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April 03, 2014 - Image 10

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2B - Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

2B - Thursday, April 3, 2014 The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Killing c aracters
for more than
shock value

San Cristobal evolves
its youthful sound

Warning: This col-
umn contains
massive spoilers
for the current season of "The
Good Wife."If you are not caught
up on "The
Good Wife,"
are plan-
ning at some
point to
watch "The
Good Wife,"
or somehow
haven't heard A
of "The Good
Wife" until UPADHYAYA
now and
think maybe
you'll look into whether or not
you should start watching "The
Good Wife" (hint: you should),
please do not read anyfurther.
Please. I'm purposefully making
this spoiler warning extra long
to underscore its seriousness and
also ensure that you don't acci-
dentally read too far ahead. The
column also contains informa-
tion about character deaths from
"Once Upon a Time," 'American
Horror Story: Coven," "Lost,"
"The L Word," "Buffy the Vam-
pire Slayer," "Breaking Bad" and
"24," so be careful about those.
OK. Stop reading if you don't
want to be spoiled. Seriously.
Don't send me hate-tweets.
Last week, "The Good
Wife" viewers' worlds
were rocked when hus-
band-wife showrunning
duo Robert and Michelle King
executed what was almost
certainly the most shocking
television moment and best-kept
secret of the year: They killed
off leading-man Will Gardner.
Shortly after1Twitter suf-
fered a collectivemeltdown in-
response to the episode, CBS
released a letter penned by the
Kings, in which they explain
their reasons for the twist. In
short: Actor Josh Charles want-
ed to move on, and instead of
developing a simple departure
arc to explain away his absence
- like Will moving or getting
a new job far, far away - the
"Good Wife" writers decided
to make him the casualty of an
unexpected courtroom blood-
bath.
The letter goes on to claim
that the narrative choice is
somehow unique in its boldness.
"Television, in our opinion,
doesn't deal with this enough:
the irredeemability of death,"
the Kings write.
Wait, what? I watch aslot of
television. And if death is some-
thing TV doesn't have enough
of, that's news to me. ISwatch
"The Vampire Diaries," where
death is so common that it's
almost a character in its own
right. I also watch "Justified"
and a whole slew of other series

rooted in crime that have more
on-screen shootings than on-
screen makeouts. If the Kings
think TV needs more death,
what exactly are they watching
In fact, in the current golden
age of TV dramas, it seems like
writers feel like they have to
start killing characters left and
right in order to get a "Serious
Drama" stamp of approval. One
of the reasons people consis-
tently give for loving "Game of
Thrones" is that death is a legit
imate threat for each and every
character. And Joss Whedon
has been praised as television's
own Grim Reaper, whacking of
enough beloved characters to
inspire the genius Funny or Die
(and unfortunately fake) reality
series.
Blame itcon my self-identi-
fication asa Whedonite or on
my obsession with all things
sad, butI love when characters
die on television. That comes
with a huge however. I love
when characters die on televi-
sion; however the death has to
serve a larger function than
just simple shock value. All too
often, death is used as a cheap
plot device. What purpose did
"Once Upon a Time"'s season-
three death serve other than
allowing ABC to tease the twis
for weeks on end? "American
Horror Story: Coven" racked
up quite the body count in its
13-episode stay, but when you
have a resurrection witch on
your hands, death doesn't carry
much weight. "Lost" writers
literally only killed off Nikki
and Paulo because fans didn't
respond well to the characters
when they were introduced.
And I'll never quite understand
the point of Dana's death on
"The L Word," especially when
the showrunner herself admit-
ted it was a mistake.
But, as the Kings point out,
losing loved ones is a very real
fear and experience that we all
face at some point or another.
Television shouldn't ignore tha
Characters should never be
wholly invincible. Otherwise,
why would we care about them
Some series have effectively
navigated the balance between
shock value and the simple real
ity of death. The inhabitants of
Sunnydale suffered countless
casualties, but "Buffy"'s most
indelible death remains that of
Buffy's mom, who dies not at
the hands of vampires or mon-
sters but from an unexpected,
sudden aneurysm. Jane's death
on "Breaking Bad" propelled
Jesse's arc forward. Teri's mur-
der at the end of "24"'s first sea
son remains one of my favorite
television moments of all time.
Effective TV deaths aren't
just rooted in believability:

