Top 10 Plotholes (in things I like)

So, I have bitched and moaned about all the problems I have with other things, but I thought that I would now do a top 10 post nitpicking the hell out of things I like.  Now, I’m not limiting this to any genre.  These are just the 10 plotholes in things I like that got to me.  There is something from almost every genre in here.  I hope you enjoy.

10. The Caretaker’s Array
Star Trek: Voyager
So, the conflict in the first episode set up the entire series to follow about this vessel and its voyage home.  But here’s the thing – all of this could have been avoided.  I do have a large affinity for this show.  It was a show I grew up with.  But at the same time, I have to point out that there would have been an EASY way to avoid the entire mess.  I mean, how did no one think of this?  Janeway had a choice – use the Caretaker’s Array to go back home, or destroy it and bring an end to the experiments being done.  She chose to destroy it, thus stranding her crew across the galaxy from home.  Getting out of this situation would have been so easy.  All she needed to do was leave a torpedo or two in the place with enough time to get back home and make sure that it wasn’t able to be messed with.  Simple, clean and efficient.  I don’t begrudge the main conflict in this series, as I do like it, but I do recognize that despite how good this series was over all, this plot point was a mute point.  They could have fixed this in 20 minutes and been back home chilling with their people.

9. Wishing for More Wishes Rule
Aladdin
If the Internet is good at one thing, it is finding neat ways around rules.  I mean, for real, this should have been the simplest thing in the world to fix.  They show that Aladdin is a smart guy.  He should have seen that getting around the Genie’s rule was easy.  I get that they wanted to make it so that kids would get a good message about not being greedy, along with making a plot point to keep it from getting insane, but still.  All Aladdin needed to do is to wish for the rule about wishing for more wishes to be gone.  Or to wish that he could make more wishes.  This would be so simple, yet he never does it.  And you never see him try, do you?  Think about it – somebody HAD to have figured this out.  Maybe the Genie was just saying it so that he didn’t end up dealing with a God.

8. The Death Star’s Weakness
Star Wars IV: A New Hope
The thing that blows up the most advanced warship in the entire galaxy, with a weapon powerful enough to destroy a planet, is a small hole that it takes only ONE torpedo to destroy?  The plot problems in this are massive.  For one – why did they need to go down that trench?  Sure, it was an awesome and intense scene to watch, but really – why did they need to?  One can move in any direction in space.  So why not just come down from above and send the torpedo directly in?  Wouldn’t have needed the Force for that.  Also, how did NOBODY in the Empire see that this design flaw existed?  Were the contractors secretly with the Rebellion?  Or how about this – why did they move around the planet Yavin?  For real, if they had turned that gun on the planet, you can bet that the Rebel base would have been blasted to pieces.  Along with everything else on that moon.  The explosion force, along with the billions of metric tons of debris would have destroyed everything on the surface, if not ripping the moon apart as well.  It would have made the battle against the Rebel base so much easier.  I love this movie, but this is a glaring problem that I have to point out.

7. Nobody heard you say “Rosebud”
Citizen Kane
Arguably the greatest film of all time, the central plot point of this film was figuring out what he meant when he said this.  But you see very clearly in the scene where he does say it that not one person was in the room with him.  So how did they find out that he said it?  Did somebody have the room bugged?  Actually, this was before the point where we had the kind of bugs that we have today.  Even before the bugs that Nixon used in Watergate.  So how exactly did anyone know that you had said this?  If it wasn’t for the fact that the ENTIRE film is based on this one word, I wouldn’t take that much issue with it.  But yeah, there is no way that people could have heard it, so a bird or something must have told them.

6. How are you not dead?!
Fight Club
I actually do take issue with this ending, because it is so strange and defies what would have biologically happened.  See, in the book, the narrator realizes that he can’t stop Tyler Durden, because they are one in the same.  So, when he sees how insane his other half’s plans are becoming, he decides to take the only logical path he can – he kills himself.  It potentially saves lives and stops his rampage.  In the film, the narrator puts the gun in his mouth, fires, and…he lives.  You see a giant whole in his other half’s head, but not his.  He sounds a little different, and looks hurt, but he isn’t dead.  He stuck that gun in his mouth, pointing it up at his head.  Given the calibur of the weapon he was firing, it isn’t possible that he wouldn’t have been dead.  Now, I get why this was done – Americans hate unhappy endings.  For real, when was the last tragic film that you saw?  But this ending is totally nuts.  There is no way that he wouldn’t be dead from that gunshot.  If you are going to go around the book’s ending, can we not violate the laws of physics?

5. Memory is equivalent exchange?
Fullmetal Alchemist
I love the first series of this show WAY better than the second series.  Brotherhood was an action show, and that took away from what the original series was – a character study.  Edward and Alphonse tried to bring back their mother.  They got all the physical components needed to make a body, then added some of their blood to get her soul back.  But that wasn’t enough.  Edward lost a leg to the exchange, Alphonse lost his whole body.  Edward then lost his arm making a spirit attachment to bond Al’s soul to a suit of armor.  The focus of the series was the two of them trying to get back what they lost.  While there were supernatural elements to the series, like souls and bonding souls, the series did try to stay grounded in science, for the most part.  When Edward is killed, Alphonse gets up, using the fact that his body is now the Philosopher’s Stone to reach into the gate and get Edward’s soul back, along with fixing his body.  He makes the ultimate sacrifice in order to save his brother.  That would have made for a beautiful and tragic ending.  Edward believed that he was going to be the one to fix things for so long that he lost sight of how far down the rabbit hole he had gone.  If it had ended with him making that sacrifice and Edward now having to move on with his life, that would have been an amazing ending.  Instead, they have this REALLY weird exchange that Edward makes to get his brother back – his brother’s memories for his life and body.  When you get down to it, memory is just chemical processes in the brain.  While the soul is a metaphysical concept, it can’t be argued that your mind controls all of your processes.  So how exactly can one’s memory be used as a currency in equivalent exchange?  It makes no sense.

