Monday, May 18, 2015

The Lizzie Borden Chronicles - Episodes 1.5, 1.6 & 1.7 - Review

There's such a gap between the post today and the post before because I can only stand to watch "The Lizzie Borden Chronicles" in On Demand mode so I can fast forward through the commercials.

Last we saw Lizzie, she had begun to buy up land around her house. She killed some more people and got away with it. Pretty much this goes on a lot in episode five in addition to finding a way to get Charlie framed for murders. The courtroom scenes are hilarious with the moment Lizzie takes the stand as a witness in how she been defending herself when Nance O'Keefe met her fateful end. This is for Charlie's trial in the death of Isabel Danforth (another of Lizzie's new victims).

We left Emma being courted by Officer Trotwood when Lizzie reminded Emma of her dark past. Emma tries to cool off Trotwood in the fifth episode, but Trotwood is too eager. He proposes and she accepts. Lizzie gets jealous, doesn't want to lose her one and only familial advocate. She even tries to discuss the concept of love, but is too keen with the killing to have a deep conversation. There's the tiresome story of Spencer having gone missing and she deduces that the town photographer/pornographer, Chester Phipps (Rhys Coiro aka Billy Walsh of "Entourage") photographed the dead Spencer. She forces Phipps to take her to the body, but he doesn't last much longer.

Lizzie doesn't like the competition for Emma's affection and maneuvers Trotwood into finding out about the baby skeleton that was hidden back at the old Maplecroft house. He's too keen on Lizzie's manipulative methods and confronts her. The wedding is still on. Or is it?

Lizzie is getting deeper into debt as Skipjack has blackmailed her into 50% of everything she owns to cover up the death of Spencer Cavanaugh. The Skipjack story lasts into the sixth episode until Lizzie no longer can use him, plus he bungled a death that causes grief for Emma. I'm sure you can guess, but I won't spoil it. Emma, in fact, leaves but has second thoughts and returns to Lizzie.

Episode seven brings to the cast the talented Chris Bauer ("True Blood"). He's looking into Charlie's sudden demise. Also, Lizzie takes a job, relocating to Maine, teaching school children under a pseudonym, Annabelle Grimke, and with blonde hair. Emma is in a sorry state, under the name Lenore Grimke. She's sorry she ever thought Lizzie was innocent, but soon she realizes that she, too, is done with her own innocence. There's no irony like the irony of using references to Edgar Allan Poe. Lizzie's old habits die hard... bloody hard.

One episode left! Anyone want to guess how this series ends?

Sunday, May 03, 2015

The Lizzie Borden Chronicles - Episodes 1.3 & 1.4 - Review

Many probably didn't catch "Today" on NBC at the end of March and possibly missed this interview with Christina Ricci on launching the mini series about Lizzie Borden.

Nearly half way through the first season, The Lizzie Borden Chronicles starts to reveal more tormented twists and disagreeable turns. The third episode opens with the burial of the Borden's half brother segueing to the deceased Spencer Cavanaugh about to be disposed of by Mr. Flowers, sponsored hidden burial by Lizzie Borden. Charlie, when not investigating Lizzie's latest murder, enjoys tea with Isabel Danforth as he learns that Spencer, the playwright, never returned from a night of drinking. Hmm, anytime someone in town dies, Lizzie is the first one on someone's mind.

Last time I left off, local girl Adele went missing. Lizzie hid her away when Spencer disappeared and uses Adele's temporary departure to convince Spencer's sister, Nance O'Keefe, that she should go looking for her brother in Boston. Cut to Lizzie unsealing the coffin lid and Adele being a bit hysterical back at the old Borden barn. She asks Adele to promise that she never misbehaves and, sobbingly, Adele agrees with Miss Lizzie. Back at the new home with Adele, Lizzie has her well-rehearsed when Emma inquires as to where she thinks Spencer could be. Matters as to their house-warming party RSVPs show how unwelcome the Bordens are to the new neighborhood.

Mr. Flowers (Jonathan Banks) arrives to convince Lizzie to retain his services behind Emma's back. "Fifteen percent of the family business, monthly." He threatens the life of Adele and Emma if she doesn't comply. What is the Borden's family business? Probably won't matter. Banks is not listed as a character beyond this episode.

Charlie runs into Adele at the florist and her rehearsed speech about Spencer going missing makes him more suspicious. Adele departs without the flowers for the party. Lizzie ends up at the florist learning about what caused Adele to flee without the flowers. Party and murder is all Lizzie can think of. Cut to Charlie getting an eyeful at the old barn of bloody dirt that makes a strawberry Kool-Aid type drink when he puts a scoop into a pale of water.

We quickly discover that Emma was the one who hired Charlie as the private investigator and he calls into question how Lizzie was raised when she asks him to vindicate her sister. Charlie is ready to check-out of the B&B when Nance runs into him to inquire about Spencer. Isabel is relieved that she doesn't have to say goodbye to Charlie or clean his room. Nance reveals that Spencer uses morphine and that he would never have left for Boston (people could probably find more morphine than they need while in Boston during this time, though). Charlie warns her that she should not go to Lizzie with this knowledge or she'll end up being Lizzie's next "project".

Lizzie watches a poor little dog being berated by Mrs. Kenney, another non-attendee of the house-warming party. She even confirms that everyone invited from the neighborhood despises Lizzie.  We previously learned Lizzie is sympathetic to dogs when she had a conversation with Charlie about a murder investigation.

