Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Almighty Johnsons, Season 2, Episode 13: Does This Look Like Asgard?

The season finale of Almighty Johnsons! The point where all storylines can be wrapped up

Or not, as the case may be.

We start with everyone waking up in bed together. Well, Axl and Gaia wake up in bed together all lovey dovey. Anders and Helen wake up in bed together, Helen horny and Anders considerably less so. Mike and Michelle in bed together – with Mike still obsessing on the cameras Collin put in their house. And Ty wakes up in bed with Dawn – and Stacey and Olaf. Waking up from that dream, no-one’s in bed with him, but Olaf and Stacy are watching him to check on him now he’s mortal

It’s goddess day! Gaia’s 21st birthday, the day she becomes a goddess! Time for everyone to prepare.

Axl and Gaia try to avoid the whole thing as best they can – but Zeb is there to remind them and to give Gaia a gift – a pendant shaped like an “f” for Frigg. And he wants an invite, no-one ever lets him go to any of the god ceremonies. The goddesses arrive for the day – and Ingrid is determined to make it special since she never had a goddess day (she grew up without realising she was a goddess). Stacy, Ingrid and Michelle collect Gaia – and make it clear that, no, Zeb cannot be at the ceremony, mortals would defile the whole thing.

The Goddesses spend the day being very holy – at a spa, being pampered, preening and always having a drink at hand (these gods sure know how to knock it back). They realise they didn’t invite Helen (Idun) but no-one likes her anyway. They also make it clear to Gaia that no matter what god she is, they’re still her ally – and allies are important in the world of gods and goddesses.

At their flat, Zeb whines that can’t go and demands Axl turn him into Freki for real when he becomes Odin – but his whines are interrupted by Jerome, Leon and George who have come to claim Gaia for their deity ceremonies. Jerome, again, accuses them of hiding her and we have a 3 sided whine fest about Gaia being away. Axl finally calls Gaia for them and Jerome tries some creepy flirting over the phone, Gaia passes the phone to Michelle (“the one whose goddess name no-one can pronounce – poor Sjรถfn) who threatens to break him in half if he doesn’t leave them alone. After that, Jerome and co decide to stay in Axl’s flat until the ceremony, just in case.

The day is spent in supreme geekiness. After a beginning load of snarking and poor Zeb being kicked out as a mortal who shouldn’t even be around them (poor Zeb) there follows a brief moment of guilt when Jerome remembers he hasn’t bought Gaia a birthday present after Zeb whines that he’s actually the only one who remembered to get her one (he sends out George who comes back with vouchers…). Then they spend the rest of the day playing computer games – then designing a computer game that involves the Maori and Norse gods. And they take it seriously as only true geeks can – yes, they’re cute.

When the ceremony finally comes around, the Maori gods change into suits – and then find their van won’t start. After much bickering and childishness, Axl gives them a lift.

Mike, meanwhile, is running with his “I want to take down Loki” obsession. Since he has Kvasir with his infinite knowledge in the basement, he asks how he kills Loki. Kvasir replies that Loki cannot be killed any more than Ullr or Kvasir can be killed – and his vessel, Collin Gunderson, can be killed like any person – knife, gun, whatever. Mike, however, is rightly worried about Loki’s power since it’s considerably more than his. Kvasir says that Loki’s power is all about fire – and to counter fire you need water – or ice.

Time for Mike to see Ty who Olaf has seen as happier than he ever has been. Mike tries to bring him in on the whole “let’s kill Loki” routine and Ty breaks the news that he isn’t actually Hodr anymore and is now a mortal. Mike responds by becoming a massive arsehole and berating him for not consulting him, telling him he’s betrayed them, telling him he’s ignoring the threat to his family and telling him he turned his back on all of them. Ty points out that Mike’s just pissed because Collin filmed him having sex with Michelle. Mike ignores how happy Ty is as a mortal and storms out announcing that he hopes Ty is happy alone.

Mike return to bar and questions Olaf on Ty being human – Olaf is happy with the situation since he has never seen him happier – and they’re still a family. And he was interested because he wanted to see his Kvasir’s method was right. Mike realises Kvasir gave them the information and goes to confront him – accusing him of being manipulated by Loki to deny them the power of ice. Olaf tries to calm mike down, he thinks it’s a terrible idea to mess with Loki, especially since next to him their powers are negligible. Mike clings to the idea that when Axel gets his powers they’ll be equal – Olaf says they will just become gods fighting amongst themselves and cease to be the Jacksons. And even with god powers Loki will be an arsehole – it’s the natural order. Finally, someone who respects what Loki is! Someone you leave alone!

