WandaVision S01E05 – On a Very Special Episode – Recap

So after a brief recap, we zoom into the 70s and our odd couple parents attempting to get their respective favorite twins to stop crying and go to sleep. (“Oddly enough, Charles Darwin’s The Descent of Man only made him cry harder.” Heh.) Wanda is at the point of attempting to magic the twins into submission, uh, we mean sleep, but it doesn’t work.
(“Why wouldn’t you do what I want?”)
Wanda thinks that they maybe just need more time to figure things out, but Vision’s opinion is that maybe means they need some help.
Cue Agnes rocking in in a, whoops, this must be the 80s outfit (I PREFER THE FAUX-70s STYLES AND I DON’T CARE WHO KNOWS IT) on her way to Jazzercise and she has baby-soothing tips GALORE, gal-pal…except Vision freaks out and doesn’t want her to touch the twins.
Okay, see this is where the whole “the actors are playing it with several levels of staginess and it’s creepy” thing starts to register to my malconditioned nerd brain. Agnes freezes. And then asks if they should just start over from the top again. (the baby crying noises cut out while they stare at each other.)
Wanda, theatrically, tells Vision that AGNES IS HERE TO HELP WITH THE BABIES. And everything is fine again, except that Vision wants to know WHAT THE HELL IS UP. Wanda soothes him, (Agnes dodges out of the room in search of the hard liquor) and then suddenly the problem is solved with the sudden appearance of the three (??) -year old Tommy and Billy instead.
(Agnes is drinking directly from the bottle.)
After the credits, Monica is getting examined and possibly debriefed? Although it’s by a nurse, so I’m going to guess not. She has a recollection of: grief…and violation…and terror. Agent Wu and Miss Doctor Lewis arrive with pants, though, and Monica refuses to let the nurse run more tests and/or blood draws after it turns out that the scans they just took are blank. (Now me, I’d be really worried IF MY BRAIN SCANS TURNED OUT BLANK but hey, strong women are going to strong women, even if there’s only strong women around to strong woman at.)
We cut to the briefing, where Director Untrustworthy And Slightly Unattractive Middle-Aged White Guy (I forgot his name) starts out by crediting Captain Rambeau with their first-hand intel. They now know that Wanda is the principal victimizer, and not a victim.
OKAY, So. Almost immediately we run into a problem. Director UNSUMWG is trying to apply real-world logic to the situation, such as including the full history of Wanda’s association with the Avengers, Hydra, and America, while Agent Wu and other characters are operating on comic book logic, which is that if you help the good guys and they trust you, then you are a Good Guy. I would not have a problem with this setup (we are in a comic book universe), except that Agent Wu is completely snotty about correcting Director UNSUMWGUNSUMWG that WANDA IS ONE OF THE GOOD GUYS whereas you are white, middle-aged, male, not particularly attractive, and in a position of power that might otherwise be occupied by the attractive young black woman. Dick.
Is Director UNSUMWG Who Is Probably Going To Die In A Humiliating Way jumping to conclusions? Yes. That’s what UNSUMWGs do. Is everybody else, including Monica Rambeau, being snotty and insubordinate? Yes. And that, unfortunately, is what “heroes” do these days, too. Monica argues with the Director about Wanda being actively malicious, despite the fact that she herself reported feeling terrified and violated while under mind control.

Okay, one bad writing demerit to the authors. While Monica has a point that Wanda has no political agenda for, y’know, holding thousands of people hostage, this is something that the Director himself should also know, given, YEEEEEEEEK, the very next thing he brings up is that a) nine days ago, b) Wanda stormed the S.W.O.R.D. lab Vision’s body was in, c) resurrected it, d) AGAINST VISION’S PRE-WRITTEN WILL. (Also, that’s creeeeeepy, eeeeeek!)

And that’s it, that’s the briefing. What? Okay, you’re supposed to end a briefing with a plan, questions, or orders–that’s what gives the scene it’s hook. And while this scene does have a hook, it’s: “boy, I wonder what will happen in the next episode (of the thing I have no control over.)”
Back in the house, Tommy and Billy are plotting something involving a puppy in the sink.
(“What is this canine doing in my kitchen sink?”
“A doggy paddle…?”)
Vision enters, in his humanoid disguise form. He’s had, you see, a feeling that someone will be popping over.
(“HI GUYS!”)
…with a dog house.
Wanda magics up a collar for the newly-christened Sparky without making an effort to hide it from Agnes (who is looking the other way! NBD!) Vision freaks a little, but Wanda’s tired of hiding and after all, Agnes didn’t notice anything wrong when the kids went from babies to five year olds. Or, thirty seconds later, when they become ten year olds.
Back at the S.W.O.R.D. encampment, Monica and Miss Doctor Lewis have determined that they need a 10-ton fallout shelter to get back inside the barrier. Monica knows a handy eurospace….what the hell, I’m leaving that typo…engineer, but Darcy points out that there’s a hex (BECAUSE HEXAGONS, eheheh…eh…eh…no, no, no, I love the science, really I do I don’t believe in magic no of course not) that might just mind-wipe her anyway.
Monica wants to go back in despite what Wanda has done to her. We elide over the exactly why this is to have a brief discussion of how this whole setup (being able to potentially create the sets, costumes, etc, means that Wanda is FREAKILY, SCARILY, DANGEROUSLY powerful) except that naw, Captain Marvel is probably cooler. [I mean, she would be if you followed my suggestions, but naw, not really.]
Monica then does something that I don’t even know if the writers realize is 1) really insulting, 2) really stupid, 3) no, even dumber than that.
1) she pulls Agent Wu’s gun out of his holster without his permission. Do I have to go into how this is an improper thing to do? Do I have to point out how this is unlikely to happen with either a professional military officer or a trained FBI agent? Do I need to detail how denigrating this is to both characters?
2) What the fuck?
3) She fires the gun at clothes that are hanging on a clothes rack, in a tent. Do I need to go into more detail?

So, I don’t like this. I do not like or agree with the unwritten rules of this universe. I don’t like the fact that it’s dumb and so incredibly okay with being so. I don’t like the fashion in which it breaks the rules of reality, or that it expects me to follow said breaks without complaint or notice.  

