Pilot Palooza: Our 2015-2016 Series Reviews

It's that time of the year again: the start of fall television season. Since we got the chance to see quite a few pilots early this year, we've compiled our pilot reviews for you. Some of them we loved, some we hated, and some landed along the line of 'meh.' Check them all 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.

The First Annual Golden Trio Awards

Check out all of the nominees and winners of our first annual Just About Write Golden Trio Awards! We had a blast with the ceremony and we hope you did too.

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, November 24, 2015

Castle 8x08 "Mr. & Mrs. Castle" (Unite and Conquer) [Contributor: Hope]

"Mr. & Mrs. Castle"
Original Airdate: November 23, 2015

This week Castle did something wonderful. It’s not just that this was by far the best episode of the season –– with the great balance of comedy and suspense, it really was. No, it also put an end to that terribly annoying, cringe-worthy storyline that felt like it would never end! It. is. OVER. Does it make up for the last several episodes? Maybe not. But it sure did make waiting it out worth it.

There wasn’t a B-storyline in this episode, as Ryan and Esposito took the backseat, and Lanie was nonexistent (Perlmutter, it’s been forever). So this review is going to be organized a little differently this time around. Let’s start at...


The episode started with Martha and her signature common sense. That’s a little silly to say about a character who once spent the entirety of an episode repeating her play’s opening line, "Is he dead?" But Martha really has become the one who dishes out the common sense as of late. Then Hayley took over, and now it’s real –– she is Castle’s consultant. This makes her role sound much more permanent, and I’m glad. Toks Olagundoye is wonderful in this role, from Hayley taking over Castle’s office and dismissing him with a wave of her hand, to her raising her hands up and asking Castle if he was second-guessing his decision to hack Beckett’s operation. She’s brought to Hayley such a complex mix of characteristics: she’s tough, she’s kind, and she’s far from detached.

One good thing I have to say about the breakup storyline is that the show didn’t try to make Hayley a love interest. I remember that being speculated near the start of the season among fans, and it would have been such a trope-y mess. Hayley is a well-rounded character who already had a ton of depth in her first episode. It would have been a shame to waste her character that way.


Castle and Beckett got stuck on a cruise liner and were shipped (he, he) off to sea along with their crime scene. The cruise employees were oddly told to not aid in the investigation. I get that the big wigs didn’t want a PR debacle, but they just didn’t get the concept that police trump cruise ship managers in priority. The police are basically the best move in a metaphorical game of rock, paper, scissors.

Anyway, Mr. Cranky Pants informed Castle and Beckett they had 60 minutes before a smaller boat would come and remove them from the cruise liner. The time constraint was a nice twist (and I actually thought it would span the whole episode), and it led to Castle and Beckett –– on multiple occasions –– declaring "divide and conquer!" which seemed like a bit of a bad omen. The funny thing is, the whole time they were actually working together, without problems, and it was wonderful. Their interactions were so relaxed and easy. THIS was the Castle I missed.

The cinematography of this episode shone in the sequence where Beckett chases their suspect through the boat’s boiler room. The guy threw something at her (rude) and the chase began. The camera darted around as Beckett climbed up and down stairs, and around the boat’s inner-workings. They cut quickly from shot to shot, and combined with the confusing nature of the setting, it created a wonderful sense of suspense. The whole time I watched this scene, the only thing I could think of was how HARD it must have been to shoot. This scene was the stuff of climaxes, not the first half of an episode.

I actually found the case itself really interesting. The victim had been undercover on a sort of one-man environmental sting, and although only the first half of the episode focused on it –– it then turned into a Vulcan Simmons related case –– I was engaged. It also brought us the Castle Pretends He Knows How to Dance Scene, which was comedic gold.



The scene where Hayley hacked Vikram’s system was THE BEST. (Speaking of Vikram, he’s hilarious and his has a good dynamic with Beckett. However, he sent that text to Beckett in last week’s episode just to get her away from Castle. He loses points for that.) This scene, honestly, goes down as one of my favorites of the whole season. "Can you stop him?" "No," Hayley answers, "but I can slow him down," as she initiates COUNTERSTRIKE. "Slowing him down" = CAT VIDEOS. A boatload of them, meowing all over Vikram’s screens. The incredulous look on Beckett’s face was priceless.

The combination of the dynamics between Castle and Hayley, Beckett and Vikram, and of course, Castle and Beckett, came into full play here, and it was really nice to watch. It was the culmination of the first part of the season, and watching it, you get the sense that something good came from all the drama. I hope that going forward, these dynamics continue, because it was truly one of the best things that came from the past seven episodes. When Vikram "nuked" Castle’s system, Hayley was devastated by it. The sheer level of investment she had in this operation was a wonderful example of how much a part of the show she is –– and could be –– becoming.


Then, of course, Castle had to find Beckett and get her to talk, because a full-on hacking war and the frying of his computers signaled a line had been firmly crossed. Cue the sad music! Their conversation in the precinct BAFFLED me. "Instead I find out you’ve been lying to me." Excuse me? When the case in the season premier involved Bracken and Beckett left soon after, Castle remarked on her need to be obsessed over a case. So the fact that he believed she needed "looking for me time" just blows my mind. Was I incorrectly assuming that he knew more about why she left than he actually did? He knew she was caught up in something bad, right? Even if it wasn’t the Lockset case? Someone, enlighten me.

Then Castle dropped a major truth bomb (to Beckett or the writers, you choose):

"You could have come to me, with everything. Broken us up, just like you did, only it would’ve been a cover and together, in secret, we could’ve taken this guy down."


Yes, why didn’t this happen? This would have been rational. The only excuse I can come up with is that people, in real life, aren’t always rational. Beckett made a mistake because she was scared. I get that; it’s human. So I accept this mistake, but truly... this same conclusion could have been reached EPISODES ago, and now I feel a little exhausted.

