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, May 29, 2017

Series: This Week’s TV MVPs -- Week 62

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Welcome back to the final installment of our TV MVP Series this year! In a few weeks, we'll be kicking off our Summer Lovin' Series again, where we will have the opportunity to talk about all of the things we're loving this summer — blockbusters, books, and binge-watching included.

But for now, let's pay tribute to some of the best performers on television this week. Joining me are:

Sunday, May 28, 2017

American Gods 1x05 Review: "Lemon Scented You" (I Demand A Better Future) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]


"Lemon Scented You"
Original Airdate: May 28, 2017

[Warning: The following review contains spoilers.]

This supernatural road trip show took an appreciated detour last week to explore the character of Laura Moon, Shadow’s dead and very complicated ex-wife, but we’re back on the main thoroughfare with this week’s “Lemon Scented You.” Back to Old Gods and New Gods, super-zombie wives, angry leprechauns, and Mr. Wednesday’s cryptic knowledge about what’s happening to poor Shadow’s life.

COMING TO AMERICA


The Coming to America story this episode is a 3D animation, perhaps because it’s the oldest story we’ve gotten so far and it needed that storybook touch. It’s dated at about 14,000 B.C., a tale of ancient Siberians crossing a land bridge to escape deadly cold and, as this story generally goes, discovering that the food and riches promised to them are absent. The shaman of the tribe seeks advice about finding food from their god, Nunyunnini, but the price is too high to pay and the tribe chooses to abandon their god rather than heed it.

Unlike previous Coming to America vignettes, where gods are pulled from their lands in the hearts of the people traveling to the New World and kept there with storytelling or prayers, the tale of Nunyunnini is one of a god forgotten who, once forgotten, dies. It highlights the necessity of humans in the life cycle of gods — the main idea of American Gods’ mythology — and proves that gods can die just as well as they can live.

SHADOW AND LAURA


Shadow arrives in his hotel room to find his dead wife sitting on his bed and honestly, bless Ricky Whittle because the way he plays Shadow’s shocked, subtle freak-out is so, so brilliant. The writing is pretty brilliant, too, but Whittle just sells every micro-expression. Like, I don’t actually know how the average person going through a crisis of reality would react to finding their dead spouse looking lively, well-dressed, and waiting for them in a hotel room, but throwing a pillow at the face of the undead manifestation to make sure it’s real seems like the right move to me.

The Moons have some things to discuss. Shadow’s first topic: Laura cheating on him. While Laura seems more focused on the fact that she’s having a posthumous chat with her husband, wives rising from their graves is old news to Shadow (“Don’t think that anything you got to say or do, including dying, is going to distract from the subject at hand.”) and he’s more interested in her activities while alive. As Laura begins to explain herself, it’s even more clear now than it was in “Git Gone” that death hasn’t changed her much. She has the same no-nonsense, objective way of looking at life as she did when she sat Shadow down and told him she wanted him to rob a bank for her.

When she’s done talking apathetically about cheating on Shadow and then dying (she was “very blah about the whole thing”) Laura asks Shadow to get her some cigarettes. Somehow, this show manages to make a trip to the cigarette machine look beautiful and emotive, helped along by the lights around the “Starbrite Hotel” — another hotel with a significant name, this time reflecting on the golden glow that surrounds Shadow every time we see him from Laura’s perspective.

While Laura soaks her dead flesh in a warm bath to keep herself warm to the touch, Shadow finally recognizes that his wife coming back from the dead is weird. He tells Laura that he had a feeling she was going to die when they spoke while he was in prison, and Laura tells Shadow that she doesn’t really feel anything. Until she kisses him, and then we get a glowy image of her dead heart beating once in her chest.

The scenes between Laura and Shadow are strange and sometimes strangely sweet, especially when Laura says that she’s looking out for Shadow and thanks him for the “present” of the lucky leprechaun coin he “gave” her. Laura is more animated and smiles more frequently while dead than she did over the entire course of “Git Gone,” thanks to the glow that surrounds Shadow whenever she looks at him. Sense comes to Shadow quickly, though, and he makes it clear that he’s not her “Puppy” anymore. He can’t be, ever again.

Mr. Wednesday interrupts the Moons’ conversation with a knock on the door, inviting Shadow out for “five, six drinks” to help them forget the trials of the day. Shadow rejects the offer, but interruptions abound! The police show up to arrest them both for the bank robbery they pulled off a couple episodes ago. Laura, back in her warm bath, notices Shadow’s golden light fading as he’s driven away.


THE NEW GODS


We see Technical Boy, the douchiest of the New Gods, getting snatched up by the same weird device that transported Shadow to his limo in episode one. Waiting for him in the limousine is Media, wonderfully dressed as David Bowie from his 1973 “Life On Mars?” promotional video, right down to Bowie’s iconic mismatched eyes. She has some advice to give Technical Boy on his brand and image, how the world — and Mr. World — sees him, and criticizing how he dealt with Shadow. She does most of her talking in David Bowie song lyrics, which I absolutely adore, quoting, in order: “Oh! You Pretty Things,” “Rebel Rebel,” “Space Oddity,” “Life on Mars?,” “Under Pressure,” “Cat People (Putting Out Fire),” and “Starman.” This is the quality TV content I live for.

On behalf of Mr. World, Media orders Technical Boy to apologize to Shadow and Wednesday. We don’t yet know who this Mr. World is, but it’s evident that the New Gods see him as a leader — and one not to be messed with or ignored. Media explains that keeping Wednesday calm is critical, because all he needs is “just enough” belief to take them down.

TROUBLE


After being apprehended by the police, Shadow and Wednesday are separated and interrogated. Shadow won’t say much more than “lawyer,” but Wednesday has adopted the confused old man persona that got him a seat in first class in the premiere. Whether intentionally or not, Wednesday has pinned the whole thing on Shadow, saying that the Shadow stole him from a retirement home.

The officer interviewing Shadow theorizes something close to the truth, but lines up a more realistic sequence of events: Shadow meets an old grifter and signs on to learn the trade. The officer interviewing Wednesday gets the actual truth but doesn’t believe it because, honestly, who would? However, Shadow’s officer can tell that there’s something bigger going on than a simple grifting partnership — the tip they got on their whereabouts was specific and high tech, which means Shadow and Wednesday must have some powerful enemies and it’d be interesting to know who those enemies are.

When the officer allows Shadow into the same room as Wednesday, Shadow confronts his employer about who’s after them. Meanwhile, a spider (Hi, Mr. Nancy!) unlocks their cuffs and they hear a ruckus going on in the police station. Before they can escape, Media shows up wearing the guise of Marilyn Monroe and, once again, Ricky Whittle’s reaction to stuff as Shadow is just the best. When he realizes that Media is floating down the hall, he’s more shocked by that than he was about his undead wife.

Before Shadow can have another breakdown, they hear footsteps in the hall. Enter: Mr. World. Probably the most enigmatic of the New Gods, Mr. World doesn’t have an obvious association with anything like Media or Technical Boy do. The closest I can get to pinning him down is as a representation of knowledge, specifically “secret knowledge” in the vein of conspiracy theories and ominous world enterprises that manipulate society.

