Orange is the New Black, Season 5 (MAJOR SPOILERS)

CPU! final-01

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–including moderator Chief Couch Potato Kylie, Kristen, Nick, Krista, Amanda, and Andrew–is Around the Water Cooler and Streaming Originals as we discuss and recap Season 5 of Orange is the New Black.  This episode was recorded in October 2017, and if you haven’t seen OITNB through the fifth season, 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/podcast covering, sound off below! Tell us what you like or don’t like. Keep the discussion going!

Editor: Kylie C. Piette
Logo: Rebecca Wallace

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PODCAST! – Around the Water Cooler & Streaming Originals: “Orange is the New Black,” The Season 5 Recap and Discussion (MAJOR SPOILERS)

Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who: “Orange is the New Black” is available to Netflix subscribers exclusively, as it is Netflix produced original content.

What: “Orange is the New Black,” a comedy drama about a Manhattan woman whose past catches up to her and for which she must serve time in federal prison.

SYNOPSIS

Taylor Schilling plays Piper Chapman, a seemingly run-of-the-mill woman and maker of homemade soaps. Unfortunately, Piper learns that she must serve a short sentence in federal prison after she is implicated in the bust of an international drug cartel, of which her former girlfriend, Alex Vause (Laura Prepon), was a member and who Piper aided and abetted. What’s more, Piper finds, at first, that she is wholly unequipped for prison. Though some, like unabashed, self-proclaimed “lesbian junkie” Nicky Nichols (Natasha Lyonne), are kind and helpful to her, others show her no mercy. In addition, the guards, all men, are mostly drunk on their own power, the prison counselors play favorites and are easily offended, and the prison population is divided by race, unofficially but automatically, which offends Piper’s liberal sensibilities.  If all that weren’t complicated enough, Piper’s ex Alex is sent to the same prison, and Piper’s emotions are deeply conflicted, as she reasons that only Alex could have pointed the finger to get her in trouble in the first place, while at the same time, the old attractions between the two women remain undeniably present.

When: All 13 Season 5 episodes became available for viewing on June 9, 2017.

Where: The show is set in New York, though flashbacks for each of the prisoners who comprise the cast of characters sometimes venture away from New York.

Why: Many panelists saw the teaser trailers for the series while watching other programming on Netflix and also on network TV.  Listen to prior podcast episodes to discover how individual panelists found this show.

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

CPU! has been covering Orange is the New Black since its debut on Netflix’s ever growing streaming service.  You can read about the first season here and listen to podcast episodes about Seasons 2-4 below:

Orange is the New Black, Season Two

Orange is the New Black, Season Three, Part One

Orange is the New Black, Season Three, Part Two

Orange is the New Black, Season Four

Our OITNB Couch Potatoes and enthusiasts – namely moderator and Chief Couch Potato Kylie, Kristen, Krista, Nick, Amanda, and Andrew – triumphantly return to the CPU! Water Cooler to talk all things Season Five of the wildly popular (and Orange) Netflix drama for this latest podcast episode.  We engaged in our usual heady and heavy discussion about some of the plot lines that we saw emerge in the tightly entertaining and engaging fifth season. What do you think?  Do you agree? Do you disagree? What are your hopes, fears, expectations, speculations, or predictions for the resolution of the fifth season’s cliffhangers going into season six?

This particular CPU! episode was recorded in October 2017, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as the panelists cover key plot points of OITNB Season Five. 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, schedule permitting, our DCTU/Arrowverse panel will return to the Water Cooler after a brief absence to round-up reactions to all four CW/Arrowverse shows so far this season, just in time for the end of the mid-season hiatus (if scheduling does not permit, our Once Upon a Time panel will appear instead to digest the “soft reboot” of Season 7)!  Stay tuned!

Questions, Predictions, and Future Considerations

Old Questions

1) REPEAT QUESTION: Are the OITNB producers planning to end the show at the end of Piper’s sentence? (That will be a question for awhile).

ANSWER: Piper hasn’t been released yet, so…still a question.

2) Are we to assume that Suzanne’s (Uzo Aduba) flashback this season provided the back story related to the reason for her imprisonment: involuntary manslaughter of a child? Because her flashback episode was situated within the last three jam-packed episodes of the season, the panel assumed this to be the case but was not certain.

ANSWER: Unclear.  OITNB does not revisit Suzanne’s back story at any point during Season Five.

3) Where is the story in terms of Piper’s overall sentence, and how much longer does she have in prison?

ANSWER: Panelist Krista believes, if the source book on which the show is based still provides any kind of story framework, that Piper has two to three months maximum left to her original sentence; however, the show does not focus on time passing in Season Five, as it picks up right after the events of Season Four and transpires over the course of a few days.

4) Will we see Healy (Michael Harney) again?  Panelists Kristen and Kylie predict that we will, since he seems to have voluntarily checked himself into an institution (rather than being involuntarily committed).

