Dickinson Behind-the-Scenes: An Interview With the Artisans

Meet the artists who bring this Apple TV+ series to life!

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.

Jenn's Pick: Top 15 Jeff/Annie Moments

In 2013, Jenn put together a list of the 15 best Jeff/Annie moments. Revisit and discover those memories!

Thursday, January 20, 2022

The Resident: Season 5 So Far [Contributor: Justine]

The Resident returned for its fifth season in September 2021. Before the show comes back from its mid-season break on February 1st, let’s have a look back at what we’ve seen in this season so far and where the staff and patients of Chastain Memorial Hospital are. 

Season five started off with Chastain being hacked by cyberhackers — one of the major challenges Dr. Kit Voss has faced as hospital CEO. This saga gave us another look at the relationship between Voss and Dr. Randolph Bell, who are dubbed “KitBell” by the fandom. This has been an interesting relationship to see develop to say the least. There’s been a lot of set-up in the first half of this season to indicate that the showrunners are all-in on this relationship, and we’re going to see a lot more development in the second half of the season. 

The biggest shakeup so far in this season of The Resident was the death of Nurse Practitioner Nic Nevin, a series lead for four seasons. (Actress and Marvel alumna Emily VanCamp announced the birth of her first child on Instagram in August 2021.) Nic’s death was absolutely devastating, and each main character got a chance to reflect on what she meant to them and how she’d impacted their lives. Conrad, the show’s titular resident, was left reeling and searching for answers. Nic’s death was seemingly senseless — a car accident with no obvious cause. Conrad’s intensive search for answers when there were ultimately none was a poignantly accurate look at the grieving process.

One controversy among fans in this season so far was the time jump in the wake of Nic’s death that came at the end of the Halloween episode. The entire show was fast-forwarded three years: Conrad had left Chastain Memorial and went into private practice to have more time to raise his daughter Gigi. He’s eventually convinced by his friends and colleagues to resume his career at Chastain (this following an incident where a private practice patient held staff hostage in search of a supposed miracle drug for his cancer). Conrad also began the process of moving on, and had the first hints of returning to romance in the first half of the season. 

Season five brought more character development for Dr. Billie Sutton, who was named Chief of Surgery. We were also introduced to her son, Trevor, who Billie gave up for adoption after she had him as a teenager. The trauma of the past is evident in them both. After the three year jump, it’s revealed Trevor has completed medical school and is completing his internship at Chastain. After a less-than-ideal start where he gave alcohol to an alcoholic patient, he has come a long way. Although he’s rough around the edges, he’s clearly willing to learn and it will be interesting where his character goes the rest of the season. 

Dr. A.J. “The Raptor” Austin also has a lot happening for him this season so far. He continues to care for his biological mother, Carol, as she continues to battle cancer. He and Bell are also taken down a peg by Dr. Voss, who hires a surgical coach to work with them both. It was an absolute joy to see two men with such giant egos meet their match. It’s revealed Trevor’s internship at Chastain is thanks to A.J.’s recommendation. A.J. is clearly trying his best to support both Billie and her son. 

Dr. Devon Pravesh began season five with a medical emergency of his own when he tried to rescue himself and hospital social worker Winston from a toxic gas exposure. His relationship with surgical intern Dr. Leela Devi continues to advance, and after Devon's medical crisis, they made the decision to take their relationship to the next level and move in together. After the time jump, Devon is an attending physician at Chastain and honestly, he deserves it.

Finally, season five of The Resident may finally be bringing reckoning for Dr. Bell. During the Halloween episode, he had a brush with a serial killer who was hitchhiking and gave him a ride. In the course of their interactions, Bell admitted and reflected on the fact that he killed a patient during a routine appendectomy (shown in the series premiere). He’s been concealing his own personal health issues, which have impacted his work as a surgeon, and that finally seems to be coming to an apex. After asking Conrad to clandestinely run medical tests, Bell was confronted with the results. This left fans wondering if the show is about to reveal a serious medical issue.

The Resident, in addition to telling stories of compelling characters, has always been meant as a commentary on the economic realities of the U.S. healthcare system. Based on the book Unaccountable by Marty Mackary, we have seen the show tell stories of corruption within a system meant to help people at their most vulnerable moments. Hopefully The Resident will continue to be rooted in that and give us more of the characters we love, and those we love to hate. 

Other Things:

  • Leela confronting her parents was such an awesome moment. Hopefully we see more of her and her twin sister, Padma, since they’re so clearly opposite sides of the same coin.
  • Who is the new doctor we were introduced to in the latest episode? She was clearly a gifted ER and ICU physician. There are hints of a mysterious past and it will be interesting to see how she fits into the Chastain dynamic.

The Resident returns to Fox on February 1, 2022. 

Friday, December 17, 2021

Grey’s Anatomy 18x08 Recap: “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear” (Happy Holidays) [Contributor: Julia Siegel]


“It Came Upon a Midnight Clear”
Original Airdate: December 16, 2021

We’ve made it to the midseason finale of Grey’s Anatomy, and it’s another season with a doozy of a cliffhanger. Every major storyline of the season goes downhill in epic fashion in typical Grey’s Anatomy style. Let’s dig into the chaos we will be thinking all winter about until the medical drama returns on February 24, 2022.

CLASSIC CAR CRASH

This biggest storyline of the episode has to be the return of the classic Grey’s car crash. We haven’t gotten one of these juicy scenes in a few seasons, but every time they roll around, viewers are in for a dramatic treat. The Grey’s Anatomy car crashes always shake things up for better and worse, and this one could have big implications. Farouk is still on ECMO, and Megan hasn’t left his side in weeks. She looks terrible and beyond worn down. Hayes comes into the CCU to check on Farouk and suggests that he stay in the room for a bit so Megan can take a little break. Megan refuses to leave and instead tells Hayes that she does not plan on living without Farouk. She doesn’t want to survive the pain of losing her child, so she has decided to commit suicide if Farouk dies. Hayes is extremely concerned for her safety, and it’s quite a haunting moment for the viewers too.

Owen and Teddy spend the morning getting ready for Christmas at home and wrapping presents for the kids before going to Noah’s funeral. It’s sad that Noah didn’t make it, but Teddy feels that his wife might be a bit relieved that he isn’t in pain anymore. Owen doesn’t want to talk about the subject at all, and we will find out why by the end of the episode. When the couple gets to the hospital, they both get paged by Winston to go to Farouk’s room. They find Megan sobbing and find out that they have found a donor heart for Farouk in Tacoma. The Hunt family rejoices at the news, then Owen and Teddy get ready to go retrieve the donor heart themselves. Hayes catches them as they get in a car to leave and decides to go along since Farouk is his patient. 

The three doctors are driven by some random guy whose job and name are never given. It takes half an hour of Hayes listening to Owen and Teddy talk about how great it is that Farouk is getting a new heart before he decides to bring up the real reason he tagged along. He doesn’t know how to tell them what Megan told him, so Hayes tries to explain how worried he is about Megan. He believes she is deeply depressed and needs real help. He stops short of saying her plan as Owen says that the new heart will fix her mood. Owen also tells Hayes that Megan already goes to therapy and will be fine. He didn’t convince me or Hayes though. 

They retrieve the donor heart and are on their way back to Grey Sloan Memorial when tragedy strikes. Out of nowhere, the driver of the car starts having some sort of medical issue. Owen, who is sitting in the passenger seat, tries to get the man’s attention, but he passes out. Owen grabs the wheel of the car and swerves to avoid the other cars on the road while the driver’s foot is still on the gas. The car sharply turns, hits a tree, and stops on its side right on the edge of a 100-foot cliff. 

The doctors are shaken up but haven’t sustained any apparent injuries. The cooler that the donor heart is in didn’t sustain damage either, which is a big relief to everyone. Owen believes the driver had a stroke, but there’s nothing they can do for him until help arrives. However, no one’s phone is working, so they start to panic about how they are going to get out of the situation. Owen finds a small tool in the car, so he passes it back to Hayes and has him smash the window as a possible escape route. Hayes winds up getting a cut from broken glass, and they all decide that they can’t risk shifting weight and leaving the car since it could send them down the cliff. They hope the GSM staff will realize that something must be wrong if they haven’t arrived and will send help, but Teddy worries they won’t be found since they are off the main road. 

Eventually, the doctors come to an agreement that someone needs to take the heart and go get help, but they have a harder time deciding who that will be. Teddy wants Hayes to survive because she doesn’t want his kids to potentially lose both parents. Owen counters that if Teddy doesn’t go, their two kids could lose both their parents at the same time. Hayes agrees with Owen and tells Teddy to climb over him and out the window to safety. He asks Teddy to tell his kids that they will be okay if they call their aunt if he perishes. Teddy says a tearful goodbye to the men and makes her way out of the car, which then starts to move a little further off the side of the cliff.

