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, November 21, 2017

Brooklyn Nine-Nine 5x06 Recap: “The Venue” (Hero Horses and Vile Vultures) [Contributor: Alisa Williams]


“The Venue” 
Original Airdate: November 14, 2017

On the latest Brooklyn Nine-Nine episode, Jake and Amy have an exciting announcement for the squad: they’ve found a wedding venue and are getting married on May 15! The venue is a gorgeous mansion complete with a library, seven bathrooms, and a gazebo. It was booked solid for the next two years but a couple dropped out (literally — they fell out of a five story window and died). After making their announcement, Jake and Amy head out to meet with 17 wedding vendors to plan the big event.

Meanwhile, Captain Holt has some news for the rest of the team: an NYPD officer has gone missing and they’re tasked with finding him. But this isn’t just any officer — it’s Sergeant Peanut Butter, a horse and Boyle’s nemesis. Apparently, he and the horse won medals of honor on the same day and the horse completely overshadowed him, a slight Boyle has never forgiven. Surprisingly, Boyle is not a suspect in Peanut Butter’s disappearance; a disgruntled former civilian employee of the NYPD named Jesse Gurmwald is.

While Rosa goes off to investigate Peanut Butter’s disappearance with the help of a less-than-enthused Boyle, Terry finds himself in hot water with a new member of the precinct. Terry has a habit of talking about himself in the third person, and while complimenting his own butt in a conversation with Holt, the new officer, named Teri, overhears him and thinks he’s talking about her butt. She immediately calls him out for being inappropriate, and once he explains, she informs him that complimenting his own butt in the third person is both arrogant and just downright weird. Holt is inclined to agree, causing Terry to storm off in an embarrassed huff.

Jake and Amy have run into an awkward situation of their own at the wedding venue. After a morning of booking vendors that could not have gone smoother, they hit a snag when they try to put their deposit down at the mansion. Even though they’d been told it would be held until end of day for them to come in with the money, they find out someone else swooped in and stole it out from under them. That person turns out to be the Vulture, their former temporary Captain from a few years back, and an all-around smarmy and reprehensible dude (played by the hilarious Dean Winters). Apparently, the Vulture has found true love and is getting married, and stealing Jake and Amy’s venue is just the icing on the wedding cake.

Amy and Jake head out to confront the Vulture’s fiancĂ©e, Jean Monroe, convinced she’s a horrible human being just like the Vulture. They find her at the Zenith Fund, a charity for children that she created. It turns out she’s the nicest, sweetest human being imaginable. Additionally, the Vulture apparently talks about Jake and Amy a lot and has told Jean what amazing people they are. Their resolve crumbles and instead of demanding their venue back, they end up donating to Jean’s charity to help feed refugee children.

Things are going better for Rosa and Boyle, who have tracked down Gurmwald and Peanut Butter. Despite Gurmwald setting fire to the barn with Peanut Butter inside in an attempt to escape, they manage to capture him and save Peanut Butter. Sure, Boyle had to endure being dragged by Peanut Butter when he grabbed the rope around the horse’s neck and the horse took off, but Boyle decides to have a good attitude about it all. That is, until Rosa shows him the day’s headlines. Apparently a passerby snapped a photo of Peanut Butter and Boyle and now the city’s papers read, “Stud Horse Saves Small Man” and “Hero Cop Saves Helpless Buffoon.” Once again, Peanut Butter is getting all the credit. Even worse, Peanut Butter has been invited on The Ellen Show — Boyle’s life-long dream — and Reese Witherspoon is optioning the rights to the Peanut Butter story.

Meanwhile, Terry asks Holt if he can use $350 of petty cash to throw Teri an ice cream party to apologize for the earlier misunderstanding. Captain Holt refuses, saying that Teri understands what happened and Terry only wants to do this because he has a pathological need to be liked by everyone. To prove his point, Holt challenges Terry to walk across the precinct without saying hi (or nodding) to anyone. Terry fails immediately and has to admit he does crave affirmation and acceptance from every single person he meets.

