Saturday, 30 April 2016

Supernatural 'The Chitters' Review

This review WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS for the episode to be discussed, if you do not want certain plot points or story spoilt, please do not read further.

As much as I enjoy Supernatural, some of their monster of the week episodes are beginning to get a little stale, thankfully 'The Chitters' manages to include a pair of guest characters that makes this episode a little more enjoyable than the normal outing.

When people begin disappearing in a small mountain town Sam and Dean head out to investigate and come across a mystery involving a supernatural creature the two of them have never encountered before.  It would appear that people are becoming possessed by some kind of strange creatures that send people's eyes green and drives them to have sex before they change into grey skinned 'junkless' monsters.

Sam and Dean struggle to figure out what the creatures are, until they come across another pair of hunters called Jessy and Cesar, who fill them in on the mystery, that they are on the trail of cicada demons who possess humans every twenty seven years in order to mate and produce their next generation.

Jessy and Cesar are a married couple, the series' first openly gay hunters if I'm remembering correctly, who have returned to Jessy's home town to hunt the creatures almost thirty years after they killed his older brother.

The monsters of this week's episode aren't the most memorable, and the mystery around them doesn't really go anywhere as Sam and Dean do their usual to try and figure things out but come up with nothing.  The episode is saved with the inclusion of Jessy and Cesar, who bring a new energy to the episode, as well as answers and assistance for our resident heroes.

It's nice that when the characters decide to split up into two groups the two pairs divide up, giving both Sam and Dean someone new to interact with.  This also lend Dean to have a great conversation with Cesar about how often hunters go out for revenge, but usually by the time they finally get it they're so changed that the hunt just carries on for them.

We've seen this kind of scenario play out more than once in the show, and it does raise the question of whether hunters are some kind of hero who keeps going after their own demons have been put to rest, or if the life totally destroys any chance they have of being 'normal'.  It's an interesting point that it is only briefly touched upon here, though it does come up again at the end of the episode.

By the end of the episode Jessy and Cesar have finally killed the creatures that took Jessy's brother away from him all those years before, giving Jessy the resolution he's craved since that day.  When they tell Sam and Dean that they intend to leave the hunter's life behind and raise horses on a ranch together Dean makes the choice not to ask them to help with Amara, despite them making the offer.

Whilst this might be a bad choice for the brothers because they need all of the help they can get, and Jessy and Cesar prove they're competent hunters, I think it kind of shows what Sam and Dean are fighting for.  They understand that hunting is their lives now, that they'll never do anything else, but they're fighting for others to be able to live their lives.  Jessy and Cesar have the chance to get free from the pain and the darkness that have consumed Sam and Dean, and they want to make sure that they get that.

It's a shame that the chances are that we'll never see Jessy and Cesar again, but the fact that they get their happy ending, that they're some of the few hunters we see that actually get to have a life and get away from the horrors that exist is a really uplifting and hopeful note on which to end.

'The Chitters' is something of a disposable episode, it added nothing to the overall story and didn't feature particularly memorable monsters, but it included such a sweet story in Jessy and Cesar that elevated it from forgettable to something with a little be extra.


Thursday, 28 April 2016

Arrow 'Canary Cry' Review

This review WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS for the episode to be discussed, if you do not want certain plot points or story spoilt, please do not read further.

I wasn't happy with the writer's choice of killing of Laurel, I felt that it was not only the loss of an interesting and strong character, but another example of this series treating its female characters poorly for the benefit of a male lead.  That being said, this episode handled the death of Laurel, her funeral, the effect on those who loved her and her legacy as a hero brilliantly and gave us the best episode of the season.

Laurel's death hits the team hard here, and the episode makes the important decision to not focus solely on Oliver, but to spend time seeing how it affected each and every one of them.  The stand out performances of the episode came from both David Ramsey and Paul Blackthorne, whose reactions were so gut wrenching to watch and so powerfully performed that they outshone the shows lead by miles.

Diggle's loss manifests itself mostly as rage, with the fact that his own brother Andy played such a big role in the events that led to Laurel's death it spurred him into blaming himself and being angry for not having seen the treachery coming.  Diggle decided that the best way to deal with that rage was to confront one of the few people close to Darhk that he knew he could find, his wife and mayor of Star City, Ruve Adams.

The scene where Diggle confronts her, attacking her limo and pulling a gun on her is one of his best yet and I have to admit that I got a huge amount of enjoyment watching him hit her in the face with his gun.  Part of me is a little disappointed that Diggle didn't get to kill her, but the scene was so well acted and so well done that I have to give massive credit to David Ramsey for the way he did it.

Paul Blackthorne really stood out above everyone else this week though, first as a father full of hope that his daughter might still be alive after the Black Canary is spotted in Star City, then desperately trying to find a way of bringing her back from the dead, and finally full of grief as the realisation that Laurel isn't going to come back sinks in.

You can understand Lance's reasoning in this episode, after all, his other daughter was killed and came back from the dead, he's seen super powered beings and has witnessed magic, so of course he's going to be trying to find a way of bringing her back.  The sheer determination of him to find a way of saving her and the crushing realisation that she's gone makes me think that this time dead really might be dead.  To go through all the trouble of shooting down every avenue to bring her back only to do so somehow later on would cheapen a lot of this episode.

As I mentioned briefly above, shortly after Laurel's death there are sightings of Black Canary around Star City, and as the team begin to investigate they discover that a teenage girl called Evelyn Sharpe has stolen Laurel's sonic device and made it her mission to stop Hive after they were responsible for the death of her parents.  

Evelyn makes quite a public display of her mission to take down Hive and, along with Diggle's assault on her, Ruve Adams launches a campaign to arrest team Arrow, starting with Black Canary.  Despite getting the chance to kill Adams and get the revenge that she craves Evelyn gets talked down by Ollie and flees the scene.  Evelyn doesn't hand over the sonic device, she doesn't get arrested and she's even seen at Laurel's funeral, so it's very possible that she intends to keep the Black Canary identity.  This could have a possible comic book connection too, as in the New 52 version of the Birds of Prey there is an Evelyn Crawford, a friend of Black Canary who goes by the codename Starling.  Black Canary might be gone, but perhaps Starling will appear at some point in the future.

Because of what Evelyn did and everyone thinking that she was the Black Canary, Oliver decides that he is going to honour Laurel and her legacy the best way that he can.  At her funeral he reveals the truth, he tells everyone that Laurel wasn't just satisfied with fighting for justice as a district attorney and that she took on the role of Black Canary to bring hope to Star City.  He tells the whole world that Laurel was a hero, so that her name and her deeds will be remembered with honour.

I have to admit, it was a brave move to reveal to the world who the Black Canary was, and it's not something that is often done when super heroes die in film, tv or even comics, but I liked the decision.  Ollie's speech acknowledged the amazing journey that Laurel went through, it reminded the audience that she was a good person who wanted to make a real difference.  Fiction or not, that's what a real hero is, and something everyone should aspire to be.

I still don't like the fact that the show killed Laurel, but this episode made her death feel like it meant something, that it might not have been a throwaway moment or a light decision.  Laurel had been underused so much during her time over this last season, but this episode reminded us of how important she was to so many people.  Arrow will definitely be the weaker show for not having Laurel Lance in it.


Human Rights Campaign Condemns Oxford Bathroom Law

The Human Rights Campaign has released a statement that condemns the new bathroom laws issued by Oxford City Council in Alabama that prevents transgender people from using the bathroom that matches their gender identity or face jail time.

The law passed by the city council in order to combat a stance of inclusion made by the retail chain Target, who stated that they would allow any member of staff or the public to use the bathrooms and changing rooms that match their gender identity, rather than the one that matches their birth certificate.

The Human Rights Campaign released the following statement regarding this new law;

'Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Alabama condemned the passage of anti-transgender ordinance by the Oxford, Ala., City Council.  Unanimously approved, the  ordinance prevents transgender residents and visitors from using public restrooms and other facilities consistent with their gender identity, and impose a $500 fine or six months in jail on violators.  This anti-transgender law is unprecedented in its establishment of criminal penalties for violation of the law, and raises a myriad of privacy and legal concerns, including questions about how the law will be enforced.  There is no clarity on whether all people in Oxford will be expected to produce birth certificates when using public facilities or, if not, how law enforcement officials will obtain evidence.

'This ordinance is a shameful and vile attack on the rights and privacy of transgender people.  Transgender people are our neighbours, our coworkers and our fellow churchgoers, and every Alabamian has the right to live their lives without fear of discrimination and prejudice.  Throughout the country elected officials from both sides of the aisle, along with hundreds of business leaders and advocated throughout the country have resoundingly rejected these kinds of proposals, which only seek to demean and marginalise the transgender community.'

Oxford officials have already admitted that the law was passed in order to counter the policy of a private company, yet claim that the law is not designed to be discriminatory in any way.

Oxford is the first city in the United States to enact a law such as this, specifically designed to target members of the transgender community.  Similar proposals have been made across the US, but until now have been rejected. 


The Flash 'Back to Normal' Review

This review WILL CONTAIN SPOILER for the episode to be discussed, if you do not want certain plot points or story spoilt, please do not read further.

With Barry having given his powers over to Zoom in order to save Wally 'Back to Normal' literally takes a slower pace as we watch Barry try to adjust to life as a normal human being again, whilst still trying to combat meta-human threats and protect innocent people.

One of the best decisions that the writers made for this episode was not to have Barry wallowing in self pity for not being the Flash anymore.  It would have been easy to fall into a trap of having him sad and angry over the situation, but that just wouldn't have been Barry.  Instead he's getting on with his life, he's working through his CSI cases as fast as he can, he's working with Star Labs still and when a meta-human poses a threat he willingly puts his life on the line.

This episode goes a long way to show that a hero is not measured by their powers, but by who they are as a person.  Barry doesn't have his powers but he stays as the same person we've come to know and love.  This is what makes him the Flash, not his speed, but his heart.

With an active breach to Earth-2 and the possibility of Zoom returning, Harry decides to try and track down Jessie and make a run for it before the monstrous villain can make good on his threats on Harry and his family.  

The meeting between Harry and Jessie could definitely have gone better for him, as she not only refuses to go with him, but tells him that she is more afraid of him than she is Zoom.  Her reactions to her father are a little understandable, he killed someone in order to get Jessie back, and that's completely destroyed her faith in him.

On his way back to Star Labs Harry is intercepted by Griffin Grey, the meta-human of the week.  Grey was given his powers, super-strength, when the particle accelerator exploded way back in the pilot episode and wants revenge for what happened to him on Harrison Wells.  Believing that Harry is the Earth-1 version of Wells he kidnaps him in order to force him to make a cure for his condition.

Despite having enhanced strength Grey's abilities have a severe physical toll on him, where everytime he uses his strength it causes his body to age rapidly.  Grey is only eighteen, but looks to be in his forties at this point.  This gives him a very different motivation to a lot of the 'villains' that we've had throughout the series so far.  He's not driven by a desire to commit crimes or do evil, but a desire to save his own life and be normal again.  It makes him more of a tragic figure than anything else.

Without his powers the team has to try to find a way of combatting Grey that won't get Barry killed in the process, not an easy task to say the least, but thanks to some distraction techniques and some dwarf star alloy the team manage to come up with a plan that lets them beat the villain.

Whilst it's nice to see the team, plus Jessie in place of Caitlin, work on a scientific solution to a bad guy that would normally be fairly easy for Barry to go up against, it's a shame that the writers didn't take this opportunity to explore Cisco and his emerging powers a little more.

With Barry out of commission this could have made a perfect time for Cisco to explore his own abilities in order to help pick up the slack of being without a super powered person on the team.  After seeing what his Earth-2 counterpart was able to do, and having figured out how to open a breach, I felt that this would have been a great opportunity for Cisco to try out some of his abilities.  Sadly they missed this opportunity, though hopefully it will be something that will be explored in the third season.

It's also nice that Grey had something of a happy ending here too, what with him having a more tragic story.  Instead of having him age to the point of death by the end of the episode he ends up reverting back to his original age.  What's a little worrying is that Barry and the rest of the team didn't know that this was going to happen, and were quite happy with letting Grey age to death in the end fight.

Over on Earth 2 Caitlin is still being held captive by Zoom, who is trying to force her into falling back in love with him.  It's something of a disturbing element that's been introduced to the character, that adds to the level of mental instability he has.  It also means that the team might have something they will be able to exploit in future episodes.

Whilst being held captive Caitlin also comes across the man in the iron mask, as well as Killer Frost, who we'd all believed was killed by Zoom weeks ago.  It turns out that Zoom kept her alive due to her being the Earth-2 counterpart of Caitlin.  With the fact that the version of Zoom that was on Earth-1 pretending to be Jay Garrick was killed by Zoom it raises some questions as to why the version of him now would have feelings for Caitlin.  Does he have the memories of the other version of himself, did he spend some time pretending to be Jay too, or is he just naturally predisposed to love Caitlin?  It's not very clear why Zoom has such a strong emotional bond with her, but I'm sure that this relationship will be explored even further before the season ends.

Caitlin teams up with Killer Frost and agrees to help her escape from her cell in return for help getting out of Zoom's lair.  Using her scientific knowhow Caitlin is able to help Frost out of her cell, but unfortunately Frost fails to keep her side of the bargain and attempts to kill Caitlin.  Luckily for her Zoom arrives on the scene just in time to save her from an icicle heading straight for her.

The scene is probably the best one in the episode, and has a hell of a visual effect as Zoom speeds into the room and runs straight through Caitlin, phasing through her and grabbing the icicle out of the air and stabbing it into Killer Frost all at super speed.  It's definitely an interesting moment, and I might be wrong but this could very well be the first time we've seen a speedster run through someone too.  It's a shame that we've lost Killer Frost, but then again we all thought that there was a good chance that she was killed several episodes ago, so at least we got a little more time with her.

The episode ends with Harry coming up with a plan to try and recreate the particle accelerator accident that initially gave Barry his powers in order to try and give him his speed once again.  

I was initially worried that 'Back to Normal' was going to be a boring episode that would focus on a sad and frustrated Barry, instead the episode managed to tell an engaging and well told story that kept me interested for the entire running time.


Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Reebok's Alien Stomper's Forget Ripley Is A Woman

The Alien franchise is an iconic piece of cinema, one that is still beloved the world over to this day.  If someone told you to think about the franchise the first thing you would probably think of would be the creature itself, but it would probably be quickly followed by the person who made the series the success it is, Sigourney Weaver as Ripley.

Ripley is one of the most iconic female leads in cinema history, and over the course of the four films the character has appeared in (even though it's not really her in 'Alien: Resurrection', but that's another issue for another time) she has grown in strength and character in ways most films could only dream of.  Along with Sarah Connor of the Terminator series she was one of the most iconic female heroes of the 80's and 90's.

It's a real shame that Reebok seems to have forgotten that.

To celebrate Alien Day (yes, apparently everything has a day now) Reebok released a limited edition run of the Bug Stomper shoes that Ripley wore in 'Aliens'.  Not only were the shoes limited to only 426 pairs, but it appears that they were also limited in size options, only having been made available in men's sizes 8-12.

Yep, the shoes worn by one of the most iconic women in film history, a character that inspired many young women to be totally kick arse and awesome, are only available for men.  Good work Reebok.

The website io9 has said that they contacted Reebok on the subject and that a spokesperson told them that 'The Alien Stompers were released in male sizes due to retail demand.'

The shoes, which were listen in the 'Men's Classic' category on the website, were indeed popular and quickly sold out.

io9 later added to their initial report on the incident, saying that they were contacted by Reebok after the initial article, where they were told that the information they had been given was incorrect and the person who spoke to them had not been given permission to do so.

Reebok said; 'The Alien Stomper was mis-categorised on our US website as a men's shoe.  While size availability varied by market, the Alien Stomper is a unisex style and was produced in sizes (US Men's) 3.5 - 12, which is a typical size range for a unisex model.'

Despite this no evidence of the shoes being available in any size below 8 have been found.

Perhaps next time Reebok should consider not excluding women from a product that was inspired by such an iconic female figure.


Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 'The Singularity' Review

This review WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS for the episode to be discussed, if you do not want certain plot points or story spoilt, please do not read further.

Well, Coulson might not have a laser finger, but he does have a pretty nifty holographic shield projector in the back of his new robot hand, and frankly, that's a hell of a lot cooler.

This weeks Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. begins with a sense of pace and urgency following Daisy's attack on the base that makes you believe that the episode is going to be fast, action packed and full of excitement.  Whilst it does have some of these moments, the pace from the start of the episode doesn't carry throughout and there is a noticeable slump in the middle.

Whilst Coulson takes half of the team to try and get to a number of Inhumans before Hive can reach them and bring them under his control Fitzz, Simmons and Mack attempt to track down a scientist who was working on parasite research that could help them to figure out a way of combatting Hive and his ability to influence other Inhumans.

Both plots have their moments of excitement and plot development, but the Fitzz and Simmons story does feel like it drags in the middle during a few of their scenes.  When they enter the club looking for Doctor Radcliffe the episode takes a lot of time getting them face to face with him, and even though the scene where they talk about their new relationship is well written and well acted it does feel a little out of place.

Whilst Fitzz and Simmons are attempting to find Doctor Radcliffe, Coulson, May and Lincoln head out to find Alisha, an Inhuman with the ability to create copies of herself.  Worried that her powers would give a potentially limitless supply of soldiers to their enemy they try to get to her before she can be brought under Hive's influence.

Whilst Coulson wants Lincoln on the team to help talk Alisha round he's worried that Lincoln could become compromised if Hive gets too close to him, so gets him to wear a jacket lined with explosives.  It's an incredibly dark moment as Coulson basically gives May an order to blow Lincoln apart if he becomes compromised.  

I can kind of understand his logic, the icers don't work on people who have been influenced by Hive, and a taser clearly wouldn't work on Lincoln, but giving he order to blow someone apart is a really, really strong decision.  It's also something that May makes a point of, challenging Coulson on the fact that he is willing to sacrifice Lincoln if he becomes infected, but wanting to try and save Daisy.

Bringing up the fact that Coulson seems to feel differently about Daisy than most of the other people under his command is something that the show hasn't really done yet, even though this has been something that has been going on since the first season.  Whilst it might feel ham fisted in most episodes to bring up a subject like this, now that Daisy has essentially joined the bad guys it feels natural and appropriate to do so.

This episode also spends a lot of time with Daisy, and by extension Hive, where we get to see a little more of what is going on other than just simple mind control.  Daisy and the other Inhumans aren't just mindless zombies following around their master, but instead have an addiction to being around Hive get heightened positive feelings it.

It means that Daisy is being motivated more from a deep feeling of belonging and finally having a family than simple mind control, which means that the chances of the rest of the team finding a way to break through that and reach her have become dramatically decreased.  Everything that Daisy has done for S.H.I.E.L.D. and her teammates has come from a similar sense of family, if she's having these feelings about Hive and the other Inhumans now it's going to make her a very dangerous adversary.

This becomes quite apparent when Daisy and Hive attempt to obtain the same doctor that Fitzz and Simmons are trying to find.  Daisy uses her powers to incapacitate Fitzz, pinning him against the wall as she tries to warn him to stop chasing after her and Hive.  Despite trying to get Fitzz and the rest of the team to stop coming after them because she doesn't want them to get hurt she also tells Fitzz that next time she will break his neck.  

