selenak: (Bayeux)
[personal profile] selenak
As if rl politics weren't infuriating and depressing enough, Netflix goes and cancels Sense 8. Boo. I might have critiqued various s2 elements recently, but that didn't mean I didn't enjoy the show overall, and I definitely want more of it.

On to shows still ongoing, with past seasons I marathoned in recent weeks.

I, Zombie, season 2: was good and did not have Veronica Mars's s2 problems. They even found an in-story reason for Blaine to be still around, and Max Rager as the season's main villain made for suspense and a satisfying finale. I'm a little torn on the repeat fake-outs - "has Major become a serial killer for hire? No, he's freezing these people to save them from Max Rager!" "Is Drake just a killer for hire? No, he's really an undercover cop!", but otoh, Major going from dedicated social worker to assassin for hire (albeit under blackmail) really would have destroyed any character plausibility, and as for Drake, I appreciate that the show makes Olivia's alternate love interests, i.e. him and Lowell so far, likeable and not secret jerks, though given both their tragic endings, Liv must increasingly wonder whether celibacy or Major are the only save options for her.

Liv's interactions with her non-romantic friends, though, is where it's at for me, and Ravi and Clive both continue to be delights (with Clive finally finding out the big secret in the last but one episode and sacrificing his romance with snarky FBI agent because of it, woe). Though I must say, Ravi, great as he is otherwise, is starting to lose points with me because early in the season, you have him ending things with his girlfriend because she's too much into him, and then at times it seems he spends the rest of the seaon complaining that he can't get a girlfriend and that nice guys finish last.

While we're complaining: if a show has its main character(s) eat brains on a regular basis, it really defies logic to get squeamish about cut off hands (from a dead body). That was such an obvious plot device so Liv and Major were long enough at the party to be spotted by Clive.

Lastly: given the Gilda/Rita shoutout, I want Rob Thomas to give us a character next season who is moonlighting under the name of Charlie Kane while really being called Orson.

The Last Kingdom, season 2: covering two of Cornwell's novels in one season, I hear, which explains the sometimes breathless pace, but it worked for me. Even Uthred going through slavery in all of one episode. Possibly because said episode was so anti cliché. You're going in expecting until then cocksure hero Uthred to become the Danish-Saxon Spartacus, and/or make his quick escape, but no. Instead, the relentless powerlessness, degradation, near-starvation and having to watch a trusted friend who was only with him because he believed in Uthred cruelly die break him, and his slavery ends not with him saving himself or rousing the other slaves to liberation, but with his friends of old rescueing him. For a show that founds part of its appeal to its audience on its hero being a swordsman and battle winner outfighting nearly everyone else, this is as revolutionary as Picard actually seeing five lights was back in ye early 90s. Also, it was caped by the sublime scene between Hild and Uthred afterwards.

I must admit I was a bit worried we'd get an Uhtred/Hild romance early on, when he made a pass, but no. It was ic for him to try, it was equally ic for her to laugh it off, and instead they were and remained comrades and confidants, which was lovely to watch. The female characters in general were doing well in this season. The ones surviving from s1 - Hild, in her few appearances Brida, and to my great and pleased surprise Alfred's queen Aelswith, who was in s1 depicted almost relentlessly as a hostile and mostly silent presence (with the notable exception of a scene she had with Hild), but in s2 instead was an important and vocal player, with her marriage to Alfred being presented as strong in a show, not tell way. And the new female characters, Uthred's second wife Gisela and the now and hence recast teenage Princess Aethelflaed. (Considering that she's a major character in the one of Cornwall's Saxon novels I had actually read before the show, I had beein hoping for this.) Aethelflaed's story this season is a bit standard Young Princess like (though the relevant tropes are well executed), but since I know who she'll become, I didn't mind, and the actress gets across she has smarts and strength.

Uthred's goal of getting his paternal lands back still doesn't get much progress this season, due to a combination of villainous scheming by one of the early s2 antagonists with his evil uncle and Alfred, after having sponsored the Uhtred rescue by Hild and Ragnar, blackmailing him back into his service. Given that the tense Uthred-Alfred relationship is a core dynamic of the show, I must say I approve. ("It is customary to kneel" - okay, Alfred, that is just feeding everyone's kinks.)

Having talked with [profile] sonetka recently about many historical fiction's tendencies to strip historical characters meant as sympathetic heroes of all non-sympathetic period biases and endow them with current day pleasing attitudes instead, I continue to be convince Alfred lucked out by NOT being Bernard Cornwell's pov character and creator's pet, because that way he's that rare thing, a historical character not written/presented as the villain who in addition to displaying virtues (intelligence, vision, endurance, strong affection for family members) gets to display the full ninth century religiosity mixed in with some ruler paranoia and ruthlessness. It makes him a far richer character, and David Dawson continues to excel in the role. Mind you, Alfred, along with everyone else, is in an awful position in the last third of the show, where the series pulls off a trope that could have gone wrong so easily and instead keeps it complex.

It's this: character the audience and regular characters like/love is kidnapped and threatened with terrible fate. Ransom of character would come at terrible price to many more characters. Now, when, say, BTVS did this the first time, it was a non-issue (Willow versus the box in s3; the narrative clearly meant Wesley to be utterly in the wrong when argueing against it, though with Wesley's change of status via several seasons of character development over at AtS, that arguement retrospectively gains more layers), and when the trope was used more seriously, in the s5 finale, the narrative sympathy was still with Buffy refusing to even consider sacrificing her sister (though it also made the point that faced with two bad alternatives, she characteristically finds a third way). Otoh more grimdark narratives in the last decade have gone through with the "sacrifice" solutiion. What The Last Kingdom does that feels so narratively rewarding is to present the two opposing povs as valid and understandable. Odda arguing that ransoming Aethelflaed would destroy Wessex isn't written as callous or unfeeling, but valid, and additionally backed with with the audience's (and Alfred's) awareness that Odda didn't just talk the talk, he walked the walk by having killed his own son for his country in the previous season finale. It's even more backed up by Odda pointing out, by individual examples, to the people of Wessex who'd already been through one invasion, lost family members in batlte, are now expected to bleed financially dry for the ransom and then will be asked for their lives facing another invading army financed by said ransom. Otoh Aethelflaed's fate, should she not be ransomed, won't be death but public gang rape in every Dane-ruled town, which is ghastly enough that Alfred's "no way, never, and also, no" reaction is also completely understandable. (The way Dawson plays it, you can also see that Alfred sees the reasons Odda lists all too clearly and would in all other cases agree to them, but in this particular case, he just can't, and trying to find a rational justification of why he can't is rarely unconvincing.)

Now I had expected the obvious way out - Uhtred to the rescue; what I HADN'T expected was that the narrative climax to this storyline isn't the escape (suspensefully executed as that was) or the ensuing battle (which in another anti-cliché knocked Uthred out of commission early on), but what happens with Odda afterwards, the way the finale would position him as the tragic hero and saviour of Wessex and validate his big gamble of forcing Alfred into battle. Destiny is all, indeed. I really hope we'll get another season of what has become an excellent ensemble show. That Netflix is the one to decide this now has me worried...
Anonymous( )Anonymous This account has disabled anonymous posting.
OpenID( )OpenID You can comment on this post while signed in with an account from many other sites, once you have confirmed your email address. Sign in using OpenID.
Account name:
If you don't have an account you can create one now.
HTML doesn't work in the subject.


Notice: This account is set to log the IP addresses of everyone who comments.
Links will be displayed as unclickable URLs to help prevent spam.


selenak: (Default)

October 2017

1 2 3456 7
89 1011121314

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated 17 October 2017 18:29
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios