Stephanie Watches The Fall

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I stumbled across The Fall on Netflix last year while looking for a new series to watch. Gillian Anderson aka Federal Agent Dana Scully being the main character was also a big draw. And with only 6 episodes in each season, that seemed like an easy show to get through.

“Easy” to get through it was not. (That sounds like Yoda.)

Scully–FINE, I’ll call her Stella Gibson–a Senior Investigating Officer, is assigned to Belfast to help out with an unsolved murder investigation. When the killer strikes again, she realizes this is not an isolated incident and the hunt is on.

Meanwhile, Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan from OUAT/50 Shades of Grey), appears to be a respectable family man, working as a grief counselor. He has those kind, understanding eyes and cares deeply about his children with a special bond to his daughter But the realization of his true life is revealed as he stalks brunette women, getting to know them intimately before he strikes.

Thus, the cat-and-mouse game between Stella and Paul is underway.

This show is fascinating, but also extremely creepy. Our TV culture is obsessed with getting its viewers to feel for the murderous/adulterous misunderstood man (e.g. Walter White, Don Draper, Dexter). By showing Paul’s affection towards his children is definitely an attempt at tugging on our heartstrings. But the moment he attacks, all that is forgotten and we see his true self.

“Men like Spector are all too human, too understandable. He’s not a monster. He’s just a man.”

Nope, not creepy at all!

Nope, not creepy at all!

Stella constantly reminds us that Paul is simply a man. That all men are capable of these acts. That we shouldn’t give him any credence because he feels godly or above a basic human because he is capable of such violence and heinous acts towards women.

In order to punctuate her point that all men have this capability in some form or another, she reminds a colleague that: “No, you’re not [like him]. But you still came to my hotel room uninvited and mounted some kind of drunken attack on me. I was saying no quite clearly. You ignored me and carried on…No, it’s not the same. But you still crossed the line.”

Stella is in charge of not only her work, but of herself. She has no qualms about taking men to bed for one-night-stands and shrugging them off the next day. She knows who she is and what she wants. And she breaks the rules to get there when need be.

“Why are women emotionally and spiritually so much stronger than men?
“Because the basic human form is female. Maleness is a kind of birth defect.”

One of my favorite things are the parallels in filming created between Stella and Paul. Their actions are mimicked, but in completely opposite circumstances, which just adds to the creepy factor. Stella doing seemingly mundane research, while Paul stalks his next victim. Or Stella taking someone to bed, while Paul cuddles one of his children. It’s just a really cool way to illustrate who they are.

Gillian Anderson is also British in this show, which took a bit of getting used to for me. She grew up in London and developed the accent as a child, but eventually trained herself to speak with more of an American accent when she moved to America. She can easily shift back and forth between her two accents, depending on the circumstance. Sometimes she does interviews with her British accents, sometimes not. It’s interesting. Anyhoo…

All in all, this show is dark, it’s uncomfortable, it’s squeamish, but it’s important. If you have 12 hours to spare and love the slow burn of a serial killer drama, I’d recommend checking out the 2 seasons of The Fall on Netflix.

And I sure hope there is a series 3 because it ended on quite a bit of a cliffhanger.

Stephanie Reads Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 10 Issue #11

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This issue is set up a little differently, focusing on each character individually as they explore a different romantic path.

  • Buffy attempts speed dating with disastrous results.
  • Xander and Dawn take in a movie.
  • Willow hangs out with her fish goddess lady.
  • Someone from Giles’s past returns.
  • Andrew discovers something about himself that we’ve all known all along.
  • Spike is helping out his police buddy to distract himself from any dating temptations.

And in the end, the girls come together for some serious girl talk. Of which Buffy is totally not having. Sometimes you need your ladies to just agree with you, not call you out! But Buffy finally makes an important decision; one they’ve been teasing us about all season.

Find out in this month’s issue! Pick yours up from Dark Horse or your local comic book shop!

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Stephanie Watches Black Mirror

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After seeing a few people on my various social media feeds mention this show called Black Mirror, I had to check it out for myself. Naturally, I watched all 6 episodes available (3 episodes per season) over the course of a couple days on Netflix.

