Psycho-Pass Season 1 Episodes 3 and 4 Liveblog Chat Thingy!

How to participate in the liveblog chat:  Option 1: Whenever you watch the episode, comment on this post as you watch with whatever responses you feel like posting! Option 2: Go to http://webchat.freenode.net/. Enter a nickname, then for the Channels field enter ##rabbitcube, and finally fill in the Captcha and hit Connect! We’ll be watching Psycho-Pass and commenting there starting at 1:00 p.m. EST. That’s one hour earlier than normal!

I’ll update this post with the chatlog after the liveblog.
ETA: Chatlog under the cut!
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Captain's Log, Weekly Digest 66

A summary of the past week of posts to my in-character Star Trek Online Tumblr, chronicling the adventures of E.N. Morwen, a science-loving and thoughtful young woman trapped in a galaxy of warring space giants.

  • Planetary Survey: The Inverse and Phoenix conduct a planetary survey of the planet Vinwar.
  • Leviathan: Morwen, Saga, and Regina Bartholomew-Moriarty go out into Vinwar’s oceans to search for a disappeared shuttle.

As the flag officer of a fleet or tactical group, Starfleet regulations also require Morwen to provide a Fleet Status Report briefly summarizing the current status and mission of all ships under her command, every Stardate that’s a multiple of 10. But we didn’t have one of those this week because “The First of the Conquered” ended up being really long and I missed several days worth of updates.

Vlog Review: Star vs. the Forces of Evil S1E5

 
Sorry this is late, I messed up queueing. Reminder that Patreon backers can see these videos 4-5 weeks early AND Near-Apocalypse articles four MONTHS early!
Those of you who follow on Tumblr, for whatever reason the videos don’t play there. Click through to JedABlue.com to watch.

Whacked out old fraud! (Paging the Crime Doctor)

Near Apocalpyse of '09 Logo
Well, this is a first for this series: an episode of which I have absolutely no memory whatsoever. Which leads me to suspect I never actually saw it, because it’s pretty damn memorable.

It’s September 17, 1993, two days after “Mudslide” and four after the “Shadow of the Bat” two-parter, so I’m still going to save news and charts for that entry. This is, in fact, the last episode of the first season to air, a day after “The Worry Men,” the final episode of the season in production order.

“Paging the Crime Doctor” is an interesting place to stop, since it reaches to before the beginning, to the youth of Thomas Wayne. More than Batman or the episode’s villain, Rupert Thorne, this episode focuses on two of Wayne’s medical school friends, Leslie Thompkins and Matt Thorne, the latter of whom is the titular Crime Doctor.

Much is left unsaid in the relationship between the Thorne brothers. Matt takes care of the injured criminals Rupert brings him and keeps Rupert’s secrets, but is that because it’s the only way to continue to practice medicine without his license? And Rupert provides Matt with equipment, a safe place to work, even a nurse, but is that because he feels responsible for Matt losing his license (which appears to have been because Matt failed to report Rupert to the police when he came for help with a bullet wound) or because it’s a convenient way to get medical treatment for people involved in his criminal enterprises without drawing the attention of the authorities?

The key, I think, comes in a line Rupert never finishes because he’s interrupted by a heart attack: “After I gave up everything so–” A story unfolds from that line: two brothers, one with dreams of medical school, the other delving ever deeper into corruption and crime to support him. There is a web of debt and responsibility tying these two men together, perhaps after brotherly love has been buried in regrets and recriminations. Each feels they owe something to the other; each is bound to the other. In this they are an inversion of the Stromwell brothers from “It’s Never Too Late”; where the Stromwells were driven apart by one’s criminality, the Thornes are brought together, even though in both cases the non-criminal brother is dedicated to the care of others and repulsed by his brother’s choice of career.

Though he puts aside that repulsion to work with Rupert, Matt still has limits, and his reunion with Leslie Thompkins reminds him of what they are. He will heal criminals and murderers, but he will not stand by while they murder someone in front of him. His escape sequence with Leslie provides the main action of the episode, including a great scene of two elderly doctors steeling themselves in sequence to try to jump from one rooftop to the next, while pursued by a machine gun-wielding thug.

In the end, with a key assist by Batman, Leslie and Matt escape–from Rupert Thorne, anyway. When next we see Matt Thorne, he is in a jailhouse visiting room awaiting Bruce Wayne. And even though the line is tremendously telegraphed, such that I know it’s coming even though I have no recollection of the episode, it still nearly brings me to tears: Bruce asks about his father.

