While this TV show premiered in December, if you haven’t watched yet, then there’s no time like this minute to join us in celebrating Black History Month, and that these long winter days are drawing to a close, by snuggling up on the sofa of an evening and digging into some Sci-Fi TV show drama.
Kindred, Octavia E. Butler’s celebrated and critically acclaimed novel, has been adapted for television by writer and showrunner Branden Jacobs-Jenkins. This American Science Fiction TV Mini Series—available to watch on Hulu—at 8 episodes long, is perfectly binge worthy.
From FX/Hulu: Adapted from the celebrated novel Kindred, by Hugo Award-winner Octavia E. Butler, the FX series centers on “Dana James” (Mallori Johnson), a young Black woman and aspiring writer who has uprooted her life of familial obligation and relocated to Los Angeles, ready to claim a future that, for once, feels all her own. But, before she can settle into her new home, she finds herself being violently pulled back and forth in time. She emerges at a nineteenth-century plantation, a place remarkably and intimately linked with Dana and her family. An interracial romance threads through Dana’s past and present, and the clock is ticking as she struggles to confront secrets she never knew ran through her blood, in this genre-breaking exploration of the ties that bind.
Kindred stars Mallori Johnson as “Dana James,” Micah Stock as “Kevin Franklin,” Ryan Kwanten as “Thomas Weylin,” Gayle Rankin as “Margaret Weylin,” Austin Smith as “Luke,” David Alexander Kaplan as “Rufus Weylin,” Sophina Brown as “Sarah” and Sheria Irving as “Olivia.”
And when you’ve finished the show but still want more … this worthwhile TV show is backed up by an even better novel. (yessss!)
The TV show Kindred is adapted from the celebrated 1979 novel of the same name, written by Hugo Award Winner Octavia E. Butler.
“Octavia Butler is a writer who will be with us for a long, long time, and Kindred is that rare magical artifact … the novel one returns to, again and again.” —Harlan Ellison
—A Good Morning America 2021 Top Summer Read Pick
The visionary time-travel classic whose Black female hero is pulled through time to face the horrors of American slavery and explores the impacts of racism, sexism, and white supremacy then and now.
Dana’s torment begins when she suddenly vanishes on her 26th birthday from California, 1976, and is dragged through time to antebellum Maryland to rescue a boy named Rufus, heir to a slaveowner’s plantation. She soon realizes the purpose of her summons to the past: protect Rufus to ensure his assault of her Black ancestor so that she may one day be born. As she endures the traumas of slavery and the soul-crushing normalization of savagery, Dana fights to keep her autonomy and return to the present.
Now that Disney’s largely in charge of the Star Wars franchise, we’ve seen a lot more content hitting Disney+. In the past few years, we’ve had a few animated shows, The Book of Boba Fett, The Mandalorian, and now, we have Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Again, the Star Wars team is sticking to their guns, relying on the popularity of their big-shot characters to carry their shows instead of exploring a story outside of the Skywalker saga.
That being said, the first half of the Obi-Wan Kenobi series isn’t bad—it’s just ordinary.
(Spoilers ahead for Parts I – III of Obi-Wan Kenobi).
Summing Up The Obi-Wan Kenobi Series
The Obi-Wan Kenobi show takes place ten years after the events of The Revenge of the Sith, with Ewan McGregor’s Ben Kenobi hiding out on Tattoine. Ben works a normal job at a meat factory-thing, taking occasional trips to watch over Luke on Owen’s farm.
The Imperial Inquisitors turn up on Tattoine looking for Jedi, and the fall onto Ben’s trail. From there, Ben manages to escape Tattoine, continuing on a journey to find a young Princess Leia, who was captured from the palace grounds on Alderaan.
Ben’s movements catch the attention of the Grand Inquisitor, and later, Darth Vader. On Mapuzo, another desert-like planet, Vader catches up with Ben, and they have a very on-sided duel, which almost ends in Ben’s demise.
Did We Need An Obi-Wan Kenobi TV Series?
I find myself asking these questions a lot: “Did we need this show? What does it add to the universe?”
For example, when watching Moon Knight, I asked that question, but largely I decided that Moon Knight was a necessary show, and it added some variation to the MCU.
But, after watching the first three episodes of the Obi-Wan Kenobi series, I felt like I honestly couldn’t come up with an answer for those two questions.
And here’s why.
The Star Wars timeline places many of the TV shows and one-shot films between the large cinematic movies. The era when Obi-Wan Kenobi takes place is between The Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope.
But Obi-Wan Kenobi isn’t the only treat situated between the prequel films and the original trilogy. Nope, this is the area that Star Wars overloaded.
Between TRotS and ANH, we have Solo, Rogue One, Star Wars Rebels, and The Bad Batch. That’s a lot of screentime for the same era, and honestly, I think this period in Star Wars has been beaten to death. We know the Empire’s bad, we know people are still struggling with the fallout of Order 66 and looking for revenge and all that. I don’t think there’s much else to riff off in this section of Star Wars, but they continue to do so.
