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.

Friday, April 20, 2018

iZombie 4x07 Review: “Don’t Hate the Player, Hate the Brain” (Middle of the Road) [Guest Poster: Chloe]


“Don’t Hate the Player, Hate the Brain” 
Original Airdate: April 16, 2018 

This episode, while decent enough, feels really out of place with the rest of the season. After a fast-paced and narratively ambitious first half of season four, “Don’t Hate the Player, Hate the Brain” feels largely inconsequential from both a narrative and tonal perspective. While I do appreciate that these middle of the season episodes have taken the time to slow things down and refocus, this episode feels a little too simplified. With the exception of two important plot elements, everything else about this episode feels like it could have been found as a plot in a previous season. And who knows, maybe it was intentional on the part of the writers to give us something easily digestible before moving on to what is bound to be an intense conclusion to the season. However, in a series that has to cover a lot of material in such a short time frame, this unfortunately feels a little like a waste of space. Despite some of my own misgivings about it, the episode still manages to have some trademark iZombie humor, thanks to the case of the week and our core characters.

The case itself is pretty standard — which is partly why the episode feels like something we have seen before. An egotistical “player” is killed essentially for being a giant tool. Liv eats his brains and takes on the personality of the “sleaze ball,” to the annoyance of everyone around her. While the brain itself lacks dimension beyond being that of a truly repulsive person, Rose McIver manages to play the character with a lot more humor and warmth than just pure sleaze. The case itself is only interesting because it turns out that a newly-turned zombie is the murderer. Before this season, zombies (other than Blaine) weren’t the perpetrators of crime. So to have a murder be the direct result of the fraught relationship between humans and the undead was an interesting perspective for the show to tackle.

Liv eats the brains in order to solve the case as per usual, but more than anything, being on “player” brain allows Liv to cultivate a personality where she feels like she can help Clive with his relationship. Clive’s relationship woes become an integral aspect of this week’s episode, as they take an unfortunately somber turn. I discussed in my previous posts that regardless of what happens with his relationship, I want Clive to be happy. I also expressed concern that Dale was asking too much of him from their current arrangement, and this episode confirms that. Clive is the one who has always been reluctant about the idea of having an open relationship, but he agrees because he loves Dale.

But when he finally puts himself out there (and goes home with someone) Dale immediately has a negative reaction. It doesn’t surprise me that she responds this way, but her comments were still enough to make me want to scream at her. She is hypocritical, passive-aggressive, and unkind in her response to Clive’s actions. She fails to acknowledge how much guilt, pain, and confusion their entire arrangement has caused Clive. Their emotional disconnect, coupled with her anger and resentment, will only lead to further complications in their relationship. It is disheartening to watch because again, I just want to see Clive happy and right now he isn’t. Compared to some of the other plot threads of the season, this one might not seem as vital to the overall plot, but it is still an important element to explore because it serves to further Clive’s characterization. I don’t know what else I hope to see out of this plot line moving forward, but I hope that it results in Clive eventually finding a way to be happy — even if it means his relationship with Dale has to end.

Elsewhere in the episode, the focus is split between Liv, Chase, Major, and Peyton. The Renegade storyline takes a backseat for most of the episode, and the only significant development is that Liv finds a way to make zombie I.D. cards for anyone new who gets smuggled into the city. It does not make for the most exciting of plot developments, but it does allow for important elements to come together. In the search for a supplier of brains, Liv finally has the opportunity to meet Angus at his church. I guess it never occurred to me that Liv and Angus had never met, because she didn’t even make the connection that Blaine was his son. I understand that it is a necessary meeting, so that everyone can now be aware of each other. Understanding who Angus is, and knowing about his connection to Blaine will undoubtedly become important later in the season. But for now, the plot point feels very incomplete and out of place with everything else happening in the episode.

The connection that the show is trying to establish between Liv and Levon feels additionally out of place, and quite frankly a little forced. Every time Liv gets a new love interest, it feels like they are used as a distraction on her road back to Major. While I have genuinely liked some of her boyfriends from past seasons, they either end up dead or caught up in Liv’s hijinks, and it is frustrating to watch. By making Levon part of Renegade’s crew, it is clear that he can keep up with some of Liv’s more elaborate and dangerous plans, but that is not enough to justify putting them together romantically.

We currently do not know enough about Levon to understand his motivations or his personality, so making him a love interest for Liv feels too convenient and contrived. Based on how she has handled her last two relationships, Liv is not in a good position to be dating anyone right now. But more than anything, I am not a fan of the relationship because it feels unnecessary. We know that she is capable of having platonic relationships with her co-workers, so why should this be any different?

As Chase continues to struggle with how to manage the mounting problems in New Seattle, he begins to lean on Major to assist him in his nefarious endeavors — a role that Major unquestionably assumes. It is evident that despite publicly claiming he is satisfied with how things in New Seattle have been running (and that everything he has done so far has been intentional) Chase’s emotional responses continue to indicate the exact opposite. He feels threatened by bad press and is exhibiting symptoms of paranoia. He checks his office for bugs and has Major shut down Seattle’s alt-weekly, citing it as “fake news” because it reports on issues that run in contradiction to the Fillmore Graves agenda. It is a plot line that makes me recoil in disgust because of its real-world connotations.