Mr. World calls Technical Boy in to deliver an apology. Technical Boy does, but his wide-eyed stare and cavalier way of describing how in “poor taste” lynching Shadow had been, what with America’s current state of racial tension, makes him seem insincere. Mr. World senses the insincerity and offers Technical Boy up for Shadow to punch a bit as compensation. Shadow rejects the offer, and Mr. World absolves Technical Boy of his sins. Mr. World is really odd, and I can’t tell if that’s the character or if it’s because he’s played by Crispin Glover.

The New Gods have a deal for Wednesday and his kind: a merger. An upgrade to, as Media puts it in her most commercial way, “a brand-new, lemon-scented you.” Media presents Wednesday with a shiny possible future that includes a rocket named after him hitting North Korea, so everyone would know his name — something that is, of course, critical to a god’s survival. Also, there are rainbows and unicorns.

Wednesday rejects the plan on principle or pride. He states that the New Gods distract and simply occupy people’s time — the Old Gods gave people meaning. “Then give it to them again,” says Mr. World. Then he leaves, but Technical Boy ruins his departure “on a good line” by questioning him about letting Wednesday go. To shut him up, Media knocks Technical Boy’s two front teeth out by blowing him a kiss. The New Gods are bizarre.

THE ESCAPE


Earlier in the episode, just after Shadow left his hotel in a police car, Laura was paid a visit by Mad Sweeney. Sweeney still wants his lucky coin back, but Laura has a feeling that the coin is the reason why she can currently walk, talk, and knock a leprechaun into the wall with a flick of her finger. So she’s not giving it back, and Mad Sweeney can’t take it — but he can wait. Laura Moon is still dead, no matter how much her afterlife makes her feel alive, and she will rot like any other dead body. Especially if she keeps trying to mimic living flesh by soaking in warm water.

Mad Sweeney shoves Laura under the water of her bath just as police arrive and they arrest him for killing her. Laura is sent to the morgue while Mad Sweeney is carted off to jail, where his officers encounter the bloodbath the New Gods left behind in the police station. The police are dead, the whole place is a lights-flickering mess, and Shadow is nearly killed by the grasping branches that haunt and antagonize him in his dream of the bone orchard.

Wednesday and Shadow run away. Mad Sweeney runs away. Laura wakes in a morgue and keeps on not living.

Afterthoughts:

  • Ian McShane talking to a raven is a scene I didn’t know I wanted to see on a TV show until American Gods delivered it to me.
  • “I got a fax. On a machine that hasn’t been turned on in — I don’t know, since fax machines.”
  • Wednesday is officially named as Odin in this episode! I’ll still be calling him Wednesday, though.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Arrow 5x23 Review: "Lian Yu" (Back to the Place Where Our Story Begins)


"Lian Yu"
Original Airdate: May 24, 2017

The most satisfying thing as a storyteller is when every loose thread comes full circle. I love watching characters complete their journeys and come full circle. Dan Harmon's story circle puts it best: they return to their familiar situation, having changed. The thing about Arrow is that it's a show that often endlessly chases rabbit trails, only to realize — too late — that they've strayed far from the path and have lost the interest or attention of their viewers. The show's proclivity for doing this has not been lost on me throughout season five. At its best, this year had some interesting moments. But at its worst, it was boring and often downright baffling. I'm not in the business of telling people that one great episode can redeem an entire season of not-great ones, but if any episode was going to try and do that successfully, it would be "Lian Yu."

Oddly enough, the season five finale feels like it could — and should — be a series finale for the show. The way that Oliver came full circle in his journey to and off of the island was one of the main points of focus. There were blatant parallels (Arrow is not known for their subtlety, but in this case I think it actually worked to their benefit) between the Oliver Queen we met five years ago and the one who refuses to kill Adrian Chase in the present-day. In spite of the fact that the show threw a "cliffhanger" that wasn't really a cliffhanger, I still found myself emotionally invested in the episode and its characters.

Let's dive into what "Lian Yu" did well and why it might be a good jumping point for season six.

HIS NAME IS OLIVER QUEEN


It's no surprise to anyone that I've zoned out of the flashbacks for years now. Thankfully, the final Bratva-related flashback for this season was simple enough to follow: Constantine and Oliver duked it out because only one of them was getting off that island alive. (Spoiler alert: it was Oliver.) What's so significant about the parallelism here though is that Oliver did whatever it took to get himself off Lian Yu. He wanted to avenge his father's death and he did everything necessary to ensure his survival. At the beginning of the series, a lot — if not all — of Oliver's behavior is centered on this idea of self-preservation. He did things alone because he needed to be alone. He lashed out to protect himself. He was traumatized by everything that happened to him — all of the torture and the loss. The Oliver Queen we know in the pilot episode is driven by nature, not nurture.

And then there's the Oliver Queen in "Lian Yu."

Adrian Chase is kind of poetic. Okay, he's really poetic: he sends everyone Oliver loves to Lian Yu — to purgatory — and demands that Oliver kill him. In doing so, Chase hopes to prove that Oliver hasn't really changed and is still the same heartless killer who left Lian Yu five years prior. In order to see who Oliver truly is, Chase traps him in purgatory. If you're spiritual and believe in the idea of purgatory, it's always been likened to a waiting room. Either you are deemed worthy of heaven or your sins outweigh the good things you've done and you're sent to hell. What will happen to Oliver's soul at the end of the episode? That depends on what he believes to be true of himself and his soul going into this mission.

Oliver has spent this season trying to figure out the kind of legacy he'll leave behind. "Lian Yu" focuses pretty heavily on the idea that parents leave behind legacies for their children — some of those legacies involve how the parent has lived and acted their entire life; some of those legacies are based on one decision. But what is so significant is that these people have changed: Oliver, Slade, Malcolm, etc. Everyone who makes a major decision in this episode, save for Adrian Chase, has been changed; they're not the same people they were when they first landed on the island. Oliver has decided that his legacy is going to be one of a passionate, caring, self-sacrificing father. There are some really incredible parallels here between Robert and Oliver's relationship.

For starters, Robert Queen killed himself to atone for what he did but also give Oliver the chance at life. At the episode's end, Oliver makes a sacrifice for William — he chooses saving his son over saving his friends and family who are still trapped on the island. But what was really poignant to me was the parallelism between the suicide of Robert Queen and the suicide of Adrian Chase. In the end, Adrian knows that Oliver won't break — he's been changed by the love of his friends and family, and he refuses to kill him because of that. So in order to execute his master plan of taking away everything Oliver loves, Adrian takes his own life. Oliver had to watch Robert die out of love; he had to watch Adrian Chase die because of evil.

The one complaint that I have in regards to the whole Oliver/William storyline was that we never got the chance to really explore what Oliver was like as a father. We had one scene of Oliver playing with his son, but that's about it. So it's kind of problematic that the entire emotional poignancy of the scene at the end was carried by Oliver's relationship with William. He seems affectionate enough around the kid, but until he mentions him by name, sometimes I legitimately forget that Oliver even HAS a son. I guess that the problem is so many of us took issue with the baby mama drama plot that it lost any and all of its potential. Nevertheless, I bought was Stephen Amell was selling because his desperation to save his son was palpable.

Interestingly enough, while we spend a lot of time with Oliver in this week's finale, we don't actually spend a lot of time ON him. Thankfully (or not-so-thankfully) Arrow chose to spend an inordinate amount of time this season with heavy-handed dialogue and symbolism about identity and darkness, so by the time we got to "Lian Yu," there was nothing much left to say. Disappointingly though, this also led to less screentime for Slade Wilson than I would have liked. Even so, I appreciated the parallels between the two characters in the present-day with their history.

