The Originals, Season 5 and Looking Back Series Review (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 September 2018, our panel of true CPU! originals and vampire enthusiasts – including moderator Kylie, Jen (S.), and Jenn (K.) – is back Around the Water Cooler and discussing the final season, Season 5, of The Originals, including another seven-year, in-show time jump; the ongoing threat of the Hollow; the thoughts, feelings, and hopes of a now teenage Hope, the daughter of Hayley and Klaus; and the unending reaches to which the Mikaelson siblings will go, by any means necessary, for their family. We also Look Back at the now ended series as a whole and say goodbye to this spin-off of The Vampire Diaries, one ultimately beloved by this panel, despite mixed reactions of the panelists to the series finale. If you have not watched any of The Originals, be aware that there are MAJOR SPOILERS! Tell us what you think in the comments below and check out the blog and YouTube for other TV related discussions, in both podcast and blog format. Also, if there are other shows you’re interested in the blog covering, sound off below! Tell us what you like or don’t like. Keep the discussion going!

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



Advertisements

PODCAST! – Around the Water Cooler: The CPU! Goodbye to “The Originals” – The Season 5 Recap and Review + Looking Back at Seasons 1-5 (MAJOR SPOILERS)

the_originals_title_card

Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who:  “The Originals” aired on the CW for five total seasons from 2013-2018.

What: “The Originals,” a spin-off of supernatural drama The Vampire Diaries, centers on the Original (i.e. very first) vampires, the Mikaelsons, who initially appeared on the latter show.  The surviving siblings are hybrid werewolf/vampire Niklaus (Joseph Morgan), his older brother Elijah (Daniel Gillies), and baby sister Rebekah (Claire Holt).

SYNOPSIS

In a backdoor pilot that aired during season 4 of The Vampire Diaries, the viewer learned that the Mikaelsons essentially helped to create New Orleans.  Klaus (Morgan), running from various personal dilemmas including his own ego and Mystic Falls in general, returned to New Orleans where he encountered one of his prodigal sires, specifically Marcel (Charles Michael Davis), who had taken control of the French Quarter and had declared war on other supernatural beings, including a local coven of witches.  Klaus covets Marcel’s power and hold over the city.  Klaus’ brother Elijah (Gillies) follows Klaus to New Orleans, learning that a one-night stand that Klaus had with werewolf Hayley (Phoebe Tonkin) has resulted in her being mysteriously pregnant, as vampires, including vampire/werewolf hybrids, are not known to have children. This series follows Klaus and the other Original siblings as they work to protect their family and this unborn and unlikely child from the clutches of egomaniac Marcel, Klaus’ prized pupil, and other forces who threaten her.

When:  Season 5 aired from April 18, 2018, to August 1, 2018, on the CW.

Where: The show is set in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Why: This panel, feeling TVD to be a traditionally good show with some of the same creative influence, including Executive Producer Julie Plec as well as the charismatic Morgan and Gillies, saw no reason that The Originals could not be just as juicy and delicious as the show from whence it spun.  Also, have I mentioned…vampires?  The non-sparkly kind?  Played by ridiculously handsome men? With accents?  The members of this panel were helpless to resist.

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

In 2016, our Originals panel helped to catch CPU! up on this program by discussing Seasons 1, 2, and 3 in a first episode for this panel, which was followed by a second episode devoted to Season 4.  To hear our thoughts, listen to the embedded links below:

Seasons 1-3

Season 4

Our small but continuously robust and truly original Originals panel, including returning panelists Jen (S.) and Jenn (K.), reconvened to discuss the siblings Mikaelson, including noble but repressed – and amnesiac, to start this season – older brother Elijah, werewolf/vampire hybrid and narcissistic middle child Klaus, and the many supporting characters that hover in their orbit.  We cover major plot points from the fifth and final season following another seven-year, in-show time jump, including the angst of an even older, teenage Hope (Danielle Rose Russell), the daughter of Hayley (Tonkin) and Klaus, pining for her unsurprisingly absent father; the precarious peace in NOLA monitored by Hayley and representatives of each of the city factions, supernatural and otherwise; and the unending reaches to which the siblings will go, by any means necessary, for their family, even when they are supposed to remain apart in order to prevent world destruction, owing to the unstoppable magic of the Hollow.  Our panel’s devotion to The Originals remains mostly devout and still higher (more or less) and more fervent than for The Vampire Diaries, as the panelists feel that the plot of this show continues to be more sophisticated and the situations, therefore, more adult.  Give us a listen, with your secreted last piece of the White Oak nearby, and see if you agree or disagree with our thoughts.

This podcast was recorded in September 2018, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as the panelists cover key plot points of the fourth 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! Next week, our A Series of Unfortunate Events panel returns to the Water Cooler, just in time for Netflix to drop the third and final season of that series on January 1, 2019, with the panel being (unfortunately) ready to dive into discussion about the second season of the faithful adaptation of Lemony Snicket’s novels. Stay tuned!

