Saturday, 10 March 2018

The Curse of Oak Island S05E09


A research expedition to a French castle reveals new clues, including ancient carvings that could link the Knights Templar to Oak Island.

What I thought

In Money Pit the large 50” hole in H8 is starting to take shape with only 10ft done thus far. Casing is being joined up and prepped but it’ll be several days until they get down to a decent depth of 200ft.

Meanwhile, in PARIS, Rick, Alex and Peter are off to meet their new researcher Nichola and head on a train to meet the Rochefoucauld family in Charente whilst nattering about the last 5 seasons and more of Oak Island history. Hopefully they didn’t do a narrator recap every 5 minutes to her. However, we do get a reminder of a large rock on Oak Island with symbols on it that was blown up in 1921 in the hope of finding treasure underneath but alas they found nothing and destroyed evidence in process. And to think I complain and the Laginas??? However, one small rock did remain with H O on it as well as a cross with symbols around it which the Knight’s Templar also had on their shields and that it might be written in Greek. The researcher is really convinced on the Templars being involved. At Rochefoucauld Castle, they are greeted by the curator to show them around. This castle begun being created in late 10th century to protect against Vikings. Rick shows off the map with the family name on it. She says her family were involved in the crusades and may as well met the Templars, but she’s not heard of any evidence. She says the writing on that map is in Old French (or slang) and says the top right writing relates to ‘in the direction’ of, and not something about a drink that the researcher thought, who probably was consuming a few bottles whilst she was doing the translation! She gives them the keys to go down the tunnels underneath the castle which has no foundations but is instead on top of a large rock. It’s impressive down there but there’s no carvings, which she says is probably because they’ve been washed away as river used to be diverted down there. Now that’s how you clear up a mystery quickly!

Next day in France the team head to the village of Domme, were they met Jerry Glover, a Templar expert, who has arranged them to visit a 14th century castle called The Dome; I see what they did there with the village name. The Knight Templars were arrested, imprisoned and executed here and thus spent a lot of time banged up in a building where they carved lots of various shapes on the wall (allegedly via their teeth!!!), of which the expert says to Rick that what Rick calls the Templar Cross isn’t exclusive to the Templars but more used by crusades. Rick also believes that one of the symbols looks like the Rochefoucauld family emblem. Is that a link? It’s safe to say that this expert gave more information about Templars than the Rochefoucauld lady although she did translate a bit of the map. There’s also a link, made by Rick, of the tree of life symbol to Nolan’s Cross. This concludes their visit to France, which in my view was totally unnecessary as all this information they could have got elsewhere or via the new technology called the Internet. Maybe Rick had built up some airmiles to use?

Back on Lot 24, Samuel Ball’s lot, with Gary the metal master, Laird the archaeologist, Marty and Jim. Laird has them doing things properly as they gradually remove dirt, sift it and slowly uncover more rocks. Laird thinks the stone formations indicate a man-made floor, but it’s not a large structure so maybe a lookout post? They also find some pottery that Laird dates to around 18th century.

War Room meeting, everyone is back. They go over pretty much what we’ve just seen from their France visit. It’s the same old stuff regurgitated, as is the last minute of the episode as the casing in the Money Pit is shown drilling onwards to it’s first target of 100ft odd.

Rating 5/10 – I understand their visit to France but all of that could have been gained quicker and just as easily without heading anywhere. On the island, very little activity or progress.

More drilling in H8 as they reach a massive 10ft deep.

Bonjour! The 3 walk the streets of France.

This whole episode felt like a long train ride.

Laird has the gang doing things the right and long way.

Somebody's teapot is found in the lot. Ok, it's 18th century but could of been part of anything.

Despite an intercom and doorbell, Rick knocks on door, where of course the owner is waiting just behind.

The castle owner corrects the historian.

As Rick and Peter touch the ceiling, the historian prays all doesn't cave in.

Welcome to the Dome Castle!

Inside, they look at carvings by the Knight Templars.

Saturday, 3 March 2018

The Curse of Oak Island S05E08

Dan's Breakthrough


New evidence confirms a European presence on Oak Island 100 years before the discovery of the Money Pit.

