility, and it would be silly to discount how much his wealth acts as a shield.

Thus, Peter’s return to the Coyote trickster has an extra meaning. He manages to get Xanatos to leave Flagstaff and the land he leased from the tribe. But Peter also finds a connection to his heritage that he thought he’d lost. SO THANKS, GARGOYLES, FOR DEMONSTRATING THIS THROUGH THAT ABSOLUTELY NOT OKAY SCENE WHERE PETER VISITS HIS FATHER’S GRAVE TO APOLOGIZE. NO, NOPE, NOT READY FOR THAT NOW OR EVER.

The video for “Cloud Fathers” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

Mark Links Stuff

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https://www.instagram.com/p/BW2mkkYlSmR/?taken-by=popvinyl

Previewed during Funko Funday event at SDCC, the new wave includes Faith, Giles, Dark Willow, Prophecy Girl Buffy, Xander and Xander with eyepatch.

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Posted by Mark Oshiro

In the first episode of the second season of Enterprise, THIS IS PRETTY COOL. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek

I’ll admit that the second half of “Shockwave” doesn’t feel that character-heavy until the final few scenes. Oh, there are some cool moments here and there, like Hoshi deciding to face her claustrophobia in order to reach Reed and the Doctor. Instead, this is nearly all action, a tense follow-up to the double cliffhangers we got at the end of season one. I AM FINE WITH THIS. It’s just fun, and there’s nothing wrong with that! I have some logistical questions, sure, and I’ll get to that at the end, but in short: this was a blast to watch. Y’all know I’m a fan of well-executed tension, and this provided that.

How? Well, the Suliban are still a formidable antagonist, even though they’re not the antagonist of the show so far. They were just hired by someone else, and we still don’t know who that entity or person is. (That weird Future Person??? Maybe???) Regardless, that doesn’t distract from how creepy the Suliban are, despite that none of them do that awful limb stretching thing, and none of them camouflage themselves either. It’s the threat of the possibility that makes them so frightening. They could resort to that at any time, and we never know if they’re going to. So watching them invade Enterprise after T’Pol relents was unnerving. What if one of them went invisible and just stayed on the ship and never left? What if at any point, one of them was hiding in someone’s quarters and listening in on all their conversations? IT WAS POSSIBLE.

Look, I never assumed any of the threats leveled at these characters were empty threats, and that’s the best way to to build tension. Most of the audience is savvy enough to recognize what’s going on, but how can you get them to suspend their disbelief?

I mention that because, for the most part, I was able to do this. I couldn’t figure out how T’Pol would get the Suliban off the ship, and I was even less certain of how Archer was going to get back to the present time. And, for the most part, I think I know what happened, but I’ve got some questions:

What happened to Daniels? I think we can guess that there was only enough power to transport one person back or forward in time, and of the two, Archer was the more important one. His absence from history had unraveled everything and THE FEDERATION NO LONGER CAME TO BE. But does this mean that Daniels is forever trapped? Or did history snap back into existence, and Daniels is back in the correct timeline at home?

What exactly was Archer’s plan to get home? This seems so strange to me, but we never actually hear what it is that Daniels and Archer came up with. They needed someone – that ended up being Reed – to get that device from Daniels’s quarters. Does that also mean that Reed was supposed to get captured? Was the whole point to get it into Silik’s room so that he’d try to use it to contact the person whose instructions he was following? And if that’s the case – it already seems like a lot – then how could they have known he would have done something that would allow Archer to step through the stream?

Who is giving Silik his orders? Why is this still a mystery? Is it a single person or a conglomerate? DO WE KNOW WHO THEY ARE OR ARE THEY A NEW CHARACTER?

It’s entirely possible – hell, highly likely! – that these mysteries are intentional. I may find out exactly what’s going on in season two. I think that’s what the show is trying to do, but I’m not sure. It felt appropriate to put these questions in a review, though, so that you can all be entertained watching me struggle with this story. IT’S ALL FOR YOU.

The video for “Shockwave, Part II” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

Mark Links Stuff

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Posted by Mark Oshiro

In the fortieth episode of the second season of Gargoyles, I DEEPLY LOVE THIS EPISODE. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Gargoyles

Trigger Warning: For nonconsensual drugging.

