My Entertainment Weekend Update

Hello friends, and happy weekend!

(Some spoilery things ahead!)

Cassian and Melshi work to get off Narkina-5.

This week saw the eleventh and penultimate episode of Andor, “Daughter of Farrix.” The title presumably refers to Maarva, Cassian’s adoptive mother, who has died offscreen. I was a bit surprised by that; I thought she would die during the episode, maybe even when Cassian was there. But no, he finds out by space telephone when he calls home. This is after his escape from Narkina 5, along with Melshi. They have to climb some cliffs barefoot, avoid the Imperials looking for escapees, and then they come across some natives. They capture the two fugitives in some kind of goopy net, and at first it seems they will turn them in for a reward. But then they decide to let them go and help them get off planet, as the Empire has ruined their water, and by extension, their fishing livelihood. Cassian returns to Niamos to retrieve his money from the Aldani heist, and that’s where he makes his call home. He and Melshi decide to split up, and Melshi tells Cassian that he will spread the word about the Empire and what’s happening on Narkina 5.

Meanwhile, Luthen visits Saw and has a cool battle with an Imperial ship, Mon Mothma worries about her daughter, and Syril finds out that Cassian may be going back to Farrix. Basically, this episode is setting everyone up to go to Farrix for a climactic finale, and I can’t wait.

Ross and Demelza.

In other viewing news, I’ve become totally obsessed with a show on Prime called Poldark. It’s a period piece from Masterpiece Theater, starring Aiden Turner (who happened to be a dwarf called Fili in The Hobbit movies–you know, one of the “hot” dwarves, lol). It takes place in 1780’s Cornwall. Ross Poldark has just returned from serving as a soldier for the Crown in the American War for Independence. The British having been defeated, he returns home to his estate at Nampara and finds that his father has died and left the estate in near-ruin, and that Elizabeth, the young woman he loved before leaving for the war, is engaged to be married to his cousin Francis, as everyone thought him dead.

This is how the show of five seasons kicks off, and although I’m only halfway through the second season, so much has happened that my head is spinning, lol. Basically it’s a costume drama soap opera, and I’m loving every minute of it. Oh, and guess who else is in the show? Our very own Syril Karn from Andor! Kyle Soller plays Francis, Ross’s cousin. He’s got blonde curls in this one.

I’d write more about it, but I gotta go and watch the next episode…

What’s been entertaining you lately? Let me know in the comments and we’ll talk about it!

My Entertainment Weekend Update

Hello my friends, and happy weekend!

(Spoilery things ahead!)

He can’t swim.

Andor’s tenth episode, “One Way Out” was probably the best of the series so far. This, of course, was the prison escape episode, and it delivered in so many ways. Now that Kino Loy (played by Andy Serkis) is done with the Empire’s games and is on board, they make a plan. Now that the old man Ulaf died, a new prisoner will be coming in to fill his spot. And that’s when the Imperials will be at their most vulnerable. Cassian finishes sabotaging the water pipe from the refresher, and that leaking water will help disable the electrified floor. Once the new guy is brought in, they attack (poor new guy, he has no idea what’s going on…and ends up dying from a blaster bolt). Once they’re all out and kill the guards, they make their way to the command center and take over. They cut off the power to all the floors, and then Kino makes his speech over the intercom, telling the prisoners they had taken control and were escaping. But more than that, his speech is inspiring to the prisoners, as he tells them to help one another. It’s not “every man for himself”, it’s “if we work together we can get out of here.” So it was heartbreaking when they finally get out and have to jump into the ocean to get away and Kino says he can’t swim. He helped everyone else get out while likely knowing he wouldn’t make it out himself, as it’s obvious he knew they were surrounded by water. I really liked Kino’s story arc, going from a man counting down his days until he gets out and everyone better not ruin that for him, to a man leading everyone out while he himself can’t get out. I hope we find out what happens to him–sent to another prison? Killed? Suicide? Maybe I don’t want to know.

Anyway, there was another big speech in the episode, given by Luthen Rael. He meets with one of the ISB agents, Jung, who is actually a mole and working for the Rebellion. He’s meeting with Luthen to warn him about the ISB laying a trap for Kreeger’s rebel cell, but really he wants to tell Luthen he’s done with this double agent thing. He’s got a baby coming and wants a different life. But Luthen won’t let him, telling him that they have to make sacrifices. Jung asks what Luthen’s sacrificed, and what we get is some sorely-needed insight into this man. Basically, he tells Jung that he’s sacrificed his soul. He’s not a kind man, and he uses the Empire’s own tactics against them. In other words, he’s become what he’s sworn to destroy, all for a victory he suspects he’ll never see.

