You could say Slumdog Millionaire is too cute by half. But you can't say it doesn't do cute very well.
Adapted from the novel Q and A, Slumdog follows "uneducated" street kid Jamal (Dev Patel) through a Dickensian collision of money, love, poverty and hope against all odds. It's the kind of fairy tale Hollywood can't do without tripping over its' own commercialism anymore, but the relentless pace set by Simon Beaufoy's screenplay and the direction of Danny Boyle and Loveleen Tandan sacrifices schmaltz, for the most part – and most importantly, keeps you rooting for this most improbable (implausible?) hero.
We meet Jamal, a perpetually wide-eyed call-center drone, in the midst of a brutally foreful questioning by Mumbai police. The kid has been doing well as a contestant on Kaun Banega Crorepati, the Indian version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? -- too well for comfort, in fact. How could this urchin, this upstart, people are asking, be on the verge of winning the grand prize of 20 million Rupees when doctors and lawyers have fallen short?
"Because I'm a Slumdog, I'm a liar, right?" Jamal asks the cops. But the truth is, Jamal's an anomaly. The answer -- or rather, the answers -- are within him. Boyle and Tandan line up the parallel paths of Jamal's rise: each right answer ties in to the different flashpoints in the hard-knock lives of Jamal and his conflicted older brother Salim (Madhur Mittal). The boys have, at various points, been orphans, hustlers, "Musketeers," travelers, until they finally take different paths. The only other constant in Jamal's life, besides making enough to get by, is the love of his life, Latika (Freida Pinto). Indeed, the only times mild-mannered Jamal gets riled up is when somebody crosses his girl.
The film's single-mindedness brings to mind Forrest Gump -- and that's potentially as bad as it is good. We get glimpses of the abject poverty the kids face (the scenes in the "orphanage" are particularly harrowing) but Jamal's focus on saving Latika (who herself seems to avoid the worst possible fates before running into Jamal again) dulls some of the impact of seeing what Jamal has overcome along the way. It's easy to see why other reviews have panned the film for being "picaresque" and "cinematic overkill."
But, in a time where Mumbai is in the news for all the wrong reasons, and on the verge of the annual winter barrage of cinematic and economic gluttony, Slumdog is, like its' hero, an anomaly: a "feel-good" movie that actually delivers on the sentiment. And you can say about that what you will.
This story was originally written in March 2005, when I was given to, ah, a bit rougher language. But, while I offer apologies to our friends in the sex industry, I offer you a little slice of life ... **********
Friday, 4 March LAS VEGAS -- The three of us arrived around midnight Thursday: Myself, my cold and my friend Joel, who conked out to sleep shortly after we checked in at The Rio. But I needed to go out, for medical reasons; a cute new co-worker had advised me that "a shot of vodka, a glass of orange juice and a nap" would clear up my sinuses. Naturally, I thought: Screwdrivers.
After stopping by The Palms (Site of a past Real World, but otherwise nothing special), I returned to the Rio and migrated toward a bar. To my right sat a woman in a too-short pink top, a way-too-short denim skirt and glasses. I ordered my second Screwdriver of the night and thought nothing of it, or her.
Suddenly, someone else caught my eye: a blonde, model-thin and Britney made-up. She met my gaze and waved me to join her. Red flags went up immediately in my buzzing head.
"I can't speak in sign language," she said when I got to her. Mine was rusty, too, I replied. We kibbitzed for a few seconds before she asked, "So are you hangin' out or messing around?" Hangin' out, I answered. She looked me in the eye.
"If you feel like" -- she shimmied her shoulders -- "messin' around, come get me." Dollar signs flashed in her eyes. Okay, I replied, before making a beeline for my seat, barely hiding a laugh.
Enter Screwdriver No. 3. Pink Top took notice: "Mine's a fuzzy navel," she said. "It's not too different." I noticed she had short brown hair and glasses, my Kryptonite. Suddenly I felt charming.
"It's for medical reasons," I said, tapping my nose. "I'm getting over a cold." We started talking. She was visiting from Orange County, meeting up with the woman to her right, a mid-thirties or so-looking wavy-haired blonde from Portland. Wavy had the sense to wear jeans, given the temperature was in the 40s or so outside.
