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, July 27, 2017

Comic-Con Roundtable Interviews: The Cast of Shadowhunters [Contributor: Jen]

(Photo credit: Freeform)

At Comic-Con this past week, I sat down with the cast of Shadowhunters to discuss the fan favorite ships and what's in store for the rest of season. So read on, fans, to get some of the exclusive scoop from the actors' mouths below!


CLARY AND JACE

Clary and Jace recently discovered they are not brother and sister, which opens the door to a romantic relationship again. However, there seems to be hesitation particularly on Clary's part. Dominic Sherwood has reassuring words for fans of Clace when asked if the relationship can be repaired. “Absolutely. Absolutely. One hundred percent. One hundred percent. And we're working on it. It's about finding its way to that.”

Sherwood and Katherine McNamara both say there is a monumental moment for their characters in episode 20, but they cannot reveal specifics. Sherwood says there parts of the scene in the Shadowhunters preview trailer, but “we're not going to tell you where.” McNamara calls the scene “brutal but amazing.”



ABOUT MALEC


We asked Harry Shum Jr. and Matthew Daddario why they think Malec is so relatable to fans. Shum said it was representation, but Daddario thought it went deeper than that.

"There's one thing about both the characters -- they put walls up. I think there are a lot of people who are hiding from themselves and are defined in that way, by putting those walls up. I think a lot of people act out a little bit like Magnus. Magnus is hiding in plain sight by putting on peacock feathers and distracting from the other things that cause misery. A lot of us do that."

Daddario continued, "And Alec is putting himself in this little bubble hiding from what he can't truly hide from, but he tries to as much as possible. I think people relate to that. Then when people find each other and bring those walls down, that's the dream. That's the ideal."

Shum concluded, "Being your true authentic self with each other."

Despite Luke being the linchpin of peace between the Downworlders and the Shadowhunters, Isaiah Mustafa promises "it all falls down like a house of cards. Luke realizes 'I can only do so much.'" Harry Shum Jr. and Matthew Daddario promise there will be a shift in relationships. And instead of giving out the advice, Luke will be getting some from a surprising source.


SIMON AND IZZY


Isabelle and Simon are an important relationship in the Shadowhunters books. The two characters haven't spent much time together in season two thus far, but that's all about to change. Emeraude Toubia promises, “Next episode is a lot of Sizzy moments. Simon helps our Izzy with a task.”

Things will get worse before they get better though, according to Alberto Rosende. “These next four episodes are a whirlwind of intensity.” Rosende did acknowledge that Sizzy in season three is a possibility. “The cool thing is just like any great relationship they build a foundation first and I think that's where Sizzy is at right now. It's building this foundation of friendship and help and trust. Maybe that will be good starting blocks before he eventually dives in.”

Rosende says Climon is over and he is interested to see Simon explore who he is without Clary and “find people to connect with on a level that maybe Clary couldn't” like his budding romance with Maia.


The executive producers Todd Slavkin, Darren Swimmer and Matt Hastings discuss the cinematic feel of Shadowhunters, the undeniable chemistry in the cast and the passionate fan base. Shadowhunters gives them the opportunity, particularly with the Downworlders, to examine racism and elitism. When asked to describe the rest of the season in three words Swimmer called it, “Big, bold and heartbreaking.” Slavkin said, "Feels, feels and more feels,” and Hastings teased, “Emotionally resonant and EPIC.”

So buckle up, Shadowhunters fans! The conclusion of season two sounds like it's going to be a thrilling ride!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Younger 4x05 Recap: “The Gift of Maggie” (Crash and Slash) [Guest Poster: Bibi]


“The Gift of Maggie”
Original Airdate: July 26, 2017

We are back for this week’s recap of Younger and let’s dive into what craziness this week has for Liza and company! This episode opens with the Empirical team shooting a book cover for a romance novel, that has no shortage of awkward poses. It is here that the team officially decides to get a ghostwriter to finish Belinda’s collection of books, after her untimely death.

After quitting as Maggie’s assistant, Montana keeps seeing Josh, and tricks him into going to her art studio outside of the city. This comes after Montana reveals that she will have an art show in which she paints over other artists’ works with her own “stamp,” and then resells the items for profit. When they arrive to Montana’s “studio” (really just a space in her parent’s house), it feels a little like she tricked Josh into meeting them, well before it was time. Josh is visibly uncomfortable by the visit, but then becomes even more shaken, when Montana’s (whose real name is Amy) mom, confirms not only that her daughter uses her charm to get artist to donate to her, but then rips them off claiming she is upping the value, but also that there are many lawsuits to prove it.

Back in NYC, Josh confronts Montana because he saw Maggie’s artwork at the studio and knows she will showcase it. Montana refuses to see how this is stealing and continues to justify her actions by saying her art classes taught her to be smarter and she is “building off the generation before hers.” Josh keeps pretending that he is cool with it as long as Maggie is, but he knows deep down that Montana would never reveal her full intentions to Maggie. Montana seems hurt by Josh’s lack of support. For a casual hook-up, this is starting to feel like a relationship — without a conversation about it being such. I think this is bigger for Josh. In this moment, he seems to be asking himself why he keeps dating liars. It is riding heavy on his conscience, so he decides to tell Maggie, who is understandably heated by the Montana reveal!

In an attempt to find a ghostwriter for Belinda’s romance novels, Liza reaches out to a colleague and literary agent about potential authors to ghostwrite Belinda's next few novels, and he finds someone who hates romance, but has four children who she needs to put through college, so will interview for the job for the extra cash.

In the land of dating, Kelsey goes out with Zane for a second time, but is reluctant because she is still poaching his client. Zane takes her to a cigar bar, just to get to know more about her. Kelsey reveals her love of books came as a child who grew up in a single-parent household. She pushes herself in her career because she wants to be better off financially than her and her mom growing up.

Back at Empirical, Lachlan (Zane’s client) makes a firm decision to meet with the team… and Kelsey feels bad because her dates with Zane continue to go well. Lachlan loves Kelsey’s pitch about casting a wider fan base net and Charles congratulates her on the new deal and that she was a shark! In a hilariously awkward moment, Kelsey says it is a good thing she is a shark because some sharks can reproduce alone. She’s obviously alluding to never seeing Zane and possibly anyone else again, if she keeps mixing business and pleasure.