Even if the team are able to find a way of breaking the hold that Hive has on Daisy I'm starting to think that she might not end up being the same person she was before he infected her.  Having such strong feelings of happiness and family, then having them ripped away will definitely have a strong negative effect on her.

Whilst Daisy is confronting Fitzz, Simmons comes face to face with Hive in what's one of the more interesting scenes of the episode.  We already know that Hive retains the memories of his previous hosts and that these memories can have an effect on him, from his anger at Malick for what was done to Malick's brother years before.  Now we've learnt that because he possessed Will, Hive has strong feelings for Simmons.

I don't think that Hive loves her or anything like that, but he definitely protected her and seemed to genuinely be pleased to see her.  At the end of the day this thing is a walking god, he has no need to play games or try to manipulate people, so there's no real reason for him to lie to Simmons here.  I think that Will left a mark on Hive, gave him an affection towards Simmons and a desire not to kill her.  Who knows if this is something that the team might be able to exploit at a later date, but it definitely adds a new level of complexity to what could have been a very bland and one dimensional villain.

The episode ends by finally revealing what Hive plans to do, or at least a part of his plan.  He wants to use Doctor Radcliffe to try and recreate the experiments that the Kree did to create the Inhumans centuries before, which will allow Hive to transform ordinary people into Inhumans to add to his army.

'The Singularity' starts with a fast pace and tries to keep it going throughout the episode.  Despite some slower moments the episode does manage to deliver a lot of interesting plot developments, some great character development and some great visual moments.


Oxford, Alabama Introduces New Law To Spite Target & Trans Community

The City Council in Oxford, Alabama, has introduced a new law in order to prevent Target from allowing transgender people to use the bathrooms and changing rooms that match their gender identity.

 The new law, that was voted in unanimously, makes it illegal for anyone to use a public bathroom or changing room that does not match the gender on their birth certificate.  The law applies within both the city limits and police jurisdiction.

Under the new law violations must be reported by an eyewitness to the event, or be committed in front of a police officer to be able to be prosecuted.  Those who are found to be breaking the law will face a fine of $500, or face six months in prison.

Council President Steven Waits said that the decision came following an 'overwhelming' number of complaints from city residents regarding the decision made by the shopping chain Target to allow inclusion for transgender people.

Waits also said that the law was introduced by he and the council 'not out of concerns for the 0.3 percent of the population who identify as transgender, but to protect our women and children'.  He went on to say that the measures are not discriminatory.

Personally, I have to disagree with Mr Waits, this new law is completely discriminatory.  You have admitted to introducing it purely as a response to Target trying to give fair treatment to transgender people.  You label trans people as sex offenders and a threat to women and children.  This law is discriminatory, and you are disgusting.

You have made your city no better than Mississippi and North Carolina.  You have made Oxford a place that will be know as a city that discriminates, that allows bigots to make laws and to condemn marginalised groups.  History will not look favourably on you and those who voted for this new law, and frankly, you disgust me.


Tuesday, 26 April 2016

'JeruZalem' Review

This review WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS for the film to be discussed, if you do not want certain plot points or story spoilt, please do not read further.

'JeruZalem' is a found footage horror film set in the city of Jerusalem as the end of the world arrives in the form a zombie apocalypse mixed with religious end of the world imagery. 

Whilst found footage films don't seem to be going anywhere any time soon, are for the most part follow the same standard formula and tropes, 'JeruZalem' does attempt to do something a little different, even if it's execution leaves a little to be desired.

'JeruZalem' follows two American tourists, Rachel and Sarah, who travel to Israel for a holiday.  During their flight the two of them meet an anthropologist named Kevin, who is going to Jerusalem to research perform on doomsday mythology.  Kevin convinces the two girls to alter their travel plans and join him in Jerusalem.

Once they arrive in the city Kevin shows Sarah a video that he found on the dark Internet that shows Vatican footage of a woman who had returned from the dead and transformed into some kind of demonic creature.  Kevin is convinced that Jerusalem holds the secrets that he is looking for, but before he is able to find an explanation the city descends into chaos as the dead begin to rise and demons overrun the city.

The three of them join up with a group of survivors and try to make their escape from the city but come under attack from the demons.  Sarah is injured in the attack and begins to turn into one of the creatures as the infection takes over her body.

Trying to use the mines beneath the city the group is attacked yet again, leaving only Rachel and Kevin left alive.  The two of them manage to find their way out of the mines and emerge into daylight on the outskirts of Jerusalem.  Unfortunately, Rachel had become infected on the way out of the caves and transforms as they reach the outside world.  Rachel flies up into the air as we see Jerusalem burning and a flock of demons ascending into the sky as the film ends.

So, 'JeruZalem' is not a great film, not by any stretch of the imagination, though I have to give it points for trying something different.

The first thing that jumped out to me about the film was the fact that whilst it is a found footage film it doesn't reply on the idea of a character constantly carrying a video camera around with them.  Instead, the film's protagonist, Rachel, gets given a pair of Google Smart Glasses, which is the medium through which the events are recorded through.

Not only is this the first time I can remember a film using this idea, but it also makes a lot more sense from the realms of believability.  Instead of someone who is having to constantly carry around a camera in a life or death situation, it's a piece of wearable technology, something that can either be used to display street maps to help them find their way through the chaos, or something that can easily be forgotten is being worn.  

It immediately makes the film stand out as something different, something a little more believable and something that I would do, over running around with a camera during the apocalypse.  It also makes things feel a little more natural because you're not having to have people introduce themselves to the camera or explain who they are as normally happens in these kinds of films.  Instead, the Smart Glasses uses facial recognition to bring up people's Internet profiles and displays their names, getting to avoid what has become a fairly clunky trope of the genre.

The film uses the location to good effect too, making the most of the ancient and historical surroundings to make the film stand out against most other found footage films that are either set in abandoned buildings or western city streets.

Having actually been filmed in Jerusalem, the film instantly has a look and feel to it that gives it a sense of weight that sets would fail to bring; and authenticity that other places made to look like the middle east would lack.  It reminds me of another found footage horror film, 'As Above So Below', which was filmed in the Paris Catacombs and as such has something to it that gives it a feel all to itself.

Because the first half of the film is spent just following the characters around the city we get a real sense that this is a real place, full of real people, with many of the people in the backgrounds being actual citizens of the city and other visitors.  It gives a level of scope that you don't normally get from these kinds of films.

