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.

Monday, February 29, 2016

5 Reasons You Should Be Watching 'Life in Pieces'


A few months ago, I was perusing my cable network's On Demand selection. As I scrolled through the CBS shows that were available to watch (intent on scrolling through for Scorpion or Supergirl), I paused as I nearly skipped over Life in Pieces. It was a show that I knew very little about. So little, in fact, that I actually Googled the title in order to read the show's synopsis before deciding to watch the first episode of the show that was available. I went in with low expectations which, honestly, is how I've gone into this television season. In what seems to be a pretty thin year in terms of new series, the ones I have found that I have enjoyed most are — ironically — shows I was confident I wouldn't watch.

Life in Pieces is a show akin to The Crazy Ones or Enlisted in the fact that not nearly enough people watch it or are talking about it. I tuned in because of the cast, but I stayed (and continue to watch each week) because I think this show is one of the most consistently hilarious and sorely underrated on television. It's a sitcom told in four short stories. Most of the time, these stories can stand on their own, but sometimes they intersect in rather hilarious and subtle ways. Life in Pieces is not just funny, but it is also heartwarming and endearing in a way that so few comedies, especially family-centric ones, are these days. In case you need further convincing, here are five of the best reasons to watch Life in Pieces.

Oscars 2016 Fashion Recap: A Few Special Standouts [Contributor: Rae Nudson]


First, can we all acknowledge that the most exciting fashion moments came when people from Mad Max won for technical awards and went on stage wearing some version of leather and skulls? What a perfect representation of that movie.

On the runway, there were no skulls to be found. There was a lot of sequins and the color blue, though, both of which I can get behind. Let’s start with the best looks of the night.

*All images are courtesy of HollywoodLife.

BEST DRESSED



Cate Blanchett knows how to wear clothes. It sounds easy — you just put them on, right? Wrong. To wear the architectural beauties that Cate often wears, it takes presence, confidence, and the ability to not look ridiculous covered in appliqué flowers. I am not sure I could do the same. This Armani Privé is a pale teal that doesn’t wash her out, and it was one of the few dresses of the evening that created a real "wow" moment for me.


Saoirse Ronan wore my favorite red carpet color and looked great in this slinky, sparkly number from Calvin Klein. She has been slowly stepping up her red carpet game, and this was the perfect way to end awards season. 


Don’t worry, I’m not forgetting about the boys. Michael Strahan looked fun and handsome in a three-piece suit that fits great. He also wore blue, the most popular color of the night, and it’s working for him.

HONORABLE MENTIONS




Another wow moment was Lady Gaga, who also went structural in a pant ensemble from Brandon Maxwell. Lady Gaga also has exceptional clothes-wearing skills, and this pants-cape-combo was unexpected but still Oscars appropriate. I wish her make-up was a little bolder, but her eye shadow was very beautiful close up. 


Olivia Munn looked simple and chic in this Stella McCartney, and kudos for wearing a color not many (if any?) others were wearing.


Mindy Kaling in custom Elizabeth Kennedy looked beautiful and elegant, which is exactly what you want for the Oscars red carpet. Plus, as a general rule, I love a black and blue combo. 



Rachel McAdams also looks chic in a green (another green!) August Getty Atelier. I wish her accessories punched it up a little more — it’s maybe too simple? She has uneven red carpet style, but this one was a home run. And check out the back!


Margot Robbie looked great in this gold Tom Ford gown, but her hairstyling disappoints. I wish that both her make-up and hair were a bit more done up to match the Hollywood glamour of the dress. 



Okay, look, maybe it’s unfair to include Charlize Theron (in Dior Haute Couture) and Priyanka Chopra (in Zuhair Murad) in honorable mentions because they are so beautiful they would look good in anything you put on them, but here we are. (Wait, should that be its own category?)

OTHER LOOKS I WANT TO TALK ABOUT



Alicia Vikander, I love you and your style, but I hate bubble hems. (Her dress is by Louis Vuitton, who she’s been working with this whole award season.) Her hair also reminded me of Ariana Grande, and not in a good way. This look doesn’t hold a candle to her sparkly geometric delight from the SAG Awards. Luckily, she is so good that I’m sure she’ll have plenty of chances to dazzle us at the Oscars in the future. 


Obviously, Orlando Jones looks amazing in this shiny blazer.


Congrats, Brie! You’re great, but this Gucci dress is not. I’m sorry! I love you and I’m happy for your big night, but I wish you left the belt and the ruffles at home. I think the color is working for her, but not much else. 


Kevin Hart was feeling his sparkly suit, and, you know what, I liked it, too. Embellishments like that could verge on tacky, but in his case it’s just fun.


This was unexpected, but not in the way I like my Oscars gowns to be unexpected. Usually Jennifer Lawrence shows up to the Oscars in her polished best, which is not exactly what I would call this dress (from Dior). I thought we all agreed to give up see-through black lace gowns, but maybe JLaw didn’t get the memo. From the neck up, though, she looks amazing. Her hair and makeup is perfect, and as always, her necklace game is on point.


The velvet on Eddie Redmayne’s Alexander McQueen suit makes it subtly different from a regular boring tuxedo, and for that, I commend him.


Daisy Ridley is charming and wonderful, and so is this dress (it’s Chanel Haute Couture). Dresses that length are tricky, and I sort of wish it went all the way to the ground. But my favorite feature is her hair, which is a wonderful reference to Rey. 

 
Look how shiny and cute Leo and Kate are.

WORST DRESSED


It truly pains me to include worst dressed when I know everyone is doing their best and it’s a big night. I generally like to award risk-takers on the red carpet, but these just did not work.


In Amy Poehler’s case, appliqué flowers were not a good choice. But bravo for wearing a caftan to the Oscars. (Dress is by Andrew GN.)


This Valentino Haute Couture on Olivia Wilde is too reminiscent of Alicia Vikander’s milkmaid gown at the Golden Globes (which also did not work). Perhaps we should retire small white pleats from the red carpet?

What did you all think? Let us know your best and worst dressed in the comments!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

The 100 Recap: 3x06 "Bitter Harvest" (The Good, the Bad, the Ugly) [Contributor: Laura Schinner]


"Bitter Harvest"
Original Airdate: February 26, 2016

After the rage I felt walking away from the last two episodes of The 100, I was surprised when this week’s episode didn’t inspire the same reaction. Instead I walked away feeling... apathetic? The bad decisions had been made in terms of characters and all there is left to do is watch the consequences of those decisions play out. But because I can’t agree with those decisions, I find myself not really caring what happens from here. There are still a few reasons left to watch this show, mainly centered around Clarke, Lexa, Abby/Kane, and the always favorite Octavia Blake. The rest of it is too frustrating to put effort into feeling anything about at this point. Regardless, let’s take a look at this week’s episode in terms of the good, the bad, and the ugly.

THE GOOD


It’s clear that Lexa’s betrayal of the Sky People at the end of last season is still eating away at her and she’s trying to make up for it by turning a new leaf this season. While still thinking primarily about her people and keeping them safe, she’s able to realize, thanks to Clarke, that there are nonviolent ways to go about getting the peace that she desires for her people. Instead of seeking revenge on the Sky People for destroying a village and starting a war where undoubtedly many lives would be lost, Lexa’s decided to once again call a ceasefire. By doing this, she hopes to save lives instead of losing them in the war.

Her people aren’t as understanding of this concept however, as their motto has always been “blood must have blood.” Lexa’s right hand man, Titus, has realized that Clarke is one of the only people Lexa listens to and set out in this episode to make Clarke understand why they feel the need for revenge and justice. He accomplished this by bringing in Emerson, the last of the Mountain Men. With Lexa giving Clarke the decision of what to do with him (either killing him herself or banishing him for life), Titus came to Clarke and made her see that the revenge she seeks against Emerson is the same revenge they seek against her people. The only difference is that Emerson was directly responsible for what happened to her people, while if a war was to start, many innocent Sky People would lose their lives.

In the end, Titus’ plan backfired, as Clarke came to realize that by killing Emerson, she would only be doing it for her own peace of mind. And she didn’t deserve that. Watching the dynamics between Clarke, Lexa, and Titus play out has been one of the more interesting parts of the season since they clearly have different ideas on how to go about governing people. As the season continues, this will surely come to a head, especially as the Sky People remain intent on taking out villages of Grounders.

Another dynamic that has been promising this season is the one between Abby and Kane. As two of the only people left at Arkadia trying to maintain peace with the Grounders, the pair has been attempting to work behind Pike’s back with Octavia in order to prevent war. In a mission that is seeming more and more hopeless by the minute, Kane and Abby can only really find hope in each other. Their connection continues to grow stronger with each episode and they will hopefully be able to use that hope and strength to find a solution of how to repair everything that has gone wrong in Arkadia.