However, despite season four’s socio-politically charged narrative, I am reluctant to make any further comparisons between in-universe events as they relate to our current political climate. I understand why comparisons might be drawn, but doing so gets us too far away from the shows actual intent, (plus it makes me depressed) so I am not going to use this space for that. The real purpose of this plot line is to show how pressure is affecting Chase and how he is choosing to wield his power. Peyton realizes that through his actions, Chase has established an autocracy in New Seattle — a fact he doesn’t deny. He thinks he understands what is best for the citizens of the city he created, but it is increasingly apparent that it is his limited perspective on how change manifests — and his poorly-masked vulnerabilities — that will lead to his imminent downfall. It will also likely lead to Major’s downfall too.

Major has made it very clear this season where his allegiances are, so if Chase is eventually taken out of power, the responsibility for the destruction of Seattle will become Major’s fault too. It is still difficult to interpret the motivation behind some of Major’s actions, but it is evident that the show will continue to address the moral implications for every decision he has made. The look of simultaneous disbelief and disgust that Peyton gives Major during the episode when she realizes the full extent of his actions should serve as yet another wake-up call that he is making poor choices.

Unfortunately, it might be too late for Major to extract himself from Fillmore Graves, and emotionally and morally reconcile the damage he has caused. The rest of the season will undoubtedly determine what ultimately happens to him as the result of being on the “wrong” side of history.

Ultimately, “Don’t Hate the Player, Hate the Brain” is a decent, but frustrating viewing experience. It skillfully weaves humor with aggression and chaos, but it still fails to move the plot forward in any significant way. However, knowing what the show is capable of, I am not too concerned by one mediocre middle episode. I am confident that next week’s episode will be more plot propelling and exciting. Tune in next week for my coverage of “Chivalry is Dead.”

The Flash 4x18 Review: "Lose Yourself" (Death by Ethics) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]


"Lose Yourself"
Original Airdate: April 17, 2018 

This week, The Flash spends a decent amount of time debating the ethics of a superhero killing a supervillain, before accidentally implying that vigilante murder is the best option for everyone and should always be done if given the chance. Oops! Beyond that, the writers’ weeks and weeks of counter-productive character anti-development ends as we are led to believe the team has lost its most elastic and odious member.

And if there seems to be an air of doubt in that sentence, it’s because I can’t genuinely believe this show spent so much effort and screen time on the Dibny character, only to kill him off with five weeks’ worth of shows left to air. But I don’t know, maybe he really is gone for good, in which case all those Dibny-focused episodes were an even bigger waste of time than I had previously thought.

(Also, jeez. Five weeks left. The pacing of this show really is horrendous.)

BYE BYE RUBBER GUY


There’s one bus meta left to save from DeVoe’s clutches, but he appears to have disappeared without a trace. While scanning the actual “bus meta” bus for dark matter clues, Barry and Dibny discuss the team’s inevitable confrontation with DeVoe. Dibny thinks they should just kill DeVoe outright. Barry disagrees, saying that the only way to truly be a hero and keep one’s soul intact is to avoid killing. His plan is to keep DeVoe in the pipeline, locked away forever until he... dies of natural causes, I guess? Lifelong imprisonment, outright murder — either way, Barry’s really skirting the whole due process thing, so he should probably get off that ethical high horse.

Finding the last bus meta’s residual dark matter energy in his seat on the bus jogs Dibny’s memory of a hippie dude who paid his bus fare. According to Barry’s science stuff, the hippie’s reaction to the burst of dark matter was to just... disappear. It’s not great news to bring back to S.T.A.R. Labs, but it’s news.

Harry has news as well: a tuning fork, designed to deliver a blast of sonic waves even stronger than the waves Izzy could produce (which, if you don’t remember, was the only thing to successfully injure DeVoe). The tuning fork — which Harry dubs the Sonic Scepter — even has a “one shot to stun, two shots to kill” feature that nicely ties into this week’s ethical dilemma of killing vs. not killing The Thinker.

Harry has also managed to find a way to predict where DeVoe will appear next. All of Harry’s announcements, by the way, are delivered with the manic enthusiasm of a man high on speed — and not the Speed Force kind of speed, either. As a little subplot, Harry has become addicted to the Thinking Cap he created, probably because he cheated and got Gideon, the giant floating computer head that lives inside his wall (an odd sentence, but probably not the oddest I’ve ever written in a review for this show) to load the cap up with dark matter. Joe, because he’s a cop who probably sees junkies every day and because his ex-wife was an addict, catches on to Harry’s behavior and later unsuccessfully tries to talk him down.

An alarm sounds, indicating that DeVoe might be leaving his pocket dimension, and the metahuman members of Team Flash go to meet him. Except when a portal opens up, it’s not DeVoe who steps out — it’s the bus meta hippie. His power is creating pocket dimensions like the one DeVoe’s chair makes, which means he’s an especially good find for DeVoe because getting his power would allow DeVoe to hop through pocket dimensions quite freely. The hippie, Edwin Gauss, escapes capture and the team must hunt him down by differentiating his pocket dimensions from DeVoe’s pocket dimensions.

The team does hunt Gauss down, tracking him to a hippie commune in the middle of the woods. He’s apparently very famous amongst the hippies, earning the moniker “The Folded Man.” Caitlin separates from Barry and Dibny, mostly so Barry and Dibny can continue their debate over killing DeVoe. Dibny seems like he’s been talked over to Barry’s side of non-murder, but when the team finally catches up with Gauss, they get attacked by a robot samurai like the one from the season premiere. In the fight, Caitlin gets stabbed, so Barry rushes her back to the lab to get patched up, leaving Dibny with Gauss and the decapitated robot head. The head says mean things about killing all Dibny’s friends.

