Monday, 10 December 2018

Doctor Who Season 11 First Impressions: Episode 10 (The Battle Of Ranskoor Av Kolos}

This is the way the season ends; not with a bang, but a whimper.

Through the ruin of a season, stalked the ruin of a showrunner.
You know, maybe this would have landed better if we didn't have the news that the New Year's Day special in a few weeks is our only televised Doctor Who for 2019. That's one hell of a bummer and 2016 was a real long drag of nothing, and now we get to do it all over again. Joy. Any hope we'd have gone out on a high note was dashed by the actual quality of the final episode of 2018. It's not bad. Not really. There's no political outrage behind a fun episode like there was with Kerblam!, and no outright indignation at being patronized like with, say, a Toby Whithouse episode. In the end, this is just a Chris Chibnall joint. It's just as passable and of the moment as pretty much the rest of his contributions this year. Let's deal with whatever the hell he put on screen, then. It's time for The Battle Of Ranskoor Av Kolos. Hey, I typed it without looking up. Go me.

Monday, 3 December 2018

Doctor Who Series 11 First Impressions: Episode 9 (It Takes You Away)

And now I'm mirroring you. Fuck.
NOW we're talking here. THIS is the kind of Doctor Who I go gonzo for. I mean, I love me a good emotional through-line (and the episode even has that to boot so HOLY FUCK IT'S FIRING ON ALL CYLINDERS) but I really dig Doctor Who when it's going full Bidmeadean science-magic and just getting a little goddamned weird while it's at it. I MEAN DID YOU ALL SEE THAT TALKING FROG? THEY WENT THERE! HOLY FUCK! I could end the first impressions here by just gushing about how the denouement of this episode was a sentient pocket mirror universe taking the form of a talking frog with an elderly black woman's voice holy fuck you guys they went there, but I think I'd like to get a little more in-depth. I used Bidmeadean back there, and that might not mean a lot to you. Christopher H. Bidmead was script editor for Doctor Who in 1980, and he was at the creative helm during Tom Baker's final season, Season 18. (Coming soon to Blu-Ray, fuck yes!) Season 18 had its highs and lows, as most of classic Who did, but its particular relationship to magic-as-science, the filmic and surreal, and general theories of things like evolution, probability, and entropy make it, at the least, really ambitious and just... weird. Doctor Who, if nothing else, loves the weird. Remember that time the moon turned out to be an egg? Yeah. Weird. Except general consensus is that this episode ruled, as opposed to Kill The Moon. My own opinions on moon eggs aside (I lied, here they are, it's gonzo genius), we're gonna look at It Takes You Away and see how it weaves the weird, the Bidmeadean, and the emotional into something that really stands out.

Monday, 26 November 2018

Doctor Who Series 11 First Impressions: Episode 8 (The Witchfinders)

Thanks to Kat for this, because it's basically perfect.
We're going to play a little game over the course of this text review, and it's called "Why In The Fuck Are The Historicals The Episodes I Like The Most In Series 11?". The game, as it is, is pretty self-explanatory as far as the title is concerned. The Witchfinders is the third story set in the past this year, and as far as quality goes it's like... oh, I don't know. Third? Fourth? Somewhere around there for my personal rankings. The other definite members of the top three are Rosa and Demons Of The Punjab, with that number three spot nebulous. We're not worried about that right now. What we're worried about is The Witchfinders, and how it basically works. It fumbles the football at the end a bit, but not enough to ruin things for me overall. The hell with it. Let's dive into that icy pond that is this episode and prove that we're not a witch. Or are one. This metaphor got away from me. It's time to talk about the episode.

