PODCAST! – Around the Water Cooler: DC Television Universe Series, Episode 8, “Supergirl” – Season Two, the DCTU Panel’s Review and Recap (MAJOR SPOILERS)

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Moderated by: 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 Mondays 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 Two aired from October 10, 2016, to May 22, 2017, 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 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 eighth episode in CPU!’s DCTU series.  Here are the prior episodes in the series (as we flush out seasons, though, older episodes will only be searchable via the website – click the upper right dialog box in the header). Listen to each episode here:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In our last episode, our cheeky and feisty and newly full DCTU panel – namely Kyle, Hilary, Spencer, Kristen, and Nick – as the new Arrowverse seasons commence, finally began addressing the most recent full seasons of each of the four “Arrowverse” series in order of the airing of each season finale, beginning with the second season of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow.  Tonight’s episode finds the panel returning to the Water Cooler to talk the sophomore season of Supergirl, after its highly unusual network jump from CBS to the CW and after being on the brink of cancellation at the Eye, in the eighth episode of our DCTU series.  The discussion herein is not as spicy as last time – the opinions about this particular spin-off do not vary quite as greatly and are not nearly as gloomy, as most of the panelists at least modestly enjoy this Arrowverse entry, if not out and out adore it.

This particular episode was recorded in October 2017, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as the panelists cover key plot points of Season Two 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!  This Saturday at 4:00 PM, CPU! is going live again!  There (hopefully) should be an in-person audience, and we will endeavor to live-stream the whole shindig once more to our Facebook page.  We’ll be back at Grand Rapids Comic Con at DeVos Place in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with our spicy new debate feature, STAR TREK V. STAR WARS: BATTLE FOR THE STARS!!! Our Top 6 Nerdiest Panelists will be going live in a Celebrity Death Match-style crazy match up (sans claymation) of character against character from each of the named universes. We will then publish an audio-only version next Wednesday, in our best rerun fashion. You won’t want to miss it!  Here’s the link to the Facebook Event.  Stay tuned!

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Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations

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

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?

3) Is Jeremiah Danvers (Dean Cain), Alex’s 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?

4) Will Lena Luthor (Katie McGrath) 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?

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.

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?

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?

8) Is Cat Grant back for any length of time?  For how long exactly – and why?

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?

10) Are Winn and Lyra (Tamzin Merchant) still together?  Do they have to be?

11) Will we see any other Superman rogues of note, including Brainiac, Zod (as not a silver Kryptonite-induced hallucination), Lex Luthor, Doomsday, etc.?

PARTING SHOTS

The panel remains generally complimentary about Supergirl, regarding it to be a stronger show than another DCTU entry, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, and good enough to be nearly tied (in terms of quality) with or, according to most, much better than universe originator Arrow. All panelists are universal in their appreciation of Benoist’s portrayal of the title character.  Her winning charisma and “adorkable” pastiche, and, indeed, her earnestness, sold everyone convincingly and left each panelist feeling the show to be at least mildly enjoyable if not out and out binge-able TV.  The panel continues to recommend 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 (particularly since the crossovers started even when Supergirl was on CBS); to fans of comic books who can also tolerate romantic comedy formulas, as the series continues to be somewhat derivative of rom-com tropes; 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.  All in all, the panel believes most who sit down to watch this show will find something to like about it, regardless of whether or not those who do are fans of comic books or adaptations of said comic books.

LOOKING AHEAD

The third season of Supergirl premiered last week (October 9, 2017) at 8:00 PM on the CW.  CPU!’s next DCTU episode, which will focus on the third season of The Flashwill (hopefully) go to publication in three weeks.  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!🙂

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PODCAST! – Around the Water Cooler: DC Television Universe Series, Episode 7, “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow” – Season Two, the DCTU Panel’s Review and Recap (MAJOR SPOILERS)

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Moderated by: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who:  “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow” is a superhero/action-adventure drama centered on events and characters inspired by the DC Comic Universe, which currently airs on the CW, fall to spring Tuesdays at 9:00 PM.

What: “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow,” a series developed by Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim, Andrew Kreisberg, and Phil Klemmer, based on characters from DC Comics. This series is considered a spin-off from Arrow and is part of the so-called “Arrowverse.”

