Friday, December 8, 2006


Eric Kripke is trying to kill me.


From the previews, tonight's episode seemed to promise zombies. Instead we got something entirely different.

Penned by John Shiban (The X-Files, Enterprise), "Croatoan" (and yes, that's Croatoan, not Croatian, as both IMDB and my DVR are trying to convince everybody) proved to be a taut, claustrophobic episode reminiscent of "Ice," from Season One of The X-Files. People are being infected, going crazy, and slaughtering each other in a small town in Oregon. The Winchester boys' only clue is the word "Croatoan" carved on a tree. Sam recalls this as the only clue left behind after the disappearance of the Lost Colony at Roanoke . Dean doesn't make the connection because apparently everything he knows, he learned from Schoolhouse Rock. (I will not judge. I passed my US Constitution test in Jr. High by singing, "We the people...")

Theorizing that the insanity is being caused by demonic germ warfare, the boys try to control the situation. Dean responds by shooting down half a family in near-cold blood. They're infected, so they're not human, so they die. He doesn't even think twice. Sam confronts him--Dean is crossing the line, he says, not thinking enough about what he's doing. This leads to a confrontation over the fate of one Duane Tanner (Da-wayne in Dean-speak...), who was originally brought to us courtesy of Sam-O-Vision. Sam argues against killing him until they're certain he's infected. Dean argues in favor of killing him before he becomes dangerous. In the end, Dean stays his hand, and Duane proves not to have been infected.

Then the unthinkable happens. Sam is exposed. And we find out what this episode is really about. While Sam puts on a brave if tearful front, offering to kill himself so Dean doesn't have to, Dean settles in to meet their shared fate. He won't leave Sam, no matter how much Sam begs:

Sam: You can keep going.
Dean: Who says I want to?

Dean is tired. And broken. Dean gives up his car (his car!) to save the others so he can stay with his brother. In this beautifully underplayed scene, a tearful Sam confronts Dean about the changes he's seen since their dad's death. But Sam, of course, doesn't understand that the weight on Dean's shoulders isn't the job, isn't the death of their father, but is instead the knowledge John passed to Dean before he died. And Dean promised John he wouldn't tell.

Five hours later, Sam's blood is still clean, and the town is completely deserted. The Tanner samples are clean now, too, now that time has gone by. Dean is more angry than relieved, because they don't understand what's going on. This sudden resolution of the Monster of the Week seems anticlimactic--but that's because we haven't gotten to the actual climax yet.

Elsewhere, Duane is on his way out of town, with one of the other townspeople. He says has to make a call. But there's no phone service... And before you can say Yellow-Eyed-Demon, Duane bleeds Sarge, just like Meg did the trucker back in "Scarecrow", and makes his "call" with the silver chalice. No more tests are necessary, he says. The Winchester boy is immune as expected, and nothing has been left behind. So the destruction of the town was a setup by the Yellow-Eyed Demon and his cronies, specifically to test their demonic virus and whether Sam, as one of the Favored Children, would be immune to it. But what exactly were they up to? Would the Tanners have returned to normal if Dean hadn't shot them, or would they have been disappeared by the demons like the rest of the town? Was Duane, after all, the only person Dean should have taken out? Or would it have made no difference? If Dean had shot him, the demon probably would have just body-switched to someone else. And why did Dean finally back off? Was he truly questioning his own judgment, or did the demon manage to comple him not to shoot?

In a quietly emotional denouement, Sam prods Dean again about what's bothering him. Dean's assertion that they should take a break, go to the Grand Canyon, try to bang Lindsay Lohan, is made all the more poignant by the fact that we know they won't. (Especially that Lindsay Lohan thing, cause... eww.) And finally Dean drops the bomb. That before he died, John told him something about Sam. With Sam's pained demand to know what, the episode ends.

And the show won't be back until January. Will Dean even spill the secret then? I have a feeling he will, because Dean's way to avoid answers is to just clam up, and once he starts to talk, he generally finishes. So, with luck, will get some answers in...gah...three or four weeks?!

I really hate cliffhangers...

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Day Break—What If They're Stuck

This show just gets better and better, making me even sadder about what seems to be imminent cancellation. But maybe if it does get cancelled, it'll get a break, like Smith, which just showed up on iTunes. I haven't watched Smith at all, but at $12.99 for the entire series plus a booklet outlining the last five unaired episodes, it's damned tempting.

Anyway, back to Day Break.

Day One this week is a quickly executed series of missteps. Hopper takes the hourglass to the police lab to have the print pulled. Unfortunately, his timing goes awry, and not only is he unable to get any information about the print, he's arrested and again ends up at the quarry. This time Rita is there, and is executed within his hearing.

