Marvel: ‘Loki’ Episode 2 Review

Screenshot of Tom Hiddleston and Owen Wilson from ‘Loki’ on Disney+. Copyright goes to The Walt Disney Company.

Hey! Hallie here!

Wow. This review is going to be incredibly spoilery right away so here’s your SPOILER WARNING. There are several expectations I had from the Loki series when it comes to future plot points, and as of this episode the series has covered nearly all of them. Loki facing his potential future including the deaths of his parents and himself. Loki learning about the destruction of Asgard. Loki discovering the whereabouts of his supposed variant. The introduction of Lady Loki (Maybe). The creation of a new multiverse. They’re going through so much as of right now that this series promises to be more than what it seems. Let’s go through what this episode revealed and the many, many, questions it raised as a result.

What I Liked:

Loki: As usual, Loki was incredible in this episode. Though he does want a better future for himself, as shown in the last episode, we all knew Loki would have an extra angle propelling him forward. Mobius wrongly assumes that Loki’s angle when agreeing to hunt down the variant of himself was simply to protect his ego. If Loki takes down the variant, he can prove himself the superior Loki. However, Loki makes it very clear that that isn’t his intention. He’s much more interested in the Timekeepers. He’s both skeptical that they exist and interested in their power. He appears to want to both prove that they don’t have the power they claim to have, and take up control over the timelines himself. I mean, we’re still dealing with post-‘Avengers’ Loki here. His obsession with power is basically at its peak. Part of Loki’s plan, as of what we know, is getting the dangerous variant of himself on his side. This seriously effects his first mission, where he stalls the TVA in the apparent hopes that his variant will see it as an act of good will and an opportunity to attack. He even uses this time to attempt to get the TVA to just take him to the timekeepers. Obviously Mobius sees right through this, realizes he’s stalling, and immediately takes him back to the TVA headquarters. But the scene is an excellent demonstration of how Loki is always unfolding some plan or another. When Loki returns to the TVA he immediately realizes that his lack of trustworthiness is not only getting him on thin ice with Mobius, but with TVA officials who are still advocating for his death. While he backpedals and complains as only Loki can, he genuinely starts to work on finding the Loki variant. Through a heartbreaking revelation through a file that his planet is destroyed in the main timeline, along with a catastrophic number of casualties, he’s even able to find where his variant is hiding.

What follows after this is a much more excitable and understanding Loki. Once he becomes excited by his own discovery, he’s enthusiastic to work with Mobius. He confesses that he loves being right, and you can see it in full swing here. He’s incredibly knowledgable about timelines because of TVA training, more so than most of the other employees at the TVA, and he’s almost giddy to prove his theories. I loved seeing him swing around in Pompeii, trying to be as obnoxious as possible to confirm that his variant is located in a disaster area. And his character came together completely when he finally faced his variant at the end of the episode. Loki propositions his variant to join him almost immediately, but his variant criticizes him for working with the TVA. There’s also a clear difference in empathy between the two of them. Anytime his variant moves her enchantment from one civilian to another, Loki becomes concerned. He even kneels down to make sure the TVA agent the variant takes control of is alright, which his variant makes fun of him for. After a while of talking, Loki becomes confused as to what this variant really wants. When things get violent he even begins to question whether or not the person he’s facing is a variant of himself. Despite his slowly changing outlook on the TVA, though, he accepts the variant’s subtle invitation to continue speaking with her and leaves Mobius behind. I get the feeling he has a plan, but we won’t know until the next episode. After all, he does love stabbing people in the back.

Mobius: Mobius is the disgruntled dad to Loki’s hyperactive, mischievous child. He still very much doesn’t trust Loki, but you can see that there’s a part of him that truly likes him. And Mobius isn’t stupid. He can read Loki like a book. When Loki begins to act out, Mobius compares him to a scared child. He admits the comment went a bit far later on, but he’s kind of right. Loki is frightened by the idea that he isn’t in control of his own life. It’s the main reason why he dislikes the Timekeepers and the TVA. Mobius can see that Loki dislikes being controlled by the TVA and he’s wary of him because of that. But he doesn’t treat him with contempt. He always encourages Loki to take advantage of his second chances. He even lets Loki completely ruin his salad to explain one of his theories, much to Mobius’ exasperation. I think my favorite moment in this episode occurred when Loki sat down with Mobius to discuss his beliefs. Mobius doesn’t take offense to any of Loki’s questions, even when he doesn’t know the answer. He’s also extremely straightforward. He does believe in the Timekeepers though he doesn’t know exactly how free will works within their operation. He believes he was created by the Timekeepers and that when they’re gone, he will be also, but he doesn’t know exactly when that will be. And even though the Timekeepers or the TVA might let him down in the end, you can’t help but admire his wisdom. I already love this character.

Miss Minutes: Miss Minutes appears in all her animated glory early in the episode to instruct Loki on the TVA and the timeline rules. She’s absolutely adorable. I loved how she was actually out on Loki’s desk, hopping around every time he tried to swipe at her. She feels like a living being. I can’t get enough of her.

What I Have Questions About:

Is it REALLY Lady Loki?: I came out of this episode disliking the Loki variant completely. I disliked it even more when they revealed Lady Loki is (Possibly) the variant they’re chasing. I couldn’t put my finger on why, though. I had guessed that the hooded figure was Lady Loki after I saw her hands in the first episode, and I was more excited than skeptical then. But after thinking back on this episode, I’m confident in saying my problem with it was the way the Loki variant was acting. There was no semblance of Loki there. Not at any point of the conversation. And when Loki commented that he would never treat himself this way, I realized that this might not even be Loki at all. So who is posing as a Loki variant? I’ve seen a lot of names being thrown around. One is Enchantress, a major Thor villain who also has a strong control over magic. The other is Sylvie, a character who takes up what is basically the title of the second Enchantress, but actually gets her powers from Loki. The Sylvie theory is circulating quite a bit because of the way the credits listed the character. Whatever the case I really do want Lady Loki in this show. Just maybe with more Loki characteristics.

Is This the Way the Multiverse Gets Created?: In the chaos of Loki’s confrontation with his supposed variant, the variant sets off multiple charges that begin to create splinters in the timeline. Once these splinters grow to a certain point, they can’t be undone. Meaning whoever this variant is managed to create the makings of a new multiverse all in one go. Is this what will lead to ‘Multiverse of Madness’? Or will something later in the series be the catalyst to the next Doctor Strange film?

Is the TVA Trustworthy?: I mentioned this in my last ‘Loki’ post but I want to mention it again. Between the holes Loki keeps poking into the TVA’s background and the suspiciously violent tendencies of its officials, are they trustworthy? With four episodes left I don’t think we’ve learned all we can about the TVA. And that scares me.

I love this series so far. My biggest fear for it at this point is the possibility that they may discard Mobius and Loki by the end of the series. After all, we all already believed that Loki’s story was over. This series could easily be the more satisfying closure to Loki’s story that ‘Infinity War’ lacked. But I don’t really want it to be. It’s giving us such good content that I want to see more of it in the future. I suppose we’ll have to see what happens as the series progresses.

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

K-Pop and K-Dramas: BTS Movies

Poster for ‘Break the Silence’. Copyright goes to Hybe Entertainment and BTS.

Hi! It’s Annie!

I have finally watched all of the BTS movies that have been released; specifically ‘Break the Silence’, ‘Burn the Stage’, and ‘Bring the Soul’. All of the movies were so different, which surprised me. It was really nice the way each movie was able to differentiate itself from the others. So in the interest of watching something in order to get over post concert depression and also to distract from BTS being disrespected yet again; let’s go over the movies the boys have put out so far!

‘Burn the Stage’ (2018):

This is the first of the movies they came out with and probably the most raw of all of them. I think most people knew that being an idol must be pretty difficult; but seeing it in this way brought it to an entirely different level. Not only do we see the boys preparing backstage, but we also see several injuries and health issues they suffered through. The most famous of which from this movie being the time when Jungkook almost passed out. The boys also show their arguments with each other; for example the argument between Tae and Jin. This also includes how they solve them. Namjoon really steps into his leader position for much of this movie when it comes to attempting to settle disputes, keeping the boys connected during concerts, and making sure the boys are ok when they’re upset. In that same vein, you can see better how they all work together behind the scenes. Jin and Hobi also take a lot of responsibility for the group, Yoongi is a calm voice of reason, and the maknae line add so much energy and laughter backstage that keeps everyone else energized. Along with the behind the scenes footage, we also get a confessional style section where each member talks about what they were feeling during different scenarios in the film. This in particular reveals how close they all are and how much one of them suffering in any way will effect them all. You can really see how close all of the boys are here.

