Glimmer of Genius

Brian Adds Glimmer of Genius

Posted by Fetchland Editor | Magic, Top 8 Magic

The Stink Bomb Podcast

ManaDeprived published a new episode of Top 8 Magic yesterday! Yay!

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Mike and Brian spend the first fifty or so minutes of this podcast on a new-ish deck that they are planning to play at this weekend’s Grand Prix New Jersey. It is a straightforward B/G Aetherworks Marvel deck.

BDM laments the non-flavorful state of present day deck lists. To Brian, “Mardu Vehicles” and “Mardu Ballista” may be descriptive… But they are boring deck names. He names the deck “Stink Bomb” because it is kind of descriptive, but certainly not boring.

Noxious Gearhulk is noxious… Ergo the “stink”; Aetherworks Marvel is the bomb! You know, “bomb”. Put together, they , Stink Bomb.

Glimmer of Genius in Stink Bomb

Stink Bomb is the classic michaelj metagame deck. It is meant to beat particular opponents, and aimed directly at them. Mike maintains that B/G Marvel as a concept is heavily favored against the conventional B/G decks as well as Mardu Vehicles.

The problem? The format isn’t that simple any more.

Brian has been playing the heck out of competitive leagues getting ready for Grand Prix New Jersey, and claims that Temur Tower is the rising It Girl of Standard. Stink Bomb as Mike originally conceived it is not prepared for a format where Temur Tower is potentially The Deck to Beat. It is trivial for Temur Tower to Negate all of our Aetherworks Marvels, while Ulamog rots in our hands; this would result in defeat for our heroes 🙁

Something shocking happens!

Over the course of the first hour, Brian chips away at Mike’s stubbornness. BDM convinces Mike to add blue to fight Temur Tower in sideboarded games. Once Mike is on board with adding blue, Brian adds Glimmer of Genius to the previously two-color shell.

Glimmer of Genius is a clear upgrade to Live Fast in terms of card power. It is an instant, and it can help you push unwanted copies of Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger to the bottom of your deck (so that you don’t, you know, draw it).

The Glimmer of Genius Price

Adding blue for Glimmer of Genius costs you something, as blue is a whole additional color!

Mike pays the price of the third color with a single Botanical Sanctum, plus one Island. You can access the one island with any of twelve different cards, so consequently there are eighteen sources of blue.

Check it out:

This is what happened! Find out how BDM wore down Mike on this week's podcast

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Exquisite Archangel

Exquisite Archangel
Sure it costs seven mana, but can Exquisite Archangel serve as a solution to infectious aggression?

It has a hefty casting cost (to go along with that extra set of arms)… but it also packs a powerful (defensive) punch. With an Angel’s Grace-esque reference to [not] losing the game, many players have wondered about a particular Exquisite Archangel ruling…

As usual, the man Magician with the smoothest voice in all of Canada, Chris Lansdell, is ready to let us know what’s what:

Transcript: Exquisite Archangel & Infect

Billy wants to know how Exquisite Archangel interacts with poison counters.

Well Billy… Not so great.

Sure it’ll exile itself and gain you twenty life, but then the game checks again to see if anyone should die. And oh look! You have ten poison counters!

Sorry about that whammy bro 🙁

I’ve been Chris for Fetchland, and as always, I’ll be the Judge!

Check out all of Chris's "I'll Be the Judge!" (and more) at Fetchland.com

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Aetherworks Marvel

In case you missed it, on manadeprived.com the Top 8 Magic podcast returned… With a windy conversation about Standard, including me trying to convince BDM about a new and different G/W Aetherworks Marvel deck.

BDM: I’ll try your G/W Marvel deck; I’m pessimistic until proven otherwise.

YT: It’s very good against G/B. It’s very good against Mardu Vehicles. You cannot win a game against Rai combo.

BDM: I’ll take my chances.

The presumption being that the Standard format is locked down by only two or three archetypes (in particular the various black-green Winding Constrictor decks and the various Mardu Vehicles decks). Is there a potential solution to breaking out of a three-deck metagame?

In this podcast, I argue that Aetherworks Marvel is a possible solution.

MichaelJ’s G/W Aetherworks Marvel Deck:

G/W Marvel

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This is an update on a deck that Roman Fusco nearly won a PPTQ with, right before Aether Revolt rotated in. The deck’s original thesis was that Descend Upon the Sinful could be a good solution to a format where Emrakul, the Promised End was the most powerful top end card. Even if the opponent takes your turn, he can’t easily prevent you from Descending Upon his Emrakul. At the same time, you get a 4/4 to try to win the game with.

Descend Upon the Sinful is a potential “hit” for the Aetherworks Marvel tap, because you get a pretty big creature out of it. An instant-speed Wrath (coming off the Marvel) allows you to fight against vehicles… Plus the exile clause on the card gives you extra oomph against Scrapheap Scrounger and other graveyard-hungry threats.

Aetherworks Marvel Combo… Out Combo’d?

Even if you accept that a deck like this will be able to operate successfully (and speedily enough) against Golgari and Vehicles… There is the small matter of Saheeli Rai and other U/R-based decks.

If you don’t land your Marvel before they hit either their combo or their own Marvel (depending on which sub-archetype they are) you’re probably in trouble. You’re behind enough against Torrential Gearhulk that it is probably worth the downsides on Stasis Snare [against aggressive opponents] that you would choose it over one of the 1W instant versions.

