Jeffrey Kopp

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Jeffrey Kopp is the Community Editor of the Niner Times. He is a senior double majoring in Communication and Political Science. His interests include writing and keeping up with an excessive amount of television shows. He is also the go-to expert on all things “The Walking Dead."

TV REVIEW: ‘The Walking Dead’ – ‘The Next World’

Spoiler Warning for this week’s episode of “The Walking Dead”

Tom Payne as Paul "Jesus" Rovia and Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes (Photo courtesy of AMC)
Tom Payne as Paul “Jesus” Rovia and Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes (Photo courtesy of AMC)

The world of “The Walking Dead” is truly growing and the newest episode clearly demonstrates it. Following the devastating and climactic mid-season premiere episode last week, “The Next World” slows things down a bit to develop and flesh out a handful of the characters. A true sense of calm is felt within the walls of Alexandria, but viewers soon discover a larger world exists outside.

The episode picks up about two months after the events of “No Way Out” and life in Alexandria is returning to some sense of normalcy. Rick gets dressed to head out on a supply run with Daryl, but not before playing with Judith and joking with Michonne about a shortage of toothpaste. We also get our first look at a still recovering Carl, who wears a bandage over his eye-gunshot wound. Meanwhile, Denise and Daryl go over a list of needed supplies, including medicine and food. She also asks him to bring back soda as a surprise for Tara, who is about to leave with Heath on an extended supply run. Maggie checks in on Enid and encourages her to get more involved in the community. Before they leave, Eugene presents Rick and Daryl with a map and instructions to find sorghum, which Eugene deems necessary for solving their food shortage. These scenes were extremely enjoyable to watch, especially after all of the death and despair in the previous episode. Alexandria is shown to be expanding and growing similarly to how Deanna planned.

While standing guard on a lookout post, Michonne notices Spencer walking into the forest with a shovel strapped to his shoulder; she leaves her post and follows him. Being that Spencer is the sole survivor of his family, he shares with Michonne that Alexandria is no longer his home, rather it’s just the place that he lives. He also tells Michonne that he just wants to be alone, but she refuses to leave him, referencing her friendship and appreciation of Deanna as the reason why. Michonne also shares the discussion she and Deanna had in “Start to Finish” about Michonne needing to find out what she truly wants in life. Elsewhere in the woods, Carl and Enid spend time snacking and reading comic books. Enid questions Carl about why they spend so much time outside of Alexandria to which Carl responds by saying “because we’re kids.” They hear a noise, but quickly realize that it’s only Michonne and Spencer. Moments later they are spooked by another noise; this time, however, it’s a walker. Enid tells Carl to leave it alone, but Carl has plans for the walker and tells Enid to go home.

On the road, Rick and Daryl discuss their positions on bringing new people into Alexandria. Rick believes that new people should be allowed in, while Daryl is understandably hesitant. His worry may stem from the encounter he had in “Always Accountable” that led to his motorcycle and crossbow being stolen, as well as, the explosive run in with the group of Saviors. They discover a sorghum barn with a truck inside packed full with supplies, a rare and exciting find. Before heading back to Alexandria, they stop at a gas station where Daryl finds a soda machine filled with a few cans of orange Crush. Out of nowhere, a mysterious masked man with long hair crashes into Rick. At gunpoint, the man explains that he was running away from walkers. Rick and Daryl introduce themselves to the man who reveals his name to be Paul Rovia (Tom Payne), although he also goes by the name, Jesus. Rick begins asking the famous “recruiting questions,” but Daryl cuts him off and Jesus leaves. Rick then decides that they will follow and watch Jesus to see where he goes. However, a loud noise from behind the gas station prompts the two to investigate. They discover the noise was a distraction set by Jesus so he could steal the truck full of supplies.

Back with Michonne and Spencer, they notice Carl leading a walker through the woods. The walker is revealed to be Deanna, who must have wandered outside of Alexandria in the chaos of “No Way Out.” Spencer pulls out his knife and approaches his undead mother before tearfully stabbing her in the back of the head. Seeing Deanna as a walker was a major highlight as Tovah Feldshuh always gives a remarkable performance. Spencer and Michonne dig a grave for Deanna in the forest with an appropriately placed “D” carved into a tree. Michonne assures Spencer that he still has a family in the survivors in Alexandria. This was an incredibly touching and emotional scene that provides necessary closure to Spencer. Both Austin Nichols and Danai Gurira gave exceptional performances, as well.

Spencer and Michonne encounter Deanna as a walker. (Photo courtesy of AMC.)
Spencer and Michonne encounter Deanna as a walker. (Photo courtesy of AMC.)

Back on the road, Daryl and Rick run after their stolen truck. They manage to catch up after the truck breaks down, allowing for Rick and Daryl to catch Jesus and hold him at gunpoint. Jesus is able to put up a strong fight, however. They tie him up and drive off, but not before Daryl flips the middle finger at the stranger. While driving, they notice another farm and Rick begins driving through a field to explore. A thumping sound is heard by Daryl from the roof of the truck; he quickly realizes the sound is Jesus. Rick slams on the brakes, causing Jesus to fly off the truck and land on the ground. He stands up and runs, but Daryl jumps out of the truck and chases after him. Being that Jesus is unarmed, Daryl sees no reason to harm him and instead chases him around the field. Rick parks the truck to kill some nearby walkers. Jesus tries to steal the truck once again while Daryl hurriedly tries to stop him. A walker nearly takes a bite out of Daryl, but Jesus saves him. While fighting, they accidentally hit the gear shift causing the truck to reverse into a pond. They jump out, but Jesus is knocked unconscious. Daryl and Rick decide to tie him up and make their way back to Alexandria. The entire sequence of Rick and Daryl trying to capture Jesus was well done and humorous to watch as Daryl always throws a joke into hectic situations.

Back in Alexandria, Carl and Judith sit on their porch and stargaze. Michonne appears and scolds Carl for leading Deanna through the woods. Carl explains that he knew Spencer needed to be the one to put her down claiming “it should be someone who loved her.” This scene highlights the sheer amount of care and love that Michonne has for Carl. Rick and Daryl arrive at the gates of Alexandria with Jesus still unconscious. The camera focuses in on a new sign outside that reads “Welcome to the Alexandria Safe Zone. Mercy for the lost. Vengeance for the plunderers.” They bring Jesus to Denise for a quick check up before locking him in a townhouse basement with water and a note. Over at Rick’s house, Michonne and Rick plop on the couch and chat about their day. Rick hands Michonne a pack of mints and their fingers interlock. They passionately kiss on the couch; they are later shown sleeping together in a bedroom. Before the episode ends, Jesus appears in the room as Rick and Michonne leap out of bed naked and armed with their weapons; Jesus then tells Rick “we need to talk.” For many fans like myself, a romantic relationship between Rick and Michonne has been long awaited. Will their relationship last or is this just a one-time thing?

“The Next World” is a much needed slower paced episode that serves to further develop the characters. The introduction of Jesus is an interesting turn in the overall story. Where does he come from and can he be trusted? Fans of the comic-series will know these answers. The growth and expansion of Alexandria also represents a shift in the story as each character helps in rebuilding the community. Be sure to tune in to “The Walking Dead” next Sunday at 9 p.m. on AMC.

TV REVIEW: ‘The 100’ – ‘Hakeldama’

Spoiler Warning for this week’s episode of “The 100”

Bellamy and Pike. (Photo courtesy of The CW)
Bob Morley as Bellamy and Michael Beach as Pike. (Photo courtesy of The CW)

After last week’s problematic episode, “The 100” gets back on track with an exciting and emotional hour of television. There are still some problems, but the story seems to have shifted into a new direction that may resolve these problems. With the threat of war in the air, the loyalties of each character are truly tested. The new villain starts to fully take shape as another potential peril presents itself to the community.

The title of this week’s episode, “Hakeldama”, translates to “field of blood” in the language of Aramaic. This word holds a very vivid and literal meaning in the world of “The 100.” Very soon after Pike’s election as Chancellor of the Sky People, he leads a militia of soldiers to the field where Indra has her army camped. Pike and his militia use the cover of night to mercilessly slaughter the entire army of nearly 300 warriors. Bellamy, who has essentially become Pike’s second in command, convinces Pike to allow Indra to be kept alive. Pike and his team return to Arkadia where they declare to the rest of the Sky People that war with the Grounders is coming.

Following the death of Queen Nia, Lexa and Clarke make their way to Indra’s camp where they discover the horrifying sight of hundreds of dead grounders. Lexa immediately orders for an army to be sent to attack Arkadia, but Clarke demands that Lexa wait for more information about what has happened; Lexa decides to hold Clarke as a prisoner. This moment represents a massive shift in Clarke and Lexa’s relationship. They have had a strained and difficult friendship, but lately they have been on solid terms. Friendship comes secondary to Lexa after her people, however. Clarke is able to convince Indra to contact Kane via radio to better explain the situation.

Over in Arkadia, Kane realizes that he cannot leave without arousing suspicion, so he enlists Octavia in relaying information to the Grounders. Kane, Abby and Lincoln all voice their concerns about Pike’s leadership and the dangers of a war with the Grounders. Throughout the episode, Pike becomes more and more unhinged. He shares a plan to eliminate a local Grounder village to secure a clear perimeter around Arkadia. Bellamy shares that he believes that killing the 300 warriors was going too far, but Pike shuts him down. Pike also decides that the sick and injured Grounders under Abby’s care are no longer to be treated, citing them as a waste of resources. Lincoln vocally and physically objects to the heinous plot of Pike. Abby’s patients, along with Lincoln, are interned indefinitely by Pike. This act clearly shows the pure hatred that Pike has for Grounders, even though the viewers and characters both know that many Grounders (Lincoln included) are friendly and peaceful toward the Sky People. The storyline with Pike creates a very interesting dynamic and sets an exceptionally dark tone.