Lingering Questions

Old Questions

1) REPEAT QUESTION: If werewolves in the bayou are connected to Klaus’ biological father, and some of those werewolves are Hayley’s family, does that mean there is the possibility that Klaus and Hayley are distant cousins, generations removed, as well as parents of a new kind of hybrid? Does this fact explain the possibility of the baby?

NEW ANSWER ADDENDUM: To answer the first question, the Hollow, a being without a soul, comes into existence during prehistoric times in this fictional universe, as explained in Season 4.  When her tribe recognizes her curious but ultimately murderous tendencies, unfazed by moral dilemmas or community mores, they attempt to bind her via an ancient spell; however, she manages to reverse the curse and, in so doing, creates the first werewolves and, in turn, the initial progenitors of the five or six werewolf families.  Since all werewolves descend from The Hollow or from her relatives, Klaus and Hayley may, very well, be distant cousins several hundred times removed. The show explains, in Season 5 and in an almost tragically off-handed way, that Klaus, at one point, ingested a serum that would allow him to be a father, despite also being a vampire/werewolf hybrid.  Frankly, this off-the-cuff and rushed explanation fails to satisfy in any kind of meaningful way, at least insofar as suggesting that Hope (Russell) is more special than the average magical werewolf/hybrid offspring, since, at last check, she is the only offspring of that kind.

2) REPEAT OBSERVATION: Davina (Danielle Campbell) is annoying.  Please make her go away.

NEW ANSWER: Though Kol and Davina ride off into a romantic, love-filled sunset at the end of Season 4, Davina marries Kol in these intervening seven years, rendering their departures temporary at best, since they return, as family should, for all important family reunions, like weddings and funerals…

3) REPEAT QUESTION: What is Hope really: a vampire, a werewolf, a witch, a hybrid, or a combination of any of the above?

NEW ANSWER: The show confirms that she is a “teenage tri-brid:” a witch and a vampire/werewolf hybrid just like her father, though she exhibits no obvious signs of being a vampire, which her father can manifest quite readily.  As for any potential werewolf tendencies that Hope might display, listen to the podcast episode for details.

4) Will the Mikaelson vampire siblings – now housing each of four Bones of Torment which are, in fact, the skeletal remains of the Hollow’s former vessel and are far separated, as a coming together of those Bones will reconstitute the Hollow to an unstoppable state – be reunited?  How?  Will Hope save them this time?

ANSWER: It all starts with Hope.  Hope begins the season by giving her blood to a vampire at the magical Mystic Falls school run by Alaric (Matt Davis) and Caroline (Candice King), two alumna from The Vampire Diaries, that Hope attends. She thereby transforms her vampire classmate into a hybrid and catches the attention of her doting but fearful (and feared) father, which was all part of her plan and conspiracy with her vampire friend, who wants to become a hybrid, to begin with.  A chain of events is then set into motion, which eventually leads to a family reunion. Hope ultimately casts a “chambre de chasse” spell, bringing the surviving Mikaelson siblings together into a magical representation of the family compound in New Orleans, so that she can, very much against her father’s wishes, draw the Hollow magic out of each of them and into herself, allowing them to coexist in the same city together without endangering the world.  Hope cannot, however, long term, control this magic, since the Hollow always sought to inhabit the powerful Hope; the magic begins to endanger her life, and someone else is needed to save her.  Listen to the podcast episode for details – or just keep reading.

5) At Elijah’s request, Vincent casts a spell to remove the influence of the Mikaelson family motto, “Always and Forever,” from Elijah’s mind, which the eldest living Mikaelson brother has taken so seriously throughout his long, un-dead life, though doing so has cost him his happiness and sense of independence from his family, as he is the sibling that runs most to save the others.  How will the absence of the influence of that trigger affect Elijah in the final season?  Will Klaus attempt to reach him to bring him back into the Mikaelson fold?

ANSWER: We see an Elijah, free of the burden of his family, playing jazz piano in a club in the south of France and falling in love with a vampire named Antoinette (Jaime Murray), who teaches Elijah to reconnect with the more carnal and positive pleasures of being a vampire, even though she figures out quickly that he is one of the Original vampires. Klaus and Rebekah each, separately, risk visiting their brother from time to time, missing his wisdom and counsel and appreciating his overall happiness, though the visits are short, due to the magical influence of the Hollow bones coming back within proximity of each other.  Fortunately or unfortunately, in order for the siblings to escape the aforementioned chambre de chasse spell, in the spell’s representational way, each sibling is required to locate a key that will unlock a door to their conscious selves.  Elijah’s key, as it turns out, is housed where all of his other secrets are housed: behind the infamous red door of his consciousness, along with the rest of his memories, both good and bad.  In order for Elijah to retrieve this key, he must force himself to trust Klaus, the brother he does not remember and about whom he has heard only horrible things in his amnesiac state, and to see the need to save Hope; Elijah is convinced to bust through this door by his brother Klaus, who promises to go through it with him.  The act of entering this door not only awakens the sleeping Mikaelson siblings but also awakens Elijah’s memories, locked away by the magical removal of the “Always and Forever” family motto pull.  

