The Strong Women Series

Here, you'll find a collection of posts from my talented female friends, each defending the women in their favorite television series. These posts contain some of the most intelligent discussions ever featured on this website. I highly recommend that you read them all.

A Goodbye to 'Parks and Recreation'

We said goodbye to a few great television shows in 2015, and one that is nearest and dearest to my heart is NBC's 'Parks and Recreation.' Here, I talk about what made the series so special and different from all other comedies and say goodbye to each cast member and character individually. Grab some waffles and tissues and enjoy.

Jenn's Pick: My Top 15 Episodes of 'Psych'

Do you like meta humor? Movie references? Pineapples? If you do, you were probably also a fan of USA's hit comedy 'Psych.' In this post, I count down my fifteen favorite episodes of the series. Do your favorites make the cut? And, bonus: Can you find the pineapple in my post?

Character Appreciation Post: Felicity Smoak ('Arrow')

Felicity Meghan Smoak is one of the most captivating, optimistic, endearing characters on The CW's smash hit 'Arrow.' And in this post, I list all of the reasons why she is. Read, dear friends, and fall a little bit more in love with our blonde hacker.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Arrow 3x17 "Suicidal Tendencies" (So It's Gonna Be Forever Or It's Gonna Go Down In Flames)


"Suicidal Tendencies"
Original Airdate: March 25, 2015

I'm not married, but I'm old enough to have seen a great number of my friends and classmates tie the knot. Ironically enough, I'm also old enough that I've seen a fraction of those same couples separate and divorce. Love is weird. It's weird and it's painful and it's wonderful and it's what makes the world spin on its axis. But anyone who's married will tell you that love is difficult. It's work. It doesn't come naturally to us. Naturally, we want to be selfish. We want to think of the best thing for us. We don't want to think of other people or their wants or their needs. And when you get married, you have to. And when you have a family, you have to. You have to consciously shut down the part of you that wants to be only about you in order to compromise, sacrifice, and live for another person. Love is work but in my experience, it's always worth it.

They always say that you should marry your best friend, and I think that's true. I think you should marry (again, take this advice with a grain of salt because I'm still single) someone who is your partner and your equal -- someone who will share your burdens with you, not make you carry the weight of the world by yourself. You should marry someone who fights for you, day after day. You should marry someone who you can take on the world together with. Diggle and Lyla have that, in "Suicidal Tendencies." They don't agree on everything. They don't often agree on how a situation should be handled or what tactic or strategy is best. But the reason that they work as a couple and the reason they survive in the Arrow-verse where everyone is angst-ridden and brooding is because they count on each other and always have each others' backs. Oh, sure, they argue and they fight. But Lyla knows John -- she knows who he is and what he should do, even when he can't admit it. And John Diggle would do anything to protect Lyla. They'll constantly defend each other even when they don't understand each other because that's just what love is.

"Suicidal Tendencies" is a jam-packed episode of Arrow, so let's discuss more Diggle/Lyla stuff as well as some Oliver/Ray/Felicity shenanigans (see: drama) below!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

6x03 "Basic Crisis Room Decorum" (The Annie Of It All) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]


"Basic Crisis Room Decorum"
Original Airdate: March 24, 2015

There are two plots happening in the blessedly tame 100th episode of Community, "Basic Crisis Room Decorum." The A-Plot is about Annie and the rest of the group trying to stop City College from running a commercial about how Greendale once gave a degree to a dog named Ruffles. The B-Plot is that the Dean has been texting a student in Japan, thinking he’s actually texting Jeff Winger. I’m going to talk way more about the former than the latter in this review.

I liked the A-plot of this episode, not only because it revolved around Annie and I love Annie, but also because I think it was a pretty good reflection of the show itself and that’s really good, since this is Community’s 100th episode and all. A hundred episodes is a huge milestone for a TV show, especially one that seems to live perpetually on the bubble of cancellation like the series has during its entire run.