What I thought

The main 3, Rick, Marty and Craig, arrive in the Money Pit, which is now full of cranes and other machinery. We’re reminded of the GeoTech system for the 44th time, which is handy because they apparently drilled 44 smaller holes to narrow down where the Money Pit was. Now, they begin to make the bigger 50” hole down the magic hole that is H8 using a rotating oscillator. Well, not quite yet, as they first use a JCB to start the hole, whilst Marty drops a coin down the current plastic coated H8 hole for “Good luck”. You know, if they don’t find that coin again, I’ll be worried. Anyhow, there’s more heavy-duty equipment yet to arrive before drilling commences.

In War Room, a small gang, including Dan Blankenship, assemble to hear results of carbon dating on those two bone fragments found deep down H8. The Middle East bone is dated to 1682-1736 with the European one dated 1678-1764. Puzzling. Naturally, the Knights Templar are mentioned once again as possibilities. They’ve got to be flavour of the month on Oak Island?

Back in that pub, a whole lot of the gang are there to meet historian Doug once more. We’re going back to last season now and the 14th century hand drawn map from Zena Halpern, another researcher. See S04E12. On that same piece of paper that had that map was some text which Doug has researched and connected to a family of kings linked to the crusades. More research needed it seems Doug.

On Lot 16, north of Money Pit, Gary the metal detector wizard is with Jim, Ricky and Marty where two 17th century coins had been discovered previously. First up, they find a small horseshoe. That’s lucky right? Well, it’s part of a horseshoe. There’s then discussion about the depressions in this area that look like wells but are believed to be search pits from previous treasure hunters. Next, Gary finds something a good 12 inches deep, finally digging up what Marty thinks is from a cannon. Possibly it’s ammunition called grapeshot. Not much further away, Gary digs up a coin, irregularly shaped (usually meaning old). It’s hard to see anything on it so it needs cleaning.

Alex, Peter and Jim (the regular researching gang it seems) go to meet Doug at the centre of geographic sciences some 80 miles away. It’s all about Rochefoucauld this time, the name on that map, and finding any links to that French family and Oak Island. There’s talk about Samuel de Champlain, a cartographer who made a 17th century map that bizarrely omitted Mahone Bay, where Oak Island is located. They then find a book about Du Gua, who was one of the first settlers in Nova Scotia who has a family tree saying that a member of the Rochefoucauld  married into the Du Gua family. Fireworks go off, and more connections than a telephone exchange are made in gang’s minds. Rick and Alex meet later in War Room to chat to Nichola Lewis, a researcher in France via skype, who has been hired to help them liaise with the Rochefoucauld family. She’s setup a meeting with a Rochefoucauld who lives in the namesake castle. I feel a longer trip coming on.

At the Money Pit the gang inspect the grabber machinery and casing for H8. More equipment is then setup for the large casing drill site including a custom-built oscillator. No wonder it’s expensive! There’s an emotional moment as Ricky names the casing ‘Dan’s breakthrough’ and Jack writes with chalk ‘Forever Family’ on the casing in memory of his brother, before Dan Blankenship starts the oscillator going on H8. Oh, it’s starting to get exciting so it’s time to … Cue the credits …

Rating 5/10 - Drilling getting ready to commence, ammunition, an unidentified coin and more potentially wacky links to Oak Island, mean this is classic episode for the show.

Marty drops a coin for luck down H8.

Gary digs up a horseshoe.

... then a grapeshot

... then a coin!

A map with Oak Island omitted.

The casing for H8 is given an emotional naming.

Dan the man starts the oscillator on H8.

Star Wars Rebels S04E12 "Wolves and a Door" & S04E13 "A world between worlds"


Ezra and the Ghost crew learn the Empire has plans for the Jedi Temple on Lothal. While the other rebels engage the Imperial forces outside the Jedi temple, Ezra gains access inside and experiences a revelation.

What I thought

After the traumatic events of the previous double-episode, we're back with another two that are so closely aligned that to watch them in two parts is almost cruel. Thankfully, most of us get to see them back-to-back, as they really should be. If you thought Rebels could not ever be a touch on The Clone Wars, then think again, as it came mighty close here.

