Kingdom: A Lesson In How NOT To Do Queer Representation

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Nick Jonas as Nate Kulina in Kingdom

I’ve mentioned in a previous post about how one of my favorite TV shows, my beloved Kingdom, sort of failed horribly by marketing a rape scene as a sex scene with their gay character. Sadly, that is not the worst part of it.

To set the stage for the uninitiated, Kingdom is a TV show that comes on Audience, a DirecTV exclusive channel, about the lives of a family of MMA fighters and their many dysfunctions. While this post is going to make it seem like I’m negative on this show, I’m going to preface this with reminding the world that I love this show. It is one of the best done television shows I’ve ever watched, because all of the characters are very human. I have never watched anything with more human characters than are in this show. Everybody is flawed. The most likeable ones still make horrible choices and the most unlikable ones still have things that give them a reason to care about their suffering. It’s a beautifully done show with incredible writing, complex characters, amazing relationships, and such a unique setting to tell a very universal story of family and human nature and identity…

And then they absolutely dropped the ball with queer representation.

It disappoints me greatly because I tried so hard to give the show a shot to make it make sense, and it never did, to the point that now, I’ve had to face a realization: they decided to have a young gay man be raped just to give him a way to meet a boyfriend.

In Kingdom, the younger of two sons of this MMA legend is Nate, played by Nick Jonas, and the show starts hinting very early on that he’s gay. This is a really well done character, in that this young guy is a very quiet, reserved, ‘fade into the shadows’ kind of person in ever aspect of his life apart from fighting because he’s gay and deeply closeted. For a long time, this makes for really great queer representation, because Nate is everything that is realistic for an MMA fighter who is the son of a legendary MMA fighter and cannot disappoint his father or lose his career if it comes out he’s gay. He’s deeply closeted to the point of self-denial and we all see the struggle of a queer kid in his situation so very perfectly done.

Season 2 of Kingdom was in a 2A, 2B format and 2A continued to do very well at showing the struggles of a closeted gay man who has finally started at least sneaking around to gay clubs and stuff even though he’s still got a girlfriend cover, hasn’t told a soul, ect. The problem starts in 2B. In season 2B, for reasons I won’t get into, Nate is making money as a personal trainer, and long story short, one of his clients, a middle aged rich business dude, gives him $10,000 to keep him on retainer to ‘always be available’ and we, the viewers, realize what exactly Bob wants with him. Instead, one night Bob calls him to come train him and when Nate arrives, Bob is having a party.

As you can probably see coming, Nate is confused but Bob says ‘just have a drink and enjoy the party’, and of course, Nate has a drink that’s been drugged, and is then dragged to the bedroom by a woman where another man is waiting, and while he’s barely conscious, the woman and man have sex with him while Bob sits in the corner and watches it all. It was a really disturbing and unsettling scene because of what it was, but also because I started to think, ‘Wait, this can’t be the sex scene they’ve been talking about, right?’, and for the rest of the season I TRIED SO HARD to give them benefit of the doubt and wait for him to have sex with someone, but no. Their ‘sex scene’ was him being raped.

The morning after, he wakes up alone in the house with nobody else but Bob’s PA, a young, handsome British man named Will. Will gives him the hush money Bob left for him, because apparently Bob has a habit of doing this, and Will has this whole, “I hate the guy, but this job opens doors” thing, and gives Nate his number, ‘in case you want to talk.’ Right away, I got a bad feeling, that ended up being right of me, because of course throughout the rest of the season, Nate and Will start this ‘going on a date but not really’ thing after a few times of meeting up for lunch while Will brought Nate hush money from Bob the Rapist, who we learn is a repeat-rapist since Will has 3 or 4 other envelopes of hush money to deliver. This goes on for a good while until Will gets tired of the song and dance since Nate is in the closet and tells him to stop calling.

Even up until this point, I tried so hard to give Kingdom the benefit of the doubt, because while it’s ridiculous to imagine wanting to date the PA of the man who was essentially your rapist, rape victims handle things differently. It’s not wildly out there for a rape victim to feel drawn to someone who knows what happened to him, and especially since his mother almost got raped by her rehab counselor a few episodes later, and that eventually it would end in a confrontation with Bob or a fight or something. I expected all of this to play out to some point, some coming out opportunity for Nate, or some bonding with his mother thing. (He came out to his brother without anything related to his rape coming into it, by the way. His brother found Will’s number, but he didn’t know what it was about until Nate came out out to him. This was a beautifully done scene, to Kingdom’s credit.)