‘Break the Silence’ (2020):

The style of this movie was very different from the first one. While ‘Burn the Stage’ has a fairly classic documentary style, this one focused on each individual member. It reveals what each member is often thinking while traveling and also a bit of what they do on their free time. They fully display Namjoon’s love for nature, Tae’s love for photography, and so much more when it comes to each member’s individual interests. This also has the rather infamous moment of Jimin looking out at a soccer field and commenting on how peaceful of a place it is. While this was a prelude to Jimin making some really nice points on how idols lives are different but not any better or worse than other people’s lives; he was hilariously teased relentlessly by the other members when they re-watched this movie. But I do feel like this movie is the one that goes the deepest into the struggles of fame, though it is definitely also mentioned in the other films. Jungkook in particular talks about how difficult it was to grow up with fame. The point here is that, though they may have fame and money they often can’t enjoy things most people find to be normal. I’m not sure anything has ever illustrated this point as much as this movie.

‘Bring the Soul’ (2019):

I’m putting this one last because this is the one I most recently watched. And by recently, I mean today. I have no idea why I watched the other ones and not this one, but I was finally able to correct this oversight. And I’m so glad that I did. This is the movie that features Jungkook getting the very large gash in his heel just before their London concert. I feel like these movies are often identified by which injury Jungkook got, and I really hope he takes it a little bit easier on himself! This movie also deals with the very real danger of artists catching travel colds during tours. This effects both Tae and Hobi and is something that I feel like most people don’t even consider. This is also the presence of comfort Jimin. I think we’ve seen it in all of the movies, but Jimin is always there when one of the members is going through something difficult. Hobi talks about how little they generally go outside, which was super important in adding perspective. Jin talks about how in South Korea they are able to go to the market, but overseas they can’t leave anywhere without security. We get to see adorable tired Yoongi throughout most of it. And both Tae and Namjoon are very adorable about giving words of wisdom and comfort. Namjoon talks about how there is just as much effort in doing the work and waiting between people who care for each other while Tae tells us all that he loves us more than yesterday but not as much as tomorrow. Their professionalism, especially Jungkook’s despite his injury, shines through. As well as all of the ups and downs of their lives that you usually don’t see. This is probably my favorite of the movies just because it wasn’t too invasive while still being very detailed. Over-all, I thought this one struck the best balance. You also get some really hilarious footage of the boys exercising and teasing each other!

Respect:

As we are reminded every week by racist journalists; BTS still are not respected enough for the work that they do. Much of that is complete ignorance. There are so many people who feel that all famous people are fair game because they’re rich, but these movies are perfect examples as to why none of that makes any sense. BTS works very hard and are very good at what they do. And much of the ire towards them are because of people’s refusal to accept cultures that aren’t their own. Our boys are some of the most hardworking people that I’ve ever seen. It’s up to you whether or not you like their music, but your opinion is never an excuse for absolute disrespect. As our leader and president Namjoon has said; “If you can’t respect, don’t even open your mouth.” I think that applies here.

I love our boys so much and I’m seriously just at this point where I will watch anything with them in it. I think part of our connection with them is because of how determined they are to prove to everyone else that they are real and normal people. Celebrities should be seen as normal people and many fans who don’t understand things like this will feel like their privacy is not important. I’m glad that they have cultivated a fandom who care more about things like their privacy and seeing them as human beings. But, if you take one thing from these movies regarding fan behavior, I would hope that it is not to approach them on the street. Hobi should not have to say “important business” to you for you to leave them alone. Sometimes they just want to feel normal. And they should be able to have that.

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

Disney: Gaston and LeFou Spin Off Series

Screenshot of Josh Gad and Luke Evans from the live action remake of ‘Beauty and the Beast’. Copyright goes to Walt Disney Studios.

Hey! Hallie here!

Recently we got the very interesting news that a new live action series is coming to Disney+. Live action remake haters beware. This series is a prequel to the live action remake of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ that came out a few years ago, and it will star Josh Gad and Luke Evans as LeFou and Gaston. Joining them is Briana Middleton who will play Tillie, LeFou’s step-sister. According to the description we’ve gotten so far, the trio will be going off on an adventure caused by a revelation about Tillie’s past. I, personally, don’t love live action remakes. But I don’t hate them either. With movies like ‘Cinderella’ it felt like the live action remake added a bit to the story. The original film is quite old and, while it still holds up, there are plenty of details it skips out on that the live action film was able to fill in and make better. ‘Beauty and the Beast’ was one of the live action remakes I didn’t like as much. With Renaissance Disney films, the details were all filled in. Because of this, any remake covering these films is doomed to be unnecessary. On top of that, casting non-singing actors proved to be a major mistake. The autotune in the movie was obvious and bad. I didn’t hate this movie, but I definitely didn’t want a prequel series based off of it. I’m not completely convinced it’ll fall on it’s face, though. Let’s go through what might work and what I’m concerned about.

The Pros:

The Cast: Let’s be honest, Josh Gad and Luke Evans as LeFou and Gaston was the best part of the ‘Beauty and the Beast’ remake. For one, both of them could actually sing. There was little to no autotune present in the songs that heavily featured these two. They also had great on-screen chemistry. If anyone from this film was going to get a musical series, I’m glad it’s these two. On top of that, I’m excited about Briana Middleton’s inclusion. She hasn’t done too much on screen before her casting in this, but I look forward to seeing what she’ll do with her role. I’m also incredibly glad this series decided not to go with only two white men as its main characters. And Josh Gad will not only star in the series, but he will also be one of the writers. I feel Josh Gad will do an excellent job at taking up some of the writing responsibilities. The series will definitely have some nice humor with him working behind the scenes.

The Music: Alan Menken is back! Alan Menken composed the music for both the original ‘Beauty and the Beast’ and the remake, as well as a ton of other Disney movies. He’s a Disney legend. The composing is clearly safe in his hands. The lyric writing will be done by Glenn Slater, who did the lyrics for ‘Tangled’. I think the thing that makes me the most excited about this pairing is both of their involvement in the show ‘Galavant’. ‘Galavant’ was a fantasy, musical, comedy series that aired a few years ago. I loved the first season, and even when the second season dipped in quality, the music was hilarious. The feel of this series so far reminds me a lot of ‘Galavant’. The fact that Menken and Slater were responsible for the music there proves that they’re beyond qualified for this project.

The Cons:

The Writers: I already addressed my excitement around Josh Gad contributing to the writing. When it comes to the other writers behind the scenes, though, I’m hesitant. Edward Kistis and Adam Horowitz are the other main writers. These two ventured into the fantasy genre most famously with their work on ‘Once Upon a Time’. ‘Once Upon a Time’ wasn’t a bad series, but it never had the best writing. And it only got worse over time. I also don’t love that we’re seeing such a non-diverse group of writers. It’s long past time that we see more women and BIPOC behind the scenes. And for this series specifically, I would have hoped that they would at least bring in a LGBTQ+ writer into the writers room. Which leads into my next point.

LGBTQ+ Representation: LeFou in the ‘Beauty and the Beast’ remake marked Disney’s official first LGBTQ+ representation on the big screen. He starts out the film with an obvious crush on Gaston, complimenting and doting on him in every scene. Then, later in the film, LeFou begins to question Gaston’s actions. Continuing on with this change to the original story, LeFou notices that Gaston left him for dead during the final battle and decides to help the household objects fight off the villagers. After saving Mrs. Potts she tells him that he’s too good for Gaston, convincing him to move on. With LeFou’s change of heart solidified, he gets to join in during the major dance at the end of the film. Except he ends up accidentally partnering up with a male villager who was also queer-coded during the final battle. He doesn’t seem too disappointed with this outcome. Nothing here is explicit, but Disney publicly confirmed LeFou’s sexuality so they could pat themselves on the back. I know this series is a prequel, but if they don’t go into LeFou’s sexuality it’ll be an even bigger slap in the face. LeFou’s sexuality was already way too subtle in the live action remake for it to count as any sort of major progress. It’s questionable to cast someone like Josh Gad as a LGBTQ+ character (See James Corden’s current career). But it would be deplorable for them to ignore LeFou’s identity again. I’m nervous to see what they’ll do for this series. With Disney’s record, I can only see them disappointing the LGBTQ+ community again.

