“DUMB WITNESS” (1996) Review

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“DUMB WITNESS” (1996) Review

There is a belief among fans of the “AGATHA CHRISTIE’S POIROT” series that the episodes and television movies that aired between 1989 and 2001 – ones that featured Arthur Hastings, Chief Inspector Japp and Miss Lemon – were more faithful adaptations of Agatha Christie’s novels that the more recent ones that have aired since 2003. I do not know if I agree with this opinion, especially after viewing the 1996 television movie, “DUMB WITNESS”

Screenwriter Douglas Watkinson’s script more or less remained faithful to the 1937 novel’s main narrative. Surrounded by grasping young relatives is a wealthy elderly woman named Emily Arundell. One night, she is injured after suffering a fall on the staircase of her home. Many believe that she had tripped over a ball by pet fox terrier, Bob. Emily later dies of what many believed to be natural causes before Poirot could meet her. And her estate was unexpectedly left to her companion, Miss Lawson. “DUMB WITNESS” remained faithful to that aspect of Christie’s novel. I suspect that many fans of the “POIROT” would be surprised at the number of changes Watkinson and director Edward Bennett made to the story.

I wish I could go into detail about the number of changes Bennett made to Christie’s story, but I suspect that would require an essay. I do know that in the novel, Hercule Poirot never met the victim, Emily Arundell. Instead, she had written a letter to him, claiming that someone was trying to kill her. By the time Poirot arrived at her home, she had been dead for some time, due to a delay in the delivery of her letter. The novel was also set in Berkshire. One of Emily’s nieces, Therese Arundell, was engaged to a Dr. Donaldson. Hastings ended up with Bob, Emily’s pet terrier. And the murderer committed suicide before being exposed by Poirot. Bennett changed the story’s setting to England’s Lake District, due to rewriting the Charles Arundell character into a motor boat racer and speed demon. Therese did not have a fiance in this movie. Instead, the beau of Emily’s companion, Wilhelmina Lawson, is a medical man named Dr. Greinger. Charles Arundell’s new profession led to Poirot and Hastings’ visit to the Arundell home in order to witness the racer attempt a new speed record. Because of this visit, Poirot met Emily Arundell before she was murdered. And the killer never got the opportunity to commit suicide in order to avoid prison.

I have never read Christie’s 1937 novel. But if it turned out to be better than this television adaptation of it, I look forward to reading it. As one would guess, I enjoyed “DUMB WITNESS” very much. It proved to be an enjoyable story that recaptured the provincial charm of the Lake District. The story provided certain elements of rural English life and society in the 1930s that contributed nicely to the story’s main narrative. “DUMB WITNESS” provided peaks into early 20th century’s penchant for speed due to the rise of motorized vehicles and the Charles Arundell character. It also provided glimpses into British spiritualism, due to the Tripp sisters, Emily’s elderly neighbors with an obssession with spiritualism and the occult.

A good number of Christie novels and adaptations have revealed British xenophobia against foreigners – especially in the bigoted attitudes of British characters toward Poirot. But the xenophobic attitude in “DUMB WITNESS” seemed to have grown worse in the characters’ attitude toward Emily’s nephew-in-law, the Greek-born doctor, Dr. Jacob Tanios. He is married to Emily’s other niece, Bella Arundell Tanios. Emily seemed to be the only character who actually liked Dr. Tanios. Poirot seemed to be put off by his brusque manner. One can say the same about Hastings, who also automatically labeled Tanios as Emily’s killer. I had this odd feeling that Hastings’ lack of tolerance toward Tanios not only originated from the latter’s brusque personality, but also the fact that he came from Eastern Europe, which is regarded as the continent’s backwater. The interesting aspect about the xenophobic attitude depicted in “DUMB WITNESS” was that it struck me as very disturbing, yet at the same time, not too heavy-handed. Kudos to both the screenwriter and the director.

“DUMB WITNESS” featured some solid performances by the cast. But there were a few performances that I found rather exceptional. David Suchet was impeccable, as usual, in his portrayal of Belgian detective. Hugh Fraser gave one of his better performances as Captain Arthur Hastings, revealing the character’s mild xenophobia with great subtlety. Ann Morrish did an excellent job in conveying the strong-willed presence of the elderly Emily Arundell. Julia St. John gave a memorable performance as Emily’s mild-mannered niece, Bella, who seemed to be in terror of her foreign-born husband. And I was also impressed by Paul Herzberg’s portrayal of Jacob Tanios. He did an excellent job of revealing how his character’s brusque manner hid a personality intimidated by the hostility he was forced to face in a foreign country. I am not going to pretend that I am a person that likes having pets. I do not. But I could not help but fall in love with Snubby, the fox terrier, who portrayed Bob, one of the cutest dogs I have ever seen on television or in a movie.

Overall, I would say that “DUMB WITNESS” was an entertaining adaptation of Christie’s novel. Thanks to director Edward Bennett and screenwriter Douglas Watkinson and a cast led by David Suchet, it was a solid and classy affair that also provided a surprisingly deeper look into British xenophobia.

TIME MACHINE: The March on Washington

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TIME MACHINE: THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the event known as the The March on Washington. Also known as The March on Washington For Jobs and Freedom or The Great March on Washington, the famous Civil Rights event took place in Washington D.C., on August 28, 1963. 

The event was organized by a group of civil rights, labor, and religious organizations under the theme “jobs, and freedom”. Estimates of the number of participants varied from 200,000 to 300,000. Observers also estimated that 75–80% of the marchers were African-Americans. Organization of the march originated with A. Phillip Randolph, president of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and the Negro American Labor Council and vice-president of the AFL-CIO and activistBayard Rustin had begin planning the march as early as December 1962. They hoped for two days of protest that included sit-ins and lobbying, followed by a mass rally at the Lincoln Memorial. Randolph and Rustin wanted to focus on joblessness and to call for a public works program that would employ blacks. In early 1963, they publicly announced “a massive March on Washington for jobs”. Amalgamated Clothing Workers unionist Stanley Aronowitz gathered support from radical union organizers who could be trusted not to report their plans to the Kennedy administration. The unionists offered tentative support for a march that would be focused on jobs.

Without securing the cooperation of the NAACP or the Urban League, Randolph announced an “October Emancipation March on Washington for Jobs” on May 15, 1963. He reached out to union leaders, winning the support of the UAW’s Walter Reuther, but not of AFL–CIO president George Meany. Randolph and Rustin intended to focus the March on economic inequality, stating in their original plan that “integration in the fields of education, housing, transportation and public accommodations will be of limited extent and duration so long as fundamental economic inequality along racial lines persists”. While negotiating with other leaders, the pair expanded their stated objectives to “Jobs and Freedom”, acknowledging the agenda of groups that focused more on civil rights. A coalition of civil rights and union leaders known as “the Big Six”, which included Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., met with President John F. Kennedy on June 22, 1963. Kennedy warned against creating “an atmosphere of intimidation” by bringing a large crowd to the nation’s capital. The activists insisted on holding the march. After a good deal of negotiations with the Kennedy administration and with the different activist groups, finally agreed to a date in late August for the march.

