‘The Originals’ Season Finale Recap: Life, Love, Loyalty and Hope

A few weeks ago I said I was quitting my blog.

I tried.

It lasted a few weeks.

I’m back.

I don’t like quitting.

So, if you like what I have to say and how I say it, you can thank CW’s show The Originals because they’re the inspiration for my return. How you say? Well, if you watch the show then you know it was incredible – so much so there was no other outlet I could think of to share just how much I loved it than here, and with you, my lovely readers.

So, Nightstand woke up. It was a short nap.

Now, let’s dive in. The Originals….

Anyone who knows me, knows I love stories of the supernatural. I love the supernatural because it’s not real. And we all need an escape from life sometimes. A break from the tough moments. The moments that break you. The moments that test your strength. The moments that remind you how frail humanity can be.

But those moments also teach you. They teach you about yourself. Your strength. Your ability to persevere, no matter how hard the battle. That humanity is incredibly strong and beautiful. And for that reason, I love the supernatural because often the stories centered in the supernatural world are just that: they’re about strength of character, of love, of life. About family. About the ties that bind us and keep us connected, no matter how crazy the world can be. Stories that are, incredibly human.

So yes, life is tough. But it’s also inescapably humbling, and breathtaking, and completely unexpected and beautiful with the most delightful joy in unexpected places.

I enjoy both aspects. I’m a dichotomy. But then again I never promised to be anything else than what I am. And that is someone that laughs, that cries, that loves. I fall, I get up, I move on. I am if nothing, incredibly human.

That’s why last night’s season one finale of The Originals got to me. It reached into my heart and squeezed tight. There was so much life in that one hour — even though witches were squaring off against vampires and werewolves, and plotting the sacrifice of a newborn hybrid, while turning the city of New Orleans into a supernatural war zone —  that at one point I had to pause everything I had seen so far, and catch my breath for the remainder of it.

You may think I’m crazy but any fan of the show knows, last night’s finale was OFF THE HOOK CRAZY GOOD. It answered so many questions, brought so many relationships and story lines full circle. It connected what I thought were loose ends that were due to kinks being worked out in its freshman season and tied everything together perfectly, showing us that every story line, every episode had tracked to this one hour, setting in motion story lines that would unravel next season and well into future ones. For this finale I have to say to producer Julie Plec… Well done, well mother lovin’ done (and that pun on the “mother” was intentional.) You promised it would be mind blowing and well, consider my mind completely blown. There were so many moments that were palpable I actually found myself holding my breath. That scene with Hayley and Hope…. I can’t. even. take it. It hit me like a ton of bricks in a really, really profound way, sending chills up my spine.

In an hour we got to see a monster who has terrorized just about everyone he has ever known, be brought to his knees by his newborn daughter.  We saw a family bond that had been broken, with little hope of repair, mend with new commitment and loyalty.  We learned  the ties that bind us, have the power to bring us back…sometimes even from the dead.

We were also introduced to new characters, the return of some original ones (catch the pun there?), and a feeling of hope, thanks to the arrival of one sweet baby girl of the same name. The episode was sheer poetry and by far, the best episode of the season not to mention, perhaps the best show of all seasons of the Vampire Diaries (its sister show) and The Originals combined.

Now sadly, we must wait to see how everything unfurls next season and I will be left wondering all summer… will Elijah and Hayley finally get together? Will Esther and her son (presumably Finn) make their way out of the bodies they stole and be put out of their misery so sweet baby Hope can return? Will Rebekah return for good (Claire Holt is divine), or will she head to somewhere close say, Mystic Falls, so we can see her lovely face more often? That scene by the way – with Rebekah and Klaus – was sheer magic. Their bond has always been complicated, but the fact he trusts her, above all others to keep his daugher safe, speaks volumes about the soul that lies in the heart of Klaus, reminding you that despite everything they have done, has always, and will always be, for their family.

 

So much to ponder. Let the countdown to next fall begin.

Until then, check out The Originals soundtrack. There’s been some great artists featured this year. Here’s two of my favorites from the finale .

“Open Hands” by Ingrid Michaelson

“Shallows” by Daughter

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Cool Songs in Movies (and on TV): Mariah, Mercy, a McDonald and a Matthew

I was disappointed in Oz The Great and Powerful. As far as movies go, I was left wanting more. I thought the colors were incredible, but the talent of Rachel Weisz and James Franco incredibly wasted, and Michelle Williams too soft and vapid. Mila Kunis was gorgeous, but her Wicked Witch of the West paled in comparison to Margaret Hamilton, who to this day is the only actress to portray the character beyond imagination. I said all this months back when the movie first hit theaters. You can check out my review here.

