“LIMITLESS” (2011) Review

“LIMITLESS” (2011) Review

When I first saw the movie trailer for the new “techno-thriller” called “LIMITLESS”, I must admit that I found myself intrigued by the plot’s premise. But I never felt any real anticipation to see the movie. Its premise struck me as the type that could easily make or break a film. 

Based upon Alan Glynn’s 2001 novel, “The Dark Fields”“LIMITLESS” told the story of a New York City writer named Eddie Morra, who is approached by his former brother-in-law (also drug dealer) to try out a new experimental drug. According to brother-in-law Vernon Grant, this NZT-48 has the ability for humans to access 100% of the brain’s power, as opposed to the normal 20% (which is in reality, a myth). Eddie accepts, and, much to his surprise, the drug works, allowing him to finish his book. Determined to continue using NZT-48, Eddie returns to Vernon for more of the drug. He runs a few errands for Vernon, returns to the latter’s apartment and finds him dead. Eddie also finds a large supply of NZT-48 hidden in Vernon’s oven. Thrilled by the impact of NZT-48, Eddie turns to the world of finance and attracts the attention of a high powered businessman named Carl Van Loon. He also attracts the attention of a Russian gangster named Gennady, from whom he borrowed money in order to enter the stock market on a large scale. And Eddie eventually discovers that the mysterious person who had killed Vernon, has been stalking him. Even worse, he learns from his ex-wife Melissa that anyone who ceases to use NZT-48 for a period of time, risks his or her health

I must admit that I was very impressed by “LIMITLESS”. First of all, I feel that Leslie Dixon wrote an excellent screenplay that had at least one or two minor flaws. I could not compare his screenplay to Glynn’s novel, because I have never read the latter. A family member who had read the novel informed me that Dixon did maintain the first person narrative, allowing leading actor Bradley Cooper to provide a first-rate narrative. Dixon also maintained the novel’s peek into the human psyche and our desire for power, prestige and money through any means possible. A good example of this desire came from the main character’s willingness to use the NZT-48 to make more money and at the same, not bother to hide his accomplishments. This unwillingness on Eddie’s part to bypass open acknowledgement led to a great deal of unwanted attention from people like Carl Van Loon, Gennady and his murderous stalker. One would think that“LIMITLESS” could easily be an ode to human brain power. And yet . . . I found it ironic that despite using 100 percent of their brains after using NZT-48, characters like Eddie and a few others failed to consider all aspects of their situations. And this failure either endangered their lives . . . or ended it. So, exactly how limitless was this drug?

As I had stated in the above paragraph, there were a few aspects of the movie’s plot that I would consider as flaws. After an encounter with the Russian thug Gennady, Eddie found himself without a NZT-48 pill and his life endangered. He had to go to his girlfriend Lindy’s office and recruit her to fetch his supply, which he had hidden inside her apartment. On her way back to her office and Eddie, Lindy found herself being followed by Eddie’s mysterious stalker. Why was he following her? How did he know that she had Eddie’s supply of NZT-48 on her in the first place? How did he know that she had gone to her own apartment for Eddie’s pills? I am certain that someone can explain this . . . mysteryto me. Because I still cannot explain it. In the movie’s final sequence, which featured a last meeting between political candidate Eddie and Van Loon, the latter revealed his knowledge of the NZT-48 pills that Eddie had been taking, his purchase of the company that had been manufacturing the drug and his shutdown of Eddie’s private supply lab. Exactly how did Van Loon find out about the NZT-48 drug? Who told him? Because the businessman never did reveal how he had found out. The only thing he was ascertained of was Eddie’s occasional bizarre behavior.

I was very impressed by Neil Burger’s direction of the film. One important factor to the success of the film was that Burger managed to maintain a brisk pace throughout the entire film. And this is an important factor for me, because if there is anything that will divert my attention from any movie, it is slow pacing. Two, with cinematographer Jo Willems, and editors Tracy Adams and Naomi Geraghty; Burger presented this tale with original photography and editing that at times I found rather mind blowing. One of my favorite sequences featured Eddie’s discovery that the NZT-48 drug allowed him transport from one location to another without his knowledge. I felt as if I was on a PCP trip, while watching the sequence, without feeling any confusion whatsoever. Another favorite sequence of mine featured the last meeting between Eddie and Van Loon, at the former’s campaign headquarters. It was a sequence filled with snappy dialogue, great pacing and superb performances by both Bradley Cooper and Robert DeNiro. Overall, I think that Burger’s original direction did justice to Dixon’s script and especially to Glynn’s novel.

The cast for “LIMITLESS” was outstanding. Tomas Arana gave a quiet and intense performance as the mysterious man in the tan coat, who was stalking Eddie. And Abbie Cornish was intelligent as Eddie’s book editor girlfriend, Lindy. Aside from one sequence, I thought her role could have had a stronger presence. On the other hand, Anna Friel made the most of her one scene in the movie, as Eddie’s former wife Melissa Gant, who had also taken the NZT-48. I was also impressed by Johnny Whitworth’s performance as Vernon Gant, the drug dealer who had hooked Eddie on to NZT-48. Sleaze had never looked classy. Welsh actor Andrew Howard injected style, if not class into his role as the Russian thug Grennady. And he did so without developing his character into a cliché. It has been a while since I have seen Robert DeNiro in a worthwhile role. And I must say that I found his portrayal of the subtle and intelligent Carl Van Loon as one of his best in several years. He was right on target in portraying a no-nonsense and powerful businessman that had risen to the top by his own intelligence and hard work. But the man of the hour . . . or movie was Bradley Cooper. And he gave a complex and superb performance as the novelist, whose life is changed by one little pill. Cooper proved that he had what it takes to become a Hollywood powerhouse, as he guided the role of Eddie Morra from a sad sack loser to a self-assured think tank through various little triumphs and setbacks. He certainly deserves to become a full-fledged star, thanks to his performance in this movie.

“LIMITLESS” has its minor flaws. After all, no movie is perfect. But I must admit that I found it a very entertaining and intelligent film. Director Neil Burger did justice to both Alan Glynn’s novel and Leslie Dixon’s first-rate script. And he had a superb cast, lead by a very talented Bradley Cooper to help him. This is one movie I can never get tired of watching.

“LOST” – The Aaron Littleton Lie

“LOST” – The Aaron Littleton Lie

On February 4, 2009, ”LOST” had aired an episode called (5.04) ”The Little Prince”. In this episode, former fugitive Kate Austen learned that that someone discovered the secret of Aaron Littleton’s true parental lineage. When I first heard about this episode, I found myself wondering if the series would finally address the moral consequences of the Oceanic Six’s lie about Aaron. It did . . . on a very limited scale. 

