Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The 100 Post Season Wrap


(Warning, this is a very long, spoiler-arific post. If you haven't seen the season finale and don't want to know, then click away while you've still got the chance!)




I couldn't decide which I wanted to do more; write this blog post on the epic awesomeness that was The 100 season 2 finale, re-watch the Bellarke goodbye scene with that incredible version of Knocking On Heaven's door by Raign playing in the background, or immerse myself in the whole richly layered, chocolate-cake-like episode again (you know, if chocolate cake was deadly and made you want to cry instead of being delicious chocolaty goodness). I'll no doubt eventually end up doing all three.
But before I get ahead of myself, let's just get one thing clear. If creator and writer Jason Rothenberg keeps this up, he's going to end up on a pedestal right next to Joss Whedon in my mind for the understated brilliance he's able to bring to the screen, never letting a thing like convention get in his way.
I've watched other shows that have "pushed the boundaries" in terms of violence, sexuality and general morality, but some of those often feel empty, the violence there for shock value alone, the risque same-sex lip-locking just dipping a toe into relationship and gender equality issues because everyone else is doing it.
After the season finale, and indeed, the entirety of season two, The 100 has proven to be in a league of its own. Like Joss Whedon's classics of Buffy and Firefly, the scenes, conversations and exchanges in The 100 are layered with texture you might not even realize are there until later in the story.
This season was one huge build toward the inevitable, and I just loved the domino effect that brought all the characters together in a finale that was shocking, yet totally logical in a horrific kind of way that makes you really think about what people individually, and we as a society are capable of.
But on to specifics, because that's where all the juicy stuff is.
As a writer myself, a lot of the time I watch TV shows and think in terms of plot, seeking out possibilities and then deciding on the most likely scenario, which means I'll often guess what's going to happen on a TV show before the big reveal. So I love being surprised, which is why I'm such a big fan of shows that can do that, like Arrow and The 100 have proven capable of doing.
I did get a clue a few episodes ago that Lexa was possibly feeling something more than just respect for Clarke, so I wasn't all that surprised at the kiss they shared. I did love that instead of Clarke saying something redundant like "I'm not into girls" she replied with the more open "I'm not ready to be with anyone yet."
It's obviously not beyond the realms of possibility that so far into the future, people will no longer by hung up on gender or relationship stereotypes, that sexuality and love won't be about who a persons is attracted to, but why they're attracted to them. As for today? It was a positive message, kind of almost a pointed "who cares?".
Does it matter if Clarke is gay, straight or bi-sexual? No, because it doesn't change the awesome, kick-ass heroine she is. Side note, even though I assumed nothing would come of the kiss, (because I believed Clarke and Lexa were on totally different paths, and no other reason) my poor little Bellarke heart cracked just a little.
So, no, the kiss itself wasn't all that surprising. What I did find shocking? Lexa betraying Clarke at the very last second to save her people. I mean, one minute she's admitting she cares for Clarke and is all on the Grounder-Skypeople-alliance bandwagon, and next she is literally throwing Clark and the 47 in the mountain (or however many were left by that point) under the wagon to save her people. In retrospect, it wasn't that surprising because Lexa had said over and over that duty came first and emotion had no place in leadership, but I still didn't see it coming.
And that brings us to the very last episode, where the hits just kept coming. I was happy to see Clarke and Octavia join forces briefly at the beginning of the episode to get into Mount Weather, though they did have a few moments of snark. Octavia was still justifiably upset that Clarke had known about the missile and ended up in the role of leader even though it hadn't been her aim. Meanwhile Octavia had worked her ass off to gain even a smidgen of respect from the Grounders, only to lose it when she went after Bellamy instead of retreating with the Grounders. And while we're on the topic of Octavia, I just have to say that she is one badass chick, fearlessly forging her own path. That scene when she took out the guards in the hallway with the slide-and-slash thing, yeah, that right there was pretty damn cool.