Community has always been a show about hope to me. The series was birthed during a time when cynicism was the key to “good comedy” and even though this show is sharp and jagged sometimes, even though it dips briefly into moments of despair, it always seems to float back up again.

One of my favorite episodes – if not my very favorite episode – is “Mixology Certification,” which is generally considered a “dark” episode by viewers and critics because there aren’t very many jokes and wacky hijinks throughout it. It’s an episode that touches one of those aforementioned moments of despair as all our characters get drunk in a bar and realize they’re unhappy with who they are and what the world has in store for them. They yell at each other, they lie to strangers to make themselves feel better, they get drinks thrown on them and they get trapped, separated and alone, in a bar entryway. It isn’t a good day.

But at the end of the episode, when Troy is driving his friends home after what seems to be a terrible 21st birthday meant to celebrate him becoming a man, Troy smiles. Because he still loves his friends, he still has hope, and the future is brighter than one bad day.

That’s what Community is about. It’s about a world of broken people who still manage to make a loving family and find joy in each other in spite of all their faults and strangeness and bad days. For the most part, it’s a show that says, no – you don’t have to reject love in order to be cool, or funny, or smart. You don’t have to stoop to lower levels to win. You don’t have to give in to the hipster notion that liking things and loving people means you’re less than the people who don’t like things and don’t love people. Liking things, loving people – that’s how you show the world around you that you’re alive and paying attention.

I don’t know if I can say that Community has absolutely stuck with what I believe to be its core concept through all its ups and downs as a show, but Annie’s role in “Basic Crisis Room Decorum” and the resolution of its story makes me think it’s still trying. I hope it continues to try.


“Basic Crisis Room Decorum”

In the case of Annie's story, this episode looks like a rehash of the season two's episode "Basic Rocket Science," in which Annie threatens to transfer to City College because she's ashamed of Greendale and its apathetic, ridiculous students.

The difference between the two episodes is that, in "Basic Rocket Science," Annie is ashamed of how Greendale makes her look.

In "Basic Crisis Room Decorum," Annie is ashamed of how Greendale makes her feel.

In season two, Annie couldn't stand that Greendale was a place that accepted and flew a butt flag. Greendale was a joke, and she didn't want a joke of a school to be on her resumé. She had too much self-respect and pride to stick around.

By season six, Annie's moved past the idea that maybe Greendale doesn't look so great on a resumé. She's accepted the school and its quirks and still takes pride in her success, her good grades, and her ability to run the "Save Greendale" campaign in spite of how Greendale looks on paper because, up until this episode, Annie's always believed that whatever problems she might encounter can be conquered with hard work, dedication, and the help of her friends. That's why she calls them in to help her stop City College's attack ad, only to end up horrified by their methods of doing so.

A fundamental trait in Annie Edison is that she wants the people around her to be the best people they can possibly be. She likes highlighting the good in others and trying to get them to see it in themselves, because Annie always sees it. But what if she stops seeing it? What if she starts only seeing the underhanded, manipulative, defeatist parts of the people she's spent all this effort trying to lift up? What if the people she's trying to help flat-out tell her that there's no reason to try and be good and that hope is pointless?

I'm sure that Annie is sick and tired of being the optimist in a sea of pessimism. After all: what's the point? Her friends apparently haven't grown in the six years she's known them, and even the new people in the group seem eternally fatalistic.

Annie thought she had an ally in Frankie, had another person with an A-Type personality and go-getter attitude to help inspire the people around her and bring Greendale out of whatever new darkness it might find itself in. Then she hears Frankie's declaration that she gave up hope a long time ago and was better for it, and Annie realizes that even Frankie is just the same as everyone else, just as pessimistic and just as content with her apathy and cynicism. If Frankie, a woman I'm sure Annie saw a lot of herself in, couldn't even keep herself from nose-diving into hopelessness, what chance does Annie have? If she's in a school full of people who have no drive, no ambition, and don't feel like they need to change anything – how long will it take before Annie is just like them?

