American Gods: Season 1, Episode 8 Recap and Review

Unfortunately, good things have to end.  They can never last forever.

Good meals, good vacations, good sex…

And good television shows end as well.  Well, at least for the season.

This weekend, I experienced one of these endings.  Actually, I experienced an ending to a few of the above mentioned things, although only one of them is a relevant blog topic.

In other words, I watched the last episode of the season for American Gods last night.

Yep, sniff, gulp.  The last episode.

Now, I may get to experience a *good meal* or two between now and next spring, but I am still trying to come to terms with the fact that I will probably not see a new episode of American Gods for almost another full year.

But, I feel an empty spot in my heart already.  There is now a free hour on Sundays that I will have to fill with something else.

Whatever that something else, it won’t be American Gods.  And that is a weird feeling, almost like I am missing a tooth or something, like my favorite technical douche…

But, even though it was the last episode, it was still a blast.  I mean, go big or go home, right?  Well, American Gods chose the former.  And it did the “going big” part really well.

The season finale, titled Come to Jesus, was everything a season finale should be:  it advanced the story arc, introduced potential future story arcs, introduced new characters and ended on a bit of a cliffhanger.

Perfect, in other words, just like most of the rest of the season.

So, come join me one last time (at least until next spring), as we review and dissect Come to Jesus.

And, as always:

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American Gods: Season 1, Episode 7 Recap and Review

Often, you think that you know someone, and know that person very well, indeed.

That is one thing that I have discovered in being with the same person for over 10 years now:  I think I know him, but then I learn something new about him, such as the fact that he is not in fact allergic to reading and is capable of reading a book every now and again…who knew?

It is the same when watching a television show.  You think you know a particular character and then wham…he surprises you, and you see him in a whole new light.

This can even be true after only, say…seven episodes of said TV show.

I mean, you think you know your really tall, loud and foul mouthed, drunk leprechauns who are obsessed with their gold coins.

But then, you watch the seventh episode.

And you see your leprechaun in a new light.

(And no, I am not seeing light because the leprechaun has a new, shiny gold coin.)

The leprechaun in question is still really tall, loud and foul mouthed.  And I don’t think he will quit drinking any time soon.

But now the leprechaun has a new, softer side.  Dare I say, a more human side?  That makes him actually…someone to relate to?

So, in case you are confused, I am talking about the second to last (sniff, boo) episode of season 1 of the show American Gods.

It was an unexpected episode, in many ways, letting us get to know someone, who, up until this point, had been somewhat of a minor character, although his dialog (the phrase “dead wife” still makes me giggle) had been pretty spectacular.

But, after this episode, the leprechaun in question (aka Mad Sweeney) has become a pretty significant part of the story.  And now I love him even more.

So, let us begin with the recap and review of season 1, episode 7 of American Gods, titled A Prayer for Mad Sweeney.

And, as always:

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American Gods: Episode 6 Recap and Review

A leprechaun, genie and zombie walk into a bar…

Nope, this is not the opening line to some really lame joke told by your Trump loving uncle at that family Thanksgiving dinner you go to every year, whether you want to attend or not.

(Actually, I am giving too much credit to the Trump loving uncle, as I am sure he would be using terms way more offensive than genie, zombie or leprechaun.  Or he is just not literate enough to even come up with those terms, actually.  But I digress.)

No, the above actually just happened, on television at any rate.  And I got to watch it happen!

Yes, I am referring to the sixth episode of the awesomeness known as American Gods.

Although let me update that description a bit:

A really tall guy calling himself a leprechaun, although he is not exactly one, a gay Muslim smitten with his jinn lover and an asshole dead wife walk into bar…

Okay, that is much better!

And really, Mad Sweeney, the dead wife and the guy who had sex with a jinn and got a new life really did get together, and somehow ended up going on a road trip together, and they stopped at a bar that has brought really bad…luck…

(Well, someone had to say it!)

And you thought your family vacations were crazy!

Well, let’s tune into some craziness now, as in the crazy good show known as American Gods.

In other words, time to dissect and review episode 6, titled A Murder of Gods.

And, as always:

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American Gods: Season 1, Episode 5 Recap and Review

In every relationship, there comes a crossroads of sorts.

I call it the “for keeps” moment.

In other words, you decide if the relationship is something that is permanent, or just a temporary fling.

And that moment is something easily recognized, by most us.

It could be a look.

Or a piece of jewelry.

Or a Batsy reference…

(In case you forgot what blog this is.)

And this weekend, it happened to me.

I have entered into a permanent relationship.

It is for keeps.

I am no longer a free woman…

Well, at least on Sundays!

In other words, I consummated my relationship with American Gods this Sunday.

(I am allowed to date outside my marriage, as long as it is a TV show, DC character or movie.  What can I say, my husband is cool!)

The acting, writing and dialog in this episode made me fall head over heels.  And I want to solidify my commitment to this beautiful show, gorgeous on both the inside and outside.

So, American Gods, let me pop the question…

Will you…

Allow me to dissect and review you?  Forever and ever?

Til death (or cancellation, shudder) do us part?

I’m gonna take that as a yes…

So, I am down on one knee, and present you my recap and review of episode 5, titled Lemon Scented You.

And, as always:

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American Gods: Season 1, Episode 4 Recap and Review

Origin stories are always fun.

They allow us to find out more about our favorite super heroes.

They allow to find out why said super hero donned the cape.

Or donned the claws.

Even the bad guys have origin stories.

After all, sometimes all it takes is one bad day

So, yeah.  We all have origin stories.

Even characters who at first seem to be one dimensional and boring.  And actually kind of bitchy, too.

