Mr Robot: Hello/Bonsoir Recap Ep 1

“Hello Friend.”-Elliott  images-7

The screen remains black, we hear Elliott Alderson (Rami Malek) both greet and immediately inform us of our role.  We are his imaginary friend.  His companion on this journey.  Then we are introduced to another “invisible force” in this world.  Only, these people are not friends, but foes.  We are shown out of focus business men (they almost appear faceless), yelling at one another, in a conference room on the top floor of a skyscraper, “The guys who play God, without permission,” explains Elliott.  Our real introduction to Elliott is when we witness him take down a business owner (Ron), with a fondness for child pornography.  The primary purpose of this scene is to show Elliott as a hero.  He is a good guy, who uses illegal measures to take down the bad men in our society. We should always trust the hero in the story, right?

images-8“In three short minuets, I destroyed a man’s life, his existence, I deleted him.”-Elliott

By destroying this man’s life, isn’t Elliott playing God? In the virtual world he breaks and enters the personal lives of complete strangers without permission.  Consider his take down of Michael Hanson, shown in the very same episode.  Elliott decrypts Michael Hanson’s life and complies the information necessary to delete him from existence. In comparison to his take down of Ron, there is a different outcome for Michael Hanson. Elliott decides that the punishment should fit the crime, and insists that Michael cut ties with Krista (Elliott’s therapist).   Once you begin playing judge, jury, and executioner, it’s a slippery slop.  But Elliott is our hero, who is just trying to protect Krista from heartache.  Unfortunately, the disillusionment of being confronted by the truth is still very painful. “The reality of the naive, that’s how I justify this, to keep their optimism in check, to protect them…”explains Elliott. He hides behind this self justification of his actions. Elliott feels powerless in his own life and finds comfort in the illusion of control, while hacking a life.  There is a fine line between Elliott and the business men shown at the beginning of the episode.  Elliott doesn’t care for money, he’s just trying to save the world.images-5

“You’re hiding again, when you hide, your delusions come back, it’s a slippery slop.” -Krista 

The pilot episode by design is circular. Elliott feels that he has been caught by the men in the suits, after taking down Colby.  The final shot tracks Elliott making his way into the conference room, with the out of focus business men shown in the opening. Then, Tyrell Wellick’s face snaps into focus and greets Elliott, remember how Elliott greeted us in the beginning of the episode? “Bonsoir Elliott,” this suggests that Tyrell (Martin Wallstrom) will be the face we attribute to “the invisible force in the world”, that Elliott wants to take down. Note, these two characters will serve as foils for one another too.

images-6“Please tell me that you’re seeing this too…”-Elliott

Elliott is a creator and destroyer of the virtual world, who is attempting to take down a creator and destroyer of the real world. He also created us too, as we are his imaginary friend.  So will he delete us in the end?

By Sarah Belmont
Featured Writer
@sjbelmont

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The Affair S1: From Montauk to Neverland

The Affair Season 1 Recapimgres
Warning contains spoilers

 “Guess what my favorite book is?”-Allison
“Anna Karenina…”-Noah
“No Peter Pan…”-Allison
“All children grow up except one”-Noah
Episode one

The Showtime series, The Affair, is set to return for season two on October 4th, 2015. Based on the trailer, we will pick up right where season one ended, with Noah Solloway (Dominic West) being arrested for the murder of Scotty Lockhart (Colin Donnell). While, Noah is being handcuffed, his now wife, Alison Bailey (Ruth Wilson), promises that she will get him out of this.  How did we get here?

images-1Ironically, even those who watched season one don’t know how Noah and Allison made their way back to one another, during the fallout of their own respective marriages. Throughout season one, both Noah and Allison are recalling their summer affair in Montauk while being interrogated by Detective Jeffries in the present. As the season progresses the viewers pick up on small clues that some time has passed between the past affair and the present murder investigation. Still, the amount of time between these two events is never given.  The story is told through flashbacks and each episode has two parts; one tells the events from Noah’s perspective, the other from Allison’s. This employs the Rashomon effect on the plot revolving around a choice two characters make together, it takes two to cheat. Now in preparation for season two lets reflect on Mr. Pan’s (Noah) affair with Mrs. Karenina (Allison).

