Nerd Homework: Supernatural: Season 15

“I know how you see yourself Dean. You see yourself the same way our enemies see you. You’re destructive and you’re angry and you’re broken. You’re Daddy’s blunt instrument. And you think that hate and anger that’s what drives you, that’s who you are. It’s not. And everyone who knows you, sees it. Everything you have ever done, the good and the bad, is for love. You raise your little brother for love, you fought for this whole world for love. That is who you are. You’re the most caring man on earth. You are the most selfless, loving human being, I will ever know.” – The Angel Castiel to Dean Winchester, Supernatural Season 15

After letting a steady exhale out this past week, plus a few neatly timed Pinterest hits, I realized it was probably time for me to finish something I’d started well over two years ago. It was time to finish Supernatural.

I started watching the show two years ago mostly out of boredom and curiosity. I’d tried it before and it had never taken, but I do have a tendency to latch onto things here on this blog. Or at least I did in the before times. When I decided to watch over a decade of this show in a six month period, I did not expect to love it how I did.

I didn’t expect to love it so much that I had to wait until I’d unclenched about a whole bunch of other things before I felt comfortable releasing the emotions I knew were going to come, and, I have to admit for a while I was worried. About the way the show was going and about myself. I hadn’t cried at all.

Well that changed.

The final three episodes of Supernatural are charged for tears, from Castiel’s tearfilled, love confessing good bye to Dean. (Quoted above) to Jack’s decision to leave the boys and humanity behind to become a more compassionate and loving God than Chuck ever could have been, to Dean’s death and ascension to a heaven designed for him, and the long drive and happy life for Sam, before they can be reunited.

When Dean enters heaven and Bobby describes it as a place where everyone is satisfied and together, and Dean sees Baby and switches on the radio and hears, “Carry On Wayward Son,” I was a puddle.

My own personal conception of heaven, as my human brain can fathom the perfection of existence as united with God (what I theologically and philosophically conceive of heaven as, though that’s a little heavy for a blog post about the show where the pretty boys fight monsters.) is a place of comfort and joy where everyone is satisfied and together. My version is actually the bar that my Uncles used to own, settled on a corner bar stool. “Carry On Wayward Son” would probably still be in the mix in my version, to be honest, though it would be coming from the juke box, not a car stereo.

I was wrecked, and it just highlighted what it is about Supernatural that connected with me in a way that even the other nerd homework projects that I enjoyed never really did. This is a show about family, and faith and finding comfort in those things while the world around you spins in chaos. It’s about two brothers who love each other, and the people that come to love them.

And it is about pretty boys who hunt monsters and fight God, and love angels, and drink beer and eat pie and it’s about how Dean Winchester is a hero even if, and especially because, he’ll never admit it to himself. That loving his brother, his angel boyfriend and their adopted son was enough. (Misha and Jensen can “it’s platonic love,” all they want WE KNOW THE TRUTH.) And more than that, that he was loved, and appreciated. Every sacrifice mattered. It saved the world and remade heaven and hell. And those sacrifices were not for his anger or desire for vengeance but for love, and that is not a final theme I’m ever going to get sick of.

Now your life’s no longer empty

Surely heaven waits for you.

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: The Mandalorian: “Chapter 15: The Believer”

There’s a lot going on here, but I’m gonna start with this, Bill Burr is excellent in this episode and I continue to be blown away by the level of the incredible supporting cast on this show. They jump over the extremely high bars they set for themselves.

While our appreciation of Burr did lead to some friction in the group text this week, (Jess continued to type, “GO SOX!” at every possible instance. She is from Rhode Island and must be forgiven, and I responded by saying, “I love Bill Burr, but I SPIT ON THE SOX!”) Anyway, let’s get to the episode, which was very cool.

Cara Dune (Obligatory Fuck Gina Carano!), Fennec, Boba and Mando go to a prison planet to recruit Mayfeld (Burr) to their opperation to track down Moff Gideon and free poor little Grogu from his nefarious clutches. Mayfeld is a delightful breath of sarcastic human fresh air in our steely group of outsides and I really can’t express deeply enough how much I really like the work Burr is doing here. They head to Morak (we as a group watch with Subtitles so I knew they said “Morak” not “Morag” which is where the Power Stone was hidden in the MCU in Guardians of The Galaxy but I made the joke anyway.) and discover that an Imperial remnant is mining an explosive substance there to mount an attack, much like Operation Cinder (from Star Wars: Battlefront) where they burned up a whole planet and killed a bunch of Storm Troopers to boot.