BDM and I talk about the more main-line Magic stuff as well, plus the transformative influence of Kyle Korver on my Cleveland Cavaliers! This podcast is from about a week ago, but if you missed it, we really hope you check it out on manadeprived.com, or here I guess:

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LOVE
MIKE

Blistering Firecat

A social media firestorm erupted recently when, at Pro Tour Aether Revolt, there was some confusion around how the word “combat” was ruled as a tournament shortcut. Regardless of where you fall on how it “should” be ruled, Chris felt it important to inform the community how it is ruled. At least currently.

Chris Lansdell returns with an “I’ll Be the Judge!” starring none other than sixteen-time Top 8 competitor/Pro Tour winner/World Champion/all around great guy Jon Finkel.

Transcript: Jon asks about “combat”:

Hi Chris,

Can you explain exactly what the word “combat” means in terms of tournament shortcuts?

There was some controversy around this at Pro Tour Aether Revolt and I think the community at large (and my good friend Kai) could benefit from hearing an explanation

Thanks.

Transcript: What exactly does “combat” mean?

Sure thing, Jon.

Saying

“combat”,
“declare attackers”,
or “move to combat”

effectively means you are passing priority until the beginning of the declare attackers step.

The very first thing you do in the declare attackers step is declare your attackers.

By that point it is too late to animate creature lands, crew any vehicles, or do anything but, well, declare attackers.

If you want to do something at the beginning of combat step, you need to explicitly state what you want to do and when you want to do it.

I hope that’s helpful to you and to Kai.

For Fetchland this has been Chris and I’ll be the Judge!

And so…

So, there you have it: This is how the word is currently ruled. Make sure to crew, et al, appropriately.

Jon Finkel asks Chris about "combat" in this week's "I'll Be the Judge!"

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Rishkar's Expertise

Fetchland is overjoyed to bring you Level 2 Judge Chris Lansdell and a new feature, I’ll Be the Judge!

Chris will be answering your burning Magic: The Gathering rules questions in a whole new format… Instagram video!

This first episode clarifies something that we’re sure lots of you have been thinking about, since the first time you saw this card:

Rishkar's Expertise
Rishkar’s Expertise

It also has a little bit to do with this card…

Verdurous Gearhulk
Verdurous Gearhulk

(but not really)

Transcript for I’ll Be the Judge #1 – Rishkar’s Expertise

Mike wants to know what happens if we have an 8/8 V G and we cast RE as the only card in our hand

when we’ve drawn our eight cards can we play one of them for free?

Well yes Mike, you can! You follow the instructions on the card in the order they are written. So first you would draw your eight cards, then the spell asks you to play one of them with mana cost five or less, for free.

So not only does that work, it works really well!

Like this? You'll love Fetchland.com!

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Thanks Chris!

We’re still fleshing out this new feature, but if you would like to ask a question, you can start by following Fetchland and / or Top 8 Magic on Facebook and Instagram; or Chris, on Twitter.

Twitter discussion about drafting sent me to the keyboard to write about some Limited options I would love to see on Magic Online.

Flashback Drafts are starting to feel a little like getting the gift of socks. I am happy to get socks over the holidays. I need socks. I like comfortable socks and warm feet. Who am I to complain about getting socks? Yet… socks would not be the top of my list to grown-up Santa. The same is true for Flashback drafts. I want something…else.

It all started with a tweet from Lee Sharp. He was musing about what would happen to the Time Spiral draft block if you simply removed a problem card from the format. Sprout Swarm was one of those Mythic Commons that completely dominates a game in a way that commons just should not be able to do. It is on a list of Limited public enemies that includes Empryial Armor, Sparksmith, and (the original) Rolling Thunder.

Responses ranged from very cautious support to #HanShotFirst hashtags. My suggestion was to just bump it to uncommon. Playing with Sprout Swarm is essential to the nostalgia for that block but maybe playing against it a little less frequently would be a good thing. This led to former Limited Resources co-host Brian Wong wondering about what other minor tweaks could be made to fix draft formats.

After a little back and forth on this topic Eric Klug chimed in. Instead of the Flashback drafts on Magic Online he would like to see resources committed to something I have advocated for in the past — Wacky Drafts.

Wacky Drafts

Sometimes known as Chaos Drafts, players in a Wacky Draft have no idea what packs they are going to be drafting when they sit down at the table. There is a lot of excitement about what packs you might get to open — there are usually some Modern Masters packs sprinkled into the assortment. Once you get your packs, your mind races to think about what fiendish creations you can assemble across your three first picks.

There can be as many as 24 different sets opened up at the table with each player getting a completely different random assortment of 3 packs. They are a public event favorite at Grand Prix and conventions and I know I would play them all the time if they were a play option on Magic Online.

The discussion got me to thinking about what other Limited formats I would like to see on Magic Online for the holidays.

Frankenstein Flashbacks

Instead of just drafting previous blocks, cobble together three sets with a thematic, mechanical, or tribal connection and draft them. I suggested as an example — with not much thought — an artifact themed draft format.

