PODCAST! – Around the Water Cooler: DC Television Universe Series, Episode 15, “Supergirl” – Season Three, the DCTU Panel’s Review and Recap (MAJOR SPOILERS)

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Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who:  “Supergirl” is a superhero action-adventure drama based on the DC Comics character Supergirl (Kara Zor-El), created by Otto Binder and Al Plastino, which currently airs on the CW, fall to spring Sundays at 8:00 PM.

What: “Supergirl,” a series developed by Ali Adler, Greg Berlanti, and Andrew Kreisberg (the latter two having previously created Arrow and The Flash) and starring Melissa Benoist in the title role.  This series is considered a spin-off from Arrow and is part of the so-called “Arrowverse.” Supergirl is a costumed super-heroine who is the cousin to Superman and one of the last surviving Kryptonians.

SYNOPSIS

Kara Zor-El (Benoist) was sent to Earth from the doomed planet Krypton as a 13-year-old by her parents Zor-El and Alura.  Alura gave her instructions to protect her infant cousin Kal-El, and informed her that she, like her cousin, would have extraordinary powers under Earth’s yellow sun. Kara’s spacecraft was knocked off course by a shock wave from Krypton’s explosion and forced into the Phantom Zone, where it stayed for 24 years. During this period, time stopped for Kara, and when the spacecraft eventually escaped the Phantom Zone, she still appeared to be a 13-year-old girl. By the time the spacecraft crash landed on Earth, Kal-El had grown up and become Superman. After helping her out of the craft, Superman took Kara to be adopted by his friends, the Danvers family. The series begins eleven years later, when the now 24-year-old Kara is learning to embrace her powers after previously hiding them.

When: Season 3 aired from October 9, 2017, to June 18, 2018, on the CW.

Where: The action is primarily set in the fictional National City, presumably a West Coast location in the DC Comics Universe.

Why: To find out why individual podcast panelists started watching this show, listen to the podcast episode covering Season 1 via the link below!  It should be noted that CPU! Chief Couch Potato Kylie previously picked up this show during the 2015 Fall Preview, noting:

Pro: Melissa Benoist doesn’t offend me.  As the erstwhile Marley on Glee, she’s actually the only [new] New Direction-er that didn’t annoy the pants off me.  Pro: Dr. Lexie Gray (Chyler Leigh) plays Kara Zor-El’s adopted sister, and her departure was one of a series of missteps that paved my shark-jumping abandonment of Grey’s Anatomy. I missed her.  I do believe the “adopted sister” motif deviates from the canon slightly, but then again, Supergirl does not enjoy the consistency of the threads underlying the Man of Steel’s long history.  Pro: James “Jimmy” Olsen (Mehcad Brooks) is black.  Hey, that doesn’t often happen.  Pro: this is not Smallville’s version of the same character.  I despised their take on Supergirl and the actress who played her.  Con: this seems very teen drama relatively speaking; despite Kara being 24, according to the synopsis, Marley grows into her cape in her own version of Smallville? Could get very old very quickly and be a bit too derivative of the Superman tellings.  Con: Ally McBeal herself (Calista Flockhart), post-face-lift and scary contacts, plays the editor.  Con: who could they possibly stunt cast as cousin Kal-El, i.e. Supes the Man himself? Because they should stunt cast him, even though they’ve already said they won’t.  I think they must (is that who Dean Cain is playing…someone freaking page Tom Welling already!?  Or, Henry Cavill if one must).  The pros outweigh the cons as far as adding it to my already miles long list, plus it’s a DC property, so I’m along for the ride.  I just hope that the earnestness that Melissa Benoist brings to her roles renders her a convincing “Kara Zor-El.”

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

This is the fifteenth episode in CPU!’s DCTU series.  Here are only the prior Supergirl episodes in the series; as we flush out seasons of all Arrowverse shows, older episodes will be searchable via the website – click the upper right dialog box in the header, the picture of the couch full of TV watchers. Listen to each episode here:

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

DCTU Series, Episode 8, “Supergirl,” Season Two
DCTU Series, Episode 11, the DCTU Mid-Season Roundup, 2017
In our last DCTU episode, our cheeky and feisty DCTU panel – namely Kyle, Hilary, Spencer, Kristen, and Nick – continued addressing the most recent full seasons of each of the four “Arrowverse” series in order of the airing of each season finale by discussing the fourth season of The Flash. Tonight’s episode finds the panel returning to the Water Cooler for the final time this go-round to talk the third season of Supergirl, in the fifteenth episode of our DCTU series.  The discussion herein heavily dissects the season-long focus on villain Reign (Odette Annable), on the overwhelming and largely tedious meditation on romance (in this more than any other Arrowverse show), and on how the National City section of the Arrowverse is faring as a whole.  In fact, the panelists note that, as much as DC’s Legends of Tomorrow improved this season, Supergirl, in terms of production and writing quality and overall entertainment value, traveled in quite the opposite direction, so much so that the panel spent a large amount of this discussion arguing over which property could be considered worse right now, in our would-be expert opinions: this spin-off version of the “Superman” universe or Arrow, which has not consistently been a draw for our DCTU panel for several seasons now.  The discussion, therefore, is certainly spicy, as always, and may even be borderline harsh; however, the panelists, especially those devoted to the “Superman” and “Supergirl” side of DC, find this deterioration in quality and in story direction to more than a little disappointing.  Moderator and Chief CP Kylie, i.e. me, described this plummet in presentation as “soul crushing.”  Hey, I really love the Superman/Supergirl legacy and mythos and am on the struggle bus when it comes to the current direction of Supergirl, the show’s behind-the-scenes difficulties this season notwithstanding.

This particular episode was recorded in October 2018, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as the panelists cover key plot points of Season 3 of Supergirl. Listen at your own risk, and let us know what you think by commenting below!

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

Remember, new episodes and blog posts are published weekly! Our next podcast episode will return to the Marvel Cinematic Universe as our Marvel’s Defenders Series panel (the same, superhero/comic book minded members of the DCTU panel) returns to the Water Cooler to discuss Marvel’s Iron Fist, Season 2.  Please note that we recorded our review and discussion of Iron Fist’s second season before the cancellation announcement that Netflix made last week; as such, our Marvel’s Defenders Series panel will return in the near future to engage in not only a review of Daredevil, Season 3, but also a post-mortem discussion on the fate of Danny Rand and his predominantly immortal company.  Stay tuned!

Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations

Old Questions

1) Will the show explore more of Winn Schott’s (Jeremy Jordan) relationship with his father, notable Superman villain Toyman, in the future?