Earlier in the season, just when it looked like Octavia and Clarke might become the post-apocalyptic version of BFFs (which is a weird secret fantasy of mine. I don't know why I want those two to be besties, I just do) Octavia worked out that Clarke had known the missiles were coming and chosen not to warn people, so I really thought these two wouldn't be able to stand within ten feet of each other without hostilities. But like all awesome heroes, they put those things aside to achieve a common goal.
When Bellamy came out and found them, I was hoping for another epic Bellarke hug like we got in the episode 5 reunion. But it wasn't to be, instead they shared some of their trademark Meaningful Stares. After that, I was pretty much feeling like a chocoholic in a chocolate bath as it was team Bellarke off to find ex-president Wallace.
If things hadn't already gotten dark enough by this stage, they were about to get a whole lot darker. Clarke, Bellamy and Monty found Wallace, and I think Clarke was genuinely hurt to find out it had been his idea to make the deal with Lexa. I think it was at that point, whatever little faith she had in the humanity of the people in Mount Weather was finally lost. They took Wallace with them to the control room where Clarke got in contact with Cage and told him straight up that if he didn't let her people go, she would kill his father. Maybe a small part of Cage hoped that Clarke wouldn't actually do it, but it was clear pretty quickly that he was resigned to losing his father as soon as he realized Clarke had him. What happened next was a series of missteps and underestimation of all parties involved that would ultimately lead to the unthinkable.
Clarke shot Wallace, almost without hesitation. For most TV shows and most characters, that would have been the pinnacle dark moment, the one that would haunt them for seasons to come. But after Clarke managed to kill Finn, the guy she'd once loved, in order to save him from merciless torture, and later abandon a village full of innocent people knowing a missile was about to fall on them, going through with her threat to kill Wallace wasn't such a huge leap off a dark ledge.
When Cage realized that his father was indeed dead, nothing but emotion drove him to retaliate by putting Clarke's mom, Abby, on the operating table to extract bone marrow. Maybe if he had of stopped to think about it for a minute, he would have realized that this act would push an already on-edge Clarke into going through with her threat to kill everyone in the mountain, children and all.
I actually didn't believe they were going to go through with it. I thought there would be some eleventh hour reprieve. And I just loved that at the last, critical moment, Bellamy was the one who stepped up and took the responsibility with Clarke when he saw that Octavia had been captured, leaving her fate to be tortured and killed like the rest of the ark prisoners. The fact that Bellamy took some of that burden from Clarke was not insignificant and reminded us once again that Bellamy has his own dark side, one that will go to any lengths to save his sister.
So the lever was pushed, and I still didn't believe that this would be Clarke's legacy, I thought they would reverse the lever just before everyone died and save them at the last second. Even as Maya lay dying in Jasper's arms, I still held a tiny flame of hope. But then it was all over, and every non-ark or non-marrow treated person inside Mount Weather was most definitely dead.
Except then someone said "where's Cage?" and for a minute there, I thought the person who'd mostly been responsible for orchestrating the tragic ending was going to get away and turn up at some point next season, probably hoping the people of the ark would let him live with them because that was only a slightly better option than the grounders or living alone in the wilderness.
As badguys go, I thought Cage was a pretty good one. He wasn't straight-up evil for no reason; he was a product of his upbringing and in his own twisted way, thought he was doing what was best for everyone inside Mount Weather. To him, the 47 kids from the ark were justifiable collateral to see their people returned to the ground. In the end, he and Clarke had that much in common, at least, since she decided everyone inside Mount Weather -- innocent or not -- was acceptable collateral to get her people back safely.