Oh by the way, Ralph Dibny is back to his whining, antagonistic, “nobody is taking this DeVoe thing seriously except me!” personality this week, so that’s just as annoying as the jokester personality, frankly. Don’t know why I thought to mention it. A bit like going, “This garbage is in a black plastic bag and this garbage is in a white plastic bag, which would you like me to throw at you?” Doesn’t matter! Still garbage! Please stop throwing garbage at me, The Flash!

At least the show makes up for it a fraction by giving Dibny non-selfish motivations for his whining. He’s grown to love Team Flash and thinks of them as family, and it’s out of fear of losing them that he acts like a jerk and does stupid things like trying to take on DeVoe alone, only to be stopped by Barry and hauled back to S.T.A.R. Labs. If any of this appreciation for the team had shown through in the last fourteen episodes since Dibny appeared, maybe I’d feel something for the character other than annoyance.

Team Flash formulates a plan inspired by Dibny’s failed plan. They’ll use Gauss to pocket over to DeVoe’s lair in a surprise attack. Unfortunately for them, DeVoe predicted this, so when Barry, Killer Frost, and Cisco arrive, all that’s there to greet them is a hologram. DeVoe and his wife have teleported to S.T.A.R. Labs while the main metahuman heroes are away. A battle ensues.

Iris is kind of the shining light of this whole fight sequence, by the way. She starts it off by throwing an earring that’s apparently loaded with enough explosives to blast a hole in one of the lab walls, then takes on Marlize and handles herself incredibly well while Mrs. DeVoe swings a sword around. The crowning moment of awesome, however, is when Iris reminds Marlize of that time when she asked what Iris was willing to do for Barry, and then answers that question by straight-up stabbing herself with Marlize’s sword just to get close enough to slam Marlize’s head against The Thinker’s hoverchair and shove her into a pocket dimension. Listen, I don’t think it’s said enough: Iris West is capital-A Amazing.

What a pity that her hard work is all for naught, as Ralph Dibny’s final act of ineptitude is to forget to properly lock the metahuman handcuffs he puts on DeVoe, and DeVoe escapes. Then takes Dibny’s body and powers. The bad guys win. Team Flash not only loses one of their team members, but the remaining bus metas as well, and a touch from DeVoe during the melee removed Killer Frost from Caitlin. Also, I’m pretty sure Harry accidentally fried his brain when he overloaded his Thinking Cap with dark matter in his hurry to think of something that could win the battle.

Yikes, this is a bit early for the fake-out downer ending, The Flash. You guys usually wait until the penultimate episode to pull this sort of thing and we’ve got five episodes left in the season. Where can you go from here?

Other Things:

  • Aw, I hope Killer Frost comes back. I really like the idea of Caitlin and Killer Frost becoming besties through post-it notes.
  • Barry looks so strangely angry at the bubbles floating around Gauss’s hippie commune camp.
  • Ha! I was totally right when I predicted that DeVoe would get Ralph’s powers and use them to shapeshift back into himself.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

New Girl 7x02 Review: "Tuesday Meeting" (Three Men and a Little Lady) [Contributor: Jenn]


"Tuesday Meeting"
Original Airdate: April 17, 2018

Sleep — that thing that you can never have enough of in adulthood. Two of my best friends recently became moms at the same time (their babies are literally born less than 24 hours apart), and a few weeks ago I got to chat with them all about the sleepless woes that new parents face. It's a reality for all parents really, unless your child is somehow an angel or alien who sleeps through the night always. And sometimes, it's even true for toddlers. Like Schmidt discovers in "Tuesday Meeting." While this episode's Jess/Cece story is one of the lesser compelling ones (I much prefer "Girl Fight" or "Walk of Shame"), the major story focuses on the boys trying to get Ruth to sleep, and Nick having a crisis about his future as a writer.

"YOU CANNOT DO A MOVIE, WINSTON"


The references to Three Men and a Baby/Three Men and a Little Lady alone make this episode worth viewing. Beyond that though, I love whenever we get the chance to watch our favorite boys bond over things. Now, as they are all adults in settled relationships, their problems look a little different than they used to. But they're still tinged with the silly and absurd (and yet also oddly real) that brings New Girl into focus. Schmidt is not sleeping, nor is Cece. And Ruth? Well Ruth is just a boundless ball of energy and it's driving Schmidt to the brink of insanity. Luckily, he has some things that keep his mind off his lack of sleep — namely, taking care of his other child: Nick.

Nick returned from a European book tour with Jess feeling inspired and refreshed. He turned in his pages to his editor, expecting to receive positive feedback. Sadly, that is not the case. Nick's editor is disappointed with how fluffy and sappy Pepperwood has become. And it's true: Nick's life has settled, he's in love, and things are great. When things in your life are great, it's hard to write. My AP Literature teacher in high school taught us that. We examined our reading list for the year, thoroughly bummed out about how many depressing books were listed. And then she reminded us that writers often do their best work when they're in a point of emotional upheaval or self-discovery. Great work doesn't often happen when you're incandescently happy. And since Pepperwood is such an extension of Nick to begin with, it makes sense that Pepperwood is stable and in a sappy, sweet place — just like Nick.

Unfortunately, sappy and sweet don't sell in the teen crime market, so Nick has a decision on his hands: Either Pepperwood ends, or he has to figure out a great idea for another book/book series ASAP. And as we know, Nick Miller does not do well with a tight deadline. So he does what he often does: He panics. And he panics hard.

That's when Schmidt and Winston step in. Rather than tell Nick that his idea notebook is full of garbage, the two try their best to bolster Nick's confidence. Not by supporting those ideas, mind you, but by lying to him. They copy some phrases out of Mao's Little Red Book... and then Nick turns in those notes to his editor, who recognizes them immediately. Nick is furious at Winston and Schmidt. How could they lie to him like that?

