Netflix has given us some great news to start the weekend! They’ve finally officially announced the season 2 renewal of their neo noir sci fi thriller Altered Carbon. It seems they were waiting to make the announcement until they could also announce who the new co-showrunner and star would be.
Anthony Mackie, who’s most well-known for playing the Falcon/Sam Wilson in the MCU Captain America and Avengers films, will play the new sleeve of former Envoy and Protectorate soldier Takeshi Kovacs. Mackie has been in numerous other films, notably the critically acclaimed The Hurt Locker. His only other major foray into television was the 2016 HBO film All the Way, in which Mackie played Martin Luther King, Jr opposite Bryan Cranston’s Lyndon Johnson. That film was also well received.
Episode 2 is Emily’s episode, the episode of the Unwomen, the gender traitors, the sinners and the resisters. We follow Emily and Janine to the Colonies to get a look at what Gilead is like in another part of the country. And we watch Emily’s back story as a wife, mother and university professor. Emily fights for freedom of expression and sexuality, while June is taken to stay at the former offices of the Boston Globe newspaper, where the entire staff was executed for their part in maintaining the American right to freedom of expression. They each deal with the enormity of the loss of this freedom in their own way.
June rides to freedom, or at least her next hiding place, in the open flatbed of a delivery truck and muses about the meanings of freedom, both symbolic and practical. She wonders whether the Resistance can really get her out, or if the infection that is Gilead is so deep inside her that she’s no longer capable of escaping it.
Welcome back to Gilead! Things are still as much fun as ever, as you can see from the photo above. June is on a roller coaster ride this episode, going from punishment for standing up to Aunt Lydia during last season’s finale, to special treatment because she’s pregnant, to barely being tolerated by Serena (so, back to normal), to a sudden chance at escape. As always, June is never sure where any of this is leading, but she’s not the kind of gal to stay home and knit sweaters, so she jumps into every opportunity, feet first.
“Whether this is my end or a new beginning, I have no way of knowing, and so I step up into the darkness within. Or else the light.”
As expected, Amazon took the opportunity to announce the release date for season 3 of The Man in the High Castle at the San Diego Comic Con last weekend. The entire 10 episode season will drop on Amazon Prime on 10/5/18. Amazon also gave us a bonus announcement: The show has already been renewed for season 4, which is a much needed show of faith after an almost 2 year wait between seasons and the number of shows that Amazon has already cancelled recently.
Leila is further drawn into Adrian’s machination’s in episode 3 of Kiss Me First, as she tries to save Tess from herself and Denier from Adrian. She learns more about Adrian’s methods and begins to work with an important ally. Adrian and Leila’s interactions begin to turn into a very intense chess game when he starts to figure out that she isn’t as predictable as he thought.
March 2005- Azana Planet Launch
Ruth Palmer: Welcome to Azana Planet. Friends, colleagues, gamers, the wait is finally over. My name is Ruth Palmer, and today I’m going to change your world. You’ll decide what it becomes.
Newsreader: The wait is finally over for gamers around the world with the release of the widely anticipated Azana Planet.
Ruth: We’ve created it with a morphable engine. It’s scaleable, immersive. A whole planet of experience with no boundaries. It can become literally anything.
In this episode of Kiss Me First, Leila begins her investigation of Adrian and Red Pill, while Adrian draws Leila further into the Red Pill world that he’s creating. Tess and Leila grow closer in the real world, and learn each other’s difficult truths. Adrian insists that everyone in Red Pill will get what they need, though it’s not clear that Adrian is actually able to judge what they need, as opposed to what he thinks or wants them to need.
The episode begins with Calumny’s grayed out, dormant avatar standing alone in an empty field. Adrian rides up to it on a motorcycle, touches it, says, “Do widzenia,” and it dissolves. He rides away again.
In a flashback, Leila buys Axabutol from the pharmacy. The pharmacist is concerned about the potency of the medication and wants Leila to speak to a pharmacist, but Leila refuses. Axabutol is a fictional drug, as far as I can tell, but meant to be an opioid.
In episode 1 of Netflix’s Kiss Me First, we meet Leila, a quiet, introverted young woman who has spent the last few years at home caring for her dying mother. With her mother gone, Leila moves out into the world. Sometimes it’s the virtual world and sometimes it’s the physical world. Sometimes it’s hard to tell where one world ends and the other begins.
Once her mother has passed on, Leila begins forming new relationships and trying to figure out where she fits in the world. She’s intelligent, strong and willing to continue looking out for other people, but she’s also sheltered, a bit innocent and can be impulsive.
We meet Leila for the first time at her mother’s funeral. She and the priest are the only ones there, besides Myra in her casket. Afterwards, Leila brings Myra’s ashes to the river, but doesn’t throw them in. Instead she brings them home and puts them in a prominent place on the mantle.
When Leila gets home from the funeral, the medical service is at her apartment collecting all of Myra’s adaptive care devices. The nice nurse mentions how much she liked Myra, and how her death seemed sudden. She asks if Leila has someone coming to stay with her, and Leila says yes, friends.
