Dear TV Writers: Your Fear of the Moonlighting Curse is Killing Your Show

What is the Moonlighting Curse, and why is it such a big deal to television writers? Read this in-depth look at the crippling phenomenon and find out!

Getting Rid of the Stigma: Mental Illness in Young Adult Fiction, by Megan Mann

In this piece, Megan brilliantly discusses the stigma of mental illness in literature and how some young adult novels are helping to change the landscape for this discussion.

In Appreciation of the Everyday Heroine

A mask does not a hero make. In this piece, I discuss why it's wrong to dismiss characters without costumes or masks as superheroes.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Scorpion 4x13 Review: "The Bunker Games" (He Wouldn’t Do That for a Consolation Pick) [Guest Contributor: Yasmine]

"The Bunker Games"
Original Airdate: January 15, 2018

Scorpion picked up after the holidays with the team getting ready for a new job sometime after the Christmas episode and Walt’s accident. There’s a single running theme in the episode: one that resonates with the case itself and with every character as they try to escape an unexpected life or death situation.

And the theme of “The Bunker Games” — another awesome title in a season of awesome titles — is this, “How irreplaceable are you?”

The first to struggle with this dilemma was Cabe. The reinstated Homeland Security agent has to undergo a physical exam to determine if he is fit for the job. Unfortunately, as Cabe pointed out, the test was designed for young recruits fresh out of college and not someone of Cabe’s age. Cabe is rightfully worried he would fail the test and be replaced by someone younger and with less experience. Luckily, he has Paige planning his training regimen and she promises that what she has in store for their handler is foolproof for getting him back into shape.

Cabe is not the only one who’s dealing with this issue straight off the bat. Happy and Toby return from their honeymoon — one that had gone horribly wrong, from the flat tire on the way, to being cheated by the hotel when it came to their room and finally Toby failing to live up to his marital duties — in time for the new job, only to find out the client had asked that Toby be benched, since they have their own behaviorist who will replace him on the job.

The job they got is to inspect a state-of-the-art new doomsday bunker that is run completely by AI. On the ground, the client has requested Walt, Sly, Happy and Flo, since they need a chemist. The news comes as a blow to Toby, who is already starting the day with a fractured ego. Finding out he is not needed and has been asked to stay in the garage was not what he was expecting. But this is Toby, so following orders is not necessarily his strong suit, and that will play into how things unravel for the team when they head out.

But before they do, the big question concerning AI arises: whether machines can or will ever replace humans. Cabe argues against the rise of the machines, but of course, it’s Walt who counters with the argument that robots are the future. And that was enough foreshadowing moving into the rest of the episode.

The team arrives at the bunker and are immediately shocked to find Quicy Berkstead, the pop psychologist who sells books in supermarkets, otherwise known as Toby’s arch nemesis and the man who stole his fiancĂ©. It turns out, Quincy is the not just the behaviorist who is replacing Toby but also one of the minds behind the bunker. Working with Quincy provides a moral conflict for the team, who see it as betraying Toby, but when offered more money, they have no choice but to accept.

The team enters the bunker through a main entrance that is controlled by Quincy’s gut flora or gastronomic fingerprint and once inside, he starts showing them around. Part of his presentation is pictures from his honeymoon with his now wife, Amy, who also happens to be there. Meeting Amy comes as a shock to one specific person: Happy. The mechanical prodigy finally understands why Toby has never shown her pictures of his ex. Amy is incredible! She’s gorgeous and feminine in ways that Happy is not. And also, like, a foot taller.

Speaking of Happy’s husband, Toby follows the team and manages to get into the bunker because Sly had asked Quincy to keep the door propped open in account of his hating enclosed places. As Toby walks in, face masked by a scarf, Quincy warns him not to take it off. But of course, Toby does and the AI system, Dorie, immediately identifies him as a threat and shuts down the bunker. Apparently, Quincy needed to write a sample threat into the system and decided to make that threat Toby Curtis on account of Toby having pretended to throw acid at him the last time they met.

With the bunker now in shut down mode, Dorie proceeds to figure a way to eliminate the threat, which essentially means killing Toby — and everyone else if need be. So it is up to the team to figure out how to save Toby and themselves and how to outsmart an artificial intelligence program that can hear them and see them and anticipate their every move.

The team manage to get in touch with Paige and Cabe for a moment before Dorie cuts off all communication. While the two on the outside try to track down someone who has worked on the bunker, the team on the inside struggles to fight back against Dorie, who is at least five steps ahead of them at all times.

Of course, the task is made harder by the personal tensions between them. The Toby and Quincy rivalry is the most pronounced, but it is not the only one. Happy is feeling resentment towards Amy, and towards being a second choice to Toby after all. Sly, being the one who has to go head to head with Dorie, is having trouble outsmarting the AI program. And finally, Walter, still affected by the dream he had while unconscious where he was married to Flo, is acting strange around her, pushing her away and being dismissive to avoid her.

Even though Walter talked to Toby about his dream and the psychiatrist assured him that the dream means nothing, he still does not feel okay about having dreamt about Florence and what that could imply. His behavior toward Flo is awkward and rude and it leaves the chemist confused.

As one attempt after another fails, the team finally gets some help from the microwave. Yes, the microwave. On the outside, Paige and Cabe manage to get ahold of a disgruntled ex-employee of the company that developed the bunker, one who had always been anti-AI. He lets them know that in the design he had built a hidden escape route. As the team work on getting all they need to escape before Dorie disperses a fatal gas into the bunker, Quincy betrays them all by hiding in the only safe place and locking them all out.

Fortunately, they manage to get what they need — his gut flora — to open the doors, and the way to get it out is to have Toby parachute out of the bunker through an air shaft.

While getting things ready, Amy and Happy share a moment. In their heart to heart, Amy admits that she has never been first choice, not with Quincy, who always puts his work ahead of her. She tells Happy that even their honeymoon, which in the pictures looked perfect, had been planned around a conference and that all the pictures had been staged. It had been the same with Toby, who always placed her second to his gambling. When Happy tells her that Toby has quit gambling because she, Happy, would have walked otherwise, Amy informs her that he would have never done that for a consolation prize.

