Screen Junkies » recaps http://www.screenjunkies.com Movie Reviews & TV Show Reviews Wed, 26 Nov 2014 19:27:26 +0000 en hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.3.1 Sons of Anarchy Recap: “Playing With Monsters” (Season 7 / Episode 3) http://www.screenjunkies.com/tv/sons-of-anarchy-recap-playing-with-monsters/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/tv/sons-of-anarchy-recap-playing-with-monsters/#comments Wed, 24 Sep 2014 18:51:15 +0000 DustinSeibert http://www.screenjunkies.com/?p=265399 A lack of surprises and some useless sub-plots have gotten Sons of Anarchy's final season off to a tedious start.

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Another week, another boring episode of Sons of Anarchy.

Look, I get that the best stuff in the series’ swan song is likely yet to come. Setup is what it is. But if you compare it to Breaking Bad where every single one of the final eight episodes that aired as the second part of season 5 mattered, what Sons is doing right now is straight somnambulistic in comparison. I mentioned last week that the show’s pacing could use a little personal Jesus, yet it seemed to slow down even more this week. Jax is a hardened killer disregarding the lessons of his dad. Great. Tell me more. 

Lets take a look at what the episode did wrong, as well as the handful of things it did well:

Everything is telegraphed now: The unfortunate downside of a show being successful and on the air for several seasons is that surprises are harder to come by, and the writers don’t seem very interested in throwing that many at us in the beginning of the season. Anyone who’s been watching the show knows that when the leathers come off, people are about to die, so it was very clear that Chester and his rogue One-Niners were gonna get offed in that gun warehouse. Also, if anyone who went into Gemma’s faux peace offering to the man that punched her thinking she’d turned a new leaf simply hasn’t been watching Sons. It’s as if Sutter and company are working to keep the masses happy by meeting expectations, which is simply no way to finish up a great TV show. Speaking of which…

Useless-a** subplots: Sons, just like The Shield before it, has always been loaded with subplots that served as often interesting distractions to the main storyline. Nothing wrong with that, but in the final act of a show with so many loose ends to tie up, we care much less about them. The hayseed dad of the young porn star coming around and stirring up drama was utterly superfluous and only served to portray Nero as a somewhat-but-not-quite-badass, as well as set up the show’s aforementioned denouement. As for Jury, we’d better find out next episode why he’s so hurt over the thug the guys killed after the Chinese massacre, and it’d better be significant to the main plot. No one cares about what Gemma has to get off her chest to those damn birds. And, no one anywhere cares who Ratboy is schtupping. Seriously, the writers had seasons to develop that character and they didn’t bother. Too late now. Stay on point, guys.

Lyla Winston. Ugh.: I’m totally convinced that Opie’s widow Lyla (Winter Ave Zoli) still exists on the show for no other reason than that she is hot, and the show runners’ well-beings are being threatened by horny fans who refuse to let her go. Zoli can’t have made it past day three of any acting school she’s ever been in, and hearing her deliver dialogue is no different than I would imagine watching Stevie Wonder build IKEA furniture. Now we’re to believe that this masterful businesswoman and bastion of gray matter will take SAMCRO’s porn studio Red Woody to the top. The Jenna Jameson sighting was the best part of this side plot; the worst is watching Jax call Lyla a “genius” while keeping a straight face. 

What’s With Althea Jarry?: I’ve been waiting patiently to see if Annabeth Gish’s Lieutenant Jarry has an angle. After this episode, I’m not sure I like it. The late-night meeting with Chibs in the parking garage and her acceptance of two grand to snatch the APB off of Juice proves that she’s dirty, Unser-style. That’s great, except now we seem to be teasing at another subplot involving a possible romance between her and Chibs. Any romantic or carnal union between the chick from Mystic Pizza and the guy who is killed in every period movie from the 1990s would be tonally weird — we did the romantic Chibs subplot thing with his Irish wife back in season 3 (the weakest of the series), and it’s kinda sorta too late to get another meaningful one going. Unless, of course, Jarry winds up playing Chibs to get closer to bringing down the club, which could put Chibs at Juice-esque odds with Jax and actually be interesting.