He left, despite her asking him to wait, saying, "You have a job to do. And there’s no one better." It seemed like he had accepted and washed his hands of the whole mess. I wouldn’t say that he gave up, but he gave in. He’d been chasing after her and trying to be there for her for weeks. There comes a point in time where you just have to stop trying for your own sake. This was Castle’s time.


While Beckett chased after a suspect with mixed success, Castle was at home, chatting with Lucy. That is, until Beckett came in. She admitted that he was right –– their breakup could be a cover. He argued that she had "lost faith" in him, which was a very valid point. He hadn’t lost faith in her, except in the very beginning of their breakup, before Alexis had convinced him not to.

Trust and faith are so closely entwined, and I think that was the root of the problem. There’s an immense level of trust between these two. Beckett let her walls down for him, he trusts her with his heart and with his safety when he inevitably gets in over his head. I could go on. Beckett argued back, "I didn’t realize how much I needed you until this happened," which, okay, I can see that. They work best as a team, so that makes sense. It also makes sense that she would realize how much it would hurt if she lost him, either through pushing him away or if Lockset went terribly wrong. However, they can’t downplay everything that has happened before this season. She knew she needed him well before this point, and I just don’t want them trying to invalidate that. A show cannot alter or undermine its emotional arcs for the sake of validating a new arc.

Anyway. There’s a long silence where Castle thinks this all over. It’s perfectly long and his answer is perfectly simple: "Okay."

This was such a great end to the otherwise annoying storyline. I’m still not sure that we needed to go through all that to get to this point, but maybe we’ll see things more clearly in the second part of the season. Either way, Castle and Beckett being fake broken up should be a lot more fun. I’ve had my reservations, but this episode was just what the season needed. Let’s hope more like this will follow when the show returns in January. Until 2016, everyone!


  • "Ooh, I am so glad you agreed to consult with Richard. Maybe now this money pit will turn a profit!" He, he.
  • Hayley/Alexis fist-bump! #LadiesSupportingLadies.
  • Is there really such a thing as cruise ship "resident guests"? People just live on these boats for years?!
  • That dance scene, really and truly, was SO hilarious. The moment Castle recognized that "Jazz hands!" was something he could actually do, he lit up.
  • "He’s just a little weird." "Well, normally he’s a lot weird... In a charming kind of way." "Oh." There was so much depth to that "oh."
  • That hacking sequence screen with the circling numbers and action-filmy music was SO CHEESY.
  • "No, we’ve got only two of the blinky boxes left to go!" "Blinky boxes." "Just hack!" Castle’s terminology is basically mine.
  • "I’ve got a cyber nuke." This is scary. But… did he really need the SUPER HELPFUL ROCKET PICTURE? I mean... it doesn’t look very serious.
  • "Ah, you are having a pity party. That’s okay, I’ll leave. But I will be taking a pretty juicy clue with me." Vikram is so excited about this secret investigation stuff. Please don’t kill him off, show.
  • Lucy: "Don’t take this the wrong way, Rick, but you don’t make any sense." Castle: "Well, it’s because I’m in love. But you... wouldn’t understand that." "So why are you talking to me about it?" "Touché."
  • Question: does this episode and resolution make up or partially make up for the drama of this season so far? If this episode was the series asking for forgiveness for this storyline, would you answer, "okay"?
  • The Annoyingness of the Caskett Breakup Scale: 4!

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Vampire Diaries 7x07 "Mommie Dearest" (Eyes Wide Open) [Contributor: Megan Mann]

"Mommie Dearest"
Original Airdate: November 19, 2015

Things have been getting hectic in Mystic Falls and at Whitmore, guys. And now, with Julian being back and Alaric discovering that his babies were trapped and now safe in Caroline, things are about to get even more twisted.

Three years from now, Damon and Alaric are racing towards the studio where Caroline has just given her little speech. They know that they’re heading into a trap, but it’s better them than Stefan. Caroline is merely the bait and when Damon walks into the studio, he sees that it’s empty; it’s just a video of her speaking. This is a problem. Before he can take action, his back is shot with vervaine darts and he crumbles to the ground.

In the present, Caroline is taking a pregnancy test to see if the mystical coven spell actually took and if she’s now carrying the twins and future of the Gemini coven. As Alaric points out, it makes sense for Caroline to have been the safe place. Her body can’t exactly die and they needed their line to continue. It’s a logical move when they knew they had to act fast.

While Damon is chiefly concerned (and rightly so) with taking out Julian, Stefan informs him that they’ll be hosting Thanksgiving. This seems a little off to me since Stefan said he couldn’t eat real food in season one, but okay. Julian knows that the brothers want him dead and they need to be strategic rather than impulsive. What they need is an ally. Of course, he means their mother.

Matt calls Caroline and informs her of what they found at the high school. He can’t get ahold of Bonnie and gets even more worried when he discovers she’s with Enzo. (Is this how they end up together in the future? Bonnie and Enzo is still so weird to me.) Despite taking them out, he said all of the people were back again that morning like they had never left. When he opens the door to the Grille, he finds all the tables are now occupied... by the people from the school.

The brothers try to appeal to Lily and gain her help. Hoping to make her see how cruel Julian is, Stefan tells her how he had gotten Valerie pregnant and the role Julian played in it. Emotions flit across her face as she’s surprised, stunned, and confused. It’s not surprising that Lily doesn’t buy it, as she’s so swayed by Julian. But Damon can see what Stefan is doing. Again, they have to be strategic. That’s why Lily is now on the floor after drinking concentrated vervaine. Classic Salvatore trickery.