6) What is Hope?  How did Hayley even come to have her in the first place, since vampires do not often produce babies the old fashioned way (Klaus was a hybrid werewolf/vampire at the time of conception)?

ANSWER: Hope is a “tri-brid” – a vampire/werewolf hybrid like her father and a genetic witch like all of the other Mikaelsons, though she is not motivated by fangs, blood lust, and night-prone immortality like typical vampires.  As for her conception, the show suggests that Klaus at one time ingested a serum, presumably a magical one, that would allow him to conceive a child.  Did we ever see him take this serum, either on this show or when the Original vampires were on The Vampire Diaries?  Our panel certainly does not recall seeing this.

7) Will the Mikaelsons have to fight the Hollow in the end?  Will Marcel, now forgiven by Klaus and reunited with Rebekah, join the fight?

ANSWER: In a manner of speaking, yes.  Klaus ultimately decides to take on the Hollow magic to save Hope, but not even he can hold the powerful magic at bay.  His decision to save his child is cataclysmic: he decides to stake himself with one remaining White Oak stake, which he confesses to Alaric and Caroline he secreted away at some point in case he needed it. (SPOILER) He makes good on this decision, even if the appearance of this stake feels a bit contrived and deus ex machina in the endNeither Marcel and Rebekah nor Kol nor Elijah try to stop Klaus; they admire his choice, and (SPOILER) Elijah even decides to join him in this final sacrificial act.  Listen to the podcast episode for details.

8) Will Kol and Davina return?

ANSWER: Kol is drawn into the chambre de chasse, he is present (along with his now wife Davina) for Freya (Riley Voelkel) and Keelin’s wedding, and he is present for Klaus and Elijah’s final goodbyes.

9) Will the Originals survive their series?  Will they be forced to face the consequences of their millennium of vampire misdeeds?  Or, will they all find happy endings?

ANSWER: Klaus decides to stake himself to save his family, Hope included; Elijah decides to stake himself with part of Klaus’ secreted away White Oak stake, as he always saw his life’s purpose, at least after a time, to be his brother’s redemption.  Elijah, in fact, sees Klaus’ final noble act as proof that he achieved his purpose, and since (SPOILER) Hayley also dies this season, he feels that without either of them, he has nothing particularly to live for after such a long life and an immortality of which he tires.  Klaus and Elijah, therefore, stake each other in the show’s final scene. Rebekah survives; as Klaus’ final gift to her, he informs her that Caroline has the vampire cure in Mystic Falls.  He blesses her use of the cure and wishes her and Marcel a long and happy, if ultimately, mortal life together.  Kol returns to Davina; Freya and Keelin vow to live a happy life together as well.  Thus, in the end, Klaus ultimately accepts responsibility for his sins and repents through his personal sacrifice to save his family, particularly his daughter.  Elijah does the same, seeing Klaus’ redemption as his own.  The remaining Mikaelsons find happy endings.

10) What will Klaus do to keep busy during this separation?  Will he visit Caroline Forbes (Candice King) from The Vampire Diaries in Mystic Falls and at Alaric’s new school for special children? Press releases have suggested that Caroline will appear in the final season of The Originals.  Will she recur or become a series regular?  Will she and Klaus actually, finally, get together?  The panel mostly supports this coupling, though not necessarily with tons of excitement.

ANSWER: Klaus roams the world, stewing over the separation from his daughter and processing the unconditional love he has for her, an achievement he has never unlocked until his very existence endangered that of his child.  He does visit Caroline briefly, and Caroline also visits him.  Caroline recurs in Season 5 by appearing in four episodes, including the season premiere and the series finale.  Caroline and Klaus do not become a romantic coupling; she confesses that he turned her head for a time, but she also notes that her life and her sense of self changed in the intervening years, and that these changes prevent her from connecting to Klaus in a more formal way.  Still, she also tells him, particularly as he readies to end his own after-life, that she has always cared for him, and she gives him a heartfelt kiss goodbye, both as a kindness but also as a sense of closure, since Klaus’ head never stopped turning for her.

11) How will Marcel and Rebekah live out their part of the separation?

ANSWER: Marcel and Rebekah finally enjoy their whirlwind, century-long romance by touring the world.  In fact, in the season premiere, Marcel pops the question to Rebekah.  Unfortunately, goings-on back in New Orleans complicate the proposal.

12) What will Freya do to keep busy during this separation?  We suspect that she will most actively seek a spell to bring down the Hollow, with Vincent’s help, if such a spell should exist.