TO BE OR NOT TO BE A VILLAIN


Slade Wilson will always be the best villain in Arrow for me. And it's not just because he's sassy or clearly on Team Oliver and Felicity Need to Bone Again Soon, but because he's genuinely complex as a character. He's not purely evil, and not even evil for the sake of being evil. He acknowledges, when Oliver approaches him, that he killed Moira. The right thing for Oliver to do would be to kill him. But Oliver has taken to look at everyone recently through redemption-colored glasses, and instead of seeing all of the pain that Slade caused him, Oliver sees all of the potential. Ultimately, Slade's downfall as a villain was that he cared too much. I know, that sounds like one of those things you say in a job interview when they ask about your weaknesses. But it's true. Slade loved people and because he lost them, he snapped. That's not like Damien, who just wanted to watch the world burn or Ra's, who... I don't know, wanted to rule the world with a sword and misogyny? I'm still trying to figure out his deal. Slade's passion tuned in one direction is admirable — it's love and fire. Tuned the opposite way, it's dangerous — it's rage and vengeance. 

Oliver is desperate and even though he knows Slade has done horrible things, especially to him, he also knows that there's no one else better suited to take on Lian Yu with than Slade Wilson. And our villain rises to the challenge, pretending to double-cross Oliver in order to take down Adrian Chase and staying behind to protect Team Arrow. Slade Wilson isn't a good dude, but he also isn't heartless. You can see during the conversations Oliver has about his son that Slade understands and empathizes. 

There's something special about the bond between Slade and Oliver (and insanely complex) that can never really be replicated in another relationship on the show. Their friendship was tumultuous and the aftermath of it — and Slade's rise as Deathstroke — is as well. Slade is both Oliver's greatest enemy and also his greatest asset. Like I said, it's extremely complex. But that's what makes it so GOOD. And that's why I was so excited about Slade joining the team during the season finale. Again, I wish I would have seen even more of Slade but given Manu's apparent dislike for working on the show, I'm afraid this might be the last we see of his character. 

Hell tends to bond you close to the people in your life. But so does purgatory. Speaking of purgatory and spiritual allegories, let's talk about atonement, shall we?

THE BAD DAD CLUB


Don't you sometimes forget that Felicity and Thea were almost sisters-in-law? Arrow does too, don't worry. Thankfully they seem to find time to squeeze in a few scenes for us Thea/Felicity friendship fans, and "Lian Yu" was one of those times. Malcolm Merlyn  again, I just love that Malcolm got recruited to join Team Arrow — is tasked with getting Curtis, Baby Mama (blegh, fine, Samantha), Thea, and Felicity off the island. Things don't quite go as planned, mostly because the third villain in this trifecta, Digger Harkness, has decided to turn on Oliver and work for Adrian Chase.

With Digger and his cronies on the team's tail, the group is a little bit distracted. And as we all know on Lian Yu, there are traps. Thea unfortunately falls into one when she accidentally steps on a land mine. Don't worry, Thea, Felicity has done this too. You're not the first one. Understandably freaked out, Thea panics and before she's given enough time to process her impending death, Malcolm shoves her out of the way and takes her place on the mine.

Thea is distraught but with Digger quickly approaching, the team has to leave Malcolm behind to his inevitable death. John Barrowman posted on his Instagram this week that he is, indeed, not returning to the show but that he had a blast (no pun intended) playing Malcolm Merlyn all of these years. And I've had so much fun watching him chew scenery on this show, it's unbelievable.

Thea doesn't know how to process the fact that Malcolm sacrificed himself for her. In spite of all of the horrible things he did (and Thea pretty much makes a verbal laundry list of them), he was still her father. And in the end, he still did something completely selfless to ensure her safety and survival. Felicity empathizes because she, too, has a villain for a father. It's hard for the women to be able to understand how to love the men in their lives who were evil and hurt them so much. Thea also notes that she is going to miss Malcolm because she knew the dad that he had the potential to be — not necessarily the dad he was. It's a really sweet scene that reminds us exactly why Thea and Felicity need to share more scenes together next season. (Provided they've survived the explosions on Lian Yu, of course.)

Malcolm was incredible and he was terrible, all at the same time. I love John Barrowman and will miss him tremendously, especially for all of the fun and dry wit that his character brought to the show. He went out in the best and most redemptive way that he possibly could — protecting the woman he loved most in the world; and perhaps the only person left in the world he really did love.

AN EXPLOSIVE ENDING


Adrian Chase has a failproof plan to kill Oliver's friends — if he dies, a detonator will set off explosive devices that are scattered all across Lian Yu. Either way, Oliver was always screwed. But when Adrian makes Oliver choose — either save William, or save his friends and family on the island — Oliver makes the decision to save his son. Adrian Chase always struck me as an interesting villain. He's the kind of person Oliver could have become if he had totally given into the darkness. It's almost like Adrian is the physical manifestation of Oliver's darkness: self-sabotaging, selfish, purely dark. Oliver also lost his father, but Robert's death was a sacrifice. Adrian's father died because he was evil (I mean, Robert Queen was no saint but he did love his family). Adrian's crusade was based on the death of his father, and so was Oliver's. Both men have suffered and both men have to ponder what kind of legacies their fathers left for them. It's easy to see the result of those decisions: Adrian chose hatred and evil and revenge, while Oliver sought redemption and continues to seek redemption for his dad and even his own actions.

Funnily enough, Adrian seems touched by the fact that Oliver and William will have each other. Or he's just crazy and is mocking them. Either way, the story ends the same: Adrian kills himself in front of Oliver and William (it's okay though, because apparently Adrian said he won't remember this all anyway. Uhhhh, I tend to disagree but sure.), and explosives ignite all along the island presumably killing everyone in the Arrow cast.

Honestly, I could have done without the dramatic ending. We all know that most if not all of the characters (with the exception of minor characters) will survive into season six. In spite of the fact that the cliffhanger was anticlimactic and doesn't lend me to think that the entire cast of the show is dead, it was a pretty interesting way to end the season.

This year, Arrow was a season containing some good and great episodes in a sea of mediocre ones. The writers weren't sure how to balance a new Big Bad with a new team and a similar theme that we've seen across the years. Add to that even more flashbacks and you have a recipe for mediocrity. With the show renewed for a sixth season, I'm interested to see where the writers will take the characters and their journeys from here. I'm hoping it's better than what we had to endure this year, but maybe that's the optimist in me talking.

See you back on Lian Yu next season, all!

And now, bonus points:
  • Stephen Amell slayed this episode and remains the MVP.
  • "You and me, kid. Like old times."
  • Whyyyyyyyyy was Baby Mama even there? I get that William was kidnapped but I honestly could not care less about her. And the show tried desperately to make me like her by having her share a scene with Felicity. Spoiler alert, writers: one scene with the two women together doesn't erase the craptastic storyline you wrote for both women. I did not appreciate the scene at all because it was a clear attempt at baiting us into liking Samantha since she's apparently Team Olicity. Blegh. I'd rather we just forget Samantha even exists and move forward without having to dredge up that horrid story ever again.
  • "I see you haven't lost your feistiness, Ms. Smoak."
  • "Feels like a lifetime ago." "For Shado, it was." OH SNAP.
  • I did quite enjoy the Talia vs. Nyssa showdown but it was still too short.
  • Two Canary Cries was interesting. I still don't care for that particular element of either Black Siren or Black Canary. However I did enjoy Lance hitting Black Siren over the head.
  • I didn't get a chance to talk about it above, but that scene with Moira Queen broke me. She was such an interesting and complex character, and the phone call between her and Oliver broke my heart and made me cry. 
What did you all think of the finale? Sound off in the comments below!

