<i>Impasse</i>: New Excerpt Impasse: New Excerpt Royce Scott Buckingham A modern day take on The Count of Monte Cristo! <i>Death, Taxes, and Cheap Sunglasses</i>: New Excerpt Death, Taxes, and Cheap Sunglasses: New Excerpt Diane Kelly Tara's in another taxing situation. <i>What the Fly Saw</i>: New Excerpt What the Fly Saw: New Excerpt Frankie Bailey A funeral director is found dead clutching a skeleton. Hmm... Fresh Meat: <i>Broken Window</i> by Dorothy H. Hayes Fresh Meat: Broken Window by Dorothy H. Hayes Leigh Neely Comment for your chance to win a subway ride to nowhere...
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February 28, 2015
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This Head in a Jar Can Be Yours!
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Showing posts by: Regina Thorne click to see Regina Thorne's profile
Wed
Feb 25 2015 11:15am

Justified 6.06: “Alive Day”

Walton Goggins as Boyd Crowder, Joelle Carter as Ava Crowder, Timothy Olyphant as Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens

We’re almost halfway through the final season of Justified, and given how great this season is turning out to be, I’m truly pained to type those words! In Episode 6.06, “Alive Day”, Ava’s (Joelle Carter) position between a rock and a hard place seems to be getting more slippery by the day while Wynn Duffy (Jere Burns), Avery Markham (Sam Elliott), and Katherine Hale (Mary Steenburgen) are tangled up in a cat’s cradle of double-, triple- and quadruple-crosses. Meanwhile, Raylan’s (Timothy Olyphant) wayward ways are a cross that Rachel (Erica Tazel) has to bear and Choo Choo (Duke Davis Roberts), nicknamed for an inanimate object, suddenly becomes the most painfully human of Avery Markham’s henchman.

The episode begins with Boyd (Walton Goggins) coming back to Ava’s place and finding Raylan’s car parked out front. Raylan makes it clear that he’s there on “Marshal Business” and asks about Dewey Crowe. I still think that Dewey is inadvertently going to throw a monkey wrench in Boyd’s plans from beyond the grave, because that’s what he did when he was alive, and also we got the shot of Earl (Ryan Dorsey) draping his crocodile tooth necklace in Boyd’s bar. That can’t have been a coincidence! And it would be such an Elmore Leonard ending if it’s actually Dewey’s murder that ends up getting Boyd put away. But I digress! In response to Raylan’s questions, Boyd tries to finger Markham’s gang for anything that may have happened to Dewey by saying that Dewey was headed to the pizza parlor when Boyd last saw him. Boyd also gets into a very public display of affection with Ava which is also a pissing contest with Raylan.

[A contest neither are winning...]

Wed
Feb 18 2015 10:30am

Justified 6.05: “Sounding”

Timothy Olyphant as Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens, Patton Oswalt as Constable Bob

The final season of Justified keeps piling on the delicious complications of plot and adding to (and subtracting from) its wonderful cast of characters. In “Sounding,” last night’s fifth episode, Boyd (Walton Goggins) returned to his coal-mining roots, Ava (Joelle Carter) did something impulsive and kind of dumb, and Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) seemed poised to do something even more impulsive and even dumber.

Boyd and Ava return from their trip to Lexington, and while they’re stopped at a Kentucky State Police roadblock. Boyd is full of his grandiose vision of becoming a marijuana entrepreneur, and Ava muses that they’ve changed positions on staying versus leaving Harlan, because she wants to get the hell out of there.

Ava and Boyd finally get to the front of the roadblock, where the policemen seem unusually concerned about Ava’s well-being. Boyd seems not to find this suspicious because he’s already caught up in his plans to put a spoke in the wheels of Avery Markham’s well-oiled property purchasing machine.

[Boyd always has a plan...]