ANSWER: The panel was right.  Freya spends most of the intervening seven years searching for a way to quell the Hollow’s magic, to allow her family to reconvene.  Vincent reluctantly helps Freya, on occasion, though he is just as happy to keep the Mikaelsons away from New Orleans, as the city is quite peaceful in their absence.  Freya also enjoys a happy romance with Keelin for most of those years.

13) How will the series end?  Panelist Jenn K. reports that producers are forecasting another time jump, ten years into the future, to start the fifth season, in which the viewer will see a teenager version of Hope.  Who will play her, and what will Hope have become to Hayley and to everyone during that time?

ANSWER: Danielle Rose Russell plays fifteen-year-old Hope.  Hope is still the apple of her mother’s eye.  She is also close to her aunt Freya, who mentors her in the ways of magic, and to her aunt Rebekah, though we do not see Hope and Rebekah together much, since Rebekah houses one of the Hollow bones.  The series ends with Klaus and Elijah staking each other, to end the Hollow’s magical threat and in a noble agreement to face the “true” death together; Marcel and Rebekah vow to marry, with Rebekah deciding to take the vampire cure; Kol and Davina and Freya and Keelin enjoy new love-filled chapters; and Hope returns to her school in Mystic Falls and to a second spin-off of this universe, Legacies, which premiered this fall on the CW.

14) Will Hayley have to sacrifice herself to save Hope, who may yet be threatened by the Hollow?  Will Klaus?  Will either Hayley or Klaus end up a single parent?

ANSWER: Hayley does, in fact, sacrifice herself to save Hope, though the Hollow is not the threat that causes her to engage in this sacrifice at the time. Instead, leaders of a so-called vampire cult, with a vendetta against Klaus, capture Hayley and Hope.  After Hayley’s werewolf side is magically removed by a witch in the cult leaders’ employ, Hope’s life hangs in the balance as Klaus and Caroline enter the scene.  To prevent further harm to Klaus or to Hope, and because Elijah, who also arrives on the scene, does not remember her due to the magical lobotomy of “Always and Forever” that he previously underwent, and makes no move to help her, much to her stark realization and dashed hope, Hayley wrestles the cult leader into the sunlight, causing Hayley, now only a vampire, and her foe to burn, as vampires do, in the sun.  

As noted above, Klaus also sacrifices himself for Hope, taking on the Hollow’s magic to save her and then staking himself to save his family, her included.  Sadly, this one-two punch of Hayley and Klaus’ deaths leaves Hope an orphan, though she has her extended family.  Klaus does try to care for Hope following Hayley’s shocking end, but his future is short-lived, given the omnipresent threat of the Hollow’s curse.

15) Will Hayley and Elijah end up together?

ANSWER: With Hayley’s death and Elijah’s agreement to go into the void with Klaus, these two lovers become the epitome of star-crossed, destined never to be each other’s enduring soulmate.

Lingering Unanswered Questions

1) With Elijah’s decision to stake himself, does not this mean that all of the vampires in his sire-line are now gone?  As of the end of Season 3, Elijah was still connected to his sire-line, correct?  It feels like we should have seen something more definitive regarding the elimination of his sire-line, given all of the hoopla in Season 3 revolving around the idea of the sire-lines themselves (fortunately, Klaus was separated from his sire-line by Davina in Season 3, and all of the Mystic Falls vampires, including Caroline, are in his sire-line).

2) None of us understand, still, what exactly Marcel was – a hybrid, sure, but it seems the magical white oak barbs or thorns from Season 3 rendered him more powerful and more special, as evidenced by the vampire cult’s desire to drain his particular venom.  The panel feels that Marcel’s new state of being was never quite satisfactorily explained within the show.

PARTING SHOTS

The Originals, though not the twisty soap opera characterizing its parent program, remained engaging, superior television in the end, spinning an epic and seductive tale with increasingly engaging acting and beautiful actors doing the work, even if not all of the story satisfied all of our panelists.  The writers created a steamy and sophisticated mix of horror, revenge fantasy, and romance, capitalizing on all of the best elements of vampire lore, while providing a considerably more adult direction for this spin-off of angst-driven The Vampire Diaries and an unusual spin on the usual vampire fantasy.  While our panelists disagreed about the overall success of the final season, we still, at least, agreed in the end that the over-arching story was best when it was grand and twisty, and the panelists, some more than others, regard The Originals as completely accessible to anyone who has not watched TVD.  Two panelists, your Chief CP included, feel a sense of profound sadness upon reaching the end of this program, believing that the show was prevented from mining a trove of unexplored history and potential in our millennium-old characters, while the third panelist sees this final season as more disappointing than satisfying. All participating panelists believe, more or less, that the show became far better than The Vampire Diaries in fewer seasons, owing to the stellar portrayals of the family Mikaelson and the intriguing relationships between the familial characters on the series.  Though the panel does not enjoy universal consensus about the show’s end, our panelists at least believe that the writers did their best with a shorter episode order in this last season and with this talented cast of performers and the characters they portray, even if the end felt decidedly rushed and, therefore, not as satisfying as it could have been – though panelist Jenn K. really struggled with the “Twilight-esque fluttery stuff” in the end.