ANSWER: The answer to this question entirely depends upon the meaning of “explore.”  You see, gentle listener, apparently the Toyman reaches his untimely end and passes away, gently, gleefully, and relatively peacefully in Season 3. Winn, James aka “Jimmy” Olsen (Mehcad Brooks), and Kara attend his dad’s funeral, where one of his devotees allows the erstwhile Toyman’s toys to run amok and threaten, particularly, Supergirl in the process.  When Winn arrives at his father’s funeral, however, he is reconnected with his estranged mother, played by Laurie Metcalf, who tells Winn that his father threatened her life and her son’s if she continued to try to see her child after she also attempted to extricate herself from her abusive marriage to her ex-husband, Winn’s father, and the super-criminal known as Toyman.  Winn does not believe his mom at first, after hearing from his father throughout his childhood that his mom abandoned him, but this renewed connection does allow Winn to understand more about his mother and less about the motives of his father, a complex man with an unexplained love for toys.
Jeremy Jordan, however, has dropped to “recurring” status for Season 4 of Supergirl, as Winn’s portraying actor decided to return to his roots on Broadway.  So, the chances of further exploring the Toyman’s son’s family history seem pretty bleak right about now.  Plus, the panel questions whether the Toyman’s death is fact or fiction and, frankly, permanent; after all, he’s a relatively important “Superman” villain.
2) Will the Guardian story line continue?  The panel universally dislikes it but sees the glaringly apparent issue surrounding the character of James Olsen, namely that on this show and without Guardian, he has nothing left to make his character worthwhile.  Will Winn get into costumed crime-fighting as James’ sidekick?
ANSWER: The Guardian story line continues this season, evincing universal winces and groans from all six of our DCTU panelists, who find the James aka “Jimmy” Olsen character painfully superfluous.  The panel’s reactions range from feeling strongly that this depiction of Jimmy is not true to the comic stories (because James is not a tall drink of water like Mr. Brooks in those stories) to the fact that the writers and producers are trying too hard to make Jimmy/James fit into the overall narrative of Supergirl, which is somewhat scattered on its own as it is.  What we can confidently confirm, however, is that Winn avoids costumes while serving as Guardian’s sidekick, preferring his level of superhero assistance to remain Batcave-like and confined to the comfort of a surveillance van on loan from the DEO.  Not everyone is ready to barrel head-first into the fight, after all.
Only Jimmy.
3) Is Jeremiah Danvers (Dean Cain), Alex’s (Chyler Leigh) father and Kara’s adoptive father, in league with Lillian Luthor (Brenda Strong) and Cadmus or not?  The panel is confused by his story development.  He also has cybernetic enhancements.  Is he being groomed to be the real or actual or next Cyborg Superman?  Is Hank Henshaw (David Harewood) truly Cyborg Superman, even though he doesn’t appear to be channeling Superman at all?
ANSWER: Unknown.  Though Lillian makes a triumphant return in Season 3, in a failed attempt to seemingly make amends with her adoptive daughter Lena (Katie McGrath), Jeremiah Danvers does not return.  Thus, we do not know where he stands regarding his cybernetic enhancements or his relationship to Cyborg Superman/Hank Henshaw.
4) Will Lena Luthor be driven to evil impulses, either by her genetic link to Lionel or by her grooming from scorning adoptive mother Lillian (since, spoiler, Lena’s biological mother was a mistress of her father Lionel’s), as her brother Lex was?
ANSWER: Though Lena still walks on the good side of the moral coin, she clearly displays the genetic ambition and need to control the powerful items and people around her, almost to the same ego-maniacal level of her brother.  She is quick to learn how to fashion Kryptonite and to subdue “World Killers” raised from ashes by Kryptonian witches.  She seems capable of quite a lot…but she is not evil.  Yet.
5) Will Supergirl ever visit her cousin Superman (Tyler Hoechlin) in Metropolis and help him out?  Will Superman appear next season?  The panel enthusiastically votes yes – and sooner rather than later – to this eventuality.
ANSWER: Clark Kent aka Superman does not appear in Season 3.  He will appear in Season 4, however, especially in the Arrowverse crossover event entitled “Elseworlds.”  Stay tuned.
6) Will Mon-El (Chris Wood) return from his wormhole trip?  Will he be able to return to Supergirl’s Earth, despite the trace amounts of lead that Supergirl allowed to be released into the atmosphere?  Or, will he land on a different Earth in the multiverse, as Kristen predicts?  Or, will he find the Green Lantern Council and be made a Green Lantern, as Kyle noted is a possible, comics-inspired pathway for him?
ANSWER: Mon-El returns and sets up the dopiest love triangle this side of Bermuda.  You see, when Mon-El emerges from the wormhole, he finds himself several centuries into the future, where he ends up co-forming a ragtag team of super-powered beings known as the Legion of Superheroes, or, simply, the Legion.  He also gets married to Imra Ardeen aka Saturn Girl when he does not believe he will ever see Kara again and out of an alliance-forming arrangement with her Saturnian family.  By the time he returns, the elevated lead that eliminated the Daxamites is gone, so he is able to survive.  Yet, the Legion decides to return to the past to stop what is known as Blight, an advanced form of a being called Pestilence, a World Killer sent from Krypton to destroy Earth by uniting with Reign, a female character not dissimilar to Doomsday in the “Superman” stories.  Mon-El, though, stays very much in this universe, around this version of Earth, and comes nowhere close to becoming a Green Lantern, which would have been far cooler than the story we were served up this season with respect to his character.  Listen to the podcast episode for the panel’s spicy reaction (despite panelist Kristen fanning herself) to the return of Mon-El.
7) Who is Reign?  If Reign becomes Supergirl’s foe in Season 3, will we also see her transform into – or be accompanied by – an appearance of Doomsday, since they are similar characters?  Was the epilogue shown at the end of Season 2 similarly timed to when Krypton collided with its sun, or was Reign sent to Earth thousands of years earlier, as Kyle noted also occurred in the comics?
ANSWER: Reign is created by a trio of witches on Krypton who believe that she will take over Earth and make it suitable for Kryptonians to resettle.  Part of this edict also involves stopping Supergirl, since these witches fully knew that both Kal-El aka Superman and Kara Zor-El aka Supergirl were also headed toward Earth when Krypton collided with its red sun.  Reign is not accompanied by Doomsday in Season 3 (that would have made the story far too complicated, really).  The epilogue of Season 2 shows the birth of Reign, but the story as depicted on the show seems to suggest that Reign was fashioned by the witches, who survive Krypton’s demise, shortly before the destruction of Krypton, at or around the same time Kal-El and Kara are sent to Earth, and that Reign is sent to Earth shortly thereafter.  There is, at least, no suggestion that can be gleaned from Season 3 supporting the idea that the witches and/or Reign herself are thousands of years old.  Plus, Reign is subjugated as a latent identity or being within what appears to be a human woman named Samantha Arias, who begins to lose time and memory as the Reign persona emerges through the actions and alleged magic of the witches.  Listen to the podcast episode for further details.
8) Is Cat Grant back for any length of time?  For how long exactly – and why?
ANSWER: Cat Grant (Calista Flockhart) does not appear in Season 3.  We are kind of okay with that.
9) Is the show trying to lead the audience toward seeing J’onn J’onzz aka Martian Manhunter (David Harewood) and M’gann M’orzz aka Miss Martian (Sharon Leal) as a possible romantic coupling?  Will Miss Martian be back?
ANSWER: The panel continues to struggle with this question, particularly as M’gann entices J’onn to return to Mars, where he not only discovers a rebellion of White Martians aiming to overthrow the other White Martians, but that his father is still alive and being held captive by the mean White Martians; M’yrnn J’onzz is played by Carl Lumbly, best known for his role on Alias. So, Miss Martian returns, but her relationship to J’onn is still somewhat nebulous as far as their mutual level of affection.  As for the existence of a large population of White Martians on Mars, this gets some of our panelists, who are particularly passionate about the Martian Manhunter character, pretty hot.  Listen to the podcast episode for their reactions.
10) Are Winn and Lyra (Tamzin Merchant) still together?  Do they have to be?
ANSWER: Lyra does not return in Season 3.  I guess that relationship was short-lived.  Mercifully.
11) Will we see any other Superman rogues of note, including Brainiac, Zod (as not a silver Kryptonite-induced hallucination), Lex Luthor, Doomsday, etc.?
ANSWER: We see Brainiac-5, an offshoot of the Brainiac hive but a good guy, playing as a member of the Legion.  Other than that, the main villain on the season is Reign, with secondary appearances by Livewire and the introduction of a Supergirl-exclusive villain, Psy.
12) Will Superman have to help Supergirl fight off Reign?
ANSWER: Superman does not return to Supergirl on-screen in Season 3; however, when Reign makes her play for world destruction near the end of the season, there is mention that Superman is off trying to stop some of the after-effects of Reign’s actions in Madagascar.  So, he is helping his cousin.  We just don’t get to see it, this time.
13) Why is the show changing the Martian Manhunter story so much?  Are the extra Martians real?  Where is the story involving Manhunter’s father going?
ANSWER: The extra Martians are real, and panelist Kyle will not stand for it!  The Manhunter’s dad, M’yrnn, was captured by the White Martians because he holds the secrets and history of their people; however, when J’onn brings his father to Earth with him, the viewer learns that M’yrnn is dying of natural causes anyway, which induces him to lose his memory and faculties, in a very Alzheimer’s-like way.  M’yrnn, then, must psychically bond with J’onn to preserve the Martian knowledge of their family history and the religion that M’yrnn serves, but M’yrnn is not able to complete the psychic transfer.  He, instead, offers to help Superman in Madagascar in sacrifice to save the Earth.  RIP, M’yrnn.  We hardly knew ye.
14) What will Reign do to National City and to Earth 38 now that she is “awake?”
ANSWER: She causes a bunch of mayhem, mess, and destruction, as her genetic mission is to destroy the world and to remake it in Krypton’s image.  Supergirl, with help from her friends and family, however, saves the day, and Reign is no more.  If you want to learn how, watch the season!
New Questions
1) Are they truly gearing to launch a new “Superman” television show with the potential and foretold return of Superman, as played by Tyler Hoechlin, and the casting of Lois Lane with Grimm alumna Elizabeth Tulloch, as the panel and the press have speculated and/or reported?
2) Is the Kara double that appears at the end of the season a “Bizarro” version of Supergirl?  Or, is the show appropriating the “Red Sun” Elseworlds story originally attributed to Superman?
3) What is J’onn J’onzz going to do now that he has stepped down from and has presumably left the DEO?  Will the Martian Manhunter still feature on Supergirl at all?  Is Mr. Harewood requesting a recurring status like his cast-mate, Jeremy Jordan?
4) Since James Olsen reveals to National City that he is Guardian, and since Winn has left the DEO to go to the future with Mon-El, will James still be Guardian?  The panel rejects this potential future.
5) Where is the relationship between James/Jimmy and Lena going?  Will Lena become evil like her brother, Lex?  Will we get to see Lex this coming season, in any form?
6) How is it that Lena learned to make Kryptonite and so fast?  Will she make other colors of Kryptonite, since she reproduced the Black Kryptonite from Argo City in addition to the garden variety irradiated Green Kryptonite? What is she planning to do with the Black Kryptonite she makes at the end of Season 3?
7) Will Kara communicate with and/or visit her apparently alive mother Alura (Erica Durance) further?  How?
8) Since Brainy (aka Brainiac-5) decides to stay in the past and to help Supergirl and her friends, and since he alludes to “the evil one” of his AI “relatives,” will we see Brainiac Prime in Season 4?  Is the Kara double a Brainiac creation? Is the Kara double Brainiac him/itself?
9) Presuming that Livewire does not truly die but transforms into the all-electricity version of herself in Season 3, will we see her in this true form in Season 4?
PARTING SHOTS
Friends: Supergirl Season 3 really lost the DCTU panel this go-round.  While some panelists continue to believe that Arrow remains the worst of the Arrowverse four on the CW, some of the other panelists, your main moderator and Chief CP included, regard Supergirl as having taken a spectacular tumble in quality and in overall entertainment value, to the detriment of the entire series and more-so than the series from which it spun off.  Though all panelists remain appreciative of Benoist’s portrayal of the “Girl of Steel,” owing to her winning charisma and “adorkable” pastiche, the panel is struggling far more with the need for the James/Jimmy Olsen character and with many of the arcs of the supporting characters, including Alex’s (Chyler Leigh) maudlin struggle to come to terms with her identity as a gay woman and with what she wants as a working female in today’s society; the neutering of the Martian Manhunter character and the general confusion around how any Martian still survives apart from him; and now, with the departure of Jordan from series regular status, the impending lack of Winn, who many of the panel deem to be the “Cisco of Supergirl.” 
Plus, the panel quickly reached consensus around the success of Reign as a villain, in that every panelist thought she was a failure.  Not only was her portraying actor, Annable, seemingly unequal to the task of creating a formidable presence as a Doomsday-like being capable of destroying an entire planet, but the story around her was poorly written and poorly directed, rendering the entirety of Season 3 into what felt like one bad exercise in high school theater.  Furthermore, the focus on romantic relationships on Supergirl, particularly, has only served to bog down and to stymie the show’s creative potential; unlike the other Arrowverse shows, romance is a main, rather than a supporting, theme of this program, which becomes tedious and repetitive, at least in the opinions of all of our DCTU panelists. The panel now only tepidly recommends Supergirl to fans of comic books, particularly from the DC universe, and of the character of Supergirl/Kara Zor-El (or even Superman/Kal-El/Clark Kent); to fans of the other Arrowverse shows; to fans of comic books who can also tolerate romantic comedy formulas, as the series continues to be somewhat derivative of rom-com tropes (those fans might be the happiest of any potential viewers, truly); and to young girls and female fans who champion “girl power” and who might find a solid idol in Kara Danvers/Zor-El aka Supergirl.  The panel cautions, however, that Season 3 is a veritable let-down, in all senses of that turn of phrase, and should not be used as a measurement bar by which to score the success of the entire series.
Because of the panel’s struggle with Season 3, the panel is apprehensive about the future of Supergirl.  Will the already over-extended producers and writers of the Arrowverse and particularly of this show see the missteps and recover, or will Supergirl steadily decline in quality and in story logic as Arrow has consistently done since its own third season?  Ultimately, so our panel opines, here’s hoping Season 4 improves dramatically, or Supergirl will find its “on the bubble” status more than burst when it comes time for the CW to continue this franchise of four at the end of the current TV season.
LOOKING AHEAD
The fourth season of Supergirl premiered on Sunday, October 14, 2018, at 8:00 PM on the CW!  The DCTU podcast panel will next chat Supergirl and all of the other Arrowverse entries during our mid-season roundup of the Arrowverse, which will occur in or around January 2019, in Episode 16 of our ongoing series.  Until then!

NEXT CPU! LIVE!

CPU! is going live again!!!  CPU! will next be LIVE at Grand Rapids Comic-Con. for our third annual appearance at the Con, on November 10, 2018, at 7:00 PM!  In that live podcast (also streamed to our Facebook page), a brand new panel will gather together to debate the multifaceted, multi-generational universe behind Star Trek. This panel will also seed a new ongoing series panel for the podcast!  Like our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter and Instagram to keep abreast of all the details, but here’s the art for it for now!  Stay tuned!

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PODCAST! – Around the Water Cooler: DC Television Universe Series, Episode 14, “The Flash” – Season Four, the DCTU Panel’s Review and Recap (MAJOR SPOILERS)

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Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who:  “The Flash” is a superhero/action/mystery drama centered on events and characters inspired by The Flash franchise of the DC Comic Universe, which currently airs on the CW, fall to spring Tuesdays at 8:00 PM.

What: “The Flash,” a series developed by Greg Berlanti, Andrew Kreisberg, and Geoff Johns, based on the DC Comics character Barry Allen / The Flash, a costumed superhero crime-fighter with the power to move at superhuman speeds. This series is considered a spin-off from Arrow. The series follows Allen (Grant Gustin), a crime scene investigator who gains super-human speed, which he uses to fight criminals, including others who have also gained superhuman abilities.