SYNOPSIS

When Vandal Savage murders Time Master Rip Hunter’s (Arthur Darvill) family, he goes rogue. Intending to stop Savage, Rip recruits a team consisting of Ray Palmer / The Atom (Brandon Routh); Sara Lance / White Canary (Caity Lotz); Martin Stein (Victor Garber) and Jefferson “Jax” Jackson (Franz Drameh), who together become the hero Firestorm; Kendra Saunders / Hawkgirl; Carter Hall / Hawkman; Leonard Snart / Captain Cold; and Mick Rory / Heat Wave (Dominic Purcell) to stop him. These so-called “legends” discover that the Time Masters are backing Savage in his domination of the world in 2166 in order to facilitate a successful repulsion of a Thanagarian invasion.

When: Season Two aired on the CW from October 13, 2016, to April 4, 2017.

Where: The action is set in various locations throughout the DC Television Universe/Arrowverse and throughout time, as the heroes in this show travel through time and space in an attempt to stop villains who aim to alter significant events in past, present, and future.

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

True it’s yet another comic book property in an entertainment complex completely inundated and saturated with them – super heroes are what’s cool nowadays.  True, the premise involves digging through the annals of the DC Comic Book Universe to put forth some of the company’s less omnipresent characters (The Atom, Firestorm, Hawkgirl, to name a few).  Yet: it also has Victor Garber, Wentworth Miller, and freaking Rory Pond – Arthur Darvill himself!…DC is behind in the comic book race against Marvel, and the company knows it…[it’s a] must watch.  It’s fate or something.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In our last episode, our cheeky and feisty and newly full DCTU panel – namely Kyle, Hilary, Spencer, Kristen, and Nick – was subjected to (now for) something completely different and highly experimental here at CPU! when we decided to check in with each other in advance of season’s end via a “Newlywed Game” style interview episode in which each of the panelists provided individual feedback about all four “Arrowverse” shows.  Now, as the new Arrowverse seasons commence (and last night’s premiere coincides with this episode nicely), we finally address the most recent full seasons of each of the four “Arrowverse” in order of the airing of each season finale, beginning with the second season of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow.  Thus, tonight’s episode features our spicy discussion of Legends’ sophomore season, in the seventh episode of our DCTU series.  The discussion is truly spicy too – the opinions about this particular spin-off vary greatly, though none of them offer unmitigated love for this disjointed tale of wacky adventures through time for a team of DC Comics’ lesser known and/or lesser used heroes and villains.

This particular episode was recorded in October 2017, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as the panelists cover key plot points of the Season Two of  DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. 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, schedules and health permitting, our DCTU panel returns again to the proverbial Water Cooler, to discuss Season 2 of Supergirl, as our Arrowverse revisits continue.  Stay tuned!

Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations

1) It was announced that John Constantine (as played by Matt Ryan) will appear on Legends some time during Season 3.  In how many episodes will he appear, and what will be his purpose?  Will he be on the show for several episodes, as a recurring character?  Or, will he only appear once or twice as he did in Arrow?
2) It was also announced that Victor Garber will leave the show by the end of the season.  Will the character of Firestorm survive?  Will the show survive without Dr. Martin Stein, less Rip Hunter, and a nearly non-existent Captain Cold (Wentworth Miller)?
3) If Amaya/Vixen (Maisie Richardson-Sellers) and Nate/Steel (Nick Zano) continue their love affair, does this mean that Nate is somehow grandfather to Amaya’s granddaughter, Mari/the new Vixen?
4) Arthur Darvill is being converted to a “recurring” cast member and will not be part of the regular cast as he was for the first two seasons.  How much Rip will we see, and how will his new band of Time Masters, which he suggested in the second season finale that he planned to rebuild, interact with the Legends and the broken universe?
5) Will we see any of the Legion of Doom again (Reverse Flash, as played by Matt Letscher; Malcolm Merlyn, as played by John Barrowman; Damien Darhrk, as played by Neal McDonough; and Captain Cold)?
6) Will Mick/Heat Wave (Dominic Purcell) ever get to Aruba?
7) Did the Legends encountering their past selves in the World War I era cause the aberrations and altered Earth they find in 2016?  Or, is this extremely altered timeline a product of all of their “Legend”-ary exploits?  How will they fix it?
8) Will Jonah Hex become a regular character, as is rumored?
9) Who is the new character being introduced – and is this person supposed to be another “Legend?”
10) Considering how “Flashpoint” was handled on The Flash last season, how much of the altered timeline will affect the other shows?  Will we see spillover into Arrow/Flash (I tend to give Supergirl a pass because she’s on Earth 23)?
11) How much of Season 3 will involve the Legends restoring the timeline?