Teddy finds her way back to the road and has to wait a minute or two for another car to drive by. She flags down a car and asks for help, which is the last we see of her for the episode. A short time later, Owen knows that the car is going to fall down the cliff, so he convinces Hayes that they need to try to escape. He’s not sure if he will make it and reveals that he gave Noah medication to end his own life. Owen tells Hayes he made the same pact with three other soldiers and asks him to carry on for him if he doesn’t survive. The medication is already in his truck, and Noah’s widow will know who to get it to. Hayes most certainly does not agree and really doesn’t want any part of Owen’s death pact. He jumps out of the window right as the car, with Owen still inside, slides down the cliff. The episode ends here, so Owen’s fate will be left hanging for the next two months. Fingers crossed we don’t lose the whole Hunt family in the midseason premiere.

HISTORY TIME

In semi-less-dramatic news, the Parkinson’s project has made its way to Seattle for a few days after it started attracting too many eyeballs in Minnesota. Hamilton and Kai have joined Meredith and Amelia at Grey Sloan Memorial for the day they have all been waiting for. The FDA has approved their experimental Parkinson’s treatment and gave them a 72-hour window to do the surgery on Hamilton. Richard is none too pleased to see Hamilton at Grey Sloan Memorial, as there is some old resentment between them, but even he isn’t allowed to know what the occasion is. 

In continuation from the last episode, Link has decided to go to Minnesota to declare his love to Amelia and tell her that they can be together without getting married. He announces his plan to Jo, who isn’t happy to hear that her crush is going to make a big romantic gesture to someone else. Jo volunteers to watch Scout, so Link makes his way to the airport. Little does he know that Amelia is actually in Seattle, which Jo finds out the hard way when she gets into the same elevator as Amelia at the hospital. Jo quickly calls Link and tells him not to get on the plane, so he turns around. She also talks out loud to herself about her new-found feelings for Link that she needs to shove back down to whatever hole of desperation they crawled out of. 

Mer has a nice conversation with Hayes in a lounge prior to the latter leaving on that previously mentioned fateful trip. The two are genuinely happy to see each other, and the ease of their conversation is not lost on me. Who else wants to see Mer, Nick, and Hayes all in Seattle at the same time just to see what happens? 

Hayes is having trouble getting into the holiday spirit because his wife loved Christmas. Mer understands his grief perfectly and reveals that hers is getting more tolerable since her brush with death by COVID. She tells Hayes about her beach dreams with Derek and how they felt so real that she really thought she was with him. She still feels that he is with her every day, which has helped her a lot lately. Mer also says that she heard Hayes talking to her about her kids while she was on the beach and thanks him for helping her. Hayes is really glad to hear Mer’s story and feels that it’s exactly what he needed to hear. He’s honored she shared it with him and thanks her for the help too. A little while later, Mer is incredibly nervous about the surgery and is consoled outside by Amelia. The anxiety gets to Mer, who vomits on the pavement then declares that she feels much better.

Mer goes to do her pre-surgery exam on Hamilton, only to find him in pain. Amelia and Kai are in the room too, and they are not happy that Hamilton is trying to hide a possibly surgery postponing issue. Kai found that Hamilton has a low-grade fever, and Mer finds that he has a rigid abdomen that requires imaging immediately. The scans review that Hamilton has a perforated bowel and will need surgery to fix it. He gets angry at Mer when she tells him they will have to postpone the Parkinson’s surgery and will need to get a new window from the FDA. Hamilton urges her to be the rebel Meredith Grey who breaks the rules because he still wants the Parkinson’s treatment. Mer is unwilling to break the FDA’s rules this time because the treatment is greater than just one patient. Hamilton accuses Mer of not being committed to curing Parkinson’s, but rather using the project as a stepping stone to curing other cognitive diseases like Alzheimer’s. 

Upstairs, Link has made it back to the hospital and pulls Jo out of a consult to run his speech by her. Link gives an impassioned speech that he plans to say to Amelia, and it’s almost too much for Jo to listen too. He feels confident enough to talk to Amelia, so he goes to find her. Amelia is outside trying to console Kai, who is very upset that Hamilton’s brain surgery has been pushed. Amelia tries a type of meditation technique to help Kai, who is grateful for the help. The two then kiss for the first time, which is exactly when Link walks outside. Link is shocked and devastated to see Amelia kissing Kai. He goes back inside without letting his presence be known.

In the OR, Mer is scrubbing in for Hamilton’s abdominal surgery when he starts going downhill. With the monitors furiously beeping, Mer gets ready as fast as she can and starts cutting. It doesn’t seem likely that Mer will go through with Hamilton’s request to break the rules, especially since it appears the current surgery is going to be rougher than anticipated. We won’t know until the mid-season premiere whether Hamilton survives and will still be a candidate for the Parkinson’s treatment.

FALSE EGO

The final plot of the episode centers around the residency program. Bailey arrives at work with Ben in tow as they try to sync their schedules to have time to fight to keep baby Pru. They are interrupted by Jordan Wright, who is pumped for his first day as a resident at GSM. He brought Bailey a coffee, but she prefers her smoothie so Ben takes the coffee. Ben is glad to see that Bailey has a passionate fan.

Bailey then makes her way to the skills lab to dole out the residents’ schedules for the day with Richard. They introduce Wright to the group, and he decides to give an impromptu speech about how happy he is to be there. The other residents are weirded out in a funny moment, but it is nice to see someone excited to work. Richard assigns Schmitt and Helm a surgery together and has Wright working with him. Wright politely asks for a rain check and tells Richard that he came to Seattle to learn from Bailey. Richard is a little stunned, but Bailey is glad to have the opportunity to teach again.

Schmitt and Helm go to meet their patient, whom Schmitt recognizes as a podcaster that he regularly listens to. The fact that Schmitt is getting a little too chummy with the patient is a red flag, and even Helm doesn’t seem comfortable with Schmitt’s attitude. Schmitt is getting a little too confident and thinks he is an expert surgeon for participating in the Webber Method. His hubris will come back to bite him shortly.

Maggie is back roaming the halls of Grey Sloan Memorial and is not happy to learn about the Webber Method from an excited Richard. She can’t believe that he and Bailey are okay with letting inexperienced residents operate on their own without any supervision. Richard assures her that the residents are more than capable and aren’t doing the risky parts of the surgeries without an attending present. Maggie doesn’t care that it’s working well for the general surgery department and declares she will not let residents operate alone on cardiothoracic surgeries even though Richard hopes to expand the program to the other departments. Richard tries to convince her otherwise by bringing her around the galleries of the residents’ surgeries so she can see first-hand how the program works, but he ultimately won’t be successful.

Over in an OR, Wright and Bailey perform a surgery together. Bailey is very impressed with Wright’s technique and doesn’t understand why he didn’t want to do the Webber Method when it’s clear he could flawlessly do the whole surgery himself. Wright explains how he likes to learn directly from his mentors so he can learn their quirks and styles to make him a better surgeon. Bailey is very impressed with her new resident, and Wright should definitely climb the ranks at the hospital quickly.

In another OR, Schmitt and Helm are ready to operate on the podcaster. Schmitt asks the scrub nurses to turn on an episode of the patient’s podcast after he asks the patient if it would be okay for them to listen to it while they operate. Helm doesn’t think listening to the podcast is a good idea because it’s soothing to the point where it makes you want to fall asleep, which is not ideal for surgeons who need to be very much wide awake. Schmitt snaps back that she can pick what they listen to when she is lead surgeon, and he seems calmed enough by the podcast that he thinks it will help them. They get through most of the procedure quickly and easily. When they get to the more difficult part, they briefly stop to page an attending to assist. Schmitt decides that he doesn’t want to wait a few minutes for an attending before proceeding. He feels that since he has performed the surgery nearly 40 times now, he can continue on his own. 

As soon as Schmitt continues the surgery, Helm spots a bleeder that turns into a mega pumper. The show turns from medical drama to horror movie instantly, with blood spraying all over the place. The residents have no idea where the blood is coming from or how to stop it. The attendings all get pages for whoever is available to go to the OR immediately. Bailey decides to scrub out of her surgery with Wright to find out what is going on and leaves Wright to close the patient. 

Bailey, Richard, and Maggie show up in the OR at the same time and find Schmitt and Helm standing in a pool of what looks like the patient’s entire blood volume. The attendings are horrified at the scene in front of them. Bailey coldly asks what happened, and Helm runs through every moment of the surgery including why they continued without an attending. Bailey then flatly tells Schmitt to call time of death and stops Helm when she tries to call it. Bailey insists that Schmitt needs to face up to what he did and call the time of death since it was his patient that died. A stunned Schmitt calls the time of death, and Bailey turns to Richard and tells him that this is on him. Could this be the end of the Webber Method? Should one bad outcome erase the several hundred successful outcomes that the program has had? What punishments will Schmitt have to face? This midseason finale leaves a lot of questions waiting to be answered in what promises to be a very rocky start to the second half of the season.