Octavia finally makes her way to the field where Pike’s team massacred Indra’s army. She explains the situation with Pike and offers to sneak Clarke into Arkadia where she can speak to Bellamy. At the Arkadia prison, Octavia grabs the attention of Bellamy by lashing out at him for allowing Lincoln to be arrested; she then leads him to a room where Clarke waits. The relationship between Clarke and Bellamy is truly tested in this scene like never before. Clarke places much of the blame on Bellamy, claiming that everything would have worked out considering the Ice Nation Queen was killed. Bellamy wonders how Clarke can trust Lexa after her betrayal at Mount Weather. I can understand where Bellamy is coming from as Lexa is far from trustworthy, but he still should realize that a war with the Grounders will not end well for anyone. Bob Morley gave a remarkable performance as Bellamy this episode, specifically in his scene with Eliza Taylor as Clarke. Bellamy takes Clarke prisoner, but Octavia arrives and manages to free her and the two escape with the help of Abby and Kane. Clarke reunites with Lexa and pleads for her to reconsider fighting against Skaikru by offering an alternative. Rather than going to war, Clarke tells Lexa to end the constant cycle of violence and to establish a new and peaceful way of dealing with problems. Lexa immediately agrees and declares “blood must not have blood.” This is a rather odd declaration from Lexa, who has been shown to be ruthless when it comes to defending her people. Is Lexa hiding something or is she actually willing to forgive Skaikru for the genocide of her people?

This episode also features the return of Jaha and A.L.I.E., who arrive at Arkadia with their visions of the future. For some unknown reason, A.L.I.E. is not visible to anyone other than Jaha. Throughout the episode, she guides him while voicing her opinions. Jaha reunites with Abby and Kane, who instantly recognize a change in his character and demeanor. The City of Light becomes the topic of discussion between Abby, Kane and Jaha. He also preaches about the city to several other residents, including Raven, who voices complete distrust and anger over his claims of “no pain.” This is personal to Raven more than anyone due to her worsening leg injury. Jaha gives Raven a chip to gain access to the city, which she quickly rejects, but later swallows. Almost instantly, Raven is healed of her injury, allowing her to walk without leg braces. A.L.I.E. appears to her and shares that it is time to get back to work. The entire concept of the City of Light is excruciatingly confusing, but also intriguing. Is Raven really healed of her injuries or is it simply an illusion? Will Jaha be able to convince others to join him in the city? Does A.L.I.E. have sinister ulterior motives? Hopefully these questions will be answered sooner rather than later.

Overall, “Hakeldama” is a strong episode. Much of the problems stem from inconsistencies that certain characters, Bellamy included, are portraying. The introduction of Pike allows for numerous internal conflicts within Arkadia. These conflicts lead to tension between the Sky People and the Grounders that will surely develop further as the season progresses. The return of Jaha also creates a refreshing shift in the story. Is war still a possibility? Who will be the next to cross over to the City of Light? Be sure to tune in to “The 100” next Thursday at 9 p.m. on The CW.

TV REVIEW: ‘The Walking Dead’ – ‘No Way Out’

Spoiler Warning for this week’s episode of “The Walking Dead”

Jessie screams as Sam is devoured by walkers. (Photo courtesy of AMC)
Jessie screams as Sam is devoured by walkers. (Photo courtesy of AMC)

For nearly two months, fans of “The Walking Dead” have been eagerly waiting to find out the fates of our beloved characters. The return to a walker-filled Alexandria delivered on every single level imaginable. Without any doubts, this episode is one of the series’ greatest, possibly the best ever. With threats around every single corner, there is truly no way out.

Beginning the episode with Daryl, Sasha and Abraham creates one of the most epic cold opens that I have seen on television. With the nefarious band of gun-wielding, motorcyclists known as the Saviors in their way, the trio are stopped dead in their tracks. One of the men (Christopher Berry) declares that everything, including their weapons, now belongs to a man named Negan. After manically teasing about killing Sasha and Abraham, the group of Saviors meet their explosive end by way of Daryl armed with an RPG. What consequences will Daryl and the group face after the murder of this group of Saviors? My guess is that Negan (to be played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan) will not be happy about the deaths of his men.

Picking up right where the mid-season finale left off, this episode continues as Rick, Carl, Judith, Jessie, Sam, Ron, Gabriel and Michonne make their way through the streets of Alexandria, hand-to-hand and covered in walker guts. After reaching a relatively safe spot to catch their breath, Rick quietly shares a new plan of heading to the quarry to gather weapons and vehicles to lead the herd away. Gabriel, however, offers to take Judith to Alexandria’s church where he can better protect her. Jessie asks Gabriel to take Sam with him, but Sam refuses, telling her, “I can keep going.” Rick accepts his offer and Gabriel begins making his way through the herd with Judith under his walker poncho. This scene greatly develops the character of Gabriel, who has long been seen as selfish and cowardly; the offer to protect Judith also demonstrates the role of community in raising and protecting children.

Elsewhere in Alexandria, Tara, Rosita and Eugene tend to Carol and Morgan as they regain consciousness following their impassioned fight in the mid-season finale. Carol takes a gun and begins sweeping the townhouse for threats. Glenn and Enid make their way into the church where they come up with a plan to save Maggie, who is trapped on a rickety platform surrounded by walkers. Glenn gives an impassioned speech to Enid about the importance of living for the people that have died and lists his deceased friends as examples as to why he keeps fighting. Outside, the Wolf has Denise at gunpoint as he formulates an escape plan from Alexandria. Denise attempts to talk the Wolf into letting her go, but he declines. A gap in the walker herd opens allowing for the Wolf and Denise to run for the exit. Walkers swarm around them and the Wolf protects Denise, but a lone walker manages to bite the Wolf on the arm. Denise tells him that she will save his life if he will take her to the infirmary. They find a temporary safe spot where Denise points out that the Wolf saved her life. They begin running, but before they can make it to the infirmary, Carol appears and shoots the Wolf. Before he is devoured by walkers, he yells at Denise, “Go!” Did she actually have an impact on the Wolf? It appears that the “all life is precious” way of life that Morgan promotes may have actually worked. During his time on the show, Benedict Samuel gave an incredible performance as the terrifying Alpha Wolf.

Daryl fires an RPG. (Photo courtesy of AMC)
Daryl fires an RPG. (Photo courtesy of AMC)

Night has fallen as Rick leads his small group through the herd. Sam notices a young boy that has turned into a walker and immediately freezes in place. Rick, Jessie and Ron fearfully plead for Sam to keep moving as he cries out in terror. The next 60 seconds are some of the most disturbing and unsettling moments I have ever seen on television. Walkers, drawn by the sound of Sam’s wails, begin tearing into his face as he calls out for his mother. Yes, “The Walking Dead” actually went there.

Jessie begins screaming as she watches her young son being torn apart in front of her. Her screams bring on more walkers that devour Jessie as a horrified Rick watches on. Jessie and Carl are still holding hands and Carl is unable to break away from her grip. Rick steps forward and uses his hatchet to chop Jessie’s arm off as flashes of her character’s time on the series flash on the screen; an abrupt end to Rick and Jessie’s short-lived romance (this is even more tragic considering this episode first aired on Valentine’s Day). Ron witnesses the bloody ordeal and arms himself with a gun, which he points directly at Rick. Before he can shoot Rick, however, Michonne uses her katana to impale Ron through the chest. The gun goes off as Ron falls to the ground and is consumed by walkers. The camera turns to Carl who was caught in the way of Ron’s bullet; a clear gunshot wound is present right on Carl’s eye socket; blood drips down his face. He utters a simple “Dad?” before collapsing to the ground. Rick picks him up and starts running toward the infirmary as Michonne clears the path ahead.

At the infirmary, Denise, Aaron, Spencer and Heath scramble after seeing Rick carrying Carl. Rick rushes in and places Carl in the care of Denise; he tearfully begs for her to save Carl’s life. Michonne stands by Carl and assists Denise as Rick looks out the window at the enormous herd of walkers. Much like after the death of his wife, Lori, Rick redirects his energy into killing walkers. He bursts out of the infirmary with his hatchet in hand and begins slaughtering anything that moves. Michonne kisses Carl on the forehead and rushes outside to join Rick. The survivors remaining in their homes take notice and begin arming themselves with weapons before heading out onto the streets. The next several minutes are an epic montage of walker-killing action. Each character (including the various background Alexandrians) use their arsenal of weapons to eliminate walkers. Self-confessed coward, Eugene, steps up and shares that “This is a story people are going to tell.”

As the walker bloodbath is happening, Glenn and Enid fight their way to the platform that Maggie is on. Enid climbs up to help Maggie while Glenn becomes surrounded by walkers; Maggie ferociously screams as she watches Glenn’s struggle. Right before Glenn is devoured, Abraham and Sasha appear with their machine guns blazing. After the near-death of Glenn in “Thank You,” this scene was incredibly tense and frightening. Daryl drives the fuel truck inside Alexandria, where he unloads the fuel into the pond. He then uses the RPG to create a gigantic explosion that draws the attention of numerous walkers. This distraction allows for the survivors to kill the rest of the walkers. Clearing Alexandria of the walker herd is shown to be a true community effort. Rick’s group and the Alexandrians come together to fight not just for their own lives, but for the lives of their fellow survivors. The episode continues the next morning as thousands of bodies litter the streets. Rick sits with an unconscious Carl in the infirmary where he shares his vision for the future, a future that he wants to show Carl. After all of the death and despair of this episode, Carl slowly wakes up as the screen cuts to black. This injury will surely change the character of Carl forever.