"I felt like wearing my skimpy stuff tonight," Pink Top said. I still felt charming.
"It works for you," I replied. "I almost wore mine, too, but it was too cold." That got a laugh. If you only knew what I've worn in public, I thought. I recounted my encounter with Britney.
"That blonde over there? Totally workin'," I scoffed. Pink Top's friend eyed me disapprovingly. My new friend and her friend promptly excused themselves. Almost.
Just as they were about to leave, another man intercepted them, and bought Wavy a drink. Pink Top returned to her seat and forgot I was alive. I decided to stay and watch this latest drama. Enter Screwdriver No. 4.
The guy was here for pleasure; in his regular life, he was a city administrator for a small town near Kansas City. I kept drinking and kept listening. I looked over: both women were rapt in attention at his game. No sense denying, I was a little jealous; a guy like me getting passed over for Toby Keith's retarded cousin?
Then I started wondering, if they left after I told them about Britney ... naaah, no way ... Were they working, too? I smiled to myself at the potential scoreboard: Ho's: 3, Garcia: 0, but figured I was just being Paranoid Bitter Single Guy; this mood would pass. I looked over between sips: Wavy did all the talking. They got on famously. Pink Top played wingwoman.
Suddenly, I thought I heard figures being mentioned: $360, or "a package" for $500. The alarm went off in my head again: I WAS RIGHT! I grinned like an idiot, feeling like Hercule Fucking Poirot. And I kept listening.
"I'm not used to having to pay for it," Kansas Guy said. I WAS RIGHT! Finally, Pink Top acknowledged me again: "You didn't know who you were talking to earlier, did you?" she asked me. I WAS RIGHT!
I promptly, sincerely (drunkenly) apologized. Britney just cracked me up, too much not to share the story, I explained. Pinky understood: "We try not to be that obvious," she said. I bought her a hot chocolate. She nudged Wavy and let her know that I know. Wavy shook my hand and introduced herself. Then Kansas Guy introduced himself. I WAS RIGHT!
Pink comes out here every few months, she explained. She and Wavy roll together for safety's sake. "She takes care of me," she said. We sat quietly for a few minutes, while Wavy and Kansas Guy talked. It's pretty sad, actually: Pinky's younger than I am, and looked like the kind of gal I'd see around the neighborhood.
She nudged Wavy. "Haven't seen her here in awhile," she said. I asked who. She pointed at a stocky, long-haired brunette in an all-white ensemble. I asked how many women were, "Uh, you know ..." She didn't miss a beat.
"Just about every girl at the bar," she said.
I WAS RIGHT!
We talked a little more, but each of us knew it wasn't going anywhere. It's easy to be moral when you're waiting for the rent cheque to clear. She leaned toward me.
"Go get some rest," she said. "Get well." I touched her arm.
"Take care out there," I replied. "There's a lot of yahoos out there." It probably sounded condescending, but I did mean it. As Wavy kept wooing, Pink walked to the other side of the bar and got back to work with a couple of guys. I was almost done with my drink.
Wavy and Kansas Guy stood from the bar. Pinky quickly joined them. He had a defeated look in his eyes. Within moments, the three of them walked toward the elevator. I finished my drink and thanked the barkeep.
"This town cracks me up," I said. My sinuses were clear as the sky.
I spent the day at my friends' Suzanne and Craig's house, in north San Diego. For whatever reason, my phone never gets service in their neck of the woods. And since I was cut off from the 'Net for 24 hours(!), here's some of the Twitters I would have sent during that time:
Yesterday * People camping outside a Best Buy at 2 p.m. That's beyond sad. * The Jonas Brothers performing during halftime of Cowboys/Seahawks. Suddenly, I'd rather be a Best Buy camper. 20 minutes later * Watching the Jonas Brothers. Suddenly I miss Hanson. * The Jonas Brothers: three men, one eyebrow! * They're lip-synching! Gods, I hate that! * Yeah, sticking the pro-abstinence boys up there next to the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders isn't hypocritical *at all.* * I will *give* my kids drugs if it turns them on to better music.
