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“Rick And Morty” Season 4 Finale: Reaction, Thoughts, And Intrigue

For any show, the difference between a good season finale and a great season finale isn’t just how much it leaves you wanting more. It’s making you want more and feel something more than impatience for new episodes. Most shows don’t go that extra mile. They’re content to just build a little excitement for the next season.

However, “Rick and Mortyisn’t most shows. After four seasons, that’s abundantly and hilariously clear.

Recently, the show aired its season 4 finale, “Star Mort: Rickturn of the Jerri.” For a show that was delayed for so long, and subject to a lot of criticism for its fan base, it had a lot to live up to. It would’ve been easy for it to falter, given the current state of the world.

That didn’t happen, though. This remarkable, quirky, eccentric show found a way to cap off season in a profoundly satisfying way. For a show that’s raised the bar for a lot of things, from sci-fi tropes to fart jokes, that’s saying something.

The synopsis of the episode has many moving parts. It starts with an invisibility belt and the return of Beth’s clone from The ABC’s of Beth.” From there, it quickly turns into a bloody brawl between Rick, his family, and a newly formed galactic federation, courtesy of Tammy and a rebuilt Bird Person. I won’t spoil all the details. I’ll just say that there’s a lot of bloody brawls, spilled bear, and shameless promotion of wrangler jeans.

Trust me. That makes sense by Rick and Morty standards.

As a finale, it wasn’t quite as groundbreaking as “The Wedding Squanchers,” but it had a much more dramatic impact than The Rickchurian Mortydate.” It also helped that the episode built on the continuity established in previous seasons, namely “The ABC’s of Beth.” It took an open question as to whether Beth was a clone and turned it into a more complex story.

Personally, I had mixed feelings about this episode when it began. However, those feelings quickly changed as the episode unfolded. By the end, I felt like this episode and this season, as a whole, achieved something special. In the context of larger “Rick and Morty” lore, it gave new depth to the show and its characters.

More than anything else, the last few minutes of the episode furthers a trend that began at the end of Season 3. It was subtle for a while, but now it’s very overt.

Rick Sanchez is losing control over his family.

By that, I don’t mean he can’t influence them. He’s the smartest man in the multiverse. He literally has any number of methods for doing that. The issue here is that they no longer need him.

Since the show began, Rick has asserted himself as someone his family needs to some extent. Morty needs him to grow, both in terms of strength and capability. Beth needs him because she needs her father’s approval. Jerry and Summer need him, by default, since Beth and Morty need him.

Control matters to Rick. It matters a lot. If he’s not in total control of his world, then he can’t handle it. He values being able to do anything at any time with his genius. Throughout the show, he demonstrates capabilities that are almost god-like. Hell, at one point in this season, he actually fights a god.

However, he can’t do any of that to the degree he wants without maintaining control. This is perfectly demonstrated in the episode, “The Old Man and the Seat.” It’s an episode with a similar ending, in terms of tone. In that episode, Rick is left by himself, berated by other holograms of himself. He’s sad, alone, and miserable. It’s not quite as dark as the ending to “Auto Erotic Assimilation,” but it sends the same message.

Rick Sanchez is not well.

He’s broken, damaged, and flawed.

He’s a terrible father, a bad friend, and hates himself.

He’s miserable, despite being the smartest, most capable being in the universe.

He can manage all that through the connections he has with his family, on top of his copious alcohol consumption. However, as season 4 has unfolded, we see his family drifting further and further apart. It’s not that they’re pushing him away. They just make it clear that they don’t need him. To Rick, that’s even worse than being pushed away.

Whereas season 3 began with Rick having almost complete control over his family, Season 4 ends with him losing it. It raises an intriguing question.

What does Rick Sanchez do when nobody needs him anymore?

This episode even teased a distressing answer. Tammy points out that when Rick is alone, he’s not a threat to anyone other than himself. Without Morty or his family, he’s lacking and it shows in how much he gets his ass kicked. It hints that without his family, Rick Sanchez loses a part of himself that he can’t replace, even with his genius and alcohol tolerance.

It’ll be interesting to see if this trend continues in Season 5, whenever that may come. It’ll also be interesting to see how it effects other dangling plot threads, namely Evil Morty. A more broken Rick Sanchez is sure to be a more dangerous and unstable Rick Sanchez. Given how big an asshole he can be at times, it’s hard to sympathize with him. However, Star Mort: Rickturn of the Jerri” managed to make us feel for him.

I’m already looking forward to the next season.

Until then, wubba lubba dub dub!

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“Avatar: The Last Airbender” Is On Netflix: Go Watch It!

Every now and then, a TV show comes along that transcends its genre. From “Bojack Horseman” to “Rick and Morty,” these shows are more than just binge-worthy entertainment. They leave a real, tangible impact. You don’t always expect it, but that’s what makes it so exhilarating. The concept of the show may not seem appealing, but it still finds a way to be great beyond all expectations.

We need shows like that now. Given the current state of the world and the agonizing isolation it has incurred, those shows are more critical than we’ve ever been, if only for our mental well-being. I have my collection of shows that help keep me sane during these difficult times, but there’s one in particular that I’d like to suggest to everyone who shares that struggle.

That show is “Avatar: The Last Airbender.” It recently came out on Netflix in the United States and now is the perfect time to discover this wonderful gem of a show.

On the surface, it looks like a typical kids show. It takes place in a fanciful world full of fanciful characters wielding amazing powers. However, it would be irresponsible to call this “Avatar: The Last Airbender” a show for kids.

It’s one of the most underrated shows of its kind. It only ran for three seasons in the mid-2000s and aired on Nickelodeon, of all places, but rest assured this is no “Spongebob Squarepants.” This is a show that has action, depth, heart, and incredible voice acting. It’s a show that finds a way to be dramatic, tragic, fun, and heartfelt.

In fact, I honestly can’t think of any great feeling that this show doesn’t evoke.

It’s a show that deserved much more success than it got. Make no mistake. This show has some passionate fans and for good reason. It really is that good. Kids and adults alike can find something to enjoy. If you need further proof, just binge it over the course of a weekend. You’ll be glad you did.

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A New “F is for Family Trailer” Trailer: More Plots (And Vulgarity)

It’s almost here.

The next season of “F is for Family” is almost upon us.

Let’s face it. We all feel a bit like Frank Murphy at the moment. Being stuck at home, with sports and movies being cancelled on top of it, we’ve all fought the urge to put someone through a fucking wall. These are tough times. Sometimes, we just need to go on a profane rant.

That’s where Frank Murphy comes in. He’s that angry rage beast in all of us and that’s why we love him.

A while back, the first teaser trailer hinted at how this season would revolve around Frank reuniting with his father, voiced by Jonathan “Mike Ermantrout” Banks. Like most plots in this show, it promises to inspire a whole new level of profanity from Frank Murphy.

Now, a longer and more detailed trailer has come out. In addition to Frank’s father joining the profanity-laced fun, some other plot elements are hinted at. They include, but aren’t restricted to heavy drug use, kids beating each other with hockey sticks, and graphic depictions of female genitalia.

In short, “F is for Family” is really stepping up its game and Frank is going to need to build more walls. Just watch the trailer. You might be inclined to help him build a few.

Beyond the profanity, blood, and graphic depictions of female anatomy, this season promises more than Bill Burr’s angry rants. Sue is almost ready to give birth. Bill and Kevin are building on their arcs from previous seasons. While Bill looks like he’s embracing his inner rage monster, Kevin is making new connections, which may or may not lead to more hilariously awkward moments.

The presence of Frank’s father is sure to heighten these moments. There are definitely some deep-seated issues between Frank and his dad. Some of those issues have clearly affected his relationship with his kids. It fits right into the larger themes of the show, which I’ve explored before. I look forward to seeing how this season builds on that.

While watching Frank hulk out is fun, “F is for Family” often tries mixing in some deeper elements. It has happened slowly, but each character has gained more layers as the show has progressed. The more we see, the more we understand where these characters are coming from and why they are the way they are. It’s part of what makes this show engaging, as well as entertaining.

Frank’s angry, profanity-laden rants will always be the primary draw, but there’s so much more at work in this show. That’s why I look forward to watching the whole season once it comes out on June 12th.

We should all start building more walls in anticipation.

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“F Is For Family” Season 4 Teaser: Frank Murphy’s Father (And All The Yelling It Inspires)

How does a man get so angry that he regularly threatens to put his kids through fucking walls?

How does a man become so volatile and unhinged that the mere act of calling him during dinner will send him into a rage?

How does a man struggle so much to cope with such an unfair world?

These are just some of the many questions I find myself asking after watching three seasons of “F is for Family.” It’s not easy when I have to contemplate such things in between bouts of hysterical laughter, but they’re still worth contemplating. Given long wait we’ve endured for season 4, I think we’re all ready for some answers.

Recently, we finally got a tease in the form of a teaser trailer. The trailer even offers hints as to what makes Frank Murphy tick and why he’s prone to hulking out at a moment’s notice. It also offers some colorful F-bombs. It just wouldn’t be “F is for Family” without a healthy dose of F-bombs.

True to the cliffhanger we got at the end of Season 3, we’re about to meet Frank Murphy’s father. We don’t know much about him, but the trailer hints that there’s a good reason why Frank rarely mentions him. The fact he’s voided by Jonathan “Mike Ermentrout” Banks is another revealing insight.

This show has been subtle, but smart when it comes to revealing the character of Frank Murphy. I’ve noted before that he has more complexity than most TV dads. Even if he is a volatile ball of issues who often makes his problems worse with his anger, there is a context to his personality. A lot of it had to do with how his plans got derailed and how the American Dream essentially left him behind. Now, his father enters the mix.

The trailer hints that he did not have a good relationship with his father. It also hints that his father was more abrasive to him than he is to his own children. For a character who already demonstrates many issues throughout the show, it adds more intrigue that is sure to lead to many more angry rants laced with F-bombs.

At a time when everyone is on edge and inclined to put each other through a fucking wall, I think Frank Murphy is exactly what we need.

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How “Megamind” Subverts Expectations The Right Way (And Why Recent Attempts Keep Failing)

Every now and then, a narrative trend comes along that I neither care for nor understand. I get why many trends catch on. I’ve even been caught up in a few. I remember when stories about asteroid impacts became popular, as well as romance stories that relied on best friends falling in love. Some lasted longer than others. Some burn out. I think “Friends” alone killed the whole friends-falling-in-love-gimmick.

However, certain trends seem to catch on for all the wrong reasons. I’m not just referring to the gimmicky tropes of every sitcom attempting to rip off “Seinfeld,” either. These are narratives that attempt to troll the audience in hopes of a bigger reaction, as though that can somehow take the place of a compelling story.

Lately, the trend that I’ve found particularly frustrating is the idea of subverting expectations. It’s become a major buzzword in recent years, but not for good reasons. It became a big deal after the fan reaction to “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” and only intensified with the final season of “Game of Thrones.”

Now, I don’t want to get into extensive discussions about those emotionally charged subjects. I’ll let the fan bases continue to debate that in whatever way they see fit. Instead, I want to take a moment to look at this trend, note how it can be done well, and highlight why recent attempts are misguided and counterproductive.

While subverting expectations sounds cunning on paper, it’s one of those concepts that’s difficult to make work. The concept is simple. You take an audience’s expectations about a story, build up some narrative tension, and then go in an unexpected direction that changes and enhances the impact of that story.

It sounds simple, but it’s not. When it works, it’s amazing. When it fails, it’s downright toxic to itself. I would argue that neither Star Wars: The Last Jedi nor the final season of Game of Thrones” succeeded in that effort. However, one movie did succeed in this effort and it did so back in 2010, long before this trend even began.

That movie is “Megamind,” a film I’ve praised before for how it parodies the superhero genre. There’s a lot more I can say about this underrated gem, but this is one element that I feel is more relevant now than it was when the movie first came out. To date, I’ve yet to see a movie subvert expectations as well as this one.

The way Megamind” goes about this is not at all subtle, but it’s still powerful. It’s in the premise of the movie. It asks what happens when the evil genius supervillain actually defeats the handsome, square-jawed superhero? What do they do afterwards? Why did they pursue this goal in the first place?