THE FUTURE OF THE SHOW

Canceled/ended! The Originals was canceled by the CW after five seasons. The series is available to stream on Netflix and available for purchase at the usual sites.  The panel, ultimately, universally recommends The Originals now that the series has ended.  Though both panelists Jen S. and Jenn K. feel that watching TVD is necessary to enjoy this show, Chief CP and moderator Kylie believes that The Originals can be watched and enjoyed on its own, with the caveat that watching at least the first four seasons of The Vampire Diaries, when the Original family first appears, would definitely make the watch experience of the spin-off much richer. All in all, our panelists mourn the end of the show, with Kylie and Jen S. perhaps mourning it more readily than Jenn K, and will miss the show in the end.  All of us love Joseph Morgan and Daniel Gillies, however, and are eager to follow them to other projects; Kylie and Jen S. particularly fan-girl for Daniel Gillies (hearts hearts hearts), while Jenn K. describes her affection for Nathaniel Buzolic (Kol) and her willingness to watch him in other vehicles.  So, if nothing else, if you love attractive men, especially men who wear suits well, and vampires, you will, at least, be moderately pleased with The Originals.

An image from the series finale of The Originals – Elijah (Daniel Gillies, left) informs his brother Niklaus aka Klaus (Joseph Morgan, right) that he is willing to die alongside his brother, and that they can face the unknown as they always have – together. The brothers subsequently each bury a halved piece of the remaining White Oak stake into each other’s hearts.
Our truly original The Originals panel: Jen S. (left) and Jenn K. (right).

 

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., 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, recorded in September 2018, our small and slightly less robust panel–including moderator Kylie, Jen, and Micah–is Around the Water Cooler and discussing Season 5 of Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (we previously recapped prior seasons of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. with panelist Kristen, who has since declared that she has jumped the shark). If you have not watched any of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, be aware that there are MAJOR SPOILERS! Tell us what you think in the comments below and check out the blog and YouTube for other TV related discussions, in both podcast and blog format. Also, if there are other shows you’re interested in the blog covering, sound off below! Tell us what you like or don’t like. Keep the discussion going!

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

PODCAST! – Around the Water Cooler: “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” – the Season 5 Recap and Review (MAJOR SPOILERS)

Image result for agents of shield season 5 title card

Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who:  “Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” airs on network TV, specifically on ABC, though it is currently on hiatus.

What: “Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D,” a serial television drama based on the comic/graphic novel and film universe of Marvel Comics.

SYNOPSIS

The mission of the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division, i.e. S.H.I.E.L.D., is to monitor and collect rogue supernatural subjects, forces, and people and to control them.  The Division is kind of like the so-called Men in Black but is focused on any fringe element looking to create the next Tony Stark (Iron Man) or Captain America or Thor without the natural-born endowments (or the cool suit invented by a rich guy).  Of course, the mission has been complicated ten times over since the start of the series.

When: Season 5 aired from December 1, 2017, to May 18, 2018, on ABC.

Where: The show is set in the fictional Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and closely follows the events of “The Avengers” films, previously directed by series creator Joss Whedon (along with brother Jed).

Why: Two reasons for most of the panel: Joss Whedon and Disney’s first television production of a Marvel-type nature.  It seemed like a no-brainer, really.

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

CPU! has covered Agents of SHIELD since the beginning, though in podcast format only starting in 2016.  If you would like to catch up on our SHIELD coverage, click the embedded links below, or find the audio equivalents on iTunes, Stitcher Radio, and Google Play (links further below):

Seasons 1-3A

Season 3A

Season 3B 

Season 4A

Season 4B

Our SHIELD panel is back to talk about all of Season 5, given the unusual airing schedule for this season, what with ABC’s attempt to precede it with a dose of Marvel’s Inhumans, which was subsequently canceled by the Alphabet network.  With the delayed start and unusual airing schedule, in addition to a new Friday time slot, the break between half seasons was not long enough or in a logical span of time that would allow our panel to check in at mid-season (which fell somewhere around March), so here, we offer a longer-than-usual, and perhaps slightly more intense, dissection of Season 5.

Additionally, since last time, we have had a personnel change on our Agents of SHIELD panel.  The panel wishes to wave a fond goodbye to panelist Kristen, one of the panel’s original members, who left it because she “jumped the shark” watching SHIELD and was frustrated enough not to want to watch or discuss it further.  That’s how it rolls from time to time at CPU!  Don’t worry!  If you’re a Kristen fan, you can still hear her voice on many of our active panels, as she is currently our most involved panelist!