Mayfeld is uh, not thrilled about this, but manages to keep his cool while Mando goes to a transmitter to get the info he needs on Grogu. He also takes off his helmet for a good 15 minutes! He looks terribly uncomfortable but I am always happy to see Pedro Pascal’s beautiful face and the fact that he’s willing to bend the code for his magic baby son is huge character growth. While discussing the facility and Operation Cinder with the man who it turns out was Mayfeld’s superior, (in a tour de force scene from Burr) he turns his blaster on the facility which the gang then blows up.

After they escape, Cara and Mando agree to report Mayfeld dead so he doesn’t have to go to prison. I hope the next time we see him, he’s found his way home to Space Boston. Mando does his version of the Taken call and tells Moff Gideon that as long as he’s holding Grogu there is no safe place for him in the Galaxy, he will be found.

We also learned that Storm Troopers have to fill our TPS reports and this makes the most sense. Of course Innitech and The Empire are the same level of bureaucratic evil.

Anyway, if you could come in on Saturday, that would be GREEAAATTT!

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: The Mandalorian: Chapter 10: “The Passenger”

So, first of all, I hope you’re all feeling good. Here the sun is shining, we’re all taking deep breaths because the future seems to be looking pretty good. The craziest election ever is over and now we get to exhale because some barriers have been broken and you know, it’s good. Also there’s promising COVID Vaccine news! Whoo!

Of course I knew none of this on Friday night when I watch The Mandalorian’s 10th episode, which did offer as a nice easy balm for the evening.

So, after getting Boba Fett’s armor, Mando and Little Baby Yoda go back to Mos Eisley, looking for more leads. Amy Sedaris and a Giant Ant get them a job with a giant Frog Woman who needs transport and might know something about the surviving Mandalorians. She’s trying to get to her home planet so that her eggs can hatch.

After an encounter with some cops (New Republic X-Wing Pilots) they crash land on an ice planet and also the whole time Little Baby Yoda has been just eating the crap out of those Frog Eggs. (As my friend Sara said, “That is some toddler realness!”)

On the planet, The Frog woman finds a hot spring, while Mando repairs the Razor Crest, and there are eggs for LBY there too! Unfortunately they are the eggs of a terrifying spider monster that definitely tries to eat them. Luckily they get the ship working and off they fly, after a confrontation with the cops. (One of whom is Dave Filoni!)

Look, it was a fun little episodic adventure. It is very clear that there was a price increase because once again the action finale is incredible, and it was directed by Peyton Reed so there are all these fabulous small comedy moments, that he’s so good at. And most importantly, BABY YODA RUNS AND IT IS THE CUTEST. America, we’re moving forward. It’s all very exciting.

The nerd commentary this time was quieter, but it was a lot of AWWWW, and being super excited about The Frog Woman, who is great, although we are disappointed in the uncreative name. GIVE A SPECIES NAME.

Anyway, I’m really enjoying the season so far and especially loving my group watches. I have great friends who I love. I love everyone today.

Cross your fingers for that vaccine my darlings!

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: The Mandalorian: “Chapter 9: The Marshal”

As always, SPOILERS. You’ve had all weekend to watch the episode.

First things first. Baby Yoda remains a true treasure, who must always be defended. Mando, meanwhile, is just casually bringing him to Fight Club, like it’s no big thing.

Be a better parent Mando!

Yes, we start out with our intrepid warrior goes to a fight between a pair of those pig men who guard Jabba The Hutt, and talks with a gangster played by John Leguizamo. (Right off the bat The Mandalorian is killing it with the guest spots again) He understands said gangster might have information that could lead him to more Mandolorians which might then in turn lead to getting Little Baby Yoda back to the Jedi. Of course the gangster is just after the armor, but in truly badass fashion, Mando strings the guy up, finds out there’s a Mandalorian working on Tatooine. He goes, is greeted by Amy Sedaris (As glad to see her as she was to see LBY) and heads right out from Mos Eisley to Space Deadwood, I mean Mos Pelgo.

Once there, he enters the Cantina where the friendly bartender, played by W. Earl Brown , who played Barman Dan Dorrity on Deadwood, because this is an episode of Deadwood without the swearing. (Or alas, The Swearengen) As Mando questions him about seeing other Mandalorians and Baby Yoda makes cooing noises and the bartender asks if he means, “The Marshal” who then enters and is Boba Fett!

