What is biphobia?

Credit here:

Hands up, it’s a misleading title. We all know what homophobia is. Agoraphobia. Arachnophobia. My beloved NHS defines a phobia as such:

“A phobia is a type of anxiety disorder. You may not experience any symptoms until you come into contact with the source of your phobia. However, in some cases, even thinking about the source of a phobia can make a person feel anxious or panicky. This is known as anticipatory anxiety.”

If we look at Stonewall’s definition of homophobia:

“Homophobia is the irrational hatred, intolerance, and fear of lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) people. These negative feelings fuel the myths, stereotypes, and discrimination that can lead to violence against LGB people.”

I really don’t understand how the response to the “hey, I’m a lesbian but I liked men all along! REVELATION!” tweet is biphobic at all. If anything, you’re doing the reverse. You’re not opening the doors for bisexuality: you’re trivialising them. You’re turning them into people who labelled themselves as homosexual only to realise “well bi, bi, bi!”

It’s offensive.

From a homosexuality perspective, it’s equally offensive. You’re telling me that people who have not chosen to be homosexual, but are born that way, will suddenly you’re publishing articles about canon lesbians who will…go on to be attracted to men?

There are a number of issues here.

1.) These people are canon lesbians. I’m not saying sexuality isn’t on a kind of scale. But these people have come over strife and inner struggles to identify themselves as lesbians. The amount of courage it takes to do that is completely discounted by the fact that you, as a massive publication, have suddenly made a joke of it and said, well, yeah, maybe you were born that way–to clarify, you do  believe lesbians were born lesbians, right?–but don’t worry, there’s a chance you’ll be attracted to men!

2.) “Liked men all along” is a contradictory, reductive sentence to the terminology “canon lesbian”, so….what?

3.) Go write positive outlooks on break-ups. Go ahead. When some famous heterosexual ship like, I genuinely don’t know, say Gossip Girl still aired and you posted a positive one about Chuck and Blair now free to explore their questionable heterosexuality — wait, you wouldn’t post that, would you? It’d be weeks of mourning and sad gifs. So no, this double standard is completely unacceptable.

4.) You’re alienating your LGBTQ audience. Don’t accuse the community of being biphobic, come on, now. I as a queer person do not claim to know more about the community than anyone else. I’m also not dismissing the fact that some shows will use lesbianism for sweeps and soon they’ll be sleeping with men again. It happens all the time. We’re used to it. But don’t ridicule and trivialise it in such a way so that it can literally happen to any LGBTQ character. Some characters are lesbians because they are lesbians, and there is no repressed feeling of wanting to be attracted to a man at all.

5.) I’m worried because I respect your reach, TV Guide. And I’d hope your readers aren’t impressionable enough to swallow those words and take them to heart.

I believe in integrity of people so I believe in TV Guide; therefore I believe in the integrity of press. So I’d hope it’s just someone’s poor judgement. But duuuuuuuuuuuuude.

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‘The 100’: Xenophobia, discrimination & planned mass-murder: is humanity worth saving?

hakeldama1We’re getting some massively shifting perspective on The 100 – and it’s not for everyone

NB: This seems to be something I wrote a after 3×04, when I stopped watching the show. So it’s probably hugely inaccurate. Dug it up and I thought I might as well chuckle at what I thought would happen on the show, at least.

‘Watch The Thrones’, penned by Dorothy Fortenberry, is a rollercoaster—the kind that makes you puke afterwards. This is simply taking one aspect from the storyline and questioning it. The 100’s moral greyness is undoubted—it’s been drilled into our heads. Good characters do bad things and vice versa; maybe “there are no good guys”. But Pike and Bellamy in this episode and the Hakeldama trailer really pushed boundaries, and it was a shame—and definitely not Ms. Fortenberry’s fault, for the plot-line—that it over-shadowed some truly epic scenes in Polis.

With the episode and trailer shown, plus Mo Ryan’s interview released, social media notably latched onto the 9/11 comparisons—understandably still a tender subject. Introducing a man of colour who preaches xenophobia and comparing that to 9/11 is a dangerous line to walk. I’m not an American, nor am I Muslim: I can’t tell anyone how to feel when they read pieces like that and interpret and feel the way they do. I do believe Jason Rothenberg had good intentions in writing this storyline, but at the end of the Variety interview, when it seems like he’s justifying the atrocities Bellamy and Pike commit after he’s just paralleled it to 9/11, it was a bitter pill to swallow. Even if the mass-murder benefits Arkadia somehow, it’s still mass-murder.

If anyone’s angered, upset, or feel misrepresented, I can’t tell you to quell that because it’s simply not my position. I have the utmost respect for the diverse viewers of The 100, and I won’t dictate how you should or shouldn’t feel, or to stop you from expressing it. It is important that The 100 is trying to weave in topical issues, but it’s equally important that if the audience take offence to such issues, that it’s spoken, made heard, understood and for the higher-ups to learn from that. But is it so hard to comprehend that despite ‘progression’ in our society, Muslims are discriminated against, subject to suspicion and attack?

hakeldama2Pike: Xenophobic, manipulative and a fear-mongerer…the ideal leader.

On The 100, Pike (Michael Beach) continues to spread his toxic, xenophobic slurs with ferocity and pride. He’s inherently unlikeable yet exudes charisma—the kind plenty of hero-worshipped dictators did (Mao, Hitler, Mussolini…). It makes sense Pike is devastated by the Ice Nation’s actions—but experience cannot justify his widespread racial intolerance, discrimination and hate-preaching that. Ever since he proudly uttered the phrase “Grounder killers”, yelled at Indra to “speak English” on her own territory, and in the iTunes trailer, declares “This land is OURS now! Resist and you will be greeted by death.” (Does it suddenly reek of imperialism in here, or is it just me? Or maybe it’s tyranny…either way, it’s a stench), he was going to be divisive to say the least. Who crash-landed on the Grounders’ territory and made settlements there? Back in the day, they’d call that an invasion and thus an act of war (so why’s anyone surprised when the commander of that territory sent warriors to retaliate?). Who blew up the bridge, produced a ring of fire; whose unhinged boy murdered eighteen innocent villagers? Hint: it wasn’t the Grounders.

Pike: “Anger is our policy! Now, if [the Grounders] are here to ‘defend us’, as you say, then tell them: TO – GO – HOME!”