And that is when it hits Happy that she isn’t Toby’s consolation prize.

Sly finally manages to outsmart Dorie. When all science and logic fails against the machine, Sly resorts to philosophy and sends Dorie into a form of malfunction when he throws at the computer the old Liar’s Paradox.

Back at the garage, Toby convinces Walt to tell the ladies about his dream, promising him that nothing bad would come out of it since they will both understand it was just a dream. Unfortunately, when he does, both women do have a reaction to this. Flo’s is a more understated as she’s caught off guard. Paige however, she’s more vocal with her reaction and the episode ends with her explosive “WHAT?”

The episode was a fun return after the hiatus, and I absolutely loved the running theme and everyone having to deal with it in their own way. Moving forward, I’m still worried what the writers might do with the Paige/Walter/Flo situation, but I think having Walt come clean was a good step in the right direction.

Secrets are never ever good.

The Bachelor 22x03 Roundtable: Back in the Ring [Contributors: Alisa, Rebecca, and Chelsea]

Welcome back to The Bachelor, where you'll experience some group and one-on-one dates, as well as Chelsea, Rebecca, and Alisa's opinions on them all!

This week gave us two group dates and a one-on-one date that went south quick. What was your favorite date and which contestants brought you the best moments? 

Alisa: The dates were all so bad. The dog date should have been fantastic but for whatever reason (Arie), it just wasn’t. When Arie announced they’d be spending the day with all those puppers — I thought it would be like Rachel’s adorable date with Peter at the dog park, which is basically my dream date. But no. For some reason this dog date with Arie was awful. Not quite as awful as those mean GLOW ladies or Lauren S. word vomiting all over him, but pretty close.

Rebecca: I loved the GLOB date! I thought it was so fun and I thought the GLOW women were hilarious. I liked watching the girls let loose and have fun. They seemed to enjoy hanging out with each other more than hanging out with Arie, and I was here for it. The date with Lauren S. was cringeworthy awkward and I had major secondhand embarrassment for her. I’m glad he let her go now though instead of stringing her along, because she seems like a really nice girl. The dog date was great, in theory... in practice, not so much.

Chelsea: I definitely think the GLOB date was more entertaining than the dog date. Normally, a dog date is my ideal social situation, but it was so awkwardly planned and filmed, and did nothing to entertain. The Rachel/Peter date will forever be the gold standard of first dates/dog dates in this franchise. At least the girls were able to have fun with wrestling and creating characters. Maquel was robbed of that group date rose though. She clearly put the most thought into her lunch lady character and had the best time. I’m surprised she isn’t more of a force this season. I wanted to see more of her. The date was just a fun concept and we got some good drama from Tia and Bibiana. Plus we got to see Kenny!

I felt so bad for Lauren S. having that boring and awkward date. I thought she was great but he was so silent and contributed nothing to it. Girl, you’re better off without him.

Krystal has emerged as the big villain this season. How do you feel about her character arc and who do you see her clashing with next? How far do you see her going in this game? 

Alisa: Meh. She’s such a stereotypical villain that I’m completely apathetic about her. I’m pretty sure she’s a sociopath (or getting paid to play one on “reality” TV), and either way I’m over it. Plus, Arie is unsurprisingly not helping matters by telling her this week that he’s totally fine with her stealing time and being aggressive. Don’t get me wrong: Krystal’s super obnoxious and a toxic force in the house, but the ladies need to reserve at least a spoonful of that righteous anger for Arie. So far he’s acting more like a high-schooler high on hormones, rather than the middle-aged man he is who supposedly wants to find the love of his life and settle down.

Rebecca: She’s fake and rude and I’m already bored of her. Her voice just annoys me and she comes across as so insincere. She’s not even the type of villain I want to stick around for entertainment purposes (like Corinne). She’s hot though and has Arie wrapped around her finger so I’m sure she’ll stick around for quite a while, unfortunately.

Chelsea: Krystal is a solid villain and even though she annoys me, she’s at least bringing something for us to watch. Arie is so boring, so we need someone stirring up trouble. Sure, I wouldn’t trust her at all but I’m excited to see who she ticks off next. I don’t see her making it to hometowns but I’m waiting for her two-on-one in a few episodes.

We lost a Lauren on the one-on-one, Annaliese left the house when Arie refused to kiss her (even though he locked lips with literally everybody else), and Bibiana was sent home without a rose. Which of these ladies will you miss the most, and who are you hoping shows up in Paradise? 

Alisa: I’m just glad we’re down to one Lauren now — and it only took three episodes! (No offense to the other three Laurens, but it was just too many.) Annaliese seemed like a sweet girl but she was way too desperate. If you find yourself trying to force a kiss, you’ve already lost more than a rose. Bibiana brought some humor to the show and the tension between her and Krystal added some interest. But seriously, had Bibiana ever watched The Bachelor before? Because she acted like she did not know how it all worked. I’d like to see her resurface in Paradise because I think she’d really shine there.

Rebecca: I LOVED Bibiana. She was my contestant crush this season, and I really hope to see her in Paradise. She deserves better than Arie, anyway. I didn’t know who Lauren S. was until her one-on-one date, so I don’t really care about seeing her continue on in the franchise. She seems nice and down-to-earth, so hopefully she can find love in the real world. I also liked Annaleise a lot and originally had her in my final four, but she did come across as too desperate. Perhaps she needs some time to be single, and then come back for another try in a year or two.

Chelsea: I really liked all the girls that went home this week. I think Bibiana wasn’t given a fair chance and was just set up for failure at every turn. She wasn’t afraid to call Krystal out on her two-faced behavior, and is my first pick for Paradise. Annaliese was fun and her traumas were pure entertainment. She’s too fragile for this show though, but I will miss her spirit and flashbacks. Lauren S. is also just too normal for this program. Run girl!

The Fantasy League Final Four picks close Monday. Who do you think will make it to hometowns and do you have any favorites for the win? 

