In Memoriam: Character Death’s I’m Still Not Over

(A pretty big and obvious SPOILER WARNING applies)

Over the years television has become bolder, brasher.  Bold moves such as huge plot changing twists often include deaths of beloved characters. Some character deaths are minor, only contributing a bit of heartache moving forward on a show. Some character deaths are so big that their repercussions can be felt throughout the remainder of a series.

Death’s can also be silly and contrived, only serving as a plot device to move other characters or story in a certain direction.  A death of a beloved character can spark heated debate and opinions.  Though most shows on television today utilize death as a plot point, some just leave us wondering.

Kol Mikaelson (The Vampire Diaries – Season 4) – Season three of The Vampire Diaries introduced us to the entirety of the Mikaelson clan, including brothers Finn and Kol. Eldest brother Finn, devoted to ending his and his siblings “miserable” lives as vampires, posed a threat not only to the protagonists of the show, but the rest of the Mikaelson family as well. His kol1death was swift but necessary. Youngest brother Kol, though, showed vital signs of excitement and a touch of trouble when undaggered and reunited with his family. He quickly became a fan favorite; his cute and mischievous ways were a welcome addition to the sometimes bland main characters. His all too controversial death in season four came after Elena and Jeremy White Oak-staked him, producing an outcry on social media. Not only was his death sloppy and heartbreaking, it also produced a vampire genocide that really didn’t seem to have much effect on the characters consciences or the vampire world moving into future seasons.

Death seems to be taken with a grain of salt when it comes to The Vampire Diaries. Characters constantly perish and are reborn again, one way or another. No season truly displayed this act more than season five, where some of our favorites characters, including Elena, Stefan, Alaric, and newcomer Enzo were resurrected from “The Other Side.” Accordingly, TVD introduced its popular new spin-off, The Originals, which centers on the Mikaelsons and their troubles in New Orleans.   Every opportunity to resurrect Kol was given, especially after the season one finale of TO, where patriarch Mikael, matriarch and witch Esther, and brother Finn were all brought back into the land of the living one way or another. Kol still remains the one permanently dead Original. His loss is still felt and debated.

peterrussoPeter Russo (House of Cards – Season 1) – The inaugural season of House of Cards not only brought some of the best small screen produced drama, but it introduced viewers to a bevy of new and exciting characters. Fans of the show rooted for Pennsylvania Congressman Peter Russo and his struggle with drug and alcohol addiction. He was a good guy who couldn’t settle or overcome his upbringing, an underdog from a rough home and it showed. That didn’t stop him from being one of season one’s best characters. Frank Underwood’s mission to turn Peter’s life around for his own gain was manipulative, though necessary for Russo. A good kick in the proverbial ass would straighten him out and put him on the straight and narrow. Unfortunately, Underwood’s determinations wavered and Russo became more of a hindrance to our main character. Frank and his team manipulated Russo into a relapse, ruining his chances in office. The final act came when Russo, high, drunk, and down on his luck, confided in Frank. Frank sat back and watched his mentee slip, delivering his final act as he let Russo die of asphyxiation in a locked, garaged car. Russo’s death signified the gritty tone of House of Cards, introducing audiences to the real Frank Underwood. But Peter’s loss was felt through season two, leaving fans of his to struggle with whom to root for.

Tom Shayes (Damages – Season 3) – Similar to Frank Underwood was Patty Hewes. A powerful, successful New York City lawyer who didn’t let anything or anyone stand in her way. Patty tomshayeswasn’t afraid to take the more immoral path when it came to fighting for a win. The high-powered woman had many enemies and many people who were ready to destroy her and her associates. Patty’s right-hand man and partner, Tom Shayes, suffered the brunt of her misdeeds. Tom fought for his place by Patty’s side, turning down amazing offers and opportunities for an easier life with his family. Tom’s loyalties to Patty delivered him the ultimate sacrifice – his life. Entangled in a high-profiled case with proven dangerous people, Tom was murdered trying to do the right thing, fighting to save Patty and the firm. Although his death was presented as the main mystery of season three, his final minutes on screen didn’t make his death any easier. His loss was evident through out the rest of the series, as it never really did recoup after such a huge character loss.

nealonceNeal Cassidy/Baelfire (Once Upon a Time – Season 3) – One would think that the son of the all-powerful Rumpelstiltskin would be the last on the list of characters that would meet a deadly fate. Another show that plays with death like a toy, many other Once characters had experienced temporary death — the loss of their heart, being cursed, and being brought back to life with true loves kiss. Season three’s Zelena (The Wicked Witch) would prove to be the gang’s biggest foe, causing heartbreak and bloodshed in her wake. This terrorizing beauty made sure no one stood in her way, including Rumpel. The expanded family paid the ultimate price when Belle helped a grief-stricken Neal try to find a way to bring back his father from his own sacrifice. Regrettably, this meant sacrificing a life for a life as the two were tricked into resurrecting Rumpel only for Neal’s life to be taken in the process. The Dark One tried everything in his power to bring back his son, but Zelena’s magic and havoc was too strong. Neal begged to be let go of, to die a hero – and that’s what he did. Not only was Neal one of the best additions to the show, but he also showed a true chemistry with Emma, son Henry, and the rest of Storybrooke. His death came too soon as Michael Raymond-James’s series regular status on the show only lasted one season. The potential was wasted for his character and growth as his death only served as an easy plot device to later move Emma and Captain Hook closer to each other.

