The Road to the Emmys: Our Dream Ballots

It's almost awards season (again)! In celebration, the writers at Just About Write have crafted their dream 2015 Emmys ballots. You can check out who we feel is deserving of some love this year and -- when announcements are made -- see if we've predicted correctly!

The Strong Women Series

Here, you'll find a collection of posts from my talented female friends, each defending the women in their favorite television series. These posts contain some of the most intelligent discussions ever featured on this website. I highly recommend that you read them all.

Jenn's Pick: My Top 15 Episodes of 'Psych'

Do you like meta humor? Movie references? Pineapples? If you do, you were probably also a fan of USA's hit comedy 'Psych.' In this post, I count down my fifteen favorite episodes of the series. Do your favorites make the cut? And, bonus: Can you find the pineapple in my post?

Character Appreciation Post: Felicity Smoak ('Arrow')

Felicity Meghan Smoak is one of the most captivating, optimistic, endearing characters on The CW's smash hit 'Arrow.' And in this post, I list all of the reasons why she is. Read, dear friends, and fall a little bit more in love with our blonde hacker.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Road to the Emmys: Rae's Dream Emmy Ballot [Contributor: Rae Nudson]


I watch a lot of TV -- like, a lot. But unless I become a time traveler (like some people on my favorite shows), it is impossible to keep up with all the great TV out there right now. But, man, was I lucky to see the shows and performances I did this season.

So here's what I'd like to see nominated at the Emmys, if I got to pick.


Outstanding Comedy Series
Broad City
Jane The Virgin 

Inside Amy Schumer

Broad City was one of the funniest shows on TV, and the stories Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer told of living in New York City as two 20-something best friends had me cringing and crying -- from laughing so hard. Their show is so surprising and refreshing, and on top of that, their clothes are mad cute. Abbi and Ilana created the show and also star in it, and in my dreams they are also my best friends. It's unconventional and brilliant, and I would love to see it get a nomination. Jane the Virgin was so sweet, funny, and original, and the more recognition it gets, the better. Also, The CW has some really excellent shows, and I'd love for it to get some legit accolades. I think Inside Amy Schumer actually falls under variety show instead of comedy, but it's my dream ballot so I pick the categories, and either way it should definitely be nominated. Amy Schumer is so sharp and funny, and her show is one of the smartest shows on TV.


Outstanding Drama Series
The Americans
Empire
Hannibal
Orange is the New Black
Outlander


Russian spies living in America, inmates in a women's prison, a music mogul running a family and a business, a time traveling Englishwoman who falls in love in the 1700s, and a well-to-do psychiatrist who also happens to be a serial killer and a cannibal: all of these shows are so different, but each one tells stories that couldn't work on any other show.

Empire was a breakout hit last year and for good reason. It's soapy and dramatic and wonderful, and each actor and performer on the show is insanely talented. Plus it introduced the world to Cookie Lyon -- is there an award just for that? Hannibal is one of my personal favorites because its style of storytelling is so unique. More dreamlike than logical, more artistic than horrifying, it tells a story of a killer and a cannibal and makes it beautiful to watch. (As Jaime mentioned in her ballot, Hannibal isn't eligible for the Emmys this year, but in my heart, it's nominated for sure.) The Americans has some of my favorite performances of the year and was so wonderfully intense I could hardly bear to watch it. Orange is the New Black broke the mold for telling stories about women on TV, and I care about each character so deeply. Outlander's romance is anything but cliche, and the way it portrays sex and love in a medium that so often exploits both should be lauded.


Lead Actor -- Drama
Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen (Arrow)
Grant Gustin as Barry Allen (The Flash)
Sam Heughan as Jamie Fraser (Outlander)
Matthew Rhys as Philip Jennings (The Americans)

Matthew Rhys gave such a stunning performance as Philip Jennings in The Americans as a spy who is fighting for his life and fighting to hold onto his sense of self. There are so many layers to Philip's life, and Matthew was able to incorporate all of them into one complex man. Grant Gustin and Stephen Amell give life to superheroes on The Flash and Arrow --  two shows that are so fun to watch and have so much heart. Both of these series have raised the bar, not only for superhero shows, but dramas in general, and much of that comes from their outstanding leads. Sam Heughan similarly makes Jamie on Outlander a worthy match for Claire and compelling all on his own.