Last Night * Surprise, surprise, Tropic Thunder doesn't suck! * Had a good meal while avoiding a food coma. Best of both worlds. * Had just enough time to introduce Suzanne to Season Three of Doctor Who. Mission accomplished!
This Morning * Mork & Mindy marathon! Marvelous! * My Pam Dawber crush is reborn like a phoenix. Am I the only one who thought she was hot? * PAM DAWBER IN A CATSUIT! PAM DAWBER IN A CATSUIT!
... Back at home today, but not for long. Gotta get cleaned up, then brave the shopping masses so I can be feeling, as the song goes, zombified. See, tomorrow I'm going undead with my friends Victoria & The Vaudevillians at their show. V&TV are performing with another local band I like, Tragic Tantrum Cabaret. Here's a closer look at TTC, doing "Swan Song":
Hope everybody had a good Turkey day yesterday! In any case, we don't dwell on holidays here at TIC; gotta keep moving forward. And after this post and another today, we're off to get zombified. More on that in a bit.
For now, we give credit to the American Music Awards, of all things, for honoring the great Annie Lennox for her accomplishments over nearly three decades. From the Arista 25th Anniversary Celebration, we bring you Annie, unfiltered, doing "Why." Enjoy.
No, your eyes do not deceive you. That's really Jack "I wear Noah Bennet pajamas to bed" Bauer on the left. Why? Because he's the subject of one of two posts that just went up on Racialicious.
Sunday night, $8.99 worth of rum and I survived 24: Redemption enough to write a review. Watch for the Pulp Fiction joke.
After all that, you can imagine how much better Heroes sounds these days. Before last night's review, I hosted the R's weekly roundtable on Ep 3.8, during which we tackled series creator Tim Kring's latest episode of foot-in-mouth syndrome. Enjoy!
In Part 1 of "The Eclipse," Heroes finally trades in most of its' catharsis for conflict, letting loose Teams Primatech and Pinehearst against each other, and themselves, as the darkening of the sun upends everybody's expectations.
Perhaps not surprisingly, it's the people without powers who adjust the best, especially Noah Bennet, who delivers incredibly satisfying pwnings, as the kidz say, to both Sylar and Elle. But the ass-kicking comes at a cost: as foreseen by Mr. Petrelli via Isaac's old powers, Claire, the newly-annointed Catalyst, is shot and wounded, and hospital-bound going into next week's conclusion.
On the other end of the Benetrelli tree, Nathan and Peter are dispatched to find The Haitian and bring him back from Singala his war-torn homeland -- and blunder into some character development! Turns out the human power defuser's brother is one Baron Samedi, local warlord, Level 5 escapee, ally of Arthur and all-around no-goodnik. We learn from the Haitian that Samedi's power is impenetrable skin, which the locals of course assume makes him a god. What we don't learn is where and how the hell Peter learned enough to school Nate on the subject of voodoo. Seeing as how Nathan got himself captured by the Baron, maybe he'll get a more in-depth tutorial before the inevitable rescue attempt.
In the midst of another type of shrubbery, namely the cornfields of "Lawrence, Kansas" (Aside: I've been to Lawrence. It's a college town. With paved roads.)Hiro and Ando help Matt (Park)man up to win the heart, however illogical the reasons, of his pre-destined love Daphne. As speedy as Daph usually is, this subplots nearly grinds the episode to a halt, even after we discover what she was afraid to return to: walking on crutches.
Matt & Daphne aren't the only lovers having a hard time. As the episode draws to a close, Noah draws a bead on the literally crazy-in-love Sylar and Elle. As Gabriel tries to learn his way back around responsibility, Elle keeps trying to tempt him back toward the Loony Side, going so far as to fake a kidnapping attempt to egg him on. Either way, their romantic comedy from hell may end quickly if Mr. Bennet gets his shot off before the stars re-align ...