While the event was being organized, it encountered a great deal of opposition from the country’s conservative element. Many conservative politicians branded the event as being organized and inspired by Communists, despite the planners’ rejection of help from Communist groups. This mindset was especially espoused by Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, who singled out Rustin as a Communist and homosexual. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover ordered an investigation into the event’s organizers for any Communist ties. When he received a report citing Communists’ failure to infiltrate the Civil Rights movement, Hoover immediately rejected it. However, opposition to the event also came from liberal activists. Rustin harbored doubts due to his fears that the march might turn violent. Malcolm X, spokesperson for the Nation of Islam, condemned the event as a joke as labeled it the “farce on Washington”.

On August 28, 1963; participants who lived outside of the Washington D.C. area arrived in large numbers. The event attracted a media assembly larger than President Kennedy’s inauguration over two years ago. The march failed to start on time, due to its leaders meeting with members of Congress. To their surprise, the participants began the march at the Washington Monument and headed for the Lincoln Memorial. The event’s leaders arrived late and linked arms in front of the marchers on Constitution Avenue in order to be photographed leading the march. At least 50 members of the American Nazi Party staged a counter-protest, but were dispersed by the local police. Most of the city’s citizens stayed at home and watched the event on television. The official program, which began after the march reached the Lincoln Memorial included performances by Camilla Williams (who sang the National Anthem), Mahalia Jackson, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Odetta Holmes and the group – Peter, Paul and Mary. Speakers included both Randolph and Rustin, John Lewis (of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committe), Joachim Prinz of the American Jewish Congress, and Morehouse College president Benjamin Mays, who closed the program. Roy Wilkins announced activist W.E.B. DuBois’ death, which occurred the night before. However, the highlight of the event proved to be Dr. King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech.

Historians and activists have been debating on the consequences of the March for the past five decades. Many radicals have embraced Malcolm X’s criticism of the event as a co-optation of the white establishment. Others tend to focus more on King’s famous speech and the civil rights legislative successes that followed in 1964 and 1965. And recently, many historians have been focusing on Bayard Rustin’s organization of the event. Just recently, President Barack Obama The symbo of the March has been contested since before it even took place. In the years following the March, movement radicals increasingly subscribed to Malcolm X’s narrative of the March as a co-optation by the white establishment. Liberals and conservatives tended to embrace the March, but focused mostly on King’s “I Have a Dream” speech and the legislative successes of 1964 and 1965, including the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The cooperation of the Kennedy Democratic administration on the issue of civil rights led the Democrats to give up its Southern Democratic support, undivided since Reconstruction to lure a high proportion of black votes from the Republican Party. More recently, historians and commentators have acknowledged the role played by Bayard Rustin in organizing the event. President Barack Obama posthumously awarded Rustin the Presidential Medal of Freedom on August 8 of this year. There was one negative consequence from the March. Two months after the event, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy gave Hoover and the F.B.I. permission to initially begin a wiretapping campaign against Dr. King. It lasted until the activist’s death in April 1968.

For more information about the March on Washington, check out the following books:

*“The March on Washington: Jobs, Freedom, and the Forgotten History of Civil Rights” by William P. Jones

*“Nobody Turn Me Around: A People’s History of the 1963 March on Washington” by Charles Euchner

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“STAR TREK VOYAGER” Retrospect: (6.26-7.01) “Unimatrix Zero, Parts I and II”

 

“STAR TREK VOYAGER” Retrospect: (6.26-7.01) “Unimatrix Zero, Parts I and II”

This two-part episode of ”STAR TREK VOYAGER” centered around the Voyager crew’s attempt to save Borg drones who are trying to develop individuality. (6.26) “Unimatrix Zero, Part I” aired at the end of the series’ sixth season and (7.01) “Part II” aired as the premiere for the series’ seventh and final season. 

When Seven-of-Nine began having dreams about a beautiful forest, she eventually discovered that the forest is a real subconscious realm inhabited by the minds of certain Borg drones during regeneration periods. Few drones possess the recessive gene required to experience the realm called Unimatrix Zero. In Unimatrix Zero, Borg of various species and ages exist as their individual, unassimilated selves and interact with one another. While out of regeneration, they revert to normal drones and have no memory of their time spent together there. The Borg Queen knows about Unimatrix Zero, which she considers a disease. First, she destroys as many drones as she can, who are capable of visiting it. But the process of detecting affected drones turns out to be time consuming and she is eager to find a faster method of finding and deactivating them.

During a journey to Unimatrix Zero with Captain Janeway, Seven discovers that she used to have a lover named Axum. Both women also discover that Axum had deliberately contacted Seven, because he and other drones need their help. They had created a masking nanovirus which would inoculate them against being detected by the queen, but it can only be administered from the corporeal world. After Janeway and Seven witness the attack upon the Unimatrix Zero inhabitants by assimilated drones, they agree to help. In the end, Janeway came up with a plan to administer the nanovirus for the Unimatrix Zero. This plan involved a few members of Voyager’s crew to board a Borg cube, risk being assimilated and administer the nanovirus.

When I first saw the preview for ”Unimatrix Zero – Part I, my first thought was that it was a rehash of the ”STAR TREK NEXT GENERATION” episode, (3.26-4.01) “The Best of Both Worlds”. To my surprise . . . and delight, ”Unimatrix Zero” proved me wrong. Thanks to the script written by Mike Sussman, Brannon Braga, and Joe Menosky; I quite understood the story, despite the usual Trek technobabble. And I understood how previous episodes like (5.10) “Counterpoint” and(6.21)”Live Fast and Prosper” served this story. Both episodes established Captain Janeway’s talent for manipulation and scamming other. Considering the situation that she, B’Elanna Torres and Tuvok found themselves in ”Part II”, she found herself being forced to pull off a difficult confidence game against the Borg Queen.

”Unimatrix Zero” also featured the first time that Janeway and Chakotay learned to act as a fully effective command team in the face of one of her . . . more bizarre plots without succumbing to any conflict, which marred their relations in episodes like (2.14) “Alliances”(3.26-4.01) “Scorpion” and (6.01) “Equinox, Part II”. Although he had reservations, Chakotay seemed willing to go along with her plan to infiltrate a Borg drone to administer the nanovirus. And Janeway agreed to accept a few of his suggestions, in case the plan went wrong. And is it just me or did there seemed to be a lot of affection on Voyager in this episode? Seven discovered an old love in Unimatrix Zero. Tom Paris and Torres exchanged a few intimate moments after Paris received his old rank of lieutenant junior grade and when he expressed reservations about the chief engineer volunteering for the mission to the Borg cube. And one of the most blatant moments of sentimentality, Janeway and Chakotay engaged in a brief hand-lock on the Bridge before she left to begin her mission. I found myself almost inclined to burst into “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?”

In the end, the screenwriters and directors Allan Kroeker and Mike Vejar almost produced a four-star episode in ”Unimatrix Zero”. I found the writers’ idea of using the Unimatrix Zero concept as a lead-in to an uprising in the Borg Collective very inventive. And there were moments in the story – especially in ”Part II” that I enjoyed. These moments included the use of neural suppressors by the Starfleet infiltrators to keep from being part of the Borg Collective, in case they ended up being assimilated. Janeway’s confrontations with the Borg Queen, thanks to performances by Kate Mulgrew and Susanna Thompson, were even more effective than they were in (5.15-5.16) “Dark Frontier”. I also have to give kudos to Robert Beltran and Robert Duncan MacNeill who gave excellent performances in a scene that featured an exchange between Chakotay and Paris about the latter being First Officer. I found myself wondering about the thoughts going in Chakotay’s mind, when Paris revealed his hang-ups about being Voyager’s First Office. The only aspect of ”Unimatrix Zero” that I did not care for was the romance between Seven-of-Nine and Axum. Their scenes struck me as a replay of many bad romance novels from the 1950s and 60s. And even the talented Jeri Ryan and actor Mark Deakins could not save this romance.