All this said, now that it has hit the Starz channel and on rotation nearly daily, I’ve had a chance to watch it again and while I still think it was capable of so much more I did discover the second go around, a gem – a song during the end credits that I may have caught had perhaps I stuck around the theater long enough the first time. But I hadn’t. I broke my golden rule. Credits = music, and assuming the score would be as much of a bore as the flick, I hightailed it out of there instead of sticking around for hidden surprises like behind the scenes outtakes, sneak peek’s at future movies and well, music. After all, the end credits were the best part of the first Twilight film; the samples from the soundtrack that accompanied the millions of names scrolling up the screen  worth the hour and a half of bad teen angst acting.

But I digress….

Back to Oz.

I had to Shazam it because I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. For a music lover with a deep appreciation for the human voice, I was stunned. The tune was glorious in the way only one accompanying a major Hollywood film would be, but it was that voice. It was familiar, but almost forgotten; its divinity  lost years ago.  It was …Mariah Carey? A non-shrieking, solid vocal performance from the diva whose music I once sang along to before she got all Honey on me? Mon dieu!

I have never heard this song until a few days ago, but have to say, I was impressed and hope there is more tricks left in MC’s bag. I sure hope so. The Emancipation of Mimi album was LONG overdue and I am anxious for another solid album.

“Almost Home” by Mariah Carey

Two other recent discoveries come from the CW’s new show, The Originals. I am a huge fan of The Vampire Diaries’ spinoff. Set in the city of New Orleans (my kindred soul mate, if a city could be one), the show focuses on the remaining members of the original vampire family – siblings Klaus, Elijah and Rebekah. The acting is solid  – both Joseph Morgan and Claire Holt incredibly talented, stealing many scenes of TVD episodes over the past few seasons – and plot line compelling, a well written new spin on the witches vs. vampires tale started over on TVD and carried deliciously over to The Originals. And…like most CW shows, the music featured in each episode is just the way I like it: indie and emo, with a tad of edge to keep it interesting.  Many of the artists featured in episodes so far I was introduced to through TVD. But so far this season a couple of favorites are singles from Mercy and Moby featured in episode 3, “Tangled Up in Blue.”

“Mercy” from Hurts

“A Case for Shame (with Cold Specks)” from Moby

I also must share a new tune discovery from one of my fun favorites Drop Dead Diva – a show which thankfully found new life after having been cancelled by its home network and producer, Lifetime.

Sometimes the emotions in a friendship are stronger than words can describe, and Shawn McDonald’s song “Through it All” was the perfect song choice for Season 5’s Episode 11, which saw best friends Jane and Stacey finding meeting in the middle after…well, you just need to watch the show because it’s too hard to explain. But it was after an “oh no she didn’t!” moment that I thought nothing could repair.

I found the version of the song they used in the episode on iTunes, but all of the videos on You Tube are a different version and trust me, the one from the show was incredible.  So, for now, a small clip will have to do. Click here and then click on the song title, “Through it All.”

And lastly, this ethereal beauty was discovered in last week’s episode of Witches of East End on Lifetime. And before you judge me, I will say the show is fabulous! I thought it would be a cross between Desperate Housewives and that tragic show about scandalous maids on Lifetime, but it’s not. It’s fabulous and wicked and I hope (fingers crossed) good enough to make it another season.

Matthew Perryman Jones’ “Canción de la Noche” caught me totally by surprise.  It was quiet, and simple, and haunting, and everything about music I love. A song that reached into my chest and squeezed tight. It’s a powerful song, telling a story that seems to be of both this world and another. Check it out, you’ll see.

That’s it for now. But I have a ton of shows to catch up on, so don’t be surprised if you see another post in the days following with more delightful discoveries. Until then download these finds, slip on your headphones, and drift slowly off to sleep.

Movie Review: Oz The Great and Powerful

I’m late, I’m late, for a very important…blog post! Ugh, sorry readers. I am behind…again! Seems to be my mantra lately. But I know you understand, you yourself being tucked away under the covers with a good book, headphones on listening to a fabulous new band, or hand in the popcorn tub watching a few flicks. Am I right? Thanks, I knew I could count on you. 😉

So, onward with the review.

I saw The Great and Powerful Oz after a well orchestrated marketing campaign pretty much convinced me I needed to see it, the question — who turns into the Wicked Witch — looming in my mind thanks to carefully crafted trailers. I researched online, dug through community forums (yes, I was that obsessed) and then, alas, Disney ruined it for me by releasing mugs with Mila Kunis’ face as the Green Faced Lady!