Leading straight on from last week, Ezra leads the gang via the Lothal style of public transportation, the Loth Wolves, who take the gang, via a force dimensional jump of sorts, to near where the Empire is busy in a quarry working on getting into the jedi temple. Yes, previously this temple was above ground but the Empire has been very busy digging deeper and trying to get in. They've hit a wall though. Literally. It's a wall with a mural on it that anyone who has seen The Clones Wars will recognize for it depicts the Mortis Gods. Sabine and Ezra sneak in disguise into the quarry to investigate the mural in a rather frank fashion. Security checks in the Empire are still not really up to much quality although I guess they don't suspect intruders. Via Chopper, they listen in to a transmission between the overseer of the quarry investigation, Minister Veris Hydan and ... THE EMPEROR! OMG. Yes, he's here and it's awesome. Ok, he's via hologram but just hearing and seeing him in conversation with the minister is brilliant and absorbing. And, what a joy it is to actually discover more about these background characters in terms of the minister, whom we've seen numerous times in Star Wars lurking around the Emperor, but never knowing what they actually do. Of course, in Rogue One, Vader had one of those robed men in his castle who actually spoke a few words, but this is the most we've ever seen of them and it's a great payoff for a long overdue years of wondering. It seems, as one might expect, they work for the Emperor and take on a somewhat Sith Religious Investigator role for he's there to find out more about the Jedi Temple on behalf of the Emperor who wants to unlock it's secrets which he knows will help him control the past and future.

Whilst Ezra checks out the mural closer, finally someone notices Sabine's stormtrooper disguise as she's randomly standing around in a secure location.  Ezra meanwhile, remembering the hand stone tablet he got from the Loth Wolves, presses in force wise on the Daughter's hands on the painting, which activates the painting, bringing it to life! This is an absolutely amazing sequence of events, watching parts of a painting light up, move and play out a scene. The loth wolves in the painting run away, which Ezra follows further along the wall until they form a circle which is the entrance to the portal. Guards finally notice all this fireworks and lights, alerting the minister, whom tries to stop Ezra but it's too late, as Ezra enters the portal.

Sabine is brought before the Minister. This is an extra opportunity to learn more about him. In a rather Thrawn like similarity, his office is full of various paintings. Because Sabine likes art and does graffiti, the Minister keeps her about to discuss the main painting. This is a little odd. She's hardly a renowned Turner Prize winner, but given he can't work out anything more about the painting, I guess he's desperate to please his Emperor. She reveals the hands are the key, something I'd have thought he'd have worked out by now.

Inside the portal we have a sort of stargate like look and feel as numerous shaped gateways are joined together by paths that are spread in all sorts of directions against the vast openness of black space. There's a lot of voices occasionally in the background, most of which we will recognize from the Star Wars universe. Drawn to the attention of a bird on top of one of the portal gates, Ezra sees Ahsoka Tano's battle with Vader from Series 2 appear. With Vader on the attack, Ezra reaches in to pull Ahsoka out of the battle! WTF? Yes, Ahsoka is back! In this world between world, it seems the past and future is sort of available on some level to those within the portal. In some ways it's made to look easy to do what you want in here, but I somewhat doubt it's anything like on-demand access to Time Travel. For starters, access was restricted to within the Temple, and via an instructional tablet. Also, why did Ezra see Ahsoka's battle out of a million and 1 other things he could have witnessed and been interested in from the past or future? He later does see Kanan's last stand from last week in another portal but is talked out of saving Kanan by Ahsoka. She knows that wouldn't be right, and would have condemned them all to death as Kanan couldn't save them last week without sacrificing himself. Quite how Ahsoka works this all out so quickly, with little information, I'll put aside for now. Taught a lesson, to let his master "go", there's a new threat as the Emperor appears behind one of the portal windows and starts firing force fire/lightning at them, trying it seems to capture them and thus help him link to the portal properly. Both escape via separate portals, barely, from the Emperor, with Ahsoka ending up back where she was on Malachor, and Ezra popping out in the quarry. Quite convenient that they both took the right portals, or is this just the will of the force guiding them?

With Chopper, Zeb and Hera causing all sorts of chaos for the Imperial forces and rescuing Sabine along the way, they help Ezra seal the portal (by way of force holding the Son's hand on the painting) and then leg it out of the quarry as everything starts to demolish itself, leading to the temple eventually disappearing and just barren land remaining. 

