American Horror Story Series, Episode Six, Season Six: “Roanoke” (MAJOR SPOILERS)

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A new podcast episode of Couch Potatoes Unite!, which is based on a blog of the same name hosted at couchpotatoesunite.wordpress.com. In this episode, our newly expanded panel of casual to serious horror fans (and rotating moderators!)–including moderator Sarah, Nick, and Kylie, as well as new panelist Emily and new CPU! panelist Kallie–gathered Around the Water Cooler to chat about the sixth season of American Horror Story, otherwise known as “Roanoke.”  This is the sixth episode of an ongoing CPU! podcast series examining one of our favorite television programs throughout its anthology of various seasons depicting different and unique horror stories per season, and it was recorded in June 2017. If you have not watched American Horror Story: Roanoke, 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!

PODCAST! – Around the Water Cooler: “American Horror Story: Roanoke” (American Horror Story Series, Episode 6, Season 6; MAJOR SPOILERS)

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Moderator: Sarah

THE SPECS:

Who: “American Horror Story” airs on cable TV, specifically on FX, Fall Wednesdays at 10:00 PM.

What: “American Horror Story,” a horror drama created by Ryan Murphy (Glee, Nip/Tuck) that tells a new horror story each season while featuring recurring actors and ensemble players.  This season is subtitled “Roanoke;” is set in Roanoke Island, North Carolina, during the year 2016; and focuses upon paranormal events that occur at an isolated farmhouse.

SYNOPSIS

In 2015, Shelby Miller (Lily Rabe), her husband Matt Miller (André Holland), and Matt’s sister Lee Harris (Adina Porter) appear on a documentary called My Roanoke Nightmare to recount a series of supernatural events that happened to them after Shelby and Matt relocated from Los Angeles to North Carolina following a miscarriage. In love with the country surrounding the farmhouse in question, they buy it at auction, but after they move in, the family has a terrifying experience, as their house is on land where the original Roanoke Colony allegedly moved after its famous disappearance, led by witch Scathach; Thomasin White, known as The Butcher; and her followers. Audrey Tindall (Sarah Paulson) is the actress who portrays Shelby during the reenactment sections of My Roanoke Nightmare, while Dominic Banks (Cuba Gooding Jr.) and Monet Tumusiime (Angela Bassett) portray Matt and Lee, respectively. The Butcher is played by Agnes Mary Winstead (Kathy Bates); her son, Ambrose White, by Dylan (Wes Bentley); and the founder of the house, Edward Philippe Mott, by Rory Monahan (Evan Peters). Elias Cunningham, the previous owner of the house, is portrayed by William van Henderson (Denis O’Hare) and Scathach by an unknown actress (Lady Gaga).

In 2016, after the huge success of My Roanoke Nightmare, the producer of the series, Sidney Aaron James (Cheyenne Jackson), decides to give life to a second season of the series: Return to Roanoke: Three Days In Hell, bringing back to the house the Millers and the actors who re-enacted the experiences of the family.  The “Roanoke” season primarily spans 2015 and 2016, with dramatized flashbacks, via the My Roanoke Nightmare documentary, set in the 1500s, 1700’s, and 1990’s and an epilogue set in the near future.

When: Season Six aired from September 14, 2016, to November 16, 2016, on FX.

Where: Each season focuses on a different locale.  This season, the action is set largely in Roanoke Island, North Carolina.

Why:  Nick and Sarah, two CPU! regulars, proposed that CPU! publish an American Horror Story podcast series, being big fans of the show, and your Chief CP, who has previously covered this program on the CPU! blog and enjoys the show quite a bit, agreed wholeheartedly to the idea. Thus, welcome to our new CPU! series revolving around AHS, with each episode in the series focusing on one season of the show.  The series started at the beginning and will be ongoing as long as AHS stays on the air!

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

American Horror Story is a groundbreaking horror anthology series that airs on FX.  Not only did this program render the horror genre mainstream television fare, it also propelled anthology formats to popularity.  The show is widely watched and a tent pole for FX, becoming a Halloween/fall-time cable staple of disturbing imagery and grotesque scares.

Two of CPU!’s frequent panelists, and one of our resident married couples, Nick and Sarah, are big fans of the show and, as noted above, proposed that CPU! start a series discussing AHS throughout its seasons.  We have already published our first episode in this series, chatting the first season of AHS, widely known as “Murder House;” the second episode discussing the second season, “Asylum;” the third episode discussing the third season, “Coven;” the fourth episode discussing the fourth season, “Freak Show;” and the fifth episode discussing the fifth season, “Hotel.” Listen here:

American Horror Story Series, Episode 1, Season 1, “Murder House”

American Horror Story Series, Episode 2, Season 2, “Asylum”

American Horror Story Series, Episode 3, Season 3, “Coven”

American Horror Story Series, Episode 4, Season 4, “Freak Show”

American Horror Story Series, Episode 5, Season 5, “Hotel”

In today’s episode, the sixth episode of this series, we cover Season Six, “Roanoke.” As the seasons are discussed and published, moderation duties will rotate among the members of our small but robust AHS panel; Sarah is back at the moderating mic to talk this sixth season.  In addition, we have opened up the panel to include other panelists, as it was announced that FX renewed American Horror Story for an additional three seasons, through Season Nine!  Thus, in this “Roanoke” chapter, newly addicted CPU! panelist Emily joins the ranks as does a brand new CPU! panelist – Kallie!

In this episode, then, we discuss our favorite and least favorite moments within the “Roanoke” season and our general impressions of the season’s success.  I should warn you, gentle listener, that we experienced some technical difficulties during the recording of this episode – we were able to save much of the conversation, but even with my best editing skills behind me, there are a couple of funny spots.  Most of the conversation is preserved, though, and we just chalked it all up to being haunted by Scathach, the Witch of the Wood.  STOP HAUNTING US, WITCH!  We recorded three other episodes in the same week without incident.  Coincidence?  I THINK NOT!

Read on beyond the episode link below for some explanatory information and bonus content!  Because we refuse to let the Witch of the Wood get us down!

This podcast was recorded in June 2017, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as we cover major plot points throughout the “Roanoke” 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 Wednesday, our “Full/er House Series” panel returns, somewhat slimmer but always enthusiastic, to break down the Fuller goings-on of the show’s second season. Stay tuned!

BONUS CONTENT

Unfortunately, the Witch of the Wood created so much havoc, we have to – I mean are happy to! – print some bonus content.  Fortunately, the episode is mostly preserved, as is the gist of what we were saying, and fortunately, we love that we have grown up enough to think of bonus content to share with you lovely listeners, so, without further adieu, um…”Bonus Content!”  Yay!! Bonus!

The Standard CPU! Character Question that Changes with Each Show We Do

As we discuss the character breakdown, the panelists identified thus, despite the audio hiccups…which are edited out, but then so is some of that portion of the discussion (listen to the podcast episode for the full description):

Nick: “All the good ones.”
Kylie: Flora
Kallie: “All the good ones” and “Scathach!” (I’m pretty sure that latter was for Sarah’s benefit)
Emily: “All the good ones”
Sarah: Matt (he was not good)

Grand Rapids, Michigan – Secret Murder Capital of the World?

At the end of the episode, Emily talks about the two sister nurse ghosts/serial killers in the “Roanoke” season, who murder patients with first letters of first names corresponding to each letter of the word “Murder” but who die (and become ghosts trapped on the land) before they can achieve the last “r.”  She references the fact that the two nurses are based upon two real life serial killers, “The Lethal Lovers,” from CPU!’s hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan (!), lesbian lovers who committed murders using names and the letters of the word “Murder,” just like in the show, but in some form of romantic testament to each other.  Mainstream pop culture news picked up this story as the AHS season broke (links posted below) – as it turns out, though, Emily’s grandmother drove these women home from work, where they all worked together, around the time of their killing sprees!! One is currently housed in a Michigan correctional facility, and one is in federal prison in Florida.  Below is some additional linkage information, and we may explore this topic further in a future episode of CPU!, given its hometown associations (maybe our recording was being haunted by the victims of these people! Yikes!).