Lead Actress -- Comedy
Ilana Glazer as Ilana Wexler (Broad City)
Abbi Jacobson as Abbi Abrams (Broad City)
Gina Rodriguez as Jane Villanueva (Jane the Virgin

Ilana and Abbi are both such strong, creative performers on Broad City, and it would be so fun to see them get the recognition they deserve. Gina Rodriguez is a dream to watch as the careful Jane who found herself in a situation she never could have planned for. Her performance is so touching and brings so much emotion to a show that celebrates family and love while playing with fun, telenovela twists. That's a lot to ask of one show and one actress, but both make it look easy.


Lead Actress -- Drama
Caitriona Balfe as Claire Randall (Outlander)
Lizzy Caplan as Virginia Johnson (Masters Of Sex)
Eva Green as Vanessa Ives (Penny Dreadful)
Taraji P. Henson as Cookie Lyon (Empire)
Tatiana Maslany as Sarah, Alison, Cosima, Helena, Rachel and Krystal (Orphan Black)
Keri Russell as Elizabeth Jennings (The Americans)

Tatiana Maslany's many performances on Orphan Black are what truly make the show. I can't imagine any other actress being able to create so many unique and distinct characters so different that they feel as if they're being played by different actresses. Maslany has been (rightly) praised far and wide, and she deserves every bit of it. Eva Green is so powerful on Penny Dreadful that even on a show full of great performances, she steals the show every time she's on screen. Every character is a bit in love with her, I think, and so am I. Caitriona Balfe on Outlander, Lizzy Caplan on Masters of Sex, and Keri Russell on The Americans all portray wonderfully independent women who don't quite fit into the worlds they find themselves in. And Taraji P. Henson's Cookie Lyon fills Empire's world with her huge personality.


Supporting Actress -- Comedy
Kate McKinnon (SNL)

Kate McKinnon, Kate McKinnon, Kate McKinnon. She is the best part of Saturday Night Live, and she is so talented and funny that it kills me. Her Bieber is better than the actual Justin Bieber. She literally is my entire dream ballot for this category.

There are so many other worthy actors, shows, and Emmy categories. Who do you think should get nominated or win?

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Series: Summer Lovin' - Week 4


It's finally summer! HUZZAH.

(In Florida, it has been summer for a few months. I kind of wish someone had waited to tell the state that it was summer until like, today. Humidity is nothing to celebrate, y'all.) Since it's finally and officially summertime -- and the dream Emmy ballot mini-series will continue to roll out in the coming days and weeks -- that means we're returning to our season-specific series: Summer Lovin'! Be sure to check the tag if you missed the first three weeks because we've all been loving a whole lot of fun series, webseries, movies, and books over the past month. We would hate for you to miss out on these gems as well.

So, without further adieu, let's start talking about what we loved this week. Joining me from my faithful crew are:
  • Our resident Marvel girl, Alice Walker
  • Movie-lover and novelist Lynnie Purcell
  • Newest contributor and snarky humor expert, Megan Mann
  • Resident X-Files lover and general awesome human, Lizzie
  • Jaime's greatest nemesis and my loudest cheerleader, Chelsea
Let's begin!

Orange is the New Black 3x04 “Finger in the Dyke” (The Wrong Side of the Bed) [Contributor: Rae Nudson]


“Finger in the Dyke”

In prison, where everyone wears the same clothes, and inmates are more like statistics than people, individuals get overlooked. And in Litchfield, it’s not just the people that get overlooked, it’s their problems, too. The company touring Litchfield to decide if they want to acquire the prison treated the women as nothing more than animals that might cost too much to keep around the house. They sneered at the cost of women’s “health requirements,” and the fact that women tend to eat less than men was lauded for keeping costs down.

It was not the best day to show off Litchfield on a tour. Partly because the inmates are still sleeping without any mattresses or pillows, partly because the women’s periods all synced up, and partly because the inmates are all dealing with various losses. Bennett has been missing for two episodes, which is two weeks in prison-time, and Daya is starting to lose it and take it out on the breakfast eggs. Red and Morello are falling apart after Nicky left — Morello is without lipstick, so you know it’s serious. (That might sound sarcastic, but it’s not.) Suzanne and Taystee are both still processing losing Vee, and in a touching scene, they turn only to each other to mourn the monster that they truly miss. Alex is still struggling with losing the life outside of prison that was just ripped back out of her hands, and she turns to Piper for comfort. But Piper is on her period like everyone else, and on top of that it’s “June 7th” aka her 32nd birthday.

The only people who seem to be doing well this episode are Big Boo and Pennsatucky, two unlikely friends who I’m very much enjoying. Boo doesn’t seem to be missing Nicky at all, and she bounces back by forming a plan with Pennsatucky to take advantage of the religious extremists sending her money in prison. Boo gets a makeover from Sophia and Morello to look more ladylike so she can act as a reformed lesbian to impress the church, which connects to her flashbacks where her parents wanted her to look “normal” instead of butch.

To feel invisible is one of the cruelest emotions. That’s why Vee had such an impact on Suanne — Vee saw that she had value, even if Suzanne’s value to Vee was just to be used in her power ploys. Boo’s parents made her feel invisible her whole life and never accepted that she was different and unique. Boo’s speech to her father in the hospital was touching and so well done. “I refuse to be invisible,” Boo said, and she meant it. She fought every day to be seen and to be herself, and she can’t go through her plan to scam the church if it means covering up who she really is. Sometimes the most powerful thing you can do is not apologize for taking up space and let yourself be seen.

Boo’s struggle with saying goodbye to her mother fits right in with this season’s theme of motherhood. Red is Nicky’s mother figure, and Red feels like she has lost her own child after Nicky was taken away to max. Taystee and Suzanne both looked up to Vee like a mother, and they are reeling from losing that figure, even if it wasn’t a healthy relationship. Daya is about to become a mother, and the one person she was counting on to help her through this just disappeared without a word. Now all that’s left for Daya might be her actual mother, and she doesn’t seem like the best source of help and compassion.

Other notes:
  • Inmate of the episode is definitely Pennsatucky, the wisest schmuck at Litchfield. Thank God Boo got her to brush her teeth.
  • WHAT is going on with this flirtation between Healy and Red? I for real cannot deal with it. 
  • “That’s the great thing about men; they don’t have uteruses.” (But if men did have uteruses, they’d be called duderuses, thanks to Tina on Bob’s Burgers.)
  • That guy Danny with the clipboard that Caputo kept talking down to is definitely in charge of the whole company, right?
  • How funny was Maritza questioning if Bennett slept with Aleida?
  • “Seeing you like that was scarier than seeing a dolphin penis at SeaWorld.” 

Rookie Blue 6x01 "Open Windows" (Strength In All The Right Places) [Contributor: Hope]


"Open Windows"
Original Airdate: June 25, 2015

Hey everyone! I’m new here, and I am happy to be reviewing Rookie Blue for the next couple of months. I’ve been watching this show since the pilot, and I’m so happy it’s back for 11 more episodes this summer. I hope you’ll join me in watching it, and bear with me during my newbie effort at reviewing.

While this episode focused a lot on Andy and the case of the week, it did a good job touching base on all – or most of – the various characters’ story arcs, even if it did so briefly. I’ll start my discussion with Chris Diaz, because his storyline is bugging me. Chris was always the good-hearted, optimistic guy, and that was a wonderful thing. He balanced out the original five rookies perfectly, and while he wasn’t always the most dramatic character, he made up for it by say, bringing in a tin of muffins or bringing home a puppy by hiding it in his jacket. This storyline, first with his downward spiral into addiction, and now with his relationship with Inspector Jarvis’s wife… it’s only making me cringe. However, this revelation is the perfect opportunity for the show to turn his character back around. He didn’t know she was even married until this episode, and this would be the place for him to do another 180°.

Moving on. Nick wants to join the ETF (like SWAT, but they do more psychological profiling and negotiating) and now he’s also stuck with Duncan as his rookie. Traci had to be interrogated in this episode, and I am interested to see if it will impact her own interrogations in the future. Gail is still in the process of adopting Sophie. Dov has known about Marlo’s pregnancy for a while now, but hasn’t told anyone, which says a lot about how trustworthy he is (although his first loyalties probably go to Andy, so it’s interesting that he kept it from her. It probably helped that she was on vacation) and he’s still upset with Chloe. Chloe is still her babbling, hilarious self, holding down the desk with Juliet, who… well, I don’t know what to make of her. I want Nick to be happy, because he’s such a good guy. He was so understanding with Andy when they broke up (and a great Breakup Buddy before that, when they were just friends), and is generally good-natured about everything. The last thing he needs is get wrapped up in whatever is going on with Juliet. She seems to be a spy for somebody and not actually a transfer from Vancouver. Who is she investigating, and should we be concerned? Maybe she’s watching Inspector Jarvis – because, for the record, I totally think he planted that bomb in the evidence locker.

Now we’ve come to Andy, who had a rough episode. First, she’s attacked by a man who climbs in through the balcony. Then she’s told that 15 Division can’t warn their citizens about this criminal because it will compromise the investigation. She argues: “I’m not upset. I’m invested.” It was such a great topic to tackle, because it was such a complicated decision. You obviously don’t want to undo any progress that’s been made in the case, but the people have the right to know and protect themselves. These cops have the right and responsibility to protect them. It didn’t go so well but… 15 Division tried, and their hearts were in the right place.

Then there was the news about Marlo and her pregnancy. I am SO glad they didn’t draw this out. Minutes into the episode, Marlo tells Sam. Sam’s first reaction (other than an expression adequately described by the emoticon O.O) was to call Andy and tell her. How Sam handled and reacted to this shone a spotlight on his character growth over the series and kept him completely in-character, and it was just so well done. Not only that, but Andy’s reaction was just what it should have been for her. She needs space and walks away, but she’s not afraid to express her feelings. Later when she’s with Traci at the police department, she’s crying. And when Traci asks if she’s okay, she simply says “No.” She’s not going to pretend she’s feeling differently than she is, with Traci or Sam. She’s going to feel, she’s going to come to terms with it, and she’s going to do that in her own way. Traci doesn’t ask any questions and just supports her.

I love how the female characters on this show are so strong – they’re cops, I mean, come on – but being strong doesn’t mean they can’t cry, that they can’t be unnerved if someone broke into their apartment, and that they don’t have trouble doing a pull-up like Chloe did, because, let’s face it, that’s HARD. I would cry. I would freak out. And I most certainly would not have managed that pull-up. They can take down bad guys any day, but they’re human in a way we can all relate to. They don’t have an unattainable, unrelatable level of emotional strength. They can be hurt, confused, and just plain tired of the drama, which is perfectly acceptable and does not at all compromise their strength.

So now we have two ongoing cases: the evidence-locker bomb case (Jarvis, I’m watching you) and the case from this episode. How much will they be a part of this season? Stay tuned, and I'll be back to talk about episode two next week.

Notepad:
  • “You just chew and then you smile, you chew and then you smile.” Gail about eating her brother’s presumably terrible food. I loved the delivery of this line.
  • Did we ever get to see that mind-map Chloe and Dov made…? I don’t feel like we did, and that’s a crime.
  •  “I need a bro.” Poor Nick. Duncan is going to drive him crazy and it’s going to be hilarious.
  • “That would be like Oliver and Andy. Oh, gross. Wipe the mind. Wipe the mind.” Complete with mind-wiping hand motions from the one and only Chloe.
  • Guy who tried to break into his ex’s apartment via the balcony: “Okay, [I’ll stop] but I’m going to fall.” Andy: “So then fall.” And this was BEFORE her day got even worse.
  • Can Oliver Shaw please be the staff sergeant of 15 Division forever? Please and thank you.
  • “She’s genuine.” – Juliet speaking the truth about Chloe. Can we have a spin-off where Chloe just spurts her Chloe-isms all day? And can Felicity Smoak be a guest character on it?
  • Anyone have thoughts or quotes to share? I’d love to read them.

#TheXFilesRewatch 1x01 "Pilot" (Sorry, Nobody Down Here But the FBI's Most Unwanted) [Contributor: Lizzie]


"Pilot"
Original Airdate: September 10, 1993

How can I start anywhere in a re-watch of The X-Files but with the pilot? And I say this with the requisite amount of irony, because I, like many other fans didn’t really watch the pilot until Mulder and Scully were already so ingrained that watching these na├»ve and relatively untouched versions of our favorite characters makes us want to scream things like: "YOU HAVE TO TRUST EACH OTHER and JUST EACH OTHER, NO ONE ELSE, please, please pleaaaase, NO ONE ELSE."

But that’s a story for later. Much later. For now, let’s talk about how this series started.

(Side note: I’ve never been this excited to press play on something. Or to see the terribly old-fashioned block letters on the screen.)

The pilot begins, like most episodes of TV these days, not with our main characters, but with the crime/case of the week. This one seems to involve aliens, which is strange, because I didn’t think we were going to get the alien stuff in the first episode. Which just goes to show my memory cannot be trusted.

And this is a weird one, for sure, because if you see a light and a crazy dude coming at you in the middle of the woods, wouldn’t you like… I don’t know, scream? Try to run away? I know scary movies have shown that neither of those things actually work, but it’s still better than doing nothing. Isn’t it? Our victim does neither, and next thing we know, she’s dead. (This was to be expected, the show IS called The X-Files, yes, but you still need a body to investigate a crime, even in a show about the paranormal. The only thing to note about this particular death is that the actress looks remarkably like Scully, which I guess could be a coincidence, but, knowing Chris Carter, it probably wasn’t.)

The last words before the black screen and our first glimpse of the logo are: “It’s happening again, isn’t it?” and if that doesn’t just describe the whole premise of the show, I don’t know what does.

As I said before, we get our first X-Files logo, but not the music yet, and I never thought I’d miss music so much. It’s like The X-Files is not The X-Files without the song.

We meet Scully first, and I’m really glad she just walks around for ten seconds or so, because is her outfit throwing me off. I know fashion has changed A LOT in the past twenty years, but WHY would she wear that? It’s like three sizes too big for her, and I’m not even sure it was fashionable in 1993. Sinister Dude Number 1 (Blevins, I think), makes me forget all about fashion. And there’s Cancer Man in the corner, wow. I’d forgotten he was there from the beginning. Sinister Dude Number 2 (No idea about HIS name) gets straight to the point. We want you to spy on this Mulder guy. Of course, he uses other words, but I’m here to translate for you. They want her to use science to prove that Mulder is just a crazy dude chasing ghosts.

Scully shows a little personality, but just as we probably would in her position, she seems to agree. She makes a little joke, tries to please the bosses. It’s kind of cute, really, especially knowing what we know. In fact, the only thing this conversation doesn’t make clear is why exactly, if they’re going to all the trouble of assigning Mulder a partner, don’t they just… shut down the X-Files and reassign Mulder. Are they worried he won’t let it go? Are they using him for something? Why exactly do they want him there and, at the same time, don’t want him to be able to do his job? We won’t get an answer anytime soon, but it’s a good subplot and a nice introduction to the idea that something much bigger is going on here. And we’re only like, five minutes into the show.

Scully heads for Mulder’s office, and she looks thrilled with her assignment. Really, truly happy.

NOT.

And Mulder’s office, in case you didn’t know, is in the basement. We don’t know why. We also have no idea why someone is walking around casually as if this wasn’t, you know, the BASEMENT. Scully walks in and there’s sass from Mulder, a look of “What the hell did I get into?” from Scully and the POSTER, THE POSTER, but I can’t process because I’m drowning in feels. He’s being awfully flirty, and she looks very nice in this scene. I remember thinking, many years later, that I could have been imagining all the sexual tension, but oh, no, first scene, and it’s obvious that these actors have too much chemistry; these characters will never be just friends.

I also find it hilarious that, even before they knew they’d be assigned together, they both knew about the other. Although, either Mulder was a stalker, or he did know he was getting a partner, because, reading her thesis… a bit much, Mulder. A BIT MUCH.

Mulder is quick to explain the case in the craziest way possible. Scully tries to counteract with some common sense. It doesn’t work. (It never, ever works). They’re going to have to check it out in person.

And I wouldn’t even bring up the airplane scene while they head to the middle of nowhere, except for this. WHAT THE HELL IS THE UPHOLSTERY ON THOSE AIRPLANE SEATS?
My eyes will never recover.

Also, Scully’s clothing choices are becoming more and more suspect.

But seeing these two together makes my heart soar. I’ve missed them more than I can explain. I want to bang their heads together and make them, well, bang. NOW. Not in like, seven years or so. Sadly, I don’t have that power. I’m here to enjoy the ride. And the ride takes us to Bellefleur, Oregon, where, before the case is even mentioned, we’ve already experienced a funky radio and a car that mysteriously stops and then re-starts again without anyone kicking it or even attempting to pop the hood.

Don’t ever say The X-Files holds anything back.

Mulder responds, in typical Mulder fashion, by getting out the can of red spray paint that an always prepared FBI agent keeps in the trunk and marking the spot. He doesn’t offer much of an explanation to his way of thinking, and it’s weird, but Scully doesn’t say much, so we ignore it too. Weird show about weird things, so he gets a free pass, right? On with the case. First order of business: let’s exhume some people! Oh, and let’s use some clearly inept crews so they drop the casket and we are forced to run after it. The body inside looks like an alien, which, of course, considering this is only the first episode probably means it’s not.

Or maybe I’m wrong. I can’t remember Scully examining the body, though this is what she always does. I have a vague recollection of her finding an implant, but that’s about it. It’s like I’m watching this episode for the very first time!

Other things I don’t remember: The fact that this all seems to lead back to the Class of '89, the fact that guy whose body they exhumed confessed to the two other murders, the fact that he was in a psychiatric hospital or the fact that there are two more of his classmates in that hospital. Not that it really matters much in the grand scheme of things, Peggy O’Dell is in a wheelchair and Billy Miles is comatose, so it’s not like they have anything to do with what’s going on, right?

This is a very good pilot, and I’ll tell you why: it’s a good example of everything the show would end up developing. There’s Mulder/Scully banter, even a little bit of sexual tension, there’s tons of things we cannot explain, there’s shadowy government figures, and there are aliens! There’s also our favorite agents running into danger, because, of course, who needs common sense in a show like this?

Despite the fact that I know this is just the first episode, and our main characters are not about to get killed right away, I feel the sudden need to inform my TV screen that this is how scary movies usually start, with people running into dark forests. Not that they find much other than some strange ash on the ground, and creepy detective dude with a gun. Why is it that small town detectives are always painted as creepy?

When they’re driving away, a flash of very bad special effects light envelops them RIGHT on the spot the car malfunctioned earlier. When they open their eyes, nine minutes have disappeared, a fact that Mulder says, it’s commonly reported by aby alien abductees.

Cue disbelief.

Back in the motel, Scully examines the evidence, Mulder goes for a run, and then, well… it’s time for our gratuitous shot of the female lead half naked! Scully is, apparently, one of those people who has to take a shower before bed. (Like me!). Except, unlike me, she has to walk very slowly to the bathroom, drop her robe and stand in front of the mirror in her underwear, because … well, because.

Despite the fact that I said this episode was a very good example of what this show would turn out to be, it does tend to focus on Gillian Anderson’s beauty a little more than subsequent episodes will. I don’t remember many instances of our leading lady in underwear, and our leading lady in underwear running into Mulder’s room because she’s scared the two marks on her back are the same as the marks found in the victims is a one-off thing. (Although, to be honest, I would have been freaked out too. The marks are IDENTICAL. I have no idea how Mulder can just look at them and dismiss them as mosquito bites.) He does take his sweet time looking, though. The sexual tension is alive and well.

The scene afterwards is the scene that made us, well, shippers. It’s the reason why people write fanfic. In fact, if it weren’t for the fact that fanfic wasn’t as popular back in the day, I would have said this was Chris Carter’s evil plan all along.

Scully hugs Mulder after he reassures her that the marks on her backs are simply mosquito bites, and then, there’s a pause, and next thing we know, Scully is laying down in Mulder’s bed, covered up in a blanket as he sits on the floor and tells her about his sister.

Even I wrote a fanfic about what happens in between.

(I think.)

They get interrupted (OF COURSE) by a strange call (OF COURSE) and they rush out to find that Peggy O’Dell, previously wheel-chair bound Peggy O’Dell, mind you, has been killed by a car while WALKING AROUND. Which, a) Don’t walk around deserted roads at night, and b) DON’T WALK AROUND DESERTED ROADS AT NIGHT. Especially when you’re not even supposed to be able to walk.

Afterwards, they come back to the motel to find the whole thing is on fire and their evidence has been destroyed. Which, of course. Like I said, this is THE WHOLE SERIES IN A NUTSHELL. Good God. How did I watch nine years of them getting so close to proving something only to have all their evidence stolen?

Oh, yes, because of Mulder and Scully.

Moving on: Teresa, the daughter of the medical examiner who did the autopsies for the original victims wants to talk to them, and imagine that, she’s also from the Class of '89! She tells them she’s awoken in the middle of the woods several times, and that she needs their help, only for her father and creepy detective to show up and take her away.

With nothing left to do, Mulder and Scully decided to return to the cemetery, to, I presume, pick up a shovel and try to exhume the other bodies by themselves. Someone got there first, however. And it’s raining. Hard. Because that just makes the whole conversation more romantic, or something. Mulder has it all figured out -- it was Billy Miles! Scully laughs, but hey, at this point, what other option is there? Scully wants an explanation as much as Mulder does; she just needs proof. Her problem never is that she doesn’t want to believe, it’s that she isn’t as predisposed to believing everything as Mulder is.

They go back to the hospital to try to find their proof, and it’s there, in the form of sediment in Billy Miles’s feet, which... hard to get your feet dirty if you’re in a coma, and all. Scully takes a sample of the dirt and wants to go back to the forest to take another sample to compare it to, because, lost evidence and all.

Back in the woods, creepy detective Miles, who, by the way, is Billy’s father’s, finds his son offering up Teresa as a sacrifice to the alien gods or something, and there’s a bright light, and the alien gods must reject the sacrifice or something, because Teresa is unharmed, Billy comes back to himself and the weird marks in his back disappear. Mulder is there to witness it all. Scully is obviously not. That would be too easy.

Later, we watch Billy Miles explaining it all, under hypnosis. The aliens abducted them as punishment for partying in the forest (or because they were there, and it was easy, who knows?) and killed them when the tests they were performing failed. But, no proof, no dice, as Sinister Dude Number 1 informs Scully. Except Scully HAS proof. She had the implant on her pocket all along!

Of course, once she TURNS in the evidence, it’s lost forever. They even have a big evidence room for all their super-secret things, which seems like a really bad idea if you ask me, why keep ALL YOUR EVIDENCE in one place? But this is just the pilot, so they get a break. Especially when you consider what a good episode this is.

We even get a few things that will become standard X-Files trivia questions later on to close out the episode: Mulder calling Scully at 11:21 and the standard “Scully? It’s me” that’ll be used by both of them so much in the series that I even had it as a ringtone at one point.

And, that’s the end of this week’s journey into memory lane. It’s a brilliant pilot that touches upon all the elements that’ll become iconic in later years, and, even on re-watch, it’s an entertaining hour of television.

Quote of the episode:
Scully: Wait a minute, you're saying that time disappeared. Time can't just disappear. It's a universal invariant! 
Mulder: Not in this zip code.
Scary moment of the episode:
There are scarier episodes, of course, but the moment when Scully finds the marks on her back wins it for me this week. Later on we’ll get to be scared about what happens on this show, this time, we’re scared for Scully.

Mulder/Scully moment of the episode: 
There’s many, many to choose from, but I’ll go with semi-naked Scully throwing herself in Mulder’s arms. It’s a scary situation, and though they’ve only just met, this sows the seeds of trust that’ll remain.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Hannibal 3x04 "Aperitivo" (Defenestration) [Contributor: Rae Nudson]


"Aperitivo"
Original airdate: June 25, 2015

Jack, Will, and Alana all return to the moment that they died and came back to life by Hannibal’s hand. Jack literally died, his heart must have stopped, but everyone’s lives were metaphorically over the second they saw Hannibal’s true self that rainy night. Like a baptism in blood, they were reborn, and their lives now are split into BC (Before Cannibal) and AD (After Death).

Religion pops up over and over again this season — in just this episode, Mason Verger asks Alana if she has accepted Jesus and Jack visits a church during Bella’s funeral — but these characters subscribe only to the religion of Hannibal. Alana claims she doesn’t need religion (she can appreciate Old Testament revenge just fine on her own, thank you very much), but even she isn’t immune to the cult of Hannibal. They study him, live and die by him, and right now they are all devoted to him in some way or another.

Dr. Frederick Chilton makes his triumphant return in this episode and looks only a little worse for wear. That is, until he takes off his makeup and removes his false teeth to show Mason Verger his real scars. They are all scarred now, but only Mason’s and Frederick’s scars are so openly visible. Everyone else can hide their scars with clothes or a smile.

Alana returns in this episode as well (thank goodness), and she looks like a stronger, bolder version of her previous self. Has she ever worn blood red lipstick before? It looks good on her. The only physical indication that remains from her defenestration is the cane she carries. (Did you see how I dropped in defenestration so casual right there? It means the action of throwing something out the window. Who knew!)

Alana’s new AD self is setting the stage for something BC Alana would never have agreed to: revenge. She is manipulating and pulling strings and doing what she needs to do to get Hannibal caught. And that means sending Will back toward the monster himself. Old Alana would know that’s not healthy and would want to protect him, but new Alana only wants Hannibal, and she’ll play by his rules to get what she wants.

I love this direction for Alana. Her clothes are brighter, but her soul is darker, and it makes so much sense. When she didn’t see Hannibal for what he was, she was a pawn that got in the way of Will and Jack’s plans. But that old self shattered when her bones did, and this Alana will be no one’s pawn. With her pale skin, dark hair, and red lips, she looks like a porcelain doll, but she isn’t fragile anymore.

While most of the characters returned to the moment they metaphorically died, Bella actually did die, from the cancer she’s had since season one. Her cancer mirrors Hannibal’s path. Once hidden and lurking, it’s progressed at the same time the truth about Hannibal spread to everyone’s consciousness and finally took over. I kept wondering where Jack and Bella’s family and friends were when she was dying, or where they were during the funeral. But that they never appear gives a feeling that these characters are all alone in the world, and that the world revolves entirely around Hannibal. Instead of loved ones at Bella’s funeral, there was only Will and a card from Hannibal himself. They are all irreparably isolated, and the only other people in their lives are people who are also circling closer and closer to Hannibal.

Bella’s scenes with Jack were touching. Even after she died, Jack imagined Bella, dressed in white, healthy, and looking at him lovingly. He wasn’t the only one to imagine loved ones as he wished they were. Will imagined dinner with Hannibal and what might have been if he had chosen the life of running away with him instead of running after him. As usual, it’s hard to tell what’s real and what isn’t, and it’s like Will’s imagination has run out on him and taken over the whole show.

The scenes with Margot and Mason don’t include dream imagery, perhaps because Mason is nightmarish enough on his own. Mason and Frederick deconstructed their faces, and Mason went through a surgery that exposed his jawbone and made him look like a skeleton, and as far as I could tell, that was all in real life. (Yup, that’s nightmarish enough for me.) Mason has never been very subtle and he tends to say whatever he’s thinking, so it doesn’t seem like he has a rich interior life for his imagination. I’m happy to see the Vergers again — mostly Margot, let’s be real.

Earlier this week NBC announced they wouldn’t be renewing Hannibal for season four. There’s a chance someone else like Amazon or another channel could pick it up, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed. But either way, I’ll be here every week for the remaining episodes, enjoying every disgusting, beautiful moment.

#SaveHannibal

Dessert:
  • Aperitivo is a drink to stimulate the appetite, generally an alcoholic drink served before a meal. Like pre-gaming, kind of.
  • The scene where Will imagines what would have happened if he killed Jack with Hannibal was like a ballet. Their moves were graceful and coordinated, and the music was beautiful.
  • I love that Alana finally interacted with Margot. It’s about time the Hannibal women had some scenes together.
  • Definitely not enough Bedelia. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Suits 5x01 "Denial" (Fixed Point)


"Denial"
Original Airdate: June 24, 2015

There are a lot of inevitabilities in life that I don't enjoy accepting. Chief among them? "Change is a part of life." As a perfectionist and a bit of a control freak and yeah, someone who deals with anxiety, I don't really adjust well to change. I love schedules. I love routines. I love normalcy. I take the same route to work day after day. I eat at the same places, for the most part. I shop at the same grocery stores. And to some people, this sounds appealing. To some it sounds absolutely dull. The reason that I'm often so fearful of change is because change is unpredictable. It's an unknown. I don't like how I can't plan for the unknown variables. I'd rather live in denial of change occurring than embrace it. (It's a character flaw I'm working through.)

Last season of Suits, the finale smacked us in the face (a few times) with some heavy emotional whiplash. Donna left Harvey. Donna left Harvey because she needed to be healthy and staying with him -- working for him when he couldn't be honest with her and when he pushed aside his and her feelings repeatedly -- was not healthy. It was a cycle. So Donna broke it and she decided to quit and work for Louis. See, in "Not Just A Pretty Face," Louis vocalized how important Donna truly was. He told her -- genuinely -- in the episode that she was valuable. And he backed his words up with actions: he listened to Donna when she told him that he was dealing with grief over losing Norma and that's why he was yelling obscenities. Donna was able to glean something from that relationship, with those interactions, that was sorely missing in her relationship with Harvey.

So she left. And that left Harvey wrecked. Throughout the entire premiere, Harvey is stuck in that very common, very first stage of grief: denial. He doesn't think the change is permanent. Six weeks after Donna leaves, he's in a therapist's office and he doesn't want to tell her the real reason he can't sleep, the whole story of what happened with Donna, or admit that he has a problem. Pride has always been one of Harvey's greatest vices. It's an amazing weapon when he's in the midst of a trial or a fight at the firm, on occasion. Pride often motivates Harvey to get the job done when nothing else will. But pride leads to denial and in the season premiere, we find that the ripple effects of Harvey's denial are far-reaching and of great consequence. Let's discuss it a bit more, including the effects on Mike/Rachel, Louis and Donna's new relationship, and Harvey's breakdowns.