Alisa: Okay, I’m terrible at the Fantasy League, but I just reviewed my final four picks and am feeling pretty confident. I’m going with Bekah, Becca, Krystal, and Tia. I think baby Bekah will get the final rose because her and Arie have some super-charged chemistry already even though it’s gross because he’s ancient and she’s an infant. But whatever. I think Becca will come in second because she seems super sweet and I just have this feeling Arie’s gonna break her heart. And I think Krystal will raise hell when she finally gets booted which will be fun to watch. I don’t really care about Tia, but I figure she’ll go far because she’s BFFs with Raven and will coast on Raven’s amazingness.

Rebecca: My final four are Bekah, Becca, Tia, and Lauren B. I don’t remember why I picked Lauren B. but I think she’ll be third runner up. I would say Tia comes in third, because we all know she can’t win—after all, she has to show up on a Bachelor franchise spinoff with Raven (is she still dating what’s-his-name?). I think Bekah will come in second. Although she’s mature for her age, she’s just SO young. Becca and Arie seem like a solid couple and have good chemistry. They look nice together and seem to have things in common. I don’t know. It’s still early in the season, but I’m not seeing any of the women as wife material for Arie — actually, no... I don’t see Arie as husband material for any of these women.

Chelsea: I have Becca, Bekah, Tia, and taxidermy Kendall in my Final Four, though I might swap Bekah for Lauren B., since Lauren B. seems like the vanilla kind of person that would do well on this show. Bekah was made for Paradise and I would be SHOCKED if she wasn’t there this summer. For now, I think Becca is the only realistic person to win the show. She seems like an adult with health insurance who’s fun but not too much fun for our boring leading man.

10/10 would watch the Raven & Tia: Happily Ever After spinoff that will inevitably come to Freeform. And I just enjoy the weird taxidermy girl. I can see her and Tia being weirdos in the show bumpers.

And now, our Bachelor Fantasy League standings: 

  1. Chelsea: 190 points
  2. Rebecca: 140 points
  3. Alisa: 80 points

Friday, January 19, 2018

Grey’s Anatomy 14x09 Recap: “1-800-799-7233” (The Showdown) [Contributor: Julia Siegel]

Original Airdate: January 18, 2018

It’s been a long two months since the winter finale dropped shocker after shocker, but the midseason premiere of Grey’s Anatomy was worth the wait. The last time we saw our favorite TV docs, every storyline was on a tipping point with no clear ending in sight due to the hospital’s mainframe being hacked. Meredith and intern Schmitt — a.k.a. “Glasses” — were stuck in an operating room without access to the blood bank as their patient was bleeding out on the table. Jackson and Maggie were stuck in a medivac, covered in their patient’s blood after a tube from his ECMO machine came loose. Alex and Amelia didn’t know which medication to give their young patient and were awaiting the word from Jo, who got stopped by a surprise visit from her soon-to-be ex-husband, Paul Stadler.


The biggest cliffhanger was the arrival of Paul. Grey’s Anatomy has been setting up the inevitable reunion of Jo (whose real name is Brooke Stadler) and her abusive ex (played by the talented Matthew Morrison), and it certainly didn’t disappoint. Jo is rightfully taken aback and shaken by Paul’s sudden appearance with his fiancĂ©e, Jenny. After a brief moment of confusion and hysteria, Jo tries to get away from the situation only to be stopped by Arizona and Richard gawking over Paul’s visit to the hospital. To be fair, neither knew about Jo’s past with Paul prior to the events of this episode.

As Jo tries to run away and hide, Paul decides to help out around the hospital before getting Jo to sign the divorce papers. He winds up in the operating room with Meredith, who knows exactly who this mystery man is when he says his name. Meredith’s immediate disapproval and harshness towards Paul was like a mama bear protecting her cub. Alex becomes just as protective as Meredith when he learns that the man he would like to kill is running around the hospital.

Paul is a pretty good manipulator, which gets showcased several times over the course of the episode. First, he tries to lie to Meredith about his relationship with Jo. He essentially said that Jo used to be a drunk, was flat-out crazy, and made up anything she said about him. However, his mistake was saying that whatever she said about him was false. How would he know what Meredith knows about him? Meredith didn’t say a word about what she knew about Jo’s past, so for anyone that was questioning whether Paul or Jo was the real monster, this was the dead giveaway.

Later on in the episode, we learn that Jo is still afraid to even be near Paul. Meredith goes with her to a conference room to meet Paul and sign the divorce papers. Jo flinches every time that Paul even moves slightly toward her, which is another sign that the worst did happen to Jo. We don’t know everything that happened to Jo, but she paints a clearer picture toward the end of the episode.


With such a heavy and timely storyline, it is hard to find something to feel good about within it. But the acts of solidarity the characters showed Jo throughout this episode were fantastic. To see both Alex and Meredith immediately drop everything to protect her was a testament not only to how much Jo means to them, but also how much they believe her. While they acted more like her overprotective parents in the scene where the three of them were in the operating room gallery, it was sweet to see everything they did to stop Paul from getting any alone time with Jo.

Also, seeing the interns and then Arizona blindly help Jo without knowing anything about her situation was extra special. Jo’s storyline truly reflects the changing times the country is currently facing regarding domestic and sexual abuse. Seeing the outpouring support from her coworkers, including some who didn’t know about the situation, was a great way to tell audiences that we all need to see victims and support them.

An even bigger testament to how well the theme of the episode was dispayed is when Jo uses Arizona to distract Paul so she can have a quick conversation with Jenny. Jo tries to get Jenny to tell her whether Paul is still abusive or not. While Jenny doesn’t say anything, her body language conveys a different story. Jo decides to tell an awful anecdote about Paul’s jealousy, anger, and abuse to let Jenny know that she shouldn’t be afraid to leave him. Jo goes so far as to offer Jenny her number so she can get Jo’s help getting away from Paul anytime.

It’s great to see Jo trying to help another potential victim. And while we don’t know the specifics of how, Paul figured out that he was being tricked and made Jenny confess that she talked to Jo. Paul hunts down Jo, who is in a lounge with Meredith, and threatens her. He also says that he now knows where she is, can stalk her, and will hold onto her phone number just to torture her. Meredith gets Paul to leave by fake calling (since the phones are still down) security.