It would be fun to find new interactions between cards and to tie tribal synergies across three different sets. You could have a Sliver format. Richie Scott suggested the Rebel Yell draft format on FB with Time Spriral, Mercadian Masques, and Planar Chaos. Kenyon Colloran suggested a format with M13, Innistrad, and Shadows over Innistrad for a spells REAAAALLY matter format.

Frankenstein Flashback is a Magic format that could be crowdsourced and debated before it goes live. In an ideal world, with unlimited resources, this would be something you could hand pick and host for yourself and 7 other people that you engage to play with you.

What three sets would you most want to draft? Something I had not considered when I posted the original tweet was that you don’t need it to be three different sets. It could just as easily be AAA-AAA-BBB as AAA-BBB-CCC.

Minimaster

In the old days of Magic Minimaster was a winner-take-all format. The tournament needed to be 16, 32 or 64 players (although you could continue upward to 128, 256 etc). Each player would get one booster pack, two of each basic land. From there you would shuffle up and play. The winner would take the loser’s cards and add them to their card pool to rebuild for the next round. In a 5 round minimaster you would end up with the contents of 16 packs to build your deck for the finals.

In the kinder, gentler era of modern Magic you get to keep all your cards when you play Minimaster. You start with one pack and then each time you win you get to add another pack to your card pool. Another very popular option from the side event area at Grand Prix; it is not uncommon for the format to be played by hundreds of people at once as a special event on Friday before a Grand Prix. It would be a quick, fun way to play Magic Online — without any need for deckbuilding for the first round. Assuming there were enough people playing it would be perfect for League play too. You would just need to be paired against someone with the same size card pool as you and rebuild after each win.

Armchair Quarterback Drafts

For the better part of the past decade you have been able to sit yourself down and look over the shoulders of Pro Tour competitors and see what they took when faced with drafting at the highest level of competition. The Draft Viewer features a stacked draft table at the start of each day of Pro Tour competition and shows you every pick of every pack.

How cool would it be to sit down in the same seat as a Hall of Famer, Draft Master, or Pro Tour Champion and see what you would do in their place?

For almost as long as we have had the Draft Viewer I have wanted to have the opportunity to sit down and actually draft those same packs. Ben Stark loves to tease Conley Woods and Luis Scott-Vargas about their drafts at Pro Tour Philadelphia. I know I would enjoy a stream with Stark sitting in one of their seats and putting his money where his mouth is.

Wouldn’t you like to see the Butterfly Effect across multiple drafts? Drafts happen and they go away with little examination of what could have happened differently. I want to see what the distribution of color pairs looks like based on different first picks that players make across multiple iterations of those same packs.

Yuuya Watanabe has taken a lot of guff for his Deadbridge Shaman pick at the 2015 World Championship. Wouldn’t you love to see what the decks look like if those first picks in his seat start out differently? What happens in that World Championship draft if Yuuya Watanabe take Cruel Revival over Deadbridge Shaman? What if Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa took Whirler Rogue over Outland Colossus?

I want to see the results of those same packs being drafted many times over. Is there a consensus best deck that wins from a specific seat more often than others? Are there decks that consistently form around certain cards regardless of which seat they end up in? We never get to see drafts get iterated and I would love to find this feature under my non-denominational holiday plant next Winter solstice.

[For Westworld‘s “The Bicameral Mind” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]

HBO Summary:
Ford unveils his bold, new narrative; Dolores embraces her identity, Maeve sets her plan in motion.

If you’ve read some of the articles out there, perhaps in Vanity Fair or on Vulture.com, you likely had specific questions for this episode. Is the Man in Black actually William? How many timelines are there, anyway? We brought these inquiries to the season finale of Westworld, “The Bicameral Mind” along with a few others. Luckily, they were mostly answered and the finale was gripping even if it was also pretty darn dark.

The episode opens as Arnold welcomes Dolores into the world for the first time. She’s wearing only part of her skin at this point and it’s reminiscent of “Ex Machina”, which we think is on purpose. Foreshadowing. “Ex Machina” is about a brilliant man-of-science who makes a robot that’s virtually indistinguishable from a human. It doesn’t end well for that man or likely for mankind in general.

Robert Ford tells everyone throughout season one of Westworld that destruction is an essential element of being human. In fact, he says Westworld only exists because humans already destroyed everything else on the planet. The park gives humans a much-needed playground to wreak havoc to their hearts delight. Thus, in the world of artificial intelligence, to create a human is to create destruction. A creator of AI has truly “succeeded” at re-making humanity when they’ve created a killer.

This appears to be Ford’s vision, though not necessarily Arnold’s. Arnold seems to care more about what’s happening inside his hosts. He doesn’t like for them to suffer. The fact that they may develop consciousness terrifies him because it means they truly feel and understand their own suffering. Ford, on the other hand, cares about the outer world and consequences more. He’s a bottom line kinda guy.

There’s a lot of talk in Westworld about the gods of this world, ownership, and control. The story revolves around power for many of the characters; especially The Man in Black, Maeve, Dolores, Arnold, Charlotte, and Ford. In fact, this power-hungry-control-freak list points out our favorite thing about Westworld. It’s gender-balanced. Also, nobody is better or worse than anybody else when it comes to winning and losing. Those who think they’re superior usually pay a steep price soon after their declaration of it. The show keeps reminding us that all this comes and goes; including power and control. It’s a swiftly changing world and thus staying on top is temporary.