As everyone knows, Australian survivor, Claire Littleton had given birth to an infant son named Aaron on the castaways’ 41st day on the island. While on the run from the murderous Martin Keamy and his thugs; Claire, James “Sawyer” Ford and Miles Straume made camp for an overnight rest some fifty-seven days later. That night, a vision of her late father, Christian Shephard, led Claire to abandon Aaron and follow her father into the jungle. Sawyer and Miles spent nearly a day searching for her, before giving up and heading for the castaways’ beach camp. To make a long matter short, Aaron ended up with Kate Austen, a fugitive accused of murder, bank robbery and a few other crimes. Kate, Aaron, Desmond Hume, pilot Frank Lapidus and the other members of the Oceanic Six – Jack Shephard, Sun Kwon, Sayid Jarrah and Hugo Reyes – were rescued by Desmond’s lady love, Penelope Widmore, in her yacht.  There, they made the decision to create a series of lies about their experiences on the island. One of those lies centered around Aaron’s parentage. In the Season Four episode, (4.12) ”There’s No Place Like Home, Part I”, Oceanic Airlines representative Karen Decker repeated the Oceanic Six’s lie to the press:

“Based on the location of the wreckage, our best estimate of the crash site is… (click) here. From there, the survivors were carried by the ocean’s current to… (click) here–an uninhabited island in the Lesser Sunda Islands known as Membata. As you’ve all read in your briefing books, on day 103… (click) a typhoon washed up the remnants of an Indonesian fishing boat, including basic supplies and a survival raft. On day 108, the remaining six survivors, including Ms. Austen’s baby which she gave birth to on the island of Membata, used this raft to journey here– (click) an island called Sumba. They then came ashore near a village called Manukangga. This photo was taken by the local fisherman who found them. Once it was discovered who they were, they were transported to Honolulu by the U.S. Coast Guard. As you can imagine, this has been an extraordinarily trying experience. They have, however, agreed to answer a few questions. So, ladies and gentlemen, the survivors of Oceanic 8-1-5.”

Now, according to the Oceanic Six, Kate was six months pregnant when U.S. Marshal Edward Mars arrested her in Australia and later accompanied her aboard Oceanic Flight 815 on September 22, 2004.  Sometime between the crash and their arrival at an island called Sumba, Kate gave birth to Aaron. Six months following their return, the Shephard family – Jack and his mother, Marge – held a funeral for Christian Shephard, who had died in Australia before the crash. Kate (with Aaron), Sayid and his wife Nadia, and Hurley attended the funeral. Following the service, a blond woman approached Jack and informed him that she was Carole Littleton, Claire’s mother. While Kate stood nearby, holding Aaron, Carole also revealed that she had an affair with Christian and that Claire was Jack’s half-sister. This meant that Aaron was Jack’s nephew. Naturally, Jack was upset over the news. Even more important, both he and Kate failed to inform Ms. Littleton that she was standing just a few feet away from her grandson. The episode,(4.04) “Eggtown” revealed that Kate eventually stood trial for her crimes. Because her mother Diane Jensen – the prosecution’s star witness for the murder charge – refused to testify against her, Kate got away with the cold blooded murder of her father, Wayne Jensen. For some reason that still defies me, the prosecution decided to offer probation to Kate for her other crimes – which included bank robbery, assault of a Federal officer, grand larceny and grand theft auto. Kate agreed to ten (10) years of probation. In other words, she was not allowed to leave the state of California for a decade. I doubt that this verdict actually bothered Kate. It kept her out of prison and she was able to go home and continue her charade as Aaron’s mother.

In the Season Five episode called (5.01) “Because You Left”, Kate had received a visit from two attorneys who claimed to have a court order demanding paternity tests be conducted to conclude if Kate is Aaron’s biological mother. Kate used their visit as another opportunity to do what she did best – namely flee. This time, she did so with Aaron. In the following episode, (5.02) “The Lie”, Kate met up with her fellow Oceanic Six survivor, Sun Kwon, somewhere in Los Angeles and told the latter about the attorneys’ visit.  In a mind-blowing moment, Sun advised her to meet the attorneys again and kill them. According to the other woman, the Oceanic Six had to maintain their lies in order to protect the island and those who had been left behind.

In the end, the excuse that Sun gave Kate is the same excuse that Jack first stated on Penny’s yacht some few years ago – namely their lies were necessary to protect those who had been left behind and the island itself from the authorities and especially Charles Widmore. In fact, many of the show’s fans have expressed their acceptance of this excuse on many ”LOST” forums, message boards and blogs. I must admit that I never understood the need for these lies, except for one reason – the media and the authorities would have found the truth ludicrous and committed the Oceanic Six to various mental institutions. Even if the authorities had believed their story, I doubt that anyone would have been able to find the island, considering that Ben Linus managed to move it using some ‘Donkey Wheel’ in the Season Four finale, (4.13) ”There’s No Place Like Home, Part III”. But what really annoys me to no end was the lie about Aaron and Kate.

Kate Austen must have been a very popular character with the fans of ”LOST”. Of all the characters, she was the only one who had received more excuses for her crimes and mistakes than any of the others. Sawyer was probably a close second, but that is another matter. Many fans have spent more time on her ludicrous love triangle with Jack and Sawyer than on the fact that she was an unrepentant murderess and later, kidnapper.  With Aaron, Kate committed the act of kidnapping via a lie. Mind you, she was not solely guilty of this crime. Jack, Sayid, Sun and Hurley were also guilty. Before ”The Little Prince” aired, everyone – including myself – believed that Jack had been the creator behind the lie surrounding Aaron. This episode eventually revealed that Kate was the one who had suggested the lie to Jack.  He eventually accepted it and used it as part of his repertoire of other lies surrounding the island. Sayid, Sun and Hurley remained silent on the matter, while Kate carried out the lie. Along with the excuse mentioned in a previous paragraph, I have come across many excuses surrounding the lie about Aaron’s parentage. I have yet to come across an excuse or justification that made any sense to me. And God knows I have come across a good number of them. Here are just a few:

*Kate is a good mother.
*No one had any knowledge of whether Claire had any relations in Australia.
*Claire had originally been on her way to Los Angeles to give Aaron up for adoption.
*Sun’s Korean heritage prevented her from claiming to be Aaron’s mother.
*Claire had allowed Kate to leave the island with Aaron (this one was hard to swallow).
*In Kate’s dream, Claire told her not to bring Aaron back to the island.
*Carole Littleton’s affair with a much married Christian Shephard made her morally unacceptable as Aaron’s guardian (I swear, I actually came across this one)
*The psychic Richard Malkin had lied to Claire, when he told her that only she should raise Aaron. A “nice couple from L.A.” – namely Jack and Kate – were destined to raise him.
*Due to ”LOST” being a fictional story, there was nothing wrong with Kate pretending to be Aaron’s mother.
*By lying, the Oceanic Six did the best thing they could to protect Aaron.
*Claire left Aaron in the jungle to follow her father in (4.09) “The Shape of Things to Come”
.