Wed
Feb 11 2015 11:30am

Justified 6.04: “The Trash and the Snake”

imothy Olyphant as Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens, Garret Dillahunt as Ty Walker, Sam Elliott as Avery Markham

Any episode of Justified that gives me Wynn Duffy (Jere Burns) backstory in addition to the return of one of my all-time favorite characters is, by definition, a great episode. But “The Trash and the Snake” also had some of the best dialogue not spoken by Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins), as well as the pleasure of watching Raylan (Timothy Olyphant), Ava (Joelle Carter), and Boyd interact with their mentors or would-be mentors, a genuine explosion, and some nail-biting suspense.

We open with Boyd watching Ava sleep in their Lexington hotel room; if we hadn’t watched Boyd shoot Dewey Crowe and didn’t know that Ava was a CI, this would be romantic, but as it is, I’m just all tense and scared for Ava. When she wakes up, Boyd tells her that he’ll be out doing criminal business for most of the day. Ava stretches and says she plans to take advantage of the spa, but actually she’s just waiting to call Raylan and give him some information so the Feds don’t send her back to prison.

[She's straddling a thin line here...]

Wed
Feb 4 2015 1:00pm

Justified 6.03: “Noblesse Oblige”

We open with the aftermath of Boyd’s (Walton Goggins) pulling out the good bourbon for Ava (Joelle Carter) because of her revelation that the pizza parlor is located above a former bank. Boyd and Ava are slumped on top of the bar, and I daresay they’d be canoodling if they hadn’t been drinking bourbon for six hours. Ava gets a text message from Raylan (Timothy Olyphant); her effortless lie to Boyd about who’s texting her at the crack of dawn is all the more impressive considering how very drunk she is. Luckily Boyd is also drunk and accepts her explanation.

Ava drunk-drives her way to a meeting with Raylan at the Givens home, where she’s ambushed by Rachel (Erica Tazel) and AUSA Vasquez (Rick Gomez), both of whom take turns telling her that unless she comes up with usable information quickly, the deal that got her out of jail will no longer remain in play.

[Time to step up your game...]

Wed
Jan 28 2015 10:30am

Justified 6.02: “Cash Game”

Timothy Olyphant as Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens

Previously on Justified: Boyd committed murder and bank robbery (so business as usual, basically); Ava was caught between a rock and a hard place (or a Givens and a Crowder which amounts to the same thing); and Raylan got a perplexingly generous offer for the old family homestead.

Ava hears Boyd rummaging around in her barn; he claims to be looking for paint to finish a job for her, but he’s actually hidden the ledger and documents from the bank robbery last week. After she kicks him out, she finds the documents.

At the Marshals’ office, Tim Gutterson and Raylan have a hilariously laconic conversation about Raylan’s baby while Vasquez and Rachel interview a potential witness to Boyd’s neo-Nazi activities. Raylan is concerned that the baby isn’t walking (at five months) and explains to Tim that there are two kinds of people in the hollers of Harlan County: those who are basically on Boyd’s side, and those who are terrified of Boyd. Getting nothing from the witness, Rachel tells Tim and Raylan to go on a road trip to Harlan and interview the owners of the safe deposit boxes that Boyd robbed.

[Sounds like a good place to start...]

Wed
Jan 21 2015 11:30am

Justified 6.01: Season Premiere “Fate’s Right Hand”

Previously on Justified: Art got shot (noooooo!) and Raylan promised (yet again) to be there for Winona and their daughter and promised with somewhat more vigor to help the Marshals’ Service and ASA Rodriguez take down Boyd Crowder. Meanwhile, Katherine Hale (Mary Steenburgen) told Boyd Crowder that his true superpower was robbing banks, Ava Crowder turned informant for the US Marshals, and Dewey Crowe confessed to murder.

We open with Winona wondering what in the world is worth Raylan’s missing the graveyard shift with his adorable baby daughter Willa.

The answer is taking down Boyd Crowder. Raylan’s in Mexico, trying to get the Federales who found Johnny Crowder’s body to tell him who witnessed that murder. The chief, Aguilar, is unimpressed by Raylan’s Marshal badge and tells him to piss off. Raylan is uncharacteristically restrained, saying only “see you around” and the chief returns to his drinking buddies. When Aguilar emerges from the bar, extremely drunk, we find out that when Raylan’s parting words meant that he was planning to kidnap Aguilar and bring him back to the US where he’d be more likely to talk and more respectful of the Marshals’ service.