“No Way Out” is truly a masterpiece in every sense of the word. The deaths of Jessie, Ron and Sam are emotionally taxing and devastating. Their deaths will surely affect Rick and the rest of the characters. The sense of community was put on full display; Alexandria will rebuild and come back stronger than ever. Every single character is given their moment to shine and let out their inner badass. The threat of Negan still looms as the world of “The Walking Dead” expands. Be sure to tune in to “The Walking Dead” next Sunday at 9 p.m. on AMC.

TV REVIEW: ‘The 100’ – ‘Watch the Thrones’

Spoiler Warning for this week’s episode of “The 100”

The 100 --Brenda Strong as Nia -- Credit: Cate Cameron/The CW
The 100 –Brenda Strong as Nia — Credit: Cate Cameron/The CW

The quest for power continues with this week’s episode of “The 100.” While there are plenty of exciting and emotional moments, several problems do exist. Many important storylines and characters are completely absent, while other characters act completely irrationally.

Following last week’s dramatic declaration of war from Queen Nia of the Ice Nation, a meeting is held to discuss punishment for her. Ambassadors from each clan gather to hear Queen Nia’s confession and reasoning. Clarke, representing Skaikru, demands justice for the heinous murder of 49 of her people at Mount Weather. Queen Nia lashes out at Clarke and Lexa by refusing to acknowledge Skaikru as one of the clans. She manages to rally the other clan’s delegates to hold a vote of no confidence to overthrow Lexa as Commander. The vote must be unanimous and Clarke refuses to vote against Lexa. This highlights that Clarke has regained some trust in Lexa. She also realizes that Queen Nia is dangerous and could kill the Sky People. Lexa realizes that she must fight for her position as Heda and declares that a battle to the death is the only way to settle the dispute. Nia selects her son, Roan, to fight for her, but Lexa announces that she will fight for herself. The conflict between these two leaders demonstrates just how different these characters are from each other; Lexa is willing to fight and die for her people, whereas Nia cowardly forces her son to fight her own battle.

This episode greatly displays a parallel between Grounder politics in Polis and Skaikru politics in Arkadia. The leadership is being tested on both sides. In Arkadia, Pike heavily questions the actions of Abby and Kane, by undermining the laws. Pike’s philosophy that all Grounders are deadly enemies who need to be eliminated is only furthered by the massacre at Mount Weather. Kane assures Pike and everyone in Arkadia that Lexa will protect the Skaikru from the Ice Nation. Indra leads an army of nearly 300 Grounder warriors to stand guard and protect Arkadia, but Pike refuses to accept this. Lincoln and Pike really bump heads this episode as Pike prepares to retaliate against the Grounders. Lincoln, who has essentially joined Skaikru, refuses to allow the Grounders to be attacked; his loyalty is truly tested this episode.

The attack on Mount Weather creates a deep sense of fear within Arkadia. Pike uses this fear to rally against the Grounders and even manages to gain support from a surprising source, Bellamy. This is one of the larger problems of the episode. Bellamy is shown to be grieving after the death of his girlfriend, Gina, who lost her life at Mount Weather. Bellamy blames himself for her death and notes that he should have been there for her and everyone else. Pike, who Bellamy barely knows, is able to manipulate Bellamy and turn him against his friends and trusted allies, including Kane and Lincoln. For the past two seasons, Bellamy has received some of the greatest character development on this show so far. He has gone from a reckless anarchist with his “whatever the hell we want” mentality to a believer of community and teamwork. His emotional state is obviously making him blind to reality, but his survival senses should be telling him that war with the Grounders will not end well for the Sky People. This change of character in Bellamy puts me off and reinforces my dislike for Pike; Michael Beach, however, portrays the character of Pike spectacularly.  Octavia is sure to take issue with Bellamy’s new outlook on life.

Speaking of reckless and emotional characters, Jasper demonstrates yet another problem with this episode. He somehow manages to sneak out of a locked-down Arkadia to make his way to the Exodus drop-ship camp. Monty follows closely behind and the two have some very heated arguments. Jasper’s dramatic grieving process over the death of his short-term girlfriend (they literally only knew one another for about 20 days), Maya, is extremely tiring and not interesting enough among such dense material. Everyone grieves in their own way, but Jasper is becoming more and more unhinged to the point that he may harm himself or someone else. I would have much rather seen Raven or Jaha/Murphy (all three of which were absent this episode). Jasper’s minor storyline feels forced and Monty’s involvement really only furthers Jasper’s story instead of his own.

Back in Polis, Lexa introduces Clarke to Aden (Cory Gruter-Andrew), her replacement if she were to die in battle. Aden informs Clarke as to his determination, “If I become Heda, I pledge my loyalty to the 13th clan.” At the same time, Roan questions Nia’s role as a mother in comparison to her role as a leader. She responds by claiming “what’s good for Azgeda is good for you.” Clarke, worried about Lexa, plots against Queen Nia by attempting to poison her while disguising her motives. The attempt on her life is unsuccessful and the duel becomes unstoppable. Clarke directly pleads with Lexa to consider other options, but Lexa is set in the belief that fate will decide the outcome of the battle.

A massive crowd gathers as Lexa and Roan arm up; Nia and Clarke also watch on. The bloody battle begins and Lexa puts up an impressive fight against Roan, a trained warrior. The fight sequence is a major highlight of the episode and perfectly displays a mix of intensity with emotion. Both Roan and Lexa are fighting for not just their lives, but their people. Lexa is able to overpower Roan with a spear, but before she goes in for the kill, Nia yells out at Roan to fight and die like a hero. Lexa immediately throws the spear directly into the abdomen of Queen Nia, killing her instantly. She then declares Roan to be the King of the Ice Nation, rallying the crowd into a roaring applause. Before the episode ends, Clarke and Lexa have a heart-to-heart moment that serves to rebuild their complicated relationship. All seems well until Kane delivers important news to a detained Pike. He has won the election for the role of Chancellor. Pike’s announces his first three roles as Chancellor: to pardon himself and his people, to ignore and reject Skaikru’s role as 13th clan and finally, to “finish what we started.” Bellamy follows behind Pike, ignoring a plea from Kane. What consequences will this change in leadership have on relations with the Grounders? My guess is that nothing good will come from it.

“Watch the Thrones” is by no means a bad episode. It simply has problems maintaining consistencies with certain aspects of the story and characters. Some of the paths that characters like Bellamy and Jasper are taking feel overdone and repetitive. The aspect of Pike and his harsh views is a definite positive of this season though. The introduction of Polis and the politics that surround it is another highlight. Hopefully, this episode is a simple bump in the road as this season has been incredible thus far. Will Pike lead the Sky People into a costly war with the Grounders? Will Lexa betray Clarke again? Be sure to tune in to “The 100” next Thursday at 9 p.m. on The CW.

TV REVIEW: ‘The 100’ – ‘Ye Who Enter Here’

Spoiler Warning for this week’s episode of “The 100”

The 100 -- "Ye Who Alycia Debnam-Carey as Lexa and Eliza Taylor as Clarke -- Credit: Cate Cameron/The CW -- © 2016 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved
Alycia Debnam-Carey as Lexa and Eliza Taylor as Clarke — Credit: Cate Cameron/The CW

To say that this season of “The 100” is off to an explosive start would be an understatement. Only three episodes in and the major conflicts have already come to a head as the dead count rises. With a stellar cast and plenty of action, this season is clearly set up to be legendary.

Following last week’s dramatic reunion between Clarke and Lexa, the episode opens up with a peace offering to end the violence and fear that exists between the Grounders and the Sky People. Lexa shares with Clarke that the best course of action in regards to the tension surrounding the Ice Nation is for the Skaikru to become the 13 Clan of Grounders. Lexa claims this would allow for the Skaikru to be protected against any threats, but Clarke refuses to buy into the proposition. Clarke is still weary to trust Lexa after her betrayal at Mount Weather last season. Lexa, however, asserts if their positions were switched, Clarke would surely do the same to protect her people. There is clearly a high level of animosity between Clarke and Lexa that is perfectly presented through the acting talents of Eliza Taylor and Alycia Debnam-Carey who have superb on-screen chemistry.

Meanwhile, Octavia, Raven, Bellamy and his girlfriend, Gina (Leah Gibson), head to Mount Weather to open the hospital. Instead, they discover the residents from the Farm Station have moved in under the command of Pike. Octavia is disgusted by this and storms off to be alone. However, Bellamy joins her and the two have a brief sibling chat. Octavia and Bellamy find themselves disagreeing on the issue of Mount Weather and Octavia shares that she and Lincoln plan on leaving. Suddenly, two guards stumble out of the forest with a Grounder as a prisoner. This prisoner turns out to be Echo (Tasya Teles), a Grounder that helped Bellamy when they were trapped in Mount Weather. Echo shares that the summit in Polis is a trap and that the Sky People are in grave danger. A trigger-happy Pike suggests that Mount Weather’s missiles should be used in retaliation to whatever happens in Polis. Raven, Gina and Sinclair (Alessandro Juliani) get to work searching for the launch codes.

The summit in Polis is meant to allow for negotiations to the treaty between the Skaikru and the Grounders. Kane and Abby are leading a team to meet with the various delegations of the clans, as well as, Commander Lexa. The capital city is finally revealed to the viewers and demonstrates the fact that the Grounders are much more civilized than everyone initially thought. Polis is an alluring city that has an ancient feel to it, with its marketplaces and aged-buildings. Kane appears to be enchanted by the city as he interacts with a woman selling a local delicacy. Abby points out she can see the vision that Kane has for future relations between the Sky People and Grounders. She offers him the position of Chancellor to which he refuses and offers an election as an alternative. A very upbeat Indra greets Kane and Abby by inviting them into the tower. Indra represents the sheer amount of character development on this show; going from a closed off warrior to a more compassionate friend of the Sky People. Inside the tower, Abby is finally reunited with Clarke after several months of being separated. Clarke quickly alerts Kane and Abby about Lexa’s plan and shares she now believes it to be the right call herself to which Kane agrees.