Gwendolyn Graham and Cathy Wood, Wikipedia

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MTV News

The Huffington Post

New York Times, December 6, 1988 (The Original News Story)

LOOKING AHEAD

Our next episode in this series will cover Season Seven, though the release date and “subtitle” have not been released as of the time of the publication of this post.  What we do know about the seventh season is that it will be closely related to the 2016 United States Presidential Election, a true horror show that, in some ways, we are still living through, even as we speak…  Thus, our AHS panel will return sometime after the Season 7 finale and then, again, after Seasons 8 and 9, since the horror anthology season has guaranteed longevity for three more seasons.  Stay tuned!

Grimm, Season 6 (Part One of the CPU! Goodbye to Grimm, MAJOR SPOILERS)

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A new podcast episode of Couch Potatoes Unite!, which is based on a blog of the same name hosted at couchpotatoesunite.wordpress.com. In this episode, recorded in May 2017, our panel of CPU! supernatural and fairy tale enthusiasts – including moderator Kylie, Kristen, Nick, and Jen – is Around the Water Cooler and discussing Season 6, the final season, of Grimm, in the first part of a two-part miniseries in which CPU! says goodbye to this long-running, procedural, fantasy-horror series.  If you have not watched any of Grimm, 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!

PODCAST! – Around the Water Cooler: “Grimm” – The Goodbye Series, Part 1: The Season Six Recap (MAJOR SPOILERS)

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Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who: “Grimm” aired on network TV, specifically on NBC, for six seasons, from 2011-2017.

What: “Grimm,” a supernatural/fantasy drama, wherein supernatural forces, the stuff of nightmarish fairy tales and legends, are disguised as human beings, and only those descended from the original Brothers Grimm, can see – and fight – those beings and their true natures (for a more detailed Synopsis, read here: http://www.aceshowbiz.com/tv/grimm/summary.html).

When: Season Six aired from January 6, 2017, to March 31, 2017, on NBC.

Where: The show is set in Portland, Oregon.

Why:  The premise of this show has always been intriguing: Grimms are not weavers of fairy tales but are humanity’s last line of defense against the beasts and monsters that haunt our nightmares. This generation’s Grimm is a police detective who stumbles into his family legacy by accident and must adjust what is his mostly normal life to these new abnormalities.  The mythology in this show is steep, meaning it will always be a cult TV show at best, but cult TV tends to appeal to this group of CPU! panelists more than mainstream/non-cult TV, and none of us have been disappointed by Grimm so far…and we continue to be drawn into its mythical and magical world, as the show only gets better in the process.

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

CPU! last covered Grimm in January of this year, quickly catching loyal potatoes up on three seasons of the program after a hiatus from covering the cult favorite on the blog. To refresh, give a read or take a listen to our prior coverage:

The Season Three Premiere Recap

Seasons 3, 4, and 5 Reflections and Recap

In this entry, our Grimm panel, featuring frequent CPU! panelists Kristen, Nick, and Jen, engages in part one of a two-part CPU! series in which Couch Potatoes Unite! says our own protracted goodbye to this procedural fantasy horror drama about monsters and monster-hunters based upon the stories by the Brothers Grimm.  In the first part of this miniseries, our panelists delve deep into recapping Grimm’s final season, in which our characters battle “The Destroyer,” solve the mystery of the healing Grimm stick, and find relative happiness ever after by the end of the series.  In the second part, which will publish next week, CPU!’s Grimm panel will engage in one of our “Looking Back” discussions, during which we will reflect upon Grimm as a whole and whether we think this series will hold up over time or whether it was but a precious, fleeting moment in the annals of TV’s Friday fright nights.

In season six, Nick (David Giuntoli) faces his grimmest foe yet; squares off against Sean Renard (Sasha Roiz), still reaching for some type of power; and sorts through feelings for Eve, formerly known as Juliette (Elizabeth “Bitsie” Tulloch), while raising his son with current love and former enemy Adalind (Claire Coffee).  In the meantime, Nick, as he always has, battles the wesen that go bump in the night with the help of his police partner Hank (Russell Hornsby), Lt. Wu (Reggie Lee), and wesen power couple Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell) and Rosalee (Bree Turner).  Thus, in this chapter “Around the Water Cooler,” our Grimm panel examines each of the main characters and discusses how we feel about the show’s swansong season, including the all-too-brief “20 Years Later” epilogue tag of the series finale and the touching, multilingual goodbye to fans.

This first part of our two-part Grimm goodbye was recorded in May 2017, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as the panelists cover key plot points of the sixth and final season.  In fact, our panel’s devotion to Grimm is as steadfastly loyal as it is to other genre shows that CPU! coversbased upon the program’s roots to the Brothers Grimm and to the history of monster stories throughout the ages.  Give the new episode a listen, see if you agree or disagree with our thoughts, 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, we publish the second part of this two-part goodbye series, in which our Grimm panel looks back at the show as a whole in one last chat, for this particular panel and for this particular show, around the water cooler. Stay tuned!

Questions, Impressions, and Final Considerations

Old Questions

1) Will the Royals return in the sixth season?  If they do, what will be their aim?  Are they behind the wesen uprising organization known as “Black Claw?” Who is the ultimate head of “Black Claw?” Is Sean head of both now?  Why?

ANSWER: The Royals did not return; in fact, they seem rather extinct – a forgotten plot arc from this six-season series.  What’s more, the writers and producers never explained who founded Black Claw and whether or not those founders are/were connected to the Royals.  The show only served to confirm, via a convenient off-screen investigation by Trubel (Jacqueline Toboni), that Black Claw was officially defunct as of the season premiere or shortly thereafter.

2) What is the stick that Nick found in the Grimm treasure chest, and what part will it have to play in the coming episodes?  Does it only work when he touches it?  Is it meant for him or for any Grimm?  Is it divine in origin?  Where was it found?  Why do the Grimms have it? Can wesen use it?  Does it heal but also take life away?  So many questions have been raised!

ANSWER: The stick, with the magical healing powers, turns out to play a critical part in the final season.  What we learn is that the stick is a shard of a larger whole: a staff, in possession of a demon called Zerstorer (which is German for “The Destroyer”).  Zerstorer resides in a world beyond mirrors, a heaven or hell for wesen, in which they are voged all the time, though humans also exist in this looking glass dimension.  Zerstorer possesses the staff now, but Monroe pieces together that the staff has been passed around through the ages; in fact, whether it began with or was merely possessed by him, the staff at one point belonged to the biblical Moses, who carried commandments and parted seas.  The staff seems only to respond to Zerstorer, to Nick (or, perhaps, a Grimm), and to Diana, Adalind and Sean’s daughter.  The shard/staff plays a larger part in a prophecy foretelling the end of times, should Zerstorer obtain the shard, make the staff whole, and also marry his destined child bride, the all-powerful Diana.  

The show did not explain outright that the staff/shard is divine in origin, but as the staff is connected to Moses and to other biblical figures, like the David who slew Goliath, I think it is safe to assume that the power of the stick is, in fact, divine.  The show, however, does not explain how the staff came to appear, where Zerstorer came from, or how he came upon the staff himself.  We do know that the Grimms who fought in the Crusades found the shard stick and hid it in the Black Forest in Germany, accessible by the Grimm keys.  Wesen can use it, if the wesen in question is Diana, who is three quarters hexenbiest.  The shard can also destroy, particularly if arming the staff of Zerstorer.

Despite all the questions, the show and its writers did see fit to answer all of the questions (or most) pertaining to the series’ overarching mythology, though the ending sort of confused matters.  Listen to the podcast episode for details.

3) Will young Diana, who has grown at an alarming rate, be the “Big Bad” of the final season, with her bratty child demeanor and potent magical ability?  How will Adalind (and Sean) keep her in check?

ANSWER: Diana, fortunately, is not the Big Bad but is connected to said Big Bad by prophecy.  In fact, she figures into the proceedings like something of an Antichrist, Grimm-style: if she marries/mates with Zerstorer, the world this side of the mirror will end.  To her credit, Diana responds dutifully to Adalind and Sean, though they handle her with proverbial kid gloves.  After all, when set off, their daughter proves to be quite the little murderer.

