The Mandalorian (Disney+)
Season One, Episode Two – “Chapter Two: The Child”
Written by Jon Favreau
Directed by Rick Famuyiwa
The reveal in the final scene of episode one changed my perceptions of what this would be a show about. Now in this episode, we get a better sense that this is a Star Wars on the Japanese classic Lone Wolf and Cub. Dyn Jarren is facing a moral dilemma about the bounty he acquired, questioning what the deposed Imperials plan to do with this very vulnerable person. He quickly gets sidetracked when he comes upon a group of Jawas stripping his ship. This leads to Jarren seeking aid from Kuiil, the Ughnaught from the last episode, and Jarren learning a powerful secret about his bounty.
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The Mandalorian (Disney+)
Season One, Episode One – “Chapter One”
Written by Jon Favreau
Directed by Dave Filoni
So…what’s a Mandalorian? It all began with Ralph McQuarrie, and Joe Johnston’s production art during The Empire Strikes Back. The sketches of armored, hyper-weaponed soldiers were thought to be super commandoes from the planet Mandalore, specialized in hunting down and killing Jedi. Boba Fett was the first character to wear the gear, but the name “Mandalorian” wouldn’t be used until the Star Wars comic book in 1983. As the decades wore on, these people were expanded in the comics, particularly in the Dark Horse published material. These ideas were tweaked and some instances overhauled by the Clone Wars animated series.
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American Horror Story: 1984 (FX)
Written by Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, Tim Minear, James Wong, Jay Beattie, Dan Dworkin, John J. Gray, Adam Penn, and Crystal Lieu
Directed by Bradley Buecker, John J. Gray, Mary Wigmore, Jennifer Lynch, Gwyenth Horder-Payton, Loni Peristere, and Liz Friedlander
Every year I brace myself for the new season of American Horror Story. These days the feelings associated with this event are annoyance and disappointment. 1984 proved to be no exception to the norm. Once again, Ryan Murphy gave us a mercifully shortened season (nine episodes) that felt so ill-planned and sloppy it made me question why he still even makes this show. Apparently, his preferred method for AHS is to throw a bunch of crap at the wall, pull in actors who he can get for a couple of days without thought to their actual characters, and see if anything works. Regardless of the quality, he releases it on television to the public.
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Season 1, Episode 4 – “If You Don’t Like My Story, Write Your Own”
Written by Christal Henry & Damon Lindeloff
Directed by Andrij Parekh
Lady Trieu makes her first appearance after a brief mention in the second episode, and it is quite a debut. A childless farming couple receives her visit one evening, and she offers them something more valuable than money for their land. Infertility keeps them from bearing children, so Lady Trieu has gotten rid of the middle man and simply combined their DNA and has grown an infant for them. They eagerly sign over the land seemingly just in time as an object falls from the sky, which Lady Trieu asserts is hers now. There are definite signs she knew this event was going to happen before it did.
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Spider-Man: Life Story (2019)
Written by Chip Zdarsky
Art by Mark Bagley
Peter Parker was fifteen years old when he was bitten by a radioactive spider. That was in 1962. Today it’s 2019, and he’s in his early thirties, finding some success in life but still rare in love. An expected conceit of comic book superheroes is that they will always age at a much slower rate than an average person. This allows writers to extend their lives. Superman has been around for 80 years, and in the last four has just become a parent through convoluted circumstances. Batman has been through five Robins yet is still mid-thirties at most while former Robin, Dick Grayson, is a mid-twenties Nightwing.
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The Nightingale (2018)
Written & Directed by Jennifer Kent
There are moments so harrowing and emotional that occur in The Nightingale that I felt like I might break down in tears. This is a rarity for me to find in a film, having watched so many and become aware of so many tropes and plot formulas. This isn’t to say that the inciting premise of The Nightingale will seem novel to other viewers, it isn’t. This is a revenge film centered around a female protagonist, the type of story told many times before and one that is particularly popular in our time. This isn’t a film about the catharsis of revenge; the final shot makes it clear that our main character is not redeemed in any manner. Instead, this is a story about the seemingly innate drive to seek bloody justice and the tremendous toll that takes on a human being.
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Season 1, Episode 3 – “She Was Killed By Space Junk”
Written by Damon Lindeloff & Lila Byock
Directed by Stephen Williams
As I am watching Watchmen, I’m often wondering what this experience must be like for someone who has never read the graphic novel. This episode, in particular, will not hit a viewer as hard if they aren’t already familiar with Laurie Blake, formerly Laurie Juspeczyk, aka Silk Spectre. Knowing the story of Laurie’s mother, the revelation of her father, and the complexity of her relationships with Dr. Manhattan and Nite Owl adds so much to the experience of watching this chapter. But I also think seeing Laurie as a blank slate could provide a fresh understanding of who she is as an aging woman, turning on the masked vigilante community that she was once a part of, and immediately clashing with the Tulsa police.
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