But Cage didn't get far before he ran into Lincoln. I expected that there wouldn't be much of a fight, until Cage whipped out one of those beacons that affect the reapers. Once again, I thought Cage would get away. But then Lincoln overcame the incapacitating tone just long enough to chop off Cage's hand, stopping the noise. At the last, Cage got his comeuppance when Lincoln took one of the injections that had turned Grounders into Reapers and injected Cage with it, telling him the first injection was always the worst, as Lincoln had been told himself inside Mount Weather.
With a new day dawning, there was no jubilation, no feeling of triumph, just hollow relief that they'd survived, and it was on the face of every one of them as they trekked back into Camp Jaha.
Which brings us to a scene that will forever be in my archives as one of the best scenes I've ever had the privilege to watch in any TV show ever.
The subdued tone of the scene as the haunting version of Knocking On Heaven's Door by Raign played over it was just too perfect for words. But then it got even more perfect as Bellamy went over to talk to Clarke. At first he tried for the stoic "we'll get through this" speech, but when it became apparent that the usual pep talk wasn't going to cut it this time, he turned their relationship right back around on her, echoing the words she'd said to him in season one, that if she needed forgiveness, he would give her that. When Clarke had said them to Bellamy, she'd meant them, they'd helped him and brought them to begin their relationship as we know it toady.
When Bellamy said it to Clarke, it was weighted with the emotion of everything they'd been through, both together and apart. But those words, no matter how heartfelt, couldn't help Clarke, not after everything she'd done to bring the people trapped in Mount Weather home. Bellamy tried to tell her she didn't have to do it alone, that he'd pulled the lever with her that had ended all those lives. But it wasn't just about the final act, it was about the entire path she'd taken that had even brought her to a place where she was capable of doing something like that.
Now I know that a lot of Bellarke fans think this scene a wasted opportunity for the first Bellarke kiss, but I'm actually glad they didn't do it. Maybe it would have made sense in the context of things, but maybe it also would have detracted from what was otherwise a perfect, poignant moment.
So Clarke walked away from Bellamy, and part of me wondered why he didn't go after her, or offer to go with her, but I think Bellamy understands and respects Clarke more deeply than people might realize and knew she needed to go. And I was strangely all right with it, there were parallels with the end of last season that saw Clarke and Bellamy split up, and there's reassurance in the fact that they will no doubt find their way back to one another. What will torture me is getting through all the episodes until that happens, like it did for the five episodes at the beginning of this season before they finally found each other again. So I'm left wondering, how many episodes will they stay apart this time? And I know a lot of Bellarke fans are predicting an "epic" Bellarke reunion, but I'm betting it will be frustratingly reserved and understated, after all,  it's all about the nuances, people.
So that is my very long winded way of waxing the awesomeness that was the season two finale of The 100.
If I ever end up being lucky enough to have any of my books adapted to a TV series (Truthfully I'd love to see Rian and the crew of the Imojenna in Atrophy brought to life in the next sci-fi space opera TV series) I can only hope that it ends up in the hands of someone like Jason Rothenberg who took the idea from the books of these kids being sent to a post-apocalyptic Earth and turned it into something brilliant and epic that will no doubt be remembered for years to come. Watching shows like this inspires me to push the boundaries of my own writing, to take my characters and myself out of my comfort zone.
But back to The 100. I cannot wait to see where season 3 will take us and how the writers are going to keep up the intensity of this ground-breaking series. And it seems I'm not the only one -- the few posts I've written on The 100 have been seriously trending in popularity on my page in the past 2 weeks.
All I can say is that it's going to be a long 6+ (?) months until the premier or season 3.