PARTING SHOTS

Our DCTU panel nearly unanimously withdraws previous recommendations for DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, unless the potential viewer is strictly a fan of comic books, particularly (and probably only) from the DC universe, and of the individual comic franchises being represented, including Firestorm, the Atom, and the Flash, given the presence of Captain Cold and Heat Wave; to fans of Doctor Who who are looking for some sort of comic book equivalent of their beloved long-running science fiction show, provided that they are not angered by rip-offs; or to fans of the other Arrowverse shows.  The panel believes, however, that anyone who falls within the above descriptions has probably already tuned into “Legends” at least once and has drawn their own conclusions, for better or for worse.  All in all, with the possible exception of panelist Nick, the panel remains generally lukewarm toward this series; though all panelists want to keep watching for some reason or another, a couple of panelists, your moderator and Chief CP included, described doing so to be a borderline “chore.”  Hopefully, the creators see the necessity of balancing camp and wacky antics with something close to a story containing some small modicum of continuity.  Further, with the apparent bleeding of some of the most charismatic and beloved ensemble actors and characters, “Legends” has its work cut out for it in terms of compensating for such losses – but will have to attempt such compensation in order to avoid being the first Arrowverse program to suffer the swing of the cancellation ax.

LOOKING AHEAD

The third season of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow premiered last night (October 10, 2017) at 9:00 PM on the CW.  CPU!’s next DCTU episode, which will focus on the second season of Supergirlwill (hopefully) go to publication 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! will next be LIVE at Grand Rapids Comic-Con on October 21, 2017, at 4:00 PM!  We will be one of the Con’s fan panels; in that live podcast (also streamed to our Facebook page), some of CPU!’s finest will do battle in our Celebrity Death-Match style debate of “Star Trek v. Star Wars: Battle for the Stars,” in honor of some the headlining guests at the Con.  This debate, as always, promises to be spicy, so if you have any interest in the ongoing, decades-old space debate, this is a panel you won’t want to miss.  Like our Facebook page to keep abreast of the event – which is now on the page (linked below)! Stay tuned!

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PODCAST! – Around the Water Cooler: “Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” – The Season 4 End of Season Recap and Review (MAJOR SPOILERS)

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THIS EPISODE OF CPU! WAS SPONSORED BY: CURIOUS ARROW

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And their inaugural production of “Lucid,” a performance of original short plays

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Opening Friday, September 15, 2017, at Dog Story Theater in Grand Rapids, Michigan!

For more information, visit Curious Arrow’s Facebook Page or buy tickets at http://www.eventbrite.com!

CPU! Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who:  “Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” airs on network TV, specifically on ABC, fall to spring Tuesdays at 10:00 PM (as of this past season).

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: The Season 4 finale aired on ABC on May 16, 2017, at 10:00 PM.

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 last year.  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 Mid-season

Season 3B (post-finale)

Season 4A Mid-season
Our SHIELD panel is back to talk about the heady second half of the fourth season, with two sections subtitled “LMD” and “Agents of Hydra,” respectively.  What’s especially exciting is that our SHIELD panel has experienced some growth of its own for the first time since its inception (which could bode well for the show…maybe…).  Kristen, Jen, and moderator Kylie are joined “around the water cooler” by an individual new to the panelist but not to the podcast, namely Micah, most recently heard as part of our ongoing Once Upon a Time panel.  Our newly, slightly more robust panel of SHIELD agents tackles talk of Season 4B as well as prognosticates upon possible future plot developments of the fifth season and speculates upon the likelihood that the show has moved markedly toward the bubble of cancellation, especially since the network is delaying the premiere of Season 5 until mid-season and is moving the show to a precarious Friday night time slot. Listen to the podcast, and see if you agree or disagree with our comments, reactions, and predictions.

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

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

Remember, new episodes and blog posts are published weekly! Our next podcast episode will stay in the MCU as a handful of familiar panelists gather around the water cooler to take a First Look while simultaneously Looking Back at the gone-too-soon but never-forgotten, girl power driven spin-off of the Captain America films, Marvel’s Agent Carter.  Stay tuned!

Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations

Old Questions

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

ANSWER: We haven’t yet, and it’s one of the main questions of the podcast panel.

2) Still a 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 Cree?  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?

ANSWER: Still questions without answers. 

3) Still a question: Will we ever learn more about the Cree themselves?  Are they related to any of the individual Avengers?

ANSWER: As above, still questions without answers.

4) Is Ghost Rider (GR) gone for good?  Why was he even brought on the show to begin with? What IS GR?  Who was the GR before Robbie Reyes? Is Robbie the last GR, should he never return from where ever he landed with his Uncle Eli? Does GR reap souls from the living?  How was GR able to touch the physicists trapped within the dimensional rift? Where do the souls or people slayed or reaped by the GR go?  Do they go to hell?  Why was the GR mythology not flushed out more on this show if such care and attention to bring him on the show was necessary to the overall story?

ANSWER: Robbie/GR returned in the season finale, emerging from some sort of portal to a hell dimension, bent upon recapturing the Dark Hold.  His appearance also served to provide Coulson (Clark Gregg) a way to defeat the ultimate Big Bad of the season – the android Aida (Mallory Jansen), whose interaction with the Dark Hold motivated her to aspire to turning herself into a human and to bolster a virtual reality/artificial computer-based matrix created by Holden Radcliffe (John Hannah), nicknamed the Framework.  Further explanation of Ghost Rider and what his mythology is and how it relates to the MCU overall was not provided this half season, perhaps expecting some reliance on knowledge from the comics.

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

ANSWER: Nadir funds and protects (politically) the Watchdogs, the ranks of which contain some former Hydra agents.  Hydra as an actual entity – this side of the Framework, that is – has not, as of yet, returned or does not seem to exist. Yet, events of this season may signal the return of some growing heads of the many-headed enemy.  So speculates the podcast panel.

6) Aida, Radcliffe’s newest android creation, seems to have created a double for May (Ming-Na Wen).  Is the real May being held captive by Ada (we see a bloodied May in Ada’s storage closet)? Is the doubled May, back at SHIELD headquarters, an android? Or, is she some sort of inter-dimensional echo created by Ada with the knowledge from Dark Hold? Or, is double May an alien?  Because, when in doubt – aliens.

ANSWER: The real May is the captive May.  The doubled May, indeed an android version, breaks open the precious bottle of scotch that Coulson (Clark Gregg) and May were saving for the right time to drink.  This half of the season dealt heavily in the notion of androids, as Aida became more proficient in creating them alongside her creator, Radcliffe.

7) What was the Dark Hold book all along?  Some sort of window into Hell?  Is it alien?  Is it Cree?

ANSWER: It is a book of dark magic that permeates the Marvel Comics (listen to the podcast episode for Kristen’s research).  The show does not explain the book’s origins beyond its presumed mystical properties.

8) 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?

ANSWER: Unknown.  We never see this Inhuman again.

9) Is Mace (Jason O’Mara) going to remain SHIELD’s director?  Is he part of a new SHIELD Inhuman fighting force? What secrets is he hiding (since Simmons implied that there were secrets)? Will he be the “Big Bad” in the second half of the season as panelist Jen predicts?

ANSWER: Mace remains SHIELD’s director until he (spoiler) meets his heroic end in the Framework.  The only trouble is, as Jen predicted, Mace is hiding a shocking secret: his Inhuman powers are drug-induced and not actual Inhuman powers.  He is not an Inhuman but part of an experimental program spearheaded by General Talbot (Adrian Pasdar), in which humans injected with a super serum develop superhuman powers; however, if those in the program do not receive regular injections of the serum, they suffer from severe withdrawal symptoms and eventual loss of the enhancements initially provided by the drugs.  Mace, however, always has his heart in the right place.  He wants to help people, particularly, he confesses, after he was recognized for being a “hero” when he just happened to be in the right place at the right time.  The future of SHIELD, on the other hand, hangs in the balance.  Listen to the podcast episode for details.

10) Is Coulson really attempting to position Daisy (Chloe Bennett) as a possible future SHIELD director?