In an attempt to rescue their people, Bellamy, Echo, Octavia and Pike make their way to the outskirts of Polis. Echo shows them a series of underground tunnels that will lead them to the tower. The team breaks the no-weapon rule that exists in Polis and finds the tower’s elevator shaft. Two guards are stationed at the shaft, but Bellamy and Pike quickly kill them which deeply angers Octavia. They begin climbing as the summit commences with a performance of the Grounder Anthem (Take a Life with Me). Delegates from each of the 12 clans are present and Lexa announces that the Skaikru will become the 13. Kane is branded with the symbol of the Grounders establishing him as leader of the Skaikru clan. As the Summit is coming to a close, Bellamy’s team bursts in with their guns drawn warning of the trap. Lexa demands answers to which Bellamy calls out for Echo, who is mysteriously missing. The major revelation of the episode is dropped as the Polis summit is not the trap, instead Mount Weather.

Gina, who is searching for the launch codes in the President’s office, is brutally attacked and stabbed by a Grounder assassin who then initiates Mount Weather’s self-destruct sequence. Gina is able to warn Raven and Sinclair over the radio before she bleeds to death. Sinclair chases the assassin, who has the override code, outside of the complex as Raven limps behind him. The attacker jumps Sinclair and the two fight before Raven arrives and shoots the assassin, saving Sinclair’s life. Raven and Sinclair are unable to shut down the self-destruct sequence in time. The Mount Weather complex explodes in a massive ball of fire, killing the many Farm Station residents inside. Fortunately, Raven and Sinclair were outside and were unharmed. Raven cries out over walkie talkie alerting everyone to what has happened. Lexa hears and immediately arrests the Ice Nation ambassador after he takes responsibility for the attack. She also sends the Sky People back to Arkadia and declares that the attack will be avenged in unity, but notes that Clarke must stay behind in Polis as a representative. Lexa and Clarke have a brief moment of reconciliation as Lexa promises to care for the Sky People. Just before the episode ends, Echo arrives in the Ice Nation and meets with the Queen (Brenda Strong) to deliver a chilling message, “you got your war.”

Now that war is imminent, where will each character place their loyalties? Lexa has shown herself to be far from trustworthy, but will she finally treat the Skaikru like the rest of her people? This episode is certainly the best of the season so far and manages to develop the world of “The 100” even further. By bringing in the politics-centered city of Polis, viewers are given more insight into the ways of the Grounders. I am very much interested to see how things change now that Lexa is technically leader of the Sky People. What will the element of war bring? Be sure to tune in to “The 100” next Thursday at 9 p.m. on The CW.

TV REVIEW: ‘The 100’ – ‘Wanheda (Part One and Two)’

Spoiler Warning for this week’s episode of “The 100”

Octavia Blake and Jasper Jordan (Photo courtesy of The CW)
Octavia Blake, Jasper Jordan and Nathan Miller. Photo courtesy of The CW

The CW’s hit series “The 100” returned last week and brought with it a plethora of new threats, characters and action packed thrills. I spent a good week and a half binge-watching the first two seasons of this series so that I would be caught up for the new season. I can honestly say that this series is a true breath of fresh air in the already crowded pool of television shows. This article covers the first two episodes of the season.

Wanheda (Part 1)

About three months have passed following last season’s deadly and explosive finale and everyone is beginning to deal with their own individual struggles. John Murphy (Richard Harmon) finds himself locked inside a bunker after his trek with Chancellor Thelonious Jaha (Isaiah Washington) to find the City of Light. For nearly 90 days, Murphy is trapped inside the bunker where he exhausts all resources and eventually attempts suicide. The doors finally unlock and Murphy makes his way into the mysterious mansion where he meets artificial intelligence hologram A.L.I.E (Erica Cerra) and reunites with Jaha. Sometime during the 90 days, Jaha apparently managed to reach the City of Light, however, it is still unclear if this “city” actually exists or is simply a metaphor for something. Jaha tries to persuade Murphy to join him, but Murphy completely rejects his offer and attempts to leave. Before he is able to leave, a boat arrives with Emori (Luisa D’Oliveira), the nomad that betrayed Murphy and Jaha in the Dead Zone last season. Everyone boards the ship and begin sailing back toward the mainland. This particular storyline is extremely confusing and vastly different tonally from the rest of the series; Murphy seems to be the only sane person around. Is Jaha really on the verge of something great or is he losing his mind? What does A.L.I.E. want with nuclear weapons?

Over at Arkadia (formerly Camp Jaha), Bellamy Blake (Bob Morley), Raven Reyes (Lindsey Morgan), Monty Green (Christopher Larkin), Jasper Jordan (Devon Bostick), Octavia Blake (Marie Avgeropoulos) and Nathan Miller (Jarod Joseph) prepare to head out on a scouting mission of Sector 7. Bellamy checks in with Chancellor Marcus Kane (Henry Ian Cusick) who has mapped the locations of the 12 Grounder clans. The team heads out, but receives a beacon signal from the still-missing Farm Station; the signal is coming from the forbidden lands of the Ice Nation. They decide to investigate and soon come upon a group of Ice Nation Grounders on horseback who have the beacon in their possession. The Grounders share that they are looking for the legendary “Wanheda.” Jasper, who is a mental wreck, lashes out causing a brief conflict that leaves the Grounders dead. Kane and Indra (Adina Porter) meet up with the group and Indra alerts everyone that “Wanheda” is actually the missing Clarke Griffin (Eliza Taylor) who has a bounty on her head after demonstrating extreme power and strength during the assault on Mount Weather. Grounders believe power and strength are transferred after someone is killed. “Wanheda” means “Commander of Death” in the Grounder’s language of Trigedasleng.

As for Clarke, sporting her new red hair, her life now mostly consists of hunting and trading in the forests. She manages to kill a panther, which she later takes to a trading post manned by a woman named Niylah (Jessica Harmon). At the trading post, a few bounty hunters, including new character, Roan (Zach McGowan), question Niylah about the Wanheda. Niylah covers for Clarke and a new romantic relationship starts to take shape. Surely as the season proceeds, the characters of Niylah and Roan will be at the center of many conflicts surrounding Clarke. By the end of the episode, Roan has managed to capture Clarke.

As for the other characters, Doctor/Chancellor Abby Griffin (Paige Turco) begins noticing Raven in pain. She confronts Raven, but she just shoots her down and says “Fix yourself, Abby.” The two have a brief moment of reconciliation near the end, however. Octavia and Lincoln (Ricky Whittle) are also in an awkward position as Octavia feels that he has abandoned his Grounder roots to embrace life among the Sky People. Lincoln warns everyone that spending too much time at Mount Weather may lead to a dissolution of the treaty. Jasper attacks Macallan (Shawn Mendes), who is playing a piano taken from Mount Weather, and the two fight. This whole scene was the low-point of the episode as Jasper’s character has become so unlikable due to his reckless nature. He is just one of the many people who have lost someone that they love, but his reaction in particular is dangerous. The incorporation of Shawn Mendes’ musical performance felt extremely out-of-place and unnecessary.

Overall, “Wanheda (Part 1)” is a strong start to the season. The introductions of the new characters worked well and the main storylines were established. This episode perfectly demonstrates the mix of sci-fi and action this show has going for it.

Wanheda (Part 2)

The shock and craziness continues with the hunt for the Wanheda as the situation on the ground becomes more and more dire. Even more new characters are introduced while old characters return to ignite the flames of conflict. The episode is packed full with story and character development.

The episode begins with Monty, Bellamy, Kane and Indra, who are discovered by several members of the Farm Station, including new characters, Charles Pike (Michael Beach) and surprisingly, Monty’s mother. When the Ark dropped down to Earth, the Farm Station landed within Ice Nation territory. Several children and Monty’s father were killed by Ice Nation warriors soon after landing; although, many children were saved by Monty’s father before he was killed. Now, there are only 63 survivors from the Farm Station (nearly three times that number were alive when the station first landed). Monty’s reunion with his mother, as well as, the story of his father’s heroic actions was incredibly touching and helped to develop Monty’s character. Pike, a former teacher on the Ark, has since taken a leadership role within the Farm Station group. His philosophy is that all Grounders are dangerous and should be killed. This belief leads to some tension between him and Indra, who is actually an ally of the Sky People. Pike sends his people to Arkadia, but remains to help search for Clarke.

Chancellor Kane and Bellamy Blake (Photo courtesy of The CW)
Chancellor Kane and Bellamy Blake. Photo courtesy of The CW

Over near Arkadia, Octavia and Lincoln begin to reconnect when an injured Nyko (Ty Olsson) stumbles up on horseback asking for help. Abby and Jackson (Sachin Sahel) begin working on Nyko, but soon discover that he has a rare type of blood. Jackson declares that this type of blood is available at Mount Weather and that it is Nyko’s only chance of survival. This poses a challenging dilemma to Abby as Chancellor. Should she risk breaking the truce with the Grounders to help Nyko? Taking a Grounder to Mount Weather is risky, but she ultimately decides that it must be done. Abby teams up with Jackson, Octavia, Lincoln and the still unstable, Jasper, to head to Mount Weather. They are able to save him and Nyko tells Lincoln that he believes everyone’s negative view of Mount Weather can be changed if lives are being saved. Jasper breaks down after finding the art room where he is reminded of his late girlfriend, Maya (Eve Harlow). Octavia comforts him in this moving scene.

