Saturday, September 24, 2016

The X-Files Recap: "Pilot" (1x01)

The X-Files Season One, Episode One: Pilot
First aired: September 10th, 1993
Episode Location: Oregon, USA
Synopsis: Agent Dana Scully is instructed to debunk an FBI project labeled “The X-Files”, paranormal cases that have been reopened by Agent Fox Mulder. (from Netflix)

We start the episode with this chilling warning. See, this is why the pilot episode is, in this case, one of my favorite episodes. As we know, the first episode usually isn’t that great, and this episode definitely isn’t perfect, but wow. The eerie factor is there without being overly cheesy.

We’re given just enough time to consider the implications of that warning before being thrown into the episode, and what we see doesn’t help the unsettling feeling in our stomachs. A girl running through the forest. Wind and strange lights. A mysterious figure.
The next day, the girl is found dead and a police officer asks someone, “It’s happening again, isn’t it?”


At FBI Headquarters. Dana Scully arrives at Division Chief Scott Blevin’s office. They have a brief interview that gives us a general idea of her backstory. We find out that she was going to medical school but joined the FBI instead of becoming a doctor because she wanted to distinguish herself.

A man sits in the corner throughout the entire conversation, silently smoking a cigarette. This is our first look at the infamous Cigarette Smoking Man. Keep an eye out for him.

Blevin tells Scully that she is going to start working with Fox Mulder and The X-Files. Her goal, essentially, is to play along with Mulder but also write reports, debunking the mysterious files with science.


“Sorry, nobody down here but the FBI’s most unwanted.” And with those words, we have our introduction to Fox “Spooky” Mulder.

A historic moment (via The X-Files Wikia)

Our beloved children, who have only just met and have no ideas what adventures lay before them, discuss their first case - a young female, Karen Swenson, was found dead with strange marks in her back, which Mulder believes are of alien origin. Scully is classically skeptical. However, three of her classmates have also died under mysterious circumstances.

“Do you have a theory?” - Scully
“I have plenty of theories.” - Mulder

They fly to Oregon. Scully reads over the case while Mulder naps, and he continues napping while the plane begins shaking violently in an abnormal and frightening manner right before their descent. It’s definitely weird, but Mulder is unfazed, if not mildly smug, over the incident. He remains unfazed yet mildly smug when, while driving to meet the local Coroner, the radio randomly turns on and they hear strange, high pitched noises. Mulder stops the car at this point and marks a red “X” on the road with spray paint.

Once this incident is over, they head to a graveyard, where the Coroner and his assistant are waiting so they can exhume the body of Ray Soames, one of the three teenagers who died under mysterious circumstances, and also Karen Swenson’s classmates. They are rudely interrupted by a Doctor Nemman, who conducted the autopsies on all of the young adults that died...except for Karen, because, as he explains, he was out of town. Eventually he leaves, his daughter persuading him to go, and the agents and coroner resume their investigation. Here’s where things get weird. Ray Soames body appears to have been replaced with a strange, dare I say alien-like, shriveled up corpse. An autopsy reveals a small metal piece in the body's nose.

From here, Mulder and Scully decide to visit two of the living classmates - Peggy O’Dell and Billy Miles. They’ve been hospitalized for four years, and we find out that Ray had been hospitalized too for a year before he died. Unfortunately, the agents find Billy in what is referred to as a “waking coma” as a result of a car accident. Peggy was also in the car accident, and it left her in a wheelchair. She refuses to talk to Mulder and quickly becomes agitated. She begins having a nosebleed and falls - or throws herself - out of her wheelchair. As Mulder helps get Peggy back into her chair, he notices two marks on her back...just like what Karen had.

Realizing that all of the strangeness surrounding the deaths and the accident that Billy and Peggy were in happened near the woods, Mulder and Scully decide to go check out the location. They are stopped, however, by a man clearly involved with the law enforcement. He demands they leave the woods, claiming that it’s private property.