The Future Is Already Written
Another problem that I have with shows like Obi-Wan Kenobi is that as much as the series might try to create urgency, drama, or a cliffhanger, it just falls flat, at least for me.
And it falls flat because I already know what’s going to happen.
For example, in Obi-Wan Kenobi, Princess Leia gets captured and her life is in danger. But not really, because we know she lives on for at least another 60 or 70 years.
Obi-Wan struggles in a battle against Darth Vader, and the tensions are high! Well, not really. We know Obi-Wan survives (as does Vader), and they’ll resume their fight in A New Hope.
If I were a new viewer, and I had started at the very beginning of the Star Wars cinematic timeline, and Obi-Wan Kenobi was a follow-up to The Revenge of the Sith (without me having any knowledge of the future movies), I’d say it’s pretty enjoyable.
You still have cool alien characters, new places to explore, politics between peoples, and classic Star Wars stormtroopers. It’s an entertaining show, and I think it might add some value for people just getting into Star Wars.
But, as a long-time viewer, the Obi-Wan Kenobi TV series is blatantly format. Pitting a beloved, outcasted hero against an infamous villain in the vein of the original Star Wars trilogy, but without the high stakes. It’s interesting, but unremarkable.
The X-Files is filled with great episodes, and after nine seasons (and two reboot seasons), it’s hard to pick-and-choose.
However, one episode stands out above the rest as the best X-Files episode, and that’s “Pusher”, episode 17 of season 3.
Because of its intense cloak-and-dagger plot and the uniqueness of the villain, “Pusher” has to be my favorite episode of X-Files, ranking even higher than this episode.
But there’s a lot more to it than that. Let’s get into it:
The Plot of “Pusher”
The episode kicks off with Robert Patrick Modell shuffling through a grocery store, while being tailed by FBI agents. He eventually blows their cover and is arrested for a series of murders dating back to 1994.
While in the back of the squad car, Modell, known as Pusher, uses his psychic ability to make the officer driving the car pull out in front of a speeding 18-wheeler.
As the episode progresses, Modell uses his abilities to influence a federal judge into ruling in his favor, sneak into the FBI headquarters, and prompt a secretary to assault Assistant Director Skinner. Plus, he urges a SWAT officer to set himself on fire and induces a heart attack in the lead detective on the case.
The whole episode is about Modell trying to find a worthy adversary for his games, which ends up being Fox Mulder. As Mulder and Scully start to unravel Modell’s history, they find that he has a brain tumor that has likely triggered his psychic ability.
At the end of the episode, Modell forces Mulder into a game of Russian Roulette, but when Scully pulls a fire alarm to break Modell’s concentration, Mulder shoots Modell and he’s apprehended.
“Pusher” is one of the highest rated episodes of X-Files, having made multiple lists of the best episodes. IGN ranked it the third best standalone episode, and Den of Geek puts it at number seven.
When it aired, the episode received rave reviews, and raked in over 16.2 million viewers.
It’s understandable why so many people like “Pusher”, as it certainly stands as one of the best Monster-of-the-Week episodes, even after the famous Eugene Toomes episode in season 1.
But there’s more going on in “Pusher” than a lot of people realize.
What Makes “Pusher” The Best X-Files Episode?
Up to this point in X-Files, we’ve seen monsters like Eugene Toomes, who is driven purely by his physical need to feast on the human body. Other monsters are driven by similar urges, few of which exhibit the inherently sinister nature of Patrick Modell.
By the end of the show, Mulder and Scully discover that Modell’s brain tumor developed in 1994, and remained operable for two years. However, Modell refused surgery, instead using his newfound psychic powers to wreak havoc on his community.
This dynamic solidifies a theme that Chris Carter and other writers of the show played with throughout the first few seasons, and that’s the mundane nature of evil.
Modell wasn’t a bad guy before the tumor. He was ordinary in every sense, and never managed to excel past a minimum wage job. He failed to pass the psych evaluation to become an FBI agent, and was deemed to be a narcissist in the same evaluation.
The only thing that set him apart from every other lower-class worker was his haunting ability to influence other people into hurting themselves, and he decided that instead of live out the rest of his life deep in medical debt, he’d rather, as Mulder puts it, “go out in a blaze of glory”.
In many ways, Pusher felt that he rose above the societal and class restrictions that kept him as a supermarket employee with his new powers. He described himself as a ronin, a masterless samurai. A lone ranger, or more aptly, a wolf without a pack. He carves out a new life, one of shadows and blood, as a contract killer.
This is why “Pusher” is the pinnacle of X-Files‘ societal commentary.
For many people, the corporate, governmental, and medical powers that be are the prime culprits of their misfortune. Low wages, bad housing, expensive medical treatments, and lack of mental health assistance make it difficult to rise out of the lower class of American society. Even today, we still see the same problems.