Interviews with potential ghostwriting authors get interesting really quickly. But the final author just wants to make the book more grounded. She doesn't always want to deliver the happy endings and also wants to write under the pseudonym, because she still wants tenure as a professor.

Against Liza’s advice, Maggie is determined to go to Montana’s show, since she is charging $20,000 for Maggie’s work (with the state of Montana painted over it). So, she doesn’t have to do this alone, Liza offers to go as support. When Maggie confronts Montana at the show, Montana tells her that she's elevating the monetary and philosophical worth of the piece. She tries to convince Maggie that by her putting her mark on the gift that Maggie gave her, she owns the right to change it and do as she sees fit. Naturally, Maggie is fuming by this point and she tells Liza about a stash of bail money she has in the apartment. Maggie takes the switch blade she brought, slashes the canvas, and then walks away.

Montana confronts Josh, knowing that he told Maggie about the art show. He confesses and Montana thinks she's hurting Josh by walking away (she's not). Montana clearly is trying to find out who she is in life and who she wants to be. Well, we knew that this was casual and wasn’t meant to be long-term anyway.

Meanwhile at Zane's apartment, he cooks for Kelsey, makes her cocktails and Kelsey decides to tell him about Lachlan. Zane doesn't care because he read the Vulture article prior to her arrival. He says it's business and he's not mad, since his publishing house was about to drop Lachlan as a client anyway. Kelsey asks why, but of course he doesn't share. One thing is for sure: we're about to see if Kelsey can keep her business and personal life separate.

Josh and Liza run into each other on the street and Liza thanks him for giving Maggie the heads up about Montana’s art show. Josh asks Liza directly why she had to kiss Charles and Liza says she doesn't know. In some ways, a part of her needed to damage what they had. She felt bad for not wanting more kids and making Josh live with her firm decision and ultimately settling, without truly seeing if he wanted them or not. She sabotaged their relationship because she felt like he was sacrificing too much for her and she wanted him to be able to live fully and make these decisions on his own, without her influence.  Liza, in that moment, instead proposes a better ending for them: a friendship or acquaintanceship. One in which maybe she can be the pseudo-aunt to his kids someday. Josh begrudgingly agrees and walks away.

The next day, Maggie has earned her title in the papers as the “NY slasher,” after the events at Montana’s show. Diana, after reading, wants to meet Maggie and see some of her work! There is clearly no such thing as bad press. Those two in a room together would probably be a comedic delight but also a disaster, so I can't wait!

When it comes to Belinda’s ghostwriter, Liza tells Charles she'd like to pass on the non-romantic mother of four author. Liza believes that happy endings in book are necessary and Charles fundamentally thinks readers deserve a chance to at least believe in them.

Can we just discuss how Liza and Charles still have the most incredibly underrated chemistry? I am glad Josh and Liza can be cordial, but I think it is too soon to ask him to be friends. Josh should say no and figure out what’s best for him and if he can even be friends. Will Maggie get more business after her slashing incident? Guess we shall see next week! Share your thoughts below.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

SDCC 2017 Exclusive: Marc Guggenheim Talks Olicity, Arrow’s Explosive Finale, and More! [Contributor: Jen]

(Jen and Marc at SDCC)

Buckle up, fans! Marc Guggenheim gave an exclusive interview to Just About Write at San Diego Comic-Con earlier this week. We walked the convention floor, talked about what's in store for Arrow's sixth season and reflected on season five.

ODE TO OLICITY


Fans of Olicity have been clamoring for a wedding for several seasons now. But Oliver and Felicity ended their engagement in season four, and spent most of season five apart. They rekindled their romance shortly before the season finale. Unfortunately, Felicity was trapped on Lian Yu with the rest of the team when it exploded. Guggenheim wouldn't confirm whether Felicity survived, let alone confirm an impending wedding between her and Oliver. Despite being amused by tales of Stephen Amell strongly hinting at a wedding at a Heroes and Villains Fan Fest in Nashville this past July, Marc was coy about any set wedding plans. We will just have to tune in to find out!

(Stay tuned below because he gave me some more Olicity insight.)

Image result for arrow finale gif

LET'S TALK ABOUT THE ISLAND


The looming question on fans' minds is, “Who survived?” After the explosion on Lian Yu in the season five finale, it seems that everyone's fate is up in the air. Marc admits that season six is the hardest season to talk about. He compared it to The Walking Dead's problem last year. Currently, they are shooting the 6x02 and writing 6x04. The writers are breaking 6x05 and 6x06, which will be a two-parter, and they are already starting to talk about the crossover.

In terms of survival status, Marc confirmed that Dinah Drake survives because “we're not going to kill three Canaries in a row.” Marc said we've only glimpsed what Julianna Harkvay is capable of as an actor and this will be her break-out year. There is an intended love interest for Dinah Drake, but Marc would not confirm who it is.

As they enter their sixth season, Marc said it's a struggle to find new ways to surprise people. “I'll give you an example,” he says. “In season six, we obviously know the island blew up and everyone was on it. Everyone is just thinking about who lives or dies. There's other stuff that comes with that.” When offered injuries or PTSD as examples, Marc mysteriously replied: “Or all sorts of interesting things.”

Marc's goal when writing the show is to try and defy expectations by giving a twist to the expected. He said one of his favorite quotes is from Stan Lee, who says: “Give people what they need. Not what they want.” Marc then added, “If you give people what they want, they are not surprised and they get bored very quickly. There's something actually very unsatisfying getting everything that you want as a viewer.”

PARENTHOOD


Oliver and William are two of the few characters confirmed alive, so I asked Marc how Oliver is handling being a father. Marc answered, “We have noticed that becoming a father [in real life] has really changed [Stephen's] performance. We always say we write toward what we're seeing in dailies. And [also] Jack, who plays William, is really really good.”

