Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Gates: Sucking less, but still sucking

PilotSo after an entire boring season of The Gates (a.k.a. Desperate Housewives meets a poor man's True Blood) the season finale was all sorts of fucked up in a good way. Technically two episodes back-to-back, it almost made up for the reason of the season - almost. 

There were definitely some cliffhanger moments and surprises... but even then, it wasn't that suspenseful. One problem is the formulaic 'suspenseful music'. They might as well just play DUN DUN DUNNNNNN. And then they play it for too long, where it's like everything is a suspenseful moment and it all ends up being pretty anti-climactic. Or maybe it's just the fact that the writing just isn't that good...Yeah, it's probably that. Whoever is behind the 'ideas' on this show, is pretty smart, but I don't think it's the same person actually writing the script because the dialogue is kinda silly and while the plot twists was pretty good, it just didn't add up to anything amazing. However, I will say that the finale was kinda cool and definitely a decent end to the season. (Not cool enough to make me look forward for next season, but cool enough for me to maybe give next season a shot. There are a few open cliffhangers that I'm actually curious to see what happens next!)

But first... let's make sure you know the main players...

The Human Beings:
  • Frank Buckley (Brett Cullen) is the co-founder and developer of The Gates and the big man in charge. He has the dirt on everyone in town and knows that the residents of the Gates need 'privacy'. His wife Vanessa is a vampire and his bitter ex Devon is a witch (he had an affair with Vanessa while still married to Devon, so she has reason to be bitter). 
  • The Monohan Family: Nick (Frank Grillo) is the new police chief and he's slowly learning that the Gates is not what it seems... that is, he's learning that the supernatural creatures that live within the Gates pretty much outnumber the regular human beings like himself and his family. He's tried to keep this secret from his sweet but too-trusting wife Sarah (Marisol Nichols) but after he was haunted by a ghost last week he came clean to her about all the fucked up stuff going on in town. Sarah is even more clueless than usual because she's been drinking tea given to her by a manipulative witch Devon, which allows Devon to control her. Charlie (Travis Caldwell) is their teenage son and Dana (McKaley Miller) is their tween daughter. 
  • Marcus Jordan (Justin Miles) is one of Chief Monohan's deputies.
  • Emily Radcliff (Georgia Cole) is the Radcliff's adopted human daughter.
  • Thomas Bates (Kyle Secor) is Andie's human father.
The Vampires:
  • Vanessa Buckley (Gloria Votsis) is Frank Buckley's wife. She and Frank had an affair while he was still married to Devon.
  • The Radcliffs: Claire (Rhona Mitra) and Dylan (Luke Mably) live next door to the Monohans and are sort of friends, even though Nick knows that they are vampires. Claire has had a little trouble lately not killing people, something Devon blackmailed her for to get a vial of her blood. Both Claire and Dylan would kill to protect their family and their daughter. Dylan has killed to protect Nick Monohan.
  • Ben McAllister (Linden Ashby) seems to be one of the leaders of the vampire community living within the Gates.
The Werewolves:
  • Brett Crezski (Colton Haynes) is a werewolf and a student at the Gates high school. His father and brother were killed by hunters, so his mother is a little overprotective. He is in love with his on-again-off-again ex-girlfriend Andie Bates, even though she's dating Charlie Monohan. He's got a bad temper.
  • Lexie Wade (Rachel DiPillo) is a friend of Brett's and fellow pack member. She has had a crush on Brett for a while and had a brief flirtation with Charlie, which was mostly to make Andie jealous.
  • Coach Zach Ross (Roger C. Cross) is the football coach at the Gates high school and the current alpha/pack leader.
The Witches:
  • Peg Mueller (Victoria Platt) is the good witch of the Gates. She's a doctor and helps everyone with their supernatural/medical problems.
  • Devon Buckley (Chandra West) is the bad witch of the Gates. She's Buckley's ex-wife, Peg's former student and a manipulative backstabbing doublecrosser. She practices the 'dark arts' of magic and has befriended Sarah, as a means of using her. No one in town trusts her, with good reason.
  • Mia Mueller (Devyn Tyler) is Peg's daughter. She's secretly taking magic lessons from Devon because her mom won't teach her the 'dark arts'.
The Succubus:
  • Andie Bates (Skyler Samuels) is a high school student who lives in the Gates. Her father is human but her mother was a succubus. She can literally suck the life force out of a guy. She used to date Brett but now is dating Charlie. She went back and forth between the two of them for a while, as she was afraid to hurt Charlie with her powers whereas Brett, being a werewolf, could handle it. Now that she is taking 'medication' she can control her powers, so she's back with Charlie.
The... Hm... We're Not Sure Yet? 
  • Leigh Turner (Janina Gavankar) is a deputy on the Gates police force. She's hiding something...
So last week Nick finally told his wife Sarah all about the residents of the Gates being "not normal" because well, he really had to tell her after she was possessed by the angry ghost of the woman who tried to kill Nick for murdering her brother but was instead killed by Dylan the vampire. (Got all that?) Well it just gets more complicated from there... the finale was one big ball of supernatural soap opera crazy. 