ANSWER: Healy does not make an appearance in Season Five…will he appear in future seasons?  Unknown.

5) Will Laverne Cox/Sophia be in Season Five, given that Cox is part of a show that has been picked up by CBS for the new TV season?  How will the prison or the show deal with the controversy of leaving Sophia in solitary for her “protection.”

ANSWER: Well, Laverne’s CBS show (“Doubt”) was quickly canceled after only a couple of episodes; however, she appears in one episode this season.  Because she only appears in one episode, the show bypasses Sophia’s time in solitary and related controversy with little explanation regarding the experience’s effects on her.  Sophia returns to doing hair while the prisoners riot, as of the final moments of the Season Four finale and throughout Season Five.  Perhaps some of the rioters break Sophia out of solitary?  The show offers no explanation for her appearance, but she definitely looks worse for wear when she does appear.

6) Where will Season Five pick up given the end of the season?  Will it pick up right from the moment at which season four ended, or will time of any significance pass?

ANSWER: Season Five picks up at the literal second when Season Four ends.

7) Will Daya (Dascha Polanco) shoot Humps?  Or, will another prisoner intervene?  Or, if she does shoot him, will someone go to bat and take the fall for her?  Will Humps survive this riot?  If he does, will anyone find out about what he did to Maritza, Suzanne, and others?

ANSWER: Daya shoots Humps – in the leg.  She then proceeds to lose the gun for a while, and the only prisoner who seems to care about her welfare and the potential ramifications of her actions is surrogate mama Gloria (Selenis Levya).  Humps is taken to the infirmary to recover; however, Suzanne’s former paramour Maureen decides to exact revenge for his merciless treatment of the prisoners (and for him inciting said present riot) by blowing air bubbles into his breathing tubes.  As a result, Humps suffers a stroke and, subsequently and quietly, dies.  

8) Will Judy King (Blair Brown) make it out of prison?  Will she grab the gun from Daya? Will she be a casualty of that final riot?

ANSWER: Judy King makes it out of prison, with a little help from the white supremacists, who wear hoods, are caught on camera, and are mistaken for Muslim terrorists.  Ah, irony.  Judy then proceeds to try to sell her prison story in an exploitative way by appearing on a prime time news talk show hosted by Meredith Vieira (really?), without much thought about or consideration of the consequences or the potential effect her choices may have on others.  Judy King is kind of The Worst.

9) Will Litchfield continue to run after all of the chaos at the end of Season Four?  Will the prisoners be split up?  Or, is that a way the series might end?

ANSWER: “Continue to run” is a relative turn of phrase, considering that the prisoners are controlling the prison, and mass chaos not only continues but increases as Season Five progresses.  As for the prisoners splitting up…well, when SWAT units enter the building to regain control by force, Leanne and Angie, in a final blaze of glory, decide to burn the prisoner’s paper records and, as a result, start a fire in the prison offices.  As a result, Litchfield is engulfed in flames, and, while prisoners are brought to safety, outside and in the yard, by SWAT team units, two buses appear to ship prisoners, seemingly, to two different alternative prisons.  Where and how will we start Season Six given this information?  Stay tuned.

10) How will Soso and Taystee (Danielle Brooks) deal with their particular grief about Poussey?  Will they come to bond more?  Will Soso remain a part of P’s “family?”

ANSWER: Soso spends most of the season consumed by grief and depression in the wake of Poussey’s death, with minimal support from Poussey’s prison family (the African American girls), though Soso kind of becomes a de facto member of their group.  She does not regain some stability until she decides, in tribute to Poussey, to make an interactive, living, artistic tribute to P, with books from the library where P worked strung from the ceilings throughout the prisoner-controlled Litchfield halls.  In the meantime, Taystee, who is unimpressed by Soso’s methods of dealing with her loss, decides to take matters into her own hands to attempt to achieve justice for her best friend.  She forces Caputo (Nick Sandow) to record a video statement apologizing for Poussey’s death, which she proceeds to upload to the internet.  She also takes on the company allegedly overseeing the prison by entering into hostage negotiations with the company/with negotiator Fig, after the prisoners capture the remaining guards, declare them hostages, and cage them up in a locked guard booth, where many prisoners proceed to torture and to humiliate them.  Unfortunately, Taystee’s efforts are not always successful.  Listen to the podcast episode for details.

11) Will Sister get out of solitary, or will she be left there?

ANSWER: The show, apparently (according to panelists Krista and Nick but escaping the notice of panelists Kylie and Kristen), explains that Sister contracted pneumonia while in solitary and was, therefore, given compassionate release from prison.  So, I guess Sister is gone for good, and at least two of us missed the explanation behind her departure!

12) Will Red (Kate Mulgrew) have a better story line next season?

ANSWER: If getting high on speed pills and becoming the sole object of dishonored guard Piscatella’s ire comprises a better story line, then I would say that Red does alright.

