The Walking Dead Season 11, Episode 5 “Out of the Ashes” Review

Josh Hamilton as Lance Hornsby – The Walking Dead _ Season 11, Episode 5 – Photo Credit: Josh Stringer/AMC

Ladies and Gentlemen, “Out of the Ashes” is the best episode of the first half of the final season. The Walking Dead proves time and time again why it is the show to watch on Sunday nights and this episode is one of them.

Whenever Ross Marquand’s character Aaron is the central character on an episode, he knocks it out the park. From the nightmare sequence that brought back past villains such as The Wolves, The Saviors, and The Whisperers, to him waking up back to reality, Aaron is dealing with the pressure of being the man in charge of Alexandria missions. One of them, is for them to make sure the walls are up. And another sets them off to a trip to The Hilltop.

The reason for this trip is to see what tools are left over there to use due to the attack of The Whisperers. Aaron and the rest that are with him such as Lydia, Carol, and Jerry, realize that the last remaining members of The Whisperers are hoarding walkers around. It is here that Aaron goes to a zone we have not seen him in before.

Desperate for answers, Aaron interrogates the one Whisperer and I got a quick laugh out of it when he asked for his name while also reiterating to him “No Alpha or Beta ****.” The interrogation did go too far as Carol pointed out and they did stop until he revealed the location of where Connie is. I found these scenes very engaging and well acted!

Speaking of Acting, Cailey Fleming made me feel for her as Judith misses Michonne very much. The bullying of her by those kids in the episode and the nearly destruction of her last memory of Carl Grimes made me even more sad for her. However, Judith stood her ground and showed those kids why she should not be messed with. In addition, it’s great to see her train the next generation!

Josh McDermitt as Dr. Eugene Porter, Margot Bingham as Max – The Walking Dead _ Season 11, Episode 5 – Photo Credit: Josh Stringer/AMC

Over at The Commonwealth, Yumiko finally meets her brother for the first time in over a decade, Princess and Ezekiel tried to help Eugene as he wanted to use the radio to contact Alexandria. He did, but he paid a price for it by getting arrested at The Commonwealth. Even though Lance let them free, they will have to pay for it. And do you think it is crazy that The Commonwealth uses money as currency?

I also wonder when the real Stephanie is going to introduce herself to Eugene. We saw her at the ice cream truck for a quick second as he was still with the decoy Stephanie. The reveal must happen soon! Maggie and Negan did not escape my mind. As for their ongoing feud, I think it’s safe to say that it has me siding with Negan on Maggie’s current status. It is important to understand that I am referring to Maggie’s reckless decisions at the moment, not to what Negan did to Glenn. Maggie was right about one thing, though. It is to wait until other people arrive. And Gabriel and Elijah did come later that day.

This episode of The Walking Dead saw the plot advance for the first time since the first episode of this season. The Walking Dead’s final season has a great bright spot in “Out of the Ashes,” after an awful episode last week. Every episode of this franchise should feature great acting, fast-paced action, and an engaging story. And all of that is cramed into this week’s episode! Also, that 90’s themed introduction to The Commonwealth reminded me of Wandavision for a moment! I cannot wait for next week’s episode!

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The Walking Dead Season 11, Episode 4 “Rendition” Review

Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon – The Walking Dead _ Season 11, Episode 4 – Photo Credit: Josh Stringer/AMC

Do you eat the same steak at the same restaurant each and every time? Do you have intercourse with your significant other without romance or without spicing it up at times? Or do you like the taste of chicken without any seasoning? If your answer is yes, then this episode of The Walking Dead titled “Rendition” is for you.

I can personally say that I did not like this episode. This is mainly because it has been wash, rinse, and repeat whenever Daryl Dixon encounters a new villain. In fact, I can use the same analogy of how the filler bad guys of this show are introduced. Did we need to see Daryl in this situation again? No.

There are some things I did like in “Rendition” though. The opening minutes had action and the dialogue exchange between Pope and Leah. But this Pope character played by Ritchie Coster, does not interest me at all. Am I supposed to care or take this guy seriously after he killed one of his own men due to what happened on the last episode? No because we already seen this happened in the past. The only positive I can give to the character, is the upcoming comparisons to Breaking Bad’s Walter White in the looks department. Congrats AMC, the Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead crossover finally happened.