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

2021 in Review: My Favorite TV Shows [Contributor: Jenn]

As we round out our sophomore year in a pandemic (ugh, can you believe it?) I’ve realized that essentially I need a Letterboxd for television. I watch way more TV than I do film, and this year was no exception. The truth is that between the fifteen different streaming services out there, it’s impossible to watch everything that is available to stream. That is never more evident than when we get to year-end lists and I read through picks from Vulture, EW, and more while realizing there are shows I’ve never heard of out there! Nevertheless, I have compiled some of the television shows that got me through 2021 — and ones that I personally think you should be watching.

For ease of access, I’ve broken the series down by which streaming service (or cable network) they’re available on. If you have access to one or all of these streaming services, I highly recommend checking these shows out. May they get you through your junior year (ugh) of the pandemic.

Note: Spoilers will be discussed below so read at your own risk!

APPLE TV+

Mythic Quest 

Look, I’ll sing the praises of Mythic Quest all day long but it’s an absolute shame that the series wasn’t nominated for any Golden Globe awards or Critics’ Choice awards. While season one was great, season two brought even more heart and twists to our favorite video game company. In addition to two stellar standalone episodes, Mythic Quest gave us growth and development for every character in its ensemble, delivered the feels (if you didn’t cry during “Juice Box,” are you a robot?), and propelled us into season three — and four, thank goodness! — with so much promise. I might be biased because I podcasted about this series incessantly this past year and adore all its stars/behind-the-scenes people, but I stand by it: Ted Lasso is Apple TV+’s golden child but Mythic Quest is its secret weapon.

Ted Lasso

Of course Ted Lasso landed on my list, y’all. Season two improved on what season one of the show delivered: promise to make us laugh hysterically and also weep. But what I particularly enjoyed about this show’s sophomore season was its insistence that its characters aren’t perfect. I like watching Ted make poor decisions or not realize the consequences of his actions. Even though it was frustrating, I like that the series made Nate a villain and didn’t neatly resolve that arc. I love that the show prioritized therapy and mental health. I love that the show made me weep overtly. And I love that even though there were elements this season that felt weaker or I disagreed with (controversial opinion: I can’t get on board Sam/Rebecca and I am mad that the show made me think for even a moment that they would do a Jamie/Keeley/Roy love triangle), they never overshadowed the series as a whole. Bring on season three, everyone!

Schmigadoon!

Do you love musicals? Do you love shows that poke fun of musicals while also BEING musicals? Then Schmigadoon! was just the series for you. Filled to the brim with a talented cast — Cecily Strong deserves awards, Keegan-Michael Key was so wonderful, Ariana DeBose keeps winning, Kristin Chenoweth and Aaron Tveit were perfect, etc. etc. — this comedy about a couple on the verge of a break-up winding up in an old-school musical town hit all the right notes. It was funny, the songs were incredibly catchy and paid homage to musicals (please, I beg you, listen to Cecily Strong sing a Sound of Music parody song that had me in stitches) while delivering some much-earned heart. If you have Apple TV+ and enjoy musicals, check this one out.

Acapulco

One of Apple TV+’s newest offerings is one of the most delightful. Set in the titular Mexico resort city, this Spanish/English show has a lot to offer. Think the same sort of storytelling as How I Met Your Mother but without the rage and way more fun! Eugenio Derbez plays the present-day version of Maximo, the show’s main character and whom we meet as a young adult who got his dream job: working at Las Colinas Resort. The series follows Maximo and his best friend Memo as they navigate resort politics, love, and friendship.

Season one wrapped and left us wondering what would happen next, so I can’t wait for a second season to get to know more about these characters and their relationships!

(Honorable mentions on Apple TV+ are Dickinson which continues to be zany and absurd, but also often fun as well as The Shrink Next Door which was a wild ride and often stressful. It made me not like Paul Rudd — simply because of the character he played which is based on a real person — and I really don’t love that feeling!)

HBO MAX

Hacks

This series is on nearly every “best of” list for 2021 and it’s deserved. Starring the impeccable Jean Smart, Hacks is the story of Deborah Vance who is a comedy legend. She reluctantly teams up with a young writer named Ava (Hannah Einbinder) because she’s been tasked with becoming more relevant to new audiences. It’s a plot that’s made even more compelling by the push-and-pull dynamic between Deborah and Ava, as well as the growth and regression that we see from both of them. Flawed characters are interesting and these two women are incredibly flawed — and I love it. Moreover, you will understand each character as a person, woman, and comedian by the end of the first season. Oh, and in addition to being compelling and well-written as a series, Kaitlin Olson recurring as Deborah’s daughter on Hacks is maybe one of my favorite performances in 2021. 

Starstruck

Do you want a rom-com miniseries that will make you feel all of the things, especially for Nikesh Patel? Good, then watch Starstruck on HBO Max! This six-episode first season stars — and is written and produced by — Rose Matafeo as Jessie, a normal 20-something who has a one-night-stand on New Year’s Eve with a famous actor (Patel). Honestly this description doesn’t even do it justice because the show is so funny, so sweet, and so swoony. Each episode focuses on a different season in the year as Jessie and Tom navigate their personal lives, their feelings for each other, and their life decisions. It’s so wonderful and I’m thankful it’s getting a second season because I honestly know Starstruck is one of the best shows I watched in 2021.

Insecure

The final season of Insecure is winding down and I’m not ready to let these characters go quite yet! I’m so impressed by Issa Rae, think that she deserves all the awards for playing Issa Dee so faithfully and beautifully, and I just want the best for Issa — the character and actress! Insecure’s last lap is bringing the character development, the tears, and the laughs as it’s clear that Issa and our other characters are growing up and moving on. I’m not ready for this journey to end, but I’m grateful to know that Issa, Kelli, Molly, and Tiffany are going to be okay. (Fine, the men will probably be fine too but I really care about that core friendship most of all!)

Mare of Easttown

Dramatic and harrowing from start to finish, Mare of Easttown was everything that I was promised it would be. Kate Winslet gave a compelling performance as Mare, a detective investigating the murder of a young girl who was also a mother. In addition to Winslet, Julianne Nicholson gave an amazing performance from start to finish as Mare’s best friend... especially when we get to a revelation at the end of the series. Honestly, even though I prefaced this article with a spoiler alert, I won’t tell you the twist of this show because I think it’s worth watching without knowing the ending. Just be aware that this is a heavy series so you might want to space it out with some fun.

NETFLIX

Never Have I Ever 

Over on Netflix, Never Have I Ever continued to shine. Mindy Kaling’s coming-of-age comedy focused on Devi (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan) navigating a love triangle between Paxton Hall-Yoshida (Darren Barnet) and Ben Gross (Jaren Lewison). In the end though, this season wasn’t just about Devi trying to juggle boyfriends, which she thought was so cool: it was also about her best friends, her mother, and her cousin trying to navigate life and love. Devi is an imperfect character who you don’t always root for but that’s beautiful! She’s a teenage girl so we should expect her to be selfish and petty and hurt other people occasionally. And she does. She also avoids pain and dealing with the grief of her father’s death, but we all avoid grief and pain to an extent which makes her actions relatable but also hard to watch. I love Never Have I Ever and while I’m #TeamBen, I am really interested to see what happens next season with Devi and her friends!

Maid 

I was incredibly impressed with and compelled by Maid. Again: if you’re looking for something that is light and fluffy, this isn't the show for you and trigger warning — this is a show that depicts and discusses abuse. If you choose to watch it, Maid is a powerful tale based on a true story. Alex (Margaret Qualley) decides to leave an abusive relationship with her young daughter and start cleaning houses to provide for their new life. But Alex goes through a lot of financial and emotional struggles on this journey, including dealing with her absent father and her undiagnosed bipolar mother (Margaret’s IRL mom, Andie MacDowell). I think one of the things I can say about Maid as a whole is that it’s hard to watch someone try and fail because of the way the odds are stacked against her — especially when it comes to emotional and verbal abuse.

But you root for Alex. You hope she can get on her feet. You want her to accept the help that others are offering but you also don’t want to pity her. You know that she’s making sacrifices for her daughter. You know they both deserve the best life. It’s a complex journey as a viewer but that makes the series rewarding. (Additionally, Anika Noni Rose plays Regina, a wealthy client whom Alex cleans for, and delivers a monologue so compelling and utterly heartbreaking in episode four that it should earn her all the awards.)

DISNEY+

WandaVision

Few shows were talked about as much this past year as WandaVision, with good reason. Not only was this series the character study on Wanda Maximoff and Vision that I needed to care about them as individuals and a unit, but it was also an incredibly well-done homage to television sitcoms in every decade. While a lot of Marvel TV might feel like one big set-up for future films, WandaVision swung big and accomplished something much more: letting us all feel the weight of grief and pain and not shying away from it or covering it up. WandaVision reminded us that to be human is to feel and not to be ashamed of those feelings, whatever they are.

