Monthly Archives: December 2011

Bacon is a vegetable, right? (Vegetable Casserole with Bacon)

  • 1 cup frozen mixed vegetables
  • 1 bag (16 oz) frozen spinach
  • 1/2 lb cream cheese, cut into thin slices
  • 1 cup artichoke hearts. (I buy them marinated in oil and vinegar and give them a quick rinse)
  • 1 can condensed cream of chicken soup
  • 1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 8 strips of bacon
  • 1 oz cheddar cheese, torn into penny-sized chunks
  • 2 tbsp ricotta cheese
  • 1 tsp grated parmesan cheese

Cook the bacon. In a large bowl, combine two cans of soup, curry powder, and all but 1 tsp of the cream. In a casserole dish, layer, in order, vegetables, spinach, cream cheese, artichokes. Pour the soup mixture over this. Tear the bacon into pieces and layer over the soup. Dot the top with cheddar and ricotta. Drizzle remaining cream over and sprinkle with parmesan.
Cook at 350°F for 1 hour.

I’m Strong to the Finnich… (Creamy Spinach)

Good for resolving digestive issues resulting from living off of vending machine food for a week.

  • 1 14-oz can (Don’t judge me) chopped spinach, drained
  • 8 oz Cream of Mushroom Soup (Prepare from 1 can condensed, following directions. Use half)
  • 2 oz Jarlsberg cheese, minced
  • 2 Tbsp heavy cream
  • 1/4 of a large onion, diced
  • 2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
  • Pinch curry (I used Mohini Indian Fusion Vegetable Blend)
  • Salt to taste

Spray a small skillet with non-stick cooking spray. Cook onions for a few minutes. Add spinach, soup, stir. Add Jarlsberg. Cook until spinach starts to stick to the pan, stirring often. Add cream, Parmesan. Sprinkle with curry. Stir. Reduce heat to low and cover.
Go pick up the baby and sit in the recliner with him on your chest. Try not to fall asleep as you comfort the baby. Right before nodding off, ask your wife to turn off the burner and stir. Put the baby to bed.

Fifty Words of Wisdom to My Son on the Occasion of His Birth

Hello little one. You’re just sort of starting out now, and I don’t want to lay anything too heavy on you. I’m full of joy, of course, and also other emotions not all of which I quite understand yet. And there’s a whole great big world out there for you to get to know, and your days are going to be full of play and adventure and learning and love and eating and sleeping (Those in particular quite a lot at first), and I can’t wait to get in on that.
But being a parent also brings along with it a pretty weighty sense of responsibility. And so, in the months leading up to our formal introduction, I put together this non-exhaustive list. I plan to teach you these things as we go and put them all in their proper context, but just in case, what with all the flu shots and teething and kindergarten and vaccinations and driver’s licenses and prom and college and working and marriage you’re going to be doing, I miss a couple of these, I wanted to have them all written down here in one place so you can go back and read them yourself once you’ve learned how to read.

