Once Upon a Time (Season 6B, 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 July 2017, our Once Upon a Time panel – moderator Kylie, Kristen, Eddie, Amie, Emily, and Micah – returns to the Water Cooler to discuss the second half of season six of Once Upon a Time, a half season courting allegedly “happy beginnings.” If you are not caught up on Once, 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!

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PODCAST! – Around the Water Cooler: “Once Upon a Time” – The Season 6 End of Season Recap (MAJOR SPOILERS)

THIS EPISODE OF CPU! WAS SPONSORED BY: HERITAGE THEATRE GROUP

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Check out HTG’s 2017 Season!

Opening Tomorrow: “The Importance of Being Earnest”

For more information, visit Heritage Theatre’s website!

CPU! Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who: “Once Upon a Time” airs on network TV, specifically on ABC, fall/winter/spring Sundays (through the end of Season 6) at 8:00 PM.

What: “Once Upon a Time,” a fantasy drama wherein storybook and fairy tale characters are not only real but are living in this world, away from their enchanted kingdoms and worlds beyond reality, and how they all interrelate (for a more detailed Synopsis, read here: http://www.aceshowbiz.com/tv/once_upon_a_time/summary.html).

When: The Season 6 finale aired in two parts on Sunday, May 14, 2017, on ABC at 8:00 PM.

Where: The show is (currently) set in fictional Storybrooke, Maine, as well as in “The Enchanted Forest,” the fairy tale kingdom from where most of the main characters originate. The action takes place primarily in present day, though there are flashbacks to the characters’ past lives, before they were whisked away to Storybrooke via curse wrought by the Evil Queen Regina (Lana Parilla) and before they were made run-of-the-mill real world residents with serious bouts of amnesia.

Why: Two primary reasons: one, Chief Couch Potato Kylie loves fantasy and fairy tales, and the Disney network green-lit a live action serial television program about fairy tale characters that they would probably own the rights to, if the characters weren’t already public domain. Two, the creators are Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, two of the head writers of Lost. Whatever else may be said about the latter program, I don’t think anyone could argue that Lost wasn’t well written. All of our panel of enthusiastic Once fans finds love for this program via one or both of those reasons themselves.

How – as in How’s It Going? (THOUGHTS…at present)

To catch up on prior Once podcast episodes, click on the links embedded below:

Season 4A – Frozen

Season 4B – Queens of Darkness

Season 5A – Dark Swan

Season 5B – The Underworld

Season 6A

 

Our now bonded and totally cohesive and still full Once panel – namely Kristen, Eddie, Amie, Emily, and Micah – reconvene around the Water Cooler once again to discuss Season 6B of OUAT, which finds most of our characters on a path to the discovery of “Happy Beginnings,” though not without an epic “final battle” (and a separate musical episode!) involving our stalwart Savior Emma (Jennifer Morrison) facing another contest between good and evil in the name of love, family, and believing.  Fortunately or unfortunately, several story lines are resolved, and many of our characters reach closure, even as the network renewed OUAT for a seventh season, prompting several full time and beloved cast members to leave the show (voluntarily or otherwise) in advance of a so-called “soft reboot” heading into Season 7.  One of the departing main actors is Ms. Morrison herself, so the new season will require the services of a new Savior, namely Emma’s now adult son Henry, who seemingly forgets that he has a daughter Lucy, who requires his help to save his family.  What will it all mean for Once Upon a Time and for our panel?  Will everyone continue to watch, despite the fact that Once seems to be becoming a whole new show, with a whole new storybook, under the umbrella of the old title?  Will our panel reconvene in six months or so to talk about it?  Or, has anyone jumped the shark in lieu of this shocking and somewhat unprecedented news?  Listen to our newest chapter of CPU!’s ongoing Once Upon a Time podcast, during which we reflect on Season 6B and ruminate on the possibilities swirling around the #potential (#drink) of the upcoming season.  Do you agree with us? Or, do you have your own thoughts? Comment below!

This podcast was recorded in July 2017, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as the panelists cover key plot points of the second half of the sixth season. 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! In our next episode, our Supernatural panel returns to the Water Cooler to devil out the pesky details of the second half of the twelfth season of that long-running cult favorite. Stay tuned!

Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations

Old Questions

1) Is baby Neal magical like his sister? (This question will remain until answered!)

Answer: At this time, baby Neal’s “specialness,” if it exists, is still unknown.

2) How did Will Scarlett (Michael Socha), aka the Knave from Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, end up in Storybrooke and without Anastasia (Emma Rigby), the former Red Queen? And how did he and Belle (Emilie de Ravin) decide to hook up? (This question will remain until answered!)

Answer: Will Scarlett is gone.  Where he went is anyone’s guess.  Why he was even brought to the flagship show with so little explanation for his coming and going is the bigger mystery.

3) Where did Maleficient (Kristen Bauer von Straten) go? Will we see more of her? Will she reconnect with her daughter Lily in a more meaningful way? (This question will remain until answered!)

Answer: Like Will Scarlett, Maleficient and Lily have both disappeared without a trace or explanation.

4) Will the Once writers/producers provide a better, more detailed explanation for why Will Scarlett was on the flagship series? Will they provide a more significant flashback to explain why he and Anastasia are not together anymore? Would Emma Rigby be available to reprise her role of Anastasia? (This question will remain until answered!)

Answer: Will Scarlett is gone.  Where or where has Will Scarlett gone?

5)  Are we watching a Henry/Author rewrite in progress?  This is Eddie’s meta-Matrix theory.

(NEW) ANSWER: If the events of this last half season are any indication, Henry (Jared S. Gilmore) has no power to rewrite the book.  As the Author, he is beholden to record the events surrounding the Savior of the storybook at hand.  To wit, when he shirks his responsibilities for a time, he starts going into trances and recording strange symbols foretelling the end of the story. Also, Fiona the Black Fairy burns the original “Once Upon a Time” storybook in an effort to stop Emma and to save her son, Rumpelstiltskin (Robert Carlyle).  Thus, Henry is forced to hand-draw a new storybook to save the day (more below), so Henry, as the Author, must believe the story at hand and then write about it, or Destiny will do it for him – or put him in the position of having to write about it whether he wants to or not.

