Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Almighty Johnsons, Season 3, Episode 13: The End of the World As We Know It

To the beach, in a rain storm with Ingrid and Olaf trying to justify their mistake over what happens after the Gar. It seems they interpreted it as “get their powers and rule on Earth” rather than “get their powers and rule over Earth”.

What does that mean? Well as Colin, pouring drinks to a very depressed Anders, elaborates – they will become gods in Asgard. Not Earth. Anders doesn’t want to leave Earth. He certainly doesn’t fancy being the god of poetry surrounded by gods like Colin (he describes it as being the “effeminate kid at an all-boys boarding school” which is both offensive and a woeful interpretation of Norse sagas).

But Ty puts a whole new spin on it to Dawn – when Odin and Frigg reunite, Hodr will go to Asgard and Ty is left on Earth – suggesting the mortal bodies they occupy will continue without their godliness. Dawn doesn’t see why this isn’t good news… but the last time Ty lost his godliness, Dawn forgot him.

To Axl and Zeb to add that Odin in Asgard will also be needed to end Ragnorak. Odin needs to ascend and leave Axl behind in order to save the world.

Mike and Hanna have sex again. And Heimdall freaks out – and there’s an Earthquake (probably not Martin’s doing since it hits everyone – and ruins Anders’ nifty fish tank). Jormungandr is stirring.

Later we see a newspaper about the “Earth’s day of disasters” making it clear that the Earthquake wasn’t the only effect of Jormungandr waking up. And Michele is still alive despite being hit in the head with a hammer. At Ander’s flat the news continues to show more and more chaos around the world (and it seems Colin thinks he will ascend since, if he’s elected mayor, he expects to disappear) and Michele joins them – and rather oddly eats bacon despite being a vegetarian. Colin doesn’t notice anything wrong, more interested in Michele “changing brothers”. She goes to bed and waits for Anders which is a wonderful way of kicking Colin out quickly. Once Colin is out of the picture they fall into bed incredibly quickly.

With more and more bad news being reported everywhere, Olaf checks in with Axl and asks if he’s handling it – Axl say he is (much to Zeb’s surprise) – and goes to Mike’s.  Guess who doesn’t believe it? That would be Mike – I mean massive disasters all over the world don’t mean Jorumgandr’s stirring (despite, y’know, the god who SEES EVERYTHING IN ALL THE 9 REALMS saying he is). After a whole lot of arguing back and forth they decide to go see Hanna.

There they find the house empty – with Mike being all kind of stubborn. Until they find Mike’s hammer. His blood and hair stained hammer that Martin smacked Michele with. Mike uses his Ullr powers and realises the hair is Michele’s (tracking her I guess?)

He tracks her and finds her at Ander’s curled in a ball, talking about the things she was going to do in the “time she had left” but just ended up curling up and feeling pathetic. She doesn’t quite remember what happened or seems not to – she says they were talking and had tea then everything went black. Mike points out she’s awfully alive for someone who is dead – it turns out bringing back the dead is one of Frigg’s powers. The downside is that she is being powered by Frigg; when Frigg returns to Asgard, Sjofn will go with her and Michele will die.

Brief interlude to Ty and Dawn having sex and recording it, apparently. Ok then.

And a god meeting at the bar where Ingrid and Stacey rush to comfort Michele (Mike, setting the weeping goddesses on her is just cruel) but, despite her objection to hugging, she does take comfort from Ingrid. Mike makes the connection that Martin must have been the one to take the hammer and hit Michele but this is all so he can stick his head in the sand, ignore Jormugandr, the Gar et al. The goddesses leave but not before Michele drops the bombshell that she slept with Anders (yes, she gets her revenge in even facing death – this is why I like Michele). While everyone expects Anders to feel guilty he does make the point that Mike had moved on to Frigg here. Meanwhile Michele realises her best chance for a life is Frigg dying old and unmarried

Axl does find Hanna – at Martin’s room which he has now decorated with a big picture of Jormungandr. Hanna joins him and doesn’t seem entirely amused by the description of Martin as a murdering freak (it was defence of Hanna after all). Martin shows up and doesn’t pay much attention to anyone but plays a DVD of some bluesy horn playing. Yes, Heimdall just blew his horn, the herald of Ragnarok, using a CD player. Hanna confirms that this is Regnarok coming sign and Axl pushes for her to choose and she kicks him out.