The ACTUAL point of this scene, anyhow, is that Monica figures out that, since Wanda is changing whatever gets sent in, maybe they should send something in that doesn’t require change.
Anyhow, back in Wandaville: computers have arrived. And so, at Vision’s workplace, has an email from S.W.O.R.D., with enough information that it pushes Vision to release whats-his-face, the Indian coworker guy, from the hex. Diverse Coworker Guy begs Vision to stop “her”, it’s all “her,” “she’s in our heads”, “it hurts,” “please” “stop her,” but apparently this isn’t enough information for Vision to, you know, process.
Back at the house, the twins are starting to ask questions. Such as, how is Daddy at work when today is Saturday? Or at least, when, this morning was Saturday? And, did you have a brother, Mom?
The rest of our people are flying an 80s-era drone into town. And while Monica is on the speakerphone going “I just want to talk,” Director UNSUMWG-Who-Is-Obviously-A-Villain starts going “Take the shot.” And frankly, the man has a point because Wanda’s eyes are glowing red THROUGH A BLACK AND WHITE SCREEN.
At which point alarms start blaring in the S.W.O.R.D. compound, which means that everybody rushes outside with little bitty machine guns. In fact, there are so many machine guns (and helpful green laser sights, drawing even more attention to them), it’s kind of obvious that the guns are or are going to be a plot point. 
They’ve succeeded in provoking Wanda, because she comes marching out (in Scarlet Witch garb) dragging their drone. Director UNSUMWG says: you have hostages. Wanda says: You’ve got the guns. [Audience: do you notice any kind of subtle foreshadowing here?]
Monica says: Hey, hey, hey, I am an ALLY! (NO LITERALLY SHE SAYS I AM AN ALLY. GOOD GOD.)
Wanda says: I have what I want, and you all are not going to take it from me. AAaaaaand then psychs out the men to point all their guns at Director UNSUMWG, and goes marching back.
Back in Wandaville the next day: Sparky’s dead. And Wanda is forced to tell the twins (and Agnes, who has the body), that she can’t bring back the dead. (Cue Vision wandering up: “Bring who back?”)
That evening, Wanda is packing up Sparky’s toys when Vision says: “I spoke to Norm. He was in pain, Wanda.”
Wanda rolls credits, but Vision just keeps talking. He demands to know what has happened (and the credits stop rolling). Why is she doing this (hopefully subconsciously)? Why can’t he recall his life before Wandaville? Why are there no other children in Wandaville?
Wanda denies that she is doing anything at all, let alone controlling everything and everybody in Wandaville at all times.
(the doorbell rings)
“I didn’t do that.”
“Wanda, I want to believe you but at this point I’m ignoring statistics entirely.”
(I kinda like Vision now that he’s grown a spine.)
Wanda opens the door and blanches, while, back at S.W.O.R.D., we have delayed gratification with a scene of everyone, in the face of this emergency, alarms blaring, lights flashing, RUSHING DESPERATELY TO THE TV. God, I hate the semiotics of this show.
…..I don’t actually know who this person is. But, apparently, it’s her brother Pietro….recast.


The Rebel Princess – Episode 6 – Recap

So the Crown Prince is confirmed as heir while the Emperor is….indisposed. The Grand Vizier is regent, however, and he’s smirking fit to bust.

Wan’ru, naturally, is intensely distraught that her aunt and cousin are accused of high treason and her family is in trouble. The Crown Prince, showing that he’s not quite as complete a moron as we thought, admits that a) he has a hard time beliving Concubine Xie is guilty (poor guy), and that b) it doesn’t really matter, since at this point his mother and Uncle Grand Vizier have got the reins and aren’t likely to let go. He counsels Wan’ru to keep her head down and promises to keep her safe. But he knows perfectly well that only his father the Emperor can stop the Wang Family now they’ve got started.

Cut to: lol, A’Wu’s other uncle surreptitiously trying out the throne for size. The Grand Vizier explains that they’re going to go slow right at this moment, since the presence of Xiao Qi and his soldiers might make a too-hasty move fatal.

Crown Prince is watching over his father, and poor guy is starting to have questions. Like, why did Concubine Xie do this exactly? She and her already had the Emperor’s favor. But his mother assuages his guilt and he promises to do his best in his role. THIS GUY, SERIOUSLY! He means well! He’s just really too sheltered and stupid to be effective. This is genuine character development, though. He’s trying. He’s admitting his guilt and culpability when he realizes it. At this point and if it continues, especially if he has to learn things the painfully hard way, I wouldn’t actually mind if he ended up with A’Wu.

Grand Vizier is pushing the Empress into moving actively for the throne. She agrees but is reluctant, and she has drawn a hard line at getting her poor, idiot son involved again. If her brother does that, she promises to fight back against him. But meanwhile, what the Grand Vizier wants is for an imperial decree for the immediate marriage of A’Wu and Xiao Qi.

Grand Vizier Regent reports to the council that the frame, uh, I mean evidence, is complete and the Xie Family is guilty and to be imprisoned and executed. One of the ministers protests. The Empress slaps him down, while the Crown Prince squirms and XQ–and Prince #2–observe proceedings quietly but with great interest.

The Empress goes down into the dungeons with, uh oh, a bottle of wine and two glasses. Minister Xie is there and takes the opportunity to warn her that if he does happen to get out, he’s going to be after revenge. But her target is Concubine Xie. She’s there to offer her a way out for Prince #3: confess, die, and I’ll let him live. Concubine Xie agrees and makes her promise. Yeah, I don’t trust that look.

And, argh, they leave her a noose. Damn, that’s cold.

The Grand Vizier presents this “evidence” to the council. His brother urges that the entire family be therefore executed. All of it.

Meanwhile, Prince #2 is assessing the situation. His advisor points out that an alliance with Xiao Qi (and Xiao Qi’s 200,000-man strong army) is going to be necessary for the Wang Family at this point: to shore up power internally and externally. The current plan is that someone named Wang Xuan (whoops, that’s A’Wu) marry him, but #2 is prepared to stop that as well.

Back at our heroine, she’s waiting for her father to come back to ask him whyyyyy? And at this point, her brother arrives with the word from the Empress that the way to save #3 is marrying XQ. A’Wu gallops off to check things out for herself.

But the Emperor wakes not for her tears, and the Empress is there instead. She is actually quite kind to A’Wu (you know, as she explains why and how her arranged marriage is going to be arranged and therefore there is no fighting it if you want the actual person you love to survive.)

And A’Wu agrees. Her voiceover reflects that this is her actual coming-of-age ceremony: accepting the fact that, as a noblewoman, her actual life’s course is in the hands of others and expected to serve her family.

A’Wu’s parents are arguing about it, but, of course, Grand Vizier Dad is a Grand Vizier and the head of the Wang Family and it was his idea in the first place. Also, it’s not for power, it’s for power and security. Also he’s seen his sisters have to make loveless marriages for the sake of power and security, so it’s not like his wife (who married for power and security) has a leg to stand on.

Heh, his wife falls back on, BUT A COMMONER, EW! Grand Vizier Dad slaps that one down hard, causing A’Wu’s brother to offer to join the army to consolidate a military alliance instead.


But A’Wu steps in and quietly says she’s willing to do it.

Meanwhile, XQ is brooding silently, as one does when one is a silently brooding hero whose marital arts might or might not surpass his martial ones. His sidekick points out that he’s been brooding silently for a really long time. Sidekick is trying to figure out all the angles and is kind of stumped. XQ asks what he thinks they should do.
Sidekick says: Well, I do what I’m ordered to, but I’m also going to keep my distance from that Lord Wang.
XQ says: Got it in one, kid.

A’Wu’s mother goes to pay a visit to the Empress and quietly states that A’Wu is not going to marry XQ.

Prince #2 and his advisor are also discussing matters. The marriage-alliance is extremely dangerous to their faction, as it gives too much power to the Wang Family, so, (mutter mutter mutter), that’s brilliant, Lord Huan! I’ll keep my distance and you can go do the dirty work. (Huh??)

Back at the moms. A’Wu’s mother asks her sister in law: how well do you know your brother? Do you really think he’s got your son’s best interests in heart? Or his own? He’s willing to sacrifice his own daughter for his ambition…exactly what do you think he’ll do to a nephew he doesn’t even like? The Empress doesn’t want to hear this, but the message is received nonetheless.

I remain highly impressed by the way the plot has progressed so quickly and yet the lingering, drawn-out misery porn hasn’t.

The Rebel Princess – Episode 5 – Recap

So Prince #3 wants his marriage moved up immediately so he can be with and protect A’Wu against further insult. Meanwhile, A’Wu is disturbed that Wan’ru is going to marry the guy who raped her (although given that they were both under the influence…mitigating circumstances?)