Mitchell (Being Human UK – Series 3) – Supernatural shows are no strangers to death, but when that death is of a main character it’s jarring, nonetheless. The UK version of Being Human saw a huge shift in character and story after its third season. One of the only shows to successfully transition into an entirely new cast, the loss of the first group of supernatural aidanbhentities living in a house together was still traumatic. Vampire [John] Mitchell had been on a long and hard road to overcome his blood addiction. Constantly struggling to be as human as possible and do the right thing, the charming vamp relapsed and fought his way through his urges with the help of werewolf best friend George and ghost girlfriend Annie. Mitchell’s ultimate sacrifice came when a faction of vampires were gearing up to take control. It was either Mitchell join them or subject himself to a fate worse than death.   In the Being Human world there was no afterlife for the soulless vampires and Mitchell knew that to save his roommates and loved ones he would have to help stop the war before it began. He had taken part in the murder of an entire train of innocent humans and had given into his most basic vampiric urges. But he had fallen in love, making every effort to pick himself up again, and giving his life for the ones he cared for most would be his final act. Faced with the choice of killing his best friend or die himself, George made his most gut wrenching decision as he delivered a stake into Mitchell’s chest. The loss of Mitchell was so big and painful that the rest of the original cast exited soon after, making way for a new group of supernatural roomies. Mitchell’s was the first of a handful of big moves for the UK edition that still makes one tear up to this day.

Henry Durham (Being Human US – Season 3) – It’s hard to mourn and move on from a character’s death, especially when said character didn’t even perish on screen. Aidan’s progeny, Henry, was a great addition to the US version of Being Human in its second season. He was compelling and easy on the eyes. We watched as Aidan struggled to rebuild a kyle2relationship with the “son” he had banished almost a hundred years earlier. Aidan struggled to keep himself cemented in the human and vampire worlds and Henry struggled for acceptance from his maker and the vampire community that had exiled him. Season three found most of the Boston vampires dead, wiped out by a horrible virus that only knocked humans into bed for a few days. The vampire flu was unavoidable, but Aidan helped himself and Henry from feeding off of tainted blood. Henry, though, would prove he wasn’t as strong as his maker. The vampire couldn’t control his hunger, feeding on diseased blood and contracting the fatal illness. Henry’s final speech to Aidan was his goodbye as he reminded his “father” that they were vampires, not humans. Henry walked off, letting the virus take him. Except, viewers never watched Henry die; Henry walked off, presumably turning into a pile of dust. But this was a character who had proved his survival skills, a trait Aidan made sure to remind his vampire son of over and over again. It’s hard to accept a characters death when their final moments aren’t even seen on screen and they have a history of making surprise entrances. Unfortunately, Being Human ended after its fourth season and it’s still unknown if Henry ever did miraculously survive the vampire flu.

cyril1Cyril O’Reily (Oz – Season 6) – On a show that centers around America’s toughest criminals, it wouldn’t shock anyone when shady goings on in a prison takes out one of its own. Fortunately for Oz, they built a series with a plethora of different and intriguing characters that one couldn’t help but root for. No character showed more compassion than Cyril O’Reily, Ryan O’Reily’s mentally handicapped brother. Cyril had been commissioned by Ryan to murder Gloria Nathan’s husband and Cyril, who could only comprehend at the mental capacity of a five year old, easily complied. The otherwise sympathetic Cyril was willing to do anything his brother asked of him. Cyril’s actions landed him straight in Oz and he became one of the most likable characters within a cast of degenerates. Cyril’s accidental but deadly actions in prison landed him on death row; the poor man couldn’t comprehend that he had made fatal mistakes. No appeals or a mental institution could help Cyril and in the show’s final episode and one of the shows more disturbing acts, Cyril was given the death penalty. This devastating final act was also one of the shows strongest moments. It showed how corrupt the prison system is and how even the most soulless of characters could have heart.

Tommy Merlyn (Arrow – Season 1) – Oliver Queen’s playboy best friend, Tommy, not only rose above his childish, egotistical ways, but also showed viewers that, indeed, a person can tommymerlynchange. Although his relationship with his best friends ex came off as less than honorable at first, Tommy and Laurel Lance worked. Her stern demeanor and his care free views on life fit together, evening each other out in a way that made more sense than former beau Oliver and Laurel. Tommy overcame his spoiled upbringing and although it took a little push by his father, Tommy learned that hard work really does pay off. Tommy proved himself as a formidable character and presented himself as a sweet and charming brother type, not only protecting Thea, but holding onto Oliver’s double life as The Arrow a secret all the way to his grave. Tommy’s untimely death at the end of season one was a shocker that changed the course of many characters lives moving forward on the show. His absence was felt as Thea learned that Malcolm was, in fact, her biological father and as Oliver continued to take on the evil in Starling City.

mikeehrMike Ehrmantraut (Breaking Bad – Season 5A) – Perhaps a turning point for Walter White and the series as a whole was the accidental death of Mike.  In a desperate attempt to procure the names of the men who worked for Gus and his operation, Walt fatally shot Mike in the former hitmans attempt to flee town.  Walt’s shot was purely accidental as he only meant to scare the elder partner.  Though Mike was by no means a “good” guy, he showed a ton of heart, especially in scenes depicting him and his young granddaughter.  All the money Mike had been earning through Gus and Walt had been put away into savings for young Kaylee.  Unfortunately, with the arrest of one of his men and the discovery of Walt’s true character, the money was seized into evidence.  To this day, Mike remains one of the best characters Breaking Bad has ever created.  With the announcement that his portrayer, Jonathan Banks, would be joining the prequel spin-off, Better Call Saul, fans don’t have to mourn his death too much longer.

himymTracy McConnell (How I Met Your Mother – Season 9) – As depicted many times, a character death as a use of a plot device can prove infuriating and sloppy. No plot device was as obvious as the death of the titular character of How I Met Your Mother. Fan’s tuned in for nine years to finally meet the mother of Ted Mosby’s children, the love of his life. Tracy, who had been introduced in the finale of the eighth season, came to be adored and loved by viewers. She was smart, funny, and was the perfect match for the love inept Ted. Tracy and Ted were perfect for each other – soul mates. But that hadn’t been HIMYM’s long-standing plan. The plan from the beginning was for Ted and Robin to constantly play the “are they, aren’t they game,” going back and forth on whether they were meant to be together or not. Robin seemed happy with playboy Barney and Ted was growing and moving on in his life. But Tracy’s death served as the final blow to the series. Ted had spent nine years telling his children the story of how he met their mother, but it was really just a journey as to how he was rediscovering his love for their Aunt Robin. The series took nine years of great character growth, story, and suspense and flushed it down the toilet. By turning the mother into a device and having Tracy fall ill and die, the series ruined what it had stood for since the beginning.