Bonnie and Enzo are at the impound lot looking for Oscar’s car before Julian does. Enzo’s motivations are solely to win over Lily. Under the spare tire lies a sword. Among all of the bottles and various trash, that’s the only thing Julian is likely interested in. Bonnie recognizes it from her research of the Phoenix stone. The question is whether he’s worried about killing with it or being killed by it.

Lily is just coming to as her sons explain that not only is Julian brainwashing her again, but that she has a pattern of falling in love with the wrong men. She just can’t see it. We’re transported back to Thanksgiving in the 1800s. For the first time in the series, we get a real look at the man Papa Salvatore was. He was harsh and intense, manipulative of his wife. It’s the manipulation that they point out in the present. She’s impressionable and susceptible to abuse. Whether she likes it or not, she’s going to help them kill her paramour.

Over at the Grille, Matt shows Caroline the group of compelled people. Their IVs are filled with saline to keep them hydrated for long periods of time and there’s not a single bite mark on any of them. Suspicious, seeing as they believe this to be the work of the heretics. Matt wonders if they’re fattening the cattle for slaughter. This causes Caroline to totally toss her cookies into the trashcan. Instead of being honest, she doesn’t tell Matt what’s going on. Quickly diverting the conversation back to the well-fed zombies, she wonders if the compulsion can’t be siphoned away.

But Valerie knows that it’s senseless to do so. If she were to siphon off the compulsion from this particular group, they’ll simply just be replaced by another. She wonders if this is a safe place for Caroline to be, seeing as she’s a pregnant vampire. Despite the signs and putting more faith in the pregnancy test, Caroline denies it and promptly freaks out on her. She quickly apologizes and pleads for her help. Well, it’s worth a try, I guess.

Enzo and Julian act like two schoolboys ready to scrap on the playground for the affections of the same girl. Julian respects Lily’s request of no more bloodshed in her house, so they obviously take it to the woods to duel. Yes, a duel. Swords and all.

The vervaine bonds sear into Lily’s skin as we’re taken back to that Thanksgiving past. Their father asks Lily to fetch him a bourbon, taking her out of the room. He accuses the boys of taking money from him as he lights a cigar. Smoke clouds around him as he sternly tells them to do what’s right. Damon decides to take one for the team and lies saying that he took it. He raised neither liars nor thieves, and quickly grabs Damon’s arm, burning it with the cigar.

Lily knew that Giuseppe was a monster. She knew what he had done to Damon that night. Before she can explain herself, a cut appears on her neck. Someone is trying to kill Julian. They ask her how she could know that. To protect him from her sons, they did a spell binding Lily and Julian’s lives; if he dies, so doe she. Talk about a wrench in the plan.

Breaking from the compulsion, Caroline turns around and compels the group again to forget what happened. She catches herself in a mirror and wonders if what Valerie said might be true. Matt asks if she wants to talk about It, but she maintains there is nothing to discuss. Beau comes into the Grille and sees what they have done. He does a spell that causes Valerie and Caroline to fall and before he can hurt them more, Valerie stabs him and places and invisibility spell over them.

Enzo stalks slowly through the forest spotting blood on a rock. Julian had disappeared but he was close. He sneaks up behind Enzo as his sword drops.

Lily cleans up the blood from their mutual cut and admits to Stefan that she had taken the money from their father. Stefan doesn’t understand how she could let Damon take the blame over herself and then stay with the man for years afterward. All Lily wanted to do was get them away from Giuseppe, but he was always one step ahead of her. He had found the train tickets she intended to escape with. She knew that he was a monster. She knew that with eyes wide open. With his threat to take them away from her, she stayed. Everything was to protect them.

The fight continues in the woods, but is stunted when Damon knocks Julian out. Or at least he thinks he does. Julian comes up from behind, but Damon is quicker and stabs him in the heart. Lily falls to her knees as blood drips from her mouth. The sword is turned as Julian shutters.

Bonnie walks into Alaric’s office to find him drunk and alone in the dark. She opts to stay in his office to find out more information on the sword. Quickly she finds what she needs. The Phoenix stone gives the sword its power against immortal foes. Something about this doesn’t sit well within the office.

Damon informs Enzo that Julian is using Lily as a human shield, oblivious to the fact that there are people hellbent on seeing her dead. They both think Lily is dead but then... plot twist! Julian comes up and snaps Enzo’s neck, confusing Damon. Clearly, this is where the “Oh, no” Bonnie uttered regarding the sword is going to start making sense.

The girls make their escape from Beau, and Caroline asks her to stop with the evasion. Valerie seems to know plenty about the spell that the coven placed on Caroline to keep the twins safe, and she wants the truth as to why. As Valerie talks, Caroline puts the pieces together and finally finds out the secret Stefan has been hiding. Their story might have ended badly, but Caroline can help see that Alaric’s story doesn’t.

Stefan and Lily intervene in the fight between Damon and Julian, asking what’s going on. Damon has once again acted impulsively and tried to kill Julian so he can kill two vampires with one sword. Julian makes a sly comment about that not being able to kill him seems to be lost on the brothers at this time, but it’s certainly an important note.

Matt tells Bonnie that Jeremy and Tyler (throwback!) think they know of a way to deal with the compulsion problem and that he’s going to look into it while Stefan and Damon disagree over how the day was handled. It doesn’t matter what the real story is, Damon will never get over how Lily faked her death, ditched them and has spent the past century trying to forget them. It’s a testament to their acting ability that they can be both angry and hurt in such a beautiful way in this scene. Stefan doesn’t even try to stop him from leaving.

Questions of what Julian was doing in the woods with Enzo and why he would engage in a duel knowing his life was bound to hers flood out of Lily. But the most important question she asks is if he knew that Valerie was pregnant with Stefan’s child. There’s a moment of hesitation before Julian plays dumb and it’s obvious that he’s lying. Now it begs another question: Does Lily believe him? She willingly forgives him, but could she just be doing it for appearance's sake?