Sadly the film begins to fall into a number of traps as it begins to actually turn into a horror film and the zombie demons begin to attack.  Whilst the film tried to do a number of things different from other examples of this particular genre and style it soon starts to retread the same tired tropes that have been done again and again.

Rachel goes into an old mental asylum alone to rescue Kevin at one point in what has to be the worst part of the film.  She makes her way through an environment we've all seen so many times before, finds a locked door, has to try to find a key in an office, has to hide from the creature that suddenly appears.  It's dull and it slows the film down, and frankly its not even needed.  The film could have done away with the idea of Kevin being locked up and the film wouldn't have lost a single thing, if anything it would have actually flowed a lot better.

The last section of the film ends up not feeling too different from many other films in this genre, despite going a long way to try and make something that could have been different.  We never get any answers as to what is actually happening in Jerusalem beyond some theories given over by Kevin and the opening credits that are intermixed with narrated footage of the 70's Vatican footage (possibly one of the better parts of the film).

By the time the film ends it's not clear if the events have been caused by some kind of virus, which is hinted at through people changing after being bitten, or if it is somehow connected to an actual religious apocalypse, as is suggested by winged demons walking the street and Rachel's long dead brother appearing to her.  Whilst some might enjoy the idea of not knowing for sure and getting to make their own decision this is one time I've got to say that I'd rather have been given some firm answers as to what is actually happening.  Especially as in one scene we briefly see a giant Godzilla sized demon walking over the streets of the city.

As the film concluded I was left feeling a little underwhelmed by what I had seen, mainly because I recognised the seed of a very good idea hidden under the terrible mistakes that were made in the closing acts.  This could have been something interesting, it could have built a solid and unique mythology for itself, instead it's become a film that I'm sure many people will never see, and those that do will probably forget in short succession.

'JeruZalem' could have been a unique edition to the found footage horror genre, but fails by falling into using too many tropes and cliche choices, as well as not seeming to know what to do with it's own story.  A good effort, but one that manages to fall short at the end.


Thousands Boycott Target Over Trans Inclusion

Following the announcement that store chain Target would allow people to use the bathrooms and changing rooms of the gender that they identify with, therefore allowing trans inclusion, the fundamentalist christian activist group American Family Association has started a petition to boycott the retailer that has already reached more than half a million signatures.

The American Family Association uses fundamentalist christian teachings in order to promote hatred towards the LGBT+ community, as well as other religions and religious groups.  In the past they have attempted similar boycotts against companies such as Hallmark Cards, Burger King, Disney and Universal Studios (to name just a few) for 'promoting christian controversies, pornography, support of pro-choice activism, support of violence, support of LGBT rights and including same sex partner benefits'.

The American Family Association is also responsible for the creation of the groups One Million Moms and One Million Dads, two groups that have repeatedly targeted individuals and companies in harassment campaigns for LGBT+ inclusion.

In their latest protest around Target the American Family Association launched an online petition that outlined their fears on the matter as such;

'The American Family Association is calling for a boycott on Target after the retail giant said it would allow men to use women's restrooms and dressing rooms in their store.

'On it's website this week, Target announced, 'We welcome transgender team members and guests to use the restroom or fitting room facility that corresponds to their gender identity...everyone deserves to feel like they belong.'

'This means a man can simply say he 'feels like a woman today' to enter the women's restroom...even if young girls or women are already in there.

'Target's policy is exactly how sexual predators get access to their victims.  And with Target publicly boasting that men can enter women's bathrooms, where do you think predators are going to go?

'Clearly, Target's dangerous new policy poses a danger to wives and daughters.  We think many customers will agree.  And we think the average Target customer is willing to pledge to boycott Target stores until it makes protecting women and children a priority.

'One solution is a common sense approach and a reasonable solution to the issue of transgender customers: a unisex bathroom.  Target should keep separate facilities for men and women, but for the trans community and for those who simply like using the bathroom alone, a single occupancy unisex option provided.'

The petition then goes on to list several cases of 'proof' that transgender people will sexually assault people if given access to bathrooms and changing rooms, with the articles being designed purely to incite fear and hatred towards trans people with no real basis in reality.

As of the time of the writing of this article the boycott has so far received 653,801 signatures.

Despite the fact that so many individuals have signed to say that they will no longer be shopping with Target, Target have refused to reverse their stance or give in to threats on the issue.  Target spokesperson Molly Snyder has released a statement on the subject.

'We certainly respect that there are a wide variety of perspectives and opinions.  As a company that firmly stands behind what it means to offer our team an inclusive place to work - and our guests an inclusive place to shop - we continue to believe that this is the right thing for Target.'

Target also added that hundreds of Target stores already have 'single stall family restrooms for those who may be more comfortable with that option' for those who are protesting the inclusion of transgender people.

Whilst the American Family Association relies on fear, hatred and misinformation to push a radical religious view on other people, in a way that is akin to the terrorist actions of groups such as ISIS, Target has remained steadfast in their stance and have refused to reverse their stance.


Monday, 25 April 2016

Fox News Doctor Suggests Torturing Trans Children

Fox News medical 'expert' Dr. Keith Ablow appeared on Fox and Friends today to talk about transgender children, going so far as suggesting extremely abusive treatments for trans kids that borders on torture.

When talking about the anti-trans bathroom bills and the petition to boycott Target thousands of people have made following their policy of allowing transgender people to use the bathrooms of the gender that they identify with Ablow suggested treating transgender children with the hormones of the gender they were assigned at birth.

He also went on to suggest that transgender people only exist because of people being too afraid of political correctness to say otherwise, as well as comparing being transgender to claiming to be 65 in order to receive Medicare.

'Here's the bottom line.'  He said.  'The reason that the bathroom bill is centre stage in the presidential campaign and now in a national boycott that's up to about 500,000 people is because it represents more than bathrooms.  We're not just talking about who is going to use which restroom.  We're talking about whether closely held opinion of an individual will be allowed to overcome scientific data and history.

'Right, so if you believe that you are of one gender, but your DNA and your physical appearance and your physical anatomy are evidence of another gender, and there's that conflict, then if we allow people culturally to dictate terms in our culture, then we are also by extension may be in a position where we allow people to say that they are 65  when they're 45 and get Medicare, allow people to get tattooed head-to-foot and say I'm a black person.

'Now would that be offencive to black people, if that person got affirmative action preferences at school?  I think it might.  Why?  Because there's history.  There's culture, there's reality.  This is the leading edge.  Some would argue, I might, of unravelling our culture and perhaps our ability to plan for the future as a species.'

