“Spells, Lies and Remorse” [R] – 1/9

“SPELLS, LIES AND REMORSE”

RATING: R

SUMMARY: The final efforts of the Side of Good to vanquish Belthazor, once and for all. Set after “A Family Affair” – AU between S5 and S6.

FEEDBACK: – Be my guest. But please, be kind.

DISCLAIMER: The Charmed Ones, Leo Wyatt, and Cole Turner belong to Constance Burge, Brad Kern and Spelling Productions. The McNeills and Marbus, are thankfully, my creations.

———-

“SPELLS, LIES AND REMORSE”

CHAPTER ONE

The couple stepped out of the elevator and made their way along the dimly lit corridor. “Could you please explain to me why we just used the elevator, when I could have easily teleported us to your apartment?” Cole grumbled.

“Because teleporting was unnecessary,” Olivia replied. “I don’t recall any magical emergency popping up, since we left your car.”

Cole linked his arm through his girlfriend’s. “Yeah, but at least we could have avoided meeting Mrs. Boone in the elevator. God, that woman can be tiresome!” He referred to one of the building’s tenant – a forty-something divorcee, who had developed an unrelenting interest in the handsome half-daemon.

A wicked smile curved Olivia’s mouth. “And miss that deliciously jealous look on her face, when she caught us kissing inside the elevator? Not on your life!”

“I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again – you can really be one hell of a bitch, Olivia.” Despite the insult, Cole’s voice radiated affection and admiration.

Olivia chuckled. “I know.”

The pair finally reached outside Olivia’s apartment. She unlocked the door and they entered. After she switched on the light, Olivia asked, “Do you want anything to drink? Coffee, tea . . .?”

“How about you?” Cole finished, as he wrapped his arms around Olivia’s waist.

It took all of Olivia’s efforts not to wince at Cole’s little pun. But she could not hold her tongue. “You know something, Cole?” she oozed in her most sexy voice.

“What?”

“Sometimes, it amazes me that I love you so much.” She gave his nose a light peck. “Despite your tendency for bad jokes and puns.”

Cole’s mouth hung open in astonishment. “Wha . . . wait a minute! Are you saying that I have a bad sense of humor?”

Olivia slid her arms around the half-daemon’s neck. “Well, it’s not so bad . . . when you’re insulting someone.” She leaned forward and allowed her tongue to flicker across his left earlobe. “But never mind that. Didn’t you say something about wanting me?”

“I don’t know if I’m in the mood right now,” Cole replied peevishly.

“Ooooo! Poor baby!” Olivia’s teeth captured Cole’s bottom lip and gently tugged it. “You’re not mad at me, are you?”

A heartfelt sigh left Cole’s mouth. “Well . . . I don’t know.”

Before Cole could comment any further, Olivia hungrily covered his mouth with hers for a passionate kiss. Which deepened even further, as she delicately brushed her tongue against his.

Once they paused for air, Cole added between heavy breathing, “I guess I’m not mad, any longer.”

“Hmmm,” Olivia flicked her tongue across the edge of his mouth. “That’s good to know. Want to continue this in the bedroom?”

Cole responded with a hard kiss. “Why not?” Then he beamed the pair of them out of the living room.

——-

Her legs wrapped around Cole’s waist, Olivia shuddered, as he gave one final thrust and sent her over the edge with mindless pleasure. Breathing heavily, the half-daemon collapsed on top of her. He remained there for a few seconds, before he planted a light kiss on her lips and rolled off her body. As always, Olivia found herself feeling strangely bereft.

“Oh God!” Cole murmured between breaths.

Slightly breathless herself, Olivia nodded. “I know.” Then she turned on her left to face him. “Feeling hungry?”

“Are you kidding?” Cole replied. “I can barely move. Let’s just stay in bed.” Then he drew Olivia into his arms, and she placed her head on his shoulder. She sighed contentedly. There was nothing better in the world than post-coital snuggling. Well, except for sex. “By the way,” he added, “I was wondering if you’ll be available for lunch, tomorrow. Ever since that DiMatteo trial began, we’ve barely been able to spend any time together for lunch.”

A low moan escaped from Olivia’s lips, as Cole planted a kiss on the side of her neck. “I’m sorry Cole, but I have to say no. The jury went into deliberation yesterday. Darryl and I have to remain available, until they reach a decision.”

“Oh. Great.” Cole’s voice expressed his disappointment.

Olivia quickly added, “Of course there’s a good chance that they might reach a verdict, tomorrow. It’s really an open-and-shut case.”

Cole sighed. “Well, I guess I better cancel my reservations at Le Charm.” Olivia winced. The half-daemon had just named one of her favorite local bistros. “So, uh . . . how is Margolin holding up? He must be relieved that the trial will soon be over.”

Olivia turned her head to stare at Cole. “Well, this is a first! Since when have you ever been concerned about Paul? You haven’t mentioned his name since the trial began.”

“We ran into each other at the courthouse yesterday,” Cole explained. He laid on his back – much to Olivia’s disappointment. “I said hello and he pretended that I didn’t exist.”

Sighing, Olivia sat up. “I don’t find it surprising. I haven’t spoken much to him, myself. Except in regard to the trial. In fact, I haven’t had a personal conversation with Paul since Bruce and Barbara’s wedding, nearly three months ago.”

“Good.” Olivia frowned at Cole, as he quickly assumed a more sympathetic expression. “I mean . . . that’s too bad. Rejection can be pretty hard to deal with. Something we both know from personal experience.”

Olivia laid her body upon Cole’s. He slid an arm around her waist. “Poor Paul. I just wish he would get over it, soon. It would make me feel a hell of a lot better.”

“And me,” Cole added.

———-

“DRUID SPELLS OF THE AGES”. Paul Margolin heaved a sigh, as he thumbed through the book for a spell that he felt could help him.

Ever since his whitelighter, Leo Wyatt, had informed him of a premonition received by a colleague about Belthazor, the New York-born witch had become engrossed in a special project. Namely to convince a certain red-haired witch that her half-daemon boyfriend will end up being a great danger to the supernatural world.

Since the beginning of the project sanctioned by Leo, Paul had checked books from the local library and used bookstores in the Bay Area. What he needed was a spell to turn Olivia against Belthazor. He had considered one that would give him the power of telepathic manipulation. Unfortunately, the redhead had grown up with two telepaths in her family’s household, and had a third as her best friend. Which meant that Olivia had been trained to detect and block telepathic incursion into her mind. Granted, she could still be caught offguard, but Paul did not want to take the chance.

He continued his search through the book. Finally, he came upon a spell that proved promising. One that would include a potion, as well. Paul read the spell’s instructions. Hmmm. It seemed more than promising. Perhaps he should copy it into his Book of Shadows. But first, he needed to get hold of some Agrimony.

——–

The bell above Ostera’s door tinkled. Engulfed in helping fellow shop assistant, Maddy Oser, fill one of the shelves with stock, Paige did not see who had entered. Especially since she stood on a ladder, several feet above the floor.

“Okay Maddy,” she said. “Hand me that last bottle of Chamomille.” She held out her hand. Seconds passed before Maddy shoved the bottle requested into her hand. “Okay, that’s it.” Paige descended the ladder. “I guess we can put the rest of the stock in the storeroom in the back.” Upon reaching the floor, Paige turned and found a grinning Harry McNeill standing next to the ladder. “Oh. Harry. Uh . . .”

The redhead’s grin stretched wider. “And good afternoon to you, Miss Matthews.” He paused. “Aren’t you going to thank me for my help?”

Paige glanced to her left. Maddy stood near a half-empty box of herbs with a slight smirk on her face. “Yeah,” Paige coolly replied. “Thanks for the help.” She brushed past the male witch and headed toward the counter in the front. “What are you doing here, Harry? You need something?”

