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Showing posts from June, 2019

Jessica Jones, Season 3

The third season of Jessica Jones was released with little fanfare this weekend, bringing both the series and the Netflix MCU to a close.  It's not a very good season of television (and the things about it that are good were done better in the flawed but still quite interesting second season), but watching it can help clarify some points for those of us who have watched the Netflix MCU's experiment with "street level" superheroes, who have adult problems and psychologies, curdle into a mass of samey conversations, runaround plots, and indifferent visuals.  Put simply, the third season of Jessica Jones makes a powerful argument that we never really understood what this show was about.  And what it was actually trying to accomplish seems, in retrospect, not really worth the attempt.

The third season picks up some time after the end of the second.  Jessica is still estranged from Trish following the latter's murder of Jessica's violent, murderous mother Alisa, a…

Black Mirror, "Striking Vipers"

It feels strange to talk about Black Mirror reinventing itself. Even if you leave aside the fact that this is a show in its fifth season (plus two specials), a point where habits tend to be firmly fixed, what would be the impetus for it? From its scandalous premiere in 2011, Black Mirror has always been lauded for being exactly what it is. Even the people who have criticized it—for its cynicism, for its nastiness, for its reflexive distrust of technology—have helped to cement its brand, our idea of what a Black Mirror story is like and can accomplish. And yet, when you finish watching the three episodes of the just-released fifth season, there is no other way to describe them than as a departure. It's probably the strongest season the show has fielded since its first, but it's also the least Black Mirror-ish.

Some people might describe the season as optimistic. This isn't entirely inaccurate—the third episode, "Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too", is basically a YA stor…

Roundtable Discussion: Kingdoms of Elfin by Sylvia Townsend Warner, at Strange Horizons

Strange Horizons has resurrected its book club feature, and the inaugural discussion features me, Zen Cho, and Charlotte Geater discussing Sylvia Townsend Warner's 1977 collection Kingdoms of Elfin, reprinted last year after many years out of print by Handheld Press.  Though I haven't read much of her writing, I've found Warner, an early 20th century fantasist as well as one of the inaugural voices of the New Yorker's fiction department, a fascinating writer, and Kingdoms of Elfin has been a particular obsession of mine ever since I first read about it, and learned that it was unavailable.  In these stories, written over a decade after the death of Warner's partner Valentine Ackland, Warner visits various fairy kingdoms around the globe, imagining their customs, court intrigues, and scandals.  This naturally creates the expectation of a light, frothy book, but as the roundtable reveals all of us found the stories cold and challenging.  There's a chilliness to t…