4. Joel’s cover-story
The Last of Us
So, while I love the scene with Ellie confronting Joel about his story and telling him her own story, I have to think – that cover-story was terrible.  No wonder she didn’t buy it.  It makes no sense.  For one thing – if they just left because she wasn’t needed, why would she have been wearing her hospital gown?  He did seem to be in a rush, wasn’t he?  That’s kind of odd, don’t you think?  What’s more, there would have been a FAR more believable cover for this – bandits.  For real, an army of bandits came and attacked, some infected got involved and Joel had to get her out.  When she asks if anyone else got out, he could have said that he didn’t have time to look back, they just had to keep running.  Simple and believable.  Instead, he tells her that they didn’t need her because they had given up on finding a cure.  Like I said, no wonder she didn’t buy it.  I don’t think any kid would.

3. Will and Lyra not being able to be together
The Amber Spyglass
This plothole amazes me.  In one of the most miserably depressing endings of all time, this book ends with the two heroes, Will and Lyra, having to leave each other to go back to their own worlds.  They can never, ever be together again.  Now, the rational makes sense, in a way.  They can’t live in either one’s world because they would start to decay.  But we saw how that problem was able to be circumvented by a man from Lyra’s world who just periodically returned home to get his home world’s energy reboot.  The other reasoning behind why they couldn’t be together was that all the windows that the two of them made had to be closed.  Spectres were coming through and it was tearing the worlds apart.  But Will had the Subtle Knife.  He made a promise to destroy it once the last window was closed, but why not open a new one to Lyra’s world, close all the others and then break the knife?  For real, this would have been so simple.  I mean, it wasn’t like anyone had a gun to his head about this.  He could have lied to them and then done what he wanted to anyway.  So yeah, this plothole is gaping and easy to solve.  And while I do like a tragic ending, not when it is unnecessarily tragic.

2. The Eagles
Lord of the Rings
Yeah, you all knew this was coming.  This is a plot hole that is so massive that one can almost drive a truck through it.  So much of these movies focuses on the fact that the journey to Mordor is hard and will probably kill them.  But then you have these creatures who are massive and can easily carry passengers.  They could have made this problem end in about five minutes.  And I’ve heard all the explanations before.  There is the “well they couldn’t have gotten close because of the evils of Mordor” excuse.  If you see the scene where they are fighting it out with the Nazgul, they seem to be doing pretty well.  And the dragon-creatures that Sauron has don’t appear to be plentiful.  Then there is the “they are Eagle-gods and don’t want to interfere in the affairs of mortals” excuse.  Yeah, that’s why they have interfered plenty of times before.  So that excuse means nothing.  This is a plothole that I have to expose because as much as I love these movies, it is massive.  There are some awesome YouTube videos that have made fun of this.  My personal favorite was the video from How It Should Have Ended.  So yeah, this is nuts.

And the worst plothole in something I like is –

1. The Mass Effect 3 Ending (Everything from when you get back to Earth)
Mass Effect 3
Where do I begin?  For starters – how did the Citadel get to Earth?  I didn’t know it could move.  And the entire ending of this game came down to three possibilities, each with unimaginable power involved.  But before we get to them – how did the destruction of the Mass Relays not kill everyone?  The extended cut takes away the explanation for that, which is better than it was before.  But for real, each option uses the powers of the Mass Relays to bounce off of.  What’s more, each of these makes the Mass Relays explode.  How did everyone survive?  If they were all trapped in the Sol system, how did the Turians and Quarians survive?
But now we get to the big ones.  The different endings.  First, let’s look at the destruction ending.  Why are you shooting at the tube?  When in the history of any device has shooting it caused it to work?  Why are you walking toward the tube?  It’s clear that it is going to explode.  You can clearly see that it is going to explode.  So why walk toward it?  Then there is the control ending.  How can your ephemeral spirit control the Reapers?  Talk about pseudo-science.  But the worst of all, betraying all laws of logic is the Synthesis ending.  This ending literally is impossible.  There is no possible way that a wave of green light is able to merge all organic and synthetic life.  Plus, if you really think about this ending, you have condemned all of humanity to a nightmarish hell.  Think about it – all the husks are given intelligence and are made partly organic.  Moreso than they already were (another plot hole).  So you are basically turning all the of the synthetic zombies into creatures that can understand how horrific their lot in life is.  You are also turning all organic life into machines.  That ending is literally impossible.
But the worst part about this ending, all the endless plotholes aside is that there is a plothole that everyone missed when talking about how bad this ending is, that came to me – how did you beat Sovereign?  Think about it – if the AI system that controls all Reapers exists on the Citadel, controlling them all from there, how could you have possibly stopped Sovereign in the first game? Better yet – why did they need Sovereign anyway?  Why couldn’t the AI program have opened the Mass Relay into Dark Space?  The plot twist at the end is so bad that it actually invalidates every single thing you did throughout the entire series because it makes everything make no sense.  Not to mention that my mission on Rannoch, reuniting the Geth and Quarians, proved that every single thing that hologram kid said was bullshit.  But you can’t argue with him.  You can’t say that he’s wrong.  Instead, you just have to go with it and nothing you choose matters.
It is telling that I felt so much more closure from the Citadel DLC than I did from the ending of that game.  I spent most of that DLC just shooting the shit with my people and getting to enjoy the bonds that I grew throughout three games.  That is the kind of ending that I wanted.  But everything after I reach Earth is boring.  Nothing I did before matters.  The armies I raised are immaterial.  It means nothing.  It all comes down to three choices that have no real weight because they have no genuine consequences.  What’s more – when I was with Liara through the series, I then see her having gotten with Samara.  Didn’t carry the torch for me long, did you?
I love Mass Effect.  I love that universe.  You made a game series where I could see my choices play out and know that I caused the events to unfold, good or bad.  You made a game series that had me grow relationships and grow bonds of friendship that are beautiful and worth fighting for.  But in the end, not one bit of it mattered.  I get to the final battle on Earth and I just don’t care.  I knew it was bad, but when I saw the true extent of how bad it was, I stopped caring.  My choices didn’t matter and my final actions were meaningless.  So many people say that they accept it because of it being “artistic” and “open to interpretation,” but the truth is that they just can’t do anything now, and are forced to live with it.  With it being all-but-confirmed by this point that this series is going to continue, I can’t force myself to get the next game.  I just don’t have that left in me anymore.  Bioware, you fucked up.  A pity that you couldn’t just admit it.  And future games aren’t going to make this better.  You can only make it worse.