Finally, a constant check in the "good" column for every episode is Octavia Blake. Out of everyone, she is the one who understands both Sky People and Grounders the most, having been a part of both sides. She sees people as people, regardless of what group they belong to and is not willing to idly sit by while Grounders are killed. With inside knowledge from Kane that a Grounder village was going to be attacked for their land, she went to warn them despite knowing that they might not trust her. Octavia is willing to risk everything, even her life, to help those who might not even appreciate her help. And of course, they didn’t appreciate it, instead using her as bait to plan a surprise attack on the Sky People who they now knew were coming.

At this point, Octavia holds no real loyalty to either side, simply wanting to avoid as many casualties as possible. There’s no simple way to do this though, as she is quickly finding out.

THE BAD


The bad from this episode comes from the writers' decision to force one of the best characters, Raven, into one of the least interesting plotlines the show has ever explored. Everyone watching The 100 who fell in love with Raven did so because she wasn’t willing to take crap from anyone and remained strong despite the many obstacles she’s had to face in life. Taking such a strong character and sending her to the City of Light — where characters essentially lose all of their agency — was not a great idea. While the pill may not be an actual drug, it has many of the same effects, taking away pain but also taking away a character’s ability to think for themselves. Instead, they blindly follow some computerized hologram who couldn’t be less interesting if the show tried.

The writers also played with the idea of sending Jasper to the City of the Light in this week’s episode and honestly, that would have been a much more preferable option than sending Raven there. At least Jasper — who has been completely unbearable this season — wouldn’t have been able to get much worse. And it would have been relatively easy to just zone out and ignore whatever was happening in this annoying plot.

Instead, they took a fan favorite and forced her there, ruining yet another character in the show.


THE UGLY


Of course, the ugly in this episode is anything having to do with the awful Pike and Bellamy plot. There’s not much more to say about it that hasn’t already been said and this is essentially where my apathy for the episode now comes in. Pike is going to continue being a horrible person making horrible decisions, and Bellamy is going to continue going along with it for God knows what reason. With his sister going against the group at large, he’ll have some tough decisions coming up and there is now no doubt he’ll make the wrong ones.

At this point, there seems to be nothing that can kick Bellamy out of this stupor he’s in. Although perhaps he should try taking a journey to the City of Light? At least there he wouldn’t be massacring innocent Grounders.

Other than the obvious, I also struggled this episode with understanding why Monty so easily went along with the atrocious plan. Sure, his mom is in the group that opposed Grounders, but the fact that we literally got no explanation beyond that for Monty joining is frustrating. The writers, seemingly at random, decide when we’re going to get insight into what a character is thinking, most of the time opting to not let us know. They could be doing a lot more with Monty, in particular, but are instead too focused on boring, uninteresting plotlines like the City of Light.

Unfortunately, the ugly seems to be taking over on the show, making it difficult to watch. As the season continues, we can only hope that something major will change, as the path The 100 is going down right now is not a pretty one.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Scandal 5x12 Review: “Wild Card” (Nothing Is As It Seems) [Contributor: Alisa Williams]



“Wild Card”
Original Airdate: February 25, 2016

Cyrus is pulling out all the punches to get a new presidential candidate on the map, Olivia is unraveling her father’s secrets, and Quinn and Charlie are... babysitting? One thing’s for sure: nothing is as it seems in this week’s episode of Scandal.

FITZ AND HIS NEW FLING


The episode opens with Fitz making out in the back of his presidential limo with reporter, Lillian Forrester, whom we met last week. Unfortunately for Fitz (and fortunately for the viewing audience), Abby interrupts them, kicks Lillian out, and proceeds to inform Fitz that he is “wildcarding.”

Apparently, official protocols and procedures need to be in place when the president decides to engage in any sort of activity with a woman that is more than friendly (referred to as “wildcarding” by the secret service). Ambulances have to be restocked, security has to be beefed up, the woman-in-question’s home has to be swept and cleared by the beefed-up security team. Fitz balks at all this, because Fitz is Fitz and as such so often forgets that he is the President of the United States.

Abby is on the verge of a nervous breakdown all episode as she tries to get Fitz to see reason. Meanwhile, he’s sneaking Lillian in to his bedroom for another make-out session, much to Abby’s ire. Nothing stays a secret long with this administration, and so it’s not all that surprising when a stealthy photographer gets a shot of Lillian exiting the White House via the private residence, her hair all a mess.

Abby had the perfect distraction for the press though, since a previously unknown governor was almost killed, and there’s nothing like an assassination attempt to divert attention from the president’s latest fling.


FRANCISCO VARGAS


We finally have a name for the mysterious Pennsylvanian governor that Cyrus was stalking at the end of last episode. Francisco Vargas (played by the charming Ricardo Chavira) grew up in Philadelphia, his parents were immigrants from Mexico, he served in the Gulf War, he married his high school sweetheart, and they have two lovely children together. In short, he’s the perfect person for Cyrus to hone into a presidential candidate.

Not only does he look and sound like a president, but Cyrus’ assistant, Ethan, could dig up absolutely no dirt on him. Francisco Vargas is squeaky clean. The only problem with him, it seems, is that no one knows who he is. He has absolutely no name recognition outside of Pennsylvania. How many episodes do we think it’ll take before this man’s dark secrets come out? Or, if he truly has none, then no doubt five minutes after signing with Cyrus he will, because we all know Cyrus corrupts everything he touches.

With the help of Tom, former secret service and B613 agent, Cyrus sets up a staged assassination attempt that is sure to get Governor Vargas on everyone’s radar. Tom blackmails a white supremacist to carry out the attempt. Tom threatens the life of this man’s son, and that does the trick. The white supremacist takes down a couple of armed guards on his way to kill Governor Vargas. The guy’s heart clearly isn’t really in killing Vargas though, and he stalls so long that Cyrus starts to get nervous the police sniper team will take out the armed gunman before the governor can perform a heroic act and take the guy out himself.

In what appears to be a clever behind-the-scenes maneuver on Tom’s part, the governor is shot in the shoulder. It seems clear from the security camera footage that the white supremacist did not actually deliver that shot, but in all of the hullabaloo, no one seems to notice or care. Meanwhile, the governor, injured shoulder and all, tackles the gunman and wrestles him to the ground just as SWAT storms in.

And that, ladies and gentleman, is how a hero is born and a road to the presidency is paved. Cyrus couldn’t be more proud of himself, and it’s clear we’ll be hearing more about Francisco Vargas is the days to come.

WHEN ASSASSINS BABYSIT


Quinn hasn’t gotten much screen time this season, but last episode we saw her and Charlie are still together (meh), and it seems to be going as well as can be expected for two assassins who’ve tried to kill each other in the past. Apparently they’ve even been planning a road trip together like a nice, normal couple.

Before they can take said road trip, however, an old assassin buddy of Charlie’s calls up last minute in need of a babysitter. Now, anyone who watches this show knows Charlie is the last person you’d ever want near a child. He’s kidnapped and killed several children in his day, so babysitting one? Definitely not something I would trust him with. As Charlie himself points out, he probably wasn’t his buddy’s first call for childcare, but he’s happy to help out a friend in need. So, the road trip is postponed, and Charlie and Quinn are off to babysit.

Turns out, Charlie and Quinn aren’t the worst babysitters in the world. But, with Shonda Rhimes there’s always a twist, and with this twist Quinn is completely in the dark. Remember how Tom threatened the life of the white supremacist’s son in order to get him to go along with the assassination attempt? Well, turns out Charlie’s assassin friend with the kid to babysit? This is that kid.

So while Charlie, Quinn, and this child spend a fun-filled day playing mini-golf and watching Frozen, an assassination attempt is unfolding and this child is at the center of it. Everything goes off without a hitch, the child is returned unharmed to his mother, and Quinn is left feeling all lovey-dovey toward Charlie, convinced he’ll make a great father someday. Ugh, gross.

DADDY ISSUES


It’s been clear since Scandal came back from its winter hiatus that there’s an unfolding plotline around Rowan Pope (played by Joe Morton) that involves Jake, the NSA, and the White House. What’s unclear is exactly what Papa Pope is planning, but since it was announced this past week that Joe Morton has been made a series regular, you can bet whatever it is, is going to unfold in a big way.

Olivia spends the better part of the episode in denial that her father is up to anything. She so badly wants to believe he truly has changed and is enjoying retirement from being the most evil man in the world. Though why she would think, after all this time, he could even be capable of change is beyond me. Fortunately, Huck is around to bring her back to her senses.

