Krysten Ritter and Mary Louise Parker make appearances in the first episode of The Blacklist season 2, “Lord Baltimore.”
The Blacklist returns September 22nd at 10/9c on NBC.
OHSOGRAY has seen the first episode of NBC’s The Voice, and it looks like it is going to be the best season the show has ever had. Without giving away any spoilers, here are some of the things you can look forward to.
Gwen Stefani Is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G
Regardless of whether you listen to Gwen Stefani’s music, you won’t be able to take your eyes off her this season. She jumps into the show with no fear. She brings a new level of enthusiasm that we have not seen with some of the other coaches. Plus, her live performances are fantastic and really set a goal for contestants to aspire to.
Pharrell Is Too Cool For School
If anyone should make Blake and Adam nervous, it’s Pharrell. He seems genuinely interested in working and developing new talent and doesn’t shy away from going after contestants that he wants. He also has a nice coalition going with Gwen that should balance out the other two coaches.
Adam & Blake Aren’t Holding Back
There’s no grace period of mixing it up with the new coaches. Adam and Blake are taking shots and seem surprised by the effectiveness of the return fire. Gwen is extremely quick-witted and goes toe-to-toe with the guys.
The Good and Not So Good Contestants
There are some great singers this go around, including some that look like they’ll head to the front of the pack. There are also more heart wrenching stories than should be allowed in any two hour period. Some contestants understand the format and give the coaches something that is worth pushing their buttons for. Others don’t quite understand what they need to do. After watching many seasons, the one take-away for would-be contestants is this: don’t try to sing in a lower register. Very few contestants do it well on a large stage and most of them simply struggle.
Even if you have not watched The Voice before, you should check out this new season. It’s hilarious and, as always, a supportive competition that makes sure even contestants who don’t advance leave with hugs from the coaches.
The reappearance of Black Jack Randall, in all his sadistic glory, provided for the most tense and most dramatic episode of Outlander yet. Tobias Menzes and Caitriona Balfe gave fantastic performances as Claire and Black Jack tried to match each other in a battle of wits. But Menzes’ performance absolutely owned the episode.
The redcoats ask whether Claire is with the MacKenzies willingly. She and Dougal are “invited” to meet Brigadier General Lord Oliver Thomas. He and the other officers are haughty and pompous and insult Dougal right in his presence. Claire is able to charm them, is comfortable and at ease with them, and is able to secure her passage back to Inverness from General Thomas.
Suddenly, Black Jack Randall bursts through the door. When he finally notices Claire, they stare at each other, prompting the general to ask whether they know each other. Some of this air of familiarity between Claire and Black Jack is likely due to the fact that he looks exactly like her husband. One later finds out that Black Jack remembers their encounter in the woods from when Claire first fell through the stones. I found there to be this sort of odd chemistry in their scenes. It was not a romantic or a sexual chemistry, but something I could not look away from.
Black Jack is as skeptical of Claire, as the others are charmed by her. Claire and Black Jack’s cat and mouse game then took center stage for the remainder of the episode. After returning to the dining hall to find Black Jack getting a shave, Claire remembers a moment between her and Frank, of her shaving him presumably with the same razor, as she and Frank talk about the razor being 200 years old and an old family heirloom. The soldier giving Black Jack the shave nicks him with the razor and profusely apologizes. I thought for a moment that Black Jack was going to slit the soldier’s throat, as he is that unpredictable. It provided such a contrast between the loving, gentle Frank, and Frank’s dark and twisted ancestor.
Black Jack is masterful in manipulating her and controlling the tone of the conversation. In one breath he says Claire’s story is questionable, and the next he lulls Claire into being more comfortable by apologizing for their earlier encounter in the woods and indicates that he will “reveal his true nature” and be honest. He listens to Claire tells a tall tale of a suitor who wronged her, and then tells her he know she is not being honest. Black Jack knows Dougal is raising money for the Jacobite cause and he will not allow her to leave until she tells him what he wants to know both about her and about the activities of the clan Mackenzie.
Black Jack then retells of the tale of Jamie’s flogging. The story and the flashbacks were gory, fascinating, harrowing, disturbing, cunning, and calculating. Claire characterizes Jamie as just a “poor highlander boy” whose punishment outweighed any crime, whereas Black Jack calls Jamie is a thief and murderer. Black Jack describes the whole experience and encounter of whipping Jamie’s back to the bone as a “masterpiece,” “exquisite,” and “beautiful.” I suppose it might have been to the sadistic soldier used to blood and gore and who takes enjoyment in suffering.