Anders, meanwhile, has just won a lucrative oil contract and returns to Helen to celebrate – and finds she wants sex. Which he is very unenthusiastic about. Confused, he goes to see Dawn – even though he sacked her – for advice. He asks her what’s an acceptable level of sex for a relationship with the wonderful line “my dick hurts. It really really hurts.” Dawn, being fired and all, is rather bitter and doesn’t see why she should listen to his crap any more. Poor Dawn.

Next port of call, Anders goes to see Ty and congratulates him on not being Hodr and dismisses Mike’s behaviour. He has an ulterior motive – he asks about Ty’s brief relationship with Helen. Anders is having problems, as a pushy, selfish, controlling person he’s having trouble dealing with the pushy, controlling and demanding Helen. He likes to be in control but she happily makes plans for the both of them – he wants their destined relationship to be on this terms. Oh Anders, such a pretty face, such a rotten mouth. The next time he sees Helen, he tries to talk to her about slowing down their relationship.

Ty is pursuing his own love and goes see Dawn, having a long, drawn out confessesion of his deep and abiding love for her on her doorstep. Shame she doesn’t know who he is – she doesn’t remember him, says she’s never met him and only vaguely thinks of him as Ander’s brother, a man she’s never met. She blames Anders for playing a trick and closes door

Ty runs to a bar, where there is the sulking Zeb, the snarling Mike and the eternally chilled Olaf. he tells Olaf Dawn didn’t know him and they find that Zeb doesn’t recognise either – concluding that no mortals remember Ty. Time to consult Kvasir who won’t answer Ty’s questions – he’s a mortal, why should Kvasir care? He’s an insect meaningless. Olaf re-words his question and Kvasir tells them that because Ty is no longer a god, he no longer matters. Dawn doesn’t recognise him because she knew he was a god – even if she wasn’t told, a part of her, the part of all humans that used to worship gods and look to them as explanations for how the world works, recognised him for what he was. When he’s not god any more, mortals just remove him from their minds – and to gods he’s a traitor to his own kind, which Kvasir is pretty brutal about. And he didn’t tell Ty because he didn’t ask so he didn’t have to Ty starts to strangle him, Olaf and Mike watch for quite a while as Kvasir gasps for help from Baldr (Olaf) until he eventually intervenes.

Ty, desperate goes to Anders asks him to use his Bragi powers on Dawn to convince her to stay – even if that means her working for him again. Anders agrees (even though he finds the whole situation hilarious) but is quick to point out how Ty judges him for using his powers and how he hated Dawn working for him. In between giggles. He does agree to go to help – and Ty throws in a request that Anders put in a good word for him – Anders again reminds him how Ty hated him using his powers to influence women. Anders uses the Bragi gift of the gab to convince Dawn to come back and even does it in his classic fashion of making her think she quit and now regrets her decision.

Anders returns home and finds Helen; she’s not interested in attending Gaia’s ceremony and is convinced, in her ever growing confidence, that they have more than enough power on their own. She dismisses his previous concerns as adjustment anxiety – Idun and Bragi have been fated for thousands of years and she won’t let him give it up. Anders grows more uncomfortable during this and is saved by the buzzer. He answers it – and Natalie is at the door. When he opens it she walks in in full leather and wielding a crossbow. She starts chanting in Latin which Helen (who, ironically, attended a Catholic school) identifies as a prayer to the Archangel Michael – a prayer of exorcism.  Natalie claims Anders is a demon, has a huge rant about burning their holy places, casting down their idols, smashing their graven images. She claims Anders is a demon – there is only one god and he is an abomination. She’s rather vehement. Helen, perhaps irritated that she is being ignored points out she is a god as well and tells Natalie to put down her bow and go back to her cult or else. Sadly, there is no “or else” and Natalie turns and shoots her – Helen falls to the ground shoots with the green light of Idun leaving her body. Anders runs.