Much to Holt’s displeasure, Terry decides to go ahead with the ice cream party plan anyway, using his own money. He printed up Teri’s photo and showed it to every ice cream parlor within 30 blocks. None of them recognized her, so he bought every flavor — 200 pints total. Holt asks if Terry’s considered that perhaps Teri doesn’t eat ice cream, but Terry has planned for that too, and has back up options coming just in case: a taco bar, barbecue, popcorn, and vegan. Holt tells Terry that he has become unhinged and informs him that if he goes through with this party, Holt will like him less. This leaves Terry in quite the pickle.

In the breakroom, Amy and Jake are bemoaning their lost venue when all of a sudden Hitchcock’s phone makes a sound — the same sound the Vulture’s phone made when they were talking to him earlier. Hitchcock tells them it’s a hook-up app called “Boink,” and they realize the Vulture is cheating on nice Jean! A quick Google search tells them Jean’s father is loaded and she’s his only heir which is why the Vulture is hell-bent on marrying her. They decide to catch him in the act, tell Jean, and get their venue back. They set up a fake Boink account and contact the Vulture, who immediately responds.

They confront the Vulture and tell him how it’s going to go down: he’s going to nicely break up with Jean, give a generous donation to her charity, and give them their venue back. He refuses, saying he truly loves her even if he does cheat on her with multiple random hook-ups. He says the only way they’ll get their venue back is if they don’t tell Jean about his philandering. Now they’re stuck. And they’ve already called Jean, who shows up at that precise restaurant. The Vulture tells them to act natural and not say a word and the venue is theirs. When Jean sees them she thinks it’s just a nice double date. Jake and Amy, however, are terrible liars and feel bad for Jean. It all comes out. Jean breaks up with the Vulture, and Jake and Amy have to settle for holding their wedding in a rec center on Staten Island.

They’re feeling okay about it all, though, and are determined to make it a great time. Things have turned out pretty good for Boyle and Terry, too. Rosa secretly leaked the dashcam footage showing that Boyle is the true hero of the day and saved Peanut Butter, not the other way around. And Terry decides that instead of throwing a party in hopes that Teri, who he barely knows, will like him, he’ll throw the party in Boyle’s honor.

Bullets on the Bulletin Board:

  • “Wow! Finding a place in the spring in New York is impossible! Sharon and I had to get married in Albany in December. Terry was too cold to consummate.” 
  • “I love our venue so much!” “Me too. It’s like our very own Hogwarts.” “Yes! And I’m Hermione!” “Yes! And I’m Snape.” “Whaaat?”
  • “A horse is a perfect partner. Tough, scary, and they don’t show you 30 pictures of their kid dressed as Wario for Halloween... I’m not talking about Nikolaj.” “I literally just showed you those pictures five minutes ago.” “Really? I don’t remember that.” 
  • “You’re upset because Teri with an 'i' called you arrogant and you have a pathological need to be liked.” “What? No, I don’t! I just happen to be a great person who’s naturally beloved by all, despite my personal ambivalence.”

Monday, November 20, 2017

Grey’s Anatomy 14x08 Review: “Out of Nowhere” (Paper Trail) [Contributor: Julia Siegel]


“Out of Nowhere”
Original Airdate: November 16, 2017

This might be the craziest winter finale yet, as all hell breaks loose at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital. Cyber terrorists render the hospital’s technology useless, meaning chaotic issues for all the doctors. Some of the major storylines include Meredith stuck in the middle of an open abdomen procedure with no access to the blood bank, Maggie and Jackson’s patient knocking on death’s door as an ECMO tube bursts, Alex doesn’t know what life-saving medicine to give his young patient without access to his medical records, and Jo gets one heck of a shocking surprise. Then, the episode ends, leaving the characters and audience in limbo for the next two months!

CYBER ATTACK


The crisis-of-the-week is more damaging, and enlightening, than in the past. An unknown person, or group, decided to hack into the hospital’s mainframe, shut down all of the technology, and change all of the codes and such. The hacker is holding the technology, including all patient records, ransom for roughly $20 million. It really isn’t clear why this is happening, so you just have to roll with it. Unfortunately for the doctors, all of the patient records are digital, with no paper trail anywhere in the hospital. All of the heart monitors, scan machines, surgical equipment, etc. are offline as well.

