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

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

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

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

In Appreciation of the Everyday Heroine

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

Monday, April 24, 2017

Class 1x02 Recap: "The Coach With the Dragon Tattoo" (Blood, Gore, and Football) [Guest Poster: Stephanie Coats]


"The Coach With the Dragon Tattoo"
Original Airdate: April 22, 2017

There are some thing that once you survive them together, you’re automatically friends. An alien attack at prom apparently isn’t one of them. It’s been a week since our band of misfits saved their school and possibly their planet, and football (soccer) star Ram is ignoring his new would-be friends. He’s got a lot on his mind already: the violent death of his girlfriend right in front of him. Losing his leg and getting an alien prosthetic that won’t cooperate during practice. And, most recently, seeing the skinned body of the assistant coach in the locker room. As we’ll soon discover, this isn’t the last of Ram’s troubles.

WORST COACH EVER


It’ll take most of the episode for our heroes to figure it out, but we know from the start the person behind the killings is Head Coach Dawson. He has a massive dragon tattoo on his back, buttocks, and bicep that comes to life and attacks innocent people. It’s also very good at cleaning up after itself. Ram had hidden after seeing what remained of the assistant coach and when he emerged, the room looked spotless, leading him to believe it was a hallucination.

The slim “hope” of PTSD is soon washed away when Ram witnesses a dragon grab a cleaning lady and kill her right in front of him. He’s even sprayed with blood yet again. Seriously, this poor kid. The incident is enough to make Ram reach out to Tanya, who in turn tells Charlie and April -- because someone has to make this team a team, and I guess it’s going to be the 14-year-old. Let’s be real, she’s the smartest one of the bunch. Tanya is even trying to hack into UNIT.

These three are able to verify Ram’s story by asking Mr. Armitage, the nice headmaster who was also on Doctor Who during Clara’s tenure at Coal Hill, about a missing cleaning lady. Sadly, Mr. Armitage barely has time to be suspicious when a dragon appears through the space-time rift and kills him. At least Ram has three more people to back him up. And Charlie is very good at drawing. His sketch of the dragon is dead on, enough that Ram recognizes it as his coach’s tattoo.

ELEMENTARY, MY DEAR CHARLIE


Pausing the dragon slaying for a moment, let’s check in with Quill. She’s been paying no mind to all of the bloody killings because she’s too busy scrutinizing the school inspector. The dude is pretty creepy, so I can’t completely blame her. He sits silently in her classroom day after day, unblinking, and taking notes. In a very Sherlock moment, Quill tells Charlie all the parts about the inspector’s appearance that are incongruous (like fake glasses and pants 40 years out of date). She thinks the inspector is dangerous to them.

In fact, she’s so convinced of this she nearly dismisses the dragon problem altogether. But maybe she’s blinded by lust. When she corners the inspector and asks what he wants, he responds, “You.” She takes this as invitation to snog him senseless, although he doesn’t participate and we’ll find out why in a minute.

During this sudden and awkward make-out session, the dragon appears. Quill and the inspector sprint to a classroom for safety. When the dragon breaks in, Quill offers the man up as a sacrifice. Only... he’s a robot.


BLOOD OF THE DRAGON


Thankfully, Quill’s unfortunate encounter with Inspector Gadget has at least brought her to the aid of her charges when they need it most. They’ve confronted Dawson outside the school but his tattoo is still on him. There’s more than one dragon at Coal Hill. The one on Dawson is the female. She came through the rift and was bonded to his skin somehow, giving him strength due to her dragon blood. Her mate came looking for her and has been forced to kill somewhat at Dawson’s bidding because the female dragon needs blood.

In a moment equal parts heartfelt, Doctor-esque, and pure cheese, Ram tells the male dragon he doesn’t have to live on Dawson’s terms. After all, Ram lost his girlfriend recently so he knows about... these things? Well, it works. The dragon drags Dawson into the rift. Maybe now Ram can make first team again.

But he’ll still need to practice. And really, more than anything else, he needs someone else to help him. Ram tells his dad everything’s that happened and his dad, to his credit, doesn’t freak out. Instead, he helps his son practice his football skills.

Final Thoughts:
  • Interesting that both this week’s Class and Doctor Who episodes were driven by grief.
  • After examining the robot inspector’s parts, Quill sees “Property of Governors.” Earlier, the headmaster mentioned the school’s “governess.” Who do we know in the Doctor Who universe who likes nicknames and seems like an evil school teacher of sorts? Missy (a.k.a. the Master). While I’d be surprised if Michelle Gomez reprised her role on Class, it seems a fair guess as this moment. 
  • Also, it warrants mentioning, Quill snogging the inspector is very reminiscent of Missy snogging the Doctor in series eight’s “Dark Water.” 
  • Ram about Quill: “Oh, yeah, her and her happy superbest sparkle team.” 
  • Tanya: “Is a coach really a teacher?”
  • “At first I thought he was an evil designer of casual coats and gifts, but I guess that's somebody else because this Paul Smith, he is nowhere to be found.”
  • “You and your little team, you go pretend to save the world. I'll just stick to saving you from boring old death.”
  • "Oh, please, Quill, help us with a skin-peeling dragon. We're just little arses of smart who don't even know what evil looks like."

