“Dead” On Predictions

Atlanta, GA

I watched last night’s episode of The Walking Dead expecting two things:  1) A perfect set-up for an explosive mid-season finale and 2) Clues about who might not make it out alive.  After seeing the episode, I’ve come up with some predictions that may or may not be stone cold locks.  If they prove to be true, they’ll make me seem really smart or psychic.  If I screw up these predictions royally then I’ll just look like a goofus.  I’m betting (and sorta hoping) that I look like a goofus.

NOTE:  POTENTIAL SPOILERS AHEAD.  READ WITH CAUTION IF YOU HAVEN’T WATCHED MOST OF SEASON FIVE!!!

After the whole Terminus debacle at the beginning of this season, The Walkind Dead has featured episodes that have focused on Rick’s group at the church, Beth on her own, Abraham’s group on the road, and Daryl and Carol going after Beth.  What I’ve noticed throughout these episodes is that they have all built up key characters that I believe have the potential for not making it to the second half of season five.  Seeing this happen and then utilizing what has occurrred over the previous seasons, I’ve devised a hit list of who I think is going to bite it.  So, here goes:

There almost has to be at least one major death from the core cast of original survivors.  Of the ones that started it all, only Rick, Carl, Glenn, Daryl, and Carol remain.  You could toss Morgan in their as well, but he’s been more of a peripheral character since his introduction.  I do believe that he’ll be a factor in the mid-season finale, but I don’t see him dying just yet.  There was a hint of what’s to come for Glenn early on if you read the comics, but I don’t see him leaving yet.  So who will it be?  Sadly, I think Carol is going to die this time around.

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Why will Carol die?  Just look at the growth of her character since last season.  She started the series as one of the group’s weakest links, and has slowly become an almost unstoppable force in the zombie apocalypse.  She is the strongest female character on the show and has become a fan favorite, possibly more popular than Rick.  She’s Daryl’s best friend on the show (with Rick a close second) and potentially his love interest.  In fact, her association with Daryl is what makes her a likely candidate for death since he is almost too popular to kill off.  I honestly believe that the producers and writers want to knock off a major character, and Carol’s growth, especially with the whole Terminus “Terminator” version of Carol we saw at the beginning of the season makes her the perfect candidate.  By killing her, other female cast members like Maggie and (possibly) Rosita can move into the alpha female role and fans lose a beloved character that isn’t Daryl.  I’d really hate to see Carol go, but I think her time is up.

Next on my list is one of the second season core members, Beth.  Beth has spent most of her time on the show as a background character whose only claim to fame up until she teamed up with Daryl was a failed suicide attempt.  When she did team up with Daryl, she became a bolder, bluntly honest woman who proved she could hold her own.  At the hospital she has proven herself to be an excellent trickster and quite the rebel, even standing up to Dawn and the rest of the po-po at the hospital.

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So why is Beth a likely candidate for death?  Her character has experienced a surge in importance.  Since bonding with Daryl, fans have wanted to see either her or Carol form a romantic relationship with him.  While Carol has definitely risen above her “Daryl’s girl” status, Beth has not.  She hasn’t set herself apart quite enough yet, so I’m betting that she’ll do something very heroic and go out in a blaze of glory in order to save Daryl or possibly Noah.  Again, I’d hate to see Beth leave the show, but she has transformed too much to be kept alive much like Merle when he stood up to the Governor.

The next two candidates on my list are Rosita and Tara.  Of the two, I believe that Rosita has the best chance of surviving, but I still don’t know if she’ll make past the mid-season mark.

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Why?  For starters, Rosita came into her own over the last couple of episodes.  Instead of being a background character, Rosita has proven that she knows how to take care of herself with our without Abraham and isn’t afraid to stand up to him.  She has shown that she can adapt to just about any situation (especially making fishnets out of utility worker jackets on last night’s episode) and seems to be forming some type of relationship with Glenn.  Now, as long as Maggie is in the picture, I don’t see Rosita moving in to take her place.  However, she could provide a potential plot device for Glenn and Maggie to fight over and then have Glenn die a dramatic death at the hands of someone while Maggie wishes she hadn’t had a fight with him in the first place.  So, that may or may not save Rosita’s skin, but the fact that she has been built up more and more over the last few episodes (much like poor Bob’s build up and then his relationship push just before dying) makes me think that her days are numbered.

My last potential death is Tara.  Poor, poor Tara.  She fell in with the Governor and then fell in with Rick’s group.  As this season has played out, we’ve seen her have brief moments with Rick, Glenn, and even Eugene.  Most of her moments have been lightly humorous (and very welcome), but I don’t see her as a necessary member of the group.  I mean, let’s be honest here, if I said, “Oh, no!  Tara died!”  I’m betting that a few fans of the show wouldn’t even know who she is!