[Oh Justified, how we missed you!]

Tue
Jan 20 2015 12:30pm

Six Reasons to Watch The Americans

The premise of The Americans, which is set in the early 1980s, is that Philip and Elizabeth Jennings, a suburban Virginia couple who seem as American as apple pie and the Fourth of July, are actually a pair of ruthless KGB sleeper agents whose marriage was arranged by spymasters in the Kremlin. The show returns for its third season next week, and here are six reasons why you should be watching:

1. The Americans is exciting!! From the opening sequence of the pilot (which involved a kidnapping, a stabbing and a car chase) right up until the closing moments of Season 2, the show gives us all the exciting spy games we could possibly want. There’s also the mental and emotional tension of not quite wanting Philip and Elizabeth to succeed in their missions (and we know, of course, that ultimately the Soviets didn’t win the Cold War) but also not wanting them to be exposed or killed.

2. The writing is, for the most part, extremely intelligent. I love the way the writers incorporate actual historical events into the storylines, such as the assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan, or the U.S. government’s support of the Contras in Nicaragua, or the struggle of Soviet Jews to be allowed to emigrate to Israel. Plus, showrunner Joe Weisberg’s own background in the CIA and knowledge of spycraft informs such wonderful set-pieces. Take “Gregory” for example, an episode from Season 1 where Philip and Elizabeth try to make contact with a colleague’s widow before the FBI gets to her. The writers also don’t fall into the trap of making smart characters do stupid things just so the plot can move along; we get the far more exciting pleasure of watching clever people do clever things that are thwarted by circumstance or the technological limitations of the early 1980s (from our vantage point, it’s so startling to watch a world without cell-phones, GPS systems, tiny cameras, or sound recorders, etc. But they do have an awesome mailroom robot in the FBI!). The show’s writers even managed to put the Jennings’ teenaged daughter Paige at the center of the plot last season without making me roll my eyes or reach for the fast-forward button.

[We're looking at you, Homeland...]

Mon
Apr 14 2014 3:15pm

Wrapping Up Justified’s Season 5: Can Raylan Kill His Own Shadow?

When they first announced that Justified would end after Season 6, I was prepared to be heartbroken at the news, but after the recently ended and quite lackluster season 5, I think it’s a good decision. In fact, I wonder it might not have been better if Graham Yost had decided to end “Justified” in five seasons, perhaps doing a Breaking Bad and giving us an extra long fifth season split into two parts.

I say this not because Season 5 was terrible, though I do think it will go down as the weakest one for this usually stellar show, but because it now seems like the entire season was just a setup for the final confrontation we’re going to get in Season 6 between Boyd and Raylan. That confrontation has been brewing from the very first episode of the series, when the TV show let Boyd survive Raylan’s gunshot to the chest. In “Fire in the Hole”, the Elmore Leonard short story that introduces Raylan Givens, Boyd dies, and it’s hard to even contemplate how very different the show would have been if they’d followed the plot of the short story.

[It was always going to be Raylan versus Boyd...]

Sat
Apr 5 2014 3:00pm

The Walking Dead’s Season 4: Rick Grimes as Aeneas, Or Just When I Think I’m Out...

The Walking Dead manages to be both the most frustrating and occasionally most compelling show I watch on TV. First of all, Im always at the edge of my seat wondering whether a given episode is going to be a snoozefest (I love you Daryl, but that episode with Beth was something that required severe over-caffeination to get through) or a brilliant 45 minutes of character-driven awesomeness. The mid-season finale was certainly not coma-inducing, but basically substituted loud bangs and weird nonsensical motivations for actual plot, and so that was when I stopped watching on a weekly basis and only returned to skim. But then the show gives us some episode like “The Grove,” which, like last year’s “Clear” relied on the characters interacting with each other to devastating effect. (Melissa McBride is absolutely fabulous as Carol, and I hope she stays on the show for a long, long time!) So, like Michael Corleone and the Mafia, just when I think I’m out... they pull me back in.