Another confirmed survivor is Black Siren, played by Katie Cassidy. She previously played Laurel Lance who was killed off in season four. Black Siren is Laurel Lance's evil doppelganger from Earth-2. Marc said he confirmed Black Siren's survival because, “We wouldn't bring Katie back just to kill her again.”

But in case you were wondering, Cassidy's return does not mean a revival of the love triangle between Laurel Lance, Oliver Queen and Felicity Smoak though. Marc said a love triangle does not remotely interest him. He agreed they settled who Oliver's great love is in season two, and it is Felicity.

Image result for arrow finale gif

SEASON FIVE IN REVIEW: OLICITY


Since season six is so difficult to tease, we shifted our conversation into talking about season five. The Olicity break-up was controversial and left many fans unhappy and angry. I asked Marc if they accomplished what they set out to do with Olicity in this season.

He said, “You know what? I do [think so]. I feel really good about 5x20. Every season I have the things I like and things I wish we did better. I was pretty honest in season four that I didn't love how we handled their break-up. For me, the way we handled their break-up [is that] they didn't have an adult conversation. So we went into season five [and] it was like we need[ed] to figure out a way for them to have that adult conversation and deal with their issues. I was pretty happy with the way that turned out.” Marc continued, “Stephen and Emily were terrific in the episode ["Underneath"]. Wendy Stanzler directed the hell out of it.”

He discussed how difficult it is for a director to come in and direct a bottle episode. As many people know, bottle episodes are typically a way for television shows to lower their production costs. “The really good directors like Wendy embrace the creative challenge of, 'Well how do I get that production value while still operating with less resources?'”

I then asked Marc how he felt about the length of time it took Olicity to get to where they were in "Underneath."

He said, “Here's the thing that I was interested in doing as a writer. I haven't really seen this on television — I'm sure it's been done on television, but I haven't necessarily seen it. I like the idea [that] you have a couple, they are engaged to be married, they break up and they are still in each others' lives. In this case, they are working together. I hadn't seen that and the ins and outs of that [on television]. I thought that was really interesting. As a writer, I am always gravitating toward and attracted to stories I haven't seen, but still reflect a real life dynamic. There are plenty of people who break up and, for whatever reason — be it kids, work, mutual friends, whatever it — they have to be in each others' lives. And that's hard. That's an interesting dynamic.”

I asked Marc how he felt about some of the fans' reactions to season five, specifically the frustration and anger with regards to Oliver and Felicity's storyline.

“You know, that's a good question actually. It was hard at the beginning of the year. I think over the course of this past season I developed a different perspective on reactions to the show. If I'm thinking about it, it was probably more the reaction to season four that had me go, 'I need to not take this personally.' This is the story we are telling. I believe in this story we are telling otherwise we wouldn't be telling it. Some people are going to like it and some are not going to like it.”

I asked him, “When you say that they changed your mind, was it how you guys broke them up? Was it the storyline? Because I felt like the William storyline was kind of a holdover from the Laurel days. That would have worked great if [Laurel] was still be the love interest, but with Felicity it didn't feel quite as true to them.”

Marc replied, “I think for me it was purely [that] I wish we had taken the time to devolve [the Olicity] relationship in a more organic way. I've said this before, but we went into season four with certain tent poles and we were too diligent in terms of hitting them. As a result, very key emotional moves were rushed and felt abrupt. That I own,” he explained.

FELICITY'S ARC


I asked Marc if Felicity's dark arc was planned for season four. He said that it was always planned for season five. The writers discovered as they explored the Helix arc that it was “a great way to address the 4x15 of it all.”

Marc continued, “We realized, 'Oh wait a second — this darker storyline means she's walking in Oliver's shoes and that's going to give her a new perspective on him.' Once we sort of realized that, it all fit together.” I added that I felt like Oliver learned what it's like being left out of the decision-making process and not being in control of someone's choices. Marc answered with an emphatic yes.

“I always say that Oliver is a total hypocrite, ” he said. “A lot of the show survives and is successful [because of ] all the hypocritical choices Oliver makes. That said, I will say this about season six: I think the events of season five have really changed him and he's a much more evolved character in [the upcoming season].”

I asked if we'll be seeing Oliver more centered and Marc said that, “season five was all about letting go of the past, learning from the past and the previous tens years. So the emotional stories that we are telling in season six are of a very different quality.” Now, Oliver will be giving advice instead of getting it.

Image result for dinah gif arrow

FEMALES ARE STRONG


Arrow has an array of complex and interesting female characters. When asked what defines a strong female character Marc answered, “That's a good question. I'll be honest. I find answering questions along these lines — as a straight white man — is flirting with disaster. I will say that as the father of two daughters and the husband of a very strong and successful woman, I really kind of approach it as: I don't think of it as a strong female character. I approach it as a strong character.” While he obviously understands the difference between a man and a woman, when it comes to writing there's no differentiation.

He discussed Felicity as an example of a strong female character. “Felicity as a character has really grown and evolved over the years. When we first met her, she was easily distracted and a little neurotic. I think she's grown tougher over the years by virtue of what they [on Team Arrow] do.” I added that Oliver has grown a little softer as a result, and Marc replied, “Yes, definitely. I think they've [Oliver and Felicity] had a good effect on each other. She humanizes him and she's gotten more of a sense of self.”

“A confidence?” I clarified. Marc said, “Yes. Also, I think it's a maturity thing. When we first met Felicity, she was five years younger. That's a big difference in anyone's life... hopefully.”

He continued, “I think with all the female characters on the show they are all strong, but in very different ways. Sara Lance is super strong, but very different from Felicity. Felicity is light and Sara has an incredible darkness in her, but they are both really strong women. Nyssa is incredibly strong, but she has a different form of darkness than Sara's. I actually think Nyssa and Sara's darknesses compliment each other in a really complex and interesting way.”

I immediately asked if Nyssa would guest on Legends of Tomorrow. Marc answered, “I always want to get Nyssa with Sara because I ship them very hard. But that said, we really want to explore some new romantic territory for Sara this year. Any time you can get Caity and Katrina on screen together it's gold, but at the same time...”

“Katrina is hard to get a hold of,” I offered.

