Scott would like to apologize that this is a day late. He thought he had set it to auto-post and was too busy yesterday to check. So sorry for the delay! He’d also like to state that COLUMBO is an awesome show and can be watched on Netflix or Sunday nights if you get MeTV. ~STH

A new recap site for these reviews:

I hadn’t linked to this one before because it does several episodes at once, in this case the link is to a review of episodes 1-8. Always good to get another point of view with even more screenshots from the episodes. I’ll include this site when the last of the episodes for each review in their group reviews is being covered.

These review sites are also useful, especially for those of you who can’t or don’t have time to access the video streams as there’s plenty of screen images from the episodes.

Also before the main event, a feature I’m going to make a part of this feature is things to do to help fill in any leftover time between Exiern pages. This week’s suggestion is the movie “Predestination”. Based on the short story by famous sci-fi author Robert Heinlein “All You Zombies,” it’s an excellent movie which really brings the story to life with some exceptional retro-future visuals and doesn’t feel it’s necessary to pad the story out unnecessarily, either. The cast is all exceptional. Ethan Hawke as always you can depend on but its effective co-star Sarah Snook who’s in great danger of stealing the show from him.

Not a completely random selection for readers of Exiern here, you should seek this out. You might think you know why from the trailers but don’t worry, there’s so much more going on that you might, and it’s not even close to giving it all away.

Best to go in blind, so I’d recommend reading the short story it’s based on afterwards. It’s very good but webcomics are a lot to do with visuals and you usually can only be completely surprised the first time and this is one of those times that a film that lives up to its source material. “By His Bootstraps” is another excellent time travelling short story by Robert Heinlein, if you like that sort of thing it’s worth looking for. Not surprisingly, this is where we got the name of the bootstrap paradox from.

This movie is not a completely random selection either. Firstly, the obvious commonality between this show and this movie is the time travel element. You should also seek this out if you just generally like an intricately plotted story whose parts all fit together very cleverly by the end. With any luck, there’s going to be a time travel feature covering many more films and other media like this. There’s also reasons this particular film is aimed at readers of Exiern. You might think you know why but don’t worry, there’s so much more going on than all the promotional material might seem to suggest.

Trailers Here:

and here:

Seriously, look it up. It’s very good and the time you spend watching it is less time to the Exiern page by the time it’s finished. Don’t say we never did anything for you.

OK, on to this week’s episode coverage. Now, I’ve as of yet never seen Game of Thrones but I imagine it could be a bit like this week’s episode. Read on to see how I think how and feel free to sound off in the comments if I’m off base. Or just sound off about anything else about the show or Exiern if you like. It’s all good.

Picking up from last week, for someone who appeared to have no essential skills for the apocalypse (or even the more minor inconvenience of a power outage) in the present day as well as being someone no-one would miss then either (and probably aren’t), Zhang Peng seems to have been at least using some of his time wisely in learning to ride a horse (so not just flower arranging then). Unless of course, it was his ex-girlfriend from the first episode that was speeding towards the party he was at on a horse to teach him a lesson that had shown him how to do so. I guess I can’t rule it out.

Anyway, Zhang Peng reaches a camp on the way to the main base that is his final destination. Yang Yan is giving serious side-eye from the beginning to Zhang Peng’s guide from the outset, hence his begging him to stay. He won’t however, in leaving, Yang Yan notes they’re going in the wrong direction. I guess he’s not so stupid after all. Maybe being around girls and people he thinks are girls makes him seem stupid, he’d hardly be the first person to fall victim to this phenomenon, even this far back in the past. He gets an alert out to the Ninth Prince to rendezvous with him before setting out in pursuit.

On the way to the base, it eventually dawns on even someone as clueless and self-absorbed as Zhang Peng that something is up. He makes an excuse about needing a restroom (obviously a bush of some sort as the modern versions are at least a few centuries away) and then legs it.

Protip: When planning to escape from someone on a horse, don’t get off your horse and then attempt to flee on foot if you can help it. If you must do this (for example, they’re a better horse rider than you and you know you can’t get away), at least try getting off the path. It’s a fail here on both counts.

At this point, it’s worth noting that after trying (and failing) to pursue death and failing repeatedly so badly in the first two episodes, now that Zhang Peng doesn’t want it, there’s suddenly no end of it chasing him. Probably not completely unlike how some potentially less terminal relationships play out too (or at least less terminal to start with, love can be a funny – and painful thing sometimes – so I hear).

In a stroke of luck (and this is going to be a rolling theme going forwards), Yang Yan intercepts the attacking assassin just in time. Zhang Peng is of no practical help in this situation so far (story of his life that we’ve seen up to now). Big fight scene ensues with the obligatory acrobatics for televised martial arts and then we’re off on foot fleeing once more.

Once again for emphasis, I can’t stress this point enough, running away from a man on horse in a straight line on a clear path is a fool’s errand. In another stroke of luck (see, I told you it was a theme), the Ninth Prince has arrived and even more usefully with some guards thanks to Yang Yan’s warning. At this point, it’s probably for the best that Zhang Peng faints. At least he can’t cause any more trouble that way. Well, not easily (you just know if there’s a way even if he’s unconscious, he’ll probably still find it, though).