The first 15 minutes of the movie do an excellent job of setting up the basic, generic premise of every superhero narrative since Superman. Metro Man is the hero. That’s how he carries himself. That’s how others see him. That’s how he’s perceived. Conversely, Megamind is the villain. That’s how everyone sees him. The prison warden himself says it before the opening title screen. He’ll always be a villain.

Everything is in place for a traditional hero-versus-villain struggle. Old concepts like justice, hero worship, and public perception come into play. Then, in the first real battle we see between Megamind and Metro Man, the unthinkable happens. Megamind, despite his grandiose boasting and casual bumbling, defeats Metro Man.

It’s not framed as some M. Knight Shamalyan twist. It’s not an attempt to shock the audience. It’s not some minor plot point, either. In fact, the rest of the movie is built around this sudden subversion of standard superhero stories. Every event, choice, and character moment stems directly from this subversion. It’s not just a minor element of the plot. It is the plot.

What makes it work is how this subversion helps tell a very different kind of superhero story. It’s not just about flipping the script for the sake of novelty. It makes a case that superhero narratives are capable of doing much more than simply having the hero save the day from the villain.

Throughout the movie, Megamind finds himself playing a part in every tried and true trope we’ve come to expect in a superhero movie. He starts off being a villain because that’s what he assumes he’s meant to be. He starts questioning that assumption because by defeating Metro Man, he finds himself without a greater purpose. In pursuing that purpose, he find out that those assumptions had serious flaws.

Such assumptions weren’t inherently right or wrong. It was a matter of digging a little deeper into the concept of heroes and villains, finding out along the way that the role he thought was right for him wasn’t the one he ultimately wanted. By the end, he still dresses like a villain. He’s still not nearly as handsome or powerful as Metro Man. However, he still chooses to become Metro City’s greatest hero.

This subversion of expectation works because it’s used to build a story rather than just tweak a few details. Moments like the revelation about Rey’s parents being nobodies or Arya Stark killing the Night King had only minor shock value, but they didn’t really factor into the larger plot.

If someone other than Arya had killed the Night King, then it wouldn’t have changed much in terms of how the last few episodes of “Game of Thrones” panned out.

If Rey’s parents turned out to be someone important in “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” it wouldn’t have substantially altered how the events that followed played out. Rey still wouldn’t have joined Kylo.

Ultimately, those subversions just felt like trolling. These details that people thought were important just turned out to be tricks or ploys meant to get a reaction. It comes off as both dishonest and insincere. They might not have been intended as such, but given the fan reactions, I can understand that sentiment to some extent.

You thought all those prophecies about Jon Snow and the Night King meant something? Well, that turned out to be a big waste of time.

You thought Rey’s parents would impact the course of the movie? Well, that was just a complete waste of time, at least until “Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker” changed that.

At times, it felt like the story was tempting people to get engaged and then slapped them in the face the second the plot went in a different direction. As a result, it didn’t feel at all surprising or engaging. It just felt insulting.

Contrast that with “Megamind.” At no point does the plot attempt to demean the audience or anyone who enjoys the traditional superhero narrative. The subversion is in the synopsis. That same subversion is used to build a larger story that fleshes out characters who started out in generic roles, but ultimately embraced a different role.

This shift never feels forced or contrived. It’s not done just to get a cheap thrill or to stand out. At its core, Megamind” uses the concept of subverting expectations to tell a better story than it could’ve told if it stuck to the traditional superhero narrative. That’s why it works.

Unfortunately, that’s also why other recent attempts keep failing. Whether it’s a movie, a TV show, a comic book, or a video game, the concept has been used in a misguided effort to do something different. Subverting expectations has become synonymous, to some extent, with doing something new and bold. The importance of telling a compelling, coherent story is never more than secondary.

I get the importance of trying new things, especially when that genre has been played out in so many forms. However, doing so does not mean taking audience expectations and defying them in a way that feels blatant. At best, it just makes the story confusing. It’s just different for the sake of being different. At worst, it insults the audience and makes them feel denigrated for enjoying that narrative in the first place.