Alex Moraz as Brandon Carver, Robert Hayes as Paul Wells, Brandon Box as Fisher, Ritchie Coster as Pope, Michael Shenefelt as Bossie- The Walking Dead _ Season 11, Episode 4 – Photo Credit: Josh Stringer/AMC

And let’s bring up The Reapers. Three episodes in, I am hooked. The moment we got their backstory on this episode is the key indicator of the intimidation factor falling to zero. Honestly, this group is more suited for Fear The Walking Dead than the main show. This group is just filler.

I will also praise the stunt work on that fire scene. But as a viewer, I did not believe a single second that either Daryl and Leah will be killed in that small cabin because there is a Daryl and Carol spinoff happening. No matter how many times Daryl or Carol will be in danger during this season, I cannot suspend my disbelief at all.

This episode would have been more interesting if another character was in Daryl’s shoes in that situation. Maybe Gabriel could have been the one captured. He and Pope would have some great dialogue about their ideologies on religion and the current state of the world. Even have Gabriel talk with Leah too and Then somewhere later in the first half, Daryl and Leah reunite. This reunion did not need to happen this early. This is one episode I will not go back to unless it is for research purposes.

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The Walking Dead Season 11, Episode 3 “Hunted” Review

If “Hunted” was a glorified bottle episode, I would have not liked it. But The Walking Dead pulled off a great episode.

The opening sequence is one of the most insane intros The Walking Dead has had since “Walk With Us” in the sense of the nonstop action. Goodbye Cole as we learned nothing important about you.

I wish the opening credits had continued because the abrupt cut away immediately took away the energy of the first three minutes. Where were those badass looking members of The Reapers that we saw at the end of the previous episode? Because they were nowhere to be found on this episode.

The Walking Dead is clearly preparing for the confrontation between Negan and Maggie, which may end with one of them dying. In spite of liking the performance between Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Lauren Cohan when it came to building the tension for Maggie to make another difficult decision, I am growing impatient with both of them.

The two of them should not have to work together all the time, and I do not expect them to resolve their issues early on. The ending scene also deserves some kudos, as I felt like I was watching The Last of Us with the way the church and cross were shot.

No matter what Maggie said to Negan, Negan made it clear that her opinions did not matter at that moment as she needed to face reality to make a decision for Alden’s current state.

One of the best parts of “Hunted” are the scenes between Carol, Magna, Kelly, and Rosita. We have not seen someone on The Walking Dead trying to capture a horse in a really long time. The scenario here with the four appealed to me. In addition to discussing lingering issues from the previous season, the characters were also talking about them during this short mission. Carol’s decision to kill one of the horses, however, is controversial. On one hand, the residents need food. Additionally, the residents need horses. I am sure that this will be up for a discussion among The Walking Dead fandom.

As with many episodes of The Walking Dead, “Hunted” starts with a great action scene followed by a great character development across the board. Nothing felt out of place to me as I really enjoyed it! And I think I want to see more from the younger kids playing cards! And this week’s winner of the line of the episode goes to Gabriel!

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Pollyanna McIntosh Joins The Walking Dead World Beyond for Crossover

The first official crossover between The Walking Dead and World Beyond is in the horizon.

Pollyanna McIntosh, the actress who plays Jadis on the original AMC’s The Walking Dead, is going to make her long awaited return to the franchise. But this time, the character is crossing over to the second spinoff, The Walking Dead World Beyond.

Starting with the second and final season, Jadis will be a central character on World Beyond. Her appearance on the show will most likely tie-in with the upcoming The Walking Dead films on Rick Grimes. In case if you forgot, Jadis is the one that saved Rick Grimes at the end of the river when she called for a CRM helicopter to pick both of them up. Jadis referred Rick as a “B” when she saved him.

The meaning of “A” and “B” is getting closer as we see more clues play out. On World Beyond, there was a scene where “Test Subjects ‘A'” were being experimented on. Maybe Jadis could give more of an understanding to exactly what “B” means.