But hey, I am a sucker for a good origin story, what can I say?

If it’s written well enough, I will watch it (or read it.)

And that is exactly what this week’s episode of American Gods gave to us: an origin story for a character, who, until recently, had been kind of one dimensional.  And maybe a little bitchy, too.

In other words, we were given previously un-chartered territory, in the form of a Laura Moon-centric episode.

After the episode, Laura is no longer one dimensional.

She joins the ranks of Shadow, Wednesday, Czernebog and the entire pantheon of characters, in that she is now a fully realized character, as opposed to Shadow’s wife who died under shady circumstances and then came back to life as a zombie that attracts flies because well…she is a decaying corpse, after all.

But still kinda bitchy.

A lot bitchy, actually.

But it all makes sense now.  We were given a deeper understanding of the mystery that is Laura Moon.

So, join me on my recap and review of episode 4 of American Gods, titled Git Gone.

And, as always:

 

 

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American Gods: Episode 3 Recap and Review

So, Sunday finally came.

I had been waiting all week.

Finally, it was time to plunk myself in front of the altar, er television.

And worship…

Well, actually no.

Still a bit early for that particular Sunday service, as much I want to watch my Colts again.

Luckily, I have something else to worship in the meantime.

That’s right, I am talking about the divine new show on Starz network, aka American Gods.

After all, NFL season is only for 6 months of the year, and between February and August, the only offering we get is the draft.

So I need something to tide me over.

Luckily, American Gods allows me to continue worshiping at the altar, even though it is not football season.

And once again, this week’s episode provided plenty of reasons to worship at the altar on a Sunday afternoon.

Almost made me forget about the NFL season being still so far away.  Almost.

So join me, as I review and dissect episode 3, titled Head Full of Snow.

And, as always:

 

 

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American Gods: Episode 2 Recap and Review

The history of America is a complex one.

People came from all over the world.

And contrary to popular Ben Carson opinion, many of these people did not come to America on their own accord.

In fact, violence and bloodshed are a large part of our history, for better or for worse.

This country was also built on the backs of vulnerable people, including women, children and slaves from Africa who were kidnapped and brought over to this country, in the name of making this country wealthy and powerful.

And of course, elements of all of these different cultures are now part of American culture.

We eat pasta.  That is Italian.

Some of us listen to jazz music.  Jazz music is something that can be traced back to African culture, and was brought over to this country by the non-immigrant folks, aka slaves.

Even if you watch a movie such The Avengers, there are references to Norse mythology, as characters such as Thor, Loki and Odin are based on gods from Norse mythology. In other words, Hulk’s “friend from work” is actually an immortal Norse god.  That must make for some interesting office dynamics!

But, back to my point.

This country owes a large debt to immigrants, along with African American slaves.

Chances are, something that catches your fancy can be traced back to an immigrant or possibly an African slave.

In fact, someone wrote an entire book about this phenomenon.

The name of the book is American Gods.

At it’s core, American Gods is a dark fantasy that gives us an interpretation of religion along the lines of “it’s real if you believe.”

American Gods also serves us to remind us how important immigration and slavery are to this country, and the large debt that this country owes to both.

Now, American Gods has been translated to the screen, so these ideas have come to life.  And what a glorious trip it has been, even though only two episodes have aired, so far.

So, here is the recap and review of the second episode, titled The Secret of  Spoons.

And, as always:

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American Gods: Season 1, Episode 1 Recap and Review

So, last night I had an OMG moment.

And thank god I had that too.

For the love of god, it was good!

And I can’t wait to experience it again, godspeed!

Ok, enough with the un-godly horrible jokes…

Oh, oops…

Well, in case you haven’t figured it out yet, I am referring to the series premiere of American Gods, Starz network’s latest offering that is based on a book of the same name, written by the illustrious Neil Gaiman.

Under the premise of the show (and book), gods are real.  They are real because we worship them, although their powers are declining because we have moved away from religion, and towards our modern “gods,” aka media, technology and the stock market.

The old gods are gearing up for a battle with th newe gods, so that the old gods may show the young whippersnappers who is really in charge.

And woe to any innocent bystander who gets caught up in this battle…

Especially if said bystander goes by the name Shadow Moon

At its core, American Gods is a fantasy, somewhat similar to The Lord of the Rings, but set in modern times and familiar places, with a main character who symbolizes the melting pot that is America.

American Gods can also be seen as a sort of allegory for how immigration has shaped this country, as the immigrants not only brought their foods and languages to this country, but also their religion and beliefs.

In other words, their gods.

So, without further ado, here is the recap and review of the first episode of the first season of American Gods, titled The Bone Orchard.

Oh, as always:

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Top 10 Women in Horror Movies

So, guys and ghouls, it is that time of year again…

Oakland Raiders v Indianapolis Colts

Well, yes it is football season, but that was not what I was referring too.  I mean, do you think I want to be scared into a change pants?  Come on, now!

Well, actually I do.  And watching Indianapolis Colts football is one way to be scared, although many other emotions tend to be involved, which include extreme anger, exhilaration, puzzlement, denial, bargaining and resignation.

But, there are lots of other things that I can watch, other than Colts football, if I don’t want to experience the different stages of grief in a four hour setting (NFL math is funny that way:  one hour of football somehow turns into four hours yelling myself horse (you are welcome for that one) in front of my TV.)

In other words:  horror movies.  Horror movies everywhere…

At this time of year, I feel that autumn is right around the corner.  And this starts right after Labor Day, when the Christmas merchandise at the stores is on display!

And to counter the sight of Christmas decorations when the temperature is still at least 90 F, there is only one thing we can do…

That’s right, watch some horror movies.  Or maybe lots of horror movies.  All right, a metric shit ton of horror movies!

And so many movies to choose from.

We have our classics, like Carrie, Halloween and Friday the 13th.

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Or “new school,” like Horns.  You gotta admit, seeing Harry Potter as the devil is fun!

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Or, we don’t have to limit ourselves to movies.  There are plenty of good, horror themed shows not titled American Horror Story to chose from.  And most are available via the miracle of the 21st century otherwise known as Neflix.  Cable schmable, right?

Now, one thing about horror movies:  they seem to have an audience.  And no, not necessarily horror junkies.

Let’s face it:  most horror movies are geared towards white males.  That is often who your horror movie protagonist is, with a few exceptions, like Night of the Living Dead, which was decades ahead of its time for featuring an African American guy as its protagonist.

And it’s not to say that those movies are not good movies.  In fact, movies like Phantasm (I dare you to cross The Tall Man, boooyyyy!), The Shining, Horns and many others are either classics, or on their way to becoming classics.  And I have no problem with that, they are great movies and deserve their accolades.

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But, I feel like I am missing something when I watch certain movies.  In fact, I feel like I may be missing at least half of something…

That’s right, where are my ladies?  I mean, we make up half the population, right?  So where are we?  Where are we in one of my favorite movie genres?

Well, it turns out that if take the time (after all, rushing us is bad, on so many levels, haha) and look, you can find us ladies in horror movies.  And some bad ass ones at that!

In recent years, we have become even easier to find in the horror, genre and science fiction categories.  After all, Game of Thrones, anyone?  Plenty of kick ass women there!

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And The Master and The Master 2.0 have gotten in on the act, as both Stephen King and Joe Hill have managed to write convincing female characters, who have an identity beyond the wife or girlfriend of the guy who winds up kicking ass.

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So, if you look, we are there in horror movies.  Sometimes we get horribly victimized.  Sometimes we victimize others.  But other times, we throw down some serious shade, and you do not want to meet us in a dark alley!

With that being said, here is my list of top 10 women in horror (both on television and film.)  Keep in mind that this is my opinion only, and could be subject to change at any moment…

And, as always:

Spoiler alert


10.  Sally (The Nightmare Before Christmas)

Well, I may be a little biased with this statement, but I will say it anyway:

Gingers rule!

And as soon as we have enough freckles, we plan to take over the world!

Okay, I am kidding (you hope.)

But this entry on my list has earned her spot on it.  And yes, she just happens to be a ginger.

Guys and ghouls, I bring to you…Sally!

Now, Sally may literally owe her existence to a man.  However, do not underestimate her, as she is tough, smart and resourceful.

After all, a chic who clearly knows her poisons.  Who would want to cross her?

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Sally is a love interest in the movie The Nightmare Before Christmas (and one half of one of one my favorite onscreen couples ever), but to me, she is so much more than that.

For most of her life, Sally is held in captivity by her creator.  She understands that that she may be selling herself short, and she works to build a life for herself beyond captivity, and to connect with the outside world in a meaningful way.

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Sally also brings a message of self-acceptance.  After all, she literally falls apart, but that doesn’t stop her from picking herself back up and continuing on with her life.  That message of self-acceptance is one that Jack Skellington badly needs to hear, as he finally accepts that it is okay to be the Pumpkin King, and leave “Sandy Claws” to those who are better qualified for that job.

Is it a Halloween movie?  Is it a Christmas movie?  It’s an existential crisis!  But an awesome existential crisis!

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9.  Mrs. Vorhees (Friday the 13th)

Every movie needs a good guy (or bad girl.)  This is especially true of horror movies.  After all, where would we be without The Tall Man, Pennywise the Clown, Reverend Kane, along with many other bad guys that make these movies memorable?

Well, we can add Mrs. Vorhees to that list as well.

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When I bring up Friday the 13th, most people think of the guy in the hockey mask.  I then have to gently remind him that he is the protagonist in the 19 or so sequels that the franchise has generated, along with the awesomely bad crossover where Jason and Freddy meet…spoiler alert:  they don’t meet for Netflix and chill!

So, let’s go back to the beginning.

In other words, the infamous Camp Crystal Lake.  And a few horny teenagers.  And of course, the campers.

And…the camp’s cook?

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Yes, the camp’s cook.  And the mother to Jason Vorhees, who (supposedly) drowned due to the horny camp counselors not doing their job, due to fact of being…well…horny.

Again, Jason is a non-factor in the first film of the franchise.  We do see the “Jason half” of Mrs. Vorhees personality, as she rationalizes killing teenagers, but Mrs. Vorhees is responsible for all the blood and guts.  All.  The.  Blood.  And.  Guts.

All of it!

I personally love a lady vs. lady show down.  There is something much more fierce about those, and so primal.

Well, I got my wish when I watched Friday the 13th, in one of the most epic onscreen lady vs. lady show downs in the history of film and television!

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It doesn’t get much better than that, folks!


8)  Sidney Prescott (Scream)

When I watched Deadpool, I found it amusing that the title character seemed to be self-aware.  He knew he was in a movie, and made reference to that fact throughout the movie.  It was good for plenty of yuks!

The movie Scream also uses the concept of “self aware”, and perhaps one of the best uses of that concept.

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After all, Scream constantly makes references to horror movies throughout the movie.

In fact, in the opening scene, the killer begins by asking trivia questions (see the above entry.)  And that is just the beginning.