Okay, so by now I'm getting a sense of the default mode of the Whittaker era. It's a delicate balancing act between the Doctor being active and passive. We start off as passive, with the whole chestnut about not fucking about with history. Then the Doctor, in the midst of a witch trial where an innocent woman is dying, says fuck it and interferes. Good on her. Too bad it didn't save the woman, but the mere willingness to step up and meddle is applauded. This puts the Doctor in an active role for most of the episode, as she tries to stop the whole witch hunt thing along with figuring out what the fuck is going on. She remains mostly active until the ending, in which we go back to that passivity and not fucking around with history. Usually that shit doesn't work for me, but here it doesn't interfere with me liking the episode. Demons Of The Punjab and Kerblam! established this for me. This balancing act is basically what defines Whittaker under Chibnall for me, warts and all. (It's a pun because witches.) The Doctor's passivity, at least, is aimed in more of a right direction. In Demons, it was used to underline the beautiful tragedy of Prem and Umbreen. In Kerblam! it was the equivalent of staring capitalism right in its greedy little goddamn dollar-sign eyes face and going ‾\_(ツ)_/‾. Faced with 35 innocent women being drowned by witch paranoia, the Doctor vows to make it stop. She does, basically. It's her who gets the big Scooby-Doo esque reveal of what Becca Savage's motivations and beliefs really are, and it's her who gets to use her sci-fi powers to stop the mud monsters at the end. We will have much to say about those two in a second, but let's talk about the Doctor's difficulties in this one. Here, more than ever, her gender is used as an obstacle to solving the plot. It's interesting because I thought all the scripts had been written without her gender in mind, like before Whittaker had even been cast or anything, but maybe editing happened after the fact. Whatever the case, we do get our first female Doctor's take-charge attitude being ignored because she's a woman, and she's subjected to a witch trial. Hm. It's a unique obstacle.

We'll get to the absolute ham of Alan Cumming, but the far more interesting villain is Becca Savage. She starts off, of course, as your typical God-fearing witch hunter looking to drive Satan out of their Christian village, like you do when it's the 17th century and you live in the North. What makes her utterly compelling to me is that end reveal of why she's so adamant about killing witches; because she's been possessed by alien mud/stalked by reanimated corpses possessed by alien mud, is convinced it's the work of the devil, and honestly believes that killing other sinful witches will purify her and make everything better. It's a wonderful mix of zealotry with the utter conviction that she's the heroine of her own story and is doing the right thing which makes her a fascinating villain, up there with Judge Frollo from Disney's Hunchback of Notre Dame as a Lawful Evil villain who believes her actions are just. Then she gets possessed totally by alien mud, and... oh dear. What once was a compelling villain who you could believe was acting via her own moral compass becomes a generic alien who wants to take over the world. The Morax, who admittedly are pretty macabre when they possess corpses and shamble about, become something akin to Mark Gatiss's The Web Of Caves Sketch. "I... I'm bad." Actually, come to think of it, didn't The Unquiet Dead also have corpse-possessing aliens which turned out to be one-note "I'm bad" types? Goddamn. The point when this episode switches from its compelling human villain to shitty mud people wanting to take over the world is when it loses me. In fact, shit doesn't even last that long. The Doctor burns a magic cyber-tree and they light the mud king on fire. The end. It's tacked on. It's dull. It distracts from the very human villain who was so much more interesting. I don't care for it.

And then there's Alan Cumming. Dear god. The ham. Stalking around in a disguise for the first ten minutes or so like a 17th century Tuxedo Mask (thanks, Rainiac), his King James is an absolutely ridiculous character, but a dangerous one nonetheless. It's a very interesting dissonance, and it's one that had me from "oh my god this is silly I love him" to "oh he's a sexist ass, I hate him" in about ten seconds flat. Somehow Cumming pulls off this tightrope. He's reprehensible, but also clearly having a great delight in being over the top. He, of course, pulls a Robertson and lights the mud queen on fire, raises the Doctor's ire, and gets away because that's what happens to people who make the Doctor cross now; the passive switch gets flipped. I'm more forgiving of it here because of simple realistic expectations. As much as I might want a Time Lord Victorious to shove King James into a ditch for being an asshole and "burning the witch", I know damn well that Doctor Who isn't going to mess with the arc of history. You may want it to, but it's less jarring when it's history as opposed to some fictional idiot the writer literally invented to do a bad. The passivity doesn't work as well as Demons Of The Punjab, but it's not as frustrating as Arachnids In The UK or Kerblam!. That, then, was The Witchfinders. It works. It basically works. It's middle of the road Doctor Who that doesn't particularly strike many sour notes with me, and the disturbing thing is that's enough to make it one of the better episodes this season. Will either of the final two boot it off the list? God, I hope so.

