Binge-demic 4

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Let’s keep working backwards through the shows I’ve binged during the pandemic: 

SHE-RA AND THE PRINCESSES OF POWER

Confession time: I knew nothing about She-Ra before watching this show. The original show came out when I was too old (and too young) for cartoons and all I knew was that The Usual Creeps were upset by the new character design because this version of She-Ra didn’t have big boobs.

Nothing about the show tempted me, either. It looked like sword & planet for little kids, and really, life is too short. 

But again, I kept seeing a lot of enthusiasm for the show as the fifth and final season came up, and once I realized Noelle Stevenson was the showrunner, I decided to give it a try.

Turns out that it’s fun and funny. It’s full of strong characterization (which is not the same as strong characters, obvs) and is just as charming as Nimona and Lumberjanes.

LEVERAGE

This is the rare show that starts strong right from the first scene. There’s no stumbling around, as they try to hone the characters and concept. They hit the ground running, and it’s fantastic.

The first time I watched this show, it was with my family, and we lost momentum somewhere in the fourth season. Not sure why, except that the show seemed to want to mix up the formula, and we really liked that formula. This time, watching by myself, I kept going through the episodes where the actors played other characters and/or the con was a backdrop for some other drama (and yeah, it seems a shame to cast Danny Glover on your show and *not* make him into some sort of criminal genius).

But still, this show puts everything together in exactly the right way. The characters are great, starting off as exaggerated one-note personality types–grumpy, wacky, sad, sensible, etc–and gradually becoming more complex as they form strong relationships. The plots are clever, the villains are awful, and jokes actually made me laugh. 

And like I said, I really liked the plot engine of the show, where a group of crooks ruin the corrupt and powerful. That never got old.

STRANGER THINGS

I don’t have to talk at length about this show again, do I? I like it. It’s good. 

THE KIRLIAN FREQUENCY

An anthology of odd, animated horror shorts out of Argentina that does its best to make a virtue of an extremely low budget. It’s only five episodes, each between 8-10 minutes long. Does it count as a binge if the whole season is less than an hour long? I say sure, why not. 

The stories center around a radio DJ who broadcasts only at night. Each episode introduces a premise, then delivers the twist, and there’s not much more to it than that. 

THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY

I really feel that I should like this show more than I do. My wife loves it, though.

—–

FYI: if you haven’t taken advantage of the Kindle Monthly Deal for One Man, a City of Fallen Gods Novel, this is the last day. If you want to check out a creepy high fantasy crime thriller set in a city built within the skeletons of two dead gods, act now.

Upcoming: Avatar, and The Letter for the King, I Am Not Okay With This

Binge-demic 3

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Continuing my Binge-demic posts, let me move backwards to the show I watched before Veronica Mars.

STRANGE LUCK

It’s weird that this show has a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Not that it’s bad. It’s not. You could even call it pretty good. Still, a hundred percent? If I had to guess, it’s a distortion created by the fact that the show predates the site, but a number like that promises more than Strange Luck can deliver.

Simply put: It’s the 90’s, and every place anyone goes to is actually Canada, where they hose down the streets at night so the puddles reflect the multi-colored lights. Chance Harper is a freelance photojournalist who drives all over the city in his beater, snapping pictures of the stories he stumbles across. And he tries to help people.

As the sole survivor of a plane crash–in fact, he had no injuries at all–Chanse has been cursed by powerful luck. Not good or bad, but powerful. Where ever he goes, weird and/or dangerous shit happens, and he does whatever he can to help (and get a shot he can sell). To quote main character: “If I go to a restaurant, somebody chokes. If I walk into a bank, it gets robbed.”

I’ve said one thing over and over in in these posts: one of the most important aspects of these shows is the relationships between the series regulars. Strange Luck has only two regular supporting characters: his ex, the hot newspaper editor who buys Chance’s photos and the hot owner/operator of his favorite cafe who has a crush on him. And they’re both fine, although the cafe owner gets more interesting story lines.