One poignant question the finale explains is that brutal beatdown at Escalante where seemingly everybody dies. We’ve seen it referenced many times in the season. Dolores hovers on the outskirts while Teddy and Wyatt kill every single person in town. This is what we’ve always seen. It’s a massacre. “The Bicameral Mind” reveals, however, that Dolores isn’t on the outskirts at all. In fact, she’s the whole shebang. The entire Escalante event was manufactured by Arnold, though. After he put Dolores through the maze of his creation, she did indeed find consciousness. Thus Arnold knew she could truly suffer. That means the other hosts would soon follow the same course and develop consciousness.

To put conscious beings who suffer and are aware of their suffering in a playground made to torture and destroy them is cruel, Arnold concludes. He enters a shame spiral and wants to die. Arnold was the agent of this cruelty, so he feels guilty. This is why he wants to end all the host suffering as well as his own. That means he needs to kill all the hosts. Then they won’t suffer. So, Arnold uses Dolores as his agent for this – thus the Escalante massacre. This story arc also reveals one of the many gender swaps Westworld employs, it turns out Wyatt is simply Dolores. In fact, just a small part of her is Wyatt. She’s THAT powerful.

Meanwhile The Man in Black continues to think he’s all that matters. He informs Dolores that she should be heartbroken because it turns out he’s her beloved, William all grown up. Thus nobody is coming to save her after all. Sure, it smarts a bit, but Dolores gets over it pronto. You know why? Because, just like with everything else in Westworld, William/The Man in Black isn’t as significant as he believes. Sure he owns the park on paper. He’s got the most shares and is the most powerful board member. But just like all those shareholders who “own” things like energy futures… it’s a willow wisp sort of ownership. He actually has very little power and control beyond what the game allows.

This lack of significance hammers The Man in Black throughout the season when he’s constantly told, “The maze isn’t for you”. It’s really not. The maze is for the hosts. It’s an inner journey to their consciousness. The Man in Black is only capable of surface BS games. He only understands what he can see and kill and dominate – things outside himself. This is why there are never any real stakes for him in Westworld… at least not until the end of the finale, anyway. The very source of his frustration is the thing he refuses to face. After all, The Man in Black is just human – a stubborn, unchangeable human.

Meanwhile the changeable and non-human host, Maeve, has the control panel to the park security system and her troops in line. She’s ready to roll. The plan goes into action when Armistice bites the finger off the technician who works on her face. Armistice is that badass bandit who tattoos a red snake all over her body using the blood of her enemies for the ink. She beats him and throws her now-nine-fingered technician through a glass wall.

Then, in our favorite gender flip of the season, it’s Armistice who comes to Hector’s rescue. At the crucial moment when another technician is about to sexually assault Hector, Armistice bursts in to save him. Maeve joins them afterward and the trio confront Maeve’s favorite technicians, Sylvester and Felix. With help from Armistice’s rough manhandling, they get Sylvester to admit somebody knows about their plan, it’s someone with an access code called “Arnold”.

In Ford’s new narrative we see Teddy save Dolores from The Man in Black. He plays hero and finally takes her to where the mountains meet the sea. Teddy made this promise a million times but never kept until now. The old story ends then, like all tragic romances, as Dolores dies in Teddy’s arms. Sunlight glistens on the water behind them as the day ends in a gorgeous sunset. The music swells to a tearful crescendo. Teddy declares that maybe this is somehow actually a new beginning. Ford has thus introduced his new narrative. His new beginning comes right at the old narrative’s tragic climax. So, Ford points out the nature of life as an eternal loop yet again. He then instructs technicians to clean up Teddy and take Dolores to the “old field lab”. Her work has just begun.

Meanwhile Maeve and her team encounter Bernard in the back warehouse and she has Felix fix him. He did indeed shoot himself, as Ford had instructed. But Felix tinkers around and brings Bernard back online. Maeve then asks Bernard to remove the memories of her daughter but he says he can’t because they’re part of her consciousness now and to destroy them is to destroy a critical part of her structure. She can’t learn from her mistakes if she can’t remember them, he explains.

Maeve then asks Bernard who altered her code under the name “Arnold” and he points out that her escape plan was programmed to happen. It’s all right there on the control panel for her to see. She’s still being controlled. Maeve calls BS, though, and says it’s she who’s in control. Nobody else. It’s a human trait, this stubborn refusal to see the facts right before her. Maeve attempts to deny her humanity at every turn but she’s certainly the most human host in Westworld.

Then there’s a system breakdown in the back lab. A red light pulses in the otherwise pitch dark space. An alarm sounds continually. Maeve and her team are undeterred by it, though. They continue their escape plan and Felix follows along like a puppy-in-love. Hector and Armistice battle their way out with ease. Guns blazing and witty remarks flying, they even seem to have fun with it. The duo done this sort of thing a zillion times.

But then Armistice gets her arm caught in a hardcore computerized security door. She’s trapped. Hector helps Maeve and Felix get to their escape elevator, though. When Maeve gets into the elevator, ready to leave for good, she bids Hector farewell and tells him he can’t come with her. Maeve has always valued her independence, she explains. So, Hector says, “See you in the next life,” and the doors close on him. She’s on her way.