So Annie wants out. She claims she wants to go to a place where her grades matter (and I'm sure that's a part of it), but the real motivation in her decision to bail on Greendale is watching her friends use dirty political tactics to fudge the truth instead of owning up to that truth and being better than it. She doesn't like seeing proof that her belief in the people around her was ill-founded and pointless, that maybe the goodness she saw in all of them was just an illusion brought about by the pointless trait of "hope." She cleans out her locker and thinks that, just maybe, things will be different at City College.

But then Abed brings Annie the new campaign commercial for Greendale, where a happy Dean Pelton is sitting with Ruffles the dog and promoting Greendale not as a place so terrible it give degrees to dogs, but as a place so full of hope and the possibility for improvement that it gives degrees to dogs. Annie is overjoyed; even when Jeff tells her the commercial was just a good tactical move. She doesn't care, because it finally looks like hope wins. Her belief in the people around her didn't let her down in the end, which means that she can keep on believing in people. She can keep being an optimist in that sea of pessimism and, just maybe, she might be able to make a difference.

She hopes.

Other stuff:

  • I was pretty happy with Chang in the previous two episodes, but he really fell flat in this one. I can’t pinpoint exactly what it is that works and doesn’t work about his character anymore.
  • The Dean/Jeff plot fell flat, too, and I think too much time was dedicated to it. It might have been better as a one-time joke, but they kept revisiting it and it wore reeeeally thin.
  • I think I felt more for Britta during the brief moment where she tells Elroy about how everyone treats her like a joke than I did during the entire previous episode. Because, let’s face it, the previous episode… treated her like a joke.
  • “Could you guys be bigger nerds?” “No, most of us have achieved our maximum potential.”
  • I’m so glad that they don’t seem to be trying to do Annie vs. Frankie in any real way. I just wanted to say that, because there was a lot of buzz about Annie vs. Frankie pre-season six and it made me really nervous.
  • "I assume Chang thinks I sound like distant explosions and crying babies."
  • We get a slow, sad reprise of "If I Die Before You" as Annie's packing up her stuff to leave. Because "Greendale Is Where I Belong" wouldn't really fit, would it?
  • Hello there, confirmed birthday for Annie! 12/19/1990. I can't believe I'm older than Annie. [Jenn's note: Geez, I can't believe I'm older than Annie, too]
  • “Yes, Jeff, don’t worry. I promise I’ll never mistake you for having a heart.” Oh, please, Annie, you know very well that Jeff has a heart. YOU’RE IN IT.
What did you all think of "Basic Crisis Room Decorum"? Did you enjoy the A-plot? Also, be sure to hit up the comments below and welcome Deb as my weekly co-reviewer this season for Community! (Also welcome her because she'll be sticking around to review Sleepy Hollow next season. I basically hold my writers captive, is what I'm saying.)
Until then, folks! :)

Monday, March 23, 2015

Once Upon A Time 4x15 "Poor Unfortunate Soul" (So Much For Our Happy Ending)


"Poor Unfortunate Soul"
Original Airdate: March 22, 2015

Do you deserve what you get because of who you are or who you've been?

That's a fundamental question this season in Once Upon A Time where the complex ideas of predestination vs. free will vs. good vs. evil seem to be constantly at play. For instance, does Ursula deserve a happy ending even though she's been a villain? Does Regina deserve to be happy, too, given all that she's done? And can Hook keep his own happy ending when -- once upon a time -- he, too, was a dastardly pirate, content to value revenge over doing the right thing? At the end of "Poor Unfortunate Soul," our favorite pirate seems concerned that his story is only destined to end one way: with him losing his happy ending. Because he was once a villain, he doesn't deserve the good things that come with being a hero. It's funny, though, because the heroes themselves are harboring darkness and secrets: Snow and Charming are both keeping something that happened years ago from Emma. So the question then is this: is your happy ending determined by what you were "written" as? Or should it be determined by who you become, in spite of your origin? Because though Snow and Charming were written as heroes, they still did very un-heroic things and manage to procure a happy ending for themselves, while characters like Regina (those who were once villainous and turned from evil in order to fight for the good) struggle every day to obtain even little glimmers of happiness and love.