Thankfully, the Seven/Axum romance did not tarnish ”Unimatrix Zero” for me. More important, the episode set the stage for two episodes in Season Seven that revealed the diminished power of the Borg Collective. And it proved to be the second of three mind blowing personal encounters between Kathryn Janeway and the Borg Queen. In the end,”Unimatrix Zero” proved to be another example of why I have always enjoyed the numerous two-part episodes featured in ”STAR TREK VOYAGER”.

“THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY” (2012) Review

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“THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY” (2012) Review

I had nothing against the news of New Line Cinema’s attempt to adapt J.R.R. Tolkien’s 1937 novel, “The Hobbit” for the screen. But I had no idea that the studio, along with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Warner Brothers would end up stringing out the adaptation into three movies. Three. That seemed a lot for a 300-page novel. The first chapter in this three-page adaptation turned out to be the recent release, “THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY”

Peter Jackson, who had directed the adaptation of Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings”trilogy over a decade ago, returned to direct an earlier chapter of the author’s tales about Middle Earth. He nearly did not make it to the director’s chair. Guillermo del Toro was the first choice as director. However, del Toro Del left the project in May 2010 working with Jackson and the latter’s production team, due to delays caused in part by financial problems at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. He did remain with the project long enough to co-write the movie’s screenplay with Jackson, Fran Walsh, and Philippa Boyens. To my utter amazement, the efforts of the four screenwriters and Jackson’s direction has produced a good number of negative backlash against the film. Ironically, most of the film’s backlash has been directed at Jackson and cinematographer Andrew Lesnie’s use of high frame rate for the film’s look. Others have simply complained about the movie’s length and its inability to match the quality of the “LORD OF THE RINGS” Trilogy released between 2001 and 2003.

“THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY” began on the elderly Bilbo Baggins’ 111th birthday (shown in the 2001 movie), when he decides to recount the full story of an adventure he had experienced 60 years ago, for his nephew Frodo. Bilbo first reveals how the Dwarf kingdom of Erebor was taken over by a gold-loving dragon named Smaug. The Erebor Dwarves are scattered throughout Middle Earth. The Dwarf King Thrór was killed by an Orc, when he tried to settle his people in Moria. His son, Thráin II, was driven mad from one of the Rings handed over to his ancestor by Sauron before dying. Thráin II’s son, Thorin Oakenshield, became determined to not only recover Erebor from Smaug, but also recover their treasure. At Gandalf the Gray’s suggestion, Thorin and his followers traveled to the Shire to recruit Bilbo’s help in achieving their goals (they need the Hobbit to act as a burglar in order to get their Arkenstone back). At first, Bilbo was reluctant to join their quest. But he caved in at the idea of an adventure and eventually joined the Dwarves and Gandalf. Their adventures led them to an encounter with three Trolls; pursuing Orcs who want Thorin’s head for cutting off the arm of their war chief, Azog; a respite at Rivendell, due to the hospitality of Lord Elrond; and deadly encounters within the Misty Mountains with Goblins and for Bilbo, the current Ring bearer Gollum. The movie ended on the slopes of the Misty Mountains with a deadly encounter with Azog and his orcs.

How do I feel about “THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY”? Well for one thing, I still believe it was unnecessary for a three-movie adaptation of Tolkien’s 1937 novel. It is simply not big enough, despite the fact that this first film is shorter than the three “LORD OF THE RINGS” movie. I really do not see how Jackson would be able to stretch an adaptation of the novel into three movies, each with an average running time of 160-170 minutes. Judging from the movie’s first 30 minutes, I see that Jackson is going to stretch it as much as he can. Many people have commented on the new high frame rate that Jackson and Lesnie used for the film. Yes, the movie has a sharper and more colorful look. In fact, the film’s visual look reminded me of the use of Blu-Ray DVDs. Do I care? No. Hollywood critics and moviegoers have a tradition of ranting against any new film innovation – sound, color, digital cameras, CGI . . . you get the point. It has been ten years since George Lucas first used digital cameras for “STAR WARS: EPISODE II-ATTACK OF THE CLONES” and people are still bitching about it. Did I have a few problems with “THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY”? Sure. Although many people have problems with the movie’s first 20 to 30 minutes, claiming that the Shire sequence seemed to stretch forever. I only agree with that criticism to a certain extent. I had no problems with Bilbo’s humorous first encounter with the Dwarves. But I thought Jackson lingered unnecessarily too long on the sequence featuring the elderly Bilbo and Frodo. And although I enjoyed the mind game between the younger Bilbo and Gollum, I have yet to develop any fondness for the latter character. And if I have to be brutally honest, I found Howard Shore’s score for this movie less memorable than his work for the “LORD OF THE RING” films.

Despite the conflict over using three movies to adapt Tolkien’s novel and Jackson’s use of a new high frame rate, I have to say that I enjoyed “THE HOBBIT: AN UNDISCOVERED JOURNEY” very much. In fact, I enjoyed it more than I did the second and third movies from the “LORD OF THE RINGS” trilogy. Like 2001’s“LORD OF THE RINGS: FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING”, this new movie is basically a tale about a road trip. And there is nothing more dear to my heart than a road trip. Because Tolkien’s 1937 tale was basically a children’s story, “THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY” featured a good deal of more humor than was found in the “LORD OF THE RINGS” films. A great deal of that humor came from twelve of the thirteen Dwarves, whom Bilbo and Gandalf accompanied. Four of the funniest sequences turned out to be the Dwarves’ arrival at an increasingly irritated Bilbo’s home in the Shire, the traveling party’s encounter with three Trolls obsessed with their stomachs, the Dwarves’ reactions to Elvish food in Rivendell and Bilbo’s mental duel with Gollum. Like the “LORD OF THE RINGS” movies, “THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY” also featured some outstanding action sequences – especially the flashbacks about the downfall of the Erebor Dwarves; the traveling party’s efforts to evade the Orc hunting party with the assistance of a wizard named Radagast the Brown; and their battles with both the Goblins, and Azog and the Orcs.

The movie featured some solid performances from the cast. It was good to see Cate Blanchett and Hugo Weaving as Lady Galadriel and her son-in-law Lord Elrond again. Although I am not a fan of the Gollum character, I must admit that Andy Serkis gave another memorable performance of the malignant changeling. However, I am a little confused by his portrayal of Gollum with a split personality, since the character’s moral compass was not challenged by any acts of kindness in this film. Ian McKellen was commanding as ever as the wizard Gandalf the Gray. And it was also nice to see Ian Holm and Elijah Wood as the elderly Bilbo Baggins and Frodo Baggins again. I was a little taken aback by the presence of Christopher Lee reprising his role of the wizard Saruman, but merely as a supporting character and not as a villain. But I have to give kudos to Lee for revealing certain aspects of Saruman’s personality that made his eventual corruption in the “LORD OF THE RINGS” saga.