On Day Two, Hopper prepares better, getting Dodgers tickets to bribe the lab guy with so he can get his information. Trying to get his hands on the murder book for the case, Hopper ends up pulling a gun on Chad.

The rest of Day Two revolves around this hostage situation. He demands that Rita and Jennifer and her kids be brought to the station so he'll know they're safe. In the process of trying to get Chad to tell him where the book is, Hopper ends up spilling his whole story--that he's repeating this day, that he's seen Rita die three times and can't bear to see it happen again. That he's afraid that if he just decides to give up and let a day reset so he can try again, it'll turn out to be the last day, and Rita will end up dead forever. Chad doesn't buy this crazy story...but maybe he does. Completely calm through his ordeal, but visibly sheened with sweat, Chad seems to gradually begin to believe, particularly after Hopper's impassioned speech about not wanting to lose Rita. And, at the very last, Chad tells Hopper that, if he's right about the day repeating, the murder book is in the front seat of his car.

Several tidbits are dropped, pieces to add to the expanding puzzle. Something bad happened with Hopper's father back in the day--the clues tonight seem to indicate some kind of mental illness. Was Hopper Sr. caught in a repeating day, as well? This would be a bit like Tru Davies (Tru Calling) finding out her mother also repeated days, so maybe that's not where they're going. But obviously the 1991 case and Hopper Sr.'s involvement in it is an important part to Hopper Jr.'s story. The fingerprint from the hourglass, however, proves to be that of a criminal who's been in prison since 1989, so the connection there isn't immediately clear.

Another interesting note--the crazy guy from lock-up in the police station, whom Hopper's encountered before, seems to recognize Hopper the third time they run into each other. Is he tuned in to the repeating day somehow? Just because he's off his nut, or because he's part of the unfolding conspiracy?

And at this point, some kind of conspiracy seems likely. The first time the SWAT team moves in on Hopper, Chad spies a .45 leveled at Hopper's head and pushes him out of the way, saving him from death at the shot. When Hopper asks him why he did it, Chad says because the hostage team wasn't following protocol. The second time the SWAT team converges, a gun has been trained on Rita, and the targeting light doesn't disappear until Hopper confesses to Garza's murder. All this implies to me that the police are deeply involved in whatever's going on.

On Day Three, Hopper gets the book out of Chad's car, setting off the alarm. In a nice touch, he also leaves the money Chad said Hopper owed him, because when they were partners, Chad bought coffee twice as often as Hopper did.

So Chad has come around, just a bit. And may I take a moment to wax fangirlish about Adam Baldwin? Because he's just doing a bang-up job with this role. I was a bit disappointed at first, because it seemed like they'd just tossed him into another brutish bad guy part, but damn, Chad actually has layers. He's rough and arrogant and more than a bit of a prick, but tonight we finally got to see exactly why Hopper trusts him to take care of Rita, and why Rita would have fallen in love with him in the first place. I applaud some well-written character development, executed nicely by a very underrated actor.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Bones—Season One

Since there's a rerun on Bones tonight, I've contented myself with mainlining Season One on DVD. I watched the entire series straight through from last Wednesday evening through Saturday afternoon, and I enjoyed every bit of it. The show stands up well to repeat viewing, moreso than most procedurals, because the point of the show isn't so much the crime as the characters. If the only reason to watch were to find out whodunnit, there'd be no point in watching again. But Bones offers so much more for your entertainment dollar than the Forensic Mystery of the Week. It's not a particularly deep show, but it's fun, with likeable characters and clever writing.

The show itself is great, but the extras on this set are sparse. There are two episode commentaries--Hart Hanson and Barry Josephson supply commentary for the Pilot, while series stars David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel expound on "Two Bodies in the Lab." (This commentary doesn't enlighten us much about the episode, but it's worth a listen just to hear Boreanaz make jokes about his own hair.) The three short featurettes don't really add much, but the show itself is worth the price.

Highly recommended.

Day Break--What If His Ratings Suck?

Sadly, TV Squad and others are reporting that Day Break is conspicuous by its absence from ABC's latest scheduling announcements, covering the period after the first of the year. This isn't entirely unexpected, as the ratings have been horrible. But it's sad, as this is really a very good show.

I think, however, that it was doomed from the start. The plan to supplant Lost with thirteen episodes of an entirely different show to appease the viewers who didn't want so many re-runs didn't make sense in a lot of ways. Unfortunately, an entertaining and well-written show has borne the brunt of the failed experiment. I'll still hold out hope that we'll get to see all thirteen episodes, or, barring that, a DVD set at some time in the near future.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Supernatural at iTunes!

All 8 Season 2 episodes of Supernatural are now available at iTunes for their usual $1.99 per ep. This makes me very happy.

