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.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Blindspot 4x09 Review: "Check Your Ed" (A Whole Person) [Contributor: Jen]


"Check Your Ed"
Original Airdate: January 11, 2019

Just when I think I'm done with Blindspot, they churn out one of their best episodes ever, if not the best episode. I'm permanently Michael Corleone in the Godfather III with this show.


I'm not going to split the review into sections this time because "Check Your Ed" is all about Jane Doe. We start where we left off in "Screech, Thwack, Pow" with Remi and Weller charging each other like they are vying for Ultimate Fighting Champion. The battle gets more interesting and far less cheesy once Kurt and Remi start throwing punches. It feels very Buffy versus Angel from Buffy The Vampire Slayer. (I should have known then that Angel would go evil.) Anyway, the fight ends with Weller tranquilizing Remi, which is something Elena always did to Stefan on The Vampire Diaries. I'm starting to notice a pattern with my fictional romance choices.

Weller brings unconscious Jane to Patterson's lab and hooks her up to a lot of brain-scanning equipment. Apparently Patterson and Rich have gone through all of Roman's data cache and found the only doctor in the world who can cure Jane. I feel like I missed a step. We arrived at the magical cure very abruptly, given how much Blindspot has dragged their feet with it. I probably should have paid more attention to the midseason finale.

Rich, Patterson, and Random Doctor go through all the science that will cure Jane, which isn't really science at all, but we don't care. The bottom line is this: we're going to do a psychedelic deep dive into Jane's brain until she wakes up with her memories intact. Cool? Cool.

LIGHT VS. DARK


Blindspot is not the first show to explore the light and dark in their main character. This is familiar story telling territory for me. I love when there is a split between two selves and the main character struggles with his/her internal dichotomy.

It's the good versus evil, or devil versus angel trope. The darker/evil side of the character rises and the light/good side of the character must fight back. Angel lost his soul and became Angelus. Stefan shut off his emotions and became The Ripper. Jane regained her memories and became Remi.

The female character is the one struggling with the light and dark on Blindspot and the male character is the romantic touchstone, which is fun because typically it's the other way around. Remi has wreaked some havoc and the writers have wrung all they can out of her cat and mouse game with Weller. So I feel it's high time for Jane to return; Remi was growing stale.

Of course, the procedure is dangerous and Weller starts to freak out with Patterson in the hallway over the prospect of losing Jane. Kurt, my sweet man kitten, there's no way they are killing your wife. She's the show. However, all the applause to Sullivan Stapleton for selling Weller's fear and making me feel all the things.

An unconscious Jane is slowly but surely rebuilding her own mind... with help from the fake and nonsensical science. Every memory is another building block, and another piece to the puzzle. She has to remember Jane to stop Remi, but remember Remi to be a complete Jane. Try saying that sentence ten times.

Jane cannot do it without help. So the first piece to this puzzle is obvious. Kurt Weller helped Jane find herself back when she had no memories. Jane formed her new identity largely based on the love she had for Kurt. Shepherd buried all the goodness in Remi, but the Zip brought it back to the surface. Jane's compassion, selflessness and heroism is what comes to her naturally. However, it was Kurt who helped Jane hold on to what came naturally.


We begin where we started in the pilot — Jane touching Kurt's face. I never grow tired of watching these two do this. Blindspot could only be a show of Jaimie Alexander touching Sullivan Staptelton's face and I would watch week after week, completely riveted. I recognize this is a little unrealistic.
Unfortunately touching Kurt's face isn't enough to trigger Jane's flood of memories. It didn't work in the pilot and it's not working now. We're not getting off that easy.

Patterson reminds Kurt Jane isn't the only one who needs to fight. Kurt has to be who he's always been to Jane — the man who believes in her. Kurt saw Jane's good heart from the beginning. His belief in Jane gave her a place to start. Kurt's belief is what helped Jane believe in herself.


Patterson tells Kurt to man up and do his thing. He goes back into the room, takes his wife's hand, and tells Jane she can do this. It's important to connect the physical and the mental. Jane needs one foot in reality and the other in the psychedelic mind trip. She hears Kurt's real voice and it triggers the connection. And then she jumps him. Hahaha. Just kidding. ... Kind of.


Jane kisses Kurt and thus, the Jeller memory flashback montage commences! We see all the kisses and feel all the feelings once again. Quite frankly, I am good with Jane remembering Kurt and only Kurt, but I suppose we can include the rest of the cast in this rebuild too. Jane rebuilds her identity the same way she did in the pilot: coffee or tea? The answer is coffee, but Reade appears because the tea is his. I did not know Reade was a tea drinker and I feel a whole other level of kinship with him now. Jane remembers Patterson next, and then Rich. A core memory triggers each team member's appearance: Jane's first puzzle with Patterson. Her first op with Rich (the painting). And the gunshot wound from the time Zapata shot Jane that we never talk about.

The memories are like dominoes. One kicks off the next until Jane is given the key to solving the puzzle. And I'm not talking figuratively. She opens the FBI box from season three with Kurt and literally finds a key.

The team refuses to follow Jane to the next step for a variety of reasons. Zapata's is the most hilarious: "I really don't want to." Kurt goes with because he's ride or die, but there's some kind of monster and a little girl direct from The Ring chasing after them. Jane is terrified, which is exactly what Remi wants. Kurt puts Jane's hand on his chest and reminds her to breathe just as he did in in "Split The Law." Another core Jeller memory locks into place!


The elevator is the only way to Remi, but it requires a coin slot. At this point I start jumping up and down because my boy is coming back. The "monster" chasing Jane is Roman. YEAH! If Jane is processing memories and extreme emotional baggage, she can't do it without dealing with her baby brother.

FORGIVENESS. CAN YOU IMAGINE?


Seeing Roman triggers all Jane's memories of him, which is a decidedly less cheerful flashback than her memories of Kurt. Jane traps Roman in the interrogation room and demands he tell her how to get to Remi. Roman tells her: "You don't want to fight me. I always win." But Jane replies, "No. You don't."

The two begin to play their childhood game. Jane is confused about the choice of game because she only played it with Roman as Remi. Roman explains she'll never find Remi until she's finished with him. Jane isn't just searching for her memories. She's also searching for closure. Jane tells Roman all the things she never got the chance to say.
Jane: I'm sorry. 
Roman: For what? Not killing me yourself? 
Jane: For not protecting you. From our parents' death, from Crawford's orphanage, from Shepherd, from me.
What Jane wants is Roman's forgiveness. She always had the very best intentions when it came to her brother, but Jane understands injecting him with the Zip was a deep betrayal. Jane didn't know it was a death sentence at the time, but that's not the only thing she's sorry for. She took Roman's choices away when she injected the Zip.  It's not enough for Jane to remember the good. She has to make peace with the bad.

Jane rebuilding her brain is not merely a cognitive exercise. There's a spiritual element to it too. The last time Jane saw Roman, he was deeply sorry for all he had done and scared to die. He was sweet and gentle like the little boy she grew up with. He was the Roman before Shepherd, before Crawford, before Remi, and before Jane. That's the brother Jane sees now. I don't believe Roman is merely a memory or a compilation of synapses firing. This is Roman. He wants Jane to know he is at peace.

Guilt and shame are weights around our necks, and forgiveness is the only way we are freed from them. What's so beautiful is how freely Roman forgives Jane. He gives her his forgiveness without hesitation — just like Jane forgave him. What Jane really needs is to forgive herself. She needs to let Roman go. Jane says: "I miss you. You're the only one who really knows me. All of me." And then Roman replies, "No there's another."