The Racialicious Scorecard: Hiro & Ando: Ok, so they're following 9th Wonders all the way to Matt's apartment at the exact moment Parkman and Daphne were going to go look for them, even though, we still don't know who's writing the comic and guiding them along. And seeing them run into their very own fanboys (Seth Green + Breckin Meyer? Good times!) could lead to some laughs. But Ando's increasingly deferential behavior toward a guy who thinks he's 10 years old was disturbing to watch.
Mohinder: It's back to Good News, Bad News for Dr. Suresh. The good news: the eclipse (which seemed to last longer than any in recorded history) cured him of his increasingly dominant mutation. The bad news: now powerless once again, he's commanded by Arthur P. to find a way to restore his team's powers. No wonder Yahoo Entertainment says the poor sod should just be killed off, already.
The Haitian: Anybody else surprised that he and Peter seemed to get each other? In trying to get Nathan to help him, Pete at least acknowledged the Haitian's past service to his family. Hopefully the showdown between the good brother and Baron Samedi (pictured at right) will flesh out both characters – and reveal the Haitian's damn name already.
The Wrestler is a better movie than it is a wrestling movie. But it's still the best pro wrestling non-documentary ever -- or, at least since The One And Only 30(!) years ago. And that's faint praise, indeed.
Director Darren Aronofsky and writer Robert Siegel go the Raging Bull route for this story, following former big-time wrestling star Randy Robinson (Mickey Rourke), now less "The Ram," as he's known, than a lion in winter, going around the horn thru various indie promotions.
What sets The Wrestler apart from other depictions of the wrestling life (thanks for nothing, Ready To Rumble) is, it shows us the price of Robinson's life: he seemingly scrapes by month-to-month, working at a grocery store during the week, barely earning enough for the rent but having enough to load himself up with the "athletic supplements" he needs to look close to how he did during his prime. A collage set to Bang Your Head shows us he was, as the saying goes, "kind of a big deal" in the Metalriffic '80s, but we don't know where, exactly, he lost his way.
Somewhere on that bad road, Randy had and lost a family. And, after he suffers a heart attack in a dressing room, he sets out to win at least part of it back, visiting his estranged daughter Stephanie (Evan Rachel Wood) in order to try and reconnect. At the same time, he tries to forge a different kind of connection with a local stripper named Cassidy (Marisa Tomei, wearing the part, uh, well).
But really, the Ram's heart is in the ring, and he makes no bones about it. "You are my family," he tells an adoring crowd at the movie's climax, a rematch -- and a big payday -- with old rival The Ayatollah (former WCW non-standout Ernest "The Cat" Miller). Though the scene works well to create sympathy, or pity, for the character, the reactions he gets in the ring throughout the film don't jibe at all with the rest of the character's vibe, and not in a "good" way.
It's good to see a movie deal at least close to honestly with what wrestlers do before a show -- the respect to the veterans; the planning of finishes -- but The Wrestler tries to have it both ways, and it's tough for a wrestling fan to buy that an aging '80s retread a) is still a big draw; b) is "put over" (allowed to win, in wrestling parlance) over much younger workers; and c) wouldn't be making a better living if both of those things are indeed the case.
If there's one silver lining in The Wrestler, as a film if not as a specific story, it's the hope that it might spur Aronofsky or some other director to do a story about the Ram's polar opposite -- a young guy working his way up the ladder. Surely there's an appealing, 8 Mile type story out there waiting to be made, with a character modeled on the likes of Austin Aries or AJ Styles, the kind who could honestly, finally, make the "general public" understand what wrestling fans see and want to see in this sometimes sleazy, always strange business we choose to follow. As good as The Wrestler is, really it just went for the easy sympathy, for the cheap heat, a carny trick to gain acclaim, indeed.
Since I went to the Cafe Tacuba show a few nights ago, I'll just go ahead and get another fix of them this morning.
I arrived to the show 20 minutes late, just before the band kicked into "Ingrata" -- and from the opening bar, the crowd started singing. Always a good sign. The show lasted nearly three hours, and nearly half of it was technically the encore. The singer, Ribaac, looked like he was having an honest blast on stage. No "cool" posing, no sneering, not even a hint of Tortured Artist in his demeanor. There was even a Reconciliation bit, like you'd find at Sunday mass, where we were invited to shake hands with those around us. Not many people actually did it, from what I could see, but I thought the gesture was nice.