Once Upon A Time 6x18 Review: “Where Blue Birds Fly” (Back Where I Belong) [Contributor: Julia Siegel]


“Where Blue Birds Fly”
Original Airdate: April 23, 2017

With only a handful of episodes left before the season finale, it’s about time for the heavily referenced final battle to begin. Before we can get to the fun, something wicked comes back into play just in the nick of time. A trip back to Oz shows the old and brings the new in a surprising turn of events.


THE LION, THE WITCH, AND A TIN MAN 


The episode’s main story takes place many years ago in Oz, with Zelena in the height of her power. The flashback seems out of place at first, but its timing makes sense at the end of the episode. In another hidden tale from the Land of Oz, Zelena was friends with the boy who would eventually become the tin man. As a grown adult, he returns to her Emerald Palace to ask for help in finding him a heart. Without finding the supposedly magical crimson heart, he will turn into a tin man forever.

Like all evildoers, Zelena wants to prove her old friend wrong by defeating the beast that guards the magical heart. While looking through the nearby forest for the object, the pair encounters a ferocious lion. To add some humor to the episode, Zelena turns the lion from brave to cowardly. All we were missing from this party was a brainless scarecrow. After her hard work, Zelena learns that the magic heart actually has to steal someone’s magic in order for it to be useful. Being the wicked witch that she is, Zelena refuses to give up her magic to save her friend, which she feels guilty about to the current timeline.

This missing piece of Zelena’s history doesn’t really add anything to what we already knew about her, but rather confirmed her evilness in Oz. The only thing the flashback adds is the crimson heart, which comes into play at the end of the episode. I guess it also was a moment of reflection for Zelena, who shows that she has gone through a 180-degree character arc. In just one episode, Zelena was able to show her entire character arc for the series, which is an impressive feat... but more on that later.


WEDDING BELLS 


To take everyone’s minds off of the doom and gloom that is about to go down, Snow plans a day of wedding venue shopping! The big day is approaching quickly (the musical May 7th episode will feature the TV wedding of the year). Like any good mother, Snow interrupts Emma and Hook’s breakfast-with-benefits to start a day of wedding planning. Snow, David, Emma, Hook, and Henry embark on a journey throughout town to find the perfect location fit for a royal wedding.

Like any good father, David isn’t satisfied with any of the locations that Snow thinks would be good. Through a heartfelt conversation about being overprotective, David admits that he wants the final battle to occur prior to the wedding because he doesn’t want the weight of the battle in Emma’s mind on her wedding day. The noble speech rings true for Emma, who feels the same way as her father. It is nice that there is some happiness left in the sea of darkness that has plagued this season. Each of the actors in these scenes was particularly great in this episode, and I saw the most genuine smile from Jennifer Morrison than I have in the past five or six episodes.


MAKING PROBLEMS AND SOLVING THEM 


Zelena was the character of the hour, so it’s fitting to end with her present-day arc. Just like in the clips from Oz, Zelena feels that she has to yet again prove herself as the best to Regina after they learn that the Black Fairy is hiding out in the mining tunnels beneath the town. Zelena has been the most unstable and questionable character in the entire show, so it was no surprise that she stormed down into the tunnels to fight the Black Fairy herself. What could possibly go wrong when a crazy character goes to fight the most powerful fairy in the show’s universe?

Zelena walks right into the Black Fairy’s trap, and her magic turns the fairy crystals growing in the tunnels into dark magic. Of course, Regina blames Zelena for what happened and reverts back to her old self by essentially banishing Zelena back to Oz. Regina doesn’t want to deal with her sister anymore, which is more characteristic of the Evil Queen. Surprising us all, Zelena shows Regina up again by not listening, sticking around, and using a crystal to get the crimson heart from Oz. She uses the crimson heart to take away her magic, which reverts the crystals to light magic.

Zelena rarely does anything that doesn’t directly positively impact her own selfish motives, so the sacrifice is a bit shocking. The character has come a long way and really hasn’t been used much in the latter half of this season, so it was good to see her get her due. With big shakeups coming to the show to keep it afloat, it wouldn’t be surprising if Zelena’s time on the show is up, especially since she doesn’t possess magic anymore. At the very least, Zelena’s story has been fully told and has allowed the character to develop to her full potential.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Scorpion 3x22 Review: “Strife on Mars” (Man, This Party Sucks) [Guest Poster: Yasmine]


“Strife on Mars”
Original Airdate: April 17, 2017

Well, this Scorpion episode was emotionally exhausting, for both characters and viewers.