The moment takes her back in time to Giuseppe apologizing for the way he handled the train tickets. The exchanges are almost identical and it seems as if she’s finally seeing what her sons have been trying to tell her.

An ultrasound reveals that there is neither one nor two babies inside Caroline. Alaric apologizes for believing that this was possible and for putting her through that. Valerie comes in and they inform her that she was wrong. Again. “Are you sure about that?” she asks and siphons something from Caroline’s stomach. It didn’t make sense that the spell pointed toward Caroline and the tests came up negative and then it clicked when she used the cloaking spell against Beau. The coven would have done anything to protect the twins from harm, so they too were cloaked. When she removes the spell, the three of them see the twins on the ultrasound machine. Not only is there finally a shred of light in the darkness of their lives, but this is a great way to cover up actress Candace Accola’s pregnancy.

The doorbell rings. Lily walks in and realizes that they were right; she had traded one monster for another. Stefan’s plan worked! Lily has a plan and, having been in his pocket for so long, knows that they won’t get caught this time. But knowing the track record of this group, something will happen. It’s just a matter of when.

What is the significance of the sword? What is it that Jeremy and Tyler suggested to Matt? What is Julian actually doing with the group of people plugged into the IVs? And most importantly, what exactly is Lily planning to do when her life is bound to his? Ugh. Until next time, my fine friends!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Series: This Week's TV MVPs - Week 22

Welcome back to yet another week in our now-famous TV MVP Series! We've switched things up a bit this week, as rules have changed slightly for the series. In order to ensure that we are distributing our love for television as equally as possible, you'll now only see one actor per show (per article)! I love that everyone on this staff is so passionate about their television shows and I hope that you all love them for the same reason. (And for other reasons too, of course.) As Thanksgiving approaches this week, I couldn't be more grateful to be surrounded by a community of writers who genuinely make me laugh and cry and sometimes laugh so hard that I cry. They're much more than writers to me, though. They are friends. And I'm thankful that they're here.

Speaking of Thanksgiving, we will be taking a break from the TV MVP Series next week, November 29th! Instead, we will be spending time with our families and... let's be real here, we'll actually all probably be watching television in some capacity. We hope you enjoy your holiday and we will resume the series the following week on December 6th — DECEMBER, YOU GUYS.

But for now, let's continue with another week in discussing some of the best performances on television. This week, my cohorts are:

  • The lovely and witty Megan
  • The absolutely delightful Lizzie
  • The precious and talented Lynnie
  • The sassy (and stellar) Chelsea
  • The calm in our chaos, Jon

Let's get to it then!

iZombie 2x07 "Abra Cadaver" (Do You Believe in Magic?) [Contributor: Isabella]

"Abra Cadaver"
Original Airdate: November 17, 2015

Remember what I said about there being no filler episodes in this show? Well, it applies for this week too. This episode didn't do much to progress the plot, but instead was filled with jokes and pushed Liv and Blaine just a little closer into the case of the missing zombies. Speaking of which...


In between solving the case, Liv can't help but to team up with Blaine after he lets her know that all of the missing people have been zombies. This puts her on alert because she might be next. We know she can't be next because Major's doing the "killing," but she doesn't know that. In fact, at the beginning of the episode, Liv tells Major that if they're going to continue their relationship for real, they "have to be totally honest this time around." This already isn't good for Major, who's keeping his side job of killing capturing zombies a secret from her. In his mind, he's trying his hardest to keep her away from that particular aspect of his life, but she just keeps getting closer to the truth with each episode. I've been thinking since the first episode he began this job that if Liv were to ever find out what he's doing, it would be their breaking point as a couple. I'm not sure she'd even be that understanding in his excuse that he was killing/capturing to keep her safe.

Major's also having trouble dealing with Liv's many personality changes. Their "no sex" policy is the least of his problems now. In fact, he's completely okay with that, but seeing Liv constantly change from one person to the next is starting to grow old for him. He never knows what to expect. I've seen some people on Tumblr hate on him for this, but I actually think his concern about Liv not being herself is understandable. It's not like he's outwardly hating her for it. You can just see the worry and apprehension on his face when she's muttering under her breath and using the Ouija board.

Liv seems to notice that this makes him uncomfortable, but it didn't seem to cause much of a problem in their relationship. Whether it will affect it in the following episodes though, we still do not know. I just don't think it's something Major should be hated for. I'm sure most of us would be on edge if the person we loved kept acting like someone new every few days. It's something he still has to get used to. Ravi's had months to get used to. No wonder he's pretty accepting of it.

Now back to the actual unlikely duo: Liv and Blaine. I'm pretty sure most people were looking forward to this episode mainly to see them team up. I can't say I wasn't mildly disappointed. Liv so blatantly hates Blaine that the only redeeming factor of their scenes together were his one-liners and sassy I-don't-give-an-eff attitude. We know he's a horrible person because of everything he's done in the past, but David Anders plays Blaine so charmingly that you can't help but chuckle at his jokes. I understand Liv's hesitation to work with him, but I thought that last week's more vulnerable scene between them played out better than the scene of them in the car together this week. They understand each other better than anyone and I feel like the writers can use that to their advantage. Although I like all of Blaine's witty remarks, they could've had more back and forth between them. Maybe it's because Liv was under the influence of a darkly poetic person that she couldn't come up with smart, seething comments to counter Blaine's, but I was left feeling like their interactions were missing something.

