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Finales are difficult. How do you wrap up a whole series in one episode? How do you create an episode which stays true to the premise of the show while tying up loose ends, while giving your cast, crew, and audience a fitting farewell?
Person of Interest spent all 12 episodes of its fifth and final season leading up to theirs and it was executed to perfection: Fusco was finally brought into the inner circle; characters from previous seasons popped up; we saw another outfit targeting persons of interest in Washington DC.
But season five wasn't just one long and drawn out serial, nor did the procedural format negate the simmering showdown with Samaritan. Each episode had a purpose, all creating the foundation for one of the best finales I have ever seen. To which my POI Twitter feed can attest.
The opening scene was all it took for me to realise just how far Finch has drifted from the idealistic pacifist we meet in episode one. Brandishing a firearm, with intention to shoot (albeit with trembling hands), we see that Samaritan has pushed even the intelligent yet idealistic Harold Finch show right over the edge.
In spite of all he's been through and Samaritan's increasing threat, Finch has remained the moral compass; the most dangerous weapon we've seen him use before now is an umbrella!
The episode is splintered into multiple timelines including present time, the immediate sequence of events which led to it, and various moments chosen by The Machine as she tries to understand death, now that hers is imminent. The system shutting down is such an elegant metaphor upon which to bid adieu.
We see flashes of John and Lionel on their knees as they're about to be shot; a man laying in the street, surrounded by police and paramedics; a young boy at a funeral; an old man in a hospital bed. After forty minutes, each scene and timeline has been woven together in an epic finale and the effortless genius synonymous with Person of Interest.
Jonathan Nolan and Greg Plageman did a phenomenal job in giving this series a beginning, a middle, and an end. They launched a "fictional" premise which proved to be a predictor, paced the show, allowed for character development, encouraged relationship growth, and provided some of the most incredible episodes of television.
And they ended it with a bang - literally, there was a missile! - in a finale that had it all: high stakes, action, flashbacks, misdirection, emotions, last goodbyes, closure, happy endings (for some), and, above all, hope.
Moments I had tears or was just plain bawling:
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I cannot believe the #PersonofInterest finale has come around so quickly! One of my all-time favourite shows... I don't think I'm ready.— Nancy (@ntawali) July 11, 2016
Spoilers avoided. Tissues on stand-by. Ready to live-tweet. Come at me, #PersonofInterest finale! Actually, don't. I hate goodbyes.— Nancy (@ntawali) July 11, 2016
FINCH! I don't know whether I'm more concerned that he might be hurt or that he's carrying a GUN! With intention to shoot! #PersonofInterest— Nancy (@ntawali) July 11, 2016
( It seems polite to put tweets in excess of five beneath a cut...Collapse )
This year saw the end of two shows I've been watching week to week since their inaugural seasons. One was long overdue and done poorly, the other went out on a high and is one of the best series finales I have ever seen. The former is Castle, the latter Person of Interest.
I have been so disenchanted with Castle for the past three seasons (at least) that it had become more of a stubborn-see-it-through-to-the-end hate-watch. But even shows which are past their prime can surprise you in the end. No luck here.
People have argued that if Castle had known they weren't being picked up, they would have scripted a better end for their eighth (and worst) season. That's a cop-out. If you've run out of stories to tell, you go out and find some new writers or you cut the cord.
I can't imagine anything worse than getting the call that your show has been cancelled but your work should speak for itself, regardless of whether it's a season or a series finale. Stand by your decision to shoot the two mains; leave the show on a cliffhanger and let the audience decide for themselves whether or not Kate and Rick lived happily ever after.
Fans who have been invested in this story and these characters for the past eight years deserved better than a people-pleaser scene which was thrown together at the last minute. It was an awkward and embarrassing way to end a show that had once been so original and entertaining.
Person of Interest were in the same (on the bubble) boat and they chose to put the story they wanted to tell ahead of the network's decision. With CBS taking a ridiculously long time to confirm or deny season six, showrunners Jonathan Nolan and Greg Plagueman took it upon themselves to dub season five their swansong.
It can't have been easy but they did it to alleviate the cast and crew's uncertainty (meaning they could seek out their next job), and gained the freedom to go out on their own terms.
While CBS shackled them by demanding a continuation of the procedural format (despite only ordering 13 episodes), season five of POI was always moving towards the big showdown between Samiritan and The Machine. And it was done beautifully*.
Person of Interest is one of the smartest television shows in recent years and the bold move by its creators proves they're just as thoughtful and intelligent as the lead protagonist. If only all television shows could be handled as exquisitely.