“Doing one bad thing doesn’t make you a bad person.” –Noah (Episode 4)images

The failed writer turned teacher, Noah Solloway, is contently married to Helen Solloway (Maura Tierney), raising their four children in New York City. The pilot opens with Noah turning down a young woman’s sexual advances at a swimming pool. Excited by the advance he attempts satisfaction with his wife until the youngest child interrupts.  Noah, frustrated, but, faithful he crosses paths with Allison Bailey.  “She was in a very dark place and she came at me very hard,” protests Noah in episode seven.  Noah’s narration reveals his loneliness and frustration with his marriage.  We see that he is nearing a mid-life crisis as he finds himself envious of his children’s youth, You’ll never have this opportunity to read for pleasure again…seize this opportunity” (episode one).  He begins to resent Helen, feeling like he settled for their life, not built a life that he wanted.  As the season progresses, we see Noah deal with his own guilt for having an affair as he comforts his daughter for making a mistake.  By cheating on Helen
he is not only being a bad husband, but a bad father too. Noah Salloway, the boy who married Helen in an attempt to grow up.  He wanted to become a man through the act ofimgres-1 marriage, but his action never fulfilled his desire. Based on season one, Allison awakens a latent desire to be a knight and rescue the damsel in distress. Allison is his opportunity to become the man he wanted to be and now is the time for him to “seize this opportunity.”

“She seemed like the loneliest person in the world.” –Noah (Episode 2)

Alison Bailey is somewhat of an enigma for both Noah Salloway and the viewers. images-2That could be a result of presenting her perspective as part two in the pilot. During Noah’s narration, Alison is portrayed as a small town seductress, who actively pursues him. Then during Allison’s narration, she is depicted more elegantly, unsure, and apprehensive about her attraction to Noah. These contradicting perspectives spark an alarm to go off in the viewer’s mind, as we begin to suspect that one of the two is a liar. Then again employing the Rashomon effect on a story only proves that our memory is an unreliable resource. Two years prior to the series’ events, Alison’s only son died after drowning in the ocean. Without her son she feels alone in her marriage to Cole Lockhart (Joshua Jackson). They drifted apart through their grief. In comparison to the Solloway marriage, Allison’s affair with Noah is a repercussion to a detrimental event that destroyed her marriage to Cole. Noah’s infidelity tears the Solloway household images-3apart. “I don’t know how to fix what broke between us Cole…it’s unfixable,” cries Allison in episode ten.  Allison mentally left Cole the day their son died, she perceived Noah as a way out of her hometown, not her marriage. Throughout the season we witness Allison reclaim her independence with her interactions with Noah. For example in the pilot episode, during her narration, we watch her save Sally Salloway from choking on a marble, at the Lobster Roll diner. During their first encounter, Allison is able to show an act of strength. Meanwhile, she is reduced to a closed-mouth housewife whenever in Cole’s presence. Allison Bailey’s story is a modern day, American version of Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenia; she pursues an affair with a married writer, because her love for her husband has become dormant.

“Well, no one ever really knows what’s going on in someone else’s marriage.” –images-4Noah (episode 10)

The affair takes place in Montauk, a place where people from New York City go to escape their real lives for the summer. Noah Salloway, finds this summer place as his own version of Neverland; a place where he can make a mistake and pursue his boyhood desires. For Allison Bailey, Montauk, her home, is a constant reminder of her son’s death. She discovers her own Neverland later in the season when she leaves Cole, and creates a home for herself in New York City.  Noah Salloway is her ticket to the life she has always wanted. Now as we head into season 2 the question becomes, is Neverland a real place, or a fleeting summer mirage?  Stay tuned.
To watch The Affair season 2 trailer click here

By Sarah Belmont
Featured Writer
@sjbelmont

 

Narcos: A Colombian Peace & Other Lies

Netflix Narcos Ep. 9&10 Recap

  “The purpose of war…is peace.” –Pablo Escobar (episode 9)images-4

Narcos episode nine, La Catedral, opens with an introduction to Pablo Escobar’s “prison.” Described by Steve Murphy as the “embodiment of the big lie,” Pablo Escobar has built himself a fortress to stay in as his fellow countrymen revel in this new state of peace. Throughout this episode we observe each central character adapt to life under this unsettling truce. Pablo Escobar won his fight against extradition, but not without suffering from his own loses and he is still in a cage like an animal. Steve Murphy finally was able to put Escobar behind bars, but his moral turn at the end of episode nine still haunts him. Early on in this episode we witness Steve Murphy pull a gun on a taxi driver during an argument about a minor fender bender. If Steve Murphy’s war against Pablo Escobar is truly over, then how can he continue to justify the use of violence against civilians? He has crossed a line and he can’t go back. The same can be said for President César Gaviria, who struggles to revel in this peace, as Escobar remains living comfortably in La Catedral. President Gaviria and his wife stroll the quiet Colombian streets, as she tries to convince him that, “heimages-5 did the right thing.” President Gaviria did end this Colombian civil war between the government and Pablo Escobar; he just surrendered the majority of his moral integrity to do so. These three men understand that the law of extradition was a battle, not the war. The war on drugs in Colombia, the war against Pablo Escobar, that is only beginning.