When the presenters asked him how he thought society had reached this point he replied; 'We got to this place because we care about people.  Okay, I understand that.  We're also too politically correct.  But look, there's not a lot of scientific evidence that it's better to approach transgender youth with the opposite hormone because we inject them with massive doses of testosterone if they're female to say look, we'll make you more comfortable with your chosen gender.

'You know, we don't even explore, should it be more estrogen?  Should we go with nature and say maybe we'll make you more female, more comfortable?  There aren't these explorations.  We don't treat with psychiatric medicines by and large to say maybe this is a bit of a fixed or false belief.  Not different than if you thought you were a black person when you are a Caucasian.  The science isn't even there.  So if we have a draft, God forbid, are we really prepared for 18-year-olds and 20-year-olds to assert that they are really more like 12-year-olds?  They feel it.  They're immature.  Their whole families have said look, much too immature to be drafted.  That's where we're headed.  Do we want to head there?'

Ablow's assertion that no other exploration to treatments for trans children have been explored other than puberty blockers and hormone replacement is ridiculous to the point of being a blatant lie.  The idea he suggested that the best way to treat transgender children is to give them more oestrogen to trans males and more testosterone to trans females is so akin to conversion therapy that it borders on torturous.

Trans people suffer because their bodies get flooded with the wrong hormones, because they go through the wrong puberty and they change in ways that cause them pain and discomfort.  Giving transgender children, or trans people of any age, more of the hormones that are causing them this pain is only going to intensify this.

Ablow's suggestions closely mirror practises from the 1940's, where gay men were forcibly given testosterone injections, and lesbians given oestrogen in an effort to 'cure' them of being gay, to bring their sexuality into line with heterosexual people.  These kind of 'procedures' have been rejected by mainstream medical practitioners for decades and it should be no different for transgender children.

It's worth noting that Ablow has a history of attacking transgender children with extreme, inaccurate claims.  Many experts and reports contradict the 'expert' advice that Ablow gives, with many agreeing that forcing transgender children to act in more gender-conforming ways is incredibly damaging and increases the levels of depression, self harm and suicide in trans youth.


GOP Sheriff Candidate Tracy Murphree Threatens Violence On Trans People

Tracy Murphree, a GOP candidate for Denton County sheriff, has faced criticism following a post on his Facebook page, which has subsequently been removed, where he threatened physical violence against transgender people.

Posted on April 22nd, Murphree wrote; 'This whole bathroom thing is craziness I have never seen.  All I can say is this: if my little girl is in a public women's restroom and a man, regardless of how they identify, goes into the bathroom, he will then identify as a John Doe until he waked up in whatever hospital he may be taken to.  Your identity does not trump my little girl's safety.  I identify as an overprotective father that loves his kids and would do anything to protect them.'

Despite receiving hundreds of likes and comments from people who agreed with his stance Murphree eventually removed the post after an outpouring of condemnation from the LGBT+ community, their allies, and people with sense.

One of those who spoke out against his comments was Amber Dyden Briggle, who was a candidate for Denton City Council District 3, and is the mother of an 8 year old transgender son.  Amber has been an outspoken advocate for transgender issues in the past, having also appeared at a TedTalk to discuss being the mother of a transgender son, as well as the challenges he faces in everyday life.

She wrote; 'As the parent of a transgender child who is only 8, Tracy, this ... really, really upsets me.  I know you are a protective parent, but SO AM I.  If my son were to walk into the women's room, looking the way he does, he would no doubt be corrected and sent to the men's room.  What we've done now is call attention to a young child, only 8 years old, who is now behind doors with a bunch of men - had he walked in there to use the bathroom to pee in the first place, no one would have batted an eye, because he looks like and IS a boy.'

Murphree responded to Briggle's comments by insisting that he is not a bigot, and instead insisted that she was part of the problem.

'Amber, you have demonstrated part of the problem.  You advocate your right to defend your child and state that your child has the right to pee in peace.  Yet when I advocate my right to defend my child and her right to pee in peace I'm a bigot and dangerous.  I am not a bigot, I have nothing against you or your child.  I would defend both of you with my life.

'Yes, I will be the next sheriff, and I will serve all citizens.  I will not sit back and not voice my beliefs and opinions. I will not give in to the political correctness police.  I will not be threatened by those who call me a bigot or ignorant.  I have no issue with transgender.  That's between them and God.  The few transgender rights do not trump the rights of the many.  I will not stand by in political correctness afraid of being labelled and allow a male to enter a bathroom my daughter occupies.  I just won't do that.'

Murphree went on to tell the Dallas Observer, 'This is not an anti-transgender issue.  It's a safety issue.  I'm not afraid of transgenders.  I'm afraid of who will take advantage of the rules to get close to kids.  The rights of transgenders do not trump the rights of anyone else.'

Not only as Murphree's comments massively insulting to transgender people and their supporters, but they are blatantly advocating the physical violence against transgender individuals (something that is illegal, which you would think a law enforcement officer would be aware of) and are contradictory one moment to the next.

A massive part of the issues around the transgender bathroom laws, as we all know, is that there is no evidence what-so-ever to back up the opinion that there is any connection between trans people using the correct bathrooms and sexual assaults on women and children.  Transgender people are the ones that are the most likely to come into harm by using the wrong bathrooms, and violence and sexual assault on women and children is statistically more likely to occur from someone they know over a stranger.

The notion that Murphree is complaining that he has been labelled a bigot because he wants his daughter to be safe is laughable.  Mr Murphree, you are not being called a bigot because you want your daughter to be safe, you are being called a bigot because you are encouraging physical violence against a marginalised group.  That's why Amber is not a bigot and you are, because she is preaching a message of peace and acceptance, whereas you are threatening to beat someone unconscious.

People who believe that people are safer from sexual predators because there is a law in place that tells trans people to use the bathroom of the gender they were assigned at birth then you are a fool.  People already break laws, laws against violence, sexual assault and paedophilia, are you seriously saying that your bathroom law is the one that will make them say 'damn, that's one law too many now, best not go and abuse some kids'?

If anything these laws are making it easier for people to perpetuate these kinds of assaults.  I very, very highly doubt that a predator is going to go through the trouble of crossdressing and pretending to be a transgender woman in order to get into the women's bathroom.  Luckily for them though they don't have to now, as they can just walk into a public bathroom and say that they were assigned female at birth and that the law is telling them to be in the women's bathroom.  You've just gone and make things worse for everyone except the predators.

