In anticipating today’s final episode, I was excited. Episode 9 was filled with new bits of information and major confrontations, and a goodly amount of Richard Armitage as Logan, doing some exciting fighting and growling. I put aside my distaste for a Logan that could so blithely do things that are so morally wrong and, in my opinion, out of character. I was looking forward to a big fight scene, with lots of the animalistic Armitage as Logan, and to seeing the primary bad guy get what he deserved.
Instead, they gave us an opening scene that is out of left field and takes away from the momentum built up in the prior episode. Apparently (and I had to look it up because I really can’t remember from the movies), this “plot twist” is not so out of line with what happens in the X-Men stories, but it really has no place in this story, in my opinion. Also, a red herring character that has been there throughout has a “climactic” scene that also has nothing to do with anything important. Disappointingly, the bad guy does not have a fitting closure, as far as I’m concerned.
I was looking forward to hearing Logan in real time, as was teased at the end of Episode 9. But again, almost all of it is in flashbacks. And Logan’s parts (not the acting) are pretty boring. (Although I was interested to hear one little spot where the English accent comes through, in the line, “the will to survive was too strong.”) So, pretty much, the episode is a major letdown.
But hey, even in this podcast, our friend Armitage has an underwater scene… even though it doesn’t really happen! He just can’t escape it!
The After Show:
Finally, this instalment of The Marvel After Show has Richard Armitage as a guest, in addition to director, Brendan Baker. They had been building up to this for the previous nine episodes, having all the guests do their best Wolverine voices, pretending that they were buying shampoo, or a car, or something equally inane. (Armitage, in fact, suggests that the claws would make Logan an amazing sushi chef! But that he might have a difficult time using the bathroom when the claws are out!) But do you think that they ask Richard Armitage to switch into the voice? Well, other than some pretty awesome growling at the start and maybe a couple of words at the end… no. Instead everyone else again does their Wolverine impressions.
In today’s After Show, the guests are actually there for the whole time, but I have to say that this episode is probably the least informative. Christina Harrington, now-former assistant X-Men Editor at Marvel is a knowledgeable host, but the tone of all ten After Shows is so annoying that it is hard to find the nuggets of information. We do find out in this one that Armitage “probably got through about two bottles of wine (!)” the night before in order to dehydrate and make his voice rough. He says, “I haven’t drank in around two years. So I turned up on that morning, for the bar scene, kind of in bar scene mode. I had a really bad hangover and I was like, ‘That was, that was not a good idea.’ But it kind of worked… I couldn’t find the voice without going to that place.” They also talk about how Logan really doesn’t smell very good, and Armitage jokingly says, “I really brought that!”
Armitage reports that his brain created the spoken scenes in his visual memory, even though they didn’t really happen. For example, there is a scene where Logan is perched on a window ledge talking to someone, and Armitage remembers it as if he were actually on the window ledge. He did, however, actually smoke a cigar for a scene, which was totally forbidden in the studio and which made him a little bit “coughy”. As we know, the actors in the podcast got pretty physical, rolling around the floor, with Armitage even “eating some guy’s leg… I was hungry, man!” If you want to see some physical Armitage, take a look at the behind the scenes video that dropped today. But be careful if you plan to listen to the podcast eventually as the fight could be a bit of a spoiler. (Thanks to Servetus for pointing out the video.)
The director affirms that scenes were done out of sequence to accommodate schedules and that the whole thing was “shot” in ten days. He also says that there are clues to various things throughout that, if we listen again, we would pick up. He won’t tell us because, “I want you to go and listen to the whole series again.” Yeah… no. I will definitely not be doing that.
- Armitage was excellent in the role, with a really growly, animalistic sound. I expected that Armitage, as the main character, would be heard a lot. Unfortunately, the decision to keep the Logan/Wolverine character in the background really wasted the performance. And frankly, it also made the story more dull than it needed to be. Most people would be listening because they were fans of either Wolverine or Armitage, so I suspect that many people were disappointed.
- The acting was really good by pretty much all the actors, particularly in moments of stress and emotion. The only one I found not believable was the doctor, who just seemed way too excited and unprofessional.
- The sound design was quite fabulous, and I found it really interesting to hear about the making of the podcast in the interview portions of the After Show (which otherwise was annoying). However, great sound is not enough to make a great podcast.
- The story was not compelling. The characters had almost no backstory that was shared with us and so we ended up not caring what happened to them. There were characters just thrown in as red herrings, whereas the time could have been better spent expanding on the more relevant characters.
- The gruesomeness and animal cruelty depicted was really offputting.
- There were a couple of exciting episodes, particularly #9, but overall the podcast was pretty slow moving.
- The final episode was dull and didn’t resolve things in a satisfying way.
Overall, very disappointing.