But these three have been friends for long enough that Winston and Schmidt admit that they didn't want to crush Nick's spirits. And it's in the most unexpected moment that Nick begins to churn out some actual good, interesting ideas. In a last-ditch effort to try and get Ruth to sleep, Schmidt curls up in bed with her (after he, Winston, and Nick sing "Goodnight Sweetheart" from Three Men and a Baby), and Ruth requests a story from her Uncle Nick.

And when Nick concedes, he begins to tell her crazy tales from his childhood — which sparks an unspoken idea from Winston and Schmidt. Maybe Nick does still have stories to tell... ones he didn't even realize were interesting. It's hard to say whether or not Nick's little memoir will turn into anything, but I loved that his creativity has returned. And that Schmidt got a little bit of shut eye. And that Winston got to do Three Men and a Baby.

THE ACTUAL EPISODE TITLE


"Tuesday Meeting" also focuses on an actual Tuesday meeting — one that Jess is not invited to. Having accepted a job with Russell, Jess is feeling a bit disheartened. Russell brought her on for her expertise, but he's relegated her to cold-calling people and doing busywork. And she's not really excited about it. Furthermore, when she meets with Cece, Jess says that she feels the reason she's being singled out and given menial work is because she's a woman. Cece — having downed a whole bunch of coffee and chardonnay — tells Jess that she needs to stand up to Russell and demand to be treated like an equal.

And that starts with Jess demanding an invite to Russell's standing, all-male, Tuesday meeting.

You can guess where this is going, of course, because it's New Girl: Russell isn't keeping Jess out of a meeting because he's sexist; he's kept her out of a meeting because it's not work-related. It's his divorced dad support group. While Jess does feel embarrassed at her error, Russell admits by the end of the episode that he's been treating Jess a bit poorly. He vows to give Jess more responsibility and get her off of phone duty.

"Tuesday Meeting" is one of the quieter episodes this season. It's not my favorite of the batch I watched, mostly because whenever an episode removes Jess from the A-plot (it's hard to tell which plot was the A and which was the B, but I feel the boys' story was more heavily featured), I feel like it tends to suffer in terms of comedy. Nevertheless, New Girl is still as endearing and fun as ever — complete with adorable three-year-olds who really, really hate sleeping.

And now, bonus points:
  • I love that the magazine is called Tween Between the Lines.
  • "Tell me of the world. Remember me to the people."
  • Does anyone else love that Ding Dong... Murder! is the title of a Pepperwood Chronicles book? No? Just me?
  • The fact that we get nods to Three Men and a Baby and Three Men and a Little Lady in this episode makes me so happy. Also because my friend Laura and I had this dream of casting Joel McHale, Nathan Fillion, and Adam Scott in a remake of this movie. True story. Also if you have never seen those films, please remedy that immediately. They're so fun, and so cheesy.
  • "She nodded off on the toilet. It was very cute. Honestly, it reminded me of you. I took 70 pictures."
  • "Words sound weird to me when I'm this tired."
  • "How's that wine and coffee combination treating you?" "My heart is beating really fast but time is moving really slow. So it all kind of evens out."
  • I love the recurring "Babe?" "Yes babe" dialogue that the show uses.
  • MALE PATTERN DUMBNESS. I'm using that now.
  • "The system is broke and... I can't feel my face."
  • "I'm done." "I'm three!"
  • Seriously the girls who play Ruth are way too perfect. Ruth's little thumbs up at Nick was absolutely adorable.
  • "I am drunk right now and VERY awake!"
  • THE BOYS SINGING TO RUTH.
  • "Oh I'm scared of this energy."
What did you all think of "Tuesday Meeting"? Sound off in the comments below!

Supergirl 3x14 Review: "Schott Through the Heart" (Parent Problems) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]


“Schott Through the Heart”
Original Airdate: April 16, 2018 

My initial, negative reaction to a Winn-centric episode was based on my long-standing dislike of the character, rooted in the gross way the show handled his crush on Kara. But then I decided, no — I’m going to give this an honest chance. It’s been a while since Supergirl did anything with Winn’s crush, and he’s been largely reduced to little more than comedic relief this season. Holding a grudge at this point seems petty, especially when this show has so many other things going wrong with it (and much blander, Mon-El-shaped characters I can focus my dislike on). At least as far as Winn’s storyline goes, I decided to face this week’s return from a long, long hiatus with an open mind.

So how’d it work out? Um... pretty good!

WINN-WIN


The episode starts off chipper indeed, as the entire extended team, including J’onn’s dad, is spending the night drinking and singing at a karaoke bar. I complain about a lot on Supergirl, but I can’t deny that they do these fun scenes well. This show and The Flash are similar in their ability keep lightness alive, which I really appreciate. Who wants their comic books shows to be miserable gloom-fests, am I right?

But just as Winn is about to get on the stage and sing, he catches a report on the news: his dad, the evil mastermind Toyman, is dead. That pretty much kills the joyful vibes for the evening, as Winn flees to the alley outside and is comforted by James, who patiently listens to Winn lie about how his dad’s death doesn’t matter. Things only get suckier for Winn when his absentee mother, Mary, shows up at his father’s funeral, saying that they’re finally safe now that Toyman’s dead. And then the guy’s casket explodes, which certainly implies that things are not nearly as safe as Mary thinks.