No, he’s not Boba Fett, he’s Marshal Seth Bullock, uh, I mean Cobb Vanth, played by Timothy Olyphant with an extremely attractive beard, who through a series of convoluted events came into possession of Boba’s armor (or “armpit” as my phone happily corrected it to.) He agrees to give the armor back to Mando if he helps free the town from a sand worm, err, a Krayt Dragon. (DUUUUNNNNNEEEEEE). They team up with some Tuskens to do so, and after takin’ a vote in The Gem saloon, erm, I mean the Cantina, they beat the dragon in the most astounding action sequence I’ve ever seen on television.

Vanth and Mando part noting they hope to meet again, and like The Judge on The Good Place, I very much hope they do because more Olyphant on my TV is a good thing, all the time.

The episode ends with Mando speeding away and on a hill, watching, a mysterious cloaked figure who is as it turns out Temeura Morrison! Morrison played Jango Fett and the Clones in the prequel trilogy, which means this is most certainly Boba Fett. It may also be Rex, or one of the other surviving clones. (God, I hope it’s Rex.) The smart money, though, given that it’s Tatooine and the appearance of his armor, that it’s Boba.

The most exciting thing for me this season, besides just so much good Star Wars content and Timothy Olyphant, is the Disney+ group watch feature, which allowed me and The Nerds to stream simultaneously and chat throughout our watch. Highlights from this week include being blown away by the visuals, thirsting after Timothy Olyphant and general Boba and or Rex related flailing.

I’m so glad to have The Mandalorian back. I love Star Wars so much, and I’ve missed it dearly.

Star Trek: Lower Decks And The Healing Power of Silly

I’ve been in a bit of a funk lately that I’m trying to break out of. This isn’t as bad as the actual depression hit I got back in April, but just, a low level blah and lack of motivation, and numbness.

So, I’m trying to get out of it, with my usual stuff, yoga, changing up my diet, abstaining from alcohol, tracking how much water I drink, rearranging my furniture (I bought a new couch! I’m very excited about it!) and, getting out of the rewatch loop.

I decided, since I purchased a year of access to CBS All Access, and there’s a new show that is just the part of Star Trek that’s my favorite, ie, the silly, dopey, jokey parts, I decided to give Lower Decks a whirl.

I was immediately enamored of the show’s sense of humor and of my adorable tiny space dorks. Let’s run down our main cast:

Ensign Brad Boimler: A try hard, rule follower who thinks that Star Fleet is the absolute greatest. He wants to be like the TNG bridge crew, but he’s not really up to that kind of thing.

Ensign Beckett Mariner: Mariner is actually a really talented Star Fleet officer. She’s also the daughter of two high ranking captains and thinks that the rules are bullshit. As a result, she’s been demoted and shifted around and is now stuck on her mother’s ship and it is not going well.

Ensign Sam Rutherford: He’s a big engineering dork who just became a cyborg and is working on that. He’s also super awkward.

Ensign D’Vana Tendi: A new medical recruit. She’s just very bright and shiny and happy to be here.

There’s also the standard Trek bridge crew, who are around, but they’re basically in the same position as these kids are in a standard show, popping in and out of stories as useful.

I’m mostly happy about this show because it is so delightfully silly. It’s not a smart show, it’s stupid in the best way and every one is just a goofy dork and I want them to succeed and be protected. Protect my tiny space dorks! It was exactly what I needed when I needed it and I’m therefore very happy to have it. It also reminded me that I’d watched the first season and a half of Star Trek: Voyager and I’ve now fallen down that hole and will be continuing it and finishing it and writing  up a Nerd Homework (remember those? Remember when I wrote about stuff that wasn’t Disney movies?)

Anyway, if you have CBS All Access, it’s worth checking out the show. Or waiting until it completes and doing a free month and binging the whole thing, which I would definitely recommend over forking over your money for this stupid disappointing platform. (I would like to remind everyone that when I signed up, I didn’t think we’d enter a terrifying pandemic and that I wouldn’t want to even think about, let alone reread and then watch an adaptation of The Stand.)

The Lady Of Winterfell

It’s been a year, am I allowed to talk about Game Of Thrones again? I know we were supposed to chuck it into the ocean and never look back, but I can’t do that.

Because I think about Sansa Stark a lot.

I grew up reading fantasy. I loved it. I’ve always loved it, but there were never girls I related to in those fantasies. If there were girls, they hated being girls, or what was interesting about them was that they rejected the world of girls. There was Alanna, there was Eowyn, there was Leia. Or they were romantic heroines, which I loved but wanted more. The flip side of that coin was Belle, Ariel, Cinderella.

There weren’t girls like Sansa. Girls who wore their femininity in all it’s power as armor. Girls who used embroidery and marriage and the selfish love of the men around them as weapons. Girls who loved their families and wanted handsome princes to come save them but when those dreams shattered didn’t cower but fought, not in battles but in the ways they understood.