But Paul will be back for this story to come to a head in the next episode, where he is the victim of a hit-and-run.


Other than a powerful domestic abuse storyline, the midseason premiere featured a few other plotlines that will definitely play out over the rest of the season. While the temperature in the hospital was literally increasing due to the hackers, romance is also heating up. Jackson and Maggie share quite a few awkward and revealing moments, and they honestly need to just get a room and figure themselves out already. Though Jackson finally makes a move at the end, Maggie has come to the conclusion that they have a complicated relationship, considering that they are technically step-siblings. After several months of pining over Jackson, Maggie suddenly has a problem when he asks her out for a drink?! It would be weird for them to never get together at this point, so I’m still betting on it working out.

Andrew and his ex, new intern Sam, are also in a rough place. After being caught together in a closet in the winter finale, Sam has decided that she can’t keep having relations with Andrew anymore. Richard keeps trying to push them together though, and it’s only a matter of time before they wind up in the same place again. While their past has yet to be fully told, I bet their future holds a lot of hot and heavy action.


Lastly, two of the other interns play a big role in the episode. Schmitt saves his and Meredith’s patient in the operating room by giving his blood to her. The patient later deems him her hero, even though he practically threw up in her open abdominal cavity. Casey is the bigger hero, as he winds up saving the day by stopping the hackers. After revealing to Bailey that he once hacked a federal server, Casey uses several techniques to find the hackers via their IP address and force them out of Grey Sloan’s systems. He then drops the bombshell — he hacked a DMV server because they refused to change his gender on his license from female to male. Casey becomes the first major transgender character on Grey’s Anatomy, which should lead to some more great storylines down the road. However, I was surprised that he mentioned this so quickly, as if in passing. It will be interesting to see how some of these interns continue to impact the larger stories in the remainder of the season.

Arrow 6x10 Recap: "Divided" (OTA vs. Newbies) [Contributor: Marilyn]

Original Airdate: January 17, 2018

We open this episode with Helena Bertinelli’s cousin doing some business dealings — shady or otherwise. Cayden and his crew show up, offering to buy his port and he declines. Black Siren does her thing on him and they tell him he has 24 hours to reconsider. Threats are made. Meanwhile, the OTA is chilling in the bunker being, you know, the OTA. Oliver is making arrows and Felicity is in need of coffee, which Dig kindly supplies for her. Curtis is coming over to help Felicity work on Dig’s arm implant and Oliver isn’t going home to take care of William (who doesn’t know his dad is back on Green Arrow duty) because he’s determined to bring down Cayden James and can’t really relax until he does.

At City Hall, Quentin and Thea reconnect and she tells him she’d like to be his new assistant since Rene Ramirez is, obviously, not working there anymore. Thea gets why Rene was let go but she’s concerned that it’ll look like retaliation against a “whistle-blower.” Quentin is fine letting Oliver worry about that and... oh, he already hired an assistant. But he can use a chief of staff!

While Felicity and Curtis are working on Dig’s chip, they get some weird feedback. But it goes away and so they get back to work. Except... the chip still isn’t working. Dig is getting frustrated, understandably. There’s some interference again and Felicity figures out that it’s signal interference — they’re being bugged. Vince drops by the precinct to visit Dinah, which she thinks is dangerous considering he’s currently wanted for vigilante activities. He wants to meet with her at the pier the next day after her shift ends. She’s a little hesitant but agrees.

Felicity and Dig meet up with Oliver and they tell him about the bug. They realize Black Siren put it there when she broke into the bunker months ago. But for the moment, Cayden doesn’t know that OTA knows. Oliver rushes off to confront who he thinks is Cayden James, but is actually Jerry Bertinelli. Jerry tells the Green Arrow about the visit from the baddies and the threats made against him. And since Jerry’s technically the enemy of his enemy, then maybe they’re allies. Oliver brings the information to Felicity and there’s cute and witty banter about getting in bed with the Bertinellis that I enjoy a lot more than I probably should.

Elsewhere, Rene is bonding with his daughter and because she is perceptive, she wonders why he’s not going to work. Rene doesn’t know what to tell her, but he does promise that no one will take her away from him again. Curtis stops by and Rene asks him to help with the evidence that Watson has against him. He wants to be able to recant his testimony. Rene doesn’t feel great about how he betrayed Oliver, and Curtis says he’ll work on it.

Dinah meets Vince for her date and she’s having a great time — walking along memory lane, and sharing some funny and embarrassing stories. Vince is charmed but he warns her that this thing with them is complicated. She’s used to it but she’s not the Black Canary at the moment and she’s okay being with him just for now. They nearly kiss but are interrupted by Vince receiving a text. He tells her its from an informant but it’s actually from Cayden James.

Oliver and Thea have a bit of a moment in the mayor’s office when she tells him that she wishes she could be more help to him and the team — but she’s just not there yet. Oliver says she will always be his Speedy. Felicity calls, informing Oliver that they tracked Cayden. Dig warns him against rushing in unprepared but there’s nothing stopping Oliver now. He discovers not only Cayden James but Black Siren as well.

Oh. And also an enormous bomb. Cayden has some of Curtis’ T-spheres, which he tries to use against Oliver. But Oliver has an arrow for that! Cayden brings in reinforcements and blocks out Felicity on the comms so Oliver is truly alone in the field against everyone — including the Vigilante. That’s not great. But for whatever reason, Cayden lets Oliver go, saying it’s not the time to kill him.

Dig and Felicity are horrified to hear about Cayden’s posse. Dig says they need a team of their own but Oliver refuses to bring the newbies back in. He can’t go into the field with people he cannot trust. Felicity suggests a sort of compromise — Oliver does not have to go into the field with them, but should share information with them at least. After all, Dinah deserves to know the truth about Vince. Quentin tells Thea that he’s conflicted about Black Siren and thinks he might have seen Laurel in her eyes. He doesn’t know what to think but really wants to find a way to get through to her. Thea cautions him against going down this road because he could get killed if he does.