SYNOPSIS

After witnessing his mother’s supernatural murder and his father’s wrongful conviction for the crime, Barry Allen (Gustin) is taken in by Detective Joe West (Jesse L. Martin) and his family. Allen becomes a brilliant but socially awkward crime scene investigator for the Central City Police Department. His obsession with his tragic past causes him to become an outcast among his peers; he investigates cold cases, paranormal occurrences, and cutting-edge scientific advancements that may shed light on his mother’s murder. No one believes his description of the crime—that a ball of lightning with the face of a man invaded their home that night—and Allen is fiercely driven to vindicate himself and to clear his father’s name. Fourteen years after his mother’s death, an advanced particle accelerator malfunctions during its public unveiling, bathing the city center with a previously unknown form of radiation during a severe thunderstorm. Allen is struck by lightning from the storm and doused with chemicals in his lab. Awakening after a nine-month coma, he discovers he has the ability to move at superhuman speeds. Dr. Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanaugh), the disgraced designer of the failed particle accelerator, describes Barry’s special nature as “meta-human.” Allen soon discovers that he is not the only one who was changed by the radiation. Allen vows to use his gifts to protect Central City from the escalating violence of meta-human and other criminals. He is aided by a few close friends and associates who guard his secrets.

When: Season 4 aired on the CW from October 10, 2017, to May 22, 2018.

Where: The action is set in fictional Central City, one of the primary settings of The Flash franchise.  The action does branch out in the occasional crossover with Arrow to Star City (formerly Starling City) and, occasionally, to other dimensions in a “multi-verse.”

Why: To find out why individual podcast panelists started watching this show, listen to the first Flash podcast episode via the embedded link below!  It should be noted that CPU! Chief Couch Potato Kylie previously picked up this show during the 2014 Fall Preview, noting:

The DC comics universe is attempting some major expansions now that Marvel is push and shove proliferating on big and small screens everywhere.  The Flash is a classic hero; he was given an appearance on Smallville, and there is some crossover with Arrow, which I’ve decided to catch up on, since the CW is offering DC Comics a chance to implement those crossovers. Also, I like the choice for the title role.  The Flash is a non-flashy guy, almost DC’s equivalent of Spider Man, given an extraordinary ability, as opposed to several.  It could be an engaging new take on an old superhero story.

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

This is the fourteenth episode in CPU!’s DCTU series.  Here are only the prior The Flash episodes in the series; as we flush out seasons of all Arrowverse shows, older episodes will be searchable via the website – click the upper right dialog box in the header, the picture of the couch full of TV watchers. Listen to each episode here:

DCTU Series, Episode 3, “The Flash,” Seasons 1-2

DCTU Series, Episode 9, “The Flash, “Season 3
DCTU Series, Episode 11, the DCTU Mid-Season Roundup, 2017
In our last DCTU episode, our cheeky and feisty DCTU panel – namely Kyle, Hilary, Spencer, Kristen, and Nick – continued addressing the most recent full seasons of each of the four “Arrowverse” series in order of the airing of each season finale by discussing the sixth season of Arrow.  Tonight’s episode finds the panel returning to the Water Cooler to talk the fourth season of The Flash in the fourteenth episode of our DCTU series.  The discussion herein considers the success of Golden Age villain “The Thinker” (Neil Sandilands), the introduction of Ralph Dibney aka Elongated Man, the continued dual nature of Caitlin Snow/Killer Frost (Danielle Panabaker), and how the Central City section of the Arrowverse is faring as a whole.  In fact, the panelists’ typically unanimous and stalwart support of The Flash as the best of the CW’s DC Universe offerings began to wane a little this time, with some of the panelists expressing dissatisfaction with repetitive story-telling and questionable character decisions, while other panelists still see The Flash as the most consistent and, therefore, most enjoyable property of the four Arrowverse shows.

This particular episode was recorded in October 2018, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as the panelists cover key plot points of Season 4 of The Flash. 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 DCTU panel returns a final time (for now) to the proverbial Water Cooler to discuss Season 3 of Supergirl, as our Arrowverse revisits continue.  Stay tuned!

Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations

Old Questions

1) How; when, particularly within our timeline; and where on Earth Prime will Barry return from his journey into the Speed Force following the events of Season 3?

ANSWER: Barry returns to Central City six months after entering into the Speed Force, roughly equal to our timeline but, perhaps, a bit ahead of the game, considering the pop culture references that Cisco (Carlos Valdes) frequently makes. Barry emerges from the Speed Force with help from Team Flash, against Iris’ (Candice Patton) orders as Team Captain, as she tries to hold to Barry’s instructions not to rescue him prior to his entry into the Speed Force. The Team decides to extract Barry from the Speed Force when Cisco and Wally aka Kid Flash (Keiynan Lonsdale) realize that they are struggling to keep the evil meta-humans in Central City at bay without The Flash. So, with the help of an item that Cisco calls a “Quark Sphere,” the Team liberates Barry; though they are on the Central City outskirts to execute this metaphysical disruption, Barry emerges mid-downtown.  Barry is not cognizant of his surroundings for quite some time; only when Iris is in danger does he regain his faculties and sense of the normal passage of time.  What’s more, the opening of the Speed Force causes a release of dark matter to affect a bus of ordinary citizens just trying to live their ordinary lives – until they are made extraordinary by this exposure. Listen to the podcast episode for details.

2) How much time will have passed while Barry is gone, and what will have happened to the other characters left in Central City, particularly Iris, Wally West aka Kid Flash, Joe, and Cisco Ramon aka Vibe?

ANSWER: Six months pass while Barry is in the Speed Force.  Iris has been elevated to captain/commander of Team Flash while trying to soldier on without Barry.  Kid Flash and Vibe try to lead the superhero brigade in Central City with occasional help from a less enthusiastic Killer Frost, who emerges every so often when an emotional reaction is triggered for Caitlin.  Joe, in the meantime, marries Cecile and prepares to have a child, as Cecile is quite pregnant at the start of this season.

3) Is Caitlin Snow, in fact, fully transitioned to Killer Frost?  Does this mean she will be Barry’s enemy permanently?  What is she involved in while Barry is away?

ANSWER: No, Caitlin is not permanently Killer Frost – or vice versa.  Caitlin and Killer Frost are two separate, disassociated personalities within the body of one woman.  Neither personality has a hold over when she emerges or disappears into that woman’s body.  In any visage, though, both Caitlin and Killer Frost act as friend/ally or reluctant ally (respectively) to Barry and to Team Flash.  We learn later in the season, however, that Caitlin seeks help in suppressing Killer Frost, and/or Killer Frost seeks help in not being suppressed, with the help of a meta-human called Amunet aka the Blacksmith, played by Katee Sackhoff.  Let’s just say that “Cait” walks on her wilder side and lives to regret some of her decision-making – and by her, I mean both Caitlin and Killer Frost.

4) Will we see another dimensional doppelganger of Harrison Wells?  Or, will Earth 2’s Harry return for a long-term visit, since his daughter, otherwise known as Jessie Quick, is currently on Earth 3 in Jay Garrick’s stead?

ANSWER: Harry Wells, the Earth 2 version of Harrison Wells, stays for the length of Season 4; however, he returns to Earth 2 at the end of the season for reasons discussed below.

5) Is Julian gone for good?  Will we ever see Doctor Alchemy again?

ANSWER: We have not seen either Julian or Doctor Alchemy again (yet).  We have not even seen Draco Malfoy!  We would be happy to see any version of him, as long as the face is still Tom Felton’s.

6) It has been announced that Wentworth Miller, who plays Leonard Snart aka Captain Cold in the Arrowverse, is filming his last episodes for the CW DC universe.  Will he appear on The Flash, and how will his final appearance take shape?

ANSWER: Yes, Wentworth Miller appears on The Flash one final time as Leo Snart, the Earth X version of Mr. Snart, to whom we are first introduced in the Crisis on Earth X crossover event that aired in December 2017.  Leo is a happier, gay version of Leonard – he is marrying The Ray, after all – and finds time to counsel Barry through a period of grief, when Barry believes that Ralph Dibney is the latest fatality of the Thinker’s serial murders of the bus meta-humans.  Listen to the podcast episode for details.

7) Who will be the season-arching villain for Season 4?  Which of Flash’s rogues will appear and/or return in the fourth season?  Will they appear together, as panelist Kyle would like to see?

ANSWER: The season-arching villain of Season 4 is Golden Age “Flash” baddie Clifford DeVoe aka The Thinker, who is determined to be the smartest man on Earth Prime.  The Thinker, however, does not work well with others, so we do not see him join forces with any other big “Flash” villains.  Gorilla Grodd, however, returns for a visit in Season 4, and the panel is always happy (and impressed) when they see him.

8) Will Barry and Iris finally get married?

ANSWER: Yes.  In the mid-season crossover, Crisis on Earth X, Barry and Iris finally chuck it all and tie the knot – and then get upstaged by Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) and Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards) in what the panel has deemed to be the biggest “dick” move of Ollie’s career, which we have discussed in prior DCTU episodes.

9) Will Barry Allen/The Flash emerge from his framing for murder by The Thinker unscathed?  The panel believes that he will end up in the ARGUS/Iron Heights facility for some time as the Thinker originally seemed to intend, but what is The Thinker trying to do?

ANSWER: Ultimately, yes, Barry succeeds in un-framing himself but not without a tidy prison sentence thanks to the Thinker in the meantime.  Barry is saved at his appeal by a shape-shifting Elongated Man, who morphs into the initial version of Clifford DeVoe in order to show the presiding judge that the murder/DeVoe’s death are fake.  Barry spends about three episodes in Iron Heights before achieving absolution.  As for what the Thinker is trying to do, it appears that each step in his nefarious master scheme, including ejecting Barry from the Speed Force, creating a bus full of meta-humans, framing Barry for his not-murder, and subsequent events, was designed to position Barry to be a host for Clifford’s consciousness while simultaneously rendering the world catatonic with some brain-busting satellites under control of STAR Labs as part of what DeVoe labels an Enlightenment Machine.  The panel is not certain that the show executed the best possible storytelling while making use of the Thinker as a villain, but Barry’s framing occurs due to DeVoe’s master manipulation, or so he asserts during the season.  Does it all make sense?  The panel spends considerable time discussing the conceivable answers to this question in the podcast episode.

10) Why does Amunet (Katee Sackhoff) matter at all?  The panel finds her somewhat lame, and panelist Spencer takes special issue with her accent.

ANSWER: Well, as far as we can guess, Amunet really only matters because she is able to fashion a “bomb” out of some metal she has to carry around in a bucket in order to use her special ability.  Panelist Kyle calls her “Discount Magneto.”  Panelist Spencer remains offended by her accent.  The rest of the panel continues to cry “lame” at the very thought of her.  Sorry, Katee.

11) Will Harry Wells have to square off against The Thinker in his new, BrainStorm meta-body?

ANSWER: Unfortunately, Harry never gets the chance to go up against the Thinker meaningfully by himself and, certainly, not while the Thinker is occupying BrainStorm’s body.  Harry sets out on a quest to become as smart and as quick-thinking as the Thinker by inventing a “thinking cap,” which does not look dissimilar to the contraption that Doctor Emmett Brown fashions in 1955 in Back to the Future. Harry, as he expands the programming of the device, becomes addicted to it, so much so that he asks Gideon, in the white room, to enhance the cap so that he might be able to stop the Thinker.  Despite Gideon’s protests and warnings, Harry forces the artificial intelligence to go forward with the enhancement process; however, it backfires as she originally estimated and fries Harry’s synapses.  He spends the remainder of the season trying to rewire his brain back to some semblance of intelligence, so that he does not lose thoughts, memories, and sense of self, though even he recognizes that he will never be the stellar mind he once was upon regaining some normalcy of cognition.  It is for this reason that he returns to Earth 2 and to his daughter Jessie.  

New Questions

1) Will Gorilla Grodd return?

2) With the appearance of Nora, Barry and Iris’ daughter from the future, how much time will she spend on the show, and which comic story are they trying to channel?  Is it Flashpoint Redux or something else?

3) Will Ralph become a permanent member of Team Flash?

