What’s New This Week in Theaters and on Television: Recap of 12 Strong, Backdoor Pilot of “Wayward Sisters,” and Series Premiere of Black Lightning

Gisselle Lopez

January 24th, 2018

Welcome back to a brand-new semester everyone and a belated Happy New Year to you all!

Now that winter break is over, we are all shifting back into the swing of things and returning to our studies, which can be a bit of a struggle after a month-long vacation.

Believe me, I’ve gone through this process four times already. It has yet to get any easier and likely never will.

Regardless, I do hope that you all had a wonderful winter vacation, and that your transition back into school-mode is going smoothly.

If it isn’t, I hereby propose that you turn to your nearest television or venture to the closest theater, for the film and television industries are releasing some amazing projects.

This week , I will be reviewing 12 Strong, as well as the introduction to two television series.

For what’s new on television, the series premiere of Black Lightning and back-door pilot of Wayward Sisters, a spin-off series of Supernatural, were both introduced on the CW network.

Disclaimer: There are guaranteed to be spoilers about the plots of each of the three movies/shows I have mentioned, so fair warning to stop reading now if you don’t want these ruined for you!

12 STRONG

On January 19, Nicolai Fuglsig’s 12 Strong was released in theaters, an action/war drama that depicts the true events of Operational Detachment Alpha-595, a team of U.S. Special Forces who were sent to Afghanistan following the attacks of September 11.

Chris Hemsworth plays Mitch Nelson – a portrayal of his real-life counterpart, Mark Nutsch –  who leads a group of twelve men into the earliest attack on the Taliban just a few weeks after the September 11 attacks.

The story of ODC 595 is one that many likely did not know. Since the mission the team was sent on was classified, the public was not informed of what they were doing in response to the attacks, and their heroism and courage were left unsaid.

Much of what this movie and its basis on fact portrayed was… tough. To say the least.

The film begins with a fast-paced sequence of different news reports spanning throughout the late-90’s into the early 2000’s regarding the terror that was looming overseas with Osama Bin Landen.

This might paint me as ignorant of American history, but I wasn’t even aware of the previous years of attacks that Bin Laden had led prior to September 11.

That fact alone struck something hard in me as I sat and watched as these reports paved the way to the fateful day of September 11.

Viewing the footage of the attacks on the Twin Towers instilled a sobering affect right from the film’s commencement.

This was an event that impacted every single American, and still held a painful grip in the hearts of those alive to have witnessed it.

I was solemn as I watched Nelson and his teammates spend their last few hours with their families before they left.

There was a range of reactions, from anger to sorrow to attempts to brush off with humor, and they each highlighted just how human they all were.

Nelson and his team meet up with General Dostum (Navid Negahban), the leader of the Northern Alliance and their ally in fighting back the Taliban.

It’s clear right from the get-go that the American team and Dostum’s army had a different manner of treating the mission they were on, and I can’t think of a more perfect scene to display this superficially than the scenes where Dostum is openly trash-talking the leader of the Taliban (Saïd Taghmaoui) via walkie-talkie.

It was nothing short of incredible.

However, Dostum’s motivations behind this war were tough to hear, as well. Aside from being a leader of the Alliance, Dostum has a personal stake cast in this war: the Taliban had killed his family.

While Nelson had not lost his family, this revelation was a moment that really highlighted the idea that, despite being a part of different countries and cultures, Dostum and Nelson were not that different from one another in that their passions rested with ridding Afghanistan of the Taliban’s evil.

Following several heart-pounding action sequences of Dostum and Nelson’s men against the Taliban, the film ends on a happy note: Nelson kept the promise he made to his wife and to his men, and they all returned home.

12 Strong told an amazing story of some undermined heroes in history. Heroes who deserve recognition for what they did for their country.

Rotten Tomatoes currently has 12 Strong rated at 55%, but holds a 70% audience score.

I believe that this film was worth watching, and I highly recommend for anyone to watch it while in theaters.

“WAYWARD SISTERS”

The CW’s Supernatural is a sci-fi series on its thirteenth season, and on January 18 it aired an episode entitled “Wayward Sisters,” a back-door pilot to a series of the same name.

This would not be the first time Supernatural attempted to breathe life into a spin-off series. In the show’s ninth season, the episode “Bloodlines” served as a back-door pilot to a spin-off that would have explored the monster life in Chicago.

Ultimately, the show’s premise flopped and was not picked up. So why would Wayward Sisters be any different?

The answer lies within a few key differences that separate Wayward Sisters from its failed predecessor.

First, Bloodlines was set to be in the same universe as Supernatural, but was going to tell a story completely separate from what was happening in the main continuity.

That, along with bringing forth brand-new characters the audience were only exposed to once, put people off.

Wayward Sisters will consist of female leads that the fandom already cares for, and it’s very likely that many of the show’s storylines will fall into place with what is happening in the Winchester continuity.

Second, while the same cannot be true for Bloodlines, the fandom actually asked (i.e. demanded) for Wayward Sisters to happen.

They made their voices heard, blasted the tag on social media, and now it has become a reality.

