Why Watch… ‘Farscape’

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Farscape follows a group of escaped prisoners that band together to outrun their captors; the Peacekeepers (a militant and policing species of alien that to some extent share a similar genetic code to humans). With the addition of a human John Crichton (Ben Browder) having being sucked through a ‘wormhole’ into the middle of the prisoner’s escape and ultimately befriending the aliens on board the escaping living prison ship; Moya, he finds himself as much a fugitive as they are in a galaxy he knows nothing about. The different species of alien on board Moya adds to the character development between them all and the characteristics of their races are cleverly thought out. With a Luxan which are famous for their anger and a Delvian which are known for their meditative and religious beliefs, each species attributes are in direct opposition of another’s. Nonetheless, with such a small crew they all rely on one another for their survival and become some form of surrogate family. This family concept makes the audience care for each character despite how selfish or headstrong the characters may be.

Crichton’s constant references to television, jingles and songs throughout each season reminds the viewer just how far from home he is as well as adds to the ways Crichton attempts to keep the thought of Earth with him at all times. With every other character lost as to what he is talking about and some thinking him insane these moments add a comic factor that many other sci-fi space programmes lack. Additionally, Farscape uses Jim Henson’s puppetry studio to portray many of the alien species including two members of Moya’s crew; Rygel and Pilot, the puppets are nowhere near similar to Henson’s other projects such as the Muppets. Although not completely realistic, the puppetry adds another dimension to the series which makes the series a unique mix between special effects, puppetry and make-up.

All lost in uncharted space looking for a way back home; the series creates a fantastical universe filled with a plethora of alien threats such as the Scarrans, Nebari and the Sheyangs which keeps the viewer wondering just how big the universe really is. A cult television show which ended in its prime due to production costs; Farscape is a cult television series which continues to captivate the audience several years after the final episode aired and entered into graphic novel territory. If you like Firefly but wished it contained more alien species and were not so keen on the mix between sci-fi and westerns then Farscape is the show for you.

Why Watch… ‘Arrow’

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Set as playboy millionaire Oliver Queen is rescued from an island he had been shipwrecked on for 5 years, the series centres around his return to Starling City. Oliver is intent on fulfilling a promise he made to his father before his death when he gets home and, using the survival skills he gained while on the island, dresses as a hooded archer who targets those that have corrupted his city. Due to his unlawful exploits he becomes known as the Vigilante and must lie to all those around him including his mother, sister, best friend and love interest causing a rift between them all for being dishonest with them. Nonetheless, Queen does gain help from his bodyguard John Diggle and an IT expert Felicity Smoak who both see the importance of what he does and not only helps with Queen’s mission to right the wrongs of his father but also help Oliver escape the isolation he became accustomed to on the island.

The series constantly moves between the past and present with the events that occurred during those 5 years on the island and Oliver’s vigilante activities in Starling City. During the scenes set on the island it becomes evident that Oliver’s account as to what happened there is not as true as he wants people to believe and as the series progresses more of the truth is revealed to the audience. Additionally, the programme also introduces other characters from the DC universe such as Deathstroke, Deadshot and Black Canary. Not to mention introduces Barry Allen in season two, creating the new The Flash series thus sharing the same television universe.

A city owned by the wealthy and a devious plan that connects the Queen family right in the centre of it. Packed with lies and family secrets, Arrow constantly refreshes its narrative by adding more to Oliver Queen’s past. This is cleverly made possible through the use of his decision to keep his past a secret; perhaps due to a sense of trauma he suffered there. However, with his past refusing to remain just that, Arrow will leave you wanting to know more.