This is an episode about family, the ones we’re born into and the ones we make. Bruce Wayne’s father and mother were killed in front of him, but in Alfred and Leslie Thompkins Batman has a surrogate mother and father. He has other surrogate fathers as well, one of whom we will meet posthumously in the next episode. And he has his surrogate children in the assorted Robins and Batgirl; even, eventually, a grandson in Terry.

And to hear Alfred describe it, Matt Thorne, Leslie Thompkins, and Thomas Wayne were a found family as well, three close lifelong friends, at least until one died and another fell from grace. Blood is thicker than water, as the old saying goes, but even older is its original formulation, the blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb. Matt chose the one with whom he shared the water of the womb over the ones with whom he shared the blood of the covenant, and so he fell; by returning to the covenant, rescuing Leslie and telling Bruce stories of his father, he can begin the long slow climb back into grace.

Batman can never quite do the same, because then he ceases to be Batman. But still he tries, building one found family after another; despite being an orphan, he has perhaps more parents, siblings, and children than any other character in comics.


Current status of the Patreon:

Psycho-Pass Season 1 Episodes 1 and 2 Liveblog Chat Thingy!

How to participate in the liveblog chat:  Option 1: Whenever you watch the episode, comment on this post as you watch with whatever responses you feel like posting! Option 2: Go to http://webchat.freenode.net/. Enter a nickname, then for the Channels field enter ##rabbitcube, and finally fill in the Captcha and hit Connect! We’ll be watching Psycho-Pass and commenting there starting at 1:00 p.m. EST. That’s one hour earlier than normal!

I’ll update this post with the chatlog after the liveblog
ETA: Chatlog below the cut!
Continue reading

Checking in…

I still owe one backer reward for My Little Po-Mo vol. 3. I’m going to try to get it done this weekend, but I’ve still got a lot going on, so.
Tuesday/Friday posts will likely continue to be rare/nonexistent through most of the month; I’m hoping to get back to doing them regularly after Anime Boston.
I wanted to put some questions out there–I’d love to hear from all readers, particularly those who don’t comment much.

  1. Does anybody actually read/care about the E.N. Morwen/STO stuff?
  2. In general, is there anything I post regularly or frequently that you’d like to see less of?
  3. Anything I used to do that you’d like to see me start doing again?
  4. Anything I’ve rarely or never done that you’d like to see me do?

I’m open to suggestions/thoughts/requests of any kind! (Doesn’t guarantee I’ll do them, but I’m open to considering anything.)

Captain's Log, Weekly Digest 65

A summary of the past week of posts to my in-character Star Trek Online Tumblr, chronicling the adventures of E.N. Morwen, a science-loving and thoughtful young woman trapped in a galaxy of warring space giants.

As the flag officer of a fleet or tactical group, Starfleet regulations also require Morwen to provide a Fleet Status Report briefly summarizing the current status and mission of all ships under her command, every Stardate that’s a multiple of 10. But we didn’t have one of those this week because “The First of the Conquered” ended up being really long and I missed several days worth of updates.

Washed Away (Mudslide)