(I told you this season of Once Upon A Time was complex.)

The layer of complexity and depth this season is because of The Author -- a mysterious figure, trapped in a book, who wrote everyone's stories. The villains and the heroes both want the same thing: they want him to change the ending of their stories. And if the villains get there first? Well, they're going to ensure that they triumph over the heroes. All the heroes want, meanwhile, is the opportunity for grace and redemption -- for everyone's endings to be deserved, not predetermined. There's a lot that is revealed, especially by Ursula, in "Poor Unfortunate Soul," so let's discuss, shall we?

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Series: This Week's TV MVPs - Week 5


Can you believe we've been doing this series for five weeks already? We've already featured some amazing performers over the past few weeks and I'm so excited to have a great team who's dedicated to naming some of the most outstanding performances from actors and actresses each week. This week, some of the best work on television was some of the most heart-breaking. My companion this week is my name twin, my soul sister, and my other (better) half in the Arrow fandom: Jen!
So let's get to it, then!

'The Mindy Project' x 4 (Or: Pre-Gaming for the Finale) [Contributor: Ann]


I have been gone for four weeks now from writing reviews for Jenn here at Just About Write. My excuses are the same: I have been (insanely!) busy with school and with my sorority and it has been hard to carve time to construct a review that I think adds anything of value. While those are certainly true, here is a new excuse for you — not even an excuse, because it doesn’t “excuse” me of anything. An explanation, I guess.

I have watched all four episodes of The Mindy Project that have aired since “Lahiri Family Values.” They were the first four episodes since “Santa Fe” in 2013 that I did not watch live. When “What to Expect When You’re Expanding”  was expected to air, I reminded my roommates: “Mindy is going to be on.” They said, “We still watch that?”

And so the story unfortunately goes that one year after I was counting down the days—maybe even hours—to the April return of The Mindy Project, I am now apathetic to its departure this Tuesday. What a disappointment.

If you are a supporter of this third season, it is easy to read these reviews and put me in the role of “villain,” the turncoat who would giggle with glee at bad demo numbers. Like there are sides to watching television or, to be more specific, that it really matters whether or not someone likes a show the same that they used to. And I should be clear that I’m not someone who is angry at the show or in disbelief that anyone still watches it. As I have maintained, I owe so much to The Mindy Project: I owe it you guys, after all.

But here is my explanation of why it has taken me so long to write this review, which will be a review of the episodes I’ve missed and the season in whole in preparation for the finale. When I first began writing for Just About Write—an opportunity that thrilled me because I had loved to read Jenn’s New Girl recaps—I was primarily writing to channel my passion for Mindy. Now I don’t really care about Mindy. I care about Jenn, and writing, and all of you guys. I love talking about TV; I love TV as a way to tell stories.

But The Mindy Project has lost my interest. It has let me down. Read anything I wrote before September and know that admitting this isn’t something I expected at all. I worshiped this show (I used to count laps at the track by listing, in order, episodes of The Mindy Project). Now I don’t. Diagnosing this problem shouldn’t start with me, though. I am not wrong when I say this show has changed (and it is only my opinion that claims it’s for the worse). It is not that I am addicted to the will-they-won’t-they.* I’m addicted to the storytelling, the character development, the character consistency that I swore this show once had.

I’ll be pretty succinct in my episode reviews and then summarize this season:

Danny Castellano is My Nutritionist
Of the four episodes, this was my least favorite—and I love the other two “DCIM” episodes! This episode committed so many sins: the unnecessary inclusion of Vanessa Williams as the apparently required thirty-second celebrity cameo, Danny nagging Mindy, Danny being wrong because of a third party, Danny having to apologize, bad editing, vomit, Peter stalking Lauren, and Dr. “Unnecessary and Rude” Bergdahl, who truly does not fit into this show at all. Should I sympathize with the guy who introduces himself so rudely (not to mention so unoriginally—see Morgan and Peter’s hiring?). Parts of this episode were funny, but when the plot leaves such a sour taste in your mouth, there’s no desire to rewatch this.