And so on. One of the forums that really demonstrated the need for fans to see nothing wrong in Kate’s custody of Aaron was The Fuselage. Other forums such as Lost-ForumsSouless SpikeTelevision Without Pity more or less skirted the issue. Although the Lost-TV Forum posted a thread in which someone had criticized Kate for creating the lie about Aaron, most of the members who have responded are defending Kate’s actions . . . and bashing Jack for agreeing to the lie. Amazing. This woman not only got away with the kidnapping of a child, but also received a free pass by certain fans. Fortunately, not all of the show’s fans on this forum defended her. There were some on other threads who criticized Kate for her actions in regard to Aaron.

There were many aspects to the lie surrounding Aaron Littleton that I find questionable. First all, I had doubts about the Oceanic Six’s decision to lie about the island. In one of the flashbacks for “The Lie”, Jack claimed that the lies would protect those left behind on the island:

JACK: Hurley, what about you?

HURLEY: I don’t think we should lie, dude.

JACK: We need to protect the people that we left behind, Hurley.

HURLEY: How does lying protect them?

JACK: It protects them from Charles Widmore. The guy hired a boatload of people to kill all of us. He faked a plane crash. I mean, you think telling him the truth, he’s just gonna–he’s gonna leave them alone?

Hurley was right. How did this lie protect those left behind from Charles Widmore? The Oceanic Six had witnessed the island’s disappearance.  He eventually learned the whereabouts of the island without the help of the Oceanic Six in the series’ last season.  And should it not have been more important for them to tell the authorities that others had been left behind, so that they could be rescued?  Of all of the survivors from Flight 815, only two people had formed any attachment to the island – John Locke and Rose Nadler. Rose’s husband, Bernard, was only willing to remain due to his wife’s belief that the island kept her healthy and alive. I suspect that the Oceanic Six’s real motivation behind their lies was due to their guilt over leaving the others behind. None of them ever bothered to stop at the beach camp to see if all of the Losties had made it to the freighter. Instead, they had Frank Lapidus fly them directly to the freighter in their bid to escape from the island. I suspect that guilt was the main motivator behind their lies.

But what was the main motivation behind the lie surrounding Aaron Littleton? In this scene from ”The Little Prince”, Kate Austen gave her reasons to Jack Shephard – one of two men she had managed to wrap around her finger during her three month stay on the island:

KATE: (Chuckles) At least one of us can sleep. It’s gonna take more than two nights for me to get used to sleeping in a normal bed. What are we gonna do about him? About Aaron.

JACK: I don’t know.

KATE: I’ve been thinking a lot about him. Did you know that Claire was flying to L.A. to give him up for adoption?

JACK: No. No, I didn’t.

KATE: I think we should say he’s mine.

JACK: What?

KATE: We could say that I was six months pregnant when I was arrested and that I gave birth to him on the Island. No one would ever know.

JACK: Kate, no. You don’t have to… (sighs) There’s other ways too this.

KATE: After everyone we’ve lost–Michael, Jin, Sawyer… I can’t lose him, too.

JACK: Sawyer’s not dead.

KATE: No. But he’s gone. Good night, Jack.

JACK: Kate… If we’re gonna be safe, if we’re gonna protect the people that we left behind, tomorrow morning, I’m gonna have to convince everyone to lie. If it’s just me, they’re never gonna go for it. So I’m gonna turn to you first. Are you with me?

KATE: I have always been with you.

That was probably one of the most flimsiest excuses I have ever came across for keeping a child, based upon a lie. It made Kate look like an over-emotional nanny who had resorted to kidnapping to keep a favored child by her side. She had grown attached to Aaron and could not deal with another loss after Sawyer’s departure from Frank’s helicopter? On one level, I can understand this. It is possible that she had grown emotionally attached to Aaron, considering what they had experienced before Penny’s rescue. On another level, I found this excuse questionable. There was something niggling in the back of my mind that Kate may have been using Aaron as an excuse to avoid time in prison. It was possible that she realized that she could not flee from the authorities following their return to the States . . . and decided to use Aaron as some kind of character reference without allowing him to show up at the trial. She did not need Aaron at the trial. She had Jack. Looking back on the trial featured in ”Eggtown”, Kate did not put up much of a resistance against Jack’s lies about her. But like I had said . . . it was merely a possibility. But surely she must have realized that Aaron would come into the picture some way or the other by claiming to be his mother. What did she expect?

There were those who claimed that Kate and the rest of the Oceanic Six had done nothing wrong by supporting the lie about Aaron’s parentage. Here, I beg to differ. Frankly, I found the lie to be appalling. Kate used Claire’s revelation that the latter was planning to give Aaron up for adoption as an excuse to claim the baby as her child. What she, Jack and the rest of the Oceanic Six failed to realize was that none of them knew the circumstances surrounding Claire’s original intent. They decided to accept the possibility that Claire lacked a family . . . and handed over an innocent child to a woman facing charges of murder and other crimes in the U.S.  No one knew whether Kate would be able to avoid prison and decided to support her claim that Aaron was her son. I found that despicable.

There was also the argument that Kate really had no choice but to raise Aaron. Sun could not claim the baby as her own, due to her Korean heritage. Many fans claimed that someone had to raise Aaron. Why? To protect him? What on earth made them think that Kate could protect Aaron? This was the same woman who ended up getting jumped by a mortally wounded Naomi Dorrit in the Season Four premiere, (4.01) “The Beginning of the End”.  How on earth was Kate supposed to protect Aaron? Very people did not even bother to consider that the Oceanic Six could have told the truth about Aaron’s parentage . . . and maintain their lies about the island. All they had to do was reveal at the press conference hosted by Oceanic Airlines in ”There’s No Place Like Home” that Claire had survived the plane crash, given birth to Aaron and died before the five adult survivors could be rescued. Chances are that Aaron would have ended up with his grandmother, Carole Littleton. The ironic thing is that when Carole made her second appearance in ”The Little Prince”, both Kate and Jack viewed the woman as some kind of villain or threat to their existence. Especially Kate:

KATE: Oh, my God.

JACK: (Exhales deeply) It’s Claire’s mother.

Act 5
JACK: Wait.

KATE: What am I waiting for, Jack?

JACK: Wait. I just… let’s just think about this for a minute.

KATE: She knows.

JACK: Maybe she doesn’t know.

KATE: No, but she knows about Aaron, and that’s all that matters!

JACK: (Sighs) Let me go talk to her.

KATE: What?

JACK: If I can just explain to her why we did it–maybe if I can get her to understand why… she’ll listen to me. I can fix this, Kate. I can fix it. Hey. Aaron is my family, too.

(Knock on door)

(sighs)

CAROLE: Dr. Shephard?

JACK: Hello, Ms. Littleton. Um… may I come in?

CAROLE: Of course.

(Door closes)

CAROLE: You look drenched.