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Doctor Who Series 11 First Impressions: Episode 7 (Kerblam!)

Here's your late stage capitalism sympathies, ma'am.
I was on a little vacation, damn it. This was supposed to be an easy one. It very nearly almost was! Then we got what we got. Okay. Okay. I can do something with this. It will echo what others have said to a degree, but in the end I'm but one perspective and I'll link some others which are more critical at the end of all of this. Kerblam!, then. Yes, with the exclamation point and all. Sitting in a room with one of my best pals while I was visiting him in the now-snowy wastes of Gander, Newfoundland... we sat back and watched Kerblam!. It was, all in all, a very enjoyable 45 minutes or so. I want to state upfront that, God help me, I had fun with this one. It's very well-designed, the concept pitch is wild and fun, the atmosphere is tight, the robot design is a perfect uncanny valley, and even the final reveal of the grand plan is such a simple and genius mass murder method that you can only applaud it. This is very good television, on the level of the gears of the sausage factory. What it also happens to be is something that Twitter has fucking eviscerated while I was away. I should clarify, that's my Twitter feed. The one full of lots of smart folks who absolutely lean left and came away from Kerblam! with various levels of disbelief and outrage. I didn't catch it at first, mostly because me and my pal were kind of chittering away and all, but on deeper focus? Oh yeah. There's a lot wrong here. The structure is sound, but the foundation is problematic to the extreme. I'm going to throw out an extreme statement and then try to back it up over the next few words. If I fail, feel free to call me on it. Okay. Kerblam! is the Talons Of Weng-Chiang for the 21st century. Wow. Holy shit. That's bold as fuck. What do I mean by that? It's expertly-crafted science fiction entertainment that's well-acted and, in any other respect, would be a hallmark of its era... but then the underlying message, text, and subtext come in. It's either enough to roll off your back and make you not notice because you had so much fun, as I (admittedly) did for those 40 minutes when I didn't know where this was going... or it appalls and offends, violating what one perceives as the heart and soul of Doctor Who. Wowie wow. Let's dig into THAT.

Elizabeth Sandifer, a lady who at this point basically inspired half of the words I blurp out on this red and white abomination, called Kerblam! "a perfectly good episode of Doctor Who that just happens to be... you know, evil.". Evil's a word you can use to describe an episode that's "Doctor Who vs. Amazon" in which Doctor Who takes the side of the exploitative mega-corporation acting above the law and upholds late-stage capitalism but in space. I fault nobody for referring to Kerblam! as such, but I want to take a different approach. A different word to describe what's going on here. That word? Insidious. This is why Kerblam! both works as an incredibly fun and enjoyable ride, and why so much of my left-leaning Twitter hates the everloving fuck out of it. Let me break down the crafty way this episode sells you. We have shady shit happening at Kerblam!, which is just Space Amazon, where the workers can't talk too much during their shift and they're basically monitored at all times. People are disappearing and the Doctor got a "help me" message in her space package which had a fez. That right there is the first bit of insidiousness, in a way. Continuity references to make you feel safe. There's even one to the David Tennant episode with Agatha Christie and the space wasp. That's a minor niggle and it's not being fair, not really. No, where we get the retroactive problem is with the plot. We obviously know the delivery robots are up to no good and killing workers, but why? We assume, of course, that Kerblam! is going the extra mile and vaporizing its own employees for some nebulous reason. Even the Doctor assumes so, finding plenty of evidence that seems to support her claims. She makes things clear to the people at the top in the Kerblam! offices; if there's some no-good bullshit going down, some corporate shenanigans, she WILL royally fuck it all up and ruin their shit. Yeah! Hell yeah! This is the kind of shit that I and other left-leaning folks love about Doctor Who! Hell, my favorite classic era of the show are the McCoy years, where he basically does this shit every other serial. When we found out Kerblam! was an episode about Space Amazon, we were hoping that Doctor Who was going to burn that fucker to the ground and walk away from the ashes!