Another unlikely duo that I've become mildly interested in is Peyton and Blaine. There's no denying that there's still something between Peyton and Ravi. Especially, as we saw, on Ravi's part since he broke up with his girlfriend and tried to lean in for a kiss with Peyton, which she swiftly rejected. It seems like she's definitely started to develop feelings for Blaine, as we can see at the end of the episode when she warns him about Stacey Boss coming to see her a few days ago. I'm still not sure how Peyton/Blaine would work out. As I said, he definitely has enough charm where it's easy to like their dynamic, but what we're not sure of is if his feelings are genuine. He's always using people to his advantage, so we can't ever be really certain about how he's actually feeling. Even last week when he was grieving after killing his grandfather, I didn't find that to be too believable. Maybe Blaine is actually interested in Peyton romantically and not just to use her to see whether he's in trouble in the case. I definitely believe he's capable of truly loving her but I'm just not that convinced yet. He's still got to prove it to me.


You know how I'm always ragging on about how the cases are oh-so boring? Well, this episode's murder was mildly more interesting.

Liv eats the brains of Sid Wicked, an overly poetic and goth magician. He's made a lot of enemies by stealing magic tricks from other magicians, which provides us with a lot of suspects. The actual killers were two other magicians, Smoak and Meers, but that didn't come as much of a surprise because Meers' makeup was so obviously fake that you could see it coming a mile away. Yet again, Clive and Liv going around and interviewing the suspects wasn't as captivating as it could've been and instead, the murder relied on Liv eating the victim's brain.

The highlight of Liv's personality change wasn't the fact that she was impressing Ravi so much with her new magic tricks. Don't get me wrong, I could watch Ravi being amused by magic tricks all day.


But it was her becoming a death-obsessed Wiccan that was much more captivating. When we first found out that Wicked was fascinated by death, I thought that they would make the connection between that and her literally being the walking dead. I thought they had the chance to let Liv explore her mortality, or rather, immortality, and what that might mean later on. We know there's a possibility of a cure somewhere out there, so it's plausible that she's set her mind on eventually getting it, but what if she doesn't? What if she's forced to see her loved ones grow up without her? We've seen a little bit of Blaine grappling with wanting immortality again, but what about Liv? I'm pretty sure she'd want to grow old with Major and his friends, but what if she can't? I thought the show could've had her act as equally morose, but apply Wicked's thoughts to her own life. Instead of having her recite poetic lines about flowers, they could've used that to further explore Liv's thoughts on death and how she might actually want it.

The true shocker of the episode came at the end. After Liv forges the document from the labs that say the brains found in Suzuki's freezer were from a bovine instead of a human, it seems like Clive and Bozzio are back to square one. Even though they're disappointed now, they might come ahead in the next episode. Later that night, a mysterious woman drops off a package at his front door labeled: Occupant.


Brainy Quotes and Undead Notes:
  • "Cause if we're gonna do this, we have to be totally honest this time around." — Liv to Major about their relationship... Yikes. This just further pushes the point that Liv will most likely not be accepting of Major keeping his zombie killing job a secret from her. I'm still calling that that'll be the factor to end their relationship yet again by the end of this season. But who knows, I may be wrong.
  • "You don't dress like that unless you do magic or you hate your parents." — Clive
  • I'm so here for Clive being absolutely unimpressed with all magicians in the same way that I'm here for Ravi being completely mesmerized by magic.
  • "Pick a card." "No." — Liv and Clive
  • Ravi's face completely softens when he looks at Peyton. He find her so amusing. He even calls her the "worst" with a smile on his face. I mean,
  • "Twitter, a vast collection of humanity's impetuous thought-vomitings." "I'd like to think I'm quite introspective to my 23 followers." — Liv and Ravi
  • "You killed the fourth man who walked on the moon." "Please, no one cares about the fourth person to do something." — Liv and Blaine
  • I'm just waiting for the moment when Bozzio and Clive see that Major owns the murdered man's dog. If and/or when they see it, they'll know for sure that he's been doing the killings.
  • #youlooklikeyouliveinyourmomsbasement #whowearsthumbrings
Please forgive me for the lateness of my short review! Blame my being out of town for the past few days and my crying of Mockingjay: Part 2 for the past two days.

Jessica Jones 1x01 "AKA Ladies Night" (A Woman Removed, A Hero By Choice) [Contributor: Lynnie Purcell]

"AKA Ladies Night"
Original Airdate: November 20, 2015

In the quiet moments there bleeds a very real pain that no amount of booze or sex can drive out. Jessica Jones dwells in a grey area in between the concerns of normal society and the darkness that breeds in the hearts of the people of New York City. And though she has seen the darkness, has lived it, she is not part of it. She is a woman removed –– by choice, by circumstance, and by the supernatural powers that make her unnaturally strong.

Jessica Jones premieres as a steady, strong entry into the Marvel universe and it is exactly what the franchise was missing.

Evocative of 1930s film noir, the framing and the style of pilot episode, “AKA Ladies Night,” is nothing short of realistic. There is a grittiness to the episode that even Daredevil did not have. While that series sought to promote a larger-than-life agenda, Jessica Jones is a quiet tribute to the everyday believability of a broken woman strong enough to rebuild and slowly create something new out of the ashes of a life marked by tragedy. The style of filming of the pilot reflects that realism and uniqueness. The framing of Jessica is never entirely centered, and long shots reflect Jessica’s tendency to feel like an outsider looking in. Long shots of action, sex, and interactions, as well as tilted angles, almost like a film camera capturing a candid moment, create a voyeuristic glimpse into the people around her, even as the quiet contemplation of the character is appreciated through moments that are allowed to sit and breathe in darkened tones that reflected Jessica’s sarcastic and unaffected world view.

Jessica has seen the worst of humanity. She is a watcher; she stands in the shadows and she observes. She has no intention of being a superhero; she honestly doesn’t see people as worthy of being saved. Flying off buildings or beating up the bad guys is not her thing. Those ideals are for other people –– stupider people, she might argue. Jessica does her work for a paycheck –– in order to afford rent and booze –– and does not allow herself to get involved because that means caring. Distancing herself from any kind of intimacy is a layer of her trauma that is played with subtlety and the perfect amount of truth. The pilot wonderfully moves through the beats of Jessica’s PTSD, building upon the idea that she is broken in ways that have manifested throughout her dealings with others and through a traumatic past, but it also shows that there is a light, fractured and dim and eager to poke out around the darkness that has been forced upon her. She has everything within her to be more, but she needs a push –– she needs something to pull her away from the meaningless work of finding cheating spouses and serving subpoenas.