World Beyond’s first season ended with a small cliffhanger that will be explored on the second season. With Jadis now on World Beyond, so many things can happen since she is an unpredictable character. This also raises more questions of whether or not if the Jadis character will appear on the upcoming films to at least show what were Rick’s first few days like at one of CRM’s locations.

Season two of The Walking Dead World Beyond is set to premiere on October 3, 2021.

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Interview: Khary Payton, Melissa McBride, Josh McDermitt, and Eleanor Matsuura Talks Working With Michael James Shaw

Eleanor Matsuura as Yumiko, Michael James Shaw as Mercer – The Walking Dead _ Season 11, Episode 2 – Photo Credit: Josh Stringer/AMC

Fans of The Walking Dead are going to be in for a treat tonight when the season 11 premiere airs.

The highest ranking security guard, Mercer will make his long awaited debut on tonight’s episode. Earlier this year, It was announced that Michael James Shaw will play as Mercer. In issue #177 of The Walking Dead, Mercer was introduced for the first time. Additionally, he appears on the cover of that issue.

There is more to Michael James Shaw than playing the character. On this exclusive that happened during the virtual press junket, I asked Eleanor Matsuura, Melissa McBride, Khary Payton, and Josh McDermitt what was it like to work with him. The cast dished out some details about their experience working with Michael James Shaw.

Eleanor: “He’s a Big Guy. I know Mercer is from the comics and all, but if there was anyone that could be an incarnation of him, that’s Michael. He’s built and he could hit me out with one hand and throw me around. And then you work with him, he is the sweetest, softest, funniest, and nervous kind of guy. He is the opposite of what you expect him to be. And then when he is Mercer, it is like “woah, he is so cool.” I love it when you work with people who are different from their character.”

Melissa: “Someone else that is like that is Cassidy McClincy. When she is on the set, she is in the mood of raw and full of emotion. Then when the director yells ‘cut’, she falls apart laughing. She is pure fun and joy when I worked with her. Cassidy and Michael are obviously different, but I can see the comparison between them when they are in character and not in character. Michael is a sweetheart and that tall man brings a unique aura to the show.”

Khary: “Those are really great examples! I do not recognize Cassidy sometimes when we are on set. When she plays Lydia, her smile goes away. I remember looking at her and not recognizing her for a minute because I’m just not used to seeing that bubbly version of herself. Michael is the same way. You come upon this huge bear of a man as you slowly get to know him. Its like when you come up to him and you think you should be on your guard or he might throw all kinds of testosterone on you. By the end of the day, you wonder how I can get this big bear of a man into my arms because I want to hold him like a baby! But he is just too big.”

Melissa: “I would like to see you hold him like a baby Khary!”

Khary: “I know!”

Eleanor: “There’s four of us that need to try to hug him!”

Josh: “We did scenes with him and his size and intimidation as the Mercer character really suits him. The thing that struck me with him Julian, is his performance. This is a guy we just spent the last few minutes talking about his size and he can certainly do his performance that way. When I was acting across from him, he had this intensity in him when he speaks and when he changes his facial expressions. Then when it was time to cut, it was the slightest change to the softness and I appreciate that. He is a tremendous actor and a wonderful human being. I am sad that this is our final season and that we didn’t get to have more seasons with him!”

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My Slasher: Flesh & Blood Non-Spoiler Preview

Paula Brancati as Christy Martin, Chris Jacot as Seamus – Slasher _ Season 4, Episode 1 – Photo Credit: Cole Burston/Shudder

Netflix is where I learned about the horror show Slasher. In 2020, AMC announced that it had acquired Slasher and it would air exclusively on Shudder. Watching the first two episodes of Slasher: Flesh & Blood gave me a chance to formulate my thoughts on the series!

The series “Flesh and Blood” is right up my alley, recalling everything from Agatha Christie to CBS’ short-lived “Harper’s Island.” This is actually an excellent pitch for “Slasher: Flesh & Blood”: “Succession with violent, gory murder scenes.” Who wouldn’t want to watch that?

A branch of the Galloway family is headed by David Cronenberg, the King of Horror himself. A wealthy family gathers on an island retreat for a reunion under the sway of the vicious leader Spencer Galloway. It’s not surprising that Spencer keeps a few secrets, including that he’s reviving a tradition that was retired 25 years ago. To this point, Spencer had pitted relatives against each other in endless rounds of challenges and games. 

