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

HBO Summary:
Elsie and Stubbs pursue a missing host; Teddy sets off in pursuit of a new villain.

“The Stray” opens with Bernard giving Dolores a book, “Alice in Wonderland”. He has her read and asks what she thinks it means, including the question, “Who in the world am I?” a tricky nugget for anyone to ponder, never mind an android. Her memories arise more often these days and she’s thinking too much. It’s a recipe for disaster whether human or host. Still, Bernard seems more intrigued than concerned. He just doesn’t want to get caught probing Dolores, continually checking that she’s told nobody about their “talks”. In fact, Bernard’s one of several characters who stray in this episode; breaking the rules and lying to many people. Never mind his clandestine affair with Theresa, his work superior, and the way he lies to her about the updates.

After he lies yet again to Theresa about this, Bernard meets with Elsie. She analyzes the behavior of the milk-obsessed android who went rogue in the last episode. Elsie discovers that the milk bandit gone rogue actually avenged the androids who’d killed him in previous storylines. This means he too compiled meaningful memories and acted on them off-script. Elsie then joins Stubbs, the security guy, to seek out the woodcutter android, the most obvious stray from our episode’s title.

Next we see William (the new guest last week) encounter shoot’em up action in downtown Westworld. He hesitates to get involved but draws a pistol when gorgeous Clementine faces danger. Thus William kills the culprit and saves her. One of the lawmen invites him to join the squad of desperadoes and we see a glint of interest in William’s eye. Then his sex-obsessed work buddy shows up and we find out William’s engaged to that guy’s sister. This explains their tense interactions and obligatory connection.

Teddy’s storyline shifts right along with Dolores in this episode. For one, the stalwart loser starts winning gunfights. And, thanks to Ford’s new narrative, Teddy finally knows his purpose. Still, he continues to let his lady, Dolores down with the vagueness of his “someday soon” and she points out that this is what people say when they mean never. If Dolores wants change, she’s going to have to go out and get it for herself. As it should be, we here at Fetchland believe. She’ll probably do better for herself on her own anyway.

Teddy’s preoccupied with Ford’s new narrative and his new nemesis, a villain named Wyatt. The whole back story appears like magic in Teddy’s mind when suddenly, with the mere brush of Ford’s fingertip on a glass screen, Teddy remembers Wyatt and his (previously immaterial) backstory. Then we see Teddy take Dolores out to teach her gun usage. But she can’t squeeze the trigger. A posse rides up and tells Teddy that Wyatt’s back in town. So, stalwart loser leaves Dolores yet again, saying he’ll be back for her “someday soon” and she notices that vague word once more. Dolores doesn’t like it one bit. In fact, before this episode’s over that lady will be pulling a trigger after all. She’s mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. You go girl.

Meanwhile behind the scenes, Bernard explains to Ford that the screwy droids are hearing voices. They talk to the same person; (who isn’t there) someone named Arnold. Ford tells Bernard about a partner he had in the early days, a fellow scientist named Arnold. He thought he could create consciousness out of memory, improvisation, self interest… and something else yet to be determined. Arnold built the hosts with an inner monologue made up of their programming commands. But then he had to remove it when the voices drove them nutty. After a wistful moment, Ford tells Bernard that taking away the memory of the droids every night is their greatest gift to them. Bernard retorts that some of them ARE remembering, though, in little bits these days. The unmentioned elephant in the room here is that they also seem to have Arnold’s voice in their heads too. But neither of them says shit about it now. Still, it’s evident Ford is the “Yoda” of Westworld. He gives us all the info. For example, he tells us Arnold killed himself and this serves as a powerful foreshadow for a significant event in the “The Stray”.

Speaking of which, Elsie and Stubbs are in the dark desert when they finally encounter the stray woodcutter. He’s stuck between some rocks, bloody-fingered and reaching out in desperation. Elsie believes the woodcutter got an idea in his head that made him run off script. She leaves a voicemail for Bernard about it – worried. It’s for good reason because right when Stubbs is about to cut the woodcutter’s head off, he wrestles himself free. But it’s just to kill himself; bashing an enormous rock over and over into his own skull. Whether they’re trying to remind us of the meaninglessness of suicide or just gross us out with this spectacle… Westworld succeeded.

Dolores then rejoins her usual script arriving home at night to her father shot and the leering bandits. One of them takes her to the barn but this time she’s got a gun and points it at the bad guy bandit. It’s not actually the Man in Black but she pictures MIB anyway and then Arnold’s voice tells her to kill him. Now able to pull the trigger, Dolores shoots him dead. She then escapes the whole affair, riding off into the night on her horse. We had a feeling something like this would happen when Dolores lied to Bernard in an earlier interview. He told her to stay on her loop and she agreed. There was no way Dolores was gonna take shit anymore, though. We saw it in her eyes. Not now that she has a memory, that attitude, and a loaded gun.

Next we see the final and tiniest scene of “The Stray”. William and his future brother-in-law sit by a campfire when Dolores emerges from the bushes to collapse into William’s arms. One of those damn bandits shot her back at the farm, after all. It’s a bit too perfect a moment to be off script. But Dolores definitely strayed from the narrative to get to this point, so it’s hard to know if this is official Westworld narrative or not. Either way, William seems likely to get sucked into a Westworld brand seduction from this encounter because, as we saw in last week’s episode, he likes that lovey dovey stuff.

– Katherine Recap

Codename: Action #1

comiXology summary:
Codename: Action #1. During the height of the Cold War, unknown forces scheme to heat up a global conflict. As key officials on both sides of the Iron Curtain are replaced with doppelgangers, the infiltration threatens to disrupt the precarious state of world affairs. The security of the Free World depends on a young secret agent, one assigned to shape the world’s masked heroes into a force with singular purpose and unyielding resolve!

I actually don’t know anything about Codename: Action as a title-title. I saw a solicitation announcement for it reading another Dynamite comic and thought this was a cool looking cover. (And hope you’ll agree.) What I do know is that this Codename: Action #1 cover by Jae Lee is a masterwork of elegant design and the use of negative space.

On Jae Lee…

Jae Lee, Jae Lee… What can I say about Jae Lee?