So, what plotholes did you notice in the things that you like?  I’ve already taken myself to task.  Now I think you should too.

Until next time, a quote,

“What people need to realize is that we aren’t nitpicking the problem.  What we’re nitpicking is the fact that we noticed it at all.”  -Doug Walker

Peace out,

Maverick

Heaven Makes No Sense

I was raised Christian.  I was raised in a family where I was told that God was real and that he was looking out for me.  According to the church I grew up in, he loves everyone unconditionally and when we die, he has this special place waiting for us.  It’s a place of unending bliss and unending happiness where everything is great all the time.  Everyone that we have ever loved is there and they will be so happy to see us.  Isn’t it wonderful?  Well, I heard about that, but some part of me never bought it.  The church I was raised in was one of the most liberal I have ever seen.  The people there were open-minded and good people.  To this day, I hold nothing against them when I walked away.  But the whole concept of Heaven seemed strange.

First off – it’s not unconditional love.  When talking about Heaven, one can’t help but look at the man who runs it – God.  A monotheist who happens to exist in three forms (consistency, what’s that?).  See, I was raised to be told that his love for me is unconditional.  Not true at all.  If you read the Bible, then you learn that there are some very clear terms and conditions that apply to his love.  Or, at the very least, to entry into his afterlife.  You have to worship him.  A lot.  You have constantly love him and constantly be devoted to him.  Otherwise, you don’t end up there.  You go to this other place.  It is a place of unending suffering and torment.  You never get a chance to leave that place.  You are stuck there, forever.  So, the idea that this deity’s love is unconditional seems a bit ridiculous to me.

But the more I think about it, the more that I realize that the concept of Heaven is totally nuts.  Here’s a thought for you – a place of eternal bliss would be hell after a while.  Part of what makes the human condition so profound is that amount of emotions we experience and how we experience them.  Nobody experiences just one thing at any given time.  People like to have this false dichotomy of happy and sad.  Like you are either one or the other.  But no, emotion is a nebulous orb full of complexity and dissonance.  That is what makes life so interesting.  In Heaven, the idea is that everything will be good all the time.  Maybe this is just me talking, but that would become Hell to me after a while.  Nothing changes, nothing grows.  Nothing is different.  There is a great quote from Mordin Solus in Mass Effect 2 about change that I think applies here.

No limitations, no advancement.  No advancement, culture stagnates.

In a place that is all bliss, all the time, what would change?  With nothing to drive cultural growth, what would it be like?  The way I see it, it would be pretty much the same thing, every single day, for all time.

That’s another thing – do you have ANY idea how long eternity is?  A common Christian rebuttal to that is that time has different meanings in Heaven.  That doesn’t matter.  It doesn’t matter if 1 day is a thousand years in Heaven.  You are still there until the end of time.  So your days will go on and on and on and on.  It would never, ever stop.  The reality is that one of the drives in this world is to make things change.  We want to make the world different.  But one of the reasons that immortality sounds horrible to me is because of the fact that eventually, you wouldn’t have anything left to change.  You could only make things different for so long.  Eventually, because your time in this place would never end, it would become the same thing, over and over and over again, until the end of time.  Time is a funny thing to us mortals.  Since we only live about 80 years or so, we get to live with the fact that eventually, we will die.  Time doesn’t mean that much to us.  But when I really think about it, everything about Heaven sounds like it would become a prison camp, with time as my guard.  Scary shit, for sure.

So, if the truth about this place isn’t nearly as rosy as we think it is, why do we believe in it?  Why do we indulge how absolutely insane this concept really is?  I think I’ve come to a reason – because life sucks.  For real, if life was a fun experience, then Heaven would seem like a total bore to us.  But the truth is that when we have a relationship end, a loved one die or everything go to shit, then it is comforting to think about the fact that there is a place where you can go to be happy.  A place where all the shit of this world isn’t going to find you.  A place where you can indulge a belief that everything will be better.  In some ways, I get that.  In others, I find it kind of sad that people desperately need this place to exist to validate their lives.

Life is complicated.  Life is hard.  Life is a giant pain in your ass, but you stick with it.  Because despite how shitty it is, there are the things that make the shit worth it.  Seeing a beautiful sight that will last in your mind forever.  Hearing a sound that makes joy come to your heart.  For some, it is the sound of the ocean.  For others, their baby or child’s laughter.  We find those parts of life to validate the shitty parts that leave us wondering why we even bother.  But that’s just my thoughts.

Food for thought.

Until next time, a quote,

“Some see it (death) as changing into an indestructible form.  They believe that the purpose of the entire universe is to then maintain that form in an Earth-like garden that will be of delights and pleasure for all eternity.  On the other hand, there are those who conform to the idea of our blinking into nothingness.  We all have our experiences, our hopes and dreams, merely a delusion…Considering the marvelous complexity of the universe, its clockwork perfection, its balances of this against that, matter, energy, gravitation, time, dimension, I believe that our existence must be more than either of these philosophies.  That what we are goes beyond euclidean and other practical measuring systems and that our existence is part of a reality beyond what we understand now as reality.”  -Captain Jean Luc Picard, Star Trek: The Next Generation

Peace out,

Maverick

Top 10 Avatar: The Last Airbender Episodes

Avatar: The Last AirbenderAs the second season of Legend of Korra is slated to appear soon (I will do a later post on why that series has the potential to be better than the first later), I thought that I would go back and talk about the series that started it all.  Avatar: The Last Airbender was an amazing series.  It was a show that the young and the old could enjoy.  It had amazing characters.  The heroes were all likeable, the villains were all intriguing and often sympathetic and the side-characters always had a TON of personality.  The setting for the series was fresh and different, which was a nice touch in a TV climate that is swamped with mediocrity.  This was a show that was ahead of its time, teaching good lessons but also being a great character study.  It was American anime at its finest.  And I thought that I would give you my top 10 favorite episodes.  Now, there are some two-part episodes on here, but I count them as one since they follow the same arc.  With that said, here we go.