Humans excel at fear. When we’re scared, we spurt out irrational thoughts; we make terrible decisions. Adrenaline pushes us to ‘fight or flight’. Pike isn’t scared of the Grounders. He wants to attack. So he uses the Sky People’s vulnerable position and fears to drag them towards his xenophobic and dichotomous philosophy. The fact is, Pike’s ordering a mass-murder of innocents sent to protect them, knowing via Kane they’re from outlier villages, knowing the Ice Nation are solely responsible for Mount Weather—yet he plows ahead with his revolting xenophobia.

That’s like generalizing all German civilians as Nazis; generalizing all Muslims as terrorists. It’s repulsive and reductive. Pike’s lost people to the Grounders; Bellamy’s also lost people to the Grounders, and Gina. But Clarke’s lost Wells, Finn and her dad. Lexa and Indra lost 250 of their people at TonDC—and Lexa has lost 300 of her warriors twice, now, by Skaikru hand. Lexa lost Costia. None of them consequentially generalized populations and painted them as terrorists, to be used as a scapegoat—and that’s exactly what Pike’s doing. Why? Because Pike’s a douche? Or because Farm Station still aren’t telling the full story of how they survived up North…?

hakeldama3Bellamy: An enforcer and now a committer of treason.

Bob Morley’s portrayal of Bellamy has been consistently well-acted, but his character’s lurch into his season one mentality is giving me whiplash. It’s without doubt Bellamy can do morally questionable things (like selfishly smashing Raven’s radio upon finding her)—but in season two, Bellamy was an excellent soldier. He was honourable, brave and kickass. Morley says in an IGN interview that Bellamy is an enforcer—not a leader. Yet Octavia, his beloved sister, was there to stop him from at the gates and he still didn’t listen. He didn’t listen to Kane. He’s been utterly sucked in by Pike’s words.

But Bellamy’s suffered a lot, too. Betrayed by Lexa at Mount Weather, Clarke leaving Camp Jaha, Octavia wanting to leave Arkadia, Gina’s death (RIP Gina, for you were unfairly fridged) and the feeling of responsibility in getting tricked by Echo, leading to Mount Weather’s destruction—it’s a heavy weight to bear. At the beginning of the episode, Bellamy tearfully hands in his guard jacket because he couldn’t save lives. But by the end of the same episode, Bellamy suddenly wants to massacre every peacekeeping Grounder outside their gates.

What?! This is the same Bellamy who was present at the initiation ceremony, and heard Ice Nation claim responsibility for Mount Weather—yet these 300 non-Ice Nation warriors, from nearby villages, are sent to protect Arkadia. He knows this, and I desperately want to sympathize with Bellamy, but this is where one of The 100’s strength falls short: its fast pace. It makes for an adrenaline-fuelled journey, but it also robs us of Bellamy’s emotional exploration (hasn’t he known Pike for like, an hour?) as well as offering is rushed redemption arcs, devoid of emotional impact.

hakeldama4Ignorance can be a cause of death.

What I find most disgusting about Team Pike is that Pike ignores Kane stating Indra had assured them they were there to protect Arkadia. A fact. He continues with his dense assumption that these Grounders are here to attack the newest clan of the coalition. Pike…Do you know what a coalition means? Pike, who led a team and stormed Polis with weapons, interrupted a ceremony, and was still mercifully pardoned by the Grounder commander. The commander sends 300 people to protect Arkadia and Pike, who should’ve been killed on the spot by at the ceremony because weaponry in Polis is illegal, still thinks all Grounders are the same? One of the Arkers even has the gall to say Kane’s brand on his arm is like branding for livestock, and the look of shameful disgust on Kane’s face mirrored my own. Pike’s narrow-minded followers have no respect for Grounder culture and spiritualism. They’re ignorant and discriminatory, and sad reflections of issues that still occur in daily life—where ignorance truly is one of the vilest sins.

I ask, if this were a nameless situation and non-show related: would you redeem a tyrant manipulating a population’s fear into killing 300 innocent people, based on assumption and the omission of fact? Would you redeem every participant in Pike’s attack? When has this ever happened before? Clarke’s genocide was because she had no choice and she had to save her people. Whoever can argue Lexa and Clarke’s sacrifice at Tondc is quite frankly ridiculous because they didn’t fire the missile (i.e. issue the attack); they immediately felt remorse; it was a decision made in war; they actually saved Bellamy’s cover and life; and ultimately, they didn’t personally attack (well, they didn’t attack at all) out of sheer, disgusting xenophobia. That was Mount Weather’s attack.

In all fairness, we’re only on episode four and there are still twelve episodes left to clear the mess. And with The 100 raising issues and debates like this—it really does show the importance of xenophobia, even though so far it’s handling it quite atrociously. We’ve only seen a trailer. Maybe there are external factors that contribute to Pike and Bellamy’s actions. Trailers can be misleading—maybe ALIE’s drones killed the Grounders. Maybe the Ice Nation did in retaliation. But from Kane’s horrified “you killed an army? Sent to protect us?” to Bellamy in the trailer and Bellamy confessing they’d gone “too far”, it’s easy to conclude that they really did carry out the massacre.

hakeldama5Genocide versus Massacre

I just can’t mentally compute any justification for a planned massacre: personally and objectively, from any ethical standpoint. It’s mass-murder. Even worse: it’s planned, xenophobic mass-murder. It’s horrors that have occurred in the past, such as the WWII, the Sino-Japanese wars, the Crusades—and still happen today, with ISIL and Boko Haram. Taking a still-tender case: Would you redeem the radicalized Jihadists responsible for the Paris attacks? Because they were Muslim, would you generalize all Muslims as terrorists who should be killed? Of course not. There are 1.6 billion Muslims in this world. To generalize a terrorist attack engineered by a small militia of violent monsters is ignorant and unjust—and that’s what Pike and his followers are doing, by using the Ice Nation’s brutality as an scapegoat for ‘all Grounders are evil’.