She goes to see Mike – where Anders is lurking as well to be introduced to Frigg (bad luck Hanna, here’s the hot brother and he’s definitely not Odin. Damn).  She has something terribly important to tell Mike – time for a scene change (of course) to Axl and Zeb facing the possibility of the end of the world heralded by slow jazz and discussing whether a saxophone is even a horn.

And Hanna shows up. My she gets around this episode.  She greets him as Lord Odin, by all of his titles and tells him that she’s his Frigg, she’s his queen. She’s his. Goofy grin time! While Anders is there with a big bottle of booze for the very bitter Mike.

The goddesses are on a major shopping spree on Michele’s credit cards – if she’s going to die she may as well run up lots of epic debt.  When Frigg calls to tell Stacey she has chosen – and the Gar is tomorrow. Cue some excellent acting from Michele about what that means for her. Axl rings round the gods – Ty and Dawn apparently have a plan but still seem awfully nervous – and Mike gets the news from Axl with restrained sort-of-grace (and Anders there to play comforter – and Colin calling to rub salt into the wounds, of course. Don’t worry Mike, there’s a giant, venom dripping snake in his future). Anders even tries to comfort Michele when she arrives, much to her exasperation. Michele discusses what do with the rest of her life and, since Mike doesn’t need comfort and killing Martin is out, she wants to have fun. Mike doesn’t do fun – Anders does though, he’s practically the epitome of fun. Mike gets to come along but only after Michele makes him agree to “remove the broomstick from up your arse”.

To the casino! In Michele’s stolen car. To get the most out of the last days of Ullr. Everyone is celebrating their own way – them in the casino (and Mike can uses his totally-not-cheating-powers a lot more effectively with Anders convincing security nothing’s wrong), Axl and Zeb bonding over computer games, Ty and Dawn making cakes while naked, Stacey, Ingrid and Olaf drinking on the beach. And Colin sets Mike’s house on fire.

Michele and Mike have chance to talk talk, admitting missing each other, all serious like. Michele starts losing all the money Mike won (and Anders makes another crack about Bragi being “sodomised in Asgard”). Upon getting the news that his bar burned down, the gang decides they have to party all night (Colin’s revenge was rather… lacking)

Lots of poignant moments of everyone getting ready for the next day, all very sad and well done (and one powerful moment when Olaf realises he’s going to start aging).And Zeb worries that he’s going to forget them all – Axl and the rest – before Axl leaves, thanking Zeb as he goes. A whole load of sadness all round.

Everyone gathers at the Gar – Colin is very very very irritating (though Mike does tell him how INCREDIBLY well insured his bar is)

In the clearing, Martin is tied between 2 trees – where Heimdallr stands as guardian of the Bifrost. It surprises them since they expected Martin to officiate the wedding – Hanna points out she is the goddess of marriage. Axl checks to see if he can wear his clothes for this ceremony (hey he couldn’t for the last major one) and promises Michele that, when he becomes Odin, he will resurrect her.

Hanna takes the ceremonial knife and carves runes into Martin’s chest (Anders looking away, he hates blood). Her norse is a lot better than everyone elses as she says ritual words and slices both her and Axl’s hands and clasps them together. Their combined blood drips onto the Asgard rock under their feet – which flares to life with a rune and then a torrent of white light. All of the gods and goddesses throw back their heads and white light burns from their eyes, mouths and chests, up into the sky.

Everyone is staggered and stunned in the aftermath. Hanna tells Axl that Odin and Frigg are united – and Ingrid notices that Michele has collapsed. Martin is also missing – Heimdallr has gone to Bifrost, and Martin has also passed on; he always knew he would die because of the Gar. Which Michele thinks is a good thing

Yes, she’s alive! Looks like Odin kept Axl’s promise. And Axl asks Hanna if they’re actually staying together now that Odin and Frigg are reunited, since they don’t have a lot in common. He suggests she talk to Mike about it. When they walk off, she walks off with Mike.