Honorable Mentions: Bobby Singer and Kevin Tran (Supernatural), Zoe Barnes (House of Cards), Allison Argent (Teen Wolf), Robb, Catelynn, and Ned Stark (Game of Thrones), Debra Morgan (Dexter), Mike Delfino (Desperate Housewives), Everyone (Six Feet Under).

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The Five Best Suits on Television

Call me shallow, call me simple, but there is nothing I enjoy more than a well dressed television character.  It doesn’t take much for an actor/actress to be dressed flawlessly on the small screen as wardrobe budgets usually allow for the finer threads in life.  Designer clothing is a staple across television. However, it takes a special person to pull off the classic look of the suit.  So, who does wear the best suits on television? That’s a tough one as so many shows on television today feature characters donning the professional staple.

5. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) – Hannibal 

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????If there’s one thing Dr. Hannibal Lecter is good at, besides murdering and cooking folk up for a delicious dinner, it’s wearing a suit.  Mikkelsen’s take on the infamous serial killer is so chilling and frightening it’s easy to forget you’re watching an actor on a television show.  If he has to murder and eat peeps, at least he can look impeccable while doing so.

4. Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) – House of Cards

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Not far behind in the calculating, murdering character pattern of wearing dapper suits is none other than (SPOILER) Vice President Frank Underwood.  This White House master manipulator always looks handsome.  You don’t know whether to root for him or against him as he unapologetically fights for power.

3. Rafael Barba (Raul Esparza) – Law and Order: SVU

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Over 15 seasons, SVU has gone through a handful of ADA’s.  None have looked as good in a suit, tie, and suspenders as Rafael Barba.  What makes Esparza’s appearance even more delectable is the pop of color his character isn’t afraid to sport.  Pink, purple, pastels, you name it and this ADA is ready to wear it. He may be one of the best additions to the SVU cast in recent years purely for his characters likableness, but looking damn good while arguing through a case doesn’t hurt.

2. Elijah Mikaelson (Daniel Gillies) – The Originals/The Vampire Diaries

Bringing Out the Dead

The TV vampire looked so damn good in a suit that the creators of The Vampire Diaries centered an entire spin off around it.  Okay, I may be exaggerating, but Daniel Gillies’ portrayal of Elijah Mikaelson did spark the creators of the show to keep him around, tie him into some important plots, and lead them to ultimately create the shows popular spin off, The Originals.  Elijah has flawlessly worn a suit, his signature look, continuously on both shows.  It’s become an eye candy staple for fans.

1. Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) – Parks and Recreation

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Okay, okay.  Enough with all these men.  It’s time for a badass, suit wearing woman.  Good thing she also falls in the number one spot because she looks so perfect in a suit.  Leslie Knope could out suit even the smartest of men.  She is strong, independent, and looks beautiful while kicking butt and taking names within the Pawnee government.

My Day at House of Cards

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(Events of this post took place on Thursday, July 11, 2013 and contains mild spoilers for season 2.)

It’s no secret, one of my new favorite shows is Netflix’s House of Cards.  So, when I found out the second season would be holding an open casting call, I had to go.  I was even more surprised when I received a phone call from the casting agency asking if I would be available to be an extra on the show.  I immediately said yes.

The night before I received my call time and holding location, as well as all the information regarding the filming for that day.  Luckily the show was shooting close to my house.  With my call time set for 6:30 AM and my role secured as a “Reenactment Visitor,” I hardly slept a wink that night.

I woke up at 5 AM, slightly nervous but also more excited than I wanted to admit.  A million things rushed through my mind:  What if I got to watch Kevin Spacey film? A living acting legend and one of my all time favorite actors.  What kinds of “spoilers” would I witness?  The first season ended with several cliffhangers that anything was possible.  Then it dawned on me, there may be a chance I wouldn’t see Kevin Spacey or any others from the flawless cast.  For all I knew they were just shooting establishing shots and background scenes.

I got to the extra/crew parking lot around 6:15 AM.  Vans were there, ready to take us to the actual holding area/set at Patapsco Valley State Park.  As we entered the big, empty park, nothing seemed out of the ordinary.  As we continued down a small road, though, trailers, filming equipment and various crew members became visible.  The park itself was set up as an reenactment event.  The van dropped us off at the top of a hill where we walked down to a series of tents.  A plethora of men were dressed in civil war garb, armed with guns and everything.  We were escorted through the tents to the very back, where the extras holding was.  It was crowded, at least two hundred people, and loud.  The production assistants made sure to keep everything together, though, and called for certain groups of extras: reenactors, press, secret service, visitors, etc.

I put my stuff down and was almost immediately escorted to wardrobe.  We were assigned to dress for spring: I wore a black skater dress with a jean jacket and flats.  We had also been advised to bring an extra change of clothes if wardrobe didn’t approve of what we were wearing.  I didn’t even stand before the costumer for ten seconds before he said I looked good and cleared me.

A production assistant then escorted a group of us who were approved and ready to go.  We saw the people in charge of props; some people got items like cameras, fake guns, etc.  and then we walked down a road, into a woodsy area, where the scene was set.  We walked past fake stands for concessions and games and were lead to two sets of bleachers.  Most of the people in the reenactment costumes were already on set.  They stood lined up on different sides, depending on which side of the battle they represented.