The other side story of this episode revolves around Murphy and Jaha. The City of Light is finally seen, at least in a sense. Jaha seems to be able to access the city in a virtual reality where he sees an empty, but bright future ahead. In the city, there is no death or pain and all humans can live together in peace. In the world of “The 100,” this sounds too good to be true. Murphy still believes Jaha to be crazy and he manages to escape with Emori. The whole aspect of the City of Light is definitely intriguing, but leaves me more confused as each episode passes. What role will this city and A.L.I.E play in the rest of the season? Is Jaha slowly taking on the role of an antagonist?

Whilst searching, Bellamy’s team discover Niylah’s trading post where she is being beaten by a bounty hunter. Bellamy rescues Niylah and she shares what she knows about Clarke’s disappearance, albeit cautiously before realizing Bellamy is of the Skaikru (Trigedasleng for Sky People). Pike is able to pick up the trail left behind by Roan and Clarke. Meanwhile, Clarke is basically being dragged through the forest by Roan, so that he can collect his bounty. Clarke puts up an impressive fight, at one point she pretends to pass out, then proceeds to attack and nearly drown Roan. Bellamy manages to disguise himself as an Ice Nation warrior in order to make contact with Clarke. His cover is soon blown by Roan who viciously attacks him. Clarke pleads for Roan to spare Bellamy’s life to which he complies. There seems to be something deeper than just a friendship between Clark and Bellamy; is it love, as many fans hope? Bellamy is released and makes his way back to his group declaring “We can’t lose her,” but Roan keeps Clarke and heads to what is later revealed to be a sky-high tower. At the tower, Clarke is brought to Commander Lexa of the 12 Clans (Alycia Debnam-Carey). This is shocking, as viewers had been led to believe that Roan was taking Clarke to the Ice Nation Queen. In reality, Lexa had offered Roan a deal to retrieve Clarke in return for a banishment being lifted. This deal is broken, however, as the Queen of the Ice Nation is breaking a coalition by marching an army to the capitol. Lexa attempts to apologize to Clarke for her betrayal at Mount Weather last season, but Clarke is not eager to forgive and instead spits in her face, then screams “I’ll kill you!” What does Lexa have in store for Clarke? Will Clarke ever forgive Lexa?

“Wanheda (Part Two)” is a fantastic episode and truly highlights several characters. This season is already jam-packed with action and story. The world-building on this show is absolutely spectacular; the sheer variety of people in this post-apocalyptic landscape is fascinating. Some aspects of the individual storylines are a bit foggy and confusing, but as the season progresses more answers will surely be revealed. Be sure to tune in to “The 100” next Thursday at 9 p.m. on The CW.

TV REVIEW: ‘Second Chance’ – ‘A Suitable Donor’

SECOND CHANCE: L-R: Adhir Kalyan, Vanessa Lengies, Dilshad Vadsaria, Rob Kazinsky, Ciara Bravo and Tim DeKay. ©2015 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Justin Stephens/FOX
SECOND CHANCE: L-R: Adhir Kalyan, Vanessa Lengies, Dilshad Vadsaria, Rob Kazinsky, Ciara Bravo and Tim DeKay. ©2015 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Justin Stephens/FOX

Have you ever wondered what you would do if you were given a second chance at life? FOX’s new series “Second Chance” explores that idea. Upon first hearing about this series, my expectations were extremely low as the plot seemed completely unoriginal and stagnant. To my surprise, I was left relatively intrigued about what this show has going for it.

Any high school student that read Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” in their English class may recognize similar components in this series. The show takes place in a near-future version of Seattle and follows the Pritchard family. Jimmy Pritchard (Phillip Baker Hall) is the family’s patriarch and a former sheriff who now lives a disgraced life as a drunken elderly man. His son, Duval (Tim DeKay), is an FBI agent being targeted by his partner, John Strayburn (Derek Webster). Jimmy manages to find himself caught up in the questionable actions of Strayburn which leads to the murder of Jimmy; this murder is made to look like a suicide to avoid any suspicions of foul-play.

Meanwhile, founders of a social media company called Lookinglass, Mary Goodwin (Dilshad Vadsaria) and her twin brother, Otto (Adhir Kalyan), are researching and experimenting the possibility of resurrecting a deceased human in order to cure Mary’s seemingly incurable cancer. Mary and Otto are able to successfully bring Jimmy back to life as a young man (Robert Kazinsky). The process is not 100 percent foolproof and has its setbacks, such as the need to recharge the resurrected subject after a few hours. This second chance that Jimmy is given proves to be beneficial to many different people including Duval and Mary. Jimmy’s granddaughter, Gracie (Ciara Bravo) helps to drive the story as a motivation for Jimmy to do well. The characters were surprisingly strong and multi-dimensional with the acting performances being fairly decent.

As far as pilot episodes go, “A Suitable Donor” did an appreciable job at establishing the plot and introducing the characters. The science fiction aspects made for an interesting setting and helped to build the world. This episode was a definite strong start, however, will the series be able to keep viewers invested throughout the season? In today’s so-called “Golden Age of Television,” some people may not be so inclined to try this show out, but the pilot episode at least deserves a watch. “Second Chance” airs on Wednesday nights at 9 p.m. on FOX.

TV REVIEW: ‘American Horror Story: Hotel’ – ‘Be Our Guest’

Spoiler Warning for this week’s SEASON FINALE of “American Horror Story: Hotel”

AMERICAN HORROR STORY -- Evan Peters as Mr. March. CR: Prashant Gupta/FX
AMERICAN HORROR STORY — Evan Peters as Mr. March. CR: Prashant Gupta/FX

Vampires, ghosts, serial-killers and demons are just some of the insane and disturbing residents of this season of “American Horror Story.” After several uneven episodes, the season finally began to pick up near the end. The finale had many things going for it; unfortunately the end result was more or less unsatisfying. Rather than providing closure to the main characters, only a few receive proper conclusions.

The quote above can be used as a brief synopsis for the entire season as death lingers around every corner of the hotel. Following the death of The Countess, Liz and Iris decide to take the Hotel Cortez over and turn it into a more high-class and welcoming establishment. Rooms are upgraded and Wi-Fi is finally offered to the guests, but there is one small problem. The ghosts are killing many of the guests, therefore giving the hotel a damaging public view. A meeting is called by Iris and Liz as a way to persuade the ghosts to stop murdering the guests. Sally shares the fact that she and Will Drake are the only two that are killing as everyone else is caught up in the luxuries of eternal life. Sally and Will argue that killing makes them feel more alive and has no real consequences. Iris and Liz counter their argument by referring to Will’s failing business and the possible effects that may be felt by the hotel; Will owns the hotel which may be sold. Mr. March appears and backs Liz and Iris to which Sally protests; Mr. March threatens to bring the addiction demon back upon Sally if she doesn’t obey his orders. The group meeting scenes between ghosts were a major highlight of this episode and help to showcase the everlasting effect that some characters have.

Fortunately, one of the characters that received necessary closure was Liz. Iris and Liz decide to help Will and Sally get over their killing addictions by providing distractions. Iris presents Sally with an iPhone to help connect her to the world, even though she cannot leave the hotel premises. A humorous montage shows Sally quickly becoming addicted to the world of social media while walking away from her old demons. She develops a worldwide fan base and finally begins to feel alive again. Sally’s new found love of social media seems like a clever metaphor from the writers to show society’s addiction to the Internet; social media makes ordinary people ghosts to the world. Meanwhile, Liz helps Will regain control of his dying fashion business empire. Will gives her control to make executive decisions within the company in order to boost public awareness and awe. By using mystique and exclusivity, Liz and Will are able to restart the dying brand and turn it into a worldwide phenomenon, therefore saving the hotel.

Iris senses that Liz is not fully content with the new overall feeling of joy and decides to invite someone to help out. Hardcore fans of the series will remember Billie Dean Howard (Sarah Paulson’s first role in the series) from season one, “Murder House.” Billie Dean is an incredibly gifted and respected psychic medium who is brought to the hotel in order to contact Liz’s deceased lover, Tristan Duffy. Billie Dean notes that she can hear the voices of countless spirits and finally manages to speak with Tristan, however, he does not wish to communicate with Liz. Instead, Donovan’s spirit reaches out to Iris and provides comforting words to her from a happier place. Liz shares that she is happy for Iris, but declares to Billie Dean, “Love kills a lot more than hate.”

Sometime later, Liz is present to see the birth of her granddaughter. However, the unpredictability of life presents itself to Liz in the form of prostate cancer. Rather than slowly succumbing to the disease, Liz decides to gather her ghost friends for one final murder. Each ghost is given a weapon to kill Liz with, but The Countess steps in at the last moment and declares that she wants to be present to “help (her) transition, one last time.” The Countess slits Liz’s throat, allowing for her to return moments later as a ghost. This scene was oddly touching and definitely highlights the acting talents of Denis O’Hare, who portrayed this season’s standout character, Liz. After she returns as a ghost, Liz is reunited with Tristan and the two embrace.

The final act of the episode is both confusing and lackluster. A time-jump to Devil’s Night in October 2022 reveals that Billie Dean has turned the Hotel Cortez into a major tourist destination for paranormal aficionados. The hotel has become famous as a hotbed of ghostly activities, namely the murderous “Ten Commandments Killer” John Lowe. The Lowe family (minus Scarlett, who is sent away to boarding school, because her family just does not care about her at all) move into the hotel, however John has been killed by the police. He did not, however, die on the hotel property, therefore he can only visit on Devil’s Night. Billie Dean begins taping her television show from John’s former room in the hopes that she will be able to interview him. John’s ghost arrives and shares his story, then invites her to Mr. March’s annual Devil’s Night feast where she meets history’s infamous serial killers. The killers gather and threaten Billie Dean (with the help of Ramona Royale, who is a vampire and can leave the hotel) to abstain from speaking about the ghosts of the Hotel Cortez anymore. Finally, John returns and reconnects with his family, including a grownup Scarlett. The episode ends with The Countess seducing a man in the bar by telling him, “You have a jawline for days.”