By definition, Pike & co’s attack on the peacekeeping grounders is an act of terrorism. When Clarke committed genocide after having no choice at Mount Weather, she couldn’t (and still can’t) forgive herself; it haunts her. By definition, Pike and his followers also commit genocide—a mass-killing of people for particular beliefs and differences to them. Genocide doesn’t equate to the eradication of an entire race. History has shown this. Hitler committed genocide—but he didn’t kill all Jews. So how can Pike and his followers, committing a planned genocide of innocents, ever be forgiven? They’re driven by xenophobia, anger and spite—and as seen in the trailer, the results are monstrous, and Octavia, Lexa and Clarke are horrified. Just look at Lexa’s face—this is so different to TonDC. She specifically sent 300 grounders to protect Arkadia—and it’s resulted in their mass-murder. No matter what happens in the future of The 100 that may somehow benefit Pike slaughtering 300 innocent Grounders—the fact remains that he still did it. They still committed an act of genocide.

I sympathize with how they all feel following Mount Weather and their losses, but I cannot accept the humanity of a cold-blooded mass-murder. That’s inhumanity. This isn’t the murder of Grounders based on the fact they’ll attack: it’s based on the assumption they’ll attack, because Grounders are all the same to Pike. Does this sound topical? That’s because it is—because racial profiling and discrimination is still rife in this world. People still assume others of certain races or religions are antagonistic and they are unfairly demonized for it.

Kane: “You attacked an army? That was there to help us?”

A thought to ponder on: how has your perspective, as a viewer, changed since season one? Do you still see the Grounders as savages, after seeing Polis and their political system and democracy? Do you still see the Arkers as the heroes? Consider this: a radical commander forming a coalition in which she accepts clans from all cultures; in which a city is formed where people from all walks of life can live—whilst Charles Pike exerts violent tyranny as chancellor of the Ark and executes 300 innocent protectors. Now who are the savages?

 

hakeldama6ALIE and humanity: is humanity worth saving after all?

I argued in a previous post, humanity, I believe, is worth saving. Pike’s bigoted and disrespectful but that’s exactly it: humanity can be hateful, disgusting and brutal. We can’t generalize Pike’s xenophobia onto everyone—look at how accepting Kane, Abby, Octavia and Clarke are. If we generalize Pike’s behaviour onto all humans, aren’t we just sinking to his level?

On the flipside, Clarke shows that humanity can also love. Though ALIE may grow increasingly self-aware and independent, we don’t know if Rebecca or the programmers taught ALIE human morality—to act with the people’s best interests at heart. Judging by the apocalypse, she’s a highly-advanced AI (perhaps even an ASI) who saw a quick, efficient solution out of her root problem—but humanity’s cruelty is increasingly exposed by mass-murders, prejudice, and war. To ALIE, it’s ridiculous. Why don’t these idiots just stop fighting and live in the City of Light?

Interestingly, the next episode is ‘Hakeldama’, a Biblical term that’s now commonly known as the Field of Blood.

The passage from the NAS95S’s Acts 1:18-19 reads: (“Now this man acquired a field with the price of his wickedness, and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his intestines gushed out. And it became known to all who were living in Jerusalem; so that in their own language that field was called Hakeldama, that is, Field of Blood.”)

We must note that traditionally, Hebrews interpreted blood differently as we do today: they believed it was the very soul of a person, quite often associated with desire too. So perhaps ‘Hakeldama’ plays more into its Field of Blood reputation—the loss of so many souls—rather than the site of Judas Iscariot’s suicide there (I suppose one could argue that in betraying the Grounders in such horrific fashion, like Judas did to Jesus, there are similarities).

Lexa: “How do we best lead as Commanders?”

Nightblood: “By serving our people. Each life is valuable, and we suffer every loss as our own.”

For the ugliness of humanity The 100 is showcasing this season I do believe that humanity will conquer all. It must. For example, for Clarke and Lexa, who dream of lasting peace and no wars (especially Lexa, who tried to build a peaceful utopia via the coalition only for it to fall)—they have to accept humanity’s crimes as part of just who humans are. They have to accept that humanity is humanity’s right, not an AI’s—and that’s why I think no matter how powerful the AI, humanity will prevail. Love is the greatest weapon after all, isn’t it? (Link to Aaron Ginsburg’s tweet) Love cost Costia’s life. Love cost Finn’s life. Abby by law had to betray Jake, whom she loved. Lexa sacrificed Clarke for the love she holds for her people. It’s a deadly weapon to be struck by—but a weapon means you can strike back too.

I don’t believe ALIE has been programmed to recognize the importance of love. AIs can self-learn, but they respond ultimately to an ongoing core command. It’s almost cliché to say that love will defeat the ‘villain’—but these characters have an overwhelming amount of love. Bellamy loved Gina. Raven loved Finn. Octavia loves Lincoln. Clarke loves Abby—and even Lexa, possibly, as the season unravels. Lexa is perhaps the most altruistic of the lot: everything she does, she does for her people—including sacrificing her personal love (twice, with Costia and Clarke) for the greater good, yet her ardency for Clarke is undeniable.

You could even argue that in creating peace in a completely unjust world, Lexa’s been saving humanity all along—because humanity includes her entire people. The 100 world can get ugly, and sometimes irredeemable, but I think whoever ends up saving humanity from ALIE, it’ll be surely love that breaks through. And you know, sometimes humanity is undeserving of that. But humans make mistakes; they’re flawed, selfish and greedy. But they love, they care, they are kind. If anyone should get to decide whether or not humanity can be salvaged, it should be humanity itself. They can choose right, or they can self-destruct.

Judging by Pike and Bellamy’s mass-murder, they’re on course for the latter.

‘The 100’: Gritty, it is Not

It’s about time we created a post-apocalyptic drama with zero realism, said no-one.

There are likely approximately minus three-thousand reasons why ‘The 100’ got a renewal this year. For a show that claims to be gritty, it truly is not. Really, the term ‘gritty’ needed a double check in the dictionary to understand its definition. Nowhere next to the word does it say ‘unnecessary darkness with no light at the end of the tunnel’. Wars had victories, albeit at a great cost. Mass-murderers usually got their comeuppance. A bunch of mainly-white, insanely good-looking, fresh-off-the-boat ‘convicts’ who look like they’ve just stolen a loaf of bread getting sent down to earth? Considering the earth’s habitable and the Ark is dying of oxygen starvation, it seems like a sweet deal.

That’s not to mention that nowhere near the word ‘gritty’ is there ‘unrealistic’. In the first episode (or something) Jasper (Devon Bostick), the most annoying boy in the world, gets staked in the chest by a spear. He survives, because Clarke (Eliza Taylor) clumsily rubs some seaweed on him. But it’s magic! You say. No. We eat seaweed. We do not survive a spear to the chest.