Heroes — Fallout

It used to be that about this time of the year, the networks would start airing annoying holiday season reruns. But now they've given a fancy name to the last episode before the usual holiday hiatus, and that's going to make it all better. Now it's the Fall Finale, it's hyped as such, and tonight is the fall finale of Heroes.

This was another solid episode, again bringing several pieces of the puzzle together while driving the story forward. Several of the Heroes' plotlines intersected tonight, as they begin to realize they're not alone in the world. Claire has unloaded her big secret on her dad, only to be told he's known about her powers for a long time, and has been trying to keep her safe. Unfortunately, "keeping her safe" seems to involve memory wiping her brother, her best friend (who forgets not only her powers but also their entire friendship), and her mother. This episode, and particularly this turn of events, made me very much not like Mr. Bennett—not that I was particularly fond of him before. He seems to be very much an "ends justifies the means" guy, and while I can understand him wanting to protect his daughter, he's hurting her too much. The scene where she realized Zach had lost all memory of their friendship was heartbreaking.

Matt is using his telepathic powers for good—or trying to—acting like a sort of lie detector during interrogations. He's also popping Advil like M&Ms. That can't be good. And when he tries to read Claire's mind, he encounters static. This is explained when it's revealed that Mysterious Black Dude (whom Eden refers to as "The Haitian," so we can call him that now) is lurking around a corner. Later, even with the Haitian present, Matt is able to suss out a single word from Bennett—Sylar.

So what is Sylar up to this week? He's in a cell at Bennett's stronghold, which seems to be a sort of research facility/hospital/holding pen. Bennett wants him dead, because Sylar seems pretty determined to get Claire's powers so he can be indestructible, but his bosses put the kibosh on that. Eden's on Bennett's side and suggests that she tell Sylar to kill himself.

Elsewhere in what Eden refers to as "the reservation" (she's Fun Nickname Girl, isn't she?), Isaac is sketching again, but now he's off the heroin so he's pretty sure nothing he's drawing is precognitive. Eden assures him he'll be able to access his powers without the drugs. He just needs to practice. She gives him a cellphone and a number to contact Hiro.

Hiro is excited to hear from Isaac. Hiro is definitely still my favorite character on this show. Even faced with failure, he's determined to soldier on. He and Ando meet up with Isaac. Isacc is, indeed, drawing precognitively without benefit of drugs. And now he's drawing an exploding man. This really can't be good, people... And even worse, after Hiro and Ando encourage him to draw some more, he conjures a picture of Future Hiro facing off against a dinosaur. Okay...there's a twist I didn't expect. Really have to wonder how that one's going to play out.

Elsewhere in Heroes-land, Jessica pursues DL and Micah, while Nikki tries to reassert control. And DL can phase-shift around bullets—in a very cool moment, a bullet passes right through his head. In the course of "protecting" Micah, Jessica hurts him. Spurred by this, Nikki regains a foothold, and finally she takes control and turns herself in to the police. This plotline so far has been pretty minor, and I'm a bit confused as to what's going on with Nikki/Jessica. I assume Nikki is asserting control over her powerful but evil alter ego, and that eventually they'll assimilate into one person. In the meantime, it's not always clear which one is which in this episode. Maybe that's on purpose, to show that they are starting to merge. But in the middle of the Nikki/Jessica faceoff I started picturing them as Gollum/Smeagol, and that made me laugh. No, seriously. Picture Nikki making those faces. It's funny. Trust me.

Okay, never mind.

Eden calls Mohinder, telling him she's going to kill the man who murdered his father. She then confronts Sylar, ordering him to kill himself. But Sylar overpowers her from his cell, and Eden kills herself before Sylar can help himself to her powers of persuasion.

The big cliffhangers of the episode lie with Claire, and finally with Peter. The Haitian comes into Claire's house, where she's alone, and tells her he's been sent to make her forget, as he did to her friends (interesting that he tells her anything at all, since Eden stated earlier that he couldn't talk). But he's not going to do it. He wants to know if she can keep a secret.

In his holding cell at the police station, Peter has developed a cough and a penchant for hallucinations. The kicker hallucination comes at the end of the episode, when, coughing, he collapses on the steps outside the police station. He finds himself in a deserted New York City, full of empty cars and buildings. The Heroes appear, but move away from him. Claire mouths, "I'm sorry." Peter starts to glow, and then explodes...

Cut to the police station steps. Nathan tries to revive his brother, who has stopped breathing.

So Bennett's sidekick, the Haitian, is working another agenda, probably that of the higher-ups who ordered Bennett to keep Sylar alive. But what is this agenda, and how does Claire play into it? The twist of Peter being the exploding man makes sense—what if he inadvertently absorbed the powers of Radioactive Man, had no idea what was happening to him or what power he'd absorbed, and lost control of it? Boom? It seems likely.

Looks like we'll have to wait until January 22 to get any more answers.