10. The Ember Island Players
Book 3
I love this episode because it does something that few shows or movies do – it makes fun of itself.  It is a feel-good episode looking back across the entire series and giving a comedic outlook on all of the characters.  It points out Aang being in touch with his feminine side, Sokka being kind of an idiot, Toph being a complete thug and Katara being a preachy crybaby.  But it isn’t mean-spirited about it.  It plays it like a comedic roast, which is hilarious.  It also looks at the villains in a pretty funny way too.  It points out how Zuko has a habit of being over-dramatic and self-centered, and Iroh can sound like a buffoon, even though there is wisdom beneath it.  It gives a lot of respect to the characters that it portrays and it is fun to watch.  As the episode before the last episodes, it is a nice way to wrap things up.  But it isn’t all comedic.  They do have some character moments, like Aang and Katara confronting their feelings but having no resolution, and Toph and Zuko reaching an understanding about his uncle, at a time when Zuko is worried that his uncle hates him.  All-in-all, this was a nice feel-good episode that made you all warm and fuzzy.

9. Zuko Alone
Book 2
Zuko was probably the most developed character in the series.  He was an awesome villain.  Instead of him just being evil, you find out that his chasing the Avatar is because of some very powerful forces at work inside of him, trying to find peace.  This episode encapsulated it perfectly.  Zuko leaves his uncle to go off on his own, trying to find his own place in the world.  Trying to come to terms with how his life has changed.  He meets up with some kind farmers in a small village.  But this village is being run by a detachment of the Earth Kingdom military who are nothing but thugs, using their power to lord over the people of that town.  When a young boy that Zuko befriends is taken by the military as punishment for Zuko’s behavior, he goes after them.  This episode gave a lot of insight into the forces at work within Zuko, along with some interesting back-story about his mother and how close the two of them were.  You see how ugly his history was and how conflicted he is now.  This was a quiet episode that kept things very tight, which was a nice change of place.  And how Zuko stands tall against the thugs and defends who he is is a nice touch too.

8. Sokka’s Master
Book 3
Of all the characters in the series, Sokka is another that I think is the most developed.  Sure, he has his comedic idiot moments, but there are also some powerful forces at work within him as well.  He was the last man of the southern water tribe.  His father is fighting in a war that he wants to be a part of.  Now, he is teamed up with the Avatar, his powerful water-bending sister and probably the greatest earth-bender who has ever lived.  He finally confronts how useless he feels in this episode, by trying to find a teacher who can guide him.  He finds a sword master in the Fire Nation and asks him to train him.  When the teacher says that Sokka will have to impress him, it is kind of cool that he has a genuine serious moment saying that he doesn’t think he can.  He confronts how useless he feels.  The teacher respects this and offers to train him.  It is a nice episode to see how devoted Sokka becomes, while keeping his comedic edge in some of the lessons.  And there is a nice little twist at the end about who Sokka’s master actually is, which comes back later.  Nice way to set things up for the future.

7. The Southern Raiders
Book 3
Probably my least-favorite character in this series is Katara.  She’s whiny, she’s preachy and she is CONSTANTLY telling everyone want to do, because she knows best.  But this episode let you see some of the darker forces at work within her as well.  She was there when her mother got taken away.  She always blamed herself for what happened.  It didn’t make things better when an old witch told her what became of her mother in prison.  But when Zuko approaches her, wanting to know what bug crawled up her ass about him, he finds out the story about how her mother got taken.  And he knows who took her.  So, him and her go off on to find the person who led the attack on her home and bring him to justice.  This is an awesome episode because it not only shows that Katara can be REALLY violent when she wants to be, but you get to see her and Zuko bonding over the experience.  The final showdown with the commander of the Southern Raiders is nothing short of nail-bitingly intense.  But the resolution it comes to feels natural.

6. The Desert
Book 2
One of the few characters who you ever see get anything approaching angry is Aang.  He always has this upbeat attitude that can sometimes be annoying.  But this episode looks at him when he is at his most desperate.  His oldest companion who has been with him since the very beginning, Appa, has been taken away.  Aang is scared, angry and desperate to find him.  Seeing how much this affects him is more than a little sad-making.  You can feel his grief at the loss of a friend and a pet.  A companion who was always loyal and always tried to help.  My favorite parts of this episode were when the wasp takes Momo, and you see Aang air-bend a blade that cuts the creature’s head off.  The rage in his eyes is beyond intense.  Then, there is the part with the sand-benders who stole Appa.  He immediately goes into a rage-filled Avatar-state, destroying their boats and very likely about to destroy them as well.  How Katara goes over and embraces him, not saying anything to him, when he is at his most angry is a powerful moment.  And one of the few times I liked her character.  There was also this awesome comedic side-plot of Sokka drinking the juice from a cactus and it making him high as a kite.  I don’t know if that was a “don’t do drugs” metaphor, but even if it was, it’s still funny.

5. The Blue Spirit
Book 1
One thing about Zuko that most people ignore is that he isn’t just a powerful fire-bender.  He is also quite the swordsman.  This episode brought his skills to bear when he disguises himself as the Blue Spirit, in order to get Aang away from Admiral Zhao, who would take him to the Fire Nation and doom Zuko’s chance to go home.  While this episode not only has some cool action sequences, it also has some interesting subtle moments.  The fact that Zuko will attack his own people to get what he wants is interesting.  Seeing him becoming desperate as well is a nice touch.  But the best part, for me, is when he is injured and Aang rescues him.  He wakes up to see Aang with him, looking after him, and there is an interesting one-sided conversation where Aang tells him some of his back-story, wishing that they didn’t have to be enemies.  It is a small moment when you see that Zuko isn’t just evil.  But the action sequences in this episode were awesome.  Some of the best, without a doubt.