[Take the crossbow, leave the cannoli...]

Wed
Mar 12 2014 10:00am

Justified Slumps When It Strays from Harlan County

Et tu, Justified? Last fall, I decided to quit watching The Walking Dead and Sons of Anarchy because I was bored with the repetitive storylines and frustrated with the direction both of the storylines were taking. And now I’m worried that one of my favorite shows is doing the same thing. Now, admittedly, I’m willing to cut Justified a whole lot of slack, because it’s been so good for four seasons, and even when the episodes themselves aren’t all stellar, as in Season 1, I’m still so fond of the characters and so delighted by the witty dialogue. But I have to say that three episodes into a subpar stretch of season 5, I’m wavering. It’s not that Justified is suddenly a bad show, but it’s not one of the best on TV any more, and I’ve been trying to pin down what I feel are the problems this season.

[Kentucky, where have you gone...]

Sun
Feb 16 2014 8:30pm

Justified 5.06: “Kill the Messenger” Settles for Consexual Bloodletting

After last week’s bullet-filled extravaganza, the latest episode of Justified, “Kill the Messenger” didn’t feature a single dead body (though there was a good bit of blood flowing, even if some of it was claimed to be “consexual.”)

Various subplots came together, as the Crowes were integrated into the Crowder fold and Raylan’s girlfriend had a frankly terrifying and skin-crawling run-in with Danny Crowe, who is every bit as stupid, but not nearly as sweet or hilarious as his cousin Dewey. (I hope he and his dog Chelsea hit the road back to Florida or the great dogrun in the sky—whichever, I really don’t care—ASAP.) Thanks to Danny’s poor decision-making skills, Raylan and the ever-calm and collected Rachel disrupted Dewey and Danny’s plans to hold Boyd Crowder’s henchman Carl (Justin Welborn) for ransom. When “rescued” by Rayland and Rachel, Carl slyly claims not to be kidnapped, but to be playing rough sex games with Danny Crowe, which was one of my laugh out loud moments in the show. I already love Carl, by the way.

[Please proceed consexually to the rest of the post...]

Fri
Feb 7 2014 7:45pm

Justified 5.05: “Shot All to Hell” is Truth in Advertising

I knew the title of last night’s episode, but I wasn’t expecting it to be quite so literal. I lost count of the bodies by the second or third commercial, but I think they included...

Note: Read on if you're spoiler-proofed!

[One, two, guess who's turning blue...]

Wed
Jan 29 2014 2:00pm

Justified Episode 5.04: “Over the Mountain”? I’m Over the Moon!

While I was less than thrilled about last week’s “Good Intentions”, this week’s episode had me over the moon. (Or perhaps “Over the Mountain.”) We’re getting to the point on the show where various plot threads start to come together into the tight, waterproof weave that I know. And now I’ll abandon that straining metaphor and tell you what happened!!

One of the things I’ve always loved about Justified, and one of the things that keeps it from being just a superbly well-written procedural show, is that actions always have consequences here, and this week we saw how far-reaching those consequences can be.

Back in Season 1, we learned that Johnny Crowder had always had his eye on his cousin Bowman's lovely bride/widow Ava, and we also watched him take a stomach full of buckshot from his uncle Bo because he did Boyd a solid. Johnny ended up spending several years in a wheelchair and still walks with difficulty, but though his physical injuries have more or less healed, he’s a big limping ball of resentment and jealousy over Boyd, who’s got all that Johnny wanted.

Note: In a show as action-packed as Justified, we can't talk at all if we can't mention plot points, so spoiler-proof yourself!

[More resentment and jealousy please!]