Even though everyone’s busy with planning the double bachelor/bachelorette part for Toby and Happy, Team Scorpion cannot say no to a job that would take them to a Mars Biodome simulation to fix its power grid. Kapper, the man behind the project and eyeing a billion-dollar deal with NASA, visits the garage and sells his project as the leading project in advancement of space exploration. The intro video the team watches is exciting, as Kapper describes the biodome as an Eden and promises the team they will not have to worry about dealing with the two resident scientists, Sal and Jen, who have been living there and testing the biodome for eleven months.

Paige and Ralph stay back at the garage with Kapper to overlook the team’s work, Toby, Happy and Walter head towards the biodome, while Cabe and Sylvester trail behind in the party bus with a few more party errands to run, most importantly picking up the piƱatas, custom made to look like Toby and Happy.

Once they arrive at the biodome, the three geniuses realize that Kapper had lied about almost everything. The experiment is a failure and the place is a disaster. It is falling apart and the two scientists in there have long abandoned their scientific journey and are just living out the rest of the twelve months because Kapper won’t let them out.

The small engineering job to fix the grid turns into a disaster, of course, when the generator explodes. Kapper makes a run for it, abandoning the team both in the biodome and at the garage, and it is up to the team and the scientists to find a way to get out, with the biodome literally falling apart around them, temperatures increasing to fatal degrees, toxic fumes and doors they cannot open.

With some crazy idea, wacky science and a DIY Molotov cocktail, the team manages to make it out, but not before the experience proves to be a little more emotionally, let alone physically, taxing for those stuck inside.

Starting with the soon-to-be wed happy couple — who began the episode with Toby moving his things to Happy’s apartment, and then had to spend the day with two scientists who found being in love and being in a relationship and working together everyday a recipe for failure on all fronts. The moving of Toby’s things in the morning had led the two to a small argument, with Happy considering Toby’s stuff junk and Toby reminding her that her apartment is no longer her apartment, but their home. And then they spent the rest of the day watching two people who, eleven months ago, had been so in love with each other, but realized after living together and working together in close proximity that they could not stand each other at all and ended up resenting each other.

Both Toby and Happy realize that what happened to those two should serve as a cautionary tale for them but refuse to accept they will end up the same. They share a moment at the garage in the end, voicing their concerns, but also confidently agree that they won’t end up like that. And as a token of good faith, Happy brings Toby a painting that he has, which he suggested they hang in their apartment, of Toby Dick (a whale in a fedora) and she calls it a housewarming gift.

The character who went through the most traumatizing emotional roller coaster, though, was Walter. Being in that biodome triggered memories of being in the rocket earlier in the season, and that did not go well at all for the genius. Throughout the episode, Walter kept getting flashes of what happened there and demanded answers from the rest of the team. They kept avoiding it until there was no escaping the truth — and the truth was quite painful. Walter found out that he had confessed to Paige that he loved her, and that she had said she loved him too. And worst of all, the whole team knew and have kept it a secret from him for all those months.

After returning to the garage, Walter takes some time to himself while the others take part in the worst party ever. Later, he joins them downstairs and asks to speak to Paige privately.

Then Walter does the most non-Walter thing he has ever done — and yes, it does break Waige shippers’ hearts everywhere, and yes, I can see how they feel they are being mistreated by the writers. But keep in mind that if this was not their endgame ship, they would not be making it so hard and throwing so many obstacles in its way.

Walter thanks Paige for her work with Scorpion, and then he fires her.

And that is a horrible thing. But it is also a great thing. This is Walter’s first purely emotional decision. This is Walter at his most normal — at his most human. Compare this to Walter’s break-up in the pilot and compare it with every other time Walter was supposed to have an emotional reaction to something but he just remained... Walter. Logical, scientific Walter. Yes, this is a heartbreaking moment for Waige and for everyone involved, but it is a very important moment in Walter’s journey and it is the final piece of the puzzle that is Walter becoming the man who deserves to be with Paige.

He’s going to have to fix what he did, but I personally think he is finally ready to do that. He just needs to be aware of it all, and I think it is not going to take long for him to get there.

Secret Film Festival 2017: A Review [Contributor: Erin Allen]


My local theater puts on a Secret Film Festival every year. “The titles are secret, the awesomeness is not” is their tagline. Past titles include Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Slow West, It Follows, and What We Do in the Shadows. I made my third consecutive pilgrimage for the 12th annual event and saw some great films. You can read about my experience at the 10th annual fest here and the 11th here.

The premise? Twelve hours of movie viewing from midnight to noon of unknown independent film festival favorites. Sometimes you are given a choice between two movies, and the host gives you a short description of the film beforehand.

FILM #1

Described as a 70’s action/comedy.


