Gratuitous Wes Chatham

Are you watching The Expanse on SyFy? If you’re a fan of “hard” sci-fi and you aren’t, you probably should be. To me it feels a lot like the network’s own Battlestar Galactica, and like BSG, Season One got off to a slow start. There’s a lot of universe-building going on, and if you’re unfamiliar with the source material like I was, it takes some time to get up to speed as characters are introduced and storylines established. Season Two, however, has really taken off and it’s become one of my “must not miss” shows this year.

And if that weren’t enough, hunky Wes Chatham gets plenty of screen time.

Yeah, yeah…I know the boxing shots aren’t from this particular show, but don’t hate.

I’m Loving Emerald City

It’s a very fresh retelling of the Oz stories, and I’m surprised I’m enjoying it as much as I am.

Of course the fact that Oliver Jackson Cohen (the “scarecrow”) seems to have a clause written into his contract that he must appear shirtless in every episode for a certain length of time has nothing to do with it.

Not that I’m complaining…

“It’s Like A Good Fuck.”

When we first met Maeve at the beginning of the season, at first I thought she was one of the guests. I mean, who wouldn’t want to run a brothel—if only for a few days?

But she turned out to be one of the Hosts, and much more than any one had ever expected. She’s now my favorite character and the one I most look forward to seeing chew up the scenery.

I Hadn’t Thought of That!

When you delete a file it doesn’t go away, the data is still on the disk, but the the reference to where that data is stored is taken away. It also isn’t overwritten because the drive simply maps another portion of the drive to fill the gap. This technique is used so that the information is recoverable using forensic tools, and the extra space serves as a backup in case an error occurs in that block or if you need to shift data from one place to another. This is interesting in the case of the Westworld hosts brains because it would seem that with a nearly infinite amount of storage space, the data that has been “wiped” is never actually overwritten, but the reference to it is taken away. This could explain a lot of things that are going on with the host’s memories, i.e. not being able to determine the metadata associated with the memory such as time and place. Also, the “reverie” would seem to work as a sort of forensic tool that allows the host to cross reference data only by association because the direct reference is lost, but that data has linked references to certain key words, images, or sounds. In the case of Maeve, she has complete control of her “hard disk” and can see that there is “something there just out her reach”, this showing that she can scan her disk and see the data, but she cannot read the data because she doesn’t know what kind of data it is. This is also true with any computer. You can see that there is something there, but until you know the structure of it, it doesn’t make sense because you need a cross reference to put it into context. I.e she knows that she was built for a specific purpose, but the reference to where that information has been stored is not available to her. Not that it doesn’t exist, but she needs a cross reference to it.


My Westworld Theory

For those of you who have been watching HBO’S Westworld, and are as obsessed with the story as I am, I have a theory.


For several weeks I’ve been entertaining the idea that not only was Bernard a host (confirmed in Episode 8), but so is Ford. This seemed to be revealed in a brief bit of dialog last night that I didn’t catch until a second viewing. When Bernard confronted Ford in cold storage and demanded full access to all his memories, Bernard looked at Ford and said, “Arnold built us, didn’t he? Which means maybe he had something different in mind for us. And maybe you killed him for it.”

Built us.

There were only two people in that scene: Ford and Bernard. (Clementine was in the room, but standing off to the side and I believe her presence can be safely ignored since it was not even implied that Arnold had any part in her creation).

Furthermore, it is my belief that not only is Ford a host, but also that he—despite the fact we were told last night that Dolores committed the act—was the one who actually killed Arnold…

The Point At Which…

…I gave up on Season 6 of American Horror Story. After this scene played out, I looked at Ben and asked, “Had enough?” He nodded and we turned the television off. Pardon the unintentional pun, but stick a fork in it, Season 6 is done in this house.

Why? Because much like the arc The Walking Dead began at the end of Season 4 with the gratuitous cannibalism of Terminus and ended with the arrival of Negan and his barbed-wire wrapped baseball bat Lucille this year, what was once an engaging, interesting story of survival among the undead has turned into little more than torture porn; something I don’t find at all entertaining.

I loved how AHS Season 6 started. It was horror with a genuine creep factor—a decided change from the usual camp that Murphy, Falchuk & Co. have imbued AHS with since Coven. The documentary format was refreshing. But then it jumped the shark and crossed the same line with me that TWD started two years ago. I already know only one of AHS’s characters survives the gratuitous bloodbath this year’s story has become, and it’s a testament that I’ve reached the point that I genuinely DO. NOT. CARE. who it is.

This Ain’t Your Father’s Westworld

When I first heard that HBO was remaking the 1970s scifi classic Westworld, I was more than a little apprehensive. While Westworld was not by any means great 20th century cinema in like 2001: A Space Odyssey, it was still good—and after seeing it again only about a year ago, I felt it held up well and  in my estimation didn’t need to be remade.

Well, I’ve now seen the first two episodes of HBO’s journey into the world based on Michael Crichton’s closer-than-we’d-like-to-believe future, and I have to say that any doubts I may have had have been erased and it’s become one of my personal “must see” series this year.