Yet when Commander Lexa bursts on-screen (Alycia Debnam-Carey) to the jeers of unnamed shippers, she get shot by a gun to a non-fatal organ. Instead of using her healing abilities, Clarke faffs about. Murphy (Richard Harmon) and Titus (Neil Sandilands) stand and perform an excellent impression of lemons. They do not call for help. Thus, the great Commander who united twelve clans and fought several wars…dies.

 

That isn’t even the half of it.

Within what seems like days, Raven (Lindsey Morgan) suffers a spinal injury and kinda gets better. Granted, there’s five minutes of her being in agony. Thanks to her knight in shining armour (we’ve forgotten his name) she has a crutch made for her. This is no slight on Morgan’s acting. She perhaps has some of the better scenes in the show. But for someone with a bullet lodged in the spine you’d think there’d be sufficient nerve damage. No-one can realistically withstand that pain without some opiates. But no, soldier Raven goes on, hobbling about. Stupidly, she ignores the medical advice of Abby (Paige Turco). You guessed it: she’s a trained medic. But anything for the unnecessary drama, right?

Ignoring the fight scenes in Polis is a wise thing to do right now. Having Lexa face a daunting Prince Roan (Zach McGowan) is difficult to explain and requires another analysis article. And that’s assuming the show thought of such tactics whilst choreographing the scene. But the problem with ‘The 100’ is creating conflict where there is none. When Clarke killed the Mount Weather residents, couldn’t she just have brokered a deal where year by year, the Arkers donate blood? Once? Then, like Emerson, they can roam the land.

Jaha (Isaiah Washington) deserves a website of his own. Landing on earth on a missile? Check. Getting high off some shrooms in the Dead Zone and hallucinating some chick in a curvy red dress? Check. There must be a theory somewhere about Jaha dying as he crossed the atmosphere of Earth, burning, and replaced by a robot.

Anything’s possible…

 

Gritty does not equal macabre mass-murders.

‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy’ was a gritty, quiet thriller. Featuring the acting prowess of Gary Oldman and Colin Firth to name a few, the film was quiet, smoky and brooding. The trick was, it never overdid it. However, there were disgustingly inappropriate (one could say the show did overdo it) deaths in ‘The 100’. Especially for its timeslot on ‘The CW’, which is probably aimed at tweens.

Instead, ‘The 100′ seems to end with genocide every single season. In the first season, Clarke—eighteen years old—scorches three hundred Grounders alive. She doesn’t even know them. In the second season, she gasses over three hundred Mountain Men, some of which are children. In season three, she condemns the entire world to a fate of an oncoming nuke. That’s pretty heavy stuff for someone who can’t even legally drink in the USA.

This is a disclaimer: mostly, it was well-acted, especially by Eliza Taylor.

Bob Morley’s Bellamy gets the brunt of it. Manipulated by a crazed son-of-a-bleep, Bellamy sets off in the middle of the night. Accompanied by like-minded individuals, he murders three-hundred Grounders in their sleep. The worst thing? They were sent by the Commander to guard the Arkers’ segregated camp, Arkadia. They were there to protect.

This moves us onto our next point…

 

Gritty does not equal colonialism.

This could all be a moot point, if Jason Rothenberg had decided to be clever and tell the story of man. We are instinctively selfish; we want. Ask Christopher Columbus. We see land that is fertile, and we invade. Do we care about the people who lived there previously? Running out of water and provisions, the likely answer is no.

But we do not live in a world like that anymore. How many of you will sail ashore, find a deserted island, kill the natives and roast some fish by the fire? ‘The 100’ was never a story about the horrors of man: it simply is not clever enough to be so. There are too many plot gorges to be so. Storytelling is not a necessity here.

This is not a hate piece. It is the criticism nobody really wants to hear. If we looked at the bare-bones of what has transpired over these hollow seasons, the themes remain the same. The Natives (the Grounders) are slowly but surely shunted from their land, to make room for the Arkers. All traditions they have are taken over by Arker science. These Grounders—these Neanderthals—are ridiculed, sometimes by Clarke, for their beliefs. Indra (Adina Porter) is especially represented as brutal. Hakeldama showed that regardless of past allegiance, the Arkers will terminate the foreign scum. Without mercy. The treatment of Lincoln (Ricky Whittle) was despicable. He was imprisoned for the season and then executed like a Jew in World War II.

It’s not just that. Even Clarke, who we do love, is seen as some white saviour. With her scenes in Polis, she regularly speaks out-of-turn and defies the Commander, who commands ultimate respect. Bob Morley, with his Filipino origins, has that utterly erased when Rothenberg & co cast a pure-white boy for his flashbacks. So maybe this is some weird experiment about how man is perpetually racist. My bet? Rothenberg wasn’t that clever.

 

‘Wynonna Earp’ may just be #TooFemale’s worst nightmare, and it’s brilliant.

#TooFemale. That was the hashtag that dominated Twitter after CBS shoved a foot in their mouth and proceeded to choke on it by not picking up ‘Nancy Drew’ (with lead Sarah Shahi) for, of all reasons, being too female. It rightly caused outrage on Twitter—not just from Shahi’s legions fans of ‘The L Word’ and ‘Person of Interest’ fans, but simply across the board. I can’t say I’ve worked in the television industry thus my experience here is lacking, but when you justify not picking up a pilot, did anyone think to maybe, I don’t know, suggest that including ‘too female’ in the statement—when you’re a network picking up a billion other pilots centred around the typical male—was kind of a bad idea?

Well, it looks like nobody did, and it’s a ruddy shame too—because on the very same channel in the mind-blowing episode ‘6,741’ of ‘Person of Interest’—in an entirely Sameen Shaw (Shahi) centric episode, Shahi absolutely kicked ass and proved to pretty much everyone that if you should be clamouring for a female lead of a series, Shahi may certainly be your first call.

Yeah she kind of kicked ass. Major. Ass.

Yeah she kind of kicked ass. Major. Ass.