This is a painstaking lesson in not relying 100% on technology. Each character has their own interesting storyline that coincides with the attack. Meredith and intern Schmitt are in the middle of a laparoscopic splenectomy when the attack starts. Of course, she has no idea what is going on and decides to switch to an open procedure, which requires blood bags. Schmitt goes to get the blood from the blood bank, but can’t get in because the room has a keypad that is controlled electronically. Upon Schmitt’s arrival back to the operating room, Meredith is extremely frustrated and says that she wouldn’t have done an open procedure if she knew she didn’t have access to blood. Funny enough, Schmitt’s blood type is O negative, which is the universal donor blood type, so Meredith sets up an impromptu transfusion to continue her surgery. And that is where her story ends for the episode.

Alex finds himself in a worse situation than most when he is forced to make a life-or-death judgement call. His kindergartner patient has a rare blood disorder that causes blood clots and strokes. When the kid starts having some odd symptoms, no one knows which medicine he was given earlier in the day since it was only recorded electronically. Newly-minted chief resident Jo spends the episode trying to hunt down the patient’s nurse to help Alex make the right call. Just as she is trying to get back to Alex, who is about to administer an unknown medicine to the patient, she is stopped by a truly surprising guest star. But, more on that later. The episode ends before we know what drug Alex gave his patient and if he made the right call, which is a tough cliffhanger to swallow.
Tough Love

The one positive of the winter finale is Jackson and Maggie sort of admitting their feelings for each other. Jackson tells her he is glad they aren’t from the same family, and Maggie flirts with him the entire episode, again. When will these two hook up already? They really need to cut the nonsense and get together.

Their shared patient in the episode needs to be transferred to another hospital because the ECMO machine keeping him alive could become compromised from the cyber-attack. While sharing a nice moment on the transport helicopter, an air pocket causes one of the tubes of the machine to come loose and start spraying the patient’s blood all over the place. Some will find this horrifying, while other may laugh at Jackson and Maggie’s reactions to being spurted with lots of blood. After getting soaked in blood, they finally get things under control, but I’m not so sure the patient can survive with the amount of blood he lost. Their story, too, ends in limbo.


CHIEF RESIDENT


Okay, time to get back to Jo’s adventures. After a pretty rough year or so, Jo’s life seems to finally be getting better. She is back and living with Alex, is at the top of her surgical game, and became the hospital’s chief resident. Naturally, Jo wants to prove herself in her well-earned, new position and takes it very seriously. However, poor Jo can never catch a break! On her way back to Alex and his patient with the information to save the kid’s life, she is blindsided when she literally runs into her estranged, abusive husband: Dr. Paul Stadler.

This was quite a shocking turn of events because there was no indication that Paul would show in the episode. Props to ABC for keeping Matthew Morrison’s name off of the guest starring list to add the element of surprise. I’m sure we all thought we wouldn’t see Paul return until sometime in the second half of the season, since Jo filed for divorce two episodes ago. It’s great to know that the show is going to tackle domestic violence through their still-untold story right away, and it’s sure to be a spectacle. All we know for now is that Paul came for Jo quickly, has lots of unresolved anger toward her, and will certainly create a ton of drama.

Grey’s Anatomy will return on Thursday, January 18th at 8/7c.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Scorpion 4x08 Review: "Faire is Foul" (Historical Inaccuracy) [Guest Contributor: Yasmine]


“Faire is Foul”
Original Airdate: November 13, 2017

This episode just may be one of the most entertaining Scorpion episodes to date. It is Sly’s twenty-fifth birthday and of course the only way to celebrate it is by everyone donning the most awesome outfits and heading out to the Renaissance Faire. Sly’s day hadn’t started spectacularly. Sly had his hearing to dismiss charges in Cabe’s case and he failed miserably in his appeal. Sly took his failure hard, but lucky for him, he has a supportive and understanding client who believes in him no matter what. Cabe tells him to forget about the hearing and focus on his birthday plans.