That is not what happens. The fucked-up shit is, writer Pete McTighe is putting all the shit we want to see, all the prepping to tear down Kerblam! and stop corporate's evil plan... as a fucking red herring misdirect. No, the actual plot's over here with the janitor who wants to kill millions of people and make it look like Kerblam! did it so they go out of business and people don't trust robots so more real humans get hired for jobs and aren't replaced by robots. Dear god. Dear fucking god. I don't even want to begin to unpack that, but I have a feeling if I did I'd find nothing but bales of fucking straw. It gets worse. The system itself is rebelling against this attempt to make it kill millions, which would be admirable if it didn't try to dissuade the janitor from enacting his plan by KILLING THE GIRL HE LIKED. Yes! YES THEY DID THAT! Doctor Who somehow has pulled off a fridging, where the manpain that motivates the plot at the cost of the girl's life is centered on THE EPISODE'S VILLAIN. I have NEVER seen that before. I know I'm in the middle of a bad thing rant, but I'm giving you an oasis of positivity. The scheme here is killer bubble wrap. That is, bubble wrap that explodes when you pop it. This is fucking genius. EVERYONE pops fucking bubble wrap! As a murder method it's creative and inventive in turning an ordinary thing into a source of horror! As a grand scheme strawman against automation via mass murder? Jesus Christ. So, in the end, the Doctor slots into her passive role once more. Kerblam! aren't taken down a peg, the system isn't retooled for literally murdering an innocent woman to make the Nice Guy who has a crush on her sad and not blow up people, and nothing is changed. Everyone who works at Kerblam! is given a month off and two week's pay. Yes. You heard me. Think about it. That's such a darkly comic line that was meant in sincerity that I think I need to lie down.

That's... Kerblam! I got pretty mad at it myself. This is a paradox of an episode. It's not the kind of Doctor Who that I like, and it in fact wears the kind of Doctor Who that I like as a fucking masquerade in order to fool my dumb brain into liking it, and it works. God help me, it works at that because I still have that contact high of the fun I had the other evening watching it. Insidious is the word. Elizabeth Sandifer called it evil, and here's her thoughts. Caitlin Smith, the biggest Clara Oswald fan I can think of that isn't Jenna Coleman herself, had a real good Twitter thread about this. I'm still just very tired. Kerblam!, if you judge it solely on its first 40 minutes of your very first time seeing it unspoiled, is probably the third-best episode this series... but it's teetering on the edge. God, I hope something comes along to unseat it. I really do. In 40 years, will we have passionate defenses from brigades about this like we do with Talons? Christ, I hope I'm not part of this fandom to see that if it happens. Let's shut the book on that, for now.

Monday, 12 November 2018

Doctor Who Series 11 First Impressions: Episode 6 (Demons Of The Punjab)

Fine. I'll say it. Of the six hours and change that the Whittaker era has aired so far, this is the best one for me. The only one that comes close to it is Rosa, and Rosa is... well, it has different strengths. It's a very good episode, but one I don't feel qualified to talk about and one that's so tense, uncomfortable, and oppressive in its realistic atmosphere that revisiting it isn't exactly a Saturday evening comfort with chips and a drink. Demons Of The Punjab isn't quite that, either, but it's more of a dramatic tragedy. I've made much, be it here or on Rainiac's podcast, about the somewhat disappointing idea of the Doctor not always saving the day in these episodes. Some situations, like Arachnids In The UK, are tonally off for me. Sometimes I'm fine with it. This is the time I'm the most fine with it, because this isn't a story about "saving the day". This is a story about loss, tragedy, and prejudice told against the backdrop of a historical event, a family torn apart by events and beliefs far beyond their farm. It's a story that presents itself as a day to be saved, and twists itself to reveal its tragedy. This is something to be observed, and we're stronger for having observed it. This is Demons Of The Punjab, and it's incredible.