JACK: No, no. No, I’m fine.

CAROLE: God, I haven’t seen you since your father’s funeral. How did you even know I was here?

JACK: Um… I knew you were here, Ms. Littleton, because I followed your lawyer.

CAROLE: Why would you do that?

JACK: I’m–I did it because, um… I understand that you feel the need to do this. But I need you to know that everything that Kate and I have done–it was for Aaron.

CAROLE: Who’s… Aaron? I–I’m afraid I’m not following you.

JACK: Ms. Littleton, um… what are you doing here in Los Angeles?

————————————————————————–

(Thunder rumbles)

JACK: Let’s go. Drive. Then call Sun and tell her to bring Aaron to the Long Beach Marina. We’ll meet her there.

KATE: What–wh-what are you talking about? What happened?

JACK: Kate, we have to go now.

KATE: I’m not going anywhere until you tell me what just happened!

JACK: She doesn’t know anything.

KATE: What?

JACK: She doesn’t know. She still thinks that Claire is dead. (Pants) She doesn’t even know that Aaron exists.

KATE: But the lawyer–

JACK: She sued Oceanic, and she’s in town to pick up her settlement.

KATE: What, and it’s just a coincidence that her lawyer happens to be the same one that’s trying to take my son?

JACK: I don’t know. But whoever’s trying to take Aaron… it’s not her.

KATE: Then who is it?

Amazing. Kate, Jack and the rest of the Oceanic Six were the ones guilty of kidnapping and both Jack and Kate ended up viewing Carole Littleton as some potential kidnapper. It was enough to make me sick to my stomach.

Many fans have condoned the Oceanic Six’s actions by claiming that Kate turned out to be a wonderful mother for Aaron. Frankly, who gives a shit? I really DID NOT CARE what type of mother Kate turned out to be.  And to this day, this sentiment remains.  What she and the rest of the Oceanic Six had done with Aaron was despicable. They had dragged an innocent child into an unnecessary deception with hardly any qualms, for their own selfish reasons. They really had no excuse for the lie about Aaron. Of all the crimes that had been featured on ”LOST”, the lie about Aaron to be the most appalling I had ever witnessed on that show. The Oceanic Six disgusted me. Especially one Kate Austen.

In the end, the deception surrounding Aaron was finally laid to rest by Kate.  Before leaving the United States on Ajira Flight 816, she returned Aaron to his grandmother, Carole Littleton.  She also returned to the island to find Claire, in order to reunited mother and son.  However, this little chapter will be discussed further in another article.

“BAND OF BROTHERS” (2001) – Episode Eight “The Last Patrol” Commentary

“BAND OF BROTHERS” (2001) – Episode Eight “The Last Patrol” Commentary

Episode Eight of ”BAND OF BROTHERS””The Last Patrol” saw the return of paratrooper David Webster (Eion Bailey). Last seen in “Crossroads”, hobbling away from a battlefield in Holland, after being wounded; Webster returns from the hospital to find his old company recovering from the traumas suffered during the campaign in Belgium. With the Allies on the verge of victory, Easy Company begins to eye any chance of a return to combat with great wariness, during its stay in Haguenau, a town located in the Alsace region. Unfortunately, their luck fails to hold when Winters orders Spiers to select a group of men to carry out a dangerous scouting mission within the German lines. 

Recently, one of my relatives read an autobiography of one of the Easy Company veterans still living (I will not reveal his name). I was surprised to discover that he harbored some ill will toward the miniseries for allowing a major showcase of another character, David Webster. Why? Webster had never participated in the campaign in Belgium. He never bothered to leave the hospital to rejoin Easy Company in time for that harrowing experience. Many people might find that hard to believe. Yet, this autobiography had been recently published – perhaps in the last two years. This veteran continued harbor resentment toward Webster for missing the Belgium campaign after sixty odd years. Sixty years strikes me as a hell of a long time to be angry at someone for something like this.

Screenwriters Erik Bork and Bruce C. McKenna certainly included this resentment toward Webster in ”The Last Patrol”. In fact, I would probably say that they were a bit heavy-handed on this topic, especially in the episode’s first five to ten minutes. This was certainly apparent when Bork, McKenna and director Tony To insisted upon actor Eion Bailey wearing a silly grin on his face, when his character is informed about those Easy Company men that were killed, seriously wounded or otherwise in Belgium. The episode was also heavy-handed in its portrayal of Easy Company’s reluctance to engage in more combat, whether it was a major battle or a patrol. The first half of the episode seemed to saturate with some of the veterans either commenting on their reluctance to fight or their resentment toward newcomers like the recent West Point graduate, Second Lieutenant Jones (Colin Hanks) or returnees like Webster, who missed the Belgian campaign. And I never understood why Winters and not Spiers had chosen the fifteen men to partake in the patrol. Winters was the 2nd battalion’s executive officer around this time, not Easy Company’s commander.

Although the episode eventually improved, it still had another major flaw. The major flaw turned out to be Webster’s narration. Unlike Carwood Lipton’s narration featured in ”The Breaking Point”, Webster’s narration not only struck me as heavy-handed as the episode’s handling of his return, but also ineffective. The main problem with this episode’s narration is that it had a bad habit of repeating what was already shown. Some have blamed Eion Bailey’s performance for the flawed narration. However, I blame the screenwriters for writing it, and the producers for allowing it to remain in the episode. The material, in my opinion, seemed unworthy of a talented actor like Bailey.

Fortunately, ”The Last Patrol” was not a disaster. To, Bork and McKenna – along with most of the cast – did an excellent job of capturing the weariness suffered by Easy Company, following the ordeals of Bastogne and Foy; despite some of the heavy-handedness. This was especially apparent in Scott Grimes’ performance, whose portrayal of Sergeant Donald Malarkey seemed to reek of despair and grief over the deaths of “Skip” Muck and Alex Penkala in the last episode. The episode also benefitted from a humorous scene that centered on Frank Piconte’s (James Madio) return from hospital, after being wounded during the assault upon Foy. It allowed audiences to see how the men of Easy Company (both the Toccoa men and the replacements) had bonded – especially after the Belgium campaign. This scene provided a bittersweet moment for Webster (which was apparent on Bailey’s face), who began to realize how much his lack of experience in Belgium may have cost him. However, the episode’s centerpiece turned out to be the first rate action sequence that featured the patrol crossing the Rue de Triangle (Triangle River) and infiltrating German lines to snatch some prisoners. Although brief and filmed at night, the sequence was also fierce, brutal and a painful reminder that escaping the horrors of war might prove to be a bit difficult, despite the paratroopers and the Germans’ reluctance to engage in more combat.