They have lasting effects on the
remainder of the series. There's
nothing I hate more than when
a show kills off a major charac-
ter, dedicates a single ratings-
seeking episode to an overacted,
melancholy funeral episode, and
then lets its characters go on
about their lives (still looking at
you, "The L Word").
Silly letter aside, I actually
do think killing Will Gardner
counts as a "good" TV death. I
disagree with the critics who
despise the move enough to
actually tune out for the rest of
the season. His death isn't just
f an empty twist; it's a narrative-
shattering bomb. The relation-
ships at the heart of "The Good
Wife" have always been its
strongest facet and the fount
from which its most compel-
ling drama springs. The writers
have consistently shifted the
show's pieces around, changing
the relationships over and over
again: Cary's move to the State's
Attorney Office; Will and Ali-
cia's love affair; Cary's return to
Lockhart/Gardner; Alicia and
Peter's reconciliation; Alicia and
Kalinda's falling out; Diane's
near-judgeship; and, of course,
the ultimate show-changer that
was the formation of Florrick/
t Agos.
Well-planned
deaths mean
more than a
shocking twist.
Will's death is basically a
supercharged version of all of
these narrative shifts. And the
episode that follows his depar-
ture proves the event is going
to have very serious emotional
and professional repercussions
for all of the characters. It's
t. an immensely heavy episode
that would probably teeter on
melodramatic in the hands of
less capable actors. I had to
pause the episode no less than
five times to collect myself, but
- never once did I feel hollowly
manipulated by the writers.
"The Good Wife" has
always been a difficult show to
describe, because it's more nar-
ratively complex than a legal
procedural but more episodic
than your average serial. It's
also more fun than your average
serious drama but too heavy to
just be regarded as a legal soap.
- Will's death only adds to the
complexity and versatility of
the series. As it wraps up what
is one of the most impressive
seasons of television I've seen
in a very long time, "The Good
Wife" has opened up aslot of
new possibilities. Will's death
touches each of the characters
in different ways, and those
effects have already started
manifesting in beautiful charac-
ter work.
And that matters aslot more
than just a shocking twist.
Upadhyaya is thinking
about murder. To join, e-mail
kaylau@umich.edu.
ARE YOU

INTERESTED IN
WRITING FOR A
STUDENT-RUN POP
CULTURE BLOG?
APPLY TO
THE FILTER,
DAILY ARTS'
ONLINE BLOG.
Email jplyn@umich.edu to
request an application.

Six LSA freshmen the keyboard player, in the prac-
tice rooms in Markley."
are chasing San Cristobal is continuously
evolving. The band has realized
the dream its potential, revised its sights
and shifted the direction of its
By GRACE HAMILTON music to mirror their refocus-
Daily Arts Writer ing.
Sigman describes the band's
Success stories in the music earlier music as a "wall of
business usually grow from sound." The band's first album,
modest roots - sometimes bril- before it even had an official
liance can be accidental. After name and went simply by Jacob
all, the Ramones began as a Sigman, was never actually
garage band called The Tan- intended to be played live.
gerine Puppets. LSA freshman "It was more folk-driven,
Jacob Sigman and lead singer kind of big and grandiose. There
of the 6-piece band San Cris- were so much going on," Jacob
tobal, echoed this familiar pat- said, citing Fleet Foxes, Sufjan
tern when he discussed how the Stevens and Sigur Ros as com-
band came together. parisons and inspirations.
Jacob met Andrew Hiayama, on the other hand, the newer
the band's cellist, at a summer music feels spacious and more
camp, and through him, bass- of combined effort among band
ist Sam Collins. Having set members.
his mind on putting together "These songs are coming to
a "record debut type thing," life as we play them, together,
as Jacob described their first rather than just on a record,"
album, they began experiment- Jacob said.
ing. San Cristobal's new music
"I worked a lot with them. channels a slightly different set
And then Cory, the drummer, is of artists, like The Beatles' later
my cousin, who I met at a wed- material (the White Album),
ding this past year and found Harry Nilsson and Paul Simon.
out he played the drums and It's easy to hear these influ-
was coming here," Jacob said. ences in San Cristobal, with as
"I went to high school with the many as four vocalists on at a
guitarist and then met Andrew, time in certain songs. They pull