This is what Mulder should have said via GIPHY

So, they drive back to the motel. Scully shows Mulder a handful of dirt that she pocketed and suggests that the kids might have gotten involved in a cult. Mulder is distracted and glances down at his watch. Suddenly, there is a blinding flash of light, and the car stops. Mulder realizes, looking at his watch again, that what seemed like only a matter of a couple of seconds was actually nine minutes. He’s thrilled over this “lost time,” while Scully is in shock and insists that this couldn’t have happened because time is a constant throughout the universe.

It’s probably important to note that the car stopped almost exactly where the red “x” that Mulder made earlier was.

They finally get back to the motel, and things continue to grow stranger. The power goes out, and Scully goes to take a shower by candlelight to try and calm herself down...only to discover strange marks on her back. Mulder examines them and assures her that they are only bug bites, but it’s a heart-stopping moment anyway. I have to point out that I love that they had the power go out in this scene - having everything happen during a thunderstorm and by candlelight adds a whole other element of “creep” to the entire scene.

It is, of course, while we are still mildly spooked out from what just happened that Mulder shares some of his backstory with Scully. According to Mulder, his sister Samantha was abducted when he was 12. He says that he’s gone through regression hypnosis with Dr. Heitz Werber, and what he remembers led him to believe that Samantha was was kidnapped by aliens, which in turn seems to fuel his fascination with the X-Files. While he does say that he has “connections in Congress” that allow him to continue his work researching the X-Files, he knows that there are people in the government who want to stop his and accuses Scully of being part of their agenda. She denies this.

They receive a phone call where an anonymous woman tells Scully that Peggy O’Dell, the wheelchair bound girl in the hospital, is dead. The agents rush to the scene and find out that she was hit by a car. The driver tells them that she ran in front of the car, which is definitely strange considering that she supposedly couldn’t walk anymore. Scully examines the body and sees that Peggy’s watch stopped at the same time she and Mulder experienced the time loss. Mulder finds out that the lab where they had performed the autopsy on the strange body has been trashed and the body is missing. They return to the motel to find their rooms up in flames, all of the evidence gone except for the mysterious metal piece that Scully had found in the body’s nose. Fortunately, she had tucked it into her pocket before they left.

A young woman rushes over to the agents and asks for their protection. She is Theresa Nemman, the daughter of the doctor that performed the autopsies on the other dead teenagers. She is also the anonymous woman who made the call to tell them about Peggy. They take her to a diner, and she shares that her dad is indeed hiding things and that she has the same spots as the other teenagers. Her nose starts to bleed right before her dad and the same law enforcement officer that told Mulder and Scully to leave the forest enter the diner. They find out that the officer is Detective Miles....Billy’s dad.

Doctor Nemman insists on taking his daughter home, and the agents are unable to stop him. So Mulder and Scully decide to go to the graveyard, where they discover that the other two bodies have already been exhumed. Mulder has a revelation and reveals that he believes Billy Miles is the killer.

According to Mulder, all of the strange events seem to fit the profile for an alien abduction, especially the fact that Peggy was killed at the same time that the agents lost nine minutes. He says that he has a theory that the aliens were doing experiments on the kids, which explains the marks on their backs, but that it caused a genetic mutation, explaining the disfigured corpse of Ray Soames. He goes on to explain that he believes the aliens could have taken control of time itself and Billy, making him go to the forest and kill the other victims.

So the next day they visit Billy. The nurse insists that Billy has never left the hospital, but the dirt on his feet seems to prove otherwise. Unfortunately, while Scully theorizes that this is the same dirt that she found in the forest before, that sample of dirt is now gone thanks to her motel room catching on fire. They head back to the forest to get another sample, but when they get there, not only do they see Detective Mile’s car, but they also hear a frightened scream in the forest.

They run towards the direction of the scream, but Scully is knocked over by Detective Miles, who says he warned her to stay away. He then catches up to Mulder and holds him at gunpoint, but Mulder accuses him of knowing everything and tells him that his son is about to kill another person. They find Billy with an unconscious Theresa in his arms. Mulder wrestles the gun away from Detective Miles and fires it into the air, alerting Scully. Billy lifts Theresa towards a blinding light, which envelops everyone standing nearby. Scully watches from a distance.

As the light fades, Billy seems to “wake up” and doesn’t remember what happened. Theresa, surprisingly, is still alive.