It was bad enough realizing, ‘well shit, they had Nate be RAPED just for his brother to find out he’s gay’ when they could have had his brother find out like his girlfriend earlier did by finding his phone logged into Grindr, or something similar and then have Nate come out to him. I was pretty annoyed they just had to go with ‘the gay kid got raped’ just for a really roundabout outing that wasn’t really related to it.

Season 3 premiered last week, and oh boy. It only got worse. Nate has a serious, committed boyfriend this season, which is set over a year after the last season finale, and the boyfriend is Will. No word on whether or not Will is still working for Bob the Rapist, though he does mention having to go to work a few times. Instead, now, over a year and a half since he was raped, we find out that all this time Nate has been dating Will.

And the problem is that it made my friend and I come to a conclusion that’s very upsetting: Kingdom writers decided the best way to get their sexy, young gay guy living in LA a boyfriend was to have the boyfriend’s boss rape him.

The only reason Nate was raped was to give him a boyfriend and allow that boyfriend’s business card to prompt him to come out to his brother.

This TV show that does everything else so well decided that the best course of action out of all the other possibilities to give their gay character a boyfriend, cause ‘yay representation’, was to have a middle aged man drug him, watch him be raped – in a scene that plays out like an erotic sex scene, by the way – and then leave his hot young assistant to pay him off the next morning, because clearly a hot, buff young thing like Nate living in Los Angeles can’t meet a hot gay guy without it being the assistant of the man who raped him.

I hated seeing the rape scene, because I usually quit watching things with rape scenes in them, but at the time I really thought it was going to lead to something valid to the plot. Boyfriend Will has only been on screen a grand total of about 5 minutes over last season and this season so far. There was no connection between his rape and his mother’s almost-rape. Nobody other than Will knows he was raped. He’s never been shown dealing with the trauma from his rape. There has never been any mention of it ever again. It has had nothing to do with the plot at all other than Will. Even the whole Bob issue just stopped. We never saw or heard about Bob again after Will’s last attempt to get him to take the hush money. I even though maybe Nate’s brother would find out about it and go ballistic like he did with the man who almost raped their mother (long story short, he almost murdered him).

Up until this point in time, the 2nd episode of the last 10 episode season, the only thing that Nate being raped has led up to is Nate getting a boyfriend.

There are so few words to be said for how unequivocally horrific that is. Of all the things you could do that’s bad queer representation when there were so many opportunities for good queer representation, that one is off the charts. I wanted so badly to think something was coming of this, but at this point, I have very little hope in them ever even referencing the rape again. These writers who have so brilliantly crafted every facet of life and humanity and relationships into something so complex and beautiful can get toxic masculinity right, can get women right, can get family right, can get addiction right, can get loss and grief right, all of those things they get so right and they got queer representation so incredibly wrong.

I still deep in my heart have a tiny part of it that hopes and prays they end up doing right by Nate and giving him better representation, especially given that in tonight’s episode we found out the rumor he’s gay is out there in the MMA world, so there’s still a tiny bit of hope that this beautifully done, near-perfect show might not be guilty of such an atrocious fuck up as this seems to be.

…But I’m not holding my breath

(This same post is also posted on J. Chelsea Williford. I cross-posted because queer representation fits there and TV show discussion fits here. Sorry if that confused anyone.)

Arrow Delivers A Slam Dunk For The Second Week In A Row

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This season I have derided the Berlanti TV shows because for the most part, they have been crappy this season. Since Agents of SHIELD went on break, the lack of good Berlanti TV shows and Supernatural being kinda boring, too, is why I’ve stopped writing posts. I’m just not interested enough to bother writing about it.

Last week’s Arrow was good enough to write about, but I didn’t watch it until Sunday night. This week’s Arrow was even better, so tonight, you get a post about it.

This season on Arrow the story has followed Mayor Queen and his new team, which has as this point fractured quite a bit, and their fight against a new threat in town that is like the anti-Green Arrow, because he’s a villain who styles himself after the Green Arrow. A couple episodes ago, we discovered that mild mannered DA Adrien Chase (played by the dude that was that sweet yet dumb pretty boy cop on Sirens) was this season’s Big Bad.