4) Is Juliette still a hexenbiest? Will she be more Juliette-like since coming into contact with the magical Grimm healing stick?

ANSWER: Juliette, now Eve, remains a hexenbiest as of the final closing credits of the series, but as far as whether contact with the Grimm stick brought out her inner Juliette – undetermined.  Juliette/Eve seems to experience remnants of former emotions and memories of her love for Nick, but these fleeting feelings never last. In fact, at the last, she is willing to die for Nick, having no regrets about the paths their lives have taken.  Unfortunately, the epilogue fails to discuss how Juliette/Eve fares twenty years into the future.

5) Will there be a war between wesen and humans?  Did Black Claw and the resistance organization Hadrian’s Wall effectively incite one?  Are humans more aware of wesen now?

ANSWER: The short answer is no.  Apparently, Sean’s swift, marionette-like murder (courtesy of his daughter) of Bonaparte effectively ends anything to do with Black Claw, Hadrian’s Wall, or the potential war among wesen. Humans, at least those in Portland, further remain blissfully unaware of the innately monstrous inner qualities of their wesen neighbors.  If it smells like an abandoned plot line, it most likely is an abandoned plot line, or so the panel surmises in this podcast episode.

6) Will Nick end up with Juliette or will he be with Adalind, who he now also loves and who has custody of their son, Kelly (listen to the podcast for details)?  Will Adalind be able to return to Nick?

ANSWER: Survey says – Nick and Adalind!  Juliette/Eve, feeling no regret about the trajectory of her life and her split personality, does not pursue anything with former flame, Grimm Nick.  In fact, Adalind is swiftly able to return to Nick after Bonaparte’s death, and, following the ending events of the series finale, it is presumed by the panel that she and Nick raise their son Kelly to be a Grimm fighter like his father.

7) Does Sean really subscribe to Black Claw’s philosophies?  What will he do that he is now mayor, owing to the fact that he “got in bed” with Black Claw, who aims for wesen to live free as the creatures they are?  Who will be promoted to Captain of the South Precinct? Will Hank (Russell Hornsby)?  Will Wu (Reggie Lee)?  Will Nick?

ANSWER: In a complicated shuffling of allegiances and character motivations, we learn that, apparently, Sean bought in to that whole Black Claw mantra and is drunk on potential mayoral power, declaring Nick a fugitive and ordering his fellow police officers to search for, arrest, and detain Nick as the season begins. Nick, though, is a wily Grimm with a willing group of friends ready to help, and through the same hexenbiest ritual that led to Adalind’s pregnancy, Nick breathes through the Sorting Hat to take on the visage of one Captain/Mayor Sean Renard.  It is a risky venture, though, as Nick’s inherent Grimm-ness puts Nick in jeopardy of being Sean’s double permanently, but while playing doppelganger, he is able to stage a press conference, where Nick-as-Sean renounces his public office and abdicates as mayor as well as declares Nick free and clear of all criminal charges, thus leaving Sean to continue in his capacity as captain and to seethe at Nick from a much-too-close afar.

8) Is there a cure for Wu’s lycanthrope condition?  Rosalee said there wasn’t one, but she’s pretty resourceful with spices and teas.  What will happen to him?  What is he, really?

ANSWER: Apparently, there really is no cure, or none found within the six seasons of Grimm. As of the final moments of the series, Wu remains a lycanthrope – who, as panelist Jen pointed out, looks vaguely (and more) like a caveman rather than a werewolf.  And since the show fails to mention Wu’s fate in the epilogue, we presume he lives happily ever after – lycanthrope and all.

9) Rosalee is pregnant.  Will the baby be half blutbaten, half fuchsbau, or one or the other? Will she be able to have it, since wesen mixing is uncommon?

ANSWER: Well, it’s not so much the baby as the babies. Rosalee and Monroe make triplets, as it turns out, though what mixture of wesen they might be remains a mystery and one unsolved by the show’s writers.

10) Will baby Kelly be half hexenbiest (or zauberbiest), half Grimm, or one of the other?

ANSWER: We know Kelly grows up to be a Grimm like his dad; whether he has magical ability or not like his mom, the show did not say.

11) Will Hank finally find a woman or fall in love with one who doesn’t leave him or physically threaten his life in some way?

ANSWER: As of the series’ final moments, Hank is not romantically linked to anyone, but we think it’s safe to say that Hank is able to achieve some much needed self-love and appreciation during a farcical run-in with this show’s version of Cupid.  A little venomous spit, a little champagne, a mirror, and some Marvin Gaye will go a long way, am I right?!

12) What is at the end of the tunnels underneath Nick’s secret bunker apartment? Why did we spend so much time worrying about those tunnels, except to set up the other characters’ escape from Black Claw and Sean while Nick stayed behind to fight them when they descended upon the loft?

ANSWER: The tunnels are nothing more than a way out and to the surface above ground when the plot calls for such a convenience, a place to lay low when the characters need to hide (like Nick and Eve), and a place in which Eve can magically carve mysterious symbols on the underground walls as a result of her contact with the Grimm shard.  Lucky the tunnels were there, then, we guess.

13) What will Sean do to Nick, since Nick took out all of the Black Claw that came to kill him?

ANSWER: Sean tries to have Nick arrested and/or killed as the season starts and as described above, but when Nick pulls his magical body switcheroo and solves all of the ruckus and ado, Sean and Nick reach an uneasy detente, at least until they are forced to work together to protect their children from Zerstorer.

14) What will Nick do to Sean, since Adalind was coerced into leaving Nick with Kelly to be Sean’s political trophy wife and Diana’s caretaker with the promise that Adalind could be reunited with Diana?

ANSWER: Nick gets a few licks in while wearing Sean’s looks but ultimately chooses to keep his distance after the hullaballoo, for the sake of their precinct and their children.

15) Will baby Kelly grow as fast as Diana?  Or, was Diana augmented by the spell that Adalind underwent in season three to regain her hexenbiest abilities?  Will these young but presumably magical siblings have to duke it out somehow?  Will Kelly grow at an alarming rate?  Or, will the show time jump during the final season?

ANSWER: There are no answers to most of these questions.  The show did time jump in the epilogue, so we see Kelly first as a baby and then as a 20 year old man, in a trailer not unlike Aunt Marie’s trailer, previously torched by Juliette when she first assumes her hexenbiest abilities.  We don’t know how or why Diana came to be so powerful (except by prophecy), and the epilogue tells us that brother and sister get along fairly well in their grown up years.

16) How will the show end?  Will there be a “happily ever after” for our characters?  Will we lose someone this season?  How will these thirteen episodes shape up?

ANSWER: Zerstorer ends up killing everyone that Nick loves in succession, beginning in the penultimate episode with Wu and Hank at the precinct, followed by Juliette/Eve at the Spice Shop and Sean, Adalind, Monroe, Rosalee, and Trubel at the cabin where Nick first met/worked with Monroe in the pilot and where Nick, Adalind, and Sean are hiding the children from Zerstorer.  Zerstorer facilitates this carnage to entice Nick to give him the shard stick to complete the broken Staff, which Zerstorer needs whole in order to fulfill the prophecy of his world domination and creepy wedding to Diana.  Nick momentarily contemplates willingly volunteering the shard to Zerstorer’s reaching claw in order to bring back all who have died, after Zerstorer revives Trubel to show Nick that it is possible to have everyone back and alive with the Staff’s power.  Trubel resolves to stop Nick, and they get into a drag-out fight, Grimm versus Grimm.  Nick bests Trubel but meets the (spirit? embodiment? walking dead?) personages of his mom Kelly (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) and his Aunt Marie (Kate Burton), who not only convince him to do what’s right but go into battle with him, fighting alongside Nick and Trubel.  They defeat Zerstorer; Trubel doesn’t see Nick’s family, but powerful Diana does, as do Nick and Zerstorer.  The spirits of his family disappear as Nick resolves to revive everyone with the staff Zerstorer left behind (now whole with the shard). After Nick removes the cursed engagement ring from Adalind’s cold finger, ready to revive her, a portal opens instead, and Nick is drawn back to this world at a time when everyone is alive, at the point where Zerstorer originally came through the mirror before all the dying happened and without the Destroyer himself.  Only Diana knows what really happened, while Nick feels gratitude and relief that everyone is saved, though Monroe finds the staff, a new anomaly to this new present.  Also, Adalind wears no ring when Nick returns to this world.  It is a tearful moment, ringing of a cast goodbye.  Eve, who was temporarily not a hexenbiest after emerging from the mirror portal a first time without her wesen side, is restored.  Nick and Adalind remain forever together.  