Friday, May 26, 2017

Twin Peaks: The Return 3x01 Recap: "Part 1: My Log Has A Message For You" (What’s In The Box?) [Contributor: Erin Allen]

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"Part 1: My Log Has A Message For You"
Original Airdate: May 21, 2017

The return of Twin Peaks is everything I could’ve dreamed of and a billion times more. This is pure, unfiltered Lynch. I could not be more thrilled to be a fan at this time and to recap it for Just About Write. Join me while I attempt to unpack all the weirdness of the first installment of this 18-hour movie.

Let’s start at the beginning.

The beginning is really the end of the original run. We see footage of Twin Peaks with Special Agent Dale Cooper and Laura Palmer in The Black Lodge where she says, “I’ll see you in 25 years.” Did they plan this all along? Amazing. Cut to some more original establishing shots of the high school and a push into Laura Palmer’s prom picture. Angelo Badalamenti’s romantic yet haunting theme music begins while the shortened opening credits roll in that familiar font.

I cried.

The credits end on the zig-zag floor of The Black Lodge spinning in frame. It is dizzying. Much like what you will see in the next hour. It definitely sets up a disorienting feeling, so we know we are right on track. What we don’t know is where the next scene takes place. It seems like The Black Lodge, but not quite. In awesome looking black and white, Older Cooper sits across from The Giant. However, it is not The Giant. The actor that plays him is credited as ???????.

Yep, those are seven question marks. Cooper and Question Mark Man have a conversation where QMM speaks in the backwards language of The Black Lodge and Cooper responds normally saying he understands. Well, good for you, buddy, because I’m lost already. QMM gives us some clues — a number (430) and two names. “Richard and Linda” begin a long list of names to try to remember. Cooper blinks away like an old television set turning off.

Next is a very brief scene that reunites us with Dr. Lawrence Jacoby. He’s living in a trailer in the woods. He’s still sporting those rad glasses with the colored lenses, but his eclectic Hawaiian threads have been replaced with coveralls. A truck delivers a bunch of shovels and that is that. It’s odd to see the quirky psychiatrist living this way. It looks like he’s starting some project, so it will be intriguing to come back and see what those shovels are for.

We go from a box of shovels to a mysterious glass box in New York City. It is surrounded by cameras and a man sits and stares at it. He is told via intercom to go to Camera 3 where he exchanges the card and files it away in a vault. This scene has such major Mulholland Drive feels. The set design, the slow pacing, and the Kafkaesque intrigue instantly brought that Lynch film to my mind.

The box keeper goes out to the lobby for a delivery which is Madeline Zima as Tracey bringing him coffee. They ambiguously flirt in front of the security guard, but both men shut down her interest in what’s beyond the lobby. “Ooh, now I’m so curious. You’re driving me crazy.” Zima is amazing casting. I love everything about how she plays this role. Tracey is as intrigued and inquisitive as a Twin Peaks fan.

Back in Twin Peaks at The Great Northern Hotel, Benjamin Horne discusses some hotel business with his secretary, Beverly, played by Ashley Judd. Jerry Horne interrupts them raving about some food, which is the best way to be reintroduced to his character. “Sweet and sour, salty, crunchy!” Jerry is now a total hippie with a lucrative marijuana edibles business. This makes sense. I like it. This scene between the brothers ends with Ben asking Jerry “Is that mother’s hat?” I don’t know why, but that cracked me up.

The reacquaintance with familiar characters continues as we see Lucy — now with her name placard reading Lucy Brennan — working the front desk at the sheriff station. A man, possibly an insurance salesman, comes in asking for Sheriff Truman. Lucy informs him that there are two Sheriff Trumans and that he will have to be more specific. He is unable to, so he gives Lucy his card and leaves. I also noted that Lucy is playing solitaire at her desk. I don’t know if this means anything, but that is what this friggin’ show does to me. I am constantly in investigative mode.

The next scene begins with headlights on a dark road. This is a signature Lynch shot. Some really cool metal music plays which Shazam informs me is “American Woman (David Lynch Remix)” by Muddy Magnolias. I’m gonna need the Twin Peaks: The Return soundtrack tout suite! Not only is this song super rad, but it introduces us to Cooper’s evil doppleganger. I’m not sure what to call this person who is inhabited by the demon, BOB. Combos of their names (I played around with CooBOBber and Booper) sound too silly for this savage and terrifying character. I will refer to him as BOB/Cooper.

Well, this BOB/Cooper is one mean dude you do not want to mess with. He’s got long hair, and wears leather and a snakeskin print shirt. He effortlessly takes out the guy with a gun guarding some shack out in the woods. BOB/Cooper is there to pick up two associates. There is all sort of weirdness going on in this cabin. Otis looks like he is drinking moonshine, there is a little person in a wheelchair (which also reminds me of Mulholland Drive), and a woman named Buella says, “It’s a world of truck drivers.” Alright then.

BOB/Cooper leaves with Ray and Darya and we cut back to NYC. The box keeper (whose name I learned from the credits is Sam Colby) is still cataloging the camera chips. He hears the elevator in the lobby, but no announcement this time. Tracey is back with coffee, and the guard is gone. “Weird,” Sam says. Since there is no one to stop them, Sam takes Tracey back to the mysterious room with the box. He tells her that some anonymous billionaire owns the place, and that his job is to watch the box to see if anything appears. He hasn’t seen anything yet, but the guy he replaced saw something, but wasn’t allowed to talk about it. They sit with their coffees and watch the box for a minute before making out. The kissing progresses, and as they go at it, something appears in the box. This totally fits the horror movie formula, and what takes place is Lynch’s version of a horror movie. The being that appears in the box crashes through the glass and brutally beats the couple. Whoa.

I try to pick my jaw up off the floor as we head to Buckhorn, South Dakota. A woman enters an apartment building, and her dog, Armstrong, smells something at her neighbor’s door. She calls the police. They show up and have a heck of a time trying to get into the apartment. There are multiple conversations where they talk in circles and rattle off a bunch of names to the point where my head is spinning.

Turns out the woman with the dog who is friendly, but spacey, had a key the whole time. They enter the apartment of one Ruth Davenport. Ruth is in bed, dead with her eye shot out. Well, it’s Ruth’s head. Under the covers is what looks like a man’s headless body posed under Ruth’s head.

Before we can wrap our brains around that, we go back to Twin Peaks and Margaret, The Log Lady. The Log Lady is one of my favorite characters from the original. Catherine Coulson was able to film some scenes for The Return before her death in 2015. With the nostalgia and the sadness of the actor’s passing, this scene is really emotional. Coulson plays it full of emotion, too. She calls Deputy Chief Hawk. She holds the phone at a distance from her ear and cradles her log lovingly.
The Log Lady: My log has a message for you. 
Hawk: Okay. 
The Log Lady: Something is missing and you have to find it. It has to do with Special Agent Dale Cooper.  
Hawk: Dale Cooper? What is it? 
The Log Lady: The way you will find it has something to do with your heritage. This is the message from the log.  
Hawk: Okay, Margaret. Thank you. 
The Log Lady: Good night, Hawk. 
Hawk: Good night, Margaret.
Oh my God. My heart.