Our SHIELD panel then, now consisting of Jen and Micah, tackles talk of Season 5, including the SHIELD agents’ adventures to space, to the future, and through a time loop, as well as prognosticates upon possible future plot developments of the surprisingly renewed sixth season while speculating upon the likelihood that the show is facing its last hurrah, especially since the events of Season 5 led our panelists to believe that the show’s writers and producers expected Season 5 to be the literal and living end for the series. Listen to the podcast episode below, and see if you agree or disagree with our comments, reactions, and predictions.

This podcast was recorded in September 2018, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as the panelists cover key plot points of the fifth 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! Our next podcast episode will stay in the MCU as, schedule permitting, our Marvel’s Defenders Series panel returns to the Water Cooler to discuss Marvel’s Luke Cage, Season TwoSweet Christmas!  Stay tuned!

Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations

Old Questions

1)  REPEAT QUESTION: Will we learn which planet it is (i.e. Hive’s home planet beyond Earth)?

NEW ANSWER: We haven’t yet, and it’s one of the lingering questions of the podcast panel (at least for Jen and for Kylie). We also may never know now, as the monolith that accesses that planet, which is apparently stored deep within the recesses of a SHIELD station called the Lighthouse – which is literally under a lighthouse – is destroyed. A device, planted by a ragtag group of people calling themselves Hydra and confiscated by SHIELD, explodes and destroys the Hive planet monolith along with two other space and time bending monoliths also stored there, creating a rift to a so-called #feardimension.  Please note: this is the show’s name for it, not ours. Listen to the podcast episode for details

2) REPEAT QUESTION: Will we find out about the “purpose” behind the Inhumans, as alluded to by Lincoln (RIP), and explore more of the mythology and connection between the Inhumans and the Kree?  Will we ever find out the true origin of the Planet?  Is the Planet important beyond being the place where Hive was exiled for millennia?

NEW ANSWER: The Planet information may be impossible to know at this point, given the destruction of the monolith that accessed it.  The purpose of the Inhumans has not (yet) been addressed by the show, if it ever will be at all.

3) REPEAT QUESTION: Will we ever learn more about the Kree themselves?  Are they related to any of the individual Avengers?

NEW ANSWER: This season, we meet actual Kree leaders, including Kasius and his father as well as soldiers and generals that report to Kasius.  While we do not learn much information about the Kree’s history and why they take such an interest in Earth, especially after, in the future, Earth is destroyed by the so-called “Destroyer of Worlds,” we do learn that Kasius rules over the remainder of Earth’s scattered population, housed aboard the Lighthouse station, which, in the future, floats as part of the debris evidence of Earth’s destruction in space.  There, he breeds Inhumans by exposing humans under his control to terra-genesis, trains them to use their newfound abilities, and sells them as slaves and generals to the highest alien bidders seeking soldiers with powers.  What we can also say, definitively, is that no Kree are related to the Avengers – at least, as far as we know.

4) REPEAT QUESTION: Is Nadir affiliated with Hydra?  Could Hydra be coming back – since it seems foolish to eliminate them from the MCU completely?

NEW ANSWER: Though Nadir is not a factor for this season, as our panel predicted when discussing the end of Season Four, Hydra as an actual entity returns via one flailing, growing head of the many-headed enemy.  Hydra is not at the strength of its heyday, but one should never count out Hydra.  Listen to the podcast episode for details.

5) REPEAT QUESTION: What happened to the Inhuman undergoing terra-genesis that Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) was blindfolded and squirreled away to help and, then, to abandon when the process was complete?

REPEAT ANSWER: Unknown.  We may never see this Inhuman again.

6) REPEAT QUESTION: Is Coulson (Clark Gregg) really attempting to position Daisy (Chloe Bennett) as a possible future SHIELD director?

NEW ANSWER: Though at the end of last season, it was hard to see this eventuality as truly possible, Coulson successfully advocates for Daisy’s leadership of SHIELD, with May’s (Ming-Na Wen) support, this season. At one point, Coulson abdicates his own position as leader and asks Daisy to lead the agents in his absence, as he leaves to confront what is left of Hydra, much to May’s chagrin.  Listen to the podcast episode for details.

7) REPEAT QUESTION: Will we see any more Avengers or Avengers-related characters on the show?  The panel feels strongly that the show would benefit from an injection of movie-caliber quality, either in character appearances or in story reworking.

REPEAT (ISH) ANSWER: We have not seen show appearances of Avenger-type proportions so far, aside from Hydra as an abstract concept, though at one point, there is an oblique mention of Thanos’ invasion in Avengers: Infinity War, which was kind of surprising, as earlier in the year, it was rumored that Marvel Entertainment had disowned Agents of SHIELD, with much of Season 5 set in the future and in space, a departure for these characters from the comics.  I guess that’s why they call them rumors, though.