  1. Always cut the other guy some slack. You don’t know what kind of a
    day he’s having. Maybe his mom just died. And then you’d be a jerk.
  2. It does not matter that the two words are etymologically
    unrelated. When you say “niggardly”, it will hurt the feelings of some
    people. Now that you know this, if you use it anyway, you’re
    intentionally hurting them. Don’t do that, it makes you a jerk.
  3. Don’t hurt other people when you can avoid it. When you can’t
    avoid it, don’t try to convince yourself that they deserved it.
  4. Intent isn’t magic.
  5. If someone demands you have a completely logically consistent
    moral system with no room for exceptions or mitigating circumstances,
    he’s trying to trick you into committing to a system that can be
    manipulated to grind down on those who are already at a disadvantage.
  6. If you know it’s going to hurt someone and you do it anyway, you
    did too mean to hurt them.
  7. Don’t demand someone justify their pain to you. You don’t get to
    tell someone that they shouldn’t be upset over a racial slur or a
    misogynistic joke.
  8. From the day you were born, you were better off than 90% of all
    the people who have ever lived, and the overwhelming likelihood is
    that nothing will ever happen so terrible that you won’t live your
    entire life better off than 70% of them. Think about that if you’re
    ever tempted to say “Sorry, I got problems enough of my own without
    being expected to help you out.”
  9. Every time you tell a racist joke, there’s a closet racist
    somewhere nodding in approval and thinking “Yep, there’s a guy who
    tells it like it is.” Every time you tell a rape joke, there’s a
    rapist somewhere nodding in approval and thinking “Yep, there’s a guy
    who tells it like it is.” Still seem funny?
  10. You can’t push a rope. F=MA. Manhole covers are round so they
    don’t fall in. Every engineering problem you will ever encounter can
    be solved by derivation from these three laws. But not efficiently.
  11. No matter how dark it gets, remember: In this place and at this
    time, there is someone right here, right now, who loves you. No matter what.
  12. There is at least one person who is worse off than you are right
    now. Don’t make things worse for them
  13. It’s tempting, but the thing you feel at the misfortune of others
    isn’t real joy. It’s an addictive joy-like form of
    unhappiness. There’s a reason the Germans needed to invent a whole new
    word for it. Feeling it prevents you from feeling true joy.
  14. Test everything. Hold on to the good.
  15. Don’t be a bully.
  16. Permission is the bare minimum you must have. What you really
    want, though, is an invitation.
  17. When someone tells you that you’re hurting them, don’t try to
    explain why the thing you’re doing shouldn’t be hurtful. Stop
    hurting them
  18. After the second round of Eenie-Meenie-Miney-Moe, the fact that you
    want to keep going in the hopes of getting a different answer means
    that you actually know which one you want to pick.
  19. On second thought, “Eenie-Meenie-Miney-Moe” has an unfortunate
    racist backstory. Use this one instead:

    Ippy Dippy My Space-Shippy
    On a course so true,
    Past Neptune and Pluto’s Moon
    The one I choose is you