The catalyst for Jessica’s step from disenfranchised P.I. to potential hero is the same man who sent her on a collision course with trauma and pain. Kilgrave is seen throughout the pilot in violent flashbacks that reiterate Jessica’s present day PTSD. Without stepping onscreen once in the present, he maintains an air of creepiness that no other villain in recent superhero television can match. Presumed to be dead by Jessica and others, he returns to the city and claims another victim in the same way he once claimed Jessica.

Hope, a young girl, has gone missing. Her parents come to the city looking for her and Jessica is the P.I. they reach out to. With her typical intelligence and poise, Jessica manages to track Hope down and, with dawning horror, makes the connection between Kilgrave and the case she is working, sending Jessica into a tailspin. The scene turns to chaos and frantic energy as she runs away from the source of her discovery and puts space between herself and the restaurant. Her first reaction is gut-clenching fear and self-preservation. She wants to run.

Being a hero is all about choice. A tragic experience can make either a villain or a hero. Neither are born. They are forged out of the steel of daily living. A person is presented with the option to take their trauma and either do go or take their revenge out on the world. Jessica is faced with this moment after she realizes that Kilgrave is back from the dead. Two scenes in the pilot mark the moment Jessica decides to embrace her heroism. The first is when, after she has gotten the money to leave town, she decides to go to the hotel to rescue Hope. The second is at the very end of the episode when she returns back to Hope after it is clear that Kilgrave is still controlling the young girl.

The first scene in the hotel is beautifully horrific. From the moment the fire alarm is pulled and the flashing lights go off, the stage for the creepiness is set. The off-kilter camera angles, the long shots, coupled with Jessica’s calm yet transparent fear and the building music, grow the horror organically. Kilgrave is in every moment, even if he doesn’t appear in the scene beyond a flashback. Pulling Hope out of the bed was also a great realistic moment. It shows Jessica’s determination and willingness not to play by the rules if it results in saving the girl. There’s a brutality to the fight that results between them that maintains a surrealism in Hope’s absolute determination to stay in the bed, despite knowing it’s not good, and Jessica’s calm resolution to pull her out of the room no matter the cost.

After Hope has proven that Kilgrave still has a hold on her via a pistol in an elevator, Jessica flees the building. For the second time since realizing Kilgrave was nearby, she entertains the notion of running. Movement and fear keeps her safe; it keeps her out of Kilgrave’s control. A taxi is there waiting, but, she stops. In that pause, in that moment of clarity, she realizes that she truly is not the type of woman to walk away. She understands herself in a heartbeat. She cares. She fights. She walks back in to what might as well be a burning building.

This is the moment a hero is born.

Another fun scene was soft reveal of her superhuman strength. It wasn’t fancy or one of those dramatic hero shots that you see in so many shows. I don’t know how else to describe the moment beyond saying it was feminine; the entire subtlety of picking up the car and holding it in place felt entirely womanly. The strength was to be expected; it was something so ordinary that it didn’t need grand music or in-your-face moments. That expected, understated strength is the reality of being a woman in the modern world. Strength is in every day; it breathes in the heartbeat of every woman. “She’s strong –– get over it,” was the feel of the entire scene and it was played with equal parts deadpan humor, sarcastic fierceness, and irritation on Jessica’s part.

Jessica Jones was perfect from start to finish in the pilot. The seeds they planted for the rest of the series, the villain they established in Kilgrave, the humorous moments that were played with sarcasm and subtly, of Jessica’s conflicting choices and growth, and the building tension and supernatural horror were done expertly and helped create an interesting start to what I am sure will be a great series.

Stray thoughts:

  • Krysten Ritter is perfection and she brings real life to Jessica Jones. 
  • “Then there’s the matter of your bill.” 
  • No toilet paper post-pee –– Jessica Jones get me on a personal level. 
  • That dude smelling a shoe: “Ew!” is right. 
  • I feel all sorts of important things at that phone charger situation. 
  • Dude is sad and brooding at a window and baby girl feels him to her soul. That is the moment Jessica decided she was going to have him in a serious way. 
  • “You turn that thing on, I’ll pull your underwear through your eye.” 
  • Jessica’s expression at the douche guy in the douche car was honestly my expression. 
  • The scene where she picks up the car is made even better by her conversation with Sir Douche. (I’m sure the guy had a name, but Sir Douche fits better.) 
  • Kilgrave is seriously creepy. Yuck for the licking. 
  • I love that Jessica tries to help Hope by teaching her methods of coping. 
  • The PTSD was portrayed consistently and with care. 
  • Are all lawyers cheaters, or just the ones on TV? 
  • I think I’m probably going to fall in love with Trish. Is that a problem? (Editor's Note: Nah)

Friday, November 20, 2015

Sleepy Hollow 3x08 "Novus Ordo Seclorum" (Come What May) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]

"Novus Ordo Seclorum"
Original Airdate: November 19, 2015

Previously on Sleepy Hollow: Jenny got herself into some trouble with a glowy magic shard! Sophie revealed herself to be a member of the FBI! Pandora pulled a deep-voiced dude with a scythe out of her tree! All of these things seem like trouble. Well, other than Sophie being a member of the FBI. That seems all right, I guess. The other stuff? Totally trouble! It makes sense, though, because this week is the midseason finale and those always try to come with some exciting twists and turns. So, let's see how Sleepy Hollow manages to bring about the New Order of the Ages, shall we?