(It also gave us standout performances from Kathryn Hahn and scene-stealing ones from Kat Dennings and Randall Park.)

While WandaVision did set up the next phase of the MCU, it did more than that: it touched us all in unexpected ways and reminded us that regardless of the flashy CGI budget Marvel has, it can weave compelling stories with earnest characters — and it did.

Big Shot 

I love John Stamos and I love Yvette Nicole Brown so when my friend Nick mentioned Big Shot, I was on board — even if I’m ambivalent about basketball, which is what the show centers around. But that’s the best part of Big Shot: it seems like it’s going to be a show about basketball but it’s really a show about female friendship, teamwork, and family. A big shot basketball coach (Stamos) is fired and given a job coaching an all-girls high school basketball team. In the process, he bonds with the girls, learns how to be a better coach and person, and gains new insight as a dad. It’s charming, sweet, funny, and features a stellar cast of young actors. Check this one out of you’re looking for a fun binge this holiday season!

(Honorable mention to Loki which was a wild and fun ride, but mostly honorable mention to Tom Hiddleston let’s be real.)

HULU

Only Murders in the Building

What happens when you put Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Selena Gomez in a Hulu show together? Magic, that’s what! I absolutely fell in love with Only Murders in the Building and they’re the reason why. The Hulu series focuses on these three characters: Charles (Martin), a former actor and star of a popular detective drama, Oliver (Short) who’s a Broadway director struggling financially, and the young Mabel (Gomez), a mysterious woman renting an apartment from her aunt. The three bond after a murder occurs in their building and they use their obsession with a true crime podcast to try and solve the case — while also starting their own podcast in the process. 

Often silly and fun, occasionally incredibly tense and dramatic, Only Murders in the Building was the show to watch in 2021. Steve Martin and Martin Short have incredible chemistry, obviously, but it’s the inclusion of Selena Gomez’s dry wit and hilarity that really sells this show. You’ll likely call some of the twists and turns, but probably not all of them. And there’s one particular episode of the show — “The Boy From 6B” — is one of the most inventive episodes of TV this season.

Home Economics

A worthy tonal successor to the charming ABC series Single Parents, Home Economics airs on the same network but is available to stream the next day on Hulu — just like the other two shows below. Starring Topher Grace as a novelist writing a book about his dysfunctional sibling group, Home Economics is a fun, endearing ensemble sitcom that everyone should be watching. If you’re a fan of Mythic Quest, you’ll get a double dose of Caitlin McGee, plus the bonus of Sasheer Zamata who is hilarious. Karla Souza plays the pitch-perfect, blunt, sardonic Marina. And James Richard Tatro is so fun as the wealthy youngest sibling. The kids are just as entertaining as the adults which is what makes this show such a great choice to watch. 

The Wonder Years

If you’re looking for a new show with the same name as an 80s classic, look no further than the 2021 version of The Wonder Years which focuses on a Black family in Alabama. Dean (older narrator Don Cheadle) navigates life as a pre-teen including friends, family dynamics, and his love life. Dulé Hill stars as Dean’s dad and of course we love him because Dulé is amazing. But one of the best episodes of the show thus far has been one that focuses on Dean’s mom, Lillian (Saycon Sengbloh) and what Dean learns about her not just as an adult but as a Black working woman when he shadows her at her job for the day. 

The Wonder Years is fun, fresh, and a lovely little ABC addition that you all should check out.

Ordinary Joe

Starring James Wolk, James Wolk, and... James Wolk (and other talented actors of course), this show is essentially a “Choose Your Own Adventure” game that begs the question of what would happen if you could see the effects of one choice in your life. The show follows Joe (Wolk) after a decision he makes on graduation day. He had three options: to go to a party his college girlfriend Jenny was attending, to celebrate with his family, or to go meet with a young woman he just literally ran into at graduation. Based on the choice Joe makes, his life turns out differently. In one timeline, he’s a musician, in another he’s a nurse, and in another he’s a cop. The coolest thing about the show is seeing the color cues for each timeline (red, blue, and green), which means you’re never confused by which timeline you’re in!

It’s truly an intriguing concept for a show that’s anchored by Wolk, who should be a lead in way more things than he has been. Charming, engaging, and often breaking your heart, James Wolk is the star of every timeline and I’m here for it.

PEACOCK

Girls5Eva

Music, comedy, and girl power: what more could you want? What if we threw in the iconic Sara Bareilles, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Busy Philipps, and Paula Pell? That’s exactly what Girls5Eva does. From the minds of  Meredith Scardino and Tina Fey, the series focuses on a 90s girl group of the same name who decides to reunite and produce music together again. The show is a quirky and fun comedy about getting older, female friendships, love, and music. It features one of the funniest songs I’ve ever heard (“I’m Afraid”) as well as plenty more original, catchy music. I love all these characters, I love recurring hilarity in the form of Andrew Rannells, and I love that we’ll be getting more of these characters in another season!

We Are Lady Parts

Featuring punk rock music and an all-female Muslim group, We Are Lady Parts was a gem of a freshman find. The best part about the show is that in only a few episodes, each character manages to be completely developed and nuanced. They all have different priorities — Amina wants to find a husband, Saira wants to preserve the punk music of their band, etc. — but each woman grapples with her priorities and the responsibility of the band. Even though it’s a short season, there’s so much character development and heart that I can’t wait for season two. Watch this charming series on Peacock if you’re able to! You won’t regret it.

Rutherford Falls

When I discovered that there was a show starring Ed Helms on Peacock, I wondered why I hadn’t heard of it before (... the answer is because it was on Peacock). But I checked out Rutherford Falls on a whim and fell in love! Created by Helms, Mike Schur, and Sierra Teller Ornelas, the series follows Nathan Rutherford (Helms) and Reagan Wells (Jana Schmieding) who are childhood best friends and live in Rutherford Falls, a small town founded by Nathan’s ancestors. Reagan is from the Minishonka Nation and is desperately trying to create a museum that celebrates the history of her Nation. 

Featuring Indigenous actors (Michael Greyeyes is perfect in this show) and writers, Rutherford Falls is a funny, engaging sitcom about a friendship tested and the boundaries you have to put in place with people you love. I like that Nathan is someone you actively root against at points in the show and that Reagan’s career ambitions and love for her Nation are something the series celebrates. Jana is absolutely captivating and her rapport with both Michael and Ed is hilarious. I’m excited to see where season two will take us, especially in regards to the town’s future, but I’m ready for the journey!

Baking It

The literal cutest show ever, Baking It is the spin-off of Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman’s crafting series Making It. This cooking competition series features pairs (either siblings, parent and children, partners, etc.) baking up creative holiday treats which are judged by literal grandmas. Oh, and it’s hosted by Maya Rudolph and Andy Samberg because they need to host literally everything. I’m not joking. EVERYTHING. If you’re in need of some pure serotonin this holiday season, get Peacock and check this gem out!

What television shows got you through this year? Sound off in the comments below!

The Flash 8x05 Review: "Armageddon, Part 5" (The Thawne Problem) [Contributor: Deborah M]


“Armageddon, Part 5”
Original Airdate: December 14, 2021

This week on The Flash, Joe is alive again thanks to time travel shenanigans! Since he was only dead due to much more evil time travel shenanigans, this will not cause any unfortunate timeline consequences. Not that the time travel shenanigans in this show ever actually make any sense in terms of consequences or continuity.

THAWNE IS THE WORST

Still in the middle of the conversation to Joe that Barry started last episode, we see Joe’s side of the phone call just before Barry zips in and gives him a hug, then explains the whole ordeal with Thawne. But also alive, as it turns out, is Damien Darhk, who shows up at Joe’s place just when Barry announces how he feels like he can relax again. Darhk blames his resurrection (or not-dying?) on his connection to the Time Stone that Barry was wearing when he went Mach 20 and opened the space-time continuum or whatever. He got dragged along with Barry and he seems pretty sure the whole “die and allow his daughter to live” plan is still on target, just a little delayed for reasons unknown.

Later, as Barry and Team Flash are chatting about everything Barry went through over the past few days that they no longer remember, Iris gets an alert that the CCPD is under attack by Thawne. Thawne is indeed at the CCPD, lightning-striking a bunch of officers and bellowing about how he’s trying to lure Barry to him. Barry isn’t the one that shows up, though — instead, Mia Queen is there as the Green Arrow, asking about the location of her brother William. Mia recognizes Thawne is suffering from temporal displacement and notes that he’s not long for this world. 

