Staff Picks – Week of September 23rd, 2016
It’s Friday! Time for your weekly dose of staff picks. Each week, I forcibly threaten a few of the staff to share what has been entertaining them this week! Trust me, my threats are all done out of love. Meanwhile, check out what we’re doing at the site! The latest episode of our podcast Comicsbound came out Wednesday, as well as the latest Scooby Dos or Scooby Don’ts! We have reviews for numerous books including Lucifer, Britannia, and The Punisher. Missed the premier of SHIELD? Well this means you missed Ghost Rider as well! No worries, Ryan catches you up with his review of the episode. Like games? Amelia goes back and reflects on Saints Row: The Third. We also have Anelise reflecting back on Nirvana’s Nevermind album which turned 25. I know I have missed a few things but its because we have so much! So I’ll shut up now so you can check out the picks as well as all the other quality content that we have on the site.
THIS IS ROGUES PORTAL!!!!
Anelise’s Pick of the Week – My staff pick of the week is the FX horror series American Horror Story: Roanoke. I have been tuning into American Horror Story since the first season Murder House premiered in 2011, and, after being fairly disappointed with season 5, I was excited for a fresh start.
Arguably one of the most interesting aspects of American Horror Story: Roanoke is that there is so much we don’t know. Marketing for the series only gave eager viewers bits and pieces here and there, and, when the first episode premiered on September 14th, we really had no idea what to expect.
The horror scene has had their fair share of paranormal documentary-style films and television programs, but My Roanoke Nightmare delivers both fantastic acting and enough mystery to keep viewers hooked. The premise is that after dealing with a traumatic event, Shelby and Matt Miller move from Los Angeles, California to Roanoke Island, North Carolina—hoping for a fresh start. However, their new home is not quite what they expect it to be. With a refreshingly different small-scale direction for AHS and a whole lot of mystery, this is a season you definitely want to watch!
Hafsa’s Pick of the Week – My pick of the week is The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson. I got this book the year it came out (2008) and I was a bit too young to actually read it. However, I did and did so again recently and I love it. Reading it creates this eerie atmosphere of mystery and wonder as well as an understanding of toxic behaviors and mental illnesses, including how they effect both the person suffering and the person supporting them. The reader also understands fire, its victims, and its recovery process. At least the book helped me understand those maladies and their recovery processes. The Gargoyle is a slow read and sometimes takes ages to get through certain chapters, but the hook is presented from the first chapter and it keeps hooking you in with every descriptive passage. The imagery created puts the reader in the characters’ positions and it is felt!
The Gargoyle was also the book that restored hope to me. The story describes a horrible life ending horrendously, yet there is redemption, love, and magic. The tale includes visits to the past, mythical creations, and fantastical stories. Though, I do recommend that the reader be in the mood for such a fantastical semi-romantic descriptive mystery. The only action you will get is in the first chapter. The rest is more experiential then active. Hope you’ll like it!
John’s Pick of the Week – I’m not really sure if coffee table books are a thing anymore, but if they are, and you want to proudly display your level 99 geek status to any house guest that may drop by your humble abode, I recommend Super Graphic: A Visual Guide to the Comic Book Universe by Tim Leong. Sadly, this is not a coffee table book that turns into a coffee table or anything, but it is chalk full of interesting comic book facts that will easily impress anyone. Want to know who’s faster, Superman or The Flash? Super Graphic contains a chart that shows each time the two have raced in comic book history and what the outcome was. The facts in this book range from historic (like a timeline of when all the different comic book publishers came into existence) to political (there’s an Oppression and Rebellion in Persepolis graph) to the downright absurd (a pie chart comparing the size of Power Girl’s breasts to every other female in comics), so there’s literally something for everyone. It’s not the kind of book you’re going to sit down with and read for hours on end, but for something to occasionally pick up, flip through a few pages, and learn something new for the day, it’s the perfect book to add to your home. It can even double as a bathroom reader!
Nicole’s Pick of the Week – Whether or not you have been watching Bates Motel, it’s no spoiler that Norma Bates dies. It has also been announced that next season will be the last of Bates Motel, and will follow the movie Psycho, no doubt with its special brand of retro creepy. If you are very particular about knowing nothing ahead, of time, STOP READING HERE.
Otherwise, do the math, and you know Norma bites it sometime in Bates Motel season 4, which is my staff pick for the week.
Here is where things get interesting. I watched the first few seasons of Bates Motel and was absolutely entranced by Vera Farmiga’s portrayal of Norma Bates. Let’s be honest, many assumed from Psycho that she was a nagging, puritan, controlling mother, that may possibly have driven Norman to his homicidal tendencies. The TV show, however, offers a very different side of the story, especially to the character of Norma. She is tough yet vulnerable, way too into Norman, but also a fiercely loyal and devoted mother. She’s traumatized and damaged, but a woman to be reckoned with.
The first few seasons of the show were entertaining enough, but there was a lot of plot that made the viewer wonder: What does this have to do with anything, and how does it eventually lead to the events in Psycho? There are drug wars, corrupt cops, intolerant townsfolk, and various creepy goings on that sometimes, but not always, lead back to Norman. I finally made the decision to stop watching until I heard this season was getting rave reviews. So I binged it.
Season 4 tied everything together and worked tirelessly to make us sympathize even more with Norma, to the point where I became rather obsessively invested in her as a character. As Norman’s mental health declines, Norma begins to find love and happiness for the first time. The dichotomy is chilling and tragic, especially since the ending is not in question. Still I was rooting for her, hoping somehow Psycho got it wrong and it was someone else’s corpse in the bedroom. Freddie Highmore is amazing as his illness and past are explored in depth, and his performance elicits an insidious growing fear in the viewer, yet also a sincere sympathy – even in his most malicious moments. Season 4 is romantic and poignant and terrifying and left me with a respect for both Farmiga and Highmore as actors, that I do not speak of lightly.
I’ll end by saying, I bawled like a baby as the season closed. The pathos was a touch over the top, but so well done and such a perfect combination of morbid raw emotion; it transformed Psycho from a horror film, to a horror film with a deeply moving history behind it. Season 4 is, in effect, Norma’s story, and it will tear out your soul. I hope Hitchcock would have approved.
We have Bates Motel/Psycho to look forward to next year, with Vera Farmiga still on the cast, ostensibly as the incarnation of her dead self, and she will no doubt rock the performance.. Now….go watch and find out how Norma meets her end, something that is not explained in the movie. Go have a good cry and psych yourself for Psycho. I, for one, cannot wait to see what they do with it.