We’re going against August Marks? Really?: Oakland shot-caller Marks is a more devious and calculated character than his predecessor, the late Damon Pope. He basically makes it known in the back of that Rolls Royce that he knows Jax orchestrated all the chess moves that could start a war between him and Lin. This betrayal of Marks could have the most detrimental effect on the club: Lin is too emotional and ripe for the fall, but as long as Marks stays true to his character, he can dismantle SAMCRO and everyone around it. Marks is the Black Trump here.

Nero as a killer? Nah: Bad move in the writing here. Sure, Nero is an OG with a grimy past, but the show has unfailingly painted him as a sympathetic character (Sick son! Trying to get right!), even if he does a little business with a club he knows could suck him right back in. So linking up with the Mayans to gun down the bangers? It’s all wrong…he even looked weird and uncomfortable holding that gun. It would’ve been better to watch Nero really beat the breaks off the guy who hit his woman instead of giving him a couple light taps. Nero is such a good character, I hope they don’t ruin him beyond redemption. 

Free Juan Carlos: The best part of the episode — and really, one of the best parts of an otherwise mediocre-so-far season — is the Juice-in-exile subplot. When Opie bought the gun farm in prison, Juice became the heart of the show, which makes Jax looking to kill him resonant and somewhat sad. The diner scene, in which Unser agreed to get Juice and Chibs in the same place in exchange for (incorrect) intel on Tara’s killer, was the highlight of the episode. Chibs has always had Juice under his wing in a paternal role, so watching him carry the emotional heft of a man torn between two duties was great. He said more with his eyes at that table than he ever needed to with his mouth. That’s the type of stuff we need more of, people. Because I’m already growing tired of watching Jax slaughter everyone. It’s starting to lose it’s meaning.

Honorable mention: The show’s two best lines were Jax’s 12 Inches a Slave joke (racist as f**k but hilarious) and Theo Huxtable’s sole line after bum-rushing Lin’s happy ending parlor: ”Them’s some skinny-ass hos…what’s up with that shit?”

Until next week…

 

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Sons of Anarchy Season 7, Episode 2 Recap: “Toil and Till” http://www.screenjunkies.com/general/sons-of-anarchy-season-7-episode-2-recap-toil-and-till/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/general/sons-of-anarchy-season-7-episode-2-recap-toil-and-till/#comments Wed, 17 Sep 2014 20:58:51 +0000 DustinSeibert http://www.screenjunkies.com/?p=265166 With the long-awaited final season of Sons of Anarchy now airing on FX, fans are waiting with bated breath to see which main characters will get the pink slip by way of a bloody, gruesome death that tests the limits of what can be shown on basic cable.

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With the long-awaited final season of Sons of Anarchy now airing on FX, fans are waiting with bated breath to see which main characters will get the pink slip by way of a bloody, gruesome death that tests the limits of what can be gotten away with on basic cable.

We’re two episodes in, and so far no one within spitting distance of the show’s main credits has gone to that big gun trade in the sky. Just wait for it, though, good people – patience is a kingly virtue.

A few observations from last night’s episode, “Toil and Till” (MAD SPOILERS BELOW, YO):

Too long and too quiet – The seventh season of a successful hour-long drama has earned the right to have episodes that extend past the typical runtime; “Toil and Till” clocked in at about an hour and 15 minutes, and last week’s season opener “The Black Widower” was an hour and a half.

While this is all good for all of us who appreciate a little extra helping of SAMCRO with a cherry on top, longer episodes are resulting in a number of overly long scenes and quiet exposition that might be grating for people looking to see the story move along. Dramatic pauses are aplenty, and sometimes the motivation to throw an empty beer can at the television and yell, “CMOOONN!!” is strong.

Fortunately, the characters don’t suck, and listening to their stories isn’t so bad all the time: Wendy and Nero trading abuse stories was interesting, especially because Jimmy Smits is one of the show’s best late additions. Here’s hoping he makes it to episode 8.

 

Jax has taken leave of his damn mind – Screw everything you thought was going on with Jackson Teller. Screw the letters from his dad, who served as the conscience on his right shoulder. Screw all the plans to turn the club straight. That’s all gone now.

Many of us might abandon our faculty of reason in the face of discovering the woman we love dead with a carving fork jammed in her skull. But Jax was already an outlaw before that, which simply exacerbated matters. Now, his eyes empty and his soul damaged, he’s driven by one imperative: revenge, the engine which will likely drive this entire season. His explanation of what he plans to do with Lin, the man he feels is responsible for Tara’s death, stands in diametric opposition to everything he had in mind for SAMCRO prior to this season.