Fertility Bites
A little better than “DCIMN,” this episode does a convincing job of giving Mindy depth and stakes. That she is starting a fertility clinic and having a baby all seems like a lot of plot points intersecting at once, and it’s nice to have an episode recognize that and have Mindy do something problematic (lie about Danny’s sperm) that is also worthy of sympathy. The B-plot is stupid, though Jeremy kills (as always) when he asserts that Tamra and Morgan can’t hire someone else. Kris Jenner does okay... but is she really necessary? Oh, another thing: the joke about Mindy rejecting a patient for being too old was so cringe-worthy in an ugly way, and really undermines her self-acceptance episode two weeks later.

Confessions of a Catho-holic
Tropey, but funny. So funny. I watched this at home so maybe that contributed to my enjoyment of the episode, and I also love Stephen Colbert so that didn’t hurt either. But I love episodes that have Mindy and Danny team up. I also really loved Mindy this episode (so many great lines, but one of my favorites was in the church when Stephen Colbert said something about how small sins are as quick a path to hell as murder or whatever and Mindy said, “I’m pretty sure it’s not, though.” Also her calling it a shame that he was a virgin, the nun selfie, and the rambling of Saints-turned-Beatles. Probably a million more. I also felt that the obligatory Danny-has-done-something-wrong-and-must-apologize moment was more earned than they often are and was sweet.

What to Expect When You’re Expanding
A lot of people liked this episode for the positive message it sent about body acceptance and self-love. Again, I couldn’t really get past who was delivering that message and would have rather just heard Mindy Kaling say it in an interview than Mindy Lahiri. The way Mindy treats Morgan in this episode is impossible to reconcile with her journey of self-acceptance. It’s reasonable to have a character who is both insecure and rude, but the tonal change in this episode was jarring to me. Not to mention that I didn’t find this episode very funny and was annoyed at the throwaway treatment of Jessica, which (I imagine—Jenn, back me up here) was as unexpected and ill-explained as Ryan Geauxinue’s departure from New Girl. [Jenn's note: I feel like even Ryan was more fleshed out than that. The Mindy Project has this thing they do when they introduce you to a character long enough for you to remember their name and sort-of start to like them and then rip them away from you. Also I "watched" this episode while making muffins so needless to say I forgot half the plot.]


THE GRINCH LIST, OR OPERATION: BUZZKILL, OR HOW MY HOPES AND DREAMS AND EXPECTATIONS WERE DASHED AGAINST THE ROCKS FACING THE ROUGH WATERS OF TV SUCKAGE

Why do I not like this season of The Mindy Project? I read a review once of this show—or maybe someone said this to me?—that conceded that Mindy was as funny as ever, but that the treatment of every other element of the show was so poor that it would just be better as stand-up. I so agree with this statement and here is why:

I don’t recognize my characters anymore. Yes, the rough picture is about the same: Mindy says “How dare you” and Danny has red glasses and Mindy and Danny love each other so, so much. But look closer and see that they have changed. Their characters are exaggerated; Danny gets crazy eyes and buys funeral plots instead of engagement rings, and Mindy … Mount Facemore, man. You can’t relate to them because … okay, imagine that Mindy and Danny are made out of Silly Putty, and with every outrageous joke that the writers create for these distinct voices they have to stretch a little bit to accommodate the absurdity of the statement. And imagine that the writers have done that so many times, and taken so many liberties with the character, that Danny—who hid his emotions but felt them regardless, who was so palpably traumatized by the desertion of his ex-wife and his father that ugly characteristics like arrogance and detachment were made manifest—has become an inexcusable jerk who needs a person to talk him out of every situation he’s ever been in. Or imagine Mindy, who oscillates wildly from the self-assured, realized, flawed character she was meant to be and the hot mess the writers toy with from time to time (think her misreading the flyer for the BASH). And maybe these two piles of amorphous putty can tell a good joke, but they can no longer sell me on emotional intimacy like they once did. I remember saying that what made Danny and Mindy’s relationship so great was that its flavor was so distinct and unique. I didn’t see in Mindy and Danny a relationship I wanted; I saw a relationship I wanted to root for. Now I don’t know what is even left.