The series is a set of self-contained episodes. Every episode features a different story, a different cast, and a different idealized reality altogether. Therefore, you can watch any of them without having to follow anything from a previous episode. In short, it’s sort of a modernized version of the Twilight Zone with a focus on how technology is adversely affecting our daily lives. From the sensationalized way we devour media to the creepy ways we try to hold on to what is lost to the obsession of being able to relive every moment of your life, this show touches on how we are ruled by our devices. And it’s extremely disturbing.

While the series overall was compelling and insanely thought-provoking, two episodes in particular stood out to me.

Fifteen Million Merits” is set in a dystopian world where people are surrounded and inundated by screens filled with reality shows and porn and spend their days on an exercise bike, ranking up points day by day to spend on food or a new hat for their avatar. But if you have 15 million points, you can spend it on a ticket to try out for the X-Factor type reality show and supposedly move on to bigger and better things. The main character Bing befriends a young woman named Abi (Sybil from Downton Abbey) after hearing her sing in the restroom. Their relationship slowly blossoms and all he wants to do is help her get out of this world of bike slavery to become a star–so much so that he spends all of his merits on her ticket to try out. But when she gets there to sing, the judges believe she would be a better fit for another way of life.

I won’t say anymore because this was one of the most intense hours of television I’ve experienced, especially after only spending such a short time with these characters. But I fell in love with Bing and found myself tearing up quite a few times. The real emotion set against the backdrop of artificiality of never-ending screens evoked a strong urge to never look at my phone again. (Well, maybe for 5 minutes.) Also, I use the exercise bike as my daily workout…not sure how I would be able to be on that thing all day. Jeez. Let’s hope this imagined world does not become a reality. Except parts of it already are. We are all obsessed with reality and competition shows. We play iPhone games and spend real money on more moves in Candy Crush. This world is not that far-fetched.

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The other episode that really struck me was “Be Right Back” starring the lovely Hayley Atwell aka Agent Peggy Carter. I may have been a little biased when I began the episode because of that, but it turned out to be my other favorite of the series. Hayley plays Martha, a young woman madly in love with her husband Ash, played by Domhnall Gleeson. Ash ends up dying early on in the episode and a grief-stricken Martha can barely go on. A friend of hers signs her up for a service that will allow her to speak to Ash in order to deal with and eventually get over her grief.

At first I thought this would have a supernatural element, but they quickly explain that it’s just a program that scans the entire internet history of the person so it can mimic the way the person would type. When Martha learns that she’s pregnant, her desperation and loneliness takes over and she messages “Ash.” She gradually becomes addicted to talking to him, soon uploading videos and recordings of him so she can take it to the next level and speak to him on the phone. We can see that she is slightly bothered that she has to explain to “Ash” what he would say in a certain situation, but she gets over it. She just wants to talk to him. But even that isn’t enough for her and she takes the plunge to the final level: buying (and growing, basically) a clone so that her husband can be physically with her again. But…it’s just not him.

Hayley spent much of the episode on her own, carrying each scene so beautifully. We experienced everything with her: her grief, her fear of being alone, her relief at speaking to her husband again, and the despair in her realization that she can never truly have him back. There was also such a level of creepiness that carried through until the end. But it really showed the grief process and the desperation we feel after losing someone.

If you watch any episodes, I highly recommend those two. The others had very strong messages as well and also had excellent moments. I’ve also just learned that there is a Christmas episode that aired in December starring Jon Hamm (!!!!!), so I need to track that down somewhere.

I think I got the wrong message out of this… I only want to be glued to my screen to enjoy more episodes!

Stephanie Turns 27!

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I turned 27 this past January 8th. Eeep! Despite the weirdness of getting older, I had a pretty fantastic birthday (mainly thanks to my boyfriend Robby) that included my favorite food, homemade toasted ravioli, and some crazy good drinks at Violet Hour. I had never been there before, so it was a nice treat.