In the Epilogue, we see Kelly Jr. writing in the Grimm books, telling the tale of his Dad’s heroic saving of the world (he also tells us how Trubel is related to Nick, in that she is his third cousin on his mother’s side).  Diana comes in and informs him that Dad-Nick, Mom-Adalind, and “the Triplets” are on the trail of a wesen.  They are clearly nice siblings to each other.  Diana magically closes the Grimm book.
The End.

17) Are Nick and Trubel related after all?  What does the ancient Grimm registry reveal?

ANSWER: We don’t get to see any glimpse of the registry, but Kelly Jr., in the Epilogue, confirms that Trubel is Nick’s third cousin on his mother’s side.

18) Will any of the characters end up dying?  The podcast panelists feel that Wu, Monroe, Rosalee, and Adalind are particularly susceptible to possible collateral self-sacrifice because of their histories (Wu has the strange lycanthrope disorder, Monroe and Rosalee constantly run into danger for Nick, and Adalind does the same for her children and may do something self-sacrificing for Nick or even for Juliette, as she has sometimes done in the past).

ANSWER: All of the characters survive, thanks to the magical, possibly divine, Grimm stick/shard/staff.  Monroe and Rosalee have the triplets, and everyone keeps on fighting wesen, at least for another twenty years… In other words, They Live Happily Ever After.  The End.  Again.

Lingering Questions

1.) Who were the Royals really, other than Sean’s biological family, and why were we forced to care about them for so many seasons if they were only going to be forgotten in the end?

2) What sorts of beings are Monroe and Rosalee’s triplets, and why did the show not bother to speculate upon this important detail?

3) Where are Hank, Wu, and Juliette/Eve in the epilogue?  They’re not worth a mention after all that?

4) How about a spin-off, Grimmsters?

PARTING SHOTS

Grimm became appointment television for our devout panelists, whether on Friday fright night or via Saturday morning Hulu doses.  Though never a perfect program or more than a cult favorite because of its steep mythological aspects and show-specific jargon, the fan base it cultivated in six years became tenacious, voracious, and loyal.

The entire panel recommends Grimm to anyone who likes anything about the fantasy or horror genres and advises that such genre nerds consider giving it a chance – or a second chance if the first chance didn’t quite sell the stable. Apart from some shaky continuity and several abandoned story threads – in fact, the most consistent continuity arises from how regularly the show abandoned some plot arcs without offering a deeper meaning to the overall narrative or a neat resolution to leave our panelists satisfied – Grimm remains well written and worth the look, with a decent, good-not-great, and ultimately satisfying denouement. Grimm goes out on a high note and no doubt earns at least one nostalgic re-watch, somewhere down the line.  Also: David Giuntoli is a handsome leading man, if those kinds of details matter to discerning viewers like you. 😉

LOOKING AHEAD

Grimm has officially ended, but the CPU! Grimm podcast panel is not quite finished!  We will publish a second part to this mini podcast series saying goodbye to Grimm, in which we will Look Back at the series as a whole, next week! Stay tuned, subscribe, like, and follow to keep abreast of that publication, and tell us what you think in the comment forums.  What’s more, review us on iTunes, Stitcher Radio, Google Play, or YouTube, and check out our other podcast episodes related to a growing array of TV shows! Until next week!

Once Upon a Time (Season 6A, MAJOR SPOILERS)

couchpotatoesunite

A new podcast episode of Couch Potatoes Unite!, which is based on a blog of the same name hosted at couchpotatoesunite.wordpress.com. In this episode, recorded in January 2017, our Once Upon a Time panel – moderator Kylie, Kristen, Eddie, Amie, Emily, and Micah – returns to the Water Cooler to discuss the first half of season six of Once Upon a Time, a half season of, one might say, multiple personalities. If you are not caught up on Once, be aware that there are MAJOR SPOILERS! Tell us what you think in the comments below and check out the blog and YouTube for other TV related discussions, in both podcast and blog format. Also, if there are other shows you’re interested in the blog covering, sound off below! Tell us what you like or don’t like. Keep the discussion going!

PODCAST! – Around the Water Cooler: “Once Upon a Time” – The Season 6 Mid-Season Recap and Progress Report (MAJOR SPOILERS)

Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who: “Once Upon a Time” airs on network TV, specifically on ABC, fall/winter/spring Sundays at 8:00 PM.

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

When: The Season 6 premiere aired on Sunday, September 25, 2016, on ABC at 8:00 PM.

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

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

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

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

Season 4A – Frozen

Season 4B – Queens of Darkness

Season 5A – Dark Swan

Season 5B – The Underworld

Welcome back to our fuller Once experience!  Our Once panel – namely Kristen, Eddie, Amie, Emily, and Micah – reconvene around the Water Cooler once again to discuss Season 6A of OUAT, which, for the first time, does not really boast an easily hashtag-ed subtitle to go along with its underlying premise and which largely centers around the fact that Regina and the Evil Queen (Parilla) are in two separate but identical bodies. In fact,  Regina must wrestle with the most existential of questions as she considers whether the seed of evil was really within her all along, or whether she’s made a change for good by separating the worst parts of herself, as she watches that darkest self run amok around Storybrooke as a separate being with bombastic fashion sense.  Listen to our newest chapter of CPU!’s ongoing Once Upon a Time podcast, during which we reflect on Season 6A.  Do you agree with us? Or, do you have your own thoughts? Comment below!

This podcast was recorded in January 2017, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as the panelists cover key plot points of the first half of the sixth season. Listen at your own risk, and let us know what you think by commenting below!

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

Remember, new episodes and blog posts are published weekly! Our next podcast episode will rejoin our DCTU (DC Television Universe) panel in a new but cheeky format, less around the water cooler and more within CPU!’s fractured fairy tale version of The Newlywed Game, during which all panelists engage in a brief roundup of the progress of Arrow, The Flash, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, and Supergirl, at least through the mid-season cliffhangers/finales for all four shows!  In this format, each panelist will separately touch base with Chief CP Kylie, providing thoughts and feedback about how the multiverse of the DC Comics is faring on the CW this season. Stay tuned!

Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations

Old Questions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ANSWER: Still a question; we’ll likely not see an answer to this one until the end of the show.

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

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

7) Will Robin Hood (Sean Maguire) come back, either as himself (as Emily predicts), in flashbacks or as a Robin Hood soul trapped inside a Robin Hood body with a different personality (as Eddie predicts), or as a shell of his former self due to some spell cast by the split-off Evil Queen, who misses the soulmate meant for both her halves (as Micah predicts)?

ANSWER: None of the above!  Though Robin does make an appearance in Season 6A, it’s as but a figment in a so-called “Wish Realm” that came into existence as a result of Emma (Jennifer Morrison) wishing from Aladdin’s famous genie that she had never been the savior.  The mere existence of this “wished” version of Robin, however, entices Regina, who gets sucked into the Wish Realm with gal pal Emma, to stay in the precarious and possibly unstable “wished” version of the Enchanted Forest despite having the means to escape via portal unlocked by magic bean.  The portal opens – and then closes, as Regina reunites with a being that she thinks is her lost love.  What will they do?  Will they escape?  With an in tact Robin in tow?  That’s what they call a cliffhanger.