Free Fire is a film from the independent distribution company, A24, which is on my radar after reading about Rae’s A24 challenge. It’s very Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs with a lot of violence and comedy. Gory brutality mixed with witty dialogue and a John Denver soundtrack makes the one location setting fresh and exciting. The cast is really strong with Brie Larson as the sole female role. The sound editing and mixing are phenomenal. The plot is simple, but executed with vertiginous choreography and efficient editing which keeps the film engaging throughout. I think this was a perfect choice for the opening film.

There are many great quotes, but this is my favorite:

Stevo: Do you have any headache pills?

Bernie: I got crack.

Stevo: Talk about a f'ing sledgehammer to crack a nut.


FILM #2


First choice of the night. The options are a medieval convent comedy based on Boccaccio’s The Decameron, or a Polish comedy/drama/horror/musical with subtitles.

I went with the first option. We were informed that the second option would be available to choose later, so I thought this was a smart move. 


The Little Hours is a hilariously irreverent comedy with a stellar cast. It has so many of my faves! Aubrey Plaza, Molly Shannon, Nick Offerman, and Fred Armisen to name a few. It also stars John C. Reilly, Alison Brie, and Jemima Kirke. Dave Franco plays a servant boy on the run who takes cover in the convent. He soon realizes it might not be much safer since the nuns are overcome with wicked temptations of debauchery.

This quote:

Father: Such abusive language!

Sister Fernanda (Aubrey Plaza): That’s just the tone of my voice.

She is basically April Ludgate in a habit.

FILM #3


The choices are a horror/mystery with disturbing imagery directed by the director of Trollhunter, or a film described as if Napoleon Dynamite and Rushmore had a scrappy Australian baby.

Loving both of those quirky comedies, I went with the latter. 


Girl Asleep definitely has some Napoleon Dynamite-esque qualities, but the Rushmore description didn’t vibe. It’s a coming of age story with a nightmare fantasy/adventure element that reminded me of Where The Wild Things Are. Great visual representations of the horror that is adolescence. Bethany Whitmore in the lead role is fantastic. There is also a very cool mythical character called The Huldra, which is a Finalandian warrior-ess that added to the strong female themes. It is the directorial debut of Rosemary Myers who directed the stage play. I hope to see more from her in the future.

FILM #4


The fourth film gave me the opportunity to see the film I passed on earlier, but I still didn’t bite. I chose the horror/comedy/drama about the bond between a mother and her unborn child.


Prevenge is a super dark look at how pregnancy can make you go kind of crazy. I so related to the main character’s feelings of being pregnant, how it can feel like a “hostile takeover” and that you are a “human sacrifice to [the baby’s] will.” I love that this was portrayed in a dark comedy-style horror film. Oddly enough, to me, pregnancy kind of lends itself to this genre rather than fluffy rom-com flicks. Alice Lowe wrote, directed, and starred in the film while seven months pregnant. That fact is impressive by itself, so it’s even more inspiring that the film is so outstanding.

Overheard by another moviegoer: “That made me not want to have kids. Like ever.”

FILM #5


The first option is a Korean film about trains and zombies. The second is described as “a drama/mystery that will go good with your current state of sleep deprivation. It’s Donnie Darko meets The Machinist meets Mr. Robot.

I chose the second because I really love Donnie Darko.


Buster’s Mal Heart is a time-traveling mind-bender. Rami Malek is great in the titular role, which is good because you spend the whole movie with him. I love stories about wormholes and the space-time continuum, even if I don’t really understand it. This film is a deeply intimate look at how these theories can create a paranoia and a singular obsession in the most mild-mannered people.

Cool quote: “It was a cosmic mistake that we made it this far.”

FILM #6


No more decisions to make. The final two films are not options. This makes me nervous because the sixth film is described as a horror film about heavy metal and family and Satan. I’m not really good with horror or Satan. Going to Catholic school for most of my education kind of made anything having to do with demonic religious themes scare the crap out of me. If I had a choice at this point, I would’ve chosen the alternative. Not to mention that it is now the morning of Easter Sunday, so watching a movie about Satan seems a tad sacrilegious. I armed myself with popcorn and mustered the courage.


Well, this was absolutely terrifying, but in an absolutely entertaining kind of way. The Devil’s Candy has satanic forces, a haunted house, and a really adorable heavy metal-loving family. I like that the filmmakers chose not to go campy and presented a straightforward narrative without straying from the elements that make the horror genre so captivating. I thought it was so twisted to be watching this movie on Easter, but the ending actually made me think of this as a perfect film for the holiday. And I swear I’m not saying that under possession of the Devil.

After the credits rolled, the emcee said, “You just watched The Devil’s Candy. Happy Easter.”

FILM #7


The closing night (day) film is an animated film about high school, with a warning for people with photosensitive epilepsy.


