PODCAST! – Around the Water Cooler: “Sherlock” Series 3 and 4 Recap (Sherlock Series, Episode Two; MAJOR SPOILERS)

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Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who: “Sherlock” is a crime drama series based upon Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes detective stories that airs on the BBC in the United Kingdom and on PBS in the USA; it is currently on hiatus (should the producers decide to make more episodes, an ongoing mystery for this unique fandom).

What: “Sherlock” was created by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss and stars Benedict Cumberbatch as the title character and Martin Freeman as Doctor John Watson. The series is set in the present day, while a one-off special features a Victorian period fantasy resembling the original Holmes stories.

SYNOPSIS

Sherlock depicts “consulting detective” Sherlock Holmes (Cumberbatch) solving various mysteries in modern-day London. Holmes is assisted by his flatmate and friend, Dr. John Watson (Freeman), who has returned from military service in Afghanistan with the Royal Army Medical Corps. Although Metropolitan Police Service Detective Inspector Greg Lestrade (Rupert Graves) and others are at first suspicious of Holmes, over time his exceptional intellect and bold powers of observation persuade them of his value. In part through Watson’s blog documenting their adventures, Holmes becomes a reluctant celebrity with the press reporting on his cases and eccentric personal life. Both ordinary people and the British government ask for his help.

Although the series depicts a variety of crimes and perpetrators, Holmes’ conflict with nemesis Jim Moriarty (Andrew Scott) is a recurring feature. Molly Hooper (Louise Brealey), a pathologist at St. Bart’s Hospital, occasionally assists Holmes in his cases. Other recurring roles include Una Stubbs as Mrs. Hudson, Holmes and Watson’s landlady, and series co-creator Mark Gatiss as Holmes’ elder brother Mycroft.

When: Series Three aired in the USA from January 19, 2014, to February 2, 2014, while Series Four aired from January 1, 2017, to January 15, 2017, on public broadcasting or PBS.  An intervening Christmas special, “The Abominable Bride,” aired on January 1, 2016 (and was simulcast in movie theaters).

Where: This show is primarily set in London, England, United Kingdom, with occasional visits to London’s surrounds.

Why: To find out why individual podcast panelists started watching this show, listen to the podcast episode via the link below – though it bears mentioning that Sherlock may very well be the most popular and most requested panel/show to discuss since the inception of this humble little podcast and aside from (as previously published) Stranger Things.

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

CPU! recorded a first episode to this two-part miniseries covering the first two series/seasons of international smash hit, Sherlock. To catch up on what you missed, click the embedded links below, or find the audio equivalents on iTunes, Stitcher Radio, and Google Play (links further below):

Sherlock Series, Episode One, Seasons 1 and 2

In the episode linked below, our Sherlock panel – Kristen (L), Nick, Hilary, Kyle, Spencer and Kristin T – enthusiastically return to the water cooler to sift through the highs and (twist!) occasional lows of the modernist Sherlock Holmes adaptation’s latest two seasons, “The Abominable Bride” included.  While the panel continues to gush about this series’ third season (or series, if you’re British), some of the panelists’ moods grew darker and more perplexed by the fourth season, which introduced characters and situations both derived from Sherlock Holmes canon but also originally created for the television series. Though the panel still believes that Sherlock is television of the highest quality, from performances to writing to direction to every other facet available, they also struggled, particularly, with Season 4, Episode 4, “The Final Problem,” which, when analyzed in totality, stands a real but, yet, suspiciously questionable chance of being the final episode of this beloved program. The panelists also reiterated, unanimously, that while there are relatively weaker episodes within the thirteen total episodes produced, Sherlock’s weakest efforts are far superior to the strongest examples of other shows on television currently.  In fact, our resident Sherlockians agree that the narrative remains woven tightly, with a loving eye to adaptive detail spearheaded by recognized “Sherlock” expert Gatiss at the helm; that the visual presence from art direction to cinematography continues to be perfection; and that the performances ring as no less than stellar.  If you are part of the Sherlock fan club, this discussion will only serve to validate your commonly held adoration for this sparsely produced but richly produced international juggernaut, even if you have spicier thoughts about Season 4.

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Remember, new episodes and blog posts are published weekly!  Next Wednesday, our Buffy-verse panel returns to the Water Cooler for their second episode of a five-part series lovingly looking back at Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, in which they “slay” Seasons 4 and 5 of Buffy.  Stay tuned!

Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations

The biggest question facing our intrepid and enthusiastic panel of Sherlockian devotees is whether the show will return.  Chief CP Kylie feels that “The Final Problem” may have been a “psych out” or a deft but convenient nod to the hiatus of the fictional character, before Sir Arthur Conan Doyle realized that the retirement of his beloved detective was premature.  This clever call back to the literary hiatus seeds well the show’s hiatus, given that it might be longer than usual, since Benedict Cumberbatch will be Doctor Strange for some years, Martin Freeman also continues to obtain roles large and small, and Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss are developing an adaptation of Dracula for the BBC. Still, other panelists are terrified that “The Final Problem” may be the last we hear of Sherlock forever, and on the note that Season 4 ended, they are not comfortable with that possibility.

Should the show return, however, the same panelists who fear that we may have watched the end are also apprehensive about how much non-canon character Eurus Holmes will figure into future episodes and whether Moriarty has any hope of miraculous resurrection – could he have tricked Sherlock the same way Sherlock tricked everyone else?  Time will only tell, and given the pattern of long hiatuses related to this show and the busy schedules of its stars and production team, we have nothing but time to speculate upon what might have been, what is, and what might be.