Probably the loudest non-musical cheer of the night came during one of Ribaac's monologues, when he declared, "Borders are bullshit, man." But he didn't dwell much on the political stuff. Instead, the band just seemed to keep playing through the night, even after the hall emptied.
And now, something important I'd like to share with you all.
... Y'know, following my friends and supporting them in their campaign to make their respective calendars, I couldn't help but see who BeTheBoy was running against.
They seem like decent chaps, accomplished in their respective fields. But you know what?
I think I'm at least as hot as any of them. And if you know me -- I mean, really know me -- you know I'm not that inclined to say much more than "I clean up well," without a mic in my hand. But, you know what? I think if you sum me up, my life, my experiences, my likes ... that's kinda hot.
Maybe not on the outside. I realize I don't look like a lot of those guys. But in a wide-open new age, it's time to recognize someone who doesn't fit the "blogger mold." Who can step out just as easily in formal dress or something a little more comfortable. That's kinda hot.
Now, bear in mind this isn't the Nicest Blogger Calendar, or the Most Polite Blogger Calendar. I know I have a reputation as a big-mouth, a smart-ass. A maverickcocky bastard, a real Leo, both good and bad. Guilty as charged. But, hey, I'm not saying I always inspire; I just wanna make your knickers perspire. And together, we can all make this happen. It's going to be a challenging year. But I promise you the content to back up this campaign. I promise you that I will summon forth and demonstrate hotness many of you weren't aware I possessed. And I promise not to rule out any n00dz.
Thank you for reading, and for joining me on this highly arrogant, highly unlikely, but what the hell, highly fun journey.
Just a quick sweep around for stuff that interests me that might interest you, starting with something I've definitely been late to the party on: Repo: The Genetic Opera. I can only hope this makes it to wider release after watching MOTHERFUCKING GILES kick it Sweeney Todd-style. Watch the trailer!
In less-bloody news, TIC has always been a supporter of Internet radio, especially in these days where more and more stations are content to voice-trak their way toward the "bottom line," rather than better radio. San Diego is a particularly heinous market. This is the kind of market where "alternative radio" means playing the same bloody Alice In Chains and Sublime tunes 10 times a day, and Nirvana's Nevermind is still in regular rotation. (Full disclosure: I'm also that guy, the one with the ridiculously large music collection. So I revel in my snobbery. Now playing, Fatboy Slim -- "Love Island.")
One particularly loathsome example of Corporate Radio at work occurred last week, when longtime -- and I mean decades-long -- mainstay Steve West was let go by former alternative kingpin station 91X, now dominated by a collection of douchebag jocks. Luckily for us, Mr. West is still kicking, on a larger, more open-minded station -- his own. Radio Nigel is, basically, the aural equivalent of the dearly-departed 120 Minutes. It runs cleanly on Windows Media and iTunes and the playlist updates in realtime on the page. Give it a shot.
If your tastes range more toward the modern, check out the latest mixtapes posted by The Mixtress. You can also read about her ongoing mix projects, the cool stuff she finds on the 'Net, and about the award-winning documentary made about her in only a week.
Yup, we're still talking about Heroes. Not only is last night's recap available for viewing, but, over at Racialicious, we've got a roundtable discussion of last week's much-reviled episode, "Villains." How bad was it? Not only did the show's viewership continue to drop, but the response to it over at Producer Greg Beeman's blog reached a staggering 87 comments, most of them in the negative. Plus, the pics Beeman posts, like this one of Mr. Bennet, are pretty nifty.
... And that's all we got for now. Now, stay tuned for a special announcement.
You can always tell the storyarcs on Heroes are heading toward a resolution when the good guys figure out they should give this whole "teamwork" thing a try. And those feudin' McMahonsPetrellis are at the heart of the conflict. Here's how the sides have been drawn:
Unaccounted for? Some heavy hitters: Hiro & Ando;Noah Bennet;Meredith;The Haitian and the increasingly stable Suresh, though the latter is now working with/for Arthur at Pinehearst, where he and we learn that the Meta-Formula Nakamura-Sama was hiding actually had three components, and Claire thinks she's the missing "catalyst" -- a heck of a leap in logic, but we'll just go with it for now.