And for these people struggling to get by, sometimes their only option is to turn to darker channels: drugs, theft, fraud, and for Modell, mercenary work.
In the end, Mulder and Scully claim that Modell is just a little man who wants to feel big. I feel like their conclusion is true, but far from the whole truth. I think there were multiple factors that lead Modell to his ultimate breaking point, and the eventual murder of authority figures—police officers, doctors, security guards, and detectives.
Perhaps the conclusion should not have been “he wants to feel big”, but rather, “he’s the evil we made.” Sure, Modell made his own choices, but the tumor that brought him his abilities was perhaps one of the best things to happen to him in his life, which is sad. Could Pusher have been avoided if Modell had access to mental health treatment? Affordable healthcare? Opportunities to climb the social ladder?
I just finished watching the first season of Russian Doll, and I have to say, it was a wild ride. Natasha Lyonne’s performance was spectacular, and the slow burn style of the series left me with questions all the way up to the last episode.
But we have Russian Doll season 2 coming out today, so here’s a break down of what happened in the first season and what to expect with the second season.
The Road So Far…
If you haven’t seen the first season of Russian Doll, there will be some spoilers in this article, so you can skip to the section “Russian Doll Season 2 Preview”.
In the first season of Russian doll, we ‘re thrust into a weird, mind-bending, time-altering jaunt that gives a new take on the Groundhog Day repetition sequence. Natasha Lyonne’s character, Nadia, attends a birthday party thrown for her, and at one point dies, only to wake up in the bathroom back at the party. This scene, no matter how many times it’s shown, never gets old.
For a few episodes, Nadia navigates through repeated deaths, each time getting farther from the bathroom at the party, venturing out to look for her cat, get a haircut from a homeless man, and visit the deli around the block.
There, she meets Alan, another person stuck in the death loop. The two team up and start to puzzle out what’s happening to them. Their relationship has a great dynamic, with Nadia’s brusque, offhand pessimism, and Alan’s quiet, demeanor.
Eventually, they realize that to get out of their constant loop, they have to right a series of wrongs they committed in the past. For Nadia, it’s meeting her ex-husband’s daughter, and for Alan, it’s being honest with his girlfriend about their relationship.
Despite the repetitious nature of the dying-waking up-and-dying-again sequences, the show never gets stale. Unlike some other shows that play with time, Russian Doll is hard to predict. Even moments away from the end credits, it’s hard to discern what will happen next, and that’s what I like about the show.
Nadia’s gradual descent into frustration is parallel with the overarching themes of past wrongs, both personal and global. The intense symbolism and dramatic elements highlight societal struggles while also maintaining their place as visual aspects of the series.
If I had to rate Russian Doll, I’d give it a 10, hands down, so that gives me high hopes for the second season.
Russian Doll Season 2 Preview.
A while ago there was a teaser for Russian Doll season 2, but only recently did we get to see a full trailer. And as you can see for yourself, it’s even more trippy than its predecessor.
While looking deeper into the second season of Russian Doll, I learned that Natasha Lyonne not only plays Nadia, but is also the showrunner. Working on the series has been, as Lyonne describes, “the happiest I’ve been in my life,” in an interview with Indie Wire.
In the same interview, Lyonne sheds some light on the focus of Russian Doll’s second season. She says that the show becomes about Nadia reckoning with her European heritage. In real life, like in the show, Lyonne’s grandparents were Hungarian Holocaust survivors, and she’s wrestling with questions of history and trauma.
She says, “How is historical, familial, epigenetic trauma present with us in the room even when you’re…you know, whatever, like, telling some guy you’re not ready for a relationship.” We’ve already seen some of this reflected in Nadia’s character in the first season, but Lyonne has made it a primary focus of the second season.
From the trailer, we see that the characters embark on yet another time-warping journey, this time on a train. Trains have long been a staple of mystery and time-travel fiction, and it’s another trope that Lyonne is playing on here, much like her Groundhog Day inspirations in the first series.
I’m certainly looking forward to see what Lyonne has in store for Nadia and Alan as they traverse the blowback of their traumatic first season.
The first episode of Russian Doll season 2 premieres today, April 20th on Netflix.
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As you’ve probably seen already, Disney and Marvel are releasing a new miniseries on Disney+ called Moon Knight. The show stars Oscar Isaac as the titular character, with a March 30th release date.
For many of us, the Super Bowl commercial for the Moon Knight show was the first time we’ve seen the Egyptian knight character, but there’s a rich history of Moon Knight comics that the show will be based on.
Here’s everything you need to know about Marc Spector, Moon Knight, and his origin story before you watch the show at the end of the month.
The Origins of Marc Spector
While the trailer for the show makes it seem like the Moon Knight has some kind of super powers, what with the glowing eyes and the suit that forms to his body, he actually is an ordinary human.