Harry fell beside her and cocked his head in a manner that strongly reminded Paige of his father. “Just you.”

“What?” Did he just proposition her?

Looking slightly embarrassed, Harry shook his head. “Sorry. That came out wrong. I meant . . . uh, well I was wondering if you’re free Friday night. For a date. There is this new play at the Orpheum Theater. And I thought we could later have dinner at the Golden Horn.” He paused, while an open-mouthed Paige stared at him. “Unless, you prefer some place less stodgy like P3.”

As she slowly recovered from the proposition, Paige finally managed to speak. “Huh? Oh, uh . . . I . . . I guess the Golden Horn is fine.” She paused. “Never been there.”

Elation lit up Harry’s green eyes. “So that means you’re available, Friday?”

“Sure!” The word shot out of Paige’s mouth before she could stop herself. God! What had she just done?

“Great! I’ll pick you up around six-thirty.” Smiling, Harry bid Maddy good-bye and nearly skipped out of the shop.

The younger witch faced Paige, wearing a cryptic smile. “Wow! A date with Harry McNeill! Lucky girl!”

Paige managed a wan smile. Inwardly, she wondered how long her luck would last. Granted, Harry was a very attractive man and one of San Francisco’s most eligible bachelors. But he also happened to be a notorious ladies’ man. And a man who came from a family regarded in a lukewarm manner by hers. She sighed. Friday night might proved to be very interesting.

———

An oath left Phoebe’s mouth, as she rummaged through her closet for a missing shoe. The closet resembled a junkyard, thanks to her lazy housekeeping habits. Piper had always chided her for using the closet as some kind of trash receptacle. And now it looked as if her older sister had been proven right. All because she could not find that damn shoe.

Her fingers finally touched what felt like a box. Phoebe gripped the edges and dragged it out of the closet. Various knickknacks and clothing filled the box. She stuck her hand into the box and removed a powder blue, V-neck sweater. A man’s sweater. One that had once belonged to Cole.

Phoebe’s heartbeat increased slightly, as memories of her former husband wearing the sweater, flashed in her mind. Then other images followed. Images that had nothing to do with the sweater . . . and everything with Cole.

***

Seer: Don’t be afraid. (He spins around. The Seer walks in.)

Cole: Who are you? Where am I?

Seer: Back in your once and future life… Belthazor.

Cole: Belthazor? (The Seer moves closer.) Seer.

Seer: Even now I can see the void where your demon half used to exist. It craves to be complete again.

Cole: How’d you know I was still alive?

Seer: I had a vision. One where you and I do great things together.

Cole: I don’t work with evil anymore.

Seer: You might reconsider if you hope to save your precious witch. Only you and I can help to beat the Source.

Cole: I’m listening.

Seer: If you take in the Hollow, you can absorb the Source’s power when he attacks. Once powerless, they can vanquish him. (She picks up the Hollow box.)

Cole: And what happens to me after?

Seer: The witches and I will banish the Hollow back to its crypt. You will return to normal.

Cole: How do I know this isn’t one of The Source’s tricks? Or one of yours for that matter.

Seer: The Source has been corrupted by the Hollow. And is going to destroy us all. He cannot be allowed to continue with this path of madness.

Cole: If I do this, what do you see then?

Seer: A future for both sides.


***

Scene: Underworld. A dark cave. Cole walks in, topless, holding a sword. He looks around. He sees the Source across the room, chanting with his back turned. Cole creeps towards him and is about to swing the sword.

The Source: Wait. (The Source faces Cole and lifts off his hood. It’s Cole.)

Cole/The Source: You don’t really wanna kill me do you?

Cole: But how… (Cole/The Source hits Cole and he lands on the ground. The sword flies up to Cole/The Source.)

Cole/The Source: We’re one now. I’m reborn, within you.

Cole: I’ll fight it. I’ll kill us both if I have to. I won’t let you hurt Phoebe.

Cole/The Source: You won’t have a choice. (He stabs Cole and he screams.)

***

Cole: How did I get here?

Seer: The Source’s magic brought you. I see you accepting that very soon. (Cole goes over and grabs her around the neck.)

Cole: You never told me I would become the Source if I help vanquish him!

Seer: Don’t be naive. I told you of my vision. Of you and I doing great things together, this is just the beginning. (He falls to his knees.) You cannot change your fate. As you can see the evil within you wont allow it. C

Cole: I’ll fight it, I’ll kill it. I’ll find a way.

***

Cole: I just got back.

Phoebe: From where?

Cole: I had to, uh, get out of the house for a while, you know.

Phoebe: No, I don’t know. Do we need to talk?

Cole: Phoebe, I… Ahh! (He holds his head.) Damn it!

Phoebe: What’s the matter? (She touches him but he pulls away.)

Cole: Uh, nothing. It’s just a migraine, I gotta go.

Phoebe: Cole, where are you… (He walks away.) Cole

***

Seer: Holy matrimony will be the worst possible thing that could happen. It’ll keep you from ever reigning as the Source.

Cole: That can’t be right.

Seer: It’s what I foresee. Unless of course you cancel the wedding.

Cole: I can’t. I need Phoebe.

Seer: Yes, I can see that too.

Cole: We’ve been through this. Cole’s love for Phoebe still exists within me. I can’t overcome it. If I’m to regain what I’ve lost it has to be with Phoebe, marrying her.

Seer: Even if it means losing your son?

Cole: A son? You saw a son in my future?

Seer: More than a son. You and Phoebe Halliwell will produce the most powerful child the magical world has ever seen.

Cole: That’s my boy.

Seer: No, he won’t be your boy, he’ll be theirs. On the side of good. Unless you marry the witch in a dark way.

***

Seer: Why would you save Paige after everything you do to destroy her?

Cole: They would’ve found a way to save her anyway. This way I get the credit.

Seer: Did you do it for credit? Or love? I supposed there’s some things even the Source can’t defeat.

Cole: Careful.

Seer: I am, but are you? We have worked too hard to let a nugget of humanity destroy a legacy of evil.

Cole: Paige has no memory. She’s not a threat to us anymore.

Seer: I’m not talking about her. I’m talking about Cole. His is the one threat neither one of us can control. He saved Paige not you.

***

Cole: How much longer?

Wizard: Give me a break, will you, this is tricky stuff. It’d be a lot easier if I could do this in friendlier confines.

Cole: There are no friendly confines, not anymore. This had better work or you’ll be joining the rest of your kind and not in the way you hoped for.

Wizard: Little tip. Pressure’s not the best motivating technique. If you wanna lose the Source’s powers, don’t rush me.

Cole: Fine, but just so we’re clear, once you get the Source’s powers I never hear from you again.

Wizard: Understood. Not that I’m ungrateful, but why are you so willing to do this? (He places some lit candles on the floor.)

Cole: I lost someone I love and I want her back. That’s all you need to know.

Wizard: Love? The Source can love.

Cole: Just keep working.

Wizard: I’m done. Now, if the spell’s going to work, blood needs to spill. (He picks up a dagger and Cole holds out his arm. He cuts Cole’s arm.) Now me. (He cuts his own. Smoke starts to rise from the Grimoir.) “Holus into exitus omne. Holus into exitus omne. Holus into exitus omne! Holus into exitus omne.” (The both rise into the air and they start to glow. The wizard extends his arm and starts to pull the Source out of Cole. The Seer and Phoebe appear.)

Seer: Save him. For your son. (Phoebe throws fire and vanquishes the wizard. Cole falls to the floor and Phoebe rushes over to him.)

***

Cole: (to Phoebe) I’m sorry, it’s, it’s for the best.

Phoebe: I know it is. (She walks over to Cole and the fireball disappears. Phoebe kisses him.)

Piper: Phoebe? (Phoebe moves away from Cole.)