Sly is not the only one Cabe dishes advice to before the team head off to the Faire. He takes Toby under his wing and offers him advice, tips, and tricks on getting Happy pregnant. The conversation is equal parts hilarious and awkward, but that’s just Cabe’s fatherly role kicking in. And he continues to have a great day by most standards — taking out the bad guy while jousting on horseback — and admits to his geek side and his love for the show Chair of Blades.

While Sylvester is in his groove at the Faire, Happy and Toby are too busy trying to find a place to hide and work on making that baby. Cabe and Paige are both determined to have a good time (and do manage to find it enjoyable), but Walter is too busy pointing out all the historical inaccuracies of the event to be able to enjoy it.

But soon enough, no one else can enjoy the day either. Gang members blow the generator on site in order to access the LAPD warehouse nearby. This causes roads to be blocked and, with any help very far away, it’s up to Team Scorpion to save the day — including an injured cop at the warehouse — and the Renaissance Faire. With no modern tools and facilities because the fair is authentic and keeps everything true to the age, the team has to really think outside the box and stretch all their skills and talents to be able to stop the gang members and save the injured cop, as well as protect the piece of evidence the gang members are after.

The team cannot do what they need to do alone and have to recruit some of the remaining Faire guests to help them out. But when the civilians voice their worry and their lack of enthusiasm to help — and no one can blame them as they are unarmed geeks facing two gangsters with weapons — it is up to one person to rally the troops.

On the heels of his bad morning in court, Sly is unsure he is the man for the job. But with Cabe’s support and backing, he gives and inspired speech proving his leadership skills and that when he sets his mind to it, he can do anything. The team and their recruits manage to keep the cop alive with a medieval defibrillator and then build a plan to stop the gangsters that can only be described as something straight out of slapstick comedy.

And again that’s one of the strengths of this show: it’s a show about geniuses using science and math and all that, but still doesn’t itself too seriously.

The team hand the gangsters off to the authorities and head back to the garage to continue the festivities for Sly’s birthday. Toby admits to Happy that he bought a pregnancy amulet from the fair and she admits there is nothing to lose by wearing it.

Elsewhere, grumpy Walter’s education in relationships continues and this week the lesson is “you don’t need to change yourself to be in a relationship.” The episode opens with him trying to write a song for Paige to make up for that date when he acted horribly. His first attempt is dreadful, to say the least, and he recruits Happy for advice. The advice she gives him is simple: write from the heart. His second attempt is much better — beautiful, actually — but after Paige tells him she doesn’t want him to pretend to be someone he’s not to be her boyfriend, Walter decides to toss away the tape and follow her advice.

Incidentally, the tape doesn’t land in the trash and instead slides under the bed, maybe disappearing there to make an appearance at a later time.

Once Upon A Time 7x06 Review: “Wake Up Call” (The Queen is Back) [Contributor: Julia Siegel]


“Wake Up Call”
Original Airdate: November 10, 2017

It’s time for another wake-up potion to come into play, meaning we are one character closer to getting to the point where things can actually start happening. At this rate, we will be lucky to have a real story start by the second half of the season. The only interesting thing to come out of this episode is the realization that the curse in Hyperion Heights may be better off left unbroken. However, we all know that’s not going to happen.


DRIZELLA’S CURSE


Oddly enough, Drizella was the one who cast the curse, not Lady Tremaine as it had seemed. Even more surprising, Drizella actually has magic powers, like Regina. Back in the fairy tale flashbacks, Regina takes Drizella under her wing and becomes the magic teacher she never had. Unfortunately, like most people with magic, Drizella favors her hatred for her mother and starts a downward spiral of doom and gloom.

Her spiraling is what appears to eventually allow her to form the curse, which she vows will be unbreakable. Cue the eye roll because if there really was an unbreakable curse, the show would be over. Plus, this is still a fairy tale show, so evil isn’t going to win. What doesn’t make sense is why Drizella wasn’t awake under the curse the whole time, which implies that something may have gone wrong. She decides to put her master plan into action in Hyperion Heights by waking up Regina, who she inexplicably hates. Now that Rumple and Regina are awake, only Hook has to gain his memories back for the party to begin.