Marc Spector used to be a Marine, part of the CIA, and a mercenary for the highest bidder. When another merc brutally murders an archeologist in Sudan, Spector steps in to save the archeologist’s daughter. During the fight, the other merc, known as Bushman, kills Spector at the feet of a statue of the Egyptian god Khonshu.
Miraculously, Spector comes back to life, believing he’s been resurrected by Khonshu, the god of the moon, to be a protector of the innocent.
There’s been a few different iterations of the Moon Knight comics, but they are almost unanimously centered around Marc Spector’s dissociative identity disorder. Spector uses a few different identities which he created—Steven Grant, Jake Lockley, and Mr. Knight—to go about his day to day, gathering information from all levels of society.
But other comics detail the psychic connection Spector has to Khonshu, which causes Spector to shift between four different personalities of the moon god.
Generally, Moon Knight’s powers are all human in nature. Spector uses the wealth he amassed as a gun-for-hire to create a Batman-esque lair with advanced technology. The one thing that might be considered a superpower is Spector’s ability to avoid death. He’s died multiple times, but is always resurrected by Khonshu.
The First Moon Knight Comic
Moon Knight first appeared in the 1975 comic Werewolf by Night #32, and later received his first series in 1980. The series was headed up by Dough Moench, who has worked on Batman comics and is credited with the creation of the Deathlok character, and Bill Sienkiewicz, whose work appeared in New Mutants, The Mighty Thor, and Daredevil.
Since the first Moon Knight comic in 1980, there have been 9 official volumes alongside plenty of side-appearances with the Avengers and other notable heroes.
In 2021, a new Moon Knight comic was released under the name The Midnight Mission, and it was written by Jed Mackay with art by Alessandro Cappuccio and Steve McNiven. The six-issue series portrays Marc Spector as a priest of Khonshu’s congregation, as well as taking on the form of the “defender of those who travel at night”.
And with the new show coming out later this month, Marvel plans to release an anthology series titled Moon Knight: Black, White, and Blood in April 2022.
From the looks of the two trailers for Marvel’s Moon Knight miniseries, there are some changes in store for Marc Spector. We see him as an insomniac, fighting to control his dreams and discern what’s imagined from reality.
For the show, they clearly exaggerated Spector’s D.I.D., to the point where he lives as Steven Grant almost exclusively. In one scene, he answers the phone and is confused by a woman calling him Marc.
It’s unclear how true to the Moon Knight comics the show will be, but it will be nice to see a new Marvel character prepare to join an Avengers lineup, as presumably that’s what the show is setting up.
We’ll keep you posted on the Moon Knight TV series, and we’re certainly excited to see where it goes!
In the meantime, check out some of our other comic book content:
I wrote a review of The Book of Boba Fett after the first three episodes, and in that article I was hopeful that we’d get to see the growth of a character that was previously painted as a villain.
What was it I said? “what sets apart the new Star Wars media and the old Star Wars content is compassion”.
Oops. I was wrong. What sets apart The Book of Boba Fett is that the writers lost their vision. In a series named after Boba Fett, we see very little of him after the 4th episode, and his presence is almost as an aside to the Mandalorian.
And why is that? What happened in the production process that made it seem okay to sideline the titular character?
(Spoilers for The Book of Boba Fett and The Mandalorian).
Boba Fett Is a Setup
The show was originally going into untapped territory, exploring a character who we’ve only seen as a grown killer and a traumatized kid. But Boba Fett remains then same throughout most of his show, remaining stoic and honor-bound.
This is the Boba Fett we see nursed to health by the Tuskens, and it’s the Boba we see walking through the streets of Mos Espa after they defeated the Pykes.
So if there wasn’t a palpable character shift for Fett, why make the show? Sure, seeing our beloved bounty hunter mount the Rankor to destroy new and improved droidekas was pretty cool, but what was the purpose?
You’d think with such a massive budget, around $15 million per episode, that the showrunners would be keen to make the show stand up in its own right.
Instead, The Book of Boba Fett sets up the next season of The Mandalorian, and that’s about all it manages to accomplish.
As soon as Fennec Shand turns to Boba Fett in episode 4 and says that credits can buy muscle and she knows where to find it, the show gets derailed. From that point onward the show’s no longer about Boba Fett, it’s about the Mandalorian.
Too Much Star Wars
The Book of Boba Fett is a prime example of the biggest pitfall Star Wars content creators face: repetition.
We’ve seen nine films dedicated to the Skywalker story, which is six too many. We’ve seen Luke Skywalker and Ashoka Tano show up in The Mandalorian because they’re familiar characters and they pull in views.
And we’ve seen The Book of Boba Fett Frankenstein together a cast of old heroes and villains for the sake of fan-pandering.