The episode started off exceptionally strong, but tapered off as the end drew near. Rather than providing closure for the many main characters, Billie Dean Howard received much of the final screen time. Being that “American Horror Story” is an anthology series, the season finale should fully wrap each storyline as the next season will not be a continuation of the previous. In terms of acting and dialogue, however, this episode should be commended. Overall, this season has been my least favorite so far. There were plenty of high points, but it always felt like some element was missing. What mysteries will Season Six hold? “American Horror Story” will return this October on FX.

TV REVIEW: ‘American Horror Story: Hotel’ – ‘Battle Royale’

Spoiler Warning for this week’s episode of “American Horror Story: Hotel”

AMERICAN HORROR STORY -- Denis O'Hare as Liz, Kathy Bates as Iris. CR: Ray Mickshaw/FX
AMERICAN HORROR STORY — Denis O’Hare as Liz, Kathy Bates as Iris. CR: Ray Mickshaw/FX

The hallways of the Hotel Cortez become a graveyard as this season of “American Horror Story” nears its end. The various storylines begin to collide leaving numerous characters dead and left to haunt the premises. “Battle Royale” is a definite high mark of the season and sets the stage for a thrilling finale.

The last episode ended with one of the greatest scenes in the history of the series; Iris and Liz storming into The Countess’ penthouse suite with their guns blazing as “Hotline Bling” plays. This episode picks right up in the middle of the action. The Countess takes several hits, but manages to scurry away while Donovan is left fatally wounded. Iris, shocked and horrified that Donovan was caught in the line of fire, shares a final moment with her dying son. Donovan begs Iris to make sure that he doesn’t die inside the hotel, as anyone that dies on the property is forced to spend eternity as a ghost haunting the hallways. With the help of Liz, Iris manages to drag Donovan to the street before he succumbs to his wounds.

Meanwhile, The Countess is revealed to have been saved by Sally who shares the story of how she came to be at the Hotel Cortez. In 1993, Sally was a songwriter for a pair of grunge music artists who shared in a mutual love for heroin. Sally and the two artists head over to the Cortez where the check into a room and get “really high” together. Sally then sews herself to the two so that they may be closer than ever, however, the two artists begin overdosing. Miss Evers appears and taunts Sally who pleads to call for help. Days pass and Sally is left sewn to her now deceased friends as the addiction demon appears and begins torturing her. She eventually rips herself away from the bodies leaving her emotionally damaged. While incredibly disturbing, Sally’s backstory was much needed and helps viewers to understand her motivations and reasons for being at the hotel. Sally saves The Countess using the blood of her vampire children to perform a transfusion. This deeply affects The Countess emotionally as her vampire children are left dead to save her.

Following the death of Donovan, Iris is left heartbroken and depressed. Liz presents the ashes of Donovan to Iris prompting her to creepily spread them on herself and all over a hotel room. Miss Evers cheerfully cleans up the mess as Iris takes a moment for herself on the hotel roof. Kathy Bates once again delivered a sensational performance by showing a grieving mother. She later teams up with Liz to free Ramona Royale, who is still locked away in a sealed off hallway of the hotel. Inside the hallway, the bodies of the vampire children litter the floors leaving Iris and Liz shocked; they also discover the corpse of Will Drake. Ramona reveals herself and attempts to attack a frightened Iris. Liz alerts Ramona that they all have a common goal, to kill The Countess. Ramona declares that she must feast on human blood before she will help.

Liz and Iris prepare to head out of the hotel to find a victim for Ramona when a familiar face appears in the hotel lobby. Fans of “American Horror Story” will immediately recognize Queenie (Gabourney Sidibe) from the series’ third season, “Coven.” Queenie is in town to be a contestant on “The Price is Right” and shares with Iris and Liz that she is guaranteed to be a contestant because the Supreme Witch blessed her ticket. Queenie is tricked into being Ramona’s meal, although, Queenie refuses to go down without a fight. Using her witch power as a human voodoo doll, she attempts to kill Ramona, but is suddenly stabbed by Mr. March. Ramona feasts on Queenie’s blood and presumably absorbs her powers. Angela Bassett gave yet another strong performance this episode after being horribly underused throughout the season.

Following her bloody meal, Ramona makes her way to the penthouse suite where she confronts The Countess. Ramona promises to kill The Countess, however, the two unexpectedly begin to resolve their differences. The Countess shares that she is finally ready to leave the hotel and the two have a final romantic fling. The Countess packs her bags and heads to the elevator to leave when John Lowe appears and begins shooting her relentlessly. John’s final murder in his Ten Commandments spree is complete; “Thou Shalt Not Kill.” is the basis for the murder of The Countess. Mr. March shares how proud he is of John for completing the murderous bout. Sally also congratulates John then proceeds to attack him with the intent of killing him so that he may return as a ghost; Mr. March, however, puts a stop to this.

The end of the episode shows Mr. March and Miss Evers preparing for The Countess’ return as a ghost. Mr. March is eager to spend time with The Countess, however, Miss Evers shows extreme jealousy towards her. Miss Evers reveals that she was the one that called the police to alert them of the murders committed by Mr. March. The promise of eternal life with Mr. March is established as the reasoning behind the actions of Miss Evers; this angers him and decides to banish Miss Evers. Mare Winningham and Evan Peters both delivered incredible performances and greatly helped to develop both characters.

“Battle Royale” is a fantastic penultimate episode for this season of “American Horror Story.” After a rather unevern season, the final set of episodes truly showcase the great heights this series can reach. Each character received their time to shine and helped to propel the story forward. What madness awaits the characters in next week’s season finale? Be sure to tune in to “American Horror Story: Hotel” next Wednesday at 9 p.m. on FX.

TV REVIEW: ‘American Horror Story: Hotel’ – ‘She Gets Revenge’

Spoiler Warning for this week’s episode of “American Horror Story: Hotel”

AMERICAN HORROR STORY -- Matt Bomer as Donovan. CR: Prashant Gupta/FX
AMERICAN HORROR STORY — Matt Bomer as Donovan. CR: Prashant Gupta/FX

After nine incredibly inconsistent episodes, “She Gets Revenge” satisfies on every level and delivers the best episode of the season. Rather than focusing on backstory for individual characters, this episode blends the ensemble cast and gives each character their moment to shine.

The opening scene shows an elderly couple checking into the hotel; a voice-over monologue from Liz Taylor sets the scene. The elderly woman is suffering from cancer, so the couple decides to commit suicide together in the hotel room. This act greatly touches Liz, who considers following the idea of the couple, however, Iris declares that she should clear up unfinished business first. Iris and Liz decide to create a suicide pact as both have lost their will to live any longer. The main piece of unfinished business to take care of is Liz’s long-lost son. Miss Evers calls and invites the son to the Hotel Cortez to reunite with Liz. For her help, Miss Evers is rewarded with several modern day cleaning products, including detergent, a washer and a dryer. These scenes were incredibly humorous and highlights the character of Miss Evers greatly.

The evil plan of The Countess to inherit Will Drake’s fortune is shown to be fully underway. The Countess calls the police to report Will missing only to be surprised when his ghost suddenly reappears. The Countess makes Will fully aware of her plan and mentions that she will use Will’s son, Lachlan, as she is his legal guardian. The characters of Donovan and The Countess both parallel one another in this episode. Donovan visits The Countess’ other lover, Valentino, who he abruptly murders. Meanwhile, The Countess invites Natacha to the hotel, who she also murders. The reasoning behind these murders is simply for love; The Countess wants to be with Valentino, while Donovan wants to be with The Countess.

John’s story in this episode is finally relevant to the rest of the plot as he helps Alex deal with the vampire children. Alex’s worries that if the vampire children are not dealt with, The Countess will kill both her and Holden. John and Alex pay a visit to where the children are now living, however, they are not so willing to listen to reason. John and Alex manage to bring the children back to the hotel where they lock them in a sealed off hallway. Ramona Royale reveals herself to the children in the hallway, however, it’s still unclear what Ramona will do to them. John also has a great dynamic in this episode with Sally, who repeatedly questions what will happen when Alex finds out that he is a serial killer. Sally appears to be jealous of the rekindled love between John and Alex and promises revenge. Mr. March also alerts John that he only has one more murder left in his Ten Commandments killings.

AMERICAN HORROR STORY -- Wes Bentley as John Lowe, Chloe Sevigny as Alex Lowe. CR: Prashant Gupta/FX
AMERICAN HORROR STORY — Wes Bentley as John Lowe, Chloe Sevigny as Alex Lowe. CR: Prashant Gupta/FX

The more touching storyline of this episode follows Liz and her son, Douglas (Josh Braaten). After checking in, Douglas visits the bar when he strikes up a conversation with Liz. Douglas is seemingly unaware of the true identity of Liz and the two discuss each other’s lives; Liz encourages Douglas to follow his dreams and drops hints about being sorry for abandoning the family. After their meeting, Liz is still ready to follow through on the suicide pact. She later returns to the bar where Douglas admits that he knew exactly who Liz was all along. He also reveals that he is following the advice Liz gave him and that he accepts who she is, claiming “there’s plenty of room for another woman in my life.” Liz alerts Iris that she cannot go through with the suicide attempt after her meeting with Douglas. Iris, who has already made herself a tribute video for her three Instagram followers, is saddened and worried that she will be alone once again. Liz formulates a plan to take over the hotel from The Countess and turn it into a much nicer place; “we are the ones who should inherit the earth.”