Much like the team that took the original Battlestar Galactica and turned it on its head, Jonathan Nolan, J.J. Abrams & company have reimaged the original in such a way that I was immediately drawn in with its believability. We’re only two episodes into the story, but it’s already raising fundamental questions about the nature of sentience and what constitutes life itself—much like Galactica. There’s also a decidedly sinister undercurrent to the whole operation; the park itself is only the outward manifestation of much darker things going on behind the scenes. By who and for what reason is one of the great mysteries already presented to the viewer. If I could binge watch the entire series right now, I would, because I want to know what happens next. It’s that good.

From the Collider review:

Westworld seems determined to take a no-holds-barred approach to morality in the face of rapid technological advancement. It’s not about humans, it’s about humanity. What makes it? Who has it? Does our biology make us human? Or is it something more elusive? And can that essence, whatever it is, be translated into electrical impulse? Can A.I. be human? And what does “human” even mean in a world where technology and reality can blend so easily?

You see what I mean, it’s pretty deep stuff. The series is essentially a meditation on consciousness, and all the pros and pratfalls that come with an aware state of mind, both human and artificial.

“It’s questioning where does life begin,” Nolan said,”and what characterizes the importance of life, whether it is a human who is dictated by biological impulses, and neuron synapsing, and the double helixes of DNA entwined within our bodies, or whether it’s an artificial being that’s coded with zeros and ones.”

What makes a person good or bad? And can that which we create achieve a conscience all its own? Can it decide upon its own sense of right and wrong? These are the questions at the heart of Westworld‘s compelling narrative set-up.

On top of that, Westworld asks some pretty uncomfortable questions of its viewers — well, at least if you ascribe to conventional morality. “Who are we when we don’t think anybody’s keeping score?” Nolan asked, and that’s really the crux of the human characters in a narrative where we’re set to identify first and foremost with the robots. Who would you become in an environment like Westworld? How far would you go? And could you stomach watching a “person” brutally suffer, maybe even die, at your hand with every emotion rendered in explicit detail? If you knew they were naught but circuit boards and wires inside, what would you be capable of? And would that internal circuitry immediately deem them somehow less than the biological circuitry that dictates human life?

Exactly What I’ve Been Wondering

Because while Ben sits there metaphorically scratching his head, I absolutely love the batshit crazy of it…

From Gizmodo:

Why Are So Few People Talking About the Preacher TV Series?

Everywhere you go on the internet Monday mornings, people are talking about Sunday night’s television. Mainly HBO’s Game of Thrones. Lest we forget another major geek adaptation also airs Sunday nights, and has been for the past month: AMC’s Preacher. So why are so few people talking about it?

Sure there are a few recaps here and there, but where’s the water cooler talk? Where are the think-pieces (besides this one)? The long, detailed discussions of similarities and differences with the source material? It almost feels like the show is airing in a vacuum, and that’s a disconcerting thought for a series with such a great pedigree, based on some immensely beloved source material.

The problems are hard to pin down, although premiering against arguably the best season of a mega-popular show like Thrones is certainly a factor. More importantly, though, this first season of Preacher has been struggling to find its voice. For comics fans, it’s strange that the show’s first season isn’t chronicling the comic as much as serving as a prequel to it. And if you haven’t read the comics, like most people, do you even really understand what’s going on? Or is it just a vampire, a criminal, and a preacher in a very strange town, all prone to fits of graphic violence?

Before Preacher started, showrunner Sam Catlin said the following:

“We want to [escalate things] step by step,” Catlin said. “Because I think if we just showed in the first episode, [angels] Deblanc and Fiore and Heaven and their floating space station with a hole in it… you sort of have to ratchet these things up. The idea of the show is like ‘Oh, you’re okay with vampires now? Oh what about this? What about this? What about this? So it’s sort of like putting a frog in bowl of boiling water or something. So by the time you look upon Satan, you’re like, ‘Yeah, that makes sense.’”

That slow escalation has certainly been the case as we approach the halfway point of the first season. There have been teases to the major characters of the comic book (the Saint of Killers, Genesis, Arseface, etc) but, for the most part, it’s simply been about Jesse’s struggles to be a good guy—to be the Preacher of the title.

“You never see him being a preacher in the comics,” said executive producer Seth Rogen. “We were like, ‘It’s called Preacher, he’s dressed as a preacher the whole time, maybe you should see him being a preacher.’ When the comic starts he’s kind of done with it, basically. So we thought it would be good to show that that part of his life was like as well.”

In theory, that’s a great idea. But the good people aren’t particularly interesting on Preacher. The best characters so far are the lovable assassin Tulip, the crazy vampire Cassidy, and the cold Odin Quincannon, who ended the most recent episode with a jaw-dropping act of villainy. Jesse, in the meantime, spends his time and his new powers trying to save a town that is already abundantly not deserving of it. Mostly cause so few of the characters are standouts. His repeated attempts to do good feel repetitive at best, and meaningless at worst.