Last week he had kidnapped Oliver’s not-really-girlfriend, and it was up to the team to save her. In doing so, they not only determined that Adrien Chase was so sick he killed his own wife when they tried to use her as leverage, but that his obsession with Oliver went deeper than anybody ever could have guessed.

This week’s episode was a unique one in that we didn’t see anybody else in the present day until the very end other than Chase, Oliver, and the girl that betrayed Oliver. This was a deeply ‘mental’ episode, not in a ‘wow that’s mental!’ way, but in that it was all in Oliver’s head. All the Flashbacks we get are from Oliver’s POV so it stands to reason that they are all Oliver’s memories. This whole episode was about Adrien Chase trying to make Oliver admit some deep, dark secret that his Russian Backstory has been leading us to all along even though we didn’t know it until now.

I have to give serious props to Josh Segarra as Adrien Chase AKA Prometheus, because he has been a really, genuinely frightening bad guy. Arrow (and the other Berlanti shows) have all suffered greatly this season by crappy bad guys, but now that Prometheus showed his face and we see that what’s under the mask is far more terrifying than the mask itself, he’s sooo delightfully creepy. His performance will raise hairs on the back of your neck and it’s brilliant!

Also, speaking of acting, Stephen Amell often doesn’t get the recognition he deserves for Oliver Queen, but tonight’s episode knocked it out of the park. Oliver in the flashbacks, as he slipped into the grip of the monster he was becoming, was absolutely alarming and it was very intriguing to watch him slipping further and further. Anatoly saw what we did, that Oliver was slowly becoming a very frightening individual, and it was fantastically acted. I genuinely started to wonder if Oliver’s big secret was that he was Hannibal Lecter at one point, he was going to Dark Side.

The big reveal, the ‘confession’ that Chase wanted, wasn’t that big of a reveal, but it was still adequately moving and emotional. Getting Oliver to admit that he likes killing was a cruel, horrific thing to do, which is another reason Chase is such a better bad guy than his Prometheus alter ego. There was something very broken about Oliver when he was finally freed, and I genuinely enjoyed that he wasn’t saved, that he just went home a broken man, because it was a traumatic experience unlike most of the other traumatic things he’s suffered before.

The only real negative was, as I said, that his big reveal wasn’t that big of a reveal. One of the reasons I like Oliver Queen is that he kills the bad guys instead of going around his ass to get to his elbow to save the life of someone who is going to murder half the town. Superheroes on TV (and in some movies) have this annoying habit of letting the bad guy live even though he has proven he can’t be held accountable in a court of law without getting off and that he’s gonna just kill tons more people if nobody stops him but “I CANT KILL, DAMN IT!” is their reaction. Oliver had a couple of years of ‘I’m not that person anymore’ that got kind of boring, but generally, Oliver Queen isn’t like that, which is why I like him the most. Because of that, is it really that bad of a thing that he likes killing? Sure it isn’t GOOD. He clearly is very mentally ill to have that desire. But as long as he channels it into killing bad guys, is it really THAT bad? That’s not that horrible of a reveal, honestly.

However, I think the way they showed it, by making it traumatic to him and not to someone else, that made it not as annoyingly anti-climactic. The point in that case isn’t to be a big reveal, but to be an emotionally traumatic moment for Oliver that finally breaks him down.

I’m seriously excited for next week for the first time all season, and I cannot wait to see what happens next after a stellar episode when this whole season before this has been pretty poorly written and boring.

Maybe my favorite Berlanti show is back?

Agents of SHIELD Concludes Its Second Pod of Season 4 Perfectly

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This episode was one of the ones that reminds me exactly why Agents of SHIELD is so magical. It had everything that has always made Agents of SHIELD such great TV: Incredibly well written twists and turns, impeccable reveals, beautifully shot scenes, great direction, and OUTSTANDING acting.

In tonight’s episode, we pick up with Fitz and Simmons after last episode revealed that four people, presumably Daisy, Mack, Coulson, and Mace, are all LMDs and it’s up to the two of them to get out of the base and to safety. However, in their attempt to escape, it turns out not everything is as it seems. The two who aren’t LMD’s are forced to fight their way out against not just the LMD replacements, but also against all the base personnel who think they are LMDs who must be stopped at all costs.

Before I start, I want to say that I’m going to leave this review spoiler free (as much as I can), but I feel like it is worth the minor spoilers to show you guys my notes on this episode as I wrote them and then actually write about the details (as best I can without major spoilers) below them. These are my notes only edited into a bullet points list. Nothing else. (WARNING FOR LANGUAGE!)