Aside from Scott Grimes, other first-rate performances came from both Matthew Settle (Spiers) and Donnie Walhberg (Lipton), who seemed to have developed some kind of brotherly bond; Colin Hanks, who gave a nice, subtle performance as Easy Company’s newest addition, Lieutenant Henry Jones; Damian Lewis, whose finest moment as Winters came when the latter prevented the men from participating in a second patrol; Craig Heaney, whose portrayal of the embittered and caustic Roy Cobb seemed a lot more effective than in previous episodes; and Dexter Fletcher, who has been a favorite of mine for years. Not only was his portrayal of 1st Platoon sergeant John Martin was as deliciously sardonic as ever, but he provided a strong presence in the episode’s only combat sequence.

Although some are inclined to criticized Eion Bailey’s performance in ”The Last Patrol”, I am not inclined to do so. Yes, I was not impressed by his early scenes that featured Webster’s return to Easy Company. But I blame the screenwriters, not the actor. Thankfully, the episode moved past that awful beginning and Bailey proved he could give a subtle and well-rounded performance as the cynical Webster, who has to struggle to deal with the possibility that the men he had fought with in two major campaigns now consider him as an outsider.

”The Last Patrol” might not be one of the better episodes of ”BAND OF BROTHERS”. But for some reason, I have always liked it. I suspect that despite its flaws, I liked how the screenwriters and director Tony To gave it a world weary aura that matched both the situation and emotions that the men of Easy Company were experiencing, after eight months of combat.

“THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU” (2011) Review

 

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“THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU” (2011) Review

Matt Damon made his second (or perhaps third) foray into the science-fiction/fantasy genre, when he starred in his latest film called “THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU”. The movie turned out to be a loose adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s 1954 short story,“Adjustment Team”

Adapted and directed by George Nolfi, “THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU” is about an aspiring politician named David Norris, whose encounter with a talented modern dancer sparks a romance between the two. However, members of a mysterious force called the Adjustment Bureau keep interfering with their romance, explaining that Norris’ political career would be affected by his romance with Elise Sellas, the young dancer. They also explained that Elise’s future as a famous dancer would also be affected. At first, David agrees to stay away from Elise, when Richardson (one of the “angels” of the Adjustment Bureau) tells him that he will be “reset” or lobotomized, if he tells anyone about the Bureau. But three to four years later, David finds it difficult to forget Elise. And with the help from Harry Mitchell, the Bureau “angel” that has been overseeing his life, David sets out to fight the Bureau’s abilities to control his choices and form a permanent relationship with Elise.

“THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU” struck me as one of those pleasant and whimsical movies that I usually find mildly interesting. Both Matt Damon and Emily Blunt gave believable performances as the politician and dancer who find themselves attracted to one another. If I must be honest, the two had a very strong screen chemistry. The movie also gave moviegoers an interesting glimpse into the possibility of a supernatural force that determined the paths of all individuals. And the movie presented this premise in an interesting way that perfectly balanced reality with fantasy. An interesting aspect of the movie’s plot is that the Adjustment Bureau “angels” used doorways to instantly teleport from one location to another. And in order for them to accomplish this, each “angel” has to be wearing the Bureau’s signature fedora hat.

However, I had some problems with the movie. I never understood how both David and Elise managed to remember each other after three years. At the beginning of the movie, they had briefly met inside the men’s bathroom at a local hotel. The following morning, they met again aboard a public bus and spoke for a few minutes. Three years passed before they laid eyes upon each other again . . . and they clearly remembered one another. Why do I find that implausible? And the Bureau’s decision to finally let David and Elise alone, because; a) they somehow “discovered” that the two were always meant to be together struck me as a bit saccharine, and b) they fought so hard to stay together struck me as rather saccharine. Every time I think of that final scene, flashes of the movie, “STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN” enters my mind. In fact, I am beginning to suspect that “THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU” might be a slight remake of the 1945 movie. But at least “STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN”had more of a punch than “THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU”. And that is my final complaint about the movie. It simply lacked punch. It failed to blow my mind. It was a nice movie that I would have enjoyed more, watching on my television screen.

The performances in the movie were pleasant, but did not strike me as particularly memorable. Well . . . I take that back. I was impressed by two performances. One came from Anthony Mackie, who portrayed David Norris’ personal Bureau “angel”, Harry Mitchell. With very few lines, Mackie did a first rate job in conveying Harry’s increasing disenchantment with the Bureau’s policy of controlling the choices of others with an intensity that struck me as perfectly balanced. I was also impressed by Terence Stamp’s portrayal of Thompson, one of the senior members of the Bureau, who is called to deal with David, when the latter proves to be troublesome. Stamp was commanding, intimidating, slightly ruthless and very convincing in his character’s arguments to keep David and Elise apart. As I had stated earlier, both Matt Damon and Emily Blunt gave charming performances as the two protagonists. During the scenes in which Damon’s David Norris flirted with Blunt’s Elise Sallas, I was struck by the similarities in Damon’s flirtations with Vera Farmiga in “THE DEPARTED” and Minnie Driver in “GOOD WILL HUNTING”. And I began to wonder if Damon had a standardized method for on-screen romances. I also enjoyed John Slattery’s performance as another one of the Bureau’s “angels”, Richardson. But if I must be honest, his character struck me as another variation on his Roger Sterling character from “MAD MEN”. It would be nice to see him in another kind of role.

“THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU” is a charming and clever movie. It benefitted from solid performances from a first-rate cast and a solid adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s short story by George Nolfi. But in the end, I found it slightly disappointing. It failed to pack a punch that this kind of story would have the potential to deliver.

“Obssessions” [PG-13] – Prologue

“OBSSESSIONS”

RATING: [PG-13]
SUMMARY: Paige’s boss attracts the attentions of an obsessive witch. Olivia becomes friends with one of Leo’s charges. Set less than a week after “A Day in the Life of Paige Matthews”.
FEEDBACK: deerush76@yahoo.com – Be my guest. But please, be kind.
DISCLAIMER: Cole Turner, Darryl Morris, Leo Wyatt and the Charmed Ones and other characters are related to Charmed to Spelling Productions, Brad Kern and Constance Burge. The McNeills and a few other characters are my own creation.

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“OBSSESSIONS”

PROLOGUE

The dark-haired man clumsily eased his blue Toyota Corolla into the small parking space. And sighed. He really needed to move – find an apartment building that offered a parking space. He was getting sick and tired of the daily struggle to find adequate space near his building.

After sighing once more, Nick Marcano grabbed his tote bag, climbed out of the Toyota and made his way to the Spanish Colonial-style apartment complex, several yards away. He hated his life. No, that was not true. Nick did not really hate his life. He simply found it boring. How could any man feel satisfied, living alone in a cramped apartment or driving a car that had seen better days, half a decade ago? How could a man find satisfaction in a tedious job as a low-level accountant at an investment firm? Or in a non-existent love life?