Saturday, March 14, 2015

Just Finished Watching... Jupiter Ascending




I'd been wanting to see this movie for months before it came out, but my life is a little busy and hectic at times, so I've only just managed to find time to finally see this movie. But that's okay, I went in the middle of a weekday and there were only 4 other people in the cinema with me, which meant I didn't get distracted by chatters, noisy eaters or people going in and out.
So, first off I just have to say that I really liked this movie. I wanted to love it because its right up the alley of the genre I write in (sci-fi romance), but I can see why it hasn't gotten the best reviews. However I'm not here to talk about what other people think!
So, it had lots of great action and of course the love story between Jupiter and Caine which developed nicely over the course of the movie, underpinned by some good (not great, but pretty good) chemistry between the characters and well played sexual tension.
However, I felt like this movie didn't quite know what it wanted to be, and sometimes lost focus. For example, Caine was a genetically spliced super-soldier designed for war. But he'd been spliced with some kind of wolf-like creature and the word "lycan" was dropped. I would have been fine with the explanation that he was a genetically enhanced soldier and leave it at that without the whole werewolf thing. Okay, I know he wasn't a werewolf and no one actually used the term werewolf apart from that mention of
"lycan" however, it just felt a little too much like someone was grappling at the paranormal straws of popularity.
And then right in the middle it got even more confusing when it was like The Capitol (Hunger Games) met Harry Potter in some advanced, yet inexplicable steam-punk kind of thing when Caine took Jupiter to register her title and claim her estate, or Earth, or whatever the heck she genetically inherited.
The other thing that really got me was the Star-Wars-esque music played over the action scenes, especially the ones in the cool fighter jets. Its not the seventies any more and this was far from a Star Wars franchise installment or remake, so to me that sort of music in a movie like this simply didn't mesh and made it seem like it was trying to hard.
Also, don't get me started on the wings Caine had gotten by the end of the movie. 
Yeah, I wanted this movie to be more sci-fi than it actually was.
I think there were a few elements that could have been tweaked in a different direction to make this movie epic. The Wachowskis need to go take a few notes out of Jason Rothenberg's book, because this week's season finale of The 100 was epic, especially the goodbye between Clarke and Bellamy--the tone, the music, the script and the actor's performance all came together to create a scene that will go down as one of my all time favorites, and definitely the best parting scene I've ever watched, but that's a blog post for another day.
Overall, I'd give Jupiter Ascending four out of five stars. It was great, but it could have been brilliant, and probably because it got canned by a lot of "serious" reviewers, it'll probably be a long time before we see a movie of this specific genre released again.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Just Finished Reading... Anja's Star by Lyn Brittan

This was a good quick read and ideal if you're in between longer books or not in the mood for a full story. However, while it was good, I felt like it wasn't living up to its potential, like the author wrote it too fast or something. There were places I needed to re-read a paragraph or section because I didn't quite catch what had happened or lost track of who was talking. Some of the shifts in scene happened very abruptly, leaving it with an almost incomplete feel. This story would have made a really awesome full length book if the author had slowed the pace and fleshed it out. I liked the characters and the storyline, and I think I would have enjoyed spending more time with them. I'm going to read the rest of the books in the series because the concept of the Outer Settlement Agency has me intrigued, and despite a few bumps, for the most part this book was written well enough. My hope is with a little more experience, this author will improve and I might find the later books are a smoother, more satisfying read.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Work Status Update

Just a quick check in because as usual, I am busy, busy!
I'm currently working on making Damage Control a little longer, as of now its up around the 76,000 word mark, and I think it'll be about 80,000 words when I'm done.
I'm also working on a romantic suspense, off which I managed to delete 10,000 words about two weeks ago. Half a bottle of red wine later, my words were not back and I was simply missing 10,000 words and slightly hung over. When I'm done with the changes to Damage Control, I'll be re-writing those 10,000 words and then working towards finishing that romantic suspense. I've also got a New Adult sci-fi in the works, and am playing around with the 3rd Atrophy book, Diffraction in my spare time (HA! what spare time??)
Its just ticked over to Autumn (Fall) here in Australia, so on the weekend I got out all my knitting needles, crochet hooks and yarn I've got stashed away in various places around the house. I've got a couple of baby blankets to crochet, so that keeps me entertained in the evenings while I'm watching TV.
I've just started reading Anja's Star by Lyn Brittan and it seems really good so far. My only complaint it that it seems rather short (I know, its a novella) and things are happening really fast. I think it could have been a really awesome book if it had been fleshed out to a full length novel, but I will reserve full judgement until I've finished.
So, that's where I'm at and right now, I have other life-stuff to go do!