4) Will the Trickster, as played by Mark Hamill, ever return?

5) Will we see other Barry/Iris future generations, such as Nora’s son Bart Allen, who becomes another incarnation/version of Flash in the comics?

6) Will the show return to more of a classic format: strong villain, an advisory version of Harrison Wells, and Barry being the primary speedster? The panel votes yes; some panelists hope profoundly that the Nora character will not be overused or become too omnipresent in Season 5, though those panelists might be facing profound disappointment as a result.

7) What is the writing that Barry uses when he emerges from the Speed Force, and that Nora is using near the end of the season?  Does it mean something?  Is it important? Is it Kryptonian? Is it something else?

8) Was Cecile’s meta-ability of being able to read minds exclusive to just her pregnancy, as Caitlin initially theorizes, or is Cecile some lingering type of meta herself?  Alternatively, will her baby daughter one day be a meta?

9) Who is the new female speedster that Jay Garrick said he was training as he transitions into retirement from being Earth 3’s Flash?

10) The show is seeding the idea that Caitlin might have always had Killer Frost in her, and that her disassociated personality might not have been caused by the particle accelerator explosion in Season 1.  What did cause that split in Caitlin’s past?  How is she able to manifest freezing powers because of it?

11) Will we learn more of what happened to Barry while he was in the Speed Force in Season 5?

12) What is Nora’s “big, big mistake?”  Helping her future dad in the past? Or something else?

13) Will we get to see Eobard Thawne aka Reverse Flash next season (with a plausible explanation as to how and why)?

14) Who will be the season-arching villain for Season 5?  Which of Flash’s rogues will appear and/or return in the fifth season?  Will they appear together, as panelist Kyle would like to see?

PARTING SHOTS

The CPU! DCTU panel continues to universally recommend The Flash to fans of comic books, particularly from the DC universe, and of the Flash franchise, though now some of the panel’s members are growing more restless with The Flash and what they consider to be two weaker seasons compared to the show’s strong two first seasons.  Still, most if not all of the panel continues to believe, generally, that even casual comic book/superhero fans will find something to love in what the panel primarily regards to be the Arrowverse’s most consistent if not best series.  The panel also continues to universally praise the ensemble cast as the series’ most solid feature and the general direction of the show, though, with the publication of this episode, there are some panelists who quibble with writing decisions, particularly around the third season’s main villain, Savitar, and the fourth season’s villain, the Thinker.  As several panelists note in tonight’s episode, however, even though this season might not be as mesmerizing as Seasons 1 and 2 (though the panel unanimously agrees that Season 4 surpasses Season 3 in quality, in lieu of the stumbling around the “Flashpoint” story line in the last season), the weakest seasons of The Flash still surpass the strongest seasons of many other series, including at least one of the other Arrowverse series.  The panel, though, remains overall appreciative of the faithful and loving adaptation of a hero who may not have received the same star treatment as his Justice League compatriots and co-founders, Batman and Superman, at least in modern memory.   Further, the panel will always laud Grant Gustin’s portrayal of Barry Allen readily and enthusiastically over the film version played by Ezra Miller, which the panelists spend some time discussing yet again, vis-a-vis network and corporate interference with regard to the Arrowverse.  As always, take a listen and see if you agree with the panel’s general thoughts on these controversial matters.

LOOKING AHEAD

The fifth season premiere of The Flash aired last night, on October 9, 2018, and while it is too early in the season to hear about renewal announcements, The Flash is expected to be a network mainstay for some years.  CPU!’s next DCTU episode will focus on the third season of Supergirl and will publish next week.  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 DCTU 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.  Thank you!🙂

NEXT CPU! LIVE!

CPU! is going live again!!!  CPU! will next be LIVE at Grand Rapids Comic-Con. for our third annual appearance at the Con, on November 10, 2018, at 7:00 PM!  In that live podcast (also streamed to our Facebook page), a brand new panel will gather together to debate the multifaceted, multi-generational universe behind Star Trek. This panel will also seed a new ongoing series panel for the podcast!  Like our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter and Instagram to keep abreast of all the details!  Stay tuned!

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PODCAST! – Streaming Originals & Around the Water Cooler: Marvel’s Defenders Series, Episode Nine, “Marvel’s Luke Cage” – the Season 2 Recap and Review (MAJOR SPOILERS)

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Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who: “Marvel’s Luke Cage” is a web television series based upon the Marvel Comics character Luke Cage and is a Netflix original series, always available on Netflix.

What: “Marvel’s Luke Cage,” created by Cheo Hodari Coker, is set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), sharing continuity with the films of the franchise, and is the third in a series of shows that led up to a Defenders crossover miniseries. Mike Colter stars as Luke Cage, a former convict with superhuman strength and unbreakable skin who now fights crime.

SYNOPSIS

When a sabotaged experiment gives him super strength and unbreakable skin, Luke Cage (Colter) becomes a fugitive attempting to rebuild his life in Harlem while confronting his past and fighting a battle for the heart of his city. After clearing his name, Cage becomes a hero and celebrity in Harlem, only to encounter a new threat that forces him to walk the line between hero and villain.

When: Season 2 was released in its entirety to the Netflix streaming library on June 22, 2018, with a total of 13 episodes.

Where: The action is set primarily in the New York City, New York, neighborhood of Harlem, as depicted in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Why:  To find out why individual podcast panelists started watching this show, listen to the podcast episode via the Season 1 link below – though I will say that all of the panelists are fans of the Netflix original library and/or superhero/comic book based shows in their own right and have found themselves eagerly anticipating new entries in Netflix’s “Defenders” series of releases.  As a result, they’re committed to a CPU! series about same!

How – as in How Was It? – THOUGHTS

As long-time listeners should know by now, CPU! is chock full of panelists with a proclivity for comic book and superhero TV shows and films, including your Chief CP. Our Marvel’s Defenders Series was born of this proclivity, as we have already covered the two available seasons of Daredevil; the two available seasons of Jessica Jones; the first season of Luke Cage; the first season of Iron Fist; the one available season of the crossover event miniseries, The Defenders; and the one available season of the first spin-off series, The Punisher.  Listen to the links below:

Marvel’s Defenders Series, Episode One, “Daredevil,” Season 1

Marvel’s Defenders Series, Episode Two, “Jessica Jones,” Season 1

Marvel’s Defenders Series, Episode Three, “Daredevil,” Season 2

Marvel’s Defenders Series, Episode Four, “Luke Cage,” Season 1
Marvel’s Defenders Series, Episode Five, “Iron Fist,” Season 1

Marvel’s Defenders Series, Episode Six, “The Defenders,” Season 1

Marvel’s Defenders Series, Episode Seven, “The Punisher,” Season 1

Marvel’s Defenders Series, Episode Eight, “Jessica Jones,” Season 2

In this, the ninth episode of our Marvel’s Defenders series, we revisit the third in Netflix’s series of Marvel-centered shows leading up to The Defenders miniseries, namely Luke Cagefeaturing Defenders Series panelists Nick, Kristen, Hilary, Kyle, and Spencer.  In this episode, our panelists universally laud what they consider to be a vast and dramatic improvement over Season 1.  Common reactions to this season focus on a much improved and dynamic villain in John “Bushmaster” McIver (Mustafa Shakir), better pacing, the thrilling crossover appearances of Iron Fist characters (possibly seeding a “Heroes for Hire” entry in this Netflix lineup), and a better sense of story direction overall compared to Season 1.  In fact, the panel finds that said quality and story presentation so improved between the two seasons, what with no word yet on whether or not the series has been renewed, we now find ourselves worrying for the future of the series, as now we all want a third season renewal.  Alternatively, we would all eagerly watch a first season of “Heroes for Hire” or even “Daughters of the Dragon,” featuring the characters of Misty Knight (Simone Missick) and Colleen Wing (Jessica Henwick), as the panel unanimously described their chemistry and character portrayals in Luke Cage Season 2 as “perfect,” noting a serviceable and praiseworthy writer-driven turnaround for Misty’s character this season.  To hear us hash out these opinions further, listen to our discussion via the embedded link below.

This podcast was recorded in September 2018, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as we cover major plot points throughout the second season of Luke Cage.  Do you agree or disagree?  Listen at your own risk, and let us know what you think by commenting below!

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

Remember, new episodes and blog posts are published weekly!  Next Wednesday, the comic book oriented brains of the Marvel’s Defenders Series switch from the world of Marvel to the world of DC, when our same five panelists, all of whom also staff our DCTU Series panel, return to the Water Cooler to talk Season 4 of The Flash, schedule permitting. Stay tuned!

Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations

1) Will Luke Cage be renewed as a solo series?  Or, is Netflix moving toward combining Luke and Danny Rand/Iron Fist, as the comics have, into a “Heroes for Hire” series and/or Misty and Colleen into a “Daughters of the Dragon” series, as panelist Kyle perceives and wholeheartedly wishes, with some vocal support from the panel.  All panelists indubitably enjoy and readily endorse the chemistry between Simone Missick and Jessica Henwick (Misty Knight and Colleen Wing, respectively) and between Mike Colter and Finn Jones (Luke Cage and Danny Rand/Iron Fist, respectively).

2) If Luke Cage is renewed as a solo series, will Luke be corrupted through ownership of the Harlem’s Paradise club?  Or, can he be a hero without being based in the club? Or, can he make the club a base for heroic activity rather than backroom money deals and other criminal activity? Why would the writers hint that this would even be a possibility, at all, for Luke, as he has spent two seasons recognizing and combating the corruption of the Stokes family?

3) Will Tilda (Gabrielle Dennis) seek revenge against Luke for being willed the club upon her mother, Mariah’s (Alfre Woodard), death?  Will she become the next in a long line of Stokes crime bosses?  Or, will she be content to run her holistic shop, now that she sent her mother, with a kiss of poisoned lipstick, into the great beyond?

4) Will Shades (Theo Rossi) return in a potential Season 3?  Or, will he remain in prison?  If he is in prison, will he be wooed into Wilson Fisk’s/Kingpin’s gang – will we possibly see him crossover and appear in Daredevil, Season 3?

5) Will Misty accept the offered promotion to precinct captain?

6) Will Bushmaster return from Jamaica to fight another day, even though Mariah met her end?  Does he still have an ax to grind?  Does he still see Luke as an adversary or enemy?

7) Panelist Kyle informed the panel in the podcast episode that Rosario Dawson is contemplating not returning to the Netflix Marvel shows, or at least not to Luke Cage, because her contract term is up, and she feels that Claire Temple/Night Nurse was relegated to nothing more than jealous/worried girlfriend in Luke Cage. Are the rumors true, or will Rosario find it in her heart to return, at least to any of the other three series?

PARTING SHOTS

In a dramatic turnaround from the Season 1 review, the panel now universally but cautiously recommends Luke Cage to fans of comic books, particularly from the Marvel universe; fans of the Defenders series; and fans of the artistic and cultural contribution of Harlem, as the panel agrees that this series remains, in many ways, a deft love letter to Harlem and its literal and symbolic position in this, our modern society.  The panel suggests, as part of the cautiousness informing the recommendation, that would-be, new viewers of Luke Cage treat the second season as something of the official first season, and/or use their own judgment when embarking upon viewing this series, as the panel recognizes that Luke Cage does have a vocally supportive fan base, even though our panelists would not have counted themselves as part of that base following the release of Season 1.  The panel generally and universally agrees that Luke Cage continues to be well-performed, and that the direction, writing, and continuity improved markedly in Season 2, even though the pacing languishes still at times, though without the drudgery that so alienated our Defenders defenders following the first season.  The panel, further, unanimously praised the performance of Shakir as Bushmaster and the writing around this villain; he created palpable tension around which characters could galvanize while still remaining a flawed but real human character with a compelling back story.  Because of the dramatic turnaround for our panel’s reception to the show, in terms of its presentation and production value, the panel now looks forward to a third season rather than resents the possibility of having to watch it for our podcast series.  On the other hand, all panelists, particularly super-fan Kyle, who still does not like the Luke Cage solo series much despite affirming the improvements that impressed the other panelists, effused enthusiasm for the prospect of a “Heroes for Hire” or “Daughters of the Dragon” spin-off vehicle, or two.  In any event, the panel is hopeful following the finish of this second season and eagerly awaits more Defenders entries.  Fortunately for us, Marvel’s Iron Fist was released in September, and the Defenders panel is already ready already for the next chapter.  Stay tuned!