The first of the final two episodes opens up with Frank and Vanessa Buckley. Their anniversary is coming up and as a very special present, he wants Vanessa to turn him into a vampire so they can be together forever. Drama ensues.

A lot of people aren't too happy about this. The werewolves are pissed because they're afraid that this means Buckley is 'taking sides' in the eternal vampire-werewolf rivalry. (This to me is just stupid. Hello, he's married to a vampire... so he's already kind of taken sides anyway, but it's not as though he's turned on the wolves yet.) His ex-wife Devon is pissed because she kind of always thought that deep down he was just afraid of commitment, but now he's willing to make an eternal commitment to Vanessa, which means he just didn't want to commit to her.

Devon used the vampire blood that she got from Claire back in episode one or two (she was blackmailing her) - a whole bunch of other yucky stuff she's got - to create a toxin. She used her mind-control tea on Sarah to get her to slip it in Buckley's drink. Later when Vanessa started to drink his blood, she was poisoned and shriveled up into a big pile of creepy. (He wasn't harmed by it, except for the broken heart.)

Once the rest of the community gets wind of the fact that his blood can kill vampires, everyone wants a piece of him... the werewolves want his blood and the vampires want to make sure no one ever gets his blood. Devastated by the fact that the people he spent so long trying to protect are now all ready to kill him, he shoots himself. Dylan disposes of the body and there's no harm, no foul. 

Except for the fact that if the rest of the rest of the vamps find out that it was Claire's blood that Devon used to make that potion (or about the murder that Devon was blackmailing them for in order to get it in the first place) then she and Dylan will be dead too.

Meanwhile Devon has left town, smart girl... Nick wants to arrest her and all the vampires want to kill her, especially Dylan and Claire, who are trying to find her before the rest of them do so they can protect themselves and more importantly, their daughter Emily. Peg's daughter Mia is apparently a huge dumbass, so she brings Devon some magic supplies to help her do a spell to protect herself. Devon confesses to her that she did poison Buckley, but not to kill Vanessa. It was to protect him from vampires and Vanessa would've been fine if she hadn't tried to bite him. (Yeah, okay, sure, whatever.) Mia tells Devon that Buckley killed himself and she actually seems sad for a minute.

The Radcliffs track her to the hotel room but she's already gone, having returned to the Gates to warn Sarah about a vision she had... dun dun dun...

Meanwhile Sarah, upon realizing that she a) has been under Devon's control, b) is semi-responsible for Vanessa and Buckley's deaths and c) lives in the most fucked up gated community ever, decides that it is time for them to move out of the Gates for good.

Over in the teen angst side of the show, Charlie has come to terms with Andie's secret and is less concerned that she will suck the life out of him once he learns about her special magic 'medicine'. Of course, this infuriates her ex-boyfriend Brett, who had convinced her that he was the only wolf man that could handle her succubus-ness. Acting like a petulant child with roid-rage, he dilutes her medicine with water to make it less effective. Then he's immediately like "oh shit, well that was a dumb and dangerous idea". 

He enlists Lexie to go find Andie before she does some serious damage but they're too late because Charlie, pissed that his parents want to move the family again, runs away with Andie and ends up near death after she accidentally sucks away his life force. 

Sidenote: Am I the only one who feels like this succubus storyline is a little bit slut-shamey? Like basically, if Andie expresses her sexuality, she can kill a guy. I feel like the idea of the succubus paramour is supposed to be about women's power but on this show it just feels like she's being punished for wanting to fool around with boys. In a way it's a safe sex metaphor because if she had been using her medicine properly Charlie would have been protected.

