Sense8, First Look & Looking Back (MAJOR SPOILERS)

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A new episode of Couch Potatoes Unite!, which is based on a blog of the same name hosted at couchpotatoesunite.wordpress.com. In this episode, (re)recorded in October 2018, our cluster of would-be homo-sensorium – moderator Kylie, Kelsey, Selene, and Chad – gathered together Around the Water Cooler to simultaneously take a First Look while Looking Back at canceled, high-concept Netflix science fiction series Sense8.  If you have not watched any of Sense8, be aware that there are MAJOR SPOILERS.  Tell us what you think in the comments below, and check out the blog and YouTube for other TV related discussions, in both podcast and blog format. Also, if there are other shows you’re interested in the blog covering, sound off below! Tell us what you like or don’t like. Keep the discussion going!

Editor: Kylie C. Piette
Logo: Rebecca Wallace
Marketing Graphic Artist: Krista Pennington

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PODCAST! – Streaming Originals & Looking Back at “Sense8” (MAJOR SPOILERS)

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Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who:  “Sense8,” is a Netflix original series, always available on Netflix. The series is comprised of two total seasons released sporadically on the streaming service from 2015-2018.

What:  “Sense8,” a science fiction drama created by the Wachowskis (The Matrix, V for Vendetta, Cloud Atlas) and J. Michael Straczynski (Babylon 5). The plot revolves around eight strangers from different parts of the world, who suddenly and inexplicably become mentally and emotionally linked, and explores themes of religion, politics, identity, gender, and sexuality.

When: The final episode of the series, a wrap-up finale film, was released on June 8, 2018.

Where: The action is set, quite literally, all over the world.

Why: Listen to the podcast episode (embedded link below) for the panelists’ individual stories on how they found Sense8.

The first season was originally reviewed by CPU! Podcast Panelist Eddie in 2015.  You can read that review here.

How – as in How Was It?

The pilot/premiere rating scale:

***** – I HAVE TO WATCH EVERYTHING.  HOLY SMOKES!

**** – Well, it certainly seems intriguing.  I’m going to keep watching, but I see possible pitfalls in the premise.

*** – I will give it six episodes and see what happens.  There are things I like, and things I don’t.  We’ll see which “things” are allowed to flourish.

** – I will give it three episodes.  Chances are, I’m mainly bored, but there is some intrigue or fascination that could hold it together.  No matter how unlikely.

* – Pass on this one, guys.  It’s a snoozer/not funny/not interesting/not my cup of tea… there are too many options to waste time on this one.

Sense8 = 4.9, by average of the podcast panel.

SYNOPSIS

Sense8 tells the story of eight strangers: Will (Brian J. Smith), Riley (Tuppence Middleton), Capheus (Aml Ameen/Toby Onwumere), Sun (Doona Bae), Lito (Miguel Angel Silvestre), Kala (Tina Desai), Wolfgang (Max Riemelt), and Nomi (Jamie Clayton), each from a different culture and part of the world. While living their everyday lives, they suddenly have a vision of the violent death of a woman called Angelica (Darryl Hannah) and discover that they are ‘sensates:’ otherwise normal humans who are mentally and emotionally connected and who are able to communicate, sense, and use each other’s knowledge, language, and skills. While trying to live their lives and figure out how and why this connection has happened and what it means, they are aided by another sensate, Jonas (Naveen Andrews), who is trying to protect them from “Whispers” (Terrence Mann), another sensate, who is similarly empowered and who is hunting them down by tapping into their psychic link.

THOUGHTS

Sense8 came to the Chief CP’s attention by way of CPU! panelist Eddie, who submitted a glowing written review of the first season, linked above and published in 2015.  He was so passionate about the show, I decided to check out the show for myself, particularly given the presence of the erstwhile Sayid from Lost, Naveen Andrews, as well as Daryl Hannah, of all former mermaids, who figured relatively prominently in the story, according to the review.  As I began to watch and to discuss the series offline, other CPU! panelists also periodically expressed interest in talking about what was becoming decidedly a cult favorite, and so a CPU! panel was “birthed” from this expanding cluster.

Unfortunately, our Sense8 panel has had about as much luck getting the conversation to the listening public as the show has had remaining a viable, produced series by Netflix, as, much to the controversy and shock of its fan base, Sense8 was canceled by the streaming giant in 2017.  Panelists came and went with the show’s uncertain future becoming more certain.  In addition, and sadly, we had some meaty Sense8 recordings in the can as of summer 2017, but they became victim to the cataclysmic CPU! equipment failure of winter 2018 and were lost.  Fortunately, frequent CPU! panelists Kelsey and Selene along with newer (but not brand new) panelist Chad found it in their hearts to gather Around the Water Cooler once more to Look Back – while taking their second First Look – at a show for which these panelists repeatedly express effusive passion as well as regret regarding its seemingly sacrificial cancellation by Netflix.  Though this series ended its critically acclaimed (if allegedly expensive) run early, it clearly made an impression on our panelists, which they wistfully dissect in the episode below.

This podcast was (re)recorded in October 2018, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as we cover major plot points in Sense8. Listen at your own risk, and let us know what you think by commenting below!

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter (@cpupodcast), Instagram (@couchpotatoesunite), Pinterest (@cpupodcast), or email us at couchpotatoesunitepodcast@gmail.com – or subscribe to this blog, the YouTube channel, our iTunes channel, our Stitcher Radio channel , and/or find us on Google Play to keep track of brand new episodes.  In the meantime, let us know what you think!  Comment or review us in any of the above forums – we’d love your feedback!

Remember, new episodes and blog posts are published weekly!  This Saturday, at 7:00 PM, CPU! is going live again!  There (hopefully) should be an in-person audience, and we will (hopefully) endeavor to live-stream the whole shindig once more to our Facebook page.  We’ll be back at Grand Rapids Comic Con at DeVos Place in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with our spicy debate feature entitled “Vs,” when we go TREKKING THROUGH THE FINAL FRONTIER: THE CPU! VOYAGE INTO THE NEUTRAL ZONE!!! There, our 6 Trekkiest panelists will engage! in a multifaceted, multi-generational debate tackling the many entries in the universe of Star Trek. We will then publish an audio-only version next Wednesday, in our best rerun fashion. You won’t want to miss it! Here’s the link to the Facebook Event – plus, this panel will also seed a new ongoing Star Trek series panel for the podcast!  Like our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter and Instagram to keep abreast of all the details, but here’s the art for it for now!  Stay tuned!

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RECOMMENDATION
The panel enthusiastically, with all digits and vocal chords and shared senses, recommends Sense8, particularly to fans of the Wachowskis and their special oeuvre of high-concept storytelling; to fans of science fiction; to fans of inclusive TV; and to fans who will not be offended by sexual themes, violence, and/or coarse language.  The panel unanimously praised the performances, writing, direction, and overall production values of this show.  The panelists further believe that Sense8 is both exceptional and noteworthy for its originality, attention to detail, and focused (and achieved) goal of being an inclusive, all-encompassing tale that effectively, successfully, and without offense crosses racial, gender-based, sexual, religious, and other cultural lines/spectra.  In fact, they are simultaneously impressed with the breadth and scope of employed settings and locales; the carefully chosen, symbolic use of music (both source and thematic); and the unmitigated courage of telling a tale that delves deeply into philosophical, spiritual, cultural, and other realms, all of which may, unfortunately, have doomed the show to permanent cult status as well as indirectly induced its untimely demise.  All of the panelists also see this program as easily reviewed and watched again, despite some lingering questions and thirst for more story produced by the engaging overarching series framework, including the satisfying, if rushed, ending.  In any event, the show’s aesthetic imbues it with a potentially timeless charm, and the panel cannot recommend this unique series more highly, though the panelists also caution that a potential viewer’s heart might break, simply because the journey is so criminally short.
THE FUTURE OF THE SHOW
Canceled!  Sense8 was canceled in 2017 by Netflix after two seasons, which are still both available to stream on the service.  Fortunately, due to fan outcry, after the second season proper ended on a whopper of a cliffhanger, the streaming giant commissioned a two-and-a-half hour wrap-up film, which was released on June 8, 2018, and which provided an ending that (mostly) satisfies, at least for our four devoted panelists, the Chief CP included.  Thus, as above, the panelists cannot help but glowingly recommend this series, given its complete beginning, middle, and end, even though some lingering questions and mysteries remain.  Of course, if Netflix goes the unlikely route of jumping on the revival/reboot train and decides to be charitable to this high-concept science fiction show that it previously canceled, CPU! will readily reconvene its resident cluster and resume coverage of the original and intelligent Sense8 anew.