This isn't a slam against Weller. Jane is not Taylor Shaw. She didn't grow up with Kurt. The only person who truly understands what she has gone through is Roman because he went through it all too. But he's right. There's one more person who knows all of Jane Doe.

The scene between Jane and Roman is probably one of the best in the episode. I was genuinely moved. Jaimie Alexander and Luke Mitchell knocked it out of the park. Jane and Roman had one of the most complex and layered relationships on Blindspot. This was an amazing final episode for Luke Mitchell and a proper goodbye to Roman.

THE ELEVATOR TO HELL


Roman gives Jane their coin and she slips it into the elevator. But instead of going up to Remi, it goes down to Shepherd. Jane's adoptive mother symbolically representing a descent into hell is probably the most accurate character description Blindspot has ever done when it comes to Shepherd.

Shepherd straps Jane to a chair and forces her to remember every terrible thing she's ever done as. It's like a hellish episode of This Is Your Life. The pain stems not just from memories of Remi, but from Jane too. We get her greatest hits too — holding a gun to Kurt, fighting Kurt, lying to Kurt, abandoning Kurt. It was a lot of Kurt. Oh! Mayfair's murder. There. I found one not about Kurt.

Fear has a major hold on Jane these past four years. As much as Jane wanted to remember who she was, she was also terrified of the answers. Jane has been running from Remi for a long time. This flood of painful memories is almost too much for her. But then Jane hears Roman's voice: "There's a place in your mind no one can get to. A place that only belongs to you. No matter what they say, no matter what they do, no one can reach you there. Pain is a dream." This advice helped Jane survive being tortured at the CIA black site. Roman trained Remi how to deal with pain.

Jane realizes she has a choice. She can't keep the pain out, but it doesn't control her either. Slowly the painful memories change to joyful ones on the television screens before Jane. It's a beautifully elegant way of showing Jane getting her memories back. In case you are wondering, the joyful memories are a lot of Kurt too. Screen after screen of kissing. Glorious. There is no hiding from pain. We all experience it because it's part of being human. Our painful experiences are often our best teachers in life though. At the very least, they make us appreciate moments of happiness. One informs the other. Pain and joy are two sides of the same coin.

Jane is ready to face Remi now that she remembers, but Remi keeps devising scenarios where Jane must save Kurt. It happens again and again until Jane realizes it's all a ruse to keep her trapped. So she chooses to let Kurt die. It's a devastating decision for Jane and us (as all Jeller fans yelled collectively), but it's the right one.

Kurt's love can only take Jane so far. At some point, Jane must do this on her own. She must do this for herself. I reject the idea that a woman can only be strong if she's not in a relationship. Love is a powerful force in all our lives and doesn't need to be shamed as weakness just so a female character can be considered a hero.

That said, it's important for a female character to have an identity outside of her relationship. Blindspot perfectly balances the Jeller romantic anchor and Jane's independent heroism in "Check Your Ed." The door to Remi requires a handprint scan to open. Jane has one final puzzle to solve. Unfortunately, the team is not there to help her solve the hand tattoo, so she goes through the procedural elements of Blindspot to figure it out. It's not meant to be funny, but I was laughing so hard. Jane can recite word for word what each character says and does every week. This may help some of you understand why I yawn my way through the "Case of the Week" section in the reviews.

Of course Patterson's words — "We'll always be here when you need us" — are the cipher to crack the tattoo description: Alice Through the Looking Glass. Patterson is the master of all even in Jane's memory, so we know some of the synapses are firing right.

Taylor Shaw's doll — the one Kurt found when he unearthed her grave — appears next to Jane on the table. But Jane isn't Taylor Shaw; she was Alice Krueger. A photograph of Alice, before Remi or Jane, appears on the screen when she uses "Alice" as the password. The creepy girl from The Ring now looks exactly like the sweet, happy girl in the photo. A sweet and decidedly less scary Alice Kruger takes Taylor Shaw's doll and leads Jane to the door. Alice scans her hand. The door opens and Jane can finally face Remi.

TIME TO FIGHT


We finally get our Jane versus Remi fight and it's AWESOME! Blindspot keeps the symbolism simple. Jane is in a white shirt while Remi is clothed in black. The stuntwork reminded me of the flawless fight between Elena and Katherine in the season four finale of The Vampire Diaries. Remi gets the upper hand quickly and tells Jane she's not a person, but a vessel, and she was here first.

But Remi was not here first. Alice Kruger was. Jane is not merging two personas, but three. Alice represents innocence, Remi represents darkness, and Jane represents light. However, we cannot categorize our humanity simply by good and evil terms. Humans are not that simple. We are nowhere near perfect enough to live in such black and white worlds. As Jane's memories have shown, Jane isn't entirely good and Remi isn't entirely evil. When Jane was Remi, she saved lives. She was unable to hurt or kill any members of the team. There was a lot more Jane in Remi than she wanted to admit. Kurt saw it too.

Ultimately, the blame lies with Shepherd. It was Shepherd who killed Alice Kruger — Remi and Jane's innocence. The real difference between Jane and Remi is Jane is not alone. She has people in her life who truly love her for who she is. If you didn't get choked up when Kurt, Roman, Reade, Patterson, Rich and Zapata each appeared on screen, their faces full of love and acceptance, then I can't help you.

But Roman is right. There is one more person who knows all of her: Remi.

Jane doesn't need to beat Remi or separate from her. This was never about choosing personas. It's about recognizing the dichotomy of her humanity. We are all two sides of the same coin. Jane needs to accept Remi and Remi must accept Jane. And the only way to acceptance is through forgiveness.

So Jane says," Whatever you did, whatever we did... I forgive you."

Jaimie Alexander gives a tour de force performance and I was legitimately crying during this scene. "Check Your Ed" is the culmination of everything Jane's been fighting for and against for the last four years. We've been waiting for Jane to merge her identities, forgive herself, and find self acceptance. The road has been bumpy, but it is finally here and Blindspot did not disappoint. This episode was worth the wait.

Jane and Remi literally merged bodies and I cackled with glee. Listen, I don't need my symbolism to be Maya Angelou-level all the time. Sometimes I want it delivered to me on a silver platter. Blindspot makes it easy and I appreciate that. And Jane says, "For the first time in my life I feel like a whole person."

Jane wakes up and tells everyone she's back and remembers everything. Jane momentarily freaks out when she remembers she broke her crazy mother out of a black site, but Kurt is nonplussed. There's more apologizing to Kurt for all the lies Jane told. Pfft. Girl, you actually have a legitimate medical reason you lied to him this time. This was nowhere near rock bottom for you two. They exchange "I love you's," smooch, and gaze at each other longingly. MY SHIP IS PERFECTION. Now go make me babies.


Patterson and Weller go the location Jane told them to find Shepherd, but she's not there. Patterson is momentarily concerned Jane is jerking them around, but Kurt is confident she's not. It's not that I'm questioning your unwavering belief in the Mrs. Kurt, but she was Remi for several months and you didn't figure it out, Kurt. Your track record is not great. However, I agree with you. We didn't do all that self-acceptance for nothing.

Kurt returns to the apartment expecting to see Jane, but instead is greeted by Shepherd. We all saw this coming a mile away. There must be a physical showdown to go with the mental showdown. Shepherd really kicks Kurt's butt though. It's a little embarrassing. Then Jane Doe — our Mrs. Kurt Weller — arrives and shoots Shepherd three times center mass. NICE. THAT'S MY GIRL! It takes an excruciatingly long time for Shepherd to die, given she has three bullet holes in her chest. It does give Jane the chance to get some closure and she tells Shepherd where to stick it. Shepherd says, "I love you in my own way," and blah blah blah I just wanted her to die already. You are the worst, lady. If God is a just and fair God, then Shepherd's death means the Sandstorm storyline is over for good.