Louie?: Apparently they decided LeFou’s name shouldn’t be LeFou so they changed it to Louie. I don’t have any major problems with this but…why Louie?

I obviously have some concerns. No one really asked for a prequel. We didn’t need to know how Gaston and LeFou’s friendship came to be. Especially because Gaston is so notoriously sexist that most wouldn’t want to see him as a main character, anyways. And with its ties to the ‘Beauty and the Beast’ remake, which wasn’t fabulous, it’s even more eyebrow raising. But I see some promise in it. Between the cast and the music it could be incredible. But that’s only if they manage to avoid the major issues that are already getting Disney negative attention.

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

K-Pop and K-Dramas: BTS Muster, Sowoozoo Day 2

Photo of (from left) Kim Namjoon (RM), Kim Seokjin, Jeon Jungkook, Park Jimin, Min Yoongi (Suga), Jung Hoseok (J-Hope), and Kim Taehyung (V) from Day 2 of Sowoozoo. Copyright goes to BTS, Hybe Entertainment, and BTS’s social media accounts.

Hi! It’s Annie!

I have never done it before and wasn’t sure I would be able to make it, but I have officially watched both days of a BTS online concert that both began at 2:30 AM in California. Is my sleep schedule absolutely screwed up now? Absolutely. Was it worth it? Hell yeah! I honestly never thought I’d pull an all nighter like this until I discovered BTS and I’m so glad I did. I had so much fun with this concert that I probably very much needed. I was definitely tired by the time I got to this concert though, and that happened with pretty much everyone that I watched it with. By the second day we were all still enjoying ourselves, but the energy dipped. But we still had such a good time!

Multiple Angles:

Before I get into what actually happened during the concert, I want to address the multiple camera angles. An option for tickets for Sowoozoo was to buy a view with multiple camera angles of the boys throughout the concert rather than just the main one. Obviously, this cost more money and when I originally saw this I wasn’t tempted to purchase it, but I honestly didn’t think too much on it either. Now that people that bought multi-view are sharing their footage, the cameras did some good things for the concert. For example, showing exactly who was running after who and nailing who with water during both performances of “So What”. There were a couple technical difficulties that the cameras showed. One of the rover cameras on stage bumped into Hobi’s knees pretty hard. But some of them revealed that the boys were probably not told about the option for fans to watch the multi-view version of the concert. I personally am not going to talk about exactly what people saw when the boys didn’t think the cameras were on them. It wasn’t like they did anything bad or weird, but they seemed to be under the impression that they were essentially off-stage. Sometimes that meant adjusting costumes and attempting to make themselves presentable in ways that some ARMY found funny or potentially embarrassing. While there was nothing groundbreaking here, I personally was not sure I liked the idea of their privacy being invaded in this way. I don’t blame anyone who bought the multi-view tickets. I doubt any of them were aware of the possibility that the boys hadn’t been told about this ticket option. But I personally believe they should have been able to take care of their appearances and prepare for the next song in peace. Or in the very least have been told about what the multi-view option entailed.

Same Songs:

Much of the songs performed were the same as yesterday, so I’m going to talk about the small differences between the performances here. The first three songs were exactly the same and felt like they had a lot of the same amazing energy from yesterday. “Life Goes On” started out calmly and went very well into “Butter” which then went into “Dynamite (Tropical Remix)”. The costumes for these were also the same, but their hair styles definitely differed today. Jungkook and Jimin flipped hairstyles. Jimin’s hair was pushed back and looked a bit less cute than yesterday whereas Jungkook’s bangs were on full display and made him look a little more boyish. I love both for both members so I absolutely loved seeing the different sides here. Hobi had his signature “Dynamite” look which always absolutely slays. They all looked amazing! I will say I found that “Stay” with Namjoon, Jungkook, and Jin was a bit more mellow for day two while “Fly to My Room” seemed to be slightly more high-energy and bouncy. It was such a small difference over-all, but it was interesting to see how each group switched up their performance for the second day. Of course there were several other songs that were the same, some more from ‘Be’ and things like that, but I feel like my sister covered more of that in her post yesterday. They were just as good both days and I loved watching all of it!

“Film Out” and Talking:

They performed “Film Out” while sitting down. Just before this they each talked about their solo songs and each sang part of theirs respectively. Hobi sang “Blue Side”, Jimin sang “Promise”, I believe Namjoon was singing ‘Bicycle’ but it was hilariously difficult to tell because he was a bit nervous and started singing it a bit more jokingly, Jungkook sang “Still With You”, Yoongi gave us a bit of “People”, Jin sang “Abyss”, and Tae tried to sing “Winter Bear” but he couldn’t remember the melody because he’s been working so hard on his new mixtape! I honestly don’t blame him, but it was funny watching the members poke fun at him. Then they went into “Film Out” which was beyond amazing to hear live. All of their vocals were perfect and they all put so much emotion into that song. Not only that, but they all seemed so excited to share it with us!

“So What”:

“So What” was definitely fun yesterday. Of course, we got the absolutely adorable clip of Kookie and Tae chasing each other around with water bottles. But yesterday the water was a little more tame and the battle took place mostly between the Maknae line and Jin. Today, the entire group got in on the action. They said towards the beginning of the concert that it was really hot that day, which probably had more to do with the absolutely out of control water fight that occurred today. Yoongi probably got the least wet by the end of it. Everybody else was absolutely soaked. Jimin was wearing what looked like a suit jacket that had very obvious water marks by the end of it. There was a hilarious bit where Jin stopped singing to shout in fear at Hobi who was chasing after him with a water bottle, laughing. Every time Jin tried to hit Hobi with water he was intercepted by Jungkook or Tae. Jimin often got hit in the crossfire. Namjoon even got in on the fun and his hair was so soaked by the end of it that Namjoon actually did the famous Yoongi hair sweep featuring water. I absolute died for obvious reasons. Jimin also finished the song getting particularly close to Yoongi, which was adorable. I don’t think I have ever laughed this hard during a concert! It was absolute chaos in the absolute best way!

“Chicken Noodle Soup”:

We were all hoping for this one and boy did they deliver. Instead of the OT7 “Daechwita” from the first day, we got OT7 “Chicken Noodle Soup”. And I absolutely loved everything about this! The boys spent quite a bit of it cruising around in cars. We got to see all of them do the dance. Yoongi in particular looked like he was having so much fun with it! I can’t get over their outfits for CNS! Hobi’s outfits were some of the best we’ve ever seen during these concert days, and his CNS outfit had to be one of my favorite Hobi looks of all time. And he looked so happy leading the rest of them! Of course, some of the biggest standouts here were Namjoon and Jimin who trended together after they covered Becky G’s Spanish section of the song. Everyone I was watching this with practically screamed at that point. Everything about this performance was amazing. And to all the solo stans who suddenly had a problem with Yoongi not performing singularly but did not with Hobi; just get out if you can’t enjoy the concert. I know that sounds harsh, but the boys have always loved sharing their music with each other. And the double standards are also ridiculous.

Encore:

I loved seeing them all wear the concert tees and switch up the ones they wore based on the night. Of course, we all had to get tees afterwards! Today Namjoon, Tae, and Hobi were all wearing knit chicken hats, probably because of CNS. It was adorable and they all seemed to be twice as goofy with them on. They eventually got Yoongi to put one on, but he very cutely made a face and took it off before he thanked ARMY for their support. Tae was very honest about how much they had been struggling and they all got a bit more emotional this night. Of course, they closed out with “Mikrokosmos” which is one of their most comforting songs.

Fireworks:

Watching BTS leave is always sad, but seeing them all smile even more at the fireworks tonight was heartwarming. It really felt like they were sharing a moment with ARMY while all of us were looking up at the fireworks. It was definitely an emotional moment.

BTS News:

For those of you who didn’t click off immediately after the concert ended, we saw the news video that also appeared on BTS’s Twitter this morning. This seemed to be a promotional bit for the announcement of a new track that will be appearing on the upcoming “Butter” album. Either way, hearing Namjoon and Jin’s hilarious voice over made leaving the concert just the slightest bit more bearable.