But there were four performances that really impressed me. I really enjoyed Martin Freeman’s portrayal of Bilbo Baggins. He did an exceptional job of projecting the character’s emotional development from a self-satisfied homebody to the adventurer who wins the respect of the Dwarves with his heroic actions by the end of the movie. I first noticed Richard Armitage in the 2004 television miniseries,“NORTH AND SOUTH” and have been impressed with this actor ever since. I realized that his character Thorin Oakenshield is being compared to the Aragon character from “LORD OF THE RINGS”. I would not bother. Thorin is a more complicated character. And Jackson chose the right actor – namely Armitage – to portray this heroic, yet prickly and hot tempered Dwarf. Thanks to Armitage’s superb performance, it was not hard to understand Gandalf’s frustrations over the character. If I must be honest, my memories of the twelve other Dwarves is a bit shaky. But there were two of them that stood out for me. Ken Stott was very effective as the elderly Balin, who provided a great deal of wisdom in the story. And I really enjoyed James Nesbitt as Bofur, who injected a great deal of charm and liveliness not only in his role, but also in the story.

I realize that “THE HOBBIT: AN UNDISCOVERED JOURNEY” has been receiving mixed reviews from critics. And honestly, I do not care. Mind you, it is not perfect and I see no need for a three-movie adaptation of Tolkien’s 1937 novel. But I really enjoyed watching the movie. It reminded me of the joy I had experienced in watching the first “LORD OF THE RINGS” movie, “Fellowship of the Rings”. And I believe that Peter Jackson and a first-rate cast led by Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman and Richard Armitage did an excellent job in adapting part of Tolkien’s novel.

Top Five Favorite “PAN AM” (2011) Episodes

Below is a list of my top five favorite episodes from the ABC 2011 series, “PAN AM”

 

TOP FIVE FAVORITE “PAN AM” (2011) Episodes

1. (1.08) “Unscheduled Departure” – In this tense and well made episode, Flight 203 is forced to land in Haiti when a passenger suffers a heart attack during the flight to Venezuela.

 

 

2. (1.01) “Pilot” – This episode does a nice job in setting up the series’ various subplots, which include the mysterious disappearance of British-born stewardess Bridget Pierce and Kate Cameron’s recruitment as a courier for both the C.I.A. and MI-6.

 

 

3. (1.03) “Ich Bin Ein Berliner” – This emotional episode featured the crew’s visit to Berlin during the time of President John Kennedy’s famous state visit.

 

 

4. (1.11) “Diplomatic Relations” – Here is another tense episode in which Laura Cameron and returning stewardess Bridget Pierce are suspected of being spies by the Soviets during a stay in Moscow and find themselves being detained.

 

 

5. (1.09) “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” – Kate Cameron’s job is threatened when she announced her intentions to walk away from her role as an intelligence courier and she becomes deeply involved in a spy hunt for a mole.

“Reflections” [PG-13] – 1/1

 

“REFLECTIONS”

RATING: PG-13 Mild adult language.
SUMMARY: The Halliwells, the McNeills and Darryl Morris reflect upon Cole’s new romance with Olivia McNeill. AU Season 5.
FEEDBACK: – Be my guest. But please, be kind.
DISCLAIMER: The Charmed Ones, Cole, Leo, Darryl and other characters related to Charmed belong to Spelling, Kern, Burge and WB. Dammit!

NOTE: Spoilers for Season 4 episodes, “Charmed and Dangerous” thru “Long Live the Queen”; Season 5 episodes, “A Witch’s Tail”, “Magic Wears a Mask”, and “Necromancing the Stone”. There are also spoilers for the following stories, “Neighbors”, “Return With Vengeance”, “Second Power”, “Obssessions” and “A Wedding in Four Acts”.

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“REFLECTIONS”

PART 1 – PAIGE MATTHEWS

You know, I still can’t believe it! Olivia and Cole are dating. Two weeks have passed since this extraordinary phenomenon had first began and I’m still in shock. In a happy way, of course.

Ever since that night when they had saved Phoebe, Piper and me from a group of warlocks, I knew this would happen. Cole and Olivia. And this epiphany happened before Cole and I became friends.

Piper thinks the reason I’m happy for Olivia and Cole, is because this means that Cole may no longer be interested in Phoebe. Geez! Piper is really leery of Cole becoming our brother-in-law, again. I tried to explain to her that Phoebe has nothing to do with how I feel. I’m simply happy for Cole and Olivia, because they’re my friends.

It all started at the wedding, course. I’m talking about Bruce and Barbara McNeill’s wedding. Cole and Olivia must have started their little romance during the wedding reception. Cecile Dubois and I had just told them about Cecile’s premonition – the one in which Olivia kills Cole, while that jerk, Paul Margolin, looks on. We had left them alone in the West drawing room, after telling them. Someone must have happened between them, after we left. Neither Olivia nor Cole could be found for at least two hours, after our conversation. Eventually, I had spotted Olivia near the buffet table, in the McNeills’ garden, looking . . . hmmm, how to put this? Oh yeah, she had that . . . glow about her. You know, the post-coital kind. And Cole appeared beside her looking happy and slightly tired.

I’m not the only one who found out about them that day. Leo also found out what had happened . . . from Paul Margolin. Apparently, Paul had stumbled across them locking lips inside the McNeills’ house. And immediately told Leo. Unsurprisingly, my brother-in-law and whitelighter flipped out. Even after he had told us the news after we had returned home from the wedding, Leo continued to bitch and moan about those two, all . . . night . . . long. Piper eventually had to tell him to shut up.

At least Paul is out of the picture. That guy really unnerves me, sometimes. From the moment I first met him, he seemed too . . . I don’t know . . . perfect. In a way, he reminded me of Cole – when the latter was first possessed by the Source. Ugh! I still have bad memories of that time. And now, I get that same feeling with Paul. Only the latter isn’t possessed by some demonic entity. I think that Paul is one of those people with a tendency to suppress their emotions out of some need to present themselves as perfect to the world. No one can repress his or her emotions for long. Sooner or later, people like that tend to end up as emotional wrecks.

Phoebe had never said a word that night. But over a week later, she rejected Jason’s offer to accompany him to Hong Kong for a while. This all happened after Wyatt’s Wiccaning, where I learned that my grandmother was such a die-hard man hater. She seemed very disappointed that Wyatt was not a girl. We also discovered that Grams once had a romance with a demon. Only this guy was not prepared to give up “the pursuit of evil” for love. As if he ever really loved Grams. I’m beginning to wonder if the family’s troubles with men and relationships have to do with one Penelope Johnson Halliwell. I mean, come on! The woman has been married at least four or six times!

I also wonder if Cole and Olivia’s new romance had led Phoebe to stay here in San Francisco and not join Jason. She claimed that she wanted to become closer to the family . . . especially Wyatt. Yeah . . . right! She certainly did not take Leo’s news very well. Who am I kidding? She was upset. Very! So much so that she had spent the next few days, following Barbara’s wedding, in a daze. When it became too much, she suddenly developed this deep interest in Wyatt’s Wiccaning ceremony. Poor Pheebs.

Cole and Olivia seemed happy. They don’t seem to be going through that “honeymoon” phase that most couples do when they become romantically involved. You know what I mean – that “teenagers in love” crap that I personally cannot stand. That type of behavior is soooo immature. Makes me want to throw up.