Marc agreed, “Yes, she is hard to get a hold of, especially since she has the new Crackle show. Katrina is amazing. She's always gonna work. What's nice about Legends is that we have time travel. We've had her on the show before, and we'd love to have her again. It's always a question about finding the right opportunity with the right story.”

BYE-BYE, FLASHBACKS


Season five concluded Oliver Queen's five-year flashback story and I asked Marc if they felt more freedom in the writers room now that they don't have to serve the flashbacks.

“Yeah, it's such a sigh of relief. Those flashbacks were hard. They were hard from a writing perspective. They were hard from a production perspective. It really was like doing one and a half shows. And also some of our favorite episodes have been the ones where we did the non-serialized flashbacks.”

Image result for wild dog gif arrow

NEW TEAM ARROW


There were a lot of new characters in season five, and Marc revealed the initial plan for rebuilding Team Arrow changed because of the quality of the actors.

“The original plan with the newbies was very different,” he explained. “The original plan was that we were going to cycle a whole bunch of newbies throughout the season. And then [we'd] keep whoever popped.” Marc explained that, much to their surprise, each new cast member was great. They didn't want to get rid of anybody.

Marc cited the relationship between Wild Dog and Detective Lance as one of the season's great surprises. “We really do write to the dailies and we were seeing this great stuff between Rick and Paul. We thought, 'Let's write more of that!' We were joking by the end of the season that we had the makings for a spin-off. Like an Odd Couple-type of comedy.”

Marc also promised more mixing of character dynamics in season six.

Marc did agree that the beginning of season five focused heavily on the new characters. But once they were set up, they moved into a B-storyline capacity and Arrow returned their focus to the main characters: Oliver, Felicity, and Diggle.

LOOKING AHEAD


Like every season, Arrow continues to try new things. The format for season six may be slightly different than previous seasons. “I will say I think 6B will be very different from 6A,” Marc said. “I don't know if this plan will come to fruition, but we really shaping season six as A, B, and C. It's really three big movements. We always go into it with a plan. Sometimes we stick to it to a fault.”

Marc acknowledged that sometimes Arrow is going to try new things and they will not work. However, they always go into it with the best of intentions. “There is a huge temptation to be like 'Oh it's season six.' There's also a huge temptation to say, 'It's 23 episodes. They are not all going to be good.' We still try to make every episode good.”

What are you most looking forward to in Arrow's upcoming season? Sound off in the comments below!

Monday, July 24, 2017

Game of Thrones 7x02 Recap: "Stormborn" (A Tale of Two Prophecies) [Contributor: Melanie]


"Stormborn"
Original Airdate: July 23, 2017

Despite the fact that there was a high body count this week, still no one from my dead pool managed to bite it. So the Sand Snakes have died in vain. But this episode dealt out the action promised in the last episode almost immediately. The compressed timeline of this season has forced events to take place faster than they normally would (there were a lot of ravens flying around to and fro). This also meant that Euron cashed in on his promise to Cersei literally an episode later.

But I’m not complaining. One of the more painful things about Game of Thrones in the past has been the way a plot point is set up in the first episode and you don’t see the fruition of it for another four weeks. We’re down three episodes this year. They did make up some of the time by having longer individual running times (the season finale is reported to be 81 minutes long). But you gotta move the plot along where you can. And this second episode set up a lot of things fans were waiting years for. Specifically, the meeting between Daenerys and Jon Snow.

IN DRAGONSTONE...


The episode begins with Daenerys holding a war council during a dark and violent storm outside — one that Tyrion reminds her she was born during. Varys reminisces about the severity of the storm and Dany questions his constantly changing loyalties: Aerys, Robert, her brother, and now her. She also points out that she knows he sent the assassin back when she was still married to Drogo. Varys says that he does not serve one person, but the people of the realm and whoever he thinks is their best hope at a peaceful life. Dany asks him that, should she ever prove not to be that ruler, that he tell her instead of going behind her back. He agrees and she caps it off with a warning that she would kill him if he betrayed her.

The meeting is interrupted by Melisandre arriving at Dragonstone. She tells Dany that she she figures in the prophecy of the Prince that was Promised (the word “prince” translates literally as a genderless ruler). She notes that Jon Snow also has a role in this war. Tyrion believes Jon Snow would be an excellent ally and convinces Dany to invite him to Dragonstone. She agrees, but says she expects him to bend the knee.

A few days later, they are back in the war council room, this time with Ellaria Sand, the Greyjoys, and Olenna Tyrell. Tyrion lays out their plan to siege King’s Landing and starve out the armies inside, which involves only using Westerosi troops (the Tyrells and the Dornish) as a way to ease the minds of those who might not take kindly to foreign invaders. The Unsullied and Dothraki will go to Casterly Rock, take the Lannister keep, and cut Cersei off from her own army. After the meeting, Olenna warns Dany to take Tyrion’s advice, but to not listen when she does not feel it suits her needs, telling her, “You’re not a sheep; you’re a dragon.”

That night, Missandei visits Greyworm before he leaves for Casterly Rock. He says he could not bring himself to say goodbye to her and that she is the first time in his life he has ever felt fear. He kisses Missandei and they finally consummate their growing feelings.

IN KING'S LANDING...


Cersei attempts to circumvent the Tyrell army aiding Dany by appealing to their bannermen. Randyll Tarly is unconvinced he should not uphold his oath to the Tyrells and join them in their cause for Daenerys. He always points out the odds of defeating three dragons — the same number Aegon had when he brought Westeros to heel — did not put Cersei’s odds in a good light. He, however, considers it after Jaime tells him they will make the Tarly’s Wardens of the South when the war is over.

Qyburn takes Cersei down to the crypts where the dragon skulls of Targaryens past are kept. He demonstrates a large crossbow he has invented on Balerion the Black Dread’s skull.

IN THE RIVERLANDS...


Arya is eating at an inn and reunites with her old friend Hot Pie, who once had been her travelling companion after they escaped Harrenhal but took a position as a baker in the inn. They catch up and Hot Pie informs her that Winterfell was retaken by her brother and that he’s now King in the North. Arya then decides to turn and head north, instead of down to King’s Landing.

