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.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Legends of Tomorrow 3x11 Recap: "Here I Go Again" (Legends Does Groundhog Day!) [Contributor: Marilyn]

"Here I Go Again"
Original Airdate: February 19, 2018

Here is where I admit that I kinda love the “time loop” trope. Ever since I first saw Groundhog Day in the movie theater way back when, I’ve loved the full array of human emotions that a time loop story can deliver. Think about it: there’s always the disbelief, followed by trying to “fix it,” and then reckless over-indulgence, followed by ennui and hopelessness, which then (hopefully) leads to ultimate growth and resolution. I was thrilled to pieces when I heard Legends of Tomorrow was doing a time loop episode, and I was not let down. Not even close.

For all practical intents and purposes, “Here I Go Again” is a bottle episode — a term used for an episode of television that is produced by reusing sets, and it often takes place in a single location. I love bottle episodes. It gives shows a chance to delve into deeper storytelling and characterization with less focus on fancy plot points. In this episode of Legends of Tomorrow, the character we get to know and relate to is Zari. As she’s a relatively new addition to the Waverider, she’s the team member we know the least about. She’s also the least bonded to the rest of the team, with one foot out the door already. That’s something Sara calls her on in the very beginning of the episode — Zari’s caught fiddling with Gideon’s computer instead of performing the upgrades she’d said she’d do while the team was off dealing with a Waterloo crisis (yes, there were disco outfits involved).

The time loop begins after Zari is sent by Sara to fix Gideon. In her frustration, Zari gets sprayed with “time goo” in the circuits. The ship explodes shortly thereafter and Zari’s reverted to the moment she was fighting with Sara. And that keeps happening over and over and over...

Through all of this, Zari learns to ask for help (most notably from Nate) and also gains insight about her shipmates (like Mick’s penchant for writing erotic sci-fi romance in the seclusion of his room). She’s looking for what causes the ship to blow each hour on the hour, but ultimately learns what makes this team her newfound family. While she’d been so desperate to find a way to save her real family back in 2042, she’d been keeping the team at arm's length.

Because of the friction between them, Zari was certain that Sara wouldn’t give the whole time loop thing any credibility but to her surprise, Sara takes Zari seriously. Why? Because Zari is a part of the team and Sara knows to trust and listen to her team. They all work together to find the bomb (discovering Gary from the Time Bureau stuck in the trash compactor along the way. He was sent to alert the Waverider to the bomb but didn’t account for “drift” when beaming aboard so trash compactor it was!), ultimately finding it in the 8-track of Waterloo that they’d brought back on board after the mission. There’s not enough time to defuse the bomb and Zari makes a snap decision to sacrifice herself to save the rest of the team. Before the timer ticks down to zero, she addresses each member of the team, telling them what she’s learned about them and how she’s realized their importance in her life. It’s very emotional.

But when the timer reaches zero, there is no explosion. Instead, Zari finds herself alone on the bridge. Well, not entirely alone. A woman walks in and we realize it’s Gideon — in the flesh. She explains to Zari that when she got sprayed with the “time goo,” her consciousness ran through the simulation she’d uploaded to Gideon in an effort to find out how to save her family in 2042. So while Zari's body has been healing in the med bay, her brain has been running through a quasi-time loop.

You see, Gideon realized via the simulation that the only way to save Zari’s family is for her to do it with the team. But without the time loop, Zari was going to leave the Waverider. So the time loop was a way to help Zari bond with the team, keeping her on board and in a position to fight Mollus and save her family. It’s complicated, sure, but it makes a strange sort of sense for this show.

When Zari wakes up, she explains to the team what happened and what she’s learned. She confronts each team member — from Ray’s secret about Constantine asking him to kill Sara if she’s ever possessed by Mollus again, to Nate and Amaya secretly hooking up on missions and then wiping each other’s memories of it after the fact, to Sara’s desire to ask Ava out on a date. It’s a peaceful sort of ending that feels earned and fulfilling and certainly gives me the warm fuzzies. I love everyone on this team and their place in the story and this episode really helped underline that for me.

But wait... that wasn’t all! We finish with an extra scene of a remote monastery in China where Wally West (from The Flash) is meditating alone. But not for long. He’s joined by Rip Hunter, who has escaped from the Time Bureau prison. He tells Wally that he needs his help to save the universe. You know — usual stuff. I’m excited to see Wally join the show and hopefully the team. He’s my favorite speedster and I have a feeling he will fit right in with my favorite misfits on board the Waverider.

This was one of those episodes that just reinforced why I love Legends of Tomorrow so much: the comedy, the character development, the emotion and drama and plot — it all works together so well. Sure, things get complicated now and then, but most of the time the complicated stuff is just window dressing. At its heart, this is a show about teamwork and found family. And that’s a show that I like to watch.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The Bachelor 22x07 Roundtable: Road to Hometowns [Contributors: Alisa, Rebecca, and Chelsea]

Well, our ladies are back at it again. This week on their recap of The Bachelor, they discuss group dates and make hometown predictions. Join the fun!

Jacqueline captured our hearts this week when she downed a glass of wine and dumped Arie. How did you feel about her story this season and would you want to see her on Paradise or as the Bachelorette this summer? 

Alisa: I am all about a woman who pursues her education and career over a man, especially when that man is the most boring bachelor in all of TV history. Seriously, Jacqueline deserves way better than a man who admitted last week he’s not here for smart women. All the ladies need to go live their lives sans Arie. I don’t want to see Jacqueline back on this franchise until she has a “Dr.” in front of her name. See you in six years, lady!