Bottom line: we’re deleting this question (finally).

6) Will Maleficient, Lily, August, Will Scarlett, or any of these disappearing characters reappear?  Will their disappearances, at least, be explained?  (This question will remain until answered!)

ANSWER: Not so far, and it seems irresponsible of the writers.  Maybe they will surprise us in the end.  Where oh where have they all gone?!

7) Emma and Regina encountered Robin Hood (Sean Maguire) in the Wish Realm.  Can he be brought back to life from that realm?  Or, does magic function there (and in the Regular Realm) like the genie’s rules in Aladdin, i.e. no one dead can be brought back to life because, you know, it’s unnatural and grisly?  If we get an answer to this question, we may get our answer about Baelfire and Cora.

ANSWER: Funny thing about that Wish Realm.  As panelist Micah predicted, when the Evil Queen (EQ) inadvertently wished the Wish Realm into existence, she created a permanent realm, which people can reach via Magic Bean Portal, Hat Portal, or Powerful Magic Smoke, such as of what Regina, the EQ, and Zelena (Rebecca Mader) are capable.  In that realm, wished into existence, versions of our beloved characters were also wished into existence, apart from Emma, who was merely transported there from Storybrooke.  Thus, those versions were “given life” through this wish.  So, Robin was “brought back to life” while still in the Wish Realm; however, the Wish Robin is not the same as the Robin we formerly knew who passed away. He’s a bit more of a rogue.  Instead of robbing from the rich to give to the poor, he robs from the rich to give to himself.  He also seems to be ageless, since other Wish Realm versions of characters like Snow (Ginnifer Goodwin), Charming (Josh Dallas), and Hook (Colin O’Donaghue) all appear with gray hair and wrinkles.

If Baelfire and Cora were wished into a Wish Realm existence as a result of the EQ’s wishing, we don’t know.  The possibility exists…if the show revisits this realm for any reason in future season(s).

8) Who is the Black Fairy really?  Why have we never seen her before?  Didn’t Rumpel have an adoptive mother who died, leaving him to be raised by his ne’er-do-well, absentee father, who turned into Peter Pan?  Or, was that person the Black Fairy?  Or, did she become the Black Fairy?

ANSWER: The Black Fairy, Fiona, is Rumpel’s bio mom, formerly married to the ne’er-do-well who would seek eternal youth and transform into Peter Pan.  She became the Black Fairy when she learned (SPOILER!  TWIST!) that her baby, Rumpelstiltskin as named by his begrudging father, is destined to be a Savior – not dark, as the status of Dark One seems to imply.  Fiona, knowing that Saviors are meant to fight great battles and are at high risk of death as a result, decides to do everything in her motherly power to help Rumpel evade this destiny.  First, she cons Rumpel’s/her fairy godmother, Red Fairy Tiger Lily, into exposing her to texts of fairy magic, which Fiona consumes voraciously, and into letting her transform into a fairy via use of a fairy magic wand and spell.  Second, Fiona’s singular purpose causes her to want to protect Rumpel by whatever means necessary, and so, she rashly uses the Shears of Destiny to separate her son from his Savior fate, thereby steering him toward a dark path and marking herself as a prophesied evil from whence a dark force is born, defeating the savior in her son and turning him into the coward we came to know in earlier seasons.  According to the show, shortly after Fiona Fairy turned black with her evil intentions, the Blue Fairy banished her to a prison realm, which was why the audience never met her before. While Chief CP Kylie vaguely remembers a meeting or some memory of a mother figure in Rumpel’s life, the panel insists that we’ve never met an alternative mother to the young, scarred Rumpel.  The Black Fairy is the only mother we know, and we all agree that Rumpel has some messed up, Skywalker-like beginnings (if he was Anakin, that is).

9) The panelists still want to know where these characters went: Merida, Mulan, Aurora, Philip, and other members of the non-Wished Enchanted Forest?

ANSWER: Unknown, unknown, unknown, unknown, unknown…but for Ariel, who apparently hangs out in Agrabah for a bit.

10) What is Gideon’s endgame? Revenge on his father, Rumpel?  Ultimate power like his dear old dad?  Where does Gideon’s resentment against Rumpel come from if the Black Fairy raised him in another realm?  Why does he ultimately attempt to kill Emma?

ANSWER: Gideon, a powerful magical being, is controlled as a young adult by his grandmother, the Black Fairy, who removes his heart.  She aims to use him to defeat Savior Emma, so that Rumpel’s life, as the Dark One, would be spared and to help her break free from the prison realm.  Gideon intends to defeat Emma for more altruistic aims: to prevent Grandma Fiona from torturing other children that she kidnapped and brought into the prison realm as part of her Black Fairy purpose. Gideon’s resentment against Rumpel can best be explained away by Fiona’s obsession with her son, which led to harm against Gideon, who was also mistreated by his grandma, what with the heart removal and all.  Gideon does not want to kill Emma but sees it as a necessary means to an end, even if he ultimately holds no real choice or agency in the matter.

11) What did the Black Fairy do to Gideon while raising him in a parallel dimension with speedier time, and what is her agenda related to her son, Rumpel?  Why are they returning to this realm now, other than convenient writing?

ANSWER: Fiona Black Fairy just wants to have a happy life with Rumpel, despite the fact that she undermines this long-nursed desire with her obsessive need to prevent him from realizing his Savior destiny.  Otherwise, she uses Gideon against other prisoners and children she kidnapped who are trapped in the prison realm, including Gideon’s friends and other innocents, and breaks Gideon down psychologically with her manipulative wiles.  Gideon manages to open a small crack of a portal from the prison realm with his magic to escape but, in so doing, paves the way for Fiona to do the same, which is what she wanted all along.  She wants to seek revenge against the Blue Fairy and make a “happy” home with her son and grandson.

12) Is the Black Fairy related to the Never Land shadow at all?