The visitors were instructed to sit in the bleachers.  We had full view of the scene in front of us with all the reenactors.  At the head, a small, ribboned off, mound of dirt stood.  I was still unsure of who from the cast would be involved with this scene.  My hopes perked up again at the hearing of a group of actors playing secret service.  I sat on the bleachers with a group of other extras and we chatted for a little.  It was still very early (not even 7 AM yet) and I had yet to eat or drink anything (and was slowly regretting that decisions).

Shortly after, the director showed up.  He talked to a group of others and that’s when I got my first glimpse: Michael Kelly, who plays Frank’s right hand man, Doug Stamper, dressed in jeans and a simple white t-shirt.  My heart started to beat faster.  Michael had me excited enough, as I’m a fan of everyone on the show, but my emotions were piqued as right behind him, in similar clothing but with a baseball cap walked in Mr. Kevin Spacey.  I tried to contain my emotions.  I felt lucky to be there.  I would be seeing Mr. Spacey’s impeccable acting as the ruthless Frank Underwood up close and in person.

Kevin and Michael were walked through the scene and then escorted to get ready in costume and make up.  In the mean time, they had a group of stand-ins for each key actor, who were blocked and walked through the scene as well.  We watched them set up the scene for about an hour.  Kevin, Michael, and the other actors came back all ready to go.  They looked like they had hopped right off the screen.

hoc1The scene unfolded as such: Frank was to give a speech to us about the ground breaking for the Overland Campaign Center (what the park had been transformed into) and then break earth for its inauguration.  During the speech Stamper receives a phone call and turns his back for a moment.  After Frank’s speech is over, he instructs us in the stands and the reenactors to bow our heads for a moment of silence.  He kneels and buries a ring in the ground.  As he stands and thanks us, we all clap.  At this time Stamper walks over to him and whispers something in his ear.  I believe the line is: “we got him.” or something to that effect.  Frank doesn’t bat an eye as he turns towards the crowd of reenactors and salutes them.  They salute him back and end scene.

They shot that scene for five hours.  Different takes, different angles.  Mr. Spacey seemed to be enamored by the two horses brought to set.  He would walk over to them between takes, petting them and feeding them grass.  It was very endearing to see him go from such a manipulative and stern character back to his animal loving self.  Michael Kelly was the real stand out to me in terms of personality.  He was constantly joking with Kevin and the other actors around him and hugged several crew members through out the day.  At one point when he exited for a break he stopped by us and gave us a thumbs up, asking if we were all doing well.  It was very sweet of him and he seemed to really enjoy everything and everyone.

As it was nearing lunch time and they were capturing their last angles of the scenes, we all started to become a little restless.  We had been sitting on the same, hard wooded bleachers for hours now.  Some extras would go up and get food and go to the bathroom and the crew was very caring and attentive, constantly bringing us water.  In the early morning they had brought over some Gatorade, which had sparked me awake.  At one point I went to explore with two other girls for the food. We came across a table but accidentally took food from the crew/SAG table but none of the crew standing around seemed upset about it (sorry!).

One of the last angles was an up close shot.  Frank’s lines were unimportant to the shot so Kevin would continuously repeat the first few words “Today we break ground (or earth, depending on the take he would switch up words).”  One of the last shots, he said “Today we break wind,” which got all of out spirits up as we all let out a roaring laugh.  It was nice that Mr. Spacey was trying to lighten the mood after being outside in the woods, surrounded by bugs and falling rain for five hours.

Around 12:45 we were escorted back to holding for lunch.  It was catered and everything (and good too!). The background actors ate the same food the crew/main cast did which was nice.  We weren’t treated as lowly extras.  We ate for about forty-five minutes before we were taken back to set.  This time the scene was different.  A small stage with a podium was set up and that’s when I witnessed my first real spoiler of the day: the podium had a “Vice President” seal on the front.  This was not shocking as the first season ended with Frank being offered the Vice President nomination, but to anyone who hadn’t watched the entire season yet, it was a shocker.

This time I sat on the opposite set of bleachers, which happened to be right beside the podium.  Kevin, Michael, and all the other actors were escorted back to set to begin setting up.  I was even closer to Mr. Spacey this time, a hands reach away, which was very exciting.  The whole scene was even more riveting to watch, as this was one of Frank’s cut away, direct camera monologues, which is a notable and unique aspect of House of Cards.

Frank gave a short speech, we clapped, and he walked off the podium, looking directly into the camera as he began his little blurb.  We did this scene for another several hours.  It was more exciting this time since there was a chance I would actually be on camera for this part.  Besides all of us once again becoming uncomfortable in our seats and starting to get a little impatient as the day went on, we all joked and kept our spirits up.  At one point in between scene set ups, one of the camera operators came over to chat with us.  I asked him which episode they were currently shooting and he couldn’t remember if it was five or six.  It was really nice of him when he came back later just to confirm that it was episode five.  This surprised me since they had only started filming in late May, I had only thought it would be episode two or three.

mehocThe last scene we did was one where Frank watched the reenactment in progress.  The podium was moved directly in front of us, a few feet away, and had Frank and several others now sitting by his side.  Our set of bleachers were instructed to react to the reenactment.  We did this a few times, the first one not animated enough, the second one too animated, and the third one was perfect.  I joked with the people around me that we would all be collectively nominated for an Emmy for our reaction shots.

After this scene, they wrapped up Mr. Spacey for the day.  We all gave him a round of applause and he waved at us in thanks.  He was very professional the entire time but was able to lighten up in between the seriousness of the scenes and seemed very much into his work, asking questions when he needed clarification and even giving suggestions to the director, which he gladly accepted.  It was amazing to see him in action.