I think about Sansa Stark a lot. I think about how she got into my blood and mind. And in the past few years, as I’ve let the floodgates open to more and more fantasy I see that I couldn’t have been the only girl who hungered for that. Because there are these books now, you see, these books written by women around my age, filled with girls. Some who are like Alanna, Eowyn, Leia, who put on armor and pick up swords and fight alongside men. Some like Belle, Ariel, Cinderella, who long for true love and princes. And there are so many Sansas.

So many girls who fit into their world of privelege and beauty and when it’s hollowness was revealed, didn’t reject it, didn’t say, “there’s nothing here,” didn’t see the other women held by it as stupid, shallow or weak, instead took those things and made them the tools of their fight.

Yesterday I finished Queen Of Shadows, the fourth book in the Throne Of Glass series. It’s going to be a while before I finish this series, because I’m waiting on Empire Of Storms and I’m the eight person in line for 5 copies at my library. But Sarah J. Maas’s series is full of Sansas. I had trouble getting into it because the lead, isn’t, and my GOD does this girl hate other women at the beginning of her journey. And that begins to unravel, slowly as the series progresses.

“I’m not like other girls,” is a hell of a drug. I’ve never understood it. I’ve always loved other girls and women, but it’s a really hard thing to kick in society that tells us that there’s no room for us to be who we are. But I’m so grateful to see that it is starting to shift.

I think about Sansa Stark a lot. I think about how overjoyed I was to find her eight years ago. I think about how she got an ending full of justice and triumph without ever compromising who she was.

I think about Sansa Stark and I cry, because she exists, in print and on TV for girls like me to find, and know they aren’t wrong or weak or stupid. There is space for them in these stories. And oh that matters so much.

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 7 Episode 12: “Victory And Blood”

The Clone Wars is over. It’s end is bleak and terrible and sad, unbelievably poignant and conclusive. Of course having watched Rebels, we know how this ends for these characters and because of Star Wars we know how this ends generally.

But, I’ve never really bought into “The Prequel Problem,” a tale well told is worth it regardless of if you can guess the ending, and The Clone Wars is, if nothing else, a tale well told. And this final chapter, where Rex and Ahsoka save one another, after everything they’ve been through and more importantly those final images.

Despite the betrayal of Order 66, Ahsoka and Rex bury each of the clones that died on their ship, marking their graves with their helmets, and leaving her light sabers behind. When Vader finds the scene he picks up the saber and looks to the sky walking away.

It’s over, and as far as anyone knows, Ahsoka Tano is dead, the only Jedi who truly understood Anakin Skywalker, (Not a Jedi) and Anakin himself is about as gone as possible right now.

This show has come to mean so much to me over these past few years. It’s deepened my love for this world and these stories that have always been with me, that will always be with me.

And so much of that comes from Ahsoka. From this girl who learned her own code and morality, who will help people when they need it, no matter what. I’m so grateful for her, thank you to Dave Filoni and Ashley Eckstein for her. Seriously, watching her story unfold has been the greatest pleasure, and seeing this chapter close properly was wonderful.

Star Wars will always be my favorite fandom. It is home, even when it’s at it’s worst I love it so much. These past eleven weeks have been such a gift, and I’m tremendously happy to have had them.

Next week we talk about the Darth Vader comics. Which I very much enjoyed.

Fangirl Love Star Wars Trek?: Picard

Like every version of Star Trek I’ve pushed myself into, it took me a little while, though shorter than usual to like Star Trek: Picard, part of that is because the pilot, where Jean-Luc Picard decides it’s time to get back in the game and puts his new team together lasts three episodes. For a show that was only getting 10 episodes to begin with that is a lot of real estate for the set up.

Additionally, the first half of the show is really grim, full of portentious Romulan prophecies, a lot of death and violence and the confirmation that Admiral Picard has alzheimers. I like my Trek a little lighter, kind of silly and plenty of humanist optimism, which luckily kicks in not long after we meet the team. (Courtesy of a meet up with Seven of Nine, I’m now determined to push through DS9 which is not really my speed, at all so that I can get to voyager and get to know her better.)

And what a team it is. Allison Pill as Dr. Agnes Giardi, a brilliant scientist with an interest in synthetic life (which, despite Bruce Maddox and Picard lobbying is illegal due to a synth revolt on a martian colony), Evan Evagora as Elnor some kind of Romulan ninja who knew Picard when he was little, Michelle Herd as Raffi Musiker, a former Star Fleet officer drummed out for over indulging in conspiracy theories about Romulan infiltration (SHE WAS RIGHT!) and Santiago Cabrera as Chris Rios another former Star Fleet, who has a ship where the AI has taken on his appearance. Cabrera was my favorite part of the show that wasn’t directly from TNG. 