Party preparations underway, Lizzie tends to Adele's anxiety after Charlie's pervasive questioning. The two leave and head to Mr. Flowers' headquarters. Charlie follows (or was led there by Lizzie on purpose). A fight randomly breaks out in an alley between Charlie and Flowers' people. They take Charlie to some railroad tracks. We are led to believe he's dead, but as you may recall, I've said that Charlie is a man of many talents.

Emma and Trotwood, the police officer, have a conversation about how much the party is going to suck without guests. Emma is completely smitten with him. When we return later to the Borden home, Emma is sitting alone; no one showed up.

Flowers, Lizzie and Adele are about to discuss the future. Lizzie assures Adele that she can relax. Flowers asks "Who's next?" She pulls out her daddy's old straight razor and distracts him so she can shoot him dead and turn and slashes Adele's throat. Plants the weapons in one hand of each victim.

Quietly, Lizzie leaves the scene and discovers Nance O'Keefe outside her home. She invites her into the party, but Nance is remembering that Charlie cautioned her. Lizzie tries to convince Nance she can trust her no matter what anyone else has told her, "I'm not a monster." They go inside to party.

Next episode, in under three minutes we learn: 1) Charlie cannot be killed by a train, 2) Lizzie talks to Emma at breakfast about how terrible Mrs. Kenney is to her dog, 3) Nance is freaked out by the site of Charlie's battered face when he sneaks into her room, still pretending to have checked out. 4) Lizzie visits Mrs. Kenney about the animal abuse. You have the set up for what is about to go down in about 49 minutes.

Mr. Flowers' team is back drinking and reflecting on the crime scene of their former boss and formerly alive Adele. Who? "The one with the bad hand." Oh, well, let's drink some more.

Charlie hides out in Nance's room drinking and sewing his face. Isabel orders him back in bed and he's on his way to kill the ones who wronged him. Nance and Isabel giving orders that he stay. Discussion about the party and how Nance spent the night and lived. Charlie gives Nance a full list of what not to do in the presence of Lizzie Borden. Don't eat, drink or go to her old barn.

Lizzie wants to buy more lots including the one lot in which Mrs. Kenney's home is on. She makes an offer on it at asking price plus half. She also finds Skipjack at the county office and he tells her he is her new business partner. He pins a photo of Spencer on the bulletin board as his insurance. He demands $1000/week starting that Friday. She proposes $1000/month and then $3000 a year. She has to come up with the first $250 this Friday.

Officer Trotwood appears to finally be courting Emma Borden. Clea DuVall is such an expert of looking like she's trying to hold her composure but is really ecstatic when Trotwood asks Emma if he could call on her sometime.

Nance and Lizzie have dinner together and when they finish, Nance asks Lizzie to drop Spencer's play off at her hotel's front desk. She reports back to Charlie that she thinks Lizzie is a sweet woman without any experience with men. Charlie and Nance have a flirtation while discussing him taking down the people who cut him. Somehow she drugged him and he collapses. She tells Charlie she's going to find out what happened to Spencer herself. This sort of thing happens at about the 25 minute mark.

Lizzie takes Mrs. Kenney's dog in to care for him. Mrs. Kenney accuses Lizzie of theft. Lizzie informs Mrs. Kenney that she's expanding her property with the lot behind her house. Emma observes this interaction and asks about this expansion, "Planning to build a moat?" Emma wants to discuss Trotwood's plans to call on her. Lizzie is happy for Emma, that she "found another suitor, that someone's come along at a better time. Will you tell him about Benjamin, that you gave birth out of wedlock? I just think you should get your past out in the open. If he truly loves you, then none of this will matter." And then Lizzie is off to deliver the script to Nance. Emma is just floored.

Nance tarts herself up to meet Skipjack and he shows off a knife trick, something he calls art. She pretends to be elated. He makes some lewd suggestion about seeing the back of a door up close and she acts all hot for it. Out in the alley, Nance jabs a knife into Skipjack and he confesses that Lizzie Borden killed Spencer.

Isabel goes searching for Charlie in Nance's room when Lizzie inquires about him. Her husband, owner of the B&B, finds her and speaks in misogynistic tones about how Charlie is not looking at her like she's looking at him. How has Isabel not sent Lizzie after this terrible husband she's stuck with yet?

Charlie gets over being drugged, another talent. Goes after the men at the bar to kill them for trying to kill him and tries to find Skipjack. Is it too late? Did Nance take care of him? He's barely alive, but cannot answer Charlie as to where Nance is, but clearly an investigator should be able to figure out she's long gone.

Trotwood retrieves the little dog from the Borden residence with a promise to return to Emma to take her on a walk. They're on their walk when Lizzie returns to find the dog gone, but Nance holding a gun in the shadows pointed at Lizzie. She has terrible aim. She knows everything about Flowers, Adele, nevermind that Lizzie offed Spencer. She should know better than to follow Lizzie through dark hallways. Trotwood and Emma hear a commotion and enter just in time to see Nance pull a knife on Lizzie, stab her as Lizzie is struggling on the staircase for Nance's gun, but then Nance falls down the stairs onto something that stabs her in the head. Charlie bursts in just as the cops arrive and they arrest him and cart him off. Lizzie gets away with a self-defense defense.

One of the more creative endings to a person's life is to blame a dog's piddling and a fallen lamp as the reason for a person's accidental electrocution. Mrs. Kenney has met her end in just standing in the wrong puddle at the wrong time. That Lizzie is oh, so crazy about little dogs.