Although it seems this was guidance by the loth wolves to save the temple from the Empire, it was also somewhat somehow contrived by Kanan as a last lesson for Ezra. Exactly how Ahsoka played into proceedings, either by the will of the loth wolves, Kanan or just the force, I don't know. Also, the Empire must have been working on this temple for many months, if not years, but at 11th hour the wolves let Ezra know?

Sure, there's a few questions generated but this is a magnificent episode that is absolutely gorgeously rendered, not least by the animated painting, which is simply the best thing I've seen in a cartoon ever. We also get the Emperor, who steals every scene he's in, and learn more about his minions and what he's getting up to now that he's leaving running the actual Empire to his subordinates.

Rating - 9/10 - Things don't get much better than this, although a little more context would have helped me just a tad.

What I liked
  • The Emperor - he's a showstopper!
  • Minster Veris Hydan - learning about him and these servants of the Emperor was totally engaging.
  • Death Troopers! They even spoke in code for once.
  • Painting design and movement is best thing ever in a cartoon.
  • The internal workings of the portal just create so many questions!
  • Ahsoka Tano - need I say more?

What I didn't like
  • Unsure what the "point" was here. It's said that it was Kanan's last lesson, but it really was to shut down the portal I guess? Did Kanan have any input into Ashoka in this? There's a little something here missing that I can't put my finger on.

The quickest way across Lothal is via the Loth Wolves.

Very Indiana Jones like, this is the quarry.

Here's the minister, complete with a hump.

Moooorrreeeeeeeee, give me mooorrreeee Emperor.

Absolutely no one else notices Sabine and Ezra in the restricted zone.

The painting comes to life!

The wolves form the gateway.

Inside the portal, stargate style!

Don't fall!

Ezra rescues Ahsoka.

But leaves Kanan.
Sabine and the Minister talk art.

The Emperor tries to get inside the portal.

Ezra deactivates the portal.

Sunday, 25 February 2018

Star Wars Rebels S04E10 "Jedi Night" & S04E11 "DUME"


The Ghost Crew infiltrates the Imperial headquarters on Lothal to save one of their own before reeling from a devastating loss, the Ghost crew rallies together to find a new purpose and resolve.

What I thought

After what seems like an age since we last saw 'Rebels' and that failed attempt to blow up the TIE Defender facility on Lothal, we're back with what is a double-bill episode, although some countries are showing them individually. Crazy! They really are better back to back, not least because there's little actual content in the second episode, once you've seen the devastating first one.

Let's get it out of the way instantly: Kanan is dead. There should be no ambiguity here, and I don't think there's even a slither of one. No one is even posing the question as to if he survived the end of episode 10. After such a massive loss of a central charecter, and the massive explosion that saw this Jedi's demise, the subsequent episode was always going to be a downer of sorts, but it was one that was definitely needed in order for emotions to be played out. I've seen Clone Wars and Rebels cartoons, but this combo of episodes was the first time I came close to actual tears in what was a massive pay-off for regular fans of the show in terms of reunion and loss for Hera and Kanan.

There's a sign of good things to come at the start of episode 10 when we have Kanan preparing himself for what he obviously seems to know is inevitable, by having a haircut and a shave with a knife that would be best used for chopping up bread. How he managed to shave that well with such an implement I don't know. He's placed Ezra in charge of the rescue of Hera who is being tortured with the electric chair and mocked by Thrawn in a way only he can deliver. Not long before the gang use manual flying contraptions to look like natural "birds" to infiltrate the Imperial Base, the dreaded Interrogating Probe Droid 'ball of no fun' injects Hera with a truth drug. Why it takes that floating device to give an injection I don't know, but I guess it cuts down on nurses. Entering the base proves very easy by air for Kanan, Sabine and Ezra, the latter of the two go their own way to help find transport away from the base, as Kanan uses magnetic suction devices to climb the walls to where Hera is being held. All Jedi's know how to make an entrance, and Kanan has this one nailed, as he arrives via the floor of this room, which for some reason extends outwards unlike the rest of the base. He ruthlessly deposes of the two troopers, one via the "Mace Window" exit technique, and kicks the probe droid down the entrance hole. Hera is delirious due to the drug, making for a fun and emotion moment, especially just before Kanan arrived. When Rukh shows up, Kanan eventually deals with him in a rather uncivilized fashion of force pushing him off the edge, before the pink-pimpernel Death Trooper's have them pinned down, leading to Kanan and Hera escaping via the manual flying contraptions. Incidentally, the Death Troopers this episode speak in garbled code, just like in Rogue One, which is what we all expected them to be like and not as they has been in previous Rebel episodes. That's more like it! Sadly, they don't seem to be much better than regular troopers at aiming this week as the Rebels get away. I'm also not sure why the Death Troopers were dispatched when they are normally guards for high-ranked commanders. Guess Thrawn sent them. He's about at this point but soon gets called away by Tarkin for a meeting with the Emperor to lobby for his TIE Defenders. Good luck with that Thrawn, especially as the Death Star plan gets a mention here. 