8) Will we see Ghost Rider again?  Or, is he being limited to this season?  The podcast panel votes for a spin-off for this version of Ghost Rider, with frequent guest appearances by Daisy.  They have a certain chemistry, we think… And Ghost Rider and Quake together are kind of bad-ass.  At the very least, he should simply return from time to time, as long as he is not used as a method of convenient last minute escape (lest his appearances feel cheap).

ANSWER: Ghost Rider does not appear in Season 5 in any way, except by mention of Coulson, who believes he is dying because of his deal with the Rider at the end of Season 4.  We do not know what Coulson means by this declaration; all of the panelists continue to ‘ship Daisy and Robbie, though.

9) Who captured the SHIELD agents during the season 4 epilogue?  Who are the shadowy figures really? Kristen predicts that the government is behind this abduction; Jen predicts Hydra is back and behind this abduction as does Kylie; Micah speculates that a group called “Sword” from the Marvel Comics or the Inhuman Royal Family or groups like “Raid” or “Aim” are all possibilities for the potential perpetrators.  Kylie also hopefully wonders if the Kree own the spaceship/space craft on which Coulson finds himself and if the audience will finally be given more answers around the mysterious alien race consistently referred to in the show’s earliest seasons.

ANSWER: We learn that in the Season 4 epilogue, an alien robot entity known as Enoch exposes all of the agents but Fitz (Iain de Castecker) to a monolith, which opens a portal and propels them toward the future, the year 2091 to be exact, when the Earth has been destroyed.  The shadowy figures are Agents of Hydra, as Jen and Kylie predicted.  They abduct Fitz and take him to an unmarked Hydra facility, where their leader (a spoiler covered in the podcast episode) attempts to shake Fitz down in order to suss out the location of Fitz’s teammates.

The Kree do not own the Lighthouse station, on which Coulson finds himself at the end of Season 4, but the Kree do control it and the remnants of Earth’s population inside it.  The audience, however, is not given much more information about the Kree beyond their sense of ruthlessness and materialism, their technology, and some of their cultural norms.

10) Where is Coulson?  How did he end up in space?

ANSWER: Coulson is aboard the Lighthouse station, still standing on a chunk of Earth broken away from the core planet after the Earth is destroyed in this bleak future.  Coulson finds himself there, and in space, because of Enoch’s endeavor to bring SHIELD and its agents into this future to help save the world and the past/timeline.

11) Where is everyone else?  How did Coulson get separated from the team?

ANSWER: Everyone but Fitz finds themselves in this spacey future with Coulson.  They all eventually find each other, 

12) How much will Marvel’s Inhumans, premiering in fall, affect Agents of SHIELD, if at all?

ANSWER: Unknown.  None of the panel watched Inhumans, at least prior to watching Season 5 of SHIELD and recording this podcast episode.  And then the network canceled it. So….I guess that’s all she wrote.

13) Will there be lasting effects of the Framework on the team, especially Fitz and Simmons and Coulson and May?

ANSWER: As for lasting effects –

Coulson: no.

May: no.

Simmons: no, except as it relates to Fitz (see below). 

Yo-Yo (Natalia Cordova-Buckley): no, except as it relates to Mack (see below).

Daisy: no.

Mack (Henry Simmons): yes, because raising an actual version of his lost daughter Hope in the Framework and losing her again is, according to him, more painful than if he had never raised her at all, which he confesses to Yo-Yo (Natalia Cordova-Buckley) this season. 

Fitz: yes.  He experiences mass amounts of guilt and self-doubt, living with the specter of his shadowy Framework self, the evil, ruthlessly scientific Leopold known as “The Doctor.”  His focus on not repeating the mistakes of the Framework version of himself somewhat results in a self-fulfilling prophecy, however, when he suffers a psychotic break in the second half of the season and begins seeing what amounts to a hallucination of Leo the Doctor, his Framework self dressed in a suit, which influences Fitz to embrace his most ruthless and least compassionate instincts in a crucial moment.  Listen to the podcast episode for details.

14) Will there be another time jump?  If there is, dear writers, explain it!

ANSWER: If being temporarily thrust into future time counts as a time jump, the answer is yes, though, fortunately, the writers do a great job of explaining it (more or less).

15) Did Nadir’s brother Vijay start a second terra-genesis when he fell into the water, as Micah observed?  If so, what does this mean for Inhumans, for him, and for our team?

ANSWER: Vijay does not return this season, and panelist Micah does not seem as bothered by what he believed he observed last season.  Who knows what the future will bring, though?

16) Will Coulson and May finally admit their obvious feelings for one another?  Will a romantic coupling between them feel weird?  They’re kind of like the mom and dad of the whole outfit.

ANSWER: Yes. No. And, mom and dad or not, you want to see your parents together and happy.  Plus, Coulson plants a kiss on May that is, frankly, kind of hot.  And the panelists rejoiced.  Yay (waving suddenly appearing flags).

17) Will SHIELD survive the move to Fridays?  We hope so!