Jane passes the barrage of medical and psychological tests and she's officially cleared for duty. I love that the FBI couldn't care less that Jane was momentarily a super secret double agent. What's that you say? Your brain was fried and you went all evil? No problem. Your turn to bring in bagels.

Kurt gives Jane her FBI ID back. It's a not so subtle way of saying Jane has finally found her identity — all of it. It's a moment of real peace and happiness for everyone. And then Reade walks in with Zapata in handcuffs. So much for one big, drama-free family!

"Check Your Ed" could serve is a series finale, which lends more evidence to my theory season four will be Blindspot's last. The writers are really putting all their cards on the table, so it's difficult to see where they can go next. The team needs Jane back so they can deal with super shady Zapata. Also, Jane is still dying apparently. This all feels like a ramp-up to a final ramp-down. I'm not holding my breath for a season five renewal. If we continue to get quality episodes like this week's, then I'll be completely fine with Blindspot ending. It's best for a show to go out on a high note.

Stray Thoughts:

  • Weller literally chucking Jane's entire body up in the air into a steel beam feels realistic. I think he has over 100 pounds on her.
  • Jane's dress, flowers, reception decor, and bridal party photos are all manifested in her brain because our girl will never forget her wedding day no matter how zipped her brain is. BIG MOOD.
  • Jane remembering Reade before she remembers Patterson? I think not.
  • The shot of Shepherd's reflection in Kurt and Jane's wedding photo is so cool and creepy
  • Kurt sends Rich in the ambulance with Jane, which tells us exactly how much Kurt loves and trusts Rich.
  • "I'm getting some very mixed signals from you lately." HAHAHA. Accurate, Shepherd.
  • When Jane is remembering all the people who love her and sees their faces on the television screen, there is a glitch when Zapata appears. I feel strongly this is Blindspot trying to fool us into thinking Zapata can't be saved, but I'm not buying it.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Brooklyn Nine-Nine 6x01 Recap: “Honeymoon” (What’s Up, Beaches?) [Contributor: Alisa Williams]


“Honeymoon”
Original Airdate: January 10, 2019

BROOKLYN NINE-NINE IS BACK, BABY! Wow, what drama we had last year with the series being cancelled by Fox and then picked up by NBC and all of the craziness in between with both mega-stars and regular ol’ fans rallying for the show’s survival. Needless to say, the season six premiere has been greatly anticipated for MONTHS now. Well, it FINALLY aired and it was everything fans were hoping for — and more! Let’s get to it!

We pick up right where we left off in season five: at the after party for Jake and Amy’s wedding. Captain Holt has just received an email letting him know the outcome of his quest to become the city commissioner. At first, Holt tells the team he got the job, but when he reads the email again, out loud this time, he realizes he misread it the first time, and he did NOT get the commissioner gig. Jake only heard the first announcement and ran off to get a boombox and comes back dancing, only to find that the party has officially died with this bad news.

Holt decides to take some personal time, leaving Terry in charge of the Nine-Nine in his absence. As Terry’s doing morning announcements, Jake and Amy burst in with great news: thanks to Amy purchasing wedding insurance before the big day, they have been completely refunded for their disastrous nuptials and can now take a super fancy honeymoon to Posadita Bonita, an exotic beach in Mexico that Gina’s always going on and on about.

There’s trouble in paradise, however. They’ve only just arrived when they spot Captain Holt sipping a cocktail and wearing questionable beach attire. Apparently Holt was so distraught at John Kelly being chosen as commissioner over him that he jumped on a plane and headed to Mexico without even packing a bag. He bought a bundle of novelty shirts at a local tourist shop, all with humorous phrases (the hot pink number he’s wearing when Amy and Jake find him says, “What’s Up, Beaches?”). When Amy points out that he hates humor, he tells her that he’s a joke now, after losing to someone so unqualified, so it suits him. Kelly’s plans for the city are outdated and problematic, and Holt feels hopeless about the whole thing. So, he came to Mexico, to the place Gina’s always going on about, and has been here ever since. He had no idea they’d be honeymooning here.

Holt tells them not to mind him, he’ll avoid them so they can enjoy their honeymoon in peace. Unfortunately, Posadita Bonita — in addition to being extravagantly priced — is also extremely small and intimate, so it’s impossible to not run into Holt everywhere they turn. There he is, eating alone at dinner, in a t-shirt with faux abs. There he is in the pool, literally bumping into them with his inflatable raft, and there he is popping into their room during an intimate massage, his shirt loudly announcing that he is “DTF: Down to Fiesta.”

At the precinct, things are not going as smoothly as Terry hoped. Gina and Boyle are fighting because Boyle just found out that Gina’s mom left Boyle’s father, and they’re getting divorced. Boyle’s determined to get them back together but Gina refuses to help, and she refuses to tell Boyle why they broke up, even though she knows. Boyle is outraged — how can he fix their relationship if he doesn’t know what caused the break-up?

Rosa’s having a difficult time, too. Sanitation is trying to steal a case she’s been working on and so she goes to Terry for help, but everything he suggests Rosa’s either already tried or quickly points out why it won’t work. Terry is stumped. Sanitation has already threatened to file a formal complaint with the mayor if Rosa won’t hand over the case, so they have to tread lightly. Rosa mentions that Holt was writing an instruction manual for his replacement in case he got the commissioner job, but Terry refuses to read it, saying he doesn’t need an instruction manual to take on the captain’s role.

Back on the beach, Amy and Jake feel so bad for Holt they decide to invite him to join them for the rest of their honeymoon, but this turns out to be a spectacularly bad idea. All of the activities they’re signed up for are clearly for couples, from the “Sensual Food Tasting: The Art of Feeding Your Lover” to spa treatments to a hot tub strewn with flower petals. Despite the awkwardness, Holt decides that he’s sufficiently over losing out on the commissioner job and will head home.

At first, Jake and Amy are thrilled to hear that Holt is headed home, but then Jake runs into Holt as he’s about to head out and Holt tells him he’s only heading home so he can quit the NYPD forever. Jake panics and decides to stall Holt’s departure so he misses his flight. He rushes Holt into his hotel room, only to find Amy’s waiting with a “sexy” surprise: she’s laid out candles and rose petals, and best of all, she’s dressed up as Bonnie Bedelia from Die Hard.

Since Holt can’t be reasoned with, they decide to tie him to the bed to prevent him from leaving. They find what they need in the “Lover’s Toolbox” that Boyle sent to them at the resort, or as Amy likes to call it, “Boyle’s Box of Nightmares.” They try several tactics to get Holt to agree to stay on as Captain of the Nine-Nine. They remind him that Kelly is old and when he retires, Holt can try for commissioner again. They remind him of all the goals he still has left to accomplish for the Nine-Nine. Jake even tells Holt he can’t quit because Jake needs him and Holt is the whole reason he loves going to work each day, but Holt just calls him selfish.

That’s when Amy finally explodes, telling Holt he’s the one being selfish, wallowing in self pity and ruining their honeymoon while they did everything to cheer him up. Amy says after five years of caring so much about Holt and making him happy, she’s all out of hoots to give, and doesn't care what he does. She and Jake storm off, leaving Holt tied to the bed.

Meanwhile, Terry finally gives in and goes in search of Holt’s captain’s manual so he can best advise Rosa on her problem. He looks everywhere for the password to Holt’s computer, figuring the manual is on there, but can’t find it. At Rosa’s suggestion, he guesses something really simple, but the computer immediately locks him out and gives a scary warning that the hard drive will be deleted. Terry panics and throws the laptop against the wall.