ANSWER: As far as we know, no.  She is married to the man who would be the boy Peter Pan, but we still don’t know how Pan and the Shadow in OUAT are related or came to be connected as they were, beyond the fact that the Shadow turned Rumpel’s dad into the immortal young scamp.

13) Gideon changed the EQ to a snake and caged EQ-as-snake.  Does this endanger Regina? Will she and her other half ever reunite?  Will Jafar return to make this happen? He’s kind of an expert in snakes himself.  If not Jafar, then how will it happen?

ANSWER: Since the EQ is no slouch, she easily un-snake-ified herself and eventually reunites with Regina meeting-wise only.  In fact, the EQ exists as a separate entity until she makes the ultimate sacrifice (listen to the podcast for details).  Jafar returns, though his return is not related to the Regina/EQ story line.

14) How will Emma and Regina return from the Wish Realm?  Will they return?

ANSWER: Emma finds the adult version of Pinocchio, as he is known in the Wish Realm, and commissions him to carve an equivalent of the magical Wardrobe Portal that his father Geppetto created for Snow and Charming to help Emma escape from the Enchanted Forest and Regina’s original evil curse.  For a time, the magical tools used for such carving become useless, but good old Pinocchio, Emma’s friend in any realm, carves a workable door back into our world, through which Emma, Regina, and Wish Realm Robin return.

15) Do we care about Charming’s darker impulses, which make him fear turning into his twin brother, James, who was vanquished in the Underworld when his soul fell into the River of Souls?

ANSWER: The show did not seem to care about such impulses in this half season, so we ask: why should we?

16) Will Gideon be the “Big Bad” of the next half of the season?

ANSWER: Insofar as he is the extension of Fiona the Black Fairy, owing to the fact that she holds his heart, and is the party destined to fight the Savior in the Final Battle, the answer is yes.  Arguably, however, the “Big Bad” is truly Fiona.

17) Is the Wish Realm now a real “nuts and bolts” realm, wished into existence with the genie’s powers?  Is it permanent?  How long will the show spend in this new realm?

ANSWER: Yes.  The Wish Realm exists as one of many realms accessible by portal, permanent and available for visitation by the Portal Network of Magic Beans and Hats and possibly Wardrobes.  The show, as panelist Amie predicted, spends all of “five minutes” there: one full episode (the episode returning from hiatus) and a few minutes of another in which the EQ reunites with Wish Robin, who returns to the Wish Realm after trying to make a go of it with Regina Prime.  Regina Prime realizes that they are not the same couple as Regina Prime and original Robin. This Robin seems better suited for the EQ, so both the doppelgangers realize when the EQ transports to the Wish Realm to make a fresh start after Regina balances both of their hearts with elements of good and evil, effectively equalizing their true natures while in separate bodies.

18) Will Henry find some of his own adventures again?  Will he remember that he’s the Author?  Will his Author responsibilities help right these new wrongs?  Why is the show so reluctant to develop this part of the story?  Why does Henry sometimes feel like extra baggage?

ANSWER: Henry is forced to remember his Author-ly duties when trances take hold, and he starts writing pages of the storybook in symbols and ciphers he cannot translate and without memory of having done so.  The Author, as former Author Isaac explains in a brief return to the show, is required to record the events surrounding the Savior of the Storybook; as the final battle draws near, this fated imperative will occur whether the Author chooses or not, hence trances. This revelation becomes material in the two-part season finale, when Henry’s status as Author in possession of the Heart of the Truest Believer becomes critical, as he must save his mother from the Black Fairy’s cursing influence, and may become even more material at the start of Season 7, when the story shifts to an adult Henry. So, all of these problems may be solved and holes may be filled in future season(s)…or not.  Listen to the podcast for details, and, otherwise, stay tuned to OUAT for further developments, eh?

19) Will Emma ever learn to rely on her friends and family (and lover) in times of strife and tell them what’s bothering her or threatening her life?  It’s been six years.  We think your family has given you enough reason to trust them!  Hook too, for that matter!

ANSWER: I think, in the end, she does.  In fact, she is nothing but honest with Hook and is much chagrined when he is not the same with her.  Plus, when Hook disappoints her with his large lies of omission, she immediately tells her dad. So, all in all, major improvements in Emma’s trust issues are evident this half season.  To this, we can only shout: “S’about time!”

20) Will Emma really die?  And if not, how does she escape Gideon?  Or, is that really what she is seeing in her vision?

ANSWER: Emma is prepared for the ultimate sacrifice and does not, in fact, escape Gideon.  She allows herself to be stabbed by Gideon with the Sword of Savior Death, as exposing her light magic is expected to defeat Gideon, which is what she sees in her vision without knowing why or the next events in the sequence.  Indeed, at the same time (SPOILER), Rumpel finds Gideon’s heart, secreted away by his mom Fiona, who Rumpel sends to a mortal end just prior to this discovery.  Rather than assume control of it, use it to defeat Emma, or otherwise harm his son, he does the right thing: he clears it of its darkness in defiance of his Dark nature. Because the most good being and the most evil being in this story choose to do right at the same moment, everyone gets a reset.  Emma is brought back to life, Gideon returns to the baby he was before he was kidnapped by his willful grandmother, and everyone gets a second chance at a happy beginning, including Rumpel and Belle, who are free to raise Gideon as their own.

21) Where is August nowadays?  The panel universally votes for his return.

ANSWER: We see a Wish Realm version of him and a This Realm version of him; in fact, he finds another lost page of the storybook revealing that Hook, “once upon a time,” murdered David’s father in a routine pirate raid, rather than King George as previously thought.  August provides this page to Hook, presumably with the hope that Hook will come clean with David and Emma.  He does, but it takes awhile.

22) Since the Wish Realm’s version of Snow and Charming have died, will Emma ascend to being Queen of the Wish Realm Enchanted Forest?  Will she be a good queen or an evil queen, and how will she handle her queenly duties?

ANSWER: Unknown, since Emma did not stick around in the Wish Realm long enough to practice being queenly.

23) Will Snow and Charming escape the new sort-of-twisty-but-not-really sleeping curse affecting their shared heart?