Anti-trans bathroom laws benefit no one.  They put transgender people in danger.  They allow people to be open to abuse.  They make states, and America as a whole look incredibly bigoted and hateful (the UK Foreign Office is actually warning LGBT+ people about travelling to America now).  They are losing business and states money.

These laws are wrong, people like Murphree who call for violence against trans people are wrong.  Don't be remembered as one of the people who got it wrong when history looks back on this, be one of the ones who did the right thing.


Game of Thrones 'The Red Woman' Review

This review WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS for the episode to be discussed, if you do not want certain plot points or story spoilt, please do not read further.

After months of waiting, of wild speculation, Game of Thrones returns to our screens to answer the burning questions left over at the end of season five.  Did Myrcella die?  Did Sansa and Theon survive their jump?  What happens to Daenerys?  Is Arya blind forever?  Is Jon Snow dead, and if so will he come back?

The first episode of season six visits all of these stories, and whilst it slowly begins to dish out answers to the things fans have been clamouring to know it leaves the most important one unanswered for now, Jon Snow does not return from the dead in this episode.  I feel that it's important to get that out of the way first.

The scenes at Castle Black are some of the more important ones in the episode, and that's reflected in the fact that it's the only story in the episode that has two separate sections, where every other story has just the one.  Ser Davos finds the body of Jon Snow, left in the courtyard of Castle Black beneath a sign reading 'traitor'.  With the help of Dolorous Edd and a handful of Nights Watch brothers they manage to secure themselves in Jon's quarters with the body, joined by Ghost and Melisandre.

Alliser Thorne has not just managed to turn those members of the Nights Watch who took part in the murder of Jon, but has managed to talk around the rest of them to his way of thinking.  Realising that they are no match for Thorne and the rest of the Watch on their own, Edd heads out to find help from people who owe Jon Snow their lives, the Wildlings.

In Kings Landing Cersei is reunited with Jamie, who has returned with the body of their daughter Myrcella after she was poisoned at the end of the last season.  Despite being an evil woman you can't help but feel a little sorry for Cersei here as a mother who has lost yet another of her children.  It's made even sadder by the fact that unlike Joffrey Myrcella was a nice person.

The Lannisters are a hard family to like, Jamie and Cersei have done despicable things over the course of the show, and even before then, and whilst Jamie has gone a way towards redeeming himself slightly the more we find out about him Cersei has firmly stayed in the 'evil bitch' category.  I doubt anyone is going to reverse their views on Cersei just because of what has happened to Myrcella, but it does show a much more vulnerable and human side to the character that we rarely see.

Elsewhere in Kings Landing we briefly catch up with Margaery Tyrell, who is still being held captive by the High Septon and his religious army.  Nothing much really happens with Margaery here to move her story forward, and it feels more like a reminder to the audience that she's in custody rather than anything else.

In Dorne Ellaria Sand and the Sand Snakes make their move against Prince Doran when the news of Myrcella's death reaches him.  Ellaria stabs Doran through the heart, and as he lays on the ground dying, tells him that Dorne is tired of weak leaders who do nothing to get revenge for the deaths of Elia and Oberyn Martell.  His guards watch, unmoving as he dies, indicating that many are standing behind Ellaria and her desire for revenge, and that Dorne may be going to war with the Lannisters very soon.

The deaths of the Dornish royal family aren't just limited to Doran, however, as two of the Sand Snakes confront his son, Trystane, aboard his ship at Kings Landing.  The scene builds towards a fight scene as Trystane prepares for combat against Nymeria, but expectations are suddenly subverted as Obara stabs him through the back of the head with her spear whilst his back is turned.

The moment comes as a complete surprise, to both the audience and the character, but it is one that everyone should really have seen coming as they show has historically been full of these kinds of moments.

In Meereen we join Tyrion and Varys as they walk the streets of Danny's kingdom, surveying the damage left behind by the Children of the Harpy and their campaign of terror.  Despite having been left in charge of the city last season it would appear that Tyrion is able to walk the streets of Meereen with little trouble, though I am sure that as the series progresses he will become better known to the citizens of the city and become a target of the Children of the Harpy as well.  Despite Danny having left the city in a blaze of glory on the back of Drogon it would appear that the Children of the Harpy are still causing trouble as we discover the docks have come under attack and Danny's fleet burned beyond repair.

Danny herself has been captured by a Dothraki horde under the command of Khal Jhaqo.  Despite being treated as a slave, with members of his Kalasar tormenting her about raping her, it is through a combination of strong will and the fact that she was Khaleesi to Drogo that sees her freed from her restraints and treated with respect.  It would appear that despite Drogo and Jhaqo having been rival Khals in the past the traditions of the Dothraki are very strict, and that Danny will be treated with the utmost respect due to her position.

Whilst Danny was hoping that Jhaqo would assist her, and offers him a thousand healthy horses for his Kalasar in return for return her safely to Meereen, Jhaqo refuses, stating instead that as a widow to a Khal Danny must be taken to the Dothraki capital of Vaes Dothrak, where she will live with the other widowed Khaleesi's for the rest of her life.

Luckily for Danny her two most loyal men, Ser Jorah Mormont and Daario Naharis, are hot on her trail, tracking her across the Dothraki Sea.  Following the trail left by Drogon and his kills they discover the place where Danny was captured by the Dothraki, giving them a clear route to follow to find their queen.  In this scene we also see that Jorah's greyscale is spreading.

In the north Sansa and Theon have survived their jump from the walls of Winterfell and are running for their lives from the men and the hounds that Ramsey has sent after them.  With the pursuers hot on their trail and Sansa running out of strength Theon attempts to lure the men away, giving her the chance to escape.  Despite the plan failing it shows that Reek is now long gone and Theon is back, having the bravery to be willing to put his life on the line to save Sansa's life.

Luckily for the two of them help arrives in the form of Brienne and Podrick, who manage to kill the Bolton men and save the two of them.  Having realised that Brienne is indeed out to help her and has her best interests at heart Sansa accepts Brienne's oath of loyalty and takes her into her service.  Together the four of them begin to head north to Castle Black and Jon.

Things are faring less favourably for the other Stark sibling as Arya is still blind from the events of the season five finale, and is surviving by begging on the streets of Bravos.  It's not clear is this is part of her training, but I suspect that since the end of the last season Arya has not been with the Faceless Men.  That changes though as the young girl from the House of Black and White returns, giving Arya a staff before attacking her with her own and beating her.  She leaves Arya defeated on the ground and tells her that she will see her tomorrow.  It looks like Arya's training is due to continue, despite her going against the teachings of the Faceless Men when she killed Meryn Trant, and that her loss of sight is a part of that training.