Back at our actual hero, however, XQ is finally unable to avoid a visit from Grand Vizier Dad, there to extend his thanks for saving his daughter. And also some other stuff, namely: what he actually wants is for A’Wu to marry XQ and form an alliance. XQ’s reaction is…bemusement.

The Emperor, meanwhile, is going to agree to the marriage of #3 to A’Wu…next month. I have a feeling that delay is not going to work out well…

XQ, meanwhile, has deep reservations about this idea. But, lol, Dad is at his most Grand Vizierish when he says: No hurry. And then smirks.

I haz a suspicious.

Afterwards, snerk, Sidekick is marvelling at the amount of money/presents XQ got for saving A’Wu: “If I’d known there was this much money in saving people in the capital, I’d be out doing it all day!” XQ orders the money distributed to the families of the men killed in battle.

A’Wu goes to visit Wan’ru. Wan’ru is at the resigned stage of despair. Plus, it’s dawning on her that marrying the Crown Prince = becoming the future empress. Also, it means not having to marry A COMMONER, EW. And, anyhow, being noblewomen, this is their lot in life, after all…

Anyway, that evening, A’Wu and #3 get to Pyramus-and-Thisbe it up a little (the jagged stump where the escape tree used to be, LOL.)

So Wan’ru and he Crown Prince get married off and neither of them are happy in the slightest. But the Crown Prince apologizes to her and promises to go away and leave her be. Wan’ru asks: are you going to ignore me, then? He says: look, I’m aware that this is all my fault and I feel regret (also, people have been beating up on me ever since it happened.)

Wan’ru seems to realize that he is at least as much a pawn of outside forces as she is, and they seem to reach an understanding and agree to be good to each other. So…well, that’s nice.

Naturally, the Empress is waiting outside with a sour face, because of course she is.

So! Elsewhere, Prince #2 is meeting with Another Old Guy (Duke Huan) for some chess and gloating. Their plan is to stand back and let the pot roil for a while.

Meanwhile, the Grand Vizier is up to something nefarious. OH SHIT OKAY THE MUTE PRIEST WAS ACTUALLY A SPY FOR THE WANG FAMILY. He’s….he’s going to poison the Emperor, isn’t he…?

So Grand Vizier Dad goes off to pay a visit to the Crown Prince. Turns out, the missing imperial jade seal was in the care and keeping of the Wang Family this whole 100 years it’s been lost. His plan is for Prince #1 to immediately go and hand it over to the Emperor. Now. Tonight. No matter who he’s sleeping with. Also, (smack) don’t touch it.

As predicted, the Emperor is overjoyed and is pleased with the Crown Prince in particular. He calls for wine! Aaaaaaaand collapses.

He’s survived, but is comatose and may or may not wake up again. The doctor is about to conclude that the poison must not have come from Concubine Xie, but promptly gets threatened into saying whatever the Grand Vizier wants him to say.

The Grand Vizier wants to move fast and consolidate power, imprison and destroy the Xie family, and ally himself with XQ…with the aid of the Empress. If she will stand by her family.

Meanwhile, everyone is gathered at the Emperor’s bedside. Including the poor, dense Crown Prince, who is holding the water bowl and doing brow-mopping and probably doesn’t even realize he was the one who killed his father. GUYS I FEEL REALLY SORRY FOR THIS CHARACTER, HE’S JUST TOO STUPID TO BE A THREAT AND HE’S WELL-MEANING UNDERNEATH. A’Wu rushes in and is just as distraught as everyone else. Probably even more so when Grand Vizier Dad shows up to get the ball rolling. A’Wu does her best to plead for leniency and sanity, and is about to try drinking the wine herself, but Dad hustles her out before she can shame the Empress into behaving like a decent person. Concubine Xie and #3 cower, uncertain as to whether they’re also going to be dragged out.

And, at this instant, XQ arrives! He starts asking actual investigative questions–enough so that even the idiot Crown Prince pokes his head up to say that yeah, indeed, maybe Grand Vizier Wang should slow his roll a bit.

Grand Vizier Wang chooses his most likely opponent–Xiao Qi–and attacks him directly instead of responding to anyone else. But, then on finding out that XQ and Sidekick are alone (and actually unarmed, as is the rule for people in the palace), he continues right on. The Empress looks uneasy but says nothing.

In the council chamber, Prince #2 is, meanwhile, stirring the pot a little….and XQ arrives along with the Empress and Crown Prince. Aaaaand…the Grand Vizier.


I’m liking the fact that the plot moves at a fast pace without drawing out the misery porn.

WandaVision S02E04 – We Interrupt this Program – Episode Recap

So after a brief recap of the fact that Geraldine is Not Part of the Program and got thrown out of Happyville by Wanda, we cut to her….forming up…in a hospital room somewhere. So are a lot of other people. A doctor she bumps into says “they’re all coming back” and they “don’t have the capacity.” Which seems like a lot of information to hand out to just a random person, no? I mean, wouldn’t most doctors would just say “Excuse me” and keep walking? Or in my case, “Psych ward’s that way.” [Oh, okay. See, I haven’t watched the Avengers/Endgame movies, so I didn’t realize this was referencing the Thanos thing at first.]

Geraldine (?)–is then accosted by a nurse who calls her Monica and tells her that her mother (who is the patient she’s looking for, Maria Rambeau) is dead. For three years….which was two years after she…after she…after she (are you ready for it yet?) DISAPPEARED.


(It kind of isn’t).

So we drift into S. W. O. R. D. (Sentient Weapon Observation Response Division….guys, really? Seriously? Why do you need to observe them? If they’re sentient, give them a job to do or put them out to pasture with a pension and crappy health care options. Problem SOLVED) Headquarters. Monica attempts to let herself in but her key card isn’t accepted and the door guy isn’t impressed until Director Tyler Hayward saunters over and explains that she is Captain Monica Rambeau. And now that we’ve gotten that on-the-nose dialogue out of the way, surely we’ll switch back to something a little more palatable.

(YOU KNOW! YOU KNOW! YOU KNOW WHAT THEY MISSED OUT HERE?? THEY COULD HAVE MADE THIS THE “MAN FROM UNCLE” EPISODE OR THE “MISSION IMPOSSIBLE” EPISODE, with like, modern sets and technology but with retro-era scripts and costumes and hairstyles and everybody just going for it with straight faces. Now THAT would have been cool. I’d’a been all on board for that.)

Director Tyler Hayward gives the door guy a snide aside glance for doing his job, so my hopes really aren’t that high, though.

Argh. Unfortunately, the next ninety seconds just proved my expectations need to be dialed down quite a bit more, though. I’m going to go hit myself on the head with something and see if that helps.


So there is a brief scene about MONICA RAMBEAU and MONICA RAMBEAU being awesome and the person who should rightfully be in charge of everything, because US Government agencies operate on the feudal system now. Notice that this isn’t a scene in which MONICA RAMBEAU gets briefed, gets debriefed, issues orders, or asks questions. It’s not a scene in which MONICA RAMBEAU advances the plot or even interacts with the plot. It’s just a scene in which Some Guy (who, being middle-aged, white, not hugely attractive, and wearing a suit, kind of looks like he’s going to be the Act 2.5 Twist Traitor) tells MONICA RAMBEAU that she’s awesome and should rightfully be in charge of everything. And since I didn’t feel like giving myself a concussion to make it tolerable, the dialogue is freaking painful.

Only then we do move into something that seems somewhat plot-relevant. Monica is on ground-based missions only….and, HAH, it’s her mother’s (who founded SWORD)’s policy: in case vanished persons ever returned. On the one hand, HAH, but on the other hand, half measures are worse than whole. She’s being assigned to the missing persons’ case, supporting the FBI.