Scream pokes fun at the horror genre.  A lot.  After, we now all know to never say, “I’ll be right back?”  Or to drink or have sex in a horror movie, as those acts also mean certain death.

However, underneath the humor, Scream is still a horror movie.  With a protagonist who kicks ass.

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And oh yeah, this protagonist just happens to be a girl!

Sidney’s plight is something that is all too familiar:  her mother was raped and murdered.  The murderer was supposedly caught and put in jail, but Sidney is struggling to come to terms with her mother’s death, and the repressed emotions that come with the trauma.

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And then people start getting killed.  Sidney is still struggling with her trauma, and is now unsure of who she can trust.  Sidney is also now unsure that she did correctly identify her mother’s killer, and fears that she may have put the wrong man in jail.

Throughout the movie, Sidney shows herself to be a fighter.  From the reporter who will not stop harassing her to her friend and boyfriend who turn out to to be the killers, Sidney proves that she is resilient, and a force to be reckoned with.

Processing trauma and coming out on the other side is difficult, but is rewarding when it is finally accomplished.  The character of Sidney Prescott is a wonderful example of this.

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7.  Nancy Thompson (A Nightmare on Elm Street)

Often, I joke (well, sort of) that I am in a relationship with…my bed.

Hi, my name is Leah, and if I don’t get my sleep, I will cut a bitch!

In other words, my bed is a refuge, as is my sleep.

Well, sleep usually is.  Although sometimes I am given to having nightmares…

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But I am lucky in the fact that my nightmares, no matter how real they seem (that one featuring the Tall Man and strange Lovecraftian creatures was certainly a doozy), are just dreams in the end.

They can’t hurt me.

The subject of this particular entry, however, was not so lucky.

Poor Nancy.

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Falling asleep became dangerous for her, so no refuge for her.

I mean, she dozed off in class and nearly got killed for it.  Makes the detention one would normally expect seem kind of mild, right?

However, Nancy sleeps on it (see what I did there) and decides to do something about the evil creature who has been tormenting her and her friends in their dreams.

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First, she recruits her boyfriend, Glenn, to help her catch Freddy. But when that doesn’t work, she doesn’t give up, and instead persuades her father to help trap Freddy.

Nancy just will not take no for an answer, and will stop at nothing to destroy Freddy Kreuger for good (or at least until the next sequel, at any rate.)

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She will not go down without a fight, and I have always loved her for it.

Freddy Kreuger may be one of my favorite horror movie villains of all time, but let’s face it, without Nancy, he would be nothing.  And that is not just because he needs dreams from teenagers so that he can exist.

The fact that my favorite horror villain has to face off against a woman is just icing on the cake.  Wait, I take that back.  Nancy is the cake, icing and all.

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6.  Willow Rosenberg (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

Now, I often tell people that high school was hell for me. And it was.

I spent most of my time isolated.  And being isolated was actually the good part.  When I was “only isolated,” I considered myself to be lucky, as least I wasn’t being tormented.

The lesser of the two evils, I suppose…

But what was that saying that I heard way back when, about a guy with no shoes who meets a guy with no feet and gets some kind of new perspective?

In other words, I should be lucky that my school was not built on a Hellmouth, right?

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Isolation and bullying is one thing.  We can talk about the lesser of two evils and so forth…

But when your school is built on a Hellmouth, and when you have to deal with vampires, werewolves, and all kinds of other Big Bads, I think we are beyond the discussion of the lesser of two evils.

In fact, you may just piss one of those Big Bads off by referring to him/her/it as “lesser.”  And that would be dangerous indeed.

And in the midst of all this…well…Hell, we have Willow Rosenberg.

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Now, Willow may be a classic “sidekick” to Buffy, who had the fortune (or is it misfortune?) of moving to Sunnydale, CA, where her destiny as The Slayer awaited her, but make no mistake about it:  Willow is also a bad ass herself.

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Not only did she fight along Buffy’s side (along with Xander, Giles and a few others), Willow also, like so many of us, struggled to find her identity in the Hell otherwise known as high school.

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As a result, one of the most fascinating character arcs in television history emerged.

How often do you see someone go from high school computer nerd, to fledgling witch, to full fledged witch, all the while never losing her integrity, making the arc seem so natural?

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Oh, and Willow also came out as a lesbian somewhere in there too, making her one of the first major characters in a TV show to be openly gay.  And it was all so natural too.  When Willow finally coupled up with Tara, it seemed so right, and to be true love, as opposed to some kind of fetish.  Her friends accepted her as gay, and nothing really changed between them…I loved it!

Oh, and any time I think any of my break ups were bad (along with my high school experience), I just think what was done to poor Willow in the name of entertainment for the masses.  I think this is where that term ugly cry comes into play.


5.   Carrie White (Carrie, 1976)

Yeah, see above…

I will say it once and I will say it again:  High school, aka government babysitting is overrated at best.  At worst, it is Hell.  And the high school in question does not even need to be built on a Hellmouth to suck.  High schools do that quite well on their own, thankyouverymuch.

And again, my high school experienced sucked.  It sucked bunches.  My best memory, other than finally graduating, was getting a 100% on a calculus test.

The teacher must have though I was a freak…

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Well, I am a freak.  But I actually think my freakage is pretty mild, compared to this particular entry.

Meet Carrie White.

On one hand, Carrie is your typical high school reject.  At best, the other students ignore her, and she is invisible to pretty much everyone.

But the at worst part is just horrible.  Getting pelted by tampons, while you are having your first period at age 17 and thinking you are dying…well, I think I would trade going to high school on the Hellmouth for that one!