13) Do we still care about Piper and Alex as a couple?  Did Piper miss any of Alex’s written “confessions” that she hid around the prison in an effort to assuage her guilt?

ANSWER: Piper and Alex do everything they can to lay low this season; in fact, Alex makes it her own personal mission to stay out of the fray because she thinks that Piper often sticks her nose where it does not belong and, often, in sacrifice or to the detriment of the stability of their relationship, a subject of much conflict and debate between the two women this season.  Piper, probably for the first genuine time since the beginning of this show, obtains some self-awareness this season.  While she cannot promise Alex that she will always stay out of situations that seem to matter to her, because doing so is not in her nature, she at least promises that she will listen to Alex if Alex expresses unhappiness with Piper’s meddling and mischief.  Piper also proposes marriage to Alex, who accepts the proposal.  So, the panel believes we are sort of stuck caring about them for awhile longer.  As for Alex’s written confessions – either Piper found them all in Season Four or is too distracted to keep looking for them in Season Five, what with all the rioting and such.

14) How long will Nicky remain clean?  Have she and Tuckey (Taryn Manning) just become friends, given Tuckey’s willingness to nurse Nicky through a cold turkey withdrawal from heroin during the prison lock down?

ANSWER: Nicky, though tempted many times by an unguarded prison pharmacy and prisoners’ various stashes, manages to make it through the whole fifth season (which, in reality, transpires over about one to two weeks) without falling off the wagon.  Presumably, she and Tuckey have an understanding, but I would not characterize this understanding as friendship.  Tuckey, further, is distracted by other matters this season.  Listen to the podcast episode for details.

15) Will we see the young, nice guard Bailey again?  Will the old Litchfield guards return in light of all that has happened?  And what exactly did Piscatella do to which Caputo hinted at the end of the season?

ANSWER: We see Bailey, and he is, rightfully, a mess.  Piper helps him escape the Litchfield prisoner regime, but he spends the entire season wracked with justifiable guilt over his involuntary manslaughter of Poussey; he also spends the entire season searching for some sort of redemption or forgiveness of his sin(s), even tracking down Poussey’s father, who can only tell Bailey that he will have to live with what he did to P for the rest of his life.  The old Litchfield guards mostly stay away, smartly, as the prison is overrun, but the show checks in with most of them.  As for Piscatella, it turns out that, at his prior prison job, he slaughtered another prisoner by scalding him in hot shower water after this prisoner brutally beat and killed a different prisoner with whom Piscatella was carrying on an inappropriate relationship in his position as a guard.  Piscatella was also exploring his newfound homosexuality in said relationship, so these dark incidents left Piscatella in a dark place, causing him to be the man we see in Seasons Four and Five.  Listen to the podcast episode for details.

16) Will we see Lolly (Lori Petty) again now that she has been transferred to the psych ward?

ANSWER: Lolly does not emerge from the psych ward during the riots of Season Five.

New Questions

1) Where and when will Season 6 begin?  Will there be a time jump? Will the Litchfield inmates be in various other prisons?  Will they return to a rebuilt prison?  Will we see all of the inmates we saw at the end of Season 5?  Will the inmates hiding by the old swimming pool, including Piper, Alex, Red, Frieda, Blanca, and others, be subjected to more stringent punishment?  Will they all survive?  Will they be captured?

2) What will happen to the guards originally left in the prison and captured by the prisoners?  What fallout, if anything, will they receive?

3) Will Piper and Alex marry in prison, and will this proposed marriage make Piper a more likable character?  Is that even possible?

4) Is this the end of Litchfield?

5) What will the fallout of the Litchfield riots be related to the company, the state, and the figureheads?  Will the company be assessed any consequences for its incompetent management of Litchfield?

6) Will there be additional crossovers with other original Netflix series – or additional crossovers with Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt?  Some of the panelists support this idea; some are less enthused with both this concept and with the crossover that occurred in Season Five.

7) Are there any prisoners, especially prisoners that the viewer has known since the beginning, for which we have not seen flashback stories?  What flashback stories will see next season?

8) What was Freida’s crime that landed her in Litchfield/prison?

9) Will the company or anyone else discover Linda, the company woman playing prisoner who is also The Worst, among the prisoners?

10) Will Flaritza, i.e. Flaca (Jackie Cruz) and Maritza, be reunited?  Will Nicky and Morello (Yael Stone)?

11) Will Daya ever get to see her baby again?