At the end, Black Jack states, “the truth carries a weight that no lie can counterfeit. I promised I would reveal myself to you, and now I have.” Claire is in tears, but tells Black Jack that there may be hope for his soul yet that he cares what she thinks. Black Jack says that being stationed in Scotland and combat has changed him. Claire says she thinks there is still a decent man within him who can earn back some humanity. It’s unclear whether Black Jack was genuine in telling Claire about being changed and his issues and self-loathing. Was he just embellishing the story about his own soul in order to manipulate and trick Claire? It’s hard to imagine someone with his cruel tendencies wouldn’t have experienced combat horrors or wouldn’t have some sort of self-loathing issues causing him to look at Jamie’s raw, bloody back as “artwork.”
Black Jack then makes Claire think that he will take her back to Inverness, and she’s happy. Then something in him completely snaps again and he punches Claire in the stomach, knocking the wind out of her. He also orders Corporal Hawkins to repeatedly kick Claire. Black Jack says he “belongs” in the darkness, he does not need sympathy from her and she gets no sympathy from him.
Dougal barges in to save Claire, but not before Black Jack warns him to return Claire to Fort William by sundown the next day for “further questioning.” After finally being convinced by some sort of “truth” water that Claire is not a spy for the English, Dougal comes up with the plan to have Claire marry Jamie, as the only way to prevent to having to turn her over is if she becomes a Scottish subject and then Black Jack could not force a Scottish subject from clan lands without permission from the Laird.
Jamie seems much more willing than Claire to buy into the plan and pays some lip service to “owing” Claire for mending his wounds. Claire also seems to realize this is likely the only way to avoid having to be turned back over to Black Jack. In one of the more surprising exchanges, Jamie tells Claire that it does not bother him that she is not a virgin as long is does not bother her that he is. I realize Jamie is supposed to be a bit younger than Claire, but that shocked me.
Next week is what much of the audience has been waiting for – Claire and Jamie get married, and finally connect romantically – the consummation of the connection between the two that has been building since the beginning of the series. I am sure the episode will provide some levity after the darkness of The Garrison Commander, but I am also sure we have not seen the last of Black Jack Randall.
Today is the birthday of Cassandra Peterson, aka Elvira Mistress of the Dark. Some of you may have grown up watching her movie or TV show Movie Macabre. Peterson’s popularity continues as demonstrated by her gig co-hosting Stan Lee’s Comikaze at the end of October. One super fan took her love of Elvira straight to the artists of Epic Ink. She didn’t know that she was in for a big surprise: Elvira was on hand to watch the girl get inked. An even bigger surprise for the tattoo artists, Elvira was inspired to get her first tattoo.
OHSOGRAY chatted with Epic Ink artists Josh Bodwell and Heather Maranda about their crazy Elvira day.
Epic Ink’s Elvira episode airs tonight, Wednesday, September 17th at 10:30/9:30c on A&E. Check out the trailer after the interview.
How did it come about that Elvira came in for a tattoo?
Heather: She didn’t come in for a tattoo. I think it was atmosphere.
Josh: It was amazing. She came in to surprise my client. My client was getting, you see it in the trailer, a portrait – realistic life quality/photographic quality portrait of Elvira and we wanted to surprise her with a really special guest. We sort of pulled a fast one on my client and brought Elvira in to meet her and actually hang out with us. That was all we thought was going to happen – we were going to surprise my client with a little twist and lo and behold, Heather starts chatting up Elvira.
Heather: We were just talking about silly things and comparing boobs. We just had fun and honestly I wasn’t expecting it. We were just hanging out and I think the atmosphere got to her. She decided she wanted to get a tattoo.
Josh: I feel like she had a real connection with you, too, Heather. I’ve said it before and I don’t know if it’s in the episode, but I feel like you guys were definitely kindred spirits and she definitely felt really comfortable with you. I had even spent some time with and my client, so we were chatting a little bit, too, and it [a tattoo] never really came up. As soon as she met you, she must’ve just seen something in you and your work and it was a really exciting moment.
Heather: Aww, so sweet Josh.
Does she have other tattoos or was this her first?
Heather: That’s her first and only tattoo. I don’t know if she’ll get any more. It was the tattoo that was painted on her in her movie, Elvira Mistress of the Dark. So, she decided because Cassandra plays Elvira, she’s Elvira, her tattoo… It’s a little thing. It’s not anything huge, but it was [also] little in the movie.
Josh: It’s so fitting for her because it is her. People have known her onscreen and have seen this tattoo in the movie, so it made sense that she got her tattoo. It is hers, after all.
Heather: Exactly. It’s her tattoo on her – it’s kinda cool.
Is it different for you when you’re tattooing somebody who is famous? Do you feel more pressure or there is going to be more scrutiny of your work?