And then I had a big party on Saturday with many of my local Chicago friends! The party was so hoppin’ we even got a noise complaint! Ha.

Missy and Ali made me a delicious Nutella Oreo cheesecake. I wish I still had leftovers because oh my god, so good. Ali also made me a gorgeous portrait of my face because I am a very vain person, obviously. Kelsey embroidered a Buffy moment for me (Giles’s slides from the episode “Hush”)!!! She also got me a tank top that has a cat with a Molotov cocktail, some dinosaur socks, and Alison Hendrix’s eyeliner from Orphan Black. (Oh yes, Clone Club make-up tutorials are coming soon!)

All in all, it was a great night, the last of the partygoers leaving around 5AM. So, thanks to everyone who made this a great birthday! I hope the rest of the year is just as great.

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Stephanie Watches Marvel’s Agent Carter: 1×03 “Time and Tide”

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The Leviathan mystery continues with the SSR hot on Peggy and Jarvis’s leads. Unfortunately, the biggest lead being that they found Stark’s car bumper among the oil refinery wreckage, which leads them to Jarvis’s home where he and Peggy are about to do some field work.

They take him in for questioning and Peggy must helplessly watch as her SSR cohorts question him. But through this, she also learns that he was arrested for treason. Seeing that Jarvis might break soon as they threaten to deport him and his wife, Peggy sacrifices her own work reputation to save her new friend. She makes a clerical error, you know, something dumb a woman might do (according to these chowderheads) and they have to let Jarvis go. Once again, Peggy uses her disadvantage as a woman in the workplace to gain an advantage.

Once free, the two continue their mission and find Stark’s missing items on a boat. We also learn that Jarvis was accused of treason because she tried to save his Jewish wife from a very terrible fate during the war. Stark took him in afterwards. Once the SSR has been alerted to the scene thanks to Jarvis, Peggy has a knock-down-drag-out fight with some hired muscle and brutally beats the crap out of him with any and all nearby objects, including one of Stark’s inventions. The two hightail it out of there just in time for the SSR to show up. And for some pretty terrible stuff to go down.

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I’m finding Peggy’s life in the women’s group home very fascinating. I asked my history buff mom if living like that was a real thing for women in the 1940s (I assumed so, but yeah) and it sure was. Women newly entering the workforce were subjected to all kinds of immoral temptations that could ruin their reputation as an innocent lady, so they lived together to protect themselves from that. Yikes. But it’s very telling that a young woman got kicked out of the home for letting a man sneak into her room late at night.

The show’s focus on the newest resident named Dottie Underwood seems a bit suspicious, as does the woman’s excitement about living there. I’ve seen others guessing that she is an undercover Leviathan agent sent to spy on Peggy. That’s very possible. It’s also possible that she’s the one that’s been following her throughout the episode. All we see is a shadowy figure in a hat, so who’s to say it can’t be a woman? Peggy rocks her hat, after all.

I’m also enjoying Peggy’s blossoming relationship with diner waitress and neighbor Angie. She’s opening up to her slowly but surely. This is both fantastic and terrible since I fear something awful will happen to her. But hopefully that night, the two got drunk on Angie’s schnapps and giggled late into the night together.

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Other things of note:

  • Jarvis’s American accent.
  • “You got a guy, Peggy?”
    “I’m afraid I’m married to my work at the moment.”
  • Jarvis said the word Budapest and my brain exploded. WHY ALWAYS BUDAPEST
  • “My landlady gave me an idea.”
    “Oh, splendid. Why, now if we could get an idea from your butcher…”
  • Sousa’s crush on Peggy so very obviously continues, even if his buddy told him to give it up. NO, DON’T!
  • “Mr. Stark would trust a shark if it was wearing a short enough skirt.” STARK BURN.
  • Jarvis’s wife has a voice and a name: Anna! She exists!
  • “I think that jerk quite fancies you.”
    “Shut up, English. You talk too much.”
  • I love the soft focus the show has. Everything seems to sparkle. But maybe those are just my eyes when I look at Peggy.
  • “Unbelievable, a known fugitive isn’t answering his door.”
    “Knock harder.”
    “Sure, can I borrow your forehead?”

