Daina Reid

Upload (2020) s01e10 – Freeyond

After ignoring the initial A plot but actually the B plot because Robbie Amell and Andy Allo are cute for eight episodes, this episode’s almost entirely about the mystery behind Amell’s death. And his missing memories. The ones he didn’t find out about until halfway through the season but didn’t care about because… bad writing?

Except the show wants to do some big twists, starting with Amell waking up after—presumably—getting his memories back as a side effect of a system upgrade. Think there’s a chance a show like “Upload” would pull some twisty shenanigan so it can split Allo and Amell onto their own subplots for a while before bringing them back together.

Except it runs twenty-four minutes so it’s like three minutes of the show, maybe four. If Greg Daniels had just written it out, he might have given Allo and Amell something sincere to perform (so obviously not) but it’s frustrating how lazy “Upload” gets.

Though there is a lot of action this episode. Daina Reid directs. She does a good enough job given the constraints. See, it’s time Allo to be put in actual danger. Season finale only has nineteen minutes to go and the show has three big changes it needs to get set up.

Instead of doing anything with its first season, “Upload” has done a “totally different season two” setup. I didn’t see some of the twists coming—mostly because they’re all pretty terrible—but I’m still not exactly disappointed. I didn’t have any hope for “Upload” to get to a good place with this season or to get set up well for next season.

Amazon ought to cancel this one and put Allo and Amell in something else, something with better writing. Zainab Johnson ought to get her own show, however. Then you’ve got all the best pieces of “Upload” in at least not this project. Because it’s not a good showcase for Allo or Amell.

Maybe I did expect the season finale to be better.

Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (2012) s03e08 – Death Do Us Part

I didn’t realize until five episodes into Season Three there were only eight episodes this season. I knew it was the final season, but I didn’t realize it was a short final season. Director Daina Reid handles the series finale with aplomb; there’s a list of things the show seems like it’s going to get done in the last episode and then the list of things we hope it’ll get done. Writer Kris Wyld creates a lot of tension between the two, with Ashleigh Cummings and Hugo Johnstone-Burt’s nuptials seemingly the only positive guaranteed element. Not because it’s really part of the plot, just because… well, just because.

But the other inevitability is villain Colin Moody. His vendetta against Essie Davis’s no account, albeit royalty and wealthy father, Pip Miller, is drawing a lot of blood and quite viciously. Moody’s physically imposing, but he has this standing energy about him. Moody’s dangerous in every frame in every scene, even when he’s hanging out with an old friend. Like, sincere friend. It’s incredible what the show’s able to get away with as far as performance sincerity when the viewer’s got more of the facts to Moody’s violence.

There’s also a regular mystery—with Moody somehow involved—with a noted scientist (David James), who plays a character named Tode but it’s pronounced toad so the whole episode is the cast talking about Professor Toad. It’s very Wind in the Willows. Anyway. He gets killed off in some strange way by someone, possibly even local Catholic priest, Dennis Coard, which would be one hell of a twist, wouldn’t it?

Cummings is beside herself—even with everyone in danger, including herself—at the idea of now revealed to be un-Christian to scientists Coard being the one to marry her. It’s very cute. There’s only so much time for Cummings this episode and she does get a very nice finish to her series arc, so the cute little moments are nice to have.

The episode’s so full there’s no time for Miriam Margoyles and Tammy Macintosh didn’t get her episode this season. Having her around more was okay but not a substitute. Ruby Rees never made it back, leaving Jane the either.

As for Essie Davis and Nathan Page… how do the Honorable Phryne Fisher and Inspector Jack Robinson leave things? As successfully as they can. Wyld finds a certain way of framing things to get it done. Maybe not the hoped for, but better than the good enough. I’m sitting here with a smile thinking about it.

It’d be preferable to have more “Miss Fisher’s,” but as is… it’s just right. Enough.

Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (2012) s01e13 – King Memses’ Curse

I’m a fan of this season finale—and season resolver—and would be even if it didn’t (unintentionally?) follow a bunch of the same narrative beats as Halloween H20. No spoilers. But… it’s H20.