Phoebe: I’m sorry too. (She places the crystal in its place and the trap is activated.)
Cole: Phoebe, no. No!

Phoebe: I’m sorry, baby, I’m so sorry.

Piper: “Prudence, Penelope, Patricia, Melinda…” (Fire appears near Cole’s feet.)

Phoebe: “Ashford, Helen, Laura and Grace…”

Cole: I will always love you.

Paige: “Halliwell witches stand strong beside us.”

Phoebe: “Vanquish this evil…”

Piper, Phoebe, Paige: “From time and space.” (They vanquish Cole and it makes a huge explosion, making the windows smash. Phoebe walks to the middle of the room and cries.)

***

The visions ceased as quickly as they had began. Phoebe fell back on her rear with a gasp. “Oh my God,” she murmured. “Oh my God! What have we done? What I’ve done?” Shame and disbelief mingled within her, as she continued to stare at the sweater.

END OF CHAPTER ONE

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Top Ten Favorite “ANGEL” (1999-2004) Episodes

Below is a list of my ten favorite episodes of “ANGEL” (1999-2004), which starred David Boreanaz:

TOP TEN FAVORITE “ANGEL” (1999-2004) EPISODES

1. (1.19) “Sanctuary” – The second of a two-part episode about a burnt out Faith’s appearance in Los Angeles. Following her breakdown, Angel discovers that the Watchers Council and Buffy are after her.

2. (2.07) “Darla” – Angel tries to find a way to save a human Darla from the clutches of Wolfram and Hart, while she remembers her past as a vampire.

3. (5.11) “Damage” – Angel and Spike hunt down a psychotic Slayer who has escaped from an institution and believes that Spike is the man who drove her insane.

4. (2.02) “Are You Now or Have You Ever Been” – In this send-up on the post-World War II Communist witch hunts, Angel recalls a traumatic experience during the 1950s at the Hyperion Hotel.

5. (1.18) “Five by Five” – The first half of Faith’s appearance in Los Angeles has the rogue Slayer being recruited by Wolfram and Hart to assassinate Angel.

6. (3.09) “Lullaby” – Holtz, a demon hunter from the past, hunts down Angel, while Darla endures a difficult labor.

7. (4.10) “Awakening” – In an attempt to bring down The Beast and restore the sun, Wesley brings in a dark mystic to extract Angel’s soul.

8. (5.08) “Destiny” – Spike is recorporealized, and the two souled vampires battle it out to drink from the “Cup of Perpetual Torment” to settle the renewed conflict of the Shanshu Prophecy.

9. (4.16) “Players” – Gwen Raiden enlists Charles Gunn’s help to steal a device to control her electrical abilities while Lorne attempts a ritual to restore his empathic powers.

10. (4.04) “Slouching Toward Bethlehem” – Cordelia Chase inexplicably returns from her higher dimension, but she has no memory of who she is and who her friends are; and Lilah Morgan develops an interest in her reappearance, as well.

“EVIL UNDER THE SUN” (1982) Review

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“EVIL UNDER THE SUN” (1982) Review

For many years, I tried to pretend that Agatha Christie’s 1941 novel, “Evil Under the Sun” was a personal favorite of mine. I really tried to accept this opinion, knowing that it was a popular favorite of many Christie fans. But for some reason, any deep interest in the novel’s plot failed to grab me.

Produced by John Bradbourne and Richard Goodwin, and directed by Guy Hamilton; this “EVIL UNDER THE SUN” is basically about Belgian-born detective Hercule Poirot’s investigation into the murder of a famous English stage star, while on holiday in the Adriatic Sea. The movie begins with an unidentified female hiker reporting her discovery of a murdered woman named Alice Ruber on the Yorkshire moors. The story jumps to London, where Poirot is asked to investigate the circumstances of a millionaire’s diamond that turned out to be fake. Poirot’s investigation leads him to millionaire Sir Horace Blatt, who had originally given the diamond to his former lover – stage actress Arlena Stuart Marshall. After receiving the diamond, she eventually dumped him and married another. Sir Horace reveals that Arlena and her new husband plan to visit Daphne’s Island, an Adriatic Sea island resort owned by former showgirl Daphne Castle. During his holiday there, Poirot eventually discovers that there are others who have a grudge against Arlena:

*Daphne Castle – a former professional rival of Arlena, who had fallen in love with the famous actress’ husband, before he met the latter

*Kenneth Marshall – Arlena’s wealthy new husband, who is unhappy over Arlena’s extramarital affair with another guest and her bitchy treatment of his daughter; and who is also in love with Daphne

*Linda Marshall – Arlena’s stepdaughter, who detests her

*Patrick Redfern – a school teacher, who also happens to be Arlena’s current lover

*Christine Redfern – Patrick’s mousy wife, who resents Arlena’s affair with her husband

*Odell and Myra Gardener – husband and wife stage producers, desperate to cast Arlena in their new play

*Rex Brewster – a witty writer and theater critic who had written an unauthorized biography of Arlena

After two days on the island, Arlena sets out on her own for a private boat ride around the island. She is found strangled to death on one of the island’s secluded beaches, nearly two hours after Poirot saw her depart on a small paddle-boat. Daphne recruits Poirot to unveil the murderer before the local police can begin their own investigation.

I recently watched the 2001 television adaptation of Christie’s novel. Aside from some changes, the movie more or less followed the literary version. This 1982 version, which starred Peter Ustinov as Poirot, featured more changes to Christie’s tale. Screenwriters Barry Sandler and Anthony Schaffer (who had also co-written 1974’s “MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS”and written 1978’s “DEATH ON THE NILE”) changed the story’s location from the coast of Devon to an exclusive island resort in the Adriatic Sea (filmed in Majorca, Spain). Linda Marshall’s age was reduced from sixteen years old to at least twelve to thirteen years old. Although this reduction in age made it impossible for Linda to be considered a genuine suspect, she still played a major role in Poirot’s investigation. Sandler and Schaffer also glamorized the movie’s setting by allowing some of the suspects to reflect Arlena’s show business background. The Gardeners were transformed from mere American tourists to theater producers. The screenwriters transformed spinster Emily Brewster into writer/theater critic Rex Brewster, with the theatricality and wit of Noel Coward. Horace Blatt went from a slightly wealthy braggart to the garrulous self-made millionaire industrialist Sir Horace Blatt. Dressmaker Rosamund Darnley transformed into former showgirl-turned-royal mistress-turned resort owner Daphne Castle. And characters such as Stephen Lane and Major Barry were completely written out of the story . . . thank goodness. If I must be brutally honest, Schaffer and Sandler’s revamp of Christie’s novel made the story a lot more interesting and entertaining for me.