PARTING SHOTS

Our CPU! Sherlock panelists seem to be “shell-shocked” rather than “Sher-locked” over Sherlock following season 4, though each panelist continues to indubitably recommend watching this show to anyone who breathes – or, at least, to anyone who watches and enjoys television.  The general consensus among the panelists is that this well crafted, well written, well directed, and well performed piece offers “something for everyone” and can appeal to young and old, man and woman, and everything in between, even at its weakest moments, which are still stronger than the best other television shows have to offer.  What’s more, any self-respecting Sherlock Holmes fan will no doubt marvel, as several Holmes fans on this panel have, at the excellence of this series, including the loving attention to detail hailing from the source material, though the departures from the source will no doubt produced mixed reactions, as they have done for our CPU! Sherlock faithful.  Cautions raised by the panel: any new viewer will have to learn patience to appreciate Sherlock, as new series are created as the show-runners and cast have time, which apparently will be harder to come by in the short-term future.  Also, a standard series contains only three film-length episodes generally, aside from the excellent “Abominable Bride.”  In any event, the creators certainly know how to keep their audience coming back for more, and the panel universally agrees that each return to a new series is well worth the wait (and the watch – and re-watch!).

LOOKING AHEAD

Neither the show creators nor the network (BBC) have confirmed that Sherlock is, indeed, completely and permanently over.  In fact, all involved say they would like to potentially do more but are hampered by various other commitments, as listed above. Since there is no official word on whether or not we have watched the definitive end of Sherlock, we will assume (or at least hope) that there is more to come; however, the CPU! Sherlock panel will not reconvene until that happens, which may be for some years. Should the BBC and/or Gatiss and Moffat succeed in collecting the cast and crew for another go-round, CPU! will assuredly pounce upon such potential future developments! Until that time, Sherlock is available on the Netflix streaming service to be watched repeatedly and to one’s heart’s content.  As for CPU!, don’t worry: we cover many other shows in our podcast, available for your listening pleasure to tide you over in the meantime, and most of the Sherlock panelists are involved in other panels – check out the “What We’re Currently Watching” and the “List of All CPU! Panelists” pages in the menu to the upper left to scan for current and potential episodes you might want to hear; search using the menu in the upper right corner :).

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Is it…could it be…Holmes?!  Not exactly…but it is panelist Spencer, living the dream at the actual 221B Baker Street, London, England, where he and wife/fellow panelist Kristin T. are currently enjoying vacation (August 2017).  Safe travels, friends!

PODCAST! – Around the Water Cooler: “Supernatural” – The Season 12 End of Season Recap (MAJOR SPOILERS)

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Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who: “Supernatural” airs on network TV, specifically on the CW; this season, the show aired on Thursdays at 8:00 PM.

What: “Supernatural,” a drama depicting the tale of two brothers, Sam and Dean Winchester (Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles, respectively), who are “hunters” of all supernatural ilk, be they demons, monsters, or angels on high, in a quest to save the world from things that go bump in the night, things that cause apocalypses, and things that are generally just out to get them (for a more detailed Synopsis, read here: http://www.aceshowbiz.com/tv/supernatural/summary.html).

When: The Season 12 finale aired on May 18, 2017, at 8:00 PM on the CW.

Where: The show is set in no specific locale; the brothers ride all over the country in a 1967 Chevrolet Impala and live out of hotel rooms via fake identities and money scams, though the Winchesters are originally from Lawrence, Kansas, and have, as late, holed up in a bunker, somewhere near their home town, formerly run by the Men of Letters, an organization of which they are legacy members.  The time is present day.

Why:  Oh so many seasons ago now, Chief CP Kylie followed Jensen Ackles–a fine, fine man–from Smallville to his new gig, which, at the time, seemed like a different spin on the X-Files, with two brothers versus two sexually tense FBI agents.  From the opening frames of the pilot, though, I knew that it was oh so much more or, at least, vastly dissimilar to the X-Files, and this show has surpassed so many expectations, including mustering the incredible ability to remain relevant and engaging long past the expiration of the initial story arc mapped out by creator Eric Kripke.  For CPU!’s ever-expanding podcast coverage of a growing number of shows, several CPU! members, all familiar voices to the CPU! loyal, jumped up to participate on this panel, even though many of them also express fatigue with the show from time to time.  How do they feel the show is faring nowadays, into its double digits’ worth of seasons?  Take a listen below.

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

To catch up on our Super-coverage, click the embedded links below, or find the audio equivalents on iTunes, Stitcher Radio, and Google Play (links further below):

The Season 9 Premiere 

Seasons Nine, Ten, and Eleven

Season 12A

Once again, our Super-CPU! panel – Nick, Jen, Allie, Kelsey, and Jeremy – hops into our ’67 Chevy Impala, ready to ride until we, or Supernatural, die(s), as we discuss major plot points from, and ruminate upon the success of, the second half of season twelve.  While our panel’s particular devotion and/or brotherly bond continues to be sometimes tested in Supernatural’s later seasons, particularly this season, we still have lots to think and to talk about and to gush over whilst pining for the brothers and/or Cas (well, I don’t think Nick is pining…unless there’s something we don’t know).  Give us a listen, with your salt guns and holy water on standby, and see if you agree or disagree with our thoughts.

This podcast was recorded in July 2017, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as the panelists cover key plot points of the second half of season twelve of this long-running series. Listen at your own risk, and let us know what you think by commenting below!

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

Remember, new episodes and blog posts are published weekly! In our next episode, our Sherlock Series panel returns to the Water Cooler for the second episode in that series to discuss, to deduce in diatribes, and to dissect Series 3 and 4 of the international smash hit series. Stay tuned!

Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations

Old Questions

1) REPEAT QUESTION: How many miles are on the Impala after all this time?

REPEAT ANSWER: Still unknown.

2) REPEAT QUESTION: Will they ever get their happy ending?

REPEAT ANSWER: While the panel is in no particular rush for a series finale, although maybe that’s less true nowadays, it’s likely the brothers will not find peace until they are done.  That’s why Kansas tells them to Carry On, Wayward Sons.  “Lay your weary head to rest; don’t you cry no more.”