ANSWER: They do!  With the help of Emma, Regina, and the entire town of Storybrooke, as well as a song in Emma’s heart (musical episode homage!), everyone makes the sacrifice to take on part of the sleeping curse, diffusing its power enough so that both Snow and Charming can wake up.  Everyone enjoys a cat nap, and then our favorite twue wuv couple is awake to fight, together and for their daughter, another day.

24) Will Hook sharpen his hook?  He feels largely toothless but is just as yummy to look at as ever, according to 4/5 of the panel.

ANSWER: Er, um, yes?  He gets feisty when Gideon whisks Hook out of Storybrooke and prevents his return, even as Hook needs to prove his love (and honesty) to Emma, so they can, like, get married or whatever.  A trip to Neverland, a visit with Tiger Lily, and Shadow Magic get him home, but he has to be pirate-y a few times in this process (and in a few realms) before his return.

25) Why do we care about Zelena?  Seriously.  We need to know.  Even the rare panelist that likes her.

ANSWER: Well, Zelena does cause some trouble, and it’s kind of irritating.  Basically, she decides to confront the Black Fairy and Gideon by herself in an effort to show everyone that she is the wickedest, most powerful witch ever.  This effort backfires for a minute; however, she also sacrifices her magic to undo the damage she causes. Plus, we get a comical moment when Regina spends time teaching Zelena to drive, knowledge that she uses for good measure to run over Fiona, momentarily slowing the Black Fairy in her tracks, so to speak.  So…this is why we care. Momentarily.

26) Will the show get better, once and for all?  Or, is it time for the executive producers and writers to consider the possibility that Once should depart, make for its sideways version of the Island, and get “lost?”

ANSWER: The show improves markedly in this half season, and it seems the producers were ready for the possible news of cancellation by crafting a season finale that feels much like a series finale.  The network, however, renewed the show, and now we are heading into a “soft reboot,” where only three regular cast members are returning full time, and the story is shifting from Maine to Seattle, Washington, and from Emma to Henry as the focal point of savior-hood.  What does all this mean? Despite the “sideways” feel of it all, it means we have more new questions this time around and no small amount of wariness as this new season approaches.

New Questions

1)  The producers and show-runners have been releasing various teaser details to foreshadow the “soft reboot” fueling Season 7.  For example, five new actresses were cast to fill mysterious roles, though one of the actresses cast will play Henry’s lover/potential wife and Henry’s daughter Lucy’s mother (we saw Lucy in the sixth season finale), identified to be another version of Cinderella, somehow dissimilar from the Cinderella played by Jessy Schram in earlier seasons.  We also know that one of the new actresses will play Cinderella’s stepmother.  Who are the remaining actresses playing?

2) How does adult Henry end up in the Enchanted Forest (or something like it…and what is it if not the Enchanted Forest) and then back in our realm, beset by amnesia, like his grandparents and Storybrooke friends were when the series started?

3) How will the show explain away the new Cinderella, given that this character was previously introduced, played by a different actress and well acquainted to the Snow White character?

4) Will Emma die, given that Jennifer Morrison is slated to appear in only one episode next season?

5) A teaser trailer shows Captain Hook wearing a police uniform, Regina standing in a bar, and Rumpel in unknown climes.  How do they get where they are going?  What is the back story for this time jump?

6) Is Henry the new Savior?  Lucy says in the final seconds of the Season 6 finale that he has to save his family – to whom is she specifically referring?

7) Will this new season and new version of the show truly be different from what we have been watching?  Or, will there be a rehashing of story lines and/or a recycling of plot points, only applied to new generations and/or new characters?

8) Will we see any of the departing characters (besides Emma) with any sort of regularity or frequency, or is everyone leaving and gone?  How will they explain the departures and absences of so many of the main characters?

9) Will we see an older Neal, who, as Emma’s brother, would be Henry’s uncle and Lucy’s great-uncle? If so, when, where, and how?

10) Will we see an older Gideon, who, as Baelfire’s brother, would be Henry’s uncle and Lucy’s great-uncle? If so, when, where, and how?

11) Will Rumpel still be the Dark One?

12) Will we see any of the long missing characters, or get any explanations for their whereabouts, in the new season (the ones listed in questions 1-5 above)?

13) Did the propitious moment of Emma’s resurrection also mean that the Evil Queen, as a separate entity, came into being again?

14) Will Emma and Hook have or be able to have other children?  Are they even interested in new children?

15) Who will be the villain(s) of Season 7?

16) Where did the rest of Storybrooke go?  Is the town still there?  Are Dr. Hopper and Granny and the Seven Dwarfs still around?

PARTING SHOTS

The podcast panelists reach some consensus, despite some variety of opinions, about the current progress of Once Upon a Time.  All panelists regard the second half of season six as a marked improvement over the previous half season (and possibly the two full seasons before that), with some panelists enjoying it more and others enjoying it less. The panel universally agrees, however and with no hesitation, that #potential (#drink) contentment with the finale as a series finale episode would have been achieved if the show had officially stopped at the end of this season.  As it is, the network saw fit to renew the show, and now we as panelists are presented with an interesting commitment quandary when it comes to staying loyal to Once.