So, while the veil had been lifted before opening weekend, I hoped the movie would still excite me. First, let me caveat my feedback with this: I love prequels. Especially for stories that have been enjoyed by readers /movie goers for years. Gregory Maguire’s Wicked was brilliant – the musical, incredible (admittedly, it made me cry). And hello, Star Wars, Episode 3, where we finally find out what caused Anakin to turn into Darth Vadar (love!) Hello, genius!  All this said sadly, I didn’t completely love this one.

To be candid, the movie fell flat for me.  I see what Sam Raimi was trying to do with the film, preserving the look and feel of The Wizard of Oz, a beloved masterpiece, and incorporating it into this flick with new characters. But in an era where film-making has been heightened to greatness (ahem, Pixar anyone?), it actually underwhelmed me, much in the way Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland did for me. The little China girl was sweet, and the settings imaginative, but I don’t know…it just felt forced. And the acting…sigh.

There was no “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” moment. And while I know it wasn’t a musical, there wasn’t that one moment that would help preserve it into viewers hearts for years to come. James Franco was wooden, and while I love Rachel Weisz, her performance underwhelmed me as well. I expected more from her. Take for example Cate Blanchett’s Galadriel (Lord of the Rings). Everything about her portrayal embodied the character in her command of the screen. It wasn’t what she said, but how she said it. And for Rachel Weisz’s Evanora, the Wicked With of the East, she seemed like a cranky bitch that never got her way and that’s about it. No real evil.

Mila Kunis is gorgeous and (SPOILER ALERT!) before she transforms into the Wicked Witch of the West, there are a few nice scenes with her and James Franco’s Oz. But post transformation, the green faced witch we have all come to know and fear looked too fake, not nearly as scary as the original, and the laugh, while close, not close enough to the original cackle that has been the cackle heard around the world for decades.

See what I’m sayin?

I can’t say anything about Michelle Williams’ Glinda the Good Witch of the South. I was completely uninterested in her. The only cool thing about her was the black hood she wore while visiting her father’s grave in the cemetery toward the beginning of the movie. That’s about it. Oh, maybe her dress. That was pretty. But you can’t go wrong with white gowns, really.

So, in honor of the Merry Old Land of Oz that I love and adore….one of my favorite scenes from the original.

Oh, and as a bonus, check out this awesome TV ad from British mobile provider, Orange, This Wicked Witch is even better than that from the movie.

Sweet dreams little darling – movie review, Hansel & Gretel Witch Hunters

I have written about my passion for literary mash-ups before — when classic fiction meets the supernatural. But I haven’t written about my interest when the same twists are taken on beloved stories/fairy tales. Like Summit Entertainment’s Red Riding Hood (2011) or the newly released Hansel and Gretel Witch Hunters.

The famed story, part of Grimm’s Fairy Tales, has been passed down through time and goes something like this: a brother and sister are sent into the woods to fend for themselves by parents who can no longer afford to feed then. Lost and hungry, the siblings stumble upon a house made of candy. Finding themselves unable to control their hunger, they eat from the house, which turns out to be a clever trick of a cannibalistic witch to lure them into her home. Trapped as slaves while the witch feeds them in effort to fatten them up, the two eventually overthrow the witch and burn her in the often she planned to cook them in.

The story has undergone extensive analysis over the years, and like most Grimm’s fairy tales, was created  not as a bedtime story for sweet dreams, but essentially, to keep children from being bad. (Seriously, that’s what Grimm’s Fairy Tales were all about). But unlike the take, the new movie takes an interesting twist on the fable picking up years after Hansel and Gretel escape the witch’s cottage and are now grown bounty hunters who track and kill witches all over the world.

Given that plot you know I had to see it.

While I expected more from Jeremy Renner (Hurt Locker) and Gemma Arterton (Quantum of Solace) as the film’s Hansel and Gretel, it’s kind of hard to be serious when you’re well, a witch hunter. So remove the serious acting expectations and layer in the supernatural and you have a pretty decent flick. I didn’t enjoy it as much as Red Riding Hood — let’s be clear, the eye candy in that movie was insane – re: Shiloh Fernandez, Max Irons — not to mention the lovely Amanda Seyfried, who in my eyes can do no wrong, encouraged a more ethereal, fantasy vibe in that flick. But I will give Hansel and Gretel Witch Hunters credit for bringing to the screen an interesting spin on a tale that as been told for over two hundred years, as well as roping in the always creepy Famke Janssen, who gives me goosebumps as the Phoenix in Xmen, and makes my skin crawl as this film’s antagonist, the most evil of wicked witches.

There are so many movies out right now that I want to see and while I could have seen any of those on my list, I’m glad I checked this one out. Last week was rough and I needed something to take my mind off of it. And a Sunday afternoon movie that delivered ass kicking witch hunters did just the trick.