Hiro and Ando were knocked out of the game by Arthur himself, as Papa Petrelli's ambush in Africa left Hiro thinking and behaving like a 10-year-old boy, and barely able to teleport himself and Ando to safety. As a result, Ando must now go from sidekick to mentor and babysitter. As Young Hiro begins to learn his way around his powers, he picks up a copy of everybody's favorite first-season plot-device, the supposedly concluded 9th Wonders! Once again, this week's issue just happens to follow the Dynamic Duo's journey. But with Isaac dead, who could be writing it? Never mind that, it's also showing the eclipse!
Speaking of mooning over somebody, Gabriel and Elle rekindle the epic romance that neither they nor us seemingly knew ever existed before last week's episode, as Electronica Mars is all "You killed my father, prepare to die!" and Gabriel is all "My bad, I had the power munchies." After several rounds of shock treatment, fan-service, and therapeutic power-absorption by Gabe, all is good and she's snuggling up to his surprisingly hairy chest. It's the stuff of music: Sylar and Elle, sitting in a cell, what the H-E-Double L?
Elsewhere on Lover's Lane, Parkman has the best week of anybody on the show: not only does he help free Angela from Arthur's mental imprisonment, but he gets a confession of love from Daphne, who is still scared stiff of being returned to whatever prior life she had before being picked up by Pinehearst. Whatever her reasons, she's seemingly picked her side, as has most of the cast, as we're all just waiting for the next eclipse to change the game once again ...
Next week: Uh oh, Noah's back. Somebody's in for it.
The Racialicious Scorecard: Usutu: Ok, so it wasn't a red herring. Killed via mindscape by the ubiquitous Arthur Petrelli, Usutu is back to being Silent Mystic Black Man, as he appears to Parkman while he's in Angela's mind, despite being decapitated. Was this the writers' way of letting us know he'll keep mentoring Matt from beyond the grave?
Hiro & Ando: Ignoring the question of why Arthur let them live while beheading Usutu (and thanks for the multiple shots of the head!), the boys find themselves on the outside looking in with Hiro in 10-Going-On-28 mode. What are the odds that Ando will remember that he was dating the sister of a CEO and call in a favor?
Suresh: Crossing the line seems to have brought him back from the brink. Sort of. This week, Mohinder was sensible, though growing desperate, with his experiment. Of course, his test subject is an unfortunate, unnamed actual person. But, at least the poor guy isn't webbed up to a wall. What was in the shot Suresh gave him?
Knox: For a guy with a college education, he's a disaster of a henchman. Not only are neither Claire nor Peter scared of him anymore, but the Benetrellis (thanks, Hexy!) escape in the sewers. To be fair, though, that was Flint's bad. Will he get to actually kill somebody before the season is over?
Also, you can add another name to the Doctor Derby: Norwich native James Frain. Naturally, his hometown paper is all over it. Big ups to P-squared for the heads-up.
*********** I've been trying to catch up on the new Bat-series, The Brave And The Bold, which premiered Friday. I've only seen about seven minutes of it so far, but so far, the show's Silver Age-y feel is coming off pretty well. No time wasted on origin sequences or getting-to-know-you misunderstandings. All three heroes featured so far -- Batman, Green Arrow and Blue Beetle -- already know each other and that's that. Jaime, cast here as a Batfanboy and rookie, has been good for laughs so far, and it's nice to hearDiedrich Bader play Bats as part James Bond, part Leslie Nielsen at his deadpan best.
We're changing it up this week with something from the darker side: "Cambodia," from Apoptygma Berzerk. I got turned on to this band while living at the original Hall of Justice last year, but I've had an affinity for goth/industrial stuff for awhile. As part of the Justice League of Denton, The Mortician, Peter Pixie and myself were part of the team that brought The Cruxshadows to Kansas, of all places. Enjoy!