Gotham: Season 4B, “A Dark Knight,” Part 2 (MAJOR SPOILERS)

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A new podcast episode of Couch Potatoes Unite!, which is based on a blog of the same name hosted at couchpotatoesunite.wordpress.com. In this episode, recorded in October 2018, our panel of staunch Batman and comic book enthusiasts – including moderator Kylie, Hilary, Kyle, Spencer, and Nick – is Around the Water Cooler and discussing Season 4B, covering the second half of the arc entitled “A Dark Knight,” of Gotham. If you have not watched any of Gotham, be aware that there are MAJOR SPOILERS! Tell us what you think in the comments below and check out the blog and YouTube for other TV related discussions, in both podcast and blog format. Also, if there are other shows you’re interested in the blog covering, sound off below! Tell us what you like or don’t like. Keep the discussion going!

Editor: Kylie C. Piette
Logo: Rebecca Wallace
Marketing Graphic Artist: Krista Pennington

PODCAST! – Around the Water Cooler: “Gotham,” the Season 4 End of Season Recap and Review (MAJOR SPOILERS)

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Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who:  “Gotham” is a crime drama centered on events and characters inspired by the Batman franchise/DC Comic Universe, which airs on Fox, though it is currently on hiatus.

What: “Gotham,” a crime series developed by Bruno Heller and primarily based upon the characters of to-be Gotham City Police Commissioner James Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz), the real life identity of Batman. As originally conceived, the series would have served as a straightforward story of Gordon’s early days in the Gotham City Police Department. The idea evolved not only to include the Wayne character but also to tell the origin stories of several Batman villains, including the Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor), the Riddler (Cory Michael Smith), Catwoman (Camren Bicondova), Poison Ivy, Two-Face, the Scarecrow, Mr. Freeze, Hugo Strange, and the Joker.

SYNOPSIS

A new recruit in the Gotham City Police Department named James Gordon (McKenzie) is paired with veteran detective Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) to solve one of Gotham City’s highest-profile cases: the murders of Thomas and Martha Wayne. During his investigation, Gordon meets the Waynes’ son Bruce (Mazouz), who is now in the care of his butler, Alfred Pennyworth (Sean Pertwee). Eventually, Gordon is forced to form an unlikely friendship with Bruce, one that will help shape the boy’s future in becoming Batman.

When: The Season 4 finale aired on Thursday, May 17, 2018, at 8:00 PM.

Where: The action is set in the fictional metropolis of Gotham City, the primary setting of the Batman franchise.

Why: To find out why individual podcast panelists started watching this show, listen to the podcast episodes embedded below!

As for CPU! Chief Couch Potato Kylie, I picked up this show when shopping for pilots during the 2014-2015 TV season (a yearly ritual for this viewer and this blog, no matter how far behind I am).  I said:

“This is one of the most anticipated pilots of the new season, by critics, fans, and this blogger.  First, as a DC girl, Batman is my second favorite of their properties, after Superman, of course. Second, picking up the story from this prequel point is potentially brilliant; this could be must-see TV for a long time to come, folding in a Smallville like examination of the rise of Batman and the foes he fights, all from the perception of to-be Commissioner Gordon.  I’m super excited for this one and can’t wait to see a full episode.

I asked some fellow panelists to join me in evaluating how effective Gotham is in its storytelling muster and how successful it has been serving as the “prequel” it has become. Scroll down, and take a listen!

How – as in How Was It? – THOUGHTS

If you haven’t caught up on CPU!’s Gotham coverage, which we’ve been covering (more or less) since its auspicious beginnings, listen via the embedded links below:

Seasons 1-2A

Season 2B, The Wrath of the Villains

Season 3A, Mad City

Season 3B, Mad City/Heroes Rise

Season 4A, A Dark Knight, Part 1

Earlier this year, our Gotham panel, consisting of Hilary, Kyle, Spencer, and Nick, compared notes on the first half of the fourth season, encompassing the first half of the arc entitled “A Dark Knight.” The season’s first half introduces Sofia Falcone (Crystal Reed), daughter of Carmine Falcone, as a new player vying for control of Gotham City’s criminal underworld; Penguin’s “Pax Penguina;” the Riddler’s perceived loss of his intellectual sharpness after being melted from the ice in Penguin’s Iceberg Lounge; Bruce Wayne’s dabbling in vigilantism and subsequent spiral into darkness, despite Alfred’s struggle to prevent otherwise; the plots of Ra’s al Ghul (Alexander Siddig), presumably preparing Bruce to be his successor; the new criminal alliance between Selina Kyle, Tabitha Galavan (Jessica Lucas), and Barbara Kean (Erin Richards); Harvey Bullock’s (Donal Logue) fall from grace and Jim Gordon’s ascension to captain of the central office of the GCPD; Lee Thompkins’ (Morena Baccarin) new role as gang boss who also happens to treat her charges medically; the introduction of Solomon Grundy, formerly Butch Gilzean (Drew Powell); and the appearance of new criminal sociopath Professor Pyg.  The second half of this season continues the “Dark Knight” arc by exploring Bruce’s redemption with Alfred and his rekindled friendship with Selina; Jim’s struggle to maintain order in the GCPD; Barbara’s hold over “The Demon’s Head” power; the reemergence of Butch’s consciousness from the Grundy shell; Edward Nygma’s ongoing struggle to master his “Riddler” half while pining for Lee Thompkins; and Jerome Valeska’s break from Arkham, with Penguin, Mad Hatter, and Scarecrow in tow, ready to cause Joker-Not-Joker chaos all over the streets of Gotham City. How did the panel regard the second half of the fourth season, given Gotham’s track record for lack of continuity and highly uneven storytelling?  Listen to the embedded link below to find out.

This podcast was recorded in October 2018, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as the panelists cover key plot points of the first half of the fourth season and all episodes that have aired to date. Listen at your own risk, and let us know what you think by commenting below!

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter (@cpupodcast), Instagram (@couchpotatoesunite), Pinterest (@cpupodcast), or email us at couchpotatoesunitepodcast@gmail.com – or subscribe to this blog, the YouTube channel, our iTunes channel, our Stitcher Radio channel , and/or find us on Google Play to keep track of brand new episodes.  In the meantime, let us know what you think!  Comment or review us in any of the above forums – we’d love your feedback!

Remember, new episodes and blog posts are published weekly!  Next Wednesday, we finally launch a new panel – one which we’ve been advertising for over a year, though the panel’s recording luck has been about as robust as the luck of the show we’ll be discussing – when we Look Back at high-concept Netflix science fiction vehicle Sense8. Stay tuned!

Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations

Old Questions/Predictions

1) REPEAT QUESTION: Will Penguin and Riddler have a falling out, which motivates them toward their most sociopathically driven selves?