Well, post concert depression is a real thing. Though I’m not sure I’ve even been able to fully comprehend it due to how tired I am today! Though I loved their last concert, I think watching this one with a group made the experience even better for me. And even the boys seemed to like it better! They talked about how performing inside for their last concert was stifling, but performing outside for this one gave them new energy because they perform most in outside arenas on tour. Tae said that his favorite day was today because it took him a while to get in the swing of things. I totally get that, but I’m going to have to give it to yesterday for me. Part of that was probably because I was less tired then; but screaming the lyrics to ‘Daechwita’ will always be a great memory for me. Especially because of the huge plot twist of the premiere rap songs being performed OT7. I just can’t wait to hopefully see them live in person one day!

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

K-Pop and K-Dramas: BTS Muster, Sowoozoo Day 1

Screenshot of Kim Taehyung, Kim Namjoon, Min Yoongi, Jeon Jungkook, Kim Seokjin, Jung Hoseok, and Park Jimin from the first day of Muster, Sowoozoo. Copyright goes to BTS and Hybe Entertainment.

Hey! Hallie here!

I’m one of the crazy people who not only stayed up all night to watch the first day of this Muster, but I’m also planning to do it again for the second day. You’ll see the post on the second day really soon here, but today I’m going to be talking about the first day of Sowoozoo. There are a lot of rumored changes between the set list of the first and second concert days, so there’s no telling as of now what differences my sister will be discussing in our next post on this Muster. But there were already so many surprises that I found myself screaming in excitement at parts. So let’s get into this!

Concept:

This concept reminded me a bit of Magic Shop. It started out with a vehicle moving around the stage with the members inside to transport them to center stage. This was seriously reminiscent of the Magic Shop rising out of the floor for the first song during the 5th Muster. Similarly, there were skits in between a few of the songs and videos during costume changes that told the story of Sowoozoo. While I really enjoyed the Sci-Fi, RV-like vehicle moving around the stage, I didn’t feel this story was as well thought-out as some of their other concepts. In videos we see that BTS are searching for something inside the bus, each member with a job to help them navigate the wasteland they’re driving through. It’s fun to see them interact in this fictional scenario, but it feels aimless. About halfway through the story the vehicle goes on red alert, promising a direction for the story. But it turns out it’s just a flat tire. The narrative makes a bit of a big deal about Jin, Jungkook, and Namjoon exciting the vehicle to change the tire. They have to put on what are basically hazmat suits to even exit it. But I couldn’t really get past the hilarity behind the fact that the only conflict introduced was a flat tire. The skits in between songs felt similarly aimless. They used a fictional technology to connect to ARMY and their memories, but none of the memories they discussed connected very well. I could watch the members talk about their past and their passions all day, but I couldn’t really get behind these skits as parts of an overall story. I still love when they go for a more whimsical concept for their concerts, though. I enjoyed this concept, but it didn’t quite reach the level of Magic Shop.

First Songs:

They opened up with “Life Goes On” which they performed inside of the vehicle. I love seeing smaller sets like this, especially when they can move around the stage. I also loved seeing their new looks during this first song. Namjoon’s new hairstyle is amazing. I wasn’t completely sold by the Neapolitan look he had before this concert, but I love his yellow color with the shaved sides. I think this might be one of my favorite Namjoon hairstyles in a while. And let’s not forget that these men were wearing lots of short sleeves, meaning we got to see how buff Namjoon has been getting. Speaking of short sleeves, Jungkook blew everyone away with his confidence in showing off his new sleeve. His tattoos suit him very well and I’m so glad he’s incorporating them into his performance looks. Jin has kept his hair pretty natural recently, but the lighter brown is gorgeous on him. Yoongi went blonde. Which is insane because he also keeps to his natural colors fairly often. The color, plus the longer length swept back, has understandably drawn a lot of attention. Hoseok went back to the bleached blonde color. I loved this color on him in the first place, but the teal color of his mic and ear pieces made it stand out even more. Jimin’s hair is black now, which is a result of his hair becoming very unhealthy after several drastic dye jobs in a row. I know he didn’t exactly pick this color, but I do really like his black hair. Lastly we have Taehyung. I wasn’t sure about his perm when he first revealed it, but it’s definitely growing on me. It’s cute and that’s just what Tae was going for.

After “Life Goes On” we hopped right into “Butter”. We’ve seen a lot of “Butter” recently, but it never does get old. And with the yellow and white color scheme for the costumes, it was very fitting. After this we saw the tropical remix for “Dynamite”. There was a very colorful, summery feel to the planetary set on the stage, and the tropical remix only intensified this aesthetic. Then we heard “Moving On” which is something we haven’t heard in a while. They pulled out this song to address quarantine and the message was comforting. Following this was “Stay” and “Fly to My Room”. The members split up for these songs. Jin, Namjoon, and Jungkook spent a bit more time playing around the stage for “Stay” while Taehyung, Jimin, Hoseok, and Yoongi used a bedroom set for their performance.

Mid-Concert Songs:

After a brief intermission we came back to the set for “Daechwita”. The group I was watching the concert with was so excited by just the set, we were already screaming the moment we saw it. But what followed was even more exciting. Yoongi played the role of the mad king, sitting on his throne while the other members of BTS filled other roles from the music video and joined his performance of the song. Jimin played the role of the modern Agust D, opening up the song with the first few lines. He doesn’t rap often, but his sweet tones were uniquely enjoyable. After this Jin and Jungkook arrived, playing the fighting men they portrayed in the original music video. Jin and his facial hair were excellent, as he also doesn’t rap. Jungkook really showed off his skill here. He doesn’t rap often anymore but he still has the skill for it. Next Namjoon appeared as the executioner preparing to execute Taehyung. Namjoon killed it, as always, but Taehyung’s fake facial hair and his hilarious “death” stole the show. Taehyung thoroughly enjoyed his own verse before Hoseok stepped up as the scroll keeper. Hoseok received the most difficult part of the song and I nearly stood up at how incredible he was. Yoongi, of course, ended the song with his usual impressiveness. This was the highlight of the concert for me.

It didn’t feel like they could match the energy “Daechwita” served, but “IDOL” was used excellently to keep up the energy. After this we got our first ever performance of “Dis-ease”! This performance was done among the live footage of ARMYs being projected where the audience would be. They also used pre-recorded ARMY singing to give the performance more of a concert feel. It was bitter-sweet to see the members perform next to ARMY without actually being able to interact with them. “Fire” followed to bring up the energy once more, and “So What” and “Not Today” were used to give the members time to enjoy the stage.

Encore:

The encore was pretty short here, but it was just as beautiful as it usually is. It started with “Wishing on a Star” which is another song we haven’t heard in a while. The members came out in concert shirts and more comfortable outfits, as they usually do, but I really do like to see them allowed to be a bit looser for the last part of the concert. Following this song were some of the most heartfelt songs BTS has performed for ARMY. One is “A Supplementary Story: You Never Walk Alone”. Around this time they also talked a bit about how strange it is that they’ve reached their 8th anniversary (Hoseok also reminded the audience that it wasn’t the birthday of the the bugs attacking them while they were standing on stage). They closed the concert out with “Mikrokosmos”. I don’t feel there will ever be a more perfect closing song than “Mikrokosmos”. It’s gorgeous and gives a nice nostalgic feeling to leave the concert with. The fireworks were a bit crazy as they left stage, which caused Jin to cough a few times through the concert, but they made the ending feel complete. I was sad to leave the concert. I imagine I’ll be even more sad after the next concert. Still, I feel like this is by far the best virtual concert experience I’ve had over quarantine and I’m so grateful to have experienced it.

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

K-Pop and K-Dramas: Imitation Episode 6

Screenshot of (left) Lee Junyoung and (right) Jeong Yunho from ‘Imitation’. Copyright goes to KBS and Kakao Entertainment.

Hi! It’s Annie!

Last week I started seeing some hope in this show, even if it was a little small. At least things started picking up with some characters and we started getting a little development for the main characters specifically. Somehow, this episode managed to screech completely to a halt even after all of that. Part of it was because any attempt that they made at going forward with the plot this episode, ended up being so confusing that it almost didn’t matter. And that was when they even attempted to move forwards with the plot. Once again, this won’t be a rave review, but I’ll get into it anyways. As always, SPOILERS AHEAD!!!!

The Good:

The Acting- I’m always going to put this category in the good. Everyone’s acting gets better by the episode. People who aren’t as experienced at acting seem to be more calm with it as it goes on as well. It’s just really good!