At the lakeside. Jerome, Leon, George, Axl, Mike and Olaf settle in to wait (possibly for a long time, Olaf things). The Maori start the Haka until goddesses arrive and interrupt it while Axl learns Ty isn’t there because he’s not a god any more. Jerome flirts with Gaia, Axl snarks at Jerome, Mike snarks over Michelle not telling him about Ty. And then Collin (Loki) shows up. Jerome asks “Who’s this cock?” and Olaf, most excellently replies “Loki, but cock covers it”. Mike, naturally, goe lunges for Collin and has to be restrained from dramatic suicide and Ingrid has a snit – it’s Gaia’s day! (Remember, Ingrid never had a day so she’s trying to make it extra special. The cobbled together ceremony, with rose petals inexpertly thrown, recorded music and internet astrology begins as they immerse Gaia in water.

Which is when Anders arrives running from Natalie, quickly telling them what happened (everyone’s bemused why he lead her here!). Mike runs off to try and distract her and leaders her on a chase through the woods since the ceremony cannot be stopped. She chases him and just as she’s about to shoot him she combusts and burns to death – Collin steps in “love how they pause to quote scripture before the kill, makes them sitting ducks”. Loki, god of fire. He tells Mike she’s a god hunter and that Anders blundering in north has brought them there, something he blames on the Johnson’s family. He threatens to kill Mike and all the Johnsons for the sake of the gods but Michelle arrives and says no. He greets her as “the most powerful goddess of them all” without sounding sarcastic about it at all and goes back to lake, leaving Mike alone, though he does check to see if he has any gratitude for him saving Mike’s life (no, he does not).

At the lake green light travels through water and enters Gaia. She stands, walks to land, and walks to Anders. To everyone’s shock she kneels before him and calls him my lord. She’s the new Idun. Ingrid explains that Indun is the eternal goddess, the gods cannot survive without her, so there always has to be an Idun – so she’s jumped the queue after she was murdered.

The death of Idun only kinda, sorta makes sense to me. Yes she’s a goddess and yes she’s on a goddess trip, but most of the deities seem to be at least aware of their abilities. Even gods with relatively dangerous powers like Hodr and Ullr are unlikely to be so casual – so far the only power Idun has manifested is the ability to make a killer apple martini. But it does fit with her growing arrogance and believing her own hype.

On the season: Almighty Johnsons is always one of those shows I love but feel vaguely guilty for loving. I love the characters and the story – but let’s face it, there is a whole load of fails when it comes to women, racial minorities and casual homophobia. Bucket loads of the stuff. This means I watch it cringing – because I love it but it keeps doing and saying awful things that we can’t let pass. It’s like watching your best friend get sloppily drunk and start telling rambling stories and vomit all over the carpet – you want to enjoy your time with him but he keeps pulling these embarrassing, awful stunts.

This season, I’m glad to say we skipped the whole goddess vs god battle that characterised the first season – it didn’t make a lot of sense and guys vs girls rarely ends up in a good place. Still that was replaced in the latter half of the season with Gaia the prize to be fought over while Gaia the person received very little attention – even worse, when she becomes Idun, she seems to have very little choice in who she is. We’ve only seen Axl pre and post transformation but his personality didn’t seem to completely change.

But we also introduced the Maori gods. I can’t say I’m even remotely up to speed on Maori beliefs, but there seems to be a lot less depth and research gone into them than we’ve seen with the Norse and a lot more liberties taken. And that’s only exacerbated by the fact Jerome and his fellows seem more like comic relief and utterly inept even compared to the extreme ineptitude of the Norse. They exist either to be a joke – or to be the butt of jokes based on their race. Yes, the Norse can be inept – but we see other sides to them as well. And this is crowned by Gaia, the only regular WoC in the show, kneeling to Anders.

Frankly, it feels so poorly done that I think the show needs to leave them alone next season. The Almighty Johnsons was actually cancelled after this season – something which made us deeply unhappy - and made that awful cliffhanger ending far far far worse – Gaia cannot cannot cannot be Idun. She cannot.

However, through concerted campaigning it appears to be on again! So it will return. I don’t know what the New Zealanders did but I am deeply deeply grateful. None of the storylines are resolved – the god hunter, Ty and Dawn, Mike and Loki, Michelle, and, of course, Gaia as Idun.

And Anders is still mine (and Renee let me write the review to the last season, which means I got the last word in, which makes my claim the valid one. Ha! I win! You can have Ty, Renee!)