While some panelists continue to foster hope and to devote faith to Once’s seemingly endless reservoir of #potential (#drink), the seventh season renewal and the impending so-called “soft reboot” is giving everyone, even the most faithful and most optimistic of us, some significant pause.  The wariest panelists (your Chief CP included) feel that the producers, network, and parent company are spending a lot of time attempting to woo people back to the fold, when so many expressed skepticism if not outright outrage upon the departure of seven, i.e. more than half, of the regular cast, including Jennifer Morrison, who has played the show’s central figure, Emma Swan, the entire time.  While reboots and spin-offs have existed in prior TV programs and incarnations of same, no show or network or producing team has attempted a “soft reboot” of this type so close to the original story and set of seasons that launched the premise; the Chief CP thinks the marketing team is avoiding the term “spin-off,” when that is essentially what we are about to watch.  Many of the panelists, though curious and/or intrigued about what may come and committed to watching it for the sake of the CPU! Podcast, are also undermined by lack of trust for this producing team and their ability to capitalize upon #potential (#drink).  Though Edward Kitsis, Adam Horowitz, and the Once writing team have offered and toyed with new ideas, they plant seeds without fertilizing them organically.  In fact, this panel directs several levels of suspicion toward the writing team’s ability to create something that will strike a balance between being totally new and different while retaining some of the spirit of the original story and the core/foundation of the characters we have grown to love and have remained loyal to for six seasons of varying quality in execution and in overall storytelling success.  In other words, we’ll be watching, but there is a strong sense that, either through the act of shark jumping or through network experimentation without support – particularly in light of a move to a Friday night time slot never before thrust upon this program – days are numbered for the remaining longevity of the once-upon-a-time CPU! favorite, Once Upon a Time.

LOOKING AHEAD

Once Upon a Time has been renewed for a seventh season, which is slated to premiere on ABC on Friday, October 6, 2017, at 8:00 PM. The Once Upon a Time podcast panel will next reconvene following the seventh mid-season finale of OUAT, which will likely air in or around December 2017.  As always, CPU! will keep you abreast of happenings and special events in addition to all OUAT podcast coverage.  Until next time!

Looking Back at “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” Seasons 1-3: The Buffy-Verse Series, Episode 1 (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, our panel of experts – including moderator Kylie, Nick, Kyle, Sarah, and Kallie – gathered together for a longer than usual discussion in which we are Looking Back and reminiscing about the first three seasons of CPU! favorite Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  This is the first part of a five part CPU! podcast series examining two of our favorite television programs, Buffy and Angel, aka “The Buffy-Verse.” If you have not watched any of Buffy or Angel (and I mean, any!), 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!

Stay tuned for Episode 2 of our Buffy-Verse series, in which we cover Seasons 4-5 of Buffy!

Episode sponsored by: Heritage Theatre Group

PODCAST! – Cult TV! and Best Of! and Looking Back at “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” Seasons 1-3: The Buffy-Verse Series, Episode 1 (MAJOR SPOILERS) + Best Written TV (#49)

Image result for buffy the vampire slayer title card season 1

THIS EPISODE OF CPU! WAS SPONSORED BY: HERITAGE THEATRE GROUP

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Check out HTG’s 2017 Season – Currently On Stage: “Measure for Measure”

For more information, visit Heritage Theatre’s website!

Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who: “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” a cult supernatural, fantasy, action, and horror drama that aired on the Warner Bros. network, or “The WB,” from 1997 to 2001 and on the United Paramount Network, or “UPN,” from 2001-2003.

What: “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” follows Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar), the latest in a line of young women known as “Vampire Slayers” or simply “Slayers,” called or chosen by fate to battle against vampires, demons, and other forces of darkness.

SYNOPSIS

Buffy’s mystical calling endows her with powers that dramatically enhance physical strength, endurance, agility, healing, intuition, and that provide a limited degree of clairvoyance, usually in the form of prophetic dreams. She is known as a reluctant hero who wants to live a normal life; however, she learns to embrace her destiny as the vampire Slayer.  Buffy receives guidance from her Watcher, Rupert Giles (Anthony Stewart Head), a member of the Watchers’ Council, whose job is to train and guide the Slayers. Giles researches the supernatural creatures that Buffy must face, offers insights into their origins and advice on how to defeat them, and helps her stay in fighting form. Buffy is also helped by friends she meets at Sunnydale High School: Willow Rosenberg (Alyson Hannigan) and Xander Harris (Nicholas Brendon).

The cast of characters grows over the course of the series. A vampire with a soul, Angel (David Boreanaz), is Buffy’s love interest throughout the first three seasons. At Sunnydale High, Buffy meets several other students besides Willow and Xander willing to join her fight for good, an informal group eventually tagged the “Scooby Gang” or “Scoobies.” Cordelia Chase (Charisma Carpenter), the archetypal shallow cheerleader, reluctantly becomes involved. Daniel “Oz” Osbourne (Seth Green) – a fellow student, rock guitarist and werewolf – joins the group through his relationship with Willow. Anya (Emma Caulfield), a former vengeance demon (Anyanka) who specialized in avenging scorned women, becomes Xander’s lover after losing her powers and joins the group in season four. Spike (James Marsters), a vampire, is an old companion of Angelus (Angel) and one of Buffy’s major enemies in early seasons, although they later become allies and lovers.  In fact, Buffy features dozens of recurring characters, both major and minor, and additional regular characters introduced in later seasons.

When: The show aired on the WB from 1997-2001 and on UPN from 2001-2003.

Where: The show is set primarily in fictional Sunnydale, California, home of one of the series’ fictional entrances to hell, otherwise known as “The Hellmouth.”

Why: Listen to the podcast for the panelists’ individual stories on how they found Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  They are all personal and occasionally touching.

How – as in How Much Do We Love this Show?!

In honor of the 20th anniversary of the premiere of one of your Chief CP’s all-time favorite television shows, and since I know a few people in my life who love Buffy as much or (possibly) more than I do, I decided to invite some true Buffy-Verse scholars, in what has, again, become something of a family event, to participate in a five-part podcast series, during which we will take a critical look back at another couple of cult TV shows that fuel our respective imaginations and tug at our TV-loving hearts. In this five-part series, our panel – featuring CPU! regulars and semi-regulars Nick, Kyle, Sarah, and Kallie – look back at Buffy and its spin-off Angel, reminiscing about two shows that have withstood the test of time as personal favorites for several of us and as two of the most nationally and internationally acclaimed television series of all time.

In this first episode of CPU!’s “Buffy-Verse” series, our panel discusses the first three seasons of Buffy, covering the series’ beginning and its initial growing pains and catapult to national popularity.  We discuss our favorite and least favorite episodes within each season and our general impressions of the success of the first three seasons, which aired on Monday and then on Tuesday nights on the WB network.

