The Testaments by Maragret Atwood: Spoilery Discussion

Power of the Pen

My non spoilery review of The Testaments is HERE. This post will comment on the book in detail and assumes readers have already finished reading it.

This is going to be a series of observations and analysis, in no particular order, rather than a straight review. I’d love to hear what everyone else thinks and if you agree or disagree with me. There are minor spoilers for the TV series The Handmaid’s Tale.

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Undone Season 1 Episode 2: The Hospital Recap

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In Undone episode 2, Alma wakes up in the hospital after her accident and discovers she’s been in a coma for a few days or weeks due to the severe head injury she sustained at the beginning and end of episode 1. Episode 2 is where the nonlinear storytelling aspect of Undone is at its peak, showing off the flexibility that the animation techniques used in the visuals give the narrative.

Cool as the visuals are, pay close attention to the use of sound in the episode as well. Alma’s hearing impairment isn’t just a plot device and the various environmental sounds in each episode aren’t just cool effects. Information is being warped and kept from Alma, by herself and by the other characters, and it’s through sound that we’re sometimes made aware of the missing facts.

Recap

Episode 2 begins with an overhead view of Alma’s accident from up in the sky, which gradually descends to ground level, then into the car, then focuses on her unconscious face. She’s slumped over the steering wheel, her forehead dripping blood, one arm thrown up over her head to try to break the impact. We can hear static from Alma’s cochlear implant, ominous musical tones and one long, high pitched whine, like the sound a heart monitor makes when a patient flatlines.

It could be feedback from the implant malfunctioning or tinnitus from Alma’s injuries. Or it could be that Alma flatlined. We’re never clearly told what her injuries were or how long her coma was. Though the narration appears to come from outside of Alma, there are strong signals in this episode that we always, and only, see what she sees and know what she knows, through her altered point of view.

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Prime Video’s Undone Season 1 Review/Episode 1: The Crash Recap

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Prime Video’s new animated series for adults, Undone, is a unique show that explores mind-bending themes, mental health and family drama in 8 short, 22-24 minute long episodes, making the most of its stellar cast and experienced animation team in each episode. Creators Raphael Bob-Waksberg and Kate Purdy (BoJack Horseman) used the animation technique of rotoscoping to give the series a surreal quality that takes it a step beyond magical realism.

Rotoscoping involves filming the actors in live action, then tracing over the filmed images to create a polished animated product. Undone is the first serialized TV series to be fully animated using rotoscoping. Probably its most famous previous use was in the film A Scanner Darkly. The same team, Minnow Mountain, did the rotoscoping on both that film and Undone.

Undone is the story of Alma Winograd-Diaz (Rosa Salazar), a young woman who is struggling with her goals and identity, in addition to the lingering trauma from her father Jacob’s (Bob Odenkirk) death when she was a child. Outwardly, her life seems Happy and Fine. She lives with her nice boyfriend, Sam (Siddharth Dhananjay), and has a decent job at a daycare center, working with her good friend and boss, Tunde (Daveed Diggs). (Who wouldn’t want to work with the voice of Daveed Diggs?)

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Book Review- An Easy Death (Gunnie Rose Book 1) by Charlaine Harris

 

book cover of An Easy Death

The first thing Gunnie Rose does when she gets her own book series is get a makeover haircut, to show how her life is about to go through some drastic changes. Gunnie Rose, who is also known as Lizbeth, actually has multiple reasons for her new look. She’s a 19 year old woman who lives in what would be the southwestern US, if she lived in our world, and her work as an almost magical sharpshooter keeps her outdoors most of the time, so her long hair gets hot and sticky. Plus her hair grows in long ringlets, which her boyfriend paid more attention to than he did to the rest of her, so she figured it was time to remind him to pay more attention to the person underneath the hair. But probably most importantly of all, since she’s called Gunnie for a good reason, the ringlets are dragging down her job performance and her reputation. She’s NOT adorable, okay?

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Book Review- The Testaments: The Sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

The Testaments Cover

“Only dead people are allowed to have statues, but I have been given one while still alive. Already I am petrified.”

These are the opening words of The Testaments, written by one of the book’s three narrators, each of whom is already known to readers of the original book, The Handmaid’s Tale, and the acclaimed Hulu series based on the book. The words were written by the author of books, of course, Margaret Atwood, who once made a cameo appearance in the series as an Aunt.

In Gilead, Aunts are the caste of middle aged women who are in charge of other women, especially the handmaids. They are the only women who are allowed to be educated, including learning to read and write and having access to books.

In the novel, the author of these words reveals herself to be Aunt Lydia, spirited enforcer of the rules with a tendency to play favorites. The self awareness, dry wit and double entendre involved in the comment are indicative of the journey Aunt Lydia and Margaret Atwood are about to take us on. Lydia is honest with herself, if no one else, and has no illusions about what her place in history will be. But, unlike most of the women in Gilead, she chose her own destiny with her eyes wide open.