Nick entered the complex’s courtyard and headed straight for the rows of mailboxes. He inserted a key into his mailbox and opened it. The sight of envelopes stuffed inside did nothing for his mood. He knew what they were. Bills and more bills that will drain most of his hard-earned wages. Dammit! What was the point in earning a living, when he could not use the cash to enjoy life? Instead of enjoying a fine meal at an expensive restaurant or a long vacation to an exotic locale, he had to resort to local fast-food joints, cheap restaurants and “exciting” locales like Santa Cruz, Monterey and the Yosimite National Park. Not exactly the sense of adventure he desired.

If Nick did not know any better, he would swear that he was drifting into a depression. His life may not be worth shit, but he certainly lacked the urge to commit suicide. Right? After all, there were certain elements in his life one could consider worthwhile.

For one, he was a witch. A witch that practiced the pagan religion of Stregheria. A Streghone. Granted, he did not possess the gift of a practical power. His body lacked the ability to channel magic. Yet, no one in his boschetto (coven) could deny that he was a talented Streghone, with a knack for spells and an extensive knowledge of magic. Unfortunately for Nick, he suspected that his fellow witches saw his talents as a tool to be used for their purposes . . . and nothing more.

There seemed to be one person who felt differently. Nick’s gaze focused upon a photograph sitting on the whatnot’s second shelf. It was a photo of a vibrant blonde woman, around thirty. Judging from her stance and gaze, she obviously had no knowledge of the photographer’s lens. Barbara Bowen. Nick heaved a forlorn sigh, as he continued to gaze at the photograph. Unlike him, Barbara did not practice Stegheria. She practiced a Celtic form of Paganism, known as Wicca. But like Nick, she did not possess a particular psi power. Like him, she only possessed a talent for spells and potions that exceeded his own. Even better, she managed to appreciate Nick’s own talent.

Nick’s aunt, Carla Bianchi, happened to be close friends of another Wicca witch named Gweneth McNeill. Nick had known Gweneth’s three children since childhood. And it was through the two older McNeill siblings, Bruce and Olivia, that he first met Barbara. God, she was beautiful! Beautiful, strong, funny and full of life. And unlike the red-haired Olivia, the blonde witch did not come off as intimidating.

Feeling hungry, Nick went into the kitchen and opened his small refrigerator. Disappointment greeted his eyes. Aside from a carton half filled with milk, two celery sticks and some leftovers, he did not have a goddamn thing to eat. Frustrated, he slammed the refrigerator shut.

It sometimes seemed to Nick that his life was filled with nothing but disappointments. Even with Barbara. Despite their close friendship, she ended up engaged to Bruce McNeill. Of course he was handsome, a successful chef and rich. What woman in her right mind would resist him? Barbara and Bruce had first become engaged, last October. Six months ago. Nick could only surmise that they had not bothered to set a wedding date. Or maybe one or the other was simply reluctant to march down the aisle. Whatever the reason, Nick saw the long engagement as an opportunity to get even closer to his lady love, and hopefully prevent this potentially matrimonial travesty.

Meanwhile, he had to eat. And since Nick had no desire to lose his hard won parking space, he decided that a meal at the IHOP restaurant down the street would have to do. He could shop for groceries, tomorrow.

Nick sat down on his sofa and began to sort through his mail. Just as he had suspected – bills and junk mail. Then he came across a large, thick envelope. Dread gripped him. Could it be . . .? With nervous fingers, Nick opened the envelope and pulled out an engraved card. The inside read:

“Barbara Helen Bowen and Bruce James McNeill request the honors

of your presence at their wedding on Saturday, the 26th of April,

two thousand and three, at two o’clock in the afternoon, the McNeill

House, 353 California Street, San Francisco, California.”

April 26. Nick glanced at the calendar on the wall. In less than three weeks, Barbara will be beyond his reach. Devastation struck Nick. But it did not last. He still had time to prevent Barbara’s marriage to that overprivledged pissant, Bruce McNeill. And he was not a talented witch for nothing. If using magic could salvage his happiness, then so be it. He planned to do so – by any means necessary.

END OF PROLOGUE

“TERMINATOR 3: RISE OF THE MACHINES” (2003) Review

“TERMINATOR 3: RISE OF THE MACHINES” (2003) Review

There are times when it seems to me that the third entry in the “TERMINATOR” franchise is regarded as nothing more than an afterthought with the fans. Whereas the first two movies are regarded as masterpieces and the fourth movie is regarded as a showpiece for actor Sam Worthington and the scene for star Christian Bale’s behind-the-camera rant.

“TERMINATOR 3: RISE OF THE MACHINES” is set at least a decade after the events of the 1991 movie. John Connor, now a young man around twenty, has been off the grid for a few years, drifting from one area to another, while taking on the occasional odd job. Because of this, Skynet – the self-aware, artificially intelligent system that became humanity’s enemy – has been unable to locate him during this time period. Instead, Skynet focuses its attention upon John’s future lieutenants, including a young veterinarian assistant named Kate Brewster. Skynet sends a more sophisticated cyborg assassin named T-X back to the early 21st century to kill Kate and John’s other lieutenants. Unbeknownst to Skynet, the Resistance sends back another reprogrammed T-850 Terminator cyborg to the same era to assist John and Katherine . . . and keep them alive.

”TERMINATOR 3: RISE OF THE MACHINES” pretty much followed the same formula that dominated the first two films. In all three movies, Skynet sends a cyborg back to the past to prevent John Connor from becoming the Resistance’s future leader. And in the second and third movies, the Resistance sends a reprogrammed cyborg to save John. But there are some minor differences in this third film. One, ”TERMINATOR 3” marked the first time that James Cameron did not participate in the production of one of the franchise’s film. And two, this movie also marked the first time that Sarah Connor was not a major character. Due to Cameron’s lack of participation in the film and because Jonathan Mostow was hired to direct, ”TERMINATOR 3” has not been highly regarded by film critics and moviegoers alike. In fact, this movie did a lot better overseas than it did in the U.S.

I can see how this film had acquired such a lackluster reputation after viewing the movie’s first fifteen to twenty minutes. The movie’s early period seemed filled with scenes that struck me as sophomoric and cheap. John Connor struck me as a melancholic slacker for whom I found difficult to harbor any symphathy, let alone interest. The arrivals of both the T-850 and the T-X came off as rather silly. The T-850 arrived at a stripper bar for women, where he stole some clothes from an effeminate male stripper. And after killing a woman and stealing her clothes and car, the T-X encountered a cop and resorted to inflating her cleavage in order to distract him. Mind you, the scene featuring the T-850 at the stripper bar struck me as mildly amusing. But I was not amused by watching the T-X inflate her bust in order to vamp a cop. It was ridiculous and slightly insulting. After saving Kate from the T-X, the T-850 and John get involved in an over-the-top car chase that featured a loud and aggressive truck driver that struck me as more obnoxious than funny. However, once the car chase ended, Mostow’s direction, along with John Brancato and Michael Ferris’s screenplay, elevated ”TERMINATOR 3” into something truly worthwhile.