3) REPEAT QUESTION: If Lucifer is out of the Cage, why can’t the archangel Michael, currently housed within long lost Winchester half brother Adam, escape from the Cage? Will we ever see Adam/Michael again?

REPEAT ANSWER: Still a question.  I, personally, have to believe that, with Lucifer out of Hell’s Cage, archangel Michael (whether inside half-Winchester Adam or not), has some time to sort through his sanity.  Here’s hoping he busts out.  There’s a disturbing lack of archangels nowadays.

4) Will Mary ever get it together long enough to accept her new lease on life and her much older, adult sons?  Her adjustment seems prolonged.  Understandable but prolonged. What will be her purpose in the end?  Will she continue hunting?  Will she join #TeamWinchester? Or, will she be the footnote of yet another – and a repeat one at that – tragedy in the boys’ lives?

ANSWER: This answer is complicated, even loaded.  First, Mary is willing to sacrifice herself to save both sons when the boys make a deal with Billie the Reaper to break them out of federal prison, as they were falsely accused of attacking the President of the United States who had been otherwise possessed by Lucifer, in exchange for one of the boys’ permanent deaths. Then, Mary continues hunting, despite the fact that she seems to rue it, because it’s kind of one of the only things she knows and remembers comfortably from her former life.  Then, she secretly allies herself with the British Men of Letters for a time because their resources and drive are appealing to her, and she believes that they are capable of eliminating all monster threats, so that, as she explains to Sam, she can have the life she has always wanted with her sons. This arrangement naturally goes south, particularly when Lady Toni Bevell (Elizabeth Blackmore) returns for the sole purpose of “conditioning” Mary to act as a black operative for the Brits and as a mole, brainwashed to kill American hunters, who the Brits have deemed ineffectual. Dean achieves breaking through this conditioning with Lady Bevell’s help (and a switch in loyalties), and with one of his more impassioned monologues recapping everything that the brothers have been through in these twelve seasons, but Mary is only lucid long enough to help deliver Lucifer’s bastard Nephilim baby before an alternate parallel universe swallows her, with the Devil’s helpful hand pulling her into this wasted alterna-world with him.  The producers and the cast have confirmed that Mary is still alive, and so, it’s not a typical Supernatural tragedy, but Mary’s purpose and presence on the show has become one big, convoluted question mark. Listen to the podcast episode for additional details and speculations.

5) Seriously, why should we care about the British Men of Letters at all?  Why are they interfering?  Why does their approach with sussing out the boys’ methods suck?  Why can’t we abandon this piece of the story? Much of our panel feels that it’s not working, though some are still vaguely intrigued.

ANSWER: As it turns out, the Brits are essentially the “Big Bad” of the season.  Sure, Lucifer is around and is after his child (more on that in a minute), but the Brits prove to be a formidable threat to American hunters nationwide, simply because they believe our uppity colonial butts cannot achieve results without efficiency and moral ambiguity.  The Brits’ approach is par: kill all monsters, regardless of the shades of gray that the Winchesters have encountered over the years that have led them to become creative and merciful hunters.  They generally find Sam and Dean to be reckless and ineffectual, the worst of the American hunter lot, really.  So, this story line plays through until the end of the season, whether we want it to or not, though the Brits on this side of the pond do meet a grisly end.  The podcast panelists express mixed reactions in response to the British Men of Letters segment on “This is our Supernatural life.”  Listen to the episode for details. 

6) Will Toni return?  For what reason?  Or, did the Brits put her in “time out?”

ANSWER: Toni returns.  Apparently, she’s one of the Brits’ golden children, despite her strong opinions and querulous methods.  She is not afraid to get her hands dirty and to experiment with sadistic measures of torture and corruption.  Her latest exploit: brainwashing mother Mary into becoming the Brits’ assassin of American hunters, while Mary is helpless to fight against it and unaware of her own actions. Toni’s allegiance to the LetterMen only lasts for so long, though.  Her apparent rivalry/sexual tension with Man of Letter Arthur Ketch results in his rash decision to trap her with the brothers in the bunker, without working air handlers or power, as part of the ongoing effort to eliminate American hunters (and as part of Ketch’s own ongoing beef with the boys). With her life in danger, and in lieu of a tenuous agreement with Dean to help reverse mother Mary’s conditioning in exchange for her freedom, Lady Bevell reverses her dirty deeds, only to meet her own grisly end at the hands of Ketch at the last.

7) Where did Lucifer go?  Some of the panel thought that his angel essence was entrapped by the Men of Letters golden snitch, while some saw it go through a floor vent. Kylie predicts that Lucifer will most likely return to fetch his spawn.  What will his spawn be? Will his spawn be the “anti-Christ?”  Will his spawn be born?  Will his spawn bring about the end of times…again?

ANSWER: Kylie won the round this time (it has to happen some time, people!). Lucifer, as it turns out, is drawn back to hell by Crowley (Mark A. Sheppard) and returned to his favorite vessel and ours, namely the one played by Mark Pellegrino. Indeed, Mark P. returns with his best devilish scene chewing in tow, aiming to break free of his Crowley induced chains to seek out his spawn, a Nephilim, a half-human/half-angel with potential unspeakable power and questionable moral compass, given who his daddy is.  The spawn in question comes to term…his name is Jack, in fact; he has yellow eyes, is far larger and older than your standard baby, and he is the subject of many questions asked by the podcast panelists. Though we have seen one “anti-Christ” in a previous season, Jack may be the anti-Christ to beat all anti-Christs, initiating a much scarier apocalypse than we have yet seen.  We don’t yet know for sure because Luci is trapped in the alternate universe with Mary, and the yellow eyes mean this kid could be much more than we ever bargained for, in the end, if the show’s meditation on “princes of hell” is any indication.