On the road, she is surrounded by a pack of wolves lead by Nymeria, her direwolf that she set in the wild when she was just a puppy to protect her from the Lannisters. Nymeria seems to recognize Arya. But when she asks Nymeria to come with her back to Winterfell, the wolf turns away.


IN OLDTOWN...


After learning that Jorah is Jeor Mormont’s son, Sam decides to dedicate himself to finding a way to heal his advanced Greyscale (which the archmaester said was only six months away from causing mental deterioration, and about 20 years away from killing him). Sam pulls out a forbidden book with a dangerous procedure once used to successfully treat the disease. Sam then sets to work at painfully removing the infected areas.


IN THE NORTH...


Jon, having received Sam’s note that Dragonstone sits on a vein of dragonglass as well as Tyrion’s letter inviting him to meet with Daenerys, decides to accept the offer. Sansa and many others in the room object, believing it to be a trap. They warn that Robb Stark once rode south and lost the North because of it. Jon says that fighting the White Walkers and protecting the North is more important than holding the kingdom. He leaves Sansa as steward while he is gone and warns Little Finger that he will kill him if he attempts anything.

IN THE NARROW SEA...


Yara and Theon are sailing to Dorn with Ellaria to transport her troops back to Dragonstone. However, they are attacked by Euron Greyjoy who destroys their fleet, kills two of the Sand Snakes, and takes Yara hostage after Theon — beset with PTSD from his time with Ramsay — jumps ship rather than fight his uncle for her.

UNPACKING IT ALL


Mainly this week, I want to discuss the prophecy bit since that’s been a common theme throughout the books since A Clash of Kings and a big old can of message board fighting since 2011 when Dance came out. To make a very long story short: A prophecy exists telling of a messianic ruler, destined to fight the White Walkers. One version of the prophecy refers to this individual as the Prince that was Promised. This prophecy has been the subject of very viscous fan speculation for years as the book puts forward several people as possible candidates. The debates, unfortunately, get a little sexist as some fanboys from the 90s aren’t super on board with having a female savoir and went ham on the Jon Snow theory train — falling into the same trap Melisandre warns us about: prophecies can be tricky and dangerous.

The PTWP (the fan acronym) has a few qualifiers: The prince will be born from the line of King Aerys and Queen Rhaella, a “bleeding star” will herald the prince’s coming, and this person will be born “amidst salt and smoke.”

In the books, Maester Aemon, before he dies, believes this to be Daenerys. He notes the genderless word for ruler, the red comet (from season two) that appeared after Dany hatched her dragon eggs, and the fact that Dany was born on Dragonstone — a volcanic island (of salt and smoke). The prophecy ends by noting that that “his is the song of ice and fire.” It seemed like an open and shut case but Melisandre’s insistence in Stannis and her fanatical belief showed just why it’s so important to not conjecture the meaning of prophecies or put too much stock in them.

There is a second prophecy that most fans believe refers to the same person. This prophecy tells of a figure known as Azor Ahai. This figure is said to be the reincarnation of a hero, Azor Ahai, sent by R’holler (the Red God) to once again fight against the White Walkers and the “Great Other” (the Night’s King). This person will wield a sword called Lightbringer. This prophecy uses similar terminology to refer to the individual: a “red star bleeds” and Azor Ahai will be reborn “amidst salt and smoke” to “wake dragons from stone.” Again, it sounds pretty clear-cut. But this stuff is not always straightforward and Melisandre’s massive blunders trying to force Stannis as the hero ended very badly for a lot of people.

Many people believe that the prophecies refer to two different people, despite the birthsigns for both being almost exactly the same. The fact of the matter is, Dany and Jon are very, very similar individuals. Dany’s bleeding star is the red comet, which appeared in the night sky when she walked on Drogo’s funeral pyre (in the books she looks up to see it on the night of the funeral and believes it to be a “herald of her coming”). Jon’s bleeding star has a much more concrete possibility in the show than the one in the books (I’m not even going to go into the nonsense at the end of Dance). Ned brings the bloodied sword Dawn, a blade forged from a meteorite, into the room where Jon was born and the camera makes a point to show it. It’s a stretch, but it would seem to qualify as a bleeding star (and much better than the theories fans put out over the years about the events at the end of the fifth book). The salt and smoke for Dany is obvious, Jon’s is a little iffy but, again, this crap isn’t an exact science. Dany’s waking dragons from stone is, again, obvious. For Jon, it might be more metaphorical. But he is on his way to Dragonstone, a place of literal stone dragons (even if they’re fake). Both Jon and Dany are descended from the line of Aerys and Rhaella (Dany is their daughter and Jon, their grandson through his father Rhaegar Targaryen). And both have proved to be inspiring leaders for their respective peoples.

What I’m getting at here is that I believe they both are the individual referred to in the prophecy. If you want to get technical, Jon is more likely to be the “Azor Ahai,” the warrior, while Dany is likely the “Prince,” the messianic leader (especially since the show, as did the books, just made a big show of pointing out the genderless word for “prince” but left Azor Ahai to be a male-centric prophecy). These roles also jive with these two as individuals. Jon admitted this week he did not want to be king, and we know from experience he thrives as a commander in battle than as someone sitting on a throne. As a king, he’s making poor decisions in the eyes of his people; but as a commander in the battle against the White Walkers, he’s making strategic moves to buy his army resources and a chance.

On the flipside, while Dany is an excellent strategist, she’s not much of a warrior and prefers to let her dragons do the work for her. But she is a beloved ruler, a seasoned diplomat, and is the only person even drunken Tyrion ever believed in. Likewise Jorah notes that he believes she is proof that the gods “have a plan for this world.” It is likely her role is meant to be a leader of the people during the Long Night, while Jon is destined to lead the fight against these creatures.

It is, ultimately, a partnership, designed but whatever GoT forces that be to protect the people.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Twin Peaks: The Return 3x10 Recap: "Part 10: Laura Is The One" (The Log Lady Has A Message) [Contributor: Erin Allen]

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"Part 10: Laura Is The One"
Original Airdate: July 16, 2017

This episode doesn’t sit right with me. There is so much violence, and weak portrayals of women — it was kind of exhausting to watch, actually. There are some wonderfully magical moments, but they were few and far between.