Papa Pope’s plots are always big and sinister, and they are always power grabs. He’s already set Jake up as head of the NSA, and he’s positioned Olivia as the backer and hand-holder of one of the biggest presidential candidates in history. But what does it all mean? My guess is Shonda won’t keep us waiting for much longer, but there’s bound to be twists and turns along the way.

Gladiator Gems:
  • “You’re wildcarding, sir. You know what that means. Please tell me you know what that means, so I don’t have to say more words. Of course you don’t. Because the universe hates us both.”
  • “I can smell the change in the air. It smells like hairspray and apple pie and fresh manure. Like America itself.”
  • “A monster does not change. A monster is always hungry. Do you not understand that when the monster gets hungry, he will turn around and eat you?”

Sleepy Hollow 3x12 Review: "Sins of the Father" (Runes and Returns) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]


"Sins of the Father"
Original Airdate: February 26, 2016

Sleepy Hollow is exploring a little bit of backstory this week, while also pushing its Abbie-centric, rune-related plot forward. “Sins of the Father” is so named because we get some information on two fathers and potential sins: Ezra Mills, who abandoned his two young daughters when they needed him, and August Corbin, who associated with some shady individuals — namely, one Extra Shady Atticus Nevins. You remember him? He’s the guy we thought Pandora had killed ages ago, but he turns up — alive, and with a few surprises — to cause lots of trouble for Team Witness. And gross us all out. For real. This episode is probably the grossest in a long while, but it was quite entertaining nonetheless, and had a good balance of ghouls and character growth to make it a worthwhile jaunt into the town of Sleepy Hollow.

THE RETURN OF ATTICUS NEVINS


While letting off some steam at the FBI gun range (and showing the audience how out of it Abbie really is, since the usually sure-shot does poorly) when she receives mysterious, all-caps text messages and a map. They turn out to be from Atticus Nevins, who’s in pretty bad shape and wandering the woods, injured, near the body of a mauled police officer. Abbie takes Nevins to the super secret supernatural holding cell Team Witness occasionally uses, and Nevins informs them that Pandora had removed his spleen but left him alive. He wants them to help him out of the country, and tells them that they’d need his help.

The creature is one that Nevins has met before, back when he worked with August Corbin in Iraq and they were hunting for... illegal gold, I guess? Team Witness is hunting a ghoul, one controlled by a golden scarab, and Nevins tells them that they’ll only get what they need if they lead him to some of the former Sheriff’s secret files. It seems that August Corbin is still keeping secrets, even in death, and I have to say how much I really like the way the show has kept this character enigmatic and important. Sheriff Corbin died in the pilot episode of Sleepy Hollow, but still manages to affect characters and plot seasons later. I suppose the “sins” in Corbin’s case are these secrets, plus the fact that he must have been protecting Nevins for years, even though Corbin also must have known how much evil Nevins was capable of doing.

Clues lead the team to Randall Martin, the guy Joe had handcuffed to a bathtub earlier in the season, but of course it wasn’t Randall controlling the ghoul. Randall gets a gaping hole in his chest, because it was Nevins controlling the monster the whole time! Gasp! And Nevins’ missing spleen? Replaced by the golden scarab, which crawls out of his scar and seriously this episode is so gross. Nevins makes a run for it, but not before shoving the scarab into the ghoul and sending it after Team Witness. The team kills the ghoul, and — as it happens — Nevins gets killed by the FBI. What is happening? I don’t know!

MILLS FAMILY BACKSTORY


While a ghoul is set loose on Sleepy Hollow and Team Witness does what Team Witness does (that is to say, defeats evil, ugly monsters that go bump in the night), the Mills family is dealing with some personal matters. Jenny, without input or approval from Abbie (not that she really needs either, of course) decided to meet with their father and talk to him about why he left. Jenny airs some grievances to Ezra Mills, but apparently walks away feeling like the meeting wasn’t so terrible. She sort of recommends that Abbie give it a try, since Ezra asked about her.

Abbie does meet with her father, but it doesn’t look like she’s there to learn what he’s been up to. Unlike Jenny, she doesn’t even seem to want to tear into him about leaving the Mills women to fend for themselves. Instead, Abbie asks about Lori Mills — about how she seemed to Ezra, before the full mental break took hold. Even though Abbie makes an effort in front of her friends and sister to appear like she’s doing fine after the Catacombs, it’s evident that she’s aware that she’s unwell. However, the fact that Abbie is approaching the possibility of an inherited mental instability so casually makes me think that there’s more to it. That maybe Abbie isn’t so aware of her state of mind as she thinks she is, and that something else lurks beneath the surface.

THINGS NOW, AND THINGS TO COME


Like last week, the relationship between Abbie and Ichabod in this episode is on oddly shaky grounds. It’s not that the two Witnesses are at all uncomfortable with each other — on the contrary, Ichabod and Abbie are as close and adorably comfortable as they’ve ever been — but there’s clearly a barrier between them, and that barrier goes by the name of “The Catacombs.” Ichabod is trying his hardest to get Abbie to open up about her experiences, to admit that the ten months spent in that other realm affected her, but Abbie is both stubborn and opposed to any signs of weakness. There also might be an element of... hypnotism? Brainwashing? Bespelling? I’m not entirely sure, but clearly something inside of Abbie compels her to keep silent about the Catacombs and how it’s affected her since she returned home.

And how, exactly, has it affected her? Not only is the shakiness of the previous episode sticking around, but we see more evidence that Abbie isn’t herself: she can’t shoot straight, and it’s only through Ichabod’s encouragement that she’s able to take down the ghoul with a clear shot to the monster’s embedded scarab device. Plus, there’s the matter of the spooky rune-like Catacombs symbol she’s been preoccupied with. Not only did we see her, in a trance, draw it in blood on her kitchen table last week, but Abbie has also painted it around her house (garage? shed?) and filled notebooks with it. Oh, and hallucinations as well — hallucinations which make Abbie declare the symbol to be “beautiful.” Now, I’m not entirely sure what the symbol is (a trip to Google tells me the closest equivalent is a Norse rune for “estate” or “heritage”), but considering that it was emblazoned on the Catacombs that served as the Hidden One’s home for centuries, I’m betting it’s not all that “beautiful,” no matter what Abbie has been dazzled into believing.

I have to applaud the show for this element of the season’s latter half. Not since the haunting images of the white trees symbolizing Moloch’s return in the first season has the show used imagery to this effect, nor has it extended such foreshadowing through multiple episodes to build up intrigue since the first season. It’s also entwined the occult elements with uncertainty. By re-introducing the Mills parents -- through the arrival of Ezra Mills as well as the discussion of Lori Mills -- the show reminds us of the mental issues in the Mills Sisters’ ancestry, and makes us question whether Abbie’s infatuation with the mysterious catacombs symbol could be more natural than supernatural.

I’ve missed this level of subtlety in Sleepy Hollow, the creepiness and mystery that it’s capable of producing through spooky imagery and an ongoing plot arc unrestrained by episodic writing. I’ve been incredibly pleased with the episodes of the season’s latter half so far, and I’m finding myself more and more excited about where the show could be going.

Other Things:
  • Is it policy for a show to eventually have an episode called “Sins of the Father” at some point? I can list at least four off the top of my head — one of which was Arrow, this season.
  • The Hidden One continues to prove himself as The Worst. The guy is really making me sympathize with Pandora, who was the villain during the first half of the season. That’s something!
  • Look, I’m not saying that Ichabod made dinner and was totally taking Abbie out on a double date with Jenny and Joe, but I am writing it. Emphatically.
  • “Woman with a gun.” “I heard that.”
  • Ichabod using an American flag to fend off an attacking ghoul is such a Sleepy Hollow image.
  • “Are they usually this ugly?” “Actually, they’re usually worse. This one’s not too bad.”
  • Yeah, the post-fight Joe and Jenny talking was actually really cute. You’re winning me over, Joenny.
  • Am I wrong in reading an implication of possible supernatural familiarity into Ezra’s “You don’t know a lot about me” statement?
  • Someone give Nicole Beharie all the awards. Her voice breaking when she told her father she missed his voice? ALL THE AWARDS.
  • I have no idea what that FBI guy’s deal is, or what Danny is doing, but I am SO INTRIGUED. Everything is intriguing! I’m getting sick of the word “intriguing” but, gosh darn it, that’s what it is!
  • “Just as you were by my side when I returned to Sleepy Hollow, so I shall be by yours.” I’ve missed Ichabod’s poetic declarations to Abbie.
  • Why didn’t this show make Abbie and Ichabod roommates earlier? They’re so fantastically adorable together, making sandwiches and drinking wine and going out for beers.