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However, on the other hand, Carrie is not your typical high school reject.  For one thing, she has a religious fanatic for a mother at home, who shames her for getting her period, getting asked to prom, and pretty much shames her daughter for existing.

Carrie also possesses telekinetic powers.  And this turns out to be bad news for everyone.  When a high school prank goes horribly wrong, and Carrie is humiliated at prom, everyone is at the brunt of Carrie’s revenge.

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Carrie’s powers are unleashed, and the results are epic, to say the least.

I have always said that the villains in this movie are Margaret White, along with Carrie’s cruel classmates.  Carrie is the most innocent among all the characters.  How could you expect her not to finally retaliate, after the happiest night in her tormented life is ruined?

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I shed more than a few tears when Carrie died (see the part above about the ugly cry.)

And for the record, my high school classmates should be lucky that I did not possess telekinetic powers…

Very lucky…

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4.  Lydia Deetz (Beetlejuice)

“Well, I’ve read through that handbook for the recently deceased. It says: ‘live people ignore the strange and unusual”. I myself am strange and unusual.”

Oh, the above quote…

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When I first heard it, there were so many emotions to process…

Happiness was one of them, of course.

And, believe it or not, relief was one of them as well.

I may have fallen in love a little that day, with a fictional character.  I have a bad habit of doing that, it seems.

Of course, I am speaking of Lydia Deetz.

As a 90’s kid, “Goth” was a thing.

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We all had them in at least one class.

The kids who wore all black, even in the summertime.

Often, they loved horror.

They had an affinity for creepy things.

Their taste in music was cutting edge, to say the least.  Nine Inch Nails, anyone?

Lydia Deetz started the Goth culture.

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She rocked the all black and pale-face make-up before it was cool (I mean, I was pale-face before it was cool, but no make-up needed here.  Gotta love being a soul stealing ginger, AmIrite?)

In case I have not made this clear, I was not a kid who fit in.  In fact, I didn’t really belong anywhere.

Growing up, I felt like a ghost.  Sometimes I wondered if I was actually dead, and everyone knew it but me and forgot to tell me.

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And like Lydia, I lived in a world of my creation.  I loved to read and write, and create art.

Those interests don’t exactly make one’s phone ring off the hook on Friday night, but I tried to remain true to myself.

That was the thing I admired most about Lydia:  she remained true to herself.

She preferred the company of ghosts over people (well, I preferred the company of animals, but close enough, right?)

Things that repelled most people attracted Lydia (to this day, my parents still think I am some kind of literary leper for loving Stephen King.)

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Being different is a good thing.  But often, it is lonely.

Characters like Lydia Deetz remind us of how awesome different is, and make the journey a little less lonely.


3.  Eleven (Stranger Things)

“She’s our friend and she’s crazy!”

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Stranger Things is my show and it’s awesome!

Now, no matter what else happens in 2016 (and we still have the presidential election to get through, so the season finale is still a bit far away), we can at say, “At least we had Stranger Things.”

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And there so many things to love about Stranger Things.

It is a tribute to all things 80’s.

It pays homage to all kinds of horror, including John Carpenter films, Wes Craven and even H.P. Lovecraft.

It is a gold mine for Stephen King fans.  The story line of people with PSI abilities is classic King (Firestarter, anyone?), not to mention the fact that The Master’s name is lovingly brought up in an episode.

I could go on and on, actually.  Lots of reasons to love Stranger Things

At least eleven, I would say…

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Oh, right.  Eleven.  The subject of this entry!

If you told me that the show Stranger Things centered on the subject of four friends (who are boys) and their entrance into adulthood, along with the loss of innocence they experience, you would be correct.

On the surface, that is what Stranger Things is about (along with a monster christened Mr. Tulip-Head and his band of merry slugs.)  That statement would not be incorrect.

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But, like the books written by a certain famous writer, Stranger Things is so much more than that.

Enter Eleven, everyone’s favorite waffle loving, bald-headed escapee from an evil government lab run by the creep known as Dr. Pedophile.

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And oh yeah, Eleven possesses PSI abilities, along with being on the run from “Papa” (shudder.)

At first, Eleven serves as kind of homing beacon, to help Mike and his friends try to find their missing friend Will, whose disappearance just happens to coincide with Eleven’s appearance.

However, the boys, especially Mike, grow to like Eleven on her own merits.  A friendship develops, and Eleven becomes fiercely protective of her new friends (see the opening sentence to this entry.)

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Through their friendship with Eleven, the boys mature, and also come to the realization that the world is not a safe place, nor is it always a fair place.  Eleven brings out the best in Mike, who begins to fall in love with her.

The realization that the world is not a safe or fair place comes in the final episode, when Eleven (seemingly) sacrifices herself to the alternate dimension known as the Upside-Down, when she battles the monster that was responsible for kidnapping Will.

Out of all the characters on the show, Eleven proves herself to the most selfless of the bunch, who takes the meaning of friendship to a new level, when she sacrifices herself for another child who she does not even know.  She also proves herself to be a tough fighter, in her journeys to the Upside-Down and her battle with the extra-dimensional monster.

Stranger Things

Stranger Things

And a fierce protector of Eggo Waffles everywhere.  Do not, I repeat, DO NOT mess with that girl’s waffles, if you know what’s good for you!

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2.  Vanessa Ives (Penny Dreadful)

I love Eva Green

Oh, how I love Eva Green!

Eva Green is the bomb.com!

Did I mention that I love Eva Green?

Okay, just wanted to make my point clear.

And the reason I fell in love with Eva Green was her portrayal of Vanessa Ives on the show Penny Dreadful.