Near Apocalpyse of '09 Logo
It’s September 15, 1993, several months later than any episode we’ve watched so far. However, it’s also the day after the “Shadow of the Bat” two-parter finished airing, so I’ll wait until that entry to cover charts and news across the interim.
“Mudslide” is a response to fan enthusiasm for another Clayface episode, which the creators were reluctant to do as animation costs for “Feat of Clay” had been quite high and they found Clayface difficult to write for. Nonetheless, the effort by writers Alan Burnett (story) and Steve Perry (teleplay) and director Eric Radomski is quite solid, and while Studio Junio’s animation isn’t quite up to the standards TMS set in “Feat of Clay, Part II,” it’s still pretty good.
Primarily, this episode is about movies, and more broadly about performativity. As in “Feat of Clay,” Clayface talks about Hagen in the third person, as someone he once was but no longer is. His transformation has made him not only able to assume any physical identity, but any personal identity as well, and in both cases at the price of losing any identity of his own. He is an actor losing himself in his role, with the loss of physical cohesion driving his crimes simply a reification of that loss.
But he is far from the only one losing themselves in a performance. Consider Stella Bates, the former medical consultant on one of his movies. She clearly has intense feelings for Clayface, but are they her own? Or are they the  feelings of the movie character she helped write, toward Matt Hagen’s character in the same movie? That Clayface uses his character’s confession of love from the movie to apologize and thank her rather suggests the latter. Her existence as a movie character is only reinforced by the number of film references around her: the suit she designs for Clayface makes him look like an Oscar statuette, her family owned a motel (as in the Bates Motel of Psycho fame), and Clayface is clearly channeling Marlon Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire when he cries out her name near the episode’s climax. And of course in terms of the episode’s plot, she plays the classic film role of the “mad scientist,” with her lab full of levers and glass tubes and the hulking, quasi-human creature she creates on her table.
Interestingly, the episode never makes this explicit. Despite all the implications that Stella has lost herself in a role, the episode never makes reference to the cliche of stalkers who convince themselves they are an actor’s love interest in some movie or soap opera, never refers to her as delusional or even makes an outright statement that she is in love with Hagen. It is simply depicted and left to us to figure out, a signpost to further implications.
Because Stella’s performativity leads us naturally to question Clayface’s. Specifically, given his use of movie lines to interact with Stella, is he just playing a role for her in order to get what he wants? Or is he, like her, lost in a role, unaware that his relationship with her is as artificial as the suit he wears or the forms he takes? Perhaps there is no meaningful difference; after all, if Clayface is, as his dialogue implies, no longer Matt Hagen, then he’s not anyone, just an amorphous blob that takes the forms of others, uses them for his purposes, and moves on. Certainly there isn’t any indication that he feels for Stella as she appears to feel for him.
But he tries. He tries to go back to who he was, with Stella’s help and the stolen MP-40 (which shares its name, probably coincidentally, with the standard submachine gun used by Nazi troops in WWII, a frequent prop in movies set in and around that period), but Batman won’t let him. Batman, whom he tries and fails to devour.
Because if anyone is an actor lost in his own performance, it’s Bruce Wayne. Batman is pure performance, which is why he works best in media and genres known for going over the top–comics, campy 60s television, cartoons–but becomes dull and dour when treated with greater realism. We have seen before (most notably in “P.O.V.” and “See No Evil”) how much of Batman’s power comes from the perceptions of others, perceptions he deliberately manipulates. Without that performance, he is just a man in a silly costume bringing his fists to a gunfight.
So of course Clayface, in trying to recover the person lost in the performance, threatens to devour Batman. If something exists which can reassemble the original person from the trauma-induced chaos of switching between multiple roles, then Bruce Wayne can heal. The person he was when he was eight years old can be restored, can have a chance to grow up and be a complete identity, not fragmented between the Bat and the secret identity. He can be whole.
And if that happens, the show ends. This is narrative collapse, an idea first described by Philip Sandifer in discussing Doctor Who. Briefly, traditional conflict in stories can be understood as a problem for the protagonist, such as a threat to their well-being or an obstacle to their goals. Most Batman stories are no different; villains capture and try to injure him or his loved ones, or they commit crimes and must therefore be dealt with to achieve his goal of punching all of the crime in Gotham. A narrative collapse, on the other hand, is an existential threat to the story itself; the question a narrative collapse raises is not “How will they get out of this one?” but rather “How can there be more episodes after this?”
This is where Clayface stands in this episode. He both commits crimes and physically menaces Batman, yes, but beyond that he threatens the very premise of Batman as a concept. So not only Batman, but the show itself, turns against him, as first rain and then the ocean work to dilute and dissolve him. In the end there is nothing left of him but a shadow in the water, and then even that dissolves. His attempt to recover his identity led to a complete loss of any identity, even as a performance. Very often, the resolution of a narrative collapse comes at a great cost, and this one is no different: Clayface is gone, and will not return until after the series’ complete retooling (which itself is a narrative collapse of sorts, albeit one that occurs largely extradiegetically).
As Batman leads a sobbing Stella away, we see that clearly both their performances are continuing. The series is safe; Batman remains the performance of a fractured identity.


Current status of the Patreon:

  • Latest Near-Apocalypse article ($2+/mo patrons can view): He’ll come back (Read My Lips)
  • Latest video ($5+/mo patrons can view): Vlog Reviews: Star vs. Evil S1E5 and 6.
  • Latest Milestone: N/A
  • Next Milestone: $100/mo: Bonus monthly vlog! ($25.98 away) Every month, I’ll do one extra vlog on the current series!

Mawaru Penguindrum 23 and 24 Liveblog Chat Thingy Actually For Real This Time I Mean It!

How to participate in the liveblog chat:  Option 1: Whenever you watch the episode, comment on this post as you watch with whatever responses you feel like posting! Option 2: Go to http://webchat.freenode.net/. Enter a nickname, then for the Channels field enter ##rabbitcube, and finally fill in the Captcha and hit Connect! We’ll be watching Penguindrum and commenting there starting at 1:00 p.m. EST. That’s one hour earlier than normal!
I’ll update this post with the chatlog after it’s done.
ETA: Chatlog below the cut!
Continue reading