“EVIL UNDER THE SUN” was not perfect. It had a few flaws that either confused me or I found unappealing. One, I never understood why the insurance papers regarding the Alice Ruber case were in Poirot’s possession during his stay at Daphne’s Island. I understood that he was investigating Sir Horace’s fake diamond on behalf of the same insurance company. But why bring along the files for another case . . . even if that case proved to have a connection to Arlena’s killer? Although I enjoyed most of Anthony Powell’s colorful costume designs, there were a few selections I found either mind boggling or extremely tasteless. In one scene, both Maggie Smith and Diana Rigg wore outfits with material from the same source – white something with gaudy, colorful baubbles. Take a look:

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And in another scene, Sylvia Miles wore the following costume:

Costume Anthony Powell 1982

A black evening gown with reddish-pink and white polka dots, a plunging neckline and puffy sleeves? What on earth was Powell thinking when he created this costume for the actress? However, I still enjoyed the rest of Powell’s creations, which perfectly captured the movie’s comedic and slightly campy tone. I especially enjoyed the salmon-colored gown Rigg wore during Poirot’s second evening on the island and the black-and-white number that Miles wore during the detective’s first evening. And the costumes for the men – especially the evening wear – struck me as well tailored. Powell’s costumes were not the only artistic contributions to the film that I enjoyed. Christopher Challis’ photography of Majorca, Spain; which stood for the French Riviera and Daphne’s Island; struck me as colorful, sharp and very beautiful – a perfect reflection of sunshine elegance. And music arranger John Dalby make great use of various Cole Porter tunes in the movie

Most of my observations regarding “EVIL UNDER THE SUN” are definitely positive. It is one of my top favorite Agatha Christie adaptations of all time. Thanks to Schaffer and Sandler’s revisions in Christie’s tale and Guy Hamilton’s elegant, yet lively direction, “EVIL UNDER THE SUN” proved to be the wittiest Christie movie I have ever seen hands down. Nearly every character – including Emily Hone, who must have been in her early teens at the time – had some juicy lines. And I consider it to be twice as entertaining and superior to the 1941 novel. Between the show biz background of some of the characters – including Arlena Marshall, the witty dialogue and the movie’s exclusive setting; “EVIL UNDER THE SUN” managed to beautifully recapture the ambivalence of the cafe society between the 1930s and 1950s that included celebrated wits, actors and actresses, musicians, writers, and well-known high society figures. This was especially apparent in scenes that featured the evening gatherings of the guests in the hotel’s main drawing room. The apex of these scenes featured an entertaining and rather funny rendition of Cole Porter’s “You’re the Top” by Diana Rigg (along with an interruption or two from Maggie Smith).

As for the murder mystery itself, it does not have the same emotional resonance as “MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS” or“DEATH ON THE NILE”. There is no real emotional connections between the victim and the killer. This does not mean that I regard the 1982 movie inferior to the other two. “EVIL UNDER THE SUN” is simply a different kettle of fish. The murderer is too cold-blooded and the victim is too self-absorbed for any emotional connection. And the movie has a comedic, yet elegant style that makes it a lighter fare than its two predecessors – like a delicious, yet fulfilling souffle.

As for the cast . . . ah, the cast! How I adore every last one of them. Every time I watch “EVIL UNDER THE SUN”, I am constantly surprised by the chemistry between James Mason and Sylvia Miles, who portrayed the producing husband-and-wife team, Odell and Myra Gardener. It still amazes me that two performers with such different backgrounds and acting styles should click so well on screen. Jane Birkin, who had appeared in “DEATH ON THE NILE” with both Peter Ustinov and Smith, did an excellent job as the cuckolded wife, Christine Redfern. She managed to effectively combine Christine’s mousiness and penchant for nagging with great ease. I have a confession to make. I was never that impressed by Nicholas Clay’s performance as Sir Lancelot in 1981’s “EXCALIBUR”. But I really enjoyed his performance as the charming and slightly roguish Patrick Redfern, who loved his wife, but enjoyed having a good time with Arlena. This was the second time I have seen him portray an adulterer. And honestly? He was a lot sexier in this film. Denis Quilley, who was stuck in a one-dimensional role in “MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS”, had a better opportunity to shine as Arlena’s dignified, yet cuckolded husband, Kenneth Marshall. And he also had a nice chemistry with Smith. Like Quilley, Colin Blakely had a better role in “EVIL UNDER THE SUN” than he did in “MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS”. He was deliciously sardonic and earthy as the slightly embittered Sir Horace Blatt, the millionaire whom Arlena had made a chump.

The bitchfest between Maggie Smith’s Daphne Castle and Diana Rigg’s Arlena Marshall turned out to be a moviegoer’s dream. Both were absolutely delightful as the warm and pragmatic Daphne and the arrogant and self-absorbed Arlena, the former rivals who resumed their conflict with delicious verbal warfare and one-upmanship. Roddy McDowell’s portrayal of writer/critic Rex Brewster turned out to be the biggest bitch on the island. The actor had some of the best lines in the film. His response to the Gardeners’ suggestion that he go play with himself had me in stitches for at least two to three minutes. Surprisingly, novice actress Emily Hone engaged in her own bitchfest with McDowall’s Brewster . . . and did a great job in the process. I was surprised by her ability to hold her own with the actor and other members of the cast despite her age and lack of experience. Pity that “EVIL UNDER THE SUN” proved to be her only work in films.

Peter Ustinov returned for a second time as Belgian detective Hercule Poirot and seemed better than ever. Mind you, I was very impressed by his performance in “DEATH ON THE NILE”. But in this film he seemed more relaxed . . . enough to include more of his personal style in the role. Like the rest of the cast, he had his own memorable lines. But the one sequence in which he really impressed me proved to be the one in which Poirot revealed the murderer. The murderer revelation scenes have always been among my favorites in any Christie adaptation. But Ustinov really outdid himself in the one for “EVIL UNDER THE SUN”. I was so impressed by the actor’s pacing and use of both the dialogue and his voice that this movie ended up featuring my favorite murderer revelation scene of all time.

“EVIL UNDER THE SUN” is not my favorite Christie adaptation movie. And I found a few flaws in both the screenplay and Anthony Powell’s costumes that has left me scratching my head. But I cannot deny that the 1982 movie is among my top five favorite Christie movies. From my point of view, I would attribute this to Anthony Schaffer and Barry Sandler’s witty screenplay, Guy Hamilton’s well-paced direction and hilariously outstanding performances from a cast led by the very talented Peter Ustinov. I could watch this movie over and over again.

“MAD MEN”: “The Times They Are A-Changin'”

“There’s a battle outside; And it is ragin’
It’ll soon shake your windows And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin’.” – “The Times They Are A-Changin”
(recorded by Bob Dylan on October 24, 1963)

“MAD MEN”: “The Times They Are A-Changin'”

Not long after I had watched the Season Three episode of “MAD MEN” called (3.12) “The Grown Ups”, I walked into a pizza eatery and heard a song being played on the jukebox. To my surprise, it was an old Bob Dylan song called “The Times They Are A-Changin'”. I could not help but feel that it could have been an appropriate song for this particular episode.

Although series creator Matthew Weiner had claimed he wanted to avoid airing an episode about President John F. Kennedy’s assassination on November 22, 1963; I never saw how he could avoid the topic in the first place. Not only was the Kennedy assassination one of the major events of the 1960s, but one in this country’s history. And one of the series’ major themes is supposed to be the changing social mores of 1960s America.

The interesting thing about ”The Grown Ups” – at least for me – was how certain characters reacted to the assassination. Someone on one of the ”MAD MEN” websites had brought up a comment that the series lead character, Don Draper aka Dick Whitman, had made about a funeral in which he had participated in the Season One episode, (1.10) “The Long Weekend”:

”I remember the first time I was a pallbearer. I’d seen dead bodies before. I must have been fifteen. My aunt. I remember thinking, ‘They’re letting me carry the box, they’re letting me be this close to it, they’re not hiding anything from me now.’ And then I looked over and I saw all the old people waiting together by the grave and I remember thinking I, I just moved up a notch.”

Judging from the above comments, Don seemed to view his participation in this funeral as a sign that the adults in his life considered him mature enough to accept death and the changes it brings in the lives of many. His comments also made me wonder how the characters and the title of last Sunday’s episode. Who exactly were ”the grownups”? Were they characters like Don, Roger Sterling, Mona Sterling, Peggy Olson and Joan Harris; who seemed the least shaken by Kennedy’s assassination? Or were they characters like Pete and Trudy Campbell, Betty Draper, Jane Sterling and Bert Cooper, who not only seemed profoundly shaken by Kennedy’s death, but aware that the event might be a sign of the social upheavals to come?