Leonardo DiCaprio and the Great Oscar Race [Contributor: Megan Mann]


This Sunday, our favorite stars will fill our screens and dazzle us. The red carpet will be rolled out. They’ll wear perfectly-tailored suits and fresh-off-the-runway gowns and answer the same questions we hear every year. All of their work over the past year will finally come to fruition on Hollywood’s biggest night: The Oscars.

Sure, this year’s telecast has been met with some serious controversy about the lack of diversity and many stars are choosing to boycott the event because of it. And yet, Hollywood still waits with bated breath to hear this year’s winners. More specifically, Hollywood and everyone else around the globe — no matter their gender, political leaning or their level of dedication to the arts — are hoping that this is finally the year that all of those memes over from the past and all of the angry screams at their televisions will finally be justified.

It’s time for Leonardo DiCaprio to win that Oscar already.

It’s become a sort of running joke on the Internet that Leo has never won his Oscar, even though he’s been nominated for his work in films such as What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, The Aviator, Blood Diamond, The Wolf of Wall Street, and this year’s gripping drama The Revenant. We, as a collective, wonder how it’s possible that someone with such an illustrious career, someone who has been so familiar to us for almost three decades on both the small and big screen, has yet to receive Hollywood’s most prestigious honor.

Each time Leo’s nominated, it’s as if he gets so close only to have it snatched away. He’ll win the Golden Globe for something like Revolutionary Road, but won’t even receive a nomination for the Oscar. Or he’ll win the Critic’s Choice Award for The Wolf of Wall Street but he won’t move from his first row seat and be handed that naked golden man.

We groan and wonder how any actors could have surpassed him for this award. And sure, we look at the other nominees and see the stellar work that they produced. But they aren’t Leo. Leo has put in the work for double the amount of time that many of these actors have — such as last year’s winner Eddie Redmayne (who really did do an incredible job as Stephen Hawking, just to be clear). And yet, other actors are seeing much more success at the Oscars than our favorite blonde-haired wonder.

What is it about Leonardo DiCaprio that has many people around the world — many people within his own profession — so keen on him receiving an Oscar? What is it that has people wondering what his next move will be and if it’ll finally lead him to the awards recognition that he so rightly deserves?

It’s simple, really.

From the beginning of his career, Leonardo DiCaprio has done what very few actors and actresses have been able to do. While he took early TV roles to catch his early break — hello, oversized 90s flannel on Growing Pains — Leo was in complete control of his career from the very beginning. For the most part, in order to get your name out there, actors and actresses will continually take roles that they aren’t especially interested in. They take these roles almost as a way to pay their dues, in order to "earn" better roles in the future. If they act in terrible roles and in terrible projects, the hope is that this will lead to bigger and better things down the road.

But not Leo.

If you actually take a look at his filmography, it’s really not that long. At least not for someone who has been in the business as long as he has. See, what people don’t realize is how strategic Leo’s been. He’s taken only the roles that he believes in, and the ones that he knows will produce deep, meaningful, raging emotional work.


Instead of auditioning for an accepting roles in major film franchises (he almost auditioned to play Anakin before many people talked him out of it, thank God) or acting in movies just to stay relevant or make a quick buck, Leo’s been very selective about the scripts he chooses. How many young actors would have taken on the gritty, drug-fueled drama The Basketball Diaries so early in their careers? Who in young Hollywood at the time would have thought that Baz Luhrmann’s classic/modern hybrid adaptation of Romeo + Juliet would have become such a cult classic?

Of course, we all know Leo from the film that launched the best modern Hollywood love story, Titanic, but he had already been cultivating a certain image even before taking on his role in the film. The thing about Leonardo DiCaprio is that takes on the roles that most people would be scared to even think of doing — roles that don’t guarantee the film will be a hit when so many of those in Hollywood are focused on the numbers and box office sales. Some of his movies, such as Revolutionary Road and The Beach, weren’t even really big hits at all. But he believed in those roles enough to want to make the film. Leo has never taken a role that goes against his integrity. He harnesses his power and does what very few in Hollywood have ever done: accept only the films he wants. And everyone in Hollywood allows him the space and time to do that. Why?

Because we all know that when Leo decides to make a movie, it’s going to be good. Even if we don’t exactly identify with the story, we’re watching for Leo. We’re watching for that magical spark that — in, Hollywood where everyone is replaceable and can be ripped from the spotlight within seconds — is entirely unique. Leonardo DiCaprio is of the upper echelon, the untouchable group that has existed since the beginning of cinema over a century ago and is so powerful, so good in every role that you can’t help but be dazzled by him.

Leo’s got the look of Old Hollywood, the power and presence of Gary Grant, Marlon Brando, and Philip Seymour Hoffman, combined with the ability to make an audience member feel every emotion so deeply that you have to pause and wonder if he’s even real.

When Leo won the Golden Globe this year for his incredible work in The Revenant, the entire room instantly gave him a standing ovation. Social media exploded in a fury of happiness, and this has only continued as he’s swept up every award in his path leading up to this Sunday’s Oscars.

From the biggest hitters in Hollywood to the little boy in Australia hoping to become an actor some day, we are all rooting for one of the best actors of our time to finally receive what he’s so deserving of. We’ll all be waiting for the moment when Julianne Moore steps out (in what is to be assumed an incredible gown) onto that stage, opens that envelope and hopefully — finally — says the words “And the Oscar goes to... Leonardo DiCaprio.”

Friday, February 26, 2016

'Pretty Little Liars' Rosewood Roundup ("We've All Got Baggage") [Contributor: Megan Mann]


"We've All Got Baggage"
Original Airdate: February 23, 2016

The final minute of last week’s episode managed to screw with our brains and make us think it was Melissa at the heart of the crime one more time. Could it have been that easy? Or could it be Sara who is not only totally off her rocker, but renting the room that used to be Charlotte’s cell, for lack of a better word. Let the sleuthing begin!

Emily opens the door into Creepy Sara’s hotel room and sees a total disaster. Ali and Hanna follow her in. The girls want to show Ali the hole in the wall, but when Emily looks, the hole is gone. It is as if it was never there to begin with. Ali doesn’t understand why Sara would be stalking them, but Emily is desperate to prove how sketchy Sara is. Hanna knows they need to leave room though. When they sneak out, the maid comes out of the bathroom and slowly takes off her disguise. Big Bad is way too close for comfort!

Real Rosewood Disney Prince Caleb managed to corrupt the file of Veronica’s medical records, making it impossible for anyone to leak it. Spencer doesn’t think that this is going to go away. But if she tells her mother, she’ll have to also tell her how she figured it out and Veronica already has enough to worry about. Emily interrupts and asks Spencer to go back to the hotel with her. She’s become a woman obsessed with catching Sara in the act. In the midst of her tirade, she suspects Spencer and Caleb know something that she doesn’t. Reluctantly, Spencer tells her of Melissa’s broken suitcase. This causes Emily to spiral even further.

Aria is frantically trying to figure out what to do about the book situation with Liam. She’s worried that her boss will fire her and that Ezra is going to be furious with her. Liam still thinks that Ezra would be flattered that a former student cares about him this much. And instead of correcting him and telling the truth, Aria just lets the moment zip by. She says she’s going to tell him that afternoon, but I highly doubt that’s going to happen.

Hanna holds up a dress to show Ella. She’s helping her with her wedding dress and any other outfit needed for the day. Jordan calls and Ella encourages her to answer it, but Hanna is in work mode and at least the Montgomery nuptials have a date; something that Hanna is lacking. In a rare moment of backstory, Ella details her and Byron’s first wedding — a totally off the wall, nontraditional affair and that she wants this one to feel more elegant, more bridal. When she asks Hanna about her dress, Hanna quickly changes the subject.

Meanwhile, Emily makes a new friend in line at Hollis named Damien, which seems pretty suspect to me.

At the Hastings home, Spencer finds Melissa in the kitchen. She then asks Melissa whose suitcase she has and then asks what happened to her other one. “It was broken. I tossed it.” Oh, but did you, Melissa? Veronica walks in and asks Spencer what’s wrong. When Spencer reveals what she knows, Veronica then tells her that Gil asked her not to share it with anyone, as it was destroy her campaign. Spencer gives a riveting speech and Veronica is so proud of her daughter. It’s such a tender moment.

Ali is grading papers when her phone chimes: “Does the good doctor know why Charlotte ran out of your house that night? I do.” And just like that, Ali is back in the thick of it.

