The Gifted Season 1 Review – A Strong Start

And I want more!

It deserves more. The series is set at a time when the X-Men are gone and when a significant number of mutants are living alongside humans in what started as an obviously strained civil relationship.

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Image via Giphy

And in a society where ‘the gifted’ are considered dangerous, criminals even, it’s only a matter of time before you see this group of individuals rise and challenge the status quo.

More than that of a series that showcases unique superhero skills and cool fighting scenes, The Gifted is a story of family, self-acceptance, and respect. It presented really well that one thing a lot of us can relate to – the desire to prove ourselves and just how much are we willing to sacrifice for it.

What I like 

Mutant Underground Leadership

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With special mention to Polaris (Emma Dumont) and Johnny (Blair Redford). As the known leaders of their underground network, both displayed authority and influence like no other in the show. But setting their top-grade skills aside, their characters are also few of the most humane on their bunch.

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I also think Emma and Blair were excellent picks for their respective roles.

The Von Struckers

For a family that’s been through some sudden, surprising revelations even on the pilot episode, the Von Struckers fairly stood their ground for better and for worse. Reed and Cait (Stephen Moyer and Amy Acker) showed admirable resiliency that helped even out the stark differences of their children, Andy and Lauren (Percy Hynes – White and Natalie Alyn Lind)

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Speaking of Andy, I’d say he’s easily secured the special spot as my favorite character in the show, but I’ll save the details for another post.

Together they did really well amidst everything. And apparently, there’s something more to their lineage than just random luck.

Plot

Good characters will still be bad unless the story delivery is good. And I’m glad this show didn’t waste their fine cast’s potential. The narrative was clear, backstory of each character, though still shady, were decent. Besides, we can use some mystery.

The focus of the story which revolves around the opposite sides of humans and mutants provided the necessary tension to propel the story forward.

Something quite lacking

Backstory

Several things were left unanswered and there were still missing pieces of the puzzle. Given that we have a bunch of unique characters on scene, it’s vital that each is provided with their own story to tell. This makes them relatable –  understandable.

While the main characters were given decent foundation for why they became who they were, there remains a significant portion of their identities that are left to be discovered. This isn’t totally a bad thing, though. Apparently, a 2nd season’s on the way and it’ll probably set things clearer by then.

Antagonists

Namely, the Sentinel Services. They’re the supposed ‘good guys’ who are tasked to maintain peace in the community, but whose real purpose is to capture mutants and lock them up in a cell, justified by the premise that mutants bring harm to the general public.

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While they do have the motive and logistics to up their game, they did feel lacking. The ongoing project at Trask was promising, but its real potential is left to be tapped.


For a series that features a lot of characters with distinct skills, The Gifted pretty much introduced everyone well. There were minimal screen time for some, but it didn’t reduce their significance in the story.

Writing and delivery was consistent, which makes it an easy story to follow and a highly likeable one!

In a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the highest, I’m giving The Gifted a

9

What’s your take on the show?

Career or Familial Responsibility?

I woke up this morning and ran into a Facebook post that read like:

Mara Luarte

As it appears, it gathered lots of engagements, which isn’t really surprising considering the huge number of Filipinos who are on Facebook. But other than that, I also think many Filipinos could relate. I’m not saying that this is true for everyone for I’ve known a few who are pursuing their passion without being ‘tied up’ to this so-called cultural obligation.

Keyword, ‘a few.’

Having close family ties is one of the distinct characteristics a typical Filipino family has. Whereas other cultures celebrate the coming of age as a milestone in life where children can move out of the house and live independently, a lot of Filipinos don’t see it this way.

Extended families living under one roof is not surprising. Children are not encouraged to move out unless it’s highly necessary – like a job relocation, perhaps.

But while this culture has fostered closer family relationships, it also gave birth to the thinking that you’ll need to provide for the family, because after all, you are living with them. The premise that you need to pay back the people who sent you to school is common.

Just like Mara, I also don’t see anything wrong with this. But it’s a whole new different story when you’re already giving up what matters most to you – your dreams maybe – just to keep on supporting your family. You can provide, but this need not be a reason for you to be deprived of doing what you love best – what you’re good at and what you’re called to do – even if it doesn’t pay that well.

Yet the sad opposite is happening.