  20. Pay attention to your surroundings and what you’re doing. Especially when driving.
  21. Someday, someone is going to say “Oh yeah, if you’re so tolerant,
    you have to tolerate my intolerance!” That person is a
    douchebag. Tell him so.
  22. However tempting you may find it, other people are people. Do not
    forget that. Do not challenge that. Do not abide others to challenge
  23. There is no such thing as a neutral stance on racism, misogyny,
    homophobia, xenophobia, islamophobia, or whatever other kind of
    bigotry is popular when you’re reading this. Either you believe
    everyone is a full person deserving of full rights, equality, and
    basic human dignity, or you don’t. And if you don’t, you’re a bigot
    and that’s the end of it.
  24. Own your decisions. This is even more important than making the
    right ones. If someone asks you why you did the important things you
    did in your life, “It just kinda happened,” is a lousy answer.
  25. If you think a wire may be live, touch it with the back
    of your hand. Better yet, don’t touch it at all.
  26. Getting the thing that isn’t really what you want, but is cheaper
    than the thing you want is hardly ever a good deal.
  27. People remember you fondly when you make a point of being nice to
  28. Hold a peppermint patty up to your ear and break it in half some
    time. The sound it makes is really neat.
  29. Learn all the words to the songs you like to sing along to. The
    other people in the car will thank you.
  30. By virtue of your sex, your skin color, the language you speak,
    the place you live, you carry around a knapsack of privileges that
    other people don’t have. They’re not necessarily bad things, but
    remember that these are privileges, and that not everyone has
    them. There are things you will take for granted as your god-given
    right that other people can’t do. If you walk down a street alone at
    night and are attacked, no one’s going to say “Well, he shouldn’t have
    been out unescorted.” If you fail a math test, no one’s going to say
    “Yeah, those people suck at math.”
  31. Contrariwise, there will be things other people have to do to keep
    body and soul together that cross the line of societal
    acceptability. Don’t do those things yourself, but have some empathy
    for people who have to.
  32. Logic merely enables one to be wrong with authority
  33. Tipping is not optional. If the service was terrible, you leave a
    tip, and you also complain to the manager. Waitstaff are paid below
    minimum wage by an amount that assumes you will tip them, so when you
    don’t, you are stiffing them on their wages. Yes, I know this
    is a terrible system and we should not let people be paid below the
    minimum wage on the assumption of tipping. That does not excuse you
    for not tipping, and anyone who thinks they’re striking a blow
    against the system is an asshole.
  34. No means no.
  35. Contrariwise, yes means yes.
  36. Love isn’t a license to hurt someone.
  37. Modesty is only a virtue when it’s deserved. Don’t play down what
    you’re really capable of.
  38. People who insist you should always finish what you start don’t
    start enough things. Hardly any that are really worthwhile.
  39. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
  40. Don’t tell strangers that they should smile more.
  41. Always use protection.
  42. The poor do not exist for you to become a better person by giving
    to them.
  43. If you find yourself apologizing in advance, you’ve still got time
    to not do the thing you’re apologizing for.
  44. Sometimes, you have to break the rules. But if you’re not willing
    to face the penalty if you get caught, then this was not one of those
  45. This world we live in isn’t some kind of immutable law of nature
    that was inevitably destined to be as it is. It is the result of
    choices made by a lot of people over a long time. It may be daunting,
    but this world is your world, and ultimately you get to decide what
    that means. The world is, at any moment, what you say it is. So say.
  46. Sometimes in life, you are going to be in a position where there
    isn’t an option that doesn’t harm someone. Take responsibility when it
    happens. Don’t try to come up with a reason that the person who got
    shafted somehow deserved what they got. You made a choice, and if you
    can’t deal with that, then you made the wrong choice.
  47. All things in moderation. When I left for college, your grandfather
    took me aside, and instead of warning me off of alcohol and drugs and
    women, he gave me just that one piece of advice.
  48. Be passionate when it’s called for. There is no virtue in
    being moderate about the defense of justice, of liberty, of equality.
  49. Don’t blame the victim. Ever.
  50. Do not side with the strong against the weak. End of story. If
    you’re ever unsure, if you’re ever unclear on a question like “Should
    we give tax cuts to the rich, or jobs programs to the poor?” or
    “Shouldn’t we protect the rights of rich straight white male
    christians to oppress poor black lesbian pagan women as their religion
    requires?”, you just say to yourself “Do not side with the strong
    against the weak,” and then, do the thing that doesn’t side you with
    the strong against the weak. Even if it seems dumb. Even if you’ve got
    a good, sound, logical reason for why the weak are in the wrong in
    this particular case. Do not side with the strong against the weak.

I love you, son.

Our Last, Best Hope for Kool-Aid (Captain Power: “Final Stand”)

Hello and welcome once again to A Mind Occasionally Voyaging. My cohost is Sherlock Holmes, our topic is Post Apocalyptic Children’s Television, and tonight’s victim is “Final Stand”, episode three (or four) of…

Captain Power

Before we get started tonight, a couple of kudos to the post-apocalyptic world. I spent a good chunk of last week rummaging through for web original series that might make for good watching. In the post-apocalypse department, here’s what I found:

  • After Judgment: Sort of a spin on Christian End-Times fiction, this is a show set after a “Judgment” based loosely on the 19th century idea of a premillennial “rapture” in which God removes the virtuous before destroying the Earth. In this world, though, God has elected not to visit plague and disaster on the unsaved, but rather has just sort of let the universe wind down. The Earth has stopped spinning, no one is born, no one dies, everything is just sort of more of the same forever and ever. Well, except for some creepy guys in motorcycle leathers who occasionally show up, grab someone, and take them away, never to be seen again. The story is about your average ragtag group who band together to try to find a prophecied back-door into heaven.
  • Day Zero: This one only has one episode so far, but it’s basically a Zombie Apocalypse (These are Honorary Zombies — radiation-afflicted mutants altered by the fallout of a nuclear war, rather than the walking dead). The eight survivors are a ragtag mismatched group who, y’know, have to do that whole surviving thing. Did make me scream “SCIENCE DOESN’T WORK THAT WAY!” a few times at such ideas as radiation having “killed off their natural immunity to crystal meth,” allowing street drugs to be used as one-hit-kill weapons against the mutants, but fun enough so far.
  • Exile: Another zombie apocalypse, this time a legit one. The first (and so far only) episode introduced some interesting characters, and then killed them all. So.
  • Necroland: Another zombie apocalypse. This one was too disjointed to for me to really have much of an opinion yet, but does feature a foul-mouthed ten year old girl killing zombies, so there’s that.
  • The Black Dawn: This one is a plague apocalypse of some sort. Though there’s a whole season of episodes, I’ve only seen one so far, so no opinion yet.
  • Zomblogalypse: This one’s a lot of fun. The Zombie Eschaton as told by bloggers.