Back in Buckhorn, the police have matched fingerprints found in Ruth’s apartment to local school principal, Bill Hastings. The cops go to Bill’s house and arrest him, much to his wife, Phyllis’ chagrin. “But the Morgans are coming to dinner!” Why do I love this line and her delivery so much?

Hawk begins to decipher the log’s message. He tells Andy (Andy!) and Lucy to get the files pertaining to Agent Cooper. Andy and Lucy are confused, and then proceed to bring up some random facts about their 24-year old son, Wally. “He was born on the same day as Marlon Brando.”

Detective Dave Macklay questions Bill about Ruth. I have never been a big fan of Matthew Lillard, but his turn as Bill is changing my attitude. He’s always been a goofy, frat boy kind of character, but he does this serious role exceptionally well. I can’t get a read on whether he’s guilty or not. He’s playing it right on the line where it could go either way.

The cops get a warrant to search Bill’s house, and once again Phyllis brings up the Morgans. I love it. Phyllis looks really shifty as they look around. Detective Macklay and state police Detective Don Harrison check out Bill’s car. In the trunk under a cooler is... I don’t know what it is. A piece of a body part? Det. Macklay’s flashlight is broken and blinks on and off. This is a callback to the pilot when Agent Cooper looks under Laura’s fingernail. The fluorescent light was broken and flickering. Flashing lights came to be of some significance throughout the series.

This part rolls the end credits over the gramophone at whatever realm Question Mark Man was in from the beginning.

Stray Observations:
  • Is Ben Horne no longer a womanizer? “R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Respect. She’s a beautiful soul and she’s married.” Jerry’s response is gold (“Gold, Jerry, gold.” Sorry, the Seinfeldian inside me couldn’t resist.): “That never stopped you before. Sock it to me. Sock it to me. Sock it to me. Sock it to me.”  
  • There is a bonsai in the room with the glass box. Windom Earle bugged the sheriff’s office with a bonsai plant in the original run. If Windom Earle is the anonymous billionaire, I will freak out. There’s another theory that I like even more, though, and that is that the billionaire is Audrey Horne.
  • Hawk tells Andy and Lucy “I’ll bring the coffee and the donuts,” and it is the most comforting thing!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Brooklyn Nine-Nine 4x21 and 4x22 Recap: “The Bank Job” & “Crime & Punishment” (Time to Get Dirty) [Contributor: Alisa Williams]


“The Bank Job” & “Crime & Punishment”
Original Airdate: May 23, 2017

Another pair of back-to-back episodes this week close out season four of Brooklyn Nine-Nine. It’s been a wild season that started us off in Florida with Captain Holt and Jake undercover, saw the whole team assigned to the dreaded night shift, the precinct almost closed down, and now a dirty lieutenant is wreaking havoc for Rosa and Jake. Let’s see what cliffhangers the final two episodes have in store for us, shall we?

In the first episode of the night, Jake and Rosa go straight to Captain Holt with their suspicions about Lieutenant Hawkins being the secret leader of the bank robbing ring. Holt says because Hawkins is one of the most respected officers in the city, they’re going to need hard evidence before they take what they know to Internal Affairs. So, they head back to Hawkins’ HQ to find out what they can.

They have no luck, however, and Holt surmises it’s because Hawkins knows they’re good cops so she’s not going to let them anywhere near her plans. They decide their only option is to recruit a super sketchy dude to help them out. The natural choice is cop-turned-PI and Rosa’s fiancĂ©, Adrian Pimento, who I for one hoped to never see again. They come up with a plan: Jake and Rosa will beat up Adrian (who is super excited about this) in front of Hawkins, which will convince her they’re dirty, and then they’ll be let into her inner circle.

The plan works perfectly. They beat him up in a room they pretend didn’t know had a camera. When they ask Hawkins to delete the footage for them so there’s no evidence of them beating up a suspect, she says she already did and then invites them out for drinks with the rest of her team. She even tells them to bring some cocaine with them to make it a true party.

Back at the precinct, the team has some suspicions of their own — about Gina. She’s had three doctor’s appointments in one week and Terry, Amy, and Boyle are convinced she’s pregnant. They’re sure of it when they find a file on her computer labeled “Baby Names.”

Boyle’s super excited and wants to confront Gina right away but Terry and Amy tell him to respect her privacy and let her make the announcement when she’s ready. This lasts about two seconds until Boyle sees Gina drinking coffee and runs to smack it out of her hand and lecture her about caffeine intake while pregnant.

Gina admits to them that she is indeed pregnant but she refuses to reveal who the father is, saying that she signed a nondisclosure agreement because he’s really famous. They’re super impressed but now they want to know who it is more than ever.

At lunchtime, she tells them she’s off to meet up with the father for a fancy lunch, so of course they follow her. But they find her sitting alone on a sidewalk bench eating a greasy pizza.

When they confront her about what they saw she finally admits that the father is one of Boyle’s cousins. Boyle is beyond excited about this. After a bit of sleuthing, Boyle figures out which cousin it is. He confides to Terry and Amy that the cousin is Milton — the worst of the Boyle cousins. Apparently, Milton is a “troll” and a loser. Just then, he shows up at the precinct and by anyone else’s standards, Milton (played by Ryan Phillipe) is quite a catch and doesn’t look anything like the rest of Boyle’s family. And he’s perfect for Gina. They’re both super weird in all the same ways.

Later that day, Holt manages to get a bag of cocaine out of evidence for Rosa and Jake. Pimento even offers to show them how to fake snort it but only manages to actually snort it three times. Rosa says they’ll just give the real bag to Hawkins and have a different bag for themselves of fake cocaine made out of Vitamin B powder.

Hawkins wasn’t kidding about partying hard. She confiscates everyone’s phones and then they party all night with whiskey and cocaine. Bright and early the next morning, Hawkins wakes them up (they crashed at the bar) and announces they’re officially in the inner circle and they’re going to rob a bank. Right now. Jake and Rosa try to make an excuse so they can zip back to the precinct and tell Holt, but there’s no time. Fortunately, Rosa was able to sneak Jake’s phone back and he sends a text to Holt about the bank job.

Holt and the team suit up and head out. Just as they arrive at the bank, Pimento shows up too. He’s still high and races into the bank ahead of them. When Holt and the team rush in, it’s the wrong bank. Jake and Rosa are in a completely different bank when all of a sudden a different team rushes in and arrests them. They try to explain they’re working an undercover job but just then Hawkins shows up and accuses them of being the “Golden Gang,” who her team has been tracking for months. When the masks are pulled off the other robbers in custody, instead of being members of her undercover team, they’re two guys Jake and Rosa have never seen before. As Hawkins is leading Jake away she laughs and whispers to him that she can’t believe he thought he could take her down.

In the season finale, we fast forward two months and it’s time for Rosa and Jake’s trial for the bank robbery. They face up to 15 years in prison if convicted but are out on bond at the moment. Melanie Hawkins is being heralded as a hero by the city. The night before the trial, the team gathers, along with Sam, the lawyer. The case against Jake and Rosa is super strong, especially since they were working off the books to take down Hawkins so there’s no official paper trail, only Holt’s word and theirs. But the prosecution has Hawkins, the city’s most esteemed detective and airtight alibis for all of her team.