Lee hit my eyes and imagination in the early 1990s. I loved his work on a now-defunct WildC.A.T.S. title (“filling in” for a different J. Lee if you grok). In those pre-Internet days, I had to ask actual humans at the counter where I could find more Jae Lee. I bought all of it, and combed every local comics store to assemble his Namor work. I’m not sure if he was my “favorite” comics artist (or even my favorite “Lee”), but I do remember that when I was writing down my goals for a high school illustration class, I dropped his name as a role model.

Lee is one of the most distinctive artists on the planet, which is why he is so often tapped as a cover artist, more than an interior artist. He’s not the most facile storyteller, but his line work is unparalleled in its intention and precision. Part of being, there are so few lines.

I mean, there are probably fewer total lines on this Codename: Action #1 cover than the average square inch of the average Rob Liefeld! Any doofus can put a giant splotch of black on a panel or flood the gutters, but for my $1.99 almost no one touches Jae in terms of making something as 75% black as this look actually delicate.

And that foot!

It probably isn’t a surprise to you that BDM and I have bumped heads more than once over the years RE: what makes a good comics artist, or even just a good artist. As striking as his portraiture has always been, Lee has drawn criticism over his ability on hands and feet.

Personally, I love the interplay between the dancers’ hands… The combination of her consistently implied details versus the strategic line overload of his palm.

I wonder what BDM thinks of that foot. There is no mist rising up covering it; both the dancers have actual hands (and not claws).

But even if it were just claws / mist… It’d probably still look great from across a comics store.



“Chapter 5” opens with [real-life] Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and historian Doris Kearns Goodwin (presumably on My Roanoke Nightmare) talking about the history of the house.

In 1792…

In 1789, the fabulously rich art collector Edward Philippe Mott (played by perennial American Horror Story leading man Evan Peters) left his wife and young heir up in Philadelphia to secret an unparalleled art collection at a personal hideaway deep in the North Carolina woods. Mott, envied even by the very rich of his day, commissioned Shakers to build what is “today” Matt and Shelby’s house, to house his paintings and busts, worth more than “every tobacco farm in the state.”

So of course, Mott ran afoul of the Butcher.

One night he found his precious art collection destroyed. Incredulous at his servants’ desperate rantings, the furious Mott imprisoned the lot of them — a goodly number of naked women at least — in what we viewers know today as Elias’s root cellar.

Mott was subsequently staked and immolated by the Butcher. His black footman boyfriend (quite possibly a slave, given it was 1792) fled on a stolen steed, only to be jailed for killing his master and hiding the body. No one mentioned the poor women in the root cellar. Those servant women starved to death underground, discovered some time later, nothing but bones.

Was — or is — that big Shaker house haunted?

Doris Kearns Goodwin, the narrating historian, would love it if the dead could come back to talk to her! That said, she would never spend a night in the Roanoke house; certainly not under a full moon.

Matt and Shelby…

In the present, Matt and Shelby (and the rescued Flora) are themselves about to be butchered by the Butcher’s mob. With seemingly nowhere to run, the trio encounter the ghost of Mott, who guides them away not out of altruism, but because he “can hardly suffer three more souls.”

Getting the family out of the house and getting them to safety are two different things, sadly; so the minute they seem free (woo hoo), Matt, Shelby, and Flora are captured by the hillbilly Polk family (boo).

The Polks are still sour for offenses real and imagined. Out bidding them for the house. Leading the cops to their farm. Taking their mistreated, malnourished, “babies” into state protection. The Polks did save Dr. Elias Cunningham’s life, though (whew). In the aftermath of his encounter with the Butcher’s archers in Chapter 4 the Polks found Elias full of arrows, porcupine-like… But are now using him as a living source of jerkey (ew).

Mama Polk, played masterfully by Frances Conroy, is dissatisfied with the taste of her “meat”. She has no further use for the crippled Elias. As quickly as we are reintroduced to that mad, altruistic, professor, the Polks smash a lethal hammer into his head!

It turns out Polks made a deal with the Butcher 200 years earlier. They help provide human sacrifices. She leaves them alone to grow lots and lots of cannabis. In order to make good on this centuries-old deal, the Polks cart Matt, Shelby, and Flora right back to the house.

In a burst of heroism, Matt seizes a Polk shotgun and blows the head off of one of their captors! Shelby kicks another out of the back of a moving pickup! The Millers flee! Yay, right? For a second only, sadly… In order to keep [Matt] from running, Mama Polk takes a hammer to Shelby’s ankle, nearly severing it with a blunt object. She knows Matt won’t leave his hamstrung bride. This is one of the most grisly things I have ever seen on television… and remember just a few minutes earlier on the same show we saw a screaming man missing half of his appendages being essentially eaten alive.

Despite promising that Flora will die last, the Butcher decides to kill the little girl first. This infuriates ghostly playmate Priscilla, and spurs the Butcher’s own son Ambrose to a brief moment of defiance. He tackles his own mother into the giant fire!

The. End.

Released from police custody, Lee rockets onto the scene and spirits the rest of the family away from the deadly mob.

In kind of an end tag, the Miller family, broke with their life savings sunk into that damned house, feel collectively wealthy — thankfully alive — at the cheapest hotel in town. Shelby, on crutches due to her Polk-inflicted ankle injury, calls dibs for a shower. A strange mist seeps out from under the door. The Butcher bursts out and chops poor Shelby right between the eyes!


Except… We all know that Shelby can’t be dead. She’s been narrating My Roanoke Nightmare for the past five weeks, right? That last bit was “just” a nightmare. But it had to be, right?

Chapter 5 of American Horror Story: Roanoke leaves us with a most enchanting (and horrifying) head scratcher. Given the unique structure of the show, we can’t know what is “real” and what is unreliable narration. But you know what? Despite knowing Shelby lived to tell the tale, I still jumped out of my chair.


Arrowverse Fight Club

In about an hour, Supergirl will premiere on the CW, presumably cementing Kara &co. to the Arrowverse proper. This gives Fetchland — or at least one opinionated comics fan — the opportunity to do a Top 8 list ūüėČ

This Top 8 list is limited to their collective heroism, villainy, strategy, tactics, and fistfights in the extended Arrowverse — Arrow, Flash, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, and now Supergirl — only… Not four-color floppies, David Goyer movies, or, say, Injustice: Gods Among Us. So yes, Killer Frost has an unblockable Special 2 and — ahem — killer Passive, but when Barry and Cisco visited Earth Two, she was clearly no match for Zoom… Caitlin just doesn’t make our Top 8.