Byron notices that Aria is merely picking at her food and totally out of it. He decides not to push her and asks her to become ordained to marry them. Aria doesn’t think that’s such the best idea. Wouldn’t Mike feel left out? But as it turns out, he’s not coming. Mike won’t forgive Byron for what happened before, and Aria thinks it’s his loss. If it’s what makes her parents happy, she’ll do anything.

Spencer and Caleb discuss the text that Ali got and wonder what she could be hiding about that night. As they walk, they spot Melissa sitting in her car talking on the phone. When she gets out to talk to them, Spencer brings up the luggage tag being needed for reimbursement. Melissa says it’s already been paid for. Caleb asks Melissa how she broke her suitcase and she said that it was like that when she got it at the airport and that she hit traffic. She walks away and Caleb tells Spencer there was no game that day. Great, Melissa is lying to everyone. Again.

Sticking to her word, Aria tells Ezra about the chapters, but he tells her there’s nothing to change now. He asks if she liked what was submitted and how well they were received. Aria says that she’s going to go to Jillian and explain the situation to her, but Ezra points out that she’ll walk out unemployed if she does. Aria was just trying to protect him and he can’t be mad at her act of love.

Hanna is doing everything she can to keep herself distracted by helping Ella with the wedding. Aria walks in and tells her that she didn’t invite anyone because she didn’t want Hanna to be uncomfortable with Spencer and Caleb sitting two feet away. Again, Hanna deflects and makes it seem like she’s happy, but her snippy responses seem to suggest otherwise.

Ali and Dr. Rollins sit out on the porch where he asks her what happened the night Charlotte died. Ali’s worried that she upset Charlotte and delivered her right to whomever did that to her. Seems a little bit far-fetched, but okay.

Emily is already panicking about going back to college. It wasn’t like it was four years ago when the threat was gone and she could live freely. How is she supposed to take notes when she’s always thinking about how Sara could be torturing Hanna for something Melissa might have done? Okay, let’s tone it down there, Em. Hanna is super confused but lets it go when Damien (seriously, the name is getting to me) calls. Hanna says he looks familiar, but unless she’s purchased any used books at Hollis, Emily doubts it. Speaking of, Emily got a box from Hollis earlier that day. Odd, she hasn’t ordered any. When she opens it, there’s a baby book with a bookmark that reads, “You need to start talking before our baby does.” Yikes.

Veronica gives a press conference discussing her illness. It just proves that she’s beaten cancer and she never gives up without a fight. Hanna walks into The Brew and sees Spencer and Caleb watching it all cuddled up together. She walks up to them and they disentangle themselves, Hanna spills how she thinks Melissa could have done it. A few years ago in London, she ran into Melissa during a fashion week event. Melissa was angry and said that Wren left her because the girl who made their lives a living hell was now coming to take hers down as well. In a heated moment, Melissa grabbed Hanna’s phone and called Charlotte. She believed someone needed to put her in her place. Hanna asks Spencer to check if it was Melissa that called from that café the night Charlotte died and then asked about the overstepping blogger from before.

Because that overstepping blogger could be the one who is “making friends” with Emily. The two are walking down the street and he asks what made her come back to Rosewood before suggesting they get coffee and enjoy the nice weather. Emily’s phone sounds with a text from Hanna about Damien playing her, that she needs to lose him quickly. Instead of heeding the warning, Emily says to skip the coffee and head straight to dinner. Emily, what kind of game are you playing?

Liam approaches Ezra in the lobby bar. They get down to discussing the chapters and assuming that Aria has already told him everything, he tells Liam that the protagonist was inspired by Nicole, not Aria. Liam is clearly confused by his comments and when Aria approaches, she quickly asks how long the two have been sitting there. Liam walks off on a sarcastic comment and when Aria follows him, he tells her that he figured out Ezra was more than just a teacher. Should have come clean, girl!

Hanna says that Ella has no need to be nervous. She and Byron were already married once before, but Ella says she feels like she’s 19 all over again. “Well, I think it’s fate for people to be together, be apart and then find their way back to their first love. What’s more romantic than that?”

Hanna, stop with your obvious hopes that you wind up with Caleb. But as it turns out, Byron wasn’t Ella’s first love. It was another boy she went to high school with and when they graduated, they went their separate ways. Meanwhile, Jordan calls and Hanna doesn’t answer again. She’s too busy thinking about Caleb.

Ali sits examining the text from Big Bad and decides to text back asking if it’s Sara. Like she would tell you if it was. Dr. Rollins comes up and asks why she’s been avoiding him. He doesn’t want to be pushed away because of her unnecessary guilt. He loves her and wants to spend the rest of his life with her. Well, that proposal was fast.

Spencer goes to congratulate Veronica but notes that something is wrong. It turns out that a story was leaked while she was giving her speech that could crush all of the goodwill Veronica had just done. The story is about Yvonne terminating a pregnancy in high school which is a bit of a problem when her dad is running on a pro-life platform. The leak apparently came from the Hastings office, so an investigation is sure to come. “Any idea who would put that out there?” Melissa asks. Do they really think Spencer would have done that?

The wind blows ominously through the trees as Emily approaches the Two Crows diner. Either it’s unpopular or it’s closed as there are no patrons despite the glowing neon sign. She tries to open the door, but it’s locked. A Jeep’s engine turns and the lights are blinding. The engine revs and makes a fast move towards Emily. She jumps out of the way in time and the car drives off. She looks again into the diner and hears the Jeep on its way back, nearly taking her down again. Here I really thought we were over the trying-to-kill-the-Liars-with-cars thing. Ugh.

Aria gives a beautiful speech about understanding who you are before committing yourself to another, how her parents are an inspiration, and pronounces them married once again. It’s so sweet that you almost forget about the danger Emily is in at that moment.

Speaking of, Emily tries to get her cell phone to work but there’s no reception and the car comes for her once again. This time, the car destroys her phone and therefore her only means of communicating with anyone else. She runs back to the storage containers, climbs to the top and her hand grazes a piece of metal. The exact type of metal that was said to have killed Charlotte. Uh-oh.

As Spencer and Caleb speculate who could have leaked a story, Veronica comes in visibly angry. An expert was hired and they traced the leak back to Spencer’s IP address. That’s impossible, as she hadn’t touched her laptop all day. She’s not lying despite what Veronica thinks. Caleb takes the blame and says that they were going to do the same to her. Spencer knows that he’s lying, but he won’t back down. He needs to not only resign from the campaign, but gather his things and find somewhere else to go.

Emily lays low, clutching the piece of metal as the car drives off. She makes it down the ladder before the car comes racing back, almost crushing her. She makes it at the very last second, but drops the piece of metal in the commotion. Someone gets out of the car before it pulls away. What a good way to get Emily’s fingerprints on the supposed murder weapon.

Liam shows up as the ceremony ends and Aria apologizes for never fully divulging her history with Ezra. She held back because she wasn’t sure herself, but Liam believes otherwise after reading what she wrote. Maybe it was writing those words that helped her figure it all out. “How does it end?” he asks. “I didn’t know until right now,” she replies. Well, that was sweet.

Hanna is cleaning up when she comes across the box with the veil inside. She slips it on and grabs her phone to call Jordan with a wedding date. It is another sweet moment that quickly cuts to Caleb packing his things and Spencer crying that he can’t go. If this is what it’s going to take to allow Caleb the time and freedom to figure out who actually did this, he’s willing to take the fall so long as Spencer is willing to figure out what Melissa has been up to. Talk about drama.

The door flies open to the loft. Emily throws her destroyed phone on the table and Hanna asks where she was and what had happened. Emily says she was attacked, but it wasn’t by Sara. Sara wants the murder solved and whoever this was is trying to cover it up. Emily found the weapon and they were willing to kill her just to get it back. “So what are you saying? That there’s more than one person after us?” Hanna asks.

“There’s definitely two,” Emily agrees.

A shadow passes by the Montgomery’s window and then a sharp rap sounds against the door. My nerves got all jumbled up and it turns out, it’s only Ali and Dr. Rollins coming to ask Aria if she could marry them. Tonight.

A table containing various wigs and accessories is also loaded with remote controls and manuals. What is Big Bad planning to do with them? More importantly, how did he/she get a slice of cake from the Montgomery wedding? Was Big Bad a guest or just someone in disguise with the catering? This use of disguises is giving me a headache and now the threat of someone new is too.

Does anybody have a slice of cake for me?