So presently, Monica is outside Happyville (real world) meeting with the FBI agent who happens to be sitting there at the town sign, Agent Wu. His missing person was in Witness Protection, but has…vanished off the face of the Earth. Meanwhile, two local LEOs who are also sitting over at the town sign insist that there is no such place. They ought to know. They’re from NotHappyville. Agent Wu hasn’t gone inside the town itself, because it Does Not Want Him To, which is a really kind of pathetic excuse for not having at least wandered up and poked at the barrier.

Monica sends out a tiny little helicopter drone of the sort you can frankly buy from Walmart….which fritzes out when it hits some sort of energy field. Which Monica proceeds to poke at with her finger like a moron (a real scientist would have used a stick) and then gets pulled inside.

Cut to: 24 hours later. A van with Kat Dennings (Miss DOCTOR Lewis) and some other people (molecular biology, astrophyisics, chemical engineer, etc) has pulled up at what is now a gigantic SWORD response base. Now, see, I liked this character when she was in Thor and, in contrast to Natalie Portman, had a personality. She’s got a personality here, right now, but it’s: condescending hipster girl who luvs da science. Hm. Let me not praise with too many faint damns. On the one hand, she has a personality and that’s a good thing. On the other hand…isn’t Doctor Lewis supposed to be a mature professional at this point? Oh well.

Within ten seconds of plugging one gadget into another, she ascertains that there’s way too much cosmic radiation in the area aaaaaaaaand there’s our WandaVision episode 1.

Turns out, the beekeeper guy (actually a hazmat, as everyone guessed), was inserted to look for Rambeau. Agent Wu and Director Tyler Hayward (still looking highly suspicious, as middle-aged white guys who are not particularly attractive and have taken the jobs rightfully belonging to attractive young black women, do), disagree on the efficacy of this. They then cluster around Miss Doctor Lewis’ TV as the only useful source of information.

(Dude, you know, at this point I give up. If that last sentence doesn’t speak volumes about the intelligence quotient and imagination levels of current-day scriptwriters, I don’t know what does. And yes, this is coming from someone who did quite enjoy the first two episodes of this series, but those were pretending to be a different series entirely.)

Director Tyler Hayward, with much masculine energy and decisiveness, orders for an analysis and a helicopter and then….exits the scene. Weird flex but okay. He’s probably going off to get ready to betray the heroes or something anyway.

Anyhow, they now have some data to start working with and start ID’ing people in the show and writing down questions. This is when Monica/Geraldine turns up in Episode 2. Miss Doctor Lewis suggests sending a message to the radios inside.

Meanwhile, our Hazmat guy crosses the barrier….which turns him into the beekeeper guy and also severs the cable that he was probably expecting to bring him back home. ((….what happened to him, then??? Because we get the whole big deal about Monica Rambeau getting back out, but what about this guy when Wanda blipped him out of her universe??!))

Miss Doctor Lewis and Agent Wu are discussing the Bobby/Tommy situation. Agent Wu has the, my socially maladept nerd self found quite amusing, bit where he tends to overshare: “Want one?” “Yeah, I thought about it, have a little Jimmy Wu, get him a tiny FBI badge…oh, you meant the chips.” Heh.

But then (in-series), Monica breaks script and asks Wanda about her brother’s death by Ultron. We saw what happened already, but on the outside, the “show” blips directly to the end credits. (Inside, Wanda has ejected Monica with extreme violence which oddly enough does not leave her multiply-fractured and highly dead.)

Back in Happyville, Wanda repairs the damage to her house before Vision returns….but when she turns around to look at him she sees the damaged, gem-less, dead Vision. He tells her that they could leave if they want and she tells him that, no, they can’t. And she has everything under control, sweetie. Vision is having some doubts about this situation but when you’re a fake psychic copy of a person and under the control of an emotionally unstable reality warper, such things tend not to be conducive to ones’ health and welfare to communicate.

Back outside of Happyville, Monica gasps out, in case no one noticed yet, that it’s all Wanda’s doing.

Back inside, Wanda and Vision and Tommy and Bobby sit down to watch TV like good little American citizen-drones.

Rated: Do not go out there and buy Disney+ in order to watch this show.

The Rebel Princess – Episode 2 – Recap

Oh, ok. So. The plot, much as a broth consisting primarily of onions, bell peppers, chopped garlic, and Better Than Bouillion (Chicken Flavor), to which cornstarch has been added and the heat turned up, begins to thicken.

In the previous episode, the Emperor was considering a match between our to-be-properly-introduced hero, Xiao Qi, and Some Guy’s daughter, Wan’er.

Wan’er has just turned up to console A’Wu for being grounded. So, here we go. (Prince #3 is not the guy in white, because they make a point of saying how he hasn’t come to visit her.) And Wan’er concludes the visit by convincing A’Wu to go sneaking out against orders during the Lantern Festival, hinting that there might be a Third party involved if so. Please notice the pune, or play on words.

So meanwhile, Xiao Qi has had an invitation from ?somebody? to go attend the Lantern Festival, which is something that slightly alarms his swordsgirl sidekick; but, given that his position is perilous and frought with political subtext at every turn, the guy has no better options than to…just go.

MEANWHILE back at the secret council of officiousness, they’re still fretting about how a commoner (EW) is going to be allowed to join their noble ranks. Thing is, one of these guys is A’Wu’s father, and he seems to agree with them. ((The Guy In White is A’Wu’s actual brother, it seems?)) The poor guy appears to just be trying to work in his library with all these schemers busy lurking and muttering in the meanwhile, heh.

So that night A’Wu climbs over the wall to go to the Lantern Festival.

She falls! What is it with C-drama heroines? Is it some kind of inner-ear defect?


So it is the long-expected Prince #3, and off they go. Except that A’Wu’s faithful maidservant promptly catches up with them to bring her mistress her cloak. And warn them to be careful. And then…stares longingly and/or suspiciously after them….?

Our young couple are skylarking around, buying masks and watching puppets, etc, and at this point our hero bumps into them. Literally. Heh. He’s meeting up with a not-at-all-suspicious person in a not-at-all-suspicious gigantic hood…oh. It’s A’Wu’s father. Okayyyyyy….

Grand Vizier Dad tells XQ that the Emperor isn’t going to be rewarding him–only seeming to, as his military power now makes him a threat.

XQ parries: “How well do you sleep at night, Prime Minister?”

Grand Vizier Dad says: “I like talented people. I like being allied with them. I like to protect them. If you know what I mean.”

Meanwhile, in a not at all coincidental turn of plot, A’Wu and #3 are watching a puppet opera of the mighty Big Sword General Xiao Qi (here portrayed with three heads and six arms)’s exploits and bickering with random peasants who are speculating that perhaaaaaaaps the Princess Shangyang might be a good match for him. Xiao Qi and his loyal but puzzled sidekick just so happen to wander past as Princess Shangyang-AKA-A’Wu reacts to this as we might expect. XQ’s sidekick takes offence, but #3 just tries to hustle her away. (LOL SHE MAKES A FACE AT THE SIDEKICK AND HE MAKES ONE BACK AT HER AS THEY EXIT. HAAA)

XQ, meanwhile, is thinking that three heads + six arms might actually be kind of sweet.

A’Wu and #3 have done the make a wish and then set your floating paper lantern on fire thing and are just generally being soppy on the bank of a river. Meanwhile, the Empress has rattled up in a coach and is not looking happy. Cut back to A’Wu and #3 and then NINJAS! (lol, I love ninjas, so this development, no matter how short-lived or random, makes me happy.)