If this was a graphic novel, I would’ve been all over it. It was initially created as a comic short story, actually. I don’t think it’s very successful in the animated feature format. My Entire High School Sinking Into The Sea has an impressive cast of voice actors starring Jason Schwartzman and including Susan Sarandon, Lena Dunham, and Maya Rudolph. The animation has a strobe-like effect (hence the warning) that is somewhat irritating to watch. That coupled with the frantic nature of the plot made viewing this film kind of exhausting. It could have something to do with the fact that it is at the end of a long marathon, but my past two experiences at the festival had humorous closing films where my punchy demeanor enhanced the viewing.

The title describes the plot of the film. It takes all those high school personalities that we are familiar with and puts them together in a confined space during an emergency. While it is amusing at times, I found myself quite bored, so it was a little bit of a disappointing ending. I think The Little Hours would have been the better choice to close the festival.

THE FILMS I DIDN'T SEE


Film #2 and #4 alternative: The Lure


Film #3 alternative: The Autopsy of Jane Doe


Film #5 alternative: Train to Busan


You know how it is weird when you go to a matinee and you come out of the theater and it is still light out? Well, it’s even weirder to go in at night and come out in the middle of the day. The Secret Film Festival is a unique experience, and one I look forward to every year. I enjoyed almost all of the seven movies I watched. It was promising to see some films directed by women and so many strong female characters. My favorites were Free Fire, Girl Asleep, and Prevenge.

Do you think you could survive The Secret Film Festival? Would you have made the same choices as me? Let me know in the comments!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Bates Motel 5x09 Review: "Visiting Hours" (Brother’s Keeper) [Contributor: Erin Allen]


"Visiting Hours"
Original Airdate: April 17, 2017

The penultimate episode of Bates Motel is a quiet one. It focuses on how the murders affect the people involved and how their reactions affect those close to them.

GIVE DYLAN A BREAK


The amount of crap Dylan gets from people in this episode is absurd. He is grieving the loss of his mother as well as the fate of his brother. His wife is harsh, the lawyer he hired guilt trips him, and Madeline puts some blame on him. And he is understanding about all of it, taking each burden on his shoulders as it is handed to him. The massive amount of compassion that Dylan has is why he can empathize with every person that takes their sorrow and frustration out on him. 

At first I was a little perplexed as to why both Emma and Madeline were so distraught about the deaths of Audrey and Sam, respectively. Of course a family member dying is awful, but I figured that the victims being awful would make the hurt a little less severe. It wasn’t until the man at the funeral home tells Emma that “sometimes those are the hardest losses” that I started to understand how the ill feeling about the relationship can expose the unresolved issues and keep them exposed like an open wound. Dylan already understands this having gone through something similar with Caleb, and if he finds out about his death, he will have to deal with even more of these conflicted feelings. Dylan is patient and accepts other people’s pain and worry, and adds it to his own, but how long can he keep that up? Emma does soften a bit toward the end which is good because Dylan needs her support and to grieve with her.

Madeline is much colder, judging Dylan on his relationship with his brother and how he is dealing with his grief. I realize her horrible husband is dead, but that is no reason to get nasty with someone she doesn’t know and has no idea what he’s been through. It felt like a kick him while he’s down moment, and the whole episode really made me super sad for Dylan.

PRISON BREAK


When I described this episode as quiet I meant up until the last five minutes when Romero breaks into the jail and takes Norman. Is it a thing to ship a murder? Because if Norman is going to die, I want Romero to be the one to kill him. Romero is a broken hearted shell of a man who only has this revenge killing to keep him going. If he completes his mission, I’m not sure what will become of him. If he doesn’t, I don’t see him surviving the pain and defeat.

The thing is, I don’t even know if I want Norman to die. Even though he is bat-crap crazy, I am kind of fond of the Mother he created. Although she is not Norma, Norman was close enough to her to imbue some of her spirit into his manifestation of her. Even the death of a whacked out version of her will feel like the death of Norma, my most beloved character on the show.

And does Norman deserve to die? Mother makes an interesting point: “Death isn’t about deserving. It’s just part of the deal.” This kind of thing is an oft-debated subject. Dylan says “Norman is sweet, he’s just out of his mind.” Who pays for the sins of the crazy person? Will it bring justice to the victim’s families? Everyone is a victim in this situation, including Norman. He is consumed by his disease, and we witnessed his valiant albeit futile fight against it. His lawyer makes a good case to Dylan: “No one is going to want to see his illness once they see the evidence of his crimes. They need to see his connection to humanity.”

I surmised in my review of “The Body” that there is no way out for Norman. I don’t think there is a way out for Romero either. However it ends in the finale, Romero will just suffer more or cease to be. It is tragic, but we have to know that there was always a high possibility of not getting a happy ending. The film didn’t have a happy ending. The film didn’t even have closure, so even that is not guaranteed. I have enjoyed this series so much, and especially this last season, that I predict the finale will be satisfying even if I can’t pinpoint what a satisfying ending would look like to me.