We stayed around for about two hours longer.  They were setting up a shot to capture the reenactment but after a while they decided they didn’t need the background actors and after twelve and a half hours of sitting outside in the woods, we were wrapped.  The director and crew thanked us and we all were excited to finally stretch, walk, and sit on something that wasn’t a bleacher.

Overall the experience was exhausting but one I wouldn’t trade.  One that I would mostly likely say “yes” to again.

The Five Stages of Binge Watching

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Welcome to 2013.  The year of Netflix, the year of streaming, and the year where it’s become socially acceptable to shut yourself out from the world and devote yourself to an entire series of a television show.  The new phenomenon, known as “binge watching,” has become easier than ever.  What? You mean you haven’t finished an entire season of a television show in one day yet? Get on board!

More times than not, binge watches lead to addiction and even an obsession.  One does not simply binge watch a show they dislike – unless it’s some form of new age torture (I may be onto something…).  We’ve become enthralled with television shows, treating characters and stories like our own kin.

Stage 1: Curiosity

“You need to watch [name of superawesomeyoucan’tmiss television show] immediately!” Okay, I guess. Let me just Google some information about it, see if it really is all that.  Hmm…looks interesting and I do like the actors.  I guess I’ll watch the first episode, if I don’t like it I don’t have to continue watching.  No harm done, right?

Stage 2: Apprehension

Oh no, the first episode was SO GOOD.  What do I do now?  I don’t have time to start a new show.  I work two jobs, I sometimes pretend to socialize with people, AND I just finished show Y last week.  How could I fit new show X into my life? But I need to know what happens.  I need to know who lives, who has sex, and what that dead man was doing in a bathtub! What do I do?

Stage 3: Acceptance

It’s okay, Erin.  You’ll watch episodes on the weekends, on your lunch break, in between social obligations.  The show is too good to stop now, you can do it! You did it before and you can do it again.  Just accept that fate wants you to watch this amazing show.  You love the characters, the story lines, and the drama.  You can even write about it in your blog when all is said and done – give your binge watch a little bit of meaning.

Stage 4: Isolation

No, I can’t go grocery shopping now! There’s only two episodes left in the first season AND I NEED TO KNOW HOW IT ENDS. Plus, Netflix says the next episode will start in fourteen seconds!  I can’t just stop watching on a cliffhanger! Another hour won’t mean anything. Can you please close my door? I need complete silence right now and I can’t have you asking me questions every minute. What? You want me to come to your birthday party? I haven’t showered in two days, I haven’t even talked to anyone, how do social skills work again? This show is so amazing.  Maybe I’ll find someone at the party who watches it too and we can cry about it together!  How long have I been at the party now? two hours.  I wonder if I can quietly bow out and no one will notice.  Two hours is long enough.  Season two is waiting in my queue, calling my name.  See you guys in three weeks!

Stage 5: Addiction

Have you watched show X!? YOU HAVEN’T? IT’S SO AMAZING.  I can’t talk to anyone who hasn’t watched it yet.  I spent six hours on Tumblr last night learning everything about the show.  I even wrote my own fan fiction!  Just because the actors weren’t gay on the show doesn’t mean that they didn’t secretly want to be together!  Did you know that the guy and the girl are dating in real life!? Ohmygod, cutest couple ever! I can’t wait for them get married and have babies, it will be just like on the show! Did you see they also are maybe going to make a movie about it? That’s a Kickstarter I would give money to.  I hope it never gets cancelled, how could it? It’s too good! All the actors deserve Emmy’s STAT.  WHAT DO YOU MEAN THEY WEREN’T NOMINATED!? ROBBED. ALL OF THEM ROBBED.  WTF IS WRONG WITH HOLLYWOOD? Do you guys like my new shirt? it’s from Show X, it’s the company logo they all work for! Just watch the first episode, I promise you’ll like it!

(In case you don’t think this is real: I did, in fact, watch 177 episodes of Supernatural in a four week time span.  Oops.)

Summer Watch List

Remember those hot summer days when we had nothing to do for two (or more) months but relax, sit indoors in the air-conditioning (or outdoors, if that’s your thing), and spend countless hours doing nothing? Well, maybe that’s still true for the lucky few of you.  Me on the other hand, I like to pretend those are still my summers.  I like the spend my down time doing something people don’t really consider too crazy anymore: binge watch television shows.

This summer I’ve binged watched six shows so far, with a few more up on the docket.  Some shows I watched for the very first time and some shows I watched all the way through for my second (or third, shhh, don’t judge me) time.  All of these shows come high on my list of recommendations.  So, without further ado, I bring you:

Erin’s Summer Watch List 

The New Shows

orphanblackOrphan Black (BBC Aamerica): #CloneClub for life! Orphan Black is by far the number one show I’ve recommended to people over the past few months.  I’ve been trying to convert as many members to the “Clone Club” as possible.  In short, the show centers around a girl named Sarah who discovers that she is, you guessed it, a clone!  Sound kind of cheesy? It’s not. This BBC America sci-fi show boasts some of the best acting I’ve seen from one person (still pressed over Tatiana Maslany’s Emmy snub).  The supporting cast is just as talented and the show does an amazing job at making you believe that Maslany is actually seven+ clones.  The show has ended its ten episode freshman season and is poised to be back in 2014 for season two.

Hannibal (NBC): This show came to my attention after the members of ONTD fawned over the series throughout its first season run.  I was apprehensive at first since a second season for the show hung by a thread for a few months.  I didn’t want to get completely enamored by the show if it wasn’t going to continue on.  The series is fashioned from the infamous Hannibal hannibalLecter character and books, focusing on protagonist Will Graham.  Graham, a criminal profiler with a “gift” to emotionally understand serial killers, befriends psychiatrist Lecter after they are brought in to work together on a case.  The relationship becomes tumultuous as Lecter begins manipulating Graham and taking advantage of his special skills.  The show is equal parts creepy and thought provoking.  For NBC, the series could also be considered pretty gory, not taking away from the horror that is Dr. Hannibal Lecter. Mads Mikkelsen (Lecter) and Hugh Dancy (Graham) lead a talented bunch of convincing actors.