The T-850 led both John and Sarah to a cemetery, where they found a cache of weapons that had been stored by Sarah Connor. Audiences also learned that poor Sarah had contracted leukemia before succumbing rather quickly. The T-850 also revealed that Judgment Day – originally thought to commence on August 29, 1997 – was scheduled to begin within a few hours (on July 24, 2004). Apparently, the U.S. Air Force took control of Cyberdyne Systems and the Skynet project, following the events in ”TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY”. And the Skynet project is being headed by Kate’s father, Lieutenant General Robert Brewster. Not only did the cast’s performance improved greatly following the movie’s Act I, the movie’s plot acquired a sense of both urgency and pathos, as John, Kate and T-850 raced to prevent Judgment Day. Their efforts led to an exciting, yet horrifying bloodbath initiated by the T-X at Cyberdyne System’s new location, and a few tragic moments that allowed ”TERMINATOR 3” to have the best – in my opinion – ending in the entire franchise.

Arnold Schwarzenegger returned to portray the new T-850 cyborg sent to protect John Connor and Kate Brewster. I was amazed to see that he managed to create a second new twist on the T-850 character. In ”THE TERMINATOR”, his cyborg was nothing more than a relentless killing machine. In the 1991 movie, his T-850 seemed childishly thrilled by the slang and rituals taught to him by a young John Connor. But his T-850 in ”TERMINATOR 3” is not the same being that John knew as a boy. Schwarzenegger’s T-850 is a no-nonsense mentor who is exasperated by John and Kate’s unwillingness to consider the possibility that there are some events in time that one cannot change. I had feared that this new T-850 would be a rehash of the one featured in”TERMINATOR 2” and was happily surprised that it did not.

As I had stated earlier in this review, I was not impressed by the early portrayal of John Connor in this movie. I could blame actor Nick Stahl, but I now realize that the lackluster quality of the character is not his fault. He was simply doing his job and portraying John as the script demanded. I understand John’s mental ennui, considering his situation. But it bored me. Thankfully, the revelation of a possible new Judgment Day lit a fire under John and Stahl did a superb job in infusing all of the fire and desperation into his character. And by the end of the film, he gave what I believe was possible the finest moment in the entire movie – let alone in the entire franchise – when his character learned a powerful lesson. I am also grateful that Stahl managed to create a strong screen chemistry with Claire Danes. The latter portrayed Kate Brewster, the feisty veterinarian assistant, who finds herself swept up the chaos caused by the two time traveling cyborgs and the threat to humanity’s future. She was very skillful in conveying Kate’s outrage and confusion over the events that threatened to overtake her. At one point in the film, John compared Kate to his late mother. Personally, I never saw the resemblance. Although Kate seemed as strong-willed as Sarah Connor, I got the impression that she was a different character altogether. Although emotional, Danes’ Kate seemed more level-headed . . . and a lot saner.

There were other performances that impressed me. It was nice to see Earl Boen again, who reprised his role as the criminal psychologist, Dr. Peter Silberman, for the second time. He had a rather nice scene in which his Dr. Silberman tried to comfort Kate after she has witnessed the acts of the T-X. And for once, he seemed to consider that what he had witnessed in the past might be real. Dave Andrews gave a solid performance as Lieutenant General Robert Brewster, Kate’s father. Thanks to Andrews’ performance, one could see from whom Kate had inherited her level-headed personality. And he also managed to skillfully convey a sense of horror over the implications of Skynet’s threat to humanity. I have noticed that the more dangerous the cyborg in this franchise, the smaller it seemed to be. The cyborgs have ranged from the tall and hulking body-builder Schwartzenegger, to the slim and athletic looking Robert Patrick in the second film, to the very feminine Kristanna Loken. And thanks to her performance, Loken managed to convey all of the menace and danger of a relentless killer with very few lines, just as effectively as Schwartzenegger and Patrick before her.

I realize that ”TERMINATOR 3: RISE OF THE MACHINES” will never overcome its low reputation with many film critics and movie fans. All one has to do is watch the first fifteen to twenty mintues and be tempted to watch another movie . . . or walk out of the movie theater. I know I was tempted to do the latter, when I first saw this film. But once ”TERMINATOR 3” got past that silly nonsense; it turned out to be an exciting movie with an ending filled with a level of pathos that the other three movies never reached. In the end, I believe it was worthwhile.

“Guidance and Estrangement”

 

“GUIDANCE AND ESTRANGEMENT”

During its seven seasons run, the television series, “BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER” has generated a good number of controversy amongst its fans, other viewers and the media in its approach to several subjects regarding its main character, Buffy Summers, and its supporting characters. Many of those subjects have included sex, violence, addiction, and discrimination – both gender and racial. But there seemed to be one topic that fans of the series seemed to be in conflict over – namely authority figures and how it pertained to Buffy’s relationship with her Watcher, Rupert Giles.

When the series first began in January 1997, Buffy and her mother, Joyce Summers, had recently moved from Los Angeles to Sunnydale; following the latter’s divorce from Buffy’s father, Hank. The Summers’ marriage had buckled under the strain of his infidelity and Buffy’s early activities as a Slayer in Los Angeles. The move to Sunnydale also meant the eventual erosion of daughter and father’s relationship. Since Buffy’s first Watcher, Merrick, had killed by a vampire named Lothos; the young Slayer found herself with a new Watcher – the English-born Rupert Giles.

The relationship between Buffy and Giles went through many stages and emotional upheavals. Due to her father’s declining presence in her life, the Slayer began to regard her Watcher as a new father figure. Yet, at the same time, she struggled to maintain a private life of her own – one that involved school and a social life – despite Giles’ insistence upon her focusing upon her training and duties as a Slayer. One such incident occurred when Buffy wanted to forego another training session to attend a fraternity party at Sunnydale’s University of California campus in (2.05) “Reptile Boy”. Despite their occasional bouts of conflict and the crisis surrounding the re-emergence of Angelus in late Season Two, Buffy’s view of Giles as a replacement for her father had grown stronger by mid-Season Three. Then came the Cruciamentum in the episode, (3.12) “Helpless”

The Cruciamentum was a test that senior members of the Watchers Council put each Slayer through on her eighteenth birthday. She must be weakened (namely stripped of her Slayer abilities) and left alone with a vampire to test her skills and resourcefulness. The weakened Slayer rarely survives such a test. As I had stated earlier, Buffy had truly began to regard Giles as a second father, especially since her own father failed to appear and take her to an ice show for her 18th birthday. Unfortunately for Buffy, the Cruciamentum test proved to be the first time that Giles would betray her. Showing more loyalty to the Council than the Slayer, he placed Buffy under hypnosis before stripping away her Slayer abilities with a drug. However, guilt over his betrayal and the danger of a psychotic vampire loose upon Sunnydale led Giles to confess his actions and help her deal with the vampire. Because of his actions, the leader of the Watchers Council – Quintin Travers – accused Giles of being too emotionally close to Buffy and fired him. However, Buffy severed her ties with the Watchers Council and continued to regard Giles as her Watcher. However, the Cruciamentum did not prove to be the last time that Buffy and Giles would clash.