The episode ends where it began, at Castle Black, where we are given one of our most surprising revelations and shocking moments as we discover Melisandre's big secret.  Throughout the episode, and since the defeat of Stannis Baratheon, we see that Melisandre's faith in the Lord of Light has been damaged, perhaps to the point where it is beyond repair.  

In the final moments of the episode Melisandre strips and removes her ruby necklace, as the necklace comes away we see the real Melisandre for the first time, a withered old woman.  There have been hints in the series, and even more in the books, that Melisandre is much older than she appeared and was using her magic to look youthful.  

The books have included mentions that Melisandre only needs to sleep one hour a night, and that she does not require food or water to survive, and now showrunner David Benioff has confirmed that during conversations with George RR Martin it was mentioned that Melisandre is 'several centuries old'.

What this shaking of her faith and the reveal of her true self means for the show is yet to be seen, but considering that many, myself included, were counting on Melisandre and her magics to be the person to bring Jon Snow back to life means that what happens to her next could be very, very important to the series as a whole.

'The Red Woman' spent a lot of time catching up with many of the players of the story rather than delving deep into one particular character or plot thread, but manages to set the stage for important developments going into the next episode.


Sunday, 24 April 2016

Legends of Tomorrow 'Last Refuge' Review

This review WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS for the episode to be discussed, if you do not want certain plot points or story spoilt, please do not read further.

Legends of Tomorrow borrows from another classic time travel story this week as the team face their own version of the Terminator, in the form of a Time Master assassin named The Pilgrim, who will travel back in time to kill each member of the team in the past in order to remove them from their present.

Whilst this episode isn't the most original of the series so far, but it does have more a sense of pace and urgency to it as the team race around time to try and prevent The Pilgrim from killing their younger selves.

Having set up the Pilgrim at the end of the previous episode 'Last Refuge' jumps straight into the action as the team arrives at a key moment in Mick's past and prevents The Pilgrim from assassinating the teenage version of their team mate.

The team decide that the best way to ensure the safety of their younger selves is to not only stop The Pilgrim in her assassination attempts, but to remove their younger selves from the timeline so that she cannot find them.  The next team member they go after is a young Sara, who is visiting Starling City police station as part of a 'bring your daughter to work day'.

The station comes under attack from The Pilgrim, who makes her way through the building, beating down police officers and with bullets bouncing off her in what is easily the most terminator like moment of the whole episode.  Once again though the team are able to arrive and stop The Pilgrim before she can kill her target.

Next on the list is Ray, who begins to display visible injuries whilst on the Waverider as The Pilgrim attacks him at Palmer Technologies during the events of season 3 of Arrow.  Why Ray in the present gets injured when a version of him two years in the past is being attacked isn't really explained, and his injuries vanish the moment that the attack is stopped.  It's one part of the episode that stands out as very strange, especially as at this point it's the only way that the team are able to figure out where The Pilgrim is.

From here the team chose to go and steal their younger selves as babies from the timeline in order to prevent The Pilgrim from being able to target them at any point in their lives.  It's at this point that the story introduces Jax's father James into the story.  Up to now we've only heard about Jax's mother, and it transpires that that's because his father was killed in combat shortly after Jax's birth, and that he never knew his father.

Whilst this new plot thread seems to come out of nowhere it does manage to add a little bit of a human element into what would otherwise have been a purely action oriented story.  The moment where Jax gets to meet his father and speak to him, and the subsequent talk between him and Stein, gives him some character development and depth than he's had so far, and that's definitely a good thing.

The episode also introduces the idea of a Time Master Orphanage, where future Time Masters are taken from their places in the timestream and raised together somewhere outside of time.  It's here that the team meet Rip's adoptive mother, who runs the orphanage, as well as a young version of Rip himself, though we don't realise who it is at this point in the episode.

It's in these scenes that we find out that Rip's original name is Michael, which differs slightly from his comic book counterpart, whose real name is Richard.  What is interesting though is that in the comics Rip Hunter is the son of time travelling superhero Booster Gold.  Despite being older than Booster when they work together during their comic series it's revealed that Rip is training his own father to be the hero who will go on to raise him Rip.

Fans have been speculating and hoping that Booster will make an appearance in the show at some point in the future, mainly due to his connection to Rip.  Well, that may actually be happening but in a slightly different way than anyone was expecting.  You see, in the comics Booster Gold's name is Michael.  Perhaps the writers are combining the two characters into one singular entity, and Rip will don the Booster Gold identity at some point in the future.

It's also in these scenes at the Orphanage that we get to see some massive character development in Mick, as he confronts his younger self about the house fire that killed his parents.  He basically tells his younger self not to go down the same path that he has and to become a better person.  Whilst the desire to change and become a hero has been obvious in Snart, it's been completely absent in Mick up to this point.  Clearly his time on the team and the years spent as Chronos has led to some massive changes in Mick that has pushed him to trying to become a better person too.

Unable to locate any of her targets The Pilgrim snatches the team's loved ones from the time stream instead, including Ray's finance, Detective Lance and Jax's father.  Instead of agreeing to hand over the younger counterparts of the team, Rip makes a deal to give The Pilgrim the younger version of himself instead.

The showdown with The Pilgrim is very impressive, with the minimal surroundings giving the team's powers the chance to really shine as they stand out against the stark backgrounds.  The show runners also make great use of The Pilgrim's abilities to slow down time as the team all attack at once in one of the most visually dynamic scenes that the series has given us yet.

The team manages to overcome The Pilgrim thanks to help from the younger version of Rip, who turns out to be quite vicious and nasty, and she gets reduced to a pile of burnt ashes.  It's a shame that the team literally burn her to nothing as it's removed what could go on to be quite a good recurring character, but this is sci-fi, so there's nothing to say that she won't come back one day.

With the Time Masters still wanting Rip and his team erased from the timeline it's decided that it's best for their younger selves to remain in hiding, the downside of this is that the longer their younger selves are removed from the timeline the changes will become permanent, meaning that many of them will never have existed beyond their births.

The team decides that in order to prevent that they have no choice but to finish their mission as quickly as they can and eliminate Vandal Savage.  Not knowing where to strike at him in the timeline the choice is made to strike at him the once place where they know he will be, the moment when he takes over the world at the height of his power.

This definitely adds a sense of urgency going into the last episodes of the series, and it will hopefully mean that they team will be facing some very big challenges as they try to bring their mission to a close.