After the pre-title murder—a gruesome but not gory one—the action picks up the next morning after last episode. Phryne (Essie Davis) is freaking out trying to keep ward Ruby Rees safe—enlisting the taxi drivers as bodyguards again, giving them a third chance after they botched the first two—and heads off to investigate a seemingly planted clue.

At the corresponding address (an antique shop), she and Ashleigh Cummings discover the pre-title body (with some gore this time) and get the coppers involved. Except Nathan Page just wants Davis at home staying safe, so when Davis finds another clue—a photography of the suspect and victim—she has to follow-up.

Davis’s investigation takes her to egyptologist Matt Day (Brice from Muriel’s!) while Page and Hugo Johnstone-Burt interview Cassandra Magrath, who was a kid when she escaped the villain. None of the others were so lucky. The details Magrath gives about her abduction and Day’s details about mummification run parallel, particularly when it comes to a paralyzing serum.

A paralyzing serum the villain has unleashed on Stately Fisher Manor so they can come in and grab Rees, needing her to fill the last open spot for whatever evil they’ve got planned.

It’s then a race against time for Davis, Cummings, and Page, with Davis charging ahead without concern for her personal safety. Her behavior pushes Page to the limit and he has her locked up, taking it upon himself to move forward with the case.

The resolution is incredibly dramatic, incredibly tense. Davis is outstanding, ditto Page. And obviously Daina Reid directed it; she’s so good with the tension. So good.

The postscript brings back all the favorite recurring characters—Miriam Margolyes, Tammy Macintosh—and provides a very nice bookend to the pilot, showcasing Davis’s character development over the season, as well as her presence’s effect.

Nicole Nabout’s really good as a nun who figures in and, as usual, it’s fun to get to see Davis face off with the Catholic Church. But not Nabout, rather priest Dennis Coard. The Deb Cox and Elizabeth Coleman script manages to maintain some humor despite dire circumstances. Oh, and Magrath’s excellent.

It’s one heck of a finish.

Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (2012) s01e12 – Murder in the Dark

It’s truly amazing what they’re able to get away with this episode in terms of red herrings, shoehorned subplots, shock tactics, exploitative tension, and so on. Director Daina Reid and writer Ysabelle Dean put everyone through the ringer—with a couple really obvious questions left open at the end—and grinds them flat.

The main plot itself is a bait and switch, starting with a murder at Miriam Margolyes’s estate. She’s lead Essie Davis’s aunt; Davis and sidekick Ashleigh Cummings are packing to go to a party at Margolyes’s—a costumed engagement party for Margoyles’s son, Felix Williamson—when Davis gets a call from her. Their planned lunch is off, but come anyway, there’s been a murder.

Davis calls the cops, who arrive just after she gets there and we’ve met Williamson, who isn’t exactly suspicious but isn’t exactly not. Then we meet his fiancée, Kate Jenkinson, who’s performatively risqué enough to shock Hugo Johnstone-Burt but not Nathan Page (who’s preoccupied with his divorce proceedings, information he only shares reluctantly and never, I don’t think, with Davis)—before getting to victim’s father, Ken Radley. Radley goes from being grieving parent to number one suspect rather quickly, with the episode taking a break to introduce John Lloyd Fillingham as Margolyes’s other son, who’s developmentally disabled.

Except we’ve already met Fillingham… he discovered the body and Margolyes covered it up.

Throw in a subplot about Davis bringing her household over to save the engagement party, complete with hash fudge, Margoyles flipping out over the communist cab drivers, and Ruby Rees discovering—by fault of the same name—Fillingham’s still traumatized over Davis’s sister’s disappearance years before.

Now, the episode’s so effective, it’s able to get over them seemingly contradicting the information we got about the sister’s disappearance last episode. Fillingham wasn’t just there as a kid, he also says the man who took the sister is back and he killed the victim.

Distracted Page chalks it up to Fillingham’s impairment while Davis starts freaking out thinking Nicholas Bell is after her family… while Cummings and Johnstone-Burt actually do the work and save the day.

If only they were a few moments sooner….

It’s a phenomenally paced episode. The last ten minutes increase the tension second-to-second. You just want the episode to end, even on a dreadful resolution or enraging cliffhanger, but to just stop and give you a break. It’s great.

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