Kanan and Hera land in the fueling depot of the TIE Defender factory, quickly climbing to the top of the central fuel cell to await rescue by Sabine and Ezra who have some amusing moments infiltrating an Imperial shuttle, very reminiscent of the Clone Wars style, which is a joy to see. Governor Pryce, left on charge now, has a moment of madness that is pretty rubbish even for her, as she is usually not too bad for an Imperial Commander. She sends in AT-ATs (why?) to pursue this handful of Rebels, and then crazily fires on the fuel cell the Rebels are being rescued from! Is she stupid? Seems so. It's like using a hammer to crack a nut. As the Rebel's are far from safe from the explosion, Kanan courageously sacrifices himself, using the force to hold back the explosion and send the rescue craft to safety. With the episode ending in total silence, and the following beginning the same way, this is a OMG moment that's executed brilliantly.

There's not really as much to say about the second episode 'Dume' which does play the aftermath of Kanan's death very well. Everyone is deeply affected, not least Ezra and Hera, the latter of which finds great comfort from her family heirloom that Kanan saved for her, along with Chopper who stays by her side. Ezra though feels lost without Kanan, and ends up getting chased by Wolves, who cryptically speak to him, eventually revealing that he needs to fight on, especially as the Jedi Temple (which one though?) is at serious risk and he needs to protect it. This is eventually what Ezra tells the gang they need to do next and sets up an intriguing final 4 episodes, not least as we know the Emperor is involved. I hope we also get to see Thrawn meeting him, although unsure on that one. 'Dume' might seem like filler, but it's a necessary one for it shows the emotions of the gang, which really had an impact on me. It also helps show direction for the setup of the end of the show which promises to have some surprises, I can feel it.

Rating 8/10 - An awesome "Jedi Night' episode, and an emotional fallout 'Dume' episode which is less awesome but packed of tearful moments and a setup for the end of the series.

What I liked

  • Death Troopers talking in code! Now that's more like it!
  • That Imperial craft the Rebels stole is so Clone Wars
  • Everything about 'Jedi Night' episode, especially Hera/Kanan was simply emotional, warming and brilliantly scripted.
  • The end of Jedi Night episode! The silence afterwards ...
  • The setup for saving the/a Jedi Temple.
  • Hera/Chopper's emotional bond
  • The gang's grieving is very well protrayed.
  • Just the mention of the Emperor perks up ears.
  • Rukh being awesome

What I didn't like

  • Let's make Death Troopers great again please! They need to be effective.
  • Governor Pryce. Why? What was she thinking? Was this an order to undermine Thrawn?
  • Rukh being undone by Sabine/Zeb and made to look stupid by being spray painted. Why did he go after them??

Thrawn mocks Hera

Haircut time for Kanan. Would have been easier with the lightsabre.

Health and Safety would never approve this rescue plan.

Climbing walls "sucks" for Kanan.
A Jedi knows how to arrive in style!

Death Troopers!

Governor Pryce has a senior moment.

Kanan holds back the flames, and our tears, sacrificing himself.

Kanan :(

Pryce!? WTF?

The wolves really harass Ezra.

Hera grieves with the help of Chopper.

Invisible Rokh? That's a new trick but sadly goes wrong.

Big wolf, daddy wolf, grandmother wolf ...

Poor Rokh.