Stephanie Wears Bioware’s Miranda Hoodie

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“We can’t pretend to be anything other than troubleshooting space divas.”

I audibly gasped when Bioware Store released the image for this hoodie because I didn’t know that I needed and wanted this. Miranda is one of my favorite characters in the Mass Effect series and who can resist those damn hexagons? Plus, I did the alternative black version of her costume when I cosplayed her, so it was nice to get something that mirrored the original version.

Bioware has been really on point with their apparel lately. Everything is really inventive and fun, while still remaining true to the character. I love owning things like this because it’s a way to show off your geek pride without being too obvious. I could wear a shirt that says “I love Miranda Lawson from Mass Effect” or I could wear this hoodie. And those people who get it will be the ones to really appreciate it. And I’ve gotten a ton of compliments from people who have no idea what it’s from.

The hoodie itself is extremely soft on the inside and I feel so cozy in it. I generally wear small to mediums in tops, but I was glad I got the medium since it’s very form fitting along the sides. I’m glad that it’s so fitted because most hoodies have that baggy effect, but this is actually flattering. The sleeves have thumb holes, which is a fun feature. I enjoy having super long sleeves because my hands get cold easily. The embroidered Cerberus logo detail is also very vibrant. The funnel neck style has been perfect for this week’s negative windchill weather. Earlier this winter, I was able to even go scarf-less and still keep my neck warm. Overall, this has become my go-to item to bundle up in this winter. I highly recommend it if you want to subtley be a troubleshooting Cerberus cheerleader space diva.

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Get the Miranda Hoodie here!

Stephanie Watches Marvel’s Agent Carter: 1×01 “Now is Not the End” and 1×02 “Bridge and Tunnel”

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Marvel’s Agent Carter had a double-episode premiere to really throw us into the story.

The story takes place very shortly after Peggy assumes Steve Rogers aka Captain America died in battle saving the world from the Red Skull.

She’s stuck in the boy’s club of the SSR being looked down upon as a mere secretary when she is capable of so much more, but none of those boys want to give her a chance. (Wow, this is eerily similar to a job experience I had…in the 2000s.) The sexism is rampant in the 1940s and Peggy faces it from the workplace to the diner to the club, but she also knows how to use it to her advantage.  And how to use it to defend ladies less capable than her. (That diner scene with the fork! Ahhh!) If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, as long as you know that you’re the one being manipulative. Mwahaha.

Howard Stark, aka Tony’s daddy, is currently on the run as a traitor to the U.S. because they believe he sold some pretty scary technology to some pretty scary people, when really someone broke in to his vault and stole his formulas. He knows Peggy is capable of handling this and also offers his butler Jarvis if she needs any assistance, which Peggy adamantly and often insists she does not.

Despite this, Jarvis proves an invaluable companion. No matter how much Peggy protests it.

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After losing Steve, so many soldiers in the war, and now her roommate as a result of her involvement, she doesn’t want anyone to get close to her. Even Jarvis. It’s a very lonely life. As the show goes, I hope that we will likely see her growing close to people as she lets those walls down. Just in time for them to die horribly, I’m sure. Ha.

Throughout these two episodes, Peggy continues to be one step ahead of her SSR coworkers, which baffles and frustrates them to no end. The less they know, the better and safer they are though. Despite how terrible they may treat her, she still doesn’t want anyone to get hurt or for Stark to be seen as a traitor, even if she is potentially compromising herself as a traitor by helping him.

But there is one shining member of the SSR: Daniel Sousa. A man who lost his leg in the war and seems to have a soft spot for her, especially after catching an emotional display as she looked at Steve’s photo. He doesn’t call her out for it or diminish her feelings and emotions simply because she is a woman, but instead tries to connect with her. They’ve both been through it. They both get what the war did to people. I could definitely see a relationship blooming between them as the show goes. And perhaps he will become a trusted ally, one with whom she can share her true skills. I assume (hope) it will be some sort of accident, where he’ll walk in after she’s just kicked a ton of ass, but that would also be entertaining. Or maybe he will be the damsel and she will rescue him. Ahhh, that would be amazing.

