*removes helmet and goggles*
Squadron Leader Katie reporting for duty!
I’ve been thinking about reviewing Loki for a while now, but I couldn’t seem to muster the energy for a full post, the way I did for WandaVision and Falcon and the Winter Soldier. There were several other TV shows I wanted to blog about, but again, I didn’t have enough thoughts for a full post on each one. Hence the following collection of mini-reviews. Enjoy!
Loki follows everyone’s favorite god of mischief as he’s arrested by the mysterious Time Variance Authority, or TVA, for alleged “crimes against the Sacred Timeline.” This leads to a delightfully zany romp through time, space, and metaphysics, wrestling with such cosmic questions as “do we have free will?” and “are villains born to make heroes shine brighter?” We also get gender-swapped Lady Loki, which is something I never thought I’d see on a Marvel screen. Bless.
Oh, boy, did I love this show. I can’t tell you what a relief Loki was to me, especially after suffering through Falcon and the Winter Soldier. It wasn’t trying to be ~macho.~ It wasn’t trying to be ~gritty.~ It wasn’t trying (and failing) to be ~politically relevant.~ (For the record, I’m not somebody who usually complains about “political correctness” in media, and I enjoy many stories with strong political messages, but I don’t appreciate vague, clumsy appeals to emotion masquerading as genuine political discourse. Which is what FatWS gave us. End rant.) No, Loki didn’t repeat any of Falcon’s mistakes. Instead, it followed in WandaVision’s footsteps, focusing on the heart and soul of its characters, while giving them permission to be as wild and weird as need be. After the pilot episode, I posted on social media, “I’m so happy to be back at the emo-goth-theater-kids’ table in the MCU lunchroom,” and that’s honestly how I felt. Watching Loki was like coming home. Home to the land of questionable fashion choices, quirky romances, deep philosophical debates … and sentient alligators, because why not?
Furthermore, Lady Loki, aka Sylvie, is an absolute badass who could kill me and I’d thank her. That scene where she “prunes” herself, not knowing whether she would survive? o.O I ship her with Loki soooooooooooo freaking much, and I will not be accepting criticism of this position at this time.
And I loved the emphasis on free will & freedom of choice, something the TVA aims to rob humans of (has been robbing humans of for quite some time, actually). The idea that Loki was “meant” to be a villain, so any Loki variants who attempted–however tentatively–to redeem themselves, were instantly removed from the timeline? DANG. Y’all didn’t have to go that hard, Marvel, but you did, and I salute you.
The Clone Wars.
If you’re not familiar with the history of The Clone Wars and the overall Star Wars timeline, I … uh … can’t help you, as I know very little about it myself. 😛 All I can tell you is, Clone Wars takes place before Anakin Skywalker becomes Darth Vader, that is, before Order 66 (where the brainwashed clone troopers were forced to massacre the Jedi). That’s about all I’ve gleaned from watching the first season.
If it sounds like I’m not absorbing or enjoying the show, I promise, that’s not true!! I really like Clone Wars, but I watch it more for the character interactions than any of the historical stuff. Especially for Rex, Cody, Fives, Echo, and the other clone troopers, who are precious babies who didn’t deserve to be grown in a lab and then programmed as cannon fodder. #clone rights #clones are people too
A lot of the episodes focus mostly on Anakin and Obi-Wan, with the clones as background characters, which is … fine, but not the way I would have written it, since the clones are far more interesting to me than the Jedi. Still, it’s been a fun ride, and I’m looking forward to watching more.
(and to everybody in the comments yelling “iT ENDS TRAGICALLY, SEASON SEVEN WILL RIP YOUR HEART OUT,” yes, yes, I know xD I’m Fully Aware)
The Bad Batch.
I’ve noticed an interesting phenomenon when it comes to Star Wars television shows. Namely: Star Wars TV is really, really personal in a way the movies aren’t necessarily. You’ll see people saying “oh yeah, I liked the sequel trilogy” or “the original trilogy is my favorite,” but Star Wars TV is where fans tend to latch onto ONE individual show and claim it as their own. “This one’s MINE. This is the one that speaks to ME.” I’ve seen friends do this with The Mandalorian. I’ve seen other friends do it with Clone Wars or Rebels. And now it’s my turn with The Bad Batch.
Because I freakin’ love The Bad Batch.
The easiest way to describe The Bad Batch is if Clone Wars and The Mandalorian had a baby. Basically, you take the side characters from Clone Wars–the clone troopers–and make them the main focus, while giving them a mysterious, powerful orphan to protect.