After painstakingly rebuilding the laptop, Rosa asks if Terry’s checked to see if Holt saved the manual to the cloud. Terry has not checked, so he then tries to log into Holt’s cloud account by saying he forgot the password and then answering the security question. But this is Holt we’re talking about, so his question is “What is God?” and even after deep-diving into some philosophy textbooks, Terry is stuck. Fortunately, Rosa finds a hard copy of the manual (unsurprisingly, Gina had it all along), and shows Terry a section he should read, which says that if anyone is ever unsure what to do, they should consult Terry, because Holt trusts him completely. That gives Terry the confidence he needs to solve Rosa’s problem in a way that will make everyone happy.

While Terry and Rosa work through that, Boyle sends Scully to distract Gina so he can try to unlock her phone using a mask of her face. When Gina finds Boyle, he manages to unlock the phone when she tries to grab it. He finds a text exchange between Gina and her mom, where Gina is convincing her mom to divorce Boyle’s dad, but to not tell him why. Boyle is furious with Gina, and she’s forced to come clean about the whole thing; she tells Boyle that her mom had been cheating on his dad. Gina convinced her mom to end her marriage without explanation, which Gina thought would hurt less than coming clean about the affair. Boyle realizes that Gina was just trying to protect his dad from further hurt.

Over in Mexico, Holt has managed to escape his restraints using some of the lubricant from Boyle’s “Lover’s Toolbox” and finds Amy and Jake to ask their forgiveness for his behavior. Holt says while he was tied up, he realized that even though Kelly got the job and is planning to implement regressive policies for the city, he’s not out of options. He’s going to go directly to the mayor and tell him what he thinks of Kelly’s plan, and if the mayor isn’t receptive, he’ll go straight to press with his opinions.

Holt heads back to the city, and Amy and Jake finish out their honeymoon in peace. When they all arrive back in the office on Monday, Amy and Jake run into Holt at the elevators and ask how it went with the mayor. It went well, and the mayor has put Commissioner Kelly’s proposed policy under review. To retaliate, Kelly closed the bottom floor of the Nine-Nine for “renovations” indefinitely, meaning everyone has been moved into the bullpen. “The Nine-Nine is at war with the NYPD,” says Holt ominously as the elevator doors open onto complete chaos.

Bullets on the Bulletin Board:
  • “Boyles don’t ‘get over it.’ It becomes part of us. It lives within us.”
  • “I tried to suck it up and go back to work. I put on my uniform and got in my car, but next thing I knew I was on a plane to Mexico.” 
  • “Don’t worry, I’m not listening to you. I’m just thinking about how this sea bass is cold. But not as cold and cruel as the hands of fate that have thrust my entire life into darkness.”
  • “I love how the mud revitalizes my skin.” “And I love how it masks my shame.” 
  • “I’m all out of hoots! I’m hootless!”

Friday, January 11, 2019

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend 4x08 Review: “I’m Not the Person I Used To Be” (Meta Meet Cute) [Contributor: Jenn]


“I’m Not the Person I Used To Be”
Original Airdate: December 7, 2018

Sometimes when you catch up with old friends, it’s like no time has passed at all. And sometimes when you catch up with old friends, it’s like they’re entirely different people. Their lives don’t remotely resemble what you remember. Maybe they used to party in high school, gossip about people, or run with the cool crowd. Then you run into them at a grocery store and they’re married with a stable career and toting two kids. It’s jarring sometimes to reconcile the memory of who someone used to be with who they are in the present.

In the case of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, this well-known feeling works in their very meta favor for a very meta episode. “I’m Not the Person I Used To Be” features the return of Greg — sorta. We all knew Santino Fontana wasn’t returning to the show and that Skylar Astin (of Pitch Perfect fame) would be recast in the role as Greg. We also all wondered how the recast would be explained. And in a characteristically brilliant move for the series, Greg’s reappearance and completely new face is explained pretty well. Let’s dive into what this episode establishes for Rebecca and our characters for the rest of the series.

HELLO, NICE TO MEET YOU


When Greg unexpectedly shows up at Josh’s 12-year (don’t worry about it) high school reunion, Valencia and Heather immediately gasp. Rebecca is confused, however. That’s not Greg. It definitely is a totally different person. The meta commentary throughout the episode of how weird it is that no one else besides Rebecca sees the difference is so great. But as Heather and Valencia explain, Rebecca’s his ex. She hasn’t seen him in a long time, and because of that it’s understandable that she doesn’t recognize who he is anymore. He’s changed, and so has Rebecca. It makes sense she wouldn’t recognize the person who left West Covina and left her in tears.

As you’ll recall, Rebecca has been on the path to reconciliation. She’s decided that she’s going to make amends and fix what she’s broken. So when Greg shows up, Rebecca is reminded that she has some unfinished business with him. Namely, you know, the fact that she slept with his father. Their first exchange is uncomfortable until Greg and Rebecca decide to put the past behind them and start fresh. They really don’t know each other, after all. It’s been two years since they’ve last spoken. Rebecca is a little hurt when Greg reveals that he’s actually come back to town multiple times since, but asked everyone to hide that fact from her.

Rebecca spends the entire episode waffling between whether or not she should tell Greg what happened between her and his father. At first, she justifies her decision not to tell him — after all, when you start over with someone, why not just leave the past in the past? The thing is that the past never just stays in the past. Rebecca has spent most of the series justifying her misdeeds, trying to tell herself that she’s not really hurting anyone and that the ends justify the means. As long as it’s taken, now Rebecca knows that the only way to form healthy relationships is by coming clean about the past. You can drag around your past into new relationships, but it’ll eventually have to be unpacked — sometimes by an unwilling participant.

Right before Rebecca and Greg kiss, she tells him about her tryst. He’s understandably horrified and disgusted. Rebecca tells Greg though that it was the right thing to do; she’s tired of hiding and hurting people. As Greg is prepared to walk out the door, something pretty incredible happens — he acknowledges how hard it must have been for Rebecca to admit what she did to him. Greg expresses compassion for Rebecca when she expects him to throw his fist through a wall. Then, just before he departs, Greg says this: “You think I’ve changed. Maybe we both have.”

Rebecca Bunch is not perfect, and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend doesn’t pretend that she is. But when new!Greg acknowledges how much she’s changed from the woman he once knew, we’re reminded of the same thing. Rebecca still falters and fumbles, but what if Greg sees HER as an entirely new person too? The truth is that we’re all constantly changing — or we should be, if we want to become better people. And though Greg doesn’t tell Rebecca he wants to pursue a romantic relationship, he leaves the door open to a reconciliation. He acknowledges that Rebecca has changed. He acknowledges that he has too.

And that’s a step for a new beginning.

Additional fun elements:
  • I love Intro Rebecca mentioning how she misses the season one theme song. Same.
  • This week’s episode has SO many meta moments, but at least we know the series ends on Valentine’s Day and that Valencia and Greg are around until then.
  • Speaking of Greg, I love Skylar Astin’s addition to the cast.
  • Heather had the BEST moments this week: “BAAAAAAR!”
  • “I drove him into the arms of Jesus.”
  • “I’m not NOT gonna spy on that.”
What did you all think of the episode? What do you hope for the remainder of the series?

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Doctor Who New Year’s Special Recap: “Resolution” (New Year, Old Enemy) [Guest Poster: Stephanie Coats]


“Resolution”
Original Airdate: January 1, 2019

When Showrunner Chris Chibnall spoke about Doctor Who’s series eleven at San Diego Comic Con, he emphasized everything is new, including the villains and aliens. Not a single classic or traditional Doctor Who alien or enemy in sight... but maybe he meant just in 2018. In the show’s first ever New Year’s special, Jodie Whittaker finally gets to a take a crack at one of the most iconic foe’s in Doctor Who history.