The McNeills don’t seem bothered by Olivia being with Cole. I have to admit that I’m a little confused by their attitude. I mean . . . this is Cole Turner I’m talking about. A powerful . . . well, very powerful half-demon with a century’s worth of evil deeds. It’s one thing if Cole was simply a friend or ally in the supernatural world. But a powerful half-demon as a potential in-law? Huh. I don’t know. A part of me cannot help but wonder if they’re being reckless. Until I remember what I’ve done in the past – tried to rip out the heart of a man I believed to be a child abuser; and kill my brother-in-law, who was merely a victim of demonic possession. Who am I to talk? I have to admire the McNeills for being open-minded about Cole. I only hope that their attitude doesn’t bite them in the ass, one day. On the other hand, the McNeills’ faith in Cole might end in the Halliwells eating crow.

PART 2 – HARRY McNEILL

What is the big deal about Olivia dating Cole? Apparently, very big to Leo. It’s been over two weeks since the wedding . . . since my big sister had decided to date a half-daemon, and Leo has not stopped bugging the family about the whole thing.

God! Has Leo ever bothered to look into the McNeill family history before becoming our whitelighter? I mean, for crying out loud, the McNeills are descended from an incubus. A daemon! And the daemon’s own son was a powerful wizard, known for his ambiguous morals. Hell, warlocks dot not only the McNeill family tree, but the Morgans’, as well. I recall Mom telling us about a Morgan warlock, known for her sadism. And of course, there is dear Aunt Rhiannon, who went berserk and killed a good number of warlocks and innocent witches named Bannen, before killing Olivia’s fiancé. Now, if Leo had bothered to check on this, he would have understood why none of us seemed upset over the possibility of another daemon in the family.

Okay, what did I just say? Cole, as a member of the family? Am I jumping to conclusions? Hmmm, maybe I am. But it’s possible. After all, Olivia was once engaged to a former warlock. And to be frank, I wouldn’t mind having Cole as a brother-in-law. Honestly. Of course, there is the danger that Cole might re-embrace the “dark path” and become difficult to kill. On the other hand, anyone one of us could do the same and decide to kill Cole by stripping away his powers first. Hell, this has already happened to him twice, thanks to Paige, a daemon named Barbas and five warlocks out for revenge.

Besides, I like the guy. Cole, I mean. Like Bruce, he’s a bit on the quiet side and a little intense. But he has a sharp wit that really appeals to me. Like the rest of the family, he’s a movie buff and a pretty good cook. Actually, Dad is not much of a cook, but who cares? Most importantly – Cole is no Adrian Chambers, Jason Dean or Paul Margolin.

I don’t remember much about Jason Dean. When he and Olivia were dating, I was attending business school in London. I did get to meet him on a few occasions during the holidays, but he didn’t particularly impress me. One thing I did recall about Jason – and this still holds true – he can be one domineering SOB. His little attempts to dominate Livy eventually drove her to dump him. Besides, Olivia is a pretty strong-willed person. She’s not the type who would allow someone else to dominate her. Well, except for her college boyfriend – Adrian Chambers. But that’s another story.

We’ve only known Paul for a month-and-a-half, and already I’m not a big fan of his. He has that air of worldly goodness that really gets under my skin. The son-of-a-bitch would have made a great whitelighter. Any fool could tell that he and Olivia would not have lasted very long as a couple. Too different. Listen, I have nothing against the old “opposites attract” theory. Hell, my parents are living proof that it works. So are Bruce and Barbara . . . and Olivia and Cole, I must admit. But despite the differences within each couple, they share a few deep similarities. Something that Olivia and Paul lacked. Olivia and Paul were opposites who shared no similarities, whatsoever. Well, aside from being witches and having Leo as a whitelighter. But it’s all superficial. It was just a matter of time before Livy realized that she never wanted Margolin in the first place.

Leo will simply have to face the fact that Olivia and Cole are a couple. An item. Will their relationship be a case of “till death us do part”? I have no idea. As my grandfather once told me – nothing in this life is certain.

PART 3 – PHOEBE HALLIWELL

I don’t know why everyone is making such a big deal over Cole and Olivia. So they’re dating. So what? I mean, why should I care? Cole is no longer in my life. And I have Jason. Even if he is thousands of miles away in Hong Kong, right now. Besides, it won’t last. Cole’s little romance with Olivia, I mean. Really! It won’t last. Not as long as Cole remains a half-demon.

Two-and-a-half years of experience with Cole has taught me that despite all of his efforts to be good, he will not be able to keep up the noble warrior act forever. Sooner or later, he’ll give into the temptation for evil. And he’ll end up hurting a lot of people. Especially Olivia. It happened to Grams, when she got involved with that demon. It happened to me. And it’ll happen to Olivia.

Yes, I know that Cole had not chosen to become the Source, last year. The McNeills, Cecile Dubois and Paige had made it perfectly clear that he had been a victim of demonic possession. And maybe he did suffer during those three months before we vanquished him. But my sisters and I had also suffered. And all because he had made a deal with the Seer to use the Hollow to steal the Source’s powers. His rash decision had led to so much grief. Even after all of his words about turning over a new leaf, he killed again. Granted, Ed Miller was a piece of scum who had threatened to expose us as witches, but he was still a human. After that, I knew I wanted nothing to do with Cole again. Ever.

After I had finally divorced Cole, I figured that he would finally leave me alone. Or at least leave San Francisco for good. I had no idea that he would meet Olivia on the same day our divorce became final. Or that he would befriend not only her, but also the McNeills. And Paige. God, I can’t believe Paige! My own sister! How could she become friends with him, after all he had put us through? But you know what? The shock from Paige and Cole’s friendship seemed nothing in compare to what Leo had told us that . . .

What am I saying? That Cole’s little romance with Olivia bothers me? Because it doesn’t. Not at all. If Cole wants to get involved with someone that bitchy and sharp-tongued, he’s welcome to her. Besides, everyone knows he doesn’t really love her. Poor Olivia. She doesn’t realize that she’s being used as rebound. At least Jason doesn’t have to worry about that. He has me and I have him. I certainly don’t need one Cole Turner in my life. And I sure as hell could not care less about the other women with whom he might get involved. Besides, he’s a liar. All of his talk about being in love with me was nothing but a lie. If Cole ha . . . really loved me, he would have never ended up involved with another woman. Especially someone like Olivia McNeill.

PART 4 – DARRYL MORRIS

I suppose that I should be surprised that Olivia and Cole ended up together. But I’m not. I saw this coming . . . I don’t know, maybe four or five months ago. Now, if someone had told me six months ago that this would happen, I wouldn’t have believed a soul. Six months ago, I thought that Cole would be gone from the Halliwells’ lives for good. Gone from my life, as well. I had no idea that I would be proved wrong – thanks to Olivia, her family and the San Francisco Police Department.

Because of my employers, Olivia and I ended up as partners. I never thought I would get another partner after Andy. The Department tried to assign me to a few, following his death, but the partnerships never lasted. At least not until Olivia. Thanks to her and Cole saving me from possession by the spirit an evil Vodoun sorcerer, I got to know him a lot better. A lot more than I had imagined I would. That little incident also made me realize what Cole had went through when the Source possessed him. Six months ago, I would have never considered inviting Cole inside my home. Or me visiting his. Now it all seems normal to me. Just as being friends with two families of witches, two Vodoun priestesses and a priest, a guardian angel and a half-demon. Damn! It’s a wonder I don’t become some kind of magical being, myself.