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Dark Season 2: Complete List of Characters with Histories and Analysis

Dark S2Ep1 Adam's Family Tree Board

Adam’s Family Tree Board: All individual photos are young versions of the characters. Left Panel: Hannah, Jonas; Doris; Egon, Claudia; Regina, Aleksander/Boris; Bartosz. Center Panel: Hannah, Jonas, Michael/Mikkel, Ines; Peter, Charlotte, Franziska, Elisabeth; Aleksander,Bartosz, Regina; Ulrich, Magnus, Martha, Katharina, Mikkel; Silja, Noah, Agnes. Right Panel: Noah?, Charlotte; Peter; Franziska, Elisabeth; Tronte, Jana, Mads; Katharina, Ulrich; Magnus, Martha; Mikkel.

Adam uses the youngest version available for his individual photos in his version of Claudia’s Winden Family Tree board. While Claudia’s board doesn’t cover the entire town, it covers most of the characters who play a significant role in season 1, and shows them in each of their phases of life. Adam’s is much more exclusive- he’s only interested in narrowing down the survivors of his apocalypse and their immediate predecessors.

Season 1 Character Board

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Dark Season 1: Complete List of Characters

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The Man in the High Castle Season 1 Episode 1: The New World Recap

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Heil Hitler! We’ve got about 2 months before the November 15 release of the final season of Amazon’s chilling alternate history series The Man in the High Castle. Since I haven’t recapped season 1 yet, I’m going to spend some of that time catching up. Recaps of seasons 2-4 are here, at the show’s tag. Season 2 was one of the first seasons I recapped on the blog and I was still figuring out my style, so if I get time someday I may revisit it more thoroughly.

For now, let’s journey back to both the Amazon Prime Video of 2015 and an alternate version of 1962, where the Nazis and the Japanese won World War 2. The Germans developed the atomic bomb first and dropped one on Washington DC, leading the US to surrender. 17 years later, Hitler continues to lead the German empire, while the Japanese continue to be led by Emperor Hirohito.

The two empires have divided the world between them, leaving various swaths open as lawless neutral zones. The eastern and midwestern portions of the former United States are now part of the Greater Third Reich. The West Coast states are now the Japanese Pacific States.

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Carnival Row Season 1 Review

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In the world of Carnival Row, Amazon Prime Video’s latest entry into the fantasy epic genre, the darkness is rising. You probably didn’t notice it before if you’re human, so it’s presence now feels new. But in actuality, the darkness has always been around, and has been pretty active for a long time. If you aren’t human, you’ve always known this, since for many years humans have been busy colonizing nonhuman lands, exterminating nonhuman sentient species, and exploiting whoever’s left alive.

We aren’t given much backstory on the whole extermination and exploitation thing, and since Carnival Row is an original story rather than being based on a more detailed original source, such as a book series, we’re left to fill in a lot of blanks. The metaphors are pretty on the nose, so on the surface that’s not hard to do.

When you stop to think about it, even by the end of the season the entirely fictional geographical and political worlds of Carnival Row are left exceedingly vague for a show that’s supposedly about politcal issues which affect refugees. For example, we’re never shown a map, despite shipping routes and battle strategies being discussed repeatedly, providing ample opportunities for the characters to casually flash one.

And I never did figure out who the Pact were, the enemy who drive Vignette, our heroine, from her homeland. I just mentally inserted “Evil Empire” whenever I heard their name. In the long term, their sole purpose was to create refugees, so they didn’t matter enough for me to bother with learning anything more. After that, in a twist of fate, the Burgue, who were supposed to be the refugees’ friends, become the “Evil Empire”.

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Dark Season 2 Episode 8: Endings and Beginnings Recap

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Bring on the apocalypse. In season 2 episode 8, Endings and Beginnings, it’s June 27, 2020. We spend the episode counting down to the fateful moment as the key players are moved around the board one more time, so as to be in the proper places when Adam’s plans come to fruition.

This is an episode about death and salvation. Personal salvation, the salvation of the world, and the fight to save Time as an entity. The death of individuals and the apocalyptic death which engulfs Winden, which bring about the death of hope and idealism. Not every who dies is really dead, and not everyone who’s saved realizes they’re being saved. The episode is a shell game, as frequently happens on Dark.

The entire season has been about beginnings and endings, and whether they really exist at all in Winden. This episode brings an end to the second cycle, but it brings up the question again of exactly what game is being played and if anyone can really win.

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Dark Season 2 Episode 7: The White Devil

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Dark season 2 episode 7, The White Devil, grants the wishes of some of the characters, but some dreams come true as nightmares. Old Claudia’s body is found in 1953 and identified by Child Helge as the White Devil. Hannah takes a trip to 1953 to visit the other White Devil, Ulrich. She meets the Young Adult version of Egon while she’s there.

In 2020, Katharina goes full warrior goddess. She remembers she has a daughter to protect from incest and sketchy boyfriends who have become old men. Plus, she decides she’s ready to become a time traveler.

Martha meets Stranger Jonas and learns the truth about their relationship. Thanks, Mom.

Adult Claudia puts off the French delegation again, then takes the day off to prevent Egon’s death. It’s her turn to learn that the past/time can’t be changed, even if the events she’s focusing on feel to her like they are in the future.

If you are into drinking games, taking a shot for every apology given during this episode could be fun. Or it might be necessary to help you get through the episode.

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