Shax- Definitely my favorite part of this episode was anything involving Shax. Where the show fails at showing the bond between other characters, it completely succeeds at showing the bond between the members of Shax. We got more of the leader of Shax this episode having to step up and deal with the situations involving Ryok. And, more importantly, we got Dojin and Hyuk going to hilarious lengths to try and figure out what’s going on between Maha and Ryok. This included a hilarious moment where they had to hide in Ryok’s bed and pretend to be Ryok sleeping. Every time we get more of the members of Shax, I enjoy my experience watching the show more as a whole.

Jongho as Hyuk- I think in the last two episodes Hyuk has become my favorite character. He has such a bright and funny energy to him that makes it difficult to look away from him. And with having such limited acting experience, Jongho blows his portrayal of Hyuk out of the water. Jongho has never once looked awkward playing this role. In fact, he plays it so well it almost feels like it was written specifically for him. Hyuk is a sweet and understanding character who is also incredibly observant. He’s often the smartest character on the show. Sometimes there’s so much going on, that it’s just a giant relief when Hyuk appears on screen. I can say with confidence that Hyuk is the scene-stealer of this show.

Yunho as Yoojin- We got a little more character development for him this episode. And also, Yunho looked the most comfortable playing Yoojin this episode than he has in any episode before this. There might have been a couple brief awkward moments in past episodes, but there was not one in sight in this one. And I actually liked that they’re moving forward with the Yoojin auditioning for movies plot line. It seems like one of the only plot points this episode actually moved forward with. Even though Yoojin did get cast as some kind of mafia member who tries to beat up Ryok in a movie, and I don’t think anyone would ever cast Yunho as anything mafia related. He may be tall, but he is definitely not intimidating. He’s too sweet for that. Yoojin is very similar, but I digress. Yoojin now also knows that Maha is with Ryok and that Hyunoh has a girlfriend that he’s hiding from the team. With this new information, it makes me wonder if we’ll see more of a flawed side of Yoojin. It’s at least a set up for that, but this show does have some issues with carrying storylines out, so we’ll really have to see how that goes.

Realism- The main thing this show was praised for this episode was actually a scene with Sparkling that was brutally honest about the lives of idols. In the scene their manager makes each member weigh themselves and then yells at several members for weighing 2kg more than they had the last time he weighed them. For those of us who live in the US (who stupidly decided that we were going to have different units of measurement for everything unlike the rest of the world), that’s about a four pound difference. That’s absolutely insane and very sadly accurate. It was nice to see the show tackle this problem in such a real way. Though the show only throws scenes like this in every once in a while, they still are addressing things like this very well.

The Bad:

Maha- I never know what’s going on with Maha, and I feel like that only increases by the episode. Maha, especially in this episode, felt like a robot to me. She would play a specific role in the scene that she was in and then she would shut down after her purpose in the scene was over. Most of her actions this episode were decided by other characters. I don’t think she had one moment of true agency. There is a moment where Yoojin goes to see her to celebrate because he’s been cast in a movie, and this is around the time where Ryok is going to pick up Maha. Of course, Yoojin doesn’t know this and Maha doesn’t tell him. So while he’s excitedly trying to tell her the news that he’s been cast, Ryok gets out of the car and tries to drag Maha with him to the car in a fit of jealousy. Maha acts like she has no choice in the situation, practically ignores Yoojin without even really apologizing to him, and then leaves with Ryok. In a separate scene where Maha should have had agency, Riah drags her away from Ryok and then convinces Maha to change her phone number so that Ryok can’t call her again. Maha does all of this without question. She feels like a puppet that can be easily yanked around by other characters. Does she have a personality at this point? I’m honestly not sure.

Ryok- After all the good character development with Ryok last episode, I was not expecting this. Especially because there was absolutely no build up to whatever happened in this episode. I’m still not quite sure what that was. Ryok randomly shows up at Maha’s place and at first I thought it was because he found the defaced picture of himself amongst Maha’s gifts in her gift bag. But he shows up with this really cheesy smile on his face with no purpose, they talk about nothing, they get caught, and then Ryok just leaves. His manager gets so mad at this little interaction that he tells him that Maha can’t be his girlfriend and then forces him to go on this nature show without his phone for a while. I thought that this was going to mean that Ryok would be out for most of the episode and there would be some drama involving Maha trying to get a hold of him and thinking that he doesn’t care about her. But there was literally no plot relevance that I could see for him being stranded there. He was probably there for five minutes of the episode and then he was back as usual and still trying to date Maha. And he was also really mean to Yoojin and then pretended like it never happened when Yoojin showed up to set. Ryok had no character development in this episode and nothing that he did made any sense. Everything was so choppy with this character.

Main Romance- I don’t understand this at all. By the end of this episode the show acts like Maha and Ryok are dating now, but there is absolutely no build up to this. We know that Ryok has feelings for Maha, but he’s never been able to properly express his feelings to her. And the show never stops to tell you how Maha feels so I’m not even one hundred percent sure that she likes him back at this point. Trying to wrap my head around the timeline of this relationship is giving me a headache.

Sparkling- Besides the really heartbreaking scene of them getting weighed, nothing really happened with Sparkling this episode. Again. San and Seonghwa basically got nothing once again this episode. I don’t think they ever will at this point. Hyunoh has also been a little weird. The past few episodes his only function is to insult Yunho and then go in the corner and tell his girlfriend to stop being upset at him and also to stop calling him. I’m sure she’s thrilled. He’s been doing the exact same thing for about three episodes now and there has been no development with that. I can only hope that Yunho overhearing Hyunoh’s latest conversation will end in something plot relevant. But unfortunately, that still leaves San and Seonghwa with nothing to do.

The Evil Manager- Shax has an evil manager that we know is evil because he’s always just a couple seconds away from evil-y twirling his evil mustache. This character has no plot relevance, he does nothing, and seeing him always just confuses me. It makes me feel like there’s another plot going on in the background that the viewers are completely missing.

La Lima- She’s had about one scene per episode and no character development. This episode she pulls Maha aside and tells her to stay away from Ryok because Ryok is hers. I honestly didn’t even know she was friends with Ryok never mind romantically interested in him because she’s been in so little of the series. She’s supposed to be a main character, but I always wonder what her function in the plot is.

Hyunji and Riah- Riah has officially been relegated to the overprotective friend. I worried that this would happen in my last post and this episode officially confirmed my fears. And Hyunji’s only function this episode was to have a line once again confirming that she has a crush on Yoojin. We know, guys. Can you actually develop that sub-plot romance since the show is half way over instead of just mentioning it?

The Pacing- Every episode except for maybe two has felt like a filler episode. And there’s only twelve episodes in the series. I’m fairly certain that there’s not much plot in this show to begin with. Nothing is concise and I always find myself confused as to what the show is trying to be.

As you can probably tell, this was one of my least favorite episodes of this show. That doesn’t mean that there wasn’t some good in it, but I feel like I’m finding less and less to defend about it. I’ve already said this, but it’s not a show I would necessarily recommend. At this point I’m just watching it for ATEEZ and my sister already gave up on it. It doesn’t help that the series is only twelve episodes long and it feels like nothing has happened even though we’re officially half way through everything. Maybe the last few episodes will have some urgency, but I’m not super hopeful about that. I don’t hate watching this show by any means! But I do wish that it was so much better than it is.

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

Disney: ‘The Bad Batch’ Episode 6 and 7 Review

Screenshot of Omega and Rex from episode seven of ‘The Bad Batch’. Copyright goes to The Walt Disney Company.

Hey! Hallie here!

I’ve been pairing up episodes of ‘The Bad Batch’ for reviews, both because each episode is short and because nothing much has been happening. Episode seven ended up involving a lot more plot progression than I expected. Which is probably a good thing now that we have less than ten episodes left for this season (series?). In any case, I’ll be focusing quite a bit more on episode seven than episode six because of this. So let’s quickly dive into episode six so we can get to the really important stuff we saw in episode seven. SPOILERS ahead!

Episode 6, “Decommissioned”:

The Good:

The Martez Sisters: I really enjoy both of these characters and it’s nice to see how much they’ve changed since they spent time with Ahsoka. Rafa is still as sassy and difficult as always, but she has a clear morality. So much so that she’s slow to trust any of the Batch because they aren’t fighting against the Empire. Rafa also challenges Hunter in both leadership skills and general fighting capabilities. It’s clear she knows what she’s doing and she shouldn’t be underestimated. Trace is as kind as ever despite being at odds with Clone Force 99. She’s the first to snatch the droid head all of them have been tasked with recovering, but she also stops to save Omega when Omega finds herself stuck in a sea of broken down battle droids. Trace then comes up with the idea to reactivate some of the battle droids to take out the droid police. She’s clearly more capable now than she ever was before. These two end up working incredibly well with The Bad Batch. Hunter and Rafa bounce off of each other well and serve as efficient protectors. Meanwhile Trace can match both Tech’s intelligence and Omega’s kindness. Trace also gets the line “Is there an echo in here?” which leads to a hilarious interaction with Echo. This joke might have been my favorite moment in the whole episode.