Rebecca: Honestly, I had no idea who Jacqueline was until last week, but I’ve quickly fallen in love with her. She has perfect hair, she’s fun and relatable, and she doesn’t take things too seriously. I think it’s awesome she’s so into education and pursuing such a prestigious degree, and good for her for putting herself and her future over some guy she’s been non-monogamously dating for a few months. I hope for her sake we don’t see her in any other Bachelor franchise trainwrecks because I don’t want her to get sucked into the reality TV world. Get your degree girl!

Chelsea: Throughout the whole break-up scene and everything surrounding it, I was just in awe of Jacqueline being so strong in her convictions and knowing her path going forward. Only in the last few episodes has she really had any major screentime, but in her time it was so clear that she is the smartest person there and is way too good for this franchise. She got her European vacation in and she’s ready to bounce back into reality. As much as I would LOVE to see her show up again in Paradise or as the Bachelorette, she really needs to go out and make the world a better place. I’m going to miss her humor and fabulous hair.

Becca, Lauren, and Seinne all got one-on-one dates, while Bekah, Tia, and Kendall had a group date.  Who do you think deserved a one-on-one? Were you shocked when Seinne and Bekah went home?

Alisa: I was super disappointed to see Seinne go home, but I can’t say I was surprised. Arie’s sending the brightest bulbs away because he knows he can’t keep up. I think the ladies who deserved one-on-ones got them. I was surprised to see Bekah go home because I had her down for the final rose and now my bracket is ruined. RUINED. I really didn’t think Arie was going to let the age thing get in his head the way it did, but oh well. My current theory is that he’s just trying to recreate what he had with Emily with the girl who looks the most like her (Lauren B). Good luck, Lauren. And by that I mean run, girl. Get out while you can!

Rebecca: Yep, Lauren does resemble Emily more than any of the other women left, so I’m not surprised he’s falling so hard so quickly for her. I wish Bekah, Tia, and Kendall could have had one-on-ones and Lauren and Becca have a group date by themselves. Becca seems really sweet and really nice, but I’m not super into her. And I think Lauren is just boring. I was sad to see Seinne go home, but honestly, she’s better off without him — all of the remaining ladies are actually. Hopefully Seinne has made it far enough to have Bachelorette potential.

Chelsea: I do think Kendall deserved a one-on-one at this point in the show and I’m shocked that she didn’t get one before hometowns. Right now she’s my favorite person to watch and I would love to see her or Becca become Bachelorette. I’m genuinely worried for Lauren B. and really don’t think she knew what she was getting into when she signed up for this. She’s not playing things up for the camera like Tia or Bekah to get brand deals and looks to be treating this as an actual relationship. Like girl, GET OUT! He’s going to break your heart and I don’t want that for you.

I like Bekah and Seinne a lot but I’m not surprised they’re gone. Seinne is in Jacqueline’s boat in being way too smart for Arie, and Bekah’s age was always going to be an issue. They’re just in different parts of life and she’s way too fun for him.

Hometown prediction time: Who will have the wackiest family? Will Raven show up or will Uncle Gary win our hearts? Who makes it to fantasy suites? 

Alisa: I think hands-down Kendall’s family will be the wackiest. I mean, they produced a girl who is obsessed with taxidermy and intrigued by cannibalism. Despite being thoroughly creeped out by that lovable weirdo, I am really looking forward to Arie meeting her family. Also, in the previews her sister looks just like her and I kind of hope Arie confuses them and embarrasses himself, because this season could really use an infusion of drama. I think Becca, Tia, and Lauren will be the three who make it to fantasy suites, while Kendall gets sent home after hometowns. There’s only so much weird a person can take before it careens into crazy.

Rebecca: I agree with Alisa! Kendall, who casually talks about stuffing dead animals and eating other humans, absolutely has to have the wackiest family — but I think they’ll be wacky in a very endearing and loving way. Kendall is so kind and down-to-earth, I’m sure her family will be, too. I also agree that Kendall won’t make it to the fantasy suites. She has never even had a one-on-one with Arie, or really a whole lot of screentime overall, so I’m surprised she’s made it this far. I wonder if a family of Kendalls will be too much excitement for robo-Arie.

Chelsea: Between the twin sister named Kylie and the taxidermy animals, Kendall will be the most fun hometown. She’s such a lovable weirdo like Alisa mentioned and I cannot wait to see what other quirks she has up her sleeves. As much as I love her, I have to agree with the girls above and I don’t think she’ll make it to fantasy suites but I wouldn’t wish that on my favorite. I for one cannot wait to meet Becca’s Uncle Gary and see how he gives Arie the talk. I want him to be scared a little. And if Raven doesn’t show up to Tia’s hometown, this whole season will be for nothing.

And now, the Bachelor Fantasy League standings:

  1. Chelsea: 360 points
  2. Rebecca: 260 points
  3. Alisa: 260 points

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Legends of Tomorrow 3x10 Recap: "Daddy Darhkest" (Demons) [Contributor: Marilyn]

"Daddy Darhkest"
Original Airdate: February 12, 2018

This midseason opener begins differently than we are used to. We see Star City in 2017 and spooky things are afoot. So is John Constantine. He visits a psychiatric hospital where there is a little girl named Emily who needs his help. It turns out she’s possessed by a demon and he seeks to extract it from. The demon threatens to ensnare Sara Lance as well. Before he can do anything else, Constantine’s busted by the hospital staff. He hypnotizes them and makes his escape, off to find Sara.

On the Waverider, Sara introduces Constantine to the rest of the team — which is amusing as Constantine flirts with, well, everyone, much to Rory’s consternation. Constantine explains to Sara why he’s there, but she insists that she doesn’t need saving from any demons. Nate points out that they are currently fighting a demon named Mollus. Sara wants to join forces with Constantine because they need information so they join him on the trip to save the little girl.