Season Five provided more heartaches and crisis for Buffy than any previous season. Buffy’s relationship with her college boyfriend, Riley Finn, crashed and burned. She discovered that her old nemesis, the vampire Spike, had fallen in love with her. Joyce became seriously ill. And a new member joined the Summers household – a younger sister named Dawn. However, Buffy and the Scoobies eventually learned in (5.05) “No Place Like Home” that Dawn was originally a mystical object known as the Key, which can be used to open portals to alternate dimensions; a group of monks transformed the Key into human form and sent it to the Slayer for protection from the villainous hellgod, Glory. The hellgod wanted to use the Key (Dawn) to return to her home dimension. The memories of Buffy and her associates were altered, along with relevant records, so that they believed Dawn had always existed as Buffy’s sister. Once Glory discovered that Dawn was the Key, her presence became a threat to human existence. Giles certainly believed so and insisted that Buffy kill Dawn before Glory can use her blood in (5.22) “The Gift”. Fearful for Dawn’s life, Buffy asked Spike to protect the teenager from any threat. I can only wonder if she had viewed Giles as a possible threat.

Eventually, Buffy sacrificed her life to stop the threat of Glory and to close the portal that the hellgod had used Dawn’s blood to open. Several months following Buffy’s death, Giles decided to return home to England in (6.01) “Bargaining”. Following her resurrection, he returned to Sunnydale. However, he noticed that Buffy had begun a disturbing trend of depending upon him for everything – including matters in her non-Slayer life. In the episode, (6.07) “Tabula Rasa”, Giles decided to return to England in order for Buffy to gain independence. He did not return, until the crisis over Willow’s turn to evil evolved, following the death of her lover, Tara Maclay.

Giles’ return to England during Season Six proved to have a major impact upon his relationship with Buffy during the show’s seventh and final season. The impact of his disappearance would not be realized, until the two clashed over the status of a chip-free Spike in the episode, (7.17) “Lies My Parents Told Me”. After acquiring his soul in Africa, during the Season Six finale, (6.22) “Grave”, Spike returned to Sunnydale, racked with guilt over his past as a vampire and his attempted rape of Buffy in (6.19) “Seeing Red”. And unbeknownst to himself and others, he was being mentally tormented and controlled by the season’s Big Bad – the non-corporeal being known as the First Evil. Spike’s troubles did not end there. By (7.13) “The Killer in Me”, the chip was slowly killing Spike and Buffy had to request help from her old flame, Army officer, Riley Finn, to remove the chip for good. Spike was finally free from the dangers of the chip, but not from the First Evil.

Buffy and Giles’ clash over Spike first spilled over in an amusing exchange featured in the beginning of the following episode,(7.14) “First Date”. However, Giles’ anxieties over Spike’s chip-free and First Evil-influenced state continued unabated. He continued to insist that Spike be contained or slayed, for the safety of the Potentials and the Scoobies, now residing inside the Summers house. Giles disappeared for two episodes and returned at the beginning of ”Lies My Parents Told Me” with a magical artifact called a Prokaryote stone. Willow used the stone and a spell to penetrate Spike’s mind and make him more conscious of how the First Evil’s trigger worked. Needless to say, the session ended in disaster, with Spike unintentionally hurting Dawn (why Buffy allowed her to hang around, I do not know). Following the failure to break the First Evil’s hold on Spike, Giles conspired with Robin Wood – the son of a Slayer that Spike had killed back in 1977 – to kill the blond vampire behind Buffy’s back. Buffy eventually realized what Giles and Wood had conspired and coldly ended their Watcher-Slayer relationship . . . and friendship.

I am not really surprised that Buffy turned his back on him, following the incidents of ”Lies My Parents Told Me”. As I had earlier pointed out, it was not the first time he had betrayed her. He betrayed her in Season 3’s “Helpless”. But he realized his error and made amends in the end. In late Season 5’s “The Gift”, he continuously pressured Buffy to kill Dawn in order to save the world. Not only did she refuse, but she asked Spike to kill him or anyone else who made a move toward Dawn. Even if Dawn’s death would have saved the world, I do not think that Buffy could have lived with herself if she had killed her younger sister. Her slide into catatonia in (5.21) “The Weight of the World”, following Glory’s abduction of Dawn, struck me as proof that Buffy would have serious problems with anything happening to her younger sisters.

But Giles’ betrayal in “Lies My Parents Told Me” proved to be the last straw. Not only did Giles plotted behind her back, he never expressed any remorse for his actions. Worse, he only gave Spike once chance to deal with the First Evil’s trigger before he began plotting with Robin Wood behind Buffy’s back. Giles never took into account that triggered or not, Spike was not the only dangerous person in that house. There was Willow, who was not only a very powerful witch, but still emotionally unsure about herself. And I suspect that if the First Evil had triggered Spike, he would have to deal with Willow, a powerful and experienced Slayer in the form Buffy, and a house full of potential Slayers. Giles never considered all of this or that Wood’s plotting centered on an emotional desire for revenge against Spike. Instead, he allowed his fears and his dislike of the vampire to rule his emotions. And he never expressed any remorse for his actions.

Buffy had been slowly maturing as a person throughout the series’ run. By late Season Seven, it was time for her to realize that Giles did not always have the answers or that he was not always right. It was also time for her to realize that sometimes, every individual has to question authority figures . . . or rely upon yourself and not a parent or a surrogate parent. Back in early Season Six, Giles realized that Buffy could not always depend upon him and that sooner or later, she would have to learn to stand on her own. Unfortunately, the destruction of the Watchers Council triggered a great deal of fear within Giles. He forgot about his resolve about Buffy becoming an adult, and tried to overcome this fear by resurrecting his old relationship with Buffy. By ”Lies My Parents Told Me” he failed to realize that she had matured too much for him to recapture it.

Buffy and Giles had failed to resolve their conflict over his final betrayal by the end of the series . . . despite their willingness to fight together in the final battle against the First Evil’s plans in (7.22) “Chosen”. Their relationship grew worse over Giles’ failure to inform Buffy about his and Faith Lehune’s dealings with a rogue Slayer named in one of the Season Eight stories featured in a series of comic books based upon the series. It was not until their dealings with the being known as Twilight (aka Angel) that Buffy and Giles finally reconciled. Unfortunately, their reconciliation did not last very long. While still under the guise of Twilight, Angel murdered Giles. Pity. It would have been nice to see Buffy and Giles develop an equal relationship between two friends and colleagues.