Led by Kim Rhodes’ reprisal of her beloved character Sheriff Jody Mills, Wayward Sisters will follow the lives of the girls she takes into her care, and of the sisterhood they form as they fight against the forces of the supernatural together.

Supernatural’s latest episode jumpstarts the premise with one of the women the series will explore, Claire Novak (Kathryn Newton), saving a young girl from werewolves and then receiving a call from Jody, who state that Sam and Dean have gone missing.

What I really enjoyed about this intro scene was not only Claire’s flawless execution of a well-developed and skilled huntress, but Jody’s line of, “They were on a hunting trip, and I haven’t heard from them in a few days.”

This line was a giant leap back in time to Supernatural’s own pilot episode to when Dean uttered those same words to Sam about their father all those years ago.

It was a nice touch and a beautiful and subtle homage to the show that has given Wayward Sisters their start.

The atmosphere was thick with tension among the four women the episode was centered on – Claire, Jody, ex-vampire blood slave Alex Jones (Katherine Ramdeen), and psychic Patience Turner (Clark Backo) – as they struggle to find common ground among their motivations.

Claire decides to focus on finding Sam and Dean and does that through finding their last link to them: Kaia Nieves (Yadira Guevara), a dreamwalker who assisted the brothers in their attempt to locate their missing mother.

The group then meets up with Sheriff Donna Hanscum (Briana Buckmaster), a perky Minnesotan blonde with a heart of gold and a knife as sharp as her adorable wit.

Donna is another fan-favorite that was introduced in Supernatural, and her inclusion in Wayward Sisters has made many people in the fandom – including yours truly – very happy.

Together, these women uncover the boatyard the Winchesters were last seen at, find the doorway into the world Sam and Dean were in, and save the brothers.

All the while, they courageously fight back the monsters that slipped through the dimensional crack into their universe.

Ladies run the world!

Jody ends the episode with a parting message to Sam and Dean, and a promise for the series to come: “You guys save the world. We got Sioux Falls covered.”

It was a wholesome, thrilling adventure, ninety percent of the episode was centered on the female leads and their story, and it was just the back-door pilot episode.

I absolutely cannot wait for Wayward Sisters to officially air, and you can bet that I will be there watching it live alongside Supernatural every week!

BLACK LIGHTNING

If you have been following my writing and caught onto my increased interest in the superhero universe, it was pretty obvious that I was going to catch the series premiere of Black Lightning.

Well, I’ll confess I didn’t manage to catch it live – the downside of having night course – but watching it online the following day is just as good, right?

On January 16, the CW aired the series premiere of their newest superhero show, Black Lightning.

Black Lightning has been anticipated since it was made official that the CW was going to pick it up and begin production in May 2017.

Watching the series premiere, it definitely was not hard to unpack the potential and see why.

There’s something that I noticed right off the bat about Black Lightning, an element that sets it apart from the superhero films that I have watched so far: rather than portraying an origin story about the superhero Black Lightning, this show instead contributes the “resurrection” of his character.

Jefferson Pierce (Cress Williams) is the identity behind Black Lightning and has been retired from his superhero persona for the last nine years.

He gave up Black Lightning after his now ex-wife Lynn (Christine Adams) provided him with an ultimatum between his superhero life and his family, eventually splitting their family up.

Now years later, Jefferson has maintained an iron-grip on his powers, never once letting them out as he works as an accomplished high school principal in the crime-infested city of Freeland.

All the while, Jefferson deals with the paternal headaches his daughters Jennifer (China Anne McClain) and Anissa (Nafessa Williams) give him.

Jefferson and Lynn’s interactions throughout the episode also indicate a remaining spark.

It’s clear that time has done little to quench the clear love these two have for one another, and there is tangible hope for a “resurrection” of their relationship as well.

However, the ever-increasing threat of The 100, a gang ransacking the streets of Freeland, is looming over the heads of every citizen, threatening the safety of even Jefferson’s family.

Throughout the episode, Jefferson has moments of where he denies the impact his superhero persona had.

He no longer wishes to associate with Black Lightning, as he was responsible for the loss of his marriage.

He sees Black Lightning as a failure, since his presence years ago did nothing to deter crime from entering Freeland.

Yet, when his daughters encounter danger with The 100, Jefferson’s grip on his powers slips, and he slowly starts to accept the necessity of his double-life as he once again reprises the role of Black Lightning.

It was a very mature progression of character, and something refreshing from constantly watching young superheroes realize and grow into their powers for the first time.

That being said, I cannot wait for the series to unravel how Anissa and Jennifer come into their own powers and personas as Thunder and Lightning!

There are also strong, underlying themes present within the episode, exploring the issue of racism, police brutality, gang wars, and the difficulties of family life.

I’m anxious to see how the series progresses these themes and what they decide to explore later on as the show continues forward.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the first-ever episode of Black Lightning and can contribute to the hype of this series being picked up!

I really enjoy this concept as a superhero motion picture, and it offers something incredible that sets it apart from other beloved works the CW released, such as the Arrowverse.

Black Lightning will air on the CW every Tuesday at 8PM.

I highly encourage everyone to tune into the network each Tuesday, watch it, and support the series as it continues!

Gisselle Lopez

Features Editor

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