The next set of scenes are some of the most hilarious in the entire series. Donovan, in the penthouse suite of the hotel, dances to Drake’s “Hotline Bling” as The Countess tearfully returns from viewing Valentino’s body. She turns the music off and the two seem to have a moment of rekindling. Suddenly, the music returns as Iris and Liz burst in, guns blazing, leaving the fates of Donovan and The Countess unknown. This was an unexpected ending to the episode and definitely speeds up the pace of the story.

“She Gets Revenge” uses the perfect mix of emotion, humor and action to develop the characters and story. One of the major negatives of this season has been the pacing, however, this episode has the ideal pace for the various complex storylines. Did The Countess and Donovan survive this shootout? What does the future hold for the Hotel Cortez? “American Horror Story: Hotel” returns on Jan 6, 2016 on FX.

TV REVIEW: ‘American Horror Story: Hotel’ – ‘She Wants Revenge’

Spoiler Warning for this week’s episode of “American Horror Story: Hotel”

AMERICAN HORROR STORY -- Cheyenne Jackson as Will Drake. CR: Ray Mickshaw/FX
AMERICAN HORROR STORY — Cheyenne Jackson as Will Drake. CR: Ray Mickshaw/FX

Following last week’s dull and uneventful episode, “American Horror Story” finally begins to tie up loose ends and bring the major storylines together. The more interesting characters take the center stage and help to deliver one of the season’s best episodes.

Much of the episode revolves around betrayal and how it affects each character. The Countess is shown to be preparing for her wedding with Will Drake; she is only marrying him for his money and plans to kill him afterwards. Will, completely unaware of the plans of The Countess, wishes for a grand and elaborate wedding, however, The Countess shares she believes they should keep it simple. She also manages to seduce Donovan back into her life by promising the two will be together after Will is dead. Rudolph Valentino comes back into the story as yet another love interest for The Countess. The episode truly highlights the fact that The Countess is willing to manipulate a person’s love to get what she wants.

Iris is given a decent amount of screen time as she attempts to rid the Hotel Cortez of some “filth.” A pair of pornstars and their cameraman check into the hotel, prompting Iris to brutally murder them. Donovan walks in as Iris is cleaning up her mess and reminds her of Ramona Royale’s plot to kill The Countess. This particular story arc has received very little attention prior to this episode. Angela Bassett has also been horribly underused, but finally is given a considerable amount of screen time in this episode.

Through flashbacks, viewers and Donovan are told a depressing tale about Ramona’s history. In 1992, Ramona moved back into her parents’ house only to discover her father suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Ramona’s mother eventually succumbs to her own personal illness; this death effects Ramona’s father greatly. Fearing that she will lose her father, Ramona infects him with the ancient “vampire” virus with the hopes that it will reverse the affects of his disease and cure him. Unfortunately, the virus only stops the Alzheimer’s from worsening and leaves her father “frozen in amber.” Unable to hunt for himself, Ramona provides her father with fresh blood from her hunts. The pain of seeing her father in such a state causes her to put him out of his misery by drowning him in a bathtub. Ramona later shares that after his death, she was also left “frozen in amber,” but managed to snap out of it and use her father’s strength to heal.

A disturbing sequence picks up with Alex and the mysterious vampire children from several episodes ago. Alex discovers the children are now on the run from the police after murdering and feasting on several innocent people. The group of children are led by Alex’s former patient who suffered from measles; many of the children are now fearful of what will happen to them. Alex comforts the children and warns them the police will eventually catch up to them. She invites them to the Hotel Cortez and promises there are others like them. This particular storyline needed to be addressed, but felt somewhat out of place in this episode. However, this will likely become more relevant as the story progresses. What awaits the horde of vampires at the Hotel Cortez?

Back at the hotel, Ramona makes her move to kill The Countess, but is shockingly betrayed by Donovan, who has once again fallen under the spell of The Countess. Ramona is locked in a neon cage surrounded by cameras where she will be “hate-watched.” Iris warns Donovan of the path he is taking and claims that The Countess will only hurt him. The Countess also begins to plot against Natacha so that she may have Valentino all to herself. Meanwhile, an enthusiastic Will Drake prepares for the impending wedding, however, Miss Evers alerts him that The Countess only has sinister intentions. She very clearly lays out exactly what will happen to him if he goes through with the wedding. Will refuses to listen and banishes Miss Evers from the hotel.

The intimate wedding takes place with only Drake’s son, Lachlan, and Liz Taylor in attendance. After the ceremony, The Countess savagely declares that Liz will find love one day and hands over her bouquet; following the murder of Taylor’s love, Tristan Duffy, this moment only sparks more animosity between the two. At the hotel bar, Mr. March introduces himself to Will and reveals that The Countess has a secret infant son, Bartholomew. After seeing the baby in the nursery, Will is horrified and is knocked unconscious by The Countess. He wakes up confused and frightened next to Ramona’s cage. He releases her, but realizes that the two are trapped in a soundproof hallway. Suddenly, Ramona slits Will’s throat and feasts on his blood as Miss Evers gleefully watches over. Satisfied, The Countess also watches over the cameras. Now that Will is dead, who will The Countess betray next?

“She Wants Revenge” demonstrates this season’s ability to deliver a truly great episode. By focusing on the more interesting characters and storylines, the narrative begins to converge the major individual plot points. This episode is packed full with shocking moments and character development. As the end of the season nears, what does the future hold for the Hotel Cortez? Be sure to tune in to “American Horror Story: Hotel” next Wednesday at 10 p.m. on FX.

 

TV REVIEW: ‘American Horror Story: Hotel’ – ‘The Ten Commandments Killer’

Spoiler Warning for this week’s episode of “American Horror Story: Hotel”

AMERICAN HORROR STORY -- Wes Bentley as John Lowe, Evan Peters as Mr. March. CR: Prashant Gupta/FX
AMERICAN HORROR STORY — Wes Bentley as John Lowe, Evan Peters as Mr. March. CR: Prashant Gupta/FX

After the season high last episode, “American Horror Story” disappoints this week with an episode filled with predictable and confusing flashbacks. This season has struggled with maintaining interest in specific story arcs and characters. This episode definitely answers some of the major questions, but fails in regards to character development.

The main focus of this episode is John Lowe and his investigation of the so-called “Ten Commandments Killer.” This storyline has received a relatively minor amount of screen-time this season, with plot points being scattered throughout the previous episodes. Following the death of a key witness, John begins demanding answers about the killer from Liz Taylor. Sally volunteers to take John to room 64, where she claims that he will find answers. In the hotel room, John discovers a display case full of murderous souvenirs. Sally explains that Mr. March’s search for a successor led to John himself: “It’s you John.” This revelation was extremely predictable, especially after “Devil’s Night” where John was invited to Mr. March’s gathering of serial killers.

After Sally reveals to John that he is in fact the Ten Commandments Killer, he slowly and hazily begins remembering how he came to be the murderer. He decides to confess his crimes to Detective Hahn (Richard T. Jones). Flashbacks are used to help show John’s story beginning in 2010 when he first visited the Hotel Cortez. At the hotel bar, he meets Donovan, who introduces him to Mr. March and The Countess during their monthly meeting. Over the course of two days, March and John discuss law and morals over absinthe. Mr. March then involves The Countess by having her abduct John’s son, Holden; this kidnapping is the catalyst for John’s entire story this season. The loneliness John feels pushes him to find comfort at the hotel where becomes romantically involved with Sally; their relationship is more sexual than emotional.

John is also propelled into his first murder by Mr. March, and his first victim is a pedophilic hotel guest. After killing, John decides to commit suicide by hanging himself; however, this suicide attempt is abruptly halted by Mr. March. The flashbacks also show the beginnings of a rift in John and Alex’s marriage and the Lowe family as a whole. John learns that Alex once met for coffee with his partner, Detective Hahn. Sally instigates John to act against Hahn by referencing “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” In the present time, John’s memory of the past five years comes back to him and he brutally murders Hahn. John returns to the hotel where he presents Mr. March with a souvenir from his latest slaughter. The souvenir case is revealed to have room for two more mementos prompting March to tell John, “Death is your art.” Who will be the next two victims of the Ten Commandments Killer?

The latest episode of “American Horror Story: Hotel” was a definite step down from “Flicker” and truly highlights many of this season’s major weaknesses. Many of the more gripping storylines of previous episodes have seemingly been forgotten. The considerable reveal of this episode was rather lackluster, but did manage to connect many of the dots of John’s story. Sarah Paulson and Evan Peters both delivered strong performances as their respective characters. As the season draws to the end, the other characters will need to be further developed in order for the story to fully make sense. Be sure to tune in to “American Horror Story: Hotel” next Wednesday at 10 p.m. on FX.

TV REVIEW: ‘The Walking Dead’ – ‘Start to Finish’

Spoiler Warning for this week’s episode of “The Walking Dead.”

Father Gabriel and the group try to escape the herd. (Photo courtesy of AMC.)
Father Gabriel and the group try to escape the herd. Photo courtesy of AMC

This is the episode that the entire season has been building up to. The herd of walkers have infiltrated Alexandria and major conflicts come to a head. Being that this episode is the mid-season finale, tragedy and horror strike our band of characters and mass chaos ensues.

Last week’s episode ended with the massive cliffhanger of the lookout tower collapsing and bringing part of the wall with it. This episode begins with an incredibly eerie scene involving Jessie’s young son, Sam, who is completely terrified of the outside world. The song “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” plays as Sam colors a picture of himself tied to a tree (an allusion to Carol’s threat to him last season). In his room, a line of ants are shown crawling on to a leftover cookie (yet another allusion to Carol). This line of ants is meant to symbolize the walkers and foreshadow the coming events.