The good thing is, there is absolutely no evidence to tie Jake and Rosa to any of the other robberies and they have airtight alibis for all those dates. Additionally, there’s absolutely nothing tying Jake or Rosa to the missing millions in stolen money. So, they’ll just have to convince the jury that being caught red-handed at this one was a big misunderstanding.

Amy wants to talk to Jake about what happens if he’s found guilty but Jake refuses, saying they will win for sure. Boyle is not taking the stress well. All his hair has turned white (all of it, he tells Terry) and then his back gives out the morning of the trial (because he was trying to dye his pubes) so he’s wheelchair bound.

The trial does not get off to a great start. Eye-witnesses can identify Jake and Rosa as the “ring leaders” at the scene. And as for the previous three robberies, well, the other two bank robbers who Jake and Rosa had never seen before that day say that was all part of the plan. Rosa and Jake weren’t at the first three so they could establish their alibis and sent two other robbers in their place to make up the team of four. This guy says he think they probably killed the other two robbers to prevent them from testifying and, despite the lawyer’s objections, the jury seems to buy it. Things are not going well.

Then they get worse. Hawkins takes the stand and says that just that morning her team uncovered bank accounts in the Cayman Islands in Jake and Rosa’s names containing $26 million. Uh oh. She even has signed paperwork from the bank and says the bank manager will positively ID them.

Holt isn’t giving up yet. He says all they have to do is prove Hawkins opened the accounts in their names and then they can take her down. They’ll need a hacker to break into the bank’s system and fortunately Boyle knows just the guy. His name is Pandemic and he sets to work. After five hours, he hasn’t gotten very far so he calls in another hacker — her name is Nightmare. After a few more hours, they call in a nameless third hacker.

Jake is feeling a little more hopeful as well. He’s tracked down a Detective Matthew Langdon, who seems to have had a falling out with Hawkins 14 years ago and then disappeared. He thinks Langdon might have some info to share. Rosa isn’t doing as well with everything. Holt can’t get ahold of her so he stops by her apartment and finds she’s about to run. Pimento has a place in Argentina and that’s where she’s headed. He tries to reason with her but it doesn’t work and she heads out. He follows her to the bus and tries to convince her again but it doesn’t work. He says her family (the Nine-Nine) will miss her and then walks away.

Jake and Amy find Langdon and he hesitantly agrees to talk to them about what he knows. Apparently, he caught her taking payments from a drug dealer and she threatened to kill him or his wife if he didn’t disappear and leave his wife behind. He still fears for his wife’s life so he refuses to help them. Just as they’re about to head back to the city, however, Langdon says he’ll come with them and testify.

Back in the courtroom the next morning, everyone’s there except Jake and Rosa. Jake texts Holt to say he’s just a few minutes away. Holt tries to make an excuse for Rosa but just then she walks in and tells Holt she couldn’t leave her family. The judge comes in next and asks where Jake is, just as he barges into the courtroom with Amy and Langdon.

Meanwhile, the hackers have finally got something. They don’t have a name but they do have the shell corporation the money really came from — Flaxton Hill Holdings. Terry and Boyle haven’t heard of it but they text it to Amy in the courthouse to see if any of the other team members have. Amy flashes back to the farm they found Langdon at and remembers seeing that the name of the farm was “Flaxton Hill.” It’s a set up! But Langdon’s already on the stand testifying and just as Amy tells Jake that Langdon’s dirty too, he tells the jury Hawkins was the most honorable cop he ever knew. Furthermore, he says Jake offered him $300,000 to lie and say Hawkins was dirty. Unsurprisingly, the jury finds both Jake and Rosa guilty on all charges. And it’s the end of season four!

Bullets on the Bulletin Board:
  • “Why is this so hard for me? Do I even have quads?”
  • “Where’s Gina going? That’s like the third time she’s taken off this week.” “She has a doctor’s appointment.” “You know what that’s code for: she’s taking a nap in the furnace room.” “Is that what you do? Because you really should go to the doctor. When you breathe it sounds like someone’s shaking a bag of quarters.” 
  • “I’m trying to read your womb vibe.” “Exactly. Knock it off.” “The daddy’s a Property Brother, isn’t he? It’s a property baby!”
  • “He works for a snow apparel company that donates snow to the poor.” “Water.” 
  • “How you feeling?” “Good. Good. I was just working on my innocent face. Check it out: I’m a nice boy.” “Oh no. I don’t think that’s doing what you want it to at all.” “Oh. Okay. Well, it doesn’t matter because my normal face is my innocent face because I’m innocent.” 
  • “You questioning my abilities? Watch this. What’s your name?” “Why do you need my—” “Terrence Vincent Jeffords.” “Wait. What’s happening?” “You’re getting hacked bro, that’s what’s happening.” “No, don’t do that!” “I’m in your home computer…” “You are?! Get out!” “You got a lot of songs by Natalie Imbruglia.” “I bought those back in the 90s.” “Nope. Downloaded on Thursday.”

The Flash 3x23 Review: "Finish Line" (Finale, Finally) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]


"Finish Line"
Original Airdate: May 23, 2017 

This week’s episode is aptly named, as the “Save Iris from Savitar” story comes to an official end. We’re at the finish line, people! So, the months and months of build-up, the hours of filler episodes, the angst, the non-mysteries, the apparent death of our leading lady — has it all been worth it? Did The Flash wrap up this convoluted plot in an amazing, perfect finale that wowed and impressed?

Noooope.

Don’t get me wrong, “Finish Line” isn’t a bad episode. It had moments that made me laugh, moments that made me sad, moments that made me cheer — all things that a show wants in its season finale. But it lacked oomph, maybe because the wind had been taken out of the sails of this plot a long time ago, and only an epic, intricate, unpredictable finale could have impressed me enough to forgive the utter drag that was the Savitar storyline. “Finish Line” was a satisfactory end to the season, but it was nowhere near epic, intricate, or unpredictable.

A TALE OF TWO BARRYS


We learn that Iris isn’t dead like, immediately and — called it! — it was H.R. using the face-changer in Iris’s place. This means that fun, goofy, drumming H.R. got stabbed through the chest by Savitar. I’m just relieved that Joe is the first to find out that Iris is alive and doesn’t have to spend very long thinking she’s dead. Barry also finds out pretty early, when H.R. switches from his Iris Face while Barry’s sobbing over what he thinks is his fiancĂ©’s corpse. Awkward?

In all the chaos, Savitar got away with the Speed Force Bazooka, though we don’t yet know what he wants to do with it. On a related note, the Killer Frost vs. Cisco battle in the woods that happened last episode is halted, as Savitar needs Cisco’s technical know-how to turn the Speed Force Bazooka into whatever evil device he wants it to be. On the plus side, this both stops Cisco from being killed and gives us more Cisco/Killer Frost interaction. Like I’ve said before, the dynamic between Cisco and Caitlin is a strong one that isn’t focused on nearly enough, and the Killer Frost plot allows a lot of those BFF feelings to come to the surface more. Cisco is, more than anyone else on the team, the most likely to pull Caitlin over from the dark side. (Not that the show has adequately explained why she’s on the dark side in the first place.)