It can be done and done well. “Megamind” is proof of that. It doesn’t just subvert expectations for the superhero genre. It dares to build a story around it and even have a little fun with it along the way. It doesn’t at all take away from the genre it parodies. It just uses it as a foundation to tell a unique story.

No matter how many expectations you subvert, there’s no substitute for a quality story. Megamind” gives us that and the undeniable charm of Will Ferrell. That’s what makes it so enjoyable.

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Filed under Game of Thrones, movies, outrage culture, rants, Star Wars, television

Why Do We Root For Characters Like Bojack Horseman?

Why do we root for people who do awful things?

Why do we root for the crazed killer in a slasher movie?

Why do we celebrate anti-heroes over traditional, upstanding heroes?

Why do we want people who do irredeemable things to be redeemed?

These are questions are similar in that they have a common theme, but they apply to a wide variety of situations. It feels like those questions have become more relevant in recent years as the standards for quality TV, movies, and characters has risen, which I’ve called the Walter White effect. While it can make for compelling stories, the questions themselves have distressing implications.

I’ve found myself contemplating those questions more seriously after the final season of “Bojack Horseman.” While I love this show and have praised its themes in the past, the final season really pushed the envelope on how far a show could go in telling stories about broken characters.

There’s no getting around it. From the first episode to the series finale, it’s abundantly clear that Bojack Horseman is not a respectable person. He’s a self-centered, narcissistic, alcohol, ego-centric asshole who has hurt people, exploited people, and taken full advantage of his celebrity status. If we knew someone like this in real life, we would never root for them. We’d probably root against them.

However, as I watched this show over the years, I still found myself rooting for Bojack. In following his story, learning about who he is, where he comes from, and how he deals with his problems, I genuinely hoped that he would find some semblance of peace in the end. Even as his sordid deeds started to come to light in the final season, a part of me didn’t want to see him fall, especially when he’d made so many strides.

Bojack isn’t the only character with this issue. There are countless other characters in popular culture, such as Don Draper and Wolverine, who do many awful things throughout their story. I’m a fan of those characters, especially Wolverine. At the same time, I can’t ignore the fact that he’s done terrible things that are on par with Bojack’s crimes.

At the same time, I root for Wolverine. I also find it easier to root for him over Bojack because while Wolverine is largely a product of what others have done to him, Bojack is a product of his own awful decisions.

Bojack has no special powers or excuses, outside being a celebrity. He has his share of issues and circumstances, from verbally abusive parents to substance abuse to legitimate mental illness. However, throughout the show, he’s still the one who makes the choices that ultimately hurt him and his loved ones. Moreover, he spends a great deal of time avoiding the consequences or downplaying them.

This is why I think the final season of Bojack Horseman” was so impactful. While I did often root for Bojack throughout the show, the final season made it a point to remind everyone of the terrible things he’s done. The show is brilliant in how it has everything collapse around Bojack, but not because of circumstance. Once again, his own terrible choices and endless excuses are what do him in.

Seeing him face real, actual consequences for his decisions helped give the show a sense of balance when it ended. Bojack didn’t have a happy ending. Very few characters did. At the same time, he wasn’t killed or endlessly punished. It just left him in an uncertain state where he faced consequences for his past choices. Now, he has to make new choices moving forward.

It’s not satisfying for anyone who’d been rooting for Bojack. At the same time, it’s cathartic for that part of us who wanted him to face consequences for the awful things he’d done. Even so, the fact we rooted for him in the first place is oddly jarring and I think it speaks to a part of our nature that’s difficult to understand.

On some level, I feel like people want to see horrible people redeem themselves. Redemption stories are powerful in both the world of fiction and the real world. I think it’s in our nature to want to see good in everyone, even when they’ve done awful things. The power and desire to forgive is real.

However, does that mean we should let horrible deeds go unpunished? It’s one thing to forgive someone for a lie, but what about someone who abandons his best friend when he gets fired? What about someone who nearly chokes a woman to death in a drug-fueled rage? What about someone who takes advantage of a woman with amnesia?

Those deeds are all things that Bojack did over the course of Bojack Horseman.” There are many others, some of which he never faced consequences for. Even though he’s an extreme example, even by fictional character standards, we still root for him. We still want him to find redemption. I think that says more about us than it does about him.