“But no matter how you decorate it, a cage is still a cage.” –Steve Murphy (episode 9)

images-6Narcos episode ten, Despegue (Takeoff), opens with the media speculation about Pablo Escobar killing his partners Monocada and Galeano, while imprisoned at La Catedral. Murphy and Peña leaked the story at the end of the previous episode, as an attempt to put Pablo Escobar behind bars, for real. The finale revolves around Pablo Escobar holding Vice Minister of Justice, Eduardo Sandoval, hostage in Le Catedral. Meanwhile President Gaviria orders the Special Forces to raid the prison and finally take down the Medellín Cartel once and for all. Meanwhile, Murphy has disappeared and Peña tries to track him down. Murphy’s sudden disappearance coincides with the abrupt end of peace in Colombia, as the Special Forces Unit closes in on Pablo Escobar. Now, no finale is complete without a twist, and/or cliffhanger for viewers to cling timages-7o during the hiatus. Peña sold out his partner to Pacho Herrera of the Cal cartel. In the previous episode Murphy confided to Peña about how the shooting in the pilot still haunted him. There are pictures to prove that not only did they kill known associates of Pablo Escobar, but civilians too. Now Pacho Herrera has those photos that he intends to use as blackmail against Murphy. “Don’t worry I won’t ask you, or Javier Peña to cross any line that you haven’t already crossed,” explains Herrera. Later, we see Murphy safely return home to Connie. They embrace and then Connie says, “I just want to go home.” But, “This is our home,” states Murphy. Connie goes back inside, leaving Murphy outside on the Colombian streets. A home is still a home; a soldier is still a soldier; a man is still a man; Colombia is still Colombia,“no matter how you decorate it.”

images-8“Less than an hour after Escobar escaped Le Catedral. Word had spread all over Colombia that war was coming again. But this would be different…This time there would be no surrender, no negotiations, no deals…This time we were going to kill him.” –Steve Murphy (episode 10)

Stay tuned for season two of Narcos, set to be released on Netflix in 2016.

 

By Sarah Belmont
Featured Writer
@sjbelmont

Narcos : A Colombian Circumstance

Netflix Narcos Ep.7 & 8 Recapimgres

 “Lies are necessary…when the truth is too difficult to believe, right?                           -Pablo Escobar (episode 8)

Narcos episode seven, You Will Cry Tears of Blood, begins with the actual news coverage about the assassination attempt that was depicted at the end of the previous episode. Through the fallout over Avianca Flight 203 we observe the Colombian nation assess the damage done to their country. Rewind back to the first half of the season when Pablo Escobar was viewed as a man of the people. He was a charitable, humanitarian in Colombia. Then in the third episode due to American intrusion, on Colombian affairs, the law of extradition was passed. In response the once beloved Pablo Escobar has taken his frustration, with the Colombian political system, out on his own fellow countrymen. One hundred and seven innocent lives were taken during Pablo Escobar’s failed assassination attempt on César Gaviria. The media’s speculation about the mysterious plane bombing points images-1the finger at Pablo Escobar and he is again forced to cut all ties with the bombing by any means necessary. This includes a violent raid on the safe house where Natalie, the plane bomber’s wife, is being kept. Murphy and Peña race towards the end of the episode to protect Natalie from being killed by Pablo Escobar’s men. The footrace between these opposing sides is filled with superb tension. One moment that really stands out is when Javier Peña has cornered one of the bad guys, only to then have a young boy threaten to shot him. On the surface the screen shows the haunting image of a child with a gun. Therefore alluding to Colombia’s societal deterioration during this civil war. In addition, there is an added layer to this scene as Peña finds himself caught in a moral catch twenty-two. He could shot the kid to imgres-1catch his bad guy, but that would cost Peña, his moral high ground that he holds against Pablo Escobar. On the other hand, Peña puts down his gun and allows the bad guy to get away once again. Back in episode three Javier Peña and Steve Murphy made sure that both the American and Colombian government’s focus would remain on the investigation of Pablo Escobar. In a sense, they started wanted this war, but now in the midst of it, how far are they willing to go to win the war?