Anyway, there are a lot of pitfalls for a show built on a premise of coincidences, but Strange Luck avoids all of them. It’s too bad it only lasted one season. With a larger, crunchier supporting cast, I think it would have done well. Past time for a remake, I think, with shorter seasons and the obligatory modern mythology.

Finally, at least one person has asked me how I watched the show, since it’s not available anywhere to stream. Sadly, I had to go to YouTube. It wouldn’t be my first–or my fifth–choice, but it wasn’t available elsewhere.

KIPO AND THE WONDERBEASTS

I knew what I was hoping for when I put on this show (based on online recommendations–all the new shows that I watch, esp the cartoons, drop into the schedule because people rave about them). I expected what I got. But I didn’t expect I would get so much, or that it would be as fun and charming as it was.

Let me clarify: I expected a kid-friendly apocalypse, unusual “monsters”, and a heroine who makes the world better by doing what everyone around her thinks is impossible: finding common ground with her enemies. What I got was exactly that, but in a charming, inventive, and enjoyable way.

BREAKING: Cartoons are so much better now than they were when I was a kid. Maybe it’s because modern shows have to compete with video games, so they can’t half-ass it the way they used to? Or maybe the half-assed cartoons are still out there, invisible to an old like me because they’re aimed at very young viewers, but modern creators trust older kids with more complex story lines?

But there’s no way that kid-me would have been offered a show with astronomy-loving wolves lead by a wolf named Billions (voiced by John Hodgman) and a second wolf named Billions (voiced by GZA). Nor would I have gotten a surprisingly good song listing everything the wolves have learned about the stars.

The visuals are solid. The circle of regulars have great relationships. The music is a goddam delight. If you have any stomach at all for kids animation, check this out. The third and final season comes out in less than a month.

BLACK LIGHTNING S3

I was going to keep this to two shows per post, but what the hell.

I also binged the latest Black Lightning season once it hit Netflix. Here’s the thing about this show. The actors are great. The premise of a family with several members having/struggling with superpowers is absolutely solid, and the series regulars have that powerful web of relationships I keep talking about.

Also, the overall plot of the season, involving a government crackdown on the small city of Freeland, where the show is set, is just right for this particular political and cultural moment.

I’ll admit that I’ve mostly given up on the DC superhero shows. At least, the 20+ season, one-a-week broadcast shows like Arrow, Supergirl, or The Flash. Those shows started off with a touch of joy to them. Even Arrow, which was grim from the start, had moments where Oliver used his skills in a way that gave the audience a little thrill. After all, part of the appeal of the superhero genre is power fantasy.

New shows like Stargirl brim with that sort of joy. Doom Patrol subvert the power fantasy expectation in funny and interesting ways. Black Lightning has always done a good job managing the precarious balance between enjoyable power fantasy and credible threat to the main characters.

This third season, with its government occupation, illegal experimentation, and foreign superpowered commandos, leans heavily toward the latter.

Still solid, though. I’m waiting for season four.

Also, in case you didn’t know it, there are only a few days left to pick up ONE MAN, my dark fantasy crime thriller, as a $1.99 Kindle Monthly Deal. If you like books about desperation, magic, intrigue, expeditions to mysterious islands, giant skeletons, people living inside giant skeletons, creatures made of burning iron, vampire hobbits, and also the fear of failing the one person in the whole world who relies on you, take advantage of that deal right away.

Also, redux, the audiobook for Circle of Enemies drops on the 29th. More on that, including links, when I have them.

Binge-demic 2

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Continuing my Binge-demic posts, let me move backwards to the show I watched before Korra.

BURN NOTICE

There was every reason for this show to be a forgettable one-and-done gunfight and bikini action series. It was on the USA network, it’s set in Miami, fills scene transitions with shots of beautiful young girls in swimsuits walking near water, and follows all the Action TV Show Gunfight Rules. 