Back at S.T.A.R Labs, the remaining Team Flash have a chat about the lovely new paradox they’ve created. For some reason, Savitar has a few hours left before he disappears. What, does the universe have to refresh its cache in order to register the changes or something? Either way, it means that Savitar has a few hours left to mess things up for the team and they must be on their guard!

... Or Barry can meet up with Savitar, feed him a nice little story about their shared childhood memories, and let him right into S.T.A.R Labs like it’s no big deal. I swear, Barry, you are so naive. It’s like that thing where coyotes will pretend to play with puppies to lure them away from their mother and some other coyotes are waiting to attack the puppy when it’s far enough away, except it’s worse because Barry is literally being tricked by himself. And, well, I guess Iris is also being tricked — she falls for Savitar’s sad sack routine too — but at least she has the excuse of being blinded by her love for all Barrys, even the ones with differentiating facial scars.

By the way, Grant Gustin is still fantastic as Savitar and I continue to lament the fact that we didn’t get a lot more of him. He’s great in the manipulative scenes, doubly great in the emotional ones, and triply great when he gets all snarky. He asks where he’ll be seated at Barry and Iris’s wedding! It’s hilarious. But, of course, Savitar has rigged the Lab to laser itself to death and everything — including his moments of well-acted sensitivity — was a ruse. Shocker.

Savitar returns to his lair just in time to hear that the bazooka’s modifications have been completed and orders Killer Frost to kill Cisco, who has not exactly been a model prisoner (Cisco’s snark levels were up to eleven). The reasoning behind Killer Frost’s loyalty to Savitar is on a long list of things this finale fails to adequately explain. He’s rude to her, openly admits that he keeps her around as a bargaining chip, and uses her as a tool to kill the people he doesn’t like. There appears to be zero incentive in Killer Frost staying with Savitar. Anyway, Cisco is saved by the sudden appearance of Gypsy, because they apparently share a connection through the multiverse? Are Cisco and Gypsy soulmates? That’s adorable!

The plan for the modified bazooka is to open the Speed Force and generate time remnants of Savitar that go one for eternity and make him immortal. I think. I don’t know, man, I’ve made it very clear that I checked out of this story a long, long time ago. Savitar. Speed Force. Time Remnants. But wait! Black Flash shows up... and is frozen by Killer Frost. More Speed Force. Blasty lights. Yawning. Hey, it’s Jay Garrick! He slipped out of the Speed Force prison while Savitar was messing around with it and manages to knock him down and stop whatever progress he was making on his evil plan.

When Barry shows up, Savitar tells him that he’s going to use the last of his minutes of existence to kill Joe, Iris, and Wally and, by destroying Barry’s family, will ensure his own survival. This is the wrong thing to say to Barry, who is just more motivated to stop Savitar with the knowledge that his family could be in danger, and — in a move cool enough to wake me from my Savitar boredom — pushes Savitar out of his armor and whooshes in to take his place. Then Barry, like, speed-flexes his speed-muscles and the armor falls to pieces. Pretty neat.

But the thing that really wakes me up is moments later, when Barry is walking away and we see Savitar rise to attack our hero from behind. Shots ring out! Savitar falls, revealing Iris West holding a gun, having killed the evil version of her beloved to save the nicer one with the more symmetrical face. (As one does.) After all these months of Barry trying to save Iris, it’s Iris who saves him in the end and, yeah, I cheered at that. It’s probably the saving grace of this whole plot, which has been painfully lacking in Iris’s autonomy, her feelings about dying, her growth as a character facing death. We’ve gotten glimmers here and there, but not nearly as much as I would have liked, especially since Candice Patton has been absolutely perfect with every crumb of plot she’s been given.

With Savitar dead, everything is winding down and the team attends H.R.’s funeral. Caitlin/Killer Frost shows up just to tell them that she needs time to figure out her identity, since she did save Cisco earlier in the episode and that means she’s not all bad. But she’s not all good, either.

Iris and Barry are breathing sighs of relief about being able to look forward to a future together, and we have several minutes left in the episode so you just know something terrible is going to happen. Sure enough, a red and yellow lightning storm starts tearing the city apart and Barry figures out that it’s the Speed Force, and it’s got a hankerin’ for some Speedster! Someone must be a prisoner in the Speed Force or else everything will implode or something, so Barry makes the sacrifice.

Well, uh, our hero just went into another dimension, folks. So... I guess that’s it!

Other Things:
  • I genuinely have no theories on how they’re going to get Barry out of the Speed Force Prison. Fashion a Barry effigy out of straw and hope for the best?
  • This show legit used "Can you reverse the polarity of the neutron flow?" and I love it.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Prison Break 5x08 Recap: “Progeny” (We are Family) [Guest Poster: Rebecca]


“Progeny”
Original Airdate: May 23, 2017

Unfamiliar with definition of the name of this week’s episode, I Googled “Progeny.” It means one’s descendants or offspring. After last week, I assumed this would be the episode Michael and his son reunited, so the title made sense... but I had no idea that we’d see two pairs of fathers and sons reunite. The T-Bag and Whip thing completely blew my mind! I like the think I’m a big enough fan of Prison Break that I can see these things coming (I predicted that Jacob was Poseidon in episode four), but I did not see this bombshell coming at all.

In typical Prison Break fashion, this penultimate episode left us with a ton of cliffhangers. Will Lincoln be okay? Who was shot in the final scene? How will Whip react to learning who his father is? Who will T-Bag kill? Who is Blue Hawaii? I have my assumptions as to how this season will end, but let’s break this episode down first.

“I OWN YOU, SCOFIELD.”


We pick up immediately where “Wine Dark Sea” left off. Whip, Sucre, and the brothers managed to escape the blast by hopping on a lifeboat. They wave down a small boat driving by, which takes them to Marseille, France.

Flashback to six years ago: Michael and Jacob walk through campus, and Jacob observes that Michael has been spending a lot of time at the zoo. Michael says he likes going there to think, to figure out how to break their targets out of prison. Jacob notices Michael has new tattoos, but Michael assures him that they don’t mean anything.

Jacob leads Michael into a secret room in the university, asking him if he’s set for the next project. Michael says he wants a partner, someone to have his back and increase their odds of getting more prisoners out. He hands Jacob a file on a man named “David Martin,” who we immediately can identify as Whip. Reluctant at first, Jacob finally agrees to the partnership.

“THE SECRET TO REAL POWER IS TO NEVER BETRAY YOUR INTENTIONS... AND TO NEVER LET ANYONE SEE YOUR FACE.”


Back in the present day, the gang arrives in Marseilles. Michael texts Sara, asking if Jacob is suspicious; however, he realizes he’s not actually texting Sara but is in fact talking to Jacob when “Sara” refers to Mike as “Junior.”

Lincoln tells Michael that after his surf shop and relationship with Sofia fell apart, he went back to his old ways. He ended up in the ‘hood doing odd jobs moving boxes to make cash. Eventually, Lincoln realized the boxes contained drugs that had killed people. He dumped $100,000 worth of the pills (remember the first episode where he was being chased?) and has had a man named Luca after him since. Lincoln calls Luca and says he can get Luca the $100,000 if he smuggles Lincoln, Michael, and Sucre into the U.S. Luca is skeptical that Lincoln has that kind of money, but figures he can always kill Lincoln if he doesn’t get paid.