The would-be assassin is interrogated by the Ninth Prince. Looks like the assassin was playing the long game in the Ninth Prince’s household by doing the most menial and unwanted jobs when he started without complaint. Probably precisely because he was so accommodating is why the Ninth Prince was instantly suspicious and both investigating and watching him from Day One.

That is actually good advice. In TV shows, films and books, the overly helpful people are invariably up to something (try it and see!) Hopefully real-life isn’t so bad but … well … (hold that thought – btw, Scott I swear I’m not up to anything …).

The assassin asks that if the Ninth Prince already knows everything, including who sent him to spy on the Ninth Prince, why doesn’t he just have him killed then. Good question, probably not sure if he was the best one to be asking that from the point of view of his own survival. The Ninth Prince says that he doesn’t quite know everything yet …

Cut to a group of ninjas. Now I always thought ninjas were more of a Japanese thing and also, during the day it wouldn’t really make sense for them to dress in all black; in real life they tended to blend in with normal people’s clothes and who cares when it turns out the leader is PRINCE ZHAO! Good Lord!

After the initial shock at that revelation passed, good for him I say. After all the humiliations where his wife has been increasingly rubbing her infidelity is his face and even worse, his younger brother who’s effectively joined in by turning the worst kept Open Secret in the kingdom into no secret at all while getting to be emperor one day instead of him, well, I can’t blame him. He’s still being our most affable and charming character even during this reveal, which is why he’s our most affable and charming character. Speaks volumes about the others, too.

Obviously sick of being the royal butt monkey, he’s clearly not going to take it anymore. So you’d think trying to assassinate the Crown Prince himself rather than his wife would be a better place to start (especially from Zhang Peng’s point of view) especially as from his point of view, the Crown Princess hasn’t actually really been seen to have done anything to him but well, small steps (obviously this whole treachery thing is a work in progress) and I still stay thumbs up, he clearly deserves better and has to demonstrate this somehow. Hopefully, not terminally for our so-called hero of this story, though.

Cutting back to the Ninth Prince and some exposition he reveals his deductions Columbo style (ask your parents, actually maybe your grandparents might be better). It is actually nice to see a metaphorical exposition dump for once instead of the usual dumps involving period appropriate toilet facilities. He’s concluded … the Crown Prince sent the assassin. WAIT, WHAT?

This is important, so we better stop and unpack this. Turns out that the Crown Prince has been trying to set up the Ninth Prince by infiltrating a double agent into his employ and then having that agent do something that the Ninth Prince could be blamed for as it was a man in his employ. This counts in spades. It’s all about the throne.

The Third Prince (aka the Crown Prince) has pole position for it, the Ninth Prince wants it and seemingly unknown to both of them (though you never know with this lot) the Second Prince is clearly up to something of his own as well. It’s probably only the budget holding back even more princes up to no good.

Now I’ve never seen Game of Thrones but this is kind of what I’d imagine at least some of it would be like. Well, the plotting at least. Probably less visible bloodshed in this one, though I could totally see someone dying on the toilet as well, though probably more from excessive exertion than anything else from what we’ve seen so far.

The Ninth Prince puts his cards out on the table at this point and stakes out his position. He says he’s different from the Crown Prince. He’d never hurt the Crown Princess (it helps when you’re actually in love with someone as opposed to just being married to them). It helps that he’s known the Crown Princess since childhood. There’s no way for him to know otherwise now, is there? He also says it’s a childhood promise.

Zhang Peng obviously doesn’t know this because his childhood was well in the future when all these people were long dead (wrap your head around that temporal paradox) so he blames shock for not remembering so he has an excuse to make the Ninth Prince tell him something he’s already supposed to know. It’s pretty much as you might predict, he’d never hurt the Crown Princess and always protect Zhang Peng Peng.

At this point, the Crown Prince appears on the scene a little too conveniently with a retinue of his own. He straight off blames the Ninth Prince for everything that’s happened so far so it seems like the Ninth Prince’s deductions so far have been true. Zhang Peng, who hasn’t been at all pleased at the turn of events so far says it wasn’t him and is about to say more when the Ninth Prince steps in (obviously he wants to hold onto his cards for the moment of maximum advantage) that the assassin castrated himself before revealing everything (wait, when did THAT happen – and *shudder*) but did say something ‘interesting’ first.

We’ve covered before how the stoniness of the Crown Prince’s face could give Mount Rushmore a run for its money but he’s clearly looking guilty about something at this point. Score one for the Ninth Prince’s strategy so far. Looks like he was onto something. At this point, a mysterious fire breaks out on one of the tents, the Crown Prince falls off his horse, everyone draws swords on each other like the climactic scene from Reservoir Dogs (Kids, once again parents but on the other hand, Quentin Tarantino’s still a thing, right?)