Honorable Mention: Superman

While a clear contender for the #1 spot, Kal-El (for whom I named my only son) has appeared in the Arrowverse only by text message so far. Sorry farm boy.

Dishonorable Mention: Firestorm

Another clear contender for #1 on pure power level alone (he can diffuse nukes with a wave of his hand or imagine us all into a room full of kryptonite), Firestorm in the Arrowverse kind of has never done anything worth making the elimination rounds. As a result BDM snarkily said “I’d sooner vote White Canary.”

Without Further Ado…

VIII. Supergirl

While long on power level, Kara stumbles a lot for someone with superhuman reflexes and presumably processing speed. During their crossover last season, Kara and Barry were presented essentially as peers; but Barry unquestionably has the edge in experience and confidence, and probably ceiling.

Hype aside, Kara is getting knocked out of the sky by a woman who is defeated thirty seconds later by a garden hose (?!?)

If she’s having problems with Live Wire or Silver Banshee, imagine Kara against Captain Cold or Deathstorm.

VII. Flash

Per the above, Flash and Supergirl were presented at similar levels in their one meeting; part of our relatively low rating for Kara is her (somewhat) lack of resilience given our assumptions on the Kryptonian physique. If we define heroes by their opposition, Kara and Barry are on similar ground with respective monsters of the week, but Barry also being tasked with, you know, Zoom.

VI. Ra’s al Ghul

Ra’s has seemingly everything for a top rating: unquestionable fighting skills (circa one hand to hand fighter better than him on the planet); limitless resources; a fanatically loyal, impeccably trained, army… Even a secret, unassailable fortress (oh, and immortality). Ra’s could squash most governments — forget about individual heroes — like bugs. Why “only” six?

Everyone else on the list is just that good, too (or even better).

V. Slade Wilson

Slade v. Ra’s is a tough hair to split. If you want to go all the way to comics universe, Slade is “the bad guy Batman” (circa #1 himself, and capable of beating an entire Justice League squad alone)… Even in Arrowverse, Slade also has circa only one fighter ahead of him on the planet, also massive resources… and at his height, even the wealth of the Queen family!

Slade, like Ra’s, has a Sardaukar-like army at his command — deadly fanatics — too. The two main edges I’d give Slade over Ra’s are 1) Mirakuru versus not-Mirakuru, and 2) while the al Ghul army has swords and knives, Wilson’s has… um… Mirakuru. Edge to the supermen.

IV. Zoom

Here’s the thing about passionate, talented, individuals. You have to take the bad with the good. If a Golden State fan doesn’t like Draymond Green’s kicking opponents in the groin costing them their All-Star Forward for a game… Maybe blunting that passion would also neuter Green’s will to go after every loose ball and defensive play; maybe GSW wouldn’t be there to begin with. I don’t know if you can have the creative genius of Don Draper without the troubled spirit and drunken infidelity that formed him and give him all those million dollar ideas; maybe, but there is no evidence to the case.

The same problem is what keeps Zoom stuck in fourth place. Here is a guy who basically rules Earth Two; he’s in a position that no Earth One villain has ever attained (badass on a planetary scale)… But he has a fatal flaw… A kryptonite for asshole speedsters as it were.

Zoom has to play with his food.

Are you a world-conquering — worlds-conquering, even — Big Bad, or a pussy cat? Get your head in the game, Zoom! You gotta vibrate right through the opponent’s heart instead of vibrating him into a jail cell, or he is just going to travel back in time and punch you in the embryo. Or something.

III. Amanda Waller

Vast intelligence network. Unlimited resources. Secret prison on an uncharted island exclusively for Arrow’s vanquished playmates.

Complete lack of conscience.

Thank God she is on our side. Err… was.

II. Vandal Savage

In the comics, Vandal Savage is generally a threat on the order of Ra’s al Ghul, but comes off a little lower on account of being a brutish caveman. Both are immortals with long views of success. They have similar, Darwinian, agendas. Savage is typically more — ahem — savage (being a caveman in the comics), while Ra’s is the elegant swordsman. They are, as we said, very comparable and complimentary to each other. In Young Justice, Ra’s and Savage are close allies in the Light, with caveman Savage even entrusted as Earth’s envoy to Darkseid and Apokalips, a match for Flash-level speed due to countless years of disciplined martial mastery.

In the Arrowverse though, Savage borrows from the Hawk mythology — a mix of magic and Nth Metal — instead of being a cosmic caveman. Vandal is still quite old (if thousands of years younger than his comic self), and has been training in fighting arts almost continuously since the dominance of the Nile.

Distinguishing Savage from other players on this list is just how long and how influential he is shown to be. Savage’s bronze fist extends from ancient Egypt to the far future (with dominion over the Time Masters); in the present, then-Ra’s al Ghul Malcolm Merlyn served as his vassal, helping to resurrect a vanquished Savage from incineration (it is unclear if Ra’s proper would have acted the same way if he still held the title, but we’d guess yes).

It took the combined might of all the Legends of Tomorrow — and the sacrifice of more than one — over hundreds of years of conflict and detective work to take down Savage; though, granted, not one of those heroes made our Top 8 list. We’d guess it would only take over of…

I. Oliver Queen

This is what #1 brings to the table:

  1. Limitless wealth – Even after Ollie lost the the Queen billions to Slade Wilson, he ultimately retained access to his old wealth through his CEO girlfriend. He has at its heart the superpower of a-list icons Stark and Wayne.
  2. Super tactics – For want of a better term, Ollie is the Arrowverse’s Batman. He has a Robin, cool gadgets, a company, a hidden cave or three… And even an Oracle. Like Batman, Oliver is a master of thinking about a fight before the fight happens. Given planning, Ollie can overcome any superpower in combat between brain and bow; this is proven when he shoots the lightning fast Barry, twice… even after warning him he would. It’s not just that he’s that good (though he is): Oliver’s super tactics are what makes him capable of defeating so many more powerful opponents.
  3. Mary Sue – If you asked what Arrow’s key ability is, the simple answer would be “archery”. But that’s not the extent of it. He’s a super polymath. Oliver can manifest ANY skill, seemingly on demand. Need a super spy? He’s not just a trained Russian mobster, he has all the right contacts. Need to beat the world’s greatest hand-to-hand killer in a fencing contest? Call Oliver! How about a rogue sorcerer? Turns out Oliver’s many tattoos are mystically functional (didn’t I mention that?), he can harness the power of belief to negate another’s magic, and even John Constantine — a character famous for swindling demons and devils — is the one who owes Ollie a few favors. There seems to be no scenario where Ollie lacks the upper hand: it will just be revealed that he has the exact ability necessary to win the day, from linguistics to riflery, politics to carpentry.