Someone who’s not ready to sacrifice her soul is Mon Mothma. She meets with this Davos, a “thug” in her estimation, only because she’s desperate for money to cover up what her “charity” is actually doing. She’s willing to pay the man off, but he’s already rich and doesn’t want money. He wants his son to meet her daughter–probably in the hopes of a traditional Chandrilan arranged marriage, likely so he can get closer to the influential and more respectable Coruscant society. Mon balks and is curt at dismissing him. But as he points out her, she’s thinking about it. What is she willing to sacrifice? I’m curious to see how this plays out. Only two more episodes of this season!

A new breed of Blade Runner.

Now that The Rings of Power is done, I need to make that Amazon Prime subscription worth paying, so I’ve added a few things to my watchlist. One of those things is Blade Runner 2049, the sequel to 1984’s Blade Runner that came out a few years ago. I saw it in the theater at the time, and absolutely adored it. I’m a big fan of the original, and wasn’t sure about a sequel. But my doubts were immediately dispelled as I heard that otherworldly music and watched Ryan Gosling totally nail it as a replicant Blade Runner called “K” whose job it is to “retire” older, less compliant Replicants from the past.

During one of his cases, he comes upon a mystery and a miracle: a Replicant woman who gave birth 30 years ago. Sensing the enormity of the event and what such a child represents, K’s boss, Madame, played wonderfully by Robin Wright, orders him to find and kill the (30 year-old) child. But during his investigation, he comes to believe that he, himself, is the child of that long ago miracle.

In the meantime, the creepy corporate billionaire Wallace (played by Jared Leto), who had taken up the reins left by Tyrell Corporation and created new models of Replicants like K who obeyed, also wants to find the child in order to figure out how to make his Replicants with the power to give birth. So he can have more slaves, you see, to dominate the stars. He sends his pet Replicant, the ironically named Love, to follow K during his investigation, a woman who certainly doesn’t know anything about love.

Director Denis Villeneuve’s Los Angeles of 2049 is a bleak and wondrous place, where illusion is the order of the day. Replicants are implanted with false memories, to make them emotionally stable. They know that they’re implanted, they know exactly what they are (and aren’t), but the memories make them feel more human. K has a relationship with a beautiful hologram named Joi, and though her programming is meant to fill every one of K’s desires (except, of course, physical contact, which is solved in a clever way), it certainly seems like Joi is a real person who loves him. And he does love her. Or maybe he’s in love the idea of her. Can you be in love with someone who’s not “real”? She’s an illusion, but K’s feelings about her are not. Does that make her real?

Are Replicants “real”? They’re alive–they breath and bleed and can die–and they’re sentient beings. They have emotions. They’re supposed to obey and not be able to lie, but K breaks both of those rules. It seems moot to me that if one is “born” instead of “made” they’re more real and therefore have more rights. But apparently this child represents something dangerous–the fact that Replicants can reproduce give them more “self-agency.” To Madame, this would be disastrous, leading to a Replicant rebellion; to Wallace, it is the holy grail that would serve his purpose to simply enslave more Replicants.

Some people thought this movie was too long and convoluted, but not me. I loved every single minute of its almost 3 hour runtime. It’s mesmerizing to behold, and offers a lot to chew on. The performances were amazing, especially Ryan Gosling, who was a revelation to me at the time. I wasn’t really familiar with him except for “The Notebook,” lol. But he perfectly captures the nuances of a person who initially accepts the status quo, and then gradually learns who he is (or could be), and what it means to be “human.” Bravo.

Ice Gators

In books, this week I started and finished a rereading of Mission to Disaster, a middle-grade book by Justina Ireland. It’s a Phase 1 High Republic book, and I wanted to revisit it because most of it takes place on Dalna, a planet we see 150 years earlier in Path of Deceit. Basically the Nihil has taken some children prisoner to “recruit’ them, and young Jedi Knight Vernestra Rwho and her Padawan Imri Cantos are on it. Their friend, Avon Starros, a technological genius, has been taken and made to help the Nihil with a weapon that can destroy the planet.