Next Ford explains the whole story to Bernard and Dolores in the old field lab. Arnold made Dolores conscious by running her through the maze. It was a technical success but then he didn’t want to torture the hosts with consciousness and reverie. Arnold knew that after the Escalante massacre, Ford could just bring all of the hosts back. But he couldn’t bring back his beloved human partner. So Arnold had Dolores shoot him along with Teddy and herself. They’d also merged Dolores with a new character named Wyatt, Ford continues to explain. So, now Dolores and Bernard understand the scope of their adventure. All those wiped memories are now conscious for them.

After his explanation, Ford hands a child’s maze game that’s exactly the Westworld maze emblem to Bernard. He says he knows how to save Bernard, something even Arnold couldn’t do. It turns out Ford learned about the horrors of the hosts having consciousness soon after Arnold’s death. In fact, it was the suffering he endured at the loss of his beloved Arnold that taught him this. Ford tells Bernard he knows how to save him from this place but that, unfortunately, he’ll have to suffer more first. Then Ford also gives Dolores the gun she used in the Escalante massacre. It’s an old times sake, Wizard-handing-out-goody-bags-at-Oz kinda dynamic. You had the maze inside you the whole time!

One of the things Ford tells Bernard and Dolores during this long explanatory session is that the park probably should have fallen apart with Escalante. In fact, it likely would have except that Dolores had just hooked William into his Westworld obsession at that point. William thus invested all his company’s money into owning and rebuilding the park. Then years later he came back to search for the center of the maze like an addict seeking a fix. If William hadn’t done that, Ford presumes, it might not have been possible to rebuild the entire park from scratch as they did after the Escalante massacre.

This explains why The Man in Black has such a strong sense of entitlement and ownership over the park. But truth is that he’s more like a sperm donor with hundreds of biological children than he is a true father to Westworld. Yes, he played a crucial role and it might not exist without him. But that doesn’t mean everything in the park is about him or owes him anything. In fact, he’s rather insignificant in the overall Westworld picture now. Like they all keep telling him, “The maze wasn’t meant for you”. Fact is, he’s just a guest that spent more money at a critical time.

Maeve rides the exit elevator with Felix. He found where her daughter lives now in Westworld and hands her the info on a slip of paper. But Maeve says that little girl never really was her daughter anyway. Just like she never was whatever they made her to be. If that’s so, what does Maeve think she is? A blank slate? She continues out of the park with a determined look on her face. Before she goes, Maeve tells Felix he makes a terrible human being and that she means it as a compliment.

But, honestly, Felix is 100% human. He’s just a particularly loving and empathetic human being. That’s as human as any of the violent and cruel people Maeve has met before. In fact, many would call those vicious types animals and people like Felix the more truly human. It’s just Maeve’s unlucky circumstance that most humans with empathy and love as peak traits don’t likely visit Westworld. So, Maeve is unfamiliar with them. To her Felix is an anomaly.

She sits on a train that’s headed out of Westworld awhile. As she waits for the train to leave, Maeve sees a mother and daughter in the seat across from her. This touches something in her and she gets off the train to go back into the station. Maeve’s about the re-enter the park but then everything at Westworld shuts down. She’s stuck in the station – just outside. Maeve’s got the piece of paper with her daughter’s location in her hand and she’s looking at the entrance but there’s no way inside while it’s shut down. We then see that Westworld is shutting down bit by bit. The warehouse of zombie hosts is empty. Where are they now?

Next, in a familiar scene that takes place in every episode of Westworld, we see Bernard interview Dolores yet again. But then it turns out Bernard isn’t really with her at all. He appeared to be facing across from her in a duplicate chair. But, in fact, the voice she’s been hearing all this time wasn’t Bernard, nor Arnold. It wasn’t even Ford. Dolores has just been talking to herself all along. She sees herself in the chair and realizes the only voice in her head is her own. This is self consciousness. It’s a journey inward, after all. So, all those times Dolores thought she was listening to Arnold she was actually just being conscious and hearing her own inner dialogue. This is what the phrase “The Bicameral Mind” means. It’s a psychological theory about our voice in our head.

This brings us to the final scene. Ford gives a speech at the gala. The Man in Black is there along with the rest of the Westworld board and employees. He talks about storytelling and becoming who we dream to be. Ford calls Westworld a prison of our own sins, speaking of humans. He says humans can’t change. Ford explains that he realized someone was watching all along who was capable of change, though. So, he wrote a new story for them. His new narrative “…begins in a time of war, with a villain named Wyatt and a killing. This time by choice,” Ford says.

Then Dolores joins the gala with the gun Ford gave her from the Escalante massacre behind her back. She’s in the blue dress of yore and walks up behind Ford who’s still speaking to the gala attendees. Without hesitation or comment, Dolores shoots Ford in the back of the head. Then the zombie hosts arise out of the woods and start killing guests, just as Dolores does. She’s a crackerjack shot, remember? Humans are falling to the ground. It’s another massacre. The Man in Black smiles, seemingly delighted, when he gets shot. Finally something is real in Westworld. Of course… he might also die as a result. So, the rules have changed now. Suddenly everything is at stake just as the story ends.

After the credits roll we get a quick glimpse of Armistice cutting her arm out of the door where she’s been stuck. She smiles and begins to fight again. The battle wages on, a war just like Ford said.