LOOKING AHEAD

While no official announcement has yet been made, TV pundits believe that renewal for a possible Season 3 of Luke Cage is more than possible, though many suspect that Netflix is also heavily considering spin-off series for either “Heroes for Hire” and/or “Daughters of the Dragon,” which became popular series for the comic books after the “Luke Cage” and “Iron Fist” comic book series were canceled.  In addition, there is some rumblings that Netflix and Disney are re-negotiating the distribution of this series, given that Disney is looking to launch a Marvel-centered streaming service.  Rest assured that if/when a Season 3 is announced and/or has aired, CPU! will plan to reconvene our Marvel’s Defenders podcast panel, ready and willing to dissect any additional seasons of this action-packed Defenders entry. CPU! will also, as always, keep you posted on future developments. Stay tuned!

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

Image result for agents of shield season 5 title card

Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

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

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

SYNOPSIS

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seasons 1-3A

Season 3A

Season 3B 

Season 4A

Season 4B

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

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

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

This podcast was recorded in September 2018, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as the panelists cover key plot points of the fifth season. Listen at your own risk, and let us know what you think by commenting below!

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

Remember, new episodes and blog posts are published weekly! Our next podcast episode will stay in the MCU as, schedule permitting, our Marvel’s Defenders Series panel returns to the Water Cooler to discuss Marvel’s Luke Cage, Season TwoSweet Christmas!  Stay tuned!

Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations

Old Questions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ANSWER: As for lasting effects –

Coulson: no.

May: no.

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

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

Daisy: no.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Questions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PARTING SHOTS

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

LOOKING AHEAD

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

PODCAST! – Around the Water Cooler: “The X-Files,” the Season 11 Review and Recap (MAJOR SPOILERS)

x-files-title-card

Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who: “The X-Files,” a cult science fiction horror drama that aired on the Fox network from 1993-2002, in 2016, and in 2018.

What: “The X-Files” revolves around FBI agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) investigating so-called X-Files, i.e. marginalized, unsolved cases outside of the FBI mainstream involving paranormal and/or extraterrestrial phenomena, as well as the government conspiracy to hide the truth about those phenomena.

SYNOPSIS

Agent Mulder wholeheartedly believes in the existence of aliens and the paranormal, while Scully, a skeptic, is assigned to apply scientific analysis to Mulder’s discoveries for the purpose of debunking his work and steering him back toward the FBI mainstream. Episodes consist of so-called mythology story arcs, devoted to the larger, nefarious conspiracy to cover up the existence of extraterrestrials (and their apparently hostile aims), as well as “monster of the week” episodes, i.e. standalone episodes exploring subjects of horror, science fiction, humanism, and, at times, humor.

When: Season Eleven aired from January 3 to March 21, 2018, on Fox with a total of ten episodes.

Where: The show is set primarily at FBI Headquarters (particularly in the basement) in Washington, DC, but the agents investigate X-Files all over the country and sometimes overseas and/or across international borders.

Why: Because the members of this panel, hardcore, love the The X-Files! If you don’t believe me, listen to our five-part X-Files podcast and retrospective series, the first of our “Look Back to Look Forward” series (embedded below).

How – as in How Was It?! (THOUGHTS)

When Fox decided to revive The X-Files, unofficially kicking off the wave of revival and reboot television currently dominating the airwaves and officially bringing back our two favorite agents, Mulder and Scully, and some of their allies and enemies for new episodes, the members of our CPU! panel – Nick, Sarah, Kyle, and Hilary – along with your frequently involved moderator and Chief CP, quivered with anticipation. So much so, we launched our X-Files series panel to deliver a comprehensive Retrospective covering the original series in-depth in four “Looking Back” episodes (below) as well as a fifth episode discussing the six episodes of Season 10, equally as in-depth.  The first three episodes of our four-part “Looking Back” series reviewed the nine seasons of the original show.  In the fourth podcast episode of CPU!’s X-Files series, our panel took our X-Files geekdom to a whole new echelon of super-fandom, as we closely examined the expanded universe (the films, graphic novels, and games) and provided our definitive top ten lists of our favorite and least favorite episodes of all time, including our favorite myth-arc and monster of the week episodes separately, in addition to what we considered to be the scariest, grossest, and funniest episodes of the series. Have you listened to them yet?

Looking Back at Seasons 1-3

Looking Back at Seasons 4-6

Looking Back at Seasons 7-9

The X-Phile Superfan Geek Edition

Season 10

In this new and final (for now) podcast episode of CPU!’s ongoing X-Files panel, our panelists discuss Season Eleven Around the Water Cooler, parsing through each of the latest ten episodes, ranking them from best to worst, and dissecting how they fit in the grand X-Files scheme, as compared to the original series and to Season 10.  We also consider the likelihood of the revival continuing, as star Gillian Anderson told the press earlier this year that she was done playing Agent Scully for now (though she enigmatically remains on the convention circuit…which is very unlike her past patterns…), so we offer a few questions, impressions, and future considerations, should a new season be ordered pending the availability of the producers, the writers, and the leads, Duchovny and Anderson.

This podcast was recorded in August 2018, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as the panelists cover key plot points of the eleventh 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 Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD panel, with a slight change of personnel, returns to the Water Cooler after a year’s hiatus to consider the most recent Season Five and to prognosticate upon what the unexpectedly ordered Season Six might have to offer, particularly given the bombast and seeming finality of some of the story lines in the fifth season of Marvel’s only major network offering. Stay tuned!

Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations

Old Questions

1) How can the Cigarette Smoking Man (William B. Davis) be remotely alive?!  We saw his face incinerate in the series finale of the original series, “The Truth.”  Was it aliens? Is he a clone?  We need a supernatural/paranormal/extraterrestrial explanation, because the more mundane one suggested in the series was not seen as plausible by more than one panelist.

ANSWER: Still a question without an answer.  The show, as yet, has not seen fit to explain CSM’s miraculous recovery from incineration in the original series finale.

2) Where is William?  William, Mulder and Scully’s son, became a running theme this season.  Is William part alien – and if so, from whom did he inherit this alien part?  Is he, by any chance, in the UFO glimpsed in the final moments of the season finale?

ANSWER: William, as it turns out, was adopted by a family who gave him the name Jackson VandeKampe; the adoption was facilitated by Jeffrey Spender (Chris Owens), the CSM’s second-born child and half brother to Mulder.  As provided by the myth-arc of this season, it appears that William’s genetic makeup includes material considered to be extraterrestrial in nature; however, it is also revealed – whether it is the truth or a believable lie – that CSM, during the events of Season 7 episode “En Ami,” abducted Scully while she was sleeping for the purpose of extracting her DNA to combine with his and with alien DNA in a test tube somewhere, thereby producing William and rendering CSM William’s biological father, and Mulder his biological half brother, rather than Mulder being William’s biological father.  Whether or not any viewer can stomach this explanation is explored heavily in our podcast episode.

As for the UFO in the tenth season finale – that UFO was not real and/or has, perhaps, not yet come to pass.  We find out in the first episode of Season 11 that the events of “My Struggle II,” the tenth season finale, are part of an extended vision that Scully is having as she lies comatose in a hospital bed in “My Struggle III,” the eleventh season premiere, which she may be experiencing because of her biological link to William, who experiences visions of his own as part of his alien-influenced paranormal abilities.  Scully believes that this is a possible future, which she fears will result in catastrophe both for William and for Mulder.  Listen to the podcast episode for details.

3) Where did Reyes (Annabeth Gish) go?  Why did the writers cause her to make choices that went so far against her character as perceived from the original series?

ANSWER: The second question has no answer that satisfies our discerning bunch of X-Philes, not all of whom like the much reviled Reyes; yet, Reyes hangs around CSM all season, until he apparently (SPOILER) shoots her in “My Struggle IV,” the eleventh season finale.  The reasons why Reyes is included in the revival and for aligning with the show’s ultimate villain feel forced and entirely against her character, and even those of our panelists (Nick and Sarah) who like her are appalled by the treatment and use of Reyes in these revival seasons.  Is she dead now, is the real question, and should we continue to care about a character that remains as detested by many of the fans as she is misused by the writers/producers (well, mainly Chris Carter)?  You be the judge.

4) So, are there aliens, or aren’t there?  The “My Struggle” episodes suggested that aliens were a myth created by the government factions such as the Syndicate, and that the real enemy is biological, namely a (potential) viral outbreak that will only affect people who don’t have a DNA immunity to it.  Scully, however, theorizes that the DNA that provides such immunity is alien in origin, and that she has the DNA due to her abductions and cancer scare during the original series.  Mulder doesn’t seem to have it – but what about his exposure to the black oil in the original series?  Also, didn’t the original series suggest that all humans have alien origin, given the age of black oil remnants on Earth and the discovery of the UFO in Africa?  This new plot strand was highly confusing to most of us and did not gel – also, it was poorly executed in comparison to the episodes of the original series that it was trying to downplay.

ANSWER: There are aliens.  Season Eleven confirms that much.  It is, however, suggested by two new characters – Erica Price (Barbara Hershey) and a so-called Mr. Y – who explain that they are former members of the Syndicate, that the aliens’ colonization plan was derailed, particularly as humanity is quickly using up the planet’s resources, but the hostile alien factions introduce the ability to create a catastrophic virus with alien technology and properties, of which CSM currently has control, which would wipe out all life on Earth and would allow said aliens to reengage with their colonization designs once humans no longer present an obstacle to their conquest.  As usual, the explanations are confusing and convoluted, but isn’t this why we love the X-Files?

5) Are the Lone Gunmen actually alive, as panelist Kyle read was confirmed by the hallucinatory sequence affecting Mulder in “Babylon?”  If so, where the heck are they?

ANSWER: This question remains unanswered, though Langly’s (Dean Haglund) consciousness manages to survive, contrary to his desires, within the framework of a super-computer designed by the Syndicate as a defense to the alien virus and as a place where – select – people can live on and/or survive following the impending extraterrestrial viral apocalypse. Allegedly.

6) Where are characters like Marita Kovarubius?  Former assistant director Kersh?  Is Alex Krycek really dead?  Where is former Agent Jeffrey Spender, half brother to Mulder and legitimized son of the Cigarette Smoking Man?

ANSWER: Spender is on the run, helping to keep William safe, though it seems he checks in with his brother and with Scully from time to time.  Kersh (James Pickens Jr.) is still finger wagging at the FBI, and particularly at Skinner (Mitch Pileggi), in the Deputy Director position, as the latter half of the season demonstrates.  We have not seen Marita (presumably still on the run) or Krycek (presumably still dead) as of this publication.

7) Just how much should we care about Agents Miller (Robbie Amell) and Einstein (Lauren Ambrose)?

ANSWER: Apparently, not at all.  Agents Miller and Einstein appear briefly in “My Struggle III” and then do not return for the rest of the season.