Wed
Jan 22 2014 8:00pm

Justified Episode 5.03: “Good Intentions” Fall Short

Aaaah, Justified, I saw your “Good Intentions” last night ... but they just weren’t quite enough to make me love this episode. There were some things I loved, (like the idea of Rachel and Raylan as roomies, which could have gone on longer, as far as I was concerned) and I’m always happy to see Dewey Crowe have a chance to spread his verbal confusion far and wide. (Yes, Dewey, realtors are always happy to see peeling curbs at the properties they sell!)

But on the whole, I found this episode somewhat lacking in luster, perhaps because the case of the week involved a character (Monroe, AKA Racist Scumbag) to whom we had little connection and who never really registered as someone interesting to me. He was just there to advance the plot and set up a reason for Raylan to live in the big house with the hot wheels and to go visit Wynn Duffy at long last. (Second only to my love for the Boyd-Raylan frenemy relationship is my love for the Wynn-Raylan frenemy relationship.)

Poor Raylan is just never going to have an unproblematic romantic relationship, is he?

[What fun would that be?]

Wed
Jan 15 2014 9:00pm

Justified Episode 5.02: “The Kids Aren’t All Right”

There was so much great stuff that I’m not even sure where to begin. So let me start with the titular kids, one of whom is Loretta McCready (Kaitlyn Dever), one of the pivotal figures from the brilliant second season of the show.

Note: we're dishing here—you know there will be spoilers! And now that's it's been announced by showrunner Graham Yost that the show will end with next season (sigh), every moment feels even more precious to relive.

Loretta’s back, and she’s in trouble again: she and her loser boyfriend Derrick (Riley Bodenstab) got caught selling weed to a cop’s son, so Loretta reaches out to the one person who’s consistently had her back, Raylan Givens. At first I was a little disappointed that clear-eyed Loretta had developed a crush on someone as ridiculous as Derek, but I should have known better: the entire thing was just part of Loretta’s scam to cheat Memphis marijuana kingpin “Hot Rod” Dunham (Mickey Jones) out of a whole lot of money. It’s always great to see the continuity on this show, so I enjoyed getting a glimpse of Hot Rod again, but what I enjoyed even more than that were Hot Rod’s henchmen, Jay and Roscoe, played by real-life brothers Wood Harris (who was so memorably Avon Barksdale on The Wire) and Steve Harris (The Practice, among others). They were hilarious even when “Seal-Team Six-ing” a hapless “brother” who’d been cheated out of money by Loretta and Derek. (Though obviously, it was all Loretta’s plan, because Derrick is kind of an idiot.)

[They like the shooting, but not all of Raylan's paperwork...]

Wed
Jan 8 2014 4:30pm

Justified Season 5 Premiere: “A Murder of Crowes”

Former Haitian policeman Jean Baptiste with Raylan Givens and Deputy Marshal SutterOn the Twelfth Day of Christmas (give or take a day!), the Justified team gave me a whole murder of Crowes, and I couldnt be happier about it. As much as I loved Season 4 (and I did!), I have to confess that I missed the misadventures of Malaprop Meister and general screwup Dewey Crowe, who was last season being carted back to prison, convinced that he’d just lost two of his four kidneys.

My wish came true last night, because not only did we get a Dewey Crowe (Damon Herriman) now released from prison, but the richer by $300,000 thanks to Raylan Givens’s irresistible urges to smash Dewey’s face into steering wheels.

And thanks to this development, we also got a passel of other Crowes of the Florida gator-wrestling and sugar-smuggling variety, thanks to Dewey’s brother, Dilly Crowe (Jason Gray-Stanford), who decided to kill someone for mocking his stutter.

Oh, I can tell this is going to be fun!

[We can, too. More gators, please!]

Sun
Dec 15 2013 7:15pm

The Walking Dead 4.08 “Too Far Gone”: A Mid-Season Rest For Eyerolling At Least

Maggie and Beth in The Walking Dead 4.08 "Too Far Gone"/ Photo: Gene Page for AMCMy reactions to the mid-season finale of The Walking Dead were all over the place (a bit like Season 4 so far, and episode 7, for which I couldn't even find a public-suitable reaction.) While I was watching, my heart was in my mouth and I was completely absorbed in the action, but during every commercial break (and there were so many!), my brain caught up to my heart and started arguing about ... well, everything.