In the end, it's a story with Yaz as the focus. Yaz, who wants to know more about her grandmother and asks to go back in time and just observe. Already I can draw some parallel between this and Father's Day, waaaay the fuck back when the revival of Doctor Who began. That actually was my very first full episode of the show I saw, and it's the reason I'm sitting here typing this up. So, you know, I'm invested in this sort of plot. That gets us to India 1947, and the revelation that Yaz's grandma Umbreen is marrying someone who isn't Yaz's granddad. This is a secret history, a truth kept from Yaz and us. What's not exactly a secret history, of course, is the partition of India. I don't know much about the historical event, being from the other side of the world, but you get a sense of it. Colonialism splitting India in two, stoking fires of prejudice as Hindus turn on Muslims, and widespread riots all over the place. We get little sense of this outside of the farm. The bad things are happening away from us and there's no stuffy Captain Cook types around. Of course, we have Prem's brother Manish who is wary of this marriage. This is some Romeo and Juliet stuff, except with religions instead of houses. Okay. That's a good story on its own, and it's mostly what we get... but this ain't a pure historical episode. No, we have some space aliens.

Oh, these guys are fun. The Thijarians, on first viewing, are made to look like monsters. We buy it because this is Doctor Who and it's traditionally been a monster-fighting show. What's especially interesting is that things are termed and couched in the trappings of the Moffat era at first. The Thijarians are described as the deadliest assassins in the universe from the dawn of time or whatever, and the Doctor's putting her foot down and declaring that she'll stop them if they're up to no good is very Doctor-ish. You could imagine Matt Smith or even David Tennant delivering those lines, no sweat. Of course, it's not an evil plan. The Thijarians aren't invaders. They're reverent watchers who travel time and space to witness the final moments of the dead, memorializing them in their little space dust can... and they're here because Prem is doomed to die. It's odd that these guys know that Prem's time is up and it's all unavoidable Web Of Time bullshit but the, you know, Time Lady has to be told this. Just minor eyebrow-raising, nothing more. Of course, the savvy audience member probably knew this was coming. The turbulent time, the historical setting, the fact that Prem isn't Yaz's granddad? He has all the trappings of a man doomed to die, and the tragedy looms over the program... but the twist changes things. This is no longer a Moffat-era story about stopping the bad aliens as Protector Of The Planet. This is a Whittaker story. This is a fixed point. The group knows this and could leave... but they want to stay. To see it out. To make sure Prem isn't alone.

In the end, it's not the Thijarians who were the titular Demons of the Punjab. No, it was the anti-Muslim hate that lead Manish to kill an old man just so an interdenominational wedding wouldn't happen, who literally rallied up a small mob of armed men on horseback, who killed his own brother out of fear and hate for these other people. In the end, it's a lot like Rosa. The Doctor can't beat that back with magic science and a sonic. All she can do is do her best, and so her companions do, too. They'll take this event with them for the rest of their lives, and Yaz will hold on to that broken watch as a reminder of the good man who died that day. Her nan ended up living a good life, all things told, but the memory remains. The Thijarians pay tribute to Prem, and all those who died in the riots of the Partition. To bring things back to the Moffat era, I'm sure Prem lives on within Testimony. Most important of all, his story lives on with us. This story has gone out into the world, and we've experienced a beautiful tragedy. The Doctor can't always save the day... but she can make the day better. She can officiate a wedding and let two loving people join in unison. She can be there for you. She can, in a sense, be there and hold your hand... just like Rose ended up doing in Father's Day. This is something to be observed, and we're all stronger for having observed it. If Doctor Who in the Whittaker era has to be more tragic than a day-saving adventure, please let it be more like this. Not a surprise downer, or a rushed and hastily wrapped-up ending. A beautiful tragedy weaved into every aspect of the show's runtime. Melancholy doesn't get much better than this.