Before Thawne can speed-phase his hand through Mia and kill her for wasting his time, Barry finally shows and gets Thawne to admit why he lured Barry to the CCPD to be in front of witnesses: he wants Barry to save him. I vote “no” on that, mostly because saving the guy who has no qualms about murdering everyone and potentially destroying the world just to get first place in a foot race is an obnoxiously stupid thing to do. But, I already know going into this that Team Flash will be doing the obnoxiously stupid thing here and the show will try to frame it as a sign of his true “goodness” even though I suspect it’s actually because the writers can’t bear not having Thawne dangling over the show like the low-hanging fruit this hollow and pointless character has become.

And Mia Queen has instantly become my ally, because she also thinks Team Flash is stupid for even entertaining the idea of saving Thawne. Unfortunately, Mia also has a real case of YA Novel Protagonist Syndrome, which is to say she’s overly surly and kind of bratty, so I’ve gotta weigh the good with the bad here. Anyway, Mia tells Iris she’s in 2021 looking for her brother, who’s been missing for two years.

Look, it’s not even that Barry et al. have to actually murder Thawne. The timeline is handling that for them — all they would have to do is just not save him, which shouldn’t be such a moral quandary. If Thawne had a terminal disease unrelated to fiddling with timelines, would Team Flash be obligated to cure him? If he swallowed poison of his own volition, would they be morally required to find and administer the antidote? That last question is actually mose fitting in this case because Thawne is disappearing from the timeline because he messed with it — furthermore, he’s disappearing because the timeline has objectively decided that he does not belong in it.

Oh, hey, I’ve got Caitlin on my side too! She determines that Thawne has about two hours left and implies that she could totally let Thawne die. Because he’s a moron, Thawne mocks the person holding his life in her hands and then Caitlin shoots back at him a speech that is honestly the best thing Caitlin has done or said on this show in years. It boils down to her knowing, as a doctor, that death is a part of life and she’s always accepted that — and also, she really hates Thawne. I can’t do it justice in a recap.

Barry visits Thawne and asks him why he’s so obsessed with destroying his life, to which Thawne replies that “Destroying [Barry] is [Thawne’s] life.” Again, not a great thing to say to someone you’re trying to convince to save you, my guy. Thawne’s actual story isn’t much better. Almost 200 years in the future, Barry meets Thawne for the first time while Thawne was about to show off his speed or something and it is legitimately such a bad villain origin story I don’t even care about the details. Barry agrees, calling Thawne a sociopath for having such an extreme reaction to something inconsequential. Barry then asks Thawne what he plans on doing once he’s saved, and Thawne tells him he’s gonna keep on tryin’ to murder him. Wow. This guy is really bad at negotiating for his life.

Despero pops up as Barry is leaving Thawne, like an annoying Shakespeare reject jack-in-the-box, and tells Barry Thawne’s gotta die. We know, dude! We all know! Barry tells Despero to kill him himself but Despero says he might come back if he does that. Uh... how? What? Why? If the timeline is erasing him, what does it matter if he dies before it happens? The timeline will still “solidify” or whatever we’re calling it now, so he’ll be erased regardless of whether he’s actually alive at the time or not. But, fine. Add more unnecessary drama.

Speaking of unnecessary drama: Allegra and Chester are against letting Thawne die, because they gotta speak for the stupid side of this argument for some reason. Caitlin, who’s on Team Kill Thawne with Barry and Iris, brings up the same thing I did and mentions that Thawne did this to himself and he’s getting killed by a timeline correcting his mistakes, but Allegra and Chester still think Team Flash has some moral obligation to save a murderer who 1) made his own bed and has to lie in it, and 2) fully admitted that once he’s in the clear he’s going to keep trying to kill Barry for basically no reason.

Frustratingly, Joe is also on the side of saving Thawne and comes equipped with Dad Voice, which is devastating to Iris and Barry’s willpower.

Barry admits that he could save Thawne by taking away his speed, which doesn’t make sense to me because Thawne’s dying as a time anomaly, not because of his speed. But, fine. Before anyone can implement any plan, Despero reappears to make vague threats again and declares that he’ll take matters into his own hands, and Barry calls him out for being a villain and not the hero he claims to be. Since Despero has also mind-controlled Mia into killing Team Flash for not killing Thawne, Barry has a point.

Thus proceeds a fairly annoying parallel fight sequence between Mia and Team Flash and Despero and Barry, in which a character I don’t know (Mia) has to be pep-talked into breaking Despero’s connection to her and a character I don’t like (Despero) does a lot of blabbering. Despero plans on wiping out the city to kill Thawne, Thawne’s time is running out in minutes, and Barry gets some new shoes to help him disconnect Despero from the Flame of Py’tar, which he does — and, of course, Despero vows revenge. Barry then solves the problem of Thawne by taking away his speed.

Ironically for an episode all about doing “the right thing” and being heroes, Barry saving Thawne’s life but taking away his speed seems to have been the cruelest solution in Thawne’s mind. Hm. Funny how stuff ain’t so black and white, huh?

At the celebratory party post-everything, Darhk shows up and is sad he’s not dead yet. Barry tells Darhk he’s really sorry he’s not dead yet, too, and Darhk appreciates the sentiment. Later, Joe chats with Darhk about parenthood and Darhk hands over the Time Stone before being pulled elsewhere. In a bright world of desaturation, he’s reunited with Nora briefly before disappearing and Nora is deposited in his place at the Team Flash party. Joe comforts the distraught Nora Darhk, and Barry makes a nice speech about destiny to everyone else.

Everything seems like it’s over, but then we cut to CCPD and a photograph of officers on the wall, dated 2014. Some little lightning buzzes fade in and out to reveal Bart and Nora West-Allen in the photograph with CCPD officers.

Other Things:

  • Joe: “Barry, why is there a super villain standing in my living room?” Darhk: “Thank you.” I feel like if Damien Darhk were Barry’s arch-nemesis instead of Speedster Obsessed with Speed (Original Flavor) I’d have a lot more fun with this show.
  • This story arc was mentally exhausting. I hope it’s not a sign of things to come for the rest of the season.

Friday, December 10, 2021

Grey’s Anatomy 18x07 Recap: “Today Was a Fairytale” (Confessions) [Contributor: Julia Siegel]


“Today Was a Fairytale”
Original Airdate: December 9, 2021

After a few weeks off, Grey’s Anatomy came roaring back with a big reveal. While some fans may have seen it coming, it’s a pretty large surprise that will surely add some juicy drama down the line. We also get to spend more time in Minnesota than ever, which leads to some good payoffs as well. 

THE BLUES

The episode begins at Jo’s loft, where Link is moping while looking at pictures of him and Amelia. Jo’s trying to get ready for a day out with Link and the kids. Link complains that Amelia keeps saying that nothing has changed for her, and Jo doesn’t want to hear about it anymore. As he keeps scrolling, Link happens across a photo of him and Jo working at a restaurant together before they both became doctors. While it seems like a fun moment for the friends, that picture sets up an episode full of past and present reveals. Over at Grey Sloan Memorial, Maggie surprises Winston at a coffee cart and he is beyond happy to see her. She came back a day early because she didn’t want to be away from him any longer. It’s a sweet reunion, and Winston decides to bail on his plans to spend the day with his wife.

In Minnesota, Meredith and Nick arrive at the hospital together. Mer is upset that she had to stay an extra day for an emergency meeting that Hamilton called. Mer gets a call from Bailey, who is very unhappy that Grey Sloan Memorial’s booth at a medical student convention got moved to a lesser spot. Bailey gets even madder when she finds out Mer won’t be attending the convention, and Mer realizes she forgot to hit “send” on a text to her the night before. Mer tells Bailey she will make it up to her before hanging up, which she will do by the end of the episode. Bailey is joined by Dr. Lin, but neither knows where Winston is. Winston is too busy sleeping with Maggie in an on-call room at the hospital and decides not to answer Bailey’s text.

Mer finds Amelia and Kai in the lab and asks if they know why Hamilton called a meeting. Hamilton walks in and announces to the group that he fell and sprained his wrist because his foot gave out. His Parkinson’s is getting worse, and he wants to know why they aren’t moving faster to find a cure. He wants the experimental surgery now, but the other doctors insist they aren’t ready yet. Hamilton goes on a small tirade and tells Mer that he hired her to get things done. Mer reminds him that the team is working around the clock and that groundbreaking medicine doesn’t happen overnight. Hamilton snaps back that everyone knows if Mer wants something, she finds a way. He also says that he will fire Mer if she doesn’t make the surgery happen ASAP. Mer is steamed from her confrontation with Hamilton, so she complains to Amelia afterwards that Hamilton is like her mother, Ellis. Mer is also mad that she had to stay an extra day and be away from her kids just to get yelled at. Amelia tries to help by saying that the team is making progress on the injections for the surgery. She suggests that Mer takes the day off while the rest of the team continues to solve the rest of the issues.