8) Will Sam, Lucifer’s predestined vessel, be forced to house Lucifer again, who burns through other human hosts quickly and destructively?  There seems to be some hint at that possibility, though Sam has avoided it successfully so far.

ANSWER: Owing to a clever (?) side mention by the writers, as a result of Crowley’s magic, which revived the Mark P. vessel for Lucifer but also warded his insides so that the angelic essence of Lucifer is trapped in the self-same vessel, Luci tells the brothers that Sam is no longer needed to house Lucifer.  The Mark P. vessel, in other words, is built to last by King of Hell magic.  Crowley just makes things worse sometimes, doesn’t he? (For the boys, anyway…Mark P.’s return was most welcome to this set of Super fans.)

9) To that end, the “American Nightmare” episode hearkened back to and reminded the viewer that Sam was once one of demon Azazel’s children, with psychic abilities.  In that episode, Sam encountered a strict religious family who demonized their daughter Magda for having psychic ability.  In that episode, Sam told Magda that he once had similar abilities.  When she asked if he still did, Sam answered that he “thought” they were gone. Will we be seeing a return of Sam’s psychic abilities?  He’s always been highly intuitive; if they do return, what will be the context?  What will be the purpose?  What will he do with them?  Will he be good or evil? The panel kind of wants to see this happen.

ANSWER: Still a question or questions without answer(s).  While Sam’s potentially dormant demonic abilities remain just that – dormant – the show, the producers, and the cast have referred to them both in script and in press often enough that we think this possibility is even more possible at this stage.  Plus, the show takes the time to explore the concept of the “Princes of Hell” this half season, of which the brothers learn that Azazel was one: Lucifer’s most entrusted demons, all of yellow eyes; his first demonic creations; his most loyal servants; and his most powerful allies.  It should be noted that Jack the Nephilim also has yellow eyes.  Moderator Kylie suspects that the yellow eyed princes of hell, the angels, Jack, and Sam are all going to be connected in expected or unexpected ways in the near future.

10) The John Winchester question remains a question: will we see him this season?  And played by whom?  And will he be alive or dead?

ANSWER: In the ultimate tease, and with much social media delight owing to Jensen’s Twitter exchange with JDM himself, Negan’s bat from The Walking Dead makes a cameo, after apparently hanging out in Baby’s trunk all this time and once being allegedly owned by John, but John himself does not show up in season 12, likely due to the fact that Jeffery Dean Morgan survives on TWD.  I think the writers know how much his return is strongly desired, particularly given Mary’s return, though some of our panelists are against this idea on principle, feeling that John had a definite and poetic end that would be undermined by a resurrection, a common plot device used on Supernatural.  To this panelist and moderator, though, I am a proponent of such a return…though it would likely be saved for a final season. Still, we’ll keep asking the question.

11) The Billie the Reaper question remains a question: is she aiming to be New Death? What is her true intention?  Or, is she a dutiful bureaucrat, operating status quo in the absence of her boss? Will she be successful in reaping Mary’s newly returned soul?  The brothers’?

ANSWERS: These questions are for naught now.  Billie makes a return long enough to seek the boys’ permanent deaths, making the deal with the Winchesters that allows them to bust out of federal prison by killing them long enough for the authorities to accept their deaths, only to revive them in time for escaping, in exchange for one of the brother’s permanent deaths at the stroke of midnight. Castiel (Misha Collins) makes his presence known by getting the drop on Billie.  He stabs her in the back with his angel blade just as Mary offers herself in sacrifice to save her sons, after Billie notes that breaking a deal with a reaper can have “cosmic consequences.”  Billie’s ambitions, thus, have been cut short and are no longer enigmas worth our puzzling, while Cas courts cosmic consequences in the worst possible way. See below.

12) The angel question remains a question – Heaven seems disturbingly quiet…

ANSWERS: The angels are motivated to action with the impending birth of Jack the Nephilim.  In fact, we meet Cas’ former squad, headed by human-hater (and secret human lover) Isham, leader of a heavenly task force assigned to eliminate nephilim the world over. We also meet Joshua, who concocts a plan with Cas to force baby-mama Kelly to cross through Heaven’s Gate in the Sandbox, exposing her unborn child to heaven’s (apparently fatal) light.  Angel casualties are high this season, let’s just say.

13) Where did Rowena and Crowley go?  Is Crowley back on his basement throne again? Will Rowena return to her witch-y ways, since her dreams of marrying her sugar daddy went bust and since she seems to have somewhat repaired her estrangement from her son?

ANSWER: Crowley returns to his throne in Hell, having trapped Lucifer for the seemingly sole purpose (or soul purpose?) of gloating.  Really, as the podcast panelists note, with all of the stupid plans Crowley has had over the years, this one may have been the stupidest.  Meanwhile, Rowena (Ruth Connell) kind of hangs out, does some magic, gets some revenge on her son, that old chestnut, and then, seemingly, gets herself burnt to a crisp by a freshly minted from hell Lucifer.  Her death is treated as a vicious afterthought and without ceremony, despite the impression she made upon the CPU! segment of the Super viewing audience, leading most of our panelists to throw up in arms; however, Rowena’s fate, by virtue of learning of it only from a boastful Lucifer and a charred-beyond-recognition corpse, leads this panelist and moderator to believe that Rowena is not out for the count yet, even if Crowley is (more on that later).

14) Last we saw, Sam and Dean were taken into federal custody because once Lucifer was sucked out of the POTUS with the Golden demon essence sucking Snitch, it appeared as if Sam and Dean had hurt the President, causing the Secret Service and federal marshals to descend upon them and to arrest them.  The panel feels confident that they will escape or be released; we just don’t know how.  Will Castiel, vexed by losing Satan’s spawn, save them? Will Crowley?  Will they break out themselves? Will they get off with presidential pardon? And then, where does the show go from here?