ANSWER AS OF THE END OF SEASON 2: Surprisingly, Penguin and Riddler stayed friends, supporting each other on occasion in this half of the season.  Penguin ended up in Arkham after confessing to the murder of Galavan to cover for Jim. Strange brainwashed him (if you want to call it that) into submission; Penguin ended up finding his real dad (played by Paul Reubens), who had fallen victim to a gold-digging former waitress and her sociopathic children. When the presence of a biological son emerged, the new wife poisoned Penguin’s father, who seemed to understand Penguin as no other could.  This murder, once discovered by Oswald, brought out the old Penguin, rather suddenly and menacingly. In the meantime, when Lee began to ask questions about the deceased Miss Kringle not picking up her paychecks, making Jim aware that there was a possible crime to solve, Nygma embraced his most Riddler-esque tendencies and staged riddle-filled capers and committed more murders before Jim finally caught him, clearing Jim’s name and landing Nygma in Arkham.  The moral is: Penguin and Riddler found their psychoses independently of one another, which is a shame because they are infinitely watchable together.

NOT SO FAST! ANSWER AS OF MID-SEASON 3: Well…it seems their mutual affection and cordial friendship have taken a controversial turn.  Penguin, as it turns out, develops a romantic devotion to Edward after Ed offers Penguin some admiration and validation for achieving victory in running for mayor despite being a well-known criminal mastermind, enthralled as Ed is by Penguin’s ability to manipulate the people of Gotham.  In the meantime, Ed only has eyes for women, specifically any and all women who bear more than a passing resemblance to Miss Kringle, the GCPD employee with an affinity for poodle skirts that he strangled in season 2. When Barbara Kean informs Ed of Penguin’s misplaced devotion in an effort to start trouble, a devotion which causes Penguin to order a hit on the Kringle doppelganger Isabella, who could very well have been Ed’s sociopath soulmate, Edward vows to destroy good old Oswald in revenge.  I imagine Ed’s penchant for riddles and a war with Penguin are going to get him where he needs to go to be the fully realized Riddler, while Penguin is pretty much Penguin, angling for power and acceptance but struggling to attain and keep it, the thematic undercurrent of this particular antagonist. The panel hopes that a war between these future arch-villains would be great, but we’re more than a little worried about the ability of this show’s writers to capitalize upon their own potential.

ANSWER AS OF END OF SEASON 3: Ed’s gone full-on Riddler, and the two arch-villains’ enmity has peaked.  The show allowed the war: Ed works with Barbara, Tabitha Galavan, and Butch Gilzean to try to take down Penguin. Ed eventually gives up on those yokels and shoots Penguin, leaving him for dead, which gives him enough guilt, reluctant confidence, and logic loops to ascend? descend? toward adopting the official moniker of “The Riddler.”  Penguin, nursed back to health and the world of the living by a surprisingly botanical Ivy, declares his revenge, complicated by his love and devotion for Ed. Penguin manipulates Ed’s slavish devotion to completeness and detail – and his ego – such that Penguin freezes Ed, with the help of Mr. Freeze, noting that the chunk of ice known as “The Riddler” would feature prominently as a centerpiece in his to-be-opened Iceberg Lounge.  The podcast panel generally approves of most of this story-line and can’t wait to see “The Riddler” get out of the ice and cause his puzzling and enigmatic mayhem, with Penguin, Gotham City, and everyone.

ANSWER AS OF MID-SEASON 4: Ed’s number one fan, Myrtle, manages to unfreeze him from the titular iceberg in the Iceberg Lounge, but the effect of being flash frozen leaves Ed somewhat brain-addled himself.  He loses his sharpness of wit and intellect, at least temporarily, and cannot seem to evoke muscle memory related to the formulation, remembering, and/or deduction of the answers to the most basic, child-inspired riddles.  While Myrtle patiently nurses Ed back to some semblance of health (and pays for her devotion at the end of the barrel of one of Victor Zsasz’s well-aimed guns), Penguin, who reunites with a vengeful Ed fleetingly, decides not to kill him, figuring Ed’s apparent lack of smarts and presumed ensuing suffering, as he grapples with losing what made him arguably exceptional, to be the greater revenge than Ed’s out and out murder.  So, I guess that’s something.  Also, I think Penguin and Riddler are now, finally and officially, enemies or, at least, competitors… Thus, it may be time to abandon this question.

NOT SO FAST! ANSWER AS OF THE END OF SEASON 4:  Though Ed visits Penguin in Arkham, primarily to gloat about the fact that Ed successfully (in his mind) sublimated his Riddler side after falling in love with Lee, while Penguin remains incarcerated and tortured, somewhat, by his Arkham cell neighbor Jerome, Penguin sees signs of the more ruthless and calculating Riddler during this brief visit.  As a result, he sends Ed a note with an embedded riddle, which helps to evoke both the Riddler persona, back-seating the more benign Edward, but also Riddler’s loyalty to Penguin, such as it is.  Riddler, thus, breaks Penguin out of Arkham, and they seem to be friendly again – at least, until Penguin tries to manipulate Ed into double-crossing Lee; however, Ed/Riddler, two personalities in love with one woman, leaves Penguin vulnerable to arrest while robbing a bank originally targeted by new crime boss Lee, who is acting like a sort of Robin Hood by committing burglary to distribute wealth to the poorer residents of the Narrows in Gotham.  Where does this friendship land by the end of the season?  That answer is unknown, since Riddler finds himself highly obsessed with Lee, and Penguin’s fate intertwines with the chaotic and maniacal Jerome.  Listen to the podcast episode for details.

2) REPEAT QUESTION: Will Riddler’s riddles get more complex and mind-twisting?

ANSWER AS OF THE END OF SEASON 2: Riddler’s caper riddles, as he began to frame Jim for the murder of a police officer, were potentially more complex.  Mind-twisting? Eh.  Marginally more mind-twisting, perhaps.

NOT SO FAST! ANSWER AS OF MID-SEASON 3: Though Ed told fewer riddles in this half season, his ire has been irked (see above).  We can only imagine what a provoked and forlorn Ed might riddle when the riddles finally and continuously come.

ANSWER AS OF END OF SEASON 3: He got there!  He just needed a worthy adversary…which he finds in “Foxy” Lucius Fox (Chris Chalk) and secondarily in Penguin.  Now, if only Batman was around…

NOT SO FAST!  ANSWER AS OF MID-SEASON 4: As stated above, Ed suffers a minor cognitive setback as a result of being frozen by Mr. Freeze’s icy weaponry.  Lee informs Edward, however, that there is nothing physically wrong with his brain, and that his condition is presumably psychological, a fact made evident by the reemergence of Edward’s schizophrenic struggle with his Riddler identity, who returns to talk to him from the other side of the mirror again.  The panel expects a full return of the Riddler any day now, as long as he is able to sort out his feelings for Lee, even if she sorts them out for him.

ANSWER AS OF THE END OF SEASON 4: Once Riddler sublimates Edward Nygma, allowing his sociopath half free reign, he tells better riddles than the recently-frozen-now-thawed version of Ed, whose brain was affected by the flash-freezing process of Mr. Freeze’s freeze gun.  The panelists, however, still find Riddler’s riddles quite lackluster compared to riddles voiced by other versions of the Riddler that we have watched in the past.

3) REPEAT QUESTION: Are the writers going to treat the nascent Ivy character (who the podcast panel presumes will be Poison Ivy) better?

ANSWER AS OF THE END OF SEASON 2: Well…this answer is in the eye of the beholder.  Ivy was starting to grow plants in this half of the season and helped Selina and Bruce in some of their escapades, but the pundits have announced that the show is recasting the part. Ivy will apparently be older and sexier, like the Poison Ivy most people know.  The panel is at a loss as to how this could be rendered believable in the story, especially as the writers are not batting at any kind of decent percentage right now in terms of consistency with the source material or, even, with following any of the rules they set up for themselves in this version of the Batman mythology.