  • OH GOD MY FEEEELS
  • “I’m the bad guy, no matter what.” FIIIIIITZ
  • OH MY GOD!!!
  • Simmons  feeeeeels
  • Daaaaaamn Aida
  • “this is not how your story ends” WHY
  • This fight by firelight is so good
  • GOD DAISY IS SO AWESOME
  • FUUUUUUUUUUCK THAT IS SO COOOOOL
  • My God this episode is one of the best. Fucking fuck
  • “I’m sorry to say, you’re not him.”
  • WHOAAAAAAAA PLOT TWIST AT THE END THERE WITH THAT GUY!
  • Aw man
  • WHAT?! JEMMA IS DEAD IN THE FRAMEWORK??? THEN DID GOING IN MEAN SHE IS DEAD??? OR CAN SHE NOT GO IN???
  • Oh my God this is trippy

I just thought it was funny to see my enthusiasm in the aftermath when I’m no longer having my mind blown and thought you guys might enjoy seeing how dramatic I get taking notes for an episode.

Now! Down to business! (Time to defeat the Huns)

(I just realized I made a Mulan reference when I was about to talk about Ming Na Wen, who is, in fact, the voice of Mulan. That wasn’t on purpose, but I’m going to leave it in just for the humor, again.)

Tonight’s episode was a throwback to early seasons in which we have our remaining members of the original team team (and Mack) and tons of incredible acting in seemingly impossible circumstances. We saw some acting here that hearkened back to the Fall of SHIELD or the time Simmons was dying from the exploding static flu virus. There were some points in this episode where I couldn’t breathe and there was a lump in my throat because the performances we were given were so incredibly good.

I tweeted near the beginning of the episode regarding my long-standing opinion of Iain de Caestecker’s acting and I stand by this statement.

Iain de Caestecker is largely unknown beyond being Leopold Fitz on Agents of SHIELD, but in seasons 1 and 2 of this show, he is by far the best performer of the group, and that’s saying a LOT because this cast is packed with talent. There hasn’t been that much of him really delivering for a while now, and this episode carried us back to the days when he had scenes where he had to deliver an amazing performance with rich sincerity. This is not a man who chews scenery, this is a man who gives subtlety even in his most dramatic emotional outbursts. I think we can all remember that one big crocodile tear when he told that guy he would have to kill him before he worked for Hydra in such a ‘I’m terrified but brave’ way that broke my heart.

As Iain de Caestecker’s usual scene partner, I think that Elizabeth Henstridge shined more in this episode in scenes without him. Jemma’s scenes with Daisy have always been good, but tonight they both had that dangerous position of being in scenes that would have been so easy to over-act. There were so many places where both Elizabeth Henstridge and Chloe Bennet could have easily gone over the top, but instead their performances were so genuine and so beautifully nuanced that they gave some of the best performances I’ve ever seen from them in this show, and that’s saying a lot. Henstridge can break your heart with just the word ‘Fitz’ and it’s absolutely incredible.

And speaking of Chloe Bennet, I’m REALLY annoyed I can’t find a gif of the fight back lit by fire through the glass walls that she had, because that was such a beautifully shot scene. Daisy was giving off serious John McClane from Die Hard in this episode, as was Simmons, and I loved that we have two women against all of SHIELD basically, and both are injured, and yet they both manage to go so hard. And oh my GOD when Daisy did the thing I don’t want to spoil with the quake I lost my crap, it was so freaking amazing! In fact, there’s a tweet from that moment, too.

There is so much more I’d love to touch on, especially regarding Ming Na Wen and her incredible performances tonight, but I’m trying my hardest to not give away MAJOR spoilers, so let’s just say it was impeccably heartbreaking and I wanted to die. When the third pod starts in April – ALL THE WAY IN APRIL – it’s going to kill us all. I’m sure of it.

According to his twitter, this was the first episode of TV that Jed Whedon, one of the main show runners, has ever directed, and I really want him to direct some more. This was incredible. It was written by him as well, and honestly, before I heard that, I assumed it was written by Maurissa Tancharoen (his wife and fellow show runner) because most of the best episodes are written by her. She chose well in her spouse, because he is just as talented as she is, it appears.