Kiss Me First is a new Netflix/British Channel 4 series that is loosely based on Lottie Moggach’s 2014 debut novel of the same name. The six episode first season focusses on Leila (Tallulah Haddon), a young woman whose mother has just died, and Tess (Simona Brown), a mentally ill woman with a troubled history.
Both women escape from the difficulties of their lives using a ubiquitous gaming program called Azana Planet, but Tess, known as Mania within the game, has found her way into a hacked section of the program that’s set up as a private meeting space. It’s reserved for friends of a gamer who calls himself Adrian (Matthew Beard), who collects troubled young people and theoretically gives them what they need.
Eventually Leila, who goes by the name Shadowfax in the game, also finds her way into the private space. The club and its virtual clubhouse are known as Red Pill, for the pill Neo took to get out of the Matrix, rather than the Men’s Rights Activists’ delusion of choice. Before long, Leila suspects that Adrian isn’t as benign as the others thinks he is. Her real world investigation of Adrian involves the rest of the Red Pill members and becomes high stakes, as members start meeting sinister fates, one by one.
In the season 2 finale of The Handmaid’s Tale, June chooses to stay in Gilead rather than escape with her baby daughter, despite several Marthas and others having risked their lives to help her and Nichole. This has become a controversial choice with the audience. I’ve seen many commenters who feel that June was selfish to stay behind, because the Marthas had taken serious risks to get her and the baby out. Some people think that the Marthas will feel angry and betrayed when they find out that June didn’t leave. Since even major outlets were shocked and disgusted by June’s choice and agree with the judgement that it makes her selfish, I’ve decided to address it in a separate post from my already extra long recap/analysis.
This is a complex issue. First, calling June selfish for sending one child to safety but giving up her own chance at freedom so that she can try to save her other child and work with the Resistance to save more people, is blatantly ridiculous and misogynistic. What would be selfish is saving herself without a thought for the other people it would affect, which is what the Marthas expected her to do.
Second, June didn’t ask the Marthas to get her out. She owes them now that her baby is hopefully free, but she wasn’t required to take them up on their offer, since she didn’t request it in the first place. Even if she requested it, she would have been allowed to change her mind. Her life and her children’s lives are the lives most at stake in an escape attempt. If she wasn’t comfortable with what was happening, she had the right to change her mind. After all of the uproar about the rapes in this show, are people now saying that June doesn’t have the right of consent to the escape plan that others devised for her and her children? That’s insane. Hannah and Nichole are the most innocent victims, and as their parent, June’s first responsibility is always to them. She has the right to consent to the plan or not, and to withdraw her consent if needed when conditions change. Which they did, when she saw that she could send Nichole to Canada with Emily.
Also: Serena’s Doors and Windows; June and Serena’s Journeys in Season 2 and the Future; Silencing the Women of Gilead; The Changes in Gilead: From Motherhood to Obedience to Polygamy?; Baby Nichole’s Big Adventure; John 1:1 and Teaching Daughters to Read the Word of God; The Martha Relay Race; and Maps of Gilead and Interpretation
In season 2 episode 13, The Word, Serena reads a Bible verse out loud to the Council that ends by saying the word was God. In this episode, the word is also Out. Everyone wants out of their current situation. Serena and the wives speak out for their daughters and all of the daughters of Gilead. The Marthas out themselves as the true Resistance. Rita is outed as the Black Widow of Gilead, just as I always knew she was. Emily and Nichole get out of Boston, maybe Gilead. Fred wants disobedient women out of his life. June opts out of escaping, choosing instead to work toward getting Hannah and all of the daughters of Gilead out of danger from the growing reign of terror. And Lydia is taken out of the game by Emily, at least temporarily.
By the end of the episode, everyone is outside of their normal status, and it’s unclear whether they’ll ever go back to what had become normal. In the beginning of season 1, Aunt Lydia promised the handmaids that the rules and restrictions of Gilead would come to feel normal and ordinary to them with time. She was wrong. In the last few episodes we’ve seen women and men at every level of Gilead society rebel, from a high-ranking commander to an Unwoman who barely got a reprieve from the Colonies and death.
Serena quoted Isaiah last episode, verse 49:25, in which God promises to deliver the captives and save the children. This episode, a captive was delivered, and a child was saved, but they were brought out of their captivity in Gilead, the enemy of the good. She left out the next verse, where God promises to “make your oppressors eat their own flesh” (Isaiah 49:26*). This is literally and figuratively what’s happening in Gilead. Gilead is cutting up its people, a piece at a time. In this episode, we saw Commander Putnam, who has one hand; Cora and Janine, who each have one eye; Emily, who had a clitorectomy and lost a tooth; Serena, who gave up a finger to the cause; and we heard Aunt Lydia refer to Lillie, who had her tongue cut out. Mr Spencer metaphorically ate his own flesh by turning his daughter in to the Guardians, leading to her execution. Commander Lawrence drove his wife insane by becoming a mass murderer in service of Gilead.