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Suits 5x15 Review: "Tick Tock" (Like You're Running Out of Time)


"Tick Tock"
Original Airdate: February 24, 2016

When I was in high school, I was really bad at taking standardized tests. Why, do you ask? It wasn’t because I was unintelligent. It was because I was just not a great test-taker (which I remedied by getting a degree in something that rarely required tests — only papers!). I hated sitting in a desk and feeling like I was constantly racing the clock. When the SAT or the ACT administrator would tell us we only had a few minutes left, my heart would race and I would frantically try to skim the final few pages of the booklet and jot down the answer I thought was best to each remaining question. But the panic building within me was the worst, because I knew that the more rushed I felt, the more careless I would be.

In this week’s episode of Suits, everyone at Pearson Specter Litt is racing against a ticking clock. “Tick Tock” is the episode’s title for a reason, after all. Anita Gibbs gave Louis a window of opportunity in which to turn his back on his firm in order to secure his future (and, by proxy, Sheila’s), and he is tempted to do just that throughout most of the episode. But the real pressure, of course, is put on Mike himself as he spends the episode waiting to hear a jury’s verdict. In the meantime, he’s trying to occupy himself with a random case that he acquires while outside of the courtroom, and Rachel grows more and more irate by the moment. Elsewhere in the episode, Harvey and Jessica attempt to remain calm in the face of their dwindling time and plan a way to secure a mistrial. Spoiler alert: that doesn’t exactly end well.

Let’s dive right in, because we have a lot to cover.



TICK TOCK, GOES THE CLOCK


I’ll be the first to admit that I haven’t totally been sold on this whole “Mike gets picked up by the feds and might go to jail for fraud” arc, but “Tick Tock” is the first episode of the plot where I’ve genuinely felt that there are real, emotional stakes involved. That’s partially due to the outstanding performances of everyone in the cast, and partially due to the fact that this arc helped progress our characters.

Mike plays back over what happened in court (he’s representing himself now, remember?), and realizes that his good arguments might not be enough to win the case because Anita Gibbs drove some pretty compelling points home. Rachel and Harvey assure them that he will be okay, but Mike doesn’t want to leave the court because he wants to be there when the jury returns with a verdict. While Mike frets about his uncontrolled future, everyone else has similar concerns on their hands. Harvey works to secure a mistrial, once he and Jessica realize that Anita would never have instructed them to NOT do it if there was some reason she wouldn’t be able to get a mistrial. Harvey’s quest to do this leads him to blackmail and bribery — not the two most upstanding things to be involved in, really. But Harvey is desperate. Because the time is winding down and whatever way the case swings, there’s a very good chance it will come back to smack him (and the other partners) in the face.

Harvey’s knee-jerk reaction to problems is to solve them by whatever means necessary. He doesn’t want to pause and take enough time to think. He doesn’t want to dwell on what could happen. The way that he has constantly won cases is by blocking out every other thing that distracts him and throwing himself head-first into his problems. That’s not always a good thing, as we’ll talk about in a bit, but it’s where Harvey is at for most of this episode.

And then there is Mike. And then, more specifically, Mike and Rachel.

So Mike gets offered a deal by Anita Gibbs because his perceptive skills have led him to pinpoint a few flaws in her character and reasoning as to why she’s doing this all in the first place. She wants to earn respect with the people she works for and if she bags Mike, that’s a huge win for her. But what Anita points out when she offers Mike a deal is this — she can’t let him off the hook. Not without looking incompetent in the process. She offers him two separate deals: either he pleads guilty and faces two years of jail time (and everyone at Pearson Specter Litt won’t be touched), or walk free, but hand over at least one of the people who knew about and hid his fraud. Everything about taking one of Anita’s deals seems to be pretty appealing to Mike, who is coming closer and closer to the precipice and the knowledge that he might not be enough to convince the jury and things could go downhill very quickly if he falls.

While Mike is staunchly loyal to Harvey (the past few weeks it seemed like he might be okay with selling Jessica out, but whatever), Rachel doesn’t share the same obligations. In a really dramatic and emotional screaming match (one-sided, since Rachel is the only one who yells and Mike is weirdly solemn and calm throughout all of this), she tells Mike to stop thinking about the partners and to start thinking about what will happen to her if he goes to jail. Rachel has no loyalty to Harvey or Jessica, and she would recover from throwing them under the bus for the sake of Mike.

But Mike will never turn in the person who gave him his chance and who has been giving him chances since. And I hate to break it to you, Rachel, but the reason you’re in this mess is because of Mike... and because you chose to stay with him. Let me reiterate for the audience: YOU CHOSE THIS LIFE. Rachel could have walked away a thousand times but she hasn’t, and yet she continues to act as though everything is happening to her for no reason. Her outburst in this scene was — as usual — about HER and not about anyone else. She tried to cover it up with talk about Mike ultimately having faith in himself, but... everything just fell flat to me. Ugh.

Mike, using his final few verdict-free hours, works a case because he saw a client being taken advantage of. And for all of his flaws, Mike has learned the value of helping out the disadvantaged. He wields his power one last time in this instance in order to get a man out of a prison sentence. ... That is, until the client has the option to walk away from the case by turning on his friends. The heavy-handed allegory aside, the one thing that stuck with us — and with Mike — was this client’s vocalization of a truth: it doesn’t matter if he gets jail time or walks away free; his friends are going to jail either way.

And that is when it hits Mike. All of this time, he has been protecting the people he cares about by trying to make everything go away. He wants to put this trial behind him and move forward from it. But what didn’t click was the fact that this trial is going to impact the people who are trying to protect him, no matter which way the pendulum of verdict swings. So Mike races to Anita Gibbs’ office and tells her that he’s ready to take a deal.

The only question is... which deal?

   

“I THINK YOU’RE WORTHY”


Let’s spend some time now talking about Harvey Specter in this episode. Because something really significant happens — a shift in Harvey that we very rarely see. Early in the episode, Jessica expresses the fact that she wants to secure a mistrial to ensure everything can be put behind them. She doesn’t trust that a jury of people will see Mike as innocent. She doesn’t know those people and therefore can’t predict how they will act. So Harvey goes about trying to secure a mistrial — by any means necessary.

This whole “any means necessary” includes blackmail and bribery. Harvey approaches Donna and tells her that she needs to get one of her friends at the District Attorney’s office to give him the names of the juror. But Donna draws a line in the sand, saying that she will not ask a friend to break the law for Harvey. And Harvey shouldn’t be asking her to do that for him. Remember a few episodes ago, Harvey? Remember when we all talked about how if you love someone, you don’t ask them to break laws for you? Thankfully, Harvey comes to his senses in that regard but decides to go about securing a mistrial in another less-than-favorable way — through blackmailing David Green into buying a juror coffee. When David doesn’t show up, Harvey tries to threaten and intimidate him. And to his credit, Harvey is a bit taken aback by David’s harsh words. He talks about how the only reason Harvey is a winner is because he bullies other people into getting them to do what he wants. And David is not about to be blackmailed into helping out someone he knows to be a fraud.

This conversation knocks Harvey off his game a bit. Couple that with the conversation Harvey and Louis have in the episode in which Louis tells him that everything they’re facing should come down on Harvey — he’s the one who hired the fraud, after all — and you have a very distraught Harvey Specter. And what does distraught Harvey do? 

He shows up at Donna’s house.

(I love, however, the acknowledgement and apology that he showed up in the first place. He recognizes boundaries now with Donna and is sorry for overstepping them.)

Because if there is one person in the world Harvey needs to set him right, it’s Donna Paulsen. On the verge of an emotional breakdown, Donna figures out that Harvey is greatly considering confessing to hiring Mike knowing he was a fraud. Harvey is beginning to lose faith in himself and he’s actually, genuinely afraid that they won’t win the case and that Mike will be sent to prison, and the firm doomed. I don’t think Harvey is worried for himself though, not like Louis is. I think that unlike Louis, Harvey doesn’t feel fear — he feels responsible.

So here’s the thing: Donna knows about Dr. Asgard (remember her?!) and tells Harvey as much, wondering aloud why he didn’t go to his therapist with this crisis. And honestly, I think it’s because Donna’s opinion means more to him than anything else ever could. He trusts her. And, on what might be the last night of his freedom (if he confesses and goes to jail), he wants to talk to HER. Donna’s presence is about more than just comfort though; it’s about intimacy.

Because as Harvey and Donna begin to talk, Harvey starts to vocalize his plan to Donna. She incorrectly assumes that he wants to confess because he needs to be the hero. She says that she cannot see him fall on his sword again, but Harvey’s frustration begins to mount. It’s not about being right. It’s not about being a hero. It’s about being responsible. And then this moment happens where Gabriel Macht exclaims in the most heartbreaking voice ever that it is his fault.