Agent Ava Sharpe contacts Sara and fills her in on what’s been going on with the Time Bureau and Rip (who is still imprisoned). They flirt a little before signing off, which Leo notices and teases Sara about. She tries to argue but Leo isn’t having it. That aside, the team — minus Ray and Zari — move in on the hospital. Kuassa intercepts them so Amaya fights her to give the team a chance to get the little girl to room 237 so they can work. Once there, they learn from Zari that the little girl is not named Emily after all. She’s actually Nora Darhk. She was placed in child protective services and the demon preyed upon her, finding her a vulnerable soul.

Nate goes to help Amaya while Leo and Rory hunt down some drugs to help revive Nora. Nate freezes Kuassa before she can hurt Amaya and while she’s upset at what he’s done to her relative, he suggests they get her on the Waverider before she melts. Constantine, Leo, and Sara wake Nora and ask her what the voices in her head were telling her. All she has is “6,” which is the number of the beast, so Constantine summons Mollus using his name and a diagram drawn on the floor. The demon again uses the girl and taunts Sara. Constantine is unable to get anywhere with him, telling him his tricks won’t work. The girl does an incantation and draws on the floor and the symbol teleports the team away.

The team finds they are still in the hospital, but in 1969. They’re stuck, since they can’t tell the rest of the team where/when they are. They decide to use the paintings to try to communicate with the Waverider, hoping they’d notice a note written on the back. Rory takes over on the Waverider, telling everyone what to do but mostly just because he wants peace and quiet. In the hospital, Ray and Zari find Sara, John, and Leo missing but they discover the symbol that Nora drew. Gideon interprets the symbol and Nate realizes they’ve been sucked into the timeline. Nate wants to try to calculate where the group went, but Zari wants to ask Nora. She talks to her, trying to get through, to find out where their friends were sent. But the girl doesn’t know. And she’s afraid she won’t be able to stop the demon the next time and they’ll lock her up and give her more drugs. Ray is reluctant to remove her from the hospital, but Zari is insistent that a place like that isn’t good for someone with mental problems.

In 1969, Mollus taunts Sara, alarming John and Leo. Constantine warns Sara against letting Mollus get to her. Leo writes a message on the back of the painting but he’s intercepted by the hospital staff who shoot him full of drugs. The doctor believes he’s crazy, given the note he was trying to leave. Constantine warns Sara against giving into the fear that Mollus is trying to use against her. He’s able to ward off the demon and they have a little chat. He opens up to her about his own inner demons and how believes he’ll be going to hell himself when the time comes. He’s seeking redemption. He asks if she’s forgiven herself and she says she hasn’t — she doesn’t deserve it. They have this in common. He gives her a card, something that will help her keep the demons at bay. And then they make out. And, well... you know what happens next.

On the Waverider, Amaya releases Kuassa and they have a chat, grandmother to granddaughter. Kuassa wonders why she won’t use time travel to save her own people in Zambezi. Amaya argues that she can’t interfere in her own timeline, but her granddaughter tells her what happened in 1992 anyway: Men stormed the village, killed Amaya, and set the village on fire. Mari left with her mother, leaving Kuassa behind (and believed dead).

Zari and Ray take Nora to Jitters and they see a news story about Oliver facing indictment for murder. Before they can do anything, Mollus arrives again in Nora’s body. Meanwhile, back in 1969, Leo is about to get a lobotomy but is rescued by Sara and John. Sara tells John to summon Mollus into her so they can fight him, but he’s opposed to that plan.

Possessed Nora wreaks havoc on Jitters. Ray and Zari could obviously use a little help, but Rory is watching a football game and Nate is upset to learn that Amaya is with her granddaughter. She learns that the totem bearer she was meant to protect isn’t Zari, but her. She’s family. Nate rushes in, ready to protect Amaya and Kuassa takes him out. A fight ensues and Amaya protects Nate.

Sara finally talks Constantine into summoning Mollus. Sara is yet against transferred to the other plane and her drawing on the floor shows up in the hospital. She sees Nora while she’s there, crying. She stops drawing the diagram on the floor to chase the sound. She finds the girl and talks to her; she doesn’t want to hurt Ray and Zari. When Zari grabs her arm, it burns and she tells her that she’s “one of the six.” Totem bearers? Is that a clue to how to defeat Mollus? Do they need more of them?

Sara talks Nora into fighting Mollus and — in the present day — the girl is released. In 1969, however, things are heating up as Sara finishes the diagram. Leo and John grab Sara and they are transported back to the year they’d left: 2017. On the Waverider, Amaya pleads with Kuassa to release Nate and she does — albeit a bit reluctantly. She promises to help her, and change her fate.

At Jitters, Darhk shows up and Nora is confused. Darhk tells her that Mollus isn’t bad — he’s going to help her, make her powerful, and will allow her to bring him back to life one day. What he says sounds good to the girl and she embraces her father. He takes her back to the hospital. The doctor heads something called “The Order.” They’ll groom her. So this was basically always meant to happen. Sucks for poor Nora though.

On the Waverider, John is still worried about Sara but she assures him she’s fine. He agrees with Zari that “one of the six” means being a totem bearer, and it might be the key to defeating Mollus. John promises to look into who the other bearers might be before he leaves. He also tells Ray to keep working on his anti-magic gun; they might need it, because Sara will likely succumb to that demon eventually. Leo, meanwhile, decides to return to Earth-X to marry his boyfriend. Sara decides to call Ava and invite her over to “chat,” but Ava tells her that Rip has escaped from prison.

All in all, this was a strong opener for the back half of the season of Legends of Tomorrow. We have movement on the season-long arc, a reasonable plan for how to defeat the baddie, and some good threats looming on the horizon as well. Constantine was a fun addition to the team and I hope we see him again. He brought a fun energy to the group. I’m also enjoying the team-up between Zari and Ray. Plus, next week’s “time loop” episode looks like it’s going to be hilarious!