NOT SO FAST! ANSWER AS OF MID-SEASON 3: Is making her randomly grow into an awkward, teenage sexpot via the touch of an Indian Hill escapee with the power to make things rapidly age and to drain life constitute treating her better?  Listen to the podcast episode for our panel’s verdict.

ANSWER AS OF END OF SEASON 3: Ivy’s on the struggle bus; she’s strange, awkward, and not especially better as a teenage sexpot.  The panel struggles still…

NOT SO FAST!  ANSWER AS OF MID-SEASON 4: Ivy tries to help Penguin in the face of competitors who challenge his position, as the one and only crime boss in Gotham City, and of wavering police involvement, but he mistreats her, owing to the fact that she is kind of needy and not that bright.  As a result, Ivy decides to ally with a gang who tries to take down Penguin’s “Pax Penguina” license scheme by taking Penguin down himself and robs some sort of potion store or apothecary, in which the audience sees her drinking some of the inventory.  Plus, the producers have announced, through the typical TV pundits, that the part of Ivy is again being recast and will soon be played by Peyton List (Frequency, The Tomorrow People), a dire prospect for this Chief CP.  Moreover, panelist Spencer believes that the first episode returning from the mid-season hiatus will address Ivy’s newest transformation.  What the hell is going on with this character, you ask?  We ask the same question, repeatedly apparently.  Sadly, we also currently have no answer, so this particularly robust question and answer section grows and grows – in confusion and in length – and presumably like Ivy’s plants, if she ever gets that botanically savvy in the end.

ANSWER AS OF THE END OF SEASON 4: Peyton List plays a more adult, more “developed” version of Ivy, who, after ingesting all of the apothecary’s chemicals at mid-season, permanently alters her body chemistry, such that her kiss – and even the scent of her pheromones – are literal poison to anyone to whom she offers a smooch or a whiff of her natural scent.  Plus, Ivy, on a vendetta to avenge every put-upon plant in the concrete jungle that is Gotham City, grabs hold of a sample of Lazarus Pit water on hold and under experiment at Wayne Enterprises and uses it to create a lethal plant that she unleashes on a benefit dinner hosted by the Wayne Foundation.  Unfortunately, though her antics draw the focus of the GCPD and of a Bruce Wayne still contemplating life as a vigilante, the show does not make clear what happens to her after this ploy to let loose killer plants among Gotham’s elite.  The panel assumes she has been arrested and is probably subsequently thrown into Arkham, but this is not confirmed, and, frankly, the bigger infraction is the show’s continued interpretation of this character as some sort of plant-obsessed mutant with questionable sex appeal and very little brain.  Listen to the podcast episode for additional ranting.

5) REPEAT QUESTION: When will Bruce have his inspiration to be Batman?  And how will that happen if he didn’t see bats when he fell into the cave?

ANSWER: Still waiting… And it’s concerning.  Bruce, after his trials with the Shaman and Ra’s (and his League of Shadows) in Season 3, starts Season 4 by dipping his baby toes into vigilante crime fighting – with billowing black trench coat, balaclava, and the ability to quickly climb sides of buildings to boot – and, with a little help from Lucius Fox, who creates some conveniently fashioned bulletproof armor to protect Bruce’s adolescent bod.  Unfortunately, however, Ra’s distracts Bruce via his own side plot to ensure that Bruce will inherit the embalming knife of Demon’s Head status, thereby rendering Bruce Ra’s’ successor.  Thus, via manipulation and threat against another adolescent only trying to help and, in so doing, to befriend Bruce, Bruce ends up stabbing Ra’s with the knife, and it seems the seemingly immortal character of Ra’s wastes away into dust and ash as a result of the knife piercing his flesh.  Bruce takes his decision to murder Ra’s, even in an attempt to protect his friend (who Ra’s kills anyway), hard and descends into a dark void of guilt, self-pity, and belated grief for his dead parents, replete with hard partying and spoiled billionaire brat behavior. All the while, the young Mr. Wayne turns his back on his initial attempts at vigilantism and all while still seeing no bats, much to the chagrin of the podcast panel (listen to the episode for details…and rants).

NOT SO FAST! ANSWER AS OF THE END OF SEASON 4: Though Bruce’s vision does not seem to clearly indicate that he should later assume the persona of a crime-fighting man dressed as a bat, Bruce finally – FINALLY – sees bats this half season.  This alleged epiphany occurs after Bruce’s exposure to a duplicitous Ivy and her chemically altered physique, who visits Bruce (and Selina) at Wayne Manor for the purpose of obtaining access to Wayne Enterprises and to the aforementioned Lazarus water or, more accurately, to the division housing the project that just happens to be working with that water sample.  Bruce does not, however, seem to immediately process this vision of a swarm of bats and a hooded, dark figure, blurred by the effects of Ivy’s poison, beyond believing that he sees a shadowy, seemingly unaffected glimpse of his future.  Thus, it is quite unclear as to whether Bruce has connected the dots, especially since our panelists and discerning viewers are not clear that the dots have been connected for the audience.  Listen to the podcast episode for details.

6) REPEAT QUESTION: When will Selina have her inspiration to be Catwoman?  She can wait awhile, but since everyone is finding themselves much sooner than they should be, the writers might as well give Selina the idea to be a cat. Maybe she’ll take whatever drug Ivy’s got going on and get all sexy feline on us.

REPEAT ANSWER: Still waiting… but she continues to learn whipping skills from Tabitha and is quite the prodigy with this unusual weapon.  Also, she displays cat-like reflexes while walking the edges of rooftops and seems to be significantly smarter than gal pals and partners in crime, Tabitha and Barbara.  Yet, inspiration is fleeting for all of our junior Gotham characters so far, and this fleetingness disturbs the CPU! Gotham panel greatly.

7) Is Joker-Not-Joker Jerome really Proto-Joker, and will we see him again in Season 4?

ANSWER: This question forms the subject of some significant debate in this podcast episode.  Panelists Kyle and Spencer wholeheartedly believe that the producers, as well as Cameron Monaghan, the portraying actor behind Jerome Valeska, have gone on record to say that Jerome is not the actual Joker, and that the audience is slated to see the character and individual who would become the Joker in the coming half season.  Panelist Hilary, with some hesitant agreement by Nick and Kylie, feels that the rumored protesting of Jerome-as-Joker is a red herring or deflection from the fact that he really is the Joker or some early version of him, given the fact that Mr. Monaghan is really one of the best almost-Jokers (and real Jokers) our panel of Batman fans has ever watched.  In short, this is still a question, but we will see Jerome in Season 4B because we saw him in Season 4A talking to Penguin through the wall joining their adjacent cells in Arkham.

NOT SO FAST! ANSWER AS OF THE END OF SEASON 4: Jerome Valeska, after escaping from Arkham Asylum, initiates a grand-scale caper, fueled by a sense of anarchy and a tinge of revenge, with the intention of harming Bruce Wayne and his (SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER) surprisingly sane-seeming secret twin brother, Jeremiah Valeska (also played by Monaghan).  Jerome even goes to the effort of kidnapping city officials and wiring them with bombs, which, when triggered, explodes only their skulls.  He then places these hostages on display on the stage of a well-attended music festival in Gotham City, while demanding from Jim Gordon that he produce Bruce and Jeremiah.  Jim and officers of the GCPD pursue Jerome, however, and Jerome flees.  Jim chases him to a rooftop’s edge; Jerome topples over the edge and, before plummeting to his apparent death, tells Jim that he will not be forgotten because his antics planted a seed, an idea, that will live on in the dark alleys and mean streets of Gotham City. Plus, though Gotham’s producers recently claimed that Jerome is not the Joker, they pretended for a time that Jeremiah was, even styling Jeremiah after a cross between Jack Nicholson’s Joker from the 1989 Batman film and a comic version in which the Joker’s personality is inexorably altered after Batman falls into a long-term coma, which is somehow mirrored by Joker.  Now, the producers are proclaiming that Jeremiah is not the Joker either, though Jeremiah survives the season.  Thus, Jerome is dead, Jeremiah is crazy but allegedly not the Joker, and Gotham City is besieged by darkness and anarchy following Jeremiah’s efforts to destroy Gotham.  Where does that leave the prospect of an actual Joker appearing on Gotham?  Your guess is as good as ours.