Oh, this is just SO GOOD, y’all. There’s a surprising amount of worldbuilding packed into these twenty minutes, and it’s so impressive! It’s also a fantastic episode for me to get to in the same batch as “The New Olympians,” which a polar opposite reality in terms of mythical creatures and humanity. Look, I was shocked when the citizens of Ishimura, Japan watched as their local gargoyle clan attacked the thieves who tried to take advantage of them. I honestly thought it was an animation mistake, but NOPE. The town of Ishimura has a symbiotic, mutual relationship with their gargoyles. IT WAS SO VERY EXCITING TO SEE. It speaks to a possibility, one where gargoyles and humans can work out their differences and survive together.

This isn’t the only new thing introduced here, though. The gargoyles of the Ishimura clan are also integrated into generational teaching for the humans, though it had been many, many years since they had last taught anyone bushido. The humans protected the gargoyles during the day. AND THE GARGOYLES FACED INWARDS TOWARDS THEIR CITY INSTEAD OF TOWARDS THE SUN. Oh my god, the cultural differences here were so fascinating! I love that the writers thought about these sort of things and put them on the screen.

I say that because it helps make the story given to us mean a whole lot more. I am still in awe of the fact that “Bushido” gave us a scheming antagonist who turns into a redemptive protagonist in LESS THAN TWENTY MINUTES. Yama gets an entire arc that some shows struggle with over the course of an entire season or show, and yet, it’s pulled off here in relatively no time. Ishimura seemed like such a utopia – or at least as close as you could get to one in this context – and yet Yama hated it. He felt trapped. Controlled. So he plotted with Taro to give the gargoyles a different kind of existence, one where they’d no longer have to hide within Ishimura.

I assumed that Yama knew the ramifications of this choice, but I’m even more enamored with the idea that he saw this as a stepping stone, a means to an end. He actually thought that Taro –who lied to the gargoyles about Ishimura, who drugged Elisa, who attacked his fellow citizens, who set up an ENTIRE GARGOYLES THEME PARK SO HE COULD MAKE MONEY OFF THEM – was going to be a man of his word. Thus, Yama becomes a naïve character, one who has a misguided idea of how to attain his own happiness. It’s all the expense of himself and his clan, though he doesn’t see it until it’s too late.

Yet when that moment comes, he respects the system of honor (FINALLY) that he’d lived with his whole life. He puts his body on the line multiple times while fighting Taro, and then, he leaves Ishimura after dishonoring them. HIS WHOLE ARC IS LESS THAN TWENTY MINUTES LONG AND I WILL KEEP SHOUTING THIS OVER AND OVER BECAUSE IT’S SO GOOD. How does this show keep introducing such incredible characters every goddamn episode? Why do I keep wanting spin-offs of all of these new locations? Because, y’all, this writing is so good. I haven’t even touched on the other clan members, or how cool it is that Elisa teams with one of the citizens to PUBLICLY HUMILIATE TARO FOR HIS CRIMES. Oh my gods, I just adore this episode.

The video for “Bushido” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

Mark Links Stuff

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Posted by Mark Oshiro

Hello, friends! Well, time for my first prediction post for Enterprise, which snuck up on me so quickly! ARE YOU READY probably AM I READY probably not

So, just a quick re-hash of some rules in case you are one of the folks who is new around here and wants to know how these work. Please do not spoil me. Seems obvious, and while it’s been years since someone messed this up: this also means you shouldn’t tell me whether a prediction is right or wrong. Or quote it and respond with a GIF reaction. Or tally how many are correct or incorrect. Just let my wrongness (or eerie rightness) stand untouched so as to provide maximum embarrassment later on. TRUST ME, IT’S WORTH IT.

You are also allowed to participate if you are watching this for the first time! Don’t post fake predictions, though. We’ll know.