8) Was the last shot of the cliffhanger in “My Struggle II” really that of a UFO?  If it is a UFO, did it ultimately save Mulder from the virus, since the vaccine didn’t somehow work on him (also really confusing)?

ANSWER: If Scully’s “vision” is to be believed, that UFO is real and a portent of future events.  Mulder’s fate, should this portent become real, is uncertain, but Scully fears that only William can save who is presumed to be his actual father (not CSM).

9) How did Agents Scully and Einstein produce and proliferate the vaccine so quickly?

ANSWER: Dream time magic.

10) So, how was AD Skinner able to approve Mulder and Scully’s return so fast, particularly given their highly touted hiatus from the FBI, highlighted in the second film, “I Want to Believe.”

ANSWER: Skinner’s got skillz and more sway with Kersh than most, apparently.

11) Will we ever get to meet Scully’s younger brother in person?

ANSWER: We have not so far.

12) Why does the Cigarette Smoking Man see fit to make Mulder so miserable all of the time?  Also, where the heck did he go?

ANSWER: A valid question without an answer.  Though his disappearance proved to be part of Scully’s vision-state when translated from “My Struggle II” to “My Struggle III,” CSM drops his truth bomb as noted above in “My Struggle III” and then continues to raise holy heck for poor Fox Mulder as the season progresses.  By the end of the season, however, William retaliates for months of trying to avoid his potential father/grandfather and the danger he presents with the use of his extraterrestrial abilities and a dash of violence. Does CSM survive? Listen to the podcast episode for details.

13) When will the new season premiere?  You know it’s going to happen.

ANSWER: Season Eleven premiered in January 2018. As yet, a Season Twelve has not yet been ordered or renewed….

14) The podcast panel, by and large, feel that six episodes just isn’t enough, but eight to ten might be a nice chunk, a la British TV.

ANSWER: The podcast panel believes ten is better than six, but many of them also feel that thirteen would be better than ten.  Of course, getting a single additional episode may be difficult as the future progresses…

15) Can Mulder and Scully please get back together?  This is just a rough patch, right?

ANSWER: Right.  Mulder and Scully tentatively make another go at romance this season and, by the end of it, confirm a pretty major spoiler that you are just going to have to listen to the podcast episode or watch “My Struggle IV” – or read below – to learn.  We would say, however, that Mulder and Scully seem committed to each other (finally) romantically, and that it has done nothing to diminish their relationship as colleagues and friends, particularly after all this time. Take that, Mr. Carter.

New Questions

1) Is CSM really William’s biological father?  There are two concerning pieces of information from the original series that make us question Carl Gerhard Busch’s rather definitive assertion of parentage over William.  First, to suggest that this violation of Scully’s womanhood, even though no sexual act was implied, was part of “En Ami” actually undercuts and undermines the power of that particular episode, which showed an interesting new side to CSM while enticing Scully to question whether or not CGB Spender was actually as evil as everyone, particularly Mulder, believed.  Second, there were several events in the original series that led up to the birth of William, earned by mysterious if not confirmed pieces of mystery sprinkled throughout Seasons Six through Nine, including the UFO fragment that augmented Mulder’s cognitive abilities, the implication that Mulder and Scully shared a night of passion after years of palpable sexual tension, and the responses that baby William seemed to show toward Mulder in the beginning, before and after Mulder as a character departed the show with the departure of David Duchovny during his contract disputes with the network and with Carter.  And really, just how believable is CSM/CGB/Cancer Man in the end, really?  He has screwed his children over so many times by now…isn’t it indubitably possible that he is trying to turn the screws once more for Mulder, his favorite target?

2) How true was Scully’s coma vision?  Sure, the show manages to posit in “My Struggle III” that the confusing and somewhat unsatisfactory ending of Season 10 is nothing more than a mere fever state dream of Scully’s if not a clairvoyant vision, but if true, have Mulder and Scully averted the alien virus apocalypse by the end of the season?  Did William’s final season act serve to do the same?  Or, is there someone carrying the torch of CSM’s nefarious scheming with the ability to spread a legitimate viral outbreak?  Also: are the aliens real?  The revival’s explanations around the extraterrestrial elements that informed the original series are truly dizzying in scope and in logic and might be losing some loyal viewers who particularly favored the original myth-arc of the show.  Or, so we guess.

3) Is Reyes really dead?  Is CSM?  Is <gasp> Skinner?

4) The Lone Gunmen mystery burns for our panelists, as these characters are popular with us and with X-Philes the world over. Are they really buried in Arlington?  Or, did they pull off the greatest faking of their deaths that the world has ever seen?

5) How is Scully <SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER> pregnant? Is her unborn fetus human?  Is s/he/they Mulder’s biological offspring?  Wasn’t she barren?  Plus, she’s an older woman who was not actively pursuing methods of fertilization/conception?  Are we to believe that God blessed her with a miracle (we’re okay with this explanation, if it is more than obliquely hinted at)?  Will we ever meet this child?

6) The final shot of the season depicts William, who was shot by CSM, his potential father/grandfather, emerging from murky, watery depths, presumably unscathed owing to his alien DNA.  What will William’s endgame be, regardless of who fathered him, should the series continue?  Will Scully ever be able to reach him?  Will he be swayed toward nefarious aims, particularly in light of the events of the episode “Ghouli” and of the revelation of his father being the ultimately evil CSM?

7) Will the show ever return?  The future is looking dicey – we need to “fight the future!”

8) If it does return, Deputy Director Kersh finishes the season by blustering about closing the X-Files again.  Was this a threat or a promise, and if the latter, how can Mulder and Scully justify their return with all of the life complications affecting their ability to investigate the X-Files cases themselves?

PARTING SHOTS

All of our X-Files super-fans and panelists heartily enjoyed and were excited by these latest episodes; there was virtual consensus on which episodes were the best and which were the worst.  All five panelists thought “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat,” “Followers (in base code), and “Familiar” were the three best of the season, while “My Struggles III & IV” and “Nothing Lasts Forever” were the three worst (generally), though panelist Sarah was far less enthused overall by “Kitten,” featuring special guest star Haley Joel Osment. In any event, the entire panel continues to be grateful if not overjoyed to see Duchovny and Anderson back in action as Mulder and Scully and to see other familiar faces, including Cancer Man and Skinner.  We also look forward to any additional seasons Fox may choose to produce of a show that greatly influenced the television landscape as we know it and continues to do so; all panelists are committed to continue watching, should more seasons be produced. What did you think? Comment below!

LOOKING AHEAD

While no official announcement has yet been made, TV pundits believe that renewal for a possible Season 12 is a “long shot,” given the declining ratings of Season 11 and, particularly, given Anderson’s announcement to the media in January of this year that “this is it” for her and for Dana Scully.  Plus, the network and Carter have gone on record to say that while there are no plans to produce more episodes at this time, they are open to the possibility of making more, even though they also do not see, and rightly so, going on without Anderson/Scully.  Still, again, the show has not been officially canceled by the Fox network, and Gillian has been known to change her mind somewhat unexpectedly in the past – plus, what’s up with her and David’s latest joint appearances on the convention circuit?  One might theorize that they are taking fan temperatures, given Season 11’s lower ratings, in order to see if it is worth producing more seasons; those of us on this CPU! panel encourage demanding more at a fever pitch!  In any event, rest assured, gentle listener, that if a Season 12 is announced, CPU! will plan to reconvene our X-Files podcast panel, ready and willing to dissect any additional seasons of one of our all-time favorite shows. CPU! will also, as always, keep you posted on future developments. Stay tuned!

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Our X-Files panel spies possible suspicious UFO activity in the skies of West Michigan.
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Our X-Files panel (left to right): Sarah, Nick, Hilary, and Kyle

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A final (for now) look: Mulder and Scully embrace in the face of the loss of one (alleged) child and the potential gain of another in some of the last frames of Season 11 (prior to the credits).  The Truth Is Out There…unless Season 12 never comes to fruition.

PODCAST! – Around the Water Cooler: “Supernatural” – The Season 13 End of Season Recap and Review (MAJOR SPOILERS)

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Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who: “Supernatural” airs on network TV, specifically on the CW, though it is currently on hiatus; this past 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 13 finale aired on May 17, 2018, 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

Season 12B

Season 13A

Our Super-CPU! panel experienced more changes since its last meeting!  Two sticking-around panelists happily returned to the Water Cooler to stick around some more; two panelists triumphantly reentered this dimension from temporary hellatus, no doubt after living the high life in the Apocalypse World; and one voice new to the panel but not to the podcast jumped on board to render our Supernatural panel newly full again!  All panelists proved eager to talk about the second half of this unluckily numbered season with gusto.  Thus, Nick, Jen (S), Kelsey, Jeremy, and new panelist Jenn (K), along with your trusty Chief CP and moderator, hop into our ’67 Chevy Impala, always 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 13.  While our panel’s particular devotion and/or brotherly bond continues to be sometimes tested in Supernatural’s later seasons, 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 August 2018, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as the panelists cover key plot points of the second half of Season 13 of Supernatural. 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 X-Files panel triumphantly returns to the Water Cooler after a whopping two-year hellatus of its own to ruminate upon the latest revival Season 11 and to speculate upon whether Agents Mulder and Scully are done for good, since Gillian Anderson explicitly told the press she was finito earlier this year). 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 (Mark Pelligrino) 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?

NEW ANSWER: Well…we see a version of Michael this season, namely the Michael from “Apocalypse World,” where the archangel offed his brother Lucifer and now leads all angels in a war against demons and humans.  Does this mean we will also see a return of Adam/Michael in this dimension?  The answer is “not this season,” but the introduction of this New Michael could foretell a convergence of some heavenly forces we have previously met in order to stay the zealous New Michael’s blood lust.  Although, as of the end of this season, the forces have not (yet) converged as expected…keep reading.

4) REPEAT QUESTION: 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.

NEW ANSWER: As we surmised, owing to a sizable clue from the improbably still alive Arthur Ketch, former British Man of Letters, who informs Sam and Dean that he was able to cheat death using a spell of the erstwhile King of Hell’s mum, Rowena reappears, having cheated death, or Death, once more.  In fact, in Season 13B, she seeks the boys’ help with the intention of changing Fate to save her son Crowley aka Fergus from permanent daisy pushing.  Unfortunately, Billie the Reaper aka Death, the Horseman Of, informs her that this is not to be.

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

NEW ANSWER: The panel correctly predicted that Apocalypse World Michael would be the leading Big Bad of Season 13.  Asmodeus, as it turns out, was more bark than bite, except to Archangel Gabriel aka Loki aka the Trickster, who Asmodeus apparently captured after Gabriel cheated death by hand of devilish Lucifer in Season Five with a tricky Trickster slight of hand and a double of himself, unbeknownst to the Winchesters – or the viewer – since that time.

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

ANSWER: Perennially unanswered…

7) REPEAT QUESTION: 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?