ANSWER: As described above, a deal with Billie allows the boys to break free from prison in exchange for one of their permanently reaped souls.  Cas breaks that deal for them by literally stabbing Billie in the back, saving the brothers’ souls, as well as Mary’s, one more time.  As for where the show goes, listen to the podcast or read above for details.

New Questions

1) Let’s talk about cosmic consequences.  At the end of the season, Castiel is stabbed in the back, in a karmic boomerang of epic proportion, by Lucifer, who uses Cas’ angel blade to get the drop on Cas, as Cas did on Billie the Reaper. We assume Cas will be back, even if his return is predictable and less impacting than it could be, given all of the deaths and rebirths on this show.  We just do not know how or if he will be the same Cas. Will we meet our Castiel again, resurrected once more by some force unknown?  Or, will we be watching an alternate universe version of him, since that universe has been blinked into existence by Jack the Nephilim?  Or, will Jack, who seems connected to Cas thanks to his in utero interaction with the angel, revive Cas himself?

2) Lucifer and Mary are currently trapped in that alternate universe.  Will we see them immediately in the next half season, or will we have to wait, as the producers and cast have confirmed that they live on in the world of a permanent war between angels and demons and mostly extinct humans?  Will we get to see Lucifer and Mary, the “buddy cop” years?  Will Mary punch Lucifer bunches, as panelist Kelsey wishes?  Will they survive?  What will happen to them?

3) Crowley is dead as well, sacrificing his own life in exchange for a spell cast in an attempt to trap Lucifer in the alternate universe – only with Crowley’s death, Mark A. Sheppard also announced his departure from the show, so it seems the King of Hell is permanently pushing up demonic daisies.  Is this why Rowena is killed off?  Is she, in fact, killed off?  Or, did Rowena make a deal with the devil that allows her to survive? She’s been quite the survivor so far, after all.

4) Jack the Nephilim – is he good, or is he evil?  Is he angel, or is he demon?  Is he a yellow eyed demon?  Is he a “prince of hell?”  Is he the “anti-Christ?” What does it mean to be a prince of hell?  We expect that Dean will want to lay him to waste immediately, while Sam will probably argue for the gray area and the possibility that he is not evil, given his angel grace and half humanness.  Will Jack have an effect on Sam?  Will Jack induce a return of Sam’s demonic abilities, originally imbued to him by a yellow eyed demon/Prince of Hell?  How will Jack affect the world at large, given that mere contractions bringing him into the world ripped a hole in space and time?

5) Will Jack be next season’s Big Bad?  Will Lucifer?  If neither of them are, who will be?

6) The perennial question: will we see John Winchester this season?  And played by whom?  And will he be alive or dead?

7) How much of this alternate universe will we be dealing with, overall?  Will we continue to see alterna-Bobby (Jim Beaver)?  Will the apocalypse of that world spill into this one?  Will it cause another apocalypse on this side of the space/time tear?

8) The Supernatural production team is currently in the process of creating another backdoor pilot and potential spin-off in the Wayward Sisters, featuring Jody the Sheriff as the lead character.  How will the road to producing that show, provided that the network approves a full season order, affect current Super events?

9) What is the current status of the American hunter system?  It seems that the Brits with mole mother Mary make efficient work of eliminating known hunters.  Does this mean that Sam and Dean will have to pick up the pieces by recruiting new hunters?  Training them?  Are we about to see a hunter training montage? Speaking of picking up the pieces, how will Sam and Dean go on?  Where will they be when the season premieres?

10) Panelist Jen asks again: where are God, aka Chuck the Prophet, and Amara, the Sister Darkness of God?  How are they doing?  Talk going well?  Hashed out their deity problems much?  Seeking some therapy?  Panelist Allie votes for getting a glimpse of some family counseling session with Chuck and Amara.

11) A Prince of Hell named Ramiel held in his possession two intriguing items: Archangel Michael’s Spear or Lance and (wait for it) the Colt.  The Colt is currently broken, snapped in two by another Prince of Hell named Dagon, who Cas later snuffed.  Can the Colt be repaired?  By Sam?  How is the Colt powered?  Didn’t the Colt have a fixed number of bullets once upon a time?  More importantly, **where did the Colt go after Season 6?** How did Ramiel get a hold of it?  Why has the show not addressed the continuity of this gun?  Why was it brought back only to be broken?  WHAT IS GOING ON WITH THIS THING?!

12) Also, the Spear/Lance is broken, I believe with Crowley’s help in that instance.  Will it be repaired, since Dean pockets the fragments?  Is it usable by anyone besides Michael? Dean is still a predestined Michael vessel – can he use it?  We repeat – will we ever see Michael out of the Cage again?

13) The Vampire Alpha dies in this season, owing to some clever British Men of Letter work.  Does this mean that all vampires die?  I know this is not The Originals, but what happens to the rest of the vampires in the event of the death of their alpha?

PARTING SHOTS

Some doubts have not only resurfaced among the members of our Supernatural panel but have increased as the twelfth season wraps.  Though we all remain committed until the end of the show, whenever that may be, and though, in many ways, Supernatural is still like a well-oiled machine – a quality program with a cultivated, passionate cult fan base, even if the quality is not necessarily consistent in its late life – the panel continues to struggle somewhat with the show after the choppy and somewhat disjointed twelfth season, even though some of our worse fears, including a disparate set of story lines failing to connect in a meaningful way, do not come to pass. Indeed, Season 12 still offers something to enjoy between mother Mary, the British Men of Letters, and Lucifer’s love child, not to mention the usual elements that keep Super fans coming back for more. In fact, the panel members all still agree that Supernatural could never be completely unwatchable, owing to the writing, acting, and quirks of the mythology (and the sheer beauty of its cast).  Though we are in the acknowledged winter of the program’s longevity, there remains nothing like Supernatural on TV right now, and despite the panel members’ individual gripes, all members feel that the show is still entertaining, even this late in its lifetime. Carry On, Wayward Sons, as we prepare to move into Season 13!