Back at the DEO, Winn’s mom gets a medical exam and Winn insists his dad is absolutely, without a doubt dead, which means that he must have rigged his casket to explode as a final “prank.” Winn assumes his father’s reign of terror is over for good, and the parent he must worry about now is his mother, who is hanging around, attempting to restore their relationship with sarcasm and apologies. I can’t complain about any of the moments between Winn and Mary. Maybe Winn is slightly too far into the realm of self-righteousness, and the performance could have been a bit more nuanced — but, yeah. This episode works for Winn as a character, and the writers add enough to Mary that all the scenes they have together are done well.

I don’t have a segue from that to robot flying monkeys attacking, so... robot flying monkeys attack! I can’t connect the dots between “psychopathic toymaker” and “Wizard of Oz references” but I guess it made sense to someone. Either way, the flying monkeys prove that the Toyman’s reign of thematic terror isn’t over, and he had apparently signed on an apprentice to carry out his life’s work, post-life. The new focus is Team Supergirl figuring out who, exactly, has decided to follow in Toyman’s footsteps.

While working on a flying monkey with the hopes of tracing it back to its creator, Mary asks Winn about a trip to Disneyland she took him on when he was nine. At first it seems like she’s trying to get him to remember some good times he had, but then Winn says they got into a car accident and never went to Disneyland. And then Mary says they were never going to Disneyland at all — they were going to a domestic abuse shelter, and it had been Winn’s father who had driven them off the road, then threatened to kill Winn just to hurt Mary. This is an important piece of information because, until now, Winn always just assumed his dad went randomly crazy, but the Disneyland story reveals that Winslow Schott, Sr.’s history of violence was long-standing, and Mary was the only one who truly comprehended her ex’s extremes.

When the two get back to work on the robot flying monkey, Mary discovers a panel in the monkey with a logo for Willard Walter Wiggins Game Company, figures that’s where their copycat is, and goes to confront her alone. You know, like idiots do. She’s almost immediately captured and used as bait for Winn, who (idiocy must be a genetic thing) falls for it. At least Winn has the sense to bring superpowered back-up, though, so that’s good.

I don’t care who the copycat Toyman (Toywoman?) is, frankly. She wants to kill Winn in front of Mary to fulfill Toyman’s orders. There’s a giant toy T. Rex and Mon-El uses his cape to stop it. Kara almost suffocates in a life-sized action figure case because the show keeps forgetting she can hold her breath for a long time. If it seems like I’m rushing through the climax of this storyline it’s because I am; the actual villain of the week held zero importance other than as a catalyst for Winn’s story.

Winn saves the day with a razor-bladed yo-yo.

KEEPING UP WITH THE J’ONZZES


It’s so rare for me to be able to single out a good B-plot in these reviews! To be honest, the storyline with Alex, J’onn, and J’onn’s dad, M’yrnn, isn’t hugely impactful, but it’s poignant and worthy of a paragraph or two of praise. Also, I wanted to take a little time to say how much I really like M’yrnn as a character, and I hope the revelation in this episode doesn’t mean our time with him is limited. He has value as a peripheral character, not quite part of Team Supergirl but still within the inner circle, and his interactions with Earth culture are charming without being overdone.

So, this episode reveals that M’yrnn is suffering from dementia. At first, it just seems like he’s full of quirky forgetfulness, calling pizza “tomato pie” and whatnot, but Alex catches onto the signs almost immediately. After she tells M’yrnn that she knows what’s wrong, and that he owes it to J’onn to be honest about it, the tension comes from M’yrnn not wanting to say anything to his son because he doesn’t want to cause him more pain. After all, he just got him back, and J’onn seems significantly happier about not being alone anymore, so the idea of making J’onn watch his own father fade away seems cruel.

Oh, hey, I just realized that there’s a theme of parental white lies in this episode! Mary kept the truth from Winn. M’yrnn wants to keep the truth from J’onn. Nicely done, show. And for what it’s worth, M’yrnn does explain the situation to J’onn, in contrast to Mary’s twenty-year-long lie of omission to Winn. So, the J’onzz clan will be able to handle their crisis together, while the Schotts rather failed in that regard.

Other Things:
  • Karaoke song choice significance: Kara, an alien, sang/rapped “Intergalactic” by the Beastie Boys. James sang “Tears Away” by the actor who plays James (paradox!) and it included lyrics that are basically the Kara/James sunken ‘ship theme song. Alex sang “I Drove All Night,” which is a sad, post-breakup song of desperation (and she was, fittingly, drinking while singing it). J’onn’s choice was pure irony as he sang Whitney Houston’s “So Emotional” with as little emotion as possible. M'yrnn J'onzz, the guy who was driven to paranoia by imprisonment, sang “Suspicious Minds.”
  • Winn says that he and his mother got into a car accident at “two a.m. in the morning.” You guys didn’t have another take to use for that scene, or...?
  • Mon-El and Kara are awkward together but like, not annoying awkward? This episode was really weird for me, guys. Anyway, turns out the Worldkiller Pestilence is responsible for the future-destroying Blight.
  • Ending karaoke song choice significance: Mon-El gets called out for “white boy rock” with his choice of “Carry on Wayward Son” by Kansas. A bland karaoke choice for a bland, bland man. Winn and Mary sing “Take On Me,” which includes lines about leaving, and about finding each other.