And a lot may feel like this is beyond their control because typical jobs in the Philippines don’t necessarily pay enough to support your family – much more the family you want to build yourself.

Thus, the sacrifices.

It’s just so sad to think how that one thing you sacrificed might have contributed more if given the chance to prosper.

But you can never judge.

Besides, there are also those who consider supporting their family as their calling. It’s just not for everyone.

I grew up in the same culture. I’m also providing for my family. And yes, I’ve sacrificed things. Things that I regretted. But it was my decision. And I’m not giving up on my dream.

We shouldn’t.

 

 

Black Korean Drama Series: A Fascinating Web of Intrigue

In the K-drama universe, it can be difficult to top Lee Dong Wook’s portrayal of the Grim Reaper in the hit television series, Goblin.

His role was downright memorable as it was unique.

So when I first heard about Black, which was promoted as more ‘Reaper-centered,’ I couldn’t help but think about how this version would be different. The synopsis sounded deeper and I’ve always known Song Seung Heon (Grim Reaper, a.k.a. Moo Gang) for his roles in highly dramatic shows that are guaranteed to draw out tears. (Cue: Endless Love Autumn in My Heart and Summer Scent).

Source:  IrinaMay at Pinterest

Black had been on my watchlist so when Raistlin’s review dropped in my feed, and I learned few things about the show, I decided it’s about time I indulge.

The 2 Types of Grim Reapers + the Half-blood

I’m pleased to see how they were given a good background story. Perhaps not as detailed as what you would hope for something supernatural, but enough to provide clarity and a solid identity.

In the story, Grim Reapers are believed to be divided into 2 major categories: The pure descent of the upper world (those who are pure descendants of reaper lineage) and the ordinary (humans who committed suicide and serve as reapers as punishment).

Both can hide in the bodies of humans who just died, can teleport at will and can fight with extraordinary skill, though the purebloods obviously excel way more than the ordinary on the latter.

Then, there is the ‘half-blood’ – humans born out of a grim reaper and a human being. They can see the shadows of death as well as the scenario on how a person will die by simply touching the black shadow.

Mystery More than What Meets the Eye

The story follows Moo Gang (Seung Heon) and Ha Ram (Go Ara) as they solve typical police cases, which eventually leads to confusing and shocking revelation as the episodes progress.

No spoilers. It’s for you to find out.

But one thing to keep in mind, it’s more than what meets the eye. And every detail counts. Every. Single. One. Of. Them.

I thought I got it all figured out around the 6th or 7th episode. Only to find out I know nothing. LOL!

So, back to square one.

Excellent writing + Great Casting = Show worth watching

I’m still not good with names, but I sure can remember who played what. No roles were wasted and they all had significant parts to fill. Of course, the actors did very well in bringing out their respective characters.

I especially appreciate the intricate way on how scenarios are crafted in a way that eventually makes then an essential key to solving the mystery. Also, the writers pretty much made sure that the viewers don’t run out of things to ponder per episode.

As one mystery comes to a close, a new one begs for answers.

And just when everything finally makes sense, you find one more thing that seems odd.

But that makes things even more amazing! You go watch it!

 

 

 

Iris Johansen’s What Doesn’t Kill You – A Review

“It’s the deadliest poison known to man. 

He’s the only one who knows its true power.

She’s the only one who can stop the evil.

The chase is on.”

What Doesn’t Kill You is a fine read that I think would appeal to fans of thriller stories especially those with a particular interest for badass female leading the whole gang of heroes set on saving the world for surefire doom.

It was published on 2012 and is the 2nd installment in the Catherine Ling series. While it’s a standalone book on its own, I feel like it would’ve been better if I read the first book. Anyway, I’ll make sure to add that one on my reading list.

3 Things I like best

Catherine and Luke’s Mother-son relationship

This element of the story is one that convinced me to read (soon) the first installment. Catherine and his son’s relationship in this book is strained, but not so complicated. Concise backstories were provided to give idea on what made this 11-year old child the way he is.

While Catherine’s character is distinct for her cold bearing (fit for a covert operative), I always find it a good experience to see her work on her maternal responsibilities towards Luke. It provided a warm angle against the fast-paced, bloody encounters that dominated the entire story.

More importantly, it shows her humanity.

As for Luke, he’s on the same page. He had it rough as a kid, but he’s learning. And I like watching him grow. This kid’s got so much potential.

