Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing The Surface 1, originally released March 11th, 2015.
Writing becomes not easier, but more difficult for me. Every word is like an unnecessary stain on silence and nothingness.
Drew: It’s not often that we scrutinize whether a work of art “justifies its own existence.” Indeed, it’s a focus we tend to reserve for sequels, re-masterings, new editions, or other works that might be accused of returning to a specific well, but it’s curious that we’re not equally dubious of ALL art. I suspect it’s because we don’t actually care. Why a work of art exists may be an easy target when we dislike it, but ultimately, the only thing that matters is how it exists. There may be creator-side issues that explain why the nuts and bolts of a work of art are the way we are, but on the audience side, we can really only evaluate whether or not those nuts and bolts work. As a guiding principle, that philosophy has kept me happy, allowing me to both separate art from the artists that make it and remain blissfully ignorant of whatever business considerations might go on behind the scenes. But with that happiness came a kind of complacency, forgetting that there might be works of art that might actually be about their own existence. The Surface 1 is one such work, focusing so self-consciously on its own existence that I can’t help but feel a little insecure about justifying a written discussion of it — not because it’s bad, but because that self-consciousness is kind of infectious. Continue reading →
Today, Scott and Drew are discussing Letter 44 6, originally released April 23rd, 2014.
Scott: Season finales are a time for change. Stories that have been building over the course of many episodes finally reach a climax, and life for the characters will never be the same. Babies are born, elections are won, villains are sent packing, and that couple that was driving the show’s sexual tension finally gets married. It’s a time for heroes to get a victory, and those victories usually come as the result of personal growth by the characters. Letter 44 is often compared to a TV show, so the end of its first arc could be thought of as the season one finale. Both President Blades and the crew of the Clarke have defining moments that will alter their trajectories going forward. Unlike the most satisfying finales, however, the decisions the heroes make aren’t the result of personal growth. Everyone is playing it safe. Continue reading →
Today, Scott and Drew are discussing Letter 44 4, originally released February 12th, 2014.
Scott: Aliens are scary. Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that alien lifeforms do exist somewhere in the universe. Until we make contact, we can’t know if they pose a threat to humans or our planet. They could be super friendly, but it’s foolish not to consider that they might want to destroy us, and that they could well have the means to do it. We simply don’t know what they’re capable of, and that unknown aspect makes them scary. Humans are a different story. We know exactly what they’re capable of. Greedy politicians with power — and, just as importantly, the motivation to stay in power — are capable of truly horrific things. Until aliens come knocking at our door, humans will likely remain the number one threat to humans. So, what’s scarier: a known threat or an unknown, potential threat? Letter 44 4 (say that five times fast) proves it’s a tough question to answer, but the aliens seem to have one edge: competence. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Scott are discussing the Flash 20, originally released May 22nd, 2013.
Drew: Barry Allen is a man of contradictions. As a police scientist, he is beholden to rigorously examining every scrap of evidence before coming to a conclusion. As a speed-powered superhero, he is all about decisive action. I’ve always found the tension between those two extremes particularly relatable — who among us doesn’t vacillate between those poles? — even when the series itself has been heavier on the action. The scrutiny half of this equation has always come across in the subtext, as writers Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato have hidden details throughout their runs that reward only the most vigilantly close readings. In The Flash 20, they graduate Barry’s detecting skills from subtext to text, but the results are decidedly mixed. Continue reading →