ANSWER: If being renewed for a sixth season counts as survival, SHIELD defied the odds this year!

New Questions

1) Is General Talbot (Adrian Pasdar) actually, once and for all, dead?

2) What really causes Coulson to begin dying?  Is it because he was exposed to the Kree substance odium when fighting Kasius’ trainer (who had consumed odium himself)?  Or, alternatively, does Coulson’s alleged deal with the Ghost Rider demon in Season 4, which he references in the latter half of this season, cause him to be in danger of dying because, as panelist Micah surmises, the Ghost Rider manages to undo the Kree resurrection technology that allowed Coulson to come back from Loki’s fatal stabbing at the beginning of the series, thereby righting the natural balance and duality of life and death in this universe?

3) Will Coulson remain dead, if he, in fact, dies off screen, since it is heavily implied at the end of the season that he will live out the rest of his days in the real Tahiti with the company of May, with whom he has mutually acknowledged and reciprocated romantic feelings (it’s about time they admitted it)?

4) If the SHIELD agents broke the time loop causality that leads to the repeated destruction of Earth and SHIELD’s trips through time and space to begin with, does any element of that future still exist?  For example, does Deke Shaw (Jeff Ward) still exist?  Are there parallel timelines running against each other? Did breaking the time loop cause a different paradox?  Time travel in science fiction: the riskiest of all storytelling devices.

5) Will Simmons find the frozen Fitz, floating in space?  How will she do that? She’s not known for building spaceships.  That was Fitz’s job (and, no, I’m not crying…now). If Simmons does find Fitz, will they have to be remarried, since frozen Fitz was frozen before future Fitz married present Simmons in the past?

6) What will SHIELD’s primary mission be, with Mack at its head, now that SHIELD has saved the world from this ominous, apocalyptic future?

7) Will the events of Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers 4 affect the events of Agents of SHIELD, Season 6?

8) If Daisy injected herself with all-healing Centipede Serum, does this mean that she is now invincible, as well as quake-y?

9) Since General Hale was destroyed by Talbot, empowered by the infusion of gravitonium, is there anything left of Hydra after all?

10) Though May and Deke successfully redirect missiles at Confederacy member Qovas’ ship, what is left of the Confederacy alien alliance, and will the SHIELD agents meet this alliance again?

11) Will the Agents meet the Kree again, either Kasius or his father, but in a different context?

12) If Coulson does die, what will May do then?

13) Are Mack and Yo-Yo okay as a couple, given the revelations and behaviors that occurred in Season 5 to complicate their relationship?

14) Is there an ending for SHIELD now that could possibly be as good as the fifth season finale?  The panelists are at a loss to predict what such an ending might look like.

PARTING SHOTS

By consensus, our smaller again,  yet always robust, podcast panel believes that Agents of SHIELD took a gigantic risk in Season 5, one that courted the ire of the production company and fans alike, but one that also, ultimately, paid off in storytelling spades in the end, as it seems that the writers and producers, like so many of the rest of us, believed Season 5 to be the last of the series.  As a result, Season 5 offers some excellent action-fueled drama and emotionally resonant character moments that left our panelists feeling satisfied – so satisfied, the three of us cannot possibly guess where SHIELD might travel next season, except to possibly rescue the frozen, floating Fitz in space, if he is, in fact, still out there.  While the season presented some continuity and logic flaws, given the “bold move” (as panelist Micah called it) of engaging in time travel and time loops, all panelists also enjoyed the season heartily and plan to keep watching, even if the fifth season finale felt more final than other season finales preceding it.  The panel, however, is split as far as whether or not individual members would recommend tuning in to SHIELD at this point, and those that do suggest doing so advise that would-be new viewers begin with the first season, even if the “tuning in” does not necessarily occur at the time of first airing. Still and all, the panel regards Agents of SHIELD as entertaining and worth the watch, though the panelists, your Chief CP included, find themselves apprehensive about what Season 6 might bring in the wake of the apparent (SPOILER) deaths of two major characters.  Of course, to be fair, few really stay dead in the MCU in the end – whether or not the two characters to which I am referring do, all panelists hope beyond measure that any element of the new season’s story, including potential reintegration of seemingly lost characters, be as competently engaging as most of the first four seasons have proven themselves to be.

LOOKING AHEAD

Agents of SHIELD has been renewed for a sixth season by ABC, which is not expected to premiere until Summer 2019.  The Agents of SHIELD podcast panel will next and likely reconvene following the complete airing of Season 6 of SHIELD, depending upon how many episodes are produced and whether or not the show is interrupted by a significant hiatus during a reasonably lengthy mid-point (in other words, will CPU! have enough time to record a reaction panel at some point in the middle of SHIELD’s sixth season? Time will tell).  No official premiere date for this show has yet been announced as of the publication of this post. As always, CPU! will keep you informed of news and additional SHIELD coverage.  Until then!

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

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)

AngelTitlecard

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.