The following is a video from my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. This video is a deeper exploration into the character of Reagan Ridley from the Netflix animated series, Inside Job. She’s a very flawed character and a very damaged character, as well. A great many of those characters have come about in recent years.
However, what makes Reagan stand out is how her flaws and damage are channeled into her story. And it’s a story worth highlighting and appreciating.
When it comes to certain holidays, I tend to be more proactive than most people. Talk to anyone who knows me fairly well and they’ll attest that I’m the kind of guy who has his Christmas tree up the first week of November. It’s just part of who I am. For certain holidays, I like to draw out the festivities and the spirit in my own unique way.
One of those holidays happens to be Halloween. I’ve always been fond of Halloween and its various spooky themes. While I don’t decorate my home the same way I do with Christmas, I still try to get into the spirit. A big part of that spirit involves watching a bunch of horror movies and Halloween specials.
In more recent years, I’ve grown fond of some newer entries into my Halloween themed watch-list. Movies like “Happy Death Day” and “Hubie Halloween” have quickly become personal favorites of mine. But for Halloween this year, I’d like to offer another show that has steadily worked its way into my Halloween viewing list. It’s an animated series on Netflix called “Castlevania.”
Now, this is not a new show, relatively speaking. This show actually began airing in 2017 and when it began, it only had three episodes. Even though I watched those episodes and liked what I saw, it wasn’t even that clear that it would continue beyond that.
There was a good reason for that. This show was based off a video game by the same name. If you owned a Nintendo or Super Nintendo system back in the early to mid 1990s, you probably heard of “Castlevania” the game. And it was a damn good game, as well. It was often held in high regard for its gameplay and its monster hunting themes.
But since it emerged in the early era of gaming, it wasn’t particularly known for its story. I doubt it was ever at the top of anyone’s list in terms of video game franchises that deserved an adaptation. It certainly doesn’t help that video game adaptations have a rather nasty legacy of being terrible, regardless of whether they’re animated or live action.
Despite those limitations, Netflix dared to invest in “Castlevania.” It dared to give this franchise some full-scale world-building, taking iconic characters from the game and fleshing them out in a meaningful way. And the end result was truly remarkable.
This isn’t just a series that makes for good viewing during Halloween.
This is a legitimately well-written, well-developed show on every conceivable level.
Yes, it still has the armies of monsters, goblins, and demons that made the video game so iconic. But it also has a genuinely compelling story with genuinely well-rounded characters. Trevor Belmont, Sypha, Alucard, and even Vlad Dracula himself are given distinct, multi-layered character arcs that are all distinct. They all exist in a dark, flawed, and corrupt world set in Medieval Europe. It’s not a world driven by good or pure evil. Everything exists in varying shades of both. And everyone has agendas, goals, struggles, and burdens.
It’s also a show that really hits the ground running. It’s not a slow build towards the action. Within the first few minutes of the show, an innocent gets burned at the stake and Dracula goes on a grief-fueled rampage against the whole of humanity. It gets bloody, violent, and dark very quickly, all of which feel very appropriate for Halloween. But it also has moments of heart, introspection, and melodrama.
Seriously, there are moments within the brutal violence that are genuinely heartbreaking. But those moments only make the horror themes work even better.
The early seasons were good. That, I never denied. But once the later seasons came out and really completed the story, “Castlevania” became much more than a video game adaptation that didn’t suck. To me, it became a perfectly crafted horror story that maximized the appeal of vampires, magic, goblins, ghouls, and monsters.
Seriously, what more could you want from a Halloween story?
While “Castlevania” was never marketed as a Halloween story, it definitely checks most of the necessary boxes. So, if you’re looking for something new to add to your Halloween watch list this year, give Netflix’s “Castlevania” a watch. Even if it doesn’t get you into the Halloween spirit, it’s still a damn good show.
The following is a video from my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. This video is an exploration and appreciation of two remarkable shows with equally remarkably anti-war messages. The way war is depicted in the media is often mixed at best and unhealthy at worst.
But “The Dragon Prince” and “Avatar: The Last Airbender” dared to offer a different perspective. They don’t just explore the more damaging, less obvious aspects of war. They do so in a way that perfectly complements their respective stories. Enjoy!
The following is a video from my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. This video is my first deep dive into Bojack Horseman, one of my favorite shows of all time. This Netflix series was so groundbreaking in how it told the story of a washed-up sitcom star from the 90s, who just happened to be a talking horseman. It was funny, but dark at times.