Back at FBI headquarters, Billy goes through regression hypnosis with Dr. Werber while Blevins, Scully, and The Cigarette Smoking Man watch. He shares what he can remember from the alien abduction and admits that he’s afraid they’ll come back. Later, in Blevins office, he asks Scully about the case and whether she believes it or not. She seems to believe Mulder but is also hesitate to admit it. She gives them the metal nose piece and leaves. We see The Cigarette Smoking Man take the piece down to a secret room full of files and boxes. He stores the piece with other similar looking metal pieces and leaves.

(source: The X-Files Wikia)

End episode.

So, the episode sort of leaves you wondering what really happened. Watch the episode and let me know - what do you think? Was it aliens or something else?

Friday, September 23, 2016

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Reaction: "The Ghost" (4x01)

Spoilers! Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. contains PG-13 level content.

"Everyone gets attached to something eventually."
It's been a long summer filled with shows of its own, but the time has finally come for us to return to Marvel's world of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.! Welcome back to a world full of (In)humans, state-of-the-art technology, and... ghosts?! Let's get started!

My Favorite Moments

★ Can I just say... everything? This was a really solid season premiere and one of my favorites of the show thus far. The bar has been raised even higher this season, both in quality and danger, and I'm so excited to see where we're headed.

★ Seeing the team again. Every time an old favorite came on screen, I inwardly cheered. (Granted, they're all split up, but we'll get to that later.)

★ Ghost Rider. I mean, everything about him was perfect. At first I was terrified, and then I actually kind of... liked him? (Loved him? Too soon?) His conversation with Daisy about only killing people who deserved it gave me major flashbacks to Frank Castle in Daredevil. I think AOS is taking a step in the right direction with this nuanced villain. (is he a villain, though? Let's go with antihero.)

★ Can we talk about AIDA for a sec?

Listen: I'm really creeped out, but I'm also astonished. Mallory Jansen, who some of you might recognize from Galavant or Young & Hungry, deserves major props for the role. I actually believed she was a replicated human. Kudos.

Both AIDA and the technology involved in her creation are a major, major step for the MCU, and I'm 99.9% convinced that at least parts of it will bleed over into the movies. Life model decoys are a huge comic plot line and an incredibly convenient plot device. It's just brilliant, I tell you.

★ I'm really happy that Fitzsimmons are still together and committed to each other, though it looks like that might be changing soon. (Which I'm not at all thrilled about!)

Me to Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen--(source)

★ Yo-Yo's inclusion in this episode, especially her role in helping Daisy, was my favorite. I was really hoping she'd be back since she's one of my favorite characters from last season. At first I thought she might be Bobbi Morse, but I'm glad it was one of the Secret Warriors. (Fingers crossed Joey shows up soon too!) I also liked her flirtatious vibe with Mack. I ship it.

You had to know this gif was coming.--(source)

★ Everyone's character development was spot on. Coulson is once again an agent, which is interesting to see. Daisy is still relatable, Jemma's in a leadership role, and May still sticks her neck out for her team. Fitz and Mack are still themselves but more mature, and they've come so far from when Mack had to help Fitz through his memory loss.

Not only that, but I actually kind of like that everyone's not getting along all the time (as much as I also hate it). The tension between everyone at S.H.I.E.L.D. was palpable. This is definitely a new S.H.I.E.L.D., and I'm not sure at all what to expect.

★ Speaking of a new S.H.I.E.L.D., it's been speculated that AOS's move to the later time slot of 10 pm was so that they could show more adult content. I can definitely see that being true, at least from this episode. The violence was intense, though not much more intense than what we saw last season. But in general, the episode did have a darker edge to it. At this point, I like it. It'll be interesting to see if things get more gritty as time goes on. (Maybe ABC's Marvel show is taking notes from Netflix's Marvel shows...)

This is obviously the new relationship between AOS and the Netflix shows--(source)

★ The episode was well-written, well-plotted, well-acted, and well-paced. It was just really good.

Actual footage of me writing this post--(source)

My Least Favorite Moments

★ The fact that the team is apart is breaking my heart. (It's a poem.) But! I'm hoping things will be resolved eventually, and it is really interesting to see everyone scattered like this, so I actually do like it.