8) Will Bruce finally see freaking bats already?

NEW ANSWER: Yes, Bruce finally sees the freaking bats this season.  Now – does he understand what the bats mean to him and his future in the end?  That answer is very unclear and very unknown.

9) Will Ra’s al Ghul be the “Big Bad” of Season 4?  What is the prophecy to which he referred, and what does it mean for Bruce?

NEW ANSWER: Though Ra’s makes his presence known, both in life and in alleged death, the arguable “Big Bads” of Season 4 are the Valeska twins, as their plans, schemes, and insanity dominate the second half of Season 4.

The prophecy, however, remains unexplained, though Ra’s al Ghul, who does come back to life temporarily owing to the mystical and magical efforts of his League of Shadows, repeatedly suggests that Bruce will become a “Dark Knight of Gotham,” and that it is the mission of Ra’s, with help from a doting Jeremiah, to help Bruce realize this destiny.  Unfortunately, Barbara, through her piece of this disjointed story, manages to manipulate Bruce into taking Ra’s al Ghul’s life again, so if this prophecy is to be explained, it is doubtful that the explanation will come directly from him any time soon.  Unless he is resurrected a second time in Season 5.

10) REPEAT QUESTION: Will Selina go full on Catgirl in Season 4?

SOMEWHAT REPEAT ANSWER: She has not so far, but she has made progress.  She’s got ambition, she’s got whip skills, and she’s got brains and survival instinct more finely honed than the brains and instincts of her partners, Babs and Tabby.  

11) REPEAT QUESTION: Where did Hugo Strange end up nowadays?

NEW ANSWER: Hugo was in the wind, but Penguin quickly tracks him down and appeals to him to help change a more conscious Butch from a Solomon-looking Butch to a Butch-looking Butch.  He appears in one episode in the latter half of Season 4.

12) Generally speaking, and notably, our Gotham panel is loathe to ask further questions or to make predictions because the writers, in their quest to be unpredictable and “non-canon,” have taken the story to wild places with little satisfying payoff for the viewer in the end.  Everyone is sort of bracing themselves for the coming season while cherishing the few truly enjoyable nuggets about this show, mainly in character/performances.

ANSWER: This is still true.  Though the panel feels that Season 4A improved upon and corrects for several of the ills of many of Gotham’s past half seasons, the writers and producers have also proven themselves to be less than adept at capitalizing upon story momentum or developments that offer some sense of logic and/or dovetailing with the Batman canon, even as the show and its creators profess to be off canon – a trend that returns with a vengeance in Season 4B.  This decline, again, stirs strong feelings in our panelists and makes for consistently spicy discussion.  

13) Where is Scarecrow?  Jonathan Crane achieves his full transition in this most recent half season, but what happened to him?  Was he caught and returned to Arkham Asylum?  Is he at large?  Where did he go?  Especially since the producers are also re-casting this part.  What the hell is going on with the Scarecrow character?

ANSWER: Scarecrow, as it turns out, was caught and returned to Arkham as of the mid-season hiatus. In addition, as it turns out, Scarecrow is fully Scarecrow, obsessed with creating gasses and liquids that produce the gamut of mind-altering effects, often punctuated by fear and/or impulses of insanity.  He does not have a huge part in this second half of the fourth season, but he does give Jerome Valeska a 100 percent guaranteed, Scarecrow-endorsed gas that Jerome tries to release, via a blimp, onto the city but for the in-the-moment heroics of Penguin.

14) How long will it take for Bruce to realize that he is spiraling and circling the drain known as rock bottom?  How much time must the audience wait for Bruce to find Alfred again?

ANSWER: Not long.  Bruce snaps out of his spoiled brat phase after about three episodes and tries to reach out to Alfred, though Alfred is reluctant to forgive his then-former master at first.  The panel cannot truly blame Alfred.  Bruce’s “wild child” phase was tedious.

15) Will Jim Gordon be able to maintain his position as captain of the Central GCPD without betraying his secret alliance and/or dalliance with the plotting Sofia Falcone?

ANSWER: He manages to not only remain GCPD Central Captain, but he also keeps his “relationship” to Sofia largely secret, though he does inform Harvey Bullock of the morally questionable manner in which he obtained said captaincy.  Yet, it is Harvey, who is understandably somewhat resentful of Jim in light of his own fall from grace and loss of respect in the eyes of his fellow GCPD officers, who convinces Jim to keep it all a secret and to “live with it,” so that it will motivate Jim to do better; to do right by the GCPD force, which works hard to maintain tenuous order in Gotham City; and to make amends for all of the rash decisions that this version of the Jim character has made prior to this point.  Jim, wishing for Harvey to stay un-retired/un-resigned, follows his friend’s advice.

16) Will we see Fish Mooney again?  The panel votes no and hopes she is dead for good and for real.

ANSWER: So far, Fish’s current iteration of death seems permanent.  Let’s hope it stays that way.

17) What is Sofia Falcone’s endgame, and how long will she hang onto to her position as leader of the underworld?  Will we watch her become her comic-inspired identity, The Hangman?

ANSWER: Ultimately, Sofia wants what all of Gotham’s various crime syndicates and crime bosses want: control of the power and the wealth (such as it is) of the City.  Unfortunately, her hold on Gotham is brief.  When she decides to go after Lee and her claim as “Doc” to the Narrows, manipulating their relationship as brief sisters-in-law until Lee’s fingers are broken while Sofia forcibly takes the Narrows from her, Lee enacts revenge, particularly when Sofia threatens to off Jim, by shooting Sofia in the head, which apparently puts her in a coma without killing her. If Sofia is destined to become her comic book persona, the Hangman, we have not yet seen this transition.

18) Is Ra’s al Ghul actually dead?  What was with his interchange with Barbara in prison?  Why did her hand glow?  Is his essence in the embalming knife?  Is it in Barbara’s hand?  Is it actually in Bruce, a reflection of his current darkness?  Has Bruce achieved the status of “successor to the Demon’s Head?”

ANSWER: Yes, at the start of the second half of Season 4, Ra’s is actually dead, though in a very mystical sense.  As it turns out, Ra’s did voluntarily offer the “power of the Demon’s Head” to Barbara while in prison in the first half of the season.  This means that though the essence of Ra’s al Ghul may be tied to the embalming knife, the “Demon’s Head” in Gotham’s vision is a manifestation of mystical power, not a translation of Ra’s al Ghul’s actual name.  We do not know if Bruce lives up to be Ra’s al Ghul’s professed successor or if he holds some of the darkness of the Demon’s Head close to his own heart; we do know that the League of Shadows resurrects Ra’s al Ghul for the purpose of retrieving the Demon’s Head power from Barbara, who does not know how to use it and who does not actually inspire confidence in her band of would-be ninja followers.  Imagine that.

19) Will the Riddler persona reemerge from the vexed and confused Edward Nygma?  Soon?

ANSWER: Yes, Penguin is able to coax the Riddler half of Edward Nygma to the forefront relatively quickly, within the first three episodes of the second half of Season 4.  Ed is still experiencing a psychological tug-of-war between these two distinct sides of himself, but the Riddler definitely has a claim to some of the territory of the shell housing both halves of this troubled but intelligent mind.