Then there are Oliver’s physical gifts: Beat Deathstroke — including with Mirakuru — more than once. Killed an immortal Ra’s al Ghul (after first being killed by him… magical plant resurrection being yet another arrow in Ollie’s quiver). Punched master assassin Damian Darkh to death. Incinerated Vandal Savage (with magic, of course).

Three of those are contenders for #2 meelee combatant on Planet Arrowverse.

Unfortunately for them, there can be only one #1.

The Martian Manhunter has a different vote. We consider him biased:



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

HBO Summary:
A pair of guests arrive with different expectations, a programmer pitches a narrative.

“Chestnut” opens as William and his sex-obsessed co-worker visit Westworld. It’s William’s first time here and he shows a sense of caution and hesitation. His buddy seeks only sensual fulfillment, though, insisting that they avoid any other brand of adventure. Meanwhile backstage at the android factory, Elsie, the young upstart programmer, shows concern about Peter Abernathy’s breakdown. She wants to explore deeper and worries it may arise in the other, still active androids like Dolores. Elsie describes their challenge to Bernard like a virus that may spread among the “hosts”. But Bernard insists all is well and not to worry. He’s wrong, of course, and we see proof of this in the very next scene when Dolores quotes her creepy and since-retired Papa saying, “These violent delights have violent ends,” to the usually unflappable madame, Maeve. This works as a sort of trigger on Maeve. A switch flips inside her and she’s suddenly full of reveries so that from there things get stranger all the time for her. Maeve spends the episode in all sorts of creeptacular scenarios and only a couple are part of her current narrative. Meanwhile Dolores, who triggered Maeve’s waking nightmare with that mere whiff of Shakespeare, also dives off script and digs up a gun in her backyard.

In fact, there are lots of guns in this episode and many times they’re tied together with the words “supposed to” as in, these guns are real but you can’t kill anyone you’re not supposed to. Speaking of “supposed to” the epitome of this idea arises with the Gunslinger character, MIB (Man in Black) the sadistic guest who always wins. He’s been coming for thirty years; raping women, killing everyone, and never satisfied. The man’s hellbent; seeking the maze that lies behind Westworld and in this episode Stubbs, the security head, says this is a gentleman who, “gets whatever he wants”. Sure, he wins every fight but not yet the one that matters most to him. The Gunslinger wants answers.

William enters what feels like a saloon but it’s actually the train into the park. His hottie friend informs him that Westworld seduces everybody eventually and will reveal to William who he really is, “and I can’t wait to meet that guy,” he says clinking glasses with him. This brings up an ongoing theme of Westworld. The head writer, Lee declares that what every guest is really after most is their own story and heightening their self-awareness. But Ford, the originator of the droids, believes otherwise. He spends much of the episode in the desert chatting with a little boy who might possibly be himself as a child. This is a fabulous writer’s trick and much more interesting than just Ford talking to himself. He soon sends the child away, though, telling him never to return and this is when we see from his robotic bodily response that the boy is an android. He leaves as ordered, no questions asked. Later Ford tells Lee that the guests don’t come to Westworld to learn about themselves because, “they already know who they are,” and to some degree this must be true. At the very least they’re forced to choose a white hat or a black hat upon entry, so we know they can at least answer that most basic binary question from the onset. Ford says they come to Westworld to find out what they can possibly become. This, of course, takes the power away from Lee, the writer’s, grasp and hands it to the guests. Thus confirming this notion that visitors like the Man in Black really do have the whole world in their hands.

Speaking of the MIB, he attends a hanging and immediately turns it into a gunfight, thus saving his “friend” Lawrence from the noose. Our Gunslinger does this to enlist Lawrence’s help, creating instant obligation. Turns out Lawrence may be able to help MIB find the maze behind the surface facade of Westworld, his ultimate goal. He explains how the real world is chaos but Westworld’s zillions of gorgeous details all have meaning that ultimately adds up to something. This is what the Gunslinger seeks. So, MIB takes Lawrence home to his secret family and kills his posse, his cousins, his wife, and then finally Gunslinger learns a clue from Lawrence’s secret daughter. She tells him the maze is not meant for him. But then tells him to follow the blood arroyo to the place where the snake lays it eggs. MIB then says he’s “never going back” and heads off to find the snake. Is it the same snake Ford encounters in the desert? It’s a rattler near a town with a white church. Ford says he’s made the most amazing narrative of all for this place. So, it’s OK that Lee’s new BIG IDEA is a flop. The master takes over once again. Or is he the magician archetype? He may be both. When the little boy asks him if that desert rattlesnake is magic, Ford says, “This whole world is magic, except the magician,” and we believe Ford knows this better than anyone.

Another theme of this episode is nightmares and it’s largely because Maeve, the madame, seems to be living one these days. She was deeply affected by Dolores’s words and stays haunted now by horrifying reveries. Worst part is that they’re messing with her so much it’s screwing up her narrative and Maeve can’t do her job. In other words, a customer didn’t want to fuck her… and that’s just unacceptable. It’s a shame that Maeve will no longer say such delicious lines as, “the only thing wrong with the seven deadly sins is that there aren’t more of them,” it’s like we already miss her right as we meet Maeve. She’s being torn from us just as we get to see her character’s brilliance because she’s recalled now – junk, retired.