Why Watch… ‘Gotham’

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Similar to the short-lived Gotham Central comic book series which focussed on the Gotham City Police Department rather than Batman, Gotham centres on Jim Gordon’s first year attempting to fix the corrupt Gotham City before Batman existed. As one of Gotham’s few ‘clean’ cops, Gordon gets tasked with the murder of a young Bruce Wayne’s parents which leads him to the mob; most specifically Carmine Falconi. Since Falconi owns the police force and there cannot be “organized crime without law and order” Gordon is tasked to prove he is ‘part of the programme’ by killing a whistle-blower lackey named Oswald Cobblepot (The Penguin). Keeping to his moral code, Gordon pretends to kill him and orders him never to return to Gotham. Unbeknownst to anyone, this action is the beginning of a big change in Gotham. With mobsters such as Fish Mooney and the Moronis attempting to overthrow Falconi, Cobblepot returning to create his own mob and Bruce Wayne beginning to train with Alfred, the only thing clear is that Gotham will never be the same again.

The programme mixes the gangster genre with comic book elements in order to create a gritty portrayal of a city in need of a saviour, allowing for people uninterested in comic books to enjoy a police drama. That is not to say that Batman fans will be disappointed as the show is filled with characters from the Batman mythos such as Jim Gordon, Harvey Bullock, Renee Montoya and Edward Nygma. Some characters are obvious but there are many hidden allusions to the DC world such as the introduction of Thomas Elliot (Hush) and even Harley Quinn’s costume (seen on dancers within Fish Mooney’s night club). These ‘easter eggs’ add to the programme’s appeal for die-hard Batman fans while those who are not familiar with the comic books will not truly feel excluded from following the plot.

A gritty police drama filled with plenty of plot twists and betrayal Gotham will leave the audience unsure who to trust in a city where the police are just as corrupt as the criminals. The show bypasses the expectations of a simple series to set up a world before Batman by making sure that each case Gordon and Bullock do tackle are just as difficult to solve as any other crime drama. The viewer won’t be disappointed by the judiciary narrative or the connections with one of DC’s most recognisable superheroes.

5 Most Emotional Book Character Deaths

Simon (Lord of the Flies – William Golding)

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A book about how a group of young boys would cope on a deserted island without parental supervision, Golding’s classic delves into the innate evil that lurks in everyone’s soul. Without societal authority, in this case parents, the young boys slowly digress into animalistic creatures with no sense of morality. The only characters who don’t allow themselves to become savages are Ralph, Piggy and Simon. It is the death of Simon which arguably begins all the children’s descent into savages as he is massacred by all the boys on the island who are too caught up in taking part in a tribal ‘hunt-dance’ to realise that the beast they are attacking is Simon. It is a tear-jerking moment as the only reason he got killed was for trying to tell the others that there is no beast. The only beast is savagery. In this sense, the ‘beast’ kills Simon before he can tell the others. As with all of the deaths in The Lord of the Flies, Simon’s death represents the loss of something, in his case it is truth, innocence, and common sense. His violent death is juxtaposed with the description of his body’s final resting place is depicted as beautiful; his body is gently picked up from the beach by the tide and calmly pulled out to sea with luminescent fish and plants lighting the area, adding to the horrific nature of the children actions compared to the nature of the island.

The Banderbear (Beyond the Deepwoods – Paul Stewart & Chris Riddell)

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While making his way through the Deepwoods, Twig, the protagonist, encountered the banderbear; (an enormous, hairy, tusked bear-like creature). Although fearsome in appearance, the banderbear was shy, timid and friendly; after Twig helped him with his toothache by pulling the rotten tooth out, the two became good friends and travelled through the Deepwoods together. However, the friendship was not to last when a group of wig-wigs (small, orange, fluffy creatures which act like piranhas) decided to hunt both Twig and the unnamed banderbear. Knowing that the wig-wigs would eventually catch up with them, the banderbear decided to lift Twig into a nearby tree to put him out of the wig-wig’s reach. In doing so, the wig-wigs were able to catch up with him and devour him in front of Twig. His last words were ‘T-wuh-g…Fr-uh-nz’. Perhaps not as emotional as it may sound, the book was advertised for 8 – 12 years and in such has always remained locked in my mind as one of the most traumatic deaths I have read.