Prince #3 isn’t all that much of a fighter, but luckily XQ hears the commotion and arrives to the rescue. The remaining ninjas run away, and XQ strides off after them without bothering to introduce himself. #3 is quite stoic about it when he gets to comfort the sobbing, shaken A’Wu….at least until he feels that he can get more sympathy by playing up his scratched arm, heh.

He gives her a hairpin he’s made himself (it’s quite nice), and they send each other off quite sweetly.

A’Wu sneaks back in through the back door and….

…promptly discovers that her aunt the Empress has been waiting and not particularly happy about it. But this family is actually quite sweet, for a C-Drama. Auntie actually seems more concerned about the fact that she was out by herself, without attendants or a bodyguard, than that she was breaking the rules or something.

But! On to business. Aunt wants it to be known that A’Wu is going to marry the Crown Prince, right? Like a good girl, right? Don’t you want to marry the man you’ve always called Big Brother? A’Wu begs to demur.

Aunt then points out that the women of their family are destined to be Empresses. (As if that’s something that can’t be changed by a good dynastic overthrow.) Auntie doesn’t actually lose her temper until A’Wu proclaims her undying love for Prince #3 and determination never to have to face the same pains and struggle for power that the Empress did.

Okay, to her credit, part of Aunt’s argument is that it is A’Wu’s duty as a royal princess to bear the burden of power and empire, as she (Aunty) has done herself. (But she does nearly slap a bitch when A’Wu says she’d just as soon live as a commoner, LOL.)

A’Wu’s mother arrives at this point and provides cover. Aunty leaves in thwarted rage, but bumps into Grand Vizier Dad. He points out that the Emperor was unlikely to let their family gain still more power by marrying the Crown Prince and consolidating it’s grip over the court….he thinks that the Emperor had an ulterior motive for allowing A’Wu to choose her own husband. But on the off-chance that it was just a random slip-up, he is also going to go play chess with the emperor.

Meanwhile, A’Wu and her mother are having a little sit-down to discuss the ninjas. (The easiest and most obvious suspect is: the Empress. She does not like Prince #3 and wants him gone, her family has the most to lose, and she has prior cause to resent him).

Cue #3’s mother popping up to complain to the Emperor.

Cut to: Some Guy (look, they all look freaking alike!) who is in charge of capitol security, getting raked over the coals for a) not protecting the prince from ninjas, b) not producing any live ninjas. Is he involved in the nefarious ninja plot? Dead men tell no tales! (Hm. Is this going to backfire on XQ somehow when he turns up?) The Emperor appoints Someone Other Guy to investigate the case.

The Emperor also grills the Empress a little bit. She defends herself smoothly but is definitely rattled. And, even he thinks she’s the prime suspect, so she definitely does have reason to be scared.

OKAY, SO. Wan’er’s father (this guy) is of the same family (the Xie Family) as Prince #3 and his mother. That’s good to know. He is not in charge of the investigation, some other guy is. But the investigation continues, and it does indeed look like the trap is being aimed at XQ: the idea that the men were killed to keep them from revealing secrets, the fact that they were evidently killed by a master swordsman, and the fact that they’re not locals.

So naturally our valiant detectives go storm a local brothel to look for non-local peoples.

The madam tries her best to keep them out of one particular room….

…where a customer tries desperately to keep his face out of sight….

…because it’s Prince #2. (huh, I was kind of expecting XQ there.)

Meanwhile. Wan’er and her father have a talk….thing is, once she finds out the plan for her to marry XQ she pitches a fit and refuses and storms out, finis this episode.

OKAY, so that was two episodes.

I really quite like Ziyi Zhang, and putting aside the fact that she’s far too old for her character, she’s great. Again: she’s a totally beautiful actress, perfectly made up and expertly filmed. What’s even better is that she sells her character expertly. A’Wu is also a good heroine–lively, but not annoying, willful but not stupid, stubborn but not selfish, and spoiled but not rotten. She’s what a lot of dramas aim at but fall short of.

Our hero has had basically zero screentime, but given that 90% of it consists of spinning kicks, I’m in.

The plot maintains a good pace and a certain amount of drama without getting too bogged down into the tedious “my house versus your house and the stakes are everybody potentially getting tortured to death if we do the wrong thing by a hair but nothing ever, ever, ever happens except people glaring at each other and making cutting remarks but the stakes are SO HIGH GUYS.”

Aaaaand, I guess I’m going to watch episode three.

But not tonight.

WandaVision S01E03 – Now in Color – Recap/Rundown


So. Our heroes are back, and it is now the 70s. Also, in case you didn’t remember or notice, in color. (Man, I kinda love the 70s aesthetic. It’s so terrible and yet everyone wearing it is completely dead-convinced it and they are completely cool.)

Wanda, the doctor confirms, is definitely Bearing Fruit. Vision is resistant to the idea that he is having new-father nerves, since his nerves are of steel. (VISION, WHY DON’T YOU SEE THE DOCTOR OUT AND STOP SUGGESTING SILLY THINGS LIKE YOU NOT BEING A CARBON-BASED, HUMAN, FRUITFUL MALE?)

The doctor has been planning a vacation in Bermuda but he’ll be back in plenty of time when things start to happen. Sure he will.

Incidentally, the black afro guy (Herb), is hanging out by the garden wall, trimming his hedges in a highly suspicious fashion.

Anyhow, the pregnancy is progressing at suspicious, nay, supernatural speed….given that it’s been about twelve hours and she’s already feeling kicks. Vision estimates that it’s going to be due Friday afternoon, but then the next scene is Braxton-Hicks contractions and a mysterious power surge/outage occurs.

Wanda wonders aloud if it’s obvious that it’s their fault….they’ve had so many close calls and slip-ups and come so near to accidentally revealing their powers. Vision starts to agree with her that there is something really strange and really something is wrong here….and then there’s another time-unwind blip and he just snaps into comforting her instead.

Then there’s a oh-so-hilarious scene of them doing breathing techniques together, Vision from approximately four feet off the floor.)

(And then an indoor rainstorm heralds Wanda’s water breaking, which isn’t particularly funny but which is followed by a scene of them hiding under the living room table, which is.)

And then there’s one of those really-terribly-apropos ads of a stressed and overworked mother: would you like to get away from it all….?

Vision runs to fetch the doctor while Wanda practices breathing at home and then the doorbell rings. The nice black lady (Geraldine) needs to borrow a neighborly bucket while Wanda tries to hide the fact that the baby is arriving nine months early.

Aaaaand then the stork arrives. What’s more, it’s resistant to Wanda’s attempts to magic it away, and….I’ll admit, I did lol when it hid next to the mural on the wall. Anyhow, Geraldine ends up delivering little Tommy.

Shortly followed by little Billy.

Outside, the doctor leaves on the note that he doesn’t think he’ll be able to get away, after all. Small towns, you know. So hard to…escape.

Meanwhile, Agnes and the black afro guy are hanging out by the garden wall, being suspicious and asking questions about Geraldine.

Inside, Wanda reminisces about her missing twin brother to Geraldine, and starts singing a lullaby in Russian/Sokovian. Geraldine says: “He was killed by Ultron, wasn’t he?”

Outside, Agnes says, Geraldine doesn’t live in their neighborhood. She has no home.