20) Is Jerome Valeska actually the Joker?  Or, is he the model for a watchful new individual who will be inspired by and who will adopt a Jerome-esque version of the Joker persona?  What will Penguin and Jerome do together after joining forces in Arkham?  Will they involve other well-known inmates in their plot(s)?

ANSWER: Since Jerome seems to have met his likely permanent end, and since he delivers a speech that addresses this very issue before meeting that grisly, permanent end, and since Jeremiah does not channel Jerome’s more maniacal and chaotic traits, the panelists believe that Jerome is most likely meant to be a model for some watchful individual, waiting to be inspired by his frenetic brand of hullabaloo.  Penguin and Jerome form an uneasy alliance after Jerome essentially tortures Penguin for fun while in Arkham, though he claims that he is testing Penguin to see if he is anything more than “boring.”  Though they ultimately have some well-timed help from Riddler, with Penguin’s prodding, both Penguin and Jerome break out of Arkham, along with Mad Hatter and Scarecrow.  Subsequently, Jerome forms a “Legion of Horribles,” of which Mr. Freeze and Firefly are also members.  This Legion of Horribles plans to assist Jerome in his attack on the City and in his quest of vengeance against his twin brother and against Bruce Wayne, after the latter’s confrontation with Jerome in the House of Mirrors in Season 3.  Fortunately or unfortunately, however, Penguin musters enough moral fortitude to narc on NotJoker; Jerome’s comrades, chiefly the Hatter, suss this duplicity out, and Penguin is thrown onto the blimp meant to crash land into the streets of Gotham with Scarecrow’s poison gas.  Yet, a quick thinking Jim gets cowardly Penguin to do the right thing in the end, though with Jerome’s apparent death, their friendship and alliance seems decidedly ended as well.

21) Will Lee and Jim reunite, and how?  Will Barbara Gordon be conceived on this show, and who will be her mother – Barbara Kean, even though she is crazy in this show, or Lee?

ANSWER: Lee and Jim do not reunite romantically, though both confess to each other how much they care for the other in this broken relationship. Unfortunately, for now, Edward Nygma obsesses over Lee, a fire which Lee only seems too happy to stoke, at least as long as it serves her sudden purpose of crime sprees and villainy.

So far, Barbara Gordon does not seem to be the speck of an iota of a concept on this show, at present.

22) Will Ed make a play for Lee?  Will her (inevitable, one would hope) rejection of him lead to the reemergence of the Riddler identity?

ANSWER: Yes, Ed makes a grand romantic move toward Lee after she impresses him by solving some of his riddles, when he hosts a sadistic sort of game show in the Narrows called the Riddle Factory, which often ends up in the contestants’ maiming or death.  Unfortunately – and somewhat revoltingly – Lee does not outright reject Ed, at least not at first.  She confesses that she does not love him, and though she later proposes that they run away from Gotham City together, as Jim once proposed to her, she changes her mind about that proposal, much to Edward’s stabbing chagrin.  As in, he literally stabs her and she him.  They do not die, however, but, instead, end up on tables in front of a salivating Hugo Strange.  The panelists are not happy or optimistic about this particular plot development.  Listen to the podcast episode for details.

23) Is Professor Pyg actually dead?  Alternatively, the producers have allegedly said that Michael Cerveris’ Pyg is not the true Pyg.  If he is not, who is, and will we see him?

ANSWER: So far, the Pyg, fake or not, is gone from Gotham. Will we see Pyg, either the version we have come to know or the alleged “real” version, before the end of the series?  Time will tell.  Maybe.

24) What happened to the young orphan cared for by Penguin, the boy known as Martin?  Will he become a factor in the future, assuming Victor Zsasz hid him as promised and as requested by Penguin?

ANSWER: Sofia Falcone imprisons Martin with some of her goons; however, with help from a newly reemerged Riddler on top of his game, Penguin is able to steal Martin back from Sofia’s clutches and to stow him in an allegedly safe place, the viewer knows not where.

25) Will we see Tommy Elliott, Bruce’s old/new friend, show some indication of his future Hush persona?

ANSWER: Tommy Elliott does not appear in the second half of Season 4.  Will we see Tommy take on a “Hush” like visage before the end of the series?  Time will tell.

26) Did Tabitha succeed in jogging what is left of Butch out of Solomon Grundy’s addled brain?

ANSWER: Yes, Tabby beat Butch right out of Solomon’s head.  Butch is lucid at the start of the second half of Season 4, though he is very much itching to be cured of his Solomon malady from a physical perspective.

27) Will Jim succeed in bringing Harvey back to the fold?

ANSWER: Yes, Jim is able to convince Harvey, who temporarily works as a bartender during his temporary resignation from the force, to return to the police department when Jerome Valeska lets loose on Gotham City.  Harvey is not exactly happy about it, though he seems to come around by the end of the season.

New Questions

1) Panelist Kyle indicates in our podcast episode that Season 5 will, largely, be based upon the series of Batman comics known as “No Man’s Land,” which tells the story of Gotham City in an anarchic state not regulated by a present Batman.  The main villain of this story, at least as inspired by the films directed by Christopher Nolan, is Bane, who will now be played by Shane West.  How can this story make sense when Batman has not yet been part of Gotham? How will Bane’s existence make sense?

2) Barbara, Tabitha, and Selina’s club, a redo of Penguin’s Iceberg Lounge, is called the “Sirens.”  At the end of the season, Barbara, leading the female half of the League of Shadows and with a newfound angst against men, declares war on men as the “Sirens.” Is this meant to be an Easter egg or homage to the Sirens of the comics – or do the producers intend to go through with the previously rumored transition of making Barbara some version of Harley Quinn?  How can the Sirens be the Sirens without an accurate (or free) version of Poison Ivy or a fully realized Catwoman?

3) Will we see Bruce Wayne become Batman in this coming season?  Panelist Kyle has learned that by the end of the season, the show will jump ahead ten years.  What will finally inspire Bruce to take that step toward the shadowy figure of his vision?

4) Will we see a third potential Joker (Not Joker) this season?  Who will it be?  Is Jeremiah Valeska gone for good?

5) What in blazes is Hugo Strange going to do to Lee and Ed?  PLEASE, DO NOT TURN THEM INTO SOME SORT OF SIAMESE TWIN/JOINED AT THE HIP MUTANT EXPERIMENT!

6) Will we see Sofia Falcone again?  Will she become the Hangman this half season?

7) Jeremiah Valeska shoots Selina near the end of the season.  Will this motivate Selina to become Catwoman to preserve her remaining eight lives (in homage to Batman Returns)?

8) Is Butch Gilzean/Solomon Grundy actually dead?  If so, does Gotham not know anything about the Solomon Grundy character?  Chief CP Kylie predicts that Butch/Solomon cannot possibly be dead, and that we will see him again before the end of the series.

9) Is Ra’s al Ghul permanently dead?

10) How can a small, ragtag group of cops led by Jim Gordon, and a nascent Batman/Bruce Wayne, possibly take on a city overrun with enterprising super-villains and otherwise unruly, unsavory anarchists?

PARTING SHOTS

The CPU! Gotham panel and all of its panelists continue to identify moments truly loved and moments truly hated while watching and while discussing the second half of Season 4 in this latest podcast episode, though the panel also universally feels that the show’s writers and producers once again failed to capitalize on positive momentum created by the first half of the season. As the panel discussion demonstrates, none of the panelists reacted positively to the second half of Season 4 overall, though some panelists responded better to certain moments, such as a larger role for Cameron Monaghan’s many versions of Joker/NotJoker, Bruce Wayne’s relationships with Alfred and with Selina Kyle, and Harvey Bullock’s personal redemption.  In fact, finally, all panelists have unanimously reached the point of hating the direction of the show and of being impatient with the show’s “two steps forward, four steps back” approach to character progression, an approach which proves more frustrating than titillating or, minimally, entertaining.  Still, all panelists persevere, finding our discussions about the controlled disorder of Gotham endlessly engaging, even when the show itself is not, and if we do say so ourselves.