Arran Harper (The Enemy – Charlie Higson)

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Set in a post-apocalyptic world where anyone over the age of 14 turn into cannibalistic zombies, it goes without saying that a lot of children die within the book. However, Arran’s death is the saddest and also the most surprising. Set out as the protagonist, it comes as a shock that he dies on the way to Buckingham Palace, early on in the book. He was the leader of the Waitrose survivors (children who have set up base inside a Waitrose) but early on gets bitten by a zombie that bared a striking resemblance to his mother at a swimming pool while serving as one of the scavenger party looking for food. However, the bite does not kill him but does begin to get infected, causing him to become ill and delirious. Nonetheless, the reader assumes that since he is the main character and it is still early in the book that he will survive or at least die near the end. His death comes when the children are ambushed by a group of zombies led by a smart zombie named St George at Camden. Having won the actual battle, the zombies retreat and Arran gives chase only to get shot with an arrow in the chest by another survivor; Sophie. In the confusion of the zombies running away in her direction, she mistook Arran as one. With such severe injuries, he dies there surrounded by the Waitrose crew, his last words are “I love you, Mom” reminding us that he was just a child.

The Unnamed Father (The Road – Cormac McCarthy)

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Another post-apocalyptic novel, The Road follows an unnamed father and his son on their journey to head south to survive the oncoming winter. With the constant threat of attack from cannibals, exposure, and starvation the father is constantly trying to prepare his son for the time when he will no longer be there to protect him. The father’s death comes after their journey to the sea where he has been shot with an arrow and realises that he will die soon. In an attempt to reassure his son the father tells the boy that he can continue to speak with him through prayer after he is gone. With the boy pleading for his father not to leave him, it is hard not to get a lump in your throat. Additionally, with the son unsure where to go now that his father has passed away, we feel a responsibility for this child to remain safe. That feeling is left shaken when a man who claims he has been tracking the pair convinces the boy that he is one of the “good guys” and takes him under his protection. With a sense of uncertainty as to whether the boy is safe, the reader feels powerless and even more depressed.

Brom Holcombsson (Eragon – Christopher Paolini)

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Ever since Eragon had to escape his home town of Carvahall with his dragon because the Evil lord Galbatorix felt threatened that he would overthrow him, Brom has been by his side, fighting and teaching him things such as the use of the magical powers bestowed upon a Dragon Rider and the art of swordsmanship, as well as teaching him how to read. When attempting to destroy the Ra’zac (an ancient race that feeds on humans as well as Galbatorix’s servants), the heroes are ambushed and attempt to escape. However, while escaping one of the Ra’zac threw a dagger at Eragon, but Brom moved into its path in order to save Eragon but leaves him mortally wounded. Before passing away, Brom confesses his past to Eragon claiming that he was once a dragon rider himself before his dragon was killed and he went into hiding as a storyteller in Carvahall. In order to give Brom a proper burial, Eragon created a tomb out of sandstone which Saphira turned to diamond with her magic in order to preserve his honour forever. Although sad, the death of Brom constantly hits home throughout the saga as more secrets that he kept are revealed such as Eragon’s parentage and the truth behind his sword Zar’roc.

5 Most Emotional Video Game Character Deaths

Aerith Gainsborough (Final Fantasy VII)

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Originally released in 1997, she has one of the most recognised video game deaths of all time, showing just how emotional her demise truly is. She was a temporary playable character before leaving the party and later is found praying at an altar. However, the chance encounter is short lived as the moment she recognises Cloud Strife she is stabbed through the chest by the antagonist Sephiroth in front of their eyes. It is only revealed that she was killed because she was the only one to protect the planet from Sephiroth’s plan to use the ultimate destructive magic; Meteor. She succeeded in summoning the power of Holy just before her death. The scene is made more emotional when Cloud takes her body out into the lake in order to return her to the planet’s life force. In doing so, Aerith not only lives on through the planet ultimately enforcing the planet’s life stream against Sephiroth’s Meteor but also within our hearts as a purely beautiful tribute to her life.