Inside, Wanda is not happy about this development. Also, Geraldine’s necklace has a sword on it. (Actually, it looks like an inverted cross or an ankh, but never mind)

Outside, Herb is about to spill some sort of beans (“She came here because we’re all–“) when Agnes shuts him up hard, and is apparently genuinely scared at the prospect.–not that she’s about to let Vision see this.

Inside, Vision finds that Geraldine’s gone, honey. She had to rush home.

We cut to: a town sign that says “Westview” and Geraldine getting expelled physically through some sort of barrier, to which jeeps, trucks, and helicopters immediately rush in.

I somewhat like this show, and it’s entirely based on the fact that I’m not entirely sure what’s going to happen next.

The Rebel Princess – Episode 1 Recap

The Rebel Princess is a 2021 C-Drama starring Zhang Ziyi and Zhou Yi Wei as the leads. Also present is Kara Hui, whom discerning audiences will remember from the Shaw Brothers’ My Young Auntie, or similar. It’s available with English subs on Viki (but took too long to load there so I watched it on Youtube.)

So, without more ado: here’s my recap for episode 1.

So we start off with the child princess, played by some child actress. She’s a pampered, spoiled, and much-loved princess, rather than a put-upon and bullied one, and is on good terms with her grandmother, her uncle the Emperor, and her three…cousins…? the princes. Of them, she prefers Prince #3 and it seems to be mutual. Her official name is Shangyang, but her personal name is A’Wu.

Her family is extremely powerful and has had twelve empresses, one of them her being aunt. Her father is also the prime minister–read: grand vizier, but low-key. He doesn’t cackle, he just lurks, stares meaningfully, and smirks a lot. This seems, out of the first twenty minutes or so, to be one of the less dramatically cut-throat imperial courts, but that will probably change.

About ten minutes later, she’s grown up enough to be having her puberty ceremony and she is played by Ziyi Zhang.

Now….Ziyi Zhang is about 41. She’s playing a role basically the written for someone the age of her Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon character, except now she could comfortably be cast in the Michelle Yeoh role.) She’s absolutely beautiful and flawlessly made up and also probably plastic-surgeried up too, and she’s a powerfully charismatic actress who absolutely sells her character. It’s just kind of a shame that she can’t play some sort of role written for a mature, powerful, and beautiful woman instead of…a teenager.

But anyhow, A’Wu’s puberty ceremony gets sidetracked into the various factions asking pointed questions about royal marriages, and then even further derailed when A’Wu goes off script and says that she’d prefer a love match over a high position, and in this world only wants to be married to–

–cue her own father suddenly and coincidentally shouting her down with a report of urgent news from the border, sorry no time for matchmaking, there’s going to be a warn on, men’s business must go first (kid we are going to have WORDS after this).

After this, anyway, A’Wu is sulking too much to properly partake in the ancestor ceremonies, omissions which are not overlooked by her family. But A’Wu won’t take a hint and demands to know why she wasn’t allowed to state her preference for a husband. Is it because her father doesn’t like Prince #3?

His reply is basically, “Well, at least you aren’t all dumb, kid.” Heh.

But, also, it’s because there’s going to be a war on.

Cut to THE WAR! Some guy with a big sword rallies the troops and they all go RAAAA and gallop off. Meanwhile on the other side, some guy with a fur hat rallies his troops and they wave their spears in the air. And then form up a nice, tight shield-wall with only their spear-points sticking out.
Tactics, man. They always sneak up on you when you’re not expecting it. So Big Sword Guy is alone in a ring of pointy spear and the dust flies…

Cut to: the council discussing the, y’know, extremely theoretical possibility that the barbarians, y’know…win. On the other hand, the reward for killing the barbarian king is instant promotion to the nobility.

OK, so the conversation is actually about the possibility that if this general guy (Xiao Qi? Big Sword Dude?) wins, a (ew) commoner is going to be promoted to the ranks of the lordship. HOW CAN WE ALLOW THIS BESMIRCHMENT OF OUR SOCIETY TO OCCUR? THAT’S RIGHT, WE SHOULDN’T….oh, wait, he is protecting us against the enemy isn’t he…hm. A conundrum.

A’Wu, meanwhile, is pestering her uncle the Emperor. He promises her anything she wants if she wins the chess game he’s currently playing against himself.

He is also worried about what will happen if Xiao Qi does win…and gets his promotion. The other nobles won’t accept him. A’Wu is of the opinion that they are stupid and stuffy. Just make him a lord already, he works for you one way or another, doesn’t he? Oh, she’s going to be maneuvered into agreeing to marry him, isn’t she…

Big Sword Guy flies out of the ring of spears and duels the head Fur Hat Guys one-on-one. We know they’re evil, because they have fur hats and veils that hide their (stuntmen’s) faces. And curved swords. Big Sword Guy, on the other hand, has no helmet on and is handsome. Sheesh. This is stupid. I know you wanted to have some sort of big hero moment, but…why start by making your hero charge his cavalry directly into entrenched spearwall and kill off all of his own men? Why not have him be the one with the spears? Or something else awesome?

Eh, I’m overthinking it and I know, the budget…


Eh. It’s not like I’ve reflexively started to empathize with barbarians who wear furs and challenge the dominant political structure, right?

Anyhow, A’Wu has won the game and immediately starts cajoling her uncle to agreeing to allow her the freedom to marry where she wills. And, since an uncle’s as good as his word, he agrees.

News of this promptly reaches the Empress, who is fairly disgusted with this notion: their family has had twelve empresses, and that’s going to be thirteen if it’s up to her (and her Crown Prince son.)

(Meanwhile, A’Wu’s celebratory dancing gets rudely interrupted by what I’m assuming is her brother-in-law? The guy who wears white a lot. Or just plain brother, perhaps? He warns her that her father is going to be pissed and probably give her a spanking when he sees her at dinner. But never fear! He’s got a pillow…)

So. The Empress’s son/the Crown Prince, has learned about the whole A’Wu Can Choose Her Own Husband thing, and is pissed. He’s even more upset that his mother isn’t all that likely to go to great lengths to force her niece into marrying him. She’s more focused on the fact that he might not always be the Crown Prince and ought to do something about it. But Prince #1 storms off, shouting that he doesn’t really care about it anyway.

A’Wu has seemingly decided to skip dinner…..until she then arrives with a bundle of sticks for being beaten with, lol. (The other members of the family carefully sink back out of the line of fire). But Dad asks: did the Emperor agree right away or after thinking it over first? He thought it over, first.

So Dad is about to paddle the shit out of A’Wu (who is a total wimp about it) before he notices that a) the sticks she has have thorns, and b) nobody’s had dinner yet. So she’s going to get fifty lashes with a non-thorny stick afterwards and NOBODY IS TO ASK FOR MERCY FOR HER OKAY? I AM THE PATERFAMILIAS HERE AND IT’S NOT LIKE I DON’T KNOW ABOUT THE PILLOW, YOU GUYS. Also, grounded. Let’s eat.

Back at the palace, the Emperor and….I dunno, I’m guessing this is Prince #3’s mother, discuss things. They are well aware that Prince #3 and A’Wu love each other, but on the other hand, A’Wu is one of the 12-Empress Family and her family is well aware of it. But, d’awwww, the Emperor did it because he wanted the kids just to be happy.

CUT TO: a messenger galloping in with news that Big Sword Guy has won! Woo!

Cut to: the council of officious nobles discussing the fact that the emperor’s response to this was: “Reward,” because, uh-oh, that means A COMMONER is going to join their exhalted ranks. Guys, this is why you keep getting overthrown in brutal peasant rebellions and small island nations.