Three seasons is more than enough to struggle with the supporting cast. Jeremy is my favorite supporting cast character, and a lot of that is thanks to the charisma of Ed Weeks. It can’t be because Jeremy’s character makes a lot of compelling sense or that his development throughout the series is particularly thought-provoking or interesting. Ed Weeks is a funny guy who is game to do whatever the writers ask of him, and he remains the best part of this season for me (I mean, God, remember his accent?!).

But Tamra and Morgan are pretty shapeless, as is their relationship with each other. Hearing updates on Tamra and Morgan is like having your hairdresser tell you their love story: it’s pleasant enough and helps pass the time, but when you come back six months later** there’s no way you’re going to remember any of it or even really care.

Bergdahl is nonsensical to me, if I haven’t pointed this out before. I agree with Mindy Lahiri that he doesn’t fit into Schulman and Associates, but that’s because I don’t think there’s any clear definition of what Schulman and Associates is that having another unknown variable is exhausting. I have no interest in learning anything about him.

What I do think this season has done well is utilize Beverly appropriately. I never want a Beverly B-plot and am so happy she is around for a reliable one-liner every episode.

Unnecessary celebrity casting. God, there’s so many. Kris Jenner. Vanessa Williams. Shonda Rimes. Cristin Milioti and Laverne Cox, Lee Pace and Chrissy Teigen, John Cho, Allison Tolman. x100000, especially if you count characters with extended recurring roles (Anders Holm, etc). That’s not to say that these actors didn’t nail what they were supposed to do—but I almost feel like this show is so afraid to let me hang out with the people I already know that it insists on introducing a million more randos for a brief appearance and then departure. I mean, will we ever see Niecy Nash again on an episode? Does it matter?

Boring, boring plot structure. I’ve mentioned it before and I will mention it again (taking a page from one of my favorite TV shows): straight up, almost every episode of this season begins, progresses, and then ends the same way. I haven’t been precise and I am not going to check, but I am pretty sure there is only one episode this season that doesn’t end with Mindy and Danny on the couch/bed/whatever, post-reconciliation (and that’s when Mindy is in Stanford). Most episodes make Danny the villain who must apologize, and most have him consulting Peter (the SAGE) or any number of guest stars to teach him how to properly respect his girlfriend/not buy her a brimstone without asking first. It’s all the same, and it sucks to see Danny constantly wronging Mindy. “But that’s what makes him real!” you might argue—and sure, yeah, great, whatever. But when you consider that this is every episode that he must apologize to Mindy, you stop rooting for him and you stop rooting for them.

I am so tired and have been writing this review for some time, so while I could elaborate, I think this is where I think I’ve made my point as best as I ever could. All of the things I mention that make this season worse than last are things that detract from this show’s heart: the jokes overpower the characters, emotional development is nonexistent mostly to make a splash (”We’re not like other shows! Who gives a hoot when Mindy says she loves Danny? It’s, like, so real!”), and characters are often overshadowed by the bright and underdeveloped lines of a superficial comedy.  If you don’t see what I see, that is great—don’t let me stop you. But when you wonder where I have gone, now at least you understand.