“I POINT AND LAUGH AT ARCHAEOLOGISTS.” 


In the 9th century, British forces barely won a war against an unnamed opponent. To prevent the enemy from ever returning, it was cut into three pieces, buried in remote places around the globe, and guarded at all times. But one of the “custodians” was killed en route, so his portion lay unburied and unguarded until centuries later when archaeologists Mitch and Lin discover him.

While carefully uncovering the body, the two unknowingly place a part of the unnamed enemy under a UV light and it reconstructs itself. Mitch and Lin are distracted by adorably talking about their New Year’s kiss. They notice too late that one of their bags has gone missing. Lin spies a tentacle creature on the wall and reaches out to touch it — for some reason — just as the Doctor and her team arrive by TARDIS. They had been touring different New Year’s celebrations throughout time and space when the Doctor received an alert for present-day Sheffield.

She sends Mitch and Lin to safety while searching for the creature, which has supposedly disappeared into the water. But Lin is behaving very strangely, and for good reason. The creature isn’t in the water; it’s attached to her back and controlling her actions. All attempts to fight back are futile.


THE RESURRECTED FOE


Team TARDIS land at Graham’s house to regroup and they receive an unexpected and not entirely welcome visitor: Ryan’s dad, Aaron. The Doctor immediately lets him know he let Ryan down and, in so many words, they don’t like him. Ryan agrees to go for coffee with his dad, where Aaron says he’s trying to do better and Ryan reminds him of all of the ways he’s been a major letdown over the years.

It doesn’t take the Doctor long to realize her greatest enemy is loose in Sheffield: a Dalek. More specifically, a reconnaissance scout, which was sent to scope out Earth for the fleet. The team brings Mitch into the TARDIS to help them put all the pieces together and he tells them about the “custodians.” They figure out Lin isn’t safe, which is a bit of an understatement. The Dalek has forced her to drive at top speed. When they’re pulled over by a cop, the Dalek makes Lin attack the officers and steal a uniform and car. It directs her to where portions of its armory and weaponry are stored in Britain’s archives.

The Doctor hacks into the Dalek’s connection with Lin to warn it and to encourage Lin to keep fighting. The Doctor tries calling in reinforcements through UNIT, but UNIT was shut down over a lack of funding due to Brexit. At a remote farm, the Dalek rebuilds its armor and weapons but Lin can tell it’s starting to weaken. She fights it off just before the Doctor and the others arrive. The Doctor faces off with the Dalek alone. It’s reconstructed itself from scraps (“junkyard chic,” as the Doctor says) but its hatred for the Doctor is the same as ever. Unable to kill her while she’s blocking its laser gun, it flies off to summon the Dalek fleet.

METAL AND THE MICROWAVE


Miffed at being left behind, Graham calls for a pickup and Aaron is invited to join too. The Dalek breaks into the national communication station, killing all in its path, and diverts power from the U.K. to contact the fleet. The entire TARDIS group confronts it there and bum rush the alien. They attach pieces of a modified microwave to it and basically cook the Dalek until its armor explodes. Any victory is short lived, as they realize the alien is now attached to Aaron and demands to be taken to the fleet.

The Doctor agrees and then opens the door of the TARDIS on a supernova star. The vacuum sucks the Dalek and Aaron toward space. Ryan makes a heroic reach for his dad, yelling all the while that he loves him, and Aaron is able to overcome the Dalek long enough to grasp his son’s hand just as the alien is sucked into the dying star.

In the end, Aaron passes on the chance to join the TARDIS Team but promises to be around more. The Doctor, Yaz, Ryan, and Graham head off to their next adventure, “everywhere.”

Final Thoughts: 

  • Wow it was great to see Thirteen face off with a classic Doctor Who villain. While overall this episode was pretty average, finally getting a Dalek storyline for Thirteen was enough to rate “Resolution” above the other average episodes in series eleven. 
  • Once again I find myself asking, "What did Yaz do in this episode?" I know she was there and did things but were any of them actual focal points of the episode? There’s still a lot of attention on Ryan and Graham, which is nice and I love them, but please give Yaz more screen time in series twelve. 
  • What exactly was the purpose of having Aaron in this episode? I was so sure he was going to sacrifice himself for Ryan. Instead, he got told off a couple times, nearly died, and made new promises. Maybe this was meant to be a payoff for all of the focus on Ryan’s relationship with him that played throughout the season but it fell short of interesting. 
  • I LOVED Thirteen’s scarf. She should wear it way more often.
  • A Dalek’s laugh is probably the worst sound I’ve ever heard. 
  • Dalek: “Who are you? Identify?” The Doctor: “Oh mate, I’m the Doctor. Ring any bells?”
  • The Doctor: “You don’t have to come” Yaz: “Of course we do. We’re always with you.”

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Year in Review: Jenn’s Top 10 Comedies of 2018 [Contributor: Jenn]

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In an era of peak television, I’ve often found it easier to flip open my Netflix account and re-watch The Office or Friends or Parks and Recreation for the millionth time. Why is that, I wonder? Perhaps because getting invested in television has burned us all in the past. We’ve fallen in love with shows, only to watch them brutally cancelled after a season. So we flock to what is familiar, what we know, because it’s safe and comfortable. In spite of the fact that I did spend a lot of 2018 falling asleep to my favorite comedies of TV years past, there were also a lot of amazing shows that debuted or continued this year.

It’s time to honor what made me laugh (and occasionally cry) this year, so in no particular order, here are my favorite ten TV comedies of 2018!

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New Girl


God bless this little gem of a sitcom. 2018 has been and felt so long that it took me a while to remember that this series actually concluded this year. And it went out exactly how it needed to — with a few last recurring gags, sentimental storylines, a few well-placed time jumps, and one final game of True American (that made all of us ugly cry. Just me?).

The thing about New Girl? It was always going to end with these weird, wonderful friends figuring out life together — it was a series about them making mistakes, making fun of one another, falling in love, falling into crazy antics, and ultimately becoming better people because they’d done all of those things. Over the series, we got the chance to watch each character evolve and grow into who they were always supposed to become. Jess learned how to be honest with herself and others, to fall in love, and to find her purpose. Schmidt became a better, more well-rounded person. Cece found her life’s purpose, and Nick finally finished that book. Winston got the love story he always wanted and deserved.

The final few episodes of the series this year made me laugh and cry, and I was reminded exactly how much I was going to miss Apartment 4D.

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Crazy Ex-Girlfriend


Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is still firing on all cylinders in its final season. While there have been a few slower episodes here and there, the show continues to prove exactly why it’s always been critically acclaimed. It’s smart, sharp, witty, and the musical numbers continue to be something incredible to witness. I love that in its final curtain call, this CW series is exploring what it looks like to own our stories — mistakes and all — and become better people.

Rebecca Bunch is truly learning where she’s gone wrong in her life and is willing to accept the consequences for her actions. But the final season has been more than just that: it’s focused on what it looks like for all of us to grow up and move on. Each character’s arc has followed the same path, where they’ve learned from their mistakes and have grown up.

The fall finale was genius with the show’s introduction of “new” Greg, and I’m sorry but if a series can manage to entirely recast a main character, make it incredibly meta, write a song about it but also tie it so well into the overall story arc/theme of growth and change... I’m sold. That is why this show continues to deserve accolades.

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One Day At A Time


YES THIS SHOW ALSO AIRED IN 2018. Granted, it was in January, so it’s understandable if you — like me — forgot that its second season debuted this year, let’s take time to honor this comedy. I keep trying to convince people to watch it, and my pitch is: “This show will make you belly laugh and ugly cry.” The second season is no different. It follows a Cuban family who’s just trying to navigate life — the struggles and successes of it. It’s a show filled with incredibly nuanced, well-written women and representation across all forms.