Olivia and Cole’s new relationship had really taken Sheila by surprise. I guess she never thought they would never be serious as a couple. She believed that Phoebe would be the only woman for Cole. I finally pointed out to her just how serious Cole and Olivia felt about each other. Sheila once said that I could smell love and romance at ten paces. And she’s right. I had noticed her friend, Jerry Shimura’s interest in some woman. And it didn’t take me long to realize how Andy and Prue felt about one another. When Paul Margolin first arrived on the scene, it didn’t take me long to figure out what was happening. Hell, even a blind man would have detected the jealousy and animosity that hung over Cole like a cloud, when Olivia began spending more time with Margolin. I was already aware Olivia’s impatience at Cole’s reluctance to jump into a romance. No wonder she had eventually turned to Margolin.

Phoebe doesn’t seem to be taking the new romance very well. I guess I could jack it up to the fact that her boyfriend is miles away in Hong Kong. But I know better. Despite her attempts to distance herself away from Cole – especially after he had killed that slumlord, Ed Miller – and dating other men like Jason Dean, I think that she still loves him. Hell, it’s so obvious, sometimes. Especially when I see her looking at Olivia with deep jealousy. But I don’t think that Phoebe will ever accept Cole again. I think she’s too scared to take a chance. On one hand, I can understand how she feels, considering her past experiences with Cole. However, I find it sad that she no longer has the courage to accept her true feelings. Sometimes I wonder if Phoebe has lost her chance for real happiness.

Do I feel that Olivia and Cole have a chance for future happiness together? I don’t know. I don’t even know if Sheila and I will be celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary years from now, let alone our 20th. Life is so damn crazy. I could say that it’s a good chance that Cole would turn evil on us. But after my experiences with that witch, Nick Marcano, I guess I could say the same about Olivia, her family and the Halliwells. As a cop, I’ve met my share of so-called “decent” people who’ve committed some pretty horrible stuff.

All I can say is I’m glad for Olivia and Cole. And I hope they will make it as a couple. I really do. They deserve some kind of happiness.

PART 5 – JACK McNEILL

I am really developing a sincere dislike for whitelighters. Really! It’s almost borderline hatred. If I had known that my daughter dating a half-daemon would mean multiple visits from an annoying and self-righteous whitelighter, I would have done my level best to nip that relationship in the bud, months ago.

Yes, I have just endured another visit from the incomparable Leo Wyatt – namely my children’s former whitelighter. For the umpteenth time, he had just paid us a visit to bitch and moan over the dangers of Olivia’s romance with Cole.

Sometimes I wonder if Leo thinks I’m an idiot. Do I think that Olivia and Cole’s relationship is dangerous? Of course it is! We’re talking about a powerful witch and an even more powerful half-daemon, whom no one knows how to vanquish. I had reminded Leo that his own marriage to Piper Halliwell is filled with danger. After all, they had produced a very powerful child in Wyatt. Hell, many people thought it was dangerous of Gwen to marry me. And they were right – in a way. Both Gwen and I are powerful witches. Beings with our kind of power are dangerous. Even mortals, who exercise other kinds of power – military, political, economical, emotional and spiritual – are capable of great danger. Power is dangerous. And so is love. I wonder if Leo realizes this.

The problem with people like Leo and the Halliwells (well, except for Paige) is that they believe they can mix love with safety and morality. People who think like that are dangerously shortsighted. They don’t realize that love does not work that way. I would have thought that Phoebe Halliwell had learned this lesson during her marriage to Cole. I guess not.

Leo gave Gwen and me some doom-and-gloom prophecy about Cole and Olivia – or their child – being a danger to the . . .“forces of light”. Forces of light? What the hell is this? “BABYLON 5”? And “their child”? Hell, Livy and Cole have only been dating for three weeks and already Leo has them married with kids. I asked him if a seer or prophet had predicted this gloomy future for the magical world. Would you believe it? The answer was no. Apparently, this “prophecy” is merely a fear that has developed amongst the members of the Elders Council. God! Whitelighters!

I realize that I should be worried about Olivia being with Cole. After all, my only daughter is dating a powerful half-daemon, who used to be one of the top demonic assassins for nearly a century. It’s just . . . I don’t know. My head tells me that Cole should be considered as the worst kind of boyfriend for Livy. Yet, my instinct tells me that he is exactly what she needs in her life.

For a long time, I have feared that Olivia possessed the worst possible taste in men. Her taste seemed to veer in extremes . . . from the Gauche Ladies Men to the Dudley Do Rights. I don’t think that Gwen and I had nothing to fear from the Ladies Men. Olivia had never seemed to take them seriously and her relationships with them barely lasted a month or two. The Dudley Do Rights proved to be a bigger problem. One Dudley Do Right in particular, a college boyfriend named Adrian Chambers, proved to be a first-rate son-of-a-bitch. Not only had he managed to convince Olivia to feel like the most morally bankrupt person in the world, he ended up breaking her heart by dumping her. I hope that bastard burns in some hellish afterlife, one day. Unfortunately, he’s still alive. Olivia had dumped Jason Dean – another Dudley Do Right – before he had the chance to prove he was another Adrian Chambers. As for Paul Margolin – I thank the God and Goddess that relationship never blossomed into romance. After meeting Margolin several times, I knew he would never make Livy happy. He is also a world-class bore.

What can I say about Cole? He was one of the toughest adversaries I had ever encountered. He came pretty close to stealing the Golem amulet in London, twenty-seven years ago. I’ve come to realize that although he’s a bit reserved, he also shares the family’s sarcastic wit. Besides, half-daemon or not – anyone who is willing to start his or her life over again for the better, deserves a second chance. And whether Leo can accept it or not, I feel that Olivia and Cole need each other. Unlike poor Phoebe, I think that Olivia is capable of giving Cole the love he needs . . . and the chance to be his own man. And Cole seems to be one of the few people outside the family, capable of keeping Olivia in check without making her feel inferior. I love my daughter, but I do realize that she has a relentless and Machiavellian personality. Adrian Chambers’ way of dealing with Livy’s nature was to stomp all over her self-esteem every chance he got. Now, Cole can be brutally honest with Olivia (and she with him) . . . but at least he doesn’t make her feel like a child.

As far as I’m concerned, Olivia and Cole have my blessings. Naturally, I’m not going to advertise the fact. The last thing Olivia needs is family pressure over her relationships. But she and Cole have my blessings. And I’m going to tell Leo how I feel, the next time he . . . “drops in”. And if he doesn’t like my opinion – tough shit.

PART 6 – GWENETH McNEILL

Nearly a week has passed since Leo’s last visit. Perhaps he has finally realized that his gloomy prophecies about Livy and Cole were falling on deaf ears. To be honest, it wasn’t the realization that ceased Leo’s visits. Last Saturday, Jack had threatened to use a darklighter’s bow-and-arrow on him, if he continues to persist with his rants.