And not for nothing, but isn’t this whole killing-for-revenge-in-the-wrong-direction storyline reminiscent of season 6 of Sons’ spiritual predecessor, The Shield, when Vic Mackey was slaughtering in the name of finding Lem’s killer?

Maybe Gemma isn’t a total rhymes-with-witch – The show’s dark matriarch, Gemma has proven time and again she’s willing to go the distance to protect herself and her family. Following this mode of thinking, it seems like she would be concocting ways to put down the two people that currently present the biggest threat to her: Juice, the only witness of her murdering Tara; and Unser, who she discovered is working with the local authorities on Tara’s murder.

She literally caught both men sleeping and chose not to polish them both off, which would’ve been easy in both cases (Juice is on the run, and Unser has been dying of the same illness for, like, six seasons). She even sent Juice off to her dead dad’s crib with a few grand. Either she has a bigger heart than she lets on, or she’s keeping those eventual murders close to the vest in the name of driving the narrative.

Enough with the show-ending music montages – Sons of Anarchy still suffers from relying on almost anachronistic episode-ending music montages. That’s not necessarily a horrible thing, but the show’s choice of music is.

The season premiere finished with an absolutely atrocious remake of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and last night’s concluded with some random Yelawolf song with a shi**y hook that almost undermined the gravity of what’s going on onscreen. If the show must continue with these montages, why not use the original music and not these godawful versions that are no better than something you’d hear from a live performer in a Potbelly’s? Let us not forget how perfectly The Rolling Stones’ “Thru and Thru” fit with the final minutes of The Sopranos’ banner second season.

 

Betraying Jury will come back on Jax  Icing the two seemingly okay guys who helped the club out with the Triad hit — aside from being cold-blooded (seriously, hasn’t Jax killed more people in the past two episodes than the past two seasons combined?!?) — turned out to be meaningful to Uncle Jury, president of the Indian Hills Nevada chapter of Sons of Anarchy and the dude who sent Jax the boys to begin with. We aren’t told what Jury’s relationship is with one of the boys he found dead, but don’t be surprised if it’s his son, and he will put two and two together and go see about Jax.

Tig and Ratboy  The scene with them in the car is the season’s best levity so far. Good to know Tig is reliable as ever as a sick bastard.

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Gif Recap: ‘Community’ – A Fist Full Of Paintballs: Part 1 http://www.screenjunkies.com/tv/tv-episode/gif-recap-community-a-fist-full-of-paintballs-part-1/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/tv/tv-episode/gif-recap-community-a-fist-full-of-paintballs-part-1/#comments Fri, 06 May 2011 17:59:44 +0000 Jame Gumb http://www.screenjunkies.com/?p=210866 Chills! Suspense! Annie running in slow motion!

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When we came up with the idea for our gif recaps, we had your normal sitcom in mind, consisting of mostly dialogue, with a few scattered bursts of slapstick thrown in for good measure. Unfortunately, we forgot to factor in “Community,” a show that doesn’t conform to the sitcom norm. This is doubly true of their now annual paintball episodes, which pack in so much action, we could have easily made one 22-minute gif. Unfortunately, that would defeat the purpose of a recap, so we have to pick and choose. So here are the best moments from last night’s amazing episode of “Community” – A Fist Full Of Paintballs: Part 1.

The episode begins with Annie, dressed as an old-West prostitute, rescuing Fat Neil from a group of angry paintballers in the Greendale hallway. After eliminating the posse, she is given a slick Western style intro dubbing her the queen of hearts. As she walks away, Fat Neil pulls a double-cross, picking up a gun and aiming at Annie’s back. But he’s to slow (probably because he’s fat) and Annie takes him out. Yes, the “paintball assassin” game is back…but why?


After a The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly styled intro, we flash back a few hours to find the entire gang, alongside their classmates, attending a “last day of school hoedown and picnic” sponsored by Pistol Patty’s Cowboy Creamery. That explains the Western garb everyone is wearing. But what of the paintball? The Dean announces that there will be a small game this year, but in order to avoid the chaos of last year, the prizes will be of little value. However, when Pistol Patty, a talking ice-cream cone with a cowboy hat, takes the microphone, she informs the students that $100,000 is at stake. Anarchy erupts as everyone scrambles for their weapons.