JFK’s assassination seemed to have a very interesting impact upon many of the series’ characters. For Pete Campbell, the assassination encouraged both him and Trudy to realize that he was wasting his time at Sterling Cooper. Earlier in the episode, Lane Pryce had informed him that Ken Cosgrove had won the battle for the position of Sterling Cooper’s Head of Accounts. Although he managed to keep his disappointment in check in front of the Englishman, Pete allowed his feelings to finally pour out in front of Trudy. When he informed that he plans to take up Duck Phillips’ offer for a position at Grey’s, Trudy informed him to hold back on that decision and remain at Sterling Cooper. Then came the assassination. Both of the Campbells were not only shocked by the event, Pete saw it as a sign that society was about to change. In his odd way, Pete has had a talent for realizing that the world is changing. He was the one who saw Kennedy as a potential head of state. And he was the one who was willing to view African-Americans as consumers to be targeted – a concept that that the old-fashioned Sterling Cooper executives had frowned upon. When he and Trudy learned that the Sterlings planned to go ahead with Margaret Sterling’s wedding on the following day, the couple found the whole thing distasteful and decided not to attend the wedding. More importantly, Trudy encouraged Pete to go ahead and consider leaving the firm. Perhaps they had both finally realize that Pete could no longer pretend that nothing has changed.

I believe that other ”MAD MEN” characters were aware of the possible impact of John Kennedy’s assassination. But whereas some wanted to pretend that nothing will really change, others seemed certain that changes are in the air. During Margaret Sterling wedding reception, her stepmother Jane Sterling and Bert Cooper seemed pivoted to the hotel kitchen’s television set during the media’s coverage of the assassination and its immediate aftermath. Cooper seemed to have become increasingly aware of the changes that were affecting the country. I believe it had began with the sale of Sterling Cooper to the Putnam Powell and Lowe, a British firm in the Season Two finale, (2.13) “Mediations on an Emergency”. It continued with him facing the death of a former colleague and Sterling Cooper’s 40th anniversary in (3.10) “The Color Blue”. While watching him remain glued to the television set during the wedding reception, I wonder if the assassination might prove to be the last straw for Bert Cooper. And how will he react in the months and years to come? Will he wither away, longing for the days when he was younger and social values were different? Or being the pragmatic man he has shown to be in the past, will he learn to go with the flow?

Many fans have commented that Jane Sterling, nee Siegal, is too young for Roger Sterling. Perhaps. However, I find this sentiment rather interesting, considering that many viewers have been fans of the Roger Sterling/Joan Holloway affair . . . and Joan is at least two decades younger than Roger. But Jane was barely 20 years old when she first met Roger in (2.05) “The New Girl” and 21 years old, this season. As she had pointed out, she was not old enough to vote for Kennedy back in 1960. So far, she has been portrayed as a young and immature trophy wife for Roger. And he seemed to treat her more as a child than his spouse, as his reaction to her attempt to befriend Margaret proved. But like Cooper, Jane’s attention became glued to the hotel kitchen’s television. Many fans accused her of using the assassination news to ignore Margaret’s reception. I disagree. I believe that Jane was not watching the news just to ignore the wedding celebrations. The assassination had made an impact upon her, just as it has obviously made an impact upon Bert Cooper. Once more, Roger treated her as a child and tried to pull her away and shield her from the media coverage . . . just as Don tried to do the same to Betty, Sally and Bobby. Jane refused to allow Roger to pull her away. The assassination bothered her and she was being honest about it. I am not saying that Jane is a fully mature character. After all, she is only 21 years old. But considering her reaction to Roger trying to pull her away from one of the hotel’s TVs, I suspect that sooner or later, Roger will no longer have a child bride on his hands. And I cannot help but wonder how long Jane will remain with him.

Duck Phillips had an interesting reaction to the assassination. After calling Peggy Olson for an assignation at a hotel room, he heard the news of the events in Dallas on the television. Duck expressed silent shock before ripping the television’s extension cord from the wall. Then Peggy appeared. Many fans saw this as a sign of Duck using Peggy for his own nefarious means. When their affair had first started in (3.07) “Seven Twenty-Three”, fans were claiming that Duck was using Peggy to get even with Don for his termination from Sterling Cooper last season. Considering that Peggy has not left Sterling Cooper, fans are now claiming that Duck is using Peggy as some kind of addiction. Frankly, I no longer care. I am getting tired of these bigoted remarks about Duck. I realize that he is not perfect. But he is no more or less flawed than the other characters. I also get the feeling that fans have not forgiven him for abandoning his dog in (2.06) “Maidenform” and continue to view him as some kind of slimy villain. As for his actions regarding the hotel room’s television, I believe that the assassination had upset him so much that he tried to turn away from it and continue his assignation with Peggy. But even after they had sex, he realized that he could not run away from it. Duck told Peggy what he had done and turned the TV back on. The interesting result to all of this is that he – quite rightly – thought about his kids and wanted to check on them. On the other hand, I found Peggy’s reaction to the assassination rather interesting. She seemed a little put out by her family’s reaction to the news and went to the office to hide from the media coverage by working. This reminded me of her reaction to Marilyn Monroe’s death. I wonder if Peggy is slowly becoming a Don Draper. If not, good. But if she is, I cannot view this as a good thing.

For the Drapers, I think the assassination made Betty realize that the world is changing and that it was useless to pretend otherwise. Don tried to shield his family from the bad news and pretend that everything was going to be okay. Even Joan Harris had pointed this out to Roger Sterling during a telephone conversation that the world will continue, despite traumatic events like the assassination. And in a way, both Don and Joan were right. Life will continue. But the two characters also failed to see the long term affect that the assassination would have on American society. Betty seemed to feel that life as she had known it will change. Which would explain why she had no qualms about Sally and Bobby watching the news about JFK’s death. As she had pointed out to Don, what was the purpose of trying to shield them from the news. And I think the assassination made her confront that she no longer has a marriage. Or perhaps she never had one.

I have always suspected that Don and Betty never really loved each other when they first got married. Both had married each the other for superficial reasons. Betty tried to maintain the marriage by pretending to be the perfect housewife and making attempts to emotionally connect with Don. She also fooled herself into believing that a third child might finally improve their marriage. Don simply tried to maintain the status quo as successful professional man and suburban husband/father. Whenever things went wrong with Betty – her discovery of his communications with her psychiatrist, her discovery of his affair with Bobbie Barrett, her kicking him out of the house and finally her discovery of his identity as Dick Whitman – Don tried to be the perfect husband/father and pretend that all is right with the world. I found myself recalling his comment in (2.08) “A Night to Remember”, when he told Betty that he doesn’t want to lose “this”, following her confrontation about Bobbie Barrett. There is a good chance that he might be in love with Suzanne Farrell. But I suspect that he harbored doubts that she could be the perfect social wife that he feels Betty can be. But the assassination and other events of the year, like her discovery of Don’s true identity may have finally made Betty realize that her marriage is a lie. I suspect that Don’s attempts to placate her over the assassination may have been the last straw. Even Sally had failed to buy Don’s reassurances that everything is going to be all right, by a strange look she had given him. I feel that Betty is tired of living the lie. I feel that she is tired of being a“housecat”. Her dream in (3.05) “The Fog” made me wonder if she would ever start to reject that role. I think her confession to Don that she no longer loved him made me suspect that she has had enough. When will Don realize that he has only loved the idea of Betty and not the woman, herself?

I might as well say it. I believe that ”The Grown Ups”, like the previous episode, (3.11) “The Gypsy and the Hobo”, is one of the best episodes from the first three seasons of ”MAD MEN”. Some believed that showing the assassination on the series was pointless. They suspected Weiner would allow Don and Betty’s marriage as it did in the past and everything else would continue without any true change. Weiner proved them wrong. Because in the end, ”The Grown Ups” and other episodes from late Season Three proved to be the catalyst for more changes when the series moved deeper into the 1960s.