This TV show is without a doubt one of my favorite shows ever week, without fail. Though the ratings are down for some INSANE reasons, Agents of SHIELD this season has been potentially some of the best Marvel TV has ever offered. I still maintain that Agent Carter is the best Marvel TV show within the MCU, but this show is still one of my favorite comic book TV shows that has ever existed, and it’s entirely down to the quality of the writing, direction, and performances.

This is just a good TV show.

Supernatural Delivers Another Great Episode

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Tonight’s episode is probably one that I don’t actually appreciate as much as it deserves, because I’m told the styling of the episode was Tarantino, but as someone who doesn’t really like Tarantino (I know, I know, how dare I? I just don’t!) I guess the Tarantino film this one was styled after wasn’t one I have seen. Either way, I really did like the episode so we’ll just start with admitting I, like Cas, don’t understand that reference.

In tonight’s episode, we had a twisty turny mad dash to an incredible end that involved demons, a Prince of Hell, Crowley, and a big ol’ spear of Michael. To say that this was a fun mix up to the usual format would be putting it simply. I enjoyed the wild, crazy, two steps forward, one step back format of a night in the life of the Winchesters.

The story as we originally are given it: a hunter needs help with a demon and Mary and her boys are there to help. By the end of the episode, we learn the REAL story is that Mary was sent by the British Men of Letters to steal something from a Prince of Hell who didn’t take kindly to being pestered by hunters because he had made a deal with Crowley long ago that nobody would bother him as long as he let Crowley take his place as the King of Hell.

This episode had a ton of throwbacks to old episodes and story lines, and I loved that. I love how this season is giving us a ‘back to their roots’ type of season, and by bringing us back to the Yellow Eyed Demon (then Azazel, now revealed to be the eye color of Princes of Hell). I loved the way that Sam and Mary both reacted to this fact, and it gave us a reminder of where everything started for them: Mary being killed by Azazel.

I really love this aspect of family that they are really hammering home this season being played to the next extent. Tonight, with Castiel dying, we had more of his, “You’re my family, all of you” proclamations, and I particularly had my little heart break when he said, “I love all of you.” It was only reinforced by Mary saying, “I almost lost one of my boys” and meaning Cas! Oh, I nearly died! The fact that Cas is officially one of Mary’s ‘boys’ in her mind just makes me so much more attached to this Winchester family.

But the end just keeps on going back to the past with one of the most surprising reveals: the item Mary stole was the good ol’ Colt 45 that is a throwback to…. a very long time ago. I actually don’t even remember what happened to that gun. It’s been so many seasons ago that I don’t entirely recollect all the details, so after I post this review, I’m going to wikipedia to take a look!

And then, the biggest plot twist, the one that so many of us have wanted but didn’t think was coming: Lucifer is back, and not some shitty knock-off vessel: Mark Pellegrino Lucifer is BACK!

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m so excited to see where they go from here. Unlike many who have criticized this show for beating a dead horse, I’m still invested. I’m still totally into it. After the end of last season when Mary came back, I was like, “Alright, strap me back in, I’m ready to ride again!” and I’m still enjoying this ride.

What did you guys think? Let me know either here or on twitter!

 

 

 

Agents of SHIELD Delivers A Shocking Twist

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This whole episode was really good, and I loved so many things, but I honestly just want to touch on a few things so we can get RIGHT to that crazy plot twist!

Basic synopsis to help anybody catch up: Director Mace has been abducted by Russian Charles Vane and Mad Scientist Scott and Aida the scary robot lady, and it’s up to Phil and the team to save him. Now, onto the more interesting points.

I don’t like how Mack was being aggressive about Fitz and his science. I feel like somewhere along the way, Agents of SHIELD forgot to continue developing their friendship and they went from being incredibly close friends to barely interacting to now, apparently, having a bit of friction without any real motivation that I can recall. Part of me hopes that somewhere along the way, Mack’s characterization shift over the past season will make sense, but I have little hope for that now that there’s bigger fish to fry. I have very few qualms with Agents of SHIELD this season, but Mack’s development has definitely suffered except for his girlfriend.

I really like the way that we got the look back at Phil and May’s relationship. Their youthful camaraderie was so funny and cute. I liked the way that they clearly had feelings for each other that didn’t work out (as we see with May mentioning that they should go out if her relationship with the shrink fails and we know that he ended up being her husband), they were able to stay friends throughout their lives. I really love May and Phil’s whole dynamic, because they’re not co-workers who are gonna just fall into bed together, they have history and a long-standing friendship and trust. They’re best friends first before anything else, and they’ve always had each others’ backs. It’s just a really nice depiction of a realistic, adult relationship that has been many things over many years but always managed to stay real. I just really appreciate the character information that backstory gives.