Felicity invites the old team over to the loft — neutral ground, I suppose. Dig tells the newbies that Black Siren had the bunker bugged and Dinah is upset they didn’t tell them their identities were compromised sooner. Then, the OTA tells Dinah that Vince is working with Cayden. She doesn’t believe them, naturally. So once again we return to the storyline of "the newbies reach another impasse with OTA." In my opinion, the newbies come off poorly in the exchange.

Oliver meets with Bertinelli again, just as he’s leaving town, for fear that Cayden will target his daughter. But Oliver wants him to make a final stand — he’s confident they can end Cayden together. Meanwhile, Dinah meets with Vince... and punches him. Fair. Turns out she believes Oliver a little more than she let on. Vince doesn’t deny his involvement, and Dinah’s furious and feeling betrayed (understandable). She tries to arrest him but he gives her the slip.

Oliver is sure that Dig, he, and Felicity can handle whatever comes their way — without the newbies. But Dig is less sure. Curtis, meanwhile, tries to help Rene learn what Watson has on him. He finds an audio recording and it’s likely the evidence that Watson has. And it was likely leaked to her by Cayden via the bug in the bunker. Dinah shows up and tells them about Vince. They catch her up on what they found out and they wonder why Watson went after Rene and not the rest of them. They want to take on Cayden James and his super posse, forming their own team outside of Team Arrow.

Felicity tells Dig and Oliver that the Bertinellis are bringing in the Red Lions — a death squad from Chechnya. Cayden, who is watching, isn’t concerned and plans to ambush them. Of course it’s a trap set by OTA because they wanted Cayden to overhear them. Bertinelli shows up as anticipated and is met with Richard Dragon and his goons. Oliver is there and there’s all kinds of fighting hijinks but Black Siren blasts Oliver into a wall and Felicity warns Oliver to get out. Oliver is overpowered by Anatoly and Vigilante, while Cayden stops Bertinelli from escaping. He gives him a choice, and Bertinelli is about to side to with Cayden and shoot the Green Arrow when he triggers an explosion which allows him to escape. Bertinelli offers Cayden the port and he’s thanked for that but is shot and killed anyway. That’s bad etiquette.

Felicity gives Oliver a pep talk, and Oliver admits he can’t be out in the field alone against a group of baddies. It’s just not smart. The group meets again with the newbies, trying to bury the hatchet. Oliver tells Rene he understands why he did what he did, but it also meant taking Oliver away from his son he reacted angrily. An olive branch is offered but Oliver says they don’t have time for grudges; they need to work together.

Curtis can’t go back to the way things were though. Rene and Dinah back him up and reveal that they plan to work together and try to help the city — but they’re not going to work with OTA again. Felicity says Cayden wants to split them up and they are playing right into his hand. Oliver tries to warn them about what they’re up against with Cayden, and wishes them luck. Before the newbies leave, Curtis gives Dig the new chip and believes he solved the problem.

At City Hall, Quentin comes across pictures of Laurel and Thea apologizes for telling Quentin that Laurel/Black Siren couldn’t change. After all, Malcolm did (... did he though?) and maybe she can too. She offers to help him try to break through to Black Siren. Or Laurel. That is a terrible idea. Meanwhile, the newbies set up shop in the old Helix headquarters. They toast to “partners they can trust,” and I want to throw multiple things at their heads.

Cayden confronts Vince about his concerns — he worries about his relationship with Dinah. But Vince doesn’t think it will be an issue. After all, he knows how to play her. Meanwhile, Felicity puts the new chip in Dig’s hand and breaths are held while waiting to see if it works. It does! Dig is back in business! 

Final thoughts: 

  • I love to see OTA together again, interacting with each other and relying on each other like the well-oiled machine we always knew they are. 
  • Still, it was super frustrating to see Dig sidelined by his bum arm/hand the whole episode. 
  • Black Siren is useless as always. Yawnsville. 
  • Dinah was frustrating this episode. She tells Oliver she doesn’t believe him, but she actually does? And her reasoning for maintaining anger with OTA was flimsy as heck. 
  • (Honestly, in a battle of loyalty, I’m always going to side with OTA.)
  • Cayden James was sufficiently creepy this episode. Bringing ALL the baddies together like that felt like a legitimate threat, so good job there. 
  • The fight sequences in the warehouse were very clearly directed by Bamford, but I mean that in a good way. The way he likes to maintain the camera on Oliver and just show brutal hit after hit feels really claustrophobic and tense and I feel works really well in a scene like that. 
  • There was not nearly enough Olicity in this episode. Not a single "Mr./Mrs." joke or anything. Fix that in the future, show. 

That’s it! Arrow is back and not a moment too soon. Next week we get an episode where it sounds like William is in a bit of danger, thanks to Cayden James.

The Flash 4x10 Review: "The Trial of the Flash" (Barry’s Only Real Crime is Stupidity) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]

"The Trial of the Flash"
Original Airdate: January 16, 2018 

Aaaaand we’re back! If only the return to The Flash were a happy one — but alas, our titular hero (or, at the very least, his civilian alter-ego) has been charged with the murder of Clifford DeVoe. As we all know, Clifford DeVoe self-murdered and framed Barry for the crime after stealing the body of a nice metahuman named Dominic Lanse. Since Barry spent a whole episode being a paranoid idiot, he set himself up as the perfect patsy — all part of Clifford “The Thinker” DeVoe’s nefarious, genius plan! — so now the Flash is going behind bars.


Barry has been charged and released on house arrest until his trial date. Everyone is worried about Barry and wondering how it could all come to this, but Cisco plays post-Speed Force Bonkers Barry’s rambling dialogue — specifically, the part where he says “Your honor, I’m innocent. I didn’t do this. I didn’t kill anyone.” We’ve got some kind of time loop on our hands, folks! What isn’t clear is how DeVoe managed to orchestrate so much of what has happened this season, and why. Was it all just a way for him to get a new body? If so, why torment Barry once that goal is achieved?