“The Corellian Connection” [PG-13] – Chapter Ten

“THE CORELLIAN CONNECTION”

CHAPTER TEN

ANCHORHEAD, TATOOINE

The Lars’ landspeeder sped toward the edge of one of Tatooine’s oldest settlements, Anchorhead. It came to a halt near a square structure that served as the centerpiece of Tosche Station, the city’s main power and distribution station. Owen climbed out of the landspeeder before he offered Padme a lending arm. “Thank you Owen,” the former Nabooan senator said. “And thank you for bringing me here to Anchorhead. I realize that you had intended to come here on your own, but I needed to find another holoemitter. Or at least a new power source for my old one.”

“It’s no problem, Padme. Believe me.” Owen gave his guest a reassuring smile. “Besides, I realize that you need a working holoemitter. And I did promise Beru that I would get a new moisture trap for the kitchen.”

The pair slowly proceeded into Anchorhead’s city limits. They entered one of the local pourstone stores, where Padme purchase a new power cell for her emitter. They found the equipment for Beru’s moisture trap at a nearby junk dealer’s shop. After leaving the second shop, Owen suggested they treat themselves to a light, midday meal at a local cantina. “I know the perfect place,” he said. “The Weary Traveler. You’ll find less of the local scum than you would at some cantina in Mos . . .”

“Good heavens! Owen?” A hooded figure approached the pair. Then he threw back the hood, revealing a frowning Obi-Wan Kenobi. “Padme? What in the blazes are you doing here?”

Owen nodded at the former Jedi Master. “Master Kenobi. I haven’t seen you in several months. Not since you had recovered our vaporators from the Tusken Raiders.”

To Padme’s surprise, Obi-Wan’s demeanor stiffened momentarily. “Ah . . . yes, well . . . I . . .” Obi-Wan hesitated. Then he took a deep breath. “Yes, well it had been a difficult time for us all.”

A deep silence fell between the trio. Padme said, “Owen, you had spoken of a certain cantina. Why don’t you take us there?”

Several minutes later found the trio seated at a table, inside the Weary Traveler. The décor looked simple and clean – typical of a Tatooine cantina. Padme only spotted at least three or four men that would usually be viewed as riff-raff. A waitress took their order. Padme asked for Cream of Womprat’s Soup, Owen ordered Jerked Dewback and Obi-Wan, Lamta. Once the waitress walked away, Obi-Wan turned on the former senator. “Padme, what are you doing here on Tatooine? Where are the children?”

“Back at the farm with Beru,” Padme quietly replied. “Owen and I are here on a shopping trip.”

“Shopping . . .” Obi-Wan shook his head with an exasperated sigh. “But why are you here on this planet? Why did you leave Alderaan?” A silent moment passed before realization dawned in his eyes. “Oh. I see. The Empire had learned of your whereabouts. I don’t mean to sound smug, Padme, but perhaps you should have accepted Master Yoda’s advice and separate the child . . .”

Padme coldly interrupted. “The Empire was not searching for me. The Emperor doesn’t know that I had been on Alderaan.”

Obi-Wan’s frown deepened. “I don’t understand.”

Owen spoke up. “The whole matter had to do with that Jedi Knight found and killed on Andalia. And some senator from that planet called Solipo Yeb.”

“If you must know,” Padme continued, “Bail had received a message from Solipo Yeb and the Empire managed to trace it. I’m sure you’re aware that he is now a wanted fugitive. Apparently, Palpatine wanted to find out if anyone on Alderaan has been in contact with Solipo. In case some new resistance against the Empire flared up.”

Obi-Wan nodded. “I see. My apologies if I had jumped to conclusions.”

Padme coolly retorted, “That seems to be a habit of the Jedi.”

“I beg your pardon?” Obi-Wan’s eyes reflected shock at Padme’s cold retort. “Is there something wrong, Padme? You seem rather . . . distant.”

From the corner of her eye, Padme saw the cantina’s barkeeper switch on the dining room’s HoloNet receiver. She exchanged a brief, knowing look with Owen before she answered. “I’m . . . I mean . . .” She broke off with a sigh. Might as well tell the truth, she decided. “After my arrival at Alderaan, last year . . .” she began.

The waitress returned with their food. She also served Corellian ale to the two men and Blue milk to Padme. After she left, Obi-Wan said to Padme, “I’m sorry. What were you about to say?”

Padme took a deep breath and picked up her spoon. “On Alderaan, Bail had . . .”

A voice in the cantina cried out, “Hey barkeep! Turn up the volume! I can’t hear the news! It’s about the Wookies!”

All eyes inside the cantina focused upon the HoloNet receiver’s screen. The newscaster continued, “. . . reliable sources have stated that the Wookies had allowed a band of rogue Jedi to use Kashyyyk as a base for Rebel strikes against the Empire. The police action is believed to have begun with a demand to surrender the Jedi. Instead, the Wookies resisted, and the resulting battle left tens of thousands dead, including the Jedi insurgents, and perhaps hundreds of thousands imprisoned. On Coruscant, Kashyyyk Senator Yarua and the members of his delegation were placed under house arrest before . . .”

Recalling the Imperial ship that had stopped the Alberforce, Padme inhaled sharply. “So, that’s where they were headed,” she murmured.

Both Owen and Obi-Wan frowned at her. “What are you talking about?” Owen demanded.

“The Empire has killed more Jedi?” Obi-Wan asked at the same time.

Instead of answering, Padme returned her attention to the news. The newscaster added, “But on the minds of many just now is the identity of this person, captured by holocan on a landing platform normally reserved for the Emperor himself.” The monitor projected the image of a tall, dark-haired man in his early twenties. He wore a black tunic and cape. And his eyes reflected cold intensity. “HoloNet News has learned that he is known in the highest circles as Darth Rasche. Beyond that, almost nothing is known, save for the fact that he led the action on Kashyyyk.”

“Good heavens!” Obi-Wan exclaimed, drawing curious stares from Padme and Owen.

Owen asked, “Do you know him? This Darth Rasche?”

Obi-Wan continued, “Yes! That’s . . . that’s Romulus Wort! He’s a Jedi Knight. Or he used to be. He was the apprentice of Master Wo-Chen Puri.” The former Jedi Master’s stunned eyes remained fixed upon the screen. “How in the blazes did he become a Sith Lord?”

“Sith Lord?” Owen continued.

Obi-Wan shook his head in disbelief. “I don’t understand! Romulus Wort? I never thought he would turn to evil. I thought . . .” He broke off, as his face turned red. His eyes became glued to his plate of food.

Padme had a good idea what . . . or whom was on Obi-Wan’s mind. And she felt her anger slowly returning. “You thought that Anakin had returned to the Emperor,” she finished in a cold voice. “Didn’t you?”

Guilt flashed in Obi-Wan’s eyes. “Really Padme, why would you . . .?”

“Don’t lie to me, Obi-Wan,” Padme interrupted coldly. “I know that Anakin is alive. Bail had told me when I first arrived on Alderaan.”

A long-suffering sigh escaped from Obi-Wan’s mouth. “Padme,” he began in a weary voice, “I’m sorry that I had lied to you, but you must understand. Both Master Yoda and I thought it would be best . . .”

“. . . if I didn’t go wandering all over the galaxy in search for Anakin,” Padme finished bitterly. “Dragging the children along. Thank you for your confidence in my intelligence, Master Kenobi.”

Anger now flickered in the former Jedi’s eyes. “I’m sorry, but we did what we thought was right!” he snapped. “What is your excuse?”

“Excuse me?”

“You and Anakin had managed to wed behind everyone’s backs and keep the marriage a secret for three years,” Obi-Wan coldly retorted. “What is your excuse?”