The Flash 4x13 Review: "True Colors" (Escapes! Disguises! Muuuuurder!) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]

"True Colors"
Original Airdate: February 6, 2018 

“I have so many questions” isn’t a rare declaration for me in these reviews. I get confused a lot. Most of that is me overthinking things for comedic or pedantic effect, but this time... This time, folks, I am genuinely confused. The Flash has thus far lulled me into a false sense of certainty with its predictable villains, most of whom had motivations that could be summed up as “Gotta go fast!” Like, Reverse Flash? Revenge plot, time travel, fastness. Zoom? Inter-dimensional travel, crazytown bananapants, fastness. Savitar? More time travel, self-loathing, fastness.

I never fretted over the machinations of these villains because I always understood that they boiled down to wanting to be speedy and these goofballs were too messed up in the head to just challenge Barry to a foot race instead of murdering everyone he’s ever cared for and making his life a living nightmare. It’s comic books! Yeah, sure, running fast gets you the biggest bragging rights. I’ll buy it, because comic books are adorably dumb and that’s cool.

But the Thinker? This episode really hammers home exactly how little I understand of the Thinker, what his goal is, or why he does anything he does. Even his wife seems out of the loop.


Last time on The Flash, the warden of the prison Barry’s being held in found out his superhero identity and transferred him to a cell block containing all the bus metas the team has found so far. Warden Wolfe is supplying metahumans for Amunet Black to sell, but rather than telling her he has the actual Flash, he just says he’s acquired a “speedster.” Wolfe makes it sound like having a speedster to trade is the jewel of his collection, which is just more of this show/universe over-hyping being able to run real fast. Bro: you have a lady who can bring statues to life and another one who basically warps reality by affecting luck. Barry’s ability to inexplicably stop time while he talks to his wife aside, his power ain’t that special. It’s like opening a vault full of gold and precious gems, gesturing dramatically at one corner and going, “Ah yes, my treasure — and here, the greatest treasure of all... a shiny Pok√©mon trading card from 1999.”

Since Wolfe doesn’t tell Amunet that the speedster he has is the Flash, the nearby criminals Barry spent this season putting away don’t realize who he is either. But you know who does realize who, exactly, the warden has locked up somewhere? Cecile! Because she can read minds, she’s able to glean the truth when she, Iris, and Wolfe meet. Oh, show. You’re a wily little thing, slipping that new superpower into one of your semi-regular guest stars just to set this plot to save Barry into motion.

Cecile’s mind reading, plus Ralph Dibny gaining the ability to morph himself into people, makes “True Colors” the episode of true plot convenience. It’s a bit impressive that these developments don’t irritate me into hating the episode, but I think it’s helped by the fun of Barry’s prison break plot and the sheer bafflement caused by what DeVoe pulls at the end.

Speaking of whom: DeVoe seems to have lost the devotion of his own wife. I’m not sure if it’s the new face, or if she’s starting to suspect that he’s gone from self-preservation to straight-up evil, or if it’s because he’s now able to read minds, but she’s jumpy around him and shows signs of distrust. Marlize even takes to singing a song (“Going Out of My Head” by Little Anthony & The Imperials) to herself so Clifford has a hard time hearing her thoughts. The one she picks has sentimental value as it’s the first song she and Clifford danced to.

(My personal choice of distraction music if anyone were to read my mind is “Never Gonna Give You Up” by Rick Astley, by the way.)

Team Flash is working toward the same goal, on separate levels. The non-imprisoned members of the team hope to use Dibny’s new power to rescue Barry from getting sold to Amunet, while Barry uses that scientific know-how we don’t see enough of to break himself and his felon pals from the metahuman holding area. Any of the bus metas’ powers in Amunet’s hands would be dangerous, so getting them all free is the best option — even if it means, you know, setting a bunch of criminals free. I guess Barry assumes if they do bad things again, his team will just catch them.

The Wolfe disguise Dibny’s wearing to a meeting with Amunet starts melting, which turns the entire Team Flash plan to crap real fast and alerts Amunet and the real Wolfe of something going wrong with the metahuman trade. Wolfe tries to distract Amunet and assures her that all the metahumans are accounted for, while standing in the middle of his empty secret prison. That means there are... four different plots going, I think? Barry and the escapees, Wolfe vs. the escapees, Amunet vs. everyone, and Team Flash, who still thinks they’re going to rescue Barry from Amunet but don’t realize Barry is in the process of rescuing himself.

Thus, the final confrontation, at which all lines converge, occurs! Barry and his new jailbreak friends exit the no-meta zone of the prison to find Wolfe waiting for them. Wolfe tells them that the helpful CSI leading them is the Flash, and if they want vengeance he’s a far better target. All the prisoners turn against Barry except Becky, who has bonded with Barry the most throughout the journey and sincerely doesn’t want to be someone who causes pain and misery to those around her. Amunet shows up too, but Becky’s luck powers mean any attacks against Barry and herself backfire quite spectacularly. Everything looks good for the side of good.

And then DeVoe arrives, clamps pincery things from his chair onto each of the metahumans’ heads, and... sucks their life force out? Their powers? Seriously, I have no idea. Before they all collapse one by one, they turn and smile evilly at Barry. Dominic, DeVoe’s second-edition body, gets fried. Everyone else gets fried. Just before Barry can save Becky from getting fried, DeVoe possesses her and decides to keep her “inconspicuous body” (not sure how a convicted felon is inconspicuous, but hey) as his Body 3.0 and escapes after killing Wolfe.