Anyway, Sarah's freaking out and Peg doesn't know what to do to help him. Andie's dad says if they bring him to the hospital, he will probably die because they just don't understand how a succubus works. Peg suggests they look for Devon, who might be able to help him using "the dark arts". Mia admits that she is hiding out in the secret backroom of her spa but when Nick arrives to get her, he finds her held at gunpoint by Claire and Dylan.
Nick: "Put the gun down. I need her alive." 
Dylan: "Well, unfortunately we need her dead."
Oh well, that is unfortunate. I love that they said that to the Chief of Police. Man, Nick Monohan is so not in charge here. He explains that they need Devon to save Charlie and that they can totally just kill her later. On the way back to Charlie Ben McAllister and some other important vamps show up to 'retrieve' Devon. 

A bloody vampire-on-vampire fight (in the rain no less) breaks out and the Radcliffs end up killing their own kind to protect Devon, who they actually want to kill themselves so the vampires don't kill them which... well, let's just say they're digging themselves in even deeper than before. 
In the Stuff-We-Almost-Stopped-Caring-About category... Way back in the beginning of the series, it was suggested that Leigh wasn't completely normal either. She's not a vampire, but she was on the list of people who needed 'new identities' back from the FBI episode and we know she has a secret mysterious box that's very important to her (important enough that she killed the burglar who stole it in episode 3) and causes her physical pain if she's separated from it for too long.Yeah remember that? Don't care? Well, be prepared to care even less!

In what can only be described as violating your coworker's personal space, Marcus goes to her house and looks in the box. It makes a whoooshing sound when it's open. No really, even the TV captions "whoosing sound". She immediately senses that it's open and jets back over there. She points her gun at him and demands that he shut the box, which is... beating? What the... yep, it's her heart. It's her heart in a box. Literally. Her heart. In a box. Really. According to her, an ex-boyfriend used 'Vodun' an ancient magic, to 'take away' her heart, so she could never love again. And so now she has her heart, literally, in a box. She's the fucking Tin Man! Of all the things it could've been... of all the possibilities we imagined... it is the dumbest, least interesting answer ever! (Congratulations writers, even in what would otherwise be a decent finale, you found a way to still suck as hard as you did in the premiere episode. Way to go!) She confesses that her real name is Isabelle Armont, which makes Marcus realize that the ex-boyfriend has found her, because someone keeps calling looking for 'Isabelle Armont'. Dun dun dun.... Okay now that might be interesting. The return of the evil magic ex-boyfriend better be good, because the heart-in-a-box was a major letdown.

Anyway, Nick and Devon get back to Charlie and Devon says she can bring him back, but in order to bring him back from the dead, he has to actually die. Well, that's a shitty loophole. So she kills him and then uses magic to bring him back to life and it works. Devon sticks around to 'monitor' him, but then the Radcliffs show up to get her. Apparently the vampires said they would go easy on them if they deliver Devon, which, yeah we don't really believe that and neither do they. So they have to make some kind of arrangements for their daughter Emily. Nick's all like 'can't we work it out, can't we all just get alone?' as if he still hasn't realized by episode 13, that no, it doesn't work that way. 

But his defending Devon for saving his son is cut short when Charlie wakes up. He's just gotten a voicemail from Andie, who is glad he's okay but doesn't want to kill him again so she's going far, far away. (Hopefully, she took some of her medicine with her, or she's going to leave a trail of dead boys whereever she goes.) Dana yells "something's wrong with Charlie!" and oh yes, she's right. His eyes are all red and he kinda looks like the walking dead (aha, he is, get it? get it? but no really, he looks like shit). He glares at his dad, which shoots him across the room. Just in case we were starting to think that Devon wasn't so bad after all, the episode closes on her creepy, evil smile...
"I said I could bring him back. I didn't say he'd be the same."
Cue the DUN DUN DUNNNNN right about now... but yeah, okay, they got me. Most of the cliffhangers were kinda boring: Will Leigh get her heart back? (Who cares) Will the Radcliffs die? (Obviously not.) But I do want to know what has happened to Charlie. At least now the Monohans have a reason not to leave the Gates... because their zombie demon son probably isn't going to fit in anywhere else. The show may be soap opera to the max, but I'm willing to let them answer these questions next season. 

Of course, if the answers are as stupid as 'oh it's just my heart... in a box' then I'm going to be pretty pissed off.

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