A NEW LEAF


I have hated almost all of the non-sequential flashback scenes so far, but I found this episode’s to be lightyears better. For starters, seeing Regina recognizing herself in Drizella and trying to help her was a great character moment. She has truly proven that she has chosen the hero path and isn’t looking back. Regina has had the biggest character arc over the series, so it is nice to see its continual evolution.

The other part of the flashbacks that was entertaining is a brief scene between Regina and Rumple. Coming pretty much out of thin air, Rumple has crossed realms and finds the camp that Regina, Hook, and Henry have become a part of. Rumple and Regina share a touching moment where he reveals his path to goodness. While it is nice to see Rumple’s turned leaf, he doesn’t appear to be too nice in Hyperion Heights.

This episode has also proven that the show can still be decent if it limits the use of its new characters. When the three returning cast members are on screen, things are great. However, most of the new characters are annoying. At this point, I only find Lucy and sometimes Drizella tolerable. At least the show is making more attempts each week to not be as stale.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend 3x06 Review: "Josh Is Irrelevant." (A Diagnosis) [Contributor: Anne]


"Josh Is Irrelevant"
Original Airdate: November 17, 2017

In interviews, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend showrunners Aline Brosh McKenna and Rachel Bloom mentioned that the last three episodes were some of the most pivotal and important episodes thus far — and the ones that they were most excited to write. That enthusiasm has paid off in huge dividends. I’ve been an advocate of this show from the very beginning, but with “Josh Is Irrelevant.,” the sixth episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s third season, it’s hard not to draft the petition for Rachel Bloom and company to take home their deserved armful of Emmys. The show is on its hottest streak ever.

What stands out to me the most of this season is the thoughtfulness with which everything is handled. As a heavily serialized show, consistency and care go a long way in building trust for the viewers. And although I was never in this boat, the consistency and care demonstrated over two-and-a-half seasons established a solid foundation for converting skeptical viewers to stalwart fans. This show is good — meticulous, empathetic. So what if it’s a CW musical dramedy called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend; in the end, all of these initial hurdles for casual viewers are necessary, lovable parts of the show’s DNA.

The best scene of this episode for me was when Dr. Akopian read to Rebecca the list of symptoms associated with her diagnosis. As she does, Rebecca recalls specific moments throughout the three seasons that fit those symptoms. That’s the kind of consistency that I would call “thoughtful.” Mental illness is so misunderstood in society, and often misrepresented in television and movies. It is sensationalized, stigmatized, and generalized. But the situation is a lot more nuanced than that, and by a) making a solid case for Rebecca’s diagnosis while b) making her empathetic along the way, the character is fully-fleshed and her diagnosis intrinsic instead of drama for the sake of drama.

So there’s thoughtfulness of the story and its pacing; there’s thoughtfulness behind handling a topic as sensitive as mental illness; there’s thoughtfulness of all the character’s decisions, in a way to make even our protagonist — who is objectively not the best person — into someone we really love. These threads all entwine again and again while watching this show and make even smaller moments feel well-constructed.

Here’s another favorite of mine: Did you notice that the staging of the reconciliation with Darryl at the end of the episode is exactly the same as the episode where Rebecca is yelling at everyone? That they hug in the same place where (I guess) days before, Rebecca was doing everything in her power to push her friends away.

Or a third little moment: That Rebecca apologizes for “inconveniencing a lot of people,” the same phrase that was said by her mother in the pilot in reference to her last suicide attempt?

With these small choices, the show makes clear it understands itself, repeating for emotional emphasis and nuance. There’s little threads to pick at and consider. With the hugging scene, there’s obviously stark contrast between what Rebecca believed during her friend-convention — that nobody loved her — with what she knows now to be the truth. That’s so moving given Rebecca’s history of abandonment and loneliness, and resounding for viewers with mental illness to experience. With the second, it’s easy to hate Naomi for the comment — small phrases like that can stick around — but we just got off an episode where Naomi was driven to desperate, misguided measures to make sure her daughter didn’t kill herself. No one in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is worth hating, or unworthy of redemption.