The problem Star Wars has—or we should say, Disney has—is that it’s too afraid to branch off and create new content. They know what makes money, and they’re scared to turn from that. In reality, and I think I voice an opinion many Star Wars fans have, if Disney puts out new, fresh Star Wars content we’ve never seen or imagined before, we’d be overjoyed.
The Mandalorian was one of the wholly original ideas that didn’t rely on a Skywalker to succeed, and the first season was awesome. It was a good show in its own right. But as time went on, we see it fall prey to the common Star Wars pattern, which means bringing back old characters from animated shows and shifting the focus to the same old storylines.
That being said, The Mandalorian still succeeded as being a great addition to the Star Wars universe that wasn’t completely consumed by lightsabers, Jedi, and the Force.
If The Book of Boba Fett had stood up a little straighter and stuck to its guns, it could have been a passable show with its own story.
Instead, the showrunners bring in Mando, Grogu, Ashoka, Luke, and Cad Bane (a call back to an old Clone Wars story arc that was dead on arrival).
The Other Boba Fett Problems
I mentioned earlier that Boba Fett doesn’t really change much as a character. He takes the throne of a stepped on criminal empire and tries to hold onto his authority. We don’t see Boba Fett reach any profound realizations about the strains of power, nor do we see him face off against any worthy adversaries.
Fennec Shand manages to kill off the Pyke leaders, the treasonous Mayor, and the back-stabbing crime families in a single go. And yet it takes Mando and Boba Fett fifteen minutes to take out two battle droids?
And Cad Bane.
With all the backstory we see at the beginning of the series, with much of the first few episodes consisting of Fett remembering how he escaped the Sarlacc pit, there isn’t a single mention of Cad Bane. For those who don’t know, Cad Bane was an infamous bounty hunter who appeared in the animated Clone Wars show and acted as a mentor to a young Boba Fett. Yet, that storyline is largely incomplete, and not even canon, I might add.
So, to bring in a character like that as a nemesis for Fett, it’s contrived. A last-ditch effort to inject a little conflict into the series ended up as a shock-factor cash grab of recycled material.
At the end of the day, all I can say is that I expected more. After The Mandalorian, I thought we’d entered a new era of Star Wars that was fresh and inventive and didn’t fall prey to old habits.
But, I guess I was wrong, and we’ll see just how wrong I was when the Obi-Wan Kenobi show brings back all kinds of old, probably already dead, characters.
I didn’t really have any expectations for the show, I saw it as a cash grab for people who loved the Boba Fett character from the original Star Wars films and The Mandalorian TV show. But, having watched the first three episodes, I think it has a lot more substance than most Star Wars media.
(Spoilers ahead for the first three episodes of The Book of Boba Fett and both seasons of The Mandalorian.)
A Rich Background
When Boba Fett first appeared as a dangerous bounty hunter in the Star Wars Holiday Special in 1978, and later played a bigger role in The Empire Strikes Back and The Return of the Jedi. He was the kind of character you hated to love, with very few lines, but an imposing presence.
In short, he was one of the classic villains from the original Star Wars trilogy, and later appeared in dozens of Star Wars comics, some of which were one-shot adventures, other were longer stories.
But, only when Temuera Morrison reprised his role as the infamous bounty hunter in The Mandalorian season 2 did Boba Fett become more than just a gun for hire. The show gave him depth and purpose, a vast change from the shoot-first, ask question later character many of us were familiar with.
Writing the History
So far, The Book of Boba Fett has been filled with backstory about how the bounty hunter escaped from the Sarlacc pit and found his way back to civilization.
Personally, a lot of the backstory about the Tusken Raiders and Boba Fett’s return felt unnecessary. When the character made an appearance in The Mandalorian, we could very well have assumed most of what happened after he was presumed dead in The Return of the Jedi.
But the backstory seeks to do more than reveal how the bounty hunter survived. It takes the new Star Wars approach, where previously bad characters are seen in a better light. And not just Fett, the Tusken Raiders, too.
For most of Star Wars history, the Raiders have stood as one of the perils of Tattooine, a dangerous desert tribe who pillaged for survival. The Book of Boba Fett shows us a new side to the classic “bad guys”, showing them with more culture and heritage than they ever had before.
Boba Fett not only learns to accept the Raiders, he helps them stake their claim on their land and even becomes an honorary member of their tribe.
I think what sets apart the new Star Wars media and the old Star Wars content is compassion. In the original Star Wars, Boba Fett would have never thought twice about killing Tusken Raiders, but now, he takes the time to learn their ways, protect them, and go out of his way to give them the respect they deserve.
Not to mention, the enthusiasm and compassion Boba Fett shows to the Rankor calf gifted to him by the Hutt Twins. It’s interesting to see Fett’s character transition away from anger and violence to a more thoughtful approach.
In many ways, Fennec Shand plays the part that Boba Fett played years ago as a bounty hunter. Played by Ming Na Wen, Shand is a deadly assassin who first makes her appearance in The Mandalorian season 1, episode 5, and is later seen in the animated series, The Bad Batch.