Meanwhile, Jacob meets with Van Gough and A&W and explains his relationship to Michael. Jacob brings in a computer hacker named Theroux who managed to intercept the screenshots Michael sent “Blue Hawaii” from the Yemen gas station a few episodes back. Theroux tells Jacob and his crew that some of Michael’s tattoos are links to online message boards — message boards that link to photos and videos of the murder for which Jacob framed Michael. Theroux is working to identify any data that’s been encrypted into the files.

As Michael prepares to return to New York, he writes letters to various people and sticks them in sealed manila envelopes. T-Bag receives a letter that says he must take a life. C-Note receives a letter, detailing a plan that we’ll see play out in a few minutes. Michael also gives a letter to Whip, along with a plane ticket to Chicago. Whip doesn’t understand why he’s not going with Sucre and the brothers to New York, but Michael assures him it will become clear in time.

“LOOK’S LIKE THE GAME’S STILL GOING.”


Jacob is using GPS tracking on Michael’s phone and knows when his flight is coming in. He sends his henchmen to JFK when the flight lands. A&W and Van Gough track down the phone, but find it sitting on the floor with Michael nowhere to be seen. Sucre watches their confusion and steps off the plane with a smile.

Instead of going to JFK like Jacob thought, Michael lands at a small airport in upstate New York with Lincoln. They arrive at Luca’s warehouse, where Lincoln informs Luca that they don’t have the money. He points to a DEA agent waiting outside and says he set up Luca and his crew, but if they let the brothers go then Lincoln will call off the raid. Luca reluctantly acquiesces and runs off with his men. C-Note and Sheba pull up in black vans, disguised as DEA agents.

C-Note wants to continue to help his friends, but Michael knows Jacob has eyes on C-Note now and doesn’t want to put him in any danger. Sheba offers to help in C-Note’s place since Jacob doesn’t know what she looks like.

“THERE’S NO LEAVING 21 VOID.”


Jacob meets with the henchmen at his house and tells them to lay low for now. As A&W and Van Gough leave, the latter expresses his discomfort at the fact that Sara is being held prisoner in her own home. He realizes Jacob has gone too far and wants to leave 21 Void after they capture Michael. He tries to convince A&W to leave with him, but she doesn’t think there’s any way out of the operation.

Michael arranges to meet “Sara” at a steakhouse. Van Gough waits outside of the restaurant for Michael. A black SUV pulls up, and the driver tells Van Gough he’s here to pick up a lady and her child. Jacob tells Van Gough it was a decoy to identify Van Gough’s face. Lincoln trails Van Gough, and A&W follows Lincoln with instructions to “take him down.” A bus drives in front of a parking garage, blocking Lincoln from A&W’s view; when it passes, Lincoln is gone. She runs into the parking garage, but can’t communicate with Jacob via her headset because she doesn’t have reception. She circles back to Jacob’s car, and he drives away angrily; now the brothers know what his car looks like. Michael watches from the top of a building and describes the car to Sheba, who picked up Lincoln in the parking garage.

They meet up with Michael and find Jacob’s abandoned car. They open the trunk to find blood and a picture of a pirate ship. Michael knows it’s a map, that it’s in Mike’s DNA to created coded messages. Michael deduces Mike and Sara’s location, and Lincoln kisses Sheba and tells her to go back to her family.

“ONLY ONE PERSON CALLS ME WHIP, AND YOU AIN’T HIM.”


Whip arrives in Chicago and opens his envelope from Michael, which contains some coordinates in the middle of Lake Michigan. He goes to a boat rental and takes a boat out to a buoy that matches the coordinates given to him. He finds a duct-taped package containing…blood? Meanwhile, T-Bag sits in his car recording a confession on his cell phone, saying he’s been considering doing something the “old T-Bag” would do, but this time, the crime would be committed out of love.

Whip returns the boat and runs into T-Bag in the parking lot. T-Bag calls him “Whip,” catching Whip’s attention. T-Bag explains that he knows about Kaniel Outis/Michael Scofield and that he knows Whip is Dave Martin. T-Bag reveals Michael was looking for someone to help him comb prisons, so he did some research and found Dave Martin, a man who could rise to the top in any circumstance. T-Bag then drops one of the biggest bombshells this season: Whip is his son.

Meanwhile, the brothers arrive at Jacob’s lake house. Lincoln thinks he sees Jacob’s car and urges Michael to leave, but Michael can see the outline of a woman tied up in a room and knows something is wrong. He heads inside, where he meets Mike for the first time. The mysterious car turns out to belong to Luca, who learned the DEA raid was a setup and used the EZ Passes on the vans to track down Lincoln. He shoots at Lincoln multiple times and we can see blood, but we don’t know where or how many times Lincoln has been shot.

Inside, Mike reveals to his father that he didn’t draw a map. Michael realizes he’s been played, and A&W emerges from the room, whipping off a brunette wig and pointing a gun at Michael and his son. In the final shot of this episode, we hear a gunshot and see blood splatters.

THE VERDICT


This was definitely the most fast-paced episode of the season; I struggled to keep up with my notes and often found myself rewinding the episode because I was sure I missed something. So much craziness was going on that I had to remind myself to breathe a couple times! This episode was so fun to watch, though, and left me with my mouth hanging completely open at the end.

Whip being T-Bag’s son completely came out of left field, but I don’t hate the idea. I’ll admit it’s a bit farfetched, but that’s what I love about the show. Nothing is off limits. I hope we’ll find out how Michael tracked Whip down and why he was so necessary to the plan. I’m a bit skeptical as of right now, but we all know Michael doesn’t do anything without meticulous planning. There’s a reason for everything, as he’s shown us so many times before.

I cannot believe we only have one episode left, and I’m really going to miss the show. This has been a great reboot that picks up right where the previous season left off. I’ve loved seeing C-Note and T-Bag and Sucre (and even Kellerman!) again, and the plot has been thoroughly enjoyable. So, here are my predictions about what we’ll see in the season finale:

  • A&W is the one whose blood we saw sprayed on that window. I think someone (Sheba? Sucre? Sara?) came in and popped her before she could get Michael.
  • Someone we like has to die. I think Jacob will meet his demise, but no one cares about him. We haven’t had a sad death since Sid, and that’s too long for Prison Break. I have faith we’ll get happy endings for Lincoln and Michael and their significant others. The writers would face an angry mob if they killed off Sucre or Mike, so which leaves us with Whip and T-Bag. I’m afraid one of them might not make it. It may be poetic justice for T-Bag to meet his end, but I have a soft spot for the guy — as much as a soft spot as you can for someone like him. Which isn’t very soft, but still there a tiny bit. He’s at least trying to be a better person. Perhaps the life T-Bag has to take is the life of someone we love.
  • Michael, Sara, and Mike (BETTER!!!) end up as a happy family
Honorable Events Worth Mentioning:

  • “I don’t think your French is as good as you think it is.”
  • Sheba: “I take care of [Lincoln], you mean?” So good to see her again.
  • Michael sees his origami swans in the sewer and knows now why Sara never tried to contact him: Jacob always disposed of his letters and swans.
  • Jacob gets the idea to hide a map in the drawing of the pirate ship after talking to Mike. Mike and his friend Jimmy hide each other’s Legos and create maps to find them. 
  • Luca is the son of John Abruzzi, feared mobster and member of the Fox River 8 in the first season. This was a nice and believable callback to the brothers’ past.