LOOKING AHEAD

Supernatural was renewed for a thirteenth season, which is slated to premiere on October 12, 2017.  The Supernatural podcast panel will next reconvene following the thirteenth mid-season finale, which will likely air in or around December 2016. As always, CPU! will keep you informed of news and additional show coverage.  Until then!

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

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

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Check out HTG’s 2017 Season!

Opening Tomorrow: “The Importance of Being Earnest”

For more information, visit Heritage Theatre’s website!

CPU! Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Season 4A – Frozen

Season 4B – Queens of Darkness

Season 5A – Dark Swan

Season 5B – The Underworld

Season 6A

 

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

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

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

Remember, new episodes and blog posts are published weekly! In our next episode, our Supernatural panel returns to the Water Cooler to devil out the pesky details of the second half of the twelfth season of that long-running cult favorite. Stay tuned!

Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations

Old Questions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Questions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

11) Will Rumpel still be the Dark One?

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

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

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

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

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

PARTING SHOTS

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

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

LOOKING AHEAD

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

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

Image result for gotham season 3 title

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

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

For more information, visit Heritage Theatre’s website!

CPU! Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who:  “Gotham” is a crime drama centered on events and characters inspired by the Batman franchise/DC Comic Universe, which airs fall through spring, formerly Mondays at 8:00 PM on Fox, though the show is being moved to a similar time slot on Thursdays this fall.

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

SYNOPSIS

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

When: The Season Three finale aired on Monday, June 5, 2017, at 8:00 PM.

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

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

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

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

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

How – as in How Was It? – THOUGHTS

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

Seasons 1-2A

Season 2B, The Wrath of the Villains

 

Season 3A, Mad City

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

This podcast was recorded in June 2017, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as the panelists cover key plot points of the first half of the third season and all episodes that have aired to date. Listen at your own risk, and let us know what you think by commenting below!

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

Remember, new episodes and blog posts are published weekly!  Next Wednesday, we launch a five-part “Looking Back” retrospective, in this, the twentieth anniversary of the premiere, of CPU! favorite Buffy the Vampire Slayer and, by rights, its spin-off Angel.  The first episode will feature discussion about the first three seasons of “Buffy.”  Stay tuned!

Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations

Old Questions/Predictions

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

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

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

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

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

ANSWER AS OF THE END OF SEASON 2: Riddler’s caper riddles, as he began to frame Jim for the murder of a police officer, were potentially more complex.  Mind-twisting? Eh.  Marginally more mind-twisting, perhaps.
NOT SO FAST! ANSWER AS OF MID-SEASON 3: Though Ed told fewer riddles in this half season, his ire has been irked (see above).  We can only imagine what a provoked and forlorn Ed might riddle when the riddles finally and continuously come.
ANSWER AS OF END OF SEASON 3: He got there!  He just needed a worthy adversary…which he finds in “Foxy” Lucius Fox (Chris Chalk) and secondarily in Penguin.  Now, if only Batman was around…
3) REPEAT PARTIAL QUESTION: What is the takeaway from Jerome, the Joker-not-Joker? Is he alive or really dead?
ANSWER AS OF THE END OF SEASON 2: During this half of the season, Jerome is most definitely considered dead, preserved in one of Hugo Strange’s reanimation tubes in Indian Hill, which, though run by Wayne Enterprises, is located in the basement of Arkham Asylum.  
NOT SO FAST! ANSWER AS OF MID-SEASON 3: The Gotham social media accounts have been foretelling the return of Jerome…
ANSWER AS OF THE END OF SEASON 3: Dude was dead, but a devoted and brilliant acolyte named Dwight finds a way of reviving him, almost as improbably as Hugo Strange’s version of resurrection.  Either way, Jerome seems here to stay now…what does it all mean?  He’s in Arkham currently, so…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Questions
1) Is Joker-Not-Joker Jerome really Proto-Joker, and will we see him again in Season 4?
2) Will Riddler escape his freezing cage?  (All panelists predict yes…or there will be hell to pay.)
3) Will Bruce finally see freaking bats already?
4) Will Ra’s al Ghul be the “Big Bad” of Season 4?  What is the prophecy to which he referred, and what does it mean for Bruce?
5) Will Selina go full on Catgirl in Season 4?
6) Is Fish dead once and for all?  Is Barbara?  Or, are they going to do the detestably unthinkable and change Barbara into Harley Quinn, despite not being named Harleen Quinzell and despite not being a psychiatrist at Arkham (though Joker-Not-Joker Jerome is in Arkham right now…hm…)?
7) Where did Hugo Strange end up nowadays?
8) Is the Court of Owls truly defunct?  Or, are they the DC equivalent of Hydra in the Marvel universe?
9) If Butch is really Cyrus Gold, how Solomon Grundy will we see him get in the coming season?
10) What will it mean for Gotham when Penguin opens the Iceberg Lounge?
11) Is Bruce Clone Batman’s Bizarro equivalent, Batzarro?  Or, will he die?  Did he die? The panel is universally against crossing DC comic concepts when just the Batman franchise seems difficult for this writing and producing team to wrangle.
12) Generally speaking, and notably, our Gotham panel is loathe to ask further questions or to make predictions because the writers, in their quest to be unpredictable and “non-canon,” have taken the story to wild places with little satisfying payoff for the viewer in the end.  Everyone is sort of bracing themselves for the coming season while cherishing the few truly enjoyable nuggets about this show, mainly in character/performances.

PARTING SHOTS

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

The previous unrest among the panelists, however, given the writers’ track record to date, still produces a variety of emotions and trust issues, preventing most if not all panel members from being able to recommend watching the show, in good conscience, to anyone, at least for now.  The panel is still open to a story that seems to follow a consistent set of rules, no matter how much of a deviation it might be from the Batman comics or franchise proper, as long as the writers do not continue to change the direction of the show to compensate for “Twitter reaction.”  In fact, most of the panel find this half of the third season to be the show’s new high point, even as it also contained some low points. The panelists, as such, continue to advise the writers to revisit not only the Batman comics but also their original blueprint for the show and to adhere to a structure and story continuity for the show that rightly capitalizes upon the amazing – and the strongest – performances of the cast, which the panel universally agrees are good if not phenomenal.  Also, the writers should continue to track their own continuity and not turn what is one of the tightest and most enjoyed (and most widely known) comic book properties into an absurdist’s take on the story, or they will alienate viewers and, thereafter, cause declining ratings and waning network support.

LOOKING AHEAD

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

PODCAST! – Around the Water Cooler: “How to Get Away with Murder,” the Season Three Recap (MAJOR SPOILERS)

Moderator: Eddie

THE SPECS:

Who:  “How to Get Away with Murder” is a drama that currently airs on ABC, fall/winter Thursdays at 10:00 PM.

What: “How to Get Away with Murder,” a drama featuring Viola Davis (The Help) as a law professor at a prestigious Philadelphia university who, along with a select group of an elite five of her students chosen to be interns at her law firm, becomes entwined in a murder plot.

SYNOPSIS

Annalise Keating (Davis) is a prominent criminal defense attorney and a law professor at Middleton University in Philadelphia. She selects five students to intern at her firm: Wes Gibbins (Alfred Enoch, the Harry Potter films), Connor Walsh (Jack Falahee), Michaela Pratt (Aja Naomi King), Asher Millstone (Matt McGorry), and Laurel Castillo (Karla Souza). They work with Annalise’s employees, Frank Delfino (Charlie Weber) and Bonnie Winterbottom (Liza Weil), an associate lawyer.  All players become increasingly involved, peripherally or directly, in the primary murder plot of the season.

When: Season Three aired on ABC from September 22, 2016, to February 23, 2017.

Where: The action is set in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Why: To find out why individual podcast panelists started watching this show, listen to the podcast episode via the link below!

How – as in How Was It? – THOUGHTS

CPU! started reviewing, in podcast format, How to Get Away with Murder from the beginning!  To catch up on prior CPU! episodes or to wrap your ahead around the progress of this Shonda Rimes produced legal thriller to date, cop to our handy links below:

Season One

Season Two

Our HTGAWM panel of Kristen, Krista, Eddie, and Allie reconvened – shockingly reluctantly, due to the show if not each other – around the water cooler to parse through what was, apparently, a rough season three, which most if not all panelists found to be a creative low for the show. In this episode, Krista, who moderated the Season Two discussion, passes the moderating mic, as they do on this panel (the Chief CP is not a member), to fellow panelist Eddie, who now leads the discussion about Season Three. Thus, the CPU! Four (rather than the Keating Five, see) tackle the ups and the many or more numerous head-scratching, downward-type moments of the third season while speculating upon what may come next, as the show has been renewed for a fourth season, likely to premiere this fall.

This podcast was recorded in June 2017, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as the panelists cover key plot points of the third 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, CPU! continues its merry parade of end of season recaps when our Gotham panel returns to the Water Cooler to contemplate the “madness” of the second half of Season 3, containing the end of the “Mad City” arc and the entirety of the “Heroes Rise” arc.  Stay tuned!

Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations
Old Questions
1) Will we see the Hapstalls next season?
ANSWER: The Hapstalls’ story line did not resume nor was resolved in Season Three.  The panelists feel that the Season Two story line was not completely resolved but seem unaffected by the fact that the Hapstalls’ did not graduate into the third season.
2) Who is in the black car?  Do the writers know?
ANSWER: Frank is in the black car, which is revealed to the viewer this season (see below).
3) Who killed Wes’ (Enoch) father?  Was the murdered man even Wes’ father to begin with?
ANSWER: Wes’ father, Charles Mahoney Jr., was not murdered, but Wes’ grandfather, Charles Mahoney Sr. or “Big Papa,” is murdered by Frank, though Frank thinks he is murdering Wes’ real father.

New Questions

1) Will Laurel carry her baby to term?  Will we learn more about her father?

2) Will all of the remaining Keating 5 survive next season?

3) Will the show get better?  Will the show return to its roots?  Or, is it locked into its current style?

4) Will we ever see the characters in school again?  Will Connor continue to spiral out of control?

PARTING SHOTS

While one panelist remained loyal to HTGAWM, if somewhat underwhelmed, after the third season, the rest of the panelists rated this third season rather poorly, noting the writing to be unfocused and inconsistent in quality, the pace to be slow to the point of drudgery, and the characters to be making uncharacteristic choices, another symptom of possible writing struggles indicative of declining quality.  In fact, three panelists – notably the three who started the panel – contemplated “jumping the shark” but for the sake of gathering together to podcast about it, while the fourth panelist was shocked to be in the minority, enjoying some of the new character back stories introduced while simultaneously acknowledging that the show suffered from some fatal third season flaws that left her questioning her life choices. The same three panelists aforementioned also procrastinated heavily before watching the show, finding it painful to complete, particularly relative to other good television offerings out there. Surprisingly, and largely attributable to panel camaraderie, all panelists agreed to continue watching and to return for a season four recap and review, though the self same three panelists threatened to quit if the show did not witness a marked improvement in the coming season.  Where do you fall? Comment below!

LOOKING AHEAD

HTGAWM was officially renewed for Season Four and is expected to return fall 2017, though no premiere date has yet been announced. CPU! will revisit this show in podcast format (with the next moderator in rotation!) at the end of season four in 2018.  Until then!