*review to follow
My usual haunt (the local park and surrounding area) seems to have exploded with life since the last time I was running regularly. I used to do laps on grass when I first started, but began venturing down to the river, along the boardwalk, through the forest, around the wetlands.
Revisiting those same places seems like a whole new world now; spiderwebs aplenty, lots of different flowers, water levels rising and falling daily, etc. Each morning is a surprise because I never know what to expect (quite aside from which route I choose to take).
Photos like this have become the norm on a morning out (depending on weather):
And I enjoy it so much that I actually don't feel like I've started my weekday correctly unless I go for a run. I slept through my alarm last Friday and felt off all day. that said, if the scenery wasn't so beautiful, I might actually be back on track with the times and distances I was running a couple of years ago.
We had experienced such beautiful weather for our whole time in New Zealand (save for the dreary drive to Queenstown) that I didn't even ponder the possibility of rain hampering the day of walks I had planned for Thursday. We both expected rain in Milford Sound and, when we didn't get it, we foolishly assumed we wouldn't have to worry about bad weather for the rest of our trip.
Thursday was the most outdoorsy day of the trip, with three walking tracks in the Mount Cook region planned. I had wanted to complete:
- Hooker Valley Track, 3 hours (apart from Milford Sound, this was probably the thing I was most looking forward to)
- Kea Walk, 1 hour
- Tasman Glacier Hike, 30 minutes
As we got ready and packed up the car, I hoped that the wind would blow the storm away as quickly as it had brought it in. But, after check-out, we sat in the car and I realised there was no way we could do the walks in this weather. Our next hotel was in Lake Tekapo and it would be absurd to attempt the lengthier walks without wet weather gear and risk a damp trip east.
We drove out of the national park via the car park to shortest walk (the glacier trek), hoping the rain might hold off for just long enough to let us do the climb and return. It seemed to pour down even harder. Defeated, I asked Nomi to drive us to our next destination:
Her: "Are you sure? Will I get halfway down the road before you decide to do it in the rain?"
Me: "No. It's ridiculous. It's too wet. We should go."
Her: *drives out the car park and down the road*
A rainbow appears on the side of the road and she pulls over so we can take some photos.
The rain turns to spitting. Without a word, she does a u-turn and heads back to the carpark.
Her: "We'll put our coats on and run up the track, take some photos, then run back down."
THIS is a perfect example of why we're best friends and why we travel so well together. She knew I was disappointed about not getting to do the other walks but this was one small win we could salvage from the morning. And it was absolutely worth it. The hike was steep but rewarding with the view behind us just as spectacular as the things we were expecting to see at the peak:
And when we got to the top, we were awestruck. Dark, looming mountains, shrouded in mist, were the backdrop for an expansive lake that had icebergs floating in it! During winter, the lake freezes over, then as the months get warmer, the ice breaks up and floats around the lake. Just incredible to witness:
Someone was looking down on us because the rain had virtually stopped by the time we started the climb and didn't start again until we had reached the bottom. As soon as we got back in the car, the heavens opened up and we had a very wet drive out of Mount Cook. Even despite the wet weather, Lake Pukaki looked absolutely stunning:
As we rounded the lake, the winds picked up (we later found out they reached speeds of 160km/h) but at least the sun started shining. We made a pit-stop by one of the salmon farms and enjoyed a morning tea of New Zealand ice-cream (salted caramel and chocolate) accompanied by the most delicious and fresh sashimi I have ever tried. Incredible!
From there, it was on to Lake Tekapo (though I'm sure we spent more time stopping around Lake Pukaki for photo after photo after photo than actually driving). The blue of the water combined with the trees lining the lake, combined with the mountains in the distance made for a spectacular view.
We arrived in Lake Tekapo earlier than any of our other destination towns and were excited to check the place out and enjoy a spot of lunch. Unfortunately the place we chose to eat was really disappointing food-wise and the massive winds meant we couldn't access the lookout or go kayaking or really do any of the options we'd mapped out.
Instead, we checked into our apartment for the night, right across the the road from the lake, and walked down to take photos and explore at our own leisure. I even found some lupins to photograph against the blue of the lake! (I'd become obsessed with lupins while researching Lake Tekapo and was super bummed we'd miss their limited blossoming season of November/December so was ecstatic to find some hadn't yet expired.)