The goal is to save Jenny. Save her from Pandora, from Pandora's plans of world domination, from the Shard of Anubis –– doesn't matter; just save Jenny. Unfortunately, the creature they really have to save her from is... Etu Ilu? What? I thought we decided his name was Amun-Ra? Oh, whatever. He's "The Hidden One," which –– in Egyptian mythology –– is Amun, but in Sumerian he's Etu Ilu, and in every-way-that-matters he's an ancient god. Yeah, that's going to probably make killing him really difficult?

Team Witness –– down to just Abbie, Ichabod, and Joe, since Jenny's busy being Etu Ilu's Capri-Sun juice pouch as he sucks all the Anubis Shard energy out of her –– understand the difficulty of killing a god. Just because things sound hard, though, that doesn't mean they're not going to try doing them –– that's what makes them all heroes. After some investigation into old Masonic books and another display of Ichabod's perfect recall, they figure out that the ugly hunk of metal that had encased the Shard before Jenny touched it was once a (much cooler looking) staff and it could be used to draw the shard out of Jenny, if they can get close enough to her to do it.

Uh, well, since the whole "god" thing still applies regardless of bravery or strength of character, the mission to save Jenny basically devolves into a strategy of distraction while Abbie gets the Shard energy out of her sister. She succeeds but the metal casing for the Shard is broken, which means that its mystical energy is still capable of exploding and destroying a huge chunk of the city. Pressed for time and clutching an energy bomb, Abbie gets a stupid, heroic idea and carries the Shard into Pandora's creepy portal-to-another-world tree.

Where it explodes. Along with Abbie.



The show has been pretty clear about where it's wanted our two main characters to go over the course of the season (or, at least, the first half of the season). The first episode established Ichabod on a quest to find his place in the world, which has been revisited occasionally –– sometimes, perhaps, too subtly –– up until now. It also made sure we understood Abbie's mindset at the start, her life as a normal person whose existence wasn't entirely devoted to saving the world on a daily basis. Ichabod was struggling, while Abbie was content, and the episodes since the season three premiere have been showing the trouble that being Witnesses and fighting Pandora have caused in their lives. Ichabod has only grown more frustrated with his life in a foreign time, while Abbie has been fighting to fit the supernatural part of her life back into her world without sending everything into chaos.
Last week's episode was all of this coming to the forefront. Ichabod went on a whole rant about how he's been feeling helpless and lost, struggling with his place in the world and the fact that so much of himself was tied up with external forces (especially Abbie) that could change at any moment and cast him adrift. Then Abbie's concern for Jenny, plus the additional pressure from the FBI and the threat of Pandora's plans, had her straining under the effort to keep the careful barriers of her life in place, to keep them from crumbling and collapsing in on each other and ruining everything she's fought so hard and so long to accomplish. This week, both the Witnesses seem to be coming to terms with the fact that their worries from last week are far from over.

It's pretty freaking obvious that Ichabod's entire arc in season three has been him asking, "Where do I belong?" and then trying to ignore the blinking, neon arrow pointing to the spot right next to Abbie Mills. And I mean that beyond their partnership as Witnesses, beyond friendship, beyond romance... Abbie is the lens through which he views the world, his guide in everything, his best friend, his partner, and the person he loves the most. She's his safety net. The thought of losing her terrifies him and confuses him, as we learned last episode. It's only made more clear when a flashback of Ichabod back in the 18th century has Paul Revere telling him this bitter, mournful little bit of advice: "Don't let anyone in too close. When you lose them, it will break you." That's an absolutely critical sentiment, as sad as it might be, because Ichabod is absolutely too close to Abbie, and the loss of her will break him.

And for Abbie herself, the stress and frustration she's feeling as her worlds come crashing down around her is obvious throughout the episode. She's snapping at everyone, she's impatient, she's desperate. She has to save her sister –– she has to save the world –– but she keeps getting distracted by her duties as an FBI agent and she doesn't have time to deal with any of it. Daniel and Sophie are asking questions she can't answer without raising even more questions, and possibly getting thrown into a psychiatric facility. The carefully compartmentalized Abbie Mills is trapped, stuck in a place between her delineated worlds, and she has to sacrifice one in order to make a difference in the others.

In spite of how much Abbie loves her job, of how happy it makes her to be putting her skills to use at the FBI, there's no debate on which "world" of hers she's going to sacrifice. Abandoning her sister is out of the question. Abandoning her duty as a Witness would mean letting Jenny down and, therefore, is just as impossible as abandoning Jenny directly. So Abbie does the only thing that makes sense at the time and gives Agent Reynolds her badge and gun.

Here's something that I really loved, though: at the end of the episode –– and I emphasize the end of the episode, not the end, because if Abbie isn't back for the next half of the season I'm flipping a table –– the only role that Abbie is fulfilling is that of a dedicated, loving sister. The role she failed to fulfill years ago, when they were both just girls who saw something terrifying in the woods and Jenny wanted to tell the truth and suffered for it. Abbie didn't want to run the risk of getting in trouble, didn't want to risk the uneasy-but-steady life they had found, and she lost her sister for thirteen years because of that fear. Now, Abbie sacrifices herself to save Jenny, even though it means taking away a Witness and putting the world at risk. Is that kind of dumb? Well, yeah –– Abbie's destiny as one of the saviors of the world should come before any sisterly devotion, before everything.

But it doesn't. Because, beneath all of Abbie's compartmentalization, beneath the sharply split and divided parts of her life, beneath her identity as a Witness or as FBI Agent Mills, she is just Abbie Mills. Jenny's big sister. Forever.