4. The Avatar and the Firelord
Book 3
This episode was great for a whole lot of reasons.  The first is that it finally gives some back-story into what happened between Avatar Roku and Firelord Sozin.  Seeing how they were the best of friends, but grew apart due to irreconcilable differences is an interesting look.  Then, years later, after having left things in such a bad way, when his friend is in trouble, Sozin comes back.  He comes back to help someone who mattered to him more than any other.  But then, when he has a chance to save his oldest and best friend, he betrays him, seeing his chance to rise to power.  It’s a powerful performance, with Ron Perlman doing the voice of Firelord Sozin.  But there is another part of this that was pretty awesome – Zuko and his uncle talking again.  Until this episode, every time that Zuko tried to talk to his uncle, Iroh never spoke to him.  I don’t know if this was done to give viewers a gap to get used to the new voice they got, following the tragic death of Mako, or not.  But it still works.  For so long, Iroh had been looking after Zuko.  He regarded Zuko as a son.  And he regarded Iroh as a father.  Then, Zuko betrays his trust and I think that the character came to a realization – he had to do this alone.  For a large part of the second season, Zuko was trying to get rid of Aang, dealing with the reality that Azula lied to set him up to take the fall, and he just might end up taking that fall.  He had to feel that there was no way out.  Finally, when he is at his most desperate, Iroh comes back to help him once again.  It was a great character arc that worked really well.  I don’t know if this was intentional or not, but either way, it was a great piece of character development.

3. The Siege of the North
Book 1
I think you all will be able to tell where this is going.  The episodes that brought the first season to a close, and it was awesome.  There were a lot of arcs in this episode being addressed.  The first was Sokka and the relationship that was forming between him and Princess Yue.  Yue was already engaged to someone, but he kept going after her anyway.  It was a nice plot to humanize both of these characters.  Both of them wanted each other, but it wasn’t the right thing to do.  The next was Aang and his connection to the spirit world.  When the Fire Nation ships come and the battle begins, he wants to make a deal with the ocean and moon spirits to get some help.  So, he goes into the spirit world to find them.  There, he is confronted by Koh, the Face Stealer.  There is also the plot of Zuko finally having a chance to regain his honor.  You also see him confronting his own past in a pretty intense moment of personal reflection, talking about his sister and himself.  You have Katara finally facing an enemy who has always frightened her and being pretty badass.  You see that the balance of this world is a lot more delicate than we might think, when Zhao takes the moon spirit and kills it, which takes away the water-bender’s ability to bend.  But the best part of this episode is the climax.  Watching Aang finally achieve the Avatar State and team up with the ocean spirit to destroy the Fire Nation forces.  Seeing all the water tribe members bowing to him is just awesome.  I would bow to a giant water monster too.  And while that is going on, you have Zuko face off with Zhao.  A battle an entire season in the making, it is SO cool to see.  This was an awesome way to close out the season, and set up the awesomeness to come.

2. The Crossroads of Destiny
Book 2
See, it was going where you thought it was.  Another awesome closing to a season.  This time, it was a lot more personal than the last episode.  Azula has cleverly manipulated the head of the Dai Lee agents into taking over the Ba Sing Se.  When he tries to double-cross her back, his agents don’t even move.  They know the score as well as Azula does.  They know that she could kick his ass and who the victor is.  That line she gives when he bows to her, stating how she beat him at his own game is just great – “You weren’t even a player.”  Awesome.  Then, you have Zuko having finally come to peace with where he is at in the world.  He actually seems to look at the future with hope.  Then, his past catches up to him at the worst time, and his effort to face it ends in failure.  You have him tempted to finally put his past behind him, only for Azula to prey on his internal conflict and manipulate him into not only helping her take over the Earth Kingdom, but also to betray his uncle and father-figure.  Then, you have Aang, who had previously been told that the only way to control when he goes into the Avatar State is by letting go of his worldly attachments.  He doesn’t want to believe it, but when the battle gets desperate enough, he resigns himself to doing it, to save the girl he loves.  Then, it backfires on him when Azula actually kills him.  So, it all ends with the Earth Kingdom falling and the group fleeing, with Aang being brought back to life by a woman he chose to give up.  This episode is INTENSE, in every sense of the word.  It makes for a great climax to the second season and worth checking out.

And my all-time favorite episode is…

1. Sozin’s Comet
Book 3
How could it be anything else?  These four episodes end this series in the best way possible.  Not only does it tie almost all the plot points together, but it also has the most intense action sequences ever.  The battle to destroy the Fire Nation fleet that is using the power Sozin’s Comet has given them to burn the Earth Kingdom to the ground is unbelievably intense.  The point where Sokka and Toph are sure that they are about to die is awesome.  The final battle between Aang and Phoenix King Ozai (the new title he gives himself) is breath-taking.  How it ends is one of the most amazing points of animation in the entire show.  But, from my perspective, the best duel in these episodes is between Azula and Zuko.  Azula’s insecurities finally catch up to her and her sanity is slowly falling apart.  Zuko and Katara go to face her down and finally defeat the Fire Nation.  But Zuko can see that she is cracking, and challenges her to the definitive duel of his people – Agni Kai.  A duel to the death.  Both of them know the score, and are prepared to take it that far.  What I love about that battle is the AMAZING use of color.  The blue flames of Azula, countering the orange flames of Zuko, with both of them amped-up by the comet looked unbelievable.  It is beautiful.  And the subtle tragic music that goes with the duel encapsulates how this isn’t an epic duel.  It’s a sad one.  These two are family, but only one of them can walk away from this alive.
Another interesting plot point of this episode is Aang facing the legacy that he is supposed to have.  Jennifer Hale provided her amazing voice talents as Avatar Kyoshi, one of many spirits he meets with, when he is debating with them as to how he can stop the Firelord without killing him, which is a central tenant of his people’s belief structure.  Aang actually actively rebels against what his titleship is supposed to do in this situation.  It is an interesting dichotomy.  Overall, this is an amazing episode.  It truly does bring this series to close, giving us a nice little send-off with all the characters that we grew to know and love.  It was the perfect ending to the series.

So, what are your favorite episodes?  Let me know in the comment section.

Until next time, a quote,

“Firelord Ozai!  You and your fore-fathers have devastated the balance of this world!  Now, you shall pay the ultimate price!”  -Avatar State Aang, Avatar: The Last Airbender

Peace out,

Maverick

You Are Part of the Problem (A response to Rolling Stone magazine)

Rolling Stone coverSo, something that isn’t exactly in the headlines now, but was a big issue and sold like hotcakes is the issue of Rolling Stone magazine which had the Boston bomber, Dzhokar Tsarnaev, on the cover.  And wouldn’t you know it, it sold like crazy.  Everyone wanted to know who, as the cover put it, “a Popular, Promising Student Was Failed by His Family, Fell Into Radical Islam and Became a Monster” was.  Everyone wanted every little detail about this man’s life.  And sure enough, the magazine goes into great detail about this man.  They go through all of his dirty laundry, bring it out into the open for all of us to see.  After all, this is important news, right?  Right?