Back in Seattle, Link and Jo take the kids to the park to see a play. They continue to talk about working at the restaurant together as they walk. Link is still in a pessimistic mood and even quips that he hates that Jo talks so much to Luna. They sit down to watch a small production of Rapunzel. It’s the first time that Jo is seeing the tale, which confounds Link. She doesn’t like the story either. When an actor tries to climb Rapunzel’s hair, he falls off the tower. Jo and Link run up to the stage to help.

The actor, Jeremy, has a thready, irregular pulse and is in a lot of pain. He has an open femoral fracture, which Link has to reduce and splint immediately because the injury is cutting off blood flow to his leg. Jeremy screams when Link sets the leg before immediately crashing. A female actor tells the docs that Jeremy has a heart condition and wears a medical bracelet while Jo starts CPR. Link sends the friend to get a defibrillator from the park.

THE CHANGING TIMES

It’s never stated where the medical student convention is located, but given that a bunch of Grey Sloan Memorial’s top surgeons were supposed to attend, it’s more than likely somewhere near, or in, Seattle. Bailey pitches a student on Grey Sloan Memorial’s residency program, but the student leaves without leaving her info when another student says a Chicago hospital is giving out deep dish pizza. Bailey sees another hospital giving students massages, while the hospital has nothing flashy. Lin says they should have done a dog and pony show too. Bailey replies that they were supposed to have Mer, Owen, and Winston to pitch students, but they all cancelled. Both doctors agree that they need an idea to get students’ attention quickly.

Over in Minnesota, Mer goes to find Nick after he sends her a text. She gripes that she may quit after the way Hamilton treated her. Nick hands her a tablet to look at scans of a patient’s adrenal gland tumor. Nick explains the patient was a living kidney transplant donor and he had worked on the case. He wants Mer to operate and partially resect the kidney to save his own butt. Mer agrees to help, but the way Nick presents the case is a little off.

In the lab, Amelia and Kai are working hard on cell cultures. They talk about research and why Kai got into that field. Kai has been working on the project for two years, and Amelia cheekily says she doesn’t have that kind of patience. Kai explains how they didn’t want to be an MD and found the science aspect more interesting. They ask Amelia why she went into neuro, and Amelia supposes she picked that specialty to be like her brother. Kai asks who her brother is, and Amelia tells them they are now her favorite person. The pair’s latest cell culture winds up not working, and Kai gets very mad and storms off.

At the park, Jeremy’s leg is bleeding profusely, making Link worry that an artery was torn. He improvises by packing the wound with diapers to help stop the bleeding, and then uses one of the actor’s belts as a tourniquet. Jeremy’s friend comes back with the defibrillator, and Jo instructs her to put the pads on Jeremy’s chest. Link and Jo keep shocking Jeremy, but they can’t get a normal heart rhythm because his medical condition makes his heart beat irregularly. The ambulance they called still hasn’t arrived, and they need epinephrine to revive Jeremy. Link runs to the audience to see if any parents have EpiPens, and he manages to get a few. He injects the first EpiPen into Jeremy’s leg, but realizes it will take too long since you have to hold the pen for a few seconds to fully release the medicine. Jo asks the friend to take over CPR so she can help Link administer the EpiPens. After the third one, Jeremy’s heart restarts and the ambulance arrives at the same time. Link tells Jo that he will ride in the ambulance and to meet him at the hospital with the kids.

Meanwhile, in Minnesota, Mer examines her new patient with Nick and his favorite resident, Dr. Jordan Wright, who will be assisting in the OR. Mer explains to the patient that he has a rare kidney tumor, but she thinks she will be able to remove all of it. The patient asks if Nick can be in the room, which everyone agrees on. Amelia goes to check on Kai, who is pacing outside. Kai wants to know if Mer walks, will Amelia leave too. Amelia doesn’t really say what she will do and tries to sidestep the question. She thinks walking will help boost their creativity, so the two doctors take a stroll. After a few minutes, Kai is done with the break and is ready to get back to work.

We then get to see a sweet moment at Grey Sloan Memorial between Winston and Maggie. Winston asks how her dad is, and Maggie is happy to report that he is doing better. She doesn’t think her dad wanted her to leave and tried to prolong her visit. Maggie enjoyed spending time with her dad, but she also hated being away from Winston. In one of the best lines of the season, Winston tells Maggie, “You are my dream come true.” His phone goes off with a cardio page, but he doesn’t answer since he wants more quality time with Maggie.

The hospital's table at the medical student convention has a big crowd to hear about the Webber Method from the participants themselves. Richard, Schmitt, and another resident have shown up to help pitch Grey Sloan Memorial to the students. Schmitt and the other resident talk to the students about how the Webber Method gives them more autonomy, bigger caseloads, and lots of solo surgeries. The students seem very interested, until they get notifications that their personalized tote bags are ready to be picked up at another hospital’s booth.

BREAKTHROUGH

Jo finally makes it to the hospital with two strollers in tow and barely gets down the hall before she is stopped by Jeremy’s friend. The friend would like an update and can’t get any information because she’s not family. Jo obviously just walked through the door and doesn’t know anything. The friend explains how Jeremy is her best friend and that they are family from how closely they have worked together for many years. She needs to know that he’s going to be okay, so Jo asks her to watch the kids so she can check on him herself.

Back in the lab, Kai and Amelia try another cell culture. They go back to their previous conversation, and Kai describes how they like research because finding the unthinkable is an amazing feeling. Well, that feeling will have to wait because the latest culture is unsuccessful. After some problem solving thinking, Amelia realizes that the issue is temperature-related and that they need to find a way to keep the cells cold in the needle for them to work. The pair excitedly tries to figure out a way to make that happen.

In the OR, Mer and Wright work on resecting the tumor while Nick supervises and attempts to micromanage Mer. The patient’s blood pressure starts to elevate, which causes Nick to get anxious. Mer asks if he needs to step out because he is too invested, and Nick says he is fine. Mer then asks if he doesn’t trust her, which prompts Nick to finally reveal the truth. The patient is actually Nick’s long time best friend, who also happened to be Nick’s kidney donor. Mer immediately kicks Nick out of the OR and isn’t happy that she didn’t know that info in advance.

In the hospital OR, Link begins to operate on Jeremy’s leg, and Teddy scrubs in to help with the cardio side of things. Jeremy starts crashing again, so Teddy takes over and says they need a temporary pacing kit. Link starts CPR so Teddy can place the pacing wire. The scene changes back to the Minnesota OR, where Mer and Wright have gotten their surgical field back under control. Mer tells Wright that she sees why he is Nick’s favorite resident, as he has been a star in the OR. Wright is impressed that Mer trained under Bailey and starts singing Bailey’s praises. He also says working with Mer is the highlight of his career. Mer asks why he didn’t do his residency at the hospital if he wanted to learn from Bailey, so Wright explains he didn’t match at Grey Sloan Memorial, which broke his heart.

Back in Washington, Maggie shows up at the hospital convention booth and says hi to Bailey. She apologizes that she and Winston are late and says that he is parking the car. Bailey is pissed and wants Maggie to fix the day’s problems because everything is not okay. She explains that they shouldn’t have to throw gifts at students to attract them and doesn’t want to beg for students’ attention. Maggie suggests she takes a break, so Bailey storms off.

Over in the lab, Hamilton watches Amelia and Kai try cooler needles that were chilled in a freezer. They think the key is injecting the cells before they have a chance to warm back up. Amelia tells Hamilton his constant questions aren’t helping, but quickly changes her tune when the test works. The new culture hits a 92% success rate, which meets the FDA’s 90% viability standard. Hamilton is elated and hopes he didn’t run off Mer. Amelia is stunned that they may have found a cure for Parkinson’s.

After surgery, Teddy and Link tell Jeremy’s friend that he’s going to be fine. He needs a permanent pacemaker and will make a full recovery. Teddy takes the friend to visit Jeremy, and Link stays behind to talk to Jo. She thinks that the friend is in love with Jeremy. Link believes they can be best friends and also be in love. He then casually drops a massive bomb by telling Jo that he had a huge crush on her when they were younger. Link only worked at the restaurant to be near her. He wound up changing his tune to be her best friend because he saw that that’s what she needed. Jo clearly had no idea and is absolutely shocked. With a smile, Link says he doesn’t know what he would do without her. He starts walking away to go get changed and says they should grab dinner on their way home, leaving a stunned Jo in the hallway. It’s funny that Link doesn’t realize that he dropped a bomb on Jo and that Jo doesn’t know how to react.