Sydney Meyer as Liv – Slasher _ Season 4, Episode 4 – Photo Credit: Cole Burston/Shudder

During one of these challenges, Spencer’s grandsons were kidnapped for a gold bar worth almost $200,000. What is this year’s contest prize? Millions of dollars worth of fortune. The cast of characters also discuss the missing boy’s story over the course of the episode, which is the 25th anniversary of his disappearance.  

A murderous serial killer is also behind the ground, waiting to reveal these individuals’ darkest secrets before burying them. The season includes a humorous twist where they may kill each other and catch the serial killer. While there is little opportunity to comment on social issues between the characters in the game, at first it appears as if the personalities in it are similar to those in “Knives Out.”

Even though Grace (Rachael Crawford) believes she earned what she has through marriage, she believes the things she has are not hers alone except for her son Jayden (Corteon Moore). In spite of striving hard for the family business, Seamus (Chris Jacot) receives no respect from his father, even when Christy (Paula Brancati) and Aphra (Nataliya Rodina) try to comfort him. 

Sabrina Grdevich as Florence – Slasher _ Season 4, Episode 3 – Photo Credit: Cole Burston/Shudder

Although Florence (Sabrina Grdevich) is one of the most disliked Galloway twins out there, the loss of her son a quarter-century ago leaves her feeling nostalgic for the remaining twin Theo (Alex Ozerov). That’s only a small part of this giant cast, which also includes Theo’s sister O’Keeffe (Breton Lalama), the housekeeper Birgit (Patrice Goodman), her daughter Liv (Sydney Meyer), and Spencer’s doctor (Jeananne Goossen).

In comparison with the previous seasons, the season premiere of Slasher: Flesh & Blood feels all over the place. It is still a jaw-dropping experience to watch the violence and gore. 

Probably due to the show killing so many people by the end. It appears at times that some of the actors are playing daytime television characters rather than movie slashers. I don’t want a masterpiece of acting on a 5 star budget. Just make it plausible. There’s not much left to say about the season premiere, but it will cut deep into any horror fans’ hearts until September.

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The Walking Dead’s Season 11 Premiere Brings Back The Horror That Was Missing!

Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon – The Walking Dead _ Season 11 – Photo Credit: Josh Stringer/AMC

AMC’s The Walking Dead will kick off their 11th and final season on August 22, 2021. I was given access to the first two episodes of the season back in July. Although I would love to give you all the juicy details of the episodes, I cannot go in detail with certain plot points. For now, here is my non-spoiler preview of The Walking Dead’s 11A premiere.

I will also note that these two episodes are titled “Acheron Part 1” and “Acheron Part 2.” These two are not airing back to back and these were the rough cut versions of the episodes.

What I like about Part 1 and Part 2, is how the boundaries are tested. Those mostly have to do with Maggie and Negan. The two of them are reaching a level of a big clash that I believe will happen later in the season. Their tension that is building up on Part 1 that is carried into part 2 also affects the group too. But not to the point of who’s side is one person is on. More like if what one person is trying to make sense over another in the current situation. I will have to say this, one line said from one of the characters will have a trigger warning. What happens after that said line is exactly what that character deserved at that moment.

The atmosphere truly brought out the threatening horror of The Walking Dead, which has been missing for quite some time. It is no surprise that AMC has managed to capture the horror vibe on the show from the abandoned train station to the military compound. Especially the first opening minutes where one move wrong could have been a disaster for the group. Additionally, the group encountered a very disgusting walker who almost resulted in one of them losing his life. However, there was one character who made sure it wouldn’t happen.

The sound department also gets a high praise from me. The score, and how the sound was used for one particular scene made me question whether if it was reality or just part of the episode. And I am not sure if it is because these are the earlier versions of the episodes, but one line said from a character is muted. I read that character’s lips when it was muted and it might have been a “F” bomb (Editor’s Note: I watched the final cut of the episode last week and the line was unmuted. No “F” bomb to be heard).