They’re looking for Soji, a synth girl developed from Data’s programming, who’s twin sister was killed by said infiltrating Romulans. She’s working as a scientist on a Borg Cube, helping to reclaim those who had been assimilated, lead by Hugh, who learned of humanity from Jordi. A super secret Romulan order is hunting her too, because they believe the rise of synthetic consciousness will bring about Armageddon.

WHOO.

Anyway, once all of that gets out of the way, the fun begins, jumping around to planets, Picard in an eye patch pretending to be a gambler, Troi and Riker living in the wood making pizza with their adorable daughter, a planet of synths ruled over by the son of Noonian Soong, who just so happens to be played Brent Spiner.

There’s a lot going on, but I really enjoyed the back half. The set up was just a little bit longer than I would have preferred. But once we got to the space adventures, lectures about the sanctity of life and what we owe the world with our lives.

It came together really well and without spoilers, there’s a lovely and emotional resolution the even provides Patrick Stewart the opportunity to recite some Shakespeare. (Have you been watching him read the sonnets during quarantine? I do recommend.)

I’m excited to see what season 2 of this show brings, I know Whoopi Goldberg is planning on coming back, and I’m interested in what Guinan has been doing during all of this. And you know, the ending proved interesting.

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Season 7 Episode 3: “On The Wings Of Keeradaks”

First, a correction, I thought Echo died last week, he didn’t! He was liberated, A LA Jean-Luc Picard from the Borg! (We’ll get to ol’Jean-Luc soon! I’ve been selectively binging Picard.) Now, Anakin, Rex, The Bad Batch and Echo have to escape from the Techno Syndicate, with some help from the natives of the planet that they’re on.

The Tecno Syndicate are furious, obviously that their “experiment” has been stolen. That experiment is of course, Poor Echo, who is in really bad shape.

Not going to lie, I’m not overly enamored of this arc. It’s visually interesting but it isn’t doing much for me story wise and not really deepening any of the characters. We already know Rex would do anything for his brothers, that Anakin recklessly dives into danger heedless of the consequences and that the council is basically useless. There’s nothing new here. Except the bad batch, who really are pretty great, just not super compelling to write about.

It’s emotionally satisfying to do more with the clones. Clone episodes have always been among my favorites, but this arc, until I see how it plays out just has not delivered so far. It may also just be my impatience to get to the SIEGE OF MANDALORE FOR GOD’S SAKE.

I wish I was more engaged and had more to say here, but I really just don’t. The show is as ever visually stunning with compelling action and decent character work, this arc just seems a little repetitive from a story and development standpoint.

Anyway, another week without any Ahsoka. This is getting tiresome and I do not care for it at all.

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Season 7 Episode 2 “A Distant Echo”

The forking show man.

After returning to base, with no proof of Echo’s actually being alive, Rex is more determined than ever to figure out what’s going on here. He pleads with Anakin to continue the mission, and Anakin is like, “OK bud, sure, but first, I gotta call me wife…I mean Senator Amidala, for REASONS, that have nothing to do with us being in love or married. This is definitely a secret and no one knows about it at all.”

Of course everyone knows, including Obi-Wan who is basically catches Anakin in the Holo-call act, and calls him out on it.

This strengthens my very strong belief that LITERALLY EVERYONE KNEW about Anakin and Padme it’s just with all the war and fascist regime rising and Anakin being the chosen one, decided it wasn’t worth the confrontation.

Moving on from the not a secret love of Anakin and Padme, we get to Rex and The Bad Batch hunting for Echo. They track the signal they found, beat the crap out of some droids. (I am not doing the action of these episodes justice because I am bad about writing and talking about action sequences, but they are very very good.)

Eventually, Rex does indeed find Echo, who is alive, but barely. His brain has been hacked and it’s really bad and he dies in Rex’s arms. It is rough, but Ooh, boy, it’s good stuff.

I think the Bad Batch might be the most interesting invention of these shows for a while. They’re incredibly designed a fun concept and great for complicated the Clone narrative. Remember, when we first meet them, Yoda is the one tells the clones themselves that they are individuals, not a collective, that this is a good a true thing. This takes that even further, and it rules, it’s so good.

I’m so happy this show is back.

Still no Ahsoka, but Ashley’s been instagramming some interesting shit.

I’m hoping this week.

We’ll see.