8) Will the Good Regina go Evil like the Evil Queen?  Eddie predicts this, but Amie and Kristen disagree.

ANSWER: So far, Amie and Kristen win this debate.  Good Regina remains good, if easily susceptible to wishes and temptations, while the Evil Queen (EQ) half takes all of the formerly united being’s evil upon herself.  Sorry, Eddie.

9) Will the Good Regina and the Evil Queen Regina battle each other, as Amie predicts?

ANSWER: Amie had good instincts: there have been a few anticlimactic skirmishes between the two halves, though these skirmishes have been characterized more by wars of words than of magical power, and Regina isn’t as useful magically, since the EQ was responsible for acquiring the formerly united being’s magical ability.  We don’t know what the second half of season six brings, though, so…

10) Will others be forced to “battle themselves” as a result of what happened to Regina and/or Jekyll and Hyde, as a means by which to confront personal demons, as Eddie and Kristen predict?

ANSWER: As it turns out, no – Eddie and Kristen’s meaningful prediction fell short of what actually happened. What we learn is that if any harm comes to the “split off” version of the being split into two by Jekyll’s potion, the original being sustains harm. If the original version is hurt, both versions sustain harm.  So, though the originals may be facing personal demons by interacting with evil copies of themselves, they cannot “battle” themselves for the sake of self-preservation.

11) Will Regina accept that both sides of her personality are part of her, and will her two halves rejoin, as Micah predicts?

ANSWER: We think that Good Regina is beginning to acknowledge how both of her halves make a sum greater than its parts, but the full realization is a work in progress, now that Regina is distracted by the Wish Realm.  As to the latter half of Micah’s prediction, only time, and likely season six’s second half, will tell.

12) Will we see any of the side characters, such as Jiminy Cricket/Dr. Hopper; Pinocchio/August; Geppetto; or any of the Storybrooke denizens we were introduced to in seasons one and two, now that the show is definitely returning to a story structure that spans the whole season?

ANSWER: Jiminy/Dr. Hopper – yes, Pinocchio/August and Geppetto – no, Cinderella – yes, and certainly more of the Seven Dwarfs other than Grumpy.  Also, Dr. Whale/Frankenstein.

13) Will Henry (Jared S. Gilmore) further use his Author powers for more than just recording events, as he began to do in the Underworld arc?  What will happen if he does?

ANSWER: Henry was largely distracted from his Author-ly duties while fretting over adoptive mom Regina’s multiple personalities in multiple bodies status.  In addition, bio mom Emma has developed hand tremors and terrible night visions, a side effect of being the Savior and using her Savior magic.  Will Henry revisit his author abilities? Seems careless to forget about them now, so…

14) How much will the Evil Queen half of Regina influence Henry?  Will she pull some Regina/Evil Queen twin switcheroo with Henry or with any other character, as Eddie predicts?

ANSWER: Eddie predicted correctly!  The EQ played the part of Regina while she trapped Good Regina and Emma in a Mirror Realm (where, apparently, the Dragon is also hanging out…though how that came to pass is fuzzy).  She couldn’t really fool Henry, though.  He copped to her ruse pretty quickly.

15) Does Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) finally have her groove back?  Will Snow and Charming (Josh Dallas) finally be compelling again?

ANSWER: Yes…and no.  On the one hand, Snow thought it would be good form, as she enjoyed doing so in the past, to return to her Mary Margaret authenticity and teach at Henry’s school again.  Sadly, she was doing so as a fully realized Snow White, so she struggled to connect with the students without the meek and mild persona that the curse previously brought to her teaching curriculum. That is, until Princess Jasmine (Karen David), who also apparently has taught at the Storybrooke school this whole time unbeknownst to the audience, advises Snow to play to her strengths, which then inspires Snow to use a bow and arrows to teach math.  If you can make sense of that, you’re doing better than the panel.

In addition, we also had the wrinkle of the Evil Queen placing yet ANOTHER sleeping curse on our twue wuv couple, Snow and Charming.  Because they share a heart, if Snow is awake, Charming sleeps, and vice versa.  Unfortunately, some of us on the panel also slept, bored as we were by the repeated use of sleeping curses as a plot device on this show.

16) How will Belle awake from her slumber?  Who will be her True Love in the end?  Will it be the Knave/Will Scarlett, so that he can finally reappear in Storybrooke and explain his comings and goings?  Will Belle come back bigger and badder than ever?

ANSWER: Belle does come back bigger and badder than ever – in fact, the panel was pleasantly surprised by how likable Belle has become – but she did not do so with Rumpelstiltskin’s (Robert Carlyle) help.  Rumpel entered the dream world to try and wake Belle but failed in his attempt because he resorted to trickery and lies, of which she has become hypersensitive about, given all of his lies directed toward her in the past.  Instead, a grown version of Belle’s unborn son comes to her in the dream and wakes her.  He identifies himself in the dream, I believe, as Morpheus, though he later goes by the name of Gideon.  In fact, he is the hooded figure who <SPOILER> may murder Emma in the end…

Will Scarlett/the Knave remains missing in action.  Presumed dead.

17) How much time will be spent in the Land of Untold Stories?  Will we see more of Jekyll and Hyde?  Are they hinting at the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen?  Will the Untold Stories affect Storybrooke?  How?

ANSWER: Zero.  Zero time was spent in the Land of Untold Stories this season.  We saw more Jekyll and Hyde in Storybrooke, until Jekyll turned out to be the selfish degenerate in the equation.  When Dr. Jekyll, once thought meek and mild, inadvertently revealed that he was the jerk who alienated his lady love, rather than the suaver, more charming Hyde, the mad doctor started to creep on Belle. Rumpel protectively magicked him to the netherworld, taking Hyde, the more genteel of the pair, with him, since Hyde was the other half of “him” all along. We also briefly saw Captain Nemo from “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” in a one-off episode, which was convoluted and generally panned by our panel.  Other than these two non-fairy tale novel sources, the Untold Stories posed little influential effect to Storybrooke.

18) Will other characters drink Jekyll and Hyde’s potion and play good or evil sides of themselves, such as Rumpel, Snow, Emma, or anyone else?

ANSWER: Contending with two halves of Regina/the EQ was enough for our main characters.  No one else was tempted by this potion; Rumpel, the one most likely to double himself, is, in fact, smarter than that.

19) Will Regina find a new soulmate?  Was Robin Hood really her soulmate in the end?

ANSWER: Aside from those shipping Regina and Emma, our girl R has not found a new soulmate, and judging by her longing draw to Robin in the Wish Realm, this question remains unanswered.

20) How will Emma and Hook (Colin O’Donaghue) recover or react now that they’ve returned to Storybrooke?

ANSWER: Mostly, they were largely stable, but for Emma’s constant need to not tell people she loves about the serious stuff happening to her.  For example, Emma started developing tremors as a side effect of using her Savior Magic, but she withheld this information from Hook as well as her family.  Hook, similarly, hid secrets from Emma. And so went that never-ending merry-go-round.

21) Will we see Dorothy and Ruby as a couple again?

ANSWER: We haven’t seen them yet in season six, if they make a return at all.

22) Where is Mulan nowadays?  What is Merida doing with her life?

ANSWER: We don’t know about them either, and it’s cheesing panelist Micah right off!

23) What’s next for Zelena (Rebecca Mader) and baby Robin?

ANSWER: A few more double crosses are likely in store, considering that Zelena was wooed by the EQ’s temptations and description of the idea that she is Zelena’s “real sister” and not Good Regina because the EQ has this “evil fun” side that seems to be what the two sisters have in common, though she didn’t remain allied with the EQ. Still, it’s hard to believe that Zelena has turned over an entirely new leaf, baby daughter or no.

24) Have we seen the limit of Emma’s savior magic? Will her power continue to grow?

ANSWER: Now, this is a question.  Her power hasn’t grown, as such, but it is causing deleterious side effects, like hand tremors, from use.  Apparently, being the savior decreases life expectancy by decades, a condition which contains warning signs like hand tremors.  We don’t know what any of it means right now, and we presume the second half of season six will tell us.