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I love the 1940s feel of the show. The costumes, the cars, the jazzy music, all the little details: everything was so fun to see. And I enjoyed the juxtaposition of the Captain America radio show of a damsel in distress being rescued while Peggy beat the ever-loving crap out of someone. Heehee!

Overall, I thought this was a strong opening for the short series. Peggy is such a fun character and it’s awesome to see a female-led show. I love that you don’t have to be a superhero in the Marvel-verse to still be a strong, capable warrior that helps save the world. Peggy is definitely that. She’s more than proved it in just these two episodes.

Although now I’m convinced that Peggy is actually the 1940s-era Vampire Slayer and Jarvis is obviously her Watcher.

Fun Tidbits:

  • “What’s your name, darling?”
    “Agent.”
  • Knocking dudes unconscious with staplers, stabbing people with forks, Peggy is so brutal. I LOVE IT.
  • Bubs from The Wire was the club owner!!
  • That sparkly dress and blond wig? Damn, she fine!
  • Sneaky Peggy trying to get into Daniel’s desk and then nonchalantly returning to her desk and eating her lunch with her legs propped up when he got back. His confusion was perfect.
  • So happy to see Enver in a show. He is SO talented. Put him in more things, world!
  • Big fight on top of a speeding truck! Wooo!
  • Peggy’s milk inspector disguise cracked me up.
  • Jarvis’s domesticity was fantastic. I wonder if we will meet his elusive wife? (Or if he even has one?)
  • “Mr. Jarvis, you do realize this job will have certain after-hours requirements.”
    “So does my wife.”
  • The conversation between Peggy and Jarvis about carrying the world on their shoulders just solidifies the whole slayer/watcher thing, FYI.

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In conclusion, I am in love with Peggy Carter.

Stephanie Reads Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 10 Issue #10

24761Guarding the Vampyr book has become somewhat of a full-time job for the Scoobs (and Spike). Willow is still trying to do the real job thing at a computer company, while Buffy has to stay home and answer the beck and call of all manner of under-worldly beasts, demons, vampires, leprechauns, and more for their new magic rule requests.

After a long day of this, Dawn suggests the girls go enjoy a day at the spa to relieve some stress, leaving Spike to protect the book. And who should show up but Harmony and her fanboy Clem! Hearing about the book, Harmony obviously has her own visions of what the new world should be like. Naturally, everyone should be worshiping her, loving her, and she should be the star of everything. (She and Jonathan should really team up, eh?)

Harmony hits Spike on the head and steals the book. Does she get the world she desires? Does Buffy actually relax and get a manicure? Find out in this hilarious issue!

Pick up Issue #10 to check out what happens!

 

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Stephanie Plays Dragon Age: Inquisition

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My last save before I initiated the final mission in Dragon Age: Inquisition clocked in at over 99 hours. I imagine by the end, I was at about 100. I likely could have beaten it sooner, but I found myself getting constantly lost–in a good way–in exploration of all the different areas, completing side quests without even trying. “Oh, there’s another rift… Guess I’ll just close that while I’m here.”

It’s safe to say that this game has consumed my life for the past few weeks. Any time I was not at work or forced to socialize, I was glued to my computer playing. “Just one more side quest before bed… I gotta give that old lady in Redcliffe Village the ring I found…” And any time I wasn’t playing, I was thinking about playing. The Dragon Age world is enormous. Actually enormous is an understatement. When it first came out, I remember several articles released telling people they needed to get out of the Hinterlands already because there is so much more to do! Well, whatever, I like the Hinterlands, it’s all pretty and green with little Nugs running around and there aren’t any scary giants. There is, however, a dragon that will burn you the moment you come out of this one cave. I think it got everyone I’ve talked to. Surprise! You’re on fire!

Warning: Mega spoilers beyond this point as I’ve included all the decisions I made in the game! Maker’s breath! This is insanely long. 

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