In addition, with this episode, CPU! is introducing yet another brand new feature, which sort of combines some old features into one handily titled, efficiently truncated format. You may have noticed that we tend to favor some “best of” lists around here.  Well, in this new feature, called “Best Of!,” we are going to handily provide, right here, right now for Buffy but otherwise within the content entry for each podcast episode, the list of all of the “best of” acclaims a show receives.  In addition, we will be compiling those lists on separate bonus pages of our website (accessible by the menu at the top left of the header).  We’re not ready for the pages, as in they are under construction, but when it comes to Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s list of various acclaims accrued over the years, you’ll come to understand why this feature was introduced.

To wit, herein be the list of Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Best Of!

  • #41 on TV Guide’s list of 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time
  • #2 on Empires “50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time” in 2008 and #22 in 2016
  • #27 on The Hollywood Reporters “Hollywood’s 100 Favorite TV Shows”
  • Time magazine’s “100 Best TV Shows of All-Time
  • #38 on TV Guide’s list of the “60 Best Series of All Time”
  • #38 on Rolling Stone’s list of 100 Greatest TV Shows of All Time

In addition, Buffy the Vampire Slayer is one of the most celebrated cult TV shows and TV fandoms, as the show ranks at #2 on Entertainment Weekly’s 2009 and 2014 Top Cult TV lists and at #3 on TV Guide’s Top Cult TV list.  Plus, Buffy ranked #49 on TV Guide’s Best Written TV list in 2013, as it is also considered one of the best written (scripted) television series of all time.

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’re back around the water cooler when our Once Upon a Time panel reconvenes end of season to talk the second half of Season 6 and the major shake-up and soft reboot in store for the fantasy series’ seventh season.  Stay tuned!

RECOMMENDATION

Buffy the Vampire Slayer – if you somehow haven’t already watched it – is recommended to anyone who loves nerdy, cult science fiction and fantasy (and/or horror) series in the vein of Star Trek, The X-Files, and similar ilk and to any fan of Joss Whedon who hasn’t somehow discovered his first major and most critically and popularly recognized work of screen fiction (beyond the vastly different film, for which he provided creative input later overruled by its producers).  As we discuss in the podcast episode, this series broke ground for so many other series to come, including other popular shows for which writers and creators learned their trade working on this series originally, including shows like Once Upon a Time and even issue-based comedies, like the uneven but musical Glee. This show has a bit of everything, and, if you love solid, quality television – excellent television, in fact – and you have somehow missed this series, you should make time for Buffy. You will not be disappointed in the overall journey and entertainment value that this well written, well performed series provides.

The entire Buffy series is available to stream at only Hulu, currently. Watch it: you won’t regret it!

Gotham – Season 3B, “Mad City/Heroes Rise” (MAJOR SPOILERS)

couchpotatoesunite

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 June 2017, 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 3B, containing the end of arc “Mad City” as well as arc “Heroes Rise,” 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!

Episode sponsored by: Heritage Theatre Group

PODCAST! – Around the Water Cooler: “Gotham,” The Season 3 End of Season Recap and Review (MAJOR SPOILERS)

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THIS EPISODE OF CPU! WAS SPONSORED BY: HERITAGE THEATRE GROUP

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Check out HTG’s 2017 Season, opening July 13, 2017!

For more information, visit Heritage Theatre’s website!

CPU! 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 fall through spring, formerly Mondays at 8:00 PM on Fox, though the show is being moved to a similar time slot on Thursdays this fall.

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 on 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 (Maggie Geha), 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 Three finale aired on Monday, June 5, 2017, 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

Our Gotham panel, now consisting of Hilary, Kyle, Spencer, and Nick, previously compared notes on the first half of the third season and spent time in so-called “Mad City,” with some trepidation and frustration as we considered the success or lack thereof of the following plot developments: the Bruce Wayne clone (we hated it), the Court of Owls (we were confused by it), Jim’s struggle with identity and with his love for an engaged Lee (Morena Baccarin; we hated it), Mayor Oswald Kabelput and his Chief of Staff Edward Nygma (we loved it), and the introduction of Jervis Tetch aka The Mad Hatter (Benedict Samuel; we struggled with it), as well as the aftermath following the villains’ so-called wrath in season two.  We now discuss Gotham’s wrap up of “Mad City” as well as the “Heroes Rise” arc, in which we see the return of Joker-Not-Joker Jerome Valeska (Cameron Monaghan), the Riddler come into his new name, the Court of Owls wreak diseased havoc on the city it has sworn to puppeteer, the Penguin implode, the introduction of Ra’s al Ghul (Alexander Siddig), and a number of character progressions that, somehow, did not feature Jim Gordon as much as it should have.  How did the panel like this second half of the third season?  Listen to the embedded link below to find out.

This podcast was recorded in June 2017, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as the panelists cover key plot points of the first half of the third 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 launch a five-part “Looking Back” retrospective, in this, the twentieth anniversary of the premiere, of CPU! favorite Buffy the Vampire Slayer and, by rights, its spin-off Angel.  The first episode will feature discussion about the first three seasons of “Buffy.”  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 (Erin Richards) 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 (Jessica Lucas), and Butch Gilzean (Drew Powell) 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.

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…
3) REPEAT PARTIAL QUESTION: What is the takeaway from Jerome, the Joker-not-Joker? Is he alive or really dead?
ANSWER AS OF THE END OF SEASON 2: During this half of the season, Jerome is most definitely considered dead, preserved in one of Hugo Strange’s reanimation tubes in Indian Hill, which, though run by Wayne Enterprises, is located in the basement of Arkham Asylum.  
NOT SO FAST! ANSWER AS OF MID-SEASON 3: The Gotham social media accounts have been foretelling the return of Jerome…
ANSWER AS OF THE END OF SEASON 3: Dude was dead, but a devoted and brilliant acolyte named Dwight finds a way of reviving him, almost as improbably as Hugo Strange’s version of resurrection.  Either way, Jerome seems here to stay now…what does it all mean?  He’s in Arkham currently, so…

4) 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…

5) REPEAT QUESTION: How will the Court of Owls be explained in the larger context?