There’s nothing wrong with the lack of pick-up with ‘Nancy Drew’ (despite it reportedly testing well with audiences…oh boy). If you have a promising line-up of clearly superior shows, then of course ‘Nancy Drew’, if proven to be less promising than them, would be shunted away. But the very excuse of ‘too female’ is quite frankly ridiculous—and whilst some lamented the idiocy of CBS’ statement (and that’s what it was: idiocy) others turned it into something of a wry joke. Including myself. Because there cannot be a more pathetic, disgusting, stupidly churned-out excuse for not picking up a pilot—of all the excuses in the world—they went for literally the most brain-zapped one. Which was ironic, considering CBS executives must’ve looked at ‘Person of Interest’ episode four and thought, “well darn, we’ve just got to air a Shaw-centric episode with a rough female/female sex scene.”

I can’t argue for CBS’ facepalm-worthy statement. I think others have been far more eloquent in doing so—and I think Twitter, certainly, has gotten to the stage of mockery and disgust that it’s quite prevalent what the general audience think of such a statement. But there is a show that I’m immensely enjoying that wallops #toofemale in the ass and sends it to the pits of hell with a simple “lights out, bitch.”

If you're gonna kill Revenants, at least have a cool catchphrase, huh? (I bet she did not divulge this to Waverly, who would whip out a script...)

If you’re gonna kill Revenants, at least have a cool catchphrase, huh? (I bet she did not divulge this to Waverly, who would whip out a script…)

That show is ‘Wynonna Earp’. If you haven’t heard of it, you might not have opened Twitter for about five years thus not quite catching wind of Ms. Emily Andras’ female-led adaptation of Beau Smith Ranch’s graphic novels of the same name. The premise is simple and a garble of every horror, Western, sci-fi, fantasy, comedy and drama churned in a magical pot of unapologetic badassery. If it were a sausage machine it would puke out sausages that’d burn your tongue for the number of snort-inducing one-liners laced in the dialogue, and then soothe it with magical calamine at the refreshing development of characters and importantly, a web—not an exclusive network of pairings—of relationship arcs.

She's also a crazy chick with a gun. Or a hardcore raver. It's hard to tell these days.

She’s also a crazy chick with a gun. Or a hardcore raver. It’s hard to tell these days.

Melanie Scrofano is the unfathomably kickass lead with a truckload of snark, a haunted past, a dash of vulnerability, the ability to pull off a one-liner like nobody’s business and a top-shelf ass (hey—not my words). As the eponymous heroine, Wynonna is all of these things but most importantly, she loves. She isn’t just some closed-off, robotic, stoic piece of granite (with some great dimples—seriously). She loves with all her heart. She’s still somewhat haunted by her past, though often she makes light of being the ‘town pariah’. Her love for Gus, and most notably her love for her younger sister Waverly (the fantastic Dominique Provost-Chalkley) is hands-down the best relationship on the show. Without a single doubt. Their undying love and faith in each other is incomparable. Waverly might welcome her sister back to Purgatory with a rifle and a threat to slip into something comfy—”like a coma” (seriously, watch this show)—but it’s Wynonna who saves Waverly’s life when she’s kidnapped. It’s Waverly who helps the Black Badge division with her brains. It’s Wynonna who Waverly calls when she, er, scissors a stripper (that’s Chrissy’s fault). And it’s Wynonna who comes to her rescue and comforts her in the freezing cold as they lament over Waverly’s misery at never being able to play the piano again. Not that she played it in the first place.

These two have undoubtedly the best relationship on the show, and Scrofano and Provost-Chalkley are magical to watch.

These two have undoubtedly the best relationship on the show, and Scrofano and Provost-Chalkley are magical to watch.

Wynonna and Waverly’s relationship is wrought with humour, trust, heartrending loyalty, dedication, and most of all—they know each other inside-out. Wynonna and Waverly to me are like a brain meshed together; a right and left hemisphere, if you will, and the corpus callosum is their immense love for the other. This isn’t a show where love is centred around your typical ‘ship’; this show is centred around Wynonna’s hunt for the seven who killed Wyatt Earp, and the romance is centred around this beautiful smatter of television.

Solid bun in this picture. No but really: Waverly rocks the ever-living cripes out of Wynonna Earp.

Solid bun in this picture. No but really: Waverly rocks the ever-living cripes out of Wynonna Earp.

Waverly is someone I think I could gush about for days. Brilliant, intelligent, charming, winningly beautiful and a talented pom-pom swirler (and singer!), she’s the grin-inducing, bubbly younger sister of grumper chumper Wynonna. And yes, Wynonna’s snarkiness and her unwitting moments of humour are point-blank hilarious (and played to a tee by Scrofano) but Waverly has won my heart a little, admittedly, for the good-natured attitude she has towards life. It is somewhat jaded by the darkness that shrouds Purgatory, but her upbeat attitude and her acceptance of everyone (okay, even Chrissy, come on—but I do mean Doc, really) is refreshing. She kind of wants to be a crowd-pleaser, as Officer Nicole Haught (Katherine Barrell—we’ll get onto that later) notes—but is truly coming into her own these past couple of episodes. Firstly: I would like to commend Waverly on dumping that boy-man Champ (though bless him…but good for you) and spouting this winner of a line:

How can someone so pretty be so smart? – Champ

Ugh, because the two aren’t mutually exclusive! – Waverly

Proudly earning her the status as the keeper of bones (and then immediately endangering her life—yes, this is good ol’ Wynonna Earp) by cleverly solving her uncle’s riddles, Waverly’s not only technically brilliant in the years of research she dug up about the Revenants in Wynonna’s absence, but she is utterly independent of her sister. The two share a bond I have raved about above, but without Wynonna, Waverly is not a helpless girl. Though episode seven opens with Wynonna a little concerned about Waverly being lonely, she responds with a grin and a hair-flick. In the very same episode she endures quite possibly the most torturous of things: an engagement party with one heck of an idiot bride-to-be, a big-ass male ‘stripper’ who turns out to be the stone witch’s lackey (and she stabs him with a scissor) and the aforementioned stone witch zombifying the dead in order to attack the Earp house.

Waverly’s response? She rants and rants about salt, she flabberblubbs her way through admitting she is a ‘freak’ in a proud manner, I interpreted it as. She admits: she’s a freak; Wynonna’s a freak; Doc’s a freak (to his insistence) and she doesn’t give a rat’s arse because she scissored a stripper and also because she’s going to save everyone’s lives. And she does, with a throw of a skull so worthy of the Olympics shotput event that if Ms. Provost-Chalkley does not enter herself, I might have to do it covertly for her.