Speaking of, I think moving forward I am the most excited for Josh’s plot. Josh has been vilified even when he logically did not at all deserve Rebecca’s treatment of him. As a viewer, I too hate Josh a little bit. But Josh is simple and passive and immature in a callous way. And unlike Rebecca, he’s never really had to confront his issues because he moves onto whatever next distraction he can find for himself. Now that Rebecca has declared him irrelevant, and it is Josh on the outside looking in, his “effortless normalcy” is going to require some effort.

I can’t wait. I’ve never really seen a character like Josh before on TV, and definitely have never seen an easygoing character like him have to deal with his own anxiety. And once the show gets to that point, there will be huge relief. It’s been incredibly obvious to anyone watching that Josh is imperfect to say the least, and over time we’ve seen even Rebecca realize he is not worthy of obsession. Finally, we get to see Josh grapple with the consequences of his (non-)actions.

“Josh is Irrelevant.” is a major turning point for the show and for the season. There are so many paths to happiness, and I’m excited about which ones Rebecca will take. She’s had tunnel vision on Josh for so long, and by finally putting her obsession to rest and recognizing that there are more important things on her plate, the Crazy Ex-Girlfriend world expands. At the same time, while there is a turning point for the show and season, I’m confident the show will deliver continued quality, catchy songs, impeccable acting, and a wait between episodes that always feels far, far too long. See you all on December 7th!

Stray Observations:
  • Nathaniel obviously went through some stuff this episode, huh? Critically, I thought it was well done, and Scott Michael Foster brought his serious acting chops as always to this alpha tool Mr. Darcy-turned-soft. But my pea brain didn’t love the family scenes as much as I should have. That said, I did love how his mother offered roses for Rebecca. I thought that was sweet and matronly.
  • (Pea brain also is obsessed with Nathaniel and Rebecca, even though neither of them should probably be in a relationship right now. But God, did you see his smile when he made her laugh at the end of the episode? I hope they kiss again, and often.)
  • (Pea brain also loves Scott Michael Foster, and would go with him to Rome at a moment’s notice.)
  • The songs! “A Diagnosis” and “This is My Movement” both very well-sung and quite beautiful, although “This is My Movement” felt out of place in this episode. I get that they were trying to lighten the mood but with the serious emotional depth and earnestness on Rebecca’s end, “Movement” felt clunky.
  • I care so much about Rebecca and her story that Paula, Heather, Valencia, and Hector take a serious backseat when I rewatch episodes. But I loved, so much, Rebecca waking up to find #gurlgroup4evah sleeping outside her door. It really is amazing when you consider none of these girls were friends with each other in the pilot.
  • I hope Josh keeps the puppy. It was darling.
  • This is my first review in a while! Crazy Ex-Girlfriend makes me feel like glitter is exploding inside me, so hopefully I’ll be back for the next episode, which has a very juicy title if you are a spoilers fiend like me.

The Flash 4x06 Review: "When Harry Met Harry" (I Think This Ep’s Mostly Filler) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]


"When Harry Met Harry"
Original Airdate: November 14, 2017 

Technically speaking, last week’s episode was a bit of a filler episode for this season, since we didn’t get a whole lot of season arc plot and it had a (failed) gimmicky premise. But this week takes the cake for filler-ish episodes, and without even a ladies-centric plot or a Drunk Barry Allen to make up for it! Nope — instead, we have an episode revolving around Ralph Dibny, who is simultaneously repellant and uninteresting and I don’t really get why the writers decided to add him onto the team. He’s a sleazy, hedonistic, self-centered person who has to learn how to be a hero and, oh my — where have I seen that exact variety of overdone character before? Hey, TV writers: find some different archetypes, please. I am begging you. Hedonist-to-Hero redemption arcs are so, so, so boring.

BASICALLY THE Z-PLOT


Even though this episode is called “When Harry Met Harry” we don’t actually see a lot of Harrison Wells or the other versions of himself. He calls forth a very Rick and Morty-esque Council of Wells by bringing together Harrison Wells variations from three different parallel Earths, since Harry can’t make friends and he thinks the smartest people to brainstorm with are... him. They’re meant to be discussing the problem of DeVoe but they can’t stop bickering amongst themselves long enough to formulate anything resembling a plan, and Harry realizes that he actually hates himself too much to get along with these parallel versions. Also very much reminiscent of Rick from Rick and Morty. Have the Flash writers been binge-watching?