One question that ran through my mind during the first two episodes was about the status of Alexandria. There was no explanation on what happened to the community. I hope this will get addressed later on in the season.

What you knew about Maggie a long time ago, is completely gone. Although I will refrain from calling her a “Dark Maggie”, she is different and cold. You’ll have to discover what the reason is, but there is one. As far as I recall, Rosita, Aaron, and even Carol did not get much screentime in the first two episodes. But when they were on screen, it did matter!

Josh McDermitt as Dr. Eugene Porter – The Walking Dead _ Season 11 – Photo Credit: Josh Stringer/AMC

I did not forget to mention Eugene, Yumiko, Princess, and Ezekiel. It might have been debatable whether if their scenes could have been one episode, but It worked for these two. They have not stepped foot in The Commonwealth yet, but they are questioned for a long period of time. There were multiple times that this sequence was showed to us as a split screen. Speaking of The Commonwealth, Mercer is here! I will not disclose which episode he debuts on, but Mercer is more menacing and threatening than he is over his comic book counterpart.

The scenes with the guards were good, and I liked their interactions with them, but there was one major scene that caught me by surprise. Whether the actress is being recast or if the character is a decoy is unclear, but I was caught off guard when I saw it. Furthermore, a revelation to one of the characters is also depicted in the comics in a similar manner if you understand what I mean.

I do also feel that 11×01 should have been longer, or aired alongside of 11×02 based on what happened at the end of 11×01. And a few minutes before the end of 11×02, be sure to pay close attention to the area!

That is it for my preview. While the first episode of the final season is not as strong as the season 10 premiere, it did made me look forward to the rest of the season. I am sure that fans of The Walking Dead are happy that the show is back. I can also say that The Walking Dead is back and better than ever!

Be sure to check out my weekly recaps of this season along with interviews from the cast. Follow me on Instagram and Twitter @julianexcalibur for more content.

The Suicide Squad is a Fun and Bloody Mess!

With the insertion of the word “The” to the title as the only acknowledgment that it is the second film in the series, the title seems to be a dig at its 2016 predecessor, Suicide Squad, which was widely panned. Even though that movie could have been a random take on The Suicide Squad, the new movie is The Suicide Squad, and that’s what counts.

In the DC Cinematic Universe, the Suicide Squad occupies an odd spot. Though it’s not the sequel to Suicide Squad, it’s a kind of sequel nonetheless. Even though it isn’t a reboot, it works in the same way. There is a new creator with this film – James Gunn who did the Guardians of the Galaxy. A much more violent version of the already ultra-violent original, it is rated R. Characters from the show are some of the same ones (and actors), while others are different. The film does not feature Jared Leto as the Joker, which is a good thing. While definitely better than its predecessor, it isn’t all that great by itself.

James Gunn’s track record as a writer and director would fit well with such a film. In addition to being based on characters in the comic books who were relatively unknown at the time of the films, the Suicide Squad is a throwback to Gunn’s early days in film making.

In summary, The Suicide Squad is cheesy, gory, funny, a bit goofy (always a plus for a DCEU film), but it makes little or no sense. Death is a common occurrence in the plot – mostly violent – and the villain is a monster starfish that threatens to end the world. For all its flaws, The Suicide Squad isn’t a bad film in the least. It was very humorous to see all the characters interact with one another and the brutal deaths that took place in the movie.

The main problem with this film (as with the Guardians of the Galaxy films as well) is that the antiheroes are, on the whole, not that exciting or likable. During the course of the second film, Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) is the only fascinating character who develops a wider-eyed perspective.

While the other characters have their moments, such as John Cena as Peacemaker and Idris Elba as Bloodsport, King Shark (voiced by Sylvester Stallone as Steve Agee) offers a lot more entertaining moments than his predecessor did.

Although The Suicide Squad is an entertaining movie, there are two significant problems. A major problem with the story is its lack of involvement. As the Squad is assigned a top-secret mission, there is little room for plot development or character development if the mission does not make sense. It’s not unreasonable to expect a film called The Suicide Squad to have both of these elements.