NEW ANSWER: As it turns out, we spend quite a bit of time in Apocalypse World (AW), particularly in Season 13’s second half.  After Jack (Alexander Calvert) uses erstwhile Wayward Sister Kaia to dream-walk through dimensions, he finds himself stuck in AW with the intention of rescuing Mother Mary Winchester.  Mary, in the meantime, looks after Jack, particularly while Mary is held captive by AW Michael and, when they escape, while both parties fight for the Resistance.  In fact, toward the end of the season, the brothers, Castiel (Misha Collins), and Lucifer also take a trip to the AW, as AW Michael’s aim to find his way to Supernatural Prime world, i.e. this world, becomes ever more likely.  We see AW Bobby in addition to AW Prophet Kevin Tran, AW Charlie Bradbury (Felicia Day), and AW Castiel, who curiously sports a German accent, for Chuck knows why.  As for AW spilling into the Prime world, this prediction sort of comes true in a way.  First, Sam and Dean convince Mary to convince the Resistance fighters, who she has befriended, to come to Prime world to regroup in the face of the growing threat and success of Michael’s angelic troops.  In the meantime, Prime World’s Lucifer makes a deal with AW Michael to bring him to Prime World in exchange for Michael doing no harm to Lucifer’s son Jack, meaning that Lucifer escorts this murderous version of his younger archangel brother to the regular world.  This proves to be a miscalculation for all concerned. While no apocalypse on this side of the rift has yet begun, the entire Resistance and AW Michael are on this side, making it plenty likely that Apocalypse 3.0 or 4.0 (what number are we on, anyway?) will start any day now. Plus, the button on that season finale….listen to the podcast episode for details…

8) REPEAT QUESTION: 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?!

REPEAT-ISH ANSWER: All questions currently without answers, including those about the Spear/Lance.  Though Michael, perhaps in all his incarnations, is going to be a big player in Season 14 (listen to the podcast episode for details).

9) REPEAT QUESTION: 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?

REPEAT ANSWER: Though the Spear/Lance remains broken, and though Supernatural Prime world’s Michael is still housed in half-brother Adam in Hell’s Cage, it may yet come to play…

10) REPEAT QUESTION: 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?

NEW ANSWER: Sheriff Donna encounters vampires this season.  HOW ARE THERE VAMPIRES?  What exactly does it mean to be an Alpha?  Dear Show Producers – we actually keep track of this stuff, yo!  And we are confused by the explanation or perception of monster “alphas.”

11) Where is the “Bad Place?”  Are there really dinosaurs, Big-Feet, or Godzillas making footprints over there?  What made the giant lizard footprint in the mid-season finale?  How will Sam and Dean get back to the dimension/world they call home?  Will the “Wayward Sisters” have to be the ones to rescue them?

ANSWER: The Bad Place is another dimension, another world, another version of Earth, where there are great big monsters that make great big, giant footprints.  As for the boys getting back to Prime World, they have Castiel’s human host, Jimmy’s, daughter, i.e. Wayward Sister Claire, to thank for that.  Jack and Kaia’s efforts leave a lingering opening rift to this other dimension.  Claire resolves to save the boys, and she has some back up from Sheriffs Jody and Donna, as well as the other Wayward Sisters, to do it.  Her gambit, though messy, is ultimately successful.  Unfortunately, the Wayward Sisters backdoor pilot was not.

12) What side will Jack fall on in the end?  Will he defend the Winchesters until he cannot defend them anymore?  Or, will he align with his dad?  Or, will he align with a wild card third party, like Castiel, Apocalypse World Michael, or Asmodeus?

ANSWER: Jack, despite all of his Dad’s best efforts, remains essentially “Chaotic Good,” though Lucifer’s antics near the end of the season may have permanently removed some of the chaos associated with Jack’s archangel nephilim status.  Jack does his best to defend both the Winchesters and Castiel, even against his Dad when they finally have a chance to talk and when Lucifer starts spinning his web of devilish temptations, but Lucifer ultimately chooses to sacrifice his own son in the end to guarantee his power, in the poster example of the deadliest sin of Pride/Vanity, and to ward off the AW version of his brother, Michael.  Jack fights against AW Michael and is determined to kill him while he is in the AW, right up until Lucifer steals his own son’s grace on this side of the dimensional rift.  What will this mean for Jack next season?  Only time will tell.

13) Just how much of the “Wayward Sisters” will we be watching on the parent show?  The panel votes, hopefully, not so much.

ANSWER: Thankfully, it was really just one more episode, namely the episode following the mid-season break.  The CW did not order the spin-off to series, and the Wayward Sisters do not reappear on Supernatural for the rest of the season.

14) Is Michael from Apocalypse World truly the Big Bad of the season? Will he break through to this dimension?  Will he run up against Jack?  Will he break the “Shedim” out of hell?

ANSWER: Yes, AW Michael is Season 13’s Big Bad.  Jack is ready to take him out in AW but does not get a solid chance.  Plus, AW Michael is now on this side of the dimensional divide, thanks to the wheeling and dealing of Prime World’s Lucifer.  As for the “Shedim,” it seems they are a plot device that is quickly forgotten, particularly since Asmodeus, the final Prince of Hell, is quickly snuffed out by the very-much-alive (at the time) and totally back on his groove Archangel Gabriel.

15) Will Lucifer encounter his son?  Will Jack have to battle his dad? Will Jack be wooed by the lure of being with his actual father?  Or, will he remain true to Sam, Dean, and Cas?

ANSWER: Lucifer finally achieves some father/son bonding time in AW after Rowena, also not dead, opens the rift and accidentally fights off the Devil by magically blowing him into the rift, through which the Winchesters and Cas already passed, in order to save Mother Mary and Jack.  There is no true battle between Lucifer and Jack; when Lucifer eventually double crosses his son, which comes as no surprise to anyone but Jack himself, Lucifer steals Jack’s grace and ups his own mojo in the process.  Jack is temporarily wooed by the prospect of spending time with Dad, particularly when Lucifer attempts to convince Jack to leave Earth with him following Lucifer’s deal with AW Michael, who plans to take over Prime World.  In the end, though, Jack remains true to those he believes to be his family: the brothers and angel Cas, who care for him for most of the entire six months of his life.

16) What point or purpose does Prince of Hell Asmodeus really serve, if any at all?

ANSWER: Asmodeus is really mostly a B villain, there to pose some threat to the Winchesters and to Castiel (and to Jack) while the plot stays primarily in Prime World.  We find out, however, that Asmodeus, who Lucifer described as the “runt of the litter” in terms of Hell’s princes, is able to become strong because he captured the long-lost, not-dead Gabriel and is siphoning off his grace.  In the end, though, Asmodeus is gone as quickly as his Colonel Sanders, white suit wearing visage is introduced, particularly when Gabriel rediscovers his own ruthless streak again.

17) Is the show trying to suggest that Jack might be Chuck/God’s successor, capable of creating other life, such as new angels, who are apparently becoming extinct?  How many angels, exactly, are left?  And why do they stupidly keep going after the Winchesters, Cas, or anyone else related to them?

ANSWER: The first question does not have an answer, though Jack becoming a new God seems unlikely, if Lucifer stealing his son’s grace is somehow permanent.  Regarding the second question, according to a surprisingly alive angel Naomi, there are exactly 11 angels left, including Cas and Lucifer, but not including Jack or Gabriel.  Regarding the third question, the angels essentially stop pursuing the Winchesters and Cas, though they hope that Jack and, later, Lucifer (of all angels) can help them keep Heaven afloat.  As Naomi explains, the angels are what allow Heaven to exist; they keep the lights on and the gates pearly.  Unfortunately, with the imminent extinction of angels, Heaven is holding on by a thread, and Naomi makes no bones about telling Cas that, should Heaven fail, all of the souls currently housed there would fall to Earth and be ripe for the plucking by Hell’s Demons.  So…about that Apocalypse…

18) Will Sam’s powers return?  He continues to obliquely reference them…

ANSWER: So far, Sam has not tapped into the allegedly dormant powers he received from Prince of Hell Azazel, but, with the end of the season as it is, he might need to think outside of the box and use those powers for the good of the entire universe in the coming season.

19) How will Jack return to this dimension, if at all?  Will he save mother Mary?  Will Mary keep him on the good side of “chaotic neutral?”  Will Sam and Dean reunite with their mother?  Will Mary survive all that Supernatural throws at her?

ANSWER: Jack returns to this dimension via the help of a witch on a redemption arc, namely Rowena, who helps open the rift for the Winchesters and Cas and who holds it open as long as they are in AW.  Mary and Jack are able to return with the boys and Cas, along with the rest of the AW Angel Resistance, through the rift.  Jack is arguably “chaotic good” now, though he does seem, at least when he has his grace, that he has better control of his powers in the second half of Season 13.  Sam and Dean also reunite with Mary in AW, who is not willing to come back with them at first, having aligned herself with the Resistance fighters when she learns from AW Bobby that an absence of Mary making her crossroads deal in AW, and not having her children, indirectly led to the Angel War that tore apart that dimension.  So far, Mary survives – and may be nurturing some chemistry with Bobby.  Would that be weird?  We’re on the fence.

20) How much should we continue to care about the Empty?  Will it come back to haunt Castiel or any of the rest of our characters because Cas escaped?

ANSWER: So far, the Empty stays empty.  We visit once for the sake of Cas’ resurrection, but the show has not revisited the concept.  Of course, angels are near extinct, and demons aren’t faring better given the turnover in the Throne of Hell position.  We might yet see (or not see) the Empty again.

21) How will Lucifer and Cas escape Asmodeus’ captivity – we assume they will?

ANSWER: Lucifer, though at minimum grace levels, practices super hard; he realizes that he has just enough grace and just enough archangel prowess (he is the Devil, after all) to unlock the cages that hold him and Cas in Hell.  For that moment, the two angels team up and leave Hell, until Cas returns to the Winchesters, and Lucifer decides to knock on Heaven’s door.  Comedy abounds.

22) Has Death, as in The Horseman Of, died before the Winchesters killed off the Death we knew and awoke the Darkness?  Is Billie the second “Death” or one of many?

ANSWER: Still questions, particularly for panelist Nick, that are without answers at this time.

23) Why are the Winchesters “important,” in the end and apart from what we already know, as Billie aka Death told Dean in the first half of the season?

ANSWER: We have a feeling that this answer is ultimately part of the endgame for the series, and that we will not know said answer until the show is about to be done.

24) When we will see Bobby and Rowena return (because, frankly, the question of “if” has been spoiled by the characters’ portraying actors)?

ANSWER: Both characters return fairly early on in the second half of Season 13.  Rowena seeks the Black Grimoire to help resurrect her son Crowley by taunting Billie the Reaper aka the New Death through the magical smiting of Reapers to get her attention.  Mary and Jack, after escaping AW Michael’s captivity via ruse perpetrated by AW Prophet Kevin Tran, quickly find Bobby’s encampment/arm of the Angel Resistance in AW.

25) How are Jack and the previous “anti-Christ” who appeared in Season 5 related, if at all?  Is Jack truly an “anti-Christ?”

ANSWER: Still questions without answers.

New Questions

1) SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER….At the end of the season, Dean offers himself, as Michael’s Sword, his true vessel, to AW Michael in order to have strength enough to defeat Lucifer, souped up on Jack’s grace, which he steals from his confused and betrayed son.  Despite a tenuous deal with the archangel, wherein Dean would retain control of his body and mind, AW Michael double crosses him and takes over his vessel fully, meaning as we start Season Fourteen, the Dean we know and love will be sublimated by AW Michael, who, at last check, was very interested in ending humans’ existence in Supernatural Prime world.  Is this still his plan?  What will he do first? How long will we see Dean as AW Michael?  Will Dean fight AW Michael, in an epic internal battle for his soul?

2) Dean as AW Michael also seems to definitively defeat Lucifer, his wings torched and all.  Is the Devil truly dead?  How can that be possible?

3) Sam is Lucifer’s true vessel and now does not have that option to defeat Michael. What can he do to save his brother?  Will he have to tap his Azazel powers? Can Rowena resurrect an archangel?  Will he lead the Angel Resistance on this side of the rift?  How will he get his brother back?

4) Is Jack powerless?  Will he regain his grace?  How?  Will his power be enough to save Dean? To save this world? To save Heaven?