I’ve got a few more of these in my queue, so look forward to more words about them in the future.

One thread that runs through a lot of these web serials is that the influence of Lost really informs the storytelling. Now, I’m sure Lost is a good show, but I really don’t look forward to a generation in which every “castawayAs I mentioned back in my review of Captain Power Episode 1, I view post-apocalyptic drama as being a one of several particularly science-fictiony flavors of the literary tradition of Robinson Crusoe: stories which are largely about the challenge of survival in a hostile world, cut off from the protagonist’s home culture.“-type science fiction drama has to ape it any more than I particularly like the way that The Road Warrior prompted every post-apocalyptic earth for the next 20 years to look like the Australian Outback.

SH: I don’t see what you’re complaining about. I didn’t find the plot of Lost to be impenetrable in the slightest. Now, could you pass the cocaine? I am dangerously close to coming down.

So let’s rewind for a bit to the days before you were contractually obligated to frame your castaway story as a series-long mind-fuck ontological mystery, and see how things were in the world of the future-as-viewed-from-the-Eighties.

Final Stand

Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future
Episode 4 (or 3): Final Stand
By J. Michael Straczynski

This one is going to be Tank’s character focus episode, which is nice because we’re four reviews in yet, and I can count the number of lines from regulars who aren’t Cap or Hawk on my fingers. We open with some Bio-Mechs emerging through the inexplicable fog into… What looks like basically the same abandoned factory as every other indoor fight scene so far.

The Putties Mechs wander around, looking for the Future Force, who have cleverly hidden behind and under things, until one of them scans what looks like the air cleaner off a Chevy Vega with his The future will be apocalyptic, but well-labeled.DYMO label maker Deluxe, revealing inside the source of the “Vwoop vwoop” noise that has been driving me crazy for this scene so far. Inside the air cleaner is what looks to be… How are you? Because _I_'m a potato.GLaDOS?

I guess GLaDOS is supposed to be some kind of fake bait transmitter thing, because the commander Bio-Mech immediately announces (say it with me everyone), “It's a trap!It’s a trap!

SH: Excellent piece of deduction on the part of the robotic gentleman.

Hawk (For we can not have a scene without Hawk) and Scout decide to press their advantage by… Immediately revealing their position. Scout jumps out in front of the mechs and, in what seems to be a radically misguided Jayne Mansfield impression, says “Looking for me, boys?”

Oh Yeah!

After few exchanges of laser-fire, Tank decides that he needs to get on the Bizarrely Inappropriate Impressions bandwagon by performing what is going to be his major character shtick for the rest of the series: channelling the Kool-Aid Man.

Tank is such a badass that he manages to Chuck Norris ain't got shit on Tankdecapitate a mech with a single backhand, and his weapon is so powerful that its video toaster laser effects make a sort of “Skoom!” sound effect instead of the usual “Pwoosh!”. He even wears an ammo belt even though none of the weapons we will ever see take any kind of ammunition (Except Hawk’s nerf launcher). It’s Hawk’s time to shine, and he does, sending dozens of mechs to meet their maker, including one who he only clips across the hip, which staggers to the ground, then struggles back to its feet, and sort of stands there Please no, I have a family!quaking with terror until Tank fires off the coup de grace. Our hero, everyone!

Now, I know that the Bio-Mechs are meant to be soulless automata, without even the capacity for independent thought and self-awareness of a Warlord Bio-Dread like Soaron, and that is why it is okay that they get slaughtered by the dozens without our heroes ever showing them even a hint of compassion.