As well as the flaws discussed above, The Suicide Squad depicts shocking violence in an overly violent manner. The gore and violence aren’t a problem for me, but the casual viewer would find it excessive. The first DC movie’s R rating opens the floodgates for more blood and even some sex scenes, as the Deadpool films experienced in the outer reaches of the Marvel universe, however, the blood and guts eventually subside. When presented with extreme violence, an audience is close to being anesthetized.

The Suicide Squad would have been better if it demonstrated a certain amount of self-restraint and tact. However, a film which is populated with criminals probably shouldn’t ask for too much of either. I can see what a DCEU entry might have become if the movie had been a part of the wider DCEU. However, this one appears to be anomalous as well.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Suicide Squad, an improvement over the 2016 film and it made me forget that it even existed. This is DCEU’s Guardians of the Galaxy in its finest and most violent form, and I can see myself watching it again!

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Space Jam: A New Legacy Review

I remember when Space Jam was released in the 1990s, and it was a fun movie. With age, I became more conscious of the flaws in the film. Even though it remains fun, I would not call it perfect. A sequel to Space Jam had been talked about for a long time, but it never seemed to happen.

However, the discussions intensified during the last few years, and the resolution was achieved. My reactions to the idea were mixed, because I would have preferred some more original take on it. No matter what, I did not see any problem with updating Space Jam to the newer generations. 

Compared to the original, this film does not stand out as anything exceptional. Rather than writing a clever plot, the original movie set up a premise well. The first film is much more magical than Space Jam: A New Legacy. We are given a few lines of introduction to this villain, but his character is never fully developed. Furthermore, I’m generally fine with a film doing something and accepting it for what it is. A fatal flaw in this film is that it tries to explain everything in a manner that is realistic and serious. There’s no need for that!

While the last ten minutes of the film have some emotional impact, the rest of the film is impersonal. It lacks emotion and thought. In addition, Warner Media’s properties appear to be used extensively in this film. The two hour commercial was non stop. Not to mention Michael B. Jordan’s bait and switch!

Although LeBron’s basketball skills are numerous and world renowned, his acting skills pale in comparison to Jordan’s. In other words, he is wooden without a basketball in his hand, and frankly, he is boring to watch. Supporting cast also fails to impress. There is no good outcome from any of it.

There was some connection between Space Jam and space. Even that isn’t in this movie because I felt like the name of this movie was used as a trap to exploit the branding name of what we remembered when we were all kids.

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Square Enix’s E3 2021 Presentation Proved That They Are Out of Touch

This year’s E3 marked the first time since 2019 that Square Enix showcased a presentation. The two year long wait at the biggest gaming conference of the year should have been worth the wait. But it fell flat really quick.

The first reveal was Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. I will admit that I was intrigued and interested since it is a single-player experience. But knowing how Marvel’s Avengers was handled, I could not let my guard down. The gameplay is not too bad. But did this need twenty minutes of airtime that could have went to something else? What was Square Enix thinking?

Those twenty minutes could have been towards any news on Final Fantasy XVI or Project Triangle Strategy. But we got nothing of those upcoming titles. In fact, the first showing of any Final Fantasy games, were the “2-D Pixel Remasters” of Final Fantasy I-VI. Who asked for this? I love Final Fantasy, but these should have came to consoles in one package instead of buying them individually on mobile or Steam.

Stranger of Paradise Final Fantasy Origin is the upcoming “Souls” inspired game set in the Final Fantasy universe. When I read the rumors of Square Enix possibly developing this take of Final Fantasy, I was curious. And then the awful dialogue of the characters about Chaos screeched my ears. At least Garland’s voice actor from the Dissidia Final Fantasy series somewhat saved that mess of a trailer.

This did not help due to the fact that the demo of Stranger of Paradise was corrupted and unplayable when you downloaded it. I have not seen a mess from Square Enix like this since the original launch of Final Fantasy XIV back in 2010.

The final nail in the coffin was the next offering of Marvel’s Avengers. Even with a diminishing player base, the War of Wakanda expansion includes Black Panther and the Wakanda location that will progress the story. The question is, why was this not in the original launch of the game in the first place?

The hits keep on coming with this year’s E3 and Square Enix should be embarrassed of themselves for pulling off a bad atrocity of a presentation. Hopefully they can recover from this.

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