Meanwhile, Barry returns to his regular prison cell because he still doesn’t want to leave if it means living life on the run (ha!) and if the team can’t find a legal way to get him out, he’s not going. Luckily, Dibny’s new power comes in handy: he shows up as Original Flavor Clifford DeVoe during a court proceeding Cecile called for and informs the judge that, to paraphrase Mark Twain, rumors of his death were greatly exaggerated. There are so many holes in that I cannot even begin to list them all, but it gets Barry off the hook so... okay.

Meanwhile meanwhile, the actual not-actual Clifford DeVoe is in the body of Becky. He doses the increasingly suspicious Marlize with a metahuman-derived love potion and they dance to the song she had been mentally singing earlier in the episode. I don’t know what just happened.

Other Things:
  • “He always did look smug in those Italian wool suits. Oh my god, he’s literally a Wolfe in sheep’s clothing.” I love you, Cisco.
  • Shrink-ray guy whose name I forgot totally brings up the fact that Barry is a CSI who committed a crime and supposedly left evidence all over the crime scene, and how stupid that was. Maybe he should’ve been Barry’s defense attorney during his trial.
  • There have been multiple episodes where Caitlin says she can’t just turn into Killer Frost, but she pretty effectively turns into Killer Frost in this one. I can’t tell if it’s a plot hole or if it’s supposed to be character development.
  • The lyrics to that “Going Out of My Head” song are actually pretty significant for the DeVoes’ current marital strife.

Grey’s Anatomy 14x12 Review: “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” (Inspiration) [Contributor: Julia Siegel]

“Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger”
Original Airdate: February 8, 2018

It’s about time that we get some lighthearted fun back into the hallowed halls of Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital. All of the doctors are finally getting to some sort of happy place with the beginning stage of the Surgical Innovation Contest — which is going to be fantastic to watch develop throughout the second half of this season. Whether it’s the current patients they are treating or the past still haunting them, this week is all about the inspiration behind some of the craziest, most innovative medical proposals you will hear. Grab your medical jargon dictionary because this episode is much more fun if you understand what each character is talking about.


Almost every doctor is putting their hat in the ring for the first ever Grey Sloan Surgical Innovation Contest. There are plenty of insanely great ideas to go around, along with some interesting character pairings. The first stage of the contest is to submit your idea in the form of a research paper explaining every detail and how you plan to proceed if chosen for funding. Only a handful of proposals become selected to move on to the actual implementation stage, which will then be broken down into a smaller group, with an eventual winner given full funding.

Since it’s really fun to watch how these ideas play out, I won’t say who is moving on. Instead, here’s a brief look at the applications: Richard uses an anecdote from Maggie to create a prototype magic cancer wand that can detect if tissue is normal or cancerous with one touch. Maggie wants to create a transcutaneous charger for LVADs and other heart-powering batteries. In layman’s terms, it’s essentially a magnetic battery pack that would work through the skin without any wires. Too bad she wasn’t around about twelve years ago because I’m sure Denny Duquette would have appreciated this idea.

While Jackson comes up with sprayable skin, he ultimately decides to team up with his mother, Catherine, on a potentially game-and life-changing procedure involving transgender women. If that last sentence didn’t get your attention or make you at least curious about this episode, then I don’t know what will. Their proposal is more than likely going to turn into the most significant upcoming storyline. Alex, Amelia, DeLuca, and intern Sam’s proposal stems from their young patient, who has an inoperable brain tumor. This one is a bit hard to explain, but the idea is that if they can figure out the frequency of the brain tissue, they can excise the tumor with a high frequency rather than cutting away brain matter.

Bailey is on bed rest following her heart attack from the previous episode, but don’t count her out of the contest. She has intern Schmitt playing errand boy for her project to create a better, easier colonoscopy. Owen’s research leads him to a dead end, and he decides to not compete. That leaves us with Meredith, Jo, Arizona, and Carina.


I’m going to hit the pause button on the Surgical Innovation Contest recap for a moment because there is an underlying subplot to the episode that won’t be getting as much attention as it should. It’s easy to get caught up in the grandeur of the contest, so you might not have realized that April and Arizona have both essentially crossed over the crazy line. It’s been a few days since we last saw April giving up on her faith and having a fling with intern Vik. Well, this episode reveals a whole new side to April that I’m not sure anyone thought would actually exist. While I have always appreciated April’s unwavering faith and personality, this new I-don’t-give-crap-about-anything April is a lot of fun to watch. Her newfound snarkiness is pure perfection.

However, there is a lot of cause for concern over her wellbeing. April tells Arizona that she can’t sleep without drinking a bottle of wine and is still sleeping with Vik because it’s convenient. This all stems from two episodes ago when April lost three patients in a day. Arizona is still messed up from that day too, as she can’t get over Matthew’s wife Karen’s shocking death. The events have led Arizona down a rabbit hole of all the previous new moms who have passed away under her care.

Both characters are visibly mentally unstable throughout the episode. I was surprised at how fast this was glazed over because April and Arizona are probably in their worst places ever at the moment. There is a potential light at the end of the tunnel of darkness: Arizona and Carina team up to create a contest pitch about saving pregnant women with preeclampsia. April can at least distract herself with the duties of running and judging the contest, but this may be a bigger story that will be playing out for some time.


If you haven’t realized, Meredith has taken Jo under her wing in every way that you can think of. Whether it’s surgically or personally, Meredith has become very protective and supportive of Jo, which has been spotlighted over the first three episodes of the second half of the season with the Paul storyline. Meredith’s mama bear ways are definitely having a positive impact on their relationship, and they might even be the show’s new power couple. There have been other characters in the past that Meredith has been fond of, but her newfound relationship with Jo seems very different. They have had quite an arc over the years, and it feels like their true potential as a dynamic duo is just beginning.

