Saturday, August 19, 2017

Marvel's The Defenders

© by Gerald So | 10:00 a.m.

I binged all eight episodes of The Defenders, which premiered on Netflix yesterday. By way of spoiler warning, I'll assume those interested in this review have watched the shows setting up The Defenders, including both seasons of Daredevil.

In a nutshell, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Danny Rand, and Matt Murdock cross paths after each encounters a small part of The Hand's grand scheme. P.I. Jessica takes on the case of a missing husband and father whom she discovers is the architect of The Hand's Manhattan headquarters. Jessica is present when The Hand finds the architect, who kills himself rather than get killed by The Hand's secret weapon, The Black Sky, a resurrected Elektra Natchios.

The major revelation, which the previous shows hinted at well enough, is Madame Gao, Bakuto, and three other "fingers of The Hand" were banished from Iron Fist's extradimensional city of K'un-L'un. In using The Black Sky, they hope to gain control of Danny Rand's iron fist to open a portal to K'un-L'un, so they can retrieve the key to their immortality and return home.

Initially, Luke, like Jessica, just wants to help the person who got him involved, a boy unwittingly hired by The Hand. Matt Murdock, who has quit being Daredevil when we find him, has perhaps the strongest, most personal motivation, yet the most difficult task: trying to recover Elektra while working against her and her masters.

The Defenders didn't change my mind about any of the characters. Daredevil and Elektra are still my favorites. Jessica and Luke are cool, and Iron Fist is the weakest link, but I particularly enjoyed Matt and Jessica's chemistry.

I don't expect each Defender to pop up more often in the other's main shows, but it's pretty to think they know each other a lot better now.

Thursday, August 17, 2017


© by Gerald So | 4:00 a.m.

I saw enough of Donald Trump not to vote for him last year. When he won the election, I allowed for the slim chance he'd rise to the occasion, but at every opportunity he hasn't measured up. In the aftermath of domestic terrorism in Charlottesville, Virginia is the most egregious evidence that Trump cannot wholeheartedly break from his supporters even when they act despicably un-American.

These pressure situations reveal Trump as a man who cannot leave it at a proper, though TelePrompted message, but who lashes out when cornered under the mistaken impression he isn't wrong unless he admits he's wrong.

What to do when you can't look to the president to lead and inspire? Resist, yes, but saying that, I realize how long I've resisted. My family emigrated from the Philippines in the 1970s, when I was two months old. Both doctors, my father found work in a partnership of Jewish surgeons. My mother gave up work to raise my brother and me. My father had a sarcastic sense of humor, but was otherwise earnest and practical. My mother is just earnest and practical. Not to say they were perfect. No one is perfect, but where they came up short, I took it upon myself to go the rest of the way to attitudes I wanted to project. Much of my father's sarcasm occurs to me, for example, but I don't project it.

Growing up, I was teased and mistreated by some kids and classmates, sometimes even without words. My parents told me to ignore them, but I also decided for myself I wouldn't insult or treat them the way they did me. None of those kids turned around to become my friends, but, remaining open to all kinds of people, I found a small but varied, great group of friends in college. Just as I could tell the kids who only wanted to tease me, I could tell very quickly these people didn't judge me by color or other physical quirks. We're friends to this day.

I guess that's my way of saying, once again, America and its leaders don't always live up to its highest ideals. It's up to us, the people, to learn the right lessons from history and uphold those ideals in ourselves.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

From a Certain Point of View

© by Gerald So | 8:00 a.m.

I'm still working on a story originally submitted last December and rejected in May that I've been revising since June.

Consulting David Corbett's book The Art of Character and Lawrence Block's last collection of Writer's Digest columns The Liar's Companion, last week it occurred to me to change the viewpoint character, from an ex-cop to a woman who's reentered the ex-cop's life.

I have to show less of the ex-cop's deductive reasoning and emerging idea of the plot, but because the woman is involved in the plot itself, I get to show more of that, as well as her motives.