Wynonna is undoubtedly the hero—if there are any heroes and villains, truly, of this piece (well, okay, Constance Clootie)—but Waverly, quietly getting on with her work, her riddles and rebuilding her life around the (somewhat mild) loss of Champ, still getting used to having her sister back on the radar, and perhaps coming to terms with an unexpected connection with a new police officer in town—Nicole Haught (it’s pronounced ‘hot’)—is without a doubt a hero herself. There can be very different definitions of heroes. Wynonna is the crazy chick with a gun who is reckless, fearless and will either snark you to death or literally Peacemaker you to death (with a solid catchphrase to boot) whereas Waverly’s the book-smart, intelligent, charming, unassuming one. In my book: they’re both heroes, and their relationship? About as heroically needed as they come. So often on my television screen it’s built for comedy when you get bickering siblings, or there just isn’t that closeness—convincing closeness, and credit must go to Scrofano and Provost-Chalkley for such incredible chemistry—than I’ve seen on Wynonna Earp. And I think a lot of credit has to go to the scriptwriters and to Ms. Emily Andras, the show-runner, too. Adaptation or not, it would be so easy to have the lead ‘love’ of the show be Wynonna and Doc, or Wynonna and Dolls, or even some kind of messy love triangle—but without a doubt, it’s Wynonna and Waverly. And without a  doubt, it’s the female characters who are getting all the attention, because in this literally ‘too female’ world, that’s the kind of representation perhaps young girls crave.

Role-models: as individual as we are, so they come in different shapes, sizes and mentalities.

Role-models: as individual as we are, so they come in different shapes, sizes and mentalities.

Why? Because why can’t young girls look up to Wynonna Earp and see themselves as a gun-toting, unafraid, brave and loyal machine-gun of a character? Why can’t young girls look up and see themselves as Waverly, who has been somewhat shunted aside by her friends for being a ‘freak’ but she constantly works her way through it. She doesn’t want to lose her brain; she wants to keep that innate intelligence and use it for good. She likes her affable charm and award-worthy smile; she likes that she’s got hair for days. She’s proud of it—and why can’t young girls look up to those two and think of certain elements they could aspire to? Why can’t they watch Wynonna Earp and watch the siblings make mistakes, and be allowed to by the show—and suffer the consequences for it? Why can’t they be allowed to know that the Earp siblings are fallible; that they are human? That they can relate?

Hold onto your Stetsons, 'cause it's about to get haught in here...(and if you're wearing a Stetson and you're not Nicole Haught, stop.)

Hold onto your Stetsons, ’cause it’s about to get haught in here…(and if you’re wearing a Stetson and you’re not Nicole Haught, stop.)

This doesn’t even bring me onto Nicole Haught yet, and the positive representation Officer Haught gives to the very same community. It’s not a general statistic—I don’t have any claims to back that up—but often on social media I see a lot of admiration for the cast for their portrayals of their characters, from young Twitter users. Scrofano and Provost-Chalkley are rightly praised, and so is Ms. Katherine Barrell, who proved in the latest episode that it wasn’t all charming smiles and that love-heart-eyes-emoji (there was plenty of that, though). Barrell’s Haught in episode seven was what individualises her from the rest of the Purgatory sheriff department—this includes the sheriff himself, who’s somewhat useless. Haught is sharp, wary, suspicious, questioning—and she’s probing in all the right areas.

Episode seven also offered up for some incredibly unexpected yet magnificent Haught/Wynonna interaction—and that’s exactly what I mean when I have to praise Ms. Andras for spinning this web of dynamics instead of settling for the same duos every week. Doc and Dolls have had scenes; Dolls and Haught; Wynonna and Doc; Wynonna and Dolls; Dolls, Wynonna and Waverly; Waverly and Doc; Waverly and Bobo—everyone’s connected in some way or another and it’s something brilliant to unravel, because it’s an excellent way of exploring a character’s psyche. How does Waverly act around X, Y and Z? You can literally see it unravel in front of you on-screen. Haught and Wynonna’s interactions particularly won me over because it was a marvellous mesh of Wynonna’s somewhat tipsy but reckless and quick conclusions, versus Haught’s more cautious approach to the situation. It made up for some hilarious conversations, bragging rights for Wynonna that she got a top-shelf ass, and pensive words from a thoughtful police officer. It also made up for some patience being blown out of the water, for suspicions to arise—in a paranoid, jumpy episode.

It’s remarkable, because I don’t think Barrell has had many scenes on the show yet (but has steadily built a loyal fanbase) but she certainly sets the screen alight with her [red-haught] performance (sorry!) every time she’s on screen. I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen people tweet they’ve missed Haught this episode, or the literal Twitter party everyone seemed to simultaneously explode into when she did return. And I think that’s incredibly masterful.

There's already been an overwhelming amount of fanwork for this magnetic duo.

There’s already been an overwhelming amount of fanwork for this magnetic duo.

What I find even better is the way the show is handling the juggernaught of this new ship (massive cruise-liner) “WayHaught” (that’s Waverly and Haught). Admittedly, they haven’t had much interaction at all and the ship has certainly ‘not sailed’ in my opinion; however, their charming scene in episode two and further scenes have garnered huge numbers of views on YouTube and it’s not so much as an exploding supernova than it is a supermassive black-hole consuming our brains as we drift into the inevitable event horizon of WayHaught.

They’re charming on-screen together. The chemistry between Barrell and Provost-Chalkley is absolutely undeniable; it crackles in the freezing cold of the show. But what I find most admirable is the way the actors and the show-runner herself has handled the attention ‘WayHaught’ has gained. For Ms. Andras, I cannot recall her making any false promises or misleading fans in terms of the ship—and you must remember that via Twitter, it does seem to be a very young thus vulnerable demo. After the recent disasters of female/female ships (I’m taking Root and Shaw out of this because—stop it) or just female characters in general, the fact that WayHaught has spawned such an intense following is incredible. The amount of love shown to the fans—and to each other—by the actors is awe-inspiring. The intimate interaction is important—because in this ever-evolving world of social media, where—on Twitter, especially—such validation can come with an instant 140 characters, it’s just heart-warming to see young fans revel and ‘squee’ over their favourite actors on their favourite shows like their tweet or retweet them.