Axl confirms with Olaf that he saved the world (well, TECHNICALLY, Ragnarok is starting so… maybe?) which he gets very excited about. Their shiny family sword has also gone. The last to leave is Colin – who flicks a glowing red stone into the clearing before joining them. That can’t be good… The goddesses leave in Michele’s stolen car – though Michele and Anders are still a thing. Olaf goes surfing, absorbing his new mortality. Mike and Axl have a moment after all the tension between them – and Axl beats Mike at a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors.

Ty delivers a package to Dawn at work – she seems visibly upset, but also clearly doesn’t remember him. Inside the package is a pack of cupcakes, a flashdrive and a note, from herself, telling her to watch the drive. The drive is a message from herself, telling her that she has memory loss but also the feeling that something is missing from her life; that she woke up and the love of her life ceased to exist. Video Dawn tells Dawn who Ty is, with clips from their life. It’s another powerful scene.

Dawn stands from behind her desk and says “I know you” and hugs Ty. Now they just need to tell her who Anders is.

Axl goes home with a six-pack and pizza, to deliver to Zeb. Zeb tells him he didn’t order it and, apparently, doesn’t know Axl. Axl says he’s there for the room and Zeb is confused how Axl knows there’s a room for let – especially since “mystery man” as he called the last tenant has completely slipped his mind. They introduce themselves and Zeb invites Axl in.


Ok. As an ending, Zeb not recognising Axl? That’s a really awful ending. Talk about depressing – you need a season 4 just to fix that. They’re childhood friends, they’ve been through everything together and we’re going to end on them as complete strangers? I actually find that more tragic than Dawn not knowing Ty. And what about the other gods? Is Gaia in the middle of London surrounded by very confused people who don’t know her any more? That must have been a shock!

The ending… I’m torn here. Because it was a very good ending. It closed the storylines off (while leaving hooks in case it gets renewed) and I can understand doing that especially since Almighty Johnsons was cancelled after season 2 with a MASSIVE CLIFFHANGER and it was only the crowd sourced effort of fans that got it renewed (speaking of – FLY MY PRETTIES! FLY! Go harass some Kiwis until it comes back to our television screens). The scenes of everyone saying goodbye, of everyone preparing for mortal life, of everyone reaffirming their bonds and commitment to each other was all very powerful and very emotional. It was a good episode. It was an excellent end to the series.

So what’s my but?

Well, at the risk of sounding immensely petty, it didn’t end the way I wanted. Depowering the gods was immensely frustrating to me – especially since we’ve been waiting so desperately for Axl to show some, any, Odin powers this season. I’m not going to say it’s a bad episode because it didn’t go the way I want, but I can’t help but feel a little sad and a little frustrated.

I don’t know –I like happy endings (yes, shallow) and I think this ending is supposed to be happy but it actually feels kind of tragic. This leaves me in a tricky place on how to rate it – acknowledging that it was a good episode from the depths of my disappointment.

I can’t help but feel something similar about season 3 – because while I enjoyed it, it also frustrated me. It had high points, I think we had more emotional scenes, more tragic and bitter scenes and all the actors pulled out some extra levels of awesome during the hiatus – stylistically, skillwise and sheer talentwise it was better.

But plotwise? I didn’t like Gaia just been shuffled off. Mike seemed to have a complete personality change that started out feeling reasonable (frustration over fixing everyone’s mess) and quickly went off the rails. Michele decided to stab Hanna completely out of the blue. We had storylines like Lofn and Njord and the godkillers dropping in that didn’t really go anywhere. And after 3 seasons of Axl finally finds Frigg and it ends in… well not an anti-climax but it was over so quickly, she wasn’t around long and then it’s over.  It didn’t meet the potential that three seasons of building established

The show also suffered inclusionwise – Gaia left taking the only POC of the show, it remaining lily white after that. Michele is bisexual but we saw little in the way of any indication of that – and the only gay characters on the show existed solely so Thor could shout homophobic epithets at them.

It was good and contained many of the classic Almighty Johnson elements – but the story was shaky. The characters and concept continued to carry it though.