LAST SATURDAY, NORTH PARK -- The old man walked along the bus stop on 30th and University, seemingly looking for any conversation he could find. At least, any that agreed with him.
"I don't hate them. I don't disrespect 'em," he said, watching the young men and women with the No On 8 signs pass by. "But I'm not gonna vote for 'em. One man, one woman: that's just how I was raised." To his right, a young man nodded his head in agreement. Seconds later, two men with signs walked up and hugged a person the old man was talking to, prompting him to make his way to the other end of the bus stop, looking back occasionally and huffing.
In the wake of Prop. 8's victory in California, the streets have been filled with rallies and protests. This coming Saturday, I'll take part in another, a part of a national protest against the new law. I'll file a report as best I can that day.
This week's episode, "Villains," was chock-full of ... well, it was supposed to be meaningful information. Through the portal of Hiro's "spirit walk" through Flashback Town, we learned that:
Mister Petrelli is and has been the Big Bad: Not only was Arthur in league with Linderman as part of the original group of Heroes, but apparently Linderman was little more than a crony for Mr. P. It was Arthur who masterminded the attempt on Nathan's second wife's life in Season 1; it was Arthur who pushed for the destruction of New York City that same year; and it was Arthur who apparently created the take-no-prisoners persona we've seen in Angela, as he mentally subjugated her until she was freed by Linderman.
Elle and Sylar weren't always crazy: Despite being established as batsh-t crazy over the course of the series, this episode we were taught that really, both were well-meaning kids before each was undone, Gabriel by “The Hunger,” and a misguided crush on her, and Elle by the realization that Primatech was bad people.
Claire has yet another super-powered relative: For reasons yet unknown, a fair portion of the episode focused on her biological mom, Meredith, and her brother ... Flint. She's quickly established as the brains of the outfit, and is recruited by Primatech agent Thompson -- E-ROB ON THE JOB! -- for a spot on the team, while Flint is incarcerated in Level 5 with promises of training of his own. Eventually, Meredith breaks them both loose, yet Thompson, previously established as an amoral Primatech loyalist, lets her escape after learning Meredith has no idea Claire is still alive.
Usutu can't escape his own destiny: More on that in a bit.
Coming off the election week hiatus, "Villains" was probably meant to be equal parts palate-cleanser, fun semi-annual time-travel story, and set-up for future story arcs. Instead, it came off as the flattest of the series' temporal adventures, and undermined several existing characters in the name of “providing depth.” Sylar as a hurt geek? Elle as a disillusioned nutcase? Linderman as a conflicted soul? Sometimes, bad guys need to be bad, period. The stink of sentimentality (toward white characters, anyway) continues to grow on this show, and at a time when it can ill afford to alienate more viewers.
The Racialicious Scorecard: Usutu: So, his purpose was to point Hiro back toward a primary storyline before serving as yet another example of Mr. Petrelli's EEEEEVILness. At least the writers were kind enough to let Hiro name-check Usutu before we saw the corpse.
Hiro + Ando: Not much to do but hit the Happy Paste. Will Ando be able to stop Arthur from deep-frying Hiro's brain?
The Haitian: Shows up at Mrs. Petrelli's request to neutralize Arthur, thus establishing not only his service to the Company, but his potential as one of the few metahumans who could stand up to Il Capo Di Capos.
MIA: Practically everybody else, though we see Suresh during his cab-driving, non-arachnid days.
Next Week: The forecast calls for an eclipse. What will happen? Who packed their suntan lotion?
... This one courtesy of Occasional Superheroine: The latest name in the New Doctor Sweepstakes is apparently Colin Salmon, who we saw in the series last year as Doctor Moon in the 'Library' two-parter. He's set to appear in both the new Bond and Punisher flicks, and you might also remember him as Superintendent Johnson on the dearly-departed Keen Eddie.
After all the hype about Patterson Joseph, I'm surprised to hear Salmon is in the running (upstream?), but I'd be down with this call, if it's the one Moffat makes.
I was outside the storm, working at a pollsite in a relatively small, reasonably diverse district in mid-town San Diego.