Everything is his fault — everything that has ever resulted from hiring Mike. Every little bit of fear that Louis is experiencing. Every fight Rachel and Mike are having. Every time Donna was caught in the crosshairs. Every time Jessica had to clean up a case or a mess. It all comes back to him. HE is the one who hired Mike in the first place. He is the one to blame. And Harvey feels like he deserves to face the consequences for his actions. If anyone should suffer, it should be him.

First of all, this performance by Macht was outstanding. Harvey can barely get the words out because he’s yelling, but also crying. And Donna — our sweet queen Donna — begins to reaffirm Harvey. She tells him that it’s not his fault. No one of what they are going through is a burden that he should bear alone. He has nothing to feel guilty for. The way that Donna sees it... Harvey should begin to see himself the way that she sees him.

Harvey doesn’t know how Donna sees him (or he does, and he just can’t comprehend that kind of faith), and so she tells him: “I’m asking you to believe that the two of you [Harvey and Mike] are worthy of being found innocent. ... Because I think you’re worthy. And I don’t want to lose you.”

At the point in the conversation in which Harvey hears that Donna believes him to be worthy, he looks back up at her and doesn’t stop looking at her when she says that she does not want to lose him. In this moment, Harvey and Donna are being their most honest and vulnerable selves. It is only through Donna’s affirmation that Harvey has the courage to return to court the next morning and support Mike without fear, and it is only through her tentative honesty about not wanting to lose him that Harvey reconsiders turning himself in (perhaps even remembering how he felt when he almost lost Donna a year ago). 

Donna reminds Harvey that he doesn’t bear the blame for the actions of others, and everything that has happened is not because of him. This is honestly such a perfect moment for the two, because it’s probably the first time in the entire series where Harvey can clearly see the depth of Donna’s love for him. And it’s terrifying and exhilarating at the same time. So much so that it spurs him toward the door. (If Tumblr hadn’t pointed it out, I would never have noticed that the last time Harvey was in Donna’s apartment was one season ago, exactly, when he talked about her faith in him. Beautiful parallelism, show, even if you didn’t intend it.)

But Donna knows Harvey better than he knows even himself, and she knows that she needs to affirm him one more time. So she looks him in the eyes at the door and tells him to have the same faith in Mike that she has in him. You can see Harvey visibly soften upon hearing her words. It’s heartbreaking and hopeful all at once. And that’s pretty much indicative of their entire relationship. She’s Harvey’s anchor and he knows it.

Speaking of anchors, Pearson Specter Litt is pretty adrift these days with this case. How will it all pan out in the season finale next week remains to be seen. But I’m glad that “Tick Tock” allowed us into the most vulnerable and emotional hour of this journey yet. And I can’t wait to see how it ends.

And now, bonus points:
  • Hello, penultimate episode of this season! It’s still so weird to split seasons up into summer and winter.
  • I didn’t really talk about Louis above, but he has a fight with Harvey and spends the majority of the episode convinced the only reason that Harvey let Mike represent himself is because Harvey knows they’re going to lose. When Jessica tries to reassure him, Louis is even more anxious than ever and turns to Anita Gibbs. If he can provide proof of Mike’s fraud, she’ll spare him. Of course Louis considers this, going so far as to even taping a conversation with Harvey. But he doesn’t turn in the tape. (Progress, I guess?) Because Jessica affirms her faith in and loyalty to Harvey, so does Louis, even though he’s terrified. The best way to describe him really is “panicked,” as he spends most of the episode doing exactly what I assume someone would do if a big storm was coming: run around in circles and find the easiest and quickest way out.
  • “And the Harvey I know isn’t that kind of person.”
  • “Just remember... tick tock.”
  • “Because I think you’re worthy. And I don’t want to lose you.”
  • The song selection on this show is so good. The final montage was beautifully directed and also had such a great song playing over it.
Next week is the finale, Suits fans! We’re promised that someone is going to jail. But who? (What if it’s Anita, for some reason? It’s something Suits would do and you all know it.)

Brooklyn Nine-Nine 3x17 Recap: "Adrian Pimento" (Or is it Paul Sneed?) [Contributor: Alisa Williams]


“Adrian Pimento”
Original Airdate: February 23, 2016

Brooklyn Nine-Nine has a new detective this week and he’s sitting at Jake’s desk, warming Jake’s chair, and typing on Jake’s computer.

Adrian Pimento has been deep undercover for the last 12 years and has just resurfaced, seemingly lacking basic human interaction skills. Not only is he in Jake’s spot, but he proceeds to pull a knife on Jake. The introductions are not off to a good start. Pimento used to work for the Nine-Nine, but since it was over a decade ago, the only detectives who remember him are Hitchcock and Scully. Captain Holt decides to give Pimento his old desk back, which is Jake’s current desk, which explains why he was sitting there when Jake strolled in.

Everyone has different reactions to their new teammate. Jake is immediately captivated by Pimento and requests to be partnered with him on his latest case. Everyone else can see Pimento is clearly unhinged from spending 12 years undercover with a notorious mobster. But Jake — who reminds us he spent 63 days undercover himself — thinks he knows exactly what Pimento is going through and can lead him back to normalcy.

Boyle decides to welcome Pimento by making a gigantic pot of goat stew in the breakroom. Because, Boyle. Unfortunately, the stew explodes. Everywhere. Over everything. This means Boyle has to beg Mean Marge, the head janitor, for assistance. Mean Marge did not earn her name by accident. The woman is tough as nails, and Boyle’s request that Marge clean the breakroom for them completely backfires when she tells her team to stop cleaning the precinct altogether. Trash bags start piling up everywhere. Boyle and the other detectives are also forbidden to clean anything up themselves because to do so would take away work from the janitor’s union.

Jake has problems of his own to deal with, because later that night he finds Pimento waiting for him in his apartment. Jake finally starts to realize Pimento is mentally unbalanced. Between threatening to kill Jake’s elderly upstairs neighbor to referring to himself by his undercover name “Paul Sneed,” to doing Tai Chi in his underwear, Pimento clearly has issues.

It seems Pimento may be having trouble leaving his alter-ego behind, because while they’re working Jake’s breaking-and-entering case, Pimento takes a break to buy a burner phone and bolt cutters. Jake, who is completely disenchanted with Pimento by this point, worries that he may have turned and is still in fact working for the mob. When Jake witnesses Pimento donning a ski mask and breaking into an abandoned building, it seems to confirm his suspicions.

But, it turns out Jake was worrying for mostly no reason. Pimento is not still working for the mob (though he is still seriously unhinged). The burner phone was because he has terrible credit and can’t get a regular cellphone. He broke into a storage facility to get some of his old stuff, like family photos, back.

Jake’s lack of trust in him drives Pimento to go back to the only other job he ever had before joining the force: working in a grocery store as a bagger. After a heart-to-heart, in which Jake admits that despite his 63 days of undercover work, he has no idea what Pimento is going through, he convinces him to rejoin the team.

Meanwhile, Captain Holt has enlisted Gina’s help to create a video for a grant proposal he’s submitting. Holt wants a no-nonsense, straightforward video, but Gina has visions of smoke machines, CGI horses, and karate. After Holt storms off, Gina hires actors to play Holt and Rosa for the video. Holt is furious when he finds out and fires Gina from her directorial duties, but she submits a video anyway and the grant submission board loves it. She was able to curtail her need for pizazz and used the abysmal state of the precinct to showcase why the Nine-Nine needs funds so badly.

While Gina and Holt wage their video war, Boyle’s war with Mean Marge is escalating. Trash bags have now been piling up around the precinct for days and the breakroom where the stew explosion took place is still so bad it’s been blocked off as a crime scene. Mean Marge admits she’s really upset because none of them even know her last name and yet she knows everything about them: Terry throws his daughters’ drawings away, Boyle secretly eats fast food, and Amy accidentally wrote “their” instead of “there” on a memo.

The team decides to make it up to Marge by naming the breakroom after her if she’ll agree to let them clean it up before the naming ceremony. This plan works, they’re able to get their breakroom clean, and Marge agrees to return to cleaning the precinct — except for big messes. Boyle, of course, manages to break a dozen champagne bottles and a window about 2.5 seconds after she says this.

All in all, I wasn’t loving this episode. Pimento is unhinged in a creepy way, rather than a comical one, and it’s unclear how long he’ll be sticking around, but it seems it’ll be at least another episode. At least the Vulture is hilarious when he shows up; Pimento is just sad and scary. Maybe we can have an upcoming episode where Pimento and the Vulture face off. Now that would be interesting.