So Xiao Qi is promoted to a Lord and ordered to return to the capital. His buddies (including a random swordgirl buddy), are jubilant but also wary.

We leave off the episode with the Emperor preparing to welcome the conquering hero in person (and hoping to arrange a fast-ball marriage with, look, all these old courtier guys look alike so I’m not sure who this person is exactly or more importantly who his daughter is but, y’know, his daughter who is not A’Wu but is instead Wan’ru or Wan’er or something.)

So, wait a minute. Who exactly is Prince #3 anyway??? Is it the guy in white? Have we even seen our heroine’s ostensible love interest yet? I am puzzled.

But intrigued.

Off for round 2…

WandaVision – S01E01 & S01E02 Rundowns


This is kind of weird. Like, it’s five minutes in and I haven’t decided whether it’s making fun of the 50s-sitcom format featuring a happily married heterosexual although not heterosapien couple who have just moved into a new neighborhood and are variously plotting or forgetting their first anniversary, or making fun of me, the audience, for kind of getting into the story.

It’s been five minutes and the characters are…kind of charming? And the setup is mildly amusing already? And the fact that the camera isn’t in the actors’ faces whilst they mug for their line, which aren’t supposed to be taken seriously anyhow because it’s a comedy (as the laugh track helpfully indicates), helps enormously? Also, I’m a sucker for 1950s fashions?


So, anyhow, our amusing setup is that whilst Wanda is with the aid and abettance of her neighbor to the right plotting out a romantic dinner for two on the occasion of their anniversary, Vision’s boss expects to be treated to a homecooked meal. A predictably hilarious sequence of near-catastrophes later, the actual catastrophe seems to have occurred when Mr. and Mrs. Boss ask our heroes what their wedding was actually like. Or when it was. Or why they don’t actually have rings. Or why they moved to the neighborhood.–a question which neither of them can answer and both struggle mightily with.

Fortunately, Mr. Boss chokes on a chocolate-covered strawberry at this point and the crisis is…averted. Wanda and Vision settle on their song, anniversary, date, and a set of conjured rings….
And the episode ends with someone at an ominous Monitoring Desk of Ominousness, watching their episode’s credits on a Monitor Of Doom.

wv111Episode 2 begins with Wanda and Vision in bed (separate twins, natch) which the cold open arranges to change into a single double. (eheheh) After this is an annoyingly animated credits sequence which I expect I was supposed to be cute.

We then move into Vision practicing his magic act for the talent show. It’s important, Wanda explains, for them to a) participate, b) be authentically fake enough to fit in. But shortly something else happens: Wanda discovers a model helicopter in her rosebushes. What’s more….it’s in color, while everything else in their world is black-and-white.

Agnes, the neighbor on the right, then interrupts. Now, it’s pretty clear that Agnes is being set up to be either an agent of whatever oppressive forces have Done This to Wanda and Vision, but, in the meanwhile, she’s still a kind of funny, charming character who Wanda plays off of perfectly. We then follow Wanda and Agnes-the-neighbor-on-the-right to the neighborhood Stepford Smilers Committee, or whatever it is supposed to be, which is presided over by a Queen Bee lady. Queen Bee lady is immediately coded as a bad person: she’s blonde, snippy, and, worse, is snippy to a plus-but healthy at whatever sized-woman and to our hero. Also, there’s a black woman there who is coded as nice, because she complements Wanda’s slacks. Guys, you’re starting to lose me.

Vision, for his part, is having a much more amusing and less productive time at the local boy’s club. He gets gum stuck in his throat, or somewhere thereabouts.

And at this point, the radio starts talking to Wanda.

We cut to the talent show. Vision is acting as though he’s drunk, which is delightfully funny or was intended to be. Vision starts doing actual magic, which Wanda has to then cover up…using more magic to undo whatever he’s doing (“That was my grandma’s piano”) revealing the “secret.” So….this is actually kind of clever and would have been legitimately funny if it could have gone a little smoother (or higher budget?)

Wanda then discovers she’s about eight months pregnant when she gets home.

And then a guy in a bee suit climbs out of the sewer and looks menacingly at the camera…only for Wanda to rewind time to back to when they were indoors and turn their world into color.

The episode ends with a repetition of the voice from the radio asking Wanda if she knows who is doing this to her. I’m gonna guess “the bad guys.”


Verdict: I’m slightly intrigued, albeit the menacing bee-keeper suit was a lot less menacing and more surreal (read: stupid) than it was probably intended to be–and I honestly can’t see how any context whatsoever is going to make it less stupid in the future. Oh, also, the fact that the episodes are really short (<30 minutes) helps enormously to keep things moving.

I like both the actors and they are portraying their characters with just the right amount of charm and humor. And, while I can’t help but expect to be sucker-punched for watching and enjoying a show that celebrates the 1950s and many of the values which were common to our society and civilization in that day…

I’ma give them the benefit of the doubt, for once.

The Romance of Hua Rong: some highlights

So….The Romance of Hua Rong recaps are by far and away the most popular thing on this blog, which…well, it’s supposed to be a science-fiction and fantasy review site. But, hey, rule number one is whatever gets the clicks. And…this show was fun, funny, romantic, pretty, light, entertaining, well-made, and it helped keep me sane while I was surrounded by crazy people and tigers.

So here are my favorite bits from my recaps of the same:

Epsiode 1!

Meanwhile, everyone is trying to make a break from the brothel, but the Old Guy escapes and Our Heroine accidentally knees Our Hero in the groin after he accidentally touches her boobs while they’re both hanging off the side of a ship.

Ladies and gentlemen: C-Dramas.

Episode 2!

Well…girl tried.

Meanwhile, in typical fashion, Hua Rong gets pulled into (trying) to solve an injustice…which does get solved…when Chang Sheng shows up to back her up. So a young man is being bullied by other servants. Hua Rong chats with him and tells him to stand up for himself. He then tells her about the river grass that make people itchy. Shaggy Bro marches past with a consignment of slaves who will be going off the island to the mainland. Blue Bro then shows up with Chang Sheng’s clothes.
(It don’t work.)

Episode 3!


The map is tucked into Chang Sheng’s belt. Hua Rong does not succeed in getting it off him.
SO SHE’S ATTACKING WHILE HE’S IN THE BATH, AHAHAHA. Chang Sheng, considerately, puts his robe on before confronting her. Hua Rong hides her face anyway. Chang Sheng, considering that he’s pretty decent, merely flicks his hair back with sexy impatience.

Epsiode 4!

“Now we’re even….kill him.”

So Throat Cutter is yelling that Chang Sheng still owes him for taking that bullet (sword). CS agrees. He’ll even repay it. SO HE PULLS A KNIFE AND STABS HIMSELF, DAMN.

Ep 5!

The color correction was somehow off on the first few picture, sorry. It’s not actually yellow/redwashed.

You know, it’s kind of mean to run off on a guy on his wedding night. I’m just sayin’.

Ep 6!

(First guess doesn’t count.)

Luckily, Hua Rong has a cunning plan! And here we go again! It involves disguises. Yeah. Guess who gets to dress up as the lecherous old man?

Ep 7!

y…yes boss…

CS declares he will protect them anyway, bbbbut oh, no need; the sidekick has brought the constables. The party departs. So, not only do they have constables, there is a whole carriage, becayse Mr. Jin travels in style. Aaaand then the pirate bros arrive! To defend the Boss’s Lady!….boss, did she just leave again? CS orders them to a) shut up, b) get on the case of Mr. Jin. And c) SHUT UP.