Bernard and Theresa turn out to be secret lovers who “never talk” and when Dolores finds that gun in her backyard she’s hearing a voice in her head. The voice tells her where to find the gun, and thus we wonder if maybe it’s dear old Dad somehow signaling from the warehouse where he stands with the other shutoff droids like mannequins in the shadows. Essentially these secretive relationships are what Westworld is all about underneath the glamorous facade. The last scene shows Ford and Bernard out in the desert having a secret meeting in the park – where they’re not allowed. Ford eases Bernard’s mind about the need for a new storyline. He’s been marinating on this desert/rattlesnake one for years, something “quite original” and we’re thinking that snake may be the one Lawrence’s secret daughter mentioned. This may be the storyline of The Gunslinger’s dreams.

Katherine Recap

Chapter 4

“Chapter 4” is the fastest, densest, episode of American Horror Story: Roanoke yet. A lot of stuff happens quickly… Even before the opening credits roll.

Matt confronts Shelby… Did she just call the cops on Lee? [yes]

How can Shelby trust Matt? He was conspiring with Lee behind Shelby’s back, wasn’t he? [he was]

And… Wasn’t Matt ucking-fay a strange woman in the woods? [again, he was]

Matt can’t remember, even though it was just a few moments earlier; Shelby looks into his eyes and determines he was not “culpable”.

For some reason (!?!) Matt and Shelby continue to live in the haunted house. Popping off her fuzzy socks in anticipation of bathing, Shelby is assaulted in the shower by a shirtless, pig-headed, man with a knife. She dashes out of the bathroom but is attacked again in the hallway. Matt sees the pig-headed man and tackles him from behind. Whew! For a moment it seemed like this attack could have all been in Shelby’s mind.

Our harrowed homeowners are in wicked trouble, waving a blade ineffectually as they back away from the oncoming pig-headed marauder. Then he gets axed in the back! Dr. Elias Cunningham, the crazy professor dude from Chapter 2’s found footage video saves them. Because this is American Horror Story, an axe to the back is not enough to stop Mr Piggy, though. The professor banishes him by proclaiming CROATOAN!

According to Elias, the mysterious word “Croatoan” is one of “dark power and blood magic”, associated with the original Roanoke colony.

Elias informs our homeowners that within months of taking possession, everyone who ever owned the house (but him) died or disappeared. He only actually lived in the house for six months, but kept ownership to prevent anyone else from owning it (and dying). Unfortunately Elias missed a tax payment, resulting in Matt and Shelby buying the house at auction.

Elias walks us through the history of the house and its paranormal activity, including the demises various of an Asian-American Chen family, the sadistic nurse-sisters from Matt’s dream, and three hunters who mysteriously killed each other right outside. While the spirits are always annoying and scary, there is a six-day period every October where the spirits can actually kill (and of course “Chapter 4” is the first day of this year’s October cycle).

Elias is gloomy about the missing Flora as he assumes she was killed by the Butcher, but knows where Priscilla likes to play, and takes them there.

Shelby, for her part, feels horrible about calling the cops on Lee (for Mason’s death) and Matt realizes the only way they can clear Lee’s name at this point is to find Flora. As viewers of My Roanoke Nightmare, we know that Lee got out all right… But the Butcher’s arc and past villainy is still quite compelling.

The group do find Flora (briefly) playing with an eclectic group including not just Priscilla, but the Chens and the pig-headed man!

Before they can rescue Flora, Elias is filled with arrows by oncoming Roanoke colonists. Matt and Shelby retreat back to the house; where they find a waiting Cricket.

Cricket reveals that the house is the true lost colony of Roanoke, and tells the full history of the Butcher after meeting “the bitch with the real power” (Lady GaGa). The Butcher bound the Roanoke colonists to the land in a massive human sacrifice, forcing them into servitude for all time… Before being herself sacrificed by GaGa’s woods witch.

Anyway, Cricket feels like he can banish any and all evil spirits (after offering Matt to the woods witch as a sex partner), and calls an Uber. The Uber nearly runs over a fleeing Flora. Cricket follows her into the woods… And (off-camera) both are captured by the Butcher and company.

That night, Matt leaves a sleeping Shelby to be seduced in the root cellar by the woods witch. He learns she was once an English girl, but a follower of the Druids and the religions of ancient Rome. Matt expresses great intimacy with her and “would have joined her” but for Shelby’s screaming.

In the climactic scene, thanks to an assist from Priscilla’s ghost, Matt and Shelby are able to reacquire Flora and run back into the house, but can only look on in helpless horror as Cricket is disemboweled. I mean really. Disemboweled. On national tv. What is clear by the Butcher’s evil gestures, though, is that they are next.



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

HBO Summary:
At a remote park, guests pay to share wild west adventures with android robots.

Anthony Hopkins – Dr. Ford: Westworld’s Dr. Frankenstein
Evan Rachel Wood – Dolores: “The Original” android; cheerful at first…
Jeffrey Wright – Bernard: Westworld’s programming head
Ed Harris – Man in Black, (MIB): Sadistic gunslinger who never loses
Thandie Newton – Maeve: Madame at the saloon, a smartass hottie
James Marsden – Teddy: The gunslinger who loses, hung up on Dolores
Simon Quarterman – Lee: Storyteller who fears the androids will rebel
Shannon Woodward – Elsie: Programmer assigned to help fix droid bugs
Rodrigo Santoro – Hector: “Wanted,” hottie bandit off wanted poster
Sidse Babett – Theresa: Westworld’s operations manager – creates order
Ingrid Bols√ł Berdal – Armistice: Relentless warrior in bandit’s clothing
Angela Sarafyan – Clementine: Gorgeous and popular lady of the evening
Luke Hemsworth – Stubbs: Head of Westworld security, practical and solid

Westworld, “The Original,” opens as the head of security, Stubbs, talks to the android Dolores. “Tell us what you think of your world,” he says. Dolores explains that she chooses to see the beauty and believes there’s a grand purpose to “our days”. Stubbs then asks what she thinks of the guests and Dolores says, “You mean the newcomers?” before remembering what her father taught her, “That at some point or another we were all new in this world. We all need a place to be free,” and thus we learn the relative philosophy of Westworld. It’s a virtual playground for adults all dressed up in western gear but that’s just for show. The real fun – screwing and shooting – don’t require dressup clothes. Westworld offers freedom without consequence. This perfectly parallels the creative world of all artists. Storytellers and android creators, like those in Westworld, have freedom to fulfill their vision but what are the consequences when they make that vision real?