★ We're clearly delving into the paranormal here with the weird ghostly (ha, ironic) thing that possessed both a large group of men and one of our own team (!!!). It startled me a bit because I wasn't expecting it, but I'm morbidly looking forward to seeing where this leads. Does it count as a least favorite thing if I actually kind of liked it?

My favorite gif ever--(source)

★ There really wasn't much to dislike.

Favorite Quote

"So... You've got the devil inside you, too?" - Robbie Reyes



What did you think of "The Ghost"?

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Meet Cute: Non-Stop Dreamers

Have you ever wondered what would happen if two of your favorite characters met? Would they get along fabulously? Would they immediately despise each other? Would they fall in love and live happily for the rest of eternity?

Enter Meet Cute.

I was watching Tangled the other day, after listening to Hamilton on my way home from work, and it struck me--what if Rapunzel and Alexander Hamilton were to meet? I imagine it would go something like this:

     Rapunzel: Hi, I’m Rapunzel! Who are you?
     Hamilton: My name is Alexander Hamilton. It’s a pleasure to meet you. There’s a million things I      haven’t done.
     Rapunzel: Oh my gosh! Same!
     Both: But just you wait.
     *meaningful look and slow motion fist bump*

Seriously, though. Can you imagine it? They’re both idealistic and ambitious dreamers who grew up pretty friendless. They’d see each other and sense a kindred spirit. And then they’d be fast friends for the rest of their lives.

They wouldn’t fall in love, of course. They’re way too similar for that. Eliza and Flynn are definitely, 100% needed to keep them both grounded, lest their dreaming gets too out of hand and they’re both found building a rickety treehouse near the beach at four in the morning so that they could see the stars better. (Can you imagine their faces when they're found, hammer in hand?)

Except instead of a shirtless hunk, it's Eliza Hamilton. (source)
But together the four of them would have lovely picnics and adventures, and Flynn would regale them all with his heroic tales, and then Alex would spontaneously make up poems about Eliza and Rapunzel being badasses while Flynn keeps trying to add bandits and dragons until Alex punches him for interrupting. It’d be grand.

#noregrets #notevenone
Together, there would be nothing that Alexander Hamilton and Rapunzel couldn’t accomplish. They wouldn’t let anything (or anyone) stop them. Ever. She’s able to get along with anyone she meets, and he’s got the unwavering drive for success, so they would balance each other out in any and every scheme.

Whether they’re in America...

     Rapunzel: Who’s that? *points to those loyal to the King*
     Hamilton: They don’t like me.
     Rapunzel: Who’s that? *points to Jefferson and Madison*
     Hamilton: They don’t like me either.
     Rapunzel: Who’s that?? *points to the entirety of the Constitutional Convention*
     Hamilton: Let’s just assume, for the moment, that everyone here doesn’t like me.

...or running around the woods in the kingdom of Corona…

     Hamilton: Come on! It's a great idea!
     Rapunzel: I don’t know.
     Rapunzel: We could.
     Rapunzel: Maybe.
     Rapunzel: But we probably shouldn’t.
     Rapunzel: What could really happen?
     Rapunzel: It’s not a good idea.
     Rapunzel: It’s not a bad idea.
     Hamilton: If you stand for nothing, girl, what’ll you fall for?

...they would complement each other in all the best ways, egging each other on until they were both successful at whatever they had set their minds to that day.

And plus they would just sing duets about all their adventures. That would be seriously the best movie ever. Somebody make it happen. Please.

What kind of shenanigans do you think
these two would get up to?
Let me know in the comments!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

10 Books to Add to Your Fall Reading List

Autumn is just around the corner, and I can't think of a better time to snuggle up with a good book. (Okay, I can. Every single day is a good time to snuggle up with a book.) Which is perfect, since there are tons of fun new books arriving in bookshelves and libraries this fall! Here are some of the books I'm most looking forward to reading in the next coming months. So grab your favorite hot drink, maybe a blanket or a hoodie, and dive deep into one of these fantastic reads!