I like this sequence because Tom Cavanagh is hilarious as the four different versions of Harrison Wells — Harry, a lothario Harrison Wells, an intellectual German Harrison Wells, and a cyborg Harrison Wells with a touch of the Mad Max — but I don’t quite understand why something like this wasn’t saved for a different episode, where it could maybe stand out a bit more and get fleshed into a real character piece for Harry, maybe with some bonus Cisco character growth thrown in. I know I’d definitely prefer to see Harry’s character development over Ralph Dibny’s, not only because Harry is a character who has been around long enough for me to care about his development, but also because he has a much more unique archetype as the cynical/jaded, no-nonsense, genius mentor who has to learn how to be a regular person with regular relationships and new realizations about himself as an individual, beyond the scope of his work. As it stands, the thread that gives the episode its title barely counts as a B-story.

I’M KINDA SIDING WITH THE VILLAIN AND THAT’S PROBABLY NOT GOOD


Meanwhile, in the main part of the episode, Barry is basically babysitting Ralph Dibny because yeah, that’s what you want from an up-and-coming hero. The necessity of a person with morals to follow him around and make sure his borderline sociopathy doesn’t hurt innocent civilians. Why was Wally written out of this show to make room for Ralph Dibny, exactly?

Ralph and Barry almost get mugged, but Dibny’s rubberized existence makes him bulletproof and every time he’s shot, the bullet bounced right back at the robber. I will say one thing positive about the Dibny storyline: it allows for a lot more snark from Barry, which is highly entertaining. That’s pretty much it, though, since Dibny constantly proves himself to be inappropriate and gross and really not all that cut out to be a self-sacrificing hero. I know he’s supposed to have been much transformed by the loss of his job as a detective, but I really can’t believe his personality shifted so completely, so I think this must just be who Dibny is and always will be. Uhg. I do not look forward to this character arc.

Aside from almost getting mugged, Barry and Dibny (and Iris) take a trip to the therapist Iris and Barry used so that Dibny can get hypnotized into remembering who else might have been on that bus that got hit by dark matter. They have to do this because Cisco is prevented from using his Vibe powers to see the incident, which sounds like something of a cop-out for the writer... But I’ll allow it, since at least they brought up the possibility before writing themselves out of using it.

Ralph gets hypnotized and sees a bison patch on a person’s jacket, and that person is our metahuman of the week, Black Bison, whose real name is Mina Chaytan. Mina is of Sioux descent and has taken a turn from her former occupation as a professor in order to work in activism regarding the reacquisition of Sioux artifacts from museums, which is a nice way of saying she steals things. This has only been helped by her newfound power to bring effigies to life, from tiger statues to suits of armor, and use them to kill the people who stand in her way.

I wish The Flash hadn’t so clearly drawn the line with Black Bison by making her a killer. It’s very easy for Barry (and the writers) to say, “she killed people, she’s evil, she goes to jail” and be done with it, especially since the morality and righteousness of her mission makes me sympathize a lot more with her than with Ralph Dibny, who spends the entire episode having to be told that human life is more important than the “win” of catching the bad guy. It would have made a far more interesting story if the show had introduced as a “hero” with an already-skewed moral compass, who then has to wade through the morally gray quagmire of a Sioux woman stealing artifacts that rightfully belong to her people.

As it stands, making Mina/Black Bison an outright murderer takes away the intriguing grayness of her mission and oversimplifies things for Dibny’s sake and for the sake of the viewers. The show trades a compelling story about the scale of right and wrong for simplified black-and-white, and also wastes the tiny amount of potential that having a character with an awful personality and terrible ethics might bring to the table. In the end, we get a sloppy, simple lesson that protecting people is important (duh-doy) and killing people is bad (duh-doy, squared).

Because, yes, Barry and Dibny stop Black Bison’s murder-slash-righteous-theft spree and lock her up with the other bus metas that turned out more evil than good. Considering that Black Bison’s final hurrah was to (awesomely) bring a T-Rex skeleton to life, though, I was still kinda rooting for her.