Thane Krios (Mass Effect 2 & 3)

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If you kept him alive through Mass Effect 2’s Suicide Mission then his death is even more so emotional. Sure you knew he was dying from Kepral’s syndrome since the very beginning but that doesn’t soften the loss of the religious drell assassin. While helping fight off the Cerberus attack on the Citadel, Thane is stabbed through the stomach by Kai Leng, an assassin sent to kill the Salarian councillor. Due to complications concerning his illness though he is told that he will die soon. Shepard can visit him in the Hospital where he will be joined by Thane’s son Kolyat. In this scene Shepard can join in a prayer Kolyat and Thane are reciting, it is only afterwards that the prayer was intended for Shepard and not Thane. Despite his violent and immoral job, Thane asks for forgiveness for each kill showing a sense of mercy which makes his death perfect for his deeply spiritual character as he dies surrounded by his family and friends with few regrets. The truth that Thane accepts his death only adds to the effect his death has on the audience. So much so that you can’t help but feel that justice has been served when Shepard stabs Kai-Leng with the omni-blade stating “that was for Thane, you son of a bitch”.

Angus “Grim” Grimaldi (Tomb Raider)

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Grimaldi is the helmsman of the expedition ship Lara was part of, The Endurance before its ultimate destruction by the supernatural storm. Using the skills he learnt while living in Gorbals, he manages to escape the clutches of the Solarii Brotherhood and find Lara. However, just as he does, the brotherhood catch up with him and attempt to use him as a hostage to get Lara to surrender. A man unwilling to be used as a hostage he lunges himself off the edge, falling to his untimely death but taking a number of Solarii men with him. Although his death is sad what truly made his death so emotional for me was that I was certain that he would turn against me at some point. Instead though, he was genuinely one of the most selfless characters in the game; going as far as to sacrifice his own life in the chance that Lara will survive just for a tiny bit longer and free the rest of her crew.

Cortana (Halo 4)

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She has been by your side throughout the entire Master Chief franchise, the artificial intelligence has assisted you with your objectives from the beginning and there is nothing you wouldn’t do for her as evident when she begins to malfunction. With no way to fix her AI issues she sacrifices herself in order to save you from the Didact by fragmenting her various personalities and uploading them into its computer; basically tearing herself apart. Although she is an AI and can therefore be replaced with one exactly the same, she won’t be the same Cortana we know and love. What truly makes her sacrifice even more moving is how she uses the last of her energy to manifest as a solid hologram in order to say her final goodbye to Master Chief but also to actually physically touch him for the very first time. My only comfort is that although she hasn’t a blue, humanoid figure, I can always find Cortana on my Windows Phone.

Serah Farron (Final Fantasy 13-2)

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A victim of fate, Serah Farron was at the wrong place at the wrong time; finding a door that lead into the Bodhum Vestige she was chosen by the Pulse fal’Cie, Anima, to become a l’Cie (a person cursed to fulfil a focus or become a monster). As if this wasn’t cruel enough, Serah was later chosen by her sister Lightning to help save the world from being destroyed by a man named Caius Ballad. With the new and sudden ability to glimpse into the future and the fact that every time the timeline is changed, the resulting shock may kill her, Serah and her friend Noel Kreiss persevere and ultimately defeats Caius. However, by changing the present so extremely the future is changed dramatically resulting in Serah’s death. Her sacrifice hits home as she has been the protagonist throughout the game and, unlike other games that result in the protagonist’s death’ Serah’s death takes place after the final battle when everything seems to be fixed. Noel’s desperate yet futile attempts to prevent Serah from seeing the future thus stopping her from dying and the happy music that plays (Charice New World) adds to the emotional impact of her death with her final words ringing in our ears ‘It’s the end of our journey…Thank You’