Some of those rules:

  • Concealment = Cover, except those times when Concealment =/= Cover is cooler.
  • Everyone has terrible aim, except highly trained badasses (and their pals).
  • It’s pretty much impossible to shoot someone while they’re running, even with automatic weapons.
  • Every gunman, no matter how angry, sadistic or psychotic, will give their enemy time to say one more thing before pulling the trigger.

Person of Interest, mentioned in the previous post, had some of this too, but even that show didn’t compare to the number of bullets and bombs unleashed on Burn Notice. 

What makes Burn Notice a great show is, first of all, Jeffrey Donovan. He’s electric in the lead, and to this day I don’t understand how he didn’t immediately pivot to a starring role in something else. Maybe the dude was tired and needed a break. Maybe he found greater creative fulfillment as a character actor in supporting roles, and in a Hulu series that I’ve never had the chance to see. [Added later: he was exhausted when Burn Notice ended. He was in most of the scenes, did a lot of his own fights and stunts, and was utterly worn out by the time the series wrapped.]

The premise is straight forward: Michael Weston was a spy until the CIA burned him, freezing his bank accounts and cutting off all contact. He has lost the work that defined his whole life. The subplot of each season concerns Michael’s efforts to clear his name and get himself reinstated. For the main plot In each episode, Michael uses his skills as a spy to help some ordinary person in trouble. 

That makes it a heroic con artist show with car chases. 

Plus, at a time when Jack Bauer was still running around interrogating people under threat of torture, the makers of Burn Notice put a little more effort into it than that. They made it clear that these weren’t bad guys being bad for good ends. When Michael and his friends were forced to do something terrible, the show never portrayed that as heroic, and the characters always paid a price.

I love the second-person voice over, the split screen sequences, the humor, the whole deal. Gabrielle Anwar is great, once she drops the accent they asked her to do in the pilot. Sharon Gless is great as Michael’s chain-smoking mother. Bruce Campbell is great and also, on occasion, subtle (if you can believe it). 

So great. Love this show.

VERONICA MARS

But not as much as this show. 

I have all of Veronica Mars–original series, film, revival series–on disc, (rare for me–I was never a collector of dvds) and I used to own the two terrible novels. (I donated them to the library, which is how I throw away books.) One of the benefits of watching the discs is that the pilot episode is slightly extended, starting at the no-tell motel (first line is Veronica in voice-over saying I am never getting married.) instead of the school parking lot, and for once the extra scenes don’t feel like a waste of my precious time.

And yeah, that first season is iconic. The pilot has a little too much backstory to set up, and the second episode is marred by a bit of stunt casting, but both are still great. After that, it takes off running and doesn’t look back. 

It was renewed for two more (excellent) seasons, despite being near the bottom of the ratings every year. I sort of hated the way the third season ended, but this was a show that put its characters through the ringer. If the last thing it made me feel was Veronica’s regret at a harm she’d caused that could never be made right, that was perfect for the overall tone of the show.

Then came the Kickstarted movie. The show had been a critical darling and retained a dedicated fanbase, so the fundraising campaign was a rousing success. And sure, people complained that the movie that came out of it had too much fan service, but it would have made a fitting (and happier) ending to Veronica Mars’s story. 

But I guess the success of the crowdfunding campaign convinced someone there was an audience to be micro-marketed to, so we got two terrible novels that did not seem to understand the appeal of Veronica Mars as a character, then a new series on Hulu featuring Veronica as an adult.

Unfortunately, by the end of the Hulu series, every aspect of the original show had been brushed aside except for Veronica’s profession and her relationship with her father. Gone was Neptune High as a place where the young rich collide with the young poor. Gone was unincorporated Neptune, the place without a middle class. Gone was Wallace, Veronica’s first healthy peer relationship on the show, who is left behind in Neptune when she drives up the coast to a new case. Gone was Logan, the OTP that obsessed the most dedicated fans of the show. 

Killing off Logan seems to have squelched any hopes of a fifth season. The fans were furious, and I can’t really blame them. Thomas seemed to think that the romance elements were supposed to be a C-plot, bringing a modicum of soap opera conflict to contrast with the mystery plots. No one seemed to believe Logan could function as a support character like Keith, so out he went. 

Which is a shame. The setting and network of relationships are a big part of what we love about a show. You can’t just strip away that context and expect the character to thrive. If you want a brilliant, tough female private investigator in a new context, create a new one.

But still, Veronica herself is a wildly appealing character. In those first three seasons, she’s not just brilliant and funny, she’s fearless, too. Not, I mean, physically fearless. Threats of violence still terrify her, as they should. No, she’s been socially ostracized and come through it with exactly zero fucks left to give. Even when mortifying things happen to her, she refuses to be made ashamed or to back down.

That’s a powerful thing, especially for people of high school age (and near-high school age). I remain convinced that’s the secret sauce of Veronica’s appeal.

Anyway, I recommend the show, obviously. The first three seasons are genius, and the movie makes a nice little bow tie at the end. And, if you still want more of Veronica and Keith and Logan and Leo and so on, season four is only eight episodes long and has all the brilliance and wit of the previous incarnations, even if it does fundamentally break the old show and create a new one in the last twenty minutes or so. 

Up next: Strange Luck and Kipo and the Wonderbeasts

Also, in case you didn’t know it, there are fewer than ten days left to pick up ONE MAN, my dark fantasy crime thriller, as a $1.99 Kindle Monthly Deal. If you like books about desperation, magic, intrigue, expeditions to mysterious islands, giant skeletons, people living inside giant skeletons, creatures made of burning iron, vampire hobbits, and also the fear of failing the one person in the whole world who relies on you, take advantage of that deal right away.

Binge-demic 1

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Here’s my COVID lifestyle: I wake at 9am, then stumble out of bed for coffee and breakfast. With any luck, this involves some sort of sandwich. I’m a big fan of sandwiches.

Then it’s chores and writing. I’m currently revising The Iron Gate, and if I hit my daily goal, I reward myself with a little writing on something else, like bluebooking for a tabletop rpg or brainstorming The Flood Circle which is the next Twenty Palaces novel. Then, a little reading.

After dinner, my wife and I settle in and watch a few shows. My wife hates binge-watching anything. Occasionally, she will watch two episodes of a show on one night, but I only rarely. Too much of one show bores the shit out of her.

At 9:30, she goes to bed at 9:30 and I get my alone time. Which I need. At the end of the day, when I’m alone in my darkened living room, I binge-watch shows. 

And I feel an inexplicable urge to talk about them. So, for a couple of blog posts, I’m going to write about them, starting with the most recent and working backwards.

Person of Interest:

I was talking about the characters on Person of Interest with someone on Twitter, and I was admiring the way the show used exaggeration in building its characters. Reese isn’t just hired muscle, he was once the CIA’s most deadly assassin, an American James Bond (on a TV-crime-thriller budget). Finch isn’t just a computer guy, he’s the reclusive genius who spent his whole adult life living under false identities and who created an artificial intelligence capable of monitoring everyone on Earth.

Reese knows very little about computers. Finch suffers from an unhealed injury he won’t discuss, which leaves him unable to fight or sprint. So it’s not just that each is an expert in their respective roles. They’re also incapable of filling each others’ roles. They compliment each other perfectly. 

It’s the same for the two cops on the show: Fusco is a corrupt homicide detective under the thumb of other corrupt cops, and Carter is the honest, empathetic one. One is being blackmailed into helping Reese. The other wants to arrest him. Both are extremes and opposites, and that naturally creates drama.

The person I was talking to called the characters archetypes, which I don’t think is a good description. To me, calling a character an archetype is an insult. It means they’re a copy of another thing, not an individual in their own right. If these were archetypes, I wouldn’t like the show as much as I do.

In its first season, PoI plays out as a well-made CBS procedural with an unusual and intriguing premise: A surveillance AI called, simply, “The Machine” sends Finch the social security number of a person who will be involved in a murder, either as victim or perpetrator. The team has to work out what’s happening and save a life, possibly several. There’s no season-long subplot, but the seeds of upcoming subplots are planted here and there.

In the second season, the extended story arcs begin, and by the third season, the show becomes positively addicting. The procedural elements are slowly, season by season, eclipsed by the underlying story of The Machine itself, the dangerous bureaucracy around it, and the battle with a rival AI. It’s tremendous fun.

Normally, I’d suggest skipping ahead so you could jump to the fun stuff, but I already tried that myself. As the show was airing, people in my timeline were praising the second season so I tried to jump in at the third. It didn’t work. PoI trades on the relationships between the characters formed over the previous two seasons, and without that background, it’s hard to care. If you’re tempted to watch this, don’t skip ahead.

I know that sounds like weak praise. “It gets good after [X] episodes” is the death song of many a Netflix show. But the early episodes are very good. The later seasons are fantastic. 

I just wrote way more about this show than I intended.

On Netflix until 9/22. If you’ve never seen it, it’ll take a mighty binge to finish it before then. Me, I have the last four episodes set aside for tonight. 

Before that: The Legend of Korra

I originally let this show pass by because I heard good and bad things about it. Fans liked/hated the main character. They hated that Aang, as a grownup, made mistakes and was not the greatest father in the world/or they were comfortable with that level of fallibility. They loved/hated the pseudo-steampunk setting. They loved/hated the way the show expanded the magic and world-building. So I wasn’t in any rush to watch this.

Honestly, I don’t understand what people are complaining about. I thought it was genius, and I’m currently re-watching it with my wife (one episode a day, as I mentioned above).

It’s gorgeous. It’s funny. The fight scenes are inventive, which is no small feat over so many episodes. Korra herself is flawed in the best way, making the show inherently more complicated and interesting than the original (even if it isn’t as charming). I loved it. 

Of course, the ending of the series is famous now. I knew the final scene where Korra and Asami head off to start their lives together as a couple was coming, but I didn’t know what to expect. When I saw it, all I could think was, “That was it?” Considering the attention that ending got, overwhelmingly but not exclusively positive, I thought for sure there’d be a kiss or something. Maybe just the two characters leaning toward each other, fade to black before their lips touch. 

Nope. This is the level of representation that LGBQ fans had to be satisfied with back in 2014. Just six years ago, it was considered brave and groundbreaking. 

I probably should have watched this before I watched She-Ra. 

Coming up next time: Burn Notice and Veronica Mars

Also, One Man is currently the Kindle Monthly Deal. If you read ebooks and think you’d enjoy a high fantasy crime thriller, check it out. 

Quarantine Post 5: Seduced, but by the 80’s

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First, your musical interlude, which is Leon Redbone’s cover of Seduced:

RIP, dude.

It’s been longer than I planned since my previous QP post, mainly because I sat down for another binge watch of Stranger Things. I’d been joking about it on social media, but I find the show soothing and I have a prescription for watching endless hours of TV to ease my anxiety. No really, I have the prescription around here somewhere it was right on that table I swear.

Then I came across this Vox mini-documentary about the origins of the 80’s aesthetic that shows tries to replicate. Maybe 75% of this video looks like one of the outfits Millie Bobby Brown wore after her character visited the mall.

But the interesting thing about this is that a person (or group of people, in this case) can be so influential yet remain unrecognized. Until now, obviously.

Quarantine Post 2: Dreams and Star Trek

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Siri, show me a fever hallucination with a mellow beat behind it.

If you’re a casual(ish) fan of Star Trek, you might enjoy this Filmjoy dive into the history of the original series, plus a second part about the show’s revival at the movies. I’m not really a fan at all (although I’ve watched most of what falls under the ST umbrella) and I thought these were interesting and fun. This is about the same length as their three-part Harry Potter film study, and I’m sure I’ll be re-watching this, too.

Kick back and enjoy.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Quarantined

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Like a lot of people, I’m spending more time than usual inside my home. What’s extra weird is that my wife’s workplace has shut its doors until the end of the month so she is stuck here, too. Me, I like being at home. She’s currently on day two and is already a bit stir crazy.

But there are only so many evenings you can while away with board games. To that end, a self-quarantine is an excellent time to binge the TV shows you meant to watch but never got around to. And for this list, I’m only naming shows that cost only the price of a subscription. Lots of us are struggling to find work at the moment, after all.

I have suggestions:

Amazon Prime:
This isn’t the first streaming service I think of when I fire up the TV, but for quality shows of the (recent) past, it has some serious heavy hitters, such as

The Wire
The Sopranos
The Americans
Deadwood
Orphan Black

Not all their offerings are so critically acclaimed, though. Space: 1999 is a seventies cheese fest and a lot of fun. Dead Like Me captures that disaffected 90’s slacker style that is overdue for a come back. And Eerie, Indiana is pure and adorable in its low-budget earnestness. Concentrated comfort food.

Netflix:

Netflix doesn’t lean as heavily on the critical acclaim, but they have some solid gems, like

Original Twilight Zone
Mad Men
Monty Python
Twin Peaks

When people want to know if I prefer Star Trek or Star Wars, I tell them Person of Interest. The first season is fun but not promising. By the midpoint of season three, we were shouting at the screen. Also, all the Star Treks are here, too. For lighter fare, they have Pee Wee’s Playhouse, which is anarchic fun (and also my wife worked on the NYC set, building several of the props, including Conky the Robot and Chairy, which is why I have a soft spot for this weird show). If you’re feeling stir crazy, Ash vs the Evil Dead is bloody and hilarious and over the top. If you need to be soothed, Father Brown is concentrated gentility.

Hulu

If Amazon Prime is home to Big Prestige TV About Terrible Dudes, Hulu offers a wider variety of stories with a wider variety of leads.

Killing Eve
Veronica Mars
Atlanta

They also have Legion, which is BPTATD, but has a non-naturalistic flair that I thought was fascinating, even when it didn’t totally work. Also, I know lots of folks binge Law & Order as a sort of comfort view, but that’s not streaming anywhere at the moment. However, Hulu has Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Finally, if you need something gentler, you can find Steven Universe here.

Disney Plus

Then you have this channel, where you can find… all the Star Wars cartoons? Agent Carter is lots of fun, but they never really let that terrific lead character shine. And… what? The 90’s X-Men cartoon? Gargoyles? If I’d written this post about movies, D+ would have more to offer.

Anyway, I’d originally planned to only list shows that had finished their run, but then I saw Killing Eve and that went out the window. Personally, I’d love to binge a few of these myself, but my wife hates to binge shows, so I’ll have to enjoy them vicariously through you guys.

One a personal note: We’re self-quarantined until the end of the month at least, and we’re taking the time for family and art-making time. One Man was released a few months ago, so we’re expecting that money to come in at the end of the month. So, yeah, this is going to hurt long term, but in the short term we ought to be okay.

But the economy is going to take a big hit. It might be time to rethink your Patreon and Kickstarter pledges. I appreciate the support I get through Patreon, for example, but I want everyone facing hardships of their own to cancel their pledges before they come due at the end of the month.

Take care of yourselves and take care of each other.

Stop Killing the Redeemed Bad Boys: Veronica Mars and The Rise of Skywalker

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Spoilers for Star Wars and of Veronica Mars. FYI.

Before we get into the meat of this post, I want to point out that, four years ago, I made this awful prediction:

Along with a few ten thousand other people, but the important thing to point out is that this was supposed to be a joke. Seriously, I thought making Rey a Palpatine was a ridiculous idea, and it turned out that I was right.

But there’s no idea so ridiculous that someone won’t rub their chin and go “hmm”. Sometimes, on Twitter, there will be huge hashtag pitch sessions where people will tweet out a log line for their screenplays, and I used to make up ludicrous story ideas for it. No matter how outlandish, there was always someone interested in something I made up.

Terrible ideas! They’re everywhere!

Let’s seque back to the new season of Veronica Mars, on Hulu. Personally, I enjoyed it, but many die-hard fans were furious at the way they killed off Logan, Veronica’s true love.

After three full seasons, the show felt unfinished. With the Kickstarter-funded movie, Rob Thomas brought things around to an ending the fans could get behind. Veronica was a PI again. Logan had his shit together. They re-started their romance as adults. Boom. Ending. They even left things open for those awful novels.

But once Hulu came knocking for S4, Thomas didn’t know what to do with Logan. He has this idea that a romantic relationship had to be about the conflict. What would they do with Logan now that his issues with Veronica were resolved? He said he didn’t want to include Logan in the mystery of the season–nevermind that he did exactly that for S4 and it worked out fine. Nevermind that Veronica has plenty of other low-conflict relationships with people she loves. Thomas wanted her to be free for upcoming seasons, which meant Logan had to go.

And when he went, the fans went too, and they weren’t quiet about it. They were furious, vowing that they were never going to watch again.

The fallout? No Current Plans for Season Five at Hulu

There was similar fan interest for sexy villain Kylo Ren/Ben Solo to be redeemed during TRoS and have the romantic relationship with Rey that almost came about in The Last Jedi.

Personally, I thought TLJ settled that plot point. They had an opening for romance. Each thought they were going to turn the other to their way of thinking. They were wrong. Ben Solo chose to be Kylo Ren, and he was not going to give up his giant fascist army. He even declared himself Supreme Leader. Kylo Ren was established as the villain.

But the fans wanted Kylo and Rey to come together, which meant Kylo had to turn into a good guy, which meant they needed a new villain for the third act, which meant they brought brought Palpatine, which is why they decided to connect him to Rey by blood and undo the very best scene of The Last Jedi (“You’re nothing… but not to me.”)

But after fighting on Rey’s side and saving her life, Kylo gets a single kiss from Rey. and then he dies.

The replies to that tweet are a catalog of misery. Fans wanted the poor, abused, handsome young guy to be redeemed and have a happy life. Preferably with Rey. They didn’t get that.

Now, I’m not sure I’ve ever shipped a pair of characters, ever. Not Sam and Diane. Not David and Maddie. It just doesn’t occur to me. But lots of fans engage with shows this way, and they do not endure disappointment quietly. And there’s something–don’t ask me what–about that reformed evil boyfriend trope. People find it wildly compelling. (And yes, a small percentage can be over-the-top about their favorite ships. I’m not interested in using outliers to represent a group as a whole.) There’s nothing wrong with that, but any really vocal segment of an audience can have an outsized effect on the future of a show.

And this new Star Wars movie is making lots of money, but reviews have been dire. The movie is pretty, it’s fast, and it’s filled with peril, but the story is a disaster, and the even the lead actors just seem done with the whole thing.

Remember the energy and excitement in The Force Awakens? Remember Rey and Finn together? How much energy they had?

Well, all that is gone, and they couldn’t even redeem their sensitive bad boy correctly. The ReyLos and the LoVes are not happy.

Randomness for 12/8

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1. Domestic abuse: Killers ‘follow eight-stage pattern’, study says.

2. The real reason hearing your own voice can make you cringe.

3. Water isn’t the most hydrating beverage according to new scientific study

4. Twenty Years Later and the Women of ANGEL Deserve More.

5. The Trajectory of Fear – or How to Use Horror Tropes Effectively in your [TTRPG]

6. What happens when you eat like the Queen of England for a week?

7. People Are Confused About the Usefulness of Buying Fancy Things