Motel Amenities:
  • I wonder if Chick’s manuscript would’ve been used in Norman’s trial.
  • “I never wanted to bring you anything but happiness.” 
  • “I don’t know if we’re going to make it through this.” Um, excuse me, Emma?!
  • “Everyone has multiple personalities. We pull out what we need when we have to.” I love love love this line!
  • Mother talking to Julia about being a mother is so enthralling. We see Mother saying these things about motherhood and it makes sense. She is still a mother trying to protect her child even if she is a figment of Norman’s delusion. But, we know Julia is seeing Norman say this to her which must be really eerie. 
  • “One step closer to Hell?”
  • “Now a bad time?” “It’s going to be a bad time for awhile.”
  • “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” by The Beach Boys is a gut-wrenching song to play while Romero is on the screen. 
  • I like how Vera Farmiga as Mother stood up in the courtroom when the judge asked the defendant to stand.
  • “Norman only tricked me for a couple of weeks. How did he trick you for your whole life?” Take a seat, Madeline. Take several seats. 
  • The scene where Emma goes to see Norman is fantastic. She needed a little redemption after being so hard on Dylan. She immediately sees that it is not Norman and she asks to speak with him. Mother won’t let him talk to her because he is sleeping and she wants him to wake up to the smell of apple pie so he will know everything will be okay. I can’t with this imagery, Mother. All the tears. Then Emma asks Mother to tell Norman that she misses him. More tears. 
  • OMG, Romero is having Norman take him to Norma’s body. The finale is going to be INTENSE!

Brooklyn Nine-Nine 4x14 Recap: “Serve and Protect” (Blackmail and Break-ups) [Contributor: Alisa Williams]


“Serve and Protect”
Original Airdate: April 18, 2017

Veronica Hopkins has taken over the audit of the Brooklyn Nine-Nine precinct this week and things are not looking good for the team. Her sordid past with Terry could mean the Nine-Nine gets shut down. During the morning staff meeting, Terry hesitantly brings up the conflict of interest but Veronica says even though it took her years of intense therapy to get over Terry and she  hasn’t had a successful relationship since, she is NOT biased against the precinct. Yikes. Who knew Terry left such a path of destruction, broken hearts, and empty yogurt cups in his wake before meeting his wife?

The whole team is feeling rather gloomy about the prospect of being shut down, but no one more so than Rosa, who hates people and the idea of having to start all over in a brand new precinct with brand new people. To cheer her up, Jake tells her about a case he’s snagged involving Cassie Sinclair, the lead star in their favorite cop show, Serve and Protect. Apparently, the actress’s laptop was stolen and she needs the Nine-Nine’s help in tracking it down.

While Rosa and Jake track down leads on the set of Serve and Protect, the rest of the team tries to figure out what Terry did to Veronica to leave her so bitter and vengeful. Terry has no idea, so Amy tries a little “girl talk” with Veronica but fails miserably. Boyle and Captain Holt hatch a plan of their own: they’ll appeal to Veronica’s boss, Deputy Commissioner Grayson, about the situation. He’s vacationing in the Poconos with his family, but that won’t stop them. Time for some undercover hijinks.

Back on the cop show set, Rosa smells something fishy with the executive producer, but Jake is too enamored with his offers of free food and a possible consulting gig. They also get a bit side-tracked by the co-star on the show, Mark Devereaux (played by the adorable Nathan Fillion), who thinks he’s a real detective because he’s been playing one on TV for 15 years. He meanders into Cassie’s trailer to chat with Rosa and Jake, and picks up the laptop case, not realizing he’s supposed to wear gloves in real life.

The executive producer continues to distract Jake, who ardently refuses to believe such a nice man had anything to do with the stolen laptop. While Jake chats with the writers and gives them tips on how to write their characters, Rosa tracks down video surveillance that clearly shows the executive producer breaking into Cassie’s trailer and coming back out with a backpack full of something – presumably the laptop. Jake is super bummed.

They barge into the producer’s office with a warrant. A very hurt and embarrassed Jake tells the producer the show sucks and he hates it while Rosa locates the backpack. But when they open it, there’s no laptop, just a bunch of pills. It seems Cassie has a prescription drug problem and the producers are intent on saving her from herself, which is why he broke in and stole them. The producer is pretty mad and tells them to get out and that Jake can forget his cushy new job as a consultant on a show he says he hates.

Meanwhile, Amy and Gina decide it’s time to interrogate Terry about his failed relationship with Veronica. Terry still claims there’s absolutely no reason for Veronica to be angry with him. According to him, he planned and executed the perfect break-up at a mid-range restaurant (nice enough she knew he cared but not so nice she thought a proposal was coming) and he even bought her a break-up gift (with gift receipt in case she didn’t like it). In his recollection, afterward Veronica thanked him and the other restaurant patrons clapped their approval. Amy and Gina aren’t buying it.