5 Reasons to Watch SyFy’s Krypton [Contributor: Melanie]


Krytpon is the newest show in a slew of media that is giving the Man of Steel some new life. The SyFy original series stars Cameron Cuffe as Seg-El — the grandfather to the future Kal-El — who has recently found himself as the last remaining member of the disgraced House of El after the execution of his grandfather and parents. Set 200 years before Superman’s time, it details a time when Kandor City was under the theocratic rule of a tyrant known as the Voice of Rao. When the discoveries of extraterrestrial life — made by the House of El — threaten the classist theocracy that has kept order on Krypton, Seg must ensure the survival of Krypton from the world-collector Brainiac.

If this sounds nerdy as all get out, it’s because it is.

The show also stars Georgina Campbell as Lyta-Zod (whose name should ring a bell as a kinswoman to the future Dru-Zod) the forbidden love interest to Seg and a commander in the Kryptonian military guild, Shaun Sipos as the spacetime traveler Adam Strange (more bells should be ringing there), Elliot Cowan as the oligarchy-defending city magistrate Daron-Vex, Rasmus Hardiker as Seg’s best friend and bartender Kem, Ian McElhinney Seg’s own grandfather Val-El, and Blake Ritson as the looming Brainiac.

Maybe you’ve seen some things about this show, or maybe you have no clue and really don’t care. But if you’re someone who’s likely to scoff when I tell you Superman is my favorite superhero, I can promise you that this show is not your dad’s (or granddad’s) Superman. Everyone’s favorite Blue Boyscout has seen a nihilistic revival recently, thanks to Zack Snyder’s serious and dark interpretation in the DC Cinematic Universe. The CW’s Supergirl plays him a little closer to tradition but with a very flawed side. Despite the tones of this show, I’d liken it more to Supergirl’s interpretation: You don’t need Superman to make a good Superman show.

Here are some reasons why you should really give this one a go if you’re on the fence or have a history of despising Superman-related media:

1. Female representation


This is always number one on my list. It’s one of the first things I consider while watching something. It may sound stupid to some — to base your viewing preferences on diversity inclusion — but I’ve had to set aside my social morals for so much media in my life that at this point I feel inclined to screen my calls here.

This show has some major female presence, and it’s not just the objectively pretty, white face of Nyssa-Vex (Wallis Day). Our second main character is Lyta-Zod, a warrior and woman of color who by the second episode rises to the rank of commander when she invokes a combat trial to assume leadership of her unit. She does this after disagreeing with the tactics of her current commander and, when diplomacy fails, sees this as the only way to ensure the safety of the poor, “rankless” Kryptonian class.

I will do you one better here: Her mother (Ann Ogbomo) is the Primus of the Kryptonian military and they have plenty of Bechdel Test-worthy conversations about leadership and loyalty and their duty to the government and their home. The relationship between Lyta and Jayna is one of the most interesting parts of the series so far. They butt heads over tradition, over compassion for the poor, and over what exactly duty to their government and homeland means. In a time where the hardcore — and misinformed — believe those who criticize their own government out of concern for their fellow citizens cannot be true patriots, the old order vs. the new order motif with Jayna and Lyta is super relevant. And watching two women of color, in high ranking leadership positions, have philosophical discussions about society, military, and patriotism in a genre normally dominated by white men brings a warmth to my heart.

2. It hits the issue of institutionalized oligarchy head-on


In pretty much all Superman media, Krypton is portrayed as a utopia gone wrong. It plays like Rome — something that got too big and too successful to continue to thrive at the same level and, eventually, fell into ruin. This Krypton is a lot bleaker than that. Rather than the towering spires and shining, domed city we’re usually treated to, we spend most of our time in the slums of Kandor with the “rankless”: those who do not belong to a noble family or guild. They’re marketplace vendors, bartenders, service workers, the homeless, and many other familiar professions and positions. The ranked families, such as the houses of Vex, Zod, and El have considerable control, are in positions of power, and actively work to maintain that status quo. Daron-Vex even gives a lovely speech about the importance of order to their world, and how that order is contingent on the continued religious beliefs and the monopoly of power held by the ranked families.

Sounds familiar.

3. Honestly, it’s a giant metaphor for cross-generational alliances


Every generation likes to stand out and ostracize itself from the ones before or after. They even like to blame each other. The rivalry between Baby Boomers and Millennials and, conversely, the supportive relationship between Millennials and Generation Z comes to mind strongly when looking at this show. Seg isn’t saving Krypton for himself; he’s doing it to make sure Superman is born, John Connor style. He’s given information about the future generation and working to ensure there is a world for it to exist in. Something we should ALL be doing. Not to get too dicey here, but there’s a reason the housing market collapse, and Toys R Us is going out of business, and social security is dwindling. and it’s not because Millennials aren’t having enough babies or buying diamonds or something. It’s because the practices of the previous generations were not sustainable. Krypton is about ensuring a sustainable world for future generations, especially if that future generation will raise “the greatest hero in the universe.” Krypton’s oligarchy and theocratic dictator have to go to ensure the survival of future generations.

Also sounds familiar.

4. It’s basically Game of Thrones in space


Okay, Game of Thrones is a teeny tiny bit more complex than this, but it’s pretty close. Objectively, they have similarities: noble families, intrigue, executions, espionage, trials by combat. But it just as that feel of the things Game of Thrones is trying to get at. It looks at a society that is very much in its twilight, Krypton is only a century or two away from its end and a government based on noble rank is tumbling down. It also deals with the archaic dangers of absolute rule and the need for a commonality between those in power and those below. They also both feature an otherworldly villain that might be the key to uniting everyone. Essentially, it’s political intrigue mixing with mysticism, in this case, we’re looking at sci-fi — very familiar sci-fi.