I wanted to see if I could get any insight into Dalna considering the events of Path of Deceit, which also took place on Dalna. What we learn is that something happened on on that planet involving the Jedi, something that went very bad and the Jedi are blamed. Ever since, the Jedi are not trusted, although by the time of Vernestra’s time, there is a Jedi Outpost there. There seems to be some evidence that the Jedi covered up the incident. We don’t get anything like that in Path of Deceit, but I think we will see it later in Phase 2.

That’s about it this week. What’s been entertaining you? Let me know in the comments and we’ll talk about it!

Path of Deceit: Character Gallery

I’m going to admit right off the bat that I didn’t have the energy to do a proper “review” of the first book of The High Republic Phase 2, Path of Deceit, by Justina Ireland and Tessa Gratton. But I did love the book, so instead I’m doing a little tour of the characters through images, which seemed a lot more fun to me.

Kevmo Zink. Kevmo is a Jedi Padawan, a Pantoran who has an exuberant and outgoing personality. He and his master are conducting an investigation on Dalna concerning stolen Force artifacts. He immediately meets Marda Ro, a shy, sweet girl who is a member of the Force cult The Path of the Open Hand, and they are immediately attracted. The problem is, the Path believe that the Force should be “free” and not manipulated in any way, especially the way the Jedi use the Force. It’s a point of contention between them, but they try to understand each other’s differing points of view. Kevmo is a bit flirty for a Jedi, and must be reminded by his master about attachments.

Zallah Macri. Zallah is Kevmo’s Jedi Master. She is Soikan, and therefore very calm and focused, a good counterpoint to Kevmo’s exuberance. She and Kevmo are investigating the theft of a Force artifact from the Queen of Hynestia. When they learn of the Path of the Open Hand, she encourages Kevmo’s friendship with Marda in order to learn more about them and if they are possibly connected to the theft. But they have a difficult time meeting with the Path’s leader, who is called The Mother.

Marda Ro. Marda is a member of the Path of the Open Hand, who watches over and teaches the children of the group. Marda is a true believer, passionate about the Path and their beliefs. They believe that if the Force is manipulated in any way, it has ripple effects and causes damage somewhere else. When she sees Kevmo using the Force simply to float a flower in the air, it greatly upsets her. Marda and her cousin, Yana, are Evereni, a species that is rarely seen in the galaxy and who have a bad reputation. Marda, sheltered on Dalna with the Path since she was a young child, doesn’t understand the prejudice, but does her best to be a good person and member of the group. Marda, unlike her cousin, is quite naive, believing that the Path doesn’t “steal” artifacts, they simply “liberate” them from those who would use them and corrupt the Force. Her cousin is far more cynical, being one of the members who do steal the artifacts, and often kill those who own or guard them. Marda’s beliefs and loyalties will be tested in the book.

The Mother. Her name is Eleni, but everyone calls her The Mother. She didn’t found the Path, and no one really knows where she came from, but she has Force visions that guide her decisions for the Path. When she receives an artifact that looks like a glowing purple egg, she becomes more reclusive, obsessed with the egg and never letting it out of her sight. If she had good intentions previously, she definitely becomes more sinister when the egg comes into her life.

The Herald. The Herald is one of the Elders of the Path and its previous leader. He now defers to the Mother. He is the father of Kor, Yana’s girlfriend, and has a part to play towards the end of the book.

Sunshine Dobbs. A prospector with the unlikely name of Sunshine, Dobbs is the one who brought the purple egg, which he found on a planet beyond the Outer Rim, to the Mother. Immediately upon meeting her, he seemed to fall under her spell, and became willing to do anything for her.

The Nameless. This lovely fellow is the Nameless, also called the Leveler, or Shrii Ka Rai or Eaters of the Force (so not really nameless, right?). He is what eventually came out of the purple egg (clearly a dark side artifact) the Mother tended so lovingly. The Nameless have the power to kill Jedi through utter and extreme fear, turning them to ash. Presumably the Mother will use it against the Jedi and their offensive use of the Force. What other plans she has in mind remains a mystery for now.

This was a great book that hints at the origins of the Nihil and their leader Marchion Ro, who are the main villains in Phase One of The High Republic books. I can’t wait to read the rest of Phase Two to get a clearer picture of what led to the events of Phase One.

My Entertainment Weekend Update

Hello friends, and happy weekend!

(Spoilery stuff ahead!)