One Day At A Time is sweet, without being cheesy, and poignant without being over-the-top or heavy-handed (which a lot of shows tend to skew toward when attempting to tackle controversial and/or serious subjects). One of the best, most emotional episodes of 2018 is arguably “Hello, Penelope” which features frank discussions about medicine and features a character’s realistic withdrawal when she stops her antidepressants. If you haven’t yet watched this incredibly moving and hilarious show... what are you waiting for?!

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The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel


I was never a fan of Gilmore Girls (you can yell at me in the comments) because I found it difficult to connect with Lorelai and Rory since they talked so quickly and were constantly witty and honestly who can do that in real life? And while The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is essentially the same in terms of rapid-fire dialogue, it seems to work better in an over-exaggerated, bright, bold world and paired alongside Midge’s personality.

Maisel is a show that mostly draws you in with its dialogue, colorful wardrobes, and witty banter. The relationship between Midge and her family (as well as her internal and external struggles with her not-quite-ex-husband) is the focal point of much of the first season, but the true heart of this show is the arc of Midge learning to become who she was meant to be. She breaks free of certain traditional molds by embarking in a career in stand-up comedy. But a lot of the show’s emphasis is on the fact that Midge is very privileged. So while she’s got her struggles and personal issues, she also has a lot of support in her life. How does she reconcile those two things? And how does she put herself first and take risks when her whole life has been safe?

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is an incredibly binge-worthy show on Amazon Prime, and if you’re looking for a period piece with good writing and great acting (Rachel Brosnahan shines), then look no further than this one!

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Splitting Up Together


I’m honestly surprised by how much I’ve enjoyed Splitting Up Together. I thought it was going to be a show about a couple going through a... well, uncoupling, and while it is a show about a marriage that splits up, what it’s really about is how complex families really are. But how all of us are complex, and that’s what makes us humans.

This show makes the point that broken families aren’t bad families; in the midseason finale, Martin (Oliver Hudson) calls Lena (Jenna Fischer) to thank her for the way that she’s been such a great mom. He knows their arrangement is weird to a lot of people, but he actually wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s a sweet, subtle gesture rooted in Martin’s own realization of how messed up other parents actually are. As much as Oliver and Lena’s relationship is tumultuous, the show really focuses on the fact that their love and devotion to their family is unwavering.

Splitting Up Together is perfect if you’ve loved any other Emily Kapnek shows (Selfie, Suburgatory, etc.) because the humor is relatable, and ultimately sweet. Jenna Fischer absolutely shines in this role and if you haven’t watched it yet, check out Splitting Up Together!


Single Parents


I’m not even remotely surprised that I’m in love with a show that is created by Elizabeth Meriwether and J.J. Philbin and also features a slew of New Girl writers. If you loved New Girl and haven’t yet started Single Parents, please do. It’s a delightful little series about a group of single parents, each of whom has at least one child and their own set of quirks. Leighton Meester and Taran Killam are exceptional (and I get major Nick/Jess vibes from them in terms of their chemistry and characters’ friendship), but so are the other cast members. Brad Garrett, Kimrie Lewis-Davis, and Jake Choi are exceptional. But truly the kids are the stars of this show and have impeccable comedic timing.

What really makes Single Parents special is a lot of what made New Girl special — the way the series manages to balance slapstick humor, recurring references, flashbacks, and witty dialogue with immense heart (I genuinely teared up during the midseason finale).

The show might begin with the group of single parents trying to pick on Will (Taran Killam), but after the pilot, these people become a family. And the humor is fixated not on them being mean-spirited toward one another, but attempting to just navigate the quirky, weird qualities they each have. If you need something sweet that is genuinely funny, Single Parents is your perfect next show to binge!


The Good Place


THIS SHOW, YOU GUYS. Mike Schur and company consistently manage to surprise us with the twists and turns they throw. What I’ve always admired about The Good Place though is that it never gives us a plot twist just for sheer shock value. Each step of the journey in this show is perfectly planned out, and I love that we got to watch the characters really grow and settle into their moral journeys this season. You can tell the cast really enjoys working together, and it shines through in their performances. The Good Place deftly has managed to combine humor, heart, and also impeccable attention to detail. The writing of the series is so tight that while plot twists throw us, we immediately want to re-watch the episodes and pick up all the tiny clues we missed along the way.

Character growth in this series has always been believable. One of my favorite episodes this season featured Michael and Eleanor on a journey by themselves in which they had the opportunity to explore the concept of free will. Ted Danson and Kristen Bell were tour de forces, and everything in the episode felt true to their characters. The performers are top-notch, truly (D’Arcy Carden deserves an Emmy for that finale), and each brings incredibly nuanced and yet hilarious skills to the table. Jameela Jamil and Manny Jacinto often have to deliver lines that would sound absurd coming from everyone else, and William Jackson Harper got the chance to do some really fun physical comedy in 2018.

I’m already itching to see what happens to Michael, Janet, and the humans in 2019. How about you?

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GLOW


Ironically one of the reasons I really loved GLOW this year was because it got more serious. Sure, the series was still funny and I appreciate all of the dry wit that episodes bring. But the fact that it pushed itself outside of the confines of the first season truly made it special. “The Good Twin” was an ambitious episode that really paid off, and Alison Brie and Betty Gilpin deserve all of the awards possible for their confrontation in “Nothing Shattered.” The whole cast truly is special and I loved that we got the opportunity to see more of them shine this year. There were deeper storylines for them (please tell me everyone else appreciated the emotional story Tammé  had with her son), and we actually got the chance to not just watch them and their wrestling alter egos in the ring, but explore more about why they’re choosing wrestling and how it impacts the rest of their lives, for better or worse.

GLOW is one of those fun, easy-to-binge shows because the content and format lend itself to watching one more episode, and then one more episode. I love that 2018 brought us more of a series with nearly all women stars and allowed us all the chance to get to know more complex, diverse women on television.

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Brooklyn Nine-Nine


What a gem of a comed this one is, you guys. Brooklyn Nine-Nine thankfully got picked up by NBC after its cancellation at FOX, and I for one am grateful. I’m not sure exactly when this series became a favorite of mine (because it took me three attempts to even start watching it in the first place), but it did. I’m a sucker for ensemble comedies, if you haven’t noticed that pattern yet, and this show is the best current example of a workplace ensemble comedy.

But what I’ve always appreciated — apart from the commitment to recurring jokes, callbacks (shout-out to all the writers who remember all the things), and flashbacks — about Brooklyn Nine-Nine is that when it chooses to be series, it does so purposefully. “Moo Moo” (though it aired in 2017) and “Show Me Going” are two recent examples of the fact that when the show focuses on the fact that it’s not just a workplace comedy but a workplace comedy about a police station, it shines. “Show Me Going” was the perfect balance of intensity and humor, and that’s the balance Brooklyn Nine-Nine has locked down.

I already saw the first two episodes of the upcoming season and let me tell you... they’re excellent. Catch up on the series if you haven’t yet, and dive into all the romance, humor, silliness, and joy that Brooklyn Nine-Nine holds.

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grown-ish


Ironically I began watching grown-ish before I watched black-ish. The Freeform series is fun and features the same kind of narration that black-ish does. But grown-ish takes the narration a step further, frequently breaking the fourth wall and having Zoey directly address cameras. (In the season two premiere, she literally tells the audience to stay put while she goes and does something.) What I really enjoyed about grown-ish this year was the fact that it featured a stellar and diverse cast and though it’s more suited for college students and young adults — like a lot of Freeform’s content — it’s appealing to a wider audience. This isn’t just a series about college students partying, or Zoey trying to find her place in the world. It’s about friendships, arguments, love, identity and purpose — all things that everyone can relate to.