Awful people will do awful things, but when we see them trying to make things better, it’s hard not to cheer them on. I believe its in our nature to want to see others be the best they can be. The challenge is balancing that inclination to root for them and the need to punish shitty behavior.

Bojack’s story is over, but there are plenty of other characters like him that we root for. It’s not wrong to root for them, but it’s important to maintain a proper perspective. Redemption can be a powerful story. However, can there be any redemption without consequences?

I don’t know the answer. If you have some insights, please share them in the comments.

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Filed under Bojack Horseman, human nature, media issues, psychology, television

“Paradise PD” Season 2: My Take (And Hopes For Season 3)

Some TV shows aren’t made to be dramatic, profound narratives on the human condition. They don’t stop at just being entertaining, either. Sometimes, a TV show is just there to be hilariously obscene, absurd, and funny. It doesn’t appeal to everyone, but there’s a place for it in the entertainment landscape. It’s a dark, dirty place that few admit to liking. It’s there, none-the-less.

I’d argue that, at this moment in time, “Paradise PD” has anchored itself in that dirtiest of dirty places. Not long ago, I cited the trailer for Season 2 as a means to call out the people who whined and complained about shows like “The Simpsons” and “South Park” back in the 90s. At the same time, I consider myself a fan of the show. I’ve been eagerly waiting for season two since it was announced late last year.

Well, this past weekend, I reserved a good chunk of my time to binge all of season 2. I bought myself a box of donuts, a case of beer, and an extra-comfortable pair of pants so I could take in this wildly obscene show in all it’s glory. After completing all eight episodes, catching my breath from all the laughter, and cleaning the entrails off my now-tainted soul, I feel I can make a full critical assessment of this season.

Simply put, it’s goddamn fucking awesome.

Yes, it’s obscene. You will see graphic depictions of male genitalia, fecal matter, breasts, and blood. You will also hear un-bleeped profanity, including the kinds of F-bombs that even “South Park” can’t drop. There are entire plots revolving around public masturbation, the ability to take a shit in a public restroom, and grown men comparing the size of their testicles.

Trust me, it’s every bit as NSFW as it sounds and then some.

It still works. You’ll hate yourself for laughing at some of the gratuitous violence and sex, but you’ll still laugh hard. It’s the kind of show that takes full advantage of being on Netflix and not subject to the censors of cable or network TV.

In many respects, “Paradise PD” feels like what its predecessor, “Brickleberry,” should’ve been. That’s not just because it has the same creators in Roger Black and Waco O’Guin, as well as the same aesthetics. “Brickleberry” barely walked the line in terms of how absurd and obscene it could get. “Paradise PD” doesn’t just jump over that line. It shoots in the balls and pisses on the entrails.

The characters in “Paradise PD” don’t try to be deep or introspective in the mold of “Bojack Horseman.” However, they’re a bit more balanced compared to “Brickleberry.” The main protagonist, Kevin, is still an idiot with many pathetic shortcomings, but he is sincere. He wants to be a good cop and, at times, he proves that he can be in the right situation.

Other characters, like Gina and Dusty, have a few defining traits, but they’re allowed to mix things up every now and then. Everyone in the show gets a few more layers in Season 2 and while their conduct still makes them walking FCC fines, they’re still likable, more so than almost every character in “Brickleberry.”

There’s even an overall arc, of sorts, for the season. It’s not overly complex. You can even skip a few episodes and still not be lost. It still has some dramatic stakes on top of the dick, poop, and sex jokes. They even build on some of the stakes that were established in the first season. It also leaves room to develop them even more in Season 3, if there is one.

I genuinely hope this show gets another season and not just because this one ended on a cliffhanger. This show, as obscene and dirty as it is, fills its niche perfectly. Again, it’s not for everyone. If you’re a child, a devout Christian, a radical feminist, or just someone with incredibly thin skin, this show probably won’t appeal to you. If you have a healthy sense of humor and a strong gag reflex, then “Paradise PD” is definitely binge-worthy.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to take a long shower while trying hard not to laugh at everything Hobson said.

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