5. It’s full of Easter eggs, while not being oversaturated by them


We live in a world of overexposure here. Just look at the cast list for Avengers: Infinity War. Everything is about wider cinematic universes and having a Star Wars movie come out every five months (I can’t even pretend that I hate that). Krypton stays away from having too many winks at the audience. While there are plenty of traditional DC characters filling the ranks between the show’s original creations, there isn’t a bill of five superheroes fighting for the spotlight. Batman isn’t going to show up on Krypton, Wonder Woman isn’t going to drop in, there’s not some LexCorp van going by while Aquaman leaps from the sea. It’s a contained story. But it also does justice to the characters and entities it does utilize: Adam Strange, Brainiac, and Black Zero.

Basically, catch up on this show if you need a fix of intelligent Superman media with a healthy dose of social realness of female representation.

Once Upon A Time 7x17 Review: “Chosen” (Past Demons) [Contributor: Julia Siegel]


“Chosen”
Original Airdate: April 13, 2018

Ah, the good ol’ emotional Once Upon A Time has come back to give us the feels at just the right time. Zelena’s past actions as the Wicked Witch are coming back to haunt her again in the present, and plenty of questions finally get answered. This episode was the perfect time for Lana Parrilla to make her directorial debut on the show, and she did a great job presenting this very important episode for her onscreen sister.

WICKED THROUGH AND THROUGH?


Zelena is the prime focus of the episode, and her past and present are heavily featured. In the present, Zelena is being hunted by the Candy Killer. Once Rumple tells her that the killer is Hansel, Zelena knows exactly why she is the next target. Thankfully, there are flashbacks aplenty that actually are helpful and further the plot. The action picks up in Oz, where Zelena is still in full-green Wicked Witch mode. I didn’t think we were going to get to see the Wicked Witch again before the series ended, so these flashbacks were a very pleasant surprise.

Evil Zelena is attempting to rid Oz of all other witches and happens across a gingerbread house where tweens Hansel and Gretel are being held hostage. Yes, we have seen other iterations of Hansel and Gretel and their story before on this show. Apparently, everything we saw previously in the series doesn’t hold up, so just pretend like this is the correct story to make it easier on the brain. Zelena decides to battle the witch holding the kids captive rather than free them, showing off her bad side. She is injured in the fight and is found unconscious in the woods by the kids’ blind father.

The father nurses Zelena back to health and sees the goodness that is deep inside her. Zelena likes the attention too much and doesn’t even tell him that she knows where his children are. By the time the guilt has gotten to her, Zelena arrives at the gingerbread house a little too late: Hansel and Gretel are no longer there. Zelena decides to take the witch’s sight and give it to the father to make amends, but Hansel and Gretel have beaten Zelena home and told their father the truth. When the father wants her gone, Zelena can’t control her irrational feelings toward the family. Hansel steps up to make Zelena go, but her rage consumes her and she casts fire to wrap around Hansel’s arms.

We now know why Hansel wants Zelena dead, why he hates witches in general, and how he got his scars. It’s not surprising that he goes after Zelena in Seattle, but it is odd that he never tried to get back at her when they met again in the fairytale realm. Hansel makes several remarks in the present timeline about knowing Zelena well and that she knew him as Jack. He has had plenty of time to get his revenge, so it is a little weird that he waits until now to strike. Zelena gets overly emotional again when Hansel takes her fiancĂ©, Chad, hostage to force her hand.

Poor Chad has a rough time in his debut, as he learns most of the truth about Zelena and her past and witnesses a pretty great brawl. Hansel comes after Zelena with a knife in the basement of the bar, but Zelena is prepared for combat. After some nice fighting, Zelena manages to get the knife and presses it to Hansel’s throat. He urges her to kill him, but Zelena proves once and for all that she has changed and is no longer wicked by knocking Hansel out. Zelena calls the police and has Hansel arrested, which is impressive given her past track record.

Even after he learns the truth, Chad decides that he still loves Zelena and wants to be with her. Their engagement is still on, and Zelena decides to go back to San Francisco with him. Zelena and Regina have an emotional goodbye, but given that the curse is still intact and that there are unresolved family connections in Seattle, this doesn’t appear to be the last time we will see Zelena. It is likely that Zelena will return for the series finale when the curse is, presumably, broken. In the meantime, it’s really nice that Zelena is finally getting her happy ending and a chance to start over with a new life. She has earned the right to be happy, so I couldn’t be more thrilled with how her story has played out this season.

A PLAN IN MOTION


While there were several smaller subplots sprinkled throughout the episode, only one is truly important. Facilier is back in Seattle and causing havoc, per usual. However, his crazy scheme is coming to fruition in surprising ways. We know that Facilier is trying to get Rumple’s dagger and become the Dark One and that he is also using as many people as possible to do his dirty work. We didn’t know that Facilier was secretly waking up characters and forcing them to help him in return.

It turns out that Facilier woke up both Prince Naveen and Hansel several episodes ago, which was pretty unexpected. There weren’t any hints that Naveen was awake when he was heavily featured a few episodes back, and it was more likely that Hansel had somehow been awake the whole time rather than being woken up. Facilier is pretty smart because he wanted Hansel to take care of his witch problem, mainly with Gothel, for him. He also uses Naveen to get Sabine’s trust, which Facilier sprinkles on a voodoo doll. Yes, that part is a bit confusing, until he takes the voodoo doll out while talking to Hansel at the end of the episode and stabs it in the chest with a needle. Hansel keels over, so it looks like it’s the end of the road for him. It is also good that Facilier’s end game is in sight because his plan doesn’t have much time left to develop.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Scorpion 4x21 Review: "Kenny and the Jet" (I Can't Always Protect You) [Guest Poster: Yasmine]


"Kenny and the Jet"
Original Airdate: April 9, 2018

It’s Paige’s turn to shine again, as the geniuses are distracted by dealing with their own issues (and in Sylvester’s case, facing a combination of all his fears at once). That doesn’t mean the team doesn’t bring their A-game, but they do struggle to balance their own problems with the case at hand.

