The Last Ship Season 2 Episode #11 – Valkyrie Review

The Last Ship Season 2 Episode #11 – Valkyrie Review Aliens. It’s always aliens.

What They Say:
Valkyrie – Sean Ramsey broadcasts a message implicating the Navy in a devastating disaster; Chandler attempts to regain the trust of the American people; the Nathan James locates the source of the Immune’s signal.

The Review:
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Though I understood the need for what was done the last time around, The Last Ship proved frustrating in how Chandler had to handle the situation with Rachel. I get the need to keep order in order to maintain the ship and what they want to accomplish here and adhering to codes and regulations is what’s helped immensely since the world turned to crap. But considering what it is that Rachel’s doing and what Niels himself was capable of, letting both of them near each other without more supervision was just foolish. Even taking Rachel out of the situation there’s no way Niels should have had as much freedom as he had, even within the lab, without someone essentially riding his back and looking over his shoulder. Having that situation play out alongside the chaos of what Sean has now orchestrated in order to damage Chandler’s reputation is like a couple of gut punches to the Nathan James.

The stage is set well here for what kind of problems Chandler has to face when it comes to what Sean is doing. Understandably, people are afraid and generally frightened after the collapse of everything and with Sean’s messages going out there pointing the finger at Chandler and the Navy, even implicating them in the kidnapping of the President, the propaganda campaign is easily effective. Sean doesn’t really need to be compelling, but he has the right kind of charisma to pull it off and comes across as a figure of authority. And that’s something that we get to see being understood by Chandler and the President as they watch the messages play out on the Nathan James. They understand the power of the message and the fear that people will have, especially those that are not Immune as they’re fears are even more heightened at this point.

The push to change the narrative of what Sean is pushing takes on some welcome changes here. So much of the season has had Chandler and his crew making progress only to have it kicked out from under them. But now that they’ve lucked out and discovered where the broadcast is coming from that Sean sends out they’re intent on bringing the President’s message out. While I’ve been wary of Michener, thinking he could be a deep mole for Sean, he puts together a solid speech here to try and change hearts and minds away from Sean’s story. Of course, to be able to do that, Chandler and his team have to take over the oil rig that’s being used as the broadcast location for a thousand miles around. Though I once again dislike that Chandler puts himself out there, playing the Kirk of the series in this way, it does make for a solid military style precision sweep of the platform. And I’ve enjoyed the way the show plays things as professionally as it does in contrast to so many other shows with ragtag groups.

The oil rig platform does provide for some good action beyond that, first dealing with a cocky non-immune woman that’s on board there that’s essentially running the Valkyrie network. Obviously she’s named Val. This provides for some fun with Chandler in how he deals with her and her conspiracy theories but it all turns to hell quickly when what Chandler believes is one of Sean’s group arrives there with a rocket launcher and lights up the place in a big way. This puts them all in a real bind and with some real injuries and losses to make it feel like there is some weight and danger to the situation. It plays well in showing how far people will go once again to deal with those they view as a threat in this panicked world and it lets Chandler’s team do their best to survive the situation that gets worse as the damage piles on top of itself. Again, it’s the professional and can-do attitude of the team that’s appealing since they don’t deal with whiny moments or panicked moments.

But the aftermath of this is what proves to be the human moment as we see the return to the Nathan James and deal with the fallout, the loss and the damage that they’re taking. The whole thing takes a significant toll across the board and interestingly we see a lot of it from Val’s perspective where she really starts to realize that she likely did back the wrong horse. Of course, the losses aren’t big name characters so it goes only so far, but the reactions help to make it all the realer. The big loss here though is what happens to Ravit as she got taken down hard in the explosion and has to go through the waking awareness of what’s happening, even as her friends do their best to ease her through it and be there for her. It’s not a surprise to have characters lost in the show but it’s frustrating when it seems like the wrong characters keep getting taken down, leaving us with a crew that while decent loses its more interesting personalities and presences.

In Summary:
One of the advantages of a crew like we have with The Last Ship is that it has a greater allowance for speeches. Most shows come across as awkward and forced when they do it, but this series manages to slide more of them in regularly and convincingly while also being appropriate to the situation. There’s some real loss here and it’s a defining part of the episode in a strong way, one that isn’t forced even if I think it went with the wrong kind of losses. The Last Ship provides for a solid balance of action, character and emotion here and with fewer stupid moments this time around and the inclusion of some wonderful humor from Chandler it all hits a good rhythm for me. Definitely one of the better episodes of the season.

Grade: B+

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The Last Ship Season 2 Episode #11 – Valkyrie Review

Zankyou no Terror – Episode 3

Hoo boy. This was another crime procedural episode, but that didn’t matter at all because holy crap was this episode thematically focused. The very first comments of the young police officer set the tone of this one, establishing a clear parallel between Shibazaki and Nine/Twelve. As someone consigned to archives until he retires, Shibazaki is also someone abandoned by the world, someone no longer “useful to society.” Like them, he doesn’t fit into the system anymore. People in this position are generally expected to take it, to be quiet and accept their loss of a role – but Nine and Twelve clearly aren’t willing to do that. And just like in Psycho-Pass, it turns out a system that tries to simply ignore its outsiders isn’t really equipped to deal with them – it has to bring in someone like Shibazaki, and acknowledge those it has deemed worthless in order to deal with other leftovers.