PARTING SHOTS

Our Orange is the New Black panel proved much more enthusiastic about the fifth season than about some of the seasons preceding it.  Some panelists even labeled this season their favorite, or one of their favorites, indicative of a fine return to form for the show.  In fact, the entire panel was both favorable and complimentary about OITNB Season Five.  The panel also, ever so slightly, continued to warm to Piper, believing that she continues to learn lessons that her real-life counterpart never had to learn because Piper Chapman makes less intelligent choices than Piper Kerman.  All in all, though, the panel reached a rare consensus of opinion, in that all panelists noted that the story trajectory, aside from a slower season beginning that appeared to lose some of the tension marking the fourth season finale, remained successful and compelling and regained the seemingly lost tension to almost “horror movie” proportions by season’s end, despite the absence of a fan and panel favorite character in Poussey.  The entire panel plans to continue to watch the show and Season Six to find out what happens, particularly in the wake of the emptying of Litchfield and the two buses that arrived to separate our formerly (and mostly) rioting characters.  Of course, the panel continues to acknowledge that the writing remains dynamic and top-notch but suggests that this season’s direction and pacing allow for better binge-watching in Season Five than in Season Four.  The panel further continues to maintain high hopes and expectations that Season Six will continue the overarching, excellent quality of storytelling that has characterized Orange is the New Black since its premiere.

LOOKING AHEAD

Orange is the New Black was renewed for a sixth (as well as a seventh) season, which is tentatively slated to premiere in June 2018.  Until then!

PODCAST! – Looking Back at “Angel,” Seasons 3-5 + The Panel’s Top and Bottom 10 Lists of Episodes from “Buffy” and from “Angel:” The Buffy-Verse Series, Episode 5, the Scoobies Edition (MAJOR SPOILERS)

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Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who: “Angel,” a cult supernatural, fantasy, action, and horror drama that aired on the Warner Bros. network, or “The WB,” from 1999 to 2004.

What: The ongoing trials of Angel (David Boreanaz), a vampire whose human soul was restored to him by gypsies as a punishment for the murder of one of their own. After more than a century of murder and the torture of innocents, Angel’s restored soul torments him with guilt and remorse. Angel moves to Los Angeles, California, after it’s clear that his doomed relationship with Buffy, the vampire slayer, cannot continue, where he works as a private detective with a variety of associates to “help the helpless,” restoring the faith and saving the souls of those who have lost their way.

SYNOPSIS

Angel (Boreanaz) is an Irish vampire who is over 200 years old and was known as Angelus during his rampages across Europe, but he was cursed with a soul, which gave him a conscience and guilt for centuries of murder and torture. He left Buffy the Vampire Slayer at the end of Season 3 to move to Los Angeles in search of redemption.

Angel is soon joined by Cordelia Chase (Charisma Carpenter), also a previous cast member of Buffy. Formerly a popular high school cheerleader, Cordelia starts her tenure on the show as a vapid and shallow personality but grows over the course of the series into a hero. Cordelia later acquires clairvoyant visions. Another character from the Buffy series also makes the jump to its spin-off in Angel’s first season: Wesley Wyndam-Pryce (Alexis Denisof) joins the team under the brave guise of “rogue demon hunter,” acting as comic relief and initially not well-accepted.

In Season 2 of the show, the trio are joined by Charles Gunn (J. August Richards), a young demon hunter who must initially adjust to working with and for a vampire. At the end of Season 2, they travel to the demon world Pylea, where they save Winifred “Fred” Burkle (Amy Acker), a young Texan physicist whose social skills have become stunted after five years’ captivity.   Season 3 saw the introduction of Connor (Vincent Kartheiser), the “miracle” human child of two vampires, Angel and Darla. Abducted into a Hell dimension as a baby, he is raised by Angel’s enemy Daniel Holtz. Only a few weeks after he leaves, he returns from the other dimension as a teenager and reluctantly comes to accept his lineage. Although introduced in Season 2, Lorne (Andy Hallett) joins the team during Season 4. An outgoing, pacifistic demon, Lorne’s predominantly supports the team.

Season 5, the show’s final season, introduces several new cast members, chief among them Spike (James Marsters), an old vampire ally/foe of Angel’s and regular character in Buffy. In this series, Spike (eventually) fights beside Angel as their rivalry continues, now further spurred by Spike existing as another vampire with a soul and by the romantic feelings both of them have for Buffy Summers. Finally, Harmony Kendall (Mercedes McNab), another Buffy alumna and a former friend of Cordelia, who was turned into a vampire. Resembling the old personality of Cordelia, Harmony is grudgingly accepted by Angel as his secretary when he takes over the Los Angeles branch of law firm Wolfram & Hart.

When: Angel aired on the WB from 1999-2004.

Where: The show is set primarily in Los Angeles, California.

Why: Listen to the third episode of this series for the panelists’ individual stories on how they found Angel, though the running theme for all panelists’ discoveries of the series involves the show’s association and spin-off status as related to Buffy.

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.