TV is not just a matter of sitting down every week and watching a bolster of a show and switching off again. It’s gone past that point. I mean, my mum used to do that with Xena (I’m pretty sure she had no idea what it was). TV is at a point where you can trend important things for people to see; TV is subject to live-tweeting and immediate responses to the show; TV isn’t in a vacuum anymore (drink everytime you see that phrase and you’ll be on the floor) because social media has grabbed it by the scruff of the neck and given it a good shake. TV is utterly intertwined with social media, because here is a chance for instant validation and reaction of something that’s happened—and it’s already proven (certainly for ‘The 100’) that social media isn’t a joke. Social media can tweet up a storm, and I think that’s an incredibly good thing. Voices otherwise not are being heard. Interactions impossible are suddenly not.

As for ‘WayHaught’—I can say with the positive feedback it’s gotten from the community, from the actresses, from the show-runner—I think it’s a fun addition to an already fun romp (I need to find a new word) of a show. At risk of being hit, I will not say “well, WyNaught?” But I just think, after witnessing the utter despair and loss of hope ‘The 100’ delivered in its usual sub-par manner with Commander Lexa’s almost laughably tropey death, it’s nice to see fans having something to rejoice over again. Yes, fans will be cautious of falling victim to the ‘BYG trope’ again—but for the most part, I can see joy and people just enjoying the thrill of a ride that is Wynonna Earp, and for this, the ship WayHaught. It’s got probably the most brilliant ship name ever, it’s got chemistry that’s like a giant chunk of francium in water and it’s so much bloody fun. It’s on a show that doesn’t pretend to be something it’s not. It’s on a show where the show-runner is about as unapologetically badass as Wynonna (check her twitter header) and it’s on a show where you don’t get a lady-on-lady conversation squabbling about boys—it’s utterly, utterly too female and that is probably the absolute best thing about it.

The supremely talented cast of Wynonna Earp.

The supremely talented cast of Wynonna Earp.

This isn’t without saying that Shamier Anderson (Dolls) and Tim Rozon (Doc) give great performances and have sublime chemistry with the rest of the cast too. Miraculously, I don’t find their characters boring hetero males (I mean, Dolls—is he like, a lizard?!) and that’s just why I admire the fleshing out of these characters so much. Everyone, in my opinion, is interesting. Constance Clootie may be off her rocker but she’s incredibly magnetic and watchable; The Blacksmith, though short-lived, was mysterious, strong and admirable.

Time to cuddle up for your--your tenth rewatch?! ...Yeah, same...

Time to cuddle up for your–your tenth rewatch?! …Yeah, same…

I don’t know, CBS. Often I think people start shows because they’re too female. And on Wynonna Earp—I won’t pretend it’s the masterpieces of all masterpieces—but it is an genuinely enjoyable, stomach-churning nutcracker—and in a TV-world laden with dark and gritty pieces (most of which work; some tragically fail) isn’t it just feel-good to have a show you can watch (and then rewatch) without realising your face hurts because you’ve been sniggering or grinning broadly at the screen for the entire, too female hour?

NB: I review Wynonna Earp, as ever, on the wonderful TV After Dark. With a lot less snark and ramblings. I can be a pro 0.00001% of the time.

6,741: To Honour a Fighter

(Firstly, I apologise this is just a giant block of text. Secondly, SPOILERS AHEAD for those who have not seen the episode! I pondered how to describe this and this is more a ramble about torture, about narrative, and about how an episode run on a big ol’ simulation gave some real, deep insight.)

6,741. That’s how many simulations Samaritan ran on Sameen Shaw, and that is how many times, likely, it ended with her killing herself rather than giving up the subway location. 6,741 simulations with agonising distortions in reality and horrific scenarios and Sameen Shaw does not betray her friends. 6,741 times Greer gets a headshot (bahaha) so—you go, girl.

To talk briefly of the surgery, I know I’d discussed (or spec’d…quite terribly wrongly, but then I had also predicted that…) the possible theories surrounding Samaritan’s wants for her. Though the notion of Samaritan weaponising her was quite frank in the episode—as mentioned in the previous article about Shaw, though via different ways. If they had complete and utter brain control over Shaw, then she would be an incredible asset to have: her skill-set is incomparable to most, and she is ruthless with her methods (oh Jeremy Lambert…). What endangers her utility to Samaritan is perhaps the chip being implanted so close to the brain stem (as highlighted in the episode) and too much meddling with it—neurobiologists must have to help me out here, for I don’t know a whole lot about that, but too much brain stem manipulation can cause problems in motor control, can’t they? I’m talking basics like moving about, getting out of a chair, walking…Lambert mentions off-handedly that they don’t want to turn her into a vegetable, and back in the days of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, perhaps that would be handled with less care. But if Samaritan are truly intending on weaponising her as their own asset, then should they not take some care in meddling with Shaw’s brain stem like that? Or as Greer says—are these vigorous simulations going to just keep amping up in order for Shaw’s self-will to succumb to the psychological torture and give up the subway location instead of killing herself via gunshot?

Because that’s what she does: 6,741 times. In 6,741 simulations (of varying degree, I’d assume) Shaw must die or kill herself rather than give up subway location out of sheer loyalty to her team. She cannot bear herself to kill Root, either. When Reese questions her, she—shakily—shoots him fatally, but when it comes to Root, she cannot pull the trigger. It’s an excellent way of the narrative of Shaw’s story without making her (real) come-back all about the Root/Shaw relationship. I would believe in any situation that Root and Shaw would be as intimate and complex as they were in ‘6,741’, but instead of having Shaw come back and having to spend episodes reciprocating how she feels for Root—as Root had that time at the end of series 4, this literally delves into the brain of Sameen Shaw and tells you smack-bang in the face: Shaw’s feelings for Root run deep. I am far more impartial to the idea of Shaw simply being a team player and refusing to give up the subway—and killing herself instead, for that’s where Root was going to take her—than succumb to Samaritan’s needs. But through that episode you could see the depth of just how much Root means to Shaw. You can hear it in their pillow-talk about Shaw’s ISA training, which is tearfully nodded back to at the end when Shaw confesses that it was bull. Because Root was her safe-place; when they tortured her, it was Root she kept her mind on. And when Greer says Shaw had broken months ago, one must ponder—did they break her because they very much knew Root would be her ‘safe-place’? Or perhaps it is just simple humanity…the extent of the psychological torture inflicted on Shaw would be unimaginable, and for Samaritan, nothing is off-limits.