ANSWER: It’s hard to see this eventuality as truly possible as of the end of this season, particularly since the Framework fallout cast a gray cloud over SHIELD as an agency once again in the eyes of the judging fictional public.  There’s no question that Coulson is fond of Daisy, though.

11) Are Mack (Henry Simmons) and “Yo-Yo” aka Alana Rodriguez going to make a legitimate romantic go of it?  What pain is Mack nursing?  The loss of his brother?

ANSWER: They are, and they do, make a legitimate attempt at coupling (in all the ways), and it’s a true connection, filled with simmering sexual tension and consummated and mutual romantic interest.  The audience, via Mack’s revelation to Yo-Yo, learns that Mack lost a child, a daughter named Hope, a few days after her birth.  He and his ex-wife, Hope’s mother, mourns this loss annually and privately, wondering what might have been had Hope lived.  This loss haunts Mack more than any others in his past.

12) 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.

ANSWER: We haven’t so far, unless you count Framework Hydra…which does not really count…

13) Was Aida truly affected by the Dark Hold?  Does her creation of double May mean she is evil or an insane robot now?  Will SHE be the “Big Bad” in the season’s second half? Does Holden know or having any inkling of what his creation has become?

ANSWER: There is no question that Aida is consummately affected by the Dark Hold – it gives her knowledge, ambition, and desire far beyond her initial programming.  “Evil” and “insane” are strong qualifiers that do not quite fit the situation, though. Aida is ruthlessly efficient, incapable of considering collateral damage and human cost beyond the calculations she completes, first to help Radcliffe build LMD’s like her as well as build the Framework, and then to help herself in terms of completing Project Looking Glass, which enables her to become human through a merging of science and mysticism from the Dark Hold.  As such, Aida’s increasing observance of Radcliffe’s ambitions (fueled by an unmistakable God complex) matched against her own desire to be human and to be loved – specifically by Fitz (Iain de Caestecker) – positions her as the season’s Big Bad and the ultimate force that our heroes must defeat this go-round.  Radcliffe surely knows that Aida surpasses her own programming but is forced to catch up to the realization that Aida has loftier aims than merely creating a Framework, which Radcliffe builds to preserve the consciousness of his real life, ailing wife Agnes, the physical/bodily inspiration for Aida.

New Questions

1) 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).

2) 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 Cree 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.

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

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

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

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

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

8) 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?

9) 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.

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

PARTING SHOTS

By consensus, our newly expanded podcast panel believes that Agents of SHIELD remarkably rallied in Season 4B, paying off the doldrums and missteps of Season 4A with some excellent action-fueled drama. In fact, all panelists find new excitement in anticipation of the show’s fifth season, after the execution of the excellent “LMD” and “Agents of Hydra” arcs, which rejuvenated the story, our enjoyment of the show, and possibly the performances of the acting ensemble, as the story and pacing felt more energized and more cohesive in the fourth season’s second half. The panelists are more willing than ever, even eager, to continue watching the program at this stage, given that several disjointed story choices have since been corrected, including reintegrating Daisy back into the SHIELD team (the panel continues to regard the season starting time jump as anticlimactic and seemingly unnecessary in the grand scheme of things, for the record). The panel now universally recommends tuning in to SHIELD, provided 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, as the panel maintains that, despite a bumpy start and a rocky first half of the fourth season, Agents of SHIELD is entertaining and worth the watch, with these arcs and the third season “Hive” arc being the high points for this comic book adaptation.

LOOKING AHEAD

Agents of SHIELD has been renewed for a fifth season by ABC, which is slated to premiere following the complete airing of Marvel’s Inhumans, on a new night and time, Fridays at 9:00 PM.  The Agents of SHIELD podcast panel will next and likely reconvene following the complete airing of Season 5 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 fifth 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! – CPU! LIVE! (Sort Of) – Around the Water Cooler & Streaming Originals: “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” – Season Three (MAJOR SPOILERS)

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Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

Who:  “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” is a Netflix original series, always available on Netflix.

What: “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” a situation comedy about a woman who, along with three other women, is rescued from an underground bunker in rural Indiana after being kidnapped or otherwise stuck inside for fifteen years as member of a doomsday cult, the leader of which convinced them that the world had ended, and that the apocalypse had come.  Kimmy (Ellie Kemper, The Office) decides to start her life over in New York City, out of time and out of place.  Hilarity ensues.