Episode 8

Well footstomp but you get the idea.

CS takes the opportunity to gloat to HR–that’s an evergreen sentence–but she declares she was Doing The Right Thing (Only!) He replies that pirates don’t do the right thing but they do pay their debts. So….how about he repays her with his body, amiriiiiiiiight? (shove)

Episode 9

It’s really hart do screencap action scenes, but take my word for it.

That night, the Black Dragon Gang invades the inn! Mr. Jin fights them off, a kung fu hero! Hua Rong does her best to fight, but it’s hard to both fight and run away screaming at the same time. She wants to fight side by side with her hero, awww! But she’s still not all that good. And then Hui actually saves her by stabbing a ninja in the back! But then Mr Jin goes down! OH GOSH! ANOTHER MYSTERIOUS YUN HE SHOWS UP!!!! He decoys the ninjas out! (This one is Chang Sheng, he has the knife-spinny trick, and now the pirates also show up to ambush the ninjas.) The pirates have bows, but ninjas are ninjas. But then Chang Sheng tackles one off the roof…without a mask on? Or are we dealing with three Hero Yun Hes here?

Episode 10

The fact that Hua Rong takes about ten seconds to figure it out is never going to not be funny.

That’s Chang Sheng in a mask. Don’t tell me differen…oh SHE RIPPED IT OFF LOL

Episode 11

This scene is actually kind of adorable. The actors genuinely have off-the-charts chemistry.

Aw. Hua Rong and Chang Sheng are for probably the first time ever chatting peacefully and drinking together. They also have kind words for each other! Probably also for the first time ever. And yes, Chang Sheng is much less obnoxious when he’s not, y’know, being obnoxious. Aaaand are they getting drunk again? And…and….iiiiis that another fade to black?

Episode 12


That’s Chang Sheng in a mask, come on.

Episode 13



Episode 14

Snooty, please put the sword down…

 Snooty Cousin shows up. She’s come to visit the man she loves. With a sword. Heh, I like it when the crazy guy starts acting wary of the crazy girl.

Episode 15

Engagement painting is all the rage…

So Shang Cheng leaves her with just Blue Bro and a letter telling her to go back home. Hua Rong is naturally incensed. Lol, but she logic bombs Blue Bro into doing what she says: whose orders does he follow? The Boss’s. Whose orders does the Boss follow? Hers…buuuut sister-in-lawwww! Heh. So off they go.

Episode 16

Higher. Faster. Smugger.

(Back at the contest pavillion, Shang Cheng is smirking like he’s going in for the Olympic Smugness Medal.)

Episode 17


LOL, SC is forcing the Bros to come up with ideas. (Because this has worked so well in the past.) Blue Bro thinks that women know women best, and they should try brainstorming in the brothel rather than on the riverbank…..CUT TO: GUESS WHAT.

Episode 18

I mean, really?

Wanwan protests that this is totally unfair and who came up with the rules? (Her father, heh.)

Episode 19

Yeah I just liked this face. Lol.

OH MY GOSH HE PUT THE STUPID MASK ON AND WENT ON STAGE TO DECLARE HIS LOVE FOR HUA RONG. How cheesy can a man get? Sheesh. What’s more, it works. Waaugh, cheesy.

Episode 20

You guys….

Anyhow, the boys are brainstorming. Which, given what they’re starting out with….

Episode 21


Meanwhile back at Mengdie Villa, Shang Cheng is getting thrown out of his wife’s rooms in his underwear. Good times.

Episode 22

Pretty easily, turns out.

So: how do two people (with reinforcements on the way, naturally) attack an entire camp of soldier/ninjas?

Episode 23

Miss Tang is not wrong.

Back to our leads, Shang Cheng is keeping watch over a resting Hua Rong. She has slept for twenty-four hours! (She’s pregnant, isn’t she.) Shang Cheng has stayed awake to watch her for twenty-four hours! He’ll only go away and get some sleep if he gets a kiss! Juuuust one kiss. OK THEN LET THE SKINSHIP COMMENCE–AAaaaaand like clockwork, that is when someone comes to the door. It’s Miss Tang (LOL, HR’s irritated hairflick and CS’s alarmed side-eye).

Episode 24

…how did they fit in those boxes, really?

So, basically, he did go back to the tunnel–in force along with the rest of the pirate bros–and didn’t bother with all the riddles and passwords and counterweights thing. He’s a pirate. They blow shit up. Lol.

This show is amazing and I will defend that opinion with my dying breath.

The man inside The Mandalorian’s suit

….is generally Brendan Wayne, grandson of the John Wayne. The impression I get from this Vulture interview is that a lot of the character’s physicality is much more him and less Pedro Pascal–which is an impression I also got from the way Pascal’s voicework is kind of disconnected from much of his onscreen body language. Give it a click, he’s got some interesting things to say about how he helped design the character and why he plays it the way he does.

How I view The Mandalorian: It’s a Star Wars story told by someone who really likes Star Wars…but that person is a dumb person who doesn’t understand any of the deeper context to the story he’s trying to tell. So while he’s telling a story that looks almost right, and feels just about right, it’s a dumb story, because it doesn’t understand how the tropes it’s using actually work, or why.

A New Hope was, famously, based on Akira Kurosawa’s The Hidden Fortress, but it cribs from absolutely everyone and everything–from Dune to The Searchers. It has as an underpinning to its character’s actions, the martial philosophy of the samurai (or at least, a Hollywoodized version of it), the self-sufficient, independent, individualism of old-west cowboys on a frontier where the government comes rarely and, depending on your race (species?) is untrustworthy to actively malicious.–or maybe you just want it to stay out of your Planets’ Rights. It has an old-fashioned notion that a hero would respect even go out of his way to help the innocent, women and children, even if he is a wandering lonesome man–not because he’s thirsty or a pushover, but because innocent iterant farmers have a complex and highly important role in Westerns: they are symbolic of a civilization and a hope for the future that might be different from the life that hero has, but one which he can understand and one that he can admire.

The series is at its strongest when it draws on its Western roots. The much-maligned Chapter 4, for instance, is a “Training The Peaceful Villagers” episode. In context as a semi-episodic western TV series, it makes perfect sense that The Mando would both first accept a contract to do good for some folks who needed help and still be bound to mosey on out of town (off planet) afterwards. Chapter 5, with its Arrogant Young Gun, likewise is perfectly unobjectionable in theory.

The problem comes when the showrunners aren’t capable of blending “we are now following Old West Logic” together with “space logic.” The genre shift is too abrupt and they can’t reconcile things like: Mando wistfully hoping to leave The Child in a peaceful village to grow up with other children (and mosey on alone), with the fact that there is a tracking fob on The Child that will draw other bounty hunters to it. Could this issue be solved by adding a couple lines of justification? Sure.

The first episode encapsulates this. Mando has to learn to ride the walking toothy-tadpole things because the screenwriters really wanted their Corinthian-helmed space cowboy samurai to ride through the desert, because that’s what a space cowboy does. In-universe, is there a good reason? No, because the only reason given is the native guide says, “I have spoken.” So the scene is amusing…but unfulfilling, because the audience knows they are only getting to watch a space cowboy samurai ride a walking tadpole for fanservice, and that takes all the intelligent enjoyment out of it. Could it have been fixed?

Yes, it could have, very simply.

“We don’t have a speeder. You will learn to ride blurrg. I have spoken.”

Anyhow, The Mandalorian isn’t half bad, Brendan Wayne has some interesting and insighful things to say, and hopefully they won’t screw up the second season.