While watching black-ish definitely will help you understand Zoey’s personality better (I started watching black-ish frequently this year and love it too), it’s not necessarily a requirement to watch grown-ish. You’ll be able to jump right into this fun comedy series and hopefully enjoy it as much as I did. Catch up before season two returns in a few weeks!

What were some of your favorite comedies this year? Did 2018 feel simultaneously as long and short to you guys as it did me? Sound off in the comments below!

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Blindspot 4x08 Review: "Screech, Thwack, Pow" (Diversions) [Contributor: Jen]


"Screech, Thwack, Pow"
Original Airdate: December 7, 2018

Blindspot delivers a tepid mid season finale and truly makes me wonder how much gas is left in this tank.

CASE OF THE WEEK


"Screech, Thwack, Pow" is just a series of diversions. The writers make us think they are turning left when they are really turning right. This is a technique Blindspot uses often. Once an episode is fine. Three or four diversions gets to be excessive.

The case of the week is about a nuclear missile launch from a submarine; it's headed straight for Manhattan. If you are wondering how many times we've done a nuke storyline this season, I think it's either once or twice already. The fact we know we'll have multiple nuclear attacks shows you how many times Blindspot repeats the same threats on New York.

The missile launch is all diversion of course. It's Boston hacking NORAD for Remi so the FBI is too busy stopping a nuclear attack to pay attention to what she's doing. However, her hack of NORAD ultimately gives her plan away. During a nuclear attack, the CIA moves their blacksite prisoners out of the country to a secure location. Is that really the CIA protocol? Doubtful. I feel like there are other CIA priorities happening during a nuclear attach other than getting their blacksite prisoners a first-class ticket to Maldives.

I really thought Boston was toast this week, but he convinces Remi to keep him alive so he can assist her while she's on the run with Shepherd. Meanwhile, after he turns all the stoplights green for Remi, he leaves them yellow for Rich Dotcom to find like a yellow brick road. Boston's favorite movie is The Wizard of Oz. This was Boston's cutest and coolest trick. The fact the yellow lights are thrilling me should be a signal (pun intended) this episode wasn't a real barnstormer.

Remi snatches her mother in transit, but Kurt catches up to them. Remi fires on Kurt and he swerves his car — excessively in my opinion — and it flips. This is how the episode opened, so we're meant to believe Remi kills Kurt. I yawned my way through it because there's no way Blindspot kills off Kurt Weller. We still have half a season. Diversion number two.

Kurt arrests Boston and he explains how Remi tricked him into helping her. He tips Kurt off to Remi's increasingly alarming and lucid Roman hallucinations. Rich uses a program he created which can impersonate people. It looks like the person is saying words they never said. Rich used it on Patterson earlier in the episode. Rich sends a message to Remi "from Roman" to meet at a certain location. Lame? Yes, but if it gets us closer to arresting Remi, sticking whatever cure for this zip nonsense in her arm, and getting back Jane, then I'm for it.

Remi tells her mother to stay put and she arrives at the location. Of course, Weller is there as diversion number three. "Screech, Thwack, Pow" ends with Kurt and Remi running at each other WWE-style to punch it out. No, I am not kidding. Yes, it is as stupid as it sounds.

TEAM BLINDSPOT


This episode is focused on catching up all our characters on what the other characters have been up to. Reade and Weitz tell Patterson they are on their way to Mexico to catch Zapata. Weller tells Rich and Patterson his wife is taking a ride on the crazy train. Rich: "It's like her brain is trying to reboot the system to factory settings. Only, in her case, it reset to Remi."

I really love how Rich can boil down overly-complicated plot points into simple, accurate, yet hilarious, explanations. I also love how plans aren't plans until Patterson signs off on them. Patterson in charge of everything is the realest thing about this show right now.

Down in Mexico, there's some bartering with the Mexican drug lord in exchange for his hacker. For a second, I thought Madeline was going to trade Zapata for the hacker. Tasha working for the Mexican drug cartel sounds a heck of a lot more interesting than this plane nonsense. But alas, nope. Tasha talks her way out of it, like a stone-cold killer: "I know where all the bodies are buried. And where to put the new ones. Do yourself a favor and take the money."

Why is she suddenly scarier when she speaks Spanish? After she makes the deal with the cartel for the hacker, Tasha separates from Madeline and Reade literally runs into her on the street. That's right, kids! Reade lands in Mexico, the very large country, and walks directly into the person he's searching for. Diversion number four. Sigh. I'm trying to hang in there, but do the turns in plot have to be so ludicrous?

Whatever, I shouldn't be complaining. Maybe if Reade arrests Tasha we can be done with this plane storyline too. We end with Tasha squaring off with Reade and Weitz. She's outgunned so I'm not sure what her play is. We're supposed to be worried Tasha and Reade are going to shoot one another, but mostly I don't care. I just want Zapata to go home and stop pretending she's the mistress of all evil (because she isn't). If not, then Blindspot should go all-in and actually let her become the mistress of all evil by running a drug cartel. Just do something other than the nothing I've been watching for weeks on end.

KURT AND JANE


There was a nuclear threat and Kurt left Jane a goodbye message because he didn't want their last conversation to be about threatening to kill one another. Kurt says: "Jane, I don't know if you'll ever hear this but, uh... you're the love of my life, and I never stopped fighting for you. I love you. Goodbye."

HERE ENDETH THE SHOW. Just kidding, but it was a sweet moment. Consider it the highlight, because we don't get much Jeller other than the two of them going all Fight Club on each other.

Here's one of my slight frustrations with the whole Remi plot: she hasn't done anything all that awful yet. Maybe if she killed Boston, there might be some ramifications. But honestly... once they cure her, I'm not sure what consequences — if any — there will be for Jane. Not that I want Jane to be punished for something that's not her fault. Of course I don't want that.

However, the stakes aren't all that high. We know Remi will get cured eventually, so it's about the damage she does in the meantime. Kurt isn't telling the FBI or CIA about what happened, so even Jane's job will be waiting for her when she gets back. Kudos to Kurt for not sending the love of his life to CIA blacksite to be tortured again. That was a real low point in their relationship. Let's not revisit it.

This is the midseason finale, but nothing feels very exciting to me. It all unfolded relatively predictably, despite the multiple diversions Blindspot had going. The whole "Remi and Zapata are evil" storylines have grown stale. I'm ready to move on. Last week was wonderful because it allowed Kurt and Remi to hash things out, but that's done now; so let's cure her and move on.

My general restlessness and boredom mean I'm ready for this show to be done. There just doesn't seem to be a lot of story left to tell. It's time to wrap Blindspot up after this season. Cure Jane, kill Shepherd, hook up Reade and Zapata, give me Jeller babies, and Patterson can rule the world and get a spin-off with Rich Dotcom.

The end. Roll credits.

Stray Thoughts:

  • Rich leaves a goodbye voicemail to Boston, but then tricks him into saying "I love you" by allowing him to think he's going to spend the rest of his life in supermax. They are so horribly dysfunctional and hilarious. This is also diversion number five, I believe.
  • A PSA for Remi: You can't just yell someone out of their PTSD.
  • How many "Cure Remi" subplots do we have going now? Four? Oy. Pick one and move it along.
  • Her mother knew the zip was poison and yet Remi still wants to work with Shepherd. If that doesn't sum up their highly toxic and dysfunctional relationship, then I don't know what does. But sure Remi, WELLER is the problem here.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

The Flash 5x09 Review: "Elseworlds, Part 1" (Swapsies!) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]


"Elseworlds, Part 1"
Original Airdate: December 9, 2018 

It’s midseason finale time! And crossover time! At the same time! This year’s crossover of DC Arrowverse shows (sadly lacking in the crew from Legends of Tomorrow) involves a life switcheroo between Oliver and Barry, and it’s probably the most fun crossover we’ve gotten so far. I must credit a lot of the episode’s fun to just how terrifically well Barry and Oliver play off each other — it’s clear that the writers saw the appeal of opposite characters being thrown together in a crossover event, but I think the actors really had fun with the experience as well. To wonderful results.