Our early arrival was a little dull as we had more time than things to do so we settled with repacking, organising souvenirs and trivia prizes*, making our own dinner, enjoying the sunset and ever-changing lake in the afternoon/evening colours, deleting/editing/culling/queuing/posting photos, and enjoying our latest acquisition of New Zealand sparkling wine:
*It has become somewhat of a tradition to play trivia when we travel. It started with vlogs on Route 66 three years ago (because that seemed like a far more fun way to share facts and plot our journey than just photos) and has continued on at Comic-Con, Las Vegas, San Fran, and Disneyland. For some reason, it's only when we go to the States; Fiji, Tonga, Tasmania, Uluru, the Gold Coast, and the Great Ocean Road all missed out.
Last September, Jetstar finally sealed a long-anticipated trip to the South Island by offering $175 return flights. Sold! I booked a return trip to Christchurch with one week to explore the lower half of New Zealand. Car hire and the first night's accommodation were booked almost immediately, but the rest of the trip didn't fall into place until earlier this year.
Following recommendations and my own research, our itinerary looked like this:
- Milford Sound
- Mount Cook
- Lake Tekapo
I knew it was a lot to cram in to six days but we only seem to travel in one of two ways:
- Lazy holiday (doing as little as possible in as serene a setting as possible)
- Intense holiday (doing so many things that people wonder if it counts as a vacation at all)
While we prefer leaving in the morning, flight prices meant a less than ideal departure time of early evening, arriving in Christchurch at a ghastly post-midnight hour. We left late Saturday afternoon, enjoying a farewell beverage (well, two) before boarding:
Despite our ridiculous arrival time, it took at least an hour to clear immigration, customs, buy an NZ sim card, and pick up our rental car (James the pearl white Yaris). This was made easier by the fact that when we disembarked, we were greeted with wallpapered sheep landscapes, scored by a chorus of bleating.
We didn't check into our Christchurch CBD accommodation (BreakFree on Cashel) until close to 2am, and took even longer to get to sleep. With an early start to make the most of our first full day, I think we managed a shaky three hours.
The devastation of the Christchurch CBD was a sombre way to start our trip. We only spent a few hours checking out Ma href="http://restart.org.nz/" target="_blank">Restart Mall</a> (aka Container City), the cathedral, and Cardboard Cathedral, before hitting the road.
The drive to Dunedin was long (5 hours) but the day was sunny and the sights were lovely, especially the last hour. The road followed the ocean, then wound up through hills and making a spectacular entrance over the uppermost peak to reveal the city laid out below.
We made our way to Larnach Castle, eager to explore the grounds prior to dinner in the castle itself. Our late-ish arrival meant there weren't many other tourists around and we had these spectacular views mostly to ourselves:
Our three-course feast (served in the Music Room as the group was too large for the Dining Room) was pre-selected and consisted of the following:
Roast pork belly / grilled haloumi salad
Seared beef / duck breast with dauphinoise potato
Banoffee cheesecake / chocolate frangipane tart
Shortbread / coffee / tea
While the first two courses were delicious, dessert was a bit of a letdown. That said, the house whiskey and bubbles we had with our dinner went down an absolute treat. As did our self-sourced pre-dinner in-room champers and cheese plate.
We conversed with a lovely lady from Honolulu (Jan), her husband (Steve), her sister, and her husband as well as a far less interesting couple from Australia. We were definitely the more lively end as the rest of the table barely conversed outside of their pairs.
We had heard amazing things about the picturesque South Island of New Zealand, but we couldn't see how our other destinations could possibly live up to the ridiculously pretty standard set by Dunedin.
I love going in to things with low expectations: it can surprise you, which is always nice; or it can completely justify all the ill-feelings you had to begin with, which is also nice.
The opening sequence is one of the best I have ever seen. In super ultra slow-mo, we find ourselves at the centre of a badass freeway fight scene with blood, bullets and coffee suspended in mid-air. As the camera winds its way through the car, credits roll with introductions like, Male Lead: God's Perfect Idiot, Female Lead: Hot Chick, Writers: The Real Heroes Here, Producers: Asshats, etc.
From there, Deadpool breaks the fourth wall and takes us back in time to view the catalyst for launching this over-the-top, vicious, violent, and deadly one-man assault. That's when we meet his former self, the good-natured mercenary Wade, who meets his match in Vanessa (Morena Baccarin) when they begin an unconventional romance.
Almost a year later, Wade is diagnosed with cancer and he leaves Vanessa to seek a possible treatment (under the guise of wanting to be remembered as his former self). The 'treatment' is torture with the apparent purpose of triggering a mutation. While the program delivers, Wade is left disfigured and spends the film seeking vengeance and a cure so he can return to his lover.