This week’s episode of Andor was, as usual, fabulous. The situation in the prison becomes particularly tense, as it becomes clear Cassian is trying to find a way to escape. At the same time, something weird and mysterious happened on Level 2, and we eventually find out that the entire work crew was killed by their murderous electric floors. We only find out towards the end of the show that it was because the Imperials put a prisoner who was supposed to be done with their sentence back into the workforce on a different level. Clearly, no one’s getting out of there alive. Didn’t they realize that the prisoners would figure this out and become outraged? The answer is yes, they did, and no, they don’t care. Kino finally realizes he won’t win at the Empire’s game, and so finally answers Cassian’s question about guards. He will help Cassian with the escape, but I have a feeling he won’t survive it.

The Empire in this show is at its scariest, and we don’t need any Sith to prove that. Bix is tortured by Dedra with sounds. The sound of tortured and dying children, which of course is quite appalling. Dr. Gorst is the freaky sadist who administers the “procedure” and is quite proud of it. I suppose torturers have to be a bit deranged.

Speaking of deranged, Syril Karn seems to have lost whatever marbles he may have had in the first place, stalking Dedra and claiming they’re kindred spirits with red-rimmed, delusional eyes. I have no idea where his story arc is going, but I’m curious to find out. His mother is a peculiar kind of awful, and I kind of feel sorry for him.

And speaking of awful, Perrin continues to be a complete jerk while his wife strives to convince the Senate that they’re still relevant. It falls on deaf ears, of course. The Senate is a sickly thing at this point, corrupt and apathetic. Mon is realizing she will get nowhere in that direction. And she’s also realizing she may have to compromise some of her ideals by dealing with a wealthy thug for a loan to hide a large sum of money missing from her “charity.” I feel like Mon is being pushed into a corner and she’ll have some pretty difficult decisions to make. What is she willing to sacrifice for the Rebellion? Vel turns out to be her cousin, and I have a dreadful feeling she’ll be one of the casualties that will push Mon further toward the Rebel leader she’ll become. And Leida? I honestly don’t know what’s up with that girl. One day she’s a spoiled rich brat; other times, especially at Mon’s parties, she’s a nervous wreck. Is she spying on her mother? Time will tell what role she’ll have to play in the story. Honestly I don’t care what happens to Perrin, as long as he’s either unhappy or dead, lol. I really don’t like that guy.

I can’t wait for next week’s episode, which will undoubtedly be the prison break. And then there will only be two more episodes, which will probably take place on Farrix. I have a feeling Marva will not survive, and this will further push Cassian toward the Rebel leader he will become. This show is truly compelling Star Wars.

Other than watching Andor, I did a rewatch of The Rings of Power this past week, knowing the reveals of the Stranger and Sauron, and those scenes became particularly interesting. Halbrand is, of course, “Hot Sauron,” and the clues are there. I still think I love the Elrond/Durin storyline best, though, believe it or not. They just have this great chemistry. And even though Durin’s father seems like a jerk here, the truth is, he’s right. Once he’s gone and Durin starts to mine the mithril or whatever else he’s delving for, they unleash the Balrog. He wants to help Elrond (and his people, as well as himself and Disa personally), but he’ll end up dooming his own people.

Naturally, I have many questions at the end of Season One: What will Miriel do? (and do I detect a possible romance between her and Elendil? Or am I reading too much into it?) What will Sauron do next? Where is Isildur? (and whatever happened to his brother Anarion?) Is the Stranger really Gandalf? What’s in Rhun? I’ll have to wait a few long years for the answers to those questions.

Other than that, I’m waiting impatiently for the next High Republic novel, Convergence, out on Nov. 22nd, and reading The Obelisk Gate in the meantime.

I also downloaded onto my Kindle Walking in this World, by Julia Cameron, of The Artist’s Way fame. I’ve always liked her and her methods for helping people find their creativity. I just wanted a bit of inspiration as I try to get back into writing. I’m doing her “morning pages,” three pages of longhand writing, mostly stream-of-consciousness. She also prescribes “Artist Dates,” which is simply taking your inner artist out for some fun, which for me means a visit to the used bookstore, browsing an antique store or curiosity shop, going to a movie at the theater, etc. Just something that stimulates and/or delights your senses or the artist in you. She also recommends solitary walking, which I already love to do. I haven’t been doing enough of it lately, though. I think all of these things will be particularly therapeutic for me right now, as I deal with my mother’s recent death.

That’s it this week. What’s been entertaining you? Let me know in the comments and we’ll talk about it!