Other Things:
  • The Thinker is revealed to be DeVoe! We already knew this, of course, but Barry et al. finally caught up.
  • Cisco’s lesson to Harry is "no one's gonna like you if you don't like yourself first” and suddenly the fact that I have any friends at all is a miracle.
  • I do really like this season’s increased number of scenes of Barry doing his actual CSI job, as opposed to just sitting in dark offices and angsting.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Scorpion 4x07 Review: "Go With the Flo(rence)" (Nerd Warfare) [Guest Contributor: Yasmine]


“Go With the Flo(rence)”
Original Airdate: November 6, 2017

In the seventh episode of the season, Team Scorpion gets an interesting new neighbor and help — then trick — the British government, all while taking huge strides in their personal growth.

Florence, a chemist, moves into the warehouse next door to Team Scorpion and her first neighborly act, as a reaction to them being loud, is to flood their space with a horrible smelling gas through the shared vent. The first meeting with Florence does not go so well and the team members complain about her lack of personal skills, which is absolutely hilarious because she is exactly who they were before Paige came into their lives and started helping them out.

But the neighborly visit does not last too long. The team is quickly contacted and recruited by MI-6 and the British government to help them locate and stop a group of terrorists who have hacked and stolen a British satellite and are planning a terrorist attack on U.S. soil.

The team are led by MI-6 agent Jemma Franklin — a woman who can be most politely described as the least friendly and the least cooperative person to work with — and Paige is quickly to pick up on all her negative vibes. They still manage to find the hacker, but he burns his laptop and sends the key-fob swimming into the sewers. Cabe and Toby take the hacker back to the garage to question him while the others work on locating the fob and trying to stop the satellite. Happy throws Toby’s “Attaboy” keychain — which she has updated with a GPS tracking software — after the fob to help them locate it.

Things get messy and gross with the team tracking in the sewers, as well as for Cabe and Toby, since the hacker refused to cooperate and Florence continues to barge in uninvited. The team eventually manages to redirect the strike and save the day but not without a huge sacrifice from Sylvester. Honestly, this show should be renamed “Sylvester Dodd Overcomes His Fears and Saves the Day” because every week, this young man takes a huge step in overcoming something that has crippled him his whole life and proves that his story is one of the most exciting. This week, Sly finds himself sucked into the sewers with a rodent on his shoulder. And yes, he does panic, but this does not stop him from putting his fear aside and doing what is needed to save the day.

While Sly is on a journey of overcoming his fears, Walter is on an educational one in the art of being in a relationship. I really appreciate how the writers are dealing with the Walter/Paige relationship and not glossing over how hard it is for two such individuals to be together, or Walter’s fears about being in a relationship or his lack of experience in a proper adult relationship. Each week is another baby step and another lesson for the both of them and I think that is great. They obviously love and care for each other, but it’s not enough, and the writers are dealing with it very delicately and respectfully.

This week’s lesson is in the art of communication — in listening to the other person, understanding their needs and not assuming what they want or acting on your own assumptions. It’s a tough lesson for Walter, who starts the episode by replacing all of Paige’s beauty products with a single product that he concocted that he claims will replace all the others. It’s a slow and tough journey but in the end, he does learn the lesson. And this also helps them in stopping the MI-6 agent and the British government from stealing the satellite they had falsely claimed as theirs. Walter tells Paige that he trusted her instincts and the bad vibes she picked off Jemma and had sent the satellite into deep space orbit after stopping the terrorists.

Another relationship that is growing nicely is that of Walter and Ralph. Walter’s role in Ralph’s life is very important and in this episode, they share a sweet moment in which Walter plays the fatherly role and tries to help Ralph out with his crush on Sly’s intern Patty.

Finally, Toby and Happy, who are trying to have a child of their own, continue to prove they have the parenting skills down — even if they’re applying them to the eldest member of the group. As Cabe continues to struggle with the possibility of ending up in prison, Toby tries his best — with Happy supporting him — to get Cabe to talk to him and open up. Cabe isn’t the easiest to crack and not the quickest to share his emotions, but Toby and Happy are not quitting on him and they’re already proving they are going to be great — albeit unconventional — parents.