Other Things:
  • I find Pandora and The Hidden One's total disregard for the Witnesses (as opposed to being all, "We must defeat them!") really nice and a change of pace from other shows with a Big Bad vs. The Heroes plot. Pandora even calls them "useful."
  • Whenever Sleepy Hollow shoots in the forest, it looks so pretty. The opening with Pandora, The Hidden One, and Jenny by that lake was also super gorgeous and creepy despite the fact that it was happening during the day.
  • At this point I don't even think Pandora's constant rhyming is her casting any spells. I think she just likes poetry.
  • "For you, I would break Eternity." Romantic evil gods!
  • "I believe we are facing a living... breathing... god." Jeez, Ichabod, deliver that news more dramatically, won't you? You're going full Shatner.
  • For real, though, the Eye of Providence is creepy. Why would you put that thing on the United States Seal, Franklin?!
  • "Okay, I'm still not used to the way you name drop." Oh, Joe.
  • I really love Pandora and I can't figure out if it's the actress or the way she's written, but she's just so great at being charmingly evil.
  • Love the flashbacks to previous seasons this episode. We got some Young Abbie and Young Jenny and some Wendigo-Joe!
  • I love how Abbie just hands over her badge before Daniel even finishes his ultimatum.
  • "The asset we were cultivating… we just lost her." Um, I'm sorry, what does that mean? Who are you, Daniel? What are you doing? WHAT'S HAPPENING?
  • So cute that Abbie's got a special message for Ichabod on her voicemail, because he still hasn't figured out how voicemail works.
  • "I knew her at Quantico. If the situation calls, she's trained to wage war." Abbie Mills: Confirmed for Badass.
  • Loved the rundown of all the evil beasties Abbie and Ichabod have defeated.
  • "You ready to fight some bad guys, Crane?" "Indeed." "My man."
  • "Don't."  Whup, well. That line was delivered with such exquisite brokenness that I think I'm what the kids call "Ichabbie trash" now. Is there a mailing list? Do I get a t-shirt? A button to pin to my lapel? What's the induction policy, here?
  • It's not totally clear, but I think Abbie absorbed some of the Shard's power through the broken hunk of protective metal? Her skin was kind of glowy like Jenny's had been, and it's the only explanation I have for why she just didn't toss the Shard into the tree and run for it.
  • We end on Ichabod saying "Abbie?" like his whole world just ended. Which it did. (See: above review.)

You're the Worst 2x11 "A Rapidly Mutating Virus" (With Great Conflict...) [Contributor: Laura Schinner]

"A Rapidly Mutating Virus"
Original Airdate: November 18, 2015

No good story works without conflict. As viewers, we need conflict to keep us interested and waiting to find out what happens next. Even comedies, whose primary focus is to make us laugh, need that element of drama. And for a comedy that goes so far as to call itself You’re the Worst, it would be nearly impossible to watch two characters with their lives figured out stay together in a completely functional relationship. Which is exactly why this show hasn’t tried to give us that. Instead, Jimmy and Gretchen have faced some very serious and very real issues in their relationship, all leading to a whole lot of conflict.

All season long, we’ve seen these two characters grow further apart as Gretchen has sunk deeper and deeper into depression. This is something that Jimmy obviously has no idea how to deal with, as up until this point their relationship had mostly been about having fun and avoiding any kind of real emotions. Neither character has ever been especially emotionally available, so throwing something that revolves solely around emotions, or lack thereof, into their dynamic has been quite a change this season. The humor, as a result, has gotten darker and the comedy itself seems to be taking a bit of a back seat, in favor of depicting the real struggles and conflicts that accompany depression.

Everything this season has led up to this week’s episode of You’re the Worst, when Gretchen finally has enough of Jimmy trying to "fix" her and decides to move in with Lindsay. When he confronts her about this, she finally breaks, yelling at him that she literally feels nothing. She feels nothing for him, their relationship, and — gasp — even puppies. Aya Cash has done a fantastic job of portraying the hopelessness that comes with depression, as Gretchen has sunken to the point that literally nothing matters to her. Even being attacked by a gang of angry women and having to pull out a gun to stop them from further mauling Lindsay and the boys evokes nothing in her but boredom. With Gretchen’s downward spiral continuing, the show really has gotten dark but in a very believable way. Gretchen ending things with Jimmy was the natural next step in this progression, as he doesn’t know how to be there for her in the way that she needs him to be.

At the same time, Jimmy himself has been growing more distant from Gretchen, seeking the company of someone who is willing to listen to him and be present in his life — something Gretchen just can’t do. While Gretchen has been completely unavailable to him, he has turned to Nina, connecting with her through similar interests. The past few episodes, Jimmy has really struggled to understand and accept Gretchen’s depression, having no idea what to do about it. Trying to make things better for her hasn’t worked and he doesn’t know what else to do. As much as he may want to help her and have his old, fun girlfriend back, in the end he really can’t "fix" her and needs to accept that. Instead, he turns to someone that he does understand and who understands him back, someone much easier to be with than Gretchen. And despite resisting her advances for most of the episode, in the end Jimmy finally gave into Nina. He is, after all, the worst.

Meanwhile, Edgar, who up until recently was the one who had his life the least together, has been providing most of the light and comedy in the show. For once, he’s the one who is happy in a relationship with someone who really cares about him. And deservedly so, as Edgar is a great guy. But he still struggles to fit in and often falls into the trap of listening to advice from Jimmy, who maybe isn’t the best mentor. For so long though, Edgar has seen Jimmy as more successful and better than him and now all of a sudden, that isn’t really true. Edgar has had most of the success in his relationship because he hasn’t listened to Jimmy so when he decides to take his advice when going to a gathering of Dorothy’s friends, it obviously backfires on him. Dorothy likes Edgar for who he is, something that he isn’t used to. In the end though, he was able to return to the honest and genuine guy he is, winning back Dorothy in the process.

What have you all thought about You're the Worst this season? Let us know in the comments below!