25) Will any characters who have moved on, been lost to the River of Souls/the Void, or been trapped in Pandora’s Box ever be seen again, such as Baelfire, Cora, or Pan?

ANSWER: So far, these characters seem to be (still) dead or (still) trapped in the Box. But, in this mystical world, anything is possible, right?  Curse or no curse!  Savior or no savior!

The Chief CP still thinks it’s tragic that Baelfire was marked for permanent death. Sigh.

New Questions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PARTING SHOTS

The podcast panelists offer a variety of diverse opinions about the current progress of Once Upon a Time.  Some panelists thought that this half season offered some improvement over the past four half seasons, which were largely focused on story arcs neatly-ish resolved within those half seasons.  These panelists enjoyed the return of Storybrooke residents not seen since earlier episodes and enjoyed the omnipresence of Regina and/or the EQ. Other panelists felt that the show was overcompensating for some of the shortcomings of previous “arc” half seasons by throwing in every available character they could resurrect from the first two seasons, likely driven by actor availability, creating a scattered, disengaging narrative that began to reek of desperation.  All of the panelists felt that the “Land of Untold Stories” byproducts received too little attention, while the Aladdin infusion was introduced too abruptly and not always effectively.  Most of the panelists agreed that the most interesting characters and story lines so far this season involve Rumpel and Belle and all of the elements swirling around them and Regina’s existential tete-a-tete with her darkest self, the EQ, which may have been sidelined when Gideon, Rumpel and Belle’s son, transformed her into a snake and caged her.  While some panelists continue to foster hope and devote faith to Once’s seemingly endless reservoir of #potential, others were put off by the consistently unrealized #potential that Once’s writers never appear to solidly capitalize upon, veering into new story territory while rushing resolution of older, more intriguing story questions.  In fact, half of the panel squarely feels that the Once production team squandered the upswing of creative energy that seemed to appear from the depths in the back half of the “Underworld” arc, while the other half of the panel remains intrigued by the possibilities presented.  Still, though some panelists have begun to lose interest in the show, panelists who might now differ from those who began to lose interest at the end of the fifth season as others become interested again, all remain loyal and plan to keep watching because, if nothing else, the writers know how to bait viewers with tantalizing possibilities, even if they unevenly capitalize on those possibilities in satisfying ways in the end.

LOOKING AHEAD

Once Upon a Time returns from its mid-season six hiatus on Sunday, March 5, 2017, at 8:00 PM. OUAT has not yet been renewed by ABC, but most TV pundits call #potential renewal of this Sunday night staple a “safe bet.” The Once Upon a Time podcast panel will next reconvene following the sixth season finale, which will likely air in or around May 2017. As always, CPU! will keep you abreast of happenings and special events in addition to all OUAT podcast coverage.  Until then!

PODCAST! – Around the Water Cooler: “Game of Thrones,” The Season 6 Recap and Discussion (MAJOR SPOILERS)

Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who:  “Game of Thrones,” airs on premium cable TV, specifically on HBO, Spring Sundays at 9:00 PM.

What: “Game of Thrones” is a fantasy drama based on the series of novels entitled A Song of Ice and Fire, by George R. R. Martin, which tells the tale of the land of Westeros and the various families and factions vying for the Iron Throne, i.e. rule of all of the seven kingdoms in a world of magic, dragons, swordplay, and death (for a more detailed Synopsis, read here).

When: The season six finale aired on HBO, Sunday, June 26, 2016, at 9:00 PM.

Where: The show is set in the fictional land of Westeros, a world that could be Europe, could be Middle Earth, or could be most fantasy/epic realms.  Westeros is divided into Seven Kingdoms, but rule of all kingdoms hails from the Iron Throne, in King’s Landing. The show follows key characters across most realms.

Why: A friend basically said I had to watch it and for good reason (and other panelists received similar recommendations).  I gravitate toward fantasy and science fiction most frequently; fantasy is also my favorite genre to read.  I haven’t read Martin’s currently-in-progress series, as some of the panelists have, which has become something of a cultural watershed not unlike the Harry Potter novels, though I plan to do so.  Our resident book readers laud the show about as highly as they do the novels; thus, with this solid foundation, an obsession with Game of Thrones was born, at least for the Chief CP.

How – as in How Was It? – THOUGHTS

For a recap of season 4, read here.

CPU! also previously published a podcast discussing Season 5.  To catch up, click the embedded link below:

Season 5 Podcast

This year, with the explosive and epic sixth season behind us, CPU!’s noble group of Game of Thrones panelists – Kristen, Amanda, Jay, Chelsea, and Rob – took less time to process our reactions than last season, more sure of and more eager about our feelings toward the future, given all of the positive developments of season six.  Perhaps, it’s because the level of shell-shock was not quite as high (thought it was still high), what with (spoiler) Jon Snow actually being resurrected and surviving the season. Also, many of panelist Kristen’s so-called dominoes began to fall this season in satisfying ways, so our panel was only too excited to spend time gushing about what was ultimately a tight, thrilling season.

Thus, our panel of GoT obsessed sat “around the water cooler” once more to chat and theorize all things season six as well as what season seven might look like, especially since the show has surpassed the books in terms of plot propulsion. Our scholarly bunch did not disappoint with their effusive opinions; as usual, we cover quite a bit of territory, revisiting three-headed dragon theories, speculations about Lady Stoneheart, and hopes and wishes for the ensuing war to come.  Also, R+L definitely equals J (which will no doubt also be confirmed by Martin) – so what does that mean for our always knowing-nothing Jon Snow?  We can only salivate and speculate about possible developments to come.

This podcast was recorded in August 2016, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as we cover major plot points throughout the sixth season of GoT. Listen at your own risk, and let us know what you think by commenting below!

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter (@cpupodcast), Instagram (@couchpotatoesunite)0, Pinterest (@cpupodcast), or email us at couchpotatoesunitepodcast@gmail.com – or subscribe to this blog, the YouTube channel, our iTunes channel, our Stitcher Radio channel , and/or find us on Google Play to keep track of brand new episodes.  In the meantime, let us know what you think!  Comment or review us in any of the above forums – we’d love your feedback!

Remember, new episodes and blog posts are published weekly!  Next Wednesday, we’ll return to our American Horror Story series, looking back on the second season, “Asylum.” Stay tuned!

Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations

Old Questions

1) Revisited: How is it that Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright) has these powers?  Who is that dead looking guy on that throne? What are these beings in this macabre cave?  And how will their story intersect with the rest?

Answer: Bran may genetically be predisposed toward these powers, activated by his Stark lineage, his relationship to his direwolf, and his accident which left him paralyzed, as this form of what is known as “warging” is said to be a gift bestowed to Stark ancestors.  In any event, the dead-looking guy on the throne, this season played by Max von Sydow, is the Three-Eyed Raven, who has the power to connect to the world and warg through time.  The beings in the cave are the Children of the Forest, who bestowed the magic upon the Three-Eyed Raven, most likely the Stark lineage, and, as it turns out, who also created the White Walkers – from humans, no less – to counteract the encroachment of humans from the south.  The Children also created the protective magic surrounding the Old Tree cave and the Wall that keeps the White Walkers out, but Bran, in his quest to revisit visions on which he was accompanied by the Three-Eyed Raven, plugged into the tree network unsupervised, saw a vision of the oncoming White Walker hordes, and allowed the Night’s King to touch him within the vision, breaking the barrier against the Walkers by weakening the magic of the Children of the Forest.  This mistake allowed the Walkers and wights to enter the Old Tree cave, eliminate the erstwhile Three-Eyed Raven, and caused Bran, Meera Reed (Ellie Kendrick), and Hodor (Kristian Nairn) to flee.  Bran was drawn into a long-term warg by the previous Three-Eyed Raven, threatened as the Old Tree was and given that Bran was suddenly faced with the necessity of having to learn all of the Three-Eyed Raven’s knowledge in a short space of time to assume status as the new Three-Eyed Raven.  This state of mystical hypnosis left only Meera to drag him away to safety and Hodor (and his direwolf Summer) to protect him, which resulted in their fatalities. Because of this state and Bran’s considerable power, he was connected to all of time. Shouts of “hold the door” from Meera implored the giant Hodor to brace the door of the Tree Cave against an onslaught invasion of wights while Bran was warged into his past, when Hodor was a young stable boy at Winterfell while Ned Stark and his siblings were children, and caused the young Hodor’s mind to liquefy.  The repeated cries of “hold the door,” mimicked by the young Wylis as he picked up on Bran’s warged vibe, melded into supernatural aphasia: “Hodor,” the only word he could ever say, creating his new name.  Bran and Meera continued to run and were also able to escape the wights with the help of Coldhands, the partially zombified form of Bran’s lost uncle Benjen Stark, who narrowly escaped being turned into a wight in the years since we last saw him.  Benjen, the Three-Eyed Raven, and Bran’s warging flashbacks, downloaded a lot of history of the world for the viewer – all in one episode.