Orange is the New Black (Netflix): During the writing of this blog I decided to give OITNB a shot after hearing rave reviews from everyone who had watched.  My one episode trial turned into a full oitnbseason binge watch. The show is based off of the real life accounts of Piper, a white, affluent, woman who gets sentenced to a fifteen month prison stay after her past catches up with her.  Piper, though, can be considered the “Trojan horse” of the show as the assemble of diverse women are just as largely focused on throughout the thirteen episode first season.  Each character becomes relatable through flashbacks.  Every woman does an excellent job of bringing just the right amount of pain and sympathy to their characters.  In the end, it’s hard not to root for almost all of them.

New-ish Shows

New Girl (FOX): If you asked me to watch a random episode of a show when its right smack dab in the middle of its season I would probably laugh at you.  Not because I don’t trust your judgment on shows, but because I like to start fresh from the beginning so I’m not left newgirlasking a million questions.  Fortunately in this case I have some pushy friends who insisted I would love New Girl.  They were right.  After watching a random episode in the middle of the second season, I fell in love with the sophomore show.  I continued to watch all the way to the season finale of the second season and then went back to the beginning and marathoned the whole series to date.  The show is charming, funny, and ridiculous.  Quirky Jess moves into an apartment with three very different guys who are all best friends.  What ensues is your typical Zooey Deschanel comedy, but the show has a lot of heart.  The relationship between Jess and her roommate Nick (Jake Johnson) is really what sealed the deal for me.  The FOX comedy is an easy watch that will suck you in.

Re-watches

hocHouse of Cards (Netflix): This re-watch came only a few months after I first watched the Netflix hit’s first season.  I had the lucky opportunity to be an extra on the show (filmed in and around my home city) and experience the amazing production of the political thriller.  Kevin Spacey (now nominated for an Emmy for his role) plays House Majority Whip Frank Underwood.  What ensues throughout the show is a whirlwind of dark manipulation through Washington D.C. and its politics.  Spacey takes the lead with an outstanding supporting cast that will have you crying buckets by seasons end.  The second season will be available next year on Netflix and is sure to bring even more craziness than the first season.  (side note: You can also catch me as “sweaty background extra #48” in season 2, episode 5 next year!)

Being Human US (Syfy): I think I’ve spoken about this show ad nauseam by now, which is funny since only several months ago in an earlier blog I referred to the SyFy series as “okay.”  The re-watch of the current three seasons also came on a whim.  I was testing the bhcast2Netflix app out on my iPad and thirty-nine episodes later…well, here I am. The show takes the premise of the beloved UK series and follows the turmoils of a vampire, a werewolf, and a ghost as they try to make their lives human-ish as roommates.  The first season of the US remake takes a handful of storylines from the UK’s first season while adding their own twists to it all to accommodate their thirteen episode seasons.  The show veers in its own direction by season two and season three does an amazing job with their ability to make all characters, main and supporting, compassionate.  It’s also fun to note that the cast regularly interacts with fans through social media, conventions, etc. and is one of the most genuine and hilarious casts of a show I’ve witnessed.

Season Finale Rewind

(warning: contains major spoilers for a handful of television shows)

The 2012-2013 television season has come to a close.  Some shows said goodbye for their last time (RIP 30 Rock) and some finished up their first season with the hopes of a new tomorrow (what up, The Following).  There were twists, turns, all around shockers, and moments we’re still saying “WTF!?” to.  Every finale this season had its moments and I give a round of applause to each and every show (even the ones I haven’t had the pleasure to watch yet).  So, with the fall/spring season put to rest and the summer season taking off, I’ve decided to look back at some of the sweet, funny, heartbreaking, and crazy moments showcased in some of this years season finales.

How I (FINALLY) Met Your Mother: Over the course of eight seasons, HIMYM has been an on going, up and down, journey for main character and narrator Ted Mosby and how he met his wife and mother of his kids.  Every episode has essentially been one story closer to the day he met the love of his life.  Ted has been through countless relationships, crazy adventures, and love crisis’, including a continuous on-again, off-again relationship with best friend Robin.  Season eight provided a closure to the Ted/Robin saga as Robin said “yes” to Barney’s marriage proposal.  Even though clues were provided about Ted’s future Mrs. Mosby (she was in the band that played at Barney & Robin’s wedding, she had a yellow umbrella that Ted has passed on the street several times through the years, she was the roommate of a former flame of Ted’s, etc.) viewers still weren’t convinced Robin wasn’t the mother, even up until the season finale.

himymIn the final episode of the season, as all the characters made their final plans before heading out of the city for Robin and Barney’s wedding weekend, Ted lamented to Lily that he was planning to make a permanent move to Chicago, hoping to finally let go of his feelings for Robin and move on.  At the same time, a girl with stylish boots and a guitar made her way through a nearby train station.  As she stood in line for tickets, she set down a signature piece viewers had come to recognize since the first season: a yellow umbrella.  Would this be the final moment? After seasons and seasons of being teased with finally meeting the mother, would viewers finally see her face? The answer was: yes!  HIMYM finally revealed the face behind the umbrella in the last shot of the finale (and I couldn’t be happier about the actress, Cristin Milioti, of Broadway’s Once) and viewers were introduced to the mother.

You get a cliffhanger, you get a cliffhanger, everybody gets a cliffhanger! It’s safe to say that the third season of SyFy’s Being Human was by far its strongest.  With their ability to differentiate themselves from their British counterpart, the show grew into its own this past season.  Not only were viewers taken through the separate journey’s of ghost/zombie Sally, not werewolf and then werewolf again Josh, and vampire Aidan, but a slew of new and interesting characters were introduced including Sally’s boyfriend and boss, Max, and Aidan’s bubble boy and vampire son, Kenny.

beinghuman3The last episode of the season didn’t slow down its twists and turns.  The show introduced some big cliffhangers that would set up each and every characters season four storyline.  Sally was dragged to an unknown dimension by witch/ghost Donna.  Josh, finally turning for the first full moon since being scratched again by pureblood wolf Liam, set off into the woods with new wife Nora for their transformations.  Nora awoke the next morning to find that Josh was still in a wolf state, no longer cursed solely by the full moon. Finally, Aidan tried to move on after refusing to kill now deformed vampire son Kenny and letting him go in the woods (*cough* asshole).  As Adain walked down the beinghuman4crowded streets of Boston, a cab pulled up to a curb.  A beautiful woman stepped out, revealing the same face that viewers had caught a glimpse in flashbacks from over two hundred years ago, Aidan’s thought to be dead, human wife, Suzanna.  Where did Sally go? Was Josh a new breed of wolf? Was it really Aidan’s wife or a doppelgänger? Each storyline left an open end that would redefine each character going into their next season.

Walk of Shame: In the latest season of Showtime’s Shameless, Fiona’s complicated relationship with con man Jimmy/Steve came to a halt.  Jimmy continuously lied to Fiona as he kept up his charade of being married to Estefania, the daughter of a powerful Brazilian mafia head Jimmy had pissed off more than once.  His rules were simple, keep up the ruse of the marriage and Estefania would not get deported back to Brazil and her father would be a happy man.  Unfortunately, Jimmy could not keep up his end of the bargain.  He was hell bent on keeping any and all aspects of his “marriage” a secret from Fiona and the rest of the Gallagher family.  This would cause many fights and breaking points between Fiona and Jimmy, even leading Fiona to develop a closer bond with her boss at her new job.

Jimmy’s plan backfired on him as his struggle to keep his two lives separated came to an end after missing a home inspection from immigration with Estefania, leading to her deportation.  Her father spared no time and made his way back to the states to have a firm and maybe even deadly conversation with Jimmy.  Jimmy’s last shot came as he took his walk of shame onto a large yacht, sealing his fate.  Viewers were unsure whether this shameless3meant his torture, kidnapping, or demise.  Fiona, still unaware of Jimmy’s other life and whereabouts, desperately tried to get in touch with Jimmy as their last interaction had been a huge argument over their future.  She was convinced he had run off, too scared to face his life with Fiona and her family.  She said goodbye to Jimmy for good over one last heartbreaking voice message, “Last message. I promise. Wherever you are…bye.”  Even after the finale, fans were still unsure of Jimmy’s fate.  Creators of the show put the mystery to rest as it was revealed that JimmySteve had in fact been murdered for his wrong doings.  So ended a long and crazy three season relationship between JimmySteve and the Gallagher’s.

doctorwhoWho are you? Who who who who: The finale of Doctor Who ended the season long mystery surrounding new companion Clara Oswald.  After meeting and witnessing Clara’s death not once but twice, in the future and the past, the Doctor was dumbfounded over finding her again in our present day.  How could this girl have died twice?  How could she be alive once more?  All of those questions and more were answered as the Doctor made his way to the forbidden planet of Trenzalore, the Doctor’s final resting place.

In order to save the Doctor, Clara inserted herself into the Doctor’s wibbly wobbly timeline, scattering herself countless times, saving him through out all his different incarnations.  Not only was the mystery of Clara solved but as the Doctor jumped into the the depths of his own timeline in order to save Clara we learned a deep, dark secret even the Doctor had hidden from doctorwho1himself: Another incarnation had existed (presumably before the reboot of the show) and had done something so deplorable and so un-Doctor like that he had regenerated just to hide the memories of this incarnation where no one could find him.  The reveal of the lost Doctor was a way to end the season with a bang and to keep viewers impatient until the long awaited 50th anniversary special scheduled for later in the year.

Quoth The Following, “Nevermore.” A lot of criticism has fallen upon Fox’s baby suspense drama of the season, The Following.  Many found the FBI’s inability to catch escaped murderer and cult leader Joe Carroll ridiculous and the events became too far following1fetched and too crazy for some to handle.  But, that’s why I loved the freshman show.  It was over the top, took crazy to a new level, and had me yelling at my screen several times.  After a long manhunt and with a personal vendetta to end, ex FBI agent Ryan Hardy finally had his chance to take down Carroll once and for all.  And he did.  In a fiery boat house, Ryan let Joe Carroll meet his maker much like many other followers and FBI agents had during the first seasons course.

following2With a serial killer and cult leader dead, Ryan could finally settle down with the woman he loved, Claire (who also happened to be Carroll’s ex-wife and mother of Carroll’s child).  Things were looking up for the couple who had fought so hard to just stay alive.  Ryan took Claire back to his apartment in New York for some R&R only to be met by Ryan’s neighbor and undercover Carroll follower who’s mission was simple: kill Claire.  The season finale ended with Claire’s fate up in the air.  The stab wounds she suffered seemed serious and possibly even fatal.  With Claire’s death looming, what kind of man will alcoholic and already erratic Ryan become? Now that Joe is dead what will happen to his still breathing followers? The first season played out like a long movie, utilizing every trick they could.  A second season will have to be bigger, badder, and even crazier in order to avoid the “sophomore slump.”

Honorable Moment Mentions: Stefan is a doppelgänger to big bad Silas (The Vampire Diaries), Ron Swanson is going to be a daddy (Parks and Recreation), Jenna cheats on Matty (Awkward), The fate of Olivia Benson as she’s locked in her apartment with a serial rapist and sociopath (Law and Order: SVU), Did Norman finally snap and kill his teacher? (Bates Motel)

Special Mention: The Red Wedding (Game of Thrones‘ penultimate episode)

The Originals: I Just Can’t Wait to be King

(note: this post heavily spoils last weeks episode of The Vampire Diaries)

This past Thursday, The CW unveiled a very special episode of their hit show The Vampire Diaries.  This episode, entitled “The Originals,” was meant to serve as a backdoor pilot for a new spinoff series.  The episode focused on the remaining siblings of the original family of vampires, the Mikaelson family: Klaus, Elijah, and Rebekah (even though Rebekah was conveniently absent for most of the episode, still perturbed at Klaus).

Since news broke that the creators and writers of TVD were going to take a stab at a more adult, darker spinoff, I sat idly by, excited over all the possibilities a potential new show could offer.  I was even more excited when they announced this possible show would take place in New Orleans, Louisiana (a city that I’ve been desperate to visit for a long time now).  Not only could the creators explore a new world for these characters, they could incorporate the rich history and culture of New Orleans.

After receiving a tip from fan favorite character, Katherine, that stated witches were conspiring against him, Klaus headed down to New Orleans.  This was the city him and his family members had helped build; they considered New Orleans their kingdom, their home.  Worried that his brother’s confrontation would lead to a witch massacre, Elijah hesitantly followed his brother to New Orleans (Rebekah refusing to even acknowledge Klaus was her brother, hoping the witches had found a way to finally kill him).  It turned out Klaus and Elijah weren’t the only visitors from Mystic Falls though, werewolf Hayley had also been exploring the city, hoping to find information on her family and where she came from.

originals2Unable to find the witch he was looking for, Klaus reunited with his former protege, Marcel, in hopes he could get some friendly assistance.  It didn’t take long for Klaus to realize the hold Marcel had on New Orleans.  He was the one in charge, he was the King.  He controlled all the supernaturals in the city, including the witches, and had convinced the humans of the city to casually look the other way to their shenanigans.  Marcel had banned any and all witches from practicing magic and as soon as he found one who did, he executed her in a vampire filled New Orleans street.  Unfortunately, this witch had also been the one Klaus had been searching for.  He soon conveniently tracked down her sister, but had been followed by Marcel’s men, who were intent on finding out exactly what Klaus was doing in New Orleans.

originals3With Marcel’s men on his tail, Klaus was failing to obtain the information he needed.  But, one person did.  Elijah made his grand entrance (by killing Marcel’s men in a classic, heart snatching, Elijah way) and informed his brother he had found the witches AND the answers Klaus was seeking.  Klaus reluctantly followed his brother to a cemetery.  The witches (led by a young girl named Sophie) presented Hayley, hoping she would help make him cooperate.  Klaus, about to lose it, laughed at the thought of them thinking he cared about Hayley (she was only a drunken, one night stand after all).  That’s when the witches revealed their hold on Klaus and why Hayley was the key: their one night stand had led to a little puppy growing inside Hayley.  That’s right, Hayley was pregnant.  The witches explained that vampires could not breed, but wolves could, and Klaus having been made a vampire by magic and originally born a wolf, could in fact procreate.  Sophie hoped this news would make Klaus want to help them take down Marcel, they would protect Hayley and her child if he did.

Elijah was delighted.  Klaus appalled.  Elijah tried convincing Klaus to stay in New Orleans, help Hayley, and start and rebuild their family.  Klaus was seeking one thing and one thing only: power.  “Family is power,” Elijah relented, but to no avail.

originals4Klaus was upset, angry, and was only interested in taking New Orleans back from Marcel.  In a heated, party filled confrontation  (“What’s mine is yours, but IT IS MINE,” Marcel reminded Klaus), Klaus angrily bit one of Marcel’s men, asserting his power.  In one more, emotional filled conversation with his brother, Klaus lamented that maybe staying in New Orleans wasn’t such a bad idea, especially if he could have the power he always wanted and have an heir to teach.  They decided they would indeed help Sophie and the other witches.  Klaus was to apologize and work his way into Marcel’s world and Elijah would stand by his brother’s side, hoping to find the redemption he knew was somewhere deep within Klaus.  This was their new beginning.

Thursday’s episode was enough for The CW and the very next day “The Originals” was picked up to series.  I may be in the minority of people who enjoyed this episode.  Let me rephrase, I enjoyed this episode EXCEPT for the baby macguffin.  At first I thought the witches were tricking Klaus with magic to force him to take down Marcel, to have something to use against him and that Elijah was really working with the witches and not his brother.  This was not the case and as far as it stands, the little wolf inside Hayley is real. This was a cheap roadblock that I feel could really hinder the series from greatness. I thought the exterior scenes (especially in the historic Lafayette Cemetery) were beautiful and I saw a lot of potential to incorporate different New Orleans landmarks into the show.  The tone of the episode was darker and more mature than most episodes of The Vampire Diaries and as a  23 year old viewer, I appreciated the new direction.

I also fell in love with new vampire Marcel.  He was mysterious, charismatic, and very nice to look at.  Sophie and the witches were also intriguing.  Why couldn’t they practice magic? What did Marcel have to hold over them?  Their potential of an uprising and as characters who could assert themselves could add a new, unseen twist to the show.  One more character, Cami, a human bartender was introduced.  Not much is known about Cami, but she seemed like a strong and independent female character that a show filled with men in power could use.

With only three members of the Mikaelson family remaining, one can only hope that flashbacks would be implemented to show how they built the city and how Klaus and Marcel formally met (they made a reference that Klaus may have saved Marcel from slavery).  Unfortunately, The Vampire Diaries hasn’t been on the forefront of diverse casting and handling people of color and other minority characters.  In the city of New Orleans, with a large African American population, there is a potential to do these previously failed efforts right and with dignity.  The originals continue to be my favorite characters on the show and only time will tell what this new series will bring us.  One thing is for sure, the backdoor pilot sparked my curiosity and I will be tuning in come fall.