5) Are Mary and AW Bobby flirting?  Are they going to be a romantic item in future? Is that wise?

6) Is the Shedim an abandoned concept, with the quick death of Asmodeus?

7) Will they break this world’s Michael, still stuck in Adam the half brother and locked in Hell’s Cage, out of his prison?  Even though Lucifer drove him mad?

8) Will the remaining angels join a fight for or against AW Michael?  Will AW Michael snuff out the rest of the angels?

9) Will we see Heaven collapse next season?

10) Will the show actually be able to convince Jeffrey Dean Morgan to return, either in the event that we’re barreling toward the end of the show and/or if Heaven collapses, since he’s supposed to be up there somewhere?

11) Without Princes of Hell, Crowley, or Lucifer, who’s in charge downstairs?

12) How will they be able to defeat a super-charged AW Michael, made stronger by his perfect vessel, Dean?

13) Will Chuck/God return to help arbiter these extra-worldly conflicts? He might have to return to create more angels, to resurrect any that have been lost, and/or to help quell the conflict with AW Michael.  Will Amara/the Darkness return with him?

14) Will the show explain how it is that nephilim are stronger than the angels (or archangels, in some circumstances) that sire them?

15) Will we see any of the Wayward Sisters again, aside from Sheriff Jody and Sheriff Donna, i.e. Claire, Kaia, Patience, etc., despite the fact that the proposed spin-off was not picked up?

PARTING SHOTS

Our newly full Supernatural panel presented an increasingly diverse range of opinions about the most recent SPN half season.  Though much of our panel began watching this season encouraged by the mysteries, story threads, and new spins on some old horror tropes offered by Season 13, after struggling with the show during what the panel deemed to be a choppy and somewhat disjointed twelfth season, the second half of the season and, particularly, the brief end of season button divided our panel markedly.  Some enjoyed the season, noting the modestly fresh new aspects to this long-running story, including the interactions between mother Mary and Lucifer, the wild card that is Lucifer’s son Jack, and the return of a version of archangel Michael who, in no small way, resembles the Lucifer with which we have grown acquainted over eight or more seasons.  Some watch the series motivated by the curiosity that comes with needing to complete what was started, thirteen years or less ago (in fact, one panelist remarked that he likes to pay the bills while the show is on).  Still others, particularly the Chief CP, are filled with a renewed excitement by the prospect of what’s to come, feeling that Dean’s specific end of season fate constitutes a true “game changer” designed to steer the series toward an epic conclusion, which is likely nearer than we would want or expect, depending upon the viewer in question.  In any event, the fresh takes introduced this season, even the “Wayward Sisters,” coupled with the usual elements that keep Super fans coming back for more, helped the show to rebound from the lulls of Season 12 quite nicely.  As such, 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 and barbs about things that strike us as strange – even for such a strange world as we have been watching for thirteen seasons – all panel members feel that the show is still entertaining, even this late in its lifetime. Carry On, Wayward Sons, as we prepare to start Season 14!

LOOKING AHEAD

Supernatural was renewed for a fourteenth season, which is slated to premiere on Thursday, October 11, 2018, at 8:00 PM.  The Supernatural podcast panel will next reconvene following the fourteenth mid-season finale, which will likely air in or around December 2018. As always, CPU! will keep you informed of news and additional show coverage.  Until then!

PODCAST! – Around the Water Cooler: “Doctor Who” – “Twice Upon a Time,” the 2017 Christmas Special Review and the Series 11 Preview (MAJOR SPOILERS)

Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who: “Doctor Who” airs on cable TV, specifically on BBC America/BBC Worldwide; though it is currently on hiatus, it was announced today that Doctor Who will begin airing Sundays this fall, starting October 7, 2018.

What: “Doctor Who,” the long-running British science fiction show about an alien time and space traveler who gallivants across the universe with companions in an effort to save people and/or history and/or the universe itself.  The synopsis changes from Doctor to Doctor, but the above statement pretty much encapsulates all of them.

When: The 2017 Christmas Special, “Twice Upon a Time,” aired on December 25, 2017, at 8:00 PM on BBC America/BBC Worldwide.

Where: The show is set literally everywhere in the whole universe at any given time, though not without the Doctor’s ship, the TARDIS, and some face of the man (or woman) who pilots it.

Why:  Once upon a time (no, not that show), friends of the Chief CP said precisely this: “Why aren’t you watching Doctor Who?!  It’s science fiction, it’s British, it’s everything you love (short of vampires)!  Watch it! Do it!”  I started with the 2005 pilot of “Rose” and kept right on chugging. Now, I’m a fully converted Whovian, with an obsessive eye to both past, as in Classic, Who and the future incarnations of the “Madman in a Box;” I’ve joined a rotating roster of friends who are Whovians in their own right as we meet for another discussion “around the water cooler.”

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

Welcome to the days leading up to a new season of Doctor Who! Last week, we published our review and recap of Series 10!  In case you missed it, here it is again:

Series 10

True to form, our CPU! “Who” panel of Kristen, Sarah, Nick, Hilary,  and Kyle, plus the Chief CP, reconvened Around the Water Cooler to dissect the 2017 Christmas special, including the stellar and interstellar as well as the parts that should really be exterminated.  We also take time to speculate upon the new Doctor, the Thirteenth, to be played by Jodie Whittaker (Broadchurch); the three prognosticated new companions; and the general oeuvre of the series under new show runner Chris Chibnall (Broadchurch), as Peter Capaldi made his departure from the series effective as of the 2017 Christmas special, along with longtime writer and show runner for the Eleventh and Twelfth Doctors, Steven Moffat.

Give our latest Doctor Who rundown a listen, and tell us what you think in the comments.  For our part, the panel generally enjoyed this special, particularly for its meeting of the First Doctor, currently played by David Bradley (Harry Potter film franchise), and the Twelfth; there was little bad said about it, in fact, as the panel found it to be a generally “sweet” if not necessarily memorable sendoff for Doctor Twelve. Do you agree?  Do you disagree? What did you like?  What did you hate?  Tell us!

For (other) previous CPU! Doctor Who episodes, check your podcast feeds or click the floating box up right within the header, the picture with the TV watcher, and search for those words!

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Remember, new episodes and blog posts are published weekly!  Next Wednesday, our Supernatural panel returns to the Water Cooler, newly reconstituted and resurrected in its fullest form, to wax wickedly about the second half of the longtime cult favorite’s thirteenth season.  Stay tuned!

Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations

Old Questions Are the New Questions (repeated from the Series 10 entry)

1) REPEAT QUESTION: Is Gallifrey really back?  How is it back?  Is it only in existence at the end of the universe, where the Doctor met Me and Clara?  Where is Gallifrey in current times and in current universes?  We need clarification.

(CURRENT) ANSWER: Series 10 did not answer this question, so we move it forward into the Series 11 list of questions.

2) REPEAT QUESTION: Where did Missy go?  Will she be back?

(DEFINITIVE) ANSWER: Missy went and got herself in trouble with a group of Time Lord like (but not Time Lord) aliens that were prepared to execute her.  Yet, River Song told Nardole to tell the Doctor that he better save his longtime best friend – or else, naturally.  So, the Doctor promises to the executing aliens that he will watch over Missy for 1000 years while she is locked up in a vault, hidden in the basement of some unnamed British University (maybe it’s called British University).  When we start the season, he is lording over that vault.  So, Missy is back.  Plus, she gets to have a run-in with her past Master generation, played by John Simm.  Listen to the podcast episode for details.

3) REPEAT QUESTION: Steven Moffat has announced that he will step down as show-runner after Series 10, and Broadchurch’s Chris Chibnall will take his place.  Unofficially, Peter Capaldi has suggested that Series 10 will also be his last as the Doctor.  Who could possibly be the new Doctor?  Feels too soon, doesn’t it?

(DEFINITIVE) ANSWER: The new, Thirteenth, Doctor will be played by none other than Broadchurch’s Jodie Whittaker, marking the first time that the titular Doctor will be female in all 55 years of the show’s existence.  This announcement proved to be controversial as well as crucially and critically circumspect for the international legions of Whovians – some were more enthusiastic about this decision than others – but we might be over the hump of some of the initial ugliness, at least until Series 11 premieres.

4) REPEAT QUESTION: How many extra regeneration cycles does the Doctor have right now?

(CURRENT) ANSWER: Still a question, which moves forward.

New Questions

1) Will the TARDIS survive the explosion that sent Doctor Thirteen plummeting to the earth?  Why did Chris Chibnall choose to somewhat mirror the entrance of Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor?

2) Will Jodie be awesome enough to calm the more feisty corners of the fandom down?

3) Who will the new companions be, as there are predicted to be three?

4) Mr. Chibnall has suggested that he will not, at least at first, rely on canonical appearances of villains like Daleks and Cybermen to tell the stories.  What new villains and/or conflicts will he create for our thirteenth Doctor?

5) Is the Master truly out of the running after what happened in the tenth series finale?

6) Will Doctor Thirteen find the Time Lords of Gallifrey again?

7) Will Doctor Thirteen be earth-bound for awhile like the Fourth Doctor was?  Will she take over UNIT?

8) Will Doctor Thirteen meet any of her old companions again?  A meeting with John Barrowman’s Captain Jack would be fun, but our panel continues to hope for the return of favorites like Catherine Tate’s Donna Noble or Alex Kingston’s River Song.

9) What will Doctor Thirteen’s TARDIS look like?  How about her sonic screwdriver?  Will she still have one?

10) Will the Doctor meet her past selves in her current form this season?

11) Will the show revisit the concept of the Doctor “revisiting old faces,” as was suggested by Tom Baker’s Curator in the 50th Anniversary Special?

12) Will Doctor Thirteen avoid romance?  The panel votes please do.

13) What will be the explanation for Doctor Thirteen’s latest form (other than that it’s time or some such)?

PARTING SHOTS

The CPU! Doctor Who podcast panel offered an unusual and modestly surprising consensus when reviewing “Twice Upon a Time,” as all of the panelists heartily enjoyed Peter Capaldi’s swansong, even if they felt his goodbye scenes lacked the emotional punch of his two most recent predecessors’.  The panel characterized the strongest parts of the special to be those that centered on interactions between the First and Twelfth Doctors, including all of the clever parallels written into the narrative, as well as the appearance of Mark Gatiss (Sherlock) as the soldier plucked out of time before his death.  Alternatively, the panel found the “Testimony” story line to be the weaker segment of the episode, at least in terms of using the story as a contrivance to reintroduce a version of Bill Potts (Pearl Mackie) in a way that did not seem as organic as it could have been – and since, of course, the panel continues to offer mixed reactions to Bill as a companion.  The panel remains cautiously intrigued about the upcoming season, with a new Doctor, new companions, and a new show-runner on the horizon, the latter of whom has teased leaving aside some of the classic/signature elements that have defined the series since its inception.  Some of the panelists are additionally looking forward to not spending as much time with the Daleks, Cybermen, and the Master, but the longer term Whovians note that too much change would also not be good, and that any of the frequent flyers should be revisited at some point in the future, even if not for awhile. The entire panel, of course, continues to eagerly hope for the (unlikely) return of River Song or Donna Noble – whatever may happen, though, the panelists remain excited to see what happens in the coming season, Series 11.

LOOKING AHEAD

It was announced today (sometimes, we do serendipity right!) that Doctor Who Series 11 will premiere via BBC Worldwide on October 7, 2018! The Doctor Who CPU! panel will next reconvene following the season finale of Series 11, at which time we will report on reactions to the new series, the new Doctor, and the new executive producer, Chris Chibnall.  Until then! 😉