But here’s the thing. Soaron is a (poorly-rendered) CGI robot. He looks funny. he moves funny. He speaks in clipped sentences and his delivery is over-the-top. Overmind does the detached-psychotic-bedroom-voice thing that HAL 9000 taught us to fear in computers. Lord Dread has a human face, but he’s barely mobile — so far, we haven’t seen him so much as rise from his chair — and he looks like what you’d get if the Borg assimilated Darth Vader. And he’s a genocidal lunatic.

The bio-mechs, on the other hand, are actors in suits. Stunt men, no doubt, who are doing a lot of very physical acting. And they don’t move like robots. They move like people. They bump into things. They interact with their environment in a physical sort of way. They duck behind things. They stagger. They get clipped across the hip by a bazooka-laser, fall down, and try to get back up. When they die, their bodies twitch and they let out little rasping, rattling death sounds. When the last two mechs try to escape, they don’t look like robots attempting an orderly strategic withdraw: they look like routed soldiers who are running for their lives.

That mech Tank shoots is staggering, shaking. I don’t imagine that was intentional; just something the stuntman did naturally because he is a human being acting out a very physical scene, and his own humanity shines through. And this is kind of awkward in your Ultra Disposable mecha-mook. Because when Tank head-shots an injured mech that is literally quaking with terror, my sympathies ends up on the wrong side. And when Scout guns down two retreating mechs, then calls out “You’re out!” in what seems to be a weak Rex Barney impression, it just seems callous.

Undoubtedly, this would be a lot easier today — in a big-budget exercise, the Mechs would likely be CG themselves. Ironically, it’s possible that if they did a modern re-imagining, Soaron, being a major character who has to interact with other characters, might be the only one of Dread’s forces not to be computer generated.

Scout dispatches the last two mechs as they desperately try to escape, and claims their prize from the mech corpses: a Bio-Dread transmitter (Or receiver, as it will be called in the next scene). We switch to the jumpship, where Cap makes his log entry: Stardate 47-7.1. They are on their way to “Sector 7, grid co-ordinates 9 by 5,” a place which “Had a name once, but doesn’t any more.” You know, if Cap has been waxing poetic about how much has been lost in every journal entry for the past 15 years, Ken Burns will be rather spoiled for choice when he goes to pick out good voice overs for his documentary on the Metal Wars.

As I mentioned before, I have no idea how their sector numbering works, but according to the Sherman Oaks, 2147map Hawk pulls up, this nameless sector is Sherman Oaks, 2011Sherman Oaks, in Los Angeles. Which seems strange given that back in episode 1, San Francisco was in sector 19, and the military installation that we tentatively placed on the east coast in “The Abyss” was either Sector 14 or Sector 42, depending on who you ask, and in “Wardogs”, we supposed that Sector 7 was in Canada. But perhaps I’m reading too much into the map, because I think it’s the same map every time someone pulls up a map screen in this show.

It will take them about an hour to evacuate the civilians from Sector 7, which may not be enough time, as their captured receiver has revealed that a Bio-Dread has already been dispatched to digitize the locals. Now, based on all the clues, can you figure out which Bio-Dread has been sent to Sector 7?

SH: Based on a careful analysis of the facts of the case, I notice that there is a scuff on the left side of your shoe, indicative of some sort of back injury that causes you to favor one side. If I factor this in with the presumed geography of sectors 14, 7, 19 and 7, taking into account the theory we previously established that a date of 47-7.1 corresponds to the first of July, and interpolating from the weather patterns of Los Angeles, assuming current projections of global warming, but also accounting for a drastic reduction in pollution because of the wholesale destruction of humanity and infrastructure, I think I can conclude that the Bio-Dread best suited for this mission would be… Soaron.

You just said that because he’s the only Bio-Dread we’ve ever seen.

SH: Elementary deduction.

Well, this turns out to be a fortunate move for our heroes, since the immutable laws of the universe say that Soaron can not appear in an episode without a dogfight ensuing. This time, as Pilot keeps the Jumpship out of sight, Hawk launches a pair of guided missiles at Soaron. Soaron dogfights one of the missiles, finally destroying it, but is caught off guard when the Jumpship takes a shot at him — the shot misses, but Soaron, having turned to return fire, receives a Actually, and this one just blows my mind, he isn’t hit by the missile. The missile sort of… Shoots him. And then he explodes. The future is WEIRD.guided missile suppository and crashes, Soaron Injuredhurt bad enough that we may assume it will take him almost exactly one hour to self-repair, plus or minus the amount of complications that will arise before they can start evacuating people.