Moving away from the neurobiological mess that is brain stems (can’t say I know too much about them—aha, I am no neuroscience grad) to the psychological torture Shaw mentioned…I can’t imagine Samaritan being too gentle with it all. There’s the very cruel and torturous ‘dead or alive’ game Lambert plays with her in the episode, but nine months of hell can mean anything. Sure, Shaw is ISA-trained for both psychological and physical torture—but that doesn’t mean she’s super-human, and that doesn’t mean she’s immune to some seriously fucked up things.

If you just look at the CIA blacksites’ history of torture methods—or ‘Enhanced Interrogation Techniques’—you will find awful stuff Majid Khan’s case, in which his lunch was pureed and ‘rectally infused’. Forced nudity, suspension from the ceiling by their arms, electric shocks—many of which you might see in the film ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ (with Jessica Chastain, centred around the Osama Bin Laden killing).

There’s more famous stuff like water-boarding, or indeed simple use of cold water itself. If you Google Gul Rahman you will find a well-known case of a man who died after the CIA doused him in ice-cold water, stripped him from the waist down, subjected him to beatings and sleep deprivation and just left him in a cold cell.

Stress positions or confinement in boxes in order to make the detainee feel uncomfortable have also been widely used—and probably still are. They cause extreme physical and mental distress, as well as muscle fatigue and exhaustion; the same goes for sleep deprivation. That’s something routinely employed in such ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ and something that is horrific to hear of. If I don’t catch at least four hours of sleep I’m a bit of a zombie the next day. The CIA subjected a detainee to about a week’s worth of no sleep—notoriously playing banging loud music to keep their detainee awake—which totals up to about 180 hours.

Can you die of sleep deprivation? That’s something widely debated and obviously not scientifically tested and replicated in humans, for the sake of simple ethics. There’s someone who claims to have been awake for two weeks; there’s someone else who was reported to die after eleven days without it. The most extreme case I can think of is someone you may have heard of: Michael Corke. There were several documentaries about him, and what was notable was first his condition—FFI (Fatal Familial Insomnia) and secondly, that he died…after six months of sleep deprivation.

I think I’d assume that Samaritan would not use such a method on Shaw just to kill her—they’d do it in some other sick way, after getting to The Machine first, presumably. But sleep deprivation remains a very likely method of torture (along with the above, really) for all the after-effects it causes. Yet Shaw coming from an ISA background will have been trained and knowledgeable of all of this—so that’s why getting deep into Shaw’s brain stem, is worrying. I can’t imagine Person of Interest going down the One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest route and lobotomising Shaw into a vegetable—that would make no narrative sense and render her useless to both sides. But in meddling with her brain stem, and perhaps causing mild brain stem injury—rather than the upper two classes—could fuck her up a lot. There’d be attention issues, neuromotor issues, working memory problems, executive function problems—as well as horrible dizziness, nausea, vomiting—and the after-effects of such injury are awful, too. This is someone’s brain stem we are talking about messing around here: not only could there be a high level of anxiety and depression in the subject, but hypersensitivity to stimuli previously not registered, fatigue, heightened fears or phobias.

As for Shaw’s personality disorder, I don’t think Samaritan are particularly interested in that. That’s a stupidly bold claim to make when we’re only on episode four, but it was not once mentioned and I don’t see why it should be. If her PD got in the way of the psychological torture Samaritan are pumping her with, I can see why that’d be an issue. But if Greer’s intent is to locate The Machine and convert Shaw as a valuable asset, that’s where her PD actually comes in, in a sick way, very handy. She’s clinical, removed, aloof, detached; she gets the job done, dusts her trousers off and walks into her next mission. She’s ruthless yet effective. She shoots with pinpoint accuracy and is a match for about at least five big-ass, secret service dudes. In terms of her PD, Person of Interest would have to delve deep into the aetiology of that and they simply do not have the time in thirteen episodes; furthermore, such neurological disorders like her Axis II Personality Disorder (along with panic disorder, depression, bipolar—the whole DSM-V manual, basically) do not have a singular cause. The scientific community cannot come to a conclusion about it; there is no singular causative gene, no marked causative neuronal circuitry damage (apart from Schizophrenia, but even then that was recently changed from dopamine loss in the mesolimbic pathway to the associative striatum which lies in the nigrostriatal pathway).

Basically, the brain is hugely fucking complicated, and it is going to be a wonder to crack Samaritan’s intentions with this one—and to see how Shaw will overcome this. I definitely admired the way the episode tackled Shaw’s state of mind by literally going into it, thus—as mentioned above—saving a lot of time in the narrative for when she really comes back about her intentions and loyalties, and of course, her feelings for Root. The number 6,741 is huge. That’s the number of times Shaw would rather kill herself than give up the subway and her friends; give up Root. That is the extent of her feelings. In a mind-bending, jarring episode of literally bonkers, but amazing bonkers, Person of Interest got it fucking right again.

TLDR (this bit will also be waffle so I might have to do TLDR#2): THIS IS HOW YOU MAKE AN EPISODE OF AN HOUR’S TORTURE WITHOUT IT BEING IMMENSE TORTURE-PORN. If you looked into the nuances of Shaw, Root, Finch, Harold—everyone in the Samaritan-induced simulation—you would completely understand the episode. And that is how you validate, fully, Sameen Shaw’s feelings about the team, and especially about Root—without making it about them at all. This was Sameen Shaw’s episode. This was about delving into her psyche. Did her personality disorder help her hope with these nine months? I don’t know—the neurobiology of her PD is far too messy for me (a pharmacy to-be-grad) to understand, but the aetiology of such mental disorders is too messy for the entire scientific community to come to a conclusion to, anyway. But if her PD did anything—at all—I would think (and this is only somewhat of a wayward educated guess—I will not pretend to know anything about her Axis II PD) it would’ve helped Shaw cope with the torture rather than make her more subject to breaking under the torture.

Fuck. TLDR#2: Thank you, Person of Interest, for creating a wildly, jabbering episode that honoured Shaw’s time spent under Samaritan captivity in the best way possible. Even in delving into her relationships with the rest of the team (Bear! Someone gif it!) you delved literally into her brain first. And upon seeing that simulation, I really cannot think of an argument against how bloody hard Shaw is fighting back—and how after 6,741 of them, she still hasn’t given her team up yet.

(It finished, as well, and I was literally silently yelling at my screen. I don’t think an episode has flown by faster than that one did. Oh my God.)