In the pilot episode, “The Original,” cracks start to climb the walls of Westworld’s creative facade. Even though android memories are purged after every storyline’s conclusion, a recent update by Dr. Ford keeps remnants of them – reveries. Thus tiny new “non-standard” gestures and behaviors start cropping up among the droids. Some are minor, like the way gorgeous Clementine sweeps her pinky over her lips. But others are more troublesome; the town Sheriff has a disturbing stroke and a “homicidal by design” bandit pours gallons of milk on the victims of his murderous rampage.

This greatly upsets Lee, our storyteller character. Because, much like any narrative game, the stories within Westworld play out along the same scripted lines each time with only slight variations aroused by guest interaction. Lee writes those stories and now, with yet another random element thrown in to screw with his stories, he’s pissed. A prime example of how it’s “supposed to work” is Teddy, played by James Marsden, as the loser-in-hero-pants role. He longs for the lovely Dolores and dies trying to save her with every variety of storyline that comes along. Alas, he simply can’t save her anymore than he can save his own sorry ass. He’s programmed to fail. Ed Harris as The Man in Black points this out to Teddy time after time, wearing his literal AND figurative black hat.

In “The Original” MIB shoots Teddy in the heart for what’s likely the zillionth time and then drags Dolores by her glorious tresses into a barn. This is where we see the most beautiful shot of the episode, through Teddy’s eye. In fact, it’s lovely because the shot uses the center of his pupil as a frame for the barn door with MIB and Dolores inside. Still hovering on this shot, we hear the voiceover ask Dolores what she thinks of the newcomers. Voiceover Dolores says she loves them. They remind her how grateful she is to be alive. Then the barn door slams shut.

Later we’re in the android factory where the scientists worry about the inherent dangers every time they roll out an android update. It scares some that the droids might somehow rebel after an update. Stubbs, particularly fearful given that he’s head of security, leads Bernard into a storage facility where old droids stand in ghastly shadows, like waxen zombie mannequins. In the back room of the facility they find Dr. Ford chatting with an ancient cowboy over a drink. This cowboy’s name is Bill and when he lies down for his android dreamless slumber it’s in a white body bag that he zips over his own head. Then Bernard and Dr. Ford discuss the reveries and Ford is quick to call his work on them a “mistake”. Ford even refers to how the beginning of our experience as sentient beings on the planet was also the result of a cosmic mistake. This is classic foreshadowing because in the final shot of the episode we’re going to see the first inkling that, in fact, the droids are becoming sentient beings as well.

As the episode winds down we return to the loop of Dolores in her dream state as Stubbs asks her the questions about her father, Peter. It turns out her father is one of the updated droids gone rogue. As Bernard says about Peter’s state, “We’re miles beyond a glitch here,” because he’s spouting Shakespeare, enraged, and downright scary. This is all off script, of course. Suddenly Peter’s a robot with awareness. In the end he takes Dr. Ford’s head in his hands and says, “You don’t know where you are, do you? In a prison of your own sins,” and then they turn off Peter’s creepy vengeful ass. Ford and Bernard realize the droid’s remnant reveries came from old “builds” meaning storylines he’d run on before. Ford finds this comforting but it doesn’t console Bernard. It felt real because the droid wasn’t just spouting lines. Peter expressed relevant revenge with terrifying intensity.

In the final scene Stubbs finishes his interview/nightly wipe of Dolores and then explains to another scientist that she’s is the oldest host/android in Westworld. He says they don’t need to worry about Dolores because she’s been repaired so many times she’s practically brand new. They put Pete in the warehouse with the waxen figures and grant Dolores a new Daddy for her Groundhog Day morning chit chat on the porch. But the last bit of the episode veers off script too when a fly lands on Dolores. Flies played a role throughout the pilot episode to show that the androids don’t feel anything. It’s the Old West, so of course there are flies galore. But the droids let them walk across their eyes without even noticing, usually. They’re robots, after all. Except in this final shot, a fly lands on Dolores and she smacks at it. Uh oh, the girl’s got feelings.

Katherine Recap

Luke Cage

Who is Luke Cage?

Posted by michaelj | Comics

WARNING: There is a wee bit of nudity down the page. You have been warned. -mf

Luke Cage is one of the most badass heroes in the Marvel Universe, and probably my favorite Avenger. All of this is remarkable because prior to the early- to mid-aughts he was kind of a cliche-ridden goofball born of the 1970s in a ridiculous disco superhero “uniform” ejaculating SWEET CHRISTMAS each issue as his catch phrase.

Luckily I don’t know anything about any of that. Despite his first appearance in 1972 my serious concept of Luke is the thoroughly modern one… 2001 at the earliest. If you go through these Top 8 Badass moments I hope you learn to like him as much as I do (and just in time for his Netflix debut, tomorrow). He really is something else.

Luke Cage’s Top 8 Badass Moments (according to Mike):

VIII. Luke Cage makes the All-Star Team
Luke Cage makes the All-Star Team

Little of the rest of this list would be possible without Luke’s improbable ascent to Avengers All-Star in Brian Michael Bendis’s “Breakout” story.

To give you some context if your concept of the Avengers is all billion dollar summer blockbusters with Chrisses Hemsworth and Evans staring each other down in shirtless blonde Greek* god pose-offs, when I was growing up the team was like Namor’s fish-eyed green ex plus a fat, bald, Stephen Strange wannabe named Dr. Druid; or, right after, the Eternal duo of Sersei and — I shit you not — “the Forgotten One”. Nothing supreme; utterly forgettable.

Legend has it the baby version of Mark Millar liked Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman all, but didn’t have enough pocket money for all their books. Luckily DC’s Justice League of America let him read about all the top heroes with just one title! This — some thirty years later — was a revelation for Marvel decision makers, and the concept of an Avengers All-Star team was born. For the first time iconic Avengers Captain America and Iron Man adventured alongside Marvel’s unquestioned ace Peter Parker and most popular berserker, X-Man Wolverine…

… And Luke Cage.