2) Revisited: When is Dany (Emilia Clarke) going to sail for King’s Landing?  How long is she going to remain in Slaver’s Bay?  And will she be able to find Drogon and control him?

Answer: At the end of season 6, Dany made the decision to set sail for Westeros, her considerably larger forces in tow, which was the last glimpse the viewer had of Dany in the season finale.  She was forced to stick around for a moment due to her capture by the Dothraki (see below), but, as we all know, Drogon loyally listens to his mom now.

3) Revisited: Where did Rickon go?!  I know he’s but a babe, but he’s lost or something.

Answer: It turns out that he and Osha were kicking it in the wild, in an attempt to escape Rickon’s enemies.  Unfortunately, Ramsey Bolton (Iwan Rheon) found him first.

4) What will we find out about Bran and his exploits since last we saw him?

Answer: We find out that he was training with the old Three Eyed Raven to become the new one by learning all the ways of the warging Force.

5) Panelist Kristen says: “What the hell is Hodor?”

Answer: Hodor was once a larger-than-average stable boy named Wylis, until Bran, while warging from the future, melted his brain, echoing Meera’s distant cries of “hold the door.”

6) Arya (Maisie Williams) was blinded when she angered the Many Faced God by using one of the faces in the House of Black and White to her advantage in slaying one of the men on her revenge list.  Is this permanent blindness?  What will happen to her now?  Why did Ja’quen (Tom Wlaschiha) encourage this revenge list to begin with, only to take issue with her adherence to it now?

Answer: The blindness was temporary; she was forced to earn back her sight from Ja’qen after her misuse of the Many Faced God.  In punishment, she was induced to train with the Waif, who beat upon her with sticks and such until Arya got used to fighting blind.  It seems apparent, after what transpired in the season, that Ja’qen was training her all along to be equipped to take revenge, on both the Waif and her famous list, rather than to make her an indoor servant of the House of Black and White. Listen to the podcast or watch the season for details.

7) Stannis’ forces were decimated by the Boltons’.  House Baratheon appears to be teetering on the brink of being eliminated from the Game of Thrones, but for the fact that Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman) is a Baratheon in name only.  Will Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen) go after the Boltons?  Will anyone unseat the Boltons?  Who?

Answer: Stannis is confirmed dead.  Tommen commits suicide this season in the wake of the torching of the Sept with Mad King Aerys’ stash of wyldfyre, which Cersei (Lena Headey) ignites in a bold move to eliminate her enemies as they sat in the Sept, awaiting her trial for her many confessed sins.  Ramsey Bolton picked a fight with Jon Snow (Kit Harington), demanding the return of Sansa (Sophie Turner), as Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie) finally found Sansa and Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) as they fled from Winterfell.  Brienne and Podrick escorted them to Castle Black.  Ramsey baited Jon and Sansa with the capture of Rickon; they answered the call, aided by Davos Seaworth (Liam Cunningham), and tried to rally northern allies to their cause, though most sided with the more formidable (and scarier) Ramsey.  In “The Battle of the Bastards,” Ramsey killed Rickon, forcing him to run as he lobbed arrows until one of them felled the youngest Stark, as Jon first watched and then rushed forward, against the strategy of his council (including his sister).  The battle that followed was nearly lost by the impetuous and impulsive Jon and his army of some northerners and Wildlings, until Littlefinger, accompanied by the army from the Vale, appeared at Sansa’s written request to save the day and Jon’s newly resurrected life.  This gave Jon the advantage of being able to storm Winterfell with his remaining forces (though Wun-Wun the Giant succumbed in the end to Ramsey’s final line of defense) and take it back, effectively unseating Ramsey; however, Ramsey’s life was left in the hands of the woman he married and then raped, and she paid out her justice in a gruesome but justifiable “eye for an eye” manner.

8) Sansa and Theon/Reek “escaped” Winterfell by jumping over the guard wall to flee Ramsay’s sadism.  Did they survive the jump?  Will they get away?  Where will they go?

Answer: They survived (as if there was ever a doubt).  They ran aimlessly through winter and snow until Brienne of Tarth showed up and saved the day, killing one of Ramsey’s search parties and escorting Sansa North to Castle Black and her brother, Jon Snow.  Theon elected to return to the Iron Islands, now that he has his faculties back.

9) What will happen to Dany?  She dropped her wedding ring: to break with her queenliness or to leave a bread crumb for Jorah (Iain Glen) and Daario (Michael Huisman)?  Will they find her?  Will Drogon find her?  What will this new Dothraki horde do?  Do they know that she was the Khaleesi?

Answer: Jorah and Daario found Dany with the bread crumb that was her ring, but as it turns out, she didn’t need their help. The Khals, as she was taken to the Dothraki stronghold, found out that she was Khal Drogo’s widow, living free against their custom, and forced her to live with the other former/widowed khaleesis while they determined her fate.  She was ordered to appear before them, in a sort of tribunal, as they made crude and sexist comments about her.  Unfortunately for them, there was fire in the tribunal hut, and because Dany is impervious to flames on the show, she tipped the torches and burned them all alive, as she emerged from the flames, naked and queenly.  Because of this show of power, all of the Dothraki horde became part of her army.

10) What will we see of Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) and Varys (Conleth Hill) in Meereen?  Will Tyrion and Dany be reunited?

Answer: Tyrion and Varys attempted to steward Meereen in Dany’s absence, though not always successfully; Tyrion struck a controversial deal with the slave masters to return slaves for seven years to them in exchange for keeping the peace in the city, which had grown tenuously unstable in Dany’s absence.  Varys left eventually to seek out help that he did not specify.  Because Dany successfully conquered the Dothraki, she returned to Meereen, somewhat disappointed by the status quo; however, she forged a plan, which included laying waste to a slaver ship with her three dragons (the other two had been released by Tyrion, who had a curious connection to them).  She gained the rest of their ships and drove the slave masters out of Slavers Bay.

11) Is Jon Snow really dead?  If so, is he coming back to life?  How?  Will he Warg into his direwolf, as Bran has been able to do, per the Starks’ traditional magical power established by the novels?  Will Melisandre resurrect him as she did Dondarrion in Season Three?

Answer: Melisandre (Carice van Houten) and the Old Magic raised Jon Snow from his real, actual death, like Beric Dondarrion, in episode two of the season, which was nice, as we didn’t have to beat around the bush about it.

12) Who is Jon’s mother?  Is Jon, in fact, the product of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen? Is the Song of Ice and Fire about him?

Answer: The show confirmed that Jon’s mother is, in fact, Lyanna Stark.  The network confirmed that Jon’s father is, in fact, Rhaegar Targaryen.  The Song of Ice and Fire’s real subject remains a mystery: is the song a person (Jon Snow) meant to be a savior, blended of the family of ice (Stark) and fire (Targaryen); three people, all with blends of the three major houses (Stark, Targaryen, Lannister), who can ride three dragons; or the clash of dragons (fire) and White Walkers (ice).  Maybe it’s all of the above.  We’ll find out within two seasons because that’s as far as the creators want to go.

13) Does Melisandre, who seems to have forsaken Stannis Baratheon, now believe that Jon is the Azor A’hai?  The savior of all?