A new camera angle of the tower collapse is shown, followed by the invasion of the herd. This moment is the catalyst for all events in the rest of the episode. As the walkers swarm in, Rick furiously screams at everyone to run to their homes. Deanna and Rick begin shooting at the walkers, however, Rick orders her to flee for safety to which she ignores. Walkers begin swarming Deanna causing her to fall on a metal saw blade. Rick quickly helps her up and the two limp down a street in search of refuge. Michonne, Carl, Ron and Gabriel join them and fight walkers as they rush down the street. Jessie notices their struggle and begins shooting walkers before ushering everyone into her house.

Maggie is left on her own as she battles walkers and stumbles to the lookout post near the gate. An incredibly tense sequence follows as Maggie struggles to climb a ladder up to the post. She finally makes it up to the post where she is left exhausted, lying on her back and looking at Glenn’s green balloons in the sky. Meanwhile, a frightened Eugene, equipped only with a machete, picks up Rick’s walkie-talkie and says “help,” revealing the mystery cliffhanger from “Always Accountable.” Tara and Rosita rescue Eugene and the trio flee into a nearby garage, leaving the walkers pounding on the door. Rosita fears that this invasion will be the end of Alexandria and believes that Abraham is dead, however, Tara immediately shuts this down and tries to lighten the mood. Eugene is able to pick at a lock, allowing the three to escape the garage. From outside the walls, Glenn and Enid watch in terror as the herd flow into Alexandria. Enid believes this to be the end for everyone left inside, but Glenn believes that they must help and formulates a plan of climbing over the wall.

On the main floor of an Alexandria townhouse, Carol and Morgan have escaped the herd; however, Carol appears to have suffered from a concussion. One floor below, Denise and the Wolf sit and talk. The Wolf shows Denise his infected wound prompting her to begin treating it, albeit cautiously. Carol, completely aware that Morgan is hiding something, tricks him and sneaks downstairs where she orders Denise away from the Wolf. Morgan rushes down and stands in front of the Wolf, protecting him from Carol. Throughout the episode, Carol and Morgan argue about allowing the Wolf to live. Armed with a knife, Carol threatens to kill Morgan in order to kill the Wolf, therefore, preventing anyone else from dying. Morgan uses his staff to strike Carol’s knife out of her hands and the two begin physically fighting. Morgan throws Carol to the ground, knocking her unconscious. The Wolf manages to grab Morgan’s staff and uses it to knock him unconscious; he then uses the knife to hold Denise hostage as Tara, Rosita and Eugene rush in. The Wolf demands their guns and slowly walks out of the house into the walker-infested streets with Denise still hostage. Melissa McBride and Lennie James gave incredible performances as Carol and Morgan with both characters essentially being complete opposites. What will the Wolf do with Denise? How will Carol react when she wakes up?

Carol and Morgan fight about the Wolf as Denise watches. (Photo courtesy of AMC.)
Carol and Morgan fight over the Wolf as Denise watches. (Photo courtesy of AMC.)

Back at Jessie’s house, Michonne and Rick rush to treat Deanna’s wounds. Sam watches in complete horror as he slowly begins to realize what is happening. Michonne is able to treat a gash on Deanna’s leg, but suddenly discovers a bite on her side. Deanna realizes what this means and spends the rest of the episode imparting wisdom on the characters. Michonne shares with Deanna that she believes the plans for Alexandria’s expansion are possible. In Jessie’s garage, Ron and Carl argue about Rick; Ron believes that Rick is going to get everyone killed, to which Carl responds by reminding Ron that his father, Pete, was a killer. Ron locks the door and pulls out his gun, leading to an explosive and intense fight, which draws the attention of some walkers outside. Rick uses an ax to open the door and pull Carl and Ron in as walkers flood the garage; Gabriel, Rick and Jessie shove a couch against the door. Ron and Carl search for other pieces of furniture to barricade the door with. Carl turns the tables on Ron as he orders him, at gunpoint, to turn over his gun. Carl shares with Ron that he has sympathy for him about the death of his father, but essentially tells him to get over it. The Carl versus Ron scenes were especially intense and surely will affect both characters in future episodes.

Rick checks on Judith and discovers an incredibly weakened Deanna. Rick lays Deanna on a bed and the two say their goodbyes. Deanna hands Rick farewell notes for her son, Spencer and Maggie to which he promises to deliver them; she also asks him to look after Spencer and declares, “They’re all your people, Rick,” referring to the Alexandrians merging with Rick’s group. The walkers begin breaking into the house, triggering the group to rush upstairs. They kill two walkers and drag them up the stairs to be used in an escape plan. Rick gathers bed sheets and explains that the “guts” of walkers can be used as camouflage (this is a major callback to the second episode of the series when Rick and Glenn used this technique to escape downtown Atlanta). The bed sheets are used as ponchos to prevent the guts from getting on anyone’s skin. Michonne offers to mercifully kill Deanna, but she responds by saying that she is not ready to die and declares that she will end her life when ready. This scene is incredibly touching and ends with Deanna telling Michonne to “Give ’em Hell.”

Rick and Michonne cut the dead walkers up and begin smothering the guts over everyone. Sam steps out of his room and sees his mother covered in walkers guts; this causes Sam to panic, but Jessie instructs him to be brave. Rick retrieves Judith and slides her under Carl’s poncho. The group, led by Rick make their way downstairs into the walker-plagued living room and out on to the front porch. Upstairs, Deanna hears that the walkers have made their way in and begins shooting at them before screaming. Rather than simply shooting herself, Deanna dies in a blaze of glory using the bullets to contribute in her own way to the clearing of Alexandria. This is completely consistent with Deanna’s character and her insistence that civilization and normalcy can be possible. Her death signifies a major shift in Alexandria and its leadership. Back on the porch, a series of slow-motion shots show our characters preparing to step out into the streets overflowed with walkers; each character has a terrified look on their face. They link hands and begin making their way out, however, a terrified Sam begins calling out for his mom. The episode ends, leaving the fates of the characters a mystery. Will they be able to escape the herd?

A brief after-credits scene picks up with Daryl, Sasha and Abraham as they are stopped by a group of motorcyclists. This group, called the Saviors, state that everything is now the property of a man named “Negan.” Fans of the comic-series will immediately know what this means for the future of the show; the new big-bad villain is on the horizon.

“Start to Finish” uses the horror of the herd and the tension of conflicts to drive the story forward. In typical fashion of “The Walking Dead,” countless cliffhangers leave viewers wondering what is next. This episode was phenomenal and sets the stage for a dramatic and perilous Mid-Season Premiere. With the loss of Deanna, what does the future hold for Spencer and the other Alexandrians? Who will be the next victim of the herd? Tune in to the Mid-Season Premiere of “The Walking Dead” on Feb. 14, 2016 on AMC.

 

 

REVIEW: Emily Kinney rocks the stage at The Visulite Theatre

Emily Kinney performs. Photo by Jeffrey Kopp
Emily Kinney performs. Photo by Jeffrey Kopp

On Monday, Nov. 23, Emily Kinney took the stage at The Visulite Theatre in Charlotte to a crowd of adoring fans. Kinney may be best known for her role as Beth Greene on AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” but she also has a flourishing music career. Her impressive list of other roles on television include “The Flash,” “Masters of Sex” and “The Knick.” This concert was the last on her “This Is War” tour and drew fans both old and new.

Emily wasn’t the only singer on stage; her lead guitarist, Adam Tressler, performed several of his songs to the audience. Tressler, a self-confessed fan of presidents, performed one song about shortest serving president of the United States, William Henry Harrison. Another one of his songs attempted to change the general opinion about Martha Washington. Adam’s album “Footnote” can be found at the following link: http://adamtressler.bandcamp.com/album/footnote.

Following an impressive setlist from Tressler and a short break, singer and pianist Jacob Jeffries took the stage to share his stunning vocals. Equipped with his keyboard, Billy (named by a fan at a previous concert), Jeffries shared several of his songs with the captivated audience. One of his songs, “The Same Song,” as explained by Jeffries, emphasizes the importance of unity and is meant to bring people together: “We all bleed the same blood and we all sing the same song.” Jeffries’ rich voice and talent on the keyboard brought the audience to roaring applause song after song. For one of his final performances of the night, Jeffries invited Kinney and bassist, Hayley Batt, to lend their vocals. Immediately after leaving the venue, I purchased several of Jeffries’ songs on iTunes. His music can be found at the following link: http://www.jacobjeffries.com/music/

Jacob Jeffries performs. Photo by Jeffrey Kopp.
Jacob Jeffries performs. Photo by Jeffrey Kopp.

Kinney finally made her way on stage with her band members, Tressler on guitar, Batt on bass and Dustin Koester on the drums. The crowd, already electric from the previous performers, cheered at the sight of Kinney. Straight from her newly released album titled “This Is War,” Kinney performed songs such as “Molly” and “Berkeley’s Breathing.” During her song, “Take Home Julie,” she asked for the audience to sing along as loudly as possible. She also encouraged audience participation for her song, “Birthday Cake,” by having the crowd snap their fingers. Fans in the audience cheered as Emily performed two songs that her character Beth sang on “The Walking Dead,” covers of Waxahatchee’s “Be Good” and Tom Waits’ “Hold On.” Jeffries returned to the stage to play Billy the keyboard for “Be Good.” After her final song, the crowd began cheering “Encore!” prompting Emily to return and play “Rockstar.” Emily’s excitement and passion could most definitely be felt by everyone in the audience.

This Is War. Photo courtesy of Emily Kinney Music.
This Is War. Photo courtesy of Emily Kinney Music.

During the concert, Emily referred to the venue as a sort of “musical bubble” and declared Charlotte’s crowd as her best audience on tour. Emily’s musical and songwriting talents were put on full display at The Visulite Theatre. Both Adam Tressler and Jacob Jeffries also helped to deliver an incredible concert experience. Emily’s music can be found at the following link: http://emilykinneymusic.com/music/