SYNOPSIS

The heroine of the title, Kimmy Schmidt (Kemper), is one of five women to emerge from an underground bunker in Indiana, having been, in some respects, unwitting members of a doomsday cult.  The five women were trapped in this bunker, with their religious leader Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne (Jon Hamm), for fifteen years; Kimmy and her bunker-mates emerge into the twenty-first century while still stuck in the twentieth.  Brimming with endless optimism and a healthy dose of girl power, Kimmy decides to start her brand new life away from small town Indiana by setting up in New York City.  She luckily finds a rent controlled, in a manner of speaking, apartment with a fabulous new roommate named Titus Andromedon (D’Fwan from 30 Rock, Tituss Burgess) and an aging hippie landlord named Lillian, played by – happiest of all surprises – character actress Carol Kane.  She secures a job as a nanny with a ridiculously rich Park Avenue family, the Voorhees, the matriarch of which is boss from hell and new best friend Jacqueline (now White as of Season Two, Jane Krakowski, 30 Rock/Ally McBeal)Mostly, Kimmy finds herself full of optimism but is otherwise a struggling fish out of water and out of time, as she attempts to create an adult life for herself, having lost such a significant part of her childhood to the spartan and strange life of the bunker.

When: The third season of the series was released in its entirety on Netflix on May 19, 2017.

Where: The action is set in and around New York City, though there are occasional flashbacks to the bunker, which is in Indiana.

Why: The show was created by Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, the producer/creative team responsible for giving us 30 Rock, of which the panelists are generally huge fans. Many of us also enjoyed Ellie Kemper quite a bit in The Office and in the movie Bridesmaids, as she’s got great comedic timing.  This show was on CPU!’s list of pilots to watch for the 2014-2015 season and was originally slated to air on NBC, but when Netflix picked it up instead, it was an easy choice to switch over.

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

CPU! started covering “Kimmy” from the beginning.  If you haven’t heard our previous Kimmy podcasts, listen/watch via the embedded links below:

Season One

Season Two

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt blew up the internet when it was first released, which is not surprising, because it’s extremely funny, particularly in how it catches the viewer off guard with its wacky humor, witty dialogue (no doubt spearheaded by Fey), stunt casting, and generally zany but positive tone.  Because these elements continued into the third season, our UBK panel – including original panelists Kristen, Nick, Sarah, Krista, and Andrew – proved eager to reconvene once again to discuss Season Three.

Of course, in September of last year, CPU! went LIVE! and live streamed at its Facebook page from Comedy Outlet Mondays at Dog Story Theater in Cool City Grand Rapids, Michigan, to talk Kimmy, her compatriots, and their second season.  So, naturally, because we went live last year, we decided to try to uphold (though not quite) a tradition (though not really) – and we attempted to do this latest episode as a “live podcast” from “the bunker,” lacking the live studio audience but including all sorts of bunker-like ambiance.  Sadly, technology failed us, and we did not produce a good live-stream video to provide for your viewing pleasure, but always prepared – like the boy scouts! – we still recorded an audio version of the podcast, which is the link you will find below.  Do you agree or disagree with our thoughts on the third season?  Let us know if there is anything that you think we missed!

This podcast was recorded on August 29, 2017, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS. Listen at your own risk, and let us know what you think by commenting below!

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

Remember, new episodes and blog posts are published weekly!  Next Wednesday, we’re back around the water cooler to give our Marvel Agents of SHIELD panel, slightly larger and slightly more robust than before, and the correlating episode another go as our panel reconvenes to dissect the jam-packed second half of Season 4.  Stay tuned!

Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations

Old Questions

1) Where will season three begin?  Will we get to see Titus on the cruise ship?

ANSWER: Season Three began some time after the end of season two, in or around two months.  We saw Titus on the cruise ship but not until later on in the season, as he mysteriously appears back in New York City in the beginning of the season, having left the job under circumstances about which he is initially unwilling to divulge details.

2) Are Titus and Mikey going to move in together when Titus returns?  Will Kimmy still be living with them?