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Also, on last night’s episode, Tara had more visibility than she’s had on the entire show.  She made up a “team name” and cracked a joke about getting it tattooed on her knuckles.  She joked to the utility pole zombies about D.C.  She found a yo-yo and got excited about it.  All of this light and steady build up to me says that the writers are saying, “Hey, gang.  Remember Tara?  You know, the background girl who caught Eugene watching Abe and Rosita????  We’ve established her enough as a character that’s perfect for killing off.”

Now, here’s my breakdown of who will die out of this bunch:  1) Tara.  She’s a goner.  2) Carol.  She’s too important now to NOT kill off.  She’s a female Daryl, but I believe fans will take her death a bit easier than the death of Daryl if and when that ever occurs.  3) Beth.  If she goes, she’ll go in a big way.  4) Rosita.  The most likely of this group to live, only to die a major death later this season or at the beginning of season six.

Some of you might be wondering why I have only selected female characters as potential mid-season deaths.  Well, it’s not because I’m a male chauvinist.  It’s because three of the four women I’ve listed are the strongest female characters on the show.  As far as men go, Daryl is almost a golden child for the show.  If they kill him, I believe it will be in the show’s final season.  Rick is the leader (most of the time), and I only see him getting killed whenever Carl rises to the task of leading the group.  Tyreese has a ton of development left to do in my opinion.  He’ll probably go berserk on the cops at the hospital, and probably because of what happened to Sasha last night.  I think Sasha is safe for now, by the way.  Noah is a scrappy kid, much like Glenn, but he still needs to “man up” before I consider him worthy of killing off.  I believe that Glenn is safe until a certain baseball bat shows up.  Abraham and Eugene are sort of loose cannons right now.  I think Abraham will survive for a bit longer, and Eugene will be dead before the end of the season, but only after doing something heroic to help the others.

Oh, and don’t think that I’ve forgotten Michonne.  Despite not an original group survivor, I believe that she’ll be around for a long, long time.  I see her and Rick forming a deeper relationship, and I believe that she’s become the closest thing to a mother for Carl.

As far as the hospital people are concerned, a part of me believes that Dawn will join up with Rick’s group and pretty much all of the other cops are toast.  The cop I fear for the most is the guy who knocked out Sasha.  Tyreese will unleash the beast on him!

So, we’ll find out next week if I’m right or wrong.  Hopefully all four of these characters will make it, but I believe at least two of them are done for the show.

As always, thanks for reading and let me know if you think I’m right, wrong, or a blithering idiot in the comments section!

 

Catching Up With My “X’s”

Lake Charles, LA

Okay, okay.  Now before you read this blog, know that I am well aware that X-Men:  Days of Future Past has been out on DVD/Blu-ray/digital download for some time now AND that I’m probably not adding much to the whole X discussion that hasn’t already been mentioned, but please realize that I have a life outside of those brilliant fantasy worlds that I love so much and it just took me a long time to get to this film.

Also, there will probably be spoilers in this post, but as stated above, this film has been available for awhile now.

Let’s begin.

I watched X:DOFP over the weekend with my friends from the USS Lafitte.  I was one of just a small portion of the crowd that had not watched the film, but no one spoiled anything for me.

I honestly didn’t know what to expect from the film.  I knew that Brett Ratner had no hand in the direction of the film (a blessing in my opinion) and that Bryan Singer had returned (although I had no problems with Matthew Vaughn).  That’s a good start in my opinion, but I also knew that Wolverine would once again be the front and center character despite having two solo flicks and a primary role in almost every other single X flick (heck, he even had a cameo in the one film he was a central character in, First Class).  I have no real grudge against the character (he used to be a favorite of mine as a child), but I’m just very, very tired of seeing him save the day every single time.  I thought these guys were a TEAM and not Wolverine and a bunch of freaky folks.

Anyway, this tale finds us fifty-plus years into the future of the events that took place in First Class and the world has turned on all of the mutants and any mutant sympathizers.  It’s gotten so bad that there are just a few powerful mutants left and Magneto has joined up with Professor X to make a last ditch attempt to stop their current future from happening.

In order to change the future, someone has to stop a singular event from occurring in the past.  That event, the murder of Bolivar Trask (creator of the Sentinels), comes at the hands of Mystique, who has basically gone rogue (haha) and doesn’t listen to anybody but herself.  She’s on a one woman mission to wipeout the Sentinels, robotic beings that can defeat the mutants (and evolve and adapt to their attacks).

To get to the past, Professor X has drawn up a plan to be pushed telepathically into his younger self via the transfer powers of Kitty Pryde.  He determines that he is too old and weak to survive the process (as is just about everybody else), but Wolverine, banking on his healing abilities, volunteers for the task.

This sets into motion a chain of events where Wolverine has to convince young Charles Xavier that he has to help him stop Mystique.