We flashback to Anne, who is held up in a science lab eating beans. Abed, dressed as Clint Eastwood, manages to infiltrate her hideout, and brings a message from Jeff inviting her to join up with them. She grudgingly accepts, and the two set out, only to find Winger and Chang pinned down by gunfire from the Math Club.

Chang, realizing that the Math Club is all Asian, switches sides. But in the confusion, Abed manages to save Jeff. Despite the fact that his Math Club comrades have all been eliminated, Chang lives to see another day.

Soon after, Jeff, Abed and Annie are confronted by The Black Rider, a gun-slinging stranger whose good looks make Jeff feel uncomfortable. The conversation quickly turns south, and the gang is forced to flee from the mysterious marksman.

Here is a shot of Annie running in slow motion. That is all.

Annie and her companions manage to escape, locking themselves in a stairwell. While catching their breath, they are set upon by Troy, Shirley, and Britta, who have been deputized by “Fort Hawthorne,” a safe area created by Pierce in the cafeteria.

It turns out that there is a bounty on Jeff’s head. He is wanted, “gay and alive.” So Jeff, Abed and Annie agree to go peacefully and speak with Pierce.

Once at “Fort Hawthorne,” Pierce is overly friendly to his study group pals, offering them entertainment in the form of dancers (including a male dancer for Jeff…because he’s gay).

Although the group initially distrusts his motives, at Annie’s urging, they decide to take him at his word. They all agree to set out in search of last year’s paintball gun stash, with the hope it will tip the game in their favor, and the money can be split seven ways. As the group sets out in search of the stash, Annie explains her reasons for trusting Pierce. She feels as if the study group is her family, and with family, you don’t get to pick and choose. If the group turns its back on Pierce, who is next? Jeff begrudgingly accepts her explanation, and gives her his gun for protection. But as he walks off, Annie hears a noise coming from the next room. A group of cheerleaders is about to execute Chang (in a cheerleader outfit) for betraying them. Annie steps in and shoots the girls, but Chang slips away. While in hot pursuit, Annie is confronted by The Black Rider.

After flirting with Annie, The Black Rider attempts to shoot her with her own gun (given to her by Jeff). However, it is filled with blanks. Just then, Jeff and Abed arrive and rescue her, but the Black Rider escapes unscathed. Thankful for being rescued, Annie informs Jeff the Pierce had provided him with a blank gun.

Meanwhile, Troy and the others have located the dean, covered in paint, hiding in a locker. When pressed, he admits that the paintball supplies from last year are still at the school, but he’s locked them up so the campus won’t be destroyed.

After seeing that the school has already been demolished, he relents, and allows Jeff and the gang to take the weapons. The group then sets off to get their revenge on Pierce. Once back at the camp, Annie discovers that most of the inhabitants have bee taken out by The Black Rider. However, she finds Pierce hiding in a closet. When he comes out waving a white flag, she fires repeatedly at him, causing him to run into the open where he is surrounded by the study group.

Annie confronts him about his betrayal of Jeff, and informs him that earlier in the week, the group had voted on whether or not to banish him. Only her vote had spared him, but now she is fed up with his treachery. But just as the two are about to dual, The Black Rider appears. At Jeff’s request, The Black Rider agrees to let the showdown between Annie and Pierce play out, but makes it known that as soon as it’s over, everyone else is fair game. A tense, four-way showdown develops, but is brought to a quick halt when Pierce complains of chest pains.

Despite the repeated warnings of the group, The Black Rider rushes to Pierce’s aid, and is promptly shot. Emboldened by his successful treachery, Pierce grabs one of The Black Rider’s shotguns and makes his escape, vowing revenge as he flees. In an angry rant, The Black Rider himself confesses that he doesn’t attend the school (except for an online course), and he was paid to win so that his “boss” can keep the prize money.

As the group attempts to make sense of what has happened, Chang, still blindfolded, runs into the parking lot, screaming for help. He is immediately cut down by a high-powered paintball gun within the Pistol Patty’s truck.

The episode ends with a special forces paintball team exiting the Pistol Patty’s truck, followed by Pistol Patty herself. Addressing her troops, she enacts “Plan B,” informing the men that no student must be allowed to wi the tournament.

All and all, the episode was amazing. I have no idea where they are going with the Pistol Patty plot, but maybe that’s just my own pop-culture ignorance. But at any rate, I can’t wait to find out.

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