There was a great quote by Marilyn Manson from an essay he wrote called “Whose Fault Is It?” that puts all of this into perspective –

The name Marilyn Manson has never celebrated the sad fact that America puts killers on the cover of Time magazine, giving them as much notoriety as our favorite movie stars. From Jesse James to Charles Manson, the media, since their inception, have turned criminals into folk heroes. They just created two new ones when they plastered those dipshits Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris’ pictures on the front of every newspaper. Don’t be surprised if every kid who gets pushed around has two new idols.

Brilliantly put.  This is something that our culture has been doing since the dawn of time.  When Timothy McVeigh bombed Oklahoma City, he got his picture on Time magazine as well.  When the Newtown shooter killed over a dozen people, British tabloids went to town dredging up his personal life, with the nice twist of showing how video games made him into a mad killer.  Naturally.  The Aurora, Colorado shooter, the Tuscan, Arizona shooter, Anders Behring Breivik, there is a laundry-list of murderers who have been given celebrity status as a result of their crimes.  It isn’t the victims being mourned on the cover of Rolling Stone.  It isn’t the people who ran in, dead-tired from the marathon, to try and help whoever they could.  No, it’s one of the bombers who mutilated dozens and killed three.

And wouldn’t you know it, but this man already had a following.  On Twitter, dozens of women who would all make a textbook case for Sigmund Freud have started a movement called “Free Jahar.”  They aren’t smart enough to spell out his full name, so they made it a little easier.  Already, not even a year before he is dead, this man has a legion of women who think that he was set up, that the whole bombing was a hoax, or worst of all – don’t care if he is guilty or not.  They want his evil dick inside of them.  That’s it.  When Klebold and Harris were turned into celebrities, they too had a legion of girls who wanted their evil dicks inside of them as well.  Charles Manson married one of his groupies while in jail.  This is just one of the results that we see from the modern media making these monsters into celebrities.  By making everyone talk about them all the time, and the news constantly covering their action in inexcusable detail following an event, this is a problem that my career path as made worse.

There is another great quote from the late Roger Ebert, from his review of the film “Elephant.”  I think it bears mentioning as well –

Let me tell you a story. The day after Columbine, I was interviewed for the Tom Brokaw news program. The reporter had been assigned a theory and was seeking soundbites to support it. “Wouldn’t you say,” she asked, ‘that killings like this are influenced by violent movies?” No, I said, I wouldn’t say that. “But what about ‘The Basketball Diaries’?” she asked. “Doesn’t that have a scene of a boy walking into a school with a machinegun?”

The obscure 1995 Leonardo DiCaprio movie did indeed have a brief fantasy scene of that nature, I said, but the movie failed at the box office and it’s unlikely the Columbine killers saw it.

The reporter looked disappointed, so I offered her my theory. “Events like this,” I said, “if they are influenced by anything, are influenced by news programs like your own. When an unbalanced kid walks into a school and starts shooting, it becomes a major media event. Cable news drops ordinary programming and goes around the clock with it. The story is assigned a logo and a theme song; these two kids were packaged as the Trench Coat Mafia. The message is clear to other disturbed kids: If I shoot up my school, I can be famous. The TV will talk about nothing else but me. Experts will try to figure out what I was thinking. Kids and teachers at school will see they shouldn’t have messed with me. I’ll go out in a blaze of glory.”

In short, I said, events like Columbine are influenced far less by violent movies than by CNN, “The NBC Nightly News” and other news media, who glorify the killers in the guise of “explaining” them.

The reporter thanked me and turned off the camera. Of course the interview was never used. They found plenty of talking heads to condemn violent movies, and everybody was happy.

A lot of people will probably defend Rolling Stone by saying something to the effect of they are “explaining who they are.”  The idea being that, by osmosis, we are all going to suddenly be able to spot a potential bomber or serial killer by reading these articles.

The truth, however, is that that isn’t what is being done.  What is happening here is that we have murderers become celebrities and people who are emotionally disturbed and looking for people who will listen to them will see this and understand that if they want to do this kind of horrible thing, they will soon have an audience.  This is the kind of person that we are fueling.  The Columbine shooters were looking for help.  They wanted someone to listen.  When nobody would, they took an avenue that they knew would get them the attention they wanted.  And wouldn’t you know it, they were right.  They got all the attention that the 24-hour news cycle could give them.

When are we, as a culture, going to realize how sick and corrosive our need to know everything about killers is?  When are we going to grow up enough to admit that this is wrong and we need to change?  When are we going to stop exploiting suffering to turn a quick buck?  When are we going to actually take some responsibility, instead of passing useless gun legislation or getting the NSA to spy on us so we can feel safe while not looking at the problem?

When will humanity grow the fuck up?

Until next time, a quote,

“If you could say anything to the people of Columbine right now, what would you say?”  -Michael Moore
“I wouldn’t say a single word to them.  I would listen to what they had to say, and that’s what no one did.”  -Marilyn Manson, Bowling for Columbine

Peace out,

Maverick

A Royal Baby – Who the F*ck Cares?!

So, I wake up today and see my news and Facebook home flooded with articles and videos about the royal baby.  Birthed from the pussy of a royal woman in England.  And as I am hearing about this and seeing people go bat-shit crazy over it, I have this one thought – who the fuck cares?

Really, that isn’t a rhetorical question.  Who legitimately thinks that this is something worth getting absolutely nuts over?  I mean, let’s look at this spawn and see what it represents.  First, it is a spawn that is guaranteed wealth and luxury from the day it is born.  It won’t have to work for anything.  It won’t have to try hard to survive.  It won’t get to know how the average family has it now, living paycheck to paycheck.  It is guaranteed to have a life that is easy and simple, without it having to work for anything.  Next, it is given status.  This is a prince.  This is royalty.  Without having to do anything, it now has a position above the common man and woman.  It’s 8 pounds and can only shit its diaper and it is above you in status.  Finally, the status that it has been given is on the backs of the British taxpayers.  The common man is literally helping pay for this little spawn’s wealth and luxury.  Why does Britain cling to this antiquated garbage?  The royalty is a symbol, you know.  A symbol of the serfdom that their nation used to be.  In a way, while nowhere near the serfs you used to be, you are still helping pay for the lifestyle that they get to have and giving them respect they haven’t earned.