ANSWER: The Court of Owls contains members of Gotham City’s oldest families and functions as a sort of secret ruling elite, present to steer the City away from trends or personages that would serve to harm it.  The Court has existed as long as the City has existed, for centuries.  We additionally learn that the Court was created by a Shaman (played by Raymond Barry), who has also lived for centuries.  He appears to be a mentored apprentice of Ra’s al Ghul, the Demon’s Head, officially a Batman villain (and not a Green Arrow villain, sorry Arrow fans).  The Shaman intervenes, but it is acknowledged in this half season that the Court also created the Bruce Clone for the purpose of distracting Bruce’s life compatriots, like Alfred (Sean Pertwee), while the Court kidnaps Bruce and subjects him to brainwashing courtesy of the Shaman.  In so doing, Bruce is conditioned to act on behalf of the Court to be the official purveyor of laying waste to Gotham City in its crime-ridden and corrupt state and, presumably, to assume a place on the Court. Listen to the podcast for details.
6) 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 Clone isn’t on the path to be Batman, but Bruce, after his trials with the Shaman and Ra’s (and his League of Shadows), is already dipping his baby toes into vigilante crime fighting – with billowing black trench coat, ski mask, and the ability to quickly climb sides of buildings to boot…and yet, no bats, much to the chagrin of the podcast panel (listen to the episode for details…and rants).

7) 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.

ANSWER: Still waiting… but she does test Tabby’s whip at the end of the season and is quite the prodigy with it.  Plus, Bruce Clone pushes her out of a tall building, and she lands, all Michelle Pfeiffer-like, askew while being licked by 30 different alley cats, though she is ultimately saved by friend Ivy’s plant penchant. Panelists Hilary and Nick are concerned about the Tim Burton-esque approach and the possible supernatural implications of this obvious homage/callback scene, but it does seem to indicate Selina’s forward progression toward a more feline state of mind in the short-term future…
8) Who is the leader of the Court of Owls, the shadowy figure with a ring like Jim Gordon’s father?  Is this person his actual father, alive after being thought long dead?  If not his father, does Jim know him?  Does the audience?
ANSWER: He is not the Court’s leader, but he is Jim’s Uncle Frank (James Remar), who like Jim’s dad formerly, is a prominent member of the Court.  We learn that Jim and Uncle Frank were estranged following the death of Jim’s father — and, for good reason, because <SPOILER!> Uncle Frank killed Jim’s dad at the behest of the Court. The audience was not introduced to this character prior to Season 3.
9) Will we see Fish Mooney and Hugo Strange again?  Will Dr. Strange cure Fish’s ailment(s)?  Will he give her a personality makeover?
ANSWER: Yes to both.  Hugo (BD Wong) returns, wrangled by the Court of Owls to weaponize the virus spawned by Jervis Tetch’s sister Alice, transforming it into a gas that can be disbursed in large quantities over the City.  Hugo does not really have time to cure Fish (Jada Pinkett Smith) because <SPOILER!> a Jim Gordon affected by this same virus kills her when she attempts to steal the antidote to leverage against the City.  So, whether all of her ailments might have been cured seems to be moot.  The panel can only hope that Fish is dead for good.
10) Where did all of the Indian Hill escapees go?  Were any of them truly progenitors of future Batman villains?
ANSWER: Still unanswered but for two such escapees.  Mr. Freeze (Nathan Darrow) was hiding out in the Arctic, as he was without his suit and had nowhere else he could go where he would also survive.  Firefly/Bridget was hanging out downtown, abetting some small crimes for a typical street thug type.  As for the rest of the Indian Hill escapees – we presume they are back in Arkham, dead at the hands of Jim Gordon, or in the wind.
11) Will Edward Nygma make his transformation to full Riddler in the coming half season? Will we see a full-blown rivalry and war between Mayor Penguin and Ed, along with Ed’s allies of Barbara Kean, Tabitha Galavan, and Butch Gilzean?
ANSWER: Oh boy did he!  All of these hoped for developments came to pass in spectacular ways, and the whole panel appreciates this part of the story the best, in terms of consensus and averages.  Listen to the podcast for details.
12) Why should we care about Barbara anymore?  Or Tabitha?  Or Butch?  Their ambition is boring, particularly since Barbara remains as off-putting as ever.
ANSWER: Well…Barbara nurses grand designs of being a crime mogul and sees herself using Ed to achieve those aims, particularly when it comes to dethroning Penguin, who was acting as mayor and crime lord all at the same time.  Babs achieves this result temporarily, owing to Riddler’s cleverness and identity crisis and her ability to play people off each other.  Tabby, who I think is meant to be Babs’ girlfriend, and Butch, who I think is meant to be Tabby’s boyfriend? Or maybe bestie…really, I’ve lost track.  Anyway, they are mostly helping Riddler to oust Penguin, though this aid is begrudging given the fact that Ed cut off Tabby’s hand in the last half season. When Riddler is officially out of the picture courtesy of a vengeful Penguin, Tabby and Babs come to blows, culminating with Tabby electrocuting Barbara but not before Babs shoots Butch, point blank, in the head…who is subsequently revealed to be Cyrus Gold, who notably does not die from this conspicuous wound.  Batman fans should sense where this is headed…
13) Where did the Bruce Clone go, and why would he come back?  Will the show provide any sort of explanation as to when and how – and why – the clone was created?  Did the Court of Owls commission his creation?  For what purpose?
ANSWER: The Court indeed commissioned the Clone’s creation, with the help of Hugo Strange, all for the purpose of substituting for Bruce while Bruce is brainwashed in a secret ninja facility.  The Court formerly housed Bruce Clone at its Ruling Council’s headquarters until such time as the Court enacted their plan to kidnap Bruce.
14) Will we see the Mad Hatter again?
ANSWER: We saw him once or twice.  Ole’ Jervis is still hanging out in Arkham Asylum, occasionally manipulating gullible visitors like Lee Tompkins.
15) Who will be the primary villain(s) in Season 3B?
ANSWER: In this order – Jerome, Riddler, Barbara, Court of Owls (with secondary contributions by Penguin/Ivy/Freeze/Firefly, the Executioner aka Captain Barnes at the behest of the Court, and Fish Mooney).
16) Is Lee, who was splattered by an infected Mario’s blood when Jim shot him, in danger of contracting the random blood infection that affected Captain Barnes (Michael Chiklis) and Mario Falcone?
ANSWER: She was not endangered by the blood spatter (apparently) – just by her own stupidity and blind rage at Jim and susceptibility to Mad Hatter’s manipulations – SINCE SHE INJECTED HERSELF WITH THE VIRUS.  The podcast panel ranks this among the worst plot developments of the whole show.
17) Will we see Valerie Vale again?  I don’t think any panel member has a need for it.
ANSWER: Val may very well be scared off by all of the nonsense.
18) Will Lee be able to reconcile with Jim now that Jim shot Mario and killed him?  Will Jim face retribution from Carmine?
ANSWER: Jim momentarily faces Carmine Falcone’s retribution when Carmine orders Victor Zsasz to take Jim out.  Lee pleads with Carmine to call off the hit when she realizes that Mario was affected by the Tetch virus, after speaking to a brain-addled Captain Barnes, and presumably, as Carmine later notes, because Lee still loves Jim.  Hypocritically, Lee struggles for her own reconciliation with Jim until Jervis Tetch convinces her manipulatively that she is, in fact, to blame for Mario’s death, leading her to test the theory by executing the aforementioned injection (hashtag shaking our heads).  Only after Jim obtains the antidote from Lucius and helps to save the city from the Court does Lee achieve some kind of detente with her former love(r), though she leaves the City in the process, presumably because Morena Baccarin is slated to appear in a new show with a pilot to air this fall.