Monday, 5 November 2018

Doctor Who Series 11 First Impressions: Episode 5 (The Tsuranga Conundrum)

Baby has a glowy tummy =)
Oooh, now this is spooky. I'm writing this from inside some sort of time warp. Like, more so than usual. The Internet is currently out here, and it looks to be that way until at least Tuesday evening. If you're seeing this on Tuesday evening, the 6th of November, then you'll know I got back on time. Any later and you know it took me longer. Beyond that, you're way in the future and looking back at this. (Future intrusion note: 24 hours early, hooray!) I'm talking about timely post-airing first impressions, though. So, what did Chibnall put in front of us here? Hmm. I don't know. It would be mean to call The Tsuranga Conundrum the worst episode of the Whittaker era so far. It would also be inaccurate. It isn't bad. It didn't offend me. On the flip side though, it didn't wow me in a way that other episodes this series did. For better or worse, there's no real element in this that speaks out to me and makes me feel a passion, be that praise or damnation. This was perfectly servicable Doctor Who that gave me mild entertainment on a Sunday night. In that regard, it's almost exactly what I expected from the Chibnall era before it aired. The problem is that we had those other four episodes that gave me a lot to talk about, be it good or bad. Still, we'll make something of this. Or try to.

Okay, so it's basically a base under siege story. Boneless Alien, a Twitter pal called it. You got a little fucker running around in a spaceship doing bad shit and threatening to destroy the works of it, and the Doctor and friends have to save the day. Let's try and go on what I liked with this, I guess. I like the panic of the Doctor once they arrive on the hospital ship, and her desperate need to get the TARDIS clashing with the hospital guy's sensibility, leading to the Doctor realizing humility and apologizing. That's a new choice that I can't really see many other Doctors going for. It gives me something to work with. Similarly, the Doctor's speech about antimatter and positrons is absolutely wonderful. Nonsense scientifically, if forum goers are to be believed, but the passion and energy behind Whittaker's delivery of it really shone through. There's a real sense of trying to put the Doctor's back against the wall here, with no TARDIS and no sonic screwdriver to save the day. Okay, she gets her sonic back eventually and that does save the day, but the sense of improvisation and plotting on the fly is lovely. This is a Doctor who, to quote one of her past selves, could save the universe with a kettle and some string. Aesthetically, these are some very pretty corridors to be running down, all white and slick. It's a very different space aesthetic from, say, The Ghost Monument, which had "used future" spaceships. I dig it. Of course, there's the monster. The Pting is a neat concept, I guess. It's a space gremlin. It gets in your ship and fucks it up. Okay, it's a neat concept. More to the point, the Doctor actually gets a fairly decisive victory here. She doesn't kill the Pting, but it was more a force of nature and didn't have to die. That and only two people bought it in this one. Compared to the grim business or half-hearted resolutions of the previous stories this season, this is, so to speak, more like it. You'd think, though, they would have shown the Doctor getting back in the TARDIS given the urgency with which she was worried about leaving it in a space junkyard, but this is a very minor nitpick and I can accept "it was just fine and they got back in it and left okay" as an offscreen resolution.

Well, then there's the pregnant guy, about whom I'm not sure how to feel. With no Internet I can't give you any takes from, say, trans masculine men who may or may not have found this a flat note. I knew, going in, that we'd have a pregnant man as a supporting character and he would kind of be the comic relief, which frankly terrified me and others. I didn't get THAT much of a horrible vibe of the comedy being based on "ha ha ha it's WOMEN that get pregnant, not men, look how funny!" or anything, but again... I'm not the authority on this. Similarly, this ties into Ryan's plotline where the reluctant dad-to-be reminds him of his dad, and he encourages the guy to keep his kid. I found it sweet, but others could take that as anti-adoption. Again, not the authority, wish I could look up takes online to offer an alternate perspective, but I can't. Beyond those notes, what are we left with? An average episode of Doctor Who. Corridor running in space while a monster attacks. It's just fine, really. There are some weird notes, as mentioned above, but nothing that played too sour for me personally. I wasn't enthused, but I wasn't appalled. Really, that's the slight disappointment. Sometimes Doctor Who is just okay. We wish it can bat a home run every time, but sometimes it just makes it to first base. Better than striking out, as we've seen with other terrible moments. It's probably not going to be anyone's favorite episode of Doctor Who, but it doesn't have to be. As an hour of entertainment, it worked. That's all it batted for, and it made that. Good.