Let’s get the bad stuff out of the way first. The two scenes with Richard were horrifying and difficult to watch. If I think about it I can see how it kind of furthers the story and it kind of further develops this beyond evil character, but is it necessary? We know Richard is awful. We watched him threaten to rape a woman and mow down a child on the road. On Part 10, he tries to cover his tracks by killing the only witness to him as the culprit of the hit and run, and then rob his grandmother for money to leave town. The time spent showing the worst of man is a holdover from the original series and Fire Walk With Me. The theme of violence against women has been a mainstay. I just don’t know how much more of it I can stomach, though, or how much it is really adding to The Return, which has been phenomenal so far.

When Richard shows up at Sylvia Horne’s house and calls her “Grandma,” it pretty much confirms that he is Audrey’s son, barring Johnny having had any kids (which is doubtful), or offspring of Donna’s taking the Horne surname (also doubtful). The pure brutality of Richard makes the scene so unsettling, but it is still captivating filmmaking. There is a score that does not fit with the savagery on screen. The closed captioning described it as “saccharine orchestral music.” On top of that, Johnny’s robot teddy bear with a light-up sphere for a head creepily repeats, “Hello Johnny. How are you today?” Mix in Johnny’s helpless moans, Sylvia’s tortured whimpers, and Richard’s vulgar, abusive language TOWARD HIS GRANDMOTHER — it’s almost too much. Talk about a sensory overload, and in such a way as to make you sick to your stomach. But maybe that was the whole point.

Richard’s murder of Miriam at least happens off-screen, but that doesn’t make it any less horrific. The aftermath of Richard telling Chad to intercept Miriam’s letter and Chad successfully following through on that order furthers my unease about it all. Richard is literally getting away with murder, and that is just unacceptable. I look forward to seeing both Richard and Chad get what I hope they have coming to them.

A pleasant moment with Carl singing and playing the guitar is interrupted by domestic violence in the Burnett household. It’s Shelly and Leo all over again, and it’s awful. I don’t want this for Shelly or for Becky. Let’s hope Steven gets his comeuppance, too.

I don’t even want to write about this whole business with Candie and the Mitchum Brothers because it was so dull and tedious. I don’t think it’s quirky or eccentric for these mob guys to have three ditzy blonde girls dressed the same, with similar names, being their... well, basically being their servants and showpieces to stand around and look pretty. Candie trying to catch the fly was played out painfully long, and her over-the-top remorse afterwards was grating. Then later she is portrayed as a dazed dimwit. There was so much screentime with these characters, and it didn’t seem to add much. The plot points about seeing Ike and Dougie on the news makes sense. The visit that Anthony makes to the casino furthers that storyline, but did we need all of the other stuff? The Mitchum Brothers are interesting characters, but that just makes these three female characters that share their scenes even more like unimportant, attractive filler, which is not something I’m interested in seeing on my television in 2017.

Even the strong character of Janey-E, who I have come to love, took a weak turn this week. She’s reduced to this lustful woman preoccupied with her husband’s new fit bod. Nevermind his troubling mental state, I guess, or how he got that fit in THREE DAYS. But, that is all she can focus on after seeing him with his shirt off. The sex scene that follows was worrisome as it is not the kind of humor I expect from Lynch. It seemed like a cheap laugh that was silly and low-brow — something you might see in an Adam Sandler film, but not from auteur David Lynch. Also, not to sound redundant, but how does this help develop the plot? Maybe time will tell, but it certainly feels gratuitous right now.

Not everything was disturbing or flimsy, though. There were some exceptionally lovely moments, just not nearly enough. Dr. Amp aka Dr. Jacoby makes another appearance with his enthusiastic vlog. Nadine watches from her place of business which is a store for her invention, the silent drape runner. It is called Run Silent, Run Drapes, and it has a mechanical drape display and one of Dr. Amp’s golden shovels in the window. Not going to lie, I screamed when I saw the storefront.

Constance and Albert go on a date, and it is charming. Making it even more adorable is Gordon looking on with giddy amusement, even calling Tammy over to witness it in all its glory.

Later, Gordon is doodling in his hotel room. His drawing is some sort of dog-like creature with antlers and a hand hovering above it. This is the kind of quirky and eccentric fodder that I enjoy. More of this type of extra filler, please. There’s a knock at his door and he opens it to a vision of Laura. I was not expecting that, nor was I prepared for that emotional image. She fades away, and Albert is standing there. He found some information on the text that Diane received. It pinged off a cell tower in Philadelphia that came from a server in Mexico. Diane sent a response, “They have Hastings. He’s going to take them to the site.” Albert and Gordon believe that she is in league with Mr. C. “I felt it when she hugged me, but this confirms it.” Tammy then brings further findings to their attention. One of the earliest cards from the penthouse project in New York shows Mr. C meeting with someone there. “This is something. This is really something.”

The narrative portion of the episode ends with a beautiful monologue from The Log Lady.

Electricity is humming. You hear it in the mountains and rivers. You see it dance among the seas and stars, and glowing around the moon. But, in these days, the glow is dying. What will be in the darkness that remains? The Truman Brothers are both true men. They are your brothers and the others, the good ones, who have been with you. Now the circle is almost complete. Watch and listen to the dream of time and space. It all comes out now, flowing like a river. That which is and is not. Hawk. Laura is the one.

Every second with Catherine E. Coulson on screen feels like a blessing. This message is one of hope, but also sort of an explanation for all the horrible things we witnessed prior. “But, in these days, the glow is dying. What will be in the darkness that remains?” I’ve seen enough of the darkness. I’m ready for Laura and all the other honorable characters to cast a light on the evil, and then cast it out for good.