I like this show better than The Mandalorian for several reasons. First of all, it’s an ensemble cast. You have a squad of defective clones on the run from the Galactic Empire, so they’ve got strong, established relationships, a great “band of brothers” vibe, and a ton of fun banter, instead of the long stretches of silence which characterize The Mandalorian. Second, the “orphan waif” these grizzled soldiers are protecting is not a helpless baby, but a spunky preteen capable of voicing her own opinions and making her own decisions. She’s an active agent in the plot. She’s nobody’s McGuffin. Also, she isn’t Force sensitive, so there’s no question of any Jedi whisking her away to exploit her for “the greater good.” The men of the Bad Batch have fully accepted Omega as their child. They know she belongs with them, and they’re not going to let anybody guilt-trip them into giving her up.
Essentially, this the story of four Anxious Dads (TM) and their sassy, independent daughter, and I’m very here for it.
High School Musical: The Musical: The Series.
What a mouthful, huh? High School Musical: The Musical: The Series is a Disney+ show that springboards off the old High School Musical film trilogy. It’s not a straight-up reboot, though. Rather than recycling the plot of the old movies, this show follows a new generation of high school theater kids as they attempt to stage a production of–you guessed it–High School Musical. But when the “wrong” guy is cast for the coveted part of Troy Bolton, shenanigans ensue. Heads roll. Hearts are broken. It’s honestly quite entertaining.
When asked, I’ve been telling people, “This show is fluff, but it does a really good job of being fluff.” That about sums it up. The stakes are low, but the angst and passion run high. Yet somehow, it’s never (well, almost never ;)) irritating to watch a gaggle of fifteen- and sixteen-year-olds lose their marbles over stuff that doesn’t even matter. They care an awful lot, you know? And that’s better than not caring at all.
I appreciate the nuanced character development, too. These kids are never cardboard cutouts or one-note stereotypes. They’re always more than that “one thing.” They’re always surprising me. We’ve gotten several lovely redemption arcs, multiple healthy, supportive friendships, and quite a few cute, shippable romances. And–*crosses fingers with tentative optimism*–the one relationship I really DON’T approve of APPEARS, by the end of Season Two, to be broken up for good.
Leverage: Redemption is a reboot of the 2010s TNT show Leverage. Like the original, it stars a team of criminals who use shady tactics to take down corrupt billionaires whom the law can’t (or won’t) touch.
Of all the shows on this list, Leverage: Redemption is the one I have the least positive feelings about. This makes me sad, because I loved the original so very, very much. So why aren’t I enjoying the reboot?
Well, Leverage: Redemption is missing two of its original characters, mastermind Nate Ford and hacker Alec Hardison. Nate was eliminated because his actor, Timothy Hutton, faces sexual assault allegations. Hardison was cut because his actor, Aldis Hodge, was busy with other projects. (He appears in the first two episodes of the reboot, then conveniently disappears, leaving his old buddies on their own.)
Ultimately, this is what’s wrong with the reboot. You’ve slashed two key characters, brought in two new characters who simply can’t match them in charisma or energy, then tried to recreate the same “team vibe” that made the original so special. The old Leverage depended heavily on the chemistry between its five main cast members. It was, without exaggeration, one of the greatest found-family stories ever to appear on television. You can’t just … change that … and then try to carry the story forward as if nothing happened.
I understand that circumstances beyond the showrunners’ control have deprived them of Nate and Hardison. But without Nate and Hardison, I don’t think Leverage still works.
The Chosen, Season 2.
The first multi-season TV show about the life of Jesus ever produced, The Chosen just released its second season, which I gulped down like water in the desert. Good stuff, y’all. Real good stuff.
I’ve blogged before about why I think more Christians should watch this show, and I recently talked about Season Two’s honest, sensitive treatment of addiction, mental health, and faith. Mary Magdalen’s character arc was STELLAR, but she wasn’t the only disciple who underwent a dramatic, yet wholly believable transformation this season. Simon Peter shedding his toxic, selfish, aggressive behavior–mmmmmm, we love to see it. Becoming the leader Jesus always knew he was meant to be? *CHEF’S KISS* And Matthew! My precious boy! He’s so much more confident now!
If I had to pick an absolute favorite episode, I’d have to settle on Episode Four, the healing by the pool of Siloam. That entire saga … just … bone-chilling.
“The day I see you stand on your own two feet is the day I will know the Messiah has come.”
I don’t think I ever fully grasped what the promise of the Messiah meant to the Jewish people until I watched this episode. It was just one of those whoa moments. Mind = properly blown. I love The Chosen.
Well, I hope you enjoyed this little peek into the TV shows I’ve watched lately! What have you been watching, friends?