Heather: I always feel pressure to do a good job. In that scene it was definitely, this is such a small and simple tattoo if I fuck it up then I’m an idiot. So yeah, there was a lot of pressure because of that. And the fact that it was Elvira. And the fact that I was tattooing her first tattoo ever and I was doing it in costume – it was really hot.
Josh: So everything was stacked up against Heather that day. I think as artists, we’re all very confident in our work, but when you’re dealing with a celebrity or something like that, typically you have a bit more time to mentally prep yourself. But in this case, I feel like it was pretty much just thrown at Heather like on the spot cause Elvira just decided, I think in that moment, that she was going to get a tattoo. I can imagine that put you off guard, Heather.
Heather: Totally. 100 percent. Cause first off, I was shocked she’d want me to do it. Then the fact that it was her first tattoo and it was a party atmosphere so there were tons of people. She was talking to her fans, and moving a lot, and the whole situation was crazy. I think I must’ve looked nervous because every single person there was like, “You look really nervous.” I think I was just concentrating really hard! [Laughs] I was like, “I must do this tattoo properly.”
For your other client, was that the first time you’ve done an Elvira tattoo?
Josh: That’s the amazing thing too; this was the first time that I’ve gotten a request, which is really odd because she is a popular subject, and it’s odd that I’ve never been requested to do an Elvira before. Knowing that I was going to show this tattoo not only to the client but the actual person that I tattooed was definitely an added level of pressure being there with my first Elvira portrait. She was going to inspect it and she was going to be the biggest critic – probably more so than the client. The client would be happy, regardless. I really felt like I had to make Elvira happy, as well.
Heather: I think that I would have made me….I’m glad I just got to tattoo Elvira. That was less pressure than actually tattooing her portrait – then having her look at it and go, “Uh, what did you do to my face?” But she didn’t because it was absolutely gorgeous. You hit it spot on, Josh.
Josh: Thank you. I definitely put in 120 percent cause I knew if there was one I had to nail, it had to be this portrait.
Did you guys grow up watching Elvira?
Heather: I definitely did. My mom worked in a video store so I had access to pretty much any video ever around that time. I was watching horror movies from the time I was seven or eight years old. So I definitely grew up with Elvira.
Would agree that Cassandra Peterson has not aged in the last 30 years?
Heather: Um, no – she’s pristine. Gorgeous.
Josh: She must actually be a real life vampire. I’ve never met anybody who still looks that good after all these years.
Heather: We were there – we were up close and personal with her…literally right up on her and she’s absolutely gorgeous.
Did you press her for her beauty secrets?
Heather: No, actually I didn’t. I kind of like to keep stuff away from personal [unless] they start bringing it up. That’s just with all my clients. So we just talked about random, fun things. It was very normal. She’s a very quick-witted, hilarious individual. I think that’s probably why we got along – we both have a similar sense of humor…almost a little bit fucked up so it just clicked and it was great.
Josh: She’s amazing. She lights up a room when she walks in. We had a party atmosphere going, but when she showed up, it really turned up.
We’re only a little more than a week away from the premiere of season 2 of The Blacklist, titled, “Lord Baltimore.” Here’s a synopsis of what’s in store…
“RED CONFRONTS AN IMPORTANT PERSON FROM HIS PAST– Mary Louise Parker (“Weeds”), Krysten Ritter (Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23) and Peter Stormare (“Fargo”) guest star–Red continues to battle Berlin (guest star Peter Stormare) and faces a new threat from a man named Lord Baltimore. An important person comes back from the past into Red’s world. Meanwhile, Liz (Megan Boone) tries to move forward with her life after her showdown with Tom (Ryan Eggold). Diego Klatenhoff, Harry Lennix, Amir Arison and Mozhan Marno also star.”
The Blacklist returns September 22nd at 10/9c on NBC.
In “Rent,” Claire’s road trip with the MacKenzie clan gave us part history lesson and political intrigue, part Claire making a new friend, and part Claire acting like a whiny child for not being included in the inner circle of a group of people that she herself does not like, does not trust, and wants to escape from at all costs. The opening of Claire standing by the loch certainly represented her solitude and isolation from the group as a whole, which was a theme throughout the episode.
Claire first meets and bonds with Ned Gowan, the MacKenzie clan’s lawyer who keeps records for the rents. Ned explains to Claire how the Laird’s rents are collected, that people often pay them in crops or livestock. Ned later tells Claire his backstory. Whether Ned is to be a major or a minor character as the series progresses, I enjoyed the subtle, non-forced way he was introduced.