Bendis’s affection for Cage was apparent to anyone who had read his street-level superhero books Daredevil and Alias [aka Jessica Jones], but given the shot on the larger stage, Luke stepped up.

Never again would he be a trope; he became not just an Avenger, but THE Avenger. A leader of men, gods, women, and squirrels.

VII. Luke Cage Beats Up the Wrecker, Everyone Else, with the Wrecker’s Crowbar
Luke Cage Beats Up the Wrecker, Everyone Else, with the Wrecker's Crowbar

Hold on… Luke Cage is an Avenger?

THE Avenger, actually. Get with the program already.

What’s this about a crowbar?

Uru weapons in the Marvel Universe are super special and super powerful… Rare, but not unique. Mjolnir, Thor’s hammer, is the must famous Uru weapon but even in the cinematic universe you get the feeling Odin has a whole basement full of hand-held WMDs behind the Rainbow Bridge. Beta Ray Bill carries Stormbreaker (essentially the exact same hammer as Mjolnir, but yellow instead of gray), and in the climax of “Fear Itself” seemingly the entire MU from Iron Fist to Red She-Hulk are transformed into godlike versions of themselves, armed with Uru swords, claw extensions, or Stark-brand power suits. Uru is stronger than vibranium or adamantium, such that when Cap’s shield cracked, a little Uru glue was said to make it even stronger.

Cage taking an Uru weapon (crowbar here instead of hammer in the pantheon of magical construction equipment) from its owner and then using it to pound an entire [Dark] Avengers team is roughly the equivalent of beating up Hemsworth, somehow lifting his toy, and then going to town on the bad guy equivalents of Renner, Jackman, and Maguire Garfield whoever is playing Spidey these days, ultimately to spit in Willem Dafoe’s eye**.



VI. That Time Luke Cage Bought the Avengers Mansion for $1
That Time Luke Cage Bought the Avengers Mansion for $1

Tony Stark sold Luke his ancestral home — and that of his team — to Luke, allowing Cage complete autonomy over his own Avengers squad.

Neither Luke nor wife Jessica Jones carry cash, though, so Cage had to borrow the buck from longtime partner Iron Fist. LOL

V. That Other Time Luke Cage Sold the Avengers Mansion Back to Stark for $5
That Other Time Luke Cage Sold the Avengers Mansion Back to Stark for $5

Wanting to focus on family (and get his daughter Danielle out of the line of fire) Luke briefly retired from the Avenging business, so sold the mansion back to Tony… At a 400% profit.

IV. When Luke Cage (and Thor) Literally Ripped Deadpool in Half
When Luke Cage (and Thor) Literally Ripped Deadpool in Half



Deadpool Annual #1 from 2013 is a hoot. Heroes lament how hard it is to beat “healing factor guys”, Thor reduces one to ash with an Uru-summoned lightning bolt, and multiple Avengers sip lattes while dancing on rooftops, surrounded by the corpses of a dozen failed ninja assassins. A hoot! I told you!

… Oh, and Luke and Thor rip Deadpool in half.

Don’t worry though. Healing factor guy, etc.

III. Luke Cage Eats Three Eggs
Luke Cage Eats Three Eggs

The 2002 Cage series by Brian Azzarello and Richard Corben is a real treat. Cage shows us a-list creators (one of which is the writer behind crime masterpiece 100 Bullets) lending their collective pencils and pens to a hood-based story of urban gentrification and warring ethnic groups years before Luke’s big graduation to punching Skrulls instead of street level gang bangers.

Cage has Cage depicted as tough, mercenary, and overwhelmingly charismatic (a quality he would carry into Alias). It opens on the universally accepted idea that “shit happens” … But for Harlem residents with “bank” Cage — operating out of a local strip club –can be their toilet paper.

I read Cage when it came out, and despite some truly classic one-liners, like “Bullshit. She inta BOYS she inta GANGS[.]” and “Yeah… Pull that trigger… SEE who dies[.]” plus a killer three-sentence summary of Luke’s secret origin*** — at least prior to writing this — had little specific recollection of the details.

Except the eggs scene.

What makes it badass? Memorable even?

Is three eggs even a large number of eggs to eat? (Does Azzarello think it is?) Is it because Luke just got done humping an at-this-point-still nameless Korean bartender? Both?

I think this scene is meant to highlight a combination of Luke’s appetites, masculinity, and cross-demographic appeal, none of which have eroded in the fifteen years since.

II. Luke Cage (and Jess) Pop Doc Ock and Kick Him Off Their Team
Luke Cage (and Jess) Pop Doc Ock and Kick Him Off Their Team

Doctor Octopus is a bad guy. Given some of the other escapades on this Top 8 list, cracking the spectacles of a b-lister might not seem like a big deal. But Doc Ock was possessing Peter Parker’s body at the time.

Luke even stood up to him with words before he rose up with fists. He didn’t know it was Doc Ock; he thought he was doing the right thing by getting up in the grill of the moral center of the MU.

Total Neville Longbottom moment, this.

I. The Ascent and Career of Doreen Green
The Ascent and Career of Doreen Green

We started with Luke making the Avengers All-Star team. I think that the appropriate closure is Luke’s paying it forward for another goofball character.

So Luke and Jessica — new parents of future Captain America Danielle Cage — found themselves in need of a nanny. And because they are the kind of people who might have terrorists, alien invaders, or angry / riled-up mutants attacking their mansion, they were in need of a super powered nanny. They ended up choosing Doreen Green, also known as Squirrel Girl.

Doreen’s ascent ultimately mirrored Luke’s. Squirrel Girl was an explicitly not-serious character, even joining joke superhero team the Great Lakes Avengers just so her squirrel sidekick could die in an arc satirizing comic book deaths. However as the nanny to Danielle Cage, Doreen was — like Luke — given a spotlight on New Avengers. She beat Wolverine one-on-one and got to flex a little heroism. Today, the onetime joke character is headlining her own title, The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, is the darling of comics critics while helping to expand the genre’s audience, and even puts in time on Sunspot’s Avengers Idea Mechanics team.

Pay it forward, Luke Cage.


* Norse, fine; Norse.