ANSWER: Quite the contrary – Titus, plagued by doubt and insecurity, as other guys start flirting with Mikey, and as Titus discovers that he and his beau have very different interests, decides to break up with Mikey, claiming that the first boyfriend Mikey is “out” with should not be “the one,” and that Mikey should feel free to experiment.  The only trouble with Titus’ rash decision is that he realizes that he loves Mikey and spends the rest of the season sort of stalking him and pining after him, finally resolving to get back together with him in the end.  Of course, Kimmy remains Titus’ ever loyal roommate throughout.

3) Who is Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne marrying?  Or, is he already married? Many of the panel bet on Gretchen, but we were confused by the phase of marriage to which the good reverend was referring.

ANSWER: Wendy Hebert (Laura Dern) is the woman in question, who somehow falls for the persuasive Reverend; to be fair, she does not appear to be in possession of all of her marbles.  It is also explained that the Reverend was also married to each of the Mole Women, including Kimmy, who refuses to provide the Reverend’s requested divorce in order to protect Wendy, who seems oblivious to the fact that the Reverend is a former cult leader and current felon.

4) Will Dong ever return for Kimmy?

ANSWER: He hasn’t yet.

5) Will we see Kimmy’s mom, Lori Ann (Lisa Kudrow), again?  Is she still married to Kimmy’s stepdad, played by Tim Blake Nelson?

ANSWER: She hasn’t yet, and the latter answer has not, as yet, been clarified.

New Questions

1) Will we see any more representatives from 30 Rock, since Season Three was lousy with 30 Rock cameos?

2) Will there be a larger plot involving the Reverend, since he and Kimmy are still married?

3) Will Tina Fey always play AHN-drea Andrea?

4) Will Titus and Mikey get back together?

5) Will Lillian (Carol Kane) and Artie reunite?

6) Will Jenna, I mean, Jackie Lynn, I mean Jacqueline be funnier as an agent?

7) Will Kimmy find her raison d’etre?

8) Will Lisa Kudrow come back?  She was well received by our panel.

PARTING SHOTS

In discussing Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, the panel universally agrees that the third season of the quirky sitcom is not as fresh or as successfully executed as the series’ first two seasons.  Though all panelists still enjoy moments of laughter provided by the show’s over the top characters and absurdist situations, many of the panelists struggled with the third season’s reach for gimmicks, like the meta connection to Orange is the New Black, and generally disjointed situational story lines, citing Jacqueline’s relationship to Russ (David Cross/Billy Magnussen) as a divergent low point, even as Titus’ various exploits, including his viral hit “Boobs in California,” spark consistent laughter. Still, all agree that the show is a great sitcom with easy laughs by the minds who produced 30 Rock; thus, we feel there is little to lose in continuing to watch it and recommend it highly to anyone simply wanting an entertaining show at which to laugh.

LOOKING AHEAD

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt was renewed for a fourth season; however, no release date has been announced by Netflix as of the publication of this post. The UBK podcast panel will next reconvene following the release of the fourth season, which will likely occur in or around Spring 2017. As always, CPU! will keep you informed of news and additional show coverage.  Until then!

NEXT CPU! LIVE!

CPU! will be LIVE at COM (Comedy Outlet Mondays at Dog Story Theater) on October 2, 2017, for our 100th episode!  Like our Facebook page to keep abreast of the event – which will publish in September!  Stay tuned for all the details!

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

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Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

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

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

SYNOPSIS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sherlock Series, Episode One, Seasons 1 and 2

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

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 Buffy-verse panel returns to the Water Cooler for their second episode of a five-part series lovingly looking back at Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, in which they “slay” Seasons 4 and 5 of Buffy.  Stay tuned!

Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations

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

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

PARTING SHOTS

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

LOOKING AHEAD

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

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

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

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Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Season 9 Premiere 

Seasons Nine, Ten, and Eleven

Season 12A

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

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

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

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

Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations

Old Questions

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

REPEAT ANSWER: Still unknown.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Questions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PARTING SHOTS

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

LOOKING AHEAD

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

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

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

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Check out HTG’s 2017 Season!

Opening Tomorrow: “The Importance of Being Earnest”

For more information, visit Heritage Theatre’s website!

CPU! Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Season 4A – Frozen

Season 4B – Queens of Darkness

Season 5A – Dark Swan

Season 5B – The Underworld

Season 6A

 

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

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

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

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

Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations

Old Questions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Questions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

11) Will Rumpel still be the Dark One?

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

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

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

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

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

PARTING SHOTS

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

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

LOOKING AHEAD

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