it off; the harmony holds, the
volume remains under control
and the lyrics come through.
It is the way that the very
different pieces of the band
(Andrew Solway on keys/vocals,
Andrew Hiyama on cello, Hunt-
er Viers on guitar, Cory Tripa-
thy on drums, Sam Collins on
bass, and Sigman on vocals)
come together so fittingly that is
remarkably impressive for such
a new group. It's as if they've
been doing this for years.
Jacob is equally modest
speaking about his personal
relationship with music and
how it became a part of his life.
He recalled his parents Beatles
records, music he only came to
fully appreciate later, and taking
piano lessons, adding that, "alot
of people take piano lessons."
That being said, the natural tal-
ent in this group is unquestion-
able.
For now, the hope is to "keep
living from show to show, and
just play out as much as we can
and write better songs," Sigman
said.
San Cristobal is planning on
releasing a full-length album
this summer and will be play-
ing in the Diag at Spring Fest on
April loth. Their debut album,
Virginia EP, is available for lis-
tening and download online.

EVERYTHING'S GOOD,
THIS WASN'T ONE OF OUR
TWEETS. IT'S A CHANCE
THE RAPPER LYRIC.
WE'RE STILL COOL THOUGH.
@MICHIGANDAILY

TRAILER REVIEW

"Transcendence" will be the
first picture directedby Wally
Pfister, whose entire career
up to this
point has
consisted of
cinematog- Tranende
raphy work,
mostly for WanerBros.
Christopher
Nolan.
Nolan's influence is apparentin
this trailer for the sci-fi feature
about technology gone ballistic.
It follows a group of scientists
on the verge of revolution-
izing technology to the point
of transcendence: the point
where technology surpasses
the knowledge of every human
past, present and future. The
head scientist, Will Caster,
played by Johnny Depp, is shot
by a radical anti-technology
group. With her husband's
body left to deteriorate, his
wife and fellow scientist,

Evelyn (Rebecca Hall) uploads
Will's consciousness to a com-
puter so that he may continue
to live.
Until Will, in about of Sky-
net-like megalomania, begins
to stretch beyond the limits
of this single computer, grow-
ing in power and knowledge
to the point that he threatens
the safety of the world. It also
seems to take that whole "I'm
in love with my computer"

concept in "Her" to a whole
new, disturbing level; hope-
fully that story gets placed on
the back burner as far as focus
goes. Featuring a strongsup-
porting cast in Paul Bettany,
Kate Mara and Morgan Free-
man, "Transcendence" looks
to be an original take on an old
theme that carries impressive
visuals and genuine suspense
and drama.
-JAMIE BIRCOLL

MUSIC VIDEO REVIEW

This past October, Mapei
released her debut single, "Don't
Wait." One of the best tracks of
the year, the
song- with
its sparse
snaps, heart- Don't Wait
felt lyrics and
incredible
instrumen- Downtown
tation - is
perfect pop
and immediately took off
after its release. Mapei's label,
Downtown Records, rode out
the momentum as long as pos-
sible (the track nowhas over 1.5
million plays on Soundcloud)
until announcing Mapei's
upcoming summer debut. In
the meantime, Mapei dropped
off the video for "Don't Wait,"
and while it can't completely
encapsulate the purity and
bliss of the song, it comes tan-
talizingly close.
Director Dori Oskowitz,
who has worked with Jack

White and Passion Pit, does an
expert job of bathing Mapei
and her incredibly exquisite
love interest in a glow of golden
light that perfectly compli-
ments the warm, sampled
Brazilian baile funk drums at
the core of the song. The video
rightly encapsulates the genu-
ineness of a blossoming young
love, and Oskowitz is able
to frame some impressively
cinematic and picturesque
moments with the help of some
great settings, from empty

DOWNTOWN
highways to rural towns to oil
wells to a killer house party.
But the real star here is, nat-
urally, Mapei. Whether its bik-
ing through town draped over
her boy, playing on a basketball
court or laughing with her
friends, she is utterly lovable,
completely genuine and notice-
ably comfortable in front of the
camera. Mapei has the potential
to be absolutely huge, and there's
a good chance we don't have to
wait much long
-JACKSON HOWARD

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