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I have problems.  I really do.  Sometimes they feel like they number around 99, although I am really not sure if a bitch accounts for more than a few (although my crazy dog could be put into that bitch category.)

But then, I can go watch the period horror/drama known as Penny Dreadful, and I get some perspective.

In other, my problems are pretty damn mild.  Or maybe even non-existent, really.

After all, I don’t have the Devil Himself after me.

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Or Dracula, for that matter.

I may have guys hit on me and give me unwanted attention, but at least they aren’t evil incarnate.

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(On a side note, no one has ever seen my ex and Lucifer in the same room together.  Fun fact of the day!)

Nor am I harassed by a coven of witches who are willing to hand me over to at least one of the above.

Oh, and I don’t live in Victorian London, where women are limited to only a couple of roles, and if they don’t fit in, then well, that’s just too bad, isn’t it?

I have just described a day in the life of Vanessa Ives, the main character of the show Penny Dreadful.  Yikes much?

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But somehow, despite all of the horrors she has to endure throughout her life (both supernatural and non-supernatural), Vanessa Ives is able to maintain a kind of grace that one rarely sees even in people who have not been cursed by an unknown evil force.

Vanessa makes everyone around her better.  Her influence is something to behold, as she brings out the best even in those who may not be the best humanity has to offer (Victor Frankenstein and Sir Malcolm being prime examples of this.)

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Vanessa’s influence even extends to the ‘non-human” characters in the show, including Caliban (otherwise known as The Creature) and Ethan, the werewolf.

Caliban, in particular, benefits from his friendship with Vanessa.  Even before he became “The Creature,” Caliban was in danger of his losing his humanity due to his employment with the Banning Clinic.  However, when he is forced to care for Vanessa, he begins to see his patients as individuals, as opposed to numbers, and realizes that his employer is in the wrong in its treatment of its patients, and that he can no longer work for them.

Eva Green as Vanessa Ives and Rory Kinnear as The Creature in Penny Dreadful (season 2, episode 5). - Photo: Jonathan Hession/SHOWTIME - Photo ID: PennyDreadful_205_1509

(Another side note:  anyone who watches the episode A Blade of Grass without tearing up at least a little bit has ice water instead of blood in his/her veins, and we cannot be friends.)

Even after Caliban is transformed into The Creature, Vanessa extends her friendship to him, reminding Caliban that he is more than a corpse stitched together and brought back to life as a science experiment.

Vanessa’s character serves to make the ending even more poignant, as she sacrifices herself so that others may live.

Vanessa’s friends mourn her death, but it is clear that she lives on in each of them, as her influence continues, even after her death.

Rory Kinnear as The Creature in Penny Dreadful (season 3, episode 9). - Photo: Jonathan Hession/SHOWTIME - Photo ID: PennyDreadful_309_3066


And now, for my number 1 woman in horror…

drum-roll-please

I give you…


Dana Scully (The X Files)

OK, let’s get one thing straight…

That’s Dr. Scully to you!

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Now, in case it wasn’t clear, I was a nerd growing up.

I liked math and science.

I read books on theoretical physics for fun.

A wild day for me consisted of visiting the library and finding five books.  OR SIX BOOKS.  SIX BOOKS!

So, as you can imagine, my social calendar was clear until approximately February 30th, 2087.  Although these days, I’m a little more booked, because that calendar is clear until May 32nd 2072, although if you need something, I may be able to shuffle things around and pencil you in.

But, in the fall of 1993, things began to look up.  Well, a little bit, at least.

For that is when we had the debut of The X Files.

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Before I watched The X Files, I did not see a lot of representation of women in my world, aka the world of nerd.  Now, this did not necessarily bother me much, at least on a conscious level.

However, deep inside, I knew that something was missing,  I could not tell you what, but I knew that my world was lacking.

But then Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully made their entrance to the screen.

And right away, it became evident of what my world was missing.

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You see, the world of horror and general nerdiness had been waiting for a woman like Scully.  Finally, she arrived.

And she did not disappoint.

Scully was smart (see the opening sentence to this entry.)

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Not only was Scully smart, she could throw down some serious shade.  And usually, she was wearing heels of at least three inches while doing that.

And her autopsies were so cool!  They almost made me want to go to medical school, just so I could throw around medical jargon like that.  Almost.

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Scully also kept her partner Mulder grounded.  Mulder could get a little nutty at times with his (literally) out of this world theories, but Scully was able to reign him in, and was the yin to yang.  They made a great team.

While Mulder often had to rescue Scully from cannibals, a death fetishist and a few other horrors (both human and supernatural), Scully often often rescued Mulder.

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I loved seeing her storm in with those heels, pointing her gun and flashing her FBI badge.  Sometimes her efforts backfired, and Scully would end up in a dire predicament as well.  But many times, Scully was able to get Mulder out whatever predicament he found himself in, and the two could go on to kick ass for another episode.

Scully also faced the same sexism many of us in the “real world” have to face on regular basis.  Sometimes people were reluctant to respect her, or would ignore her in favor of her male partner.  But Scully always handled that so well, and could silence her naysayers with a single look or sentence.  And I loved her for it.

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And I have one thing to say:  Representation matters.  I am someone who has spent her life feeling invisible and ignored.  And its not fun.  I do not wish that on anyone.

But when we create characters such as Dana Scully, the world becomes a little brighter.  And a little less lonely.

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At last, someone gets us.  And the journey becomes exciting,  At last, we begin to see the hope.


Well, that’s it for my top 10 ladies in horror.

I am sure I missed a few, but compiling this list was not an easy task.  So a shout out to any I may have left out:  You are not forgotten!