Hu Chang’s character

Is fascinating.  He’s a narcissistic genius who operates in certain life philosophies he considers as the only true in the world. I say he’s too full of himself. Catherine and Venable will agree.

But despite the blatant arrogance, Hu Chang’s a loyal man who takes very good care of those important to him (read: Catherine and by extension, Luke). Very good in fact that he’s willing to take lives to spare theirs. Not so agreeable, I know. But he will. He had.

There were several times I found him unreasonable, but I always end up trusting the man. He gets the job done, albeit unconventionally. He can be very convincing with his words too.

“Words are like bits of crystal, the more faceted, the more beautiful. Speech should not be boring.”Hu Chang

Catherine and John Gallo’s chemistry

Is downright intense, sexy and deadly. You know that pair who’s not even a couple but emits that explosive tension by doing nothing more than staying in a room planning for their next attack? Catherine and John is that pair.

Few Fiction facts about these two:

  • They’re both fighters. (On several levels above the typical special ops members)
  • They’re not always ‘legal.’ (Yes, they’ve worked with the government, but have been shown independence in decisions if a situation demands it.)
  • They’re both parents. (Unfortunately for Gallo, his daughter already passed away.)
  • They’re physically attracted to each other. (And they both knew it.)

They operate well individually, but this story showcased how their tandem can yield even better results than going solo. And I like reading their scenes. It’s exciting, and yes, as I’ve said, sexy. They have chemistry. And perhaps we’re not just looking at something physical in here.

1 Thing that felt lacking

The villain Nardik

To be fair, he had a strong ‘villainy’ background that served as a credible foundation for his role in the story. He’s rich, greedy and ruthless. But while his actions and strategies worked at some point, I do think he lacked the crucial element of being a ‘strategist’ in this game of cat and mouse.

He had the logistics, but not the method to mobilize them well.

To be honest, I wasn’t really convinced that Nardik can pull it off against Catherine, Hu Chang, and Gallo. He just felt lacking.


In a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest, I’m giving What Doesn’t Kill You, a

3.2

This book is available in Amazon at $14.99 (Price is subject to change without prior notice.)

 

Michael Palmer’s Miracle Cure – A Decent Medical Intrigue

A highly entertaining tale of greed and medicine run amok. – Chicago Tribune

How far can you go to save a loved one’s life?

In fiction, regardless of genre, this question is almost always answered with ‘as far as possible.’

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Protagonists do everything they can to save someone. Even if this means getting themselves in harm’s way. After all, where’s the thrill? In a medical thriller such as Miracle Cure, a solid narrative is necessary not only to get readers hooked in the suspense but also to get them interested in how the medical arena works.

Miracle Cure pretty much delivered a good narrative in general. Sequence of events was well presented, and Vasclear, the miracle drug in question, is a fascinating solution to worldwide-popular heart disease.

But as one of my favorite character in the story said:

 

And I tell you, Dr. Holbrook, anything that seems to be too good to be true invariably is to good to be true. Mark my words on that. There is no Santa Claus. Dr. Randa Laj

The story also presented the politics in a medical institution and the grave consequences of greed from people who are on the right position to make crucial hospital decisions but whose motivations lie somewhere else other than a patient’s wellbeing.

More than that of suspense and action, Miracle Cure is a story of greed. It’s a story of principle and organization and priorities. In Dr. Phil’s case, priority means keeping his job.

You know as well as I do that I’m not the brightest bulb on the academic light board  by any stretch, so I’ve hard to resort working that much harder than anyone else, keeping my nose clean, and most of all, playing by the rules. –  Dr. Phil Gianatasio

Characters were okay, and as I’ve pointed out, a decent narrative. But will I be recommending the book?

A fine read yes, but no, I don’t think so.

Introvert Mode Activated…

I sulk, I think, I overthink, I worry….all these mental activities at once and at some point it becomes daunting.

My solution? I write.

But this lab isn’t for rants. Far from it. This is where I dump thoughts from books I’ve read, movies I’ve watched, places I’ve visited, and foods I’ve tasted – all things I do alone. My ‘me-time’ activities.

In so doing I hope to find persona behavioral patterns to get to know myself better.

‘Know thyself.’ is a good piece of advice from Lao Tzu.

Might as well keep a record of it.