(Brief aside: I can’t exhort you all strongly enough to put in to work at your local precincts, for elections at any level. Even here, in San Diego, the Registrar of Voters is hurting for multi-fluent and non-senior workers, if the training seminars are any indication. And to appeal to anyone’s mercenary side, I made $145, so it’s not exactly a day wasted, either. Ok, aside over.)
As poll workers, we purposefully didn’t track much of the election throughout the day. Neither did we encounter the long lines nor inflamed passions that seemed to spring up in other areas of the country, or even the county; while a couple of No on 8 supporters got "uncomfortably close" to our site for a couple of observers, we didn’t have any real dust-ups. During a break on the action, I voted — Yes for Obama, No on 8, if you’re keeping score at home.
I didn’t really start asking for updates until the evening, when our turnout tapered off (though it was higher than usual). I didn’t really exhale until it was over, until it was called at 11 EST — I remember Mexican politics of the ’80s, after all. After we closed our site and sent two other workers to turn in the ballots to the registrar, I walked home, alone, and couldn’t help but wonder at the quiet. There were no impromptu celebrations, no whooping it up, not even any sadness for McCain around me. Just a neighborhood league softball game at a nearby field. I knew something was in the air, around me. I just didn’t feel connected to it. I felt ... well, here's what I wrote on Racialicious that night:
I am thankful, but I am also angry. Sure, it’s an electoral ass-kicking, but the fact remains that 47 percent of America voted for fear-mongering. For race-baiting. For naked class discrimination. For electoral fraud and robo-calls and “I ain’t votin’ for no HOO-SEIN” and “Osama Bin Biden” sales. For the single least qualified candidate and the single most disastrous campaign in recent history. For Joe The Plumber and Fear Of ACORN and Fear Of That One. I am happy, but angry — it should never have even been in doubt to begin with once that petty, destructive rash of shit politics began. And the fact that it was only brought closer to the light some truths that you’d think we had moved past. I am happy but I am also angry, and a little sad, because it almost worked again. And I have faith in this President, and in the fact that we’re here. But with it comes vigilance, ’cause you can bet anything that the Karl Roves and Steve Schmidts and Michelle Bachmanns of the world are already plotting to take it all back.
Two nights and three days later, though, I'm starting to feel better, in a bittersweet way. As news broke of Obama's victory, people the world over danced in the streets, and in Santiago, Chile, R.E.M. rang in the news by reaching back into its' own youthful past for this song, "I Believe."
As the celebration began worldwide, however, the rights of gay men and women in Florida, Arizona, Arkansas and here in California took serious hits. That particular fight only looks to be getting started. (Quick plug: I invite you to join the group discussion of Prop. 8 over at Racialicious.)
But even in these setbacks, there is hope. At least in California. An analysis of state exit polls indicates that the very youth Prop. 8 purported to "protect" rejected it, a generation now emboldened, pissed off, and organizing. The kids, to put it lightly, will be alright. Which reminds me of another song called "I Believe," this one by Joe Satriani:
Now, I always thought Loeb was seen as the show's "link" to comicdom, which made it seem funny when series creator Tim Kring would insist he'd never read comics while coming up with the show; and Loeb was also part of the team behind Smallville. He's currently writing an ongoing Hulk comic that is routinely panned in the comics press.
As for Alexander, as we remarked last week, he pulled off a Magical Minority three-peat in his writing of the still-unnamed Usutu. So he wasn't helping the show's case any this year. And the signs grow ever more ominous for this show. Meantime, I invite you to head on over to Racialicious for our panel discussion of last week's episode.
Besides writing my thoughts and reviews here, I'm a Special Correspondent for Racialicious.com and the co-creator and co-host of Hour 42, a podcast covering superheroes -- in the air, on the air and all around us.
I'm not a good person. I'm the guy who whistled "Always Look On The Bright Side" during Passion Of The Christ. I've gone to SCA battles and yelled, "WHAT'S IN YOUR WALLET?!" You can say it, it's okay: Smart-ass. Jerk. Bigmouth. This is where I share my take on ... well, basically everything. But especially the geeky stuff in life.