Stray Observations:
  • Really? Ben Horne can’t give any money to Sylvia after her grandson assaulted and robbed her? What about all that R-E-S-P-E-C-T he was talking about?
  • “He’s so beautiful,” Nadine says about Dr. Jacoby.
  • Jerry is STILL lost out in the woods. He’s going to spend the whole return out there, high as a kite, isn’t he?
  • Chad does not deserve donuts. 
  • Thank goodness we get a clip of the feisty Janey-E  from the news coverage. That’s the Janey-E I want to see.
  • Rebekah Del Rio (along with Moby) is The Roadhouse act that precedes the credits. She was the singer that sang “Llorando” at Club Silencio in Mulholland Drive. Her performance was moving then, and it is moving now. She wears a dress with a black and white zig-zag pattern implicative to the floor of the Black Lodge. She sings “No Stars” which is co-written by herself and Lynch, along with John Neff.

Younger 4x04 Recap: “In the Pink” (Death Became Her) [Guest Poster: Bibi]


“In the Pink”
Original Airdate: July 19, 2017

In this week’s episode, we begin with Maggie's new assistant Montana wanting to get as much scoop as she can about Josh.  Maggie is curious and then realizes it’s because she slept with him. Maggie has no other choice but to tell her that Josh is Liza's ex. In that moment, getting ready to leave for work, Liza walks into the room and Montana immediately confesses. Liza plays it off but is clearly devastated that Josh has moved on so quickly. Liza quickly bolts to work and thank goodness, as she gets some much-needed good news! In the team meeting, Charles officially announces Liza’s promotion to Associate Editor! There is, however, a catch: while they can afford her new pay raise to go with her new title, they cannot afford to hire a new assistant for Diana. Liza will have to continue to juggle both for the foreseeable future.

As a celebration of her new promotion, Charles and Diana take Liza out to lunch for their yearly wine and dine with veteran author Belinda, whose novels have seen Empirical through some hard days. Belinda, completely drunk at lunch, asks for assistance to the bathroom. As Liza helps her and waits, Belinda’s heath takes a turn and she dies in the restaurant restroom unexpectedly. In her will, Belinda insists on having a pink funeral, so Empirical dusts off their pink best and invite the who's who in publishing to attend. At the funeral — which includes Belinda being laid to rest in a hot pink coffin — Kelsey meets one of her iconic childhood authors, Lachlan, and tells him to call her when he’s ready to take his brand to the next level and start marketing to his female fan base more appropriately.

Post-funeral, Kelsey talks Liza into going out for drinks, since she did witness Belinda drop dead. Also, since Josh is moving on, this is the perfect time for Liza to go to a bar and meet someone, just for a hook-up so she can “free” herself of Josh. In this moment, Liza is hesitant and asks Kelsey if they are truly in a good place. Kelsey says of course; she finally understands that Liza’s top priority is being a mom and she needed to do whatever it took in order to take care of her daughter. Kelsey sets up project “get Liza to smash and dash.”

At the bar, Lauren joins them and immediately makes everything about her. Lauren is trying to find reasons why she should break up with Max, as she feels like she and their domestic routine are boring.  Liza isn’t paying attention to Lauren because she is flirting with a very attractive age-appropriate gentleman at the bar. Lauren suggests they leave and once she and Kelsey are in an Uber, Liza goes back into the bar and officially meets Diego. Diego is an architect from Connecticut. Liza has no intention of seeing him again though, so she doesn’t get his number.

After telling Maggie the next day, Maggie insists that she should’ve taken it a step further. So in a bold-ish move, Liza stops by his construction site, but chickens out the moment one of the workers sees her. Kelsey, being the classy millennial and tech-savvy friend she is, offers to stalk him online to find his number. Liza declines because she thinks it’s creepy, but Kelsey reminds her that it is dating. Diego actually finds Liza instead! He found her work phone number after seeing her on his security cameras earlier that morning. They decide to meet up at his construction site for a private tour later that evening. Diego is fresh and a smooth talker, but it is refreshing to see Liza engaged with a man who she isn’t lying to and can be herself with. After Liza's hook-up, Diego expresses the fact that he is not convinced that she is actually in her 40s. She confides in Diego and tells him that she lied about her age to get her job. This is not only unnecessary to divulge, but it is also risky because he knows where she works and called there. While they are sharing, Liza informs Diego that she is separated and on her way to being divorced. Diego turns out to be very much still married with kids living in Connecticut, but pretends to be single while he's in NYC.

Elsewhere in Kelsey’s love/work life, she officially meets Zane, a hot editor whose client she met at the pink funeral and is actively trying to poach. While waiting for said client at a business lunch, Zane appears to tell Kelsey that his client will cancel on her, and he knows what she’s trying to do.  Zane, in likely a power work play move, invites Kelsey to a book party, but only is she agrees to keep her hands off the new authors in the room. Zane ends up being more of a gentleman than Kelsey realizes. While Zane thinks his client is happy, Lachlan texts Kelsey that night, indicating that he still wants to meet about changing companies.

At episode end, Lauren’s relationship finally implodes. On some level, she created this, especially by using an emotional path journal about their relationship. Max finds said journal where Lauren has been tracking good days with gold stars and red dots to represent the days she was repulsed by him. A devastated Lauren calls Maggie and Kelsey and heads to Maggie’s house for an impromptu girls’ night. When Liza walks in from her date, they’re all on the couch watching The Crown together.

Can we just discuss how good it is to see Liza and Kelsey back together as friends? Although, they should still discuss this Josh living situation because something tells me he and Kelsey might take a chance later down the road. Can Zane really be trusted? Guess we shall see next week! Share your thoughts below!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Game of Thrones 7x01 Recap: "Dragonstone" (Shall We Begin?) [Contributor: Melanie]


"Dragonstone"
Original Airdate: July 16, 2017

After over a year of waiting it is finally here! The new Game of Thrones season kicked off this past Sunday with a universally acclaimed season opener that was the longest first episode of any of the shows seven seasons, topping out at over an hour. It had a record-breaking 10.1 million people watching (there was at least one other GoT party going on just on our floor in the apartment building I was watching at), but last season topped out an average of nearly 8 million an episode (not even including the extra 2 million who DVR or streamed it later in the week), a massive climb from season one’s 2.5 million.

So, let’s jump right into this poignant opener to the penultimate season of what might television’s greatest show ever.