So yeah, why exactly is everyone getting excited about this?  Why is this a story that we even care about?  With so many more pressing things happening, like America quickly forgetting that the NSA is spying on us every second of every day, or the fact that the middle class is disappearing as the rich grow more powerful, why do we talk about this like the birth of this royal spawn is anything even resembling important?  It isn’t.  It is a non-issue, except to maybe the blurbs part of a newspaper.  That is all the press that this child deserves.

And that’s all I have to say about this.  I won’t give that kid any more press than I have to.  I have too much respect for what journalism is supposed to represent.  Oh, and I bet you a silver nickel that America cares more about this than Britain.  Correct me if I’m wrong.

Until next time, a quote,

“You, what are you? The brat of lucky parents who were related to a childless king. There is no such thing as royal blood. I believe we are what we make ourselves, and as such, you, Crown Princess, are nothing.”  -Shannon Hale

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Review: Pacific Rim

Pacific RimI will say, up-front, that this is a popcorn movie done right.  This isn’t a movie that will make you question the human condition or objective reality.  It will, however, make your blood pump.  This is an awesome movie for the summer season and it gets most everything right in its genre.  When the film first started, I was kind of worried.  It played like it was the trailer.  But very quickly, the film found its footing and took off into a pre-apocalyptic story about a group of soldiers who are holding the line against an almost-unstoppable enemy.

The story for this film isn’t especially complicated.  The first alien invasion of Earth didn’t come from the stars.  It came from a dimensional rift underneath the Pacific Ocean.  Creatures emerged from that rift called “Kaiju.”  The first one that emerged took massive amounts of artillery to bring down.  So did the next, and the next.  Thousands of people died from their attacks.  Finally, the nations of the world came together and decided to put aside their differences to save their species.  They created the Jaegers.  Giant robotic warriors that could fight the Kaiju on their terms.  To operate them, they had the minds of the soldiers link to the machine.  But they very quickly found that this didn’t work with just one person.  So, they ended up having to link two minds together, using them in tandem to operate these monolithic weapons.  However, as the Kaiju get stronger and the Jaegers are being destroyed, the governments of the world decide to build a giant wall, to try and keep the Kaiju out.  But the man in charge of the Jaeger program knows that without his warriors, the world is doomed.  So, he goes rogue, continuing to fight to save the human race.

So, the first I will address is the special effects.  They are gorgeous!  The use of color in this movie, since most of these fights are at night, is just great.  All of the colors really pop out at you and get you to pay attention.  The Jaegers look awesome.  Epic badass robots that are very reminiscent of mecha anime (which I refuse to believe wasn’t partially the inspiration for them).  The damage that they incur looks awesome.  The Kaiju also are pretty damn imposing.  The subtle use of color on them pops out too, which is cool.  While the pace of the fights between the Kaiju and the Jaegers can be a little fast, they are still awesome when they need to be.

Next up there are the characters.  This film did a GREAT job with its characters.  Idris Elba stole the show as the Stacker Pentecost, the commander of the military force behind the Jaegers.  It’s been cool to see this actor really come into his own following his amazing role as Stringer Bell in The Wire.  The other role that really stuck with me is Rinko Kikuchi as Mako Mori.  She was both sympathetic and intense.  She sold her tragic back-story through a well-done memory sequence.  The relationship between her character and Elba’s was just awesome.  The main character of the film, Raleigh Beckett, was also nicely done.  But a small role that I have to call out for how cool it was to hear was Ellen McLain as the AI in the Jaegers.  You may remember her from the Portal series.  And this voice was EXACTLY the same as GLaDOS.  Oh my god, that was so much fun to hear.  For real, this was the star achievement of this film, and one of the reasons I enjoyed it so much.  McLain brought her odd charm to that voice work and it was great.

The use of music wasn’t all that noticeable in the film, though it did have a score that worked well.  The setting of this movie, primarily in Hong Kong, was awesome.  They didn’t just have racial stereotypes in this place.  They did their best to make it feel like the actual city, with a few more scratch marks.

Overall, this was a fantastic movie.  With some of the more recently poor films that had Guillermo Del Toro’s name attached to them, it was nice to see him have a new film that hits all the right notes.  It isn’t a profound film, but it is a fun one.  Check it out, if you want to see a film that gets your blood pumping.

Final Verdict:
8 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

A THIRD Hateful Message to a Gay Person (I want these people to die)

Well, in this case, it isn’t a gay person.  It is a lesbian.  Two, in fact.  A lesbian couple in Kingston, Ontario.  They received a couple of letters that were very clear about how some residents felt about their relationship.  This is one of the most sick and twisted things that I have ever seen.  Here is a link to the letter itself, so you can see it.  I am going to do this post old-school style, hit for hit.  Here we go.

Lesbian bitches,

Well, I can see that this is going to be a VERY thoughtful and caring piece of work, don’t you?

We are a small but dedicated group of Kingston residents devoted to removing the scourge of homosexuality in our city. We know you and have been following you for the past several weeks and we wish for you to leave this city, before it is too late, for you. This will be the first of many reminders, each escalating to higher and higher levels of harassment and derailment. Since we have nothing personal against you, only against your sexuality, we suggest you move to more conductive climes like Vancouver, or preferably San Francisco.

For those of you who don’t like foul language, leave immediately.  This is about to get ugly.  So let me see if I have this right, you amoral pieces of shit, you open this up by threatening them.  You state, outright, that your mission is to get them to leave, stating clearly a battle-plan to harass them, which you confirm will escalate.  To what?  Do you plan to kill them?  Do you plan to harm them?  Where the fuck does your bigotry end?  Where do you stop?  I bet that plenty of you would love to murder these women who haven’t done FUCKING ANYTHING TO YOU!  Let’s keep going.  My rage has to continue with their bigotry.

Our base, head office in Deep South, has been energized by the recent US Supreme Court decisions legalizing same sex marriage. We feel that unless homosexuals reconvert to heterosexuality that life under this planet, under the umbrella of our Lord Jesus Christ, will become unbearable. Having observed you, we feel that you are committed lesbians unlikely to convert, hence this (first and only) gentle attempt to make you move.