Along the way, we learn that Trask has murdered many mutants in the name of science (including all of the surviving cast of First Class, saving Beast, Mystique, and Havok), and that he is having trouble selling his Sentinel plans to the US government.  Also, Magneto is in prison for murdering JFK.

Once he convinces Charles and Hank McCoy (Beast) to assist him, Wolverine sets out to free Magneto.  This is done with the help of Quicksilver.  There was a lot of talk about Quicksilver before and after this film was released.  He looked like a silvered-up club kid in the promo photos and, frankly, I thought he looked silly.  Thankfully the promo photo was the worst part of the character, as he was played to perfection by Evan Peters.  Peters used his brief screen time to become one of the biggest standouts of the film.  He had what many consider to be the biggest and best scene in the film and, in all honesty, it was pretty cool to watch.  If you haven’t seen the film, you’ll know what scene I’m talking about as soon as it plays out before your eyes.

After securing Magneto from prison, Wolvie, Beast, Prof X, and Mags attempt to stop Mystique.  Of course, being still rather young and angry, Magneto screws things up himself and in the end, he becomes the baddie that needs to be stopped.  The film has an epic Magneto moment much like First Class did, and comes to a very suspenseful head whenever the past X-men clash with the Sentinels and Magneto and the future X-men do the same (although Magneto’s on their side in the future).

The film moved at an excellent pace, wasting no time explaining how Kitty Pryde acquired the ability to transport Wolverine to the past.  Maybe it’s discussed in the comics, but it wasn’t necessary to know “why” she could do this.  The story was as believable as a tale about time-hopping mutants could expect to be, and there were a ton of old and new faces that popped up on the screen.

I was ecstatic to see a few of the older faces that arrived on the screen, but I won’t ruin the surprise for anyone.

I really liked the inclusion of Blink (Fan Bingbing).  Not only were her powers cool, but she was lovely as well.

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The story ended with a wide opening for the next film and, most importantly, erased all of the terribleness that was X3.

The entire cast did an excellent job.  Jennifer Lawrence, Patrick Stewart, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Ian McKellan, Ellen Page, Hugh Jackman and all of the rest of the returning cast did great jobs.  It was also cool to see Iceman (Shawn Ashmore) glide on ice!  Newcomers like the aforementioned Binbing, Omar Sy (Bishop) and Booboo Stewart (Warpath) did fine jobs as well, despite having limited roles.  Peter Dinklage was very convincing as Trask, and I hope he returns in another film soon.

In conclusion, I enjoyed this flick.  It was extremely entertaining and worthy of multiple views.  Hopefully Singer will stay on board for the next go round.

Highly recommended.

A Trip Back In Time

Todd Mission, TX

If you personally know me, you are well aware of the fact that I am a huge fan of the Texas Renaissance Festival.  It has been a part of my life for six years now, and I see no chance of it ever leaving my life at any time in the future.  Few places make me feel at home as well as TRF.  Outside of science fiction and comic conventions, it’s one of the few places where I can be myself and have a really good time.

This year my wife and daughter tagged along for the ride to Todd Mission, TX, which is nearby Plantersville and Conroe, TX.  It’s also not that far of a drive north of Houston.  One of my favorite parts of TRF is getting there by taking HWY 105.  Sure, I can hop on Interstate 10 and then head north on Interstate 49 to get there a bit quicker, but if I did that I would miss out on the wonderful views of the east Texas countryside.  There are many beautiful homes, farms, and forests on the drive to TRF, and with autumn in full swing, the changing leaves are gorgeous.

My trip almost always includes a stop in Orange, TX, just across the state line from Louisiana, or in Conroe.  This year, my wife, daughter and myself stopped in Conroe at Einstein Brothers Bagels.  It was our first time to check this place out and we loved it.  The coffee and bagels were delicious, and gave us just enough pep to make it to the festival.  We had been up since 4:30 AM, so this stop was welcomed and much needed.

Once we arrived at the festival, my wife and daughter hit the shops and I hit the Clan Tynker Family Show.  I’ve seen Clan Tynker at least once each year that I’ve attended the festival and they have never let me down.  Their show is funny, exciting, and family friendly.  Santiago, Sam, Rebekah, Serendipity, and Elijah combine music, dancing, juggling, fire, and all sorts of other wonderful things to deliver an excellent program.  When I talk to first-timers or friends interested in going to TRF, I always tell them to enter the gates, stay to the right, and head to the Globe Theater to watch the Clan Tynker show.  It’s my favorite show to watch when I first enter the kingdom.