We have already recorded four episodes in this series, Looking Back at Buffy Seasons One, Two, and Three; Looking Back at Buffy Seasons Four and Five; Looking Back at Angel Seasons One and Two; and Looking Back at Buffy Seasons Six and Seven.  You can listen to those episodes here or via our audio channels on iTunes, Stitcher Radio, and Google Play:

The Buffy-Verse Series, Episode One, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” Seasons 1-3

The Buffy-Verse Series, Episode One, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” Seasons 4-5

The Buffy-Verse Series, Episode Three, “Angel,” Seasons 1-2

The Buffy-Verse Series, Episode Four, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” Seasons 6-7

In this fifth episode of CPU!’s “Buffy-Verse” series, our panel discusses Seasons Three, Four, and Five of Angel, covering the series’ final, uneven, three years through the show’s untimely and somewhat controversial cancellation. We discuss our favorite and least favorite episodes within each season and our general impressions of the success of these three seasons, which aired on various nights but ended on Wednesdays at 9:00 PM on the WB.  In addition, each of our panelists compiled and now share their ten most favorite and ten least favorite episodes from both Buffy and from Angel, truly demonstrating not only our widely various opinions about both series but also how these shows manage to mean different things to different people, in different ways and to different degrees, thirteen and fourteen years, respectively, after their series finales aired.

This podcast was recorded in November 2017 and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as we cover major plot points throughout the final three seasons of Angel and further discuss the entire Buffy-Verse as we rehash our “best” and “worst” lists. 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 Marvel’s Defenders panel triumphantly returns to the proverbial Water Cooler to discuss the first season of the crossover miniseries event for which our panel derives its catchy moniker, namely Marvel’s The Defenders, which was released to Netflix in August 2017.  Stay tuned!

RECOMMENDATION

Angel – 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 and, of course, of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  Do not, however, expect this show to be a duplicate of Buffy; Angel the series became something much different from its parent series, which either appealed or didn’t appeal to fans of the original show.  Still, fans of David Boreanaz would be remiss to neglect watching the series that, along with Buffy, catapulted him into TV recognition and stardom (and primed him for his role on Bones). Plus, the supporting cast is fun, and the show enjoys cameo appearances and crossovers from Buffy characters throughout, including from the titular vampire slayer herself.

The entire Angel series is available to stream at only Hulu, currently. Though the panel’s reviews about Angel are generally and widely mixed, Whedonverse/Buffy-Verse fans know that there is at least a few somethings to love about the spin-off featuring the brooding vampire, once a carouser named Liam.  If you enjoy Buffy, chances are, you’ll enjoy Angel too (though, perhaps, as we found out in our chat, some Buffy fans will enjoy it more than others). This Chief CP says watch it, and judge for yourself.

Looking Back at “Angel,” Seasons 3-5 + The Panel’s Top and Bottom 10 Lists of Episodes from “Buffy” and from “Angel:” The Buffy-Verse Series, Episode 5, the Scoobies Edition (MAJOR SPOILERS)

CPU! final-01

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 to Look Back at and to reminisce about Seasons Three, Four, and Five of Buffy the Vampire Slayer spin-off Angel; plus, we nerd out, in true Scooby style, as each panelist provides our Top 10 (Favorite) and Bottom 10 (Least Favorite) episodes from each series.  This is the fifth and final 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!

Editor: Kylie C. Piette
Logo: Rebecca Wallace

DC Television Universe, Episode Ten, Arrow, Season Five, (MAJOR SPOILERS)

CPU! final-01

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 November 2017, our DC Television Universe or DCTU panel – including moderator Kylie, Hilary, Kyle, Spencer, Kristen, and Nick – reconvenes Around the Water Cooler for the tenth episode of our DCTU ongoing series.  In this episode, the panel discusses Season 5 of Arrowverse namesake, Arrow. If you have not watched any of Arrow, 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

PODCAST! – Around the Water Cooler: DC Television Universe Series, Episode 10, “Arrow” – Season Five, the DCTU Panel’s Review and Recap (MAJOR SPOILERS)

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Moderated by: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who:  “Arrow” is a superhero/action/crime drama centered on events and characters inspired by the Green Arrow franchise/DC Comic Universe, which currently airs on the CW, fall to spring Thursdays at 9:00 PM.

What: “Arrow,” a series developed by writer/producers Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim, and Andrew Kreisberg that is based on the DC Comics character Green Arrow, a costumed crime-fighter created by Mort Weisinger and George Papp. The series follows billionaire playboy Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell), who, five years after being stranded on a hostile island, returns home to fight crime and corruption as a secret vigilante whose weapon of choice is a bow and arrow.

SYNOPSIS

The series follows Oliver Queen (Amell), billionaire playboy of Starling City (now Star City), who spends five years shipwrecked on the mysterious island of Lian Yu. Upon his return to the city, he is reunited with his family, including his sister, Thea Queen (Willa Holland) and friends. Oliver awkwardly survives his days back in the city by rekindling his relationships, while he spends his nights hunting down and sometimes killing wealthy criminals as a hooded vigilante. Thea, John Diggle (David Ramsey), and Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards) assist Oliver in his crusade as does his ex-girlfriend, Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy); flashbacks show how Oliver spent his time and gained the skill-set that he uses as (now) the Green Arrow.