Okay, it was dark most of the time. But that’s beside the point.
There this show offered so many profound themes and insights on everything from mental illness to toxic cycles. But in this video, I focus on how this show depicted the world of celebrity and celebrity culture. Because Bojack’s story can’t be told without also telling the story of a celebrity with a great many personal issue. And while his story is powerful, I also think it sheds a light on the dark side of being a celebrity and how it affects people.
The following is a video from my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. This video is another deep dive in to the sick sad world of Daria, the MTV show that captured the spirit of a sick sad era.
For much of the show, Daria is a harsh, but necessary counter to the absurdities and eccentricities of late 90s Lawndale. When crazy and/or dumb things happen, she’s usually the one to call it out. But in one very unique episode, Boxing Daria, we see a different side of Daria. We see that, beyond the stoic cynicism, there’s some vulnerability that rarely comes out. And when it finally shows in an unexpected way, it makes for one of the best moments of the entire show.
The following is a video from my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. It is my full review, reaction, and analysis of season five of “F Is For Family,” the Netflix show from Bill Burr that threatens to put us through a fucking wall. Enjoy!
The following is a video from my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. It’s my first video about “Daria” and was based on an earlier article I wrote a number of years back. I reworked it a bit to make for a better video. I’m very pleased with how it turned out. Depending on the response, I may make more “Daria” videos. Enjoy!
When it comes to season finales, most TV shows are hit-or-miss. More often than not, we get more misses than hits. That’s to be expected. Capping off a season of any show, no matter how acclaimed or celebrated it might be, is exceedingly hard. There’s bound to be a sizable portion of fans who don’t care for it.
When a finale does turn out to be a hit, though, it’s all the more precious. Most of us can count on one hand how many genuinely incredible finales we’ve seen over the years. Some shows are better at it than others and even they’re not always consistent.
Then, there’s “Rick and Morty.” Between its colorful fanbase and unique approach to adult animation, it’s one of those rare shows that dares to raise the bar in unexpected ways. It can be obscenely absurd one minute and genuinely heartfelt the next. You just don’t know what you’re going to get, but you often find yourself wanting more.
I’ve praised this show before for is eclectic insights on everything from romance to nihilism. I’ll probably praise it again in the future for its uncanny ability to raise the bar for absurdity, insight, and pickle-based humor. I consider myself a big fan of the show and the events of Season 5 only made me a bigger fan.
Now, I know I haven’t touched on “Rick and Morty” that much since Season 5 began. A while back, I did post my overall reaction to the Season 4 finale and the intrigue it offered. The underlying theme of that season seemed to revolve around Rick gradually losing control over his family and his ability to manipulate Beth, Morty, Summer, and even Jerry.
Relative to previous seasons, this was a major shift. For the first three seasons of the show, we got used to seeing Rick being nigh-invincible in his ability to control a situation. It seemed like nothing anyone did, including his family, could hope to escape is influence.
Then, after Jerry came back into the picture, it seemed to unravel. We saw Rick becoming more and more vulnerable. He could no longer hold his own against big time threats. It all came to ahead when Space Beth returned in “Star Mort: Rickturn of the Jerri.” This episode established clearly that Rick, as brilliant and capable as he is, cannot handle everything by himself.
While I thought that finale was good, I didn’t think it was great, especially compared to the dramatic finale we got at the end of Season 2. I honestly didn’t know what to expect from the Season 5 finale. That’s the main reason why I didn’t speculate on it or post my reactions to the various episodes leading up to it.
I was tempted. Believe me.
This season had some incredibly memorable episodes. Between giant incest babies and replicants, “Rick and Morty” once again pushed the envelope, as only it could. However, it was the finale that made this season one of the most memorable to date. A big part of what made it so impactful was how it finally confirmed the details of Rick’s backstory.
It played out in a recorded memory that had some elements from “The Rickshank Rickdemption,” but we were led to believe that was mostly fabricated. Now, we know the truth and it’s actually a lot more tragic than we thought.
In case you haven’t seen it, here is what Morty saw of Rick’s story when it played out in his mind.
There’s no way around it. This revelation about Rick’s history has a lot of implications. Suddenly, Rick’s behavior and outlook on life throughout the course of this show has a whole new context to it. This is one of those scenes that can completely change the way you watch previous episodes.