After hours of questioning, it finally comes out that Terry had planned to break up with Veronica earlier but then her mom passed and so he waited until she’d had time to grieve. He stayed with her another 18 months, even though he didn’t want to — but he claims she had no way of knowing that. Amy asks when he purchased the break-up gift and he admits he bought it when he originally planned to break up with her. Which means the gift receipt had an 18-month old date on it so Veronica knew exactly how long he’d been planning their break-up. Oh, Terry.

Boyle and Holt aren’t having as much success in the Poconos. They track down Deputy Commissioner Grayson, who is completely unsympathetic and a bit of a jerk, but just as he’s snubbing their attempts to talk, a young, attractive woman (clearly not his wife) walks up and asks if he’s ready to go. Grayson’s a philanderer and this has Boyle’s brain spinning with all sorts of blackmail opportunities. Holt is completely against this plan at first, but Boyle explains they won’t really be blackmailing him — they’ll be getting him to blackmail himself by pretending they know more than they do and letting Grayson come to his own conclusions. Holt is more agreeable to this circular logic, but such nefarious dealings are not his strong suit, so Boyle gives him a crash course in insinuation with eyebrow raises and subtle pauses between words.

When Holt tries to confront Grayson, it doesn’t quite work out as planned. Grayson just thinks there’s something wrong with Holt’s face because he keeps raising his eyebrows between each word. Before Holt can make his point, Boyle rushes out of the room to call the whole thing off. Grayson leaves and Boyle tells Holt that he’d rather the precinct be shut down and the team split up then have Holt compromise his morals.

Back at the precinct, Rosa and Jake are still feeling really bummed about not solving the case, when they suddenly realize that maybe the other lead actor — Mark Devereaux — fumbled the laptop case in front of them to cover up the fact that his prints were already on it. They confront him and he does a pretty good job of denying it until they tell him they already found the laptop in the trunk of his car. Then he admits everything. He was jealous of Cassie’s success and wanted to see her humiliated and kicked off the show.

Meanwhile, Terry, with some newfound wisdom about what he did wrong, offers Veronica a real apology and says he hopes that she’ll give the precinct a chance. She accepts his apology and says she’d love to give the Nine-Nine the chance it deserves — but she’s already turned in her report and it was really bad. We’ll have to wait until next week to find out the fate of the Nine-Nine.

Bullets on the Bulletin Board:
  • “Why are you being such a Gloomy Gus?” “I’m a Realistic Randy.” “Didn’t go with Rosa, huh?”
  • “Captain, can we talk?” “Boyle, you know my feelings about bathroom conversations.” “Steadfastly against.” 
  • “I’ve been broken up with six times.” “Really? Only six?” “Yep. Oh wait. Does it count if they end the relationship but still want to be friends?” “Yes.” “Oh. Then 210.” 
  • “Listen to yourself. You’re letting all this cloud your judgment.” “I love clouds. They keep the sun away on hot days.” “He doesn’t want us to solve the crime so he’s buying us off. It’s shady.” “I love the shade. It keeps the sun away on hot days.” 
  • “I didn’t do anything! I respect women! I’m a feminist! I believe women should be on all the money. I want to pay for a sandwich with a $10 Ellen DeGeneres.” 
  • “You’re right. No matter what happens, we’ll feel better knowing we didn’t resort to blackmail.” “I agree. From now on, the only black male I want anything to do with is you.” “That was incredibly inappropriate.” “I know, but I had thought of it and I was so proud I just had to say it out loud.”

Veep 6x01 Recap: "Omaha" (How The Mighty Have Fallen) [Contributor: Erin Allen]


"Omaha"
Original Airdate: April 16, 2017

The season six premiere of Veep was as sharp as ever. A year has passed since Selina Meyer lost the presidency in the historic House vote, and this episode catches us up on what the gang has been doing. While it is all very expositional, the fast-paced witticism makes it feel like anything but. All the characters we love and love to hate are back in all their vulgar glory. Except Sue. Man, do I miss Sue.

Selina makes her first public appearance since she handed the reigns over to Laura Montez. I wonder if the whole country is pronouncing it L-OW-RAH. Dan — or Danny, as he is unfortunately referred — is lucky enough to interview her for CBS This Morning. She fakes nice and happy as Gary scoffs behind the camera, still bitter about her fall from grace. “Look, I don’t have grace. I don’t want grace. I don’t even say grace.” There’s a little Elaine nugget for you Seinfeld fans.

Being an ex-President is a busy job apparently, or that’s what the Meyer camp would like people to think. She is writing her memoir which she feels is “a debt a president owes to history,” and she has set up The Meyer Fund that raises money for adult literacy. And AIDS. And possibly another fun cause, like stuttering, in the future. Selina is grasping at straws, trying to stay relevant.