When: Season Five aired on the CW from October 5, 2016, to May 24, 2017.

Where: The action is set in the fictional metropolis of Starling City, another name for Star City, the primary setting of the Green Arrow franchise – though as of Season Four, the city was finally re-branded to be Star City like in the comic books.  The action does branch out in flashbacks to international locales, including Hong Kong, the Middle East, Russia, and a fictional island called Lian Yu.

Why: To find out why individual podcast panelists started watching this show, listen to the first DCTU podcast episode, where our panel covers the first two seasons of Arrow, via the embedded link below!  It should be noted that CPU! Chief Couch Potato Kylie was hesitant to watch it, feeling somewhat loyal to Justin Hartley’s portrayal of the Green Arrow on Smallville, which ended in 2011, while Arrow premiered in 2012.  Also, I’m pretty leery of character fatigue in comic book properties of late, which may be the subject of a separate podcast or blog entry.  So, what finally convinced me to watch it in the end? Other than a few good recommendations from viewers like you, listen to that first podcast episode to find out the reasons why I finally picked up the show in the end.

What kept me watching, though, is a different question.  Try this on for size:

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How – as in How’s It Going? – THOUGHTS

This is the tenth episode in CPU!’s DCTU series.  Here are the prior episodes in the series (as we flush out seasons, though, older episodes will only be searchable via the website – click the upper right dialog box in the header). Listen to each episode here:

DCTU Series, Episode 1, “Arrow,” Seasons One and Two

DCTU Series, Episode 2, “Arrow,” Seasons Three and Four

DCTU Series, Episode 3, “The Flash,” Seasons One and Two

DCTU Series, Episode 4, “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow,” Season One

DCTU Series, Episode 5, “Supergirl,” Season One

DCTU Series, Episode 6, the DCTU Mid-Season Roundup

DCTU Series, Episode 7, “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow,” Season Two

DCTU Series, Episode 8, “Supergirl,” Season Two

DCTU Series, Episode 9, “The Flash,” Season Three

In our last episode, our cheeky and feisty and newly full DCTU panel – namely Kyle, Hilary, Spencer, Kristen, and Nick – continued addressing the most recent full seasons of each of the four “Arrowverse” series in order of the airing of each season finale by discussing the third season of The Flash.  Tonight’s episode finds the panel returning to the Water Cooler for the final time this go-round to talk the fifth season of TV universe progenitor Arrow following a rocky, inconsistent, and somewhat bloated Season Five, in the tenth episode of our DCTU series.  The discussion herein evaluates the success of the Green Arrow’s season nemesis, Prometheus (Josh Segarra); the seemingly growing number of Green Arrow sidekicks; the on/off again dynamic of “Ollicity;” Oliver Queen as Star City Mayor; and an explosive season ending that could either reset everything we know about the Arrowverse’s namesake show or could be an overwrought but ultimately anticlimactic finish to a largely anticlimactic season.  In fact, for most of the panel, the assignment to watch Arrow as part of this podcast series is stepping into “begrudging” territory, as most of the panel struggles with Arrow, and their waning affinity for it, more than with any of the other Arrowverse entries. In contrast, most of the panel also remains hopeful that the writers will find the story center again, return to the excellent story execution of the first two seasons, and breathe new energy into this now late-life series.

This particular episode was recorded in November 2017, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as the panelists cover key plot points of Season Five of Arrow. Listen at your own risk, and let us know what you think by commenting below!

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Remember, new episodes and blog posts are published weekly!  Next Wednesday, our DCTU panel returns to the bench briefly in anticipation of the mid-season hiatus period, while our New Girl panel, which has experienced a personnel shift, returns to the Water Cooler after a year’s absence to digest Season Six of the quirky and nearly finished sitcom ahead of its final, truncated season.  Stay tuned!

Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations

Old Questions

1) How will the “Flashpoint” story line on The Flash affect events on Arrow? Will we see a reversal between Star City and Central City?  Will we see Tommy Merlyn (Colin Donnell) again?  Will (spoiler) Laurel come back to life?
ANSWER: As we discussed at length in our ninth episode, covering the third season of The Flash, “Flashpoint,” as it turns out, affected very little throughout the Arrowverse, to the great, heaving disappointment of the entire panel.  Our collective theory and consensus opinion basically posits that the writers and executive producers bit off more than they could chew (and ultimately chickened out) when it came to taking on one of the most critical and most far-reaching story-lines in the history of DC Comics for their live-action adaptation of same.  Thus, on Arrow, the only effect of the time alteration caused by Barry Allen in Central City: Dig and Lyla’s daughter Sarah becomes a son named John, which the panel also regarded, in our ninth DCTU episode, as quite possibly the most pointless, most unnecessary, and most anticlimactic change the writers could offer. 
Though not a direct result of “Flashpoint,” Ollie later sees ghosts of Tommy and of Laurel as he is considering the losses he has incurred since becoming Green Arrow.  Viewers also experience a return of a Laurel Lance, of sorts – just not the one the audience previously knew.  Earth 2’s Laurel appears in Season Two posing as Earth Prime’s Laurel, but she is “Black Siren,” as introduced in the second season of The Flash, not Black Canary.  Black Siren allies herself with the season overarching villain, for better or for worse.  Listen to the podcast episode for details.
2) There has been some indication that flashbacks in season five will involve more of the characters than Ollie.  What will we learn about the supporting characters?
ANSWER: I am not certain where this indication originated, but the Season Five flashbacks only featured two familiar characters: Oliver, of course, and a brief appearance by Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) in the latter half of the season.  This appearance, other than to exploit the sheer popularity of the Merlyn character and of his portraying actor, adds little to no value to the overall story of the Green Arrow.  Otherwise, we learn how Oliver became a member of the Russian gang Bratva and how he positioned himself to be rescued from Lian Yu a final time, prior to his return to Star/ling City. 
We also learn that Ra’s al Ghul’s other daughter, Talia, most famous from the Batman comics, helped to train Oliver in Russia and inspired him to don the “hood.”  Otherwise, the show becomes positively littered with supporting characters in this fifth season, though none are introduced via flashback.
3) What will Team Arrow look like when the series returns?
ANSWER: At the top of the season, Thea, having resigned as Speedy, serves as Mayor Ollie’s Chief of Staff, while Dig remains in prison, having confessed to the murder of his brother in Season Four (though Ollie and Felicity later spring him from the joint and hide him as a fugitive).  With Laurel’s Season Four death, Felicity pushes Oliver to recruit other posse members, so that he may have more freedom to serve as mayor without courting suspicion about his by-night vigilante activities.  Ollie wants nothing to do with new recruits, however and at first, feeling slighted and slightly abandoned in the wake of the loss of Dig and Laurel (and of Thea by her choice), so Felicity takes it upon herself to rope in some new Green Arrow sidekicks, much to Ollie’s grousing.  Tech guru and Felicity’s Palmer-Tech colleague Curtis (Echo Kellum) takes up the mantle of Mr. Terrific, while Rene Ramirez (Rick Gonzalez) joins the team as hockey-mask wearing, gun-toting hothead Wild Dog; Rory Regan joins as Ragman; and Evelyn Sharpe becomes comic-based Green Arrow sidekick Artemis.  Of course, the team continues to change personnel a few more times this season.  Listen to the podcast episode for details.
4) Will Arrow start before the events of The Flash season two finale, so we can see the effects of Flashpoint?
ANSWER: Arrow Season Five starts some time after the events of Arrow Season Four, regardless of Flashpoint.  Again, the only effect that Flashpoint causes to Arrow is a gender change for Dig’s child.
5) Will we see any repeat villains, especially those particular to the Green Arrow, including Count Vertigo, Clock King, and others?
ANSWER: Yes! Though Prometheus proves to be Season Five’s “Big Bad,” Slade Wilson, also known as Deathstroke (Manu Bennett), makes an appearance in this season.  Of course, Malcolm Merlyn/Dark Archer returns as well, but he has not been especially villainous in and around Star City as of late.  The League of Assassins also returns, courtesy of their relationship to the al Ghul sisters, and Captain Boomerang is similarly released from the ARGUS holding cells on Lian Yu, though he is a Flash villain.
6) How will the four villains, with their portraying actors promoted to series regulars on all four Arrowverse programs, be introduced on each of the shows: Merlyn (John Barrowman), Captain Cold (Wentworth Miller), Eobard Thawne (Matt Letscher), and Damien Dahrk (Neal McDonough)?  How will they all visit Arrow, and what will they do?
ANSWER: These four villains, otherwise known as the Legion of Doom, do not appear as a quartet in Arrow Season Five.  They only appear as a group in DC’s Legends of Tomorrow Season Two.  Merlyn stops by his home show of Arrow twice this season but without any of his “Doom” compatriots.
7) Will the show return to the “darker edge” of seasons one and two?  Or, will it grow campier?  Or, will “Flashpoint” throw the whole tone out of whack?
ANSWER: By and large, Arrow Season Five does hearken back, tone-wise, to that of the first two seasons – it is generally darker than Seasons Three and Four, except for when Oliver is playing Mayor.  Because the writers appear to struggle for story consistency in the fifth season, however, the tone also reflects some of that imbalance.  Incidentally, the podcast panel universally believes that Season Five is the series’ worst season to date.
8) Will Ollie’s use of the salmon ladder increase?  The female members of the panel vote yes! He’s been avoiding it lately!