The Bad (Batch):

Cid’s Bar: I know every story needs a home-like location for the characters to reconvene, but I’m growing to deeply dislike Cid’s bar. Why? Because Cid, and the current plot that sees the Batch working for Cid, isn’t serving the story at all. Every episode where the Batch goes out to do a mission for Cid feels like a filler episode. None of the characters end up being explored except for maybe Omega. None of the main plot points are addressed at all. Nothing happens. Since episode four we’ve seen a major slow down in any character development for any of the characters, and now that the series is focusing on Cid’s bar, we’re getting an equally slow plot. I want to see more than just Omega gaining more abilities while the rest of the characters sit behind her and do the same things over and over.

Wrecker: Wrecker’s writing was kind of hilarious in this episode. He was complaining a lot about his headaches from the moment the episode started. When they started their search for the droid head, Hunter sent Wrecker off on his own and Wrecker ended up writhing on the floor in pain. And then Omega called him in because they were in need of help and he jumped up as if nothing happened. He didn’t even mention headaches for the rest of the episode. I know this was all just set up for episode seven, but what was that?

Episode 7, “Battle Scars”:

The Good:

Rex: Ok, put Rex in anything and I instantly love you. Rex is one of the ‘Star Wars’ characters that I am majorly obsessed with, so using him is almost cheating. But hey, I’m not complaining. Rex was introduced into this episode to help move the plot along. Rex drops in to Cid’s bar to check up on The Bad Batch, and through a mix of Tech and Hunter letting it slip that they haven’t removed their inhibitor chips, plus Wrecker getting a massive headache, Rex manages to put together that all of them are in a really dangerous state at the moment. And he’s angry about it. Who can blame him? He just buried a ship full of his brothers. Rex winds up taking the group to a decommissioned Republic ship so they can use the medical facility to remove their chips. Overall, Rex gets some really nice contemplative moments in this episode. I mean, he’s still grappling with the trauma of what occurred when he had his inhibitor chip removed. The scar on his head from where it was extracted is still pretty fresh. He has a lot of ominous lines that lead the viewer to believe that he’s still dwelling on everything that happened while he was under the chip’s control. He even mentions Fives and how he regrettably didn’t understand what Fives was trying to warn him about at the time of his death. I really enjoyed the references to Rex’s age throughout, too. He’s one of the original clones, and that gets him some wisdom that the Batch can look up to. Rex pulled the plot along after a few episodes of floundering, so I hope that he brought in enough momentum for the series to keep moving forward.

Wrecker: We finally, finally got to see his headaches addressed here and the wait paid off. Wrecker grapples with his headaches throughout the entire episode. There isn’t any splotchiness here. And it’s actually heartbreaking. Especially watching him interact with Omega. He goes from joking around with her and taking her to get some celebratory snacks early in the episode, to trying to kill her later on. Unlike Crosshair, watching Wrecker turn on his friends meant something. Wrecker is established as a kind character with a big heart, and though the show still hasn’t done much character development for the Batch, we still know him enough to be attached by now.

Omega: Omega, once again, somehow ended up with the most character development in this episode. Even though she doesn’t have an inhibitor chip and didn’t need it removed. When the Batch learn that the procedure isn’t exactly safe, Omega, understandably, freaks out. She confesses that she doesn’t want to be left alone. Even Hunter’s reassurances aren’t quite enough to console her. Her main convincing comes in the form of a rampant Wrecker. She manages to hide from him just long enough for Rex to figure out what’s going on and stun him, but it’s clear she’s shaken by the entire experience. She still refuses to leave his side once his chip is removed. Her relationship with Wrecker is adorable. It was also nice to see how vulnerable Omega can be when facing the idea of being abandoned by the people she cares about.

The Bad (Batch):

Hunter: After both this episode and episode six Hunter is confronted by someone who urges him to take action in the fight against the Empire (Rex, Rafa). And after every one of these conversations Hunter comes up with some excuse about needing to decide what’s best for his crew and refuses. It feels like Hunter is the reason why these last few episodes have felt like they weren’t going anywhere. Hunter always expresses confusion about what to do next, so the Batch end up staying in the same exact spot. It’s frustrating to see Hunter do this multiple times, as if he isn’t learning anything from the people he’s working with. Hopefully he changes his mind soon.

Character Development: I’ve complained about this a lot but it still hasn’t been fixed so we’re talking about it again. Hunter, Tech, Wrecker, and Echo all have no depth. None. They do the same things each episode and they never learn anything new. This is the main reason I’ve felt so frustrated with this series lately. I really like it. But I know just as much about these characters now than I did in their introductory episodes in ‘Clone Wars’.

Those are my reviews for the last few episodes! I’m saying a lot of negative things for each episode, but I don’t dislike this series by any means! It certainly isn’t the first series I’ve liked to suffer from filler episodes. With this series I feel I’m partly expecting more from it because there isn’t another season confirmed and I’m partly expecting more because it’s a series on a streaming service. Series like these tend to have more concise storylines, but I’m not seeing that from ‘The Bad Batch’. I really do want to like this and I would love to fully get to know all of these characters. As of now I can only hope we see more quality in the future.

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

K-Pop and K-Dramas: Love Alarm

Promotional image of (from left) Jung Garam, Kim Sohyun, and Song Kang. Copyright goes to Netflix and Studio Dragon.

Hi! It’s Annie!

I was recently hit with insomnia for some unknown reason and ended up spending a sleepless night watching this drama because it was one of the first ones that came up on Netflix. Now, I know I roast shows a lot. But I can honestly say that I have enjoyed every single K-Drama I’ve watched, including ‘The King: Eternal Monarch’. Yes, the plot of that one was an absolute mess, but I actually liked the characters a lot and I thought the romance was cute. You definitely don’t watch that one for the plot. I don’t know if it was the sleep deprivation making me more annoyed at things, but this is probably the first K-Drama I’ve watched that falls into the dislike category for me. It wasn’t good. I watched the entirety of season one and then skipped through season two because I wasn’t sure I could watch much more of it. So let’s get into what I liked and a lot more of what I disliked. As always for these kind of reviews, SPOILERS AHEAD!!!

The Good:

Lee Hyeyoung- The purest boy and by far my favorite character in the entire show. Hyeyoung at first seems a little bit clingy, but what’s important about this character is that he pulls back when he needs to. Remember when I said it is really common for me to suffer from second lead syndrome because the second lead is usually the nice guy? Definitely applies here. He is the first person to have a crush on Jojo and Sunoh knows this when he starts pursuing Jojo. But instead of getting angry, Hyeyoung decides that it’s Jojo’s choice and actually backs off. We need to see more of that in dramas. In season two after a giant time skip, it is revealed that he still has feelings for Jojo after she breaks up with Sunoh. At first he knows that she won’t ring his love alarm, but tells her that it’s enough for him to have expressed his feelings even if he is rejected. Pretty great right? He also unquestionably defends the honor of all of his friends even if they’ve wronged him. He’s quite a forgiving guy.

The Second Romance- Of course, the first romance in this show is between Jojo and Sunoh, but the second one is between Jojo and Hyeyoung. After the time gap Hyeyoung finds Jojo again and decides to actually try and win her over. He doesn’t expect anything and he also respects her privacy by agreeing not to tell Sunoh. Which was a good idea considering how much Sunoh freaks out when he learns about their relationship. Jojo decides to forgo the love alarm app altogether in order to pursue a relationship with him. And that’s probably the most important part of this relationship. This is the big one that isn’t based off of what the app says. They learn to love each other because of their trust in each other rather than their trust in an app. It’s really sweet!

Jojo- She isn’t a completely blank slate and she’s very reasonable. She has a personality and she stands up for herself in relationships while also focusing on communicating with the people she’s in the relationship with. She never is untruthful about how she feels or her boundaries. There is only one major point in the show where her communication fails, but I’ll get back to that. She also is the kind of nice person who befriends people who are constantly getting bullied without constantly dealing with them in a stance of pity. Over-all, she’s a kind and smart character with personality.