We cut back to Volcania, where Dread orders Soaron to — you guessed it — do exactly what they had already established he was going to do. Repair himself, then go to sector 7 and digitize all the humans. Then Overmind tells Dread that he’s got some more artifacts from “Tauron”. Oh Holy Crap! I just figured it out! This is actually a prequel to Battlestar Galactica and the Bio-Dreads are really Cylons! This explains EVERYTHING well actually nothing. Oh well. It was a nice thought. We only get a passing glimpse of the artifacts, but they look for all the world like Directive 1: Serve the Public TrustRoboCop and Nimon-from-Doctor-Who action figures. They will not come up again after the next scene, where Dread looks at one for a moment, then sets it on fire. Symbolism!

Cap powers on (We won’t see them use the pedestal back at base in this episode or the next one. For a show that so often reuses little set-pieces to show off particular things over and over, they seem bizarrely averse to showing the big flashy version of the transformation sequence) and they exit the Jumpship to survey the devastated-village set. Cap quickly identifies the devastation as, “Marauders. Hit and run. Take what they can and burn the rest. It’s bad enough we have Bio-Dreads to worry about. But looters… Humans, preying on other humans.”

SH: Someone should thank him for that exposition. It might have been difficult for the audience to sort it out otherwise. Unless, I suppose, they were to actually look around, or pay attention in the preceding scene when we saw one of these marauder fellows peeking out at the heroes from hiding.

Yeah. And for all I respect Tim Dunigan, frankly, Patrick Stewart would have a hard time keeping this exposition-heavy purple prose from going over like a lead nerf missile, and Tim Dunigan is no Patrick Stewart. Tank adds, “Marauders hit ze place hahd, Keptin. Throw everybody out.”

Hawk is more optimistic: “At least it keeps them out of Dread’s hands.” Well, given the extended rape metaphor in episode 1, I suppose he might have a point. Better to be assaulted, robbed, possibly murdered or sold into slavery than to be digitized, right? Ick.

What do you mean my outfit looks ridiculous?

The local Marauder, a burly, sort of vaguely Or maybe Irish. Or maybe he just smokes way too much. His voice is all over the place.Australian-sounding guy named Kasko, shouts a taunting warning before stepping out of a ruined building. He’s played by Charles Seixas, an actor about whom I have been able to discover absolutely nothing at all other than his filmography. He’s hamming it up as a middle-aged-punk type, with the mohawk and the leather, sort of like an evil version of Blank Reg from Max Headroom. But much more like a character lifted directly from The Road Warrior. The major point here is that he’s a Punk Rock Type, which is basically ’80s shorthand for “This man is a dangerous and unsavory element from a dystopian future”. Tank recognizes Kasko by his voice, and identifies him as having “Came out of the same place I did. Genetically engineered. A freak.” “Like you!” Kasko accuses. “Like me,” Tank repeats, impassively.

Kasko has some survivors imprisoned nearby with a time bomb, and offers to trade them for a chance at unarmed single combat. Cap is unwilling, but Tank insists that it’s the only way, what with their limited time and Kasko being a psychopath. So he strips down, takes off his Tron underwear, comes out of the Jumpship to fight according to “Street Rules”, which is a lot like Navy Rules: First one to die, loses.

Kasko takes an early lead by Oh Yeah!pushing a brick wall over onto Tank. Since they don’t especially trust Kasko to keep up his end of the bargain, Scout is busy trying to rebuild the walkie-talkie Kasko had used earlier to talk to his hostages then smashed and discarded. He explains the procedure of tracking the signal by interfacing with the crystal in a ridiculous fake spy-movie German accent, which Cap finds about as endearing as I do. Is stupid voices going to be Scout’s thing now? I do not like this thing.

It's a trap!