I am a huge fan of all the MCU films, but they are very much 'save the world' and it was so refreshing to see someone with 'powers' just pine for something personal, something selfish, for someone.
I used to be a huge fan of the X-Men franchise (the first two films and the last two films more than anything; X3 was an embarrassing train-wreck) so I was excited when they cut to Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters. By the end of the film, I wished they'd never been brought into the fold. The two characters were hokey and one-dimensional and didn't contribute anything to the greater story.
Reynolds is flawless as the crass humourist, balancing his charm with the often outrageous dialogue. He had great chemistry with Baccarin, which made their biting exchanges all the more enjoyable, especially the one where she finally sees his mutated face.
I was largely impressed by the lack of drag-time. Most pacy films simply can't maintain that momentum and the point it stops can really drag until it picks up again. I felt that Deadpool was always moving and when there was a "lull", it was necessary and still contained the tension, or humour, or intrigue to keep the audience engaged. Fantastic!
As we hadn't yet secured badges in February/March of 2013, I started looking for offsite events to ensure our trip to San Diego in July wouldn't be wasted.
I snapped up w00tstock tickets, having followed Wil Wheaton on Twitter for years and understanding it would be a glorious melting pot of all things geeky.
I snapped up Thrilling Adventure Hour tickets, having followed Nathan Fillion on Twitter for years and understanding it would be a glorious melting pot of music, fun, and special guests.
And, finally, I snapped up tickets to the Nerdist podcast without as much interest in the core three (Chris, Jonah, Matt) as much as their special guest, who I was hoping would be Doctor Who related. (I was not disappointed - it was over an hour of the wonderful Matt Smith.)
But that podcast was the first impression I had of Chris Hardwick and he did not disappoint. He was this awesome mix of fan boy, nerd, cool, funny, sincere, sweet. He took to the stage at 9:30pm, in full cosplay, after a Saturday of hosting panels at and generally enjoying SDCC.
He started out with a stand-up act which was solid, observational, self-deprecating and laced with profanity. My favourite part was that he himself couldn't actually believe he was making a living out of interviewing people he idolised or moderating casts of films and television shows he can't wait to see or watches.
And since then, in following him on Twitter and Instagram, that is absolutely still the case. His selfies with panels and guests and the stories behind them seem so genuine and excitable that you feel a sense of commeraderie with this guy.
One of my absolute favourites from this year was his attending the St Wars premiere. He spotted J.J. Abrams walking the red carpet with George Lucas and, because he counts himself a mere mortal, didn't want to bother them by asking for a photo.
So he lined up the perfect shot with them in the background only to press 'reverse camera' instead of actually taking the shot and completely missed the moment as they moved on. As if that wasn't bad enough, paparazzi had inadvertently captured his moment of failure and that was what he posted to Instagram.
His love for Doctor Who, passion for shows like The Walking Dead, Breaking Bad, and pretty much everything Marvel does is excellent. It gets you excited, amps you up, and it makes you feel like it's alright to embrace the nerd within.
We went to see him host Midnight the following year and Nerdist again the year after that. It was last year, during his podcast with Maisie Williams, that I took a photo that I posted as a #FlashbackFriday this week and...
He liked it.
He commented on it.
Last night I sent him the photo via Facebook as Instagram direct doesn't have a save function and woke up to this cheery reply, which incited even more fangirling:
It's official. My love for Chris Hardwick has been cemented (and documented) forevermore.
I loved the film, I was absolutely captivated the whole time and I thought the balance between old and new was done exceptionally well. Right off the bat, The Force Awakens gets four stars from me. However, I want to get the things I didn't like out of the way so I can gush over everything else.
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I am totally on-board with having a few familiars in place to make for a warmer welcome into the saga, but I felt that's what the original characters did really well. The items above were major storylines which I felt were redundant as everyone who'd seen Star Wars before knew what to expect. (Or, in my case, hoped were being set up and lulled into a false sense of insight.)
Also, I thought that a difference of thirty years meant the freedom of a blank slate, a fresh dynamic and endless options to play with. I expected a whole new world, when it was the same old world with fancy new names and toys.
Yes, I was very frustrated by these items and, while they're major, it didn't stop me enjoying what the film was setting up (possible prequels and sequels in effect) or what the film had done in:
- providing a continuation of VI
- giving seasoned watchers a stack of easter eggs
- creating a film which can stand on its own for newcomers
( So, here are the many more things I did enjoy...Collapse )
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( The second time around...Collapse )
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