Review- The Crossing episode 5

I thought the previous review was short…
The synopsis for this episode is:
“A TERRIFYING TRUTH ABOUT THE MIGRATION IS REVEALED” (I used caps because this is serious)
I watched the whole episode and I did not find the terrifying truth nor was anything “revealed”, they elaborated on things that we knew and didn’t need to see. The filler episode thinks it’s vital!
I don’t know what the point of this show is anymore.

On crafting a story

Over the past few months I’ve been thinking about how I have crafted stories, both the ones that are complete and the ones I’ve been working on. The novel I’m working on was a combination of two things. I began writing it in December of 2014 after the protagonist (name and all) popped into my head. The other thing was a few pages of a story beginning I had written in I think it was 2008. I don’t know what happened to those pages and it still kinda haunts me. The story itself was really just a scene or part of a scene I could never figure out what to do with it. I tried different things and nothing worked.
It is odd how things work themselves out eventually.
The other project I’ve been working on this year is a short story that I started last year, one that I have since abandoned which is partly the reason for this post. It was quite a journey with that short because when I wrote it initially I thought it was very comedic then I read it months later and was stunned to discover the opposite. It’s just weird. And I love the ending. I think a lot of that story has to do with current events and I tried to present something positive. I think on that front it succeeds, on a certain level. But ultimately I decided the story didn’t work because I found upon a few read-throughs that I did not care about the protagonist at all. Even after I tried to give to flesh him out more. I cared even less.
But there was an idea I had about the story that would involve tearing the whole thing apart and rebuild it from essentially nothing and I decided I didn’t want to do that. I didn’t believe in it. I still don’t. I found that what I liked was the ending. That was a lot of what the story always was for me. There are two images that I dreamed up that I loved and I haphazardly put a “story” around it.
That approach has worked for me before but after some thought I have decided I can’t do that anymore. I need to be more intentional. I don’t really want to be someone who creates only popcorn fun entertainment.
I’ve been listening to Brian McDonald’s INK SPOTS which is a collection of blog posts on writing, his other book INVISIBLE INK is probably my favorite book on the craft of writing that I’ve come across. There’s a part in INK SPOTS where he talks about a writing student who was having trouble with an ending for her short story and he asked her:
“What is a story?”
She thought it was a trick question but he wasn’t playing at anything. He just wanted her answer. He believes that every writer should have their own definition of what a story is or rather a definition that fits their writing.
It really helped me and I’ve thought about it a lot. I keep coming back to the word intentional. As I’m making my way through the third draft of my novel I’ve kept that word in my mind. There are things I want from the story and their are things the story wants. It’s fascinating how a certain idea has come out of it that I didn’t see until recently but it has been there since the first draft. I just couldn’t see it and that’s why the previous iterations have had disappointing endings because there was something there but not fully there. I don’t know if that makes sense to anyone but me…
One thing I have learned so far this year is about slowing down. I didn’t have a plan for the novel when I wrote the first draft of my novel and I’ve rebuilt it so many times, it’s been exhausting but also very informative. But going forward, I have other novels to write and I’ve actually been working on those ideas in the background over the past few months. I’m developing these ideas rather than just diving into things headfirst. I’m not sure what I’m going to write first but there are two novels vying for my attention once this one is complete-ish. One is the obvious sequel and the other is something new and exciting. I’ve been careful about crafting and preparing it. I’ve been building the characters and not thinking about the plot much. I have the broad strokes because the character stuff informs that. It all has to work together to form a unified thing. I should be saying I’m building a novel rather than writing one because it’s more like building than just writing.
I don’t want to craft stories based on one or two cool images. I can’t stop my brain from having those cool things pop in and out but those aren’t stories. An arrow isn’t an arrow without a point.

Review- The Crossing episode 4

Yes, this was an episode of television.
And to think I was really feeling the first two episodes, I wrongfully thought it would at the very least stay on that level.
It would have worked so much better to handle the main stories (Sheriff, Refugees as whole, and Lead Homeland Security Agent) every episode with ONE, ONLY ONE, of the D-list and lower stories at a time, per episode. Because having them all going at once is awful. You mow the yard, not blades of grass, and okay you might stop to grab the frisbee that Suzy left behind or the gaggle of rocks that Josiah stacked up but you’re still mowing the WHOLE yard.
This is one of those shows that feels like it’s one step from the lady on Dude Where’s My Car, you know the lady at the fast food window?
AN’ DEN?
A sheriff came.
AN’ DEN?
He was sad.
AN’ DEN?
But he’s Silly Steve Zahn.
AN’ DEN?
So he’s not sad for long.
AN’ DEN?
People washed ashore.
AN’ DEN?
They from the future?
AN’ DEN?
Everyone splits up and does things.
AN’ DEN?
Aren’t you bored?