We know that the show will, eventually, see Jesse, Tulip, and Cassidy hit the road to find God, because that’s where the comics start. But these first five episodes almost feel like they’re specifically delaying that inevitability. In reality they’re trying to give more context for what’s to come. Digging deeper with the characters so we’ll be more attached. But when the comic is essentially a road trip story, having the show stuck in this single town has brought Preacher, both literally and figuratively, to a standstill.

It also doesn’t help that whenever there’s a hint of something weird, the show treats it like a mistake. In the last episode alone there was the phone ringing from Heaven and the angels explaining Jesse’s power to him. Each scene was cut short just before it was about to get good. Other episodes have started, and ended, in the same ways with only ripples in the middle. That strategy will keep some viewers coming back for answers, but others will surely find it far more frustrating than intriguing.

There have been hints of the show we, the audience, think we want from Preacher. The plane flight in the pilot. The church fight in episode two. We know Preacher is possible but, the glacial pacing, the odd tone, the bizarre premise—it all adds up to a high-end, geek comic TV adaptation that almost no one is talking about. And despite the fact that Preacher was one of 2016’s most anticipated new shows, as of right now, AMC has not renewed it for season two.

What makes this even more frustrating is that Rogen and Catlin, the people making the show, clearly get Preacher. If they can make it to season two, where Jesse’s journey and the comic begin in earnest, then it’s entirely possible the show will become the Game of Thrones, Walking Dead hit that everyone expected (and hoped for). Even now, as the show takes its sweet time, there are signs of the craziness, the grossness, and the wonderfulness that may be in store. Here’s hoping Preacher gets that chance to show us.

UPDATE: Preacher has been renewed for Season 2, which means we ain’t seen nothin’ yet!

Last Night’s Episode Is Probably My Last

Ben and I came into The Walking Dead at the beginning of season two and spent a week or so playing catch up with season one. We’ve both really enjoyed the series.

But this past season has been disappointing on so many levels, and while Ben abandoned the show a couple weeks ago, I soldiered onward, hoping there would still be something to keep me coming back for more.

But there isn’t. I’ve lost all sympathy for any of the main characters and simply do. not. care. any more whether they live or die.

Tom & Lorenzo (who I actually stopped following a couple months ago because of their constant bitchiness about pretty much everything) actually hit the nail on the head; the reason myself and apparently many others are abandoning the show:

Good job, TWD creative team! Attaboys and girls! You did it! It took you all some time, but you’ve effectively chipped away all the coolness from your few cool characters. You’ve managed to turn Carol into Andrea, Morgan into Dale and Daryl into season 2 Carl. Brilliant. We expect Michonne will start trying to run in heels any episode now. At the very least, they should have her flip her car into a ditch on an empty road, for old time’s sake.

We’ve spent roughly two whole seasons listening to Rick & Co. talk about how unprepared and naive the Alexandrians are, only to watch Rick & Co. consistently do idiotic things to demonstrate that they’re really no smarter or better equipped to handle the world than anyone else. Because really, is Denise the dumb one for leaving the safety of Alexandria in pursuit of can of pop or is Carol the dumber one for leaving the safety of Alexandria because she’s tired of killing people? Because you know what happens when you leave the safety of a place like Alexandria? You’re almost immediately plunged into life-or-death situations that call on you to…kill people to survive. In other words, Carol left Alexandria because she’s killed too many people, and then within hours of leaving, she kills another half-dozen. How does this make Carol anything but, well… an idiot? Then again, literally EVERYONE who walked out those gates—all of whom are counted among the best fighters in Alexandria because they’re all Rick-ites—are insanely and implausibly stupid for leaving the compound right after having declared war on a rival group by attacking and killing them.

Christ, what an awful episode. What a waste of time watching these people all inexplicably turn into other people for no reason than to service a plot that seems fairly weighted with inevitability and expectations at this point. Someone Important Is Going To Die. And in order for that to happen, Everyone’s IQ Has To Plummet.

And right on schedule, as we’ve been predicting all season, the Saviors suddenly and without warning went from a ragtag collection of smug Barney Fifes to the type of people who can sneak up on Daryl and shoot him before he gets a chance to react. Ugh. There is not one person in the cast right now whose death would upset us. Michonne, maybe. But it’s hard to remain concerned with (or even interested in) the fates of people who go dumb at a moment’s notice.

Even Kris, a friend of mine from DISH who is a hardcore fan responded to a text this morning wherein I told him I thought I was done with the series because of all this crap. “For me it’s the plot issues—the fact you can tell every episode has a different director. Doris and I very frequently look at each other and say ‘He/she wouldn’t do that!'”

At this point, I believe that whatever horrible things happen to Rick’s band at the hands of Neagan (I don’t follow the comics so I don’t really know what’s going to happen, but I have a pretty good idea) are well deserved. Rick & Co. have turned into exactly the kind of people they’ve been trying to avoid since the beginning of the Apocalypse.

I could go on and on, but I’ve already expended more energy on this than I’d intended, and it just isn’t worth it, but I will leave you with this thought posted by a commenter on another board:

“There doesn’t seem to be an end game or conclusion to this story; just endless suffering.”