She’s known as a ruthless bounty hunter, and is Boba Fett’s right-hand woman in the new sci fi TV show. Where Boba Fett in the original trilogy was cold and heartless, Shand is more pragmatic, though still prone to violence.
She’s one of the most interesting characters in the show, and I’m interested to see what story arc is in store for her. In some capacity, I feel like she’ll remain a static character, always sticking by Fett’s side because he once saved her life. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if she becomes frustrated with Boba’s newfound patience and branches out to commit criminal acts in his name.
Is The Book Of Boba Fett Worth Watching?
I’d say yes, it is. This sci fi TV shows spins the previous narrative of the infamous bounty hunter to make him a more likeable and relatable character. Plus, we get see sides of Tattooine we’ve never experienced before, like the deep criminal politics.
I do feel like the backstory is overplayed, and it really dominated the first two episodes of the space western TV show. Hopefully, moving forward, we’ve crossed over into the present, and the backstory is only interspersed throughout.
If you liked this post, check out some of our other content. We’re always talking about all things sci fi, whether it’s a deep dive into science fiction subgenres, or reviews of books, movies, games, and shows. New blogs, twice a week!
Within the first few episodes, it becomes clear that the showrunners had to make certain choices to omit characters or alter their story arcs to fit into the 8-episode format.
To be fair, The Eye of the World is a big book, and Robert Jordan was notorious for adding plenty of new characters along the journey. Some of which aren’t as critical as others.
However, The Wheel of Time show has hopped and skipped over what should have been at least one episode’s worth of content.
After the group separates at Shador Logoth, the doomed city, Rand and Mat travel to the city of Caemyln, having been saved from a Fade by Thom Merrilin.
In the city, we’re introduced to a number of important characters, including:
Elayne Trakand, heir to the kingdom of Andor
Gawyn Trakand, Elayne’s brother
Galad Damodred, half-brother to the Trakand, a strong warrior
Queen Morgase, Elayne and Gawyn’s mother, Queen of Andor
Elaida, an Aes Sedai of the Red Ajah, advisor to the throne of Andor
Gareth Bryne, Captain-General of the Queen’s Guard
Very early on in The Wheel of Time show, we’re introduced to the false Dragons, chief among them Logain Ablar. That storyline was altered because Rand and Mat actually meet Logain in Caemlyn, but in the show he’s gentled at about the midpoint and imprisoned in the White Tower.
The glossing over of Caemyln doesn’t bode well for the rest of the show. Elayne, Gawyn, and Galad are all crucial characters throughout the rest of the books, and Elaida is a long-standing Aes Sedai who becomes more important as revelations at the White Tower unfold.
Plus, we’re missing Elyas Machera, the wolf man who guides Perrin and Egwene to safety after Shadar Logoth. He is a vastly important catalyst for Perrin’s arc, which was woefully forgotten in the show.
What Happened at The Eye of The World?
It’s been some time since I read The Eye of the World, but one thing I never forgot was the importance of that titular element. In The Wheel of Time show, the Eye is portrayed as the Dark One’s prison, when in reality, it is a vault of sorts, as well as a well of untarnished power.
The Eye of the World contains one of the seals to the Dark One’s prison, the shiny stone Moiraine holds at the end of the last episode. It’s known as cuendillar and is extremely rare, coming from the Age of Legends, thousands of years before the show takes place.
Also in the vault are the Dragon Banner of Lews Therin Telamon, which was woefully absent in the show, and the Horn of Valere, which has mysteriously made its way into the throne room at Fal Dara.
Both of these items are of great importance later on in the series, as they call back to the ages past. Hopefully, the Horn of Valere, a major aspect of The Great Hunt, remains so in the show.
But after watching the season finale, you might be wondering, what actually happened at The Eye of the World? Is the Dark One dead? Where will Rand go? Has Moirainne actually been cut off from the One Power?
Let’s break it down:
In the book, the whole group travels to the Eye of the World, where they meet Someshta, essentially a mystic tree man guardian of the vault. The group is attacked by the servants of the Dark One, including the Forsaken Aginor, Balthamel, and Ishamael. (The Forsaken are the Dark One’s top followers, all of which are like semi-undead evil channelers).
Rand uses the One Power to defeat Aginor, and harnesses the power of the Eye to thwart the trollocs and Ishamael, and that’s how Moirainne knows he’s the Dragon Reborn.
But, in The Wheel of Time show, that’s not what goes down.
Rand and Moirainne trek into the Blight, where Rand is confronted by who he thinks is the Dark One. And I hope you didn’t think that was the Dark One too, because you’d be wrong.
That mysterious dream man with the flaming eyes was Ba’alzamon, a disguise worn by Ishamael, the most powerful of the Forsaken. He attempts to trick Rand into freeing the Dark One from his prison, and is eventually blown away by Rand’s sheer power.