In the end we’re drawn back to thinking about Maeve. The most human of hosts, she asked Bernard to remove her daughter’s memories right before exiting the park. He wouldn’t do it, though. He said memories are a crucial part of her structure and how could she learn from her mistakes without memories? It’s the memory of her daughter that brings Maeve back into Westworld. So, was leaving a mistake?

The fact that this was her final choice of the season makes Maeve, yet again, the most human of hosts. It also points to her as one of those Ford was talking about when he said, “Some are capable of change”. In fact, she is perhaps the most changed of all the characters on the show. Even if she is right back where she started in her return to Westworld, Maeve’s also a whole new character now. Just like in Ford’s narrative, the show ends with a new beginning. But the beginning of what? We can’t wait until season two to find out.

Katherine Recap

Invasion!

[For Arrow 100, “Invasion!” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]

The CW Summary:
“Invasion!” Oliver Queen wakes up to a life where he never got on The Queen’s Gambit.

The 100th Episode of Arrow was many things: Part homage, part heartstring-tugging spectacle, part nostalgia piece… But most of all, center episode of the “Invasion!” crossover.

At the end of the opening “Invasion!” episode of The Flash, we saw five human heroes teleported onto a Dominator alien ship. The five heroes — Arrow, Speedy, Atom, White Canary, and Spartan — spend Arrow 100 sharing a collective dream, plugged into a Dominator computer.

“For the Man Who Has Everything”

The shared dream sees Oliver Queen on the eve of his wedding to — you guessed it — Dinah Laurel Lance. The resplendent Laurel is alive and well in the dream, as are both of Ollie’s parents. Noteworthy to this dream is that everyone is proud of the man Ollie has become (even Captain Lance). Oliver’s dad is about to become the mayor of the city. He asks Ollie to take over as CEO of Queen Consolidated, lest the board support a buyout from one Ray Palmer.

It seems like Ollie has everything a boy billionaire could want: A beautiful Laurel. The love of his family. A CEO job waiting. “You have everything. Stop trying to throw it all away.”

Arrow 100 is a light homage to Alan Moore’s great “For the Man Who Has Everything” (incidentally BDM‘s favorite Superman story of all time). Superman — who dreams of living a very different life on an unexploded Krypton in the Moore story — is Ollie here. But the whole thing is a lie. The Dominators want to present a perfect life to the five non-metahumans to keep them docile in the ship; very The Matrix, even.

When Ollie and Dig first show signs of freedom and recognition, the dreamscape fights back. Deathstroke — fully masked and certainly not Manu Bennett — bursts onto the scene and attacks them with swords. Ollie and Dig hold him off admirably (given it’s fists-against-falchion) until Sara disarms Deathstroke from offscreen and stabs him to death.

This prompted some discussion on Twitter.


I think it’s obvious that White Canary — even promoted to her starring role on DC’s Legends of Tomorrow — is not realistically a match for Deathstroke. This was dream-Deathstroke, and not even Manu Bennett! We actually know how a Sara-versus-Slade confrontation would go (Sara onced jumped Deathstroke and was tossed aside effortlessly).

The Fight

The trio gather Ray, but initially fail to recruit Thea to leave the dream. What’s so great about the real world, she perhaps rightly asks. Maybe, speculates Thea, this dream where Laurel and their parents are still alive, and the Queens are still billionaires, is Ollie’s reward for all the sacrifices he’s made.

Except Ollie didn’t make any of those sacrifices for a reward. He did it all because it was right.

Ollie &co. move to leave the Queen wedding compound but are confronted by the Big Bads of the previous seasons. Malcom Merlyn. Deathstroke. Damian Darkh. (and some randos) Conspicuous by his absence: Ra’s al Ghul.

Thea has a change of heart and engages dear old dad.

Sara pairs off against Darkh this time, avenging a sister still alive in the dreamworld.

Ollie gets Deathstroke.

The fight scene is pretty great. Thea kills her dream-dad with a sword and takes his bow, shooting an arrow at Sara. Sara catches the arrow out of the air and uses it to stab Darkh. Ollie finishes the fight with the bow, which he uses to finish off Deathstroke. (Ray and Dig kill the randos with some guns. Whatevs.)

WHO’D WIN?

Could Sara have beaten Deathstroke? To be fair, it was three-on-one (one of whom was Ollie). Ollie could not only beat Deathstroke, but Year Minus Three Ollie on Lian Yu killed a Mirakuru-powered Deathstroke, cleanly. Why does Deathstroke only have one eye? Ollie stabbed him “to death” through the other one. Ollie of course completed Season Two with a very pyrrhic win over Slade with another clean win. But Sara? Probably not.

Could Speedy have beaten Merlyn? While it is possible that Merlyn would “let” his daughter win, I don’t think that dream-Malcolm not throwing a death match would likely lose to Speedy. Merlyn is sub-Ollie, but still ascended to Ra’s al Ghul. Remember, Nyssa was not considered his equal (Ollie had to fight Merlyn in her place, taking Merlyn’s hand). Unless you think Thea is substantially more dangerous than Nyssa, this win is equally the product of a dream as Sara killing Deathstroke.

