Loki, Episode 6, "For All Time. Always." | Frasier, Season 9
Everything begins to unravel...
TV REVIEW /// Loki, Episode 6, "For All Time. Always."
Episode summary: The clock is ticking in the season finale which finds Loki and Sylvie on a date with destiny. (IMDb)
"For All Time. Always." starts brilliantly, much like this season as a whole. That opening is great and really sets the scale for something epic to happen, which it does - unfortunately, not for the characters though. While this episode, and Jonathan Major's excellent first appearance as one version of Nathaniel Richards, has huge repercussions for the MCU, it does feel like the characters have been forgotten about.
Everyone still puts in a great performance, but this episode in particular swings back from the character-centric work of the previous three to focus almost entirely on plot, most of which is delivered through straight exposition. Although, when it's delivered as well as Majors does it here, that's not necessarily a bad thing, because he really sells the scope of the threat posed by his variants going forward.
Why is that? Well, Nathaniel Richards is better known as Kang the Conqueror, one of the Avengers' most dangerous enemies and practically impossible to defeat - take down one version of him, and a younger, older, or even another version from an alternate timeline, show up to replace him. I still think the MCU is on course for a version of the Incursions story-line from Jonathan Hickman's epic run on the Avengers comics and the seeds have already been planted here.
But the character Majors plays here is not Kang, regardless of what others might say, he's He Who Remains, who is a different character in the comics, but combined here because Nathaniel Richards has had many names over time: Rama-Tut, who helped a young En Sabah Nur become Apocalypse; Iron Lad, who helps form the Young Avengers (who are clearly being set up in the MCU); or even Immortus, an older version of himself who is more manipulative than confrontational in a physical sense.
So, you can see how the debut of this character is such a big deal and why so many, myself included, were freaking out over his appearance ahead of Majors originally-announced debut in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, which is expected to be where the Young Avengers come together for the first time. There's some truly epic piece-placing going on to set up the MCU going forward and Majors looks like a terrific addition to what is a continually well-cast universe of characters.
But notice the lack of any of Loki's main characters? You could argue it's thematic, with Loki realising in the very first episode how small his ambitions were in comparison to the power of the TVA, only to realise that the TVA are just as miniscule in comparison what Majors' character represents and that they're appropriately over-shadowed by the titanic threat unleashed.
It's just a shame that so much character work and so many great performances go a little overlooked, even if no-one's slacking here. Hiddleston is still just as excellent as we've come to expect as Loki, with Sophia Di Martino, Owen Wilson and Gugu Mbatha-Raw all continuing to shine. It's just that Majors outshines them all and his character is placed above them all so easily.
"For All Time. Always." is a really good, if strange episode to end on. Loki's character development ended in episode 4, Sylvie's turned out to be non-existent and, thanks to the arrival of one version of Jonathan Majors' Nathaniel Richards, the relationship between Mobius and Loki has been reset too! Still, at least this was a real eye-opener for the MCU going forward and an excellent tease for the now-confirmed Loki season 2.
[8/10 - Very Good]
TV REVIEW /// Frasier, Season 9
Season summary: After dating for about a year, Daphne and Niles decide to live together but the plan is temporarily paused when Simon and Gertrude return to town. Roz is left vulnerable once again and ends up sleeping with Frasier. (Frasier Wiki)
A season like this for a show like Frasier is yet another argument for scores being a pretty pointless endeavour when it comes to reviews, as this ninth season of the show is definitely a weak one compared to how good it has been, but still has more moments of brilliance than most other shows out there - so it's simultaneously disappointing, but still very, very good.
In fact, this season has one of my favourite episodes of the entire show with "Wheels Of Fortune", where Michael Keaton plays Lilith's half-brother, Blaine, and practically steals the entire running time from the usual cast. There aren't any other standout episodes for me, although there are plenty that have some great sequences, such as Frasier and Niles' attempt at crime-solving in "Deathtrap".
And there are a lot more some really great moments, both funny and emotional, such as Frasier revealing Martin's 'new' chair in "Bla-Z-Boy"; the US flag unfurling behind Frasier after a patriotic speech in "Mother Load (Part 1); Roz breaking down on air over her relationship with new man Roger while posing as a caller for Frasier; or even the brilliance of having what looked like a couple of dozen actresses who played love interests for Frasier appearing together for about 3 seconds in "Don Juan in Hell: Part 2".
Unfortunately, there's a significant amount of crappiness to offset the brilliance, in large part due to Daphne's family showing up again and proving just as annoying as ever. Then there's Frasier's feud with Cam Winston (Brian Stokes Mitchell), which is just not interesting to watch at all; Lana and Kirby come back too, with the latter making multiple annoying appearances, or the bizarre "War of the Words", which is so surreal that it feels like it belongs in a far sillier and less intelligent show.
Though as you'd expect from Frasier, the good stuff comfortably outweighs the bad, but it is starting to feel a lot like the show is suffering a death from a thousand cuts, with more being self-inflicted with each season. I still really enjoyed watching almost the entire season, but I have to admit that anything involving Daphne's mother is a pretty clear indicator that you can stop paying much attention to the screen at that time.
Frasier's ninth season is a real mixed bag for this show, even if it's still better than most other comedies could hope to match: there are a whole list of excellent moments as you'd expect from this series by now, but the problems are becoming both more frequent and more persistent. It's definitely not the show it used to be and there are few signs of things changing, but it's still a lot of fun to watch.