Westworld just has the most evocative, meaningful titles. I fancy myself an educated, erudite fanboy/total geek. But when I googled the title of this week’s episode to ensure I knew what I was talking about, I went down a ninety-five minute rabbit hole because all the connections became so interesting. It’s not the first time that’s happened. (Mind you, it happens a lot anyway with us writer types – I go to look up if a certain kind of wagon was made in the 1880s and two hours later, I’m pouring over early twentieth century Italian crop yields, because research, right?)
Okay, so I go to watch this episode on TiVo again on Monday in order to write this review. The description of the episode: “Just say no.” That. Is. Brilliant. See, the title “genre” carries with it two meanings. “Genre” is a category of artistic composition, be it music, film, literature, drama, etc. The definition of individual genres tend to be circular and self-defining: All movies with superheroes are superhero movies, and superhero movies are the ones with superheroes in them. Horror is the genre that consists of scary movies, so if a movie is scary, it’s horror. Yet in this episode, “genre” also refers to a new kind of drug that allows you to experience life within a genre of film and/or music.
The Statue of Liberty. That is the reference in this week’s title. Well, it is in a roundabout way with more than one meaning, of course. Everyone remembers the lines, “Give me your tired, your poor, / Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…”, even if they do not know the title of the poem (“The New Colossus”) or the poet (Emma Lazarus). But this week’s Westworld episode title also comes from that same poem: “her name / Mother of Exiles…” (Not true, her actual name is “Liberty Enlightening the World,” which we call “The Statue of Liberty,” just like we call Lesane Crooks “Tupac Shakur” or we call Marion Morrison “The Duke” or “John Wayne” – nothing in America is called by its actual name.) So, the Mother of Exiles is the Statue of Liberty, the celebration of liberty and immigration.
Like much of quarantined America, I have binge watched and obsessed over Tiger King. While the craziness and over-the-top characters are fun (and sad), I admire the well-crafted narrative. The people are allowed to slowly reveal things about themselves. Sometimes, they reveal things about themselves that they themselves are not aware of. The story seems to unfold effortlessly. Where the remarkable craftsmanship is, however, is in a narrative structure that, untelegraphed and without fanfare, suddenly upends everything you think you knew about this story so far. (Tiger King spoilers ahead.)
Greetings, fellow Newcomers. If you’re here, you either saw the second episode of this season’s Westworld and wanted to think about it some more, or you got lost looking for the "Geeky Parent Guide.” (If the latter, just hit your back button, and then scroll down – you’ll see it.) But if you’re here for Westworld, then we have a LOT to talk about.
As if in response to the ongoing complaints that Superman, as a character, is irrelevant to modern audiences, The CW's Crisis on Infinite Earths event just upped its game and gave us four different versions. Supergirl's Earth-38 Superman and Lois encounter several across the multiverse, which provides epilogues for three former franchises. It seems sort of fitting that Smallville's Clark gets a happy ending, after he got rid of his powers and settled down with Lois and their daughters. Things did not work out quite so well for the other young Superman from Superboy, who died at the hands of Lex Luthor.
Crisis on Infinite Earths is the gold standard for epic crossover event comics, and its adaptation into an Arrowverse crossover event (featuring episodes of the live-action television series Supergirl, Batwoman, The Flash, Arrow, and Legends of Tomorrow on The CW) is shaping up to be television's equivalent.?
With its third episode (a chapter titled "The Sin"), Disney+'s The Mandalorian continues with its bold and brash style, this time under the helm of director Deborah Chow (who will also be directing the streaming service's upcoming Obi-Wan Kenobi series starring Ewan McGregor). The series' lead character has been compared both to American gunslingers like Clint Eastwood's iconic "man with no name" and the noble and honorable Japanese samurai warriors, most notably Ogami Ittō of Lone Wolf and Cub. Previous episodes of the series have mined many standards and tropes of the Western genre, but "The Sin" gives audiences the chance to learn more about the state of Mandalorian culture after the fall of the Galactic Empire and see the disciplined Bushido-like code of those who walk the way of the Mandalore.