I hope that's a map.

Friday, 23 February 2018

The Curse of Oak Island S05E07


Two new pieces of ancient evidence found deep in the Money Pit may be proof of theories that could rewrite the history of the Oak Island mystery.

What I thought

Starting in the Money Pit again this week, 40 of the Geotech holes have been drilled, which is the full whack, good enough. We’re led to believe though that only one of those holes, H8, produced anything interesting, because little is said about the rest. The gang have called back in Irving Engineers to decide on the logistics of drilling H8 to an even bigger hole; It’ll be about a 50” hole with casing to about 200ft.

Paul Speed, a researcher, is the latest guy to visit the War Room with their theory about Oak Island. Specifically, he’s got something speculative to say about the Money Pit. He’s been thinking (as we all have) how someone could have constructed anything on the Money Pit (if they even have) and he’s centred in on a technique used by Cornish Miners. These flood tunnels by the Money Pit he believes
would have been constructed from further out, rather than straight down from source. He puts 16th century Francis Drake on the map as taking gold he’s plundered to Oak Island. Basically, although there’s no proof he went to North America, that this might be a vault that was used as a bank of sorts for a period until it fell out of use or was used as Francis Drake’s grave! Apparently, Francis Drake died overseas and was encased in a lead coffin and poured with mercury (for good measure?) but this has never been found.  This isn’t as wacky as some of the ideas I’ve heard although this guy looks rather cocky about his claims, but then, he would. Incidentally, mercury has been found on the island.
Next up, some of the boys are with metal detectorist expert Gary Drayton again, as well as Laird in Lot 26; this is the one Samuel Ball owned, who got it from Captain James Anderson, a former pirate and the guy who owned that sea chest we saw a while back. They wonder if there’s more chests in this lot area. First up, there’s a wall that they think could have been used for loading/unloading of stuff on/off ships by Captain Anderson in past. The narrator has them discovering it but I seriously doubt that’s the first time anyone has seen that wall. It’s not in great condition anyways. Then they find a rectangular depression in the ground. They want to dig it but need a permit as this is in a protected area.

Its back to St Mary’s University as the boys don their white suits once more. Dr Yang also doesn’t play game as he’s too cool for white suits. They are testing the small piece of pulp. It’s made of paper, possibly a parchment, the likes of which was used rarely and only for important documents back in the day after 15th century. Looking at the small piece of leather next and it is indeed leather (thank goodness we had those experts to help huh?) but also there’s some fibres in with it, leading the expert to suggest it might have been used as a book binding. This now leads them down the theory that William Shakespeare’s friend Francis Bacon put clues in his writings and then buried his original manuscripts on Oak Island. See how just one little mention of something can lead them down all sorts of paths? Anyhow, next up they need to find textile experts and get some date on these items.

3 days afterwards, it’s back to Lot 26 to look at that depression. They’ve got a permit but to get their destructive equipment in, they need to butcher a few smaller trees. This is heart-breaking to watch but I guess no pain, no gain. I’m sure they replant 2 trees for everyone chopped down, right? Lots of digging but absolutely nothing is found. Trees sacrificed, and a depression mutilated, all for nothing.

2 days later again, and it’s the War Room with Laird and the gang to get results of the bones via a Dr Fraser on the phone. One of the bones is from the European group, but the other is middle eastern which surprises them all, but leads to the Knight’s of Templar theory who got lots of stuff from the Middle East. Of course, it could just have fallen out of someone’s pocket hundreds of years ago …

The last few minutes are the heavy equipment arriving in Money Pit to dig a massive hole in H8.

Rating: 5/10 – Lots of talking, theories and wasted digging, but not a lot learnt about the items or bones apart form initial findings.

The gang discuss the merits of giving up on the Money Pit and creating a putting green, but first they look at H8 where they plan to dig a massive hole next.

Here's the next crazy theorist person in the War Room, although he's got a more realistic and probable theory than some of the others we've heard.

This is depressing. Yes, it's a depression in the ground in Lot 26.

This is the leather close-up. It's magnified so much that your eyes could pop. 

Noticing how picturesque the area in Lot 26 was looking with it's little cute depression, the gang set about chopping down trees and digging a pit large enough to bury that JCB in.