May the Force Be With You: Star Wars 40th Anniversary

A few years ago, I worked at a summer camp. There was a particular child at this summer camp that came in every day clad in Star Wars shirts and shoes. It impressed the staff and was a testament that is possible to parent while instilling a healthy geek background.

Obviously, the child hadn’t even been born when A New Hope came out in 1977. What has always been impressive about the Star Wars universe is its ability to remain relevant to generations that followed.

My fondest memory is when I used my dad’s metallic basketball pump as a lightsaber. It got dinged up, a lot, as I waved it around whacking into other things, pretending I was battling Darth Vader.

I was not a girly-girly. I liked Sailor Moon but prior to that, I fancied myself a Jedi.

Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher, RIP) was kickass. I mean, when we first see her or really hear her speak she’s Darth Vader’s prisoner. But she’s not small. She’s not scared. She’s defiant. She’s everything women want to be when surrounded by men who want to destroy her world (literally).

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Tea & Review: The Leftovers – The Most Powerful Man in the World (and His Identical Twin Brother)

When The Leftovers premiered back in 2014, it was unclear if it was going to be a work of purely speculative fiction in which a mundane world experiences a single inexplicable event, or a magical realist series more on par with Damon Lindelof’s earlier creation, Lost. And though there were some surreal elements sprinkled throughout the first two seasons hinting at the latter, it wasn’t until “International Assassin” that it became clear the writers were intent on heading in a supremely supernatural direction.

Since that episode, the otherworldly elements have only grown in prominence, building a mythology that adds myriad layers to an already-thematically-rich world.

So it only makes sense that in “The Most Powerful Man in the World (and His Identical Twin Brother)”—which serves as both a sequel to that aforementioned episode as well as the penultimate installment of the series as a whole—we would return to the dreamlike afterlife that first marked the show’s swerve into the mystic.

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Virago: Part the Thirteenth — Confusion

First chapter: Fire & Rain

Previous chapter: Answers

They were fighting again. Kelsey and Hannah were always fighting. But usually, their arguments were a lot more passive aggressive than this one.

Arthur walked into the room just as Kelsey suggested that her sister leave the premises. He was aware that he should only interfere if the disagreement became physical. Watching the two, he felt rather sure that it wouldn’t get that far.

Kelsey’s eyes opened back up and she looked across at her sister with a sneer.

“So you’re still here. I guess you don’t actually mind being in this ‘hexed-up’ house after all.”

Hannah pursed her lips. Kelsey sighed, twisting her neck until she heard a satisfying crack. Arthur examined his Keepers’ faces. The likelihood of them getting past this argument was high. But there was also a likelihood the girls could end up fighting dirty.

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Tea & Review: Fargo – The Lord of No Mercy

Fargo the series has gotten very good at being unpredictable in a way that doesn’t feel forced. Noah Hawley doesn’t throw in random plot contrivances mid-season to stir things up; he subtly builds to seemingly unlikely events that in retrospect turn out to be the natural result of what came before. As such, while the climaxes of Fargo installments do not necessarily abide by traditional narrative logic, they do make complete sense in context.

“The Lord of No Mercy” does a magnificent job of building tension, effective even after it becomes clear that it’s mostly misdirection. Most of the episode follows a cat and cat and mouse game between Gloria (Carrie Coon) and Winnie (Olivia Sandoval), Varga (David Thewlis) and his henchmen, and Ray (Ewan McGregor) and Nikki (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), in the immediate aftermath of Nikki’s beating. From the beginning we know that Ray is out for blood, and not long after that we learn that Meemo (Andy Yu) is on his tail with similar intentions. We know someone has to die before the hour is up.

But the who, how, and why of it are something to behold.

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Tea & Review: The Leftovers – Certified

The Leftovers has always, at least in part, been about the ways in which people deal with unpredictable seismic shifts in their lives. Of course, at its core the show is speculative, exploring what would happen if an undeniably supernatural event robbed the world of two percent of its population. But whether intentional or not, this potentially banal logline allowed the writers to build a sort of thesis statement about human responses to the often tragic forces that rock worlds and destroy psyches.

Across three seasons we have watched individuals try to cope with the Sudden Departure in ways both straightforward and indirect, with the potential results of their methods only having been hinted at, and pretty ambiguously at that.

Now, through the character of Laurie Garvey (Amy Brenneman), we’ve finally witnessed something close to a narrative culmination; not an answer per se, but a suggestion at what the totality of a person’s life could look like after a massive, otherworldly tragedy.

“Certified” follows Laurie in the days following her arrival in Australia, as she does what she does best and provides counseling to Nora (Carrie Coon), John (Kevin Carroll), and Kevins Sr. and Jr. (Scott Glenn and Justin Theroux). The episode’s structure is nonlinear, following parallel timelines in which Laurie spends time with Matt (Christopher Eccleston) and Nora in Melbourne, then the others at the country ranch that has become their base of operations. Cutting back and forth between these events almost gives the impression that she’s in two places at once.

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Paper Dolls: Book Two: Chapter One – Part Two

Previous: Chapter One – Part One

I woke up the next morning, or what felt like the next morning in a bright, white room.

My memories were slowly forming in the back of my head when I realized I was no longer in the cave on the beach.

Had they found us?  Was my immediate thought. The room I was now in reminded me far too much of the Darose, Zendo facility – only less upscale. There was an odd flicker from the light overhead that buzzed for far too long.

I glanced down. I still had my clothing on so that seemed like a good sign – maybe.

I blinked and scanned the space around me.

There was a large window to my left. The curtains were closed but a small stream of white light encased with slowly moving dust had managed to free itself from the drapery.

Two thin white blankets were nestled over my lap that I slowly peeled back. I pushed my legs off the side to the floor. As I attempted to move a wave of dizziness came upon me. The world tilted to the left and I followed it.

I heard my mouth release a sharp yelp as I threw my body weight into the side of the bed frame.

The walls were probably built thin incase something like this happened. It was only a second after that the doors to the room burst open and two men descended upon me, taking me by both sides.

“No, wait,” I heard myself say and I gently placed back into the bed.

“Easy, Ms. Liu,” said the dark-haired man on the left, “We got you.”

“No, you don’t understand…”

Their shadows had closed in around me. I tried to pull away but found the attempt useless.

“Sara,” A low voice rose into the air.

For a moment I thought my brain was playing tricks on me.

Sara,” The voice spoke again, this time it appeared irritated.

I turned in the direction of the door, where the voice was coming from.

Continue reading Paper Dolls: Book Two: Chapter One – Part Two

R.I.P. Chris Cornell

While we rarely do discuss music on Tea & Fiction, I felt it was important to highlight the contributions of Chris Cornell to the artistic community as a whole.

As a child born in 80’s but grew up in the 90’s Black Hole Sun was one of my introductory tracks into alternative rock music.

In high school, Audioslave‘s self-titled album was one of my favorite albums in 2002.

Rest in Peace Chris Cornell.

Tea & Review: Fargo – The House of Special Purpose

If last week’s Fargo was a symphony and the week before’s an interlude, this week’s can only be classified as a funeral march—although no one actually died. The solemnity was more in form than function, expressed through muted colors, elegiac music selections, and slightly more methodical editing. That is, until the final scene.

As was established in past installments, Season Three’s halfway mark is essentially the point of no return, the moment wherein the true stakes are established and the more farcical capers give way for darker plots. Think of the brutal killing of the hapless personal trainer in Season One, or the ambush of the Kansas City mobsters in Season Two. Both reversals were prime examples of the show’s ability to transitional naturally between tones per the story’s demands.

But this time around, the shift feels a whole lot starker.

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