19) The adventures of Ivy: will she stop killing the plants she professes to love?

ANSWER: She does not kill any of her pet plants in this third season back half, so that’s in the right direction on the road to progress?  Maybe?

20) What is the crystal owl that Selina stole from the secure vault of the Court of Owls?

ANSWER: It is one of several crystal owls depicting a map of Gotham City, on which is marked the secret locations of Court bases.  This map is only revealed if light is shined directly through the owls.

21) Why should we care to meet Selina’s mom?

ANSWER: Only to realize that Selina has mommy/abandonment issues.  Mom is a plot device, appearing long enough to try to con/bribe Bruce Wayne into giving her and her bookie/possible lover money. Bruce does so only to protect Selina from her mother’s lies, despite knowing exactly what is happening, which pisses Selina off royally when she finds out the truth.  She breaks up with Bruce (if they were labeled prior to the point) because she feels he is not honest with her; she also continues to despise her mom.

New Questions
1) Is Joker-Not-Joker Jerome really Proto-Joker, and will we see him again in Season 4?
2) Will Riddler escape his freezing cage?  (All panelists predict yes…or there will be hell to pay.)
3) Will Bruce finally see freaking bats already?
4) 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?
5) Will Selina go full on Catgirl in Season 4?
6) Is Fish dead once and for all?  Is Barbara?  Or, are they going to do the detestably unthinkable and change Barbara into Harley Quinn, despite not being named Harleen Quinzell and despite not being a psychiatrist at Arkham (though Joker-Not-Joker Jerome is in Arkham right now…hm…)?
7) Where did Hugo Strange end up nowadays?
8) Is the Court of Owls truly defunct?  Or, are they the DC equivalent of Hydra in the Marvel universe?
9) If Butch is really Cyrus Gold, how Solomon Grundy will we see him get in the coming season?
10) What will it mean for Gotham when Penguin opens the Iceberg Lounge?
11) Is Bruce Clone Batman’s Bizarro equivalent, Batzarro?  Or, will he die?  Did he die? The panel is universally against crossing DC comic concepts when just the Batman franchise seems difficult for this writing and producing team to wrangle.
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.

PARTING SHOTS

The CPU! Gotham panel reached a remarkable turning point with the show this half season: a wide variety of opinions traveling from higher highs to the lowest of lows. Panelist Nick finds the show entertaining and is less bothered by the adaptive story points, though he is more bothered by some of the writing choices and inconsistencies. Panelists Spencer, Kyle, and Kylie identify moments they truly love and moments they truly hate but continue to enjoy watching the show, even if reacting to the show in these podcast episodes has repeatedly proven to be the very definition of “cautionary tale.” Panelist Hilary continues to mostly hate the direction of the show but likes to talk about it, so she persists without jumping the shark, reluctantly.  There is a sense that, perhaps, the writers took ours (and others’) advice of last time: the Joker-Not-Joker story thread was inspired by one of the more famous comic book story lines, for example, and there was sincere focus on some of the best aspects of the show, particularly surrounding Penguin and Riddler.  The show survived to be renewed, at any rate, and none of the panel is ready to jump the shark, so in the “make it or break it” ultimatum of last time, Gotham ultimately made it. even somewhat convincingly.

The previous unrest among the panelists, however, 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, at least for 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 find this half of the third season to be the show’s new high point, even as it also contained some low points. 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 and, thereafter, cause declining ratings and waning network support.

LOOKING AHEAD

Gotham has been renewed for Season 4, which is slated to premiere on Fox on Thursday, September 28, 2017, at 8:00 PM; in fact, Fox will be broadcasting the program on Thursday nights instead of Mondays this coming season.  The Gotham podcast panel will next reconvene following the fourth mid-season finale, which will likely air in or around December 2017. As always, CPU! will keep you informed of news and additional Gotham coverage.  Until then!

How to Get Away with Murder, Season Three (MAJOR SPOILERS)

couchpotatoesunite

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, another frequent panelist takes over moderating duties and the microphone to discuss the popular Shondaland show How to Get Away with Murder, which airs fall/winter Thursday nights on ABC. Moderator Eddie, Kristen, Krista, and Allie, a smaller version of the Keating Five (maybe they can be called the CPU! Four?), reconvened Around the Water Cooler to discuss and explore key plot developments from the third season.  If you have not watched any of How to Get Away with Murder, 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!