Further, the previous unrest among the panelists, given the writers’ track record to date, still produces a variety of emotions and trust issues, preventing most if not all panel members from being able to recommend watching the show, in good conscience, to anyone, especially now.  The panel is still open to a story that seems to follow a consistent set of rules, no matter how much of a deviation it might be from the Batman comics or franchise proper, as long as the writers do not continue to change the direction of the show to compensate for “Twitter reaction.”  In fact, most of the panel finds this half of the fourth season to be the show’s new low point, even as it, still, contained some engaging moments of entertainment. The panelists, as such, continue to advise the writers to revisit not only the Batman comics but also their original blueprint for the show and to adhere to a structure and story continuity for the show that rightly capitalizes upon the amazing – and the strongest – performances of the cast, which the panel universally agrees are good if not phenomenal.  Also, the writers should continue to track their own continuity and not turn what is one of the tightest and most enjoyed (and most widely known) comic book properties into an absurdist’s take on the story, or they will alienate viewers.  The panelists implore Gotham’s writers to end on the best moment possible, and one safely based in the canon, while maintaining continuity with the paths already explored on this series, so as to provide at least our viewers and panelists with some sense that this exercise of watching five grossly uneven seasons, in terms of writing and direction, is all worth something in the end.

LOOKING AHEAD

Gotham has been renewed for a fifth and final season, albeit a shorter one at thirteen episodes, which is slated to premiere on Fox on Thursday, January 3, 2019, at 8:00 PM. The Gotham podcast panel will next reconvene following the series finale, at which time we will also Look Back at the show as a whole and offer our final, post-mortem ruminations related to the five tempestuously uneven seasons of this Batman prequel – which, unfortunately, could ultimately become a roast, if the show does not significantly and convincingly rebound in these up and coming, remaining thirteen episodes.  Stay tuned!

NEXT CPU! LIVE!

CPU! is going live again!!!  CPU! will next be LIVE at Grand Rapids Comic-Con. for our third annual appearance at the Con, on November 10, 2018, at 7:00 PM!  In that live podcast (also streamed to our Facebook page), a brand new panel will gather together to debate the multifaceted, multi-generational universe behind Star Trek. This panel will also seed a new ongoing series panel for the podcast!  Like our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter and Instagram to keep abreast of all the details, but here’s the art for it for now!  Stay tuned!

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Marvel’s Defenders Series, Episode Ten: Marvel’s Iron Fist, Season Two (MAJOR SPOILERS)

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A new podcast episode of Couch Potatoes Unite!, which is based on a blog of the same name hosted at couchpotatoesunite.wordpress.com. In this episode, recorded in September 2018, our panel of comic book and superhero enthusiasts – including moderator Kylie, Kristen, Nick, Hilary, Kyle, and Spencer – is back Around the Water Cooler as the Marvel’s Defenders Series panel discusses Season 2 of Iron Fist, the fourth property introduced into Netflix’s Marvel wing of its original streaming library. If you have not watched any of Iron Fist (or any of the other Defenders series: Daredevil, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, The Punisher, and The Defenders crossover miniseries), be aware that there are MAJOR SPOILERS! Tell us what you think in the comments below and check out the blog and YouTube for other TV related discussions, in both podcast and blog format. Also, if there are other shows you’re interested in the blog covering, sound off below! Tell us what you like or don’t like. Keep the discussion going!

Editor: Kylie C. Piette
Logo: Rebecca Wallace
Marketing Graphic Artist: Krista Pennington

PODCAST! – Streaming Originals & Around the Water Cooler: Marvel’s Defenders Series, Episode Ten, “Marvel’s Iron Fist” – the Season Two Recap and Review (MAJOR SPOILERS)

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Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who: “Marvel’s Iron Fist” is a web television series based upon the Marvel Comics character Iron Fist and is a Netflix original series, always available on Netflix.

What: “Marvel’s Iron Fist,” created by Scott Buck, is set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), sharing continuity with the films of the franchise, and is the fourth in a series of shows that led up to a Defenders crossover miniseries. Finn Jones stars as Danny Rand aka Iron Fist, a martial arts expert with the ability to call upon the power of the sacred Iron Fist.

SYNOPSIS

Danny Rand (Jones) returns to New York City, after being presumed dead for 15 years, to reclaim his family company from Harold Meachum and his children, Ward Meachum (Tom Pelphrey) and Joy Meachum (Jessica Stroup). When a threat emerges, Rand must choose between his family’s legacy and his duties as the Iron Fist.

When: Season 2 was released in its entirety to the Netflix streaming library on September 7, 2018, with a total of ten episodes.

Where: The action is set primarily in the New York City, New York, borough of Manhattan, as depicted in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  This season, the action primarily transpires in Chinatown.

Why: To find out why individual podcast panelists started watching this show, listen to the “Iron Fist” Episode 1 recap and review via the link below – though I will say that all of the panelists are fans of the Netflix original library and/or superhero/comic book based shows in their own right and have found themselves eagerly anticipating new entries in Netflix’s “Defenders” series of releases.  As a result, they’re committed to a CPU! series about same!

How – as in How Was It? – THOUGHTS

As long-time listeners should know by now, CPU! is chock full of panelists with a proclivity for comic book and superhero TV shows and films, including your Chief CP. Our Marvel’s Defenders Series was born of this proclivity, as we have already covered the two available seasons of Daredevil; the two available seasons of Jessica Jones; the two available seasons of Luke Cage; the first season of Iron Fist; the one available season of the crossover event miniseries, The Defenders; and the one available season of the first spin-off series, The Punisher.  Listen to the links below:

Marvel’s Defenders Series, Episode One, “Daredevil,” Season 1

Marvel’s Defenders Series, Episode Two, “Jessica Jones,” Season 1

Marvel’s Defenders Series, Episode Three, “Daredevil,” Season 2

Marvel’s Defenders Series, Episode Four, “Luke Cage,” Season 1
Marvel’s Defenders Series, Episode Five, “Iron Fist,” Season 1

Marvel’s Defenders Series, Episode Six, “The Defenders,” Season 1

Marvel’s Defenders Series, Episode Seven, “The Punisher,” Season 1

Marvel’s Defenders Series, Episode Eight, “Jessica Jones,” Season 2

Marvel’s Defenders Series, Episode Nine, “Luke Cage,” Season 2

In this, the tenth episode of our Marvel’s Defenders Series, we revisit the fourth in Netflix’s series of Marvel-centered shows that led up to The Defenders miniseries, namely Iron Fistfeaturing Defenders Series panelists Nick, Kristen, Hilary, Kyle, and Spencer.  In this episode, our panelists experience multiple “nerdgasms” over not only a vast and dramatic improvement over Season 1 but a growing addiction to the mythos and mythology behind “The Immortal Iron Fist.”  Common reactions to this season universally praise story execution; improved direction; Jessica Henwick as Colleen Wing; better pacing; the improvement of Ward Meachum (Pelphrey) as a character; the thrilling crossover appearances of Luke Cage character Misty Knight (Simone Missick), possibly seeding a “Heroes for Hire” entry – or even “Daughters of the Dragon” – in this Netflix lineup; and a more focused sense of story direction overall compared to Season 1.  Though our panel would have willingly gobbled up a third season, noting that we recorded this episode before Netflix canceled both the Luke Cage and Iron Fist solo series, alternatively, we would all also eagerly watch a first season of “Heroes for Hire” or “Daughters of the Dragon.”  To hear us hash out these opinions further, listen to our discussion via the embedded link below.