This last incident had its origins from an incident regarding Livy, Cole, Paige and that daemon friend of Cole’s – Riggerio. Apparently, the latter had helped the other three track down a warlock coven that had stolen a valuable sigil belonging to a museum curator, who also happened to be a friend of Nathalie Gleason. The confrontation had left Paige injured. While Cole and Olivia continued to track down the artifact and the remaining warlocks, Riggerio delivered Paige to the Halliwells’ home. Needless to say, neither Leo nor the other Halliwells did not take kindly to having him appear in their home with a wounded Paige. This also prompted a last visit by Leo.

Leo lost his temper about Livy endangering the rest of us with her ties to daemons like Cole and Riggerio. Before she could defend herself, Jack exploded and told Leo to “mind his damn business”. And when Leo brought up an incident from Jack’s past – saving a daemon from a group of witches – out came the darklighter’s bow-and-arrow. How my husband managed to get his hands on the bloody thing, is beyond me. I don’t recall any recent encounter with a darklighter.

Like most whitelighters and a great number of others, poor Leo suffers from a bipolar viewpoint. The whitelighter that Rhiannon and I had briefly shared certainly did. It was a philosophy that Rhiannon embraced with great enthusiasm. During his rant, last Saturday, Leo also pointed out that Olivia’s relationship with Richard Bannen – a former warlock – had led to Rhiannon’s death. Now, I had loved my sister. I still do. But in all honesty, the only one to blame for her death . . . was Rhiannon and that bloody-minded temper of hers. After her husband’s death at the hands of one of Richard’s cousins, she had allowed her desire for revenge to destroy herself, Richard and numerous other Bannens, who were innocent of her husband’s death.

In a way, Rhiannon reminds me of Nick Marcano and his “attempt” to win Barbara from Bruce. Poor Nick. Granted, what he tried to do to Bruce was abominable, but considering the unhappy life he had led, I was not really surprised that he finally went batty. And poor Carla. She had looked so guilty and sad, when Olivia informed her of Nick’s death. As if she had failed him. Although the other Bianchis weren’t exactly wracked with grief, they all left the wedding ceremony before it had begun.

From what Cole had told me, he had found himself at a point where he believed that he needed Phoebe to prevent himself from sliding into darkness. He came dangerously close to making the same mistake as Nick. Instead of recognizing his emotional state, the Halliwells and Leo did their level best to push him away. He finally gave in and granted Phoebe a divorce. Poor bastard. He had confronted the Halliwells and Leo’s self-righteousness and failed. How odd. I remember when Leo used to be more open-minded in the past. Now, he has become such a narrow-minded ponce. I suspect that my children are finding it difficult to like him (although never a problem for Harry). As for the Halliwells, they possess that same flaw. Probably inherited from that grandmother of theirs – Penelope. I never liked that bloody bitch. She had made my life difficult, at times, because Jack ended up marrying me, instead of her precious Patty. After seeing her at Wyatt Halliwell’s Wiccaning, I noticed that she had not changed at all.

How on earth did Cole managed to endure nearly two years with that family? Granted, I’m sure that he has his own flaws, but dealing with Halliwells? It boggles the mind. He must have loved Phoebe very much to put up with them. Which brings me to another matter. Is Cole still in love with Phoebe, despite his feelings for Olivia? I wonder. I don’t have any problems with Olivia dating Cole. But I fear that deep down, he still has feelings for his ex-wife. And one day, the issue of him and Phoebe will come out – leaving Olivia the loser. God, I only hope I’m wrong.

PART 7 – LEO WYATT

There are days when I truly resent accepting the Elders’ offer to become a whitelighter. During my first forty-three years guiding witches, those moments of regret were rare. It was not until I became Bruce and Olivia’s whitelighter in the late 80s that it became frequent. After I became the Halliwells’ whitelighter, regrets seemed to hit me on a weekly basis.

Why won’t they listen to me? By “they”, I mean the McNeills and Paige. Especially Olivia. She is involved with someone who is very dangerous. I’m talking about Cole, of course. My former brother-in-law. God, I can’t believe that the Source of All Evil used to my brother-in-law. Even after a year, I still haven’t lived this down among my fellow whitelighters. It had been bad enough when Cole and Phoebe were involved. Cole had come close to destroying the Charmed Ones on several occasions. Okay, he had also saved their lives. But when he became the Source . . . every time I look back on that moment when we first realized what he had become, I couldn’t help but wonder if I had failed Piper and her sisters. Especially Phoebe. Cole had been acting strange for a period of three months and all we did was excused his behavior, because we thought he was still a mortal. Or wanted to believe it. We had ignored Paige’s warnings, because we felt that we knew Cole a lot better, and she was an inexperienced witch.

Looking back on it now, I think that Cole’s three-month stint as the Source had really affected me. Affected us. When Piper and the others finally killed him, I was so relieved. He was finally gone. And no longer in our lives. Unfortunately . . . he came back, and more powerful than ever. I was determined that he would never get involved with the Charmed Ones again. In the end, it was Cole who guaranteed that by killing that mortal, Ed Miller. But . . . my luck didn’t last forever. Last November, Olivia had moved into Cole’s apartment building. The two became neighbors, and eventually close friends.

In a way, I understand why those two found each other’s company so appealing. Both shared an ambiguous outlook on morality that makes me uncomfortable. It’s an outlook that the entire McNeill clan shares. I can’t help but wonder why the Elders had assigned me to Bruce and Olivia in the first place. They had also assigned me to Harry, but he refused to accept me as his whitelighter. I had heard about their father – Jack McNeill. Back in the late 60s, he had become involved with a powerful top-level demon accused of murdering a witch’s coven. Mr. McNeill not only saved the demon’s life from other witches who were trying to vanquish the demon, but also convinced them that the latter was innocent of the murders. Oh yeah. Is it any wonder why Cole would become friends with the McNeills?

However, the worse has happened. Once again, Cole has become romantically involved with a witch. And this witch, like Phoebe, happens to be one of my charges. Okay, she’s a former charge, but she is also a close friend. But I know that he’s not in love with Olivia. This latest romance is merely a case of rebound for Cole. Since he can’t have Phoebe, I guess he figured that Olivia would do.

There’s another reason why Olivia and Cole’s relationship must end. He’s a powerful half-demon and she’s a powerful witch and possibly a future Bearer of the Aingeal Staff. Which means she will be just as powerful as the Charmed Ones, if she ever acquires the staff. There is supposed to be a ceremony in Scotland that should determine who will be the new Bearer, two weeks from now. The Elders feel that such a match will prove to be a danger to us all – the Whitelighter Realm and other practioners of magic . And there’s a good chance they’re right. After all, they did predict that the Charmed Ones would vanquish the Source. And if Piper and I can conceive a child as powerful as Wyatt, can you imagine how Olivia and Cole’s child would turn out, if they ever conceive one?

If only Olivia hadn’t dumped Paul Margolin! They were perfect for each other. When I heard that Paul was looking for a new job, I found out about the opening at the District Attorney’s Office. It was the perfect opportunity to bring him out here and introduce him to Olivia. But, she dumped him. Or to more accurate, she made it clear that she was only interested in friendship and nothing else. Then a few hours later, Paul caught her and Cole in one of the McNeills’ bedrooms, doing“you-know-what”. What a damn mess! The Elders were furious over what happened. God! If only . . .