We cut around a few times, showing Soaron repair himself, Cap and Company track the hostages, and Tank playing a dangerous game of cat and mouse with Kasko before getting caught in an incredibly obvious trap when Kasko offers to just give him the detonator for the bomb, and walks out onto an unstable bit of floor, which he Oh Yeah!promptly falls through.

SH: Or, if you are observing carefully, gets lifted out over and lowered through, presumably by invisible guide wires.

Indubitably. Kasko runs downstairs to kick and taunt Tank some more, preparing to detonate the bomb early just to be an asshole. At the same time, Cap and Company find the prisoners. Tank begs Kasko to let the hostages go, as he’s got what he wants. Kasko accuses Tank of having gone soft and holding back, to which Tank responds by Oh Yeah!kicking Kasko through a wall.

They fight some more while Cap tries desperately to diffuse the bomb. Then, just as things look tense, with about a minute and a half left…

Cap opens the door and lets the hostages out. Wait. A minute and a half? Who diffuses the bomb with a minute and a half left on the clock?

Kasko hits Tank in the face with a cinderblock, retrieves the detonator, and declares, “You lose!”, but Cap barges in and declares the hostages rescued, entreating Tank to come with them before Soaron gets there. Tank, in a move that will surprise you if you haven’t watched this show at all yet, turns to not be at all hurt from a cinderblock to the face, gets up, decks Kasko, and leaves, shouting “Quick! Let’s hide!” I just want to point out that this sounds absolutely adorable the way he says it. This six-foot-seven bear of a man with a Scandinavian accent, all covered in sweat and brick dust, saying “Quick! Let’s hide!”

Punkachu! Final Attack!

Without his armor, Tank wouldn’t stand a chance against Soaron, and Kasko is just enough of a dick to not take his defeat like a man. He breaks cover and shouts “Captain Power is over there!” to Soaron. Soaron, of course, doesn’t care what an organic like Kasko has to say, and instead shouts “Obliterate!” then digitizes him, which I assume is to spare us the moral diciness of having Tank kill a human, even if the human is a dangerous psychopath. That said, let’s not forget that episode 1 has established that digitization is a metaphor for rape. So don’t get too much schadenfreude out of this. Which puts us in the uncomfortable position of cheering for Kasko’s defeat as it comes in the form of what is essentially a metaphor for corrective rape. Yeah. I feel a bit soiled now.

It gets worse. After digitizing Kasko, Soaron throws his head back and lets out a sort of vaguely orgasmic howl. Gross. The heroes take advantage of Soaron’s post-digital distraction to break cover, shoot the Bio-Dread, and make a break for it. Cap has to fight his way back to the jumpship, which should be a really tense scene, but it doesn’t really compare well to the mech fight from the beginning of the episode. Soaron fights rarely do — in this case, we cut back and forth between Cap running around a ruined city set and shots of Soaron, framed by nothing but sky, shooting. It makes the fight seem disconnected, and that takes a lot away from the drama. As the jumpship flies off, apparently having decided that the audience has forgotten that whole “It’ll take three trips and an hour of travel-time to evacuate these people” thing, Soaron caps off an episode full of weird impressions by adding his own: he channels Dr. Claw, and shouts, “I'll get you Gadger, next time!Next time!”

In the jumpship, Tank talks about his escape from A street gang? A genetic engineering lab? Undersea colony? Our last, best hope for punk rock? Who can say? This is all we’ll ever hear about it.Babylon 5, and laments that he’d thought he’d put his violent past behind him. In a scene that I think woulda benefitted from the Full House Music, Cap comforts Tank with a speech about how, sure, he used brute force to solve his problems, and sure, maybe he enjoyed beating up Kasko, but it’s all okay because he used his violence to help people rather than to harm people. Which is an unusual moral lesson, but I think it’s kind of cool for that: a sort of dystopian moral for a dystopian world.

That’s “Final Stand”. Next time is “Pariah”, which has a bit of focus on Pilot, but is basically another character focus episode for Hawk. I told you the writers really liked Hawk.

The following paragraphs talk about gender issues in the media. If that sort of thing is not your bag, hop down until you see the image of Boston Red Sox Manager Eddie Kasko.

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