Amy is far removed from Washington, running a gubernatorial campaign for Buddy Calhoun in Nevada (NE-VAH-DA?). Calhoun is also her fiance, which is just disappointing and repulsive. I want so much more for Amy. She still has her acerbic attitude and biting remarks which is shaking up the country bumpkins that make up his team, calling one lady who is dressed in purple, “purple mountain’s majesty,” and starting a smear campaign against the opponent’s wife. “We are going to drag this state into the twentieth century. That’s right, I said twentieth.”

Ben has taken a stint at Uber, and looks so tragically out of place. His politically incorrect humor doesn’t go over well, and he doesn’t speak with the aid of technology or what he calls “a slideshow thingy.”

We first see Jonah giving an impassioned speech to Congress against a healthy lunch act. “When I was a kid I ate sloppy joes. Pizza on a bagel. The only green bean I ate was a green jelly bean, and I grew up so tall that my stupid mom had to get a different car.” They cut to show that he is speaking to an almost empty room and the C-SPAN camera cuts off most of his head. “I will fight against green beans the same way I fought against this deadly disease called cancer. For the children.” Last season Jonah was diagnosed with testicular cancer, and we see that he is completely bald now as a result of treatment.

With his attack on green beans, Jonah has made an enemy in Congressman Furlong whose district’s chief agricultural product is the green bean. Furlong slings the raunchiest insults on the series, and it seems Jonah will frequently be on the receiving end of those this season. However, Jonah has Kent Davison on his team, and we find out that Ben will join them when things predictably don’t work out at Uber. This should make for some hilarious sparring in the episodes to come.

Mike is overwhelmed at home with three kids, but too stupid to realize or care that he is overwhelmed. He has been providing information that he has in his press secretary diary to Selina for her book. His wife forces him to demand that that “help” turn into a job, and he finds himself back with Selina in a similar capacity as before, but without any pay. “You get paid when the book is finished.” What’s the timeline for that?” “I don’t know.” Yeah, good luck with that, Mike.

Richard has remained by Selina’s side since her presidency ended. In the last season finale, the two shared her final night in the White House together. I’m really glad he is her right-hand man. I miss Amy in that role, but Richard is a great replacement.

Unfortunately, her ex-husband, Andrew, is on her team, too. And they are dating? Gary’s face is my reaction to this: disappointment and disgust. Andrew is the worst. He is doing something for The Meyer Fund, but I don’t think anyone really knows what that is. He also gets a finder’s fee for Selina’s speaking engagements. “What do you find?” Selina asks him. “Besides the most beautiful woman in the world?” Flattery gets you everywhere with Selina (unless you are Gary), and Andrew knows this.

The Meyer Fund gets its operating money from Catherine and her inheritance. Catherine’s partner and Selina’s former secret service guard, Marjorie, runs the charitable foundation. Marjorie is just as humorless as ever and it is still just as funny. “I didn’t know you were going to give me AIDS.” Selina and Gary laugh as if she made a joke, but she looks at them deadpan. When Catherine comes in, Marjorie tells her “I have AIDS now.” Catherine laughs and Selina and Gary are so confused. “It’s her delivery or something.” Clea DuVall’s delivery of straitlaced Marjorie killed me last season, and it looks like that hasn’t changed.

Finding worthy speaking engagements is proving harder than Selina expected, running into sexism along the way. The National Auto Dealers offered her half what they had for Hughes. “I will not work for less than 87 cents on the dollar. And tell them I’ll stand in front of a glass podium and wear a short skirt.”

The season picks up after a long year for Selina which included a break at a “spa.” Catherine mentions that it was good to see her making public appearances instead of sitting in her bathrobe with Gary. Gary continues to be her faithful, put-upon bag man. He is in heaven, or was in heaven — their bonding time is coming to an end as she reenters the political spotlight. She tells him a secret. He loves that he gets to hear a secret, but he does not love the content of this secret. Selina wants to run for president again. “I think you’re definitely ready for this. Are you sure you’re ready for this?” he says in the same breath.

Nobody reacts to this news very well. Catherine breaks down in ugly sobs. Ben says what I think we are all thinking: “I can’t watch you lose again.” It really was one nightmare after another with nothing ever working out for the Meyer team. But, it also was such a glorious spectacle, a hot mess that you couldn’t look away from. Whatever we are going to watch Selina and crew attempt this season will be great.

Stray Observations:
  • Selina refers to her time in the White House as the Meyer years, and Dan corrects her by saying “year.” I love how this throws her and she is on live television so she can’t get mad at him.
  • Mike is totally into Bubble Guppies. 
  • Furlong calls Jonah "Congressman Powder."
  • The Meyer Fund offices are in the South Bronx and it is not up to Selina’s high standards. Obviously, Gary agrees and commiserates with her. “We should be in the meatpacking district. So chic.”
  • Richard takes everything Selina says seriously and puts 110% into even the smallest of tasks. It doesn’t matter if Selina is being sarcastic, Richard will find out if she can host Showtime at the Apollo. (It’s a soft pass, by the way.)