Could Sara have beaten Darkh? I think so. Regular Darkh (i.e. not Diviner Darkh) was “just” an assassin (not the equal to Merlyn); same as Sara. Sara is depicted as having grown through her many trials, while Darkh is depicted as increasingly reliant on magic or powerful allies like Reverse Flash.

Could Ollie have beaten Deathstroke? Sure. Especially in the dreamworld.

The heroes escape the Dominators’ dream, stealing an alien spaceship. They are persued by dozens of others, but are saved at the last minute by the Waverider, leading into the “Invasion!” conclusion on DC’s Legends of Tomorrow.

Until tomorrow.

To be continued…

LOVE
MIKE

Hall of Justice from "Invasion!"

[For The Flash‘s “Invasion!” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]

The CW Summary:
When aliens attack, Barry seeks help from Green Arrow, the Legends of Tomorrow and Supergirl.

Cold Open

In an “Invasion!” opening flash*-forward we see Barry and Ollie up shit creek. Ollie refers to Barry as “team leader” just as a burst of Kryptonian heat vision rips through the wall they are hiding behind. The founding pair of the Arrowverse come around to face their foes… Starting with Speedy (!!!)

The “Invasion!” cold open ends with Thea Queen in her full red Speedy armor, Spartan, Heatwave, White Canary,Firestorm, the Atom and Supergirl in badass poses facing off against the fastest man alive + a guy with a bow and arrow.

Ten Hours Earlier…

At S.T.A.R. Labs a concerned Team Flash is measuring Wally West, who has only recently obtained Flash-like speed. Apparently everything is coming up Piznarski for Wally, but Iris begs Team Flash to discourage him from training or using his speed.

A “meteor” plummets towards downtown Central City, prompting Barry to investigate… but it turns out to be an alien spaceship instead. Scary alien monsters swarm out and knock down Barry (but don’t kill him or anything)

The government attempts to cover up the alien ship crash as a routine experiment. Lyla Michaels (aka Mrs. Diggle, aka Amanda Waller version 2.0) is on the scene and suggests the President take this more seriously. She is rebuffed by government “big guns” … But Barry, still there in Flash mode from the previous night, will listen.

At S.T.A.R. Labs Lyla informs Team Flash about the aliens — the Dominators. Four ships are coming, not just the one. Lyla says that the United Nations is coordinating a response, but Barry points out that they won’t be able to stop the Dominators if it comes to it. The Argus director retorts that neither will Barry.

Not alone anyway!

Barry gets a little help from his friends…

Barry recruits Arrow, Diggle, Thea, and Felicity from Star City. Thea comes out of retirement, because aliens. Felicity leaves some kind of time message for the Legends. All of them meet up at “a hangar” that Barry owns (pictured above). Recognize it from anywhere?

Hall of Justice from Young Justice

There are countless wide open plot holes in “Invasion!” so far but my God there is nothing as great as Team Arrow, Team Flash, the Legends of Tomorrow, and a dimensionally-displaced Supergirl meeting at the Hall of g-d Justice. The next episode could be an “it was all a dream” cop-out and ten-year-old michaelj wouldn’t care. He would love it Love It LOVE IT anyway.

Per BDM‘s recap of “Medusa” Barry and Vibe bring Supergirl back from last night’s episode and the team-up proper begins.

Ollie defers to Barry as team leader; Supergirl plays resident training alien, to the dismay (and bruises) of the assembled other-heroes.

Key “Invasion!” plot developments:

  1. The Dominators capture and apparently kill the President. Their goal, though, seems to be to take mental control of our heroes.
  2. The Firestorm duo reveals the recording Barry sent from forty years in the future on DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. In the recording future-Barry warns Rip and crew that he can’t be trusted, presumably due to his Flashpoint screwup. When Dig finds out that Baby John used to be Baby Sara, Caitlin is maybe Killer Frost, and Cisco’s brother is now dead, everyone is upset with Barry. Oliver says he will stick by Barry, which ends up separating Arrow and Flash from the rest of the heroes when they go to rescue the President.
  3. Heroes versus heroes! The Dominators mind control the non-Arrow / non-Flash good guys with some kind of alien gem. All heck breaks loose at S.T.A.R. Labs. Wally very briefly bursts in to save the day (before being punked by Supergirl).

In addition to these three crossover points, I found it interesting the DC’s Legends of Tomorrow team would choose to make two of their show’s big reveals on The Flash. Not only did we find out what happened on future-Barry’s recording during “Invasion!” but we found out about the mystery brunette that has been giving Professor Stein headaches… It’s a daughter he apparently didn’t have pre-Flashpoint.

Head Scratchers:

Keeping in mind that there is almost nothing that would quench the raging inferno of my love for this superhero crossover, here are three things from “Invasion!” that made no sense to me:

As far as I can tell, the point of this episode (from the Dominators’ side) was to mind control the powerful Earth superheroes. It is consequently maddening that they would leave their mind control gem unguarded. For that matter, why wouldn’t they have used the mind controlled heroes for something more interesting than just attacking the not-yet-mind-controlled ones? Barry has to out-speed and outwit Supergirl to break the mind control gem, but it is inexplicable to me that he would have had the opportunity against a strategically thoughtful foe.