NOT EXACTLY FREAKY FRIDAY


The big event begins: a great battle has taken place on a desolate battlefield, littered with flaming wreckage and the bodies of costumed heroes. The Flash (John Wesley Shipp version) looks to be the last alive as he crawls toward a large book, but the book is scooped up by an echo-voiced someone. I’m going to go ahead and say that the echo-voiced someone is the Monitor, since it’s easier for recapping purposes. The Monitor takes the book and opens it and it emits a stream of white light. Later, the Monitor gives that glowy book to a man named Deegan, a psychiatrist distracted by eugenics and evening out the human/metahuman playing field. With the book, Deegan can manipulate reality.

In Central City, the sky is red and full of lightning, and Oliver Queen is waking up... as Barry Allen. Oliver walks through Barry and Iris’s apartment, which is now decorated with poorly Photoshopped images of Stephen Amell’s face on Grant Gustin’s body. Iris is making breakfast and kisses her “husband” hello. Oliver is freaking the fork out but, like in most depictions of body-swap/life-swap tropes, Iris is only mildly confused by the man she thinks is her husband acting like he has no idea who he is. Also, it’s been a while since I watched Arrow, but Oliver smiles a lot in this scene (keeping up Barry appearances) and it doesn’t sit well with me. Oliver Queen smiling is just too weird, guys.

Oliver realizes he has Barry’s powers as well as his life and has some fun zipping around the apartment. Then Iris comes back and tosses him Barry’s Flash suit ring and, now donning the Flash’s new primary red outfit, immediately blames Barry for whatever shenanigans might have led to the most recent weirdness in his life. Which... yeah, that’s fair.

After Oliver clumsily stops a robbery and gets to S.T.A.R. Labs, Caitlin checks him over and finds no anomalies, much to his dismay. Also to his dismay: human contact! Prickly Oliver is not on board with the hug-fest that is Team Flash, or their need to talk about feelings, or their overall concern for their friend. Hey, like, this episode kinda makes me feel sorry for Oliver Queen? Dude’s clearly in a constant state of abject misery and loneliness.

Time to check in on Barry, who wakes up in the middle of a sparring match with Diggle. After Barry somehow manages to beat Diggle, he mentions calling on S.T.A.R. Labs for some “important Green Arrow business” (smooth, Barry). That’s interrupted by an alert that something bad is happening in the Glades. Diggle describes what it is, exactly, but it’s just gibberish to me, so... something bad is happening in the Glades, and it’s a job for the Green Arrow.

Barry manages to handle himself well during the fight, but Diggle almost gets jumped and Oliver super-speeds in to haul both Diggle and Barry away. Diggle promptly vomits into a trashcan, as is his wont. Able to talk for the first time since the life switch, Oliver is searching for answers while Barry is having fun with his new ability to climb the famous salmon ladder. Then Oliver mentions waking up in Barry and Iris’s bed, and Barry’s not having fun anymore.

Back to S.T.A.R. Labs, where they come clean to Team Flash in the hopes of figuring out how to fix it. Caitlin asks if Barry time traveled again and broke the universe and, I repeat: that’s fair. Anyway, no one believes them and even Iris is confused about why Barry would ever want to think he’s Oliver Queen. After all, Oliver Queen lives a life of constant sadness, vengeance, and desaturated colors while Barry Allen is allowed to smile and lives in a city that actually experiences sunlight. Turns out it’s all just a distraction so Iris can drug Oliver while Ralph knocks Barry out.

Both wake up in a cell, each handcuffed. When Oliver mentions that “everyone on Earth” thinks they’re each other, Barry gets the bright idea that maybe other Earths were unchanged. If they could get to Kara’s Earth, she might be able to convince everyone they’re telling the truth. Problem: they’re still in prison, which means they must break out, and that means Barry has to dislocate his thumb to escape his cuffs and then shove his hand into a toilet. Gross. On both counts. Oliver takes roughly half a second to figure out phasing and they escape, only to be stopped on the way to Kara’s Earth by Iris.

Barry talks all romantic and seems to win Iris over, so she gives them the breaching device and they head straight into...

The Smallville theme song! Okay, so actually it’s Earth-38, in Smallville, but they’re playing the Smallville theme song! I can’t fully express how much joy I felt upon hearing the early-2000s wail of Remy Zero. Bonus fun: I’m pretty sure the set that Barry and Oliver meet up with Kara, Clark, and Lois on is the actual Kent Farm set from Smallville. Either that, or a spectacular replica. Oh, this crossover is my favorite.

As Kara and Clark are chatting about Clark’s recent trip to Argo, Oliver and Barry arrive, surprising Lois, and Kara cuts in before she smashes one of their heads in with a hammer. Introductions all around. Barry is thrilled to be meeting Superman. Oliver continues to be grumpy. Really, even though the whole episode is fun, the scenes with Barry, Oliver, and Kara together in Smallville stand out. Beautiful things happen whenever Kara and Barry get to buddy up, and those things are only amplified by the contrast of Oliver’s grouchiness. It’s like two golden retriever puppies trying to play with a cantankerous old cat.

Except things go awry when the cantankerous old cat takes a swat at one of the puppies. During a training session, Barry gets his revenge over Oliver shooting him with arrows during the first crossover and Oliver snaps. Later, he confesses to harboring envy — without using the word — over how carefree Barry’s life seems to be. Oliver learns lessons and they’re accompanied by painful memories, but Barry can use Oliver’s skills and still have a good time. Oliver pretty much admits he’s only effective as the Green Arrow when he’s angry and tormented. Jeez, man. Again, this episode does a better job getting me to feel for Oliver than all the seasons of Arrow I’ve watched.

Cisco shows up on Earth-38 to call Barry and Oliver — and, since they’re there, Kara and Clark — in to help with the destructive robot rampaging through Central City. It’s AMAZO, the main antagonist of the episode, but here I am first mentioning it in the second-to-last paragraph of this review because it’s only in this episode so they can have a climactic battle at the end. And what a climactic battle it is! While Clark, Kara, and Oliver hold it down, Barry taps into his inner Oliver (i.e., he gets angry) and lands an arrow right in AMAZO’s robot eye. Oliver grins and gives Barry a thumbs-up after. It’s weird.

With the battle over, Iris and Barry have a talk that basically boils down to, “Barry, don’t turn into Oliver Queen. He’s really sad and we did that angsty stuff in season three. It didn’t work.”

Meeting up in the labs again, Cisco vibes the Monitor and Deegan, who’s holding the reality-controlling book. Oliver quickly sketches what he, Barry, and Cisco saw for everyone else and announces that their next stop is Gotham City.

Other Things:

  • Literally everything to do with the Barry/Iris/Oliver non-love triangle was comedic perfection. Like I said, the actors really had fun with this one.
  • “Guess you forgot you can’t get drunk?” “This day could not get any worse.”
  • “Are you puffing out your chest?” “Yes.” Barry’s reaction to Oliver being so... Oliver. It’s phenomenal.
  • I would love a whole episode of Kara and Barry needling Oliver and mocking his Batman Voice.