Though it looks like I got through a lot of material this month, the majority of shows were watched last month and finished up in the first few weeks of July. I only managed one film and a couple of books, but there was plenty of variety here: a couple of period dramas that were either sentimental or goofy, two sci-fi shows (an old one and a new one) and a trip down memory lane thanks to a podcast that focuses on pulpy teen thrillers from the Nineties.
So far this season has been solid but also a little ho-hum – until now! Suddenly things have been kicked into high gear, and for the first time I felt the writers were paying attention to the story as it unfolded, rather than gathering the pieces together for the show's final act.
This was the long-awaited Rachel-centric episode, and though we've had glimpses of her upbringing before, this delved much deeper into her past, her psyche and her relationship to the show's themes of female autonomy and nature vs nurture.
I can't believe we're officially over halfway through the final season. I feel I should be more emotional about it, but though this season has certainly improved its suspense and stakes, I'm still not as engrossed as I used to be.
If anything, this season has the slight air of a checklist, with each major (and minor) character being brought on stage, given closure, and shuffled off again. We've had the demise of MK, the return of Adele, an appearance from Krystal, and – oh look! – Gracie is turning up next week. Now this is not necessarily abadthing, in fact you wouldexpectit for a final season, but there is a deliberate "let's wrap up this loose end" quality to the story that's not entirely organic.
I don't think I've ever had two "Links and Updates" posts this close together before, but – wow! It's been one heck of a weekend. Maybe I should wait until Comic Con (which starts in a matter of days) but so much has been thrown at us by Disney and the BBC that I have to post about it now.
So even as the fifth season of the show trundles along without its usual sense of suspense and urgency, this episode threw some interesting spanners into the mix: namely that P.T. Westmoreland may be a big fat fraud.
That Westmoreland is the evil genius behind Neolution and that he's of a preternatural age has been something I've simply assumed is true. Because of that I've been a little bewildered by the scenes of Mrs S questioning the nerds about the history of Neolution and Westmoreland's biography. Was any of it necessary? Why was the show wasting time showing Mrs S trying to establish something we already know is true?
Unless of course, it isn't true. A couple of episodes ago Westmoreland was explicitly referred to as The Man Behind the Curtain, and we all know how that turned out in The Wizard of Oz. He was a complete phoney. More clues popped up across this episode, including evidence that Westmoreland is very ill (so... not immortal after all?) and a lack of familiarity regarding Charles Darwin facts, despite having supposedly gone to school with him.
Last Friday I came home to a trifecta of exciting news. Firstly, that Sense8 was being given the chance to wrap things up with a final two-hour special. Secondly, that the covers for Philip Pullman's La Belle Sauvage had been released. Thirdly, that the first trailer for The Changeover, an adaptation of Margaret Mahy's novel and one of the seminal books of my early years was out.
I went to sleep that night feeling very satisfied – and woke up with the flu, one that I'm only now just starting to shake off.
Yeah, I'm still playing catch-up. I've been as sick as a dog this week, and haven't been able to do much but groan and flail my arms, so this may have to be a quick one if I want to get it done before the next episode airs.
It's time for another round of "guess who's not really dead". Susan Duncan, last seen getting stabbed by Rachel, and Virgina Coady, implied to have been shot at point-blank range by Ferdinand, are both still alive and – well, not really kicking. But alive.
Making her debut in last year's Batman vs Superman, and generally considered to be the best part of that film (though I enjoyed it, flaws and all) Gal Gadot's Diana of Themyscira was a quintessential One Scene Wonder, appearing only sporadically throughout the film before turning up to help defeat Doomsday in the final act. Whoever cut the final trailer must have known the impact she'd have, as her appearance at the climax was used as the preview's trump card.
So despite fandom fears, I had a feeling her solo film would be a success – and so it was. My review can be found here, and Diana is truly its star: infused with conviction and empathy, wisdom and innocence, strength and gentleness. It makes for a wonderfully (no pun intended) three-dimensional character, one that's allowed to be unworldly without being comically naïve. Here is a woman who will coo over a baby and delight over ice-cream, then thoroughly beat the crap out of German soldiers.
But Wonder Woman has been around much longer than this. She was first invented in 1941 by psychologist William Moulton Marston as a deliberate response to all the male superheroes that dominated comics. In this he was helped by his wife Elizabeth Marston and their mutual partner Olive Byrne, and inspired by the women of Greek mythology: namely Artemis, goddess of the hunt (who of course, the Romans called Diana).
Her next big appearance involved a transition from comics to television with the 1970s show starring Lynda Carter. I'll admit this was a little before my time, which is a shame since it's still considered a beloved cult classic. After that, the character faded a little from mainstream pop culture, finally appearing in the animated Justice League and the 2009 straight-to-DVD film. In both cases, Diana wasn't particularly well-drawn. The former was rather haughty and "a little stuck-up" (to accurately quote another character) and the latter's story was overshadowed by some awful gender politics (let's just say Steve Trevor is a chauvinist sleazebag and leave it at that).
She's popped up elsewhere over the years, including cameos in Young Justice and The Lego Movie, but not until the release of her own blockbuster film has she truly re-entered the cultural zeitgeist. All you need to know is that I went with my mother to see Wonder Woman, and she ended up really enjoying it, despite not being a huge superhero fan.
So with the big-screen Justice League and a Wonder Woman sequel (now confirmed to be directed by Patty Jenkins) on the way, it's a great time to be a fan of female superheroes – especially if you're a little girl. As someone remarked on Twitter, we now live in an age where Rey is a Jedi-in-training, the Ghostbusters are women, and Wonder Woman is one of the top-grossing superhero films of all time.