The Bad:

JoJo- Yep, she’s going in both the good and bad. Jojo sometimes suffers from blank slate syndrome. She has more personality than most characters I’ve seen with this, but the plot devices she falls into sometimes takes her agency out of the story. Like her randomly downloading this shield on her phone to prevent people from knowing her feelings at a suggestion. Or when her past trauma drives her to break up with Sunoh even though it actually makes no sense. That entire part of the story was confusing. Like, I know it reminded her of past trauma, but it was also a completely different situation and she was not set up as the type of character to make rash decisions like this.

Sunoh- I never liked this character, he just came off as really presumptuous. He was kind of creepy about cornering Jojo at the beginning of the show and then he continued to be super overprotective. Except for when he randomly crashed a motorcycle for plot. He also forbids Jojo from seeing Hyeyoung even though he has no right to do that and is still not respectful of Hyeyoung after Jojo and Hyeyoung start a relationship. There are several times when she’s with Hyeyoung where Sunoh corners her and tries to force her to admit that she still has feelings for him. I would also like to point out that he has a really nice girlfriend at this point. He always assumed what Jojo feels and never asks her. And when Jojo tells him that she has past trauma she doesn’t want to talk about he’s originally pretty understanding, but then tells her all of his past trauma and tries to guilt trip her afterwards. I’m glad that he was there for her when she needed him, even though all of that was based off of Hyeyoung’s advice and not his own ideas or thoughts, but I wasn’t a fan of how many times he tried to control Jojo’s actions in the show. I also think it’s a little messed up to go after your half-brother’s crush when you know for a fact he’s liked her for a while. He also randomly sends her a shirtless pic as a “gift” and it just gave me massive f- boy energy.

Trauma- Both Sunoh and Jojo have these really ridiculously traumatic backstories. Almost zombie apocalypse degree traumatic. Which is not relatable at all and does not fit in at all with the world of the show. I know K-Dramas have a tendency to kill off the Mother, but this was something else.

Love Alarm- The app itself was weird, confusing, and contradictory. It takes you far too long to actually figure out some of the rules of the app and some of it doesn’t make any sense anyways. They establish that you can turn the app on and off and that sometimes this will help prevent you from showing your feelings to other people. But then they say that members of the LGBTQ+ community are suffering because of this app because it’s accidentally outing them while they’re still closeted. But then the show treats ringing another person’s alarm as a choice. It didn’t make any sense. There was also a moment where Sunoh and Jojo determined whether or not they liked each other by turning on their alarms, and Jojo would not reveal what hers said. This really distressed Sunoh, even though her phone would have told her his feelings for her and not the other way around. He already knew that he had feelings for her. There was just so much weird about this alarm.

The Developer- We all knew the developer was going to end up being Dukgu considering how he wanted to use the love alarm to show Gulmi how he felt, but it was really stupid the way it happened. He faked his own death and then he created an algorithm that will tell people who they should spend their lives with and then he closes it down so that people won’t trust technology too much. He barely learned his lesson. And his character development is so back and forth that you can barely tell who this character is at the end. The faked death was super unnecessary too.

LGBTQ+ Representation- The show attempts it, but never commits to anything at all. There is a very small storyline where Hyeyoung’s love alarm goes off and he realizes that it was accidentally rung by a bully who is bullying another gay man for having rung his alarm. Other than Hyeyoung being understanding but strictly warning the guy not to bully anyone again, this isn’t really touched on further. At first I thought they might end up having Hyeyoung be bisexual, but this storyline really did nothing for the main plot or characters. It really felt thrown in there.

Well, there you have it. The insomnia show that wasn’t much to stay awake for. There are so many dramas you could be watching that are better than this one, I promise you. I kind of wish I had watched ‘Boys Over Flowers’ again instead. But at least Hyeyoung was cute!

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

Marvel: ‘Loki’ Episode 1 Review

Screenshot of Tom Hiddleston as Loki in episode 1 of ‘Loki’, ‘Glorious Purpose’. Copyright goes to The Walt Disney Company.

Hey! Hallie here!

The first episode of ‘Loki’ just dropped today! Loki has been my favorite MCU character since I was in high school. I credit this character for helping me through some very difficult times. My attachment to this character, for better or for worse, has put my expectations for this series much higher than I usually like to keep them. And somehow this first episode managed to exceed them. There’s so much I was worried wouldn’t work that ended up blowing me away. There were things I feared wouldn’t be addressed that they covered in this very first episode. And there were even some surprises I didn’t see coming at all. There isn’t much I dislike here, so as I’ve done on some occasions before, my categories for this post will cover what I liked and what I have questions about. Let’s look into it!

What I Liked:

Loki: I’m talking about the character here, not the entire series, though it’s definitely off to a good start. This episode, aside from setting up some of the major plot points, was a giant analysis of Loki’s character. Loki starts out this episode with the arrogance expected of Loki after the first ‘Avengers’ film. He announces his “glorious purpose” to everyone he can, he refuses to admit any wrongdoing for taking the Tesseract, and he shows extreme disregard for any official he comes across in the TVA. He even makes it obvious that he doesn’t believe in the Timekeepers or the singular timeline they’re seemingly in charge of. After trying to escape several times, as is expected, he is taken to what is basically an interrogation room by Mobius. In the interrogation room Mobius shows Loki his recent past to press him on why he does what he does. Loki at first resists his questions by giving answers that reflect his view of himself, but not his actual beliefs. These answers sum up to what he says in the majority of his speeches in ‘Avengers’. His goal is to rule Earth. He wants to rule Earth because he’s born to rule. He feels that the harm he inflicts on others is necessary because they will be much happier under his rule. He feels they will be much happier under his rule because freedom oppresses everyone and ultimately disappoints them. After Mobius peels back these answers he continues to ask Loki if he enjoys harming others. Loki dodges the question, prompting Mobius to show Loki his future. Loki is particularly shaken by Frigga’s death as a result of his own actions. This is a traumatic event that majorly changed Loki in the MCU. Seeing him deny this reality and lash out at Mobius was raw and heartbreaking.

Afterwards he attempts to escape once more, and he has all the means to succeed. He steals the remote that controls the collar in charge of holding him captive and awkwardly threatens someone into returning the Tesseract to him. But after seeing that the TVA has so many versions of the infinity stones that they are rendered basically inconsequential, he realizes that his arrogance blinded him to the power of the TVA. He then returns to the interrogation room to watch the rest of his file. Through watching Frigga’s death again, Thor’s disappointment in him, and then his own death, the audience gets to watch him come to the realization that his quest for power was always fruitless. It resulted in him harming both himself and the people he cared for, despite the fact that he always insisted that harming others was necessary for everyone’s eventual happiness. Mobius finds him defeated (After a hilarious scene where Loki places his collar on Hunter B-15 and takes his frustrations out with the time altering feature). In what is probably the most influential moment of this episode, Mobius asks Loki a final time if he enjoys harming people. And Loki finally says no. He admits to his insecurities and how his harmful actions were only a desperate grab for power to fill a void. There’s still a lot to see from Loki when it comes to character development considering this is only the first episode, but Loki is already experiencing major change. He goes through several emotional highs and lows in just one episode, and the way it all changes him and possibly gives him an option to have a better outcome than the MCU Loki makes me excited for more.

Mobius: I really like Owen Wilson. But Owen Wilson also has the tendency to play pretty campy characters. Because of this, I had no idea how Owen Wilson would even work next to Tom Hiddleston’s Loki. Mobius is such a good character. In just his first scene, where he interacts with a small child to get some information, we see that he is both wise and incredibly kind. He also immediately sees the potential in Loki. But his kindness does not translate to meekness. He immediately takes control of Loki’s interrogation and it isn’t just because he has the remote to control Loki’s collar. He’s harsh with his questions and he isn’t afraid to call Loki out on his bullshit. He makes fun of a lot of Loki’s actions in order to reveal Loki’s insecurities. Whenever Loki displays false confidence, he points out Loki’s failures. He even notes that Loki only ever forced others to become the best versions of themselves through his failures, never actually reaching his own full potential. Which is a horrible truth that forces Loki to reflect. Mobius is so incredible at what he does that he sets Loki onto a path that may cause him to actually fulfill his true potential. He’s one of the most intelligent characters I’ve seen in the MCU and I love his inclusion.