With only one episode left in the season, making Paige the star and the hero (in more ways than one) of an episode came in the nick of time. It also focuses on the other relationship in her life — the one, in my opinion, more important than her romance with Walter: her relationship with her son.

The case is, in typical Scorpion style, equal parts exciting, emotional, and ridiculous. With Cabe, Sly, Paige, and Ralph on a flight back from Hawaii, Cabe’s instincts pick up something off with the Air Marshal and, after confronting her and the crew, they understand something’s not right in the cargo hold. The team offer their expertise and help, building a makeshift device to detect cell signal... which leads them to the discovery of a young boy hiding in the wheel well. The team back at the garage is already looped in and airport surveillance shows a boy running onto the runaway and sneaking onto the plane. They identify the boy and find out that his father is on the plane. It turns out the boy’s parents had recently divorced and he was living with his mother in Hawaii with his father in LA. The young boy, Kenny, wants to live with his father back in LA and had tried to get there by sneaking onto the plane.

Unfortunately, hanging out in the wheel well is not the best way to do it. He is already unresponsive, low on oxygen, and cold, and the team’s job now is to keep him alive while they figure out how to get him out of the wheel. They need to do all this without alerting the passengers to anything, to avoid a panic. Of course this is Scorpion, so they manage to succeed in all the most ridiculous ways possible — and by ridiculous, I mean that yes, I understand the science they’re using, but it is requiring a lot of suspension of disbelief. But that’s fine. It’s what Scorpion does best, balancing the science with the entertainment with the disbelief.

They manage to poke a hole in the plane, send the passengers into a panic, and almost cause a disaster. But it wouldn’t be Team Scorpion if things went smoothly.

Paige pulls off her most heroic stunt, putting her life on the line to save the young boy, and she proves that she may not be a genius but her mom superpowers can outshine the geniuses any day. Of all the things I love about her, her maternal strength is the most inspiring at times.

Not only does Paige use her super mom skills to keep Kenny calm and then to literally hang on to him as the plane lands, but she also overcomes a huge hurdle with Ralph. Her little boy is growing. He’s a teenager now, and while he may not be a typical teenager, he does have to go through what we all had to. He has a crush on a girl who’s older than him — and he later has to endure the heartbreaking truth of finding out she does not return those feelings. To make things worse, his mom makes him go on a trip to Hawaii with her which means he misses his crush’s birthday party, and he makes sure his mother knows exactly how he feels. Luckily, these two have a beautiful bond and what they go through on the flight only brings them closer and makes them realize they are entering a new phase in their relationship and there are going to be changes they both need to adapt to.

The relationship between these two has always been so precious and so beautiful. Unfortunately, there have been fewer and fewer episodes focusing on it lately, so this was a beautiful moment for it to come center stage and shine.

Another woman on the edge of a new phase of her life is Happy. Sadly, the pregnancy attempt failed and that is tragic for both her and Toby. On the surface, Happy claims she is okay with it, but she obviously is not. And it is heartbreaking watching her in this very hard time in her life. Happy’s recent behavior had shifted toward reckless. She is risking her life every chance she gets, participating in dangerous activities and acting irresponsible and out of control. Toby’s vocal about it throughout the episode and when she finally opens up, she tearfully admits that she’s doing all this as a distraction to keep her mind off the fact that she has not been able to conceive. The two manage to find an acceptable compromise where Happy can keep her mind of the baby and Toby does not have to worry about “having to conceive on his own,” as he put it: mechanical bull riding and a soft cheese plate. A win-win situation for all.

However, there is someone who has dug himself into a hole that looks like there won’t be any “winning” way out of it anymore: Walter O’Brien.

I’ve made my frustration clear as of late about Walter’s behavior and he does very little this week to make me less pissed off about him. While we finally have some recognition on his end that his actions have not been right and have been deceptive and unfair towards Paige, he is still struggling. And, once again, it feels like all these years of growth and developing his EQ have hit such an inexplicable drop. Walter continues to treat his relationship with Paige as a science experiment, and while it could have been cute and quirky at some point, it no longer is. He starts a Pros and Cons chart of telling Paige and the truth, but at the end of the day, even after Paige almost dies saving the day, he still fails to come clean.

And what is frustrating is that the actual thing that he did is so simple and not that big a deal, but it is no longer about him taking Flo to the lecture. This is now about his lies and deception and his treatment of Paige. I personally don’t care that he went with Flo to the lecture at this point. I am pissed at him for failing to own up to his actions, and as much as I love Waige, I honestly believe Paige deserves better than this and better than Walter — or at least the Walter we’ve seen over the past few episodes.

Fortunately, Paige is a smart cookie, and what she does best is read people, and she already knows Walter is keeping something from her. She’s on to him and I am glad because it would have been a disservice to Paige’s character to have her walking around so oblivious.

The next episode is the finale, and I wonder how they’ll clean this mess up between Paige and Walter and poor Flo who has been dragged into this whole thing unwittingly. And I hope Happy and Toby get some good news and that Sly finally — FINALLY — says something to Flo about how he feels because I think he is ready to move on and deserves to be happy.