Zankyou no Terror – Episode 3

The rest of this episode hammered this point again and again – even the crane operator who caused the blackout first turned to the excuse of being “tired from overwork” – abused by a system that dehumanizes him. Everyone in this show has been thrown out by the system, with Lisa acting as the most ground-level audience surrogate, the most familiar articulation of this isolation. Unlike the terrorists’ or Shibazaki’s isolation, hers is on a purely human level, and demonstrates that this isn’t really just the fault of an inhuman system – this is what people do to one another. And in the context of this social abandonment, it’s looking like Lisa is ready to accept companionship just about anywhere she can find it. As Shibazaki puts it, “I thought young people would want to retreat into their shells, but it seems they want to randomly connect with others.”

His coworker mocks him for that old-man thought, but it seems less ridiculous when you see what both Lisa and the terrorists have dealt with. Just as Lisa gives the show’s obsession a human context, the facility of Nine and Twelve’s childhood paints it in the starkest possible terms – a name is a sign of endearment, but once the human connection is gone, the system only really sees you as a variable. Penguindrum’s child broiler all over again.

Zankyou no Terror – Episode 3

The Oedipus myth once again proved itself uniquely appropriate this week, as the detail of him “dragging his feet” became central to the bomb riddle. Oedipus was abandoned by his father, but it wasn’t even a fair abandonment – he wasn’t just thrown away, he was nailed to the forest floor. I’m sure that’s a feeling pretty much any of this narrative’s protagonists can relate to.

Themes aside, Zankyou’s cinematography was gorgeous again this week. So many of this show’s shots have breathtaking composition – light, color, and visual balance all combine to make stark, iconic images. There’s never a comfortable frame here – everything is either isolating characters in darkness or highlighting them in blurred light , and either way they are almost always alone. This isolation is made even more apparent by the contrast of oversaturated television lighting , demonstrating the disconnect between the image this society puts on versus its lived reality for the protagonists of Zankyou. The form really intelligently matches the content here.

I like this show so far. Like its anger, like its finesse. I’m excited to see where it goes.

Zankyou no Terror – Episode 3

Gotham By Midnight #5 Review

Gotham By Midnight #5 Review Gotham will be judged..

Creative Staff:
Story: Ray Fawkes
Art: Ben Templesmith

What They Say:
Jim Corrigan can’t keep The Spectre at bay any longer! Now he’s arrived to judge Gotham City for its many sins. Does anyone, even the Midnight Shift, stand a chance against Heaven’s blade?

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Gotham by Midnight has been building a pretty solid story here with what it’s been doing, giving us things in piecemeal form while introducing the style of this precinct and the characters that are new to it all. Bringing in new and unusual supernatural elements in each issue and then tying it all together is standard fare, but I really liked the way those individual elements played out while letting different characters shine during it. With it all coming together in the bigger picture the last time around, and having Corrigan losing to the Spectre as the really big bad guy has shown up, the book has reached its opening arc climax and it has to really hit it with the payoff.

What we get here is largely an action piece in a sense as we get the Spectre going up against the massive black piece of supernatural work named Ikkondrid, but it’s not action in the traditional sense. The two tower over Gotham and their struggle is told through narration, mostly from Corrigan’s point of view as he talks about how he has a way to listen in on the Spectre to try and understand him. There’s some good stuff in it with how it plays out in that regard, getting to know more of how the Spectre operates itself but also with Corrigan in that he refuses to just be a lapdog for this spirit of vengeance. We also get narration and dialogue from the others as they see what’s going on from a distance, but also with them trying to stop things from getting worse. Drake is ready to shoot herself after her scream means someone will die and Justine is doing all she can to pray for something bigger to intervene. Everything is going bad and everyone sees no way out of it other than divine intervention.

What I like about this as it unfolds is that we really do have a true issue here as the fear of the Spectre agreeing with the grudge that Ikkondrid has about what happened to this land over the years and its people. There’s such a level of guilt and sin in Gotham that should he turn his gaze there, it’s very easy to imagine that the place would be razed in an instant. But seeing the approaches used by everyone to try and reach him, to stop him from doing it, it really works well because we get into the characters well enough and their passion in trying to stop it works well, as does the variety of ways that they act. Hell, even the Batman scenes aren’t bad since he’s largely ineffective with the Batplane and taking down the Spectre really isn’t his thing. But there’s some great, raw looking illustration artwork for it that almost makes him look like a demon possessed as he tries to protect the city.

In Summary:
Gotham by Midnight brings its opening arc and massive threat to a close, though with it more set up as a delayed kind of closure as opposed to something with some finality. What it does is mostly give us the grand battle between the two large supernatural entities, but it’s almost all processed through the eyes of Corrigan and everyone else from the team. There’s a great scale to the events and it’s well balanced by the personal side so that we really feel invested with everyone, and with the loss that comes with it as well. The book has plenty of places to go from here and I’m definitely curious to see what approach it’ll take and if the cast changes much, but overall this has been a great arc as a whole that’s filled with some great artwork to bring it all together. Definitely a book to pick up in trade format if you’re not a fan of monthlies.

Grade: B+

Age Rating: 16+
Released By: DC Comics via ComiXology
Release Date: March 25th, 2015
MSRP: $2.99

Gotham By Midnight #5 Review