WITHOUT ANY FURTHER DELAY, HERE’S WHAT I THINK WILL HAPPEN IN SEASON 2:

  1. Archer constructs a method of leaving the 31st century.
  2. Daniels explains how he is not dead, but sort of is.
  3. Silik confronts Archer once in the premiere episode.
  4. But we’ll see him four more times this season.
  5. Archer and Daniels will find a way to undo the Paraagan attack/timeline.
  6. The main serialized focus of season 2 is the Temporal Cold War.
  7. So we’ll get an episode far into the past.
  8. And another episode way in the future.
  9. We will find out why Reed has such an odd relationship with his parents.
  10. We will also meet Travis’s family and get to see the cargo ship he grew up on!
  11. Hoshi’s language skills will save the day TWICE.
  12. We will meet another Denobulan!
  13. T’Pol will convince the Vulcan High Command not to abandon their partnership with the humans or stop humans from exploring space.
  14. I don’t have any predictions for Tucker and I swear I don’t hate him I JUST DON’T KNOW WHAT I CAN PREDICT FOR HIM.
  15. He’ll get the hots for an alien? Probably.
  16. Season 2’s cliffhanger is gonna be bigger than this first one was.

LET’S GO, ONWARDS FOREVER, I’M READY.

Mark Links Stuff

– Please visit my new site for all announcements. If you’d rather not have to rely on checking a website regularly, sign up for my newsletter instead! This will cover all news for Mark Reads, Mark Watches, and my fiction releases. 

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Posted by Mark Oshiro

In the thirty-ninth episode of the second season of Gargoyles, IT WAS ALIENS. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Gargoyles

What isn’t a thing on this show??? Oh my god, ALIENS ARE REAL. There is an alien on Earth who was sent to protect it from the affects of a MULTI-GALAXY WAR. And this alien – named Nokkar and voiced by the PERFECT Avery Brooks – is the basis for the maoi on the island… which isn’t necessarily a great thing? It’s that trope where things of an indigenous population are attributed through fiction to someone else, which is one of the major problems I had with “Heritage.” Plus, “The Sentinel” does something far more insidious with its storytelling: it makes it seem like the Rapa Nui disappeared a long, long time ago, when the majority of residents of Easter Island today are descendants of the Rapa Nui.

So, let’s get that out of the way: the writers of this show intend good things with some of these stories, but they’ve got messy execution of those ideas. How many kids will watch this episode and believe that there are no Rapa Nui or their descendants left in the world? Of course, it’s a cartoon! With an alien! And talking gargoyles! You could argue that no one would believe anything from this show in any real sense. However, I’d argue that works of fiction that repeat tropes like this help to perpetuate misunderstandings. It wasn’t until I was in junior high and met someone Native that I learned that all the Native Americans in the United States weren’t dead. That seems like such a gross and absurd thing to state (I mean, it is), but it’s a pervasive myth, one that media and education enforces, either intentionally or accidentally.

If we put this aside, there’s still some neat character stuff between Goliath and Elisa. I’m not so sure I’m a fan of the whole galactic war idea. Like, it’s weird to say that maybe aliens are a bit too far? HOW CAN THAT BE THE LINE THAT THIS SHOW CAN’T CROSS? Thankfully, Nokar’s presence within the Gargoyles universe isn’t really about this (possibly ended) war. It’s more about how his mission to protect Earth nearly caused him to wipe out three members of a native species. In particular, his wipe of Elisa’s memories set in motion a conflict that felt very personal. Watching her interact with Goliath without her memory of their friendship was frustrating because… well, why should she have trusted him? Not only that, but her missing memory meant that she’d lost all the personal evolutions that she’d made along the way. One of the great things about Elisa is that she had learned to roll with the punches. She almost never reacts in shock or horror whenever she meets another creature or mythical being because everything’s relative to the gargoyles. Yet with the temporary amnesia in effect, she’s back to cynicism. Doubt. A desire to protect herself and other humans. Her instinct might eventually guide her back to Goliath, Angela, and Bronx, but throughout most of this, she’s defensive. Scared, even! And it’s such a fascinating look at a character who’s had her experiences for the previous year stripped from her. Who is she, then?

She’s still protective. Still loyal to humans. Still willing to help others when she senses that something’s wrong. And in the end, she trusts that her gargoyle friends are her friends, not some invasive force bent on destroying the world. I WAS FULL OF EMOTIONS, Y’ALL. Plus, Elisa pushes Nokkar towards the three humans who he might be able to form a friendship with, something he’d not done in centuries. SHE CARES SO MUCH ABOUT THE WORLD. And if there’s anything here that speaks to the beauty of Elisa, it’s this: Nokkar nearly destroyed her friends, and she still wanted him to find friendship.

UGH, ELISA RULES.

The video for “The Sentinel” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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September 2010

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