Strays

  • * One of the things that pisses me off is when I am accused of disliking this season because I am an addict for the will-they-won’t-they, as if my shows must have a dramatic love story to be good. I do love romance, but the reason why I do is because romance gives characters focus and forces them to confront interesting questions, like: what attracts them? How do they handle jealousy? Whose needs do they prioritize? Does the other person make them better or worse? How do they react when they’re with them, given that they want to impress the person? Do they even want to impress them, or will they push them away? And so on. Making the case of “you need THIS” is so simple, as if I don’t know a million TV couples who I could watch on Youtube to get my fix! Like, have you ever seen Pride and Prejudice’s rain scene? SMH.
  • When a show sucks after the will-they-won’t-they is gone, it’s on the show and not on my preferences. It means that without that narrow focus, the show has nowhere to go. It doesn’t recognize the people grow past when they first get together with someone, and it doesn’t recognize that people can grow from others and also not stay with them forever. (THE WONDER YEARS!) The characters stagnate and go nowhere and that is when I start wanting to jump ship.

** Should I get my hair cut more frequently? 20 bucks for someone to put scissors to my hair in an orderly way seems like a lot for every six weeks. Also, should I get bangs? Short hair? Ahh, wrong time wrong place. I know when to leave, don’t worry

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Supernatural 10x15 "The Things They Carried" [Contributor: Deena Edwards]


"The Things They Carried"
Original Airdate: March 18, 2015

As you’ll probably notice, I decided to change things up a little in this particular review. Since this was a pretty basic monster-of-the-week episode, I thought it would be better to, rather than my usual scene-by-scene recap, focus on the characters and their development this time around.

Let’s start with the returning Cole Trenton. You would think with practically 90% of his interactions with the Winchesters in the show so far being him trying to kill Dean, that I would want him dead. That I would have spent the entire episode rolling my eyes at him and wondering why they brought him back in the first place, but no. As a character, I’m actually warming up to the guy, and it doesn’t hurt that he’s got great chemistry with our boys already. Sure, he’s reckless, stubborn, and he nearly got himself killed going in alone to save his friend, a man who was practically family to him. But in the end... doesn’t that description sound a little bit familiar? A certain pair of brothers who throw themselves into danger nearly every day of their lives, willing to put themselves in harm’s way multiple times just for the chance of saving one life?

Of course, Cole isn’t as smart about it, but that’s only because he’s still new to this whole world. He spent most of his life training to kill, but he’s still innocent in his own way when it comes to what’s really out there. Before he found out the truth, he’d gone his entire life believing that the only ‘monster’ that existed came in the form of Dean Winchester, the very man who killed his father when he was young. As unprepared as he still is now in the supernatural world, he has to go anyway. He has to warn Kit, his friend--- in his mind, that was the right thing to do. He was thinking with his heart, with his emotions, rather than with his head like skilled hunters do, but I can’t entirely blame him for that.

He didn’t embrace the hunter lifestyle, and yet, when he decided to go find his friend, even if it wasn’t exactly the safest thing to do, I felt like he was a hunter in that moment, making a tough decision to keep someone safe. Even if the someone was actually the monster, he wanted to tackle this in a way that no one else got hurt. He wanted to find his friend, and try to fix it, rather than just having the monster and its host killed outright, which is a department our Team Free Will have been faltering in as of late. They were raised to think that if something’s a monster, you put it down. Cole, on the other hand, feels as if there’s a chance to save his buddy without doing that, he wants to at least try.

And then, when he tells Dean that if it goes down “that road”, that if he’s unable to get the Khan worm out of him before it’s too late, to kill him, like he killed his father--- he finally understands the reason behind Dean’s actions. Cole has been nothing if not bitter about it, blaming his father’s death on Dean rather than the monster inside his father, until now. This is wonderful development on his part, and part of me can’t help but hope we get to see him again soon. Though, another part of me hopes that we don’t, that he gets to return to his family and try to put his life back together, rather than having any more part in the supernatural world. He deserves that much.
- “Don’t blame yourself for Kit, man.”
- “I can’t help it, Dean, it feels crappy.”
- “I know it does.”
Like I’ve said once before, Sam and Dean are no strangers to guilt, and in this episode, Sam especially takes his failure to save Cole’s friend really hard. He’s always been the more sympathetic of the two, more vocally emotional when things get rough, and this is no exception. He feels crappy, and he has every right to be. When their job is about saving people, it doesn’t matter how many people they save; if they fail to save one person out of a hundred, they’ll still beat themselves up over it. In this case, Sam’s failure to save Kit has a pretty obvious double meaning, which is obvious when Dean assures him that you can do everything right, and still sometimes “the guy still dies.” You can see the determination in Sam’s eyes the very last second before it cuts to black. He’s not going to let that happen. He’s going to try, and keep trying, however long and however hard it takes, until he saves his brother.