It shouldn’t be a surprise then that they are partnering up for the Surgical Innovation Contest. Remember that patient that Meredith had to blindly operate on without any blood bags during the technology hack during the midseason finale? Well, the patient is back and leads to some wonderful inspiration that has both Meredith and Jo drooling over the possibilities. The woman has multiple tiny spleens growing inside her from the flecks of splenic tissue that remained after her splenectomy. The discovery is totally insane, and it leads Jo to question why she couldn’t have grown mini more important organs like livers or kidneys.

The major light bulb moment is should lead to some intriguing stories, especially because they might not be able to compete without buying the patent for a biopolymer they need to use for the study. Meredith and Jo work really well together, so my bet is that they will find a way to make it work. There is another big moment for their relationship in this episode that certainly shouldn’t be taken lightly. Meredith decides to put Jo’s name on the proposal with her own, making them partners. Not only does this make them essentially equals, but it also prompts Jo to take a big step in her healing process when Meredith says she can change her name on the paper. Jo decides that she will now go by Josephine Brooke Wilson, which is a huge step in the right direction for her. Jo is starting to accept her past and move forward, which is oh-so deserved.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Supergirl 3x13 Review: "Both Sides Now" (Personality as the Plot Demands) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]

“Both Sides Now”
Original Airdate: February 5, 2018 

Before a bit of a hiatus, Supergirl thought it prudent to move their main plot along just a tad. Good decision, guys! Certainly better than the filler you threw at us last week, though this one had its own elements of frustration — mostly its decision to paint Alex Danvers as a trigger-happy agent with a vendetta and... I don’t know, a fear of loneliness? I’ve noticed that Alex occasionally acquires these negative traits whenever the writers really need her to clash with Kara on some level, and it never fails to annoy me. Especially since it usually comes out of nowhere. Alex hasn’t had much of an opinion on the Worldkillers. She took Reign beating her sister to a pulp admirably well and even shrugged off Reign breaking the heck out of her leg in a fight, but suddenly holds an instantaneous grudge against anyone vaguely associated with the Worldkillers.

Okay, sure Supergirl. I do think you’re rushing through some stuff in order to get to your vacation, though.


Team Supergirl is zeroing in on the Worldkiller Kara picked out of a lineup out in the previous episode, but it turns out that Worldkiller is just a lady who really likes listening to Lisa Loeb while sitting in the middle of her living room. That’s pretty weird, yeah, but it’s not exactly devious. And you can’t blame a lady for her music listening predilections, people. Or, specifically, Alex, since Alex spends this entire episode being bizarrely biased against this one person — to the point of triggering her Worldkiller transformation by being hostile. I repeat: this woman, Julia, was just listening to music in her home when Supergirl and a bunch of black-clad agents barged in and started attacking her? So I know Julia has a world-conquering Kryptonian genetic experiment inside her, but I’m sort of on her side in all of this.

I don’t think it helps that we know for certain the Worldkillers do live double lives, so Julia Freeman probably is just a normal person who gets triggered into being a killing machine the same way Sam is a normal person who gets triggered into being a killing machine. The episode doesn’t examine what the differences are between the Worldkillers (why is it that Purity’s eyes stay silver when Sam just gets a brief flash of red? Why does Purity taunt the team while Reign is very straightforward and almost robotic in her mission?) but maybe that will come later. Hopefully. There is a lot of story in this plot that I have a feeling the show is going to squander, despite having ample time to really dole out the information well.

After Alex yells and points a gun at poor Julia, Julia gets freaked out enough to expel a force that knocks everyone to the ground. J’onn is able to cuff her and they take her to one of the DEO’s glass door prison cells for interrogation. She is indeed the Worldkiller who calls herself Purity, but she’s not eager to give up any information on the Worldkillers or their plans. Kara is adamant that the Julia alter-ego was not an act, but Alex thinks it was all a trick because those tricky Worldkillers are always doing tricky, tricky things in order to trick Supergirl.

Except... nope. Not even a little bit. Based on the information the character has about Reign, there is no reason for Alex to presume a Worldkiller is adept in subterfuge or would have any reason to use it. Reign has never appeared to feign innocence or human weakness, so why would Alex think it was something in the Worldkiller repertoire? From Alex’s perspective, with only Reign as a reference point, the Worldkiller is a single-minded Terminator with a black-and-white understanding of justice and law. Considering Reign’s vendetta against all things insincere or unrighteous, she should even go so far as to think the Worldkillers can’t lie or are morally against lying. So Alex’s paranoia over Julia/Purity tricking Kara? And her refusal to allow Kara to treat Julia with respect and hope? Kinda stupid and clearly something the writers tacked on to increase drama.

Supergirl, this sort of thing is why I just don’t understand you. Alex is not a paranoid, trigger-happy person with a lust for Worldkiller blood. Even right after Kara’s beat-down by Reign, Alex wasn’t so full of frothing rage, so this sudden fall into hateful vengeance just seems false. I know it gets hand-waved later as the culmination of her complicated feelings over the Maggie breakup, but that barely smooths over the rough edges of this characterization.

Even the established mold for the Worldkiller persona got broken in this episode, since Purity does taunt Alex and Kara and acts like a more typical villain, whereas the Worldkillers are meant to be something on another level entirely. This, like Alex’s personality in this episode, is a case of the writers putting drama ahead of character — so they shattered their cool, stoic, interplanetary dispensers of justice in order to make it happen. That’s incredibly unfortunate, since the concept of all-powerful, strict and violently, robotically moral Worldkillers being brought down by hope and love — the two things Supergirl most strongly represents, and what I’m pretty sure will be their downfall considering the whole Ruby thing with Sam and Purity’s brief recognition of Julia’s best friend — is something just cheesy and wonderful enough to be perfect Supergirl fodder.