Answer: She wasn’t convinced of anything until she was able to raise Jon from the dead.  She now truly believes that he is the Azor A’hai, the savior of all, the Prince Who was Promised.

14) Is the Azor A’hai the same as the Prince of Promise?  Is the Azor A’hai one person? If so, is it Jon or Dany or someone else?  Or, is it the combination of three people who can ride Dany’s dragons?  And who are those three people…? Jon? Dany? Tyrion? Anyone else?

Answer: The Azor A’hai and the Prince Who Was Promised are two names for the same basic concept.  As above, however, the question of who or what that is remains unanswered.

15) With Jon Snow apparently dead, and Sam Tarly (John Bradley) heading toward the Citadel with Gilly (Hannah Murray), will we have to spend anymore time at the Night’s Watch?  Alternatively, will the Watchmen need to battle the White Walkers anew? Will the wall hold?  Will peace be kept between the Watchmen and the Wildlings who have taken refuge there?

Answer: Thankfully, after Jon made his decision to battle Ramsey for the safety of Rickon, he concluded that his Watch had ended with his, albeit temporary, death and chose to leave Castle Black, though not without hanging the traitors who stabbed him (Olly included) and placing Eddard, his trusty lieutenant, as Lord Commander.  The Watchmen are still the first line of defense against the Walkers beyond the wall.  The Wildlings left with Jon Snow, but whether the Wall will hold remains a question, particularly in light of Bran’s warged encounter with the Night’s King.

16) How will Cersei recover from her penance?

Answer: She came back bigger and badder than ever and hellbent on revenge, which she successfully executed by lighting Mad King Aerys’ stash of wyldfyre under King’s Landing and taking out half of the city in the process.

17) What is the resurrected Mountain going to do, or how does he figure into anyone’s plans, the Lannisters included?

Answer: The Mountain basically served as Cersei’s bodyguard throughout the season, as she awaited trial by the High Sparrow, vulnerable to attacks by the Sparrow’s followers.

18) With Myrcella dying by poison on the ship back from Dorn, will Cersei and/or Jaime retaliate again Ilaria Sand (Indira Varma) or Dorn?

Answer: Cersei and Jaime both had other fish to fry and seemed to forget about Dorn for the time being.  Cersei was trapped within the Red Keep awaiting her trial by the High Sparrow, and Jaime was sent by Cersei to recapture River Run from the Blackfish, Catelyn Stark’s uncle, who temporarily retook his ancestral home from House Frey, the Lannisters’ long-time allies.

19) Will Tommen be able to hold his rule?

Answer: Tommen succumbed to the will of the High Sparrow in order to protect Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer), his Queen.  Margaery feigned an act of piety to save her brother Loras. They were both puppets to the High Sparrow, until Cersei enacted her revenge, which Tommen watched from the Red Keep.  Knowing his bride was among the casualties, and ill-equipped to guide recovery from such devastation as king, Tommen chose to plummet from his tower window and end his own life.

20) What happened to the Tyrells?  Are Margaery and Loras rotting in prison?

Answer: For a time, the Tyrells remained in prison, until Margaery pretended to be converted to the new religion by the High Sparrow, and Loras agreed to repent for his sin of homosexuality.  Unfortunately, his confession and penance (and branding) by the Sept directly preceded what would have been Cersei’s trial; neither sibling (or their father) survived long enough to see if their efforts were worth it, owing to Cersei’s devastating master stroke of igniting the hidden caches of wyldfyre under the city.

21) How long will the new religion have its hold on King’s Landing?  Will their evangelism spread?

Answer: The High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce) was effective in spreading his message, but he underestimated Cersei.  He died in the season finale, so it’s expected that the new religion will have suffered something of a blow as well.

22) Are Rickon and Osha returning anytime soon?

Answer: Ramsey found them.  Ramsey killed them.

23) Is Stannis Baratheon really dead? If so, what will Brienne of Tarth do now?

Answer: Brienne definitely offed Stannis; House Baratheon is out of the Game of Thrones.  After Brienne found Sansa and brought her north to Castle Black, Sansa sent Brienne to River Run to ask her great-uncle, the Blackfish, for help in the fight against Ramsey.  Brienne was reunited briefly with Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau).  The Blackfish could not help Brienne or his Stark relations, as he was under siege by a combination of Walder Frey’s (David Bradley) and Lannister forces.  Though Jaime successfully recaptured River Run, he allowed Brienne and Podrick to escape unnoticed with a touching goodbye to Brienne, full of distant longing.  The Blackfish is not expected to have survived the siege.

24) Can we never see Dorn again, even if Prince Martell is played by Dr. Bashir from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine?  Panelist Jay votes yes on never seeing Dorn again.

Answer: Things looked hopeful when the Sand Snakes killed Prince Martell and his son early in the season, effectively usurping rule of Dorn.  Unfortunately, Olenna Tyrell (Diana Rigg), who had fled King’s Landing in the face of the growing influence of the High Sparrow, sought out the Sand Snakes at the end of the season in a bid to exact revenge against Cersei for killing her family.  Future seasons will show us if that is the right move, either for her or for the viewer.

New Questions

1) Will we see “Clegane-bowl,” i.e. the Hound v. the Mountain in hand-to-hand combat in the war to come?

2) Will Dany reach Westeros and aim specifically for King’s Landing and Cersei?

3) Will Arya or Bran find their siblings/return to Winterfell?  Or, will Bran go North, and Arya go South?

4) Who will Arya aim for next, now that she has the backing of the Many Faced God and the skills taught to her by the House of Black and White?

5) Will Sansa make a play to be Queen of the North?  Will she finally be seduced by Littlefinger’s romantic advances and plan for their future?

6) Will Jon Snow stay parked at Winterfell?  Will he find out about his true parentage?  Will he be forced to engage the White Walkers in the next season, or will he be forced to enter a battle in the South between Lannisters and Targaryens?

7) Will we see more Lyanna Mormont?  The panel votes yes.

8) Will we see the emergence of Lady Stoneheart?  Will she be in the form described by the books, or will one of the Stark daughters take on her story lines?

9) How will Jaime react to Cersei’s new power?  Will he be the younger brother that fulfills Maggy the Frog’s prophecy, or will it be Tyrion, now that he’s on his way back home at the side of Dany?

10) How will King’s Landing react to Cersei’s rule, in the absence of the strength of the High Sparrow and the new religion?

11) Will we see the emergence of more dragon riders?  Will the three-headed dragon prophecy/theory come true this season?

12) House Bolton is out of the Game of Thrones with the death of Ramsey.  Will Euron Greyjoy and his bid for the Iron Islands and the Iron Throne render him the new sadistic villain of the series, as panelist Rob predicts?

13) Where is Jon’s direwolf Ghost and Arya’s direwolf Nymeria?  Will they survive the series?

14) Will the White Walkers breech the Wall next season?

15) Is there something in the Wall other than protective magic, as panelist Kristen has theorized?

PARTING SHOTS

Game of Thrones continues to be, possibly more than ever, simply one of the most exciting programs on television right now, bolstered by the fact that, when in season, it is one of the primary water cooler shows on television today.  The fact that the show has caught up with and now surpassed the timeline of the books is admirable in and of itself.  Though each episode metes out a fraction of story for most of the major point-of-view characters, a majority of the episodes are fraught with tension and grand spectacle, with excellent visual effects, stellar writing and pacing, and some of the most superb acting currently on the small screen.  The panelists, with mostly positive regard of season six, are generally quite obsessed with the show and its current trajectory and are positive about most plot developments in this most recent season.  They discuss many theories and observations in this podcast episode, but all are excited for the next season and to keep watching!  Listen to their reactions and see if you agree.

LOOKING AHEAD

Game of Thrones was renewed for a seventh season, as well as an eighth and final season, the former of which is slated to premiere on HBO later, in June 2017, as it was somewhat delayed compared to past seasons due to the need to incorporate actual winter (it’s here!). Until then, Game of Thrones fans, remember: you play, or you die.