So, if you don’t feel like being horrified by Indianapolis Colts football, pop in one of these movies, or tune in to Netflix and watch one of these shows.

At the very least, you can kill a few hours.  Or maybe, just maybe, you can appreciate one of these films or TV shows in a new light, after seeing some kick ass ladies!

Happy watching!

 

The X Files Renewal: Episode 6 Recap and Review

So, I woke up this morning feeling conflicted.

On the one hand, I was sad.  When something epic comes to an end, I always feel that way…

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But I felt confused, too.  I was a loyal fan, and someone had the nerve to just leave me in the dark!

And angry.  When something finishes, I want some satisfaction, dammit…you can’t leave me hanging like that!

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No, I am not not talking about my 2015 football season, as unsatisfactory as that was.  And no, I am not back together with my ex, either!

THE X-FILES: L-R: Gillian Anderson and guest star Annabeth Gish in the “My Struggle II” season finale episode of THE X-FILES airing Monday, Feb. 22 (8:00-9:01 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2016 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Ed Araquel/FOX

I am actually talking about the season finale for the much anticipated The X Files renewal.  I watched it last night, and I am feeling sad (it’s always sad when things end, at least for someone), confused and yes, even a little angry.  In fact, I just want to give Chris Carter and the rest of the creative team a good, hard shake and ask them, ever so diplomatically, WHAT THE FUCK WERE YOU THINKING?  WHAT THE ACTUAL?  FUCKERS!  FUCK!!!!

Well, the above may be a bit of hyperbole, so maybe keep the f bombs, but lose the cap locks (after, I like to think I am civilized, and don’t resort to the overuse of cap locks to make a point.)  While I did enjoy this episode, and think it does have some merits, I am also feeling conflicted, angry and maybe even a little bit let down after the conclusion of this season.  Alas, I have been an Indianapolis Colts fan for years though, so this feeling is not new to me.

With that being said, here is my review and recap of My Struggle II, the season finale of The X Files renewal.

And, as always:

Homer spoiler


 

Synopsis

The episode begins with a voice-over by Dana Scully, detailing her history and her work on the X Files, along with her admiration for her partner, Fox Mulder.  The voice-over ends with Scully mentioning that her genetic material contains what she considers to be alien DNA.

One morning, Scully shows up at the office, only to discover that Mulder is not there.  Mulder’s computer is still there, and indicates that he has been watching one of Tad O’Malley’s podcasts detailing a government conspiracy, and a massive outbreak of a plague that will endanger the entire population.

Scully is worried and meets with Tad O’Malley at Mulder’s house, where there appears to have been a struggle, but no sign of Mulder.  O’Malley had arranged a meeting with Mulder, and also had his DNA tested, learning that his DNA contained alien genetic material.  O’Malley tells Scully that he suspects the entire population was affected, and this may be the start of a global epidemic.

Agent Miller takes over the search for Mulder, and Scully recruits Agent Einstein to help her determine if there will indeed be a global epidemic.  Scully suspects that smallpox vaccines may have been contaminated with alien DNA, which were given to an unsuspecting population in an effort by evil men to destroy the population.  Scully meets Einstein at the hospital, where they notice a young man who appears to be extremely ill and also has a lesion on his upper arm, where he received an anthrax vaccination from the military.  Scully fears that anyone who has received a vaccine for anything will have his/her immune system react to the vaccine and become ill.  Agent Einstein is skeptical, and tells Scully that she is skeptical of her theories.

In the meantime, Agent Miller has tracked Mulder’s phone to Spartanburg, SC, and begins the search for Mulder.

Scully receives a summons from her old friend, former agent Monica Reyes.  Upon meeting with Reyes, Scully learns that Reyes has been working with The Cigarette Smoking Man, who has survived a terrible accident, leaving him with burns on much of his body.  Scully also learns that Reyes has made a deal with her nemesis:  in exchange for helping him, Reyes has also received injects of alien DNA, which will keep her safe from the global pandemic.  Reyes also informs Scully that she is safe as well, because she also has been injected with alien DNA.  Scully is disgusted at Reyes’ actions, and wastes no time telling her so.  Scully also realizes that alien DNA is not attacking peoples’ immune systems, it is actually a Spartan virus that has been passed on to the population via childhood vaccinations, and that she may be able to use her own alien DNA to create a cure for this virus.

Mulder has arrived at the home of the Cigarette Smoking Man, but he is battered, due to a confrontation with a man sent by his nemesis to attack.  Additionally, Mulder has become ill with the plague that is infecting the rest of the population.  However, Mulder still attempts to confront his nemesis and expresses his disgust for his actions.  The Cigarette Smoking Man tells Mulder that mankind is headed for extinction anyway, and Mulder loses consciousness.  Mulder then awakens to Agent Miller, who has saved them.  The Cigarette Smoking Man lets both Mulder and Miller escape, offering no resistance.

At the hospital, Scully and Einstein continue to work on a cure for the global plague, using Scully’s alien DNA as the basis.  Einstein, the nurses and several doctors become ill, but Scully is able to manufacture a cure.  She receives a call from Agent Miller, who tells her that Mulder is in bad shape.  Scully then races to find Miller and Mulder on an extremely congested freeway.

Finally, Scully is able to locate Miller and Mulder on the freeway.  Both men are ill, but Mulder is in particularly bad shape.  Scully realizes that Mulder actually may need stem cells, and tells Miller than in order to obtain those, she will need to locate their son, William.  A spaceship descends from the sky, shining a light on Scully.  The scene then fades to black.