Most of the episode is spent trying to get info out of Purity and failing. Purity says a couple mean things to Alex and suddenly Kara’s given up on ever getting through to Julia (this episode is annoying). Since Kara “underestimated” the true evil of her foe, Purity escapes the DEO and starts terrorizing the city — starting with the subway, where she gets Kryptonian whispers from, I assume, the evil AI. The fight in the subway station proceeds as one would expect — lots of destruction, people screaming, the usual — and Purity actually gets the jump on Kara. In a twist literally everyone saw coming, Alex turns in her opinion of Purity’s-not-Julia so she can talk Julia back into taking control of her body and not killing Kara. It’s successful, but then Reign shows up and Julia trades herself for Alex’s life.

Reign promises that they will find the third Worldkiller, Pestilence, and they will be unstoppable. After Reign flies off with Julia, she deposits her in the Fortress of Evil and the AI “awakens” her, which Julia ain’t so happy about. Meanwhile, Team Supergirl brainstorms how to stop the Worldkillers and Kara posits a radical new idea: they don’t stop them. Instead, they save them.

Other Things:
  • In a heart-to-heart with J’onn, Mon-El admits that he and Imra didn’t get married out of love, but because of a political strategy to unite all the future people. He compares the logical, strategic relationship he created with Imra with the completely illogical relationship that happened with Kara, calling himself a “self-absorbed misogynist” who learned to be better. Ah, Mon-El. I see you’re conveniently leaving out the part where you and your family kept slaves, bro. You were a little bit worse than a womanizing jerk.
  • Lena says she “knows what’s wrong” with Sam after Sam snaps and briefly flickers into Reign mode. That’s... intriguing. I think Lena saw Sam’s red-flicker eyes, but I don’t know how that would clue her into anything that’s actually wrong. Racking my brain for any time on this show where Lena might have seen red flickering eyes, and I’m coming up with nothing. So at the very least, I’m curious to see where that goes.
  • Imra’s on a secret mission! Even Mon-El doesn’t know about it! That said, I don’t fully buy that Mon-El knows much of anything.
  • Hey TV writers: there’s no such thing as speed dial anymore. Way to make yourselves look old.

Ask an Author: An Interview With Fake Plastic Love's Kimberley Tait [Contributor: Megan Mann]

(Image credit: Flatiron Books via AP)

I’ve read a great deal of books in my life. I’ve read horror and romance, thriller and YA, good, bad and everything in between. But a book that perfectly captures the essence of the millennial generation? Now that is something that I haven’t done. Until now.

Last year I was scrolling through Instagram and came upon a post from Flatiron Books for what was being called “The Great Gatsby meets Wall Street.” And I was triple clicking, wondering how long it would take to get my hands on Fake Plastic Love by Kimberley Tait.

I was not disappointed. The story follows M. as she strikes up a friendship on accident with the most interesting girl on Dartmouth’s campus: Belle Bailey. They’re the lost girls — the girls who go on random adventures and aren’t afraid of the world. Until Belle loses her parents and M. decides rather than marry a banker like her mother wants, she will become a banker herself. The two live in New York City, but you’d never know it. M. is a realist, a girl who understands how black and white everything is. Belle is the Instagrammed version of New York: vibrant colors, but always with her signature red, fun little shops, dreamy dates, and snapshots of inhabitants who are generally overlooked.

But both are brought together by one man, Jeremy, who is best friends with M., but loses himself completely in the presence of Belle. It’s this weird, non-romantic triangle that changes the lives of all three, changes the lives of those around them, and proves that not everything is as black and white as it seems. Not everyone is as glossy and perfect as social media makes us believe and in order to have it all, you have to be vulnerable.

When I read the book, I loved every page. I thought it was thought-provoking and beautiful, a snapshot of our generation that isn’t just that we’re lazy and looking to make a quick buck via Internet fame. I knew that I needed to discuss the story with the author, Kimberley Tait, and pick her brain about all of the ins and outs of the book.

Thankfully, she happily took my email.

First and foremost, congratulations. Your debut book has finally been released! How does it feel?

Kimberley Tait: Thank you so much! It had been a dream to become a novelist for so many years that it felt very surreal when it finally happened. Before and after the book was published, I've felt a great jumble of different emotions that change on a daily and sometimes hourly basis — surprise, delight, joy, fear, insecurity, pride, anxiety, and so many more. It's strange and a bit unsettling to suddenly realize this very personal and private thing you have created is out in the world for anyone to see. It's daunting and thrilling at the same time.

Let's get right into the book. The Wall Street aspect is slightly intimidating. Were you familiar with Wall Street before writing this? If not, what was the research like for that?

It was (unintentionally) first-hand research! For about 10 years I worked at investment banks in New York and London and did my MBA at Columbia Business School, with many friends who also pursued careers in finance and worked at other banks. In the novel, Bartholomew Brothers is a fictional creation that draws on my own experiences, my friends' experiences, and many other real-life accounts I've read about "young Wall Street," including Kevin Roose's fantastic book Young Money, which I highly recommend as a behind-the-scenes look at what it's really like to be a young banker.

You do an amazing job of capturing the dichotomy of the millennial generation with M. — the realist — and Belle, the nostalgic romantic. We're a generation torn between that nostalgia and embracing the future. Was that your intention with the contrasting characters?

I am so glad you think so! You're exactly right — my idea was to have M. and Belle represent the two polar-opposite sides of this strange era we live in. Most of us are plugged in and fully digitized, yet many of us pine for a simpler, more romantic, offline time. In many ways the Internet — so paradoxically — fuels nostalgia. It is an aggregator of memories and an escape hatch from our present realities.

I also wrote M. and Belle as symbols of the Romantic and the Realist that I think are living inside all of us. I think every person is a messy mix of both but ultimately the Romantic has the power to overturn everything in the end — even with a staunch Realist like M.!