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After watching the Clan Tynker, I caught up to my wife and daughter and we headed to Sherwood Forest so that my daughter could try her hand at archery, using a crossbow, the King’s Confusion maze, multiple rides, and the Magic Garden.  In the Magic Garden, we ran into some rambunctious fairies, a couple of sweet ladies that happily posed for photos with us (unfortunately I can’t post them here, as they include my daughter and for safety’s sake, I don’t post photos of my children on this blog), and St. Felix (or at least a replica of him).  I also stopped to take a photo with a statue in the garden that I’ve taken a photograph with every single time I’ve been to the festival.  Below are a few pictures from the garden, including my photo with the “topless Texas chick” that I love so much.

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After a visit to the Magic Garden, my family made its way to watch Adam “Crack” Winrich’s excellent Fire Whip show.  I’ve watched Crack’s show on many occasions, but this was the first time my wife and daughter watched him.  I believe that my daughter is in love with him!

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From there we attended a few more shows, ate some wonderful food, and then headed over to watch Circa Paleo, one of my favorite festival bands, do their thing.  I was only turned on to this band last year, and wish that I had checked them out sooner.  They are awesome!  They played some great tunes and I highly recommend you look them up on the web or see them live if they are at a festival or venue near you.

I grabbed one of their CDs and listened to it all the way home.  They really are an excellent band.

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After listening to Circa Paleo, I naturally gravitated toward the Greek Agorah, where there were some lovely dancing ladies on the stage.  Again, if you know me, you know I’m a sucker for belly dancers.  Here’s a photo for your viewing pleasure:

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We spent the rest of the day walking, shopping, laughing at playtrons and just generally having a fun time.  I stopped at the Brigadoon Brewery to have a pint of Hadrian’s Wall Red and finished the day off with another stroll around the festival.  We didn’t get to stay for the fireworks, as we had to get back home to take care of something else, but this year’s trip to the Texas Renaissance Festival was awesome as always.

See ya next year, TRF!

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Be sure to check out these websites:  http://www.texrenfest.com, http://www.circapaleo.com, http://www.clantynker.com.

Thanks for reading!

Gotham Gets Better

Gotham City

*****SPOILERS AHEAD***** If you haven’t watched the last couple of episodes of Gotham, stop reading……NOW!

I’ve watched every episode of Gotham this year and I must admit that is has quickly become one of my favorite programs.  Alongside The FlashGotham is a rare program that I actually look forward to each week.  The lighthearted humor and overall style of The Flash is, well, flashy, and it fits that character perfectly.  It’s also very refreshing to see a comic book adaptation that isn’t too gritty or realistic (although the introduction of Captain Cold might inject a little grit into The Flash soon enough).  With that said, Gotham plays up its dark setting and grim outlook perfectly, allowing just enough silly psychosis to bleed through in characters like Penguin and Victor Zsasz.

Last week’s episode, which revealed to GCPD that Oswald Cobblepot truly was still alive and kicking and making his way in the criminal underground, ended with a bang, and last night’s episode picked up where that one left off.  The story offered up even more twists and turns than last week’s episode, and key characters, namely Harvey Bullock and the Penguin, showed their true colors.  Bullock came off looking sort of like the hero he was before he was corrupted by GCPD.  The Penguin on the other hand, showed that he had even more twists to his character than was already expected.

It was nice to not have Jada Pinkett-Smith stink up the screen last week, and thankfully we didnt have to suffer through too much Fish Mooney this week either.  Her screen time was brief, and her interaction with Marconi and the Penguin was one of the funniest parts of the program.  I cannot wait to see what the Penguin has in store for her in the future!

The whole cast (yep, even Smith) did very solid jobs for the most part.  The standouts were Robin Lord Taylor as the Penguin, Sean Pertwee as Alfred (who’s getting more and more development as this show goes along), Donal Logue (Bullock) and Anthony Carrigan as Victor Zsasz.  I hope Zsasz gets more screen time in the future, and hopefully he’ll still be around if and when Bruce Wayne finally dons the cape and cowl.

The only problems that I’ve run into with the series so far are the overacting of Smith, the high rate of introductions of some of Batman’s greatest enemies, and the sometimes weak and wonky writing.  The writing is getting better, though, and while many of Batman’s best enemies have been introduced and/or hinted at, only Penguin is getting fleshed out at a decent clip.  Plus, considering the fact that the Penguin is a crime boss in the comic world of Batman, I can see his character being around for a very, very long time.  It’s characters like Zsasz, though, that have me worried.

Jim Gordon will most likely end up putting a bullet or two or three into Zsasz at some point.  I just hope that he goes to Arkham and not to the grave.

Smith doesn’t have much longer on the show in my opinion, as I firmly believe that Penguin will finish her off soon.

The bottom line about the show in my opinion is this:  Gotham gets better with each episode.  It’s finding its legs and starting to move along at an excellent pace.  Let’s hope that the writers don’t ink themselves into a corner where there are too many villains and not enough cops to keep them in check until the Dark Knight Detective arrives.