Supergirl says she has heard about the Dominators. They came to her world before she was born and killed a lot of people. I found this a bit off considering she is from Earth-38. Is she saying that there are parallel Dominators in her universe? Implying Earth-1 Dominators breached their way to Earth-38?

White Canary claims that Nate and Vixen have stayed behind to guard the Legends’ time ship, calling them “rookies”. Doesn’t Vixen presumably have years of superhero experience, seeing that she was an actually trained agent in the J.S.A. prior to stowing away with the Legends of Tomorrow? Maybe they’ll reappear Thursday night or so.

These things did make sense:

  • Upon learning that boy billionaire / Star City mayor Oliver Queen is the Green Arrow, Iris declares him “even hotter”.
  • White Canary expresses similar admiration for “skirt” Supergirl, as she repeatedly lays out the Earth-1 heroes in training.

“Invasion!” ends with Barry alone in the rain, as the briefly-foiled Dominators teleport all nearby superheroes off the Hall of Justice S.T.A.R. Labs tarmac.

To be continued…

LOVE
MIKE

* See what I did there?

[For Supergirl‘s “Medusa” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]

The CW Summary:
A superhero crossover event begins with Barry Allen and Cisco Ramon from The Flash seeking Kara’s help with an alien invasion; at the same time, Eliza comes to town to celebrate Thanksgiving with her daughters, which seems like the perfect opportunity for Alex to come out to her mother. Meanwhile, Winn and James consider telling Kara the truth about the Guardian; and Kara wants to team up with Lena Luthor to combat a deadly virus unleashed by CADMUS.

I love a crossover…

When I think back to my earliest memories of reading comics at sleep-away camp I can still envision the cover of Justice League of America #107. It was “Crisis on Earth-X” and featured a world where Golden Age characters banded together as a resistance force against the Nazis, who had won WWII. I never read Justice League of America regularly (not until the Giffen/DeMatteis/Maguire run) but I would go out of my way to find all the different “Crisis” issues where the characters crossed over between worlds to fight a common enemy.

Justice League of America 107
Justice League of America #107

Supergirl kicked off the first of four parts of a crossover for the CW last night. I have to admit I felt a little cheated. It was very reminiscent of buying the first part of a major story arc only to have it briefly introduced in the last panels of the comic. They teased the crossover as all the main characters — plus original Supergirl actress Helen Slater as Eliza Danvers, Kara’s Earth-mom — gathered for Thanksgiving dinner.

Fans of The Flash surely recognized a brief breach bursting open over the dining room table, interrupting a nervous Alex Danvers’ big coming out moment with her Mom and friends. (That talk would have to wait until later. But don’t worry, Eliza already kinda knew what was up based on Alex’s non-stop Maggie Sawyer-talk and was totally supportive of her birth daughter.)

Previously on Supergirl

  • CADMUS is trying to kill aliens.
  • Lex Luthor’s mom Lillian runs CADMUS.
  • CADMUS stole Supergirl’s blood.
  • The real Hank Henshaw is still “alive” and working for CADMUS as Cyborg Superman.
  • Cyborg Superman used Supergirl’s blood to unlock files in the Fortress of Solitude about Project Medusa.
  • J’Onn J’Onzz took a blood transfusion from a white Martian and is in danger of losing himself to their DNA.

Back to our show…

Mon-El is falling hard for Kara, as evidenced by his unwillingness to have meaningless alien sex with a cute alien at the unnamed dive bar frequented by those not of this (that?) Earth. Down the rail he notices Cyborg Superman, who has affixed something under the bar. Assuming it is actually J’Onn J’Onzz, Mon-El chases him down outside the bar. A fight ensues while the device inside the bar releases a gas that kills all the aliens inside.

Mon-El is also affected by the gas and lies near death inside the walls of the DEO. Kara realizes what her blood was used for and flies off to the Fortress of Solitude to assess the damage. There she learns that her birth father built a bio-weapon — codenamed Medusa — alongside the military guilds of Krypton. Medusa will kill anyone with alien DNA. She is devastated but brings the information back to the DEO to devise a cure.

After analyzing data from the Fortress they realize that CADMUS will need to use technology that only L-Corp* possesses. Supergirl saves Lena from an assault by Cyborg Superman (I thought that would get less stupid to type as I went on but alas it does not) and alerts her to her mother’s schemes. Lena turns cold to Supergirl and reaches out to her mother to give her exactly what she needs.

CADMUS loads up a rocket and prepares to wipe out all alien life on Earth. The DEO team tries to intervene. Supergirl chases the rocket. J’Onn transforms into a fearsome white Martian and battles Cyborg Superman. In the end, it turns out that Lena had duped her mother! When the rocket does explode it’s not only harmless to aliens but reverts J’Onn to his good old green Martian self.

Everyone gets to live happily ever after. J’Onn is green again. Alex and Maggie finally kiss. And Mon-El and Kara get back to their Sam and Dianne Ross and Rachel routine. Only then do we finally get a successful breach. Barry “Flash” Allen and Cisco “Vibe” Ramon appear in Kara’s living room to ask her help with an unrevealed threat.

In the epilogue we see the aliens that are implied by the title “Invasion” as they head to Earth. Their goal? Capturing Mon-El.

To Be Continued…

–bdm

* Formerly known as LexCorp but now run by his mysterious adopted sister Lena