And of course, I’m not going to forget about Dean. Even though this episode focused very little on him and his Mark of Cain problem, there were still very subtle moments within it that shows that he might actually be well on his way onto accepting this whole deal. He’s always referred to himself as not worthy of being saved, and even now that seems to hold true to him. It kills him to see Sam trying so hard, when he himself believes there’s no way back from this, which in turn, kills me. Why can’t our boys have a moment of happiness?!

Memorable Moments/Quotes:
  • The episode took place in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Even though that’s roughly about four hours from where I am, I still felt it was flail-worthy when I saw the ep was in my state.
  • “Dude, it wasn’t porn.” “Okay, ‘erotica,’ whatever.” 
  • “I gotta move on. So I’m gonna keep doing what we do, while I still can, and I’d like you to be there with me.”
  • Two of the characters had the names Rick and Beth. Is this The Walking Dead, or Supernatural?
  • “That was a dumbass move coming in here alone, you know that, right?” “I’m sorry, I should have let the machete brothers cut my buddy’s head off.”
  • “What do you think about rapid dehydration?” “Big fan.”
  • Sammy boy? Dean-o?  Cole, please. I like ya, but you’ve not been around long enough to earn the use of those nicknames.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Arrow 3x16 "The Offer" (Are You Better Off?)


"The Offer"
Original Airdate: March 18, 2015

You know what is really difficult for me? Making a decision. My friends and I joke about how we are all quite indecisive, but there's a nugget -- nay, a boulder -- of truth in our jokes. It took my best friend and me about twenty minutes to decide where to go for dinner one night. We began texting, trying to weigh our options: Well, what were we hungry for? Which places were a good half-way distance between our apartments? What time should we eat? I am a terrible decision-maker. My roommate is not. My roommate will make a decision without too much hesitation or conflict because she would rather have a plan solidified than waste fifteen or twenty minutes contemplating options. I've had to make very few life-altering decisions in my twenty-six years on earth. I've decided where to go to college. I decided to break up with my college boyfriend. I decided when to transfer to another university. I decided when to move out of my parents' home. I decided when I wanted to start looking to buy a house. I decided when I wanted to start searching for other jobs. All of those decisions are good and they're important.

But sometimes, decisions aren't easy. Sometimes offers that we have seem tempting and they seem good and they seem perfect, but they turn out to be something we didn't want. And sometimes, the thing that seems least appealing to us actually becomes more intriguing. There's a common thread there that is really important in decision-making: your circumstances. Where you are physically, mentally, and emotionally when you are preparing to make a decision is often more important than the decision itself because it colors your perception of your circumstances and it colors your decision, too. I'm sure you all know where this is going, but Oliver Queen has a very difficult decision to make in "The Offer" as he contemplates Ra's' offer to become the next Ra's al Ghul. And we look at Oliver's circumstances and think the same thing that Diggle and Felicity think: of course he'll say no. Of course he will. It would be absurd to agree to that. It's not even an option.

There are two simple words that can alter our trajectory and they're two words that Oliver contemplates in this episode: "... and yet." It seems like Oliver would never agree to become Ra's. And yet... has Oliver lost himself so much already that he believes becoming Ra's would be and could be his next logical leap? Would it be better for those he cares about if he wasn't in their lives? Ra's isn't stupid -- he didn't make an offer knowing that Oliver would immediately turn it down. He knows who Oliver Queen is. He knows what he fights for. And Ra's knows that this proposal is attractive to Oliver, which is why he offered it in the first place.