(All images link back to Goodreads so you can add them to your bookshelf, read early reviews, or find the full synopses. Don't forget The Fangirl Initiative has our own Goodreads group! Join us to discuss upcoming reads, ultimate classics, and more!)

A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir
Release date: August 30, 2016

Okay, I confess I've already read this book. And it swept me away. It's the second book in An Ember in the Ashes series, and it definitely lived up to my expectations. It's a bloody dystopian, high-fantasy series that will draw you in with a fantastic plot and breathtaking writing. If you haven't read An Ember in the Ashes, pick it up (Seriously! Go get it right now!) and let yourself melt into a world full of danger, darkness, and a little bit of hope. These books do contain a lot of violence and dark themes, but the author captures the characters and setting that leaves me breathless. I'm excited that there will be two more books coming in the future!

The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee
Release date: August 30, 2016

I've heard good and bad about this book, but mainly good. The story is set 100 years in the future where anything and everything is possible, but you have to want it enough. It follows a few characters that each have something they want and also something to lose in this futuristic world. It sounds interesting to say the least, and I'm curious about the world-building, so I'm adding it to my TBR pile.

Tales of the Peculiar by Ransom Riggs
Release date: September 3, 2016

If you haven't read Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, you should. Right now. Go. Especially before the movie release later this month. If you have, then you don't want to miss out on this newest collection of stories related to the peculiar world. It matches up with some of the tales mentioned in the Peculiar trilogy, so if you liked those books, this one will definitely be worth your time.

Pottermore Presents by J.K. Rowling
Release date: September 6, 2016

Pottermore Presents is a collection of short stories about various characters and events from the Harry Potter books. They're basically an extension of the Hogwarts stories, giving more depth and details to the wizarding world. If you like Harry Potter at all, add these to your list. (Wait, you mean you haven't already bought them?)

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
Release date: September 27, 2016

Ever since I finished Six of Crows, I've been biting my nails in agony for the sequel to be released. Finally, finally, the book-release month has arrived, and we're only a week away from being able to find out what happens next! Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom are set in a Slavic-inspired fantasy world and follow the story of six unlikely heroes (aka criminals) as they try to complete impossible heists full of danger and secrets.

The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan
Release date: October 4, 2016

I've been a long-time fan of Rick Riordan, so it comes as no surprise that I'm anticipating his newest novel: The Hammer of Thor. Another second book, this one continues the story of Magnus Chase, who is the son of a Norse god. If you can't tell by the title, Thor's Hammer plays a part in this tale, and I'm pretty sure Magnus is going to try stop Ragnarok from happening. That sounds exciting!

Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Release date: October 18, 2016

I'll admit that Illuminae wasn't my favorite book ever, but it still swept me away into outer space. I am definitely looking forward to the second book in the trilogy, Gemina. It'll follow the same layout as Illuminae with a modge-podge conglomeration of transcripts, files, emails, and chat messages to tell the story. I think this kind of story-telling is unique, and I hope the story is even better in the next installment!

The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
Release date: November 1, 2016

I'm not one for contemporaries or romance-esque novels, but this one caught my eye. (The cover is just gorgeous and the behind-the-scenes of how it was made is awesome.) The story is about two people from two very different places in the world (culturally, socially, etc.) that happen to meet and fall for each other. The main idea behind it seems to discuss destiny and all the moments in life coming to a specific time and place for a reason. I think I'll give this a shot!

Heartless by Marissa Meyer
Release date: November 8, 2016

After finishing The Lunar Chronicles, I vowed I would read anything Marissa Meyer publishes. So far, I've kept that vow because she hasn't released anything yet! But in November, she'll publish a new book, Heartless, that is a prequel novel to Alice in Wonderland and explores the back story of the Queen of Hearts. Shut up and take my money!

International Iron Man Vol. 1 by Brian Michael Bendis
Release date: November 8, 2016

International Iron Man is a new comic book series that follows Tony Stark after he learns he was adopted as a baby. While some of the single issues have already released, this volume collects the first seven together in one book. It's a story of discovery as Tony journeys across the world to try to figure out who he is and uncover secrets of the Marvel universe. As a fan of comics and a fan of Marvel, I think this is one comic series that is a must-read!

What books are on your autumn to-read list?