I also really loved that for a serious scene, the humor wasn’t neglected. There was Phil being a nerd and referencing, “Sharks with lasers”, which we all know very well, as well as calling a guy a “red shirt” and the whole, “Cool origin story, Bro” thing. We also had Fitz and Simmons and the whole “I’ll take Davis with me” and “Worry only slightly lessened” exchange. I enjoy that this show still manages to bring humor into each episode no matter how serious the episode is.

 

But more importantly, can we get to that plot twist??? Oh my Goodness, you guys, I never expected that! For a split second when Simmons started talking about the missing time and the LMD detection logs and such, I thought, ‘Oh no, they left Fitz alone, is it him?’ but then that reveal!

I’m not going to spoil it for you guys, but let me just say, it’s a really good plot twist. It isn’t the best on Agents of SHIELD, but it will still leave you going, ‘WHAT?!’ and you’ll really enjoy it.

how did you guys like the episode? Did anybody else notice how jacked Director Mace is? Whoa he’s built!

Black Sails Masters Horror Better Than Most Horror Genre Shows

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Some Background:

You guys may not know me well enough to know that Black Sails is, to me, one of the highest achievements in the history of television. Though I haven’t been reviewing this fourth and final season on here so far, mostly because I watch it so late at night on a Sunday and have to be up Monday morning, I watch it every single week without fail.

Black Sails is a prequel of sorts to Robert Lewis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. It follows the tale of famed and fictional pirates alike, names you may recognize such as Captain Flint, Jack Rackham, Charles Vane, Anne Bonny, and Long John Silver. The overarching story of the entire series is Captain Flint’s mission to make Nassau into a self-sustaining free pirate colony without any intervention of English rule.

I’ve watched this show since about midway through season 2. I remember when I first heard of it, I thought it would be cool, and then I forgot about it until the HUGE plot twist mid-season 2 that had all the celebrities I follow on Twitter tweeting about it when they never had before. I won’t give you guys too many spoilers, because I HIGHLY suggest you go watch this show! Even if you don’t see this until after season 4 has ended, it’s utterly binge-able so there’s no worries there.

Something I’ve long thought is that this show is so good because it’s very real. It shows some of the grittier realities of life in that era. However, it’s also not as gratuitous as some of the series out there in the gore, sex (there’s a fair bit of sex, but it isn’t EVERY EPISODE), rape, ect. I’m a big fan of historical-setting dramas, but most of them I don’t watch because they’re all just over the top and unwatchable, especially since I don’t watch TV shows that have repeated instances of rape without consequences.

What Does This Have To Do With Horror?

Unlike a lot of show and movies that horrify their audience with gore and overly dramatic things, the way this show uses reality to be more terrifying than anything else is exactly why it does “Horror” better than most films and TV shows of the Horror Genre.

(Some MAJOR spoilers here, but not ALL of the spoilers, so you won’t be ruined from watching the show)

I’ve seen some terrible shit on TV and in movies, and usually when something is really horrific, it’s super gruesome or whatever, but Black Sails does it differently.

In season 1, Max’s rape was THE MOST horrifying shit ever, like, it wasn’t as graphic as it could have been and that isn’t a show like most of these historical shows where people get raped left and right. It was horrifying because it happened at all. Everyone that was meant to be a liked character was horrified by it. Even the ones who didn’t do anything to stop it, they were visibly disturbed. It was something so profoundly terrifying to watch because it was realistic and the only reason I was able to even keep watching the show is because I knew from a friend that the rapists were all going to be killed for it.

In season 2, when Silver had to have his leg amputated, they didn’t SHOW the leg being sawed off or anything that closely, no, the horror came from the way everybody on the crew was so frantic, and the way he was sobbing and crying that he didn’t want this even though he would’ve died if they didn’t saw off his leg. It was the HELPLESSNESS that made it so fucking horrific, much like with Max’s rape. There was so much going on, and it was such a turbulent scene, and the terror came not from the gore of seeing a leg sawed off, but from the reactions of everyone in the scene with him.