Mer goes to find Nick after surgery and tells him that his friend is going to be okay. She was able to remove the full tumor without any damage to the kidney. Nick thanks her and talks about playing Little League with his friend, who also sat through all of dialysis with Nick. He didn’t want to put that burden on Mer and make her personally involved, which is why he didn’t say anything in advanced. Mer replies that she’s always personally invested, whether she knows the person she’s operating on or not. She tells him that there’s no such thing as a body on a table for her and that she even makes up little stories about her patients if she doesn’t know their stories. Mer says she can handle the burden, which is her way of saying, “Don’t do that again.” Nick asks Mer if she made up a story when she operated on him. Mer didn’t have to because he told her everything in advance. A relieved Nick tells Mer that he owes her one before she walks away.

We then see Jo and Link eating Chinese food at home. Jo announces that she Googled Rapunzel to find out how the story ends and recites the parts they didn’t see. She hopes they will both still get their happy ending and that maybe this bad patch they have been going through is the middle part to finding their happily ever after. Jo poses a very good question: “When two people have been there for each other, don’t they deserve to be happy?” Link latches onto that idea, but not in the way Jo was hoping. Link realizes he has been holding onto a fairytale and that his relationship with Amelia doesn’t have to be like that. He can wait and doesn’t need to marry her now. He loves her and thinks that can be enough. Link decides he will go pick up Amelia from the airport and leaves. Jo looks kind of devastated, which makes it clear that she was talking about her and Link being happy together. This is quite an interesting pickle that was presented in this episode. It should be very interesting to see how it all plays out in the second half of the season.

Speaking of Amelia, we see her and Kai leaving the hospital for the night. Kai says they are lucky to have Amelia as the lead neurosurgeon on the Parkinson’s project because she saved the study. Kai thinks Amelia became a neurosurgeon because she is driven by process and outcome. They are both glad that they will continue to work together since Hamilton is keeping the band together. Kai asks Amelia if she would like to go out to dinner, but Amelia has to decline since she has to catch a plane. She is happy that she will see Kai next week, and I can’t wait to see Amelia’s reaction to whatever craziness Link tells her when she gets back to Seattle. 

The episode ends at the hospital when Mer shows up at Bailey’s office to talk. Bailey is still mad at Mer. She’s also upset that she recruits the best students and teaches them everything she knows only for them to all leave and make groundbreaking contributions to medicine elsewhere while she spends the whole day trying to convince new students that she is worth their time. Bailey is not wrong and her frustration is warranted. Mer has someone that she wants Bailey to meet, and Wright walks through the door. He wants to transfer to Grey Sloan Memorial, and Mer praises his talents to Bailey. Wright tells Bailey that he wants to learn from her. Mer smiles and leaves as Bailey says she’s listening. Wright sits down to pitch Bailey on why he wants to transfer. This is truly a great ending to the episode because Bailey finally gets the love, respect, and win that she is looking for.

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

The Flash 8x04 Review: "Armageddon, Part 4" (Love and Paradoxes) [Contributor: Deborah M]


“Armageddon, Part 4”
Original Airdate: December 7, 2021

We’re still Armageddon-ing out here in The Flash as the five-part crossover event continues. This week, the show attempts to make sense of time travel shenanigans and fails to do anything other than confuse and anger me.

QUESTIONS WITHOUT ANSWERS

Previously on The Flash, Barry went ten years into the future to find Eobard Thawne getting engaged to Iris. Currently on The Flash, Barry tries to talk to the angry people surrounding him at that engagement party. To prove he’s not evil, he attempts to change into his Flash costume but ends up in the yellow Reverse-Flash costume. Thawne is the one with the red costume and the Flash moniker now. This, by the way, completely goes against my understanding of fictional time travel, which generally treats the possessions of the time traveler as part of the traveler themselves — i.e., if Barry remembers being the Flash and wearing his red suit when he traveled through time, the suit should remain red within his ring because the suit and his memories fall along the same timeline. One changing without the other is a paradox. But, whatever. The people in charge wanted the wacky suit-switch to happen so here we are.

A fight breaks out, since everyone at this party is a superhero and they think Barry is a villain. While fighting, Barry does the thing I absolutely loathe every time characters find themselves in alternate realities or timelines: he begs them to see sense and asks them why they’re acting weird. Because this isn’t your freaking reality, Barry! You knew that stepping into this scenario, why are you shocked? Barry gets beat up but takes a moment to zip over, swipes Iris, and tries to talk to her back at what is now the West-Thawne loft.

Before he can get far, Thawne swipes Barry and deposits him in an alley. It’s a proper villain gloatin’ alley. Thawne says he created a Reverse-Flashpoint, which is different from a Flashpoint because it has the word “reverse” in front of it, and orchestrated everything to steal Barry’s life from him. Thawne made sure he was struck by lightning in 2013, that Iris wrote about him as the horribly-named The Streak, and he led Team Flash and got Iris to fall in love with him. Doesn’t this imply that Iris only fell in love with Barry because he was the Flash? I always got the impression that Barry and Iris had mutual childhood crushes on each other, but Thawne implies being the Flash is the way to Iris’s heart and that… is not a good implication for your leading lady, The Flash.

Thawne keeps talking, saying that he actually went back in time and successfully killed Barry as a child. This means Barry is Back to the Future-ing out of existence and, when Thawne’s new timeline solidifies at midnight, he will cease to exist. But… how is this timeline’s Barry the Reverse-Flash? How did the yellow suit get into Barry’s suit ring? Why do timelines solidify at midnight instead of instantly? We’re so early in the episode and I already have many questions.

Barry can’t even turn to the Speed Force because Thawne says that in his new timeline the Speed Force chose him instead of Barry. He shoots Barry with speed-lightning and declares his victory, shouting, “Who’s the fastest now?!” I always forget this rivalry is about being fast. I always forget that, because it’s the stupidest possible thing to base an epic timeline-and-universe-spanning rivalry on. Fastness. Good heavens, man, get a hobby.

Barry overhears that Damien Darhk was Reverse-Flash’s partner in crime and recently got released from Iron Heights on a technicality after being imprisoned for killing the alternate timeline versions of Cisco, all of the Legends, and Ray Palmer. Barry pays Darhk a visit to get his help, pretending to be the actual Reverse-Flash and spinning a story about how Thawne-Flash went back in time to orchestrate a new timeline. Darhk repeatedly and incorrectly calls fiddling with time “creating an anachronism” when I’m pretty sure he (and the writers) means “paradox.” Anachronisms are like, seeing an iPhone in Renaissance Italy, bro, not creating a whole new timeline. 

Darhk explains how they’ll need the “Particle Eradication Distributor” or “PED” in order to “correct” the timeline. Instead of just playing off his ignorance of this PED MacGuffin as a side effect of time travel hijinks, Barry tries to act all villainous and does not do a great job of it. This is going to go well! Remarkably, Darhk seems to believe Barry and they hatch a plan to retrieve the PED from STAR Labs.

Meanwhile, at STAR Labs, Thawne is still playing the role of heroic team leader. So did this guy really like, save people and stuff for years? Pretended to be friends with and care about all his team members? Or did he just blip back onto the scene as a hero after his timeline-altering and he’s only been pretending for a few days now? So. Many. Questions. And the show will answer none of them!

Barry and Darhk infiltrate STAR Labs for the PED, with Darhk making the attacks and Barry quickly locating the PED. Darhk wants to go all-in by killing Team Flash on this, the day before Thawne-Flash’s wedding, but Barry stops him and zips them back to Darhk’s place. Darhk is suspicious, leading to Barry telling him the truth about Thawne being the real Reverse-Flash planning to erase Barry at midnight. Allying with Darhk was really a best case scenario, because he’s both amused enough by Thawne’s evil to stop trying to kill Barry and susceptible to Barry appealing to him as a father. Darhk agrees to help Barry restore the timeline.

As a hint toward true love surpassing the power of time travel shenanigans, Iris confesses to Batwoman/Ryan Wilder that she’s struggling with her wedding vows because she can’t stop thinking about her brief conversation with Barry. Ryan tells Iris to listen to her heart and everything will work out.

After running some calculations, Barry realizes that he’ll need to hit Mach 20 to time travel and needs a runway of about 40,000 miles. Darhk suggests running around the world, which would have a cataclysmic effect on the planet and cause the Armageddon that Despero warned them all about. Darhk tells Barry he needs to try it anyway, because otherwise he’s leaving the whole planet in Thawne’s hands, but Barry’s still worried about his ability to reach the right speed at the right time. Hilariously, when Barry asks what else besides speed could help him, Darhk yells, “Love, you idiot!” and brings up the fact that Barry restarted the whole universe with love.

Darhk has to pep talk Barry into believing in the power of love, which is pretty strange coming from a villain. Still, it’s what Barry needs for inspiration and he goes to visit Iris again before trying their time travel plan. Iris pulls a gun on Barry but just as he’s about to get all emotional, Thawne shows up and tells her to shoot him. Instead, Iris shoots Thawne and tells Barry to leave before she changes her mind. Barry goes back to Darhk, ready to do his little run around the globe and open a temporal portal.