“If I had made myself into a monster like all of you say, that is the fault of the
people, like your father and those politicians, ‘of always’.”                                              -Pablo Escobar (Episode 8)

imgresNarcos episode eight, Le Gran Mentria, begins with another failed attempt at capturing Pablo Escobar and his men. Throughout both episodes, seven and eight, Pablo Escobar has begun to place pressure on the Colombian government to appeal the law of extradition. The pressure amplifies when Pablo Escobar and his men take hostages, including journalist Diana Turbay, to use as leverage for a fair negotiation with President César Gaviria. During a conversation between Diana Turbay and Pablo Escobar, his character motivations are expounded upon. The most insightful part of this exchange is given through Turbay’s response to Pablo Escobar’s self-justification for his violent means, “You would have done marvelous things and that is the saddest part.” This series chronicles the investigation of Pablo Escobar, but more importantly it illuminates the specific circumstances that made both his rise and fall possible. The “saddest part” is that Diana Turbay becomes just another casualty in this war, as she is killed during another botched raid. This incident allows the Colombian support to ebb back to Pablo Escobar’s favor, as they demand that President Gaviria concede to Pablo Escobar, before more blood is spilt on their Colombian streets.

images-2 “Lies are necessary…when the truth is too difficult to believe, right,” explains Pablo Escobar as he surrenders himself over to the Colombian officials.  Le Gran Mentria in Colombian means the great big lie, which is essentially what Pablo Escobar’s “surrender” is because he still got everything that he wanted.  He will go to a prison that he built; with guards that he pays; most importantly the law of extrication was appealed.  Only in Colombia would a drug lord make a grand return to a grateful country, but that’s where we started, right?  Colombia is the homeland of magical realism.  In the pilot we witness Steve Murphy receive information about the whereabouts of Pablo Escobar’s men.  Then Murphy calls in a police raid led by Javier Peña.  This is a successful mission as Peña and his men kill Escobarimages-3‘s associates, but the also take the lives of innocent civilians.  This same scene is revisited during the end of episode eight.  Again, Narcos proves that this series expounds upon the Colombian circumstances involved during the rise and fall of Pablo Escobar.  The rise and fall spurred by the moral shifts on both sides.

By Sarah Belmont
Featured Writer
@sjbelmont

New Fall Tv 2015: The Alternates

Quanticoimgres-3

 September 27th, ABC

In the present, Alex Parrish (Priyanka Chopra) along with her fellow new FBI recruits enter the Quantico training base. Flash-forward to the future where a terrorist attack on America has just taken place and Alex Parrish is the primary suspect. The only way to prove her innocence is by finding evidence to prove that the real terrorist mole was someone else from her FBI recruit class. The series will employ a very similar timeline thread to tie a Quantico recruit story with Alex Parrish determining if they are the mole, or not; very similar to the plot device used in How to Get Away with Murder.

Hopefully, Priyanka Chopra can deliver this fall and her character Alex Parrish can join the ABC leading lady character ranks alongside, Annalise Keating (Viola Davis), Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington), and Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo). Earlier this summer Varitey reported that CW alum Rick Cosnet has joineimgres-4d the show as a recurring character. He will play Elias Harper, a defense attorney recruited by Alex Parrish in the future. The first season will air its thirteen-episode run on ABC this fall and the producers promise to reveal the terrorist’s identity in the finale.

To watch the Quantico trailer click here

The Man in the High Castle

imgres-2November 20th, Amazon

Based on Philip K. Dick’s alternate history novel, about America in the 1960s, if the Axis powers had won World War II. We are introduced to Joe Blake (Luke Kleintank), as a twenty-seven year old New Yorker, who wants to join the resistance. He receives instructions from a resistance leader and begins to make his way to the “neutral zone.” In this version of America the Nazis govern over the land east of the Rockies, while the Japanese rule the over the Pacific states. In the pilot episode we are also introduced to Juliana Crain (Aleximages-2a Davalos), who peacefully resides in the Pacific states. Her resolve to remain quietly living in the shadows ends after her sister Trudy gives her a messenger bag and then moments later is killed by Japanese officers. Juliana is so disturbed by the injustice done to her sister that she finds herself on a mission to the man in the high castle. By the end of the episode both Juliana Crain and Joe Blake cross paths on their way to join the resistance, but do they both have the same intentions?

The pilot plays like an extended Twilight Zone episode. The set designers do a great job including disconcerting reminders about the series’ premise, within each set piece. On the surface level it’s a spy thriller set during the 1960s, but the historical imgres-1fiction twist causes a disturbing ripple effect that resonates with the viewer across the screen.