Last season, one of the most disturbingly horrifying things I’d EVER seen on TV was Vane’s hanging. It wasn’t gruesome, it wasn’t like having someone chopped open and their guts falling out, it was horrific because they made it crazy simple. No music played, nobody was speaking, and when he hanged, he was slowly strangling since his neck didn’t snap, and his friends were allowed to come tug down on his belt to make him die faster and suffer less. It was one of the most horrific things I’ve ever seen because they showed the faces of everyone in the crowd, all of those who had been clamoring to see a hanging, and they were all averting their gaze and stunned silent. It was raw and simple and utterly horrifying.

And last night’s scene took the cake. I won’t say who because of spoilers as it has only been half a day, but A BIT of a spoiler: someone got keelhauled. If you don’t know, keelhauling is the legendary pirate/naval punishment where they tie someone up and drag them along the bottom of the ship and, with all the barnacles basically, it’s like being dragged through razor sharp rocks and it just shreds someones’ flesh. Well, it wasn’t just that, oh no, it wasn’t just one time. The person commanding the keelhauling did it once, and then he was still alive and breathing, so he did it again. The second time they thought he was dead, but he was still alive. So they did it AGAIN. A third time. And it wasn’t the shredded flesh that was disturbing, they didn’t REALLY focus on that too much. It was the way that the entire crew was chained up and forced to watch it. It kept showing the faces of the men grabbing onto each other with shackled hands, terrified and forced to watch with the implication that each and every one of them would be keelhauled. Like with Vane’s hanging, there was no music, there was nobody making sounds. It was just the sound of the wind in the sails and the horrible scraping sound of the body going along the hull. It was so profoundly horrific and I will have nightmares over that, I’m sure.

Why Is This So Effective?

By making the horror the product of human nature, by showing the fear in others, the disgust, the trauma, it makes it not about ‘oh blood and guts’, but rather it makes it about fear. Without a scary music score, without (for the most part) a focus on the gore of the situation, and without this over the top dramatic nature, it makes it feel far more real in a way that makes it feel more human. There’s something far more disturbing about a slow, silent torture and the reactions of those witnessing it than highly dramatic music and blood spraying and guts flying.

Black Sails is honestly not that horrifying or gory of a TV show for a historical drama that’s on a pay-channel and therefore has basically no limits to what they can and can’t do. For the most part this show is about action and adventure and really compelling characters. In fact, I would say that most of the praise for this show comes from how different it is from other historical dramas of its ilk because of the focus on very compelling characters and a distance from gratuitous blood and gore.

But when it gets horrific, it gets horrific.

 

The Flash Didn’t Suck This Week

Untouchable

As most of you have noticed, I’m not a big fan of this season of The Flash. I didn’t like Season 1 all that much, and then I liked Season 2, but this Season has just been very ‘bleh’ for the most part. There have been a few episodes here and there that really kicked it up into ‘oh hey cool’ territory before now, and tonight’s episode joins them.

Since I’ve got a lot of things to do tonight, we’ll do this list style!

Pros:

  • I actually enjoyed HR tonight. I usually hate HR, but he was fun tonight!
  • Cisco got to be a fun badass, which is always a good thing.
  • Julian and Caitlyn kinda has me going ‘eehhh’ but I liked Julian’s dynamic with the team tonight. It was more human than he usually is.
  • For once I wasn’t entirely grossed out by Barry and Iris and the whole ‘kissing your sister’ thing. It’s still there, but it was less abrasive for some reason tonight.
  • I actually enjoyed Wally learning from Barry this episode. It was interesting to see Barry trying to be a good teacher.

Cons:

  • The bad guy was so weak this time. WHY was he there from Flashpoint? Did I miss something or is that just a ‘fuck it, let’s go with this!’ type of thing?
  • I’m getting tired of the repeated, “I’m not gonna die” “I’m gonna save you from dying” thing with Iris. We get it! She’s gonna die but you’re gonna try and stop it from happening! It just feels like a solid 10 minutes every week is devoted to the same conversation over and over.
  • I don’t understand the motivation to tell Joe Iris is gonna die. I get why he was angry and why he wanted to know, but why does she WANT to tell her dad something that will make him absolutely lose it for the next few months solid? Because that’s what he’s going to do now. If there’s no way to stop it, he’s going to have the last few months of his daughters life freaking out over what’s to come. And even if she can be saved, his life is basically RUINED for the next few months. I would NEVER want to put my dad in that situation. No way in hell.

So yeah, as you can see, a lot more pros than cons! I really liked tonight’s episode, and I hope you guys did, too!