Claire is again isolated from the group. Angus hands Claire dinner and everyone starts speaking Gaelic. Claire’s narration indicates that she is not uncomfortable with the bawdy jokes, the Gaelic, but she clearly appears so. She believes they’re using Gaelic to exclude her and expresses this to Jamie when he checks on her. Claire seemed whiny and contradictory in these scenes to me. She expresses sadly to Jamie that she thinks the group hates her, and Jamie reminds her that the group does not trust her. Jamie says that he does not think she is a spy, but he knows there are things she is not telling them and she did try to run during the Gathering. Claire looks and acts offended. If Claire is so intent on escaping and leaving the MacKenzie group behind, why does she care if they hate her? Yet she whines the whole episode about escaping and hating the life she now has.
The group arrives in a village, where the tenants line up to pay the rents. Dougal is very friendly and cordial with everyone. Claire wanders off and finds a group of women singing in Gaelic and dying wool, setting the dye with urine. She meets and befriends Donalda, who is friendly to her, but Claire is again on the outside looking into the group. From Claire’s language and expression to her trying to sing as the rest of the ladies are. Claire does find out a key bit of information from one of the ladies that the Craigh Na Dun stones are about 3 days ride from where they are now. Angus then shows up to drag Claire back to the group, as they are getting ready to leave.
As she learned that Donalda’s husband had to give their goat for rent and they had no milk to feed the baby, Claire then attempts to take the goat back. While I like that Claire was willing to stand up for Donalda, but Claire made quite a scene and then seemed offended and indignant when Dougal’s men were upset with her. Claire just met Donalda and impulsively jumps to conclusions. I understand that Claire is used to speaking her mind, and I think she should. But she should judge her audience and realize that there is a time and a place where it is and where it might not be so appropriate. Claire sometimes seems to forget she is in 1743, rather than 1945. Claire’s very public outburst draws the attention of another Englishman who asks if Claire is okay. Dougal tells the Englishman, whom we later find out is a redcoat, that she’s a guest of the clan MacKenzie and to not get involved.
Later, Dougal is making an impassioned speech and Claire again feels excluded. She surmises that Dougal is trying to collect “donations” but has seen Ned put them into a separate bag and thinks Dougal is doing it to line his own pockets. Dougal exposing Jamie’s scarred back also disgusts Claire. Dougal is using the shock of what the British did to Jamie to drum up sympathy for his “cause.”
Claire, once again, jumps to conclusions too soon. Later, Claire realizes after hearing the word “Stuart” during one of Dougal’s speeches that Dougal is raising funds for the Jacobite uprising. In the 1740s, the Jacobite uprisings sought to put the descendants of King James VII of Scotland and James II of England, Catholics, back on the British throne. Claire tries to warn Ned the cause fails and that the British army is just too powerful. Ned bristles and questions who Claire is to say that their cause is hopeless.
Claire also overhears/spies on an argument between Dougal and Jamie where Jamie wants to stop being used as an object of display and hears them discussing wanting “their king” back on the throne. Dougal calls Jamie on that all of their clansmen want the same thing tells Jamie that it will continue as long as Jamie is traveling with him.
Claire was left with a fascinating dilemma. Does she warn the MacKenzie party that they are doomed to fail by history, thus exposing her secret? Or will doing so only raise more suspicions that she is a spy? What will any attempt by her to alter the course of history do to the future past 1745? Will some of the MaKenzie clan be among the slaughtered?
During an argument between Claire and Dougal, the same British solider Claire encountered while trying to return the goat arrives, but with additional redcoats. Dougal warns the soldier to mind his own business and that Claire is a guest of the MacKenzie’s. The solider wonders if Claire is there voluntarily, and asks her as such. What will Claire say? Will Claire use the redcoats to escape the MacKenzies, bringing a whole new set of problems? If she does, will that just re-enforce the suspicions about her by the MacKenzie group? Will she again meet her husband Frank’s ancestor, Captain Randall?
There are a lot of intriguing, unanswered questions at this point. The episode was solid and the cinematography adds authenticity. Jamie and Claire are moving closer together, but at a slow pace. We’ll see if that speeds up soon.
High Moon is described as “an imaginative, out-of-this-world adventure that explores what happens when Earth establishes colonies to mine the Moon’s resources and discover a new form of life. Chaos erupts in a genuinely emotional, humorously thrilling and always unexpected fashion as the colonists of the Moon race to uncover this life form’s powerful secrets.”
This little gem seems to have slipped by under the radar. The newly released pics look very interesting, though. The story is based on the novel “The Lotus Caves,” by John Christopher. Bryan Fuller executive produced High Moon, which is enough on its own to make it worth a watch.
High Moon airs this Monday, September 15th at 9-11pm ET on Syfy.