This podcast was recorded in September 2018, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as we cover major plot points throughout the second season of Iron Fist.  Do you agree or disagree?  Listen at your own risk, and let us know what you think by commenting below.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter (@cpupodcast), Instagram (@couchpotatoesunite), Pinterest (@cpupodcast), or email us at couchpotatoesunitepodcast@gmail.com – or subscribe to this blog, the YouTube channel, our iTunes channel, our Stitcher Radio channel , and/or find us on Google Play to keep track of brand new episodes.  In the meantime, let us know what you think!  Comment or review us in any of the above forums – we’d love your feedback!

Remember, new episodes and blog posts are published weekly!  Next Wednesday, our comic book oriented streak continues as our Gotham panel returns to the Water Coolerschedule permitting, to reason whether the highly inconsistent “Batman” prequel sustained its better momentum in the back half of Season 4, now its penultimate season, as the fifth season was deemed its to-be last by the Fox network. Stay tuned!

Lingering Questions

1) Netflix has canceled both Luke Cage and Iron Fist.  Are they paving the way, via efficiency of cost, for “Heroes for Hire”/”Daughters of the Dragon?”  Or, did the streaming giant actually give up on two of the properties comprising its unique corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe for any of the following reasons: low ratings for Iron Fist; disagreements with the Luke Cage show-runner; and/or the fact that Disney/Marvel is starting its own streaming service and is gradually relieving Netflix of these properties?  When, if ever, will we know the truth?

2) Who is the Pirate Queen, from which Colleen is descended?

3) Are Danny and Colleen doomed to spend the rest of their days as friends only, having ended their romantic relationship?  Were Misty and Ward really flirting over her “Maserati” arm?

4) How involved would Mary/Walker aka Typhoid Mary (Alice Eve) have been with Danny, Colleen, or any other purveyor of the Iron Fist?  Will she now transfer to Daredevil, as she is traditionally a “Daredevil” villain, with this show’s cancellation?

5) Would Bethany have had Ward’s baby?  Would Ward have been able to convince Bethany to permit him a connection to his child?

6) What would Joy (Stroup) have done, now that her plan for revenge has been foiled and since she suffered horrific injuries via the betraying and murderous hands of Davos aka Steel Serpent (Sacha Dhawan)?

7) Would Davos have escaped from jail?  Would he have come after Danny?  Would he have been broken out by some other faction, like remnants of the Hand or some other Marvel criminal and/or ninja organization? Or, would he have powered up his rage-driven chi again and created his own means of escape?

8) Would we have seen Danny’s journey to regain the power of the Iron Fist, particularly via his predecessor, Orson Randall?  Would we have met Orson?  Would we have seen the Iron Fist Guide or Book that provides the secrets of the power of the Iron Fist?

9) Would we ever have met Sao Lao?

10) If “Heroes for Hire” and/or “Daughters of the Dragon” is/are launched, would these series resolve the considerable loose ends/cliffhangers posed by the ends of the second seasons of Luke Cage and Iron Fist?

PARTING SHOTS

Frankly, listeners, ever since our panel learned of the cancellation of Iron Fist, we have vacillated widely and wildly between shock, stunned silence, and angry outcry.  Our panel universally enjoys this property; all six of our members rank it among the “Top 3” of our individual favorite Defenders (including The Punisher, not including The Defenders crossover miniseries). Kylie and Kristen rank it tied for first (with Daredevil and Jessica Jones, respectively); Hilary and Kyle rank it second after Daredevil; and Spencer and Nick rank it third after Daredevil and The PunisherIn fact, our panel unanimously recommends Iron Fist to fans of comic books, particularly from the Marvel universe; fans of the various Defenders series; fans of the character; fans of kung fu and karate movies; and fans of epic fantasy along the lines of Star Wars or, more on the nose, stylized martial arts epics like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.  The panel generally and universally agrees that Iron Fist is well-performed (yes, including Finn Jones!) and aptly written and directed with markedly improved pacing and story execution in Season 2.

The entire panel experienced even more rapturous and engaged fun watching the second season of this series and believes that some of the criticism from trade critics and viewers alike remains unduly harsh, as the panel uniformly asserts that many who find more than small faults with this series may have missed (or simply do not prefer) its tendency toward subtleties and foreshadowing.  They may also not understand or appreciate the fact that Jones is playing a childlike character in an adult’s body who is also meant to be a fish out of water – from an ethnic as well as a “this dimension, that dimension” perspective.  Plus, those that offer frustration by his lack of growth as a character in the first season should have been able to appreciate the character’s turnaround in the second.

The panel, further, vehemently disagrees with the “white washing” controversy surrounding this show; while we acknowledge that white washing is prevalent in mainstream Hollywood and is a potential problem, Danny Rand as a character is white in the comics and is meant to be the “other” in the mystical village in which he spent his childhood, as well as in Manhattan when he tries to reintroduce himself into his former life.  The entire panel, therefore, recommends re-watching with an open mind for those who struggled with some of these aspects and a first watch for those interested in the Defenders as a whole.

On the other hand, especially with the cancellation of this and the Luke Cage series confirmed and on the books, all panelists, including super-fan Kyle, effused enthusiasm for the prospect of a “Heroes for Hire” or “Daughters of the Dragon” spin-off vehicle, or two, if Netflix is secretly considering converting these two properties into either or both of these more efficient, more cost-effective, and likely more popular adaptations that have enjoyed a greater longevity of life in the comics. While we wait for Netflix’s decision about these new series possibilities, fortunately for us, Marvel’s Daredevil was released on October 19, and the Defenders panel is already ready already for the next chapter.  Stay tuned!

THE FUTURE OF THE SHOW

Canceled!  Netflix canceled Iron Fist on October 12, 2018, after two seasons.  CPU! will continue the Marvel’s Defenders Series as long as Netflix continues to produce seasons of Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and The Punisher, though we remain ever hopeful for new series devoted to “Heroes for Hire” and/or to “Daughters of the Dragon.”  As always, CPU! will keep you informed of all Netflix/Marvel coverage.

LOOKING AHEAD

The CPU! Marvel’s Defenders Series panel will return to the Water Cooler shortly to review the third season of Daredevil, about which our devoted panelists expressed the utmost excitement, and to record post-mortem reactions to the cancellations of the solo series of Luke Cage and Iron Fist. Until then!

NEXT CPU! LIVE!

CPU! is going live again!!!  CPU! will next be LIVE at Grand Rapids Comic-Con. for our third annual appearance at the Con, on November 10, 2018, at 7:00 PM!  In that live podcast (also streamed to our Facebook page), a brand new panel will gather together to debate the multifaceted, multi-generational universe behind Star Trek. This panel will also seed a new ongoing series panel for the podcast!  Like our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter and Instagram to keep abreast of all the details, but here’s the art for it for now!  Stay tuned!

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DC Television Universe, Episode Fifteen: Supergirl, Season Three (MAJOR SPOILERS)

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A new podcast episode of Couch Potatoes Unite!, which is based on a blog of the same name hosted at couchpotatoesunite.wordpress.com. In this episode, recorded in October 2018, our DC Television Universe or DCTU panel – including moderator Kylie, Hilary, Kyle, Spencer, Kristen, and Nick – reconvenes Around the Water Cooler for the fifteenth episode of our DCTU ongoing series.  In this episode, the panel discusses Season 3 of the Arrowverse’s final spin-off, Supergirl. If you have not watched any of Supergirl, be aware that there are MAJOR SPOILERS! Tell us what you think in the comments below and check out the blog and YouTube for other TV related discussions, in both podcast and blog format. Also, if there are other shows you’re interested in the blog covering, sound off below! Tell us what you like or don’t like. Keep the discussion going!

Editor: Kylie C. Piette
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