But, not before Ishamael seemingly stilled Moirainne. This is perhaps the biggest “oh-no” moment at the end of the series. Moirainne is not stilled in the books, and she continues to channel throughout the series, to critical effect. It’s unclear what the future holds for her, just as it’s unclear how the story will change now that Rand has set out on his own, presumably to travel to the Aiel Waste.
What’s Up Next for The Wheel of Time Show?
A lot of the setup needed for The Great Hunt, the next installment of the book series, was altered in The Wheel of Time show. Though, the Seanchan are revealed at the very end of the season finale, which does hint that they’ll play a part in the second season.
Is Loial dead? He certainly cannot be, because he, too, plays a big role later on. And what about Mat? Did Moirainne really set the Red Ajah on him? Will Egwene and Nynaeve return to Tar Valon to be trained as Aes Sedai?
Only time will tell, but if the first season of The Wheel of Time show was any hint, I think fans of the books are in for a few frustrating years. The series has great production value and it’s great to see the books finally make it to the big screen, but adapting the first book in any series is always the foundation for the rest of the show.
I hope the showrunners can pull it off, because frankly, I’m a little worried. Glossing over so many important characters (like Elayne, who has a much larger role in the second book) and altering the timelines hasn’t given me confidence that the show will succeed.
But, for the time being, it’s something fun to watch, albeit sometimes infuriating, and I’m anxious to see where the series goes from here.
Ever since the live action Cowboy Bebop on Netflix aired November 19th, 2021, the Internet has been alight with criticism. Wired wrote an article about how the show flops, and other popular news outlets claim the 46% Rotten Tomatoes score as an indicator of the show’s worth.
But, even though the new Cowboy Bebop show on Netflix might anger and frustrated hardcore fans of the classic 1998 anime of the same name, there’s a lot to love in this new show.
The original Cowboy Bebop aired in 1998 as a singular season with 26 episodes. It quickly gained a cult following, and its jazz-fueled space noir style brought something new and fun to the cyberpunk genre.
In a world of 900-episode long anime series, Cowboy Bebop was blissfully short, but it packed far more of a punch than most of its counterparts. The anime won countless awards, including the 1st place at the 1999 Anime Grand Prix.
In 2017, there was talk of bringing the anime to life in a live-action series, and a year later, Netflix announced the show would come to their streaming platform. In 2021, we finally got to see years’ worth of work come to fruition, but fans were relatively unimpressed.
The live-action show hasn’t stayed entirely faithful to the source material, instead opting for a rendition instead of a truthful adaption.
And for many people, this ruffled feathers. Such an acclaimed and loved anime, seemingly defiled in another live-action remake.
However, there’s a lot to love about Cowboy Bebop on Netflix, and when we look at it as an alternative version of the anime instead of a poor adaption, it stands up on its own fairly well.
What’s to Love About Cowboy Bebop on Netflix?
As someone who watched the anime, the live action show took some getting used to. At first, I was a bit confused about the timeline and the story that the show was running with, but after a few episodes I was able to overlook the inconsistencies and view the show as a honoring of the source material.
The characters in the Netflix show are deep, motivated, and fun, more fun, I might say, then the original characters.
Faye Valentine, one of the female leads, has much more depth than in the anime. Her whole story revolves around not knowing her past, having been awoken from a cryogenic sleep with amnesia. Her motivations are realistic and her attitude mirrors the frustration she feels at living half a life.
In the anime, she’s very sexualized, which was a trope of anime of it’s time (frankly, it still is a trope), but the Netflix show re-imagines Faye as a badass bounty hunter with a me-against-the-world attitude.
And the banter that made me fall in love with the anime hits really hard in the Netflix show. I found myself laughing at the grumpy nature of Jet, Spike’s smart ass remarks, and Faye’s pithy one-liners.
For Spike, his transition to the big screen was the most intriguing. In the anime, there’s this duality about him. He’s funny and grim, full of heart and a scoundrel at the same time.
In the Netflix version, he oozes emotion, and is much less of an ass than in the anime. He builds relationships with Jet and Faye, and even though he keeps secrets, he’s much more loyal to his friends than in the anime. And this change made the Netflix show stand out.
They turned surly characters into deep, troubled heroes, but in a way that still follows the main themes of the source material.
What’s Stayed the Same?
One of the most endearing elements of the anime was the bounty-of-the-week style. Yes, there are plot-heavy episodes, but largely the story follows the Bebop’s crew as they hunt down wacky, villainous bounties.
And the Netflix show incorporates that while also running with a larger, underlying conflict.
We see those weird villains, like Mad Pierrot, and we see the more serious villains like Asimov and Vicious.
Vicious’ character in particular is deplorable. In the anime, he appears off and on as a returning antagonist, but in the Netflix show, he’s so full of emotion and violence, coming to life as more than a vague villain.