** The Green Goblin (wearing StarkTech) at the time claimed to be in charge of the Avengers, but just had Bullseye dressed up as Hawkeye, Venom masquerading as Pete, etc.

*** When I was doin’ my big in the joint, a doctor made me an offer. / Said be my MONKEY. Let me experiment on your black ass. I’ll either KILL YOU, or SET YOU FREE. / I said hand me the BANANA.

**** You know, like YT.

Batman #47

comiXology summary:
Batman #47. While Jim Gordon is in the fight of his life against Mr. Bloom, Bruce Wayne discovers a shocking secret about his past that will change everything in Gotham City!

This Alex Ross cover was actually an alternate for a relatively recent* issue of Batman. Because it wasn’t the main cover I wouldn’t consider Batman #47 a “bait and switch” on characters in the same way I criticized All-New Inhumans. This is beside the fact that Batman isn’t even Batman in this issue (a moustache-less Jim Gordon was filling in for an amnesiac Bruce Wayne at the time).

But what makes this a noteworthy cover? I mean, there are alternate covers to some book or other essentially every week, right?

The first reason is just that this is an Alex Ross, and any mainstream Alex Ross is probably worth a second look, even if we don’t end up lingering on it. That’s not the real reason, though; at least not for me.

This Batman #47 alternate, with it’s “Harley’s Little Black Book” titling, is a sequel of sorts. One of the best — or at least most famous — depictions of Harley Quinn was done by Ross back in 1999 for Batman: Harley Quinn #1. Though Harley’s entire character arc had essentially been played out between her first appearance on Batman: The Animated Series in 1992 and its last episode (months earlier in 1999) she had never — never — appeared in a mainstream DC Universe comic before Batman: Harley Quinn #1!

So bringing Harley (who would ultimately become one of DC’s most famous and popular characters) to comics was kind of a big deal. DC tapped Ross for this classic:

Batman: Harley Quinn #1

When I first started working, and first figured out how to change the desktop background on my PC, this is what I chose.

So what did I love about Batman #47? Check the white flower over Mr. J’s left breast; the tux… all of it. This is the direct sequel to the classic.


* “Relatively recent” being about Christmas last year, given a stated print release date of December 9, 2015. With DC’s “Rebirth” event Batman has since been renumbered at #1 under The Vision scribe Tom King.

September 21st

September 21st is Finale Night


James admits he didn’t throw one of them

First things first for the finale; cool cat, Paul wins the first part of the final HOH competition. Meanwhile James is a real puss talking bout how it’s hard even from the beginning. He complains about milk and kitty litter on his shoes… yeah, cause clean shoes matter a TON when you’re competing for $500K. After he wins, Paul says now he can take a long catnap while the other two battle it out in part two. Meow.


Nicole expresses confusion about F2

Next we see the BB amusement park competition for part two. There’s a roller coaster and the whole thing seems really challenging and precise. The houseguests have to place correct houseguest faces in a coaster car and then time the car going down the coaster so that a pic taken of it captures the houseguests as they pass. Nicole works hard and runs the whole time, pushing herself to get the best time possible. She does well. James, on the other hand, spends the comp bein’ clueless and blaming the houseguest faces for failing him in the challenge. You know, like how a winner competes. He doesn’t even run for most of the competition and thus, Nicole wins. But we already knew that.


Meech dabs her last BB18 tears

Then we see¬†Dr. Will lead the jury discussion. The talk¬†of James is annoying until Da’Vonne says “Ewwww,” to sum up his gameplay and we all sigh with relief that the jury’s¬†not all blind. The jurors seems to be fans of¬†Paul’s game¬†and we’re LOVING it. Victor doesn’t even have to say anything until the very end.¬†They all seem to respect Paul’s¬†game even though they didn’t always like how he spoke to them. Nicole on the other hand, doesn’t get much in the way of props. Corey defends her valiantly but nobody else appears to¬†buy¬†into¬†it. Michelle, of course, bursts into tears at the mere mention of Nicole.


Bye Bye, James!

In the final part of the last HOH competition Paul and Nicole balance¬†on the “Scales of Just Us” and are¬†tied awhile at the start. But soon Paul takes the lead with a question about Paulie and then gets another leading point with a Natalie question. When he wins the final HOH, we feel like all’s right in the world! It’s Paul’s decision time back inside the house then¬†and he¬†quickly evicts James. HOORAY! Finally, finally, finally, finally. James makes a joke about taking the new tiny version of Pablo (like Meech did on her way out) and we’re so happy James is leaving that we laugh out loud. ¬†Julie immediately confronts James about not winning much and he puffs up his chest real big and says he threw it all, baby. It was on purpose! Of course.


Nicole’s speech

Now it’s jury interrogation time and we’re so excited we can hardly wait. James joins the jury and Da’Vonne laughs her ass off right along with us about his eviction. They ask Paul about his crass talk and Nicole what her big move was in the game. Nicole talks a lot but doesn’t say much at first. Then she¬†stands up for herself pretty well in the end of the question/answer part. Paul probably should have apologized rather than just pulling the “You guys knew I was crazy,” card. But then it seems OK because Paul nails his speech. He kills it. When they break for the jurors to vote Paul and Nicole are happily giggling together and nervous. It’s sort of¬†adorable… even on mute.

Then the houseguests vote one at a time, giving little to no indication for how they’re voting. James is the one we wonder about the most while they’re voting but turns out¬†it’s a real stumper as Julie reads the keys, to find¬†so many of them vote for Nicole.

James – Paul
Corey – Nicole
Victor – Paul
Natalie – Nicole
Michelle – Paul
Paulie – Nicole
Bridgette – Paul
Zakiyah – Nicole
Da’Vonne – Nicole

Da’Vonne? Really? It wasn’t what we expected. Nicole wins. We’re happy for her but sad for truth, justice, and the American way – which continue to evade us.


Victor wins America’s Favorite Player and THAT feels right. We’ll take our crumbs and go now because the season usually ends this way – disappointing on the whole but we had¬†fun anyway. On to the next installation of Big Brother. This one’s called OTT: Over the Top and it’s all online all the time. Who’s brewing the coffee? We’re ready to roll.

Sittin’ Ducks For Life!

– Katherine Recap