DB Cooper: There’s one incredibly fun scene in this episode that actually implies Loki is responsible for a real life crime. This scene calls back to an unsolved air piracy case from the early 1970’s. In it, a man identified as DB Cooper got onto a plane and claimed he had a bomb in his briefcase. The plane was forced the make an emergency landing to let every passenger off the plane except for him. Once back in the air, the man asked for about $200,000 dollars and jumped off the plane. He was never seen again. The show’s explanation for these actions is that Loki did all of this on a dare and that he was picked up by the Bifrost immediately after jumping from the plane. This type of mischievous fun is something I want to keep seeing from the show as it goes on.

What I Have Questions About:

Is Loki Really the Mysterious Villain?: Throughout this first episode we see some horrific deeds done by someone bouncing around the timeline. Some members of the TVA even end up brutally burned to death. Mobius is in charge of this case, but he takes a break from it to see Loki’s trial and personally interrogate him. Why? Because, apparently, a variant of Loki is responsible for all of these horrible deeds. Which raises so many questions. Is it really Loki? If it is, what kind of Loki would do these things? What variation of his timeline could have pushed him to such a dark place? It will be interesting to see how Loki has to explore himself to get to the bottom of all of this.

Is the TVA Friend or Foe?: The TVA seems somewhat shady. They’re willing to kill anyone without the slightest warning. We’ve already seen some particularly questionable moments in the trailers with Gugu Mbathta-Raw’s character, Ravonna Renslayer. Is Mobius an outlier in the TVA? Will Loki and Mobius end up at odds with them? And should the Timekeepers even be trusted with the timeline?

What Happened to Loki’s Hair?: This isn’t super important, but how did Loki’s hair get suddenly short? I don’t think this will be answered, but I still found it kind of hilarious that Loki ended up with a new haircut with no explanation.

I loved this episode. It highlighted everything I love about Loki and even addressed some of the issues I had with Loki in the past. While Loki might have been pushed slightly by Thanos into his actions in ‘Avengers’, ultimately his decisions were his own. The fact that he must own up to his actions gives him the control parts of his writing lacked and it makes him an even more complex character. On top of that, the show admits Loki’s death in ‘Infinity War’ was pitiful. He never reached his full potential in the MCU, but he’s being given that opportunity now. And then we also get Loki kicking ass, showing off how intelligent he is by admitting he knew the Avengers were time traveling, and his general fun arrogance. I couldn’t have asked for a better intro to this series.

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

K-Pop and K-Dramas: Best K-Pop Places in LA

Photo of the outside of ‘K-Pop Music Town’. All photos were taken off of ‘Yelp’ and are not owned or taken by me.

Hi! It’s Annie!

There’s more drama in the K-Pop world right now. (‘Life Goes On’ is a common phrase guys; I love BTS, but they don’t own it.) So here’s more lighthearted fun content! I’ve talked a little bit about this in some other posts, but recently I took a couple of trips down to LA with a couple friends and my sister to find some of the best stops for K-Pop in Los Angeles. I mentioned a few things briefly, but I figured I would expand more on our trip and give a few tips of my own. Because most of the places we went we really enjoyed, but there were a few places that don’t really make so much sense for us when I think about the possibility of going back. I know I generally don’t write about travel beyond theme parks, but I thought K-Pop, which most of our posts have become about, would be a perfect exemption. So here’s my experience with K-Pop in LA!

Line Store- Hollywood Blvd:

I made an entire post talking about the Line Store if you want to check that out, so I won’t dive too much into this. But it’s always fun to go to! I definitely spent much more money at the store this time around than I generally do. This store does have some general Line Friends merchandise, but very little of it. Know going in that this store is mostly for BTS’s BT21 line. The store features BTS’s hand prints, which I see a lot of people putting their hands in even during covid. I would really not recommend doing that. The store in general has a policy that you shouldn’t touch anything if you aren’t going to buy it. This actually worked out well for my friend who would accidentally touch things and then decide to buy them! I mean, why not right? And literally everything in that store is adorable. We all made out with matching large pillows (specific to our biases) inside bags that have the signatures each of the boys gave their characters on it. It’s seriously one of my favorite things in my room now. The store is also right across the street from the Chinese Theater if you’re feeling like being a little touristy.

McDonalds:

I’m literally just putting this on here because of the BTS Meal. On the Line Friends store day we ended up going to a McDonalds around the LA area. Because it’s a bigger and more popular area, most of these places actually have the BTS themed bags as well as just the sauces. They still don’t have the actual packaging, but the bags are generally there! Definitely not a big K-Pop stop but I figured I would mention it because my friends and I considered it a priority.

Music Plaza-Koreatown:

If you’re looking for K-Pop merchandise that isn’t BTS, or even other BTS merchandise, by far the best place to go is Koreatown. It’s where my friends and I spent most of our full day in Los Angeles. There are two major K-Pop stores that I know of in Koreatown and they’re only about a five minute drive away from each other. Each is in a different mall. The first is Music Plaza in Koreatown Galleria, which is the first stop we made. I would not personally recommend this stop or the shopping mall it’s in. The store itself is not bad at all. They have plenty of albums and merchandise. However, it is a smaller store and sometimes their stock can be limited. In general it’s a little cheaper than the other store, but they don’t seem to have as many options. The shopping mall that it’s in is pretty run down and there aren’t many other places to visit within that mall. We spent barely any time there and my friends and I felt that next time we went we could easily skip this mall and store and spend all our time at the other location.

K-Pop Music Town- Koreatown:

This is in a small outdoor mall, but this K-Pop store is far bigger. Their prices are also a little larger, but we personally had so much more fun at this store. Music Plaza had a handful of things to buy besides albums and posters. This store has everything. From albums, to lightsticks, fans, solo song themed stickers, backpacks, and keychains. This has far more to look at as well as far more stock and album selection in general. Both stores will give you freebies with your purchases, but if you buy enough this store will give you full-sized posters. On top of that, this small mall also features a plethora of other stores to experience. MaDang Courtyard also features a food stall with authentic Korean snacks that you’ve probably seen your favorites eating on Vlives, a sushi place, a Korean movie theater that plays South Korean films, Daiso Japan which is one of the largest Japanese variety store chains, a used book store, and H Mart for if you’re interested in buying international bagged snacks (such as various flavors of Hello Panda, Pocky, or chips that you wouldn’t usually be able to get in the US). Instead of there being only one interesting store, literally everything here is interesting to some degree. My friends and I didn’t eat much of anything (though the food stall was calling my name), mostly because we were planning on eating a big dinner. But we did buy some chips and pocky at the H Mart and sat across from a beautiful arrangement of flowers that is usually there the entire year. It was a really nice place to visit and just geek out at. I you’re looking for some place to stop for K-Pop, I would recommend this place far more than the Galleria. Seriously, just go here.

Aghassi Gopchang-Koreatown:

This is the Korean BBQ place in LA that BTS themselves recommended. And you can bet that they recommended it for a reason. I will admit, at first glance it seems like it’s in the middle of nowhere. Maybe this is one of the reasons why BTS likes it so much. The entrance to this place is also a little difficult to find. There is a door right at the front of the building, unfortunately it is an emergency exit. You’ll have to find the entrance to the parking lot in the building and enter the building through the parking lot. It took us a solid ten minutes to figure out where the entrance to the parking lot was and we accidentally ended up walking through the exit of the parking lot, which wasn’t the safest thing. We seriously almost gave up. Please don’t do what we did. But the restaurant itself was more than worth it. None of us had ever gone to an actual Korean BBQ before and our waiter noticed right away. He was really nice, immediately started talking to us about BTS, and kept a close eye on us the entire time to make sure we were doing ok. He said he had personally seen several members of BTS before, he had cooked for Taehyung before, and he even pointed out where they usually sit when they visit. He also gave us free stuff! Over-all, this was probably my favorite part of the day. The food was amazing and our waiter was the absolute best. I highly recommend it! If you can find the entrance, that is.

If you’re thinking about having a K-Pop day in LA with your friends or even just by yourself (though I wouldn’t recommend going to LA by yourself for safety reasons), I hope this helps! I also want to note that my friends and I were all fully vaccinated and had waited two weeks before we went on this trip and every store requires you to wear your mask at all times. Except for restaurants, of course. Just my reminder to make sure you’re being safe during this time! And have fun if you go on your own K-Pop adventures!

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie