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, October 11, 2019

Grey’s Anatomy 16x03 Recap: “Reunited” (Come Together) [Contributor: Julia Siegel]


“Reunited”
Original Airdate: October 10, 2019

“Reunited, and it feels so good” is the perfect mantra for this week’s episode of Grey’s Anatomy. Former Charmed costars Alyssa Milano and Holly Marie Combs guest star as, you guessed it, sisters who are reunited in the wake of a family tragedy. The pair checks into Pac-North (this episode is part of ABC’s “Cast from the Past Week” where Milano and Combs are reunited with Grey’s executive producers and one-time Charmed writers Krista Vernoff and Andy Reaser).

You know you are in for a good time whenever two guest stars of this caliber stop by for some antics.

PATIENCE IS A VIRTURE


The episode opens with a few shots of Jackson and new friend Vic Hughes going on a morning hike. The pair appears to be getting along great, though Jackson is surprised to see Vic’s firefighter strength when she moves a tree out of their path. It’s immediately obvious that it is only a matter of time before they become more than friends, but more on that later. Over at the Grey/Shepherd/Pierce residence, Amelia tells Maggie that she is going to keep the baby during their now-typical morning talk. Amelia admits that the situation is bewildering and that she isn’t ready to tell Meredith, Owen, or anyone else yet. As has become customary, Maggie gets in a few complaints about Jackson moving on from their breakup so quickly.

DeLuca keeps trying to earn the title of best boyfriend by dropping Meredith off at community service on his way to work. Their car ride discussion reveals that Bailey is punishing DeLuca for his ongoing relationship with Meredith by assigning him to run the ICU and not perform surgery. Meredith is currently working on pitching article ideas to different websites on various reasons why the healthcare system in this country is failing. DeLuca cautiously warns Meredith to not go too far with whatever she writes, as it could come back to burn her down the road.

It may be a new day for Alex and Richard down the road at Pac-North, but they still seem to be having the same problems. Their new MRI machine has arrived, after the old one broke in the previous episode, but the hospital doesn’t have the correct software for the new machine, rendering it useless. Richard is surprised to bump into his AA friend Gemma, who was introduced toward the end of last season. Gemma has gotten a job in the billing department of Pac-North, and Richard is glad to have another friend around.

Grey Sloan Memorial is also having its fair share of drama, which kicks off when Teddy brings baby Allison to the hospital and bumps into Amelia. Teddy is slightly frazzled at being a new mother, while Amelia catches herself mid-sentence when she practically says that she is pregnant. Teddy’s sleep deprived brain isn’t functional enough to catch Amelia’s slip up, so the pregnancy secret is safe for now. Owen is working on a trauma patient in the ER when Koracick comes into the room for a consult and kicks Owen out by enforcing his restraining order. Owen isn’t pleased that he can’t help his own patient and that Koracick is acting like a child, but this is what was to be expected when he was given more power. Jo seems to be the only happy doctor in the hospital and is very enthusiastic about performing a difficult surgery on one of Meredith’s previous patients. However, the patient is not happy that Meredith is no longer her doctor and doesn’t want Jo to remove her liver tumor.

We are then introduced to two squabbling sisters, Heidi (Combs) and Haylee (Milano), who are shocked to learn from Richard that their third sister fell 30 feet into a construction site and might be brain dead.

DISORIENTED


Back at Grey Sloan, the drama heats up when Amelia finds out during a hallway conversation that Link told Jo about the pregnancy. Amelia reiterates that she isn’t ready to tell people and isn’t happy that Link blabbed. Link defends himself by telling her that he had to tell his best friend. Thankfully, the argument is cut short when they run into an elderly Korean woman in the hall. The woman appears to be lost, and Link and Amelia decide she needs help since they can’t understand Korean.

Jo decides to be extra bold and asks Bailey to let Meredith come back to the hospital to perform one surgery on her patient with the liver tumor. Bailey immediately shoots the idea down and tells Jo that she needs to convince her patient to have the surgery because she won’t let Meredith step foot in the OR. Jo has a lightbulb moment and realizes that they can have Meredith be a part of the surgical team without her being in the building.

Maggie’s pity party continues as she is performing a heart procedure on an elderly gentleman named Bertie. During the procedure, he tells her all about how love makes everything better, but Maggie isn’t buying his advocating for love. And speaking of love, we get a glimpse at the chaos happening over at Pac-North, where Heidi and Haylee are at odds over whether or not to unplug their brain-dead sister. Alex and Richard watch as Heidi tries to convince Haylee that their sister wouldn’t want to continue living like this, but Haylee doesn’t want to give up hope. Poor Alex and Richard know they are in for a long day of arguing.

Back in Grey Sloan’s ER, Link and Amelia are treating their new patient for dehydration while looking for an interpreter. Nico happens to be close by and overhears the lady speaking Korean, which he also coincidentally speaks. Nico translates what the patient is saying and tells the other two that she has lost her friend that is a bird and that she seems disoriented.

Owen is also mulling around the ER and gets very upset when Koracick announces that he is entering the room, forcing him to leave once again. Jo brings Meredith into her patient’s room via video chat and says that they can have her in the OR the whole time with them to look over Jo. It’s surprising that Bailey has agreed to allow Meredith to supervise through video chat considering her disdain for her former mentee. However, Bailey has to get over it when the patient agrees that she will have the surgery as long as Meredith is there on camera the whole time.

FAITH


Teddy is still chilling at the hospital since she enjoys being there more than being at home. Owen finds her and Allison and suggests that they give the baby a tour of the hospital to take both of their minds off of things. Vic shows up at Grey Sloan when she brings in a patient while on aid car duty and visits Jackson. He notices that she has a cut on her forehead over her left eyebrow and says, in a very flirty manner, that he will fix her up. Amelia finds Maggie and wants her opinion on whether she should start telling people that she’s pregnant. Maggie feels that Amelia shouldn’t say anything yet so she and Link can enjoy their secret. Amelia and Link’s elderly patient doesn’t want help, but Nico suggest that they keep her for observation in case she has dementia. Maggie checks in on Bertie, who asks her to go on a walk with him.

Over at Pac-North, Haylee has left and come back with some crystals, which she thinks might help her sister heal. (Yes, the healing power of crystals reference shouldn’t be lost on viewers in the sly move to reference Milano’s witchy TV past.) Heidi doesn’t see the point in holding out hope when they know that their sister isn’t going to wake up. Haylee wants Heidi to have some faith that they could get some good news and not lose their sister, which is really too optimistic at this point.

Speaking of faith, DeLuca shows some good faith by teaching Schmitt how to do a simple procedure and then letting him perform it on their patient. DeLuca’s plan backfires when Schmitt royally screws up by dropping the guide wire into the patient’s heart. Bailey is beyond mad at DeLuca when she hears what happened, but he takes her wrath like a champ and doesn’t out Schmitt’s mistake, much to the surprise of Schmitt and the audience.

LOVE ALWAYS WINS


After some more bickering between Heidi and Haylee, Richard forces the sisters to stop arguing. The sisters quip that he sounds like their mom, but are moved when he says that they should use this hard time as an opportunity to become close again. He reminds them that they have each other to lean on in this tough time and that they need to make a joint decision on what care to give their sister in order to heal. The sisters immediately realize that Richard is right, and Haylee decides that Heidi is right in pulling the plug.

Meanwhile Jo’s surgery on Meredith’s patient is going very well, and Meredith is happy to be helping out via video chat. The other surgeons and nurses are glad that she is helping out too, but Bailey still isn’t enthused by the situation. Things go south when the patient has a massive hemorrhage in the middle of the surgery. Bailey scrubs in to help Jo out before the patient bleeds out. At the other end of the hospital, Maggie asks Bertie for advice on how to get Jackson out of her mind while on their walk. They pass by the Korean patient’s room, and Bertie and the woman recognize each other, much to the shock of the other doctors. It turns out that the pair met during the Korean War and fell in love.

Bertie tells the story of how they were supposed to meet on a train platform to go back to America together and start a new life. Unfortunately, he was reassigned to an earlier train and didn’t have a way of contacting her, and they never saw each other again. Bertie goes on to tell his long lost love about his life since then and how he has never forgotten her. The lady tells Bertie, through Nico’s translation, that she never showed up on the train platform either because she was scared to leave South Korea. She didn’t forget about him either and followed him on social media. She had seen his post about his surgery, which prompted her to fly to America to find him and see him again. This is quite a moving and lovely story that touches all the characters and exactly what this episode needed considering the Heidi/Haylee storyline.

While one couple is brought back together after many years apart, a new couple emerges in another room in the hospital. Jackson is stitching up Vic’s forehead, and the sexual tension in the air could be cut with a knife. She asks him is she is the first girl he has dated who is stronger than him and whether or not that is an issue. Jackson coyly says that he may not be stronger than her, but he has a lot of skills that she will find handy. With that cue, the two engage in a lively makeout session and decide that taking things slow isn’t going to happen. It’s easy to see Jackson and Vic working out long term because they have great chemistry and a second cross-show relationship makes perfect sense.

NEW BEGINNINGS


After all the love is outed, we finally learn that DeLuca and Schmitt’s patient is fine following Schmitt’s debacle. Schmitt doesn’t understand why DeLuca is taking the blame for his mistake, and DeLuca says it is ultimately his responsibility because he was in charge of the procedure. However, all is not forgiven, and DeLuca wants Schmitt to hold onto a guide wire for the next week in order for him to learn to never let go of it again in a procedure. DeLuca also makes Schmitt tell the patient’s family what happened to teach him a lesson. The other ailing patient at Grey Sloan also survives when Jo and Bailey are able to repair their patient’s hepatic vein and restore blood flow. Jo completes the procedure successfully, and everyone is super proud of her. Meredith is extremely proud of Jo’s successful outcome, but Bailey hangs up on her mid-praise.

The time has come for the brain-dead sister to be unplugged at Pac-North. While Richard is explaining what he is doing while turning off the machines one by one, everyone gets scared when a cell phone goes off right after the ventilator is turned off. Heidi finds her dying sister’s phone in her bag of personal items and picks it up when she sees it is her sister’s best friend calling. They get the shock of a lifetime when Heidi is told by the friend that her sister is alive and well and that her bag had been stolen. Heidi and Haylee immediately freak out that they have killed the wrong person and scream at Richard to plug whoever this woman is back in. It’s quite a comedic moment when they realize that they pulled the plug on someone they didn’t know.

It turns out that the injured and now-dead woman stole the wallet and was misidentified. Haylee starts blaming Heidi for mistakenly killing person. Richard intervenes and makes them realize that they have been given a rare second chance at fixing their relationship with their very-much-alive sister and that they shouldn’t waste the opportunity. The sisters agree with Richard and all is well again, except in Alex’s case when Richard tells him that the whole mess is a chief problem to fix.

After hearing Bertie’s story, Amelia tells Link that she is happy that they decided to keep the baby, but she’s scared at the same time, which is why she wanted to keep it a secret. In the same sentence, she has a change of heart and decides it’s time to tell their family and friends the good news, as long as he is by her side the whole time. You can practically hear the audience’s collective “aw” in the background during the sweet moment. In another moment of couple’s therapy, Nico doesn’t understand how Schmitt made such a big mistake and says that Schmitt needs to demand more of himself. Nico decides that they will spend the night in the skills lab practicing the procedure over and over until Schmitt won’t make the same mistake again.

Awkwardness then takes over the halls of Grey Sloan when Maggie bumps into Vic as she is leaving. Vic doesn’t want things to be awkward between them, but there’s no chance of that ever happening. The scene is very uncomfortable to watch because they are able to really drive the awkwardness of the encounter home. Things get more awkward when intern Qadri goes on a rant to Bailey about how all the interns and residents chose to work at Grey Sloan to specifically work with Meredith. Bailey irrationally fires Qadri on the spot for supporting Meredith. My bold prediction is that Bailey will not remain chief of surgery for much longer and will be removed from her position by midseason. She can’t keep punishing everyone who supports Meredith because it is completely unfair.

Owen and Teddy end their day by switching roles. Owen suggests that Teddy go back to work and let him stay home with Allison for a while since his current work situation is less than stellar. Teddy is very happy with the new agreement and decides to go change into scrubs and get to work at that very minute. Link, Amelia, Meredith, and DeLuca are also enjoying a couple’s night, where Amelia randomly blurts out that she is pregnant. The news stuns Meredith and DeLuca momentarily until Meredith starts jumping for joy. She is just a little excited to be an aunt.

The episode ends at Pac-North with a possibly touchy situation for Richard. After not being able to get a hold of Catherine to tell her about his chaotic day, Richard runs into Gemma again. She invites him out to dinner to talk about pulling the plug on the wrong patient, and the two leave the hospital together. Hopefully this doesn’t put Richard on another slippery slope, but only time will tell.

The Flash 6x01 Review: "Into the Void" (Flash! Ah-ah!) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]


“Into the Void”
Original Airdate: October 8, 2019

Unlike previous seasons of The Flash, I’m going into season six completely ignorant of everything the show has planned. Will the villain for the season be a speedster? A megalomaniacal genius bent on world domination? A time traveler? I don’t know! I’m really hoping this lack of knowledge will add suspense and obfuscate the show’s usual pacing issues. Can’t be bored of stuff when you don’t know where it’s going, right?

Anyway, this season opener was fun, with a good balance of action-y stuff and emotional stuff and pretty much all the characters getting something to do. That’s always nice. Overall, a solid debut for the show’s sixth season — and as a bonus, this episode has probably the best music moment of the whole series so far.

KING OF THE IMPOSSIBLE!


Moments after we ended last season, Barry and Iris are leaving the Time Vault where they’ve just finished listening to Nora’s sad goodbye message. As soon as they’re out of the room, an alarm goes off and they run back in to find Nora’s recording glitching and the little disc that held it frying in the futuristic SD card slot. So, Iris and Barry have lost their time-erased daughter’s final words to them, which... man, it’s no wonder Iris spends this whole episode looking like she’s about to crumble to pieces. Barry, by the way, takes the complete opposite route this episode and adopts overly cheery “can-do” attitude that he pulls out every time a new problem arises.

Speaking of problems: four months later, someone out there is making fake versions of the villain Godspeed for some unfathomable reason. The false Godspeeds look realistic but they only make a screeching sound the likes of which I haven’t heard since back when I’d connect to AOL via dial-up. This most recent Godspeed is the fourth one so far. I assume the spare Godspeeds is going to be a season arc thing?

But it’s not all about action heroics with Team Flash! You gotta make time for family cookouts, too. Iris and her father are both wearing kicky hats and there’s more than one Hawaiian shirt on display, so you know everyone’s having a good time. Seriously, though, it’s a cute little scene and further establishes how much the team is like a family. There are no horrible secrets being hidden from anyone, no dramatic interpersonal troubles, no lies... I enjoy a comic book show that just goes “all these people love each other and it’s great” and leaves it at that.

Unfortunately, plot rests for no one: Barry has to deal with a break-in, Caitlin has to go to a funeral, Cisco has science stuff, Iris wants to hunt down a box her father threw away, and Joe and Cecille are left with the washing up. I’m mad because there’s a whole pie in the shot that no one ate.

At the funeral Caitlin left for, a suave, English-accented man is giving the sort of eloquent eulogy only given by people on TV and movies. The funeral is for his mother, who was apparently a mentor of Caitlin’s while she attended med school with Suave Man, whose name is Ramsey Rosso. Ramsey invites Caitlin out for coffee, which means he’s destined for death and/or villainy. Sure enough, later he gives Caitlin an evil speech of evil in which he asks for her help obtaining dark matter in order to cure the disease that killed his mother. Caitlin refuses, and he essentially tells her she’ll rue the day! Rue it!

Meanwhile, Iris is at a junkyard and the attendant helps her find the box Joe threw away. Did Joe really throw away a box without checking what was in it first? Because the thing in the box — the thing Iris went to a junkyard to find — is Nora’s XS jacket. Sadly, as soon as she gets her hands on a memento of her lost daughter, a black hole opens and sucks it inside. It almost sucks the attendant and Iris inside as well, but it closes before they get to visit another dimension.

Other black holes are popping up around the city, including one that nearly sucks Caitlin in while she’s on her coffee date with that future supervillain. Notably, when Caitlin nearly gets pulled into a black hole in the middle of a coffee shop, she calls for Killer Frost to lend a hand but her alter-ego fails to appear. I assumed we’d have more Killer Frost is Missing drama because it’s always something with that frosty lass, but it turns out she was just kinda sulky about not being able to live her own life.

The main issue is those black holes. Iris has managed to put her investigative reporter skills to work and tracked down an online personality named Chester P. Runk. Chester is energetic and eccentric and a genius, judging by Cisco’s reaction to what he’s building on a recorded livestream. I assume the livestream is like, non-copyrighted Twitch or something but I don’t really know because, if you couldn’t already tell by my reference to AOL earlier in this review, I’m old and boring. Iris fast-forwards through a lot of Chester’s rambling and building a device that’s meant to contact aliens but malfunctions and creates a miniature black hole. The livestream cuts out as soon as Chester touches the black hole.

Cecille has apparently used her connections as DA to find Chester, and Iris shows up to question him about the black holes. There’s a snag, though: Chester is catatonic. Frustrated by the lack of progress, Iris storms out and Cecille follows, having caught on that Iris lost something belonging to Nora at the junkyard. They have a little heart-to-heart about the grieving process. Inspired by her own difficulty communicating, Iris goes back and see Chester, whose twitching finger is in tune with the pulse pattern of the black hole on the news playing on the hospital TV. You know what this means? Central City’s local news has no time delay! Also, Chester and the black hole are connected, and stopping the black hole will mean killing Chester.

The nerd sector of Team Flash figures out that the cycle of stimuli in Chester’s brain disappears halfway around, only to be completed in an energy cycle within the black hole. So, the team has figured out what the problem is, but not so much the solution — Cisco argues that they might have to let Chester die if it means saving the whole city. Barry, dropping the positivity buzz he’d had all episode, snaps that he won’t lose “anyone else,” so clearly this is very Nora-related.

After his blow-up, Iris talks to Barry about losing Nora. She explains that she feels awful about the black hole eating Nora’s jacket because, illogically, she thinks Nora will need the jacket in order to become XS. You know, the writing of this speech (and Candice Patton’s stellar acting) seriously sells that irrational part of mourning. In this case, it’s the idea that one’s future daughter needs a jacket to complete some sort of time loop and arrive at the place in her life she needs to be, but it’s just a very bizarre version of a very real thing.

But there’s no time for emotions — a black hole has opened up in Central City! Team Flash has determined that Barry will be going into the black hole to stop it from the inside. The bad news is, it might smoosh him into subatomic tininess. The good news is, the Speed Force is stronger than physics and we have a whole season left, so he’ll probably be okay.

Cisco, who has the best priorities, needle-drops the song “Flash” by Queen for Barry’s trip into the black hole — wait, Queen? This show can afford Queen?! Anyway, it’s awesome and I approve. With a little help from Nora’s time travel equipment, Cecille’s ability to carry Chester to S.T.A.R Labs (apparently she can bench her body weight, so that’s something), and some crowd control from Joe and Killer Frost, Barry saves the day and saves Chester to boot. He also managed to get Nora’s jacket out of the black hole, which doesn’t seem like it should be possible but it’s a heartwarming moment so I’ll allow it.

The heartwarming moment is interrupted by the arrival of The Monitor. Heeeey, Monitor. Monitor anything good lately? Oh, no, just the imminent destruction of the multiverse and/or the death of our hero on December 10, 2019? Cool. Cool, cool, cool.

Other Things: 

  • Cisco, Caitlin, and Barry are working on something called the “MAC” to augment his brain in order to predict the future and, for real guys? You’re going to mess with Barry’s brain? Sure, how could that possibly end poorly?
  • I kind of really like the friendship between Ralph and Killer Frost.
  • “He’s still, you know, glowing in the eyes with orange dark energy, but he’s in really good spirits!”
  • I like Chester and I want him to show up again.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Jenn’s Pick: 10 TV Shows That Are Worth Your Time [Contributor: Jenn]

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Welcome to the final few months of 2019! As we approach a brand-new decade soon (a shocking thought), it seems like we’ll soon be in the era of all-out streaming service wars. Between Disney, Apple, Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO, and cable services, it can be overwhelming to find the time and money to watch television.

Regardless of the cost, you might be looking for a way to escape the plethora of parties or family engagements as the holiday season rolls around. And that’s where I come in! Whether it’s a new show or a show that’s returned for another season, there are numerous series out there deserving of your time. I’ve narrowed them down to ten. Let’s get started!

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10. Single Parents (ABC)


I’ve talked a lot about Single Parents on here, but it truly is a gem of a comedy series. It has a fantastic ensemble, the children in the show are just as important as the adults (and they get their own major storylines to prove it), the show is genuinely funny, and it has a big heart. The show is created by the same women who had a hand in New Girl, so if you enjoyed the blend of hilarity, shenanigans, and sweet moments that show was about, then you’ll love Single Parents.

This little-show-that-could managed to get a second season which is currently airing on ABC, so binge-watch the first season on Hulu and catch up now!

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9. Emergence (ABC)


I love fall TV pilot season. As a good friend of mine noted, it’s like our own version of college football kickoff! I tend to gravitate more toward comedy pilots than drama ones (or at least I have in the past), so I was surprised that this season saw a healthy mix of both in my queue. Emergence was one of the shows that intrigued me and it’s already proven to be a mystery-centric series. I like shows with cliffhangers that draw you in — not just shock and awe for the sake of shock and awe — so Emergence was right up my alley. It stars Allison Tolman as Jo, a police chief, who suddenly finds herself at the center of a mystery surrounding a little girl. Tolman’s Jo is kind, endearing, and immediately likable. There’s enough in the pilot to unravel in the future: Jo’s sick father, her ex-husband (played by Donald Faison), the ever-growing powers the little girl, Piper, seems to have. If you’re in the market for something interesting without too much of a scare factor, then Emergence is the series for you.

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8. Stumptown (ABC)


I couldn’t say no to a show that featured Cobie Smulders and a bearded Jake Johnson, and I didn’t regret it. The pilot begins with “Sweet Caroline,” a fight sequence, a dramatic freeze frame, and a cast of dimensional characters. Stumptown is an ABC drama series based on a comic of the same name. It centers around Dex (Smulders), a military veteran-turned-P.I. Dex is unabashadley blunt and cavalier in her methods and relationships, but beneath her harder exterior and emotional walls is a lot of loss and vulnerability. Not many people get to see the softer side of Dex, besides her brother, Ansel, and her friend Grey (Johnson).

Stumptown had a really nice mix of everything which is probably why I immediately gravitated toward it. It boasts an incredibly talented cast (not mentioned above was Michael Ealy who plays a detective and Dex’s sorta-love interest), plus a nice blend of mystery/cop drama and case-of-the-week serialization/comedy/heart. Cobie Smulders could sell me anything, and Dex is a really hard character to play. She’s sarcastic, deeply wounded, and also incredibly warm — but only when she chooses to be. Smulders strikes the exact right balance in her performance, and Jake Johnson’s Grey is equal parts endearing and complex.

Your next drama series should be this one!

9. The -ish Trio: blackish, grownish, and mixedish (ABC and Freeform)


I know I am cheating but I have to keep the -ish trio together. If you haven’t yet watched blackish, I highly recommend starting there. Though it’s not required, necessarily, to watch blackish before attempting mixedish or grownish, you’ll have a clearer picture of each series if you do. Plus, blackish is just excellent. It has this incredible way of portraying very real, very hard conversations with rawness, honesty, and humanity. The Johnsons are all so well-rounded that it makes their inter-family conflicts that much more painful because we’re reminded over and over again that they’re all human. That means they’re flawed. And no two characters think or act exactly alike on the series.

grownish is the second series in the -ish family, following Zoey Johnson (Yara Shahidi), the oldest of the siblings in blackish, as she goes to college. She meets friends, falls in love, and struggles with things a lot of college students do. grownish is very much a Freeform shows in the look and feel (as well as musical choices), but also in the way that Zoey is portrayed. The series’ title is apt, as Zoey is not quite an adult — and neither are her friends — which comes across clearly in the way they think and talk about themselves, their situations, and their problems. But I like complex characters — ones who you often don’t root for, or waffle about — and this show is full of them! (Plus it’s just a fun series.)

mixedish is the newest addition to the family, and it tells the story of how Rainbow Johnson (Tracee Ellis Ross) grew up. What I immediately loved about the pilot was the sentimentality of the final scene. It’s what sets the show apart from a lot of series on television right now, and what makes blackish such a stand-out show. There’s a tendency in television to skew toward negativity or darkness. The -ish trio really focuses on love, family, and dealing with the hard stuff together. mixedish, I can tell, will stay that trajectory.

mixedish follows Bow’s journey as she grows up in the 1980s in a mixed-race family. It’s going to be a series that focuses a lot on the era, and I can tell that — just like its predecessor blackish — it will handle difficult and multi-layered topics with grace and humor. Rainbow’s upbringing is fascinating and with Tika Sumpter and Mark-Paul Gosselaar playing Bow’s parents, there are plenty of opportunities for shenanigans and heart already in the series.

I highly recommend checking out this trio of series, especially blackish and mixedish as they’re currently airing on ABC!

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8. Schitt’s Creek (Pop TV)


It took me too long to get into Schitt’s Creek (and I’m currently watching the show as I write), but I could immediately see the appeal. When the Rose family loses their fortune, they’re left with the only asset they have: a town called Schitt’s Creek that they bought as a joke. The rest of the series is a step of mishaps, shenanigans, and comedy as the Roses learn not only to build their lives but actually connect with each other and the townspeople.

Schitt’s Creek can be cackle-out-loud funny. But it’s a series that manages to surprise you with how it taps into the heart of relationships. Have you ever ever had those moments in TV comedies that sneak up on you because of how earnest they are? Yeah, just listen to Patrick sing “Simply the Best” and see if you have tears streaming down your face.

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7. Bless This Mess (ABC)


Bless This Mess is a quiet, chill, and quirky comedy on ABC that not many people even know exist. It might not be the shining star of the network but it’s a cute show starring Dax Sheperd and Lake Bell. It’s about a couple named Mike and Rio who move from New York City to Nebraska when Mike’s great-aunt leaves him a farmhouse. It’s a fish-out-of-water comedy series that features quirky characters, silly storylines, and some genuine heartwarming moments.

The relationship between Mike and Rio is the show’s cornerstone, and I’m interested to see how the series will continue to strike the balance between their marriage and the rest of the ensemble cast. If you haven’t checked out Bless This Mess, give the series a shot! Hopefully you’ll find it as enjoyable as I do.

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6. Four Weddings and a Funeral (Hulu)


Very loosely based on the romantic comedy of the same name, Four Weddings and a Funeral is a new Hulu miniseries that just concluded. It tells the story of a group of friends who are trying to navigate life, love, and loss in London together. When a show features an EP credit of Mindy Kaling, I immediately need to check it out. And while I found a few characters in the series to be frustrating, I can tell you one thing: This show is fun, and it also makes you feel. I didn’t expect to cry the second episode of the series, but I did. And the fact that I had feelings — positive or negative — toward characters means that the show is creating and stirring something in its viewers other than ambivalence.

Four Weddings and a Funeral is a rom-com that leans on tropes one moment and then subverts them the next. It cleverly depicts the passage of time, and balances stories between its main characters very well. It doesn’t try and drag out reveals too much, and it keeps you feeling and laughing along the way. Nathalie Emmanuel is stellar as Maya, who’s an ambitious woman who feels and loves well. Nikesh Patel is endearing as Kash, Rebecca Rittenhouse and John Reynolds play Ainsley and Duffy respectively and though their characters are complex and frustrating at times, they do a fantastic job conveying the layers of insecurity in both of them. Brandon Mychal Smith gets to play comedic relief and also one of the most earnest characters, Craig, while Zoe Boyle’s Gemma truly surprised me the most in the series (Sophia La Porta also is surprising in how deep and empathetic her character becomes).

If you’re looking for a miniseries that features laughter, love, and drama, then check this one out!

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5. A Million Little Things (ABC)


I have surprised myself with how much I’ve enjoyed A Million Little Things. Maybe it’s James Roday, maybe it’s the fact that this show can make me burst into tears, or maybe it’s that it picked up steam throughout the first season in storytelling. Regardless, this ABC drama has become a part of my “must-watch” queue these days. If you’ve never watched A Million Little Things and assumed it’s a carbon copy of This Is Us, you’d be incorrect. While there are shades of that emotional, family-centric drama series in this one, that’s about where the comparisons end.

A Million Little Things is about what happens when secrets are kept between loved ones: it really is a show about the importance of honesty, vulnerability, and connection. I expected to cry as I watched the series, but I didn’t expect to be hit with such a powerful wave of emotions regarding the human spirit and significance of community. There are fun moments peppered throughout the series, too, so that the heavy subject matter doesn’t overwhelm the show.

If you haven’t yet checked it out, I’d recommend the series. Try a binge-watch: it might surprise you!

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4. The Politician (Netflix)


I definitely finished the entire first season of The Politician in a day. That’s how easy of a binge it really is. To be honest, I’m still bitter at Ryan Murphy for the way he utterly allowed Glee to become the utter trainwreck that it was, but I think series that are over-the-top in terms of camp and drama are right up his alley. So that’s why when you watch this  Netflix series, the fact that teenagers talk in the way that no other teenagers actually talk, you can chalk it up to the fact that these are very wealthy, entitled characters in a very satirical universe.

The Politician stars Ben Platt as Payton Hobart, an ambitious student who desires to become student body president. Payton is on a singular track to become President of the United States someday, which is why he needs (not just wants, but NEEDS) to win. He’s flocked by advisors and a supportive girlfriend, and chooses a cancer patient (Zoey Deutch) to be his vice-president. Soapy drama ensues, of course, when Payton squares up against River, the popular and athletic student, for student body president.

Everything about The Politician is over-the-top and somehow, a decent part of it works. And honestly almost all of it works not because of Ryan Murphy or any of his former Glee showrunners. It works because of Ben Platt. Platt humanizes a character who’s borderline sociopathic, turning him into someone we don’t necessarily root for, but definitely someone we can feel for. Platt gets to sing in the series multiple times which just really adds to the humanizing of Payton. And when Ben Platt cries, I think we all cry.

Additionally, Zoey Deutch is compelling in her role and deserves to be in everything from here on out. Gwenyth Paltrow plays Payton’s mother and though her role isn’t incredibly prevalent throughout, the significance of her relationship with Payton is central to the series (and also induced the most tears for me toward the end of the first season).

The Politician is something you can really breeze through, and I recommend spending a rainy afternoon doing just that.

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3. Superstore (NBC)


I don’t remember when I started watching Superstore, but when I did, I couldn’t fathom why I hadn’t been watching it from the start! Superstore is a workplace comedy starring America Ferrera and Ben Feldman, this NBC show focuses on the employees of Cloud 9, which is essentially like the show’s version of a Wal-Mart. It features running jokes, shenanigans, nuanced characters, and some really funny moments. It also surprised me last season with a finale that left an emotional moment hanging, with no real punchline. I love when shows are able to lean into some serious moments and topics, and Superstore’s characters can carry that subject matter.

If you’re not already watching this show for some reason, definitely binge-watch to catch up and then enjoy the Cloud 9 antics as much as I do!

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2. Fleabag (Amazon Prime)


I finally decided to watch Fleabag this year after so many people talked about it, and I wasn’t disappointed. The show’s an utterly brilliant, funny, occasionally dark, heartbreaking look at a woman — known to us as “Fleabag” — who is grieving and angry, trying everything she can (mostly including reckless behavior with men) to stop herself from feeling loss. Phoebe Waller-Bridge is so perfect in this role and series; she’s what will draw you in. Quite literally, too, because her character breaks the fourth wall and talks to you. The show will probably make you uncomfortable at times, and that’s what’s so amazing about it. Feelings are messy. People are messy. Life doesn’t work the way we think, and we all cope in whatever way we can — whether it’s healthy or not. Seeing Fleabag develop over the course of the two seasons though is so refreshing and the ways that she manages to cope and improve herself are very realistic. Progress and healing don’t happen overnight, and this series focuses on that.

Plus, Andrew Scott stars in the second season as a priest who’s very attractive and he’s simultaneously the best and most heartbreaking part of the show.

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1. The Good Place (NBC)


If you haven’t watched The Good Place yet, where have you been for the last few years? I don’t know that I’ll be able to say anything about the show to convince you to watch it that hasn’t already been said, but I’ll try. I love The Good Place. I think the writing and storytelling are concise, funny, and so very smart. I think the showrunners and writers care deeply about honoring the characters they’ve created, and I think that the show does a wonderful job of weaving in humor and heart. If you don’t tear up or cry watching the “girl from Arizona” scene this season, you’re probably a robot. The acting is impeccable, the callbacks and attention to detail are what I would expect from a Mike Schur show (and nothing less), and the ensemble is the heart of the series. You can tell when a cast clicks on and off set because it makes a difference in the way the show ends up. It’s clear when you watch The Good Place that the cast and writers understand and respect one another. It’s also clear that this show is devoted to focusing on the good of humanity — something a lot of shows would rather ignore.

I once remember someone saying that Parks and Recreation was “the comedy of optimism,” but I really believe this is just part of who Mike Schur is, at his core. It shines through in all he creates: the world is dark and bad, of course. But people are still good. There is still hope. And there is still work to be done in the interim. That is what The Good Place is all about.

So what do you all think? Have you checked out the shows I mentioned above? If you have, sound off with some of your favorites below!

Friday, October 4, 2019

Grey’s Anatomy 16x02 Recap: “Back in the Saddle” (New Beginnings) [Contributor: Julia Siegel]


“Back in the Saddle”
Original Airdate: October 3, 2019

After a whirlwind, time jumping premiere, Grey’s Anatomy is back with a more standard episode. It appears that the action picks up relatively close to where we left off, which lets the stories presented in the first episode of the season to further develop. Every character has a new beginning this week, so there is a lot more positivity in the air.

FIRST STEPS


The first scene shows DeLuca visiting Meredith at her community service “job.” While he is there, Meredith receives a message saying that her hearing with the medical board about the status of her medical license will be held in three months. She isn’t happy that she has to wait in limbo for that long, but decides to continue practicing medicine by helping her fellow workers with their medical problems. On the other side of things, Bailey is at home complaining to Ben about not having Meredith, Richard, and Alex working at the hospital anymore and how much she hates having Tom Koracick as her boss. Of course, these are problems that Bailey caused herself... not that she is willing to admit it. With Victoria Hughes visiting last week and Ben appearing in this episode, I’m starting to wonder if we will have a Station 19 character visit every episode of Grey’s Anatomy while the former is on hiatus.

In the happiest storyline of the episode, Jo declares to Alex that she is ready to go back to work, and he’s surprised she is willing to go back to Grey Sloan Memorial. He offers his wife a fellowship with no strings attached at his new hospital, Pacific Northwest General (Pac North for short). The show then flashes to the Grey/Shepherd/Pierce residence, where Amelia tells Maggie that she has yet to inform Link that she is pregnant. Maggie is dealing with her own complications, and complains about being single and how much she hates Jackson for moving on from their relationship so quickly. Back at Grey Sloan Memorial, Owen arrives for his first day of work post-paternity leave and has the world’s most awkward elevator ride with Tom and Link, where he finds out about Tom’s new position.

Tom has brought on a fifth-year resident from Johns Hopkins. Bailey has decided to take a more hands-on approach with the surgical interns and residents to make up for her guilt in firing three of her best doctors. Tom’s protégée is part of Bailey’s group, though we don’t get to see much more of him other than his introduction. After they pull into the parking lot of the hospital, a scooterist rides into the side of Maggie and Amelia’s parked car, and he becomes the trauma patient of the episode. In other first steps news, Alex and Richard get off to a bumpy start on their first day at Pac North when they realize that the hospital is worse off than they thought: the elevators not working and there are only two surgical residents to service the entire hospital.

LEAP OF FAITH 


The moment we have all been waiting for arrives when Amelia finds Link and decides to blurt out that she is pregnant in a stairwell at the hospital. Link is more than stunned at the news that his girlfriend is roughly eight weeks pregnant with his child and is even more surprised when she word vomits about her past complications with pregnancy. Amelia runs off after getting a page, leaving a speechless Link in her wake. Jo shows up at Grey Sloan Memorial to tell Bailey that she is ready to come back, but she wants freer rein with her fellowship after Alex’s offer, which is what Bailey wants too. Back at Pac North, things keep going downhill when the CT scanner breaks and a patient almost dies in the waiting room. People keep entering the emergency room asking for Richard, saying that they were sent by Meredith Grey.

Meredith has started a street clinic for her fellow community service workers and has an incredibly long line of new patients during “work.” Schmitt arrives to drop off supplies that Meredith asked for, and it’s nice to know that Meredith still has an ally within the hospital. She takes a look at her supervisor, Robin, and wants her to be seen by Jackson for a potential tumor in her neck. While they make their way to Grey Sloan Memorial, Bailey holds a skills lab for her group and says that whoever finishes the practice graft they are working on first will get to perform it themselves in a real surgery later that day. Down in the emergency room, the scooterist is awake and blames Maggie for running him over, while Maggie vehemently denies his accusations. Owen is helping Maggie treat the patient, whose luck is about to get worse.

DOWNHILL BATTLE 


Two plots collide when Jo and Link sit down to chat. Jo is extremely happy that two hospitals want her, while Link shares his surprising news. Link is scared about the possibility of bringing a child into the craziness that is the world we live in and starts listing all the things that could go wrong, including cancer and gun violence. He isn’t sure he wants Amelia to keep the baby, but Jo reassures him that he will be an excellent father.

Back at Bailey’s boot camp, DeLuca finishes the graft first with Helm finishing one second on his heels. Bailey ignores DeLuca and declares Helm the winner, which understandably doesn’t sit well at all with DeLuca.

Things go from bad to worse in the emergency room when the scooterist’s broken rib hits his heart, causing him to go into cardiac arrest. While trying to save her patient’s life, Maggie freaks out about the possibility of the guy dying after he accused her of running him over. Owen tries to get Maggie to calm down, to no avail, and Maggie almost blurts out that Amelia is pregnant.

Back at Pac North, Richard tells Alex how upset he is at his current situation. Richard wanted to spend his entire career at Grey Sloan Memorial and doesn’t accept that he can’t work there anymore. It’s hard not to feel sympathetic for Richard even though he did have a hand in Meredith’s insurance fraud scandal. In an attempt to test fate, Meredith has brought Robin to the Grey Sloan Memorial parking lot and made Schmitt bring a portable ultrasound outside so she could run a test on their patient. Schmitt is very concerned at being caught and losing his medical license when Jackson happens across the group. Meredith asks for his help to biopsy the growth in Robin’s neck, after explaining how she is trying to help people who have had the healthcare system fail them. Jackson semi-reluctantly agrees to help out and brings Robin inside.

JUDGEMENT DAY


Back in the emergency room, Owen and Maggie manage to save their patient after performing impromptu surgery and shocking his exposed heart nearly 20 times. Tom walks in right before they get the patient’s heart started again and walks behind Owen as he pulls the paddles out of the patient’s chest cavity. The paddles, which are still charged, accidentally hit Tom down low. The shock is hilarious for everyone... but Tom. In a different part of the hospital, Jackson and Schmitt perform a biopsy on Robin. Schmitt is concerned that Bailey is going to question him about the missing supplies and asks for Jackson’s help in covering it up. Jackson quickly agrees to cover for Schmitt because he is still good friends with Meredith and will do anything to help her out. Meredith has at least two new allies, which may come in handy down the road.

Amelia and Link meet up in the afternoon to talk more about their baby. Link starts to change his mind about the situation when he hears Amelia’s story about her dead baby, Christopher. She reveals her hidden struggle with his death and how she never considered having another child because she couldn’t go through the same pain again if something tragic were to happen. Link is visibly moved by Amelia’s speech and tells her that whatever she decides to do with the baby, he will be by her side supporting her. He will be the supportive father if she wants to keep the baby, or he will drive her to the appointment and be with her if she doesn’t want to keep it. Amelia clearly wanted Link to say he didn’t want the baby and is conflicted with his response.

In the operating room, Bailey, Helm, and DeLuca are working on the same surgery together. Helm thinks her solo graft is going well until the sutures don’t hold and the patient starts bleeding out. She begs Bailey to help out, but Bailey instructs DeLuca to take charge of the situation. DeLuca saves the patient, yet isn’t happy with the way Bailey handled things.

RESOLUTION


In the final section of the episode, all of the various storylines are resolved as usual. First up, Meredith, Robin, and Jackson are sitting in the hospital’s lobby discussing the test results. Robin has thyroid cancer and is glad she didn’t have to wait two months to get an appointment with another doctor and have the cancer progress. While they are talking, Bailey and Helm walk by. Helm is excited to see Meredith, but Bailey is less than thrilled to see her former mentee sitting there. Bailey’s annoyance levels continue to increase when DeLuca calls her out for treating him poorly due to his connection to Meredith. In a jaw dropping moment, Bailey tells DeLuca that it wasn’t personal and that he should dump Meredith before associating with her ruins his budding career. Bailey is never this petty, and it is shocking to hear her speak with so much ill will about Meredith.

Even though their first day at Pac North didn’t go as expected, Alex asks Richard to help him turn the place around to prove Bailey wrong. He wants to show Bailey their worth by making vast improvements to Pac North together. Richard agrees to help, and it should be quite interesting to see what they do to try and fix up the broken down hospital. At Grey Sloan Memorial, Jo talks to Bailey again to let her know that Alex has now offered her a spot at Pac North as a general surgery attending. Jo wants the same position at Grey Sloan if Bailey wants her to stay there. Bailey agrees to make Jo a general surgery attending to get one up on Alex and to start fixing the giant hole left in the general surgery department after Meredith and Richard were fired. Jo should have been promoted to attending a long time ago, so it is nice to see her finally get her due. Hopefully her new job will help lift her spirits.

Owen decides to make up with Tom and apologize for shocking his privates, but his apology is not accepted. Tom says that he has gotten a restraining order against Owen, which is ridiculous given the incident was a complete accident and it was Tom’s fault for walking behind Owen. It’s unclear how this will play out given that the two men work in the same hospital and staying 500 feet apart is not always going to be possible.

At home, Meredith tells DeLuca that she wants to publish articles about compromised healthcare based on her experiences of caring for her new “coworkers.” DeLuca warns her that she shouldn’t do anything too radical while her medical license is under review, but we all know that she won’t heed the advice. The episode closes with a heartfelt final discussion between Link and Amelia, who have both decided that they want to keep the baby. It looks like we are in for the second season in a row of baby fever!

Friday, September 27, 2019

One Chicago Recap: Season Premieres of Chicago Med, Chicago Fire, and Chicago P.D. [Contributor: Araceli Aviles]


Given how far along each show in the One Chicago universe is in, they’d have to do something pretty shocking to jolt us out of our summer mood. It was not one, but all three shows, which said goodbye to an original cast member. Read on to see which one of your favorites will not be continuing on in Chicago Med, Chicago Fire, and Chicago P.D. this year.

Chicago Med


Given the events of the premiere, the theme of the hour should have been that everyone be mandated to see a psychiatrist immediately! But alas, Dr. Charles is only one man and he was otherwise occupied. Besides, how could he have known that Ava — whose sociopathic behavior became known when it was revealed she killed Connor’s father — would slice her own throat in the middle of the OR? Nor could he have known that Dr. Manning’s possessive boyfriend (Pretty Little Liars’ Ian Harding) would take advantage of her shaky, post-car crash memory and claim her as his fiancée? Long story short, Dr. Connor Rhodes has departed Med for a fresh start. We can only hope that Dr. Manning’s “fiancée” departs in a less violent manner.

Chicago Fire


Not since the season three premiere has Firehouse 51 faced such a tremendous loss. But five years later, we knew this one was going to be just as heartbreaking. In the first ten minutes of the premiere we watched as Brian "Otis" Zvonecek, took his final breaths of life. Three months later, Otis’s picture is up on the wall next to Shay’s. This, I must admit, made me feel queasy in its finality. It was only matched on the Tearjerker Scale by the memorial Chief Boden commissions for Otis right outside the firehouse.

What, hopefully, is not so final is Brett’s move back home. Sure, she tried it out for a few months. But the lack of adrenaline at the local fire department, plus a series of run-ins with people eager to box her into the person she used to be, should only prove to Brett that her place is in Chicago.

Chicago P.D.


I’m gonna pat myself on the back for predicting that Voight did not murder the mayor. After he got away with killing the man who murdered his son a few seasons back, it would have been too predictable. For a while, I thought that perhaps Antonio might have done it as revenge for Adam’s imprisonment. But as it turns out, Voight and Antonio were each other’s alibis, as Voight had been in the middle of taking Antonio to rehab at the time of the murder. Thus we say goodbye to original cast member Jon Seda, praying that his character finally gets the help he so desperately needs.

Meanwhile, the mayor’s murderer was, in fact, Superintendent Kate Brennan. Voight didn’t have the heart to bring her in, given the chokehold of pressure Kelton had her under, which ultimately pushed her over the edge. Before she could make any decisions, be it a suicidal confession or something else, Halstead came to the rescue. Or... did he? Voight was not too happy with Halstead’s constant questioning of his actions during this case, to the point that Voight invited him to leave Intelligence. Yikes!

The One Chicago universe lost three of its original cast members in one night. Where will these losses take those left behind?

Grey’s Anatomy 16x01 Recap: “Nothing Left to Cling To” (One Month) [Contributor: Julia Siegel]



“Nothing Left to Cling To”
Original Airdate: September 26, 2019

As Grey’s Anatomy begins its sweet sixteenth season, life is anything but sunshine and rainbows for our favorite television doctors. By the end of the season fifteen finale in May, viewers were left wondering whether Meredith would face jail time for insurance fraud, where Jackson disappeared to in the fog, whether Maggie and Jackson could make up after a horrendous fight, and if Jo checking herself into the psychiatric ward would help her overcome the trauma of learning about her past.

Thankfully, the premiere episode wastes no time in providing answers to all the questions you might have while taking the audience on a one-month journey through the recovery of all the characters.

THE NIGHT OF


The season premiere opens on the night where the May’s season finale left off. We first see Jo checking herself into the psych ward at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital. Then, the scene changes to Maggie searching for Jackson in the middle of nowhere while calling out his name. When Jackson responds, Maggie finds him and a woman holding onto a rope attached to a man that is hanging off a cliff. Aid Car 19 pulls up just in time, and Victoria Hughes of Station 19 jumps out to help Jackson pull the man to safety. The couple is badly injured and transported to Grey Sloan immediately. Meanwhile, Richard attends a late-night AA meeting to rant about getting fired earlier that evening. He’s quite upset that his wife sat quietly by Bailey’s side as he was fired for his part in Meredith’s insurance fraud. It’s obvious that there will be a lot of bad blood between Richard, Bailey, and Catherine for the foreseeable future.

When we last saw her, Meredith was telling an imprisoned DeLuca that she was going to turn herself in and accept the consequences for her actions as she professed her love for him. Meredith follows through on her pronouncement by meeting with a lawyer that same night and confessing to the crime. She is surprised that her lawyer thinks she can get off easy, and without jail time, as long as she is apologetic for her actions. Alex and Link then go for drinks to discuss Jo’s situation, which doubles as a nice moment of support from Link. I’m hoping this is a sign that Alex and Link will start getting along a lot better and become friends, especially for Jo’s sake. Link tells Alex that he thinks his relationship with Amelia is over, which he will find out shortly he was dead wrong about.

The last part of the first night’s events occurs in Teddy’s hospital room. Amelia brings Leo to meet his little sister, but the happy moment is ruined by Bailey busting in on the family get-together to announce that she fired Meredith, Alex, and Richard and needs Amelia and Owen’s help with the incoming traumas of the two climbers. As the three doctors leave the room, in comes Tom Koracick, who — you might remember — was not called when Teddy went into labor or after the baby was born. Tom must have superpowers because he comes in knowing that the baby must have been born since he hasn’t heard from Teddy in a while. He also correctly guesses he wasn’t in the loop because Teddy and Owen want to get together. While Teddy cries over the mess she’s made, Tom tells her that he isn’t going anywhere and will be waiting for her once her fling with Owen ends because he loves her. It’s a pretty crazy whirlwind of events.


ONE WEEK LATER


After a short time jump, Alex drops Jo off at a thirty-day rehab facility to continue her treatment. However, it is unclear why she left Grey Sloan to go to this new program. Before going inside, Jo tells Alex that he deserves someone better in his life than her, and gives him an out of their marriage by saying they aren’t technically married since they never got a marriage license. Alex is quite shocked by his wife’s words, but surprisingly doesn’t react or say anything before she leaves.

Back at Grey Sloan, Link, Nico, Amelia, and Jackson have a frank discussion during a surgery. Amelia tells Link that she in fact did not break up with him the week before and simply wants to properly date him instead of jumping in too quickly — which is the most reasonable decision she has made in a long time.

It is then revealed that Teddy is living in a hotel with baby Allison instead of at Owen’s house, and she tells him through sobs that she can’t live in the house that he bought with Amelia. Teddy is having a difficult time being a new mom, which leads to some good moments of levity throughout the episode. Richard has found a new job working for a health app and making house calls to patients, but he is completely miserable. Maggie and Jackson’s relationship is still on the rocks, since they appear to not have talked in the week of that has passed in-show. DeLuca is finally out of jail and attends Meredith’s hearing, which doesn’t go quite the way the lawyer predicted. The judge assigned to Meredith’s case is particularly tough and becomes more so when he sees that Meredith isn’t apologetic for what she has done. He sentences her to community service and puts off a ruling on her medical license.

TWO WEEKS LATER


After another one-week time jump, a lot happens. The rock climber husband, who was still in the hospital recovering from his injuries, suffers a series of small strokes and appears to be brain dead, much to the chagrin of his doctors. Catherine reveals to Bailey that she has hired Tom as the new chief of all the Catherine Fox hospitals. Bailey is very upset that Tom is her new boss and feels slighted by Catherine, who is now upset — two weeks later — that Bailey fired her husband and two of the hospital’s other top doctors. Why Catherine has waited this long to voice her opinions is beyond me. After her confrontation with Catherine, Bailey runs into DeLuca, who wants to, and gets, his job back.

We then get to see Meredith performing her community service by picking up trash in a park. And, to no one’s surprise, Maggie and Jackson break up. That relationship was on life support for the past few weeks of the show's universe, so it’s about time.

THREE WEEKS LATER


A third one-week time jump begins with Owen finding Amelia in the ER, describing his troubles trying to help Teddy and the baby. Owen says that he offered to milk Teddy to relieve some of her pain (which Amelia tries very hard not to laugh in his face about) in what might have been the single best moment of the episode. Surprisingly, Richard goes for an interview for the chief of surgery position at Pacific Northwest General, which is Seattle’s lowest-ranked hospital and would be a huge downgrade for Richard. In an even more astonishing moment, Jackson and Victoria Hughes start becoming rather good friends in a very short amount of time. They meet up for a lunch date, which might be a glimpse at a possible cross-series relationship down the road.  Jo’s treatment finally makes its way back into the story when Alex visits her. Both are rather upset at the current situation, and Jo gives Alex a second chance to leave her. It really is sad to watch Jo profess how she isn’t worthy of Alex’s love, but it’s good to see her working through her problems.

While one couple struggles, another starts to bloom when Amelia and Link go out to dinner. They seem to be getting along much better these days. The conversation then randomly turns to Amelia describing a patient she treated many years ago with similar symptoms to their current brain dead rock climber. Amelia reveals that her former patient presented with strokes, but it wound up being fat embolisms instead. Link and Amelia rush back to the hospital to examine the rock climber and arrive as Schmitt is about to take him off of life support. Upon examination, Amelia and Link find a rash under the patient’s arm that indicates he has fat embolisms in his brain, which could mean he could wake up.

Meredith continues doing community service and seems to be enjoying it, while Teddy visits Bailey to complain about how much she hates being on maternity leave. Richard then drops by Alex’s apartment to discuss the two of them going back to work. He wants Alex to take the chief of surgery job at Pacific Northwest General and then hire him as an attending. Alex isn’t committal about the potential new position, as he’s a bit distracted by his meeting with Jo.

FOUR WEEKS LATER


The final time jump of the episode is more hopeful than the other segments, which is immediately apparent by the rock climber husband waking up. The doctors think he will make a full recovery, which is a nice ending to that story. Jo then gets out of the rehab facility and is met by a very dressed-up Alex. He proposes to Jo for a second time to show his commitment to their marriage and her ongoing recovery. Jo happily accepts his proposal, but warns him she isn’t magically better after a few weeks of treatment. After spending much of the second half of last season showing Jo’s downward spiral, it’s upsetting to not have seen more of her getting through the steps to recovery. Yes, she still has a ways to go before she will begin to heal, but it feels like a disservice to not get to see her start the process.

Owen shows up at Teddy’s hotel room and announces that he has put his house on the market so they can find a new place for a fresh start together. The gesture is very moving and leaves Teddy in tears. Carina mentions several times throughout a conversation with Amelia, that she thought Amelia might be pregnant... which makes Amelia realize that she probably is. This shocker comes out of nowhere and poses the question of who the potential daddy is: Link or Owen? As if Owen didn’t have enough on his hands already.

Catherine finds out that Alex and Richard are taking jobs at Pacific Northwest General and lashes out at Richard over his decision. She feels incredibly betrayed that her husband is going to work at a hospital that she doesn’t own, yet it’s her own fault for letting Bailey fire him and not offer him a position at another one of her hospitals. Richard and Catherine’s marriage could be in jeopardy, as they have a lot of issues to work through. The episode ends with Meredith and DeLuca discussing how well the community service is going and how lucky she has been.

Their happy conversation is interrupted by Meredith receiving a message saying that the medical board is going to pursue action against her license, which was to be expected. Meredith shouldn’t get off so easily for breaking the law, as a doctor in a similar situation in real life would have to face the consequences. This seems like an issue that will be ongoing for part of the season, as Meredith is going to have to fight to keep her medical license and find a hospital willing to employ her.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

8 Books to Read If You Loved Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley [Contributor: Megan Mann]


Over the last few years, I have walked by the middle grade section in numerous libraries and bookstores and stared down Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley. I said, each and every time, that I would pick it up the next time and would finally read it. Of course, it took until this year to do so, but it was well worth the wait!

The story follows Micah as he navigates the end of his beloved grandfather Ephraim’s life. All of Micah’s life, his grandfather told him stories, grand and small, but his favorite stories were of Circus Mirandus: a circus that was made of pure magic. He learned of The Man Who Bends Light and the miracle that this person promised his grandfather many moons ago. After Ephraim falls gravely ill, despite what his cruel Aunt Gertrudis and his disbelieving friend Jenny Mendoza says, Micah writes to the Man Who Bends Light and begs him to make good on the miracle. 

What ensues is an adventure every child dreams of having with a magical circus. As Micah seeks out the truth about Circus Mirandus, he sees that life truly is filled with magic. But sometimes, that magic isn’t spells and illusions; some of that magic is the love we share with one another. As the book comes to a close, we learn that Micah is going to follow the circus. 

And there’s a sequel to this book on its way! On October 1, 2019, The Bootlace Magician will hit shelves and let us eager readers know exactly what awaits Micah and the Circus Mirandus.

If you’re unable to wait that long once you’re finished with the first delicious installment, here are a few books that are similar in theme to sustain you! 

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein


Kyle learns that world famous game maker, Luigi Lemoncello, has designed his town’s new library and is having an invitation-only lock in. He knows he has to be there. However, the real game isn’t played until it’s time to get out of the library. In a romp through the history of literature and decoding the Dewey Decimal System, Kyle and the other kids have to solve puzzles in order to find themselves on the other side of the library doors. 

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl


A classic, of course, but Willy Wonka created a world full of pure imagination. The story worked on a specific sort of magic that has mesmerized audiences for decades. Charlie Bucket finds himself destitute and dreaming of a better life: one where he can have Wonka candy whenever he wants. When the Wonka Factory announces its golden ticket contest, Charlie keeps hope alive to participate. When he finds that last golden ticket and enters that factory of delicacies and delights, his world completely changes.

The Candymaker by Wendy Mass


It’s every kids dream, like Charlie Bucket’s, to have an endless supply of candy. But four kids’ dreams are about to come true when they learn they’ve been selected to compete in a national candy-making contest. Logan, Miles, Daisy, and Philip each tell their own unique perspective of a story that is filled with mystery, intrigue, and delicious revelations. Who will make a candy more delicious than ever before? Who will crack under the pressure?

The Book Scavenger series by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman


This fast-paced adventure follows friends Emily and James as they play the game of Emily’s literary idol, Garrison Griswold. He created Book Scavenger, a game that’s played around the world. The object of the game is to solve puzzles and follow the clues to hidden books. When Emily learns that Griswold has had an accident leaving him in a coma just before his latest game is launched, Emily and James find an odd book that they believe is the new game itself. As they race against the clock, they wonder if the same people wo attacked Griswold are after them as well. Will they beat the clock and finish the game?

The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp by Kathi Appelt


Bingo and J’miah are your average brothers, except for the fact that they are also raccoons. And they’re now the newest Scouts of the Sugar Man Swamp. This high honor to serve the Sugar Man is also a huge responsibility for the brothers; they have to relay all of the important information to the rest of the swamp in a swift manner. When they learn that the swamp is about to be turned into an Alligator Wrestling Arena and Theme Park, they know they have to wake the Sugar Man. Don’t worry. He’s only been asleep for a few decades. Can they do it? Can they save the swamp?

A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd


Felicity arrives in Midnight Gulch, a town that used to be consumed by magic but was cursed and is now just as ordinary as any town. But Felicity can see words everywhere and Midnight Gulch is the first place she’d ever seen the word “home.” Does this mean that her luck is about to change? In an effort to keep that word floating around her, Felicity will do anything to bring back the magic to Midnight Gulch. Can she lift the curse of the town and of her mother’s wandering heart? Can Midnight Gulch finally be home?

The Way to Stay in Destiny by Augusta Scattergood


Theo does not want to be in Destiny, Florida with an uncle he hardly knows. But due to circumstances beyond his control, that’s where Theo finds himself. Luckily, he’s managed to find solace in Miss Sister’s Boarding House and Dance School where the piano calls him. He loves playing but when he meets Anabel, a baseball enthusiast, the two find themselves on an adventure to uncover the mystery of the town’s connection to former baseball players who may have lived in Destiny years before. It’s melodic prose will have you excited for the adventure, but staying for the heart.

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee


Much like Micah’s friend Jenny in Circus Mirandus, Ophelia hardly believes in anything that can’t be proven with scientific fact. After her mother passes, her father moves her and her sister to a snowy town for a job in a museum. Ophelia comes upon a boy locked in a long-forgotten room. He claims to be a prisoner of the Snow Queen and is in desperate need of Ophelia’s help. But will Ophelia be able to suspend her belief and go against everything she knows in order to save him? It’s an elaborate story-within-a-story that is sure to charm many readers. (Including this reader because I loved it.)

Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley is available now with the sequel, The Bootlace Magician, following on October 1.