The end of the episode was the best part. I saw it coming but it was still good.
I’m weak.
Onto the next!

Review- The Crossing episode 3

The highlight of the episode is Georgina Haig (FRINGE).
Okay, review over.
…Oh all right…
My notes while watching this one started out very optimistic and quickly went off the rails. The second episode really pulled me in and this one kicked me the hell out. There are so many things going on in this episode. It’d be like reading a book where every page is a different character.
EVERY PAGE.
I’m hoping this is just one of those episodes that comes along because things have to be set up or opened but as a singular episode… yikes. I mean they tried to put it all together. All the separate stories sort of converge around the halfway mark but then it gets worse. Some how. There’s literally no time to even register what or how I’m supposed to take away or feel from any given moment.
A lot of the episode features the sheriff with his young son who has come to visit. The kid clearly states early on what he wants and the father doesn’t let him have it and somehow the kid seems to have a good day. I guess that’s possible but it bugged me how the kid says “I thought we were gonna go fishing. I want to go fishing.” And the father says, “We will later, I promise.” Does later mean tomorrow? Because they never go fishing. They get ice cream and then it gets to be night and then the kid is kidnapped because we need a cliffhanger, okay.
It all could have been avoided if the father just did what the kid wanted. But then there wouldn’t be an episode…
Oh and there’s this really horrible neck breaking “stunt.” One character grabs another by the throat and snaps his neck, brutally twists it all the way around. Except there’s a hard cut in the middle. So she has him by the throat and twists. Hard cut. And he’s facing the other way now to make it “appear” like it went all the way around.
Please be better. There were a lot of these harsh cuts that just make me wince and turn away from the TV. Which is upsetting since there was a really decent car chase in the previous episode.
My eyes hurt just thinking about it.

Review- The Crossing episode 2

After the pilot, I had this idea that it would take a couple episodes to really feel like the show is moving and building on itself. I was wrong.
I try to be cautious about these things especially when it’s a new show, it’s hard to judge something off of one episode and now having watched two I can say that yes I am invested in this. This episode starts with a glimpse of the future and that glimpse continues throughout. It’s a story that does a great job of mirroring and also hinting and teasing things in the main story.
This is a show about family and I really like that they spent the pilot going hard at the plot but then peeled back the more important layers in the followup. This has a lot of heart and emotion. Throughout the episode I kept finding myself surprised and hooked by the level of compassion and emotion present.
I love the aerial transition scenes. For some reason I feel really sucked in at those moments. They do a good job of making it all seem real.
I’m not saying this is the best show on TV currently but for a small show that I’m sure won’t last beyond a second season— if it gets a renewal at all. These kinds of things tend not to last, especially on ABC. But it’s one of those things that you have to know going in.
The last ten minutes of the episode were great because I kept thinking the show would end and it would keep going. There were so many moments that would have worked as great cliffhangers and yet they didn’t use any of the ones I expected. It wasn’t just one time that I was surprised that the show kept going and showed what came next.
It’s really impressive how the show is able to keep a pretty brisk pace and also allow for time to feel the emotions of it all.
Then I watched the third episode…

A kind of communion: my review of Mr Robot season 3 (mild spoilers)

I fucking love this show. The first season has a great, focused narrative and that’s what I think everyone missed about the second season but also there was too much deferring of gratification in the sophomore year. There’s a big question that isn’t exactly answered until the third season and I can see how that’s a problem. However, this show is clearly written on the multi-season scale. Each season isn’t meant to tell a complete story like say The Leftovers or any of the many anthology series’s that exist today. This is a long form narrative, like Lost.
I enjoyed the second season, a lot. The second half of the season opener is gorgeous. That first scene with Freedom Tower firm in the background, the music and the oddness of it all. That scene is season 2 for me. It encompasses everything that would follow, a little off kilter, a little smooth but all captivating. My favorite thing about season 2 is Dom, who is portrayed by Grace Gummer. There is so much depth to her, it’s entrancing. I love her strength and her weakness and how each are played against each other and in unison. With season 3, the most striking change to the show from season 2 to 3 is how it seems like everyone is given so much more to work with. Dom’s journey through the season is memorable, I’m equally terrified and excited to see what the future holds for her.
Season 3 is a sort of return to form, in that we find ourselves facing down the barrel of another nail-biting narrative, filled with juicy reversals and chewy revelations. Just when you think they aren’t ever going to tell us anything about Whiterose, a handful of scraps falls from the high table. It’s not much but it’s enough. At least for the moment, I think we’ll get more next season. Especially since it’ll probably be about the extremely fascinating and weird mystery that came up this season.
The scene in which Angela is sitting on the floor in front of the TV is haunting. And when she “explains” to Darlene is even more so. That’s going to stick in my brain for a long time.
At the start of this season, I was convinced that answers were a lifetime away and that the show just wouldn’t be understandable because everyone is constantly mysterious and after completing it, I feel the opposite. This season feels like the midpoint of the story. The faucet of answers has been turned on, ever so slightly and answers are trickling out or at least a semblance of understanding.
The main driving force behind me wanting to write about Mr Robot is what happens in 8th episode of the season, it’s a reprieve. It’s one of the “standalone” episodes of the season, which is a really great addition to the storytelling bag on the show. In keeping to my mild spoilers promise, I’ll only tell you that there’s some Back to the Future here. Elliot goes to see the movie (no not via time travel). I loved how characters within the show explain the movie, in different ways because it means something different to them. That’s the goal. To reach people on a level where it means something different to each person. The way it’s portrayed in the show is beautiful, I got a little choked up.
Sam Esmail, creator of the show, is a huge fan and it seems to me he wears his fan hat more than he wears his director or writer hat. There are so many hints and nods and references throughout Mr Robot to other shows and films and not in the typical pop culture reference manner. This isn’t like Buffy where people crack jokes that are both for the show and for the audience. This is communion with the audience. Scenes callback to classic scenes in classic films, there’s a scene in season 3 that made me think of the beginning of The Matrix when they come for Neo at work and Morpheus guides him out of the building. It’s never done in a way that is distracting or meant to steal or rip-off other things, it’s a subtle nod to the audience. Hey, have you seen _? It’s more like discussing your favorite films with a stranger or a best friend than anything else. I could list all the ones I’ve found within the show but that takes the fun out of it. It’s more fun if you find Waldo for yourself. I’m sure I’ve missed more than I’ve found, seeing as I didn’t realize there was a Blade Runner nod in the second season until it was pointed out for me.
In this digital age, where everyone wants to partake in a community on Kickstarter or Patreon, it’s really refreshing to have this kinship with a creator. It’s more meaningful. I feel like I’m watching it with someone even when I’m alone. And it makes re-watching the show every year a deeply rewarding experience.

Review- The Crossing episode 1

I came across this show via a fifteen second Youtube ad, that doesn’t sound like a lot but it was more than enough. The logo is intriguing and the ad was an extension of this. And it said “FROM THE NETWORK THAT BROUGHT YOU LOST” and I am a sucker, hook line and sucker. However that does come with baggage because I am a LOST nerd and I’ve been burned by clones a few times (that’s not a complaint, I’ve enjoyed tearing apart some clones). Though it has been some time. Promptly, I purchased the season from Amazon primarily because of its bargain price. Six bucks tells me that it is a short season so even if it’s no good I haven’t sunk much time into it.
THE CROSSING is about a group of refugees that mysteriously wash up ashore but there is not a ship, somehow they have traveled from the future escaping a mysterious war.
The opening shot of the pilot is underwater, bodies rising. It’s a really great tease. There are links to TWIN PEAKS because of the setting and the first main plot point takes place on a beach.
This show could easily fall into mystery for the sake of mystery and to be honest I think I would be okay with that. I do love LOST after all. I did really enjoy how one of my first questions was “Why is Steve Zahn the lead here?” and the first episode does a decent job of at least giving me some idea as to why he was chosen. I’m already invested because he is not just the typical small town sheriff that we’ve all seen a hundred times over. At first glance, you will underestimate him and that’s something the character and the show has already used to great effect.
Overall, it’s not something that I would call “must-watch” but based on the pilot alone, I’m very into it. I just hope they lean more towards TWIN PEAKS than the other obvious comparison of X-MEN. Though if it can straddle that line for a couple seasons I’d be happy and satisfied with that.