Regarding Barry’s impending imprisonment, Cisco states that, obviously, no regular prison will be able to hold the Flash. But Barry insists that he won’t be using his powers to escape if he’s sentenced. The stance is an understandable one, since escaping from prison would mean Barry’s whole life would be over while he lives as a wanted man. It’s the same reason why he didn’t run from the police in the first place (though, having seen the rest of the episode and the arguments the prosecution uses against Barry, it probably would have been a lot smarter if he hadn’t been found at the scene of the crime) and it’s not the most irrational decision Barry makes this week — but more on that later.

Trial time! Mentally insert a Law & Order [doink, doink] here, if you please. The prosecutor for the case has a very persuasive opening statement that makes a tongue-in-cheek reference to Barry Allen “wearing a mask” and how heinous a crime it was for a man employed to uphold the law as a crime scene technician to use a knife given as a wedding gift to kill an innocent man. Thanks to Barry’s fit of paranoid crazy a couple episodes back, the prosecution has the DeVoes’ restraining order against Barry on record, which doesn’t look good. I will note, however, that the prosecuting attorney’s main argument rests on the idea of Barry Allen, criminal genius, using his skills and knowledge as a CSI to stalk and murder DeVoe... but also says that the obvious crime scene, and Barry’s presence there, means he’s definitely the murderer.

So Barry used his CSI skills expertly up until the point where it mattered — the actual crime scene — and then forgot everything he knew, allowed the body to be found with his skin cells under the fingernails, used his own apartment as the murder location, and used a knife that could easily be traced back to him as the murder weapon. Yeah. Solid argument there, lawyer dude.

If only Cecile, who’s representing Barry for the case, managed to catch on to those obvious leaps in logic. Unfortunately, Cecile’s defense of Barry is a lackluster one made worse by the Widow DeVoe’s excellent acting skills. Even Dibney using his experience as a low-down PI and capturing some photos of Marlize and Clifford-in-Dominic’s-Body kissing, which they pull out in court for the old “new lover murdered the husband” play, doesn’t do much in Barry’s favor. Marlize brings up her husband’s ailing health, saying that Clifford wanted her to move on and find new love when he was gone. Foiled again, Cecile closes her cross-examination. Weak.

Iris wants to pull the ultimate gambit by telling the court that Barry Allen is the Flash and, as the city’s primary hero, it’s unlikely that he would be a murderer. After a heated argument with Marlize in the hall (which Iris really should have been recording — where are your gadgets when we need them, Cisco?) she bursts back into the courtroom, ready to blurt out Barry’s least secret secret, but then Barry stops her by zipping over and slowing down time? Or pulling Iris into a different time stream? It’s unclear, and Barry admits that he doesn’t know how he does it, so I take that to mean that the writers don’t have an explanation and would really prefer if we, the viewers, wouldn’t question it.

And here’s where we’re introduced to some of Barry’s special brand of stupid: Barry doesn’t want Iris telling the world he’s the Flash because it would mean putting a target on everyone Barry loves. Great reasoning, Barry! Except that everyone you love, including your wife, is on your crime fighting team. They already have targets on them, just by associating with the Flash — and Iris, though she spends most of her time in S.T.A.R. Labs directing things, doesn’t even wear a mask! If anyone who knows you, or them, (or just notices the people who come in and out of S.T.A.R. Labs) has any skills in observation whatsoever, they’re going to put two and two together and come up with “Barry Allen is the Flash.” You’re sacrificing your freedom, life with your soulmate, life with your family, and everyone in the city who might need the Flash’s help — all to prevent something that is already happening.

So, yeah. Barry talks Iris down and she listens to him, fleeing back to the audience seats after an awkward excuse for her outburst, and they allow the trial to continue. In the meantime, Joe is desperate to save a second member of the Allen family from being wrongly accused (hey, so, I think the legal system in Central City might be a little messed up?) and has decided to plant carpet fibers from the West-Allen loft in the DeVoe house, to frame Marlize for framing Barry. Shockingly, Ralph Dibney delivers an extremely good speech about the inevitable downfall Joe would face if he were to go through with his plan, doubtlessly picking from his own experiences. Joe decides not to go through with it.

Since no one will let the Wests do what needs to be done to keep Barry out of jail, he’s found guilty. The judge even goes through this huge tirade against Barry, painting him as a moustache-twirling villain who kicks puppies in his free time and probably gets his jollies from telling kids there’s no Santa. This whole speech is intercut with Captain Singh making his own speech, awarding the Flash for his acts of selfless bravery during the fight with this episode’s weekly bus meta. It’s cheesy, but this show does cheesy well.

At his sentencing, Barry tells the court, “Your honor, I’m innocent. I didn’t do this. I didn’t kill anyone.” Thus completing that particular Speed Force time loop, Barry is then delivered to his prison cell.

You know, I actually thought the show would stretch the period of time for Barry’s trial out a lot more than one episode, since now the options for the rest of the season are either a) Barry is in jail and can’t fight crime; very limited storylines available, or b) Barry is in jail for like an episode and then gets found not guilty, which would probably be the worst bit of narrative pacing I have ever seen on a television program in all my years of watching way too many television programs. That said, The Flash hasn’t exactly been stellar at narrative pacing in the past, so completely fumbling this interesting plot line would definitely be on brand for them.

Other Things:

  • Yeah, I assume that the reason why Wally isn’t immediately getting a starring role as the sole speedster for Central City while Barry is incarcerated is because of actor contracts or something mundane like that, but I’m pretty sure Wally isn’t coming back in the next couple episodes that’s a pretty glaring oversight in-universe.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Supergirl 3x10 Review: "Legion of Super-Heroes" (This Title is False) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]

“Legion of Super-Heroes”
Original Airdate: January 15, 2018 

Important stuff to know from the previous half of Supergirl’s third season: Kara made a new instant BFF in Sam, who has a daughter named Ruby and is nice, I guess? This show’s not the best at developing character relationships. Anyway, Kara’s also been struggling with her connection to humanity, brought about by the ultra-tragic breakup she had with Mon-El, a humanoid simulacrum made from saltine dust and Pantone’s full spectrum of beige hues. The human/alien dichotomy is the closest the season gets to a truly interesting idea, but it only glances off the surface before falling back into more standard villain-of-the-week fare mixed up with the aforementioned fumbled relationship development.