THE PROLOGUE


Like all seasons, this one opens with a short prologue before the credits. In it, we see Walder Frey giving a toast to his family and soldiers, congratulating them on their victory at Riverrun and for their murder of the Starks at the Red Wedding. However, things go south fast when the entire room starts vomiting and dropping dead from poisoned wine. Arya removes Walder Frey’s face and tells his teenage wife, the only one she spared, to let everyone know that “the North remembers.”

IN THE NORTH


Speaking of the North, we kick things off there at the Wall where Dolorous Edd encounters Bran Stark and Meera Reed who have finally trekked down from the Three Eyed Raven’s cave. After some debate about their identities, Edd lets them in when Bran insists it’s vital to stopping the White Walkers. Farther south in Winterfell, there are even more debates to be had.

Jon Snow is holding court in the great hall where they argue over how to deal with the remaining Karstark and Umber family members after they fought for the Boltons at the Battle of the Bastards. Jon believes that children should not be punished for their father’s crimes, however, Sansa insists that their respect strongholds, Karhold and Last Hearth, be given to families who were loyal to Jon when he called for aid. They get into a heated argument that ends with Alys Karstark and Ned Umber both swearing allegiance to House Stark and retaining their ancestral home.

After the meeting, Jon warns Sansa not to undermine him in front of their subjects. She insists, however, that he needs to listen to her council, considering the time she spent at court with the Lannisters and the knowledge she gained watching Cersei. However, Jon is unnerved at her tone of admiration for Cersei and her power. They receive a raven from Cersei, telling them to swear allegiance to her or be marked as traitors. Later, Little Finger attempts once again to woo Sansa, who cooly rejects his advances.

IN THE RIVERLANDS


After Arya’s work at the Twins is complete, she rides south for King’s Landing where she comes across a group of Lannister soldiers. They offer her food and a place at their fire, talking about their families that await them when they return home. She tells them that she’s heading to the capital to kill the queen, to which they laugh, believing her to be joking.

Meanwhile, the Brotherhood Without Banners and the Hound are headed north. They decide to take shelter in a farmhouse that Clegane had robbed from years earlier while traveling with Arya. They find the family inside had committed suicide rather than face starvation and winter. Thoros of Myr then makes the Hound watch the flames of the fireplace for visions where he sees the army of White Walkers marching past Eastwatch. Later that night, he gives the family a proper burial.

IN KING'S LANDING


Cersei and Jaime are plotting how best to handle their situation of no allies and low supplies. Jaime wants to discuss the loss of their final child but Cersei insists he was weak and that’s all there was to it. Cersei has called on Euron Greyjoy and the Iron Fleet. He offers her a marriage proposal as well, which she rejects. Insistent, Euron promises to bring her a gift as a token of his good faith.

IN OLDTOWN


Sam has begun his training as a novice maester-to-be which includes the grunt work of cleaning chamber pots, serving food, and acting as a personal servant for the Archmaester. Despite the other novices and maesters not sharing Sam’s interest (or even belief) in the threat of the White Walkers, he steals a book from the restricted section (Gasp! Without an invisibility cloak!) and learns that Dragonstone has a massive deposit of dragonglass, the only weapon known to kill White Walkers, beneath it. He sends a raven to get word to Jon.

While collecting dishes from the quarantined patients in the Citadel, he comes in contact with Jorah Mormont who asks if Daenerys has arrived yet. To which Sam says he hasn’t heard anything.

IN DRAGONSTONE


Dany has finally gotten herself across the Narrow Sea and docks her massive fleet at Dragonstone, the ancestral seat of her family and the place where she was born. After tearing down Stannis’s old banners and seeing the throne, Dany and Tyrion enter the war room and Dany asks: “Shall we begin?”

UNPACKING IT ALL


As with many Game of Thrones openers, this one was more set-up than anything else: a healthy mix of where-are-they-now and the next steps toward the season arcs. This did have some nice moments in the form of Arya offing the rest of the Freys, and Dany finally standing on Westeros shores. It will likely pick up speed quickly with the show's compressed episode count, though the episodes themselves are longer than normal running times across the board.

Starting with Bran crossing the Wall... not a smart move. Bran was marked by the Night’s King, which allowed the King and his army to infiltrate the Three Eyed Raven’s cave, despite the protective wards. Considering the Wall utilizes similar magic, Bran crossing the Wall will likely allow the Night’s King to march past the magic and into the land below. But Bran, being Bran, ignored that little incident (that got Hodor killed) and came back anyway.

At Winterfell, Sansa and Jon’s relationship got a few more dents in it after their sibling spat in front of their bannermen. Though it doesn’t seem like Sansa has any plans to take Jon’s throne for herself, she admits he’s a good ruler, despite their difference of opinions. However, if she thinks he’s making the wrong choice for their family, I don’t doubt she’ll make an attempt to stop him in whatever way possible. She compares Jon’s lawful good mentality to their father and notes that it is a flaw that got their father killed. Another interesting point here is the way Sansa seems to be seeing the benefit in emulating Cersei. That was unnerving for all of us but not unexpected with what Sansa endured and the decisions she’s made since then.

Speaking of Cersei, she’s currently on my dead pool list I have with my friends because I’m fairly certain she’s not long for this world. The prophecy that once told her her children would not outlive her also told her she would become queen until another queen came to unseat here. While Cersei dismisses Dany’s armies as an unorganized mess of Dothraki riders, slave soldiers, and Westerosi troops, it’ll be interesting to see if she recalls that prophecy and the possibility that it didn’t refer to Margaery as she once assumed. And the last part of that prophecy, that her younger brother would kill her, seems a lot closer than ever with Jaime’s dwindling trust in Cersei’s decisions (and her actions in the previous season finale).

Dany and Jon are destined to meet, and not just because set photos prove they have multiple scenes together later in the season. But Dany is, unknowingly, sitting on gold mine of something that is going to become more precious than gold. And while her TV counterpart has no apparent knowledge of the White Walkers, in the books she has several dreams of fighting ice covered warriors on dragonback. Whether or not she takes the Iron Throne first, she’ll be called north. Her dynamics with characters there, especially those who worship the fire god, should be interesting.

It’s too early for me to throw out in-depth theories so we’ll just leave it at that.