 

My Thoughts

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And on a few different levels, too…

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I did enjoy watching this episode, and I believe that there are some merits to it.  However, something about this episode just didn’t “gel” for me.  Like with the previous episode, Babylon, I felt that I had a jigsaw puzzle in front of me, and some of the pieces were either missing, or I just couldn’t figure out how to put the puzzle together.

Hurr

But first, let’s talk about the good in this episode.  Contrary to popular internet opinion, I do believe that I can find some good in this episode.

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I think the best thing about this episode was that it was “Scully-centric.”  I love Scully…who doesn’t love Scully?  Really, who doesn’t love Scully, so I can come to your house and beat you with a wet noodle?

Growing up, I was a nerd, living in a small Midwestern town.  I had aspirations to perhaps go into science, or maybe mathematics.  I always dreamed of being a part of something bigger than myself, and looked to life beyond that Midwestern town.

In other words, I was the outcast.  My social calendar was clear until…oh say…2012 or so.  Being a nerd (and a female one at that) isn’t easy, but someone has to do it, right?

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Well, Scully also did it very well (the female nerd thing, that is).  She “scienced” like there was no tomorrow.  She could kick bad guy ass with the best of them, and all while wearing three inch heels.  And she got Mulder out of jams pretty frequently, and kept him from completely going off the deep end before he lost any shred of credibility.

In other words, Scully gave me (and probably many others like me), someone to look up to and admire.  And that was a breath of fresh air.

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And this episode was indeed very “Scully-centric”, even right from the beginning.  Mulder was MIA, and Scully was left to try and save the day.  Scully got to use her smarts to come up with a solution to save the world.  Again, Scully had to go save Mulder’s butt.  Scully even got to do the intro this time, so we could get her POV of the time she has spent on the X Files, along with the reminder of how much she has had to sacrifice, all in the name of Mulder’s quest for truth.

I also loved how Scully’s DNA was the likely savior of the human race, and how this fact is probably linked to a certain memorable episode where some crazy guy says that Scully is “immortal.”  Well, Scully’s DNA is (presumably) injected into the rest of the human race to save it.  And if that is not immortality, I don’t know what is.  Scully living on in everybody?  Hmmm, I think I like that!

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Another thing I liked about this episode was the reappearance of one of the most iconic onscreen villains of all time…

Yes, the Cigarette Smoking Man.  The CSM is a bad ass.  Well, actually, given some of his actions, he is probably just an ass.  Regardless, he is still iconic.  And awesome.  And missed, at least by me.  So seeing him was a breath smoky, stale air.

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So some things worked in this episode.  However, not everything, or even most things worked for this episode.  So let’s talk about it, and since we are civilized, we will refrain from using the caps lock button this time.

And speaking of the caps lock key, this episode contained more than its fair share of some really off-the cuff, wacko, fringe ideas.  I know that I was watching a show basically dedicated to off the cuff, wacko, fringe ideas (after all, cases don’t earn that X for nothing) but c’mon, man!  Chem trails?  Anti vaxxer sentiments?  Microwave radiation?  Again, c’mon, man!  Give me something I can actually buy, like Flukeman!  I think even Mulder was rolling his eyes at all this…

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Scully turning into Ms. Ranty-pants and babbling about conspiracies and vaccines being the doom to us all?  Did the writers forget some essential facets of Scully’s character, like the fact that she is a scientist and would probably encourage parents to vaccinate their kids?  And I can’t even say that Mulder would have bought any of that either.  He has an open mind, but not so open that his brain would fall out…

As stated before, I liked the fact that the Cigarette Smoking Man was a player in this episode.  But again, things didn’t add up.  Why would Reyes sell her soul to him, so she could spend her life handing him cigarettes to smoke through his traech (and there is another disgusting image I can’t un-see, Freud would be proud for the creative team on that one).  That confrontation with Mulder made no sense, either.  And Mulder went out with a whimper, instead of a bang, against the nemesis who has been plaguing him since day one.  A bit of a punk ass ending, for sure.

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Oh, and speaking of endings…

WHAT.  THE.  FUCK.

Yeah, I know, I broke my own promise, but I couldn’t help it.  So I apologize for the use of the caps lock.  I just can’t help myself, that’s all.

I am trying to figure out if the ending was just lame, or open-ended.  For the sake of the show, I am hoping for the latter, so we get more episodes.  I felt like the creative team realized that they only had 45 minutes, so oh damn, gotta end this, after we have built all this tension.  So damn the luck, guess we will have to beg Fox Network for another season.  Who gives a shit if we piss off the viewers?  While we are at it, let’s tease about Mulder and Scully’s son William AGAIN, but only mention his name and give no more information, and then cut to a black screen.  So the viewers will never get any closure on that (I mean, William has only been mentioned in every episode this season, and there appears to have been a build-up to something).  And the viewers will never know if Scully’s efforts were successful, and the human race was saved, or if the aliens won out anyway.  So yes, hard to tell if we are looking at lazy or open-ended, in terms of that ending…

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Torture.  Definite torture.  Chris Carter and the creative team did not get the memo that torture was supposedly outlawed by the Geneva Convention…


 

So, there you have.  Many of us wondered if this would ever happen.  But it did.  We were reunited with our favorite onscreen duo. Although the reunion was brief, it was still sweet.  And fun.  And frustrating, at least at times.  But one thing it never was:  dull.  So I say goodbye, at least for now.  And maybe I can hope for another sweet reunion with Mulder, Scully, Skinner and the rest of the gang.  Actually, I am not saying goodbye, since I don’t like the finality of that word.  But I will say, “see you guys later.”  And maybe I will.

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