To watch The Man in the High Castle pilot click here

Containmentimgres

January 2016, CW 

Executive Producer Julie Plec, known for mainly the supernatural genre (The Vampire Diaries, The Originals), attempts science fiction with her latest project titled, Containment. The series chronicles a deadly virus outbreak in Atlanta that leads to federal officials setting up a quarantine section of the state.  Families are torn apart as they find themselves on opposite sides of the containment section.   As the virus grows within the Atlanta quarantine section, viewers will observe a decline of society, as these ordinary people become survivalists.

imagesThe series features a predominately young cast with David Gyasi (Interstellar), Chris Wood (The Vampire Diaries), KristenGutoskie (Rookie Blue), Christina Marie Moses (Nikita), and newcomer George Young.  During the first season the show will flash back and forth from the present Atlanta quarantine situation with how the outbreak first started.  In true Julie Plec fashion the emphasis will be placed on who these characters become when placed in this situation of duress.

To watch Containment trailer click here

By Sarah Belmont
Featured Writer
@sjbelmont

Netflix Narcos: Colombians, Americans, Dreams, & Drugs

 This post is a recap of the first three episodes of Narcos season one and contains spoilers.

imgres

“Magical realism is defined as what happens when a highly detailed, realistic setting is invaded by something too strange to believe… There is a reason magical realism was born in Colombia.”

This quote is seen above the Andes Mountains during the opening sequence of Narcos’ first episode. This Netflix original series chronicles Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar’s (Wagner Moura) infamous rise to power during the 70s and 80s. Through the use of a Goodfella’s inspired first person narrative, voiced by DEA agent Steve Murphy (Boyd Hollbrock), viewers feel a sense of familiarity with the story, even though it’s set in a foreign land.  Note that since this series predominately takes place in Colombia each episode contains a large amount of subtitles.  Narcos is an early drug war story, as Steve Murphy explains why both him and his wife head to Colombia at the end of episode one, “This wasimages my war. This was my duty, and I was ready to fight.”

The second episode, The Sword of Simon Bolivar, show both Pablo Escobar and Steve Murphy establishing themselves as the hero in this tale.  For example we see the Colombian law enforcement agency partner Steve Murphy with local officer Javier Pena (Pedro Pascal). Yes, this show has an odd-couple cop pairing that’s a common troupe within the genre.  Javier understands how to obtain information in Colombia, often through bribes, which goes against Steve Murphy’s American rules.  Meanwhile, we are given a history lesson about the Medellín Cartel.  Their first claim to fame came from taking down a libertarian group known as the M-19.  In an attempt to send Pablo Escobar a message, the M-19 capture an Ocha girl, who is works for the cartel.  Escobar understands the politics involved with the game he is playing, as he capitalizes on this local tragedy.  Pablo Escobar is able to have the M-19 leader, Ivan, release the girl unharmed; thus the drug lord becomes a hero. Based on this episode two recap, you can see how this series was written in the same vain as The Wire. Each episode includes both a criminal and DEA arc therefore allowing both sides of the war to be fully realized.

          “There is a reason magical realism was born in Colombia.”images-1

In the third episode, The Men of Always, we understand the ties that bind magical realism to Colombia.  They are the same binds that tie the American dream to the United States.  Throughout the episode we see Pablo Escobar get swept up in a race for congress in Colombia.  At this point he has fully harnessed the idea that money can buy you both power and influence, in a poor country.  Now he wants to buy congress to fulfill his own personal political ambitions. “It’s a country where dreams and reality are conflated.  Where in their heads people can fly as high as Icarus,” explains Steve Murphy.  The reality is that Pablo Escobar is a drug lord, not a congressman, and Colombia cannot afford to become “a state of narcos.”  Meanwhile Steve Murphy and Javier Pena don’t get swept up in their dream of taking down the entire Medellín Cartel, but focus on keeping Pablo Escobar out of congress.  They manage to do so, by obtaining a photo negative of Pablo Escobar’s mugshot from a previous arrest for drug trafficking.  In a superb sequence we see that Pablo Escobar, “flew too close to the sun,” and is thrown out of the Colombian congress.  imgres-1

Both the American dream, that Steve Murphy has to end the war on drugs, and Pablo Escobar’s magical realism ambition, to politically rule over Colombia;  are the simple daydreams of men.  Their reality is that they are on opposites sides of a never ending war on drugs. The melding between fact and fiction continues to be seen as historical footage from this time period is used in each episode. Colombia is a real place, this story is based on real events, these characters are based on real people; yet this tale still retains a sense of wonder amongst the dreams of men.

Netflix has already renewed the show for a second season to be released next year.  Season one trailer click here

By Sarah Belmont
Featured Writer
@sjbelmont