Well, I’m not surprised that you believe that your imaginary Gawd backs your bigotry.  Hell, so many people in this country have the same idea.  Never mind that Jesus doesn’t say ONE fucking thing about homosexuality.  Not one.  Oh, and are you saying that if more gay people are openly gay that you won’t want to live in this world anymore?  Well, by all means, please, kill yourselves.  Please, go to your bullshit Gawd’s paradise so the rest of you don’t have to suffer your disgusting beliefs and disgusting means of exercising those beliefs.

And you say that you have “observed” these people.  So, you’re spying on them.  You’re spying on two people who haven’t done a thing to you in order to gauge what you are going to do next.  How many other people do you spy on?  Do you have any idea how creepy that is?  Do you only spy on women who you think MIGHT be lesbian?  Do you have a tip-line that people can call to report “suspicious activity?”  You say that you are a small group, so you must have a very specific method of selecting people to “observe.”

If you do not, and take this letter to police, as we expect, we will know about this, since we have contacts in Kingston Police. Our efforts to relocate you will escalate. We wish to avoid this scenario. We are primarily non-violent, but use violence surgically to persuade people. We hope you understand without us painting to lurid a picture.

Oh, well aren’t you a bunch of fucking saints, trying to “avoid” escalation.  And you have people within the police department, do you?  Well, I’m not surprised about that.  Cops aren’t all that hard-up about following the law.  So, you say that if they talk to the cops, you will know, and then will escalate to violence.  You are openly threatening these people.  What the fuck is wrong with you?!  For real, I can’t even begin to sympathize with you!  I try not to advocate violence against anyone, but you are a group who plans to be violent to people who have never done a fucking thing to you!  How do you justify that?!  Oh, right, you’re Christians.  Never mind.  While there are a lot of good people who come from that religion, those who are evil don’t find it hard to have Gawd having their back

In the last several years we have relocated a few people like you from the Kingston area, through a set of incentives and effective persuasion. Please join their ranks ASAP. We will watch and wait, and then strike, at home and office, as need arises. These are not empty threats. MOVE, or else!

So, you’ve done this before and make it clear that you will do it again.  Using fear and threats to make people do what you want.  I think they have a name for what kinds of people you are.  Hm, what was it?  Oh, right, terrorists.  You are terrorists.  Without a doubt, you are the definition of a terrorist.

Thank you for your attention. We await effective action on your part, ASAP> You are not going to be safe at home, office or anywhere else if you ignore this message! However if you take this seriously, and make attempts to move, someone from our organization will contact you to make your relocation easier financially. If, additionally, you persuade another couple like yourselves to move, we will provide them financial assistance and yourselves a bonus for your help. We are a committed bunch and come hell of high water, we will move you out. Best under congenial circumstances, don’t you think?

They are going so far out of their way to make it sound like they aren’t terrorists, aren’t they?  They even say that their people will help the people they are terrorizing to get them out of there.  But they close that out by saying that they will still take violent action if their “warning” is not heeded.  What a bunch of fucking pieces of shit.  They don’t deserve the life that evolution has given them.  They don’t deserve to draw breath.  They don’t deserve to have spawn.  They don’t fucking deserve any single bit of human decency when they are nothing but a bunch of terrorists trying to paint themselves as good people.

In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, our saviour.

If your “Lord” actually is behind shit like this, fuck him too.  That was letter one.  But wait, they have a follow-up.  Here it is –

lesbos:

Well, nice to see that the bigots still start off their letters with their bigotry.

As a followup, we had a group meeting yesterday on how best to deal with you.  Some of our younger members want to have some fun chasing “lesbos.”  We have brought them BB guns and today they are doing target practice, so they can hunt you down.  It is regrettable that in Canada, real guns are hard to find, so BB it shall be.  I can assure you BB pellets hurt!!

Unbelievable.  So, let me see if I get your bigoted rhetoric straight.  You have decided to endorse getting younger people to take up arms and chase after you, shooting at you.  What’s more, you wish that they could be using real guns.  Un-fucking-believable.  You are the most disgusting forms of shit that have ever worn human skin on this planet.  You are telling these people that if you could, you would be setting young people loose on real human beings with real guns, with the intention of hitting them with real bullets.  This makes me so fucking pissed that I want to find all of you and blast you with a bullet a couple times and see how well you like it.  For real, somewhere painful, like in the belly or kneecap.  Let it sit there for a long time and see you in agonizing pain.  Maybe then you wouldn’t be so fucking cavalier to send young people after two people who are just trying to live their lives and having them shoot them.  Oh, and you know what – it is actually true that they have set young people against the LGBT community before.  In the post I linked above, they talk about how LGBT groups have been attacked by these terrorists.  I can’t hate these people more.

This is thrilling for the youngsters not so much for the older members who would much rather see serious action rather than playing with BB guns.  However youngsters also want to have their fun, and what better targets than you?

Did you catch that?  The older members of the crowd wish that more “serious” action could be taken.  They want to severely injure or kill these people.  And they endorse this kind of terrorism for young people as a means to get them to have fun.  I cannot possibly hate these people more.  I can think of a thousand ways to torture them, to see how they like being on the receiving end of pain and hate.  Their pleasant language does not stop them from being monsters.  It makes them into monsters with a good use of diction.

Take our previous letters seriously or fun and games will turn into more serious action.

These people deserve NOTHING but our hatred and scorn.  They are the very worst that humanity has to offer.  People talk about how far our species has come, but then we have people like THIS, who go and show the rest of the world that they are proud of being evil pieces of shit, and are totally find with spreading their evil onto others.  Fuck you, group in Kingston.  If this is something that your Gawd endorses, then I am HAPPY to go to Hell.  I bet the devil is one pleasant son of a bitch in comparison.  Hell, he probably made Hell for the people who don’t want to suffer under your morally-backward patriarch’s regime.  I bet Hell is a rocking party.  Fuck you.

Until next time, a quote,

“You know, Burke, I don’t know which species is worse. You don’t see them fucking each other over for a goddamn percentage.”  -Ellen Ripley,  Aliens

Peace out,

Maverick