Rage nearly engulfed Padme’s body. She shot out of her chair and raised her hand to strike Obi-Wan. “Padme!” Owen hissed, as he glanced anxiously around the cantina’s taproom. “Not here. Please!”

Padme glanced around and noticed a few pairs of eyes staring at her. Slowly, she returned to her seat. Then she took a deep breath to calm herself. “Of course. You’re right. Thank you, Owen.” She flashed a brief smile at the moisture farmer before allowing her gaze to return to the Jedi Master’s face. “Perhaps Anakin and I were wrong to marry in secret, Obi-Wan,” she continued in a soft and chilly voice. “But that does not excuse your lie about Anakin. One of the problems I’ve always had with the Jedi is your assumption that you knew what was right for the Republic.” She paused dramatically. “Even when you were wrong.”

The former Jedi Master’s face trembled with suppressed emotion. His usually bright blue eyes became flat and lifeless. Padme wondered if she had gone too far. Obi-Wan answered her silent question, when he deliberately placed his fork on his plate and stood up. “Perhaps it would be best for me to allow you two to dine alone,” he said in a cold and polite voice. “As you had originally intended.”

“Perhaps that would be best,” Padme murmured, as she stared at her bowl of soup.

Obi-Wan placed a few coins on the table. “For the meal. Good day, Padme. Lars.” He nodded briefly at the moisture farmer and walked away.

A heavy sigh left Owen’s mouth. “I wonder long it will be before either of us will see him again?”

“I don’t know,” Padme answered. “And to be honest, I don’t think I really care.” She resumed eating her soup. Although she felt justified in her words, a small part of her regret severing her one last link to her old life with Anakin.

——

KHOONDA PLAINS, DANTOOINE

The Javian Hawk stood on a patch of thick, lavender grass, not far from a sturdy spiky blba tree. Underneath the tree sat Anakin with his legs crossed beneath him and his wrists resting on his thighs. In the far distance, young Han scampered through the tall grass in pursuit of a fabool, one of the animals native to Dantooine.

Anakin inhaled deeply. He had not experienced such upheavals in his life, since those last days of the Clone Wars. In the past week, he had learned about the death of an old friend, nearly became a victim of theft – twice, escorted an important fugitive across the galaxy, destroyed an Imperial warship and acquired a new companion – the eleven year-old thief that was now in pursuit of a fabool.

After delivering Solipo and Thalia Yeb to Averam, Anakin and Han had purchased supplies for the Javian Hawk’s repairs. Anakin also learned the identity of the Emperor’s new apprentice, while watching a news report about the Kashyyyk police action, inside a cantina. He still found it difficult to belief that the highly-esteemed Romulus Wort had replaced him as the Emperor’s new apprentice. What could have led someone like Romulus to succumb to the Dark Side? Anakin figured he should be relieved that someone other than himself now served Palpatine. But all he felt was sadness and regret for Romulus’ fate . . . and a slight sense of guilt that his actions at the Jedi Temple may have led the other man into Palpatine’s grip.

The Javian Hawk’s crew had also acquired a new client. Before the starship’s departure from Averam, a representative from the Tagge Corporation hired Anakin to ship a supply of Chandrilan brandy and Mandalorian wine to Dantooine for the planet’s wealthy ranchers. The Empire finally caught up with the Hawk during a fuel stop on Toprawa. Anakin found himself being question by a pompous Imperial official investigating the Agamemnon’s disappearance. With the evidence of the Hawk’s firefight with Agamemnon repaired and the ship’s logs changed, Anakin managed to avoid any kind of disclosure and arrest.

The pair had eventually delivered their cargo to another Tagge representative upon their arrival on Dantooine. As an antidote to the past week’s tumultuous events, Anakin suggested a picnic on the outskirts of Khoonda settlement. After finishing a meal of Alderaan Stew and Bribb juice, Han engaged in his pursuit of the fabool. And for the first time in over a year, Anakin decided to meditate.

At first, it had seemed difficult for Anakin to calm his mind – to shut out his surroundings. Eventually, he finally managed to attune his senses to the Force. This went on for quite some time, until a familiar voice caught his attention. “Hello Anakin,” a soft, masculine voice greeted. “I wondered if we would ever meet again.”

Slowly, Anakin opened his eyes. He found a tall, bearded man smiling kindly at him. “Master Qui-Gon?” Anakin exclaimed with confusion. Sure enough, the late Jedi Master who had discovered him on Tatooine sat opposite him, surrounded by a blue, ghostly light. “H-how did you . . .?”

“Oh, don’t worry,” Qui-Gon Jinn declared. “I assure you that I am quite dead.”

Anakin shook his head in disbelief. “I don’t understand. How did you . . .? I mean, Obi-Wan told me that once a Jedi dies, his or her identity becomes one with the Force, forever erasing the Jedi’s consciousness.”

“Yes, it does happen like that,” Qui-Gon replied. “But I have learned to retain my consciousness beyond death. Thanks to the Ancient Order of the Whills Scrolls. I had hoped to teach them to you, one day. Alas . . .” He broke off with a regretful sigh. “Well, better late than never.”

A frown creased Anakin’s forehead. “Are you suggesting that you teach me this path to immortality? Why would you . . .? I mean . . . well, after all I had done, I would think no one would consider me worthy of such teachings.”

“What you’ve done?”

Anakin glanced away. “Please, Master Qui-Gon. If you are now one with the Force, surely you must know about what I had done to those Tusken Raiders following my mother’s death. And my participation in the Jedi Purge.” He paused, as his Sith predecessor came to mind. “And what I had done to Dooku. I have a great deal of blood on my hands.”

“Yes, you do, Ani,” Qui-Gon gravely replied. “And your actions are something that will remain with you for all time. We all have to face the consequences of our actions. You, me, Obi-Wan, Yoda . . .” He paused briefly. “Even your wife, Padme.”

The mention of his late wife caused Anakin to glance sharply at his former mentor. “Padme? She’s never . . .”

“If I recall,” Qui-Gon said, interrupting Anakin, “when she was Queen of Naboo, your Padme was the one who had proposed a vote of no confidence against Chancellor Valorum . . . paving the way for Palpatine to become the Republic’s new leader. And she did so out of frustration and anger. And of course, there was her belief that she could convince Dooku to release Obi-Wan on Geonosis through diplomacy. A belief that led to the capture of you both.”

Anakin inhaled sharply. “Look, I realize that Padme was not perfect, but I would prefer if we don’t talk about her. At least not yet.”

One of Qui-Gon’s brows arched questioningly. “I see. If you insist. I can only assume that by your words, ‘not yet’, you are willing to become my apprentice?”

A slight grin finally touched Anakin’s lips. “As you had said, Master – ‘better late than never’“. A thought came to him. “By the way, are you teaching Obi-Wan, as well? Is he still alive?”

Qui-Gon nodded. “Yes, Obi-Wan is still alive. And he has become my padawan. Along with Yoda.”

“Master Yoda? He’s still alive?”

Yes, he is.” According to Qui-Gon, Yoda had survived an attack by clone troopers on Kashyyyk. The late Jedi Master continued, “After learning Palpatine’s true identity, he managed to survive a duel against the Emperor. Like Obi-Wan, he is also my apprentice.”

Anakin frowned. “But the Emperor still lives. Are you saying that both he and Yoda survived the duel?”

“Oh yes,” Qui-Gon answered with a nod. “Yoda realized that his attack against the Emperor was ill-advised and decided to flee. He will have plenty of time to learn from his mistakes and overcome them. Just as you and Obi-Wan will.”

Recalling the news report he had seen on Toprawa, Anakin asked, “What about Romulus Wort? I’m sure you’re aware that he’s the Emperor’s new apprentice.”

Qui-Gon shrugged. “What about him?”