Episodes just before the winter hiatus graced us with the return of Mon-El, blander than ever and married to an equally bland woman from the future whose name I find physically impossible to remember for longer than fifteen seconds. In addition to this, new BFF Sam has claimed her evil Kryptonian birthright and has become Reign, a Worldkiller bent on dispensing justice and cleansing the Earth.


It’s been a few days in-universe since Reign won her fight against Supergirl, and Kara’s been in a coma the whole time. We get this news via a new character, Brainiac 5, who is able to enter Kara’s dream state (which looks like her apartment) and guide her toward awareness. This episode is called “Legion of Super-Heroes,” but Brainiac 5 is literally the only new member of the Legion we’re introduced to, so clearly Supergirl has no idea what the word “legion” means.

While Kara is stuck in her own head and her body is stuck in a healing pod, Reign is reigning over National City. Although the characters hint that she’d been lying low a bit after the fight, she makes a pretty spectacular re-emergence by foiling a robbery and dumping the would-be thief's unconscious body in the middle of the CatCo office. She tells one of the nearby reporters to start broadcasting, then declares her mission statement to cleanse the Earth of villainy and apathy alike on live TV.

“Apathy is the greatest sin of all” isn’t terrible maxim, exactly, but Reign is using a violent totalitarianism approach to dispensing justice, which isn’t great for National City. But she is, strangely, dispensing justice. She clearly knows the difference between right and wrong, even if that perspective is overly strict, since she targets a thief and a prison as her first examples. Is this the intended mission of a Worldkiller? The previous episode implied less actual justice and a more wholesale burning Earth to the ground, but now we’re getting a mission of righteousness — violent righteousness, yes, but still righteousness.

Also of confusing note: Sam still exists. We see her playing with Ruby at the beginning of the episode, before she’s called to Worldkiller business. Again, the continued awareness of Sam wasn’t clarified in the previous episode and it isn’t exactly clarified now, either. Does the Evil Fortress of Solitude AI get to decide when Sam turns into Reign? In the previous episode she seemed pretty unambiguously against Sam returning to her normal life as Ruby’s mother, so once the Reign powers took hold, why did she let Sam go back? Does Sam remember anything about being Reign or finding the Fortress or talking to the AI? How does she brush away what has to be a good handful of hours where, presumably, her memories are just blank?

See, these questions could have been answered over a longer period of time, but Supergirl decided to cram absolutely everything, from the introduction of Sam to the introduction of her Reign alter-ego, into ten episodes. The result is a plot that grows more and more holes the more you think about it. And no, most viewers probably aren’t dissecting episodes of Supergirl like I — a person who writes a weekly review of the show — might, but there is probably a subconscious awareness of things not lining up or being obviously glanced over, even for the most passive viewers.

Back in her mind-apartment, Brainiac 5 declares Kara physically healed enough to wake up and resume her normal life, but when she tries opening the door, which symbolizes waking, she’s unable to do so. Kara freaks out, trying to use her Kryptonian strength and powers against the door, but it doesn’t budge and she can’t figure out why her brain seems to have locked her inside itself.

And in the waking world, Brainiac 5 informs Kara’s friends and family that she’s for real locked in there, and he — a super intelligent robo-person — can’t decisively say why. Meanwhile, Reign’s been making quick work of wrongdoers in National City, destroying a meth house and targeting a prison. Her approach to justice is a tad imprecise, which means that the inmates of the prison and all the guards are in trouble. After a failed attempt to stop one of Reign’s attacks led to Alex breaking her tibia and the realization that kryptonite is not nearly as potent on Worldkillers as they would hope, the city and the DEO could really use a Supergirl.

While Kara is cleaning up after her temper tantrum, she finds a picture of herself holding a pet cat named Streaky. Reminiscing about the stray cat, Kara tells Brainiac 5 about how she used to slowly work up the courage to pet Streaky, waiting until she knew she could be careful enough to touch him, and how his acceptance of her made her feel human and at home on Earth.

From the Streaky story, we learn Kara’s careful approach to being gentle, clearly a parallel with her learning to fit in on Earth with all those fragile humans. Once again, the human/alien dichotomy returns, perhaps in its most fully-formed capacity. Kara realizes that the safe space her subconscious dropped her into was not some Kryptonian Fortress of Solitude, but the comfortable loft of Kara Danvers, where she is surrounded by Kara’s things and Kara’s important memories about stray cats with terrible names. This realization tells her that her humanity is just as much a part of her as her Kryptonian nature, and it’s not the sheer strength and abilities of Supergirl that allows Kara to escape from her coma, but a normal, human key. Like with Streaky the Cat, gentleness grants Kara freedom and self-assuredness.

Kara has accepted the human side of her nature and wakes up from her coma, but she still has business to do as Supergirl. She goes off to fight Reign. The Legion of Superheroes has already prepared for battle, but they’re no match against a Kryptonian Worldkiller because — I must emphasize — there are only three of them and that is not a freaking legion. Kara puts the DEO plan to inject Reign with kryptonite in action, getting the jump on her and stabbing some krypto-goo directly into her jugular. Gross. Reign still escapes, though, and she just shakes off the effects of the kryptonite... so that was kinda pointless.

Back in her Fortress of Eviltude, Reign meets up with the Evil AI and — oh look! She brought a friend! It’s that Rao cult leader guy from a few episodes back, whom she freed (unintentionally?) during her attack on the prison. He’s her new devoted follower. Why would Reign care, exactly? She’s been doing fine on her own without some nutbar cult leader hanging around. But it doesn’t really matter, since more Worldkillers are coming! Hurray!

Wait. That’s bad. Un-hurray.

Other Things:
  • I can’t yet tell if Brainiac 5 is endearing or annoying.
  • “I thought you were dead.” “I got better.” Very Monty Python and the Holy Grail of you, Kara.
  • I’m sure Melissa Benoist was having fun imitating David Harewood's J'onn J'onzz, but that scene made Lena look like a complete idiot so I’m not fond of it. Isn’t Lena supposed to be a genius?
  • P.S. the Legion of Super-Heroes hid the secret to stopping the onslaught of world-ending aliens called the Blight in their DNA and that’s very important, but it still doesn’t explain why the episode is named after them.