Let’s start with the fact that this should have been the Season 3 finale. I would have believed the animus that the people of Woodbury held against Rick’s group, which had raided their town, killed some of their townsfolk, and generally actually done things to them. Moreover, they’d known the Governor for a while, and were used to obeying him; in the end, even that group that knew and trusted the Governor to keep them safe, balked at attacking the prison, whereas I’m expected to believe that people he met just a few days earlier would follow him into massacring a bunch of people they never met before. (?!)

Of course, there will be more incredulity and spoilers ahead.

[I will weep and cheer and rant with you...]

Wed
Nov 20 2013 12:00pm

The Walking Dead: 4.06 “Live Bait" Tends to Stink

David Morrissey as The Governor in AMC's The Walking Dead Episode 4.06Sometimes I find it difficult to understand the thought-processes of The Walking Dead's show-runners. The first five episodes of this season were tense and emotionally riveting, but the show just slammed on the brakes and brought everything to a screeching halt.

I wanted to return to the prison, to see how the survivors of the flu coped with their great reduction in numbers, but more than anything, I wanted to see what Rick told Daryl about Carol, and how Daryl reacted to that loss and Rick’s role in it. Would he be horrified, as Maggie was, by what Carol had done? Or would he—as I suspect—argue that Carol was part of their group, just as he argued for Merle last season? Merle was a far, far worse human being than Carol, who had, moreover, done some terrible things to members of the group whose names and faces we actually recognized. But Daryl cared for him, and, last season, that seemed like it was enough for everyone to keep him around, thus ensuring his final glorious arc, in which Merle partially redeemed himself.

Instead of any of this, however, we were treated to forty-five minutes of watching the Governor interact with people we’d never seen before, whose names I’m still not completely clear about.

[And that's just the start of the grievances...]

Mon
Nov 18 2013 2:00pm

The Walking Dead: 4.05 “Internment” is Over

Scott Porter as Hershel in Season 4, Episode 5Scott Porter is an excellent actor, so the subplot of his descent into hell on earth was fantastic, even if it was mostly shots of his face looking scared or sad or determined. (I still wonder why Herschel isn’t even taking the most basic precautions of wearing a facemask around all the sick coughing people, including his two assistants, Sasha and Glenn.) Poor Herschel didn’t even get to have his dark night of the soul in peace, though, because Rick came back with more moral dilemmas for Herschel to assuage. I bet Herschel really misses those days when his patients couldn’t talk!

[Oh, don't we all!...]

Wed
Nov 13 2013 4:00pm

The Walking Dead: 4.04 Feeling Anything But “Indifference”

Rick and Carol on a supply run in Season 4, Episode 4 of The Walking DeadWe can wait if you haven't watched this episode yet for some crazy reason...

Spoiler-proofed now? Onward!

Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times, you’re probably a writer for The Walking Dead... Every time I like a female character on this show, the show has them do something stupid, dangerous or grotesquely out of character and then kills them. (OK, I never really liked Lori until just before she died, but I really liked Andrea back in Season 1 and a lot of Season 2, and I loved Carol in Season 3 and now she’s been abandoned as walker chow, thanks to a unilateral decision by Rick. I’ve come to love Michonne, and now I’m already nervously anticipating some totally out of character moment which will cause her to do something that leads directly or indirectly to her death.)

We open with Rick changing the dressing on his hand and imagining the scene of Carol killing Karen and David. Meanwhile, Carol visits Lizzie and tells her she’s going on a run with Rick. Lizzie tells Carol that it’s only a matter of time before everyone in quarantine is dead. Carol reminds Lizzie about her knife-skills lessons, and Lizzie inadvertently calls her “Mom,” which Carol doesn’t want to hear. Meanwhile, Rick finds Carol’s roll of knives in the back of the car they’re taking on their supply run.

[So many people on supply runs...!]