ANSWER: He only used it once!  And barely!  Instead, Ollie elected to flirt with Felicity in an odd little flashback in which we see that Ollicity has something like make-up sex in the lair.  Prior to working up that sweat, though, Felicity warmed up, poorly, on the salmon ladder.

It just wasn’t the same.

New Questions

1) (keeping in mind that several Season Six episodes have aired as of the publication of this post) Who, if anyone, survives the destruction of Lian Yu by a suicidal Prometheus, since everyone but Ollie and his son William presumably stood on the island rigged with dynamite, triggered to explode by Prometheus’ “dead man switch” and self-imposed death, at the end of the fifth season?
2) Does Oliver choose to raise his son in the wake of this explosion, since William’s mother follows Ollie to the island after learning that William has been kidnapped by Prometheus?
3) Presuming that Felicity survives the explosion, are Ollicity back on, in their on/off again relationship?  The panel, particularly panelist Kristen, votes that the writers pick one of the two statuses and stick with it for these charismatic and chemically engaging lovers.
4) Is Malcolm Merlyn truly dead?  Prior to the overall explosion of Lian Yu, Merlyn sacrifices himself by moving on to an old landmine in place of Thea, who triggers the mine during her rescue (after Prometheus and allies manage to kidnap Green Arrow’s entire posse and whisk them off to Lian Yu for the explosive season climax).  The show offers a scene in which we hear what is presumed to be the explosion of the landmine, but it occurs off screen, creating the possibility of a Merlyn who has once again escaped death.  If he does, will we learn how he did it?
5) Is Deathstroke back for good?  How will he affect Ollie/Green Arrow in future, now that he is presumably less psychopathic and Mirakuru-enhanced?
6) Will Dinah Drake (Juliana Harkavy), the new Black Canary, survive her stint in the leather jacket and black mask – she was one of the posse on the exploding island?  Black Canaries have a high mortality rate on this show.
7) Will we see the al Ghul sisters and the League of Assassins again?  Will Talia become more interesting and more like her comics counterpart?
8) Now that the flashbacks and Ollie’s past have caught up to the events beginning the series in the first season, will the series continue to employ flashbacks to tell Oliver’s story?  Or, will the portions seen by the viewing audience finally all be in the present?
9) Which villains will we see next season?  Who will be the season “Big Bad?”  Will any of Green Arrow’s traditional rogues return, including Count Vertigo, Clock King, etc. (panelist Kyle is very concerned)?
10) Did Artemis survive the Lian Yu explosion – and will she see the error of her ways and join Green Arrow’s team in good faith, provided that Oliver is in a forgiving mood?
11) Provided that Thea also survives the explosion, and despite donning the red hood for the fifth mid-season crossover episodes, is she done being Speedy for good?
12) Does Oliver remain Green Arrow as Season Six begins?  How does he juggle mayoral duties with vigilante duties without a team?  Does he recruit even more new team members?
13) Please bring back the salmon ladder.  We are sure that Ollie is stressed out and needs to work on his upper body.  Shirtless.

PARTING SHOTS

Our DCTU panel universally agrees that Arrow Season Five represents a new low point for the series, given the uneven portrayal and unbelievable motivations of season nemesis Prometheus, who seems to be several steps ahead of Oliver at all times and who seems able to affect Ollie in ways that other, more menacing villains have not.  The panel, by and large, also proves mostly unimpressed by the Russia/Bratva flashback stories and some of the side plots on the season, including Felicity’s involvement with hactivist organization Helix and the frustrating love square between Oliver and reporter Susan and Felicity and police detective Billy.  The panel further offers mixed reviews surrounding the new Green Arrow sidekicks, with more positive reactions aimed at Mr. Terrific, moderate support for the new Black Canary, lukewarm reactions to Wild Dog and Ragman, and generally negative reactions to Artemis. The panel continues to regard The Flash as the best show in this particular television universe, while the original entry, Arrow, flounders and stumbles, owing primarily to sloppy story mapping, despite the steady (and handsome) portrayal of the Green Arrow by Stephen Amell and the superb production values, particularly the fight choreography, marking the Star City based quadrant of the multiverse.

LOOKING AHEAD

Arrow was renewed for a new season; Season Six premiered on October 12, 2017! The DCTU podcast panel will next chat Arrow during our mid-season roundup of the Arrowverse, which will occur in or around January 2018, when the panel will discuss all four Arrowverse shows in one longer episode.  Until then!

Looking Back at “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” Seasons 4-5: The Buffy-Verse Series, Episode 2 (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, our panel of experts – including moderator Kylie, Nick, Kyle, Sarah, and Kallie – gathered together to Look Back at and to reminisce about Seasons Four and Five of CPU! favorite Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  This is the second 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 3 of our Buffy-Verse series, in which we cover Seasons 1-2 of Angel!