In a matter of seconds after Barry starts running, the Armageddon stuff starts happening and alt-Team Flash goes after Darhk while Thawne goes after Barry. Darhk tries to keep Barry on task from afar via magic, but ends up felled by Ryan Choi, Alex, Frost, and Chillblaine. It’s up to Barry to use his love for Iris to fuel that extra burst of speed that generates the temporal portal, which Barry dives through.

Back in 2021, Despero has killed all of Team Flash while interrogating them on Barry’s location, with Cecile being the last one left alive. Just as he’s about to kill Cecile as well, a wave sweeps through the room as the timeline is reset. So we don’t have to wait until midnight for that timeline to solidify, then? Okay. Barry gives Despero a recap on everything that has happened since he left for 2031, so Despero goes to 2031 to confirm it.

Barry reunites with a much happier Team Flash and finds out that Joe is still alive. Yay! But then we see that Thawne is hatching another plot against Barry. Boo!

Other Things:

  • Most of the alternate-reality stuff involved characters I don’t really know, but one The Flash-related plot was Allegra and Chester becoming a thing.
  • Damien Darhk calls Chillblaine “Chill-lame” and while that’s not the best bon mot I’ve ever heard, I am so on his side. I have to assume the writers know what an awful tool Chillblaine is, right? Dude wears a furry jacket and no shirt as his superhero costume.

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

The Flash 8x03 Review: "Armageddon, Part 3" (Three Down, Two to Go) [Contributor: Deborah M]


“Armageddon, Part 3”
Original Airdate: November 30, 2021

We’re on the third part of Barry’s five-part spiral into madness and DCTV crossovers! Will Barry end the world? Will Despero continue to speak like a Shakespeare Company reject? Will more DCTV characters show up in a very limited capacity that stretches the definition of “crossover event”? Only time will tell! But my personal predictions are no, yes, and yes, respectively.

PATHS DIVERGE

You know things got real last episode because the music at the start of this episode is immediately dramatic and we’ve switched to a hand-held camera to properly convey Barry’s panic. We start off in the Hall of Justice, where Barry is trying to get Black Lightning/Jefferson Pierce to help him. Apparently the “injustice” Barry spoke of last week was a code for the contingency plan all the superheroes came up with: the Injustice Protocols, for when one of them goes rogue. Barry tells Jefferson he needs to take away his powers. Poor Jefferson’s got a vibe like, “I don’t know this man well enough to be talking him off this ledge,” but he’s trying his best and that’s all anyone can ask for.

Barry explains how he’s gone off the rails, ending with the fact that he’d forgotten Joe’s death, and implores Jefferson to take away his powers. Jefferson promises he will, but they have to be absolutely certain because the method they use makes power removal permanent. So... use a different method? You can’t adjust metahuman cuffs to Barry’s powers?

At Chester’s house, which is perhaps the most “normal suburban” house I have ever seen on a TV show that wasn’t a sitcom about a working class family, the rest of the team worries over Barry’s fate. Cecile says their goal is to take care of Barry during his mental health crisis the same way Barry took care of her. Iris interrupts any further discussion by raising the possibility that Barry is actually the sanest of all of them. After all, Despero showed up, told Barry he would suffer a crisis that would break him, and that exact thing happened in a big way. Chester says what I was thinking, which is that Despero traveling from the future would make his ability to predict what would happen to Barry fairly precise.

Cecile asks about Barry forgetting Joe’s death, and it turns out Iris has footage of what would have been Joe’s accidental death by train... if not for the fact that Joe completely disappears from the path of the train in said footage. Cecile insists they all saw them bury Joe. You guys had an open casket funeral for a guy who got hit by a high speed train? Cecile tells Iris to stop living in a fantasy world so they can all deal with Barry.

I think Cecile is being bizarrely over the top in her refusal to listen to Iris, especially since the video footage Iris shows her is obviously weird. Joe disappears from the path of the train in a way that’s actually detectable to the human eye, without much slow motion. Iris has a lot of good points and isn’t coming at the death of her father from a neutral angle, but Cecile acts as if Iris is a stranger wanting to dredge up Joe’s death for the heck of it. But, I suppose there has to be some element of personal drama in this part of the story and the best the writers could do was make Cecile the primary opposition.

The team splits up, with Iris and Allegra going off and Caitlin and Chester sticking with Cecile. Makes sense, since Team Cecile is focusing on finding Barry and the science-minded members of Team Flash could come in handy there, while Iris and Allegra are both investigative journalists who could find what happened to Joe.

TEAM IRIS

At the train station, Iris spots something funny about the track Joe “died” on but Allegra doesn’t catch anything and Iris seems to blink it away. Allegra blames Iris’s time sickness, then suggests they look at the security cameras to check if anything could have been doctored in the footage of Joe. After checking with the sympathetic security guard, he blames the station sharing a power grid with Shark Stadium for the glitched footage and shows them the locally-stored copy of Joe’s death where Joe does not disappear before the train hits.

Discouraged by the new footage, Iris wants to give up but Allegra doesn’t. She shows Iris a folder of inconsistencies in the train’s safety inspection and schedule, hinting that things lined up too perfectly to be natural. Allegra gives her a pep talk to keep on hoping, but it’s probably seeing the same sparkly magic dust from the train tracks on the evidence folder that makes Iris want to start investigating again.

Iris has Deon the Still Force meet her at the train station, where she explains the glitter dust and her suspicions about Joe’s death. She thinks someone’s altering reality but Deon insists no one’s messed with the timeline. Iris asks Deon to undo the treatments she’d undergone for time sickness, so that she can better see what someone might be trying to hide. Deon warns her it could mean blipping in and out of timelines again, “or worse,” but Iris insists. With a snap of his fingers, Deon undoes whatever he did to stabilize Iris and suddenly Iris can see what Deon calls “temporal isotopes.” He confirms that Joe wasn’t supposed to die, but someone tapped into the “Negative Still Force” to change the timeline.

TEAM CECILE

Since Despero gets a boost to his power from the “Flame of Py’tar,” Cecile figures she could get a boost to her own powers, and since she knows Barry far better than Despero does, she should be able to find him before he does. Chester is excited by the challenge to build a “Cerebro” out of whatever he has lying around but Cecile still doesn’t have the brain power Despero does. Good thing she knows who to call!

It’s Rosa Dillon, AKA “Top” — a character I barely remember. Not the biggest of reveals, there. Anyway, Top connects her brainwaves to Cecile’s to help find Barry and, in exchange, she gets reduced parole or something criminal-y. The two of them working together with some amplifier science gizmo Chester came up with yields a quick glimpse of Barry before Chester’s gizmo explodes. Cecile orders Chester to fix the amplifier while Despero spies on them with his forehead eyeball, like a creep.

Cecile talks to Caitlin about how hard it is being an empath surrounded by people grieving the same person she’s grieving and Caitlin reminds Cecile that she can’t bury her emotions. Their talk is interrupted by Chester getting an alert saying someone’s turned on the particle accelerator back at the currently-closed STAR Labs. Turns out it was Despero, who mind-whammies all the government officials keeping an eye on STAR Labs so that he can shove his hand into some wires and power himself up. This gives Team Cecile a ticking clock to find Barry before Despero catches up to them. They try the amplifier again and get more of Barry’s location, including a shot of Jefferson, but Despero interrupts before they can get any further. 

Despero puts Top in a coma trying to pry Barry’s location from her mind, then turns on Cecile to get the rest of it. Cecile zaps him away with her mind powers (and the power of love, thanks to her embracing her emotions as Caitlin suggested) and Chester finally pinpoints Barry’s location.

BACK TO BARRY

Jefferson is trying to zap the Speed Force out of Barry, which is evidently their best method for removing his powers. Barry lets it slip that he’s hiding from a dude named Despero, then he has to explain everything else. Jefferson is mad because Barry seems like he’s taking the easy way out by getting rid of his powers when there’s a chance they could fight Despero instead. A hero-on-hero fight ensues, with Barry trying to goad Jefferson into blasting his powers away. There is much destruction, including Barry destroying the Green Arrow costume shrine, which inspires Jefferson to give Barry a pep talk about not quitting.

Unfortunately, the pep talk is punctuated by Despero showing up and trying to murder Barry. Iris and Deon stop him, explain about someone fiddling with the timeline, but Despero doesn’t buy it. Jefferson lightning-lassos Despero long enough for Deon to load Barry up with Still Force, which should pull Barry into the future and toward any “weird temporal activity.” Barry heads to the future. Despero dramatically declares that they’ve killed the world and also teleports out of there.

In the future, Barry finds a sign that reads “West Party” and walks in to find Eobard Thawne getting engaged to Iris. When the gathered party sees Barry, they all look at him with disgust.

Other Things:

  • I’m obligated to mention, once again, that it’s weird Eobard Thawne has just like, adopted Harrison Wells’s face forever now.