The Bachelor 22x02 Roundtable: Can I Steal Him for a Moment? [Contributors: Chelsea, Rebecca, and Alisa]

The dates have begun! This week we got to meet the girls a bit more while traversing across some odd dates. Some girls are closer to winning his heart while others need to start packing their bags. Here’s where we stand so far with the gang.

This week changed things up and gave us two different one-on-one dates with Becca K. and Krystal, and a ridiculously large group date with 15 of the girls. Which of the three dates was your favorite? Do you have bumper car PTSD? 

Rebecca: Becca’s date gave me major sugar daddy vibes, and not in a good way. Krystal’s date was flat-out weird — sorry, but no sane person wants to meet their boyfriend-who-is-also-dating-20-other-women’s family on the first date. The demolition derby date was so fun! I thought it was a good way for the girls to let out some suppressed anger and show off their creativity. I hate to make fun of someone’s feelings, but... bumper car trauma...

Alisa: BUMPER CAR TRAUMA. That was new and unexpected in this tired season (that’s just begun). I was surprised that the gigantic group date actually turned out pretty well. I think it was just what the girls needed to let off a little steam and have some fun after being cooped up in that mansion for however long.

Both one-on-one dates were the absolute worst though. I feel like Arie politely listened to producers’ date suggestions, then lit them on fire and proceeded down his own path of desperation and drama. Not that Becca isn’t deserving of all the good things in the world, but that date was ridiculous and creepy. And taking Krystal to meet his parents in the SECOND EPISODE? Waves of desperation are just rolling off Arie and it’s not a good look. Also, speaking of looks, did anyone else catch that Arie’s mom looks EXACTLY LIKE KRYSTAL but you know, like 40 years in the future?

Chelsea: Who knew the bumper car trauma would be the most fun of all the dates? We got to see more personality from a bunch of the girls and it was the perfect amount of cheese you’d hope from this show. Krystal’s date just stressed me out. You know meeting the family on the second episode isn’t going to lead to great things. You’re not Raven. And while I really like Becca K., that date was really just him buying her affection. You didn’t learn much about either of the girls or Arie, and we were robbed of seeing his dog. And what is even the point of visiting his home if we don’t see a dog?

This week brought the drama fast, with Bibiana confronting Krystal about stealing Arie twice when she already had a rose. Whose side are you on? Will they be the first two-on-one date? 

Rebecca: I HOPE they are the two-on-one date. That would just be solid, entertaining TV. I can’t really choose a side because I get both of their perspectives. Bibiana is right — Krystal is being selfish and making it harder for the other girls to get to know Arie when she already is guaranteed another week in the mansion; plus she had hours to spend with him one-on-one. On the other hand, Krystal is also right: she’s just playing the game. At the end of the day, it’s a competition, and she’s just being competitive. The other girls knew time-stealing would be an issue, so they shouldn’t be surprised.

Alisa: I can’t stand either of them, so I am all in favor of them going on a two-on-one and both getting sent home at the end of it. Like Rebecca said, Krystal is selfish but she’s also just playing the game and she’s certainly not the first (nor will she be the last) contestant to steal time when she already has a rose. And Bibiana acts like she’s never seen this show before. Like, girl, I get being mad at Krystal and her ridiculousness. But the fact that Bibiana yelled at Krystal in front of all the other girls is going to make it back to Arie eventually, and it’s only going to reflect badly on Bibiana. Krystal deserved pretty much everything she said, but we all know the confronter on this show is ALWAYS the one that gets burned, not the confrontee.

Chelsea: Bibiana was completely reasonable with her feelings about Krystal’s behavior and taking extra time. Somebody has to be the person that calls out others on disrespecting the unspoken bond of sisterhood and taking turns. Sure, she isn’t somebody I’m cheering for but I love that she brings the simple drama. Krystal gives me weird vibes — like I should be worried about her but that she could also snap at any moment. I want a big two-on-one for them but I could easily see one of them leaving the show earlier. Probably Bibiana since she hasn’t had time to make a bigger impression.

Sizing up who is left, who are you loving so far? Who needs to go? Are we all in awe of Jenny’s exit when she declared she was sad about leaving her new friends, but not Arie? 

Rebecca: I love Bekah, even though she’s a literal baby. She’s fun and cute and has really good energy. I feel like she’s here to make friends and not get involved in the drama, which I can always appreciate. I also really like other Becca; I picked her in my fantasy league to get the final rose. I’m sensing a trend here. Perhaps I’m a little biased, since we all share a name.

Alisa: Eh. The only girl I even remotely like is Seinne who is way too smart for this show and should be the next Bachelorette. But she’s gotten barely any screentime so I bet she goes home soon. Tia and Bekah are both energetic and fun and will probably go far, but personally they grate on my nerves. Krystal and Chelsea are clearly the blonde villains this year, and I’m over them already. Becca seems like a genuinely good person so she’ll probably come in second, get her heart broken, and go on to live her best life sans Arie.

As for Jenny, she was just one in a sea of blondes until she said “I’m not sad about you,” and now she’s my new hero.

Chelsea: I’m fans of Bekah and Becca K., even though their names confuse the heck outta me. I see them both going far, and Becca K. has winner or Bachelorette potential (I don’t wanna curse her to a life with Arie). Taxidermy girl cracks me up with her weirdness, and I want her to stick around just for the end-of-episode bumpers. I like Tia but she needs to dial up the sass if she’s gonna be our Raven this year. Krystal and Not Me are solid villains so far but we really need more time with some of these ladies. Too many of them look alike and I cannot remember their names. Like I had just learned Jenny’s name when she dropped that iconic line on her way out. Mad respect, girl.

And here are the Bachelor Fantasy League Standings, as of this week:

  1. Chelsea (60 points) 
  2. Rebecca (60 points)
  3. Alisa (30 points)