Now, we know what makes this Rick, also known as Rick C-137, unique within a vast multiverse full of Ricks. He was once similar to the many Ricks like him. He was a super-genius capable of creating his portal gun to traverse the multiverse. Many other Ricks walked this same path.
Then, another Rick entered the picture. He offers him a chance to join other Ricks, explore the multiverse, and become godlike in his abilities. However, he rejects that offer, choosing instead to remain close to his wife and daughter. That’s not a trivial decision in the grand scheme of things.
The bigger picture implies that no other Rick has walked this path. They all freely abandon their families and their home universe in order to join this unique segment of the multiverse where they reign supreme. Together, these Ricks ensure that they remain at the top of the pecking order.
Then, this one Rick dares to defy that.
He dares to go against what everyone else does.
Unfortunately, he pays a price for that choice. It costs him his family.
Once again, we see a more emotional side of Rick. We see that this version of Rick that we’ve been following since Season One really did love his family. He really did opt to eschew the multiverse in exchange for a simple life with Beth and Diane. However, the rest of the Ricks couldn’t have that.
It leaves him broken, angry, jaded, and driven. Suddenly, his animosity towards other Ricks and the role he played in various interstellar wars has greater meaning. The same could be said with the general callousness and reckless disregard he often displays towards Morty and his family.
It’s not that he doesn’t care on some levels. The flashbacks make clear that he clearly does. However, no matter how much or how little he cares, they’re not the same as the family he lost. He never even found the Rick who killed them. It’s easy to see how that could break a man, even one as smart and capable as Rick Sanchez.
On top of how this re-contextualizes everything that has happened in the past, it has larger implications for the future. The finale ended with Morty opting to help his Rick and reject “evil” Morty’s offer to join him in venturing to a part of the multiverse where Rick isn’t the smartest being. It’s eerily similar to the decision Rick himself made, choosing his family over a chance at greater power.
This effectively gives new importance to Rick and Morty’s connection. Back in Season One, we’re led to believe Rick only hangs around Morty because Morty’s brainwaves block Rick’s from the various other multiverse threats that constantly seek him out. That might have been true to some extent, but this flashback offers greater insight into why he’s such a threat.
Whereas Season 4 made clear that Rick is vulnerable when he has nobody supporting him, Season 5 also makes clear that he’s still capable of so much chaos. After losing his family, he will cross lines that even other Ricks won’t cross. He’s willing to hurt himself and others to get what he wants because he’s already lost everything.
This opens the door for many more upheavals in future seasons. The Rick who killed his family is still out there. “Evil” Morty is now in a part of the multiverse where beings stronger than Rick exist. What happens if one of those beings finds their way back to Rick? What happens if “Evil” Morty is further broken by his journey?
I keep putting “Evil” Morty in quotes because this finale also accomplished something critical in that part of story. At this point, I don’t think it’s fair to call this Morty evil. He’s just sick of Rick and sick of living in a universe where he’s constantly manipulated by Ricks like him. All he wants to do is escape. If that means sacrificing other Ricks and Mortys in the process, so be it.
That final scene is ominous, but intriguing in so many ways. It leads me to wonder where this will take Rick in his never-ending struggle to maintain what little control he has over is world, his family, and all those around him. This finale reminded us that, despite all his genius and know-how, he tends to lose control easily. When he has no support from Morty or his family, losing control seems inevitable.
Even with all these revelations, Rick is still an asshole. There’s no getting around that. However, he’s now an asshole we can understand on a level that wasn’t possible until this finale. His various struggles and myriad of issues are far from over.
I has left me more excited and intrigued for the future of “Rick and Morty” than ever before. I know it may be a while before we get any details on Season 6, but after this finale, I’m willing to be patient.
To everyone else out there who saw the finale and Rick’s confirmed backstory, what do you think? How do you see Rick and Morty’s story playing out from here? Let me know in the comments.
The following is a video from my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. It’s my full review of season one of “Invincible,” an animated series based on a comic series by Robert Kirkman of the same name. In a year where comic fans have been spoiled by great shows like “WandaVision” and “Falcon and the Winter Soldier,” this show offers something different. At the same time, it offers a unique story that fits perfectly with the current cultural zeitgeist. I explain why in this video while also just celebrating my love for this show. Enjoy!