Belle is essentially Instagram incarnate. She has this glossy image and admits to fooling herself into believing that's who she is despite all of the drama that she hides from. Was that a reflection of how we operate in the realm of social media?

I created the Belle Bailey character in 2013 when the concept of the lifestyle blogger was really starting to take off on Instagram. Belle was a patchwork of all the visuals and characteristics I was observing — I loaded them all into "La Belle Vie" as a sort of parody.

In 2018, Belle Baileys are a dime a dozen, which I must admit slightly terrifies me. The parody has come to life! Social media is becoming more and more slick and stylized, making it harder to figure out what is real and genuine versus what is fake and choreographed. I think this poses real dangers. Seeing so much strikingly green grass everywhere we look can be very demoralizing. I think it can also muddy people's sense of identities — affecting what we want to achieve, how we present ourselves, and the actions we ultimately take, whether we recognize it or not. As Kurt Vonnegut wrote: “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”

The friendships in the book are interesting. You have M. and Belle who are total opposites but are tethered together by their shared college experiences, and you have M. and Jeremy who have the same shared career experiences, but are closer than M. and Belle. Is that a mark of maturity in our dear M.?

M. feels a great sense of responsibility for Belle — almost as though she is a caretaker of all of their shared memories and "Old Belle," the girl Belle used to be before tragedy struck and she escaped into her online world of La Belle Vie. M. is the one who truly knew her when. As much as M. is practical, her loyalty to Belle as they drift apart in New York tells us that she may be softer and more sentimental than she is letting on.

After college, the friendship M. builds with Jeremy is rooted in their being misfits at the same bank — though M. appears to fit in, she is miserable inside. Again, she feels the need to play the role of protector to Jeremy. She sees through to the real him, just as she does with Belle, while so many of their peers misunderstand him. M. prides herself on being a sort of guardian of the truth in the novel — and for so long she preoccupies herself with whether Belle and Jeremy are being genuine (both individually and together).

I think she only begins to mature in a meaningful way when she finally confronts the fact that for a very long time she has not been true to herself and needs to do something about that.

A huge thing for M. is that she's afraid of veering off her chosen path and creating something better for herself. Do you think that's something that your readers identify with?

I think there is enormous pressure to succeed today combined with fear of perceived failure. Social media puts everything on display like never before — both personally and professionally — which dials up the need to posture as happy and successful and other desirable things. For a high-achieving person like M., she is terrified of leaving her investment bank and pursuing a less conventional path because she fears it will somehow make her irrelevant, or make her appear to be a failure. I think many people stay in jobs or careers they dislike because of some form of fear. Sometimes they decide it’s better to stick with the devil they know.

I hope the book encourages readers to take an honest look at who and what they are devoting themselves to. At the end of the day, there is no real happiness to be found when you make life decisions based on what other people will think. Or what you think other people will think.

Let's get into the fun stuff: say your book becomes a movie. Who's your dream cast?

It's so fun to daydream about this! I’d cast Emma Stone as M., Lily James as Belle Bailey, Jack Whitehall (clean-shaven) as Jeremy Kirby, and Charlie Hunnam as Chase Breckenridge. (I wasn't aware of Charlie Hunnam until my husband told me he is “Chase incarnate” — I Googled him and totally agree!)

Are you working on something new? If so, could you give us a little hint?

Yes! I'm working on another novel that explores the question: Do you ever get over your first love?

A lot of our readers are aspiring writers. What was the process like from its inception to its release? What could you tell us about sticking to your writing dreams despite any setbacks?

The process is certainly long and requires a lot of tenacity, particularly as a first-time author. Setbacks are inevitable on the multi-year road to publication (just as they are on any road in life), which will be filled with many highs and lows and curve balls. Your passion and commitment is often the only thing that will fuel you. The initial steps of getting a literary agent and finding an editor who falls in love with your book involve a great deal of rejection, which is hard but ultimately helpful. That forces you to develop a thick skin early, which is critical. Because no matter who you are and what you write, there will be people who actively dislike what you are writing. What counts is that you genuinely believe in what you are producing, and have the courage and conviction to push it out into the world, come what may. Always remember that you are your most important ambassador.

What are your best tips for sticking to your writing and meeting your goal?

I think it's very helpful to set smaller goals for yourself with specific deadlines — whether it's finishing a chapter, revising a specific part of the manuscript, or adjusting an entire character. That way you can keep chipping away and feel a sense of ongoing progress. Setting deadlines will also help you prioritize your writing against the many other competing demands of your life!

As someone who very often suffers from writer's block, how do you combat it?

The only way I can fight writer's block is by reading — or by taking in some kind of art form, whether it's going to an art exhibition or play or seeing a film or listening to some music. (Music is very evocative for me. I often write to music and find inspiration in song lyrics. The title Fake Plastic Love and Belle Bailey were inspired by the Radiohead ballad "Fake Plastic Trees." So of course I couldn't resist creating an inspirational soundtrack for the novel on Spotify!

To produce, you need to consume — as they say, you need to read a library to write a book — so I think consuming is the best way to get moving again if you're stuck.

Finally, what's your favorite part of being a writer?

Creating a whole other world that I can vanish into when I open my laptop or pick up my pen. My mantra is, "If reality disappoints, rewrite it"!

Kimberley Tait’s book Fake Plastic Love was one of my favorite books of 2017 and I eagerly await her next book (and hope to get to talk to her about that one too!).  Personally, I think the dream movie casting is spot-on and would love to see that come to fruition.  
This is a story that will resonate with anyone of the millennial generation. Tait is right: It’s getting harder and harder to perceive what is real and what is choreographed in this digital world. And the more we realize that, hopefully the more honest we’ll become.  
... And if not, there are always books! So go pick this one up now and follow Kimberley Tait on Twitter and Instagram for swoonworthy content and updates hopefully on a movie and her next book!