PODCAST! – Around the Water Cooler & Streaming Originals: “Fuller House” – Season Two, the Full/er House Panel’s Review and Recap (Full/er House Series, Episode Three; MAJOR SPOILERS)

Image result for fuller house title

Moderator: Kristen

THE SPECS:

Who: “Fuller House,”an American family situation comedy and sequel to Full House, airing on the Netflix streaming service as an original series, which means, for the record, that it is available to Netflix subscribers exclusively, as it is Netflix produced original content.

What:  The series centers around D.J. Tanner-Fuller (Candace Cameron Bure), a veterinarian and widowed mother of three sons, whose sister and best friend—the mother to a teenage daughter—provide support in her sons’ upbringings by moving in with her and into D.J. and her sister’s childhood home.

SYNOPSIS

After the sudden death of D.J. Tanner-Fuller’s (Bure) husband, Tommy, who was fulfilling his hazardous duties as a firefighter, D.J. accepts the help of her sister, Stephanie (Jodie Sweetin), and her best friend, Kimmy (Andrea Barber), as they move in to take part in raising D.J.’s three sons: 13-year-old Jackson (Michael Campion), 7-year-old Max (Elias Harger), and baby Tommy Jr. (Dashiell and Fox Messitt). Kimmy’s teenage daughter, Ramona (Soni Nicole Bringas), also moves in with D.J., Stephanie, Kimmy, and D.J.’s children.  Most of the Full House ensemble cast reprise their roles on Fuller House, either as regular cast members or in guest appearances, with the exception of Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, who alternated in the role of Michelle Tanner on Full House.

When: Season Two was released to streaming service Netflix on December 9, 2016, to the tune of thirteen episodes.

Where: The show is set in San Francisco, California.

Why: Listen to the podcast for the panelists’ individual stories on how they found Fuller House.

How – as in How Was It? – THOUGHTS

So many CPU! regulars, including frequent CPU! contributor and panelist Kristen, love Full House and were particular excited by the Netflix revival of this long dormant sitcom, creating a brand new chapter for the series, which the streaming channel calls Fuller House. In fact, Kristen saw an opportunity for a new CPU! podcast series in which CPU! panelists look back at the program that started it all while looking forward “around the water cooler” as new seasons of the reboot are released.  Thus, herein we offer the third episode of our series covering the various versions of this sitcom, which we at CPU! are calling our “Full/er House” series.  Listen to our first episode, in which we Look Back at Full House, and our second episode, recapping Season One of Fuller House, via the embedded links below:

Full/er House Series, Episode One: Looking Back at “Full House”

Full/er House Series, Episode Two: “Fuller House,” Season One

In addition, lacking the ability to fully appreciate Full House (and Fuller House) age-wise by a few years, the Chief CP steps aside from the moderating microphone once again, so that Kristen may serve as main moderator with the kind of enthusiasm this juggernaut of nostalgia deserves. Kristen is, in turn, rejoined by series panelists Andrew, Amie, Leslie, and Jenn in this third episode of our “Full/er House” series, in which we discuss our favorite and least favorite moments from the second season of the rebootwhich the panel generally felt was a vast improvement over the first season.  Take a listen to the episode if you have watched the season and gauge whether you agree or disagree.

This podcast was recorded in June 2017, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as we cover major plot points and comedic situations portrayed in the second season of Fuller House. 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, CPU! continues its merry parade of end of season recaps when our How to Get Away with Murder panel returns to the Water Cooler after a year’s hiatus to chat Season 3 of the Shonda Rimes produced thriller.  Stay tuned!

Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations

1) Will Michelle, aka Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen, ever return to the show? (And why are they so snooty about it…it launched their careers, and the ability they had to start an alleged fashion empire?)

2) Will we see any of Michelle’s friends?

3) Will the show tackle any issues, like teen suicide, LGBT+ acceptance, or other contemporary hot button issues in the future?

4) Why did DJ become annoying, according to the panel?

5) Will New Kids on the Block return every season?

6) Will we see any other past characters, like Vicki, Danny’s former girlfriend?  For that matter, will we ever see the character’s actual wife again?

7) Will DJ end up with either Matt or Steve?

PARTING SHOTS

Fuller House is recommended by the entire Full/er House panel, mainly for the nostalgic appeal and “turn your brain off” level of entertainment resulting from the perennially saccharine premise of this well-loved cast and the tongue-in-cheek presentation of its “aw, shucks” humor. Most of the panelists would hesitate to recommend the show to anyone who has not seen the original Full House series, though all of the panelists thought that season two proved to be a vast improvement over the often forced and always over-the-top antics of the first season.  In fact, most if not all panelists advocate, particularly to those who gave up on the revival after that rocky first season in question, giving the show a second chance if one claims membership in the Full House fandom but struggled through season one or with the idea of attempting to consume the second season.  The panelists also felt that, though this sequel series brings the ham and cheese on rye like its source series in all the ooey gooey (but ultimately right) ways, Fuller House remains solid sitcom entertainment: easily binged, easily digested, minimal heartburn or regret. In fact, all current panelists enthusiastically and wholeheartedly look forward to season three.

LOOKING AHEAD

Netflix renewed Fuller House for a third season, which will receive an increased order of 18 episodes and which will be broken into halves in terms of airing schedule, with the first half premiering on the thirtieth anniversary of the original series, September 22, 2017.  CPU!’s next Full/er House episode, which will focus on this third seasonwill likely record and publish some time after the third season wraps.  Like, follow, and/or subscribe to the blog, iTunes, YouTube, Stitcher Radio, Google Play, or our social media accounts to stay abreast of new episodes in the Full/er House podcast series as well as of new episodes for all of our podcast panels!  And, if you feel so inclined, please leave us a review (give us stars – many of them!).  Thank you!🙂

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

american-horror-story-title-poster.jpg

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

Gwen Graham and Cathy Woods (mugshots).jpg

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!