Wait a minute! What had one of the Elders told me, last January? Oh yeah. Now I remember. Olivia’s theory about vanquishing the Source. I had dismissed it back then, since Piper and her sisters were destined to kill the Source. But thinking about it now, I also remember Cecile Dubois’ premonition about Olivia killing Cole. Is it possible that Cecile had foreseen Olivia applying her vanquishing theory to Cole? I wonder if that future will still come to pass. I don’t dare bring it up with Olivia. But perhaps I can convince Paul to find a way to mention it to her. Someday.

THE END

“THIRTEEN DAYS” (2000) Review

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“THIRTEEN DAYS” (2000) Review

In 1991, Kevin Costner starred in “J.F.K.”, Oliver Stone’s Oscar nominated film that explored the death of U.S. President John F. Kennedy. Nine years later, Kevin Costner returned to the land of this country’s own “Camelot”, in this docudrama about the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 from the viewpoint of President Kennedy and the men who served his Administration.

“THIRTEEN DAYS” got its title from Robert F. Kennedy’s 1969 posthumous memoirs about the incident. Yet, David Self’s screenplay is actually based upon Philip D. Zelikow’s 1997 book, “The Kennedy Tapes: Inside the White House During the Cuban Missile Crisis”. “THIRTEEN DAYS” began in early October 1962, when the Kennedy Administration receive U-2 surveillance photos revealing nuclear missiles in Cuba that were placed by the Soviet Union. Because these missiles have the capability to wipe out most of the Eastern and Southern United States if operational, President John F. Kennedy and his advisers are forced to find a way to prevent their operational status. Also, Kennedy’s authority is challenged by top civilian and military advisers like Chief of Staff U.S. Air Force General Curtis LeMay and former Secretary of State Dean Acheson, who wanted the President to display more obvious signs of military strength in order to scare the Soviets in to removing the missiles. Most of the interactions between Kennedy and his men are witnessed by Kenneth O’Donnell, a presidential adviser and close school friend of Attorney General Robert Kennedy.

There have been complaints that “THIRTEEN DAYS” is not a completely accurate portrayal of the Cuban Missile Crisis. And that the Kenny O”Donnell character, portrayed by star Kevin Costner, was unnecessarily prominent in this film. I do not know if the last complaint is relevant. After all, O’Donnell was one of Kennedy’s advisers during the crisis. But since Costner was the star of the movie and one of the producers, perhaps there is some minor cause for complaint. As for any historical inaccuracy . . . this is a movie adaptation of history. People should realize that complete historical accuracy is extremely rare in fictional adaptations – not only in Hollywood movies and television, but also in productions outside of the country, novels, plays and even paintings.

Were there any aspects of “THIRTEEN DAYS” that I found . . . uh, annoying or off putting? Well, Kevin Costner’s attempt at a Boston accent was pretty terrible. And if I must be frank, there was nothing exceptional about Roger Donaldson’s direction. I am not stating that he did a poor job directing the film. On the contrary, he did a solid job. But there were moments when I felt I was watching a TV movie-of-the-week, instead of a major motion picture – especially in one of the final shots that revealed the President’s advisers discussing policy in Vietnam, while Kennedy prepared to compose a letter to the relatives of a downed U-2 pilot.

Other than Costner’s Boston accent and Donaldson’s less than spectacular direction, I have no real complaints about the movie. In fact, I enjoyed it very much when I first saw it, twelve years ago. And I still enjoyed it very much when I recently viewed my DVD copy of it. “THIRTEEN DAYS” is a solid, yet tense and fascinating look into the Missile Crisis from the viewpoints of President Kennedy and his advisers. Before I first saw this film, I had no idea that Kennedy faced so much trouble from the military elite and the more conservative advisers of his administration. I was especially surprised by the latter, considering that the President himself was not only a borderline conservative, but also harbored hawkish views against Communism.

Although I would never view Donaldson as one of the finest directors around, I must admit that I was more than impressed by his ability to energized a story that could have easily been bogged down by a series of scenes featuring nothing but discussions and meetings. Instead, both Donaldson and Self energized “THIRTEEN DAYS” with a good number of scenes that featured tension between characters, emotional confrontations and two action sequences that featured military flights over Cuba. Among my favorite scenes are Kennedy’s confrontation with Curtis Le May, his angry outburst over Le May’s decision to engage in nuclear testing as a scare tactic against the Soviets; the flight of two U.S. Navy pilots over Cuban airspace; Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara’s confrontation with U.S. Navy Admiral George Anderson; and especially U.N. Ambassador Adlai Stevenson’s confrontation with the Soviet U.N. Ambassador Valerian Zorin.

However, Donaldson’s direction and Self’s script were not the only aspects of “THIRTEEN DAYS” that prevented the movie from becoming a dull history lesson. The cast, led by Kevin Costner, Bruce Greenwood and Steven Culp, provided some superb performances that helped keep the story alive. I am not going to deny that I found Costner’s Boston accent cringe worthy. One would have to be deaf not to notice. But a bad accent does not mean a bad performance. And Costner proved to be a very lively and intense Kenny O’Donnell, whose close relationship and loyalty to the Kennedys allowed him to be brutally frank to them, when others could not get away with such frankness. Steven Culp was equally intense as Attorney General Robert Kennedy, who seemed to inject energy into every scene in which he appeared. But the one performance that really impressed me came from Bruce Greenwood’s portrayal of the 35th President of the United States. Instead of portraying Kennedy as some one-note political icon or womanizing bad boy, Greenwood portrayed Kennedy as a intelligent, multi-faceted politician struggling to prevent the outbreak of a third world war, while keeping his high-ranking military officers in check. Personally, I feel that Greenwood may have given the best portrayal of Kennedy I have yet to see on either the movie or television screen. The movie also featured some first-rate and memorable supporting performances from the likes of Dylan Baker (as Robert McNamara), Michael Fairman (as Adlai Stevenson), Lucinda Jenney (as Helen O’Donnell), Kevin Conway (as Curtis LeMay), Madison Mason (as Admiral Anderson), Len Cariou (as Dean Acheson), Bill Smitrovich (as General Maxwell Taylor), and especially Karen Ludwig and Christopher Lawson as the sharp-tongued White House operator Margaret and the sardonic U.S. Navy pilot Commander William Ecker.

I want to say something about the film’s production designs and setting. If there is one aspect of “THIRTEEN DAYS” that I truly appreciated how J. Dennis Washington’s production designs re-created the year 1962. And he did so without any over-the-top attempt at early 1960s style. Unlike some productions set during this period, “THIRTEEN DAYS” did not scream “THIS IS THE SIXTIES!”. Washington’s production designs, along with Denise Pizzini’s set decorations and Isis Mussenden’s costume designs presented the early 1960s with an elegance and accuracy I found very satisfying. Their work was ably assisted by Andrzej Bartkowiak’s photography. Bartkowiak’s work also supported Conrad Buff IV’s excellent editing, which prevented the film from becoming a dull period piece.

I do not know what else I could say about “THIRTEEN DAYS”. I do not claim that it is a perfect film. I found Roger Donaldson’s direction excellent, but not particularly dazzling or outstanding. And yes, Kevin Costner’s otherwise first-rate performance was marred by a bad Boston accent. But he, along with an excellent Steven Culp, a superb Bruce Greenwood, a solid cast and a satisfying script by David Self made “THIRTEEN DAYS” an interesting and well made account of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.