“During my fight with Obi-Wan on Mustafar,” Anakin continued, “I had a vision of what would have befallen me, if I had continued to serve the Emperor. Which is why I had walked away from the fight. Romulus seemed to have taken my place . . . without the black mask and missing limbs. But . . . I can’t help but feel that I’m to blame. If I had not joined the Emperor and help set in motion the Jedi Purge, he would have never . . .”

Qui-Gon stated emphatically, “Romulus Wort had made his own decisions, Ani. He did not have to succumb to his own inner darkness and fear of loss. It was not set in stone that he would have remained a Jedi, if the Purge had not occurred. There would have been other opportunities for Master Wort or any other Jedi to choose the wrong path.”

“So, do you feel that it’s too late for him?”

A thoughtful expression appeared on the Jedi Master’s face. “No,” he finally said. “It’s not. Remember Anakin, the future is always in motion. After all, you managed to turn your back on the Sith. Master Wort still has that opportunity. When all of you have finally learn to let go of your attachments, surrender to the will of the Force and not try to manipulate it for your own selfish gains, you can truly become one with the Force. And still maintain your individual consciousness.”

At that moment, Han appeared on the horizon. He held a fabool in his arms. “Interesting young boy, your friend,” Qui-Gon added. “When did he become your companion?”

Anakin hesitated. “Just recently. Han is strong with the Force.” Qui-Gon stared at him, questioningly. “No, not that strong,” the young man added. “But he’s tough, resourceful, intelligent and has great reflexes. He might prove to be a great pilot, one day. And I’m not just projecting myself upon him.”

“Hmmm. Well, it is time for me to leave you.” Qui-Gon stood up. So did Anakin. “Be sure to continue your meditation, Anakin. And be mindful of the Living Force. Until the next time.” His figure disappeared from view.

Anakin murmured, “Until next time, Master. May the Force be with you.”

Han raced toward Anakin, still carrying the animal. “Where you talking to yourself?” he asked, frowning at Anakin.

The former Knight smiled. “No. I was just thinking about an old friend.” He nodded at the fabool. “Do you plan to keep your new companion?”

“Huh?” Han glanced at the animal. “Oh. Uh, no. I just wanted to see if I could catch it. I guess I should let it go, huh?”

“I think that would be a good idea.”

Han released the fangool. Which quickly scampered away. “So, when are we leaving?”

Anakin sighed. “I guess now would be a perfect time.” He picked up the blanket.

“Great! I’ll finally get to see Nar Shaddaa. I’ve heard a lot about it.”

The young man and the boy strode toward the Javian Hawk’s boarding ramp. “There’s nothing to be excited about, Han,” Anakin said. “Trust me. Nar Shaddaa is just a small-scaled version of Coruscant . . . and with no politicians. Besides, we have one last stop to make before we head for Nar Shaddaa. To a place called the Crystal Cave. It’s not far from here.”

“Why are we stopping there?” Han demanded.

Anakin paused. “Well . . . there’s a special crystal I need to find inside the cave. A very special crystal for something I plan to construct.” He smiled at the boy and ruffled the latter’s hair. “Let’s go.” The pair marched up the ramp and boarded the starship. Minutes passed before the Javian Hawk lifted off the ground and soared into the sky above.

THE END

Top Five Favorite “THE AMERICANS” Season One (2013) Episodes

fx-s-the-americans-renewed-for-second-season

Below is a list of my five favorite episodes from Season One of FX’s “THE AMERICANS”. Created by Joe Weisberg, the series stars Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys:

TOP FIVE FAVORITE “THE AMERICANS” SEASON ONE (2013) Episodes

1 - 1.10 Only You

1. (1.10) “Only You” – The FBI’s tenacious investigation of Agent Chris Amador’s death leads the KGB to frame Elizabeth Jenning’s colleague and former lover, Gregory Thomas, for his murder in order to protect Elizabeth and Philip’s identities.

2 - 1.07 Duty and Honor

2. (1.07) “Duty and Honor” – During a mission to discredit a Polish dissident in New York City, Philip is reunited with a former lover and fellow KGB agent named Irina.

3 - 1.13 The Colonel a

3. (1.13) “The Colonel” – In this tense season finale, Philip and handler Claudia proceed to meet with an Air Force colonel, who might be a new source. Meanwhile, Elizabeth sets out to retrieve a bug from Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger’s home, unaware that the FBI has set a trap.

4 - 1.04 In Control

4. (1.04) “In Control” – Following the assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan, the FBI attempt to assess whether the KGB was involved. Meanwhile, Elizabeth and Philip prepare to deal with any excessive reactions from the American intelligence community.

5 - 1.06 Trust Me

5. (1.06) “Trust Me” – Elizabeth and Philip are abducted and brutally questioned. Their abductors turn out to be KGB agents instructed by Claudia to determine if either of them is a mole. Meanwhile, FBI Agent Stan Chambers helps his Soviet source Nina frame her embassy supervisor for treason.

Top Favorite WORLD WAR I Movie and Television Productions

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July 28, 2014 marked the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I.  Below is a list of my favorite movie and television productions about the war:

 

TOP FAVORITE WORLD WAR I MOVIE AND TELEVISION PRODUCTIONS

1 - Paths of Glory

1. “Paths of Glory” (1957) – Stanley Kubrick directed Kirk Douglas in this highly acclaimed anti-war film about French soldiers who refuse to continue a suicidal attack. Ralph Meeker, Adolphe Menjou and George Macready co-starred.

 

2 - Lawrence of Arabia

2. “Lawrence of Arabia” (1962) – David Lean directed this Oscar winning film about the war experiences of British Army officer T.E. Lawrence. The movie made stars of Peter O’Toole and Omar Sharif.

 

3 - All Quiet on the Western Front

3. “All Quiet on the Western Front” (1930) – Lew Ayres starred in this Oscar winning adaptation of Erich Maria Remarque’s 1929 novel about the experiences of a German Army soldier during World War I. Lewis Milestone directed.

 

4 - The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles

4. “The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles” (1992-1993) – George Lucas created this television series about Indiana Jones’ childhood and experiences as a World War I soldier. Sean Patrick Flannery and Corey Carrier, George Hall
and Ronny Coutteure starred.

 

5 - Gallipoli

5. “Gallipoli” (1981) – Peter Weir directed this acclaimed historical drama about two Australian soldiers and their participation in the Gallipoli Campaign. The movie starred Mark Lee and Mel Gibson.

 

6 - The Dawn Patrol 1938

6. “The Dawn Patrol” (1938) – Errol Flynn and David Niven starred in this well made, yet depressing remake of the 1930 adaptation of John Monk Saunders’ short story, “The Flight Commander”. Directed by Edmund Goulding, the movie co-starred Basil Rathbone.

 

7 - La Grande Illusion

7. “La Grande Illusion” (1937) – Jean Renoir co-wrote and directed this highly acclaimed war drama about French prisoners-of-war who plot to escape from an impregnable German prisoner-of-war camp. Jean Gabin starred.

 

8 - Shout at the Devil

8. “Shout at the Devil” (1976) – Lee Marvin and Roger Moore starred as two adventurers in this loose adaptation of Wilbur Smith’s novel, who poach ivory in German controlled East Africa on the eve of World War I. Directed by Peter Hunt, the movie co-starred Barbara Parkins.

 

9 - Biggles - Adventures in Time

9. “Biggles: Adventures in Time” (1986) – Neil Dickson and Alex Hyde-White starred in this adventure fantasy about an American catering salesman who inadvertently travels through time to help a British Army aviator during World War I. John Hough directed.

 

10 - A Very Long Engagement

10. “A Very Long Engagement” (2004) – Jean-Pierre Jeunet wrote and directed this very long romantic war drama about a young French woman’s search for her missing fiancé who might have been killed in the Battle of the Somme, during World War I. Audrey Tautou starred.