Next up to bat: The partition of India. This happened in 1947? Oh dear. Colonialism.

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Another 31 Days, Another 31 Screams: Day 31 (Halloween 4: The Return Of Michael Myers)

It wasn't supposed to be this as the capstone, you know. I would have done the new Halloween movie that came out 12 days ago, but I don't live anywhere near a movie theater to have been able to seen it. My backup was Halloween 3, but then I found you couldn't legally grab that on either Youtube OR Netflix... a fact which really pisses me off because I SAW IT in the bargain bin at a Wal-Mart during a trip last month and thought "Ehh I'll get it digitally for Halloween night". Guess the "trick" in trick or treat is on me, huh? So, the hell with it. This is the best we've got with regards to keeping up traditions and watching a Halloween movie on Halloween night for the blog. This? Christ. You can't really be mad at it, can you? It's almost like a goddamned monkey's paw wish for everyone who bitched that Halloween 3 wasn't about Michael Myers again. Oh, you want the spooky boy in the boiler suit and Shatner mask to stab people again? HERE'S EXACTLY WHAT YOU ASKED FOR! I know we didn't get to Halloween 3, but let me be clear: I didn't love Halloween 3, but I certainly enjoyed its freshness a hell of a lot more than I did Halloween 4. Halloween 4 is... it's trying in some aspects. It really is. One more deep dive to end the spooky season, and then we're free. Well, you're free.

A weird pattern that Halloween fell into was going back to basics once a decade. We saw this last year with Halloween H20, we saw it this year in cinemas with the 2018 film... and here with Halloween 4, we sort of see it. I get the vibe that the people in charge of this were going back to what worked; spooky man goes to Haddonfield to kill family member. Yes, I know that wasn't what 1978's film was about, but Halloween 2 with the siblings reveal is the only other one of these that actually stuck in canon because it happened literally right after the end of the original. So, this one's about spooky Michael Myers busting out of captivity to go to Haddonfield and kill Laurie Strode's daughter, Jamie Lloyd. Why? I don't really know Michael's motivations at this point; he doesn't even have any baseline shamblings about teen sexhavers like Jason Voorhees. Maybe he just wants to finish the job and kill all of his family, and anyone who gets in the way. Make no mistake, though, he's no mindless shambler. Killing a power company guy by throwing him into a substation to knock out all the power in Haddonfield is calculated and plotting. There are gears turning in his head. Gears on how best to kill and intimidate folks before killing them. Things are a bit gratuitous, yes, but there are some moments of restraint where we don't see the how and why of someone dying. We could have used some more of those, but okay.

Then we come to Jamie Lloyd herself. She's just a little kid, and the child actress is doing her best. She's the key of all of this, being Michael's ultimate target, but there's much more going on here. There are little callbacks and mirrorings to the original, particularly the fact that she chooses a clown costume for herself like Michael's from the opening of the original movie. Fuck it, let's just talk about that ending, huh? Implications of Jamie Lloyd as the next vessel of the blank-faced evil which defined Michael Myers, and a horrified Dr. Loomis screaming at the sight of it. It's one hell of a downer ending... which gets basically reversed in the next movie, but we are in no way worrying about Halloweens 5 and 6. This is, in some respects, the best part of the movie. Ain't that depressing? I'm basically saying I liked it when it was over. Really, this is fine. If you were morbidly offended by Halloween 3 daring to be "the Zelda 2 of slasher movies", then this is your Link To The Past. It cemented Halloween as the story of Michael Myers trying to kill his family. Forever. Forever and ever. I hope you're happy. As for me, this marathon is a lot like Halloween 4. I liked it when it was over. That'll be a wrap for this year. Will there be a 31 Screams 4? God only knows. All I know is I have to worry about NaNoWriMo now, and in a week I'll be begging to write about horror things for 30 minutes a night. We'll see you for more Doctor Who on the blog. Enjoy Halloween. Don't eat too much candy and make yourself sick. Bye.