He has motivations and heartbreak, more than the anime allowed him to have. Despite being much more mad in the Netflix show, Vicious settles into his role of the big baddie very nicely.
Cowboy Bebop on Netflix is a Must-Watch
At the end of the day, if you are a big fan of the anime, watch Cowboy Bebop on Netflix as a loving rendition instead of an attempt to change the canon.
As a science fiction and fantasy enthusiast, it can suck to see a story you love adapted for screen. Take The Wheel of Time, for example. The first few episodes have changed a lot about the books, and while I’m irked by certain choices, I still enjoy seeing a series I love reach a wider audience.
Same goes with Cowboy Bebop. I guarantee that people who’ve never seen the anime will go back and watch it after binging the Netflix show, and will find something to love in both shows.
I hope we get to see more of Cowboy Bebop on Netflix. While the show hasn’t stayed true to its source material, it reinvents the anime, enriching the characters and making the cyberpunk noir setting really pop out.
Plus, I’m always down for some cowboy banter and Ein, the adorable Corgi sidekick.
You might have seen people talking online about the new Wheel of Time show on Amazon Prime. From what I’ve seen, it’s received mixed reviews.
Diehard fans of the books are prone to nitpicking inconsistencies, while the more open-minded fans are just glad to see the series come to the big screen.
So, is TheWheel of Time worth watching?
What Is The Wheel of Time?
The Wheel of Time is a 14 book series (15 if you count the prequel novel) by Robert Jordan. Unfortunately, Jordan passed away near the tail end of the series, so Brandon Sanderson, another fantasy author, was commissioned to finish the last few books using Jordan’s extensive notes.
Compared to other works of epic fantasy, like The Song of Ice and Fire or The Lord of the Rings, The Wheel of Time is massive.
By the end of the series, Jordan and Sanderson wrote over 4.5 million words, making it the longest fantasy series of all time. (ASOIAF and Discworld are runners up.)
There’s been a lot of push for WoT to be made into a TV series, and there was even a pilot episode in 2015 from Red Eagle Entertainment as a last-ditch effort to keep the rights to the show.
However, the episode was a flop, and in 2018, Amazon got the rights and ordered a show.
The first three episodes aired on Amazon Prime on November 19th, 2021, and the Internet has been abuzz with reviews, comparisons, and criticism.
Should You Watch The Wheel of Time?
As a long-time fan of the books, I was skeptical about how Amazon would take a series of such epic proportions and adapt it for television. I knew that a lot of the elements I loved about the books—the prolonged journey sequences of The Eye of the World, the numerous poems and songs, and the rich lore—would probably be glossed over for the same of brevity.
And after watching the first three episodes, I still have my doubts. The show has already changed some things about the story that were completely unnecessary (for example, Perrin never had a wife in the books).
But the acting is fantastic, and the set design is of a grand scale. Visually, the show is excellent. The show captures the small-town vibe of the Two Rivers, and the majesty of the White Tower. And the trollocs (WoT’s equivalent of orcs) are terrifying.
If you’re unfamiliar with The Wheel of Time, the show does a lot to get viewers up to speed with the lore. Plus, Amazon produced an animated side-series that helps explain what’s going on in each episode from a lore perspective. This feature is kind of hidden, though, so I guarantee not everyone will find it.
To access the side series, you have to pause the episode and click on bonus content. From there, you can watch the animated series.
And for fans of the books, people who have been reading them since the 90s, there’s a lot to complain about, sure, but at the end of the day, I think so far the show has stayed fairly true to the story.
The Opening Scene
I’ve already decided that I can find no fault with the production design. The characters were expertly cast, the costumes echo the paintings of Darrell Sweet (the cover artist for the book series), and the music is both pulse-pounding and calming.
However, I can nit-pick a little bit with the creative liberties the team took with the opening scenes and the timeline.
The prologue of The Eye of the World focuses on Lews Therin Telamon, the previous Dragon. He’s overcome with madness from channeling the One Power, and he comes face to face with Ishamael, a servant of the Dark One. Lews Therin realizes that in his madness, he’s killed his whole family, and he weeps for his misdeeds.
Ishamael assures Lews Therin that they’ll meet again, and Lews Therin consumes so much of the One Power that he is atomized, leaving a massive volcano in his wake.
This scene is so full of emotion and foreshadowing, not only for the Dragon Reborn, but for the servants of the Dark One. I really feel like Amazon made a bad choice when they cut this scene, because it’s an iconic introduction to the series. The book series, at least.
And I’m interested to see how the show handles the timeline. We’ve already seen male channelers be gentled by the hands of the Red Ajah, and Logain’s already in chains, which happens fairly late in the book. As more episodes come out, it’ll give us a better glimpse as to what the timeline will be like.
We know that the last episode of the 8-part first season is title “The Eye of the World”, which happens at the very end of the first novel. So, I doubt the show will delve into the second book’s material at all in the first season.