Fortunately, the awkwardness is broken up by the ninjas finally appearing on the scene. We’ve talked about the limitations of the budget but they really went all out for this episode, relatively speaking for them. Lots of extras from no less than the three factions of the Crown Prince, the Ninth Prince and Prince Zhao battling it out in great numbers. They even shelled out for some CGI fire. Not the finest CGI fire you’ll ever see but the point is the fact that they’ve gotten any at all.

There’s a nod between the Crown Prince and the Ninth Prince which presumably means an agreement to fight together to see off the threat but probably just as much an agreement to pick this up and kill each other later too. Zhang Peng moves into the slightly more useful column by knocking out a ninja by throwing large pieces of very solid fruit at him until one connects with his head.

Then he distracts another one in a fashion that defies easy description (he really did watch far too much Korean drama back in the day – I thought I watched a lot but he’s clearly had his brain warped by it) long enough for Yang Yan to step in and take the ninja out.

Zhang Peng has gotten quite good at this whole running and not wanting to die thing and does so at this point but there are more ninjas in hot pursuit. When they catch up with him, he tries something slightly more practical by trying to imitate martial arts from TV which buys him a few seconds but really isn’t a long term plan if after the ninjas discuss what to do next, even though they’re fooled, they’re going to fight you anyway and in effect call your bluff.

That run of luck continues as just enough time is bought for the Ninth Prince to save the day but he’s wounded in the process. He and Zhang Peng end up in the river. The Crown Prince had been held back by his own men up to now as they’d said it was their job to protect him over everything else. With the immediate threat defeated, he’s now allowed to look for his wife.

If this was an assassination attempt planned by him, he seems be changing his mind, as a series of flashbacks of him with the newly bizarre acting Crown Princess are shown. As ridiculous as this all seems, the newly bizarre behavior of his wife might actually have him falling for her. His guards now let him look as they say its all clear. He calls them all useless (presumably because they earlier blocked him from aiding his wife, though sensible under the circumstances at the time – keeping him alive is like their whole purpose after all), well, that’s gratitude for you. I guess they’re used to it, he being him, after all.

The Crown Prince is quite worried as he knows the Crown Princess can’t swim (as evidenced by the initial near drowning event that somehow found Zhang Peng catapulted from the future into her stead). He leads the way with his men into the river to search for her. Fortunately, it seems that Zhang Peng had at least one useful skill as he’s actually made it downstream with the unconscious Ninth Prince in tow. They’ve made it to a river bank and much to Zhang Peng’s discomfort, it looks like he’s going to have to do CPR on the Ninth Prince.

Now, I’m going to stop here for a moment and say Zhang Peng’s technique is some of the worst ever. It’s my hope to teach a few useful things by the end of this series and one is, we’ve learned that sometimes CPR isn’t done because of a reluctance to do mouth to mouth. Here’s the good news, if you do just the chest compressions, it’s almost as good an outcome.

Now this isn’t a replacement for a proper course, so I’d strongly recommend doing one, you’ll never know when you need one. At least do the compressions (and not too fast in a panic – optimum is around 100 compressions a minute. Key thing is, if you’re doing more than 2 a second, you’re definitely going too fast). Also, make sure you’re compressing deeply enough, like about a third of the width of the chest (aka thoracic width). That’s the thing about movies and television. It’s doesn’t look realistic. On the other hand, that’s partly practical, do it like you’re supposed to and you’ll put the actor receiving it in hospital.

Actually, I’ll let Ken Jeong (actor – have you seen Community? You should see Community – but also trained doctor) and friends take it from here in this very handy video from the American Heart Association (Ken Jeong AHA Hands-Only CPR video)

(I’d still do a course and get some actual practice on models, though. There’s no substitute for hands on experience.)

Once again, do a course and get proper instructions (but the above is some things to look out for). You never know at least do something more than nothing and chest compressions are something over nothing. Also, the best you’ll manage is about 2 minutes before fatigue sets in, so that’s when you should swap. I do realize if you’re on your own, there’s a problem for the long term, so call for help if you can.

OK, that’s the end of the PSA. Looks like the Ninth Prince didn’t need chest compressions at all as he wakes up just from the mouth to mouth (how convenient), says something about unexpectedly finding a tongue in his mouth and Zhang Peng says something about wanting to vomit. So just another day in the kingdom, then.

The new and improved Zhang Peng finds shelter in the forest and is even showing initiative and planning and even starts a fire (how?). He even starts tearing up his clothes for bandages (at this point, the comments from the viewers on Viki did ask the valid question as to why not just use the huge scarf around the Ninth Prince’s neck. Keep an eye on the comments at the top of the screen as the show goes on if you’re seeing this on Viki, they’re frequently very funny and quite insightful).

At this point, we have a delirious Ninth Prince and Zhang Peng concluding that the Ninth Prince saved him while the Crown Prince did not, and even may have been behind the murder plot. Zhang Peng seems to have decided to throw in with the Ninth Prince … assuming he makes it through the night and they’re both saved or make it back to the kingdom somehow.

I guess we’ll find out next time. See you then!