Bullets on the Bulletin Board:
  • “I went undercover. 63 days, no big deal. You probably forgot.” “No, it’s your outgoing voicemail message.” “Hey, it’s Jake. Can’t get to the phone right now. I might be undercover again, like I was for 63 days. Byeeeee.” 
  • “What the hell, Boyle?! You almost killed me! I’m not going out in a stew-making accident! Terry’s gonna die saving the President or Terry’s never gonna die!”
  • “I understand you have some filmmaking experience.” “Well, yeah, I’ve been re-vined by Rob Kardashian, so yeah, I’m a director.”
  • “You added the one ingredient I didn’t want: pizazz.” “Pizazz is who I am. Would you tell the sky to stop being so blue?” “Yes. I wish it were tan. It’s my favorite color. It’s no nonsense.”
  • “Bolt cutters? Bolt cutters have literally never been used by an innocent person.” “I use them all the time when I make jewelry.” “What? Oh my god. Follow up questions later.”
  • “I know you call me ‘Mean Marge.’ Do you even know my last name?” “Mop-bucket?” “Scully, don’t guess!”
  • “Pimento’s mementos. I know you have a gun on me, but I just couldn’t resist the rhyme. Sorry.”

New Girl 5x08 Review: "The Decision" (Let the Decider Decide)


"The Decison"
Original Airdate: February 23, 2016

My friends and I are notoriously bad at making decisions. We will literally go back and forth for upwards of twenty minutes via group text message, trying to decide a place to eat. I’m an extremely indecisive person because I’m very much of a type-A personality — I like to organize my decisions and have enough time to think about and choose the best one. While this is great for long-term planning my goals and budget, it’s not so great for making a decision about where to eat dinner and at what time.

I’m not alone, though, as this episode of New Girl focuses on how bad Winston and Nick are at making decisions. Actually though, “The Decision” doesn’t really involve much decision-making for the majority of the episode. And I think that’s kind of the point. The fun of the episode isn’t in the decision that Winston and Nick make in regards to Reagan or the decision Schmidt and Cece make about their wedding venue. The fun is in everything that leads up to those decisions.

I AM THE DECIDER OF US THREE!


(Like I could watch this episode and NOT reference Nick’s epic meltdown in “Parking Spot.”)

Nick and Winston both have the same reasoning for why they don’t make decisions — fear. Nick hasn’t dated in a long time (well, by television standards at least) and his last serious girlfriend was Jess. It’s actually really interesting, because Jess’ last serious boyfriend wasn’t Nick; it was Ryan. But though Nick briefly dated Tran’s granddaughter, that relationship wasn’t really that serious to begin with. So it’s really interesting to me that Nick still – in many ways – hasn’t really moved on from Jess as much as she has from him. And the thing that’s holding him back from doing so might very well be his fear of not being good enough for someone like Reagan.

Nick’s a super insecure person, and sometimes it manifests itself in the way that he behaves and in his relationships. Clearly Nick has a crush on Reagan and doesn’t believe that he is good enough to be with her, so he becomes the most awkward human being on the planet around her. When Reagan becomes fed-up with Nick and Winston’s inability to choose a brunch place, she proposes something outrageous to them: she’ll sleep with one of them by the end of the day. But only if they can decide which one.

Schmidt and Cece watch, horrified, and then ask Reagan (once Nick and Winston depart) whether or not she was serious. In a move that is absolutely perfect, Reagan says that she just wants to mess with them and see how far she can take this, believing (accurately) that neither of them will actually be able to choose. And she’s right. While Nick and Winston initially come to a decision of who will sleep with Reagan, Nick decides to break his deal toward the middle of the episode. It’s hilarious, especially because there is a scene in which Nick and Winston fight while spraying cologne all over themselves.

We haven’t gotten a strictly Nick/Winston story recently that reminds us of the fact that they’re childhood friends, but the crux of Nick’s decision to let Winston sleep with Reagan is because in middle school, Nick broke a pact and made out with someone Winston liked. (The whole pact and breaking of it felt so reminiscent of Ross and Chandler’s in “The One Where the Stripper Cries,” honestly.) I love that Winston and Nick have been friends for so long that they’ve adopted one another’s quirks and habits and function, often, as one unit in a way that Schmidt and Nick don’t. (The fun in that pairing is usually how much they clash.)

I really enjoyed this story, especially the fact that the whole plot wasn’t about sleeping with Reagan at all. It was about making decisions, and neither of the decisions Nick or Winston made ended up involving sleeping with her at all. Winston realized he has feelings for Aly, and Nick realized that he wouldn’t want to sleep with Reagan under the pretenses she set. It was a moment of growth for both characters, who often use their indecisiveness as a way to avoid responsibility and consequences. Winston and Nick both learned how to become more decisive people in the episode, even if what they ended up deciding to do went against their natures. Nick hasn’t been with someone in a long time and it would have been easy for him to take Reagan up on her offer. But he made the harder decision and walked away, realizing that he’s confident enough in himself now and wants to do things the “right” way. Meanwhile, Winston finally decided to put himself out there with a person who is his work partner. That, in and of itself, is terrifying. But then, also, factor in that this is WINSTON. Last week, he described all of the ways he’s been broken up with.

Winston doesn’t put his heart on the line anymore because he’s done it in every relationship and it’s only ended poorly for him (twice with him being cheated on in recent years). So it makes sense that he would be hesitant to make any sort of decision once he realizes that the REAL decision he wants to make is holding him back from everything else. Winston’s confidence though at the end of the episode (even if he’s shot down) is so important to me. Because even though he doesn’t get what he hoped for, he doesn’t stop hoping. And that’s just such a Winston Bishop thing to do.


IT’S ALL ABOUT THE BENJAMINS


Our favorite character to hate has returned to Schmidt and Cece’s lives as they’re looking for wedding venues. Benjamin — the man who tortured and continues to torture Schmidt — and his fiancé are looking to book the priciest and fanciest establishment for their wedding. It also just so happens to be Schmidt’s dream venue. But without the support of Cece’s mother, financially the two can’t afford it and prepare to walk away before they’re taunted by Benjamin.

I love the Schmidt/Cece arc this season. These two are so supportive of one another and are each others’ anchors. This episode saw Cece supporting Schmidt because she knew something was important and valuable to him, just like Schmidt supported Cece in “Big Mama P.” Their relationship has grown so much over the years and remains — in this season — one of the foundations of the show. Not only was the moment that Schmidt walked away from his dream venue upon realizing that he only needed Cece a great moment of character growth, but it was also really well-executed. There was a perfect blend of humor and heart in this story that was indicative of the show in general.

New Girl’s fifth season is stellar, even in the absence of its titular “new girl.” I think it’s because the show has finally and totally realized what it is — a comedy about normalcy and adulting. The character go through things that any of us could, and they manage to grow because of (and sometimes in spite of) their circumstances. 

Additional de-lovely aspects about the episode include:
  • Why isn’t everyone talking about this season of New Girl?! It’s the most consistently hilarious show on television these days.
  • I’ve said it already in other reviews, but Megan Fox is so great in this show. The way that she can deliver sarcasm is probably one of the best things Reagan as a character and Fox as an actress. I really love her inclusion in the show and the loft. The opening sequence with her deadpanning about brunch was fantastic, and the moment of trying to seduce Nick left me giggling so hard.
  • My favorite thing in the world is cold opens that end on something hilarious and then continue right after the title card. Like this one!
  • Schmidt referring to himself as a “sexual barracuda” is so great.
  • Nick listens to the conversation between Reagan, Cece, and Schmidt with his ear to a paper cup at the door. That says literally everything you need to know about Nicholas Miller.
  • “Well get ready for the skin circus, you little peanut.”
  • The wedding venue montage was HILARIOUS, especially Schmidt’s allergies at the barn and the reference to Mumford & Sons.
  • “First of all, dibs can’t be singular.”
  • I will never think of Benjamin by his actual name. To me, he forever will be known as Todd from Community.
  • “You have kind eyes.” I really and truly love how the show included Nasim Pedrad. Her appearances are frequent enough to where I enjoy her presence, but not so frequent that I’m tired of her.
  • Let’s all take a moment to revel in Max Greenfield’s facial expressions during the scene where Cece makes up a story about how she and Schmidt met (and are cousins).
  • “I started from the bottom, now I’m here.” Between this and last week’s Beyonce singalong, I’m so in love with Nick Miller at the moment.
  • (And then the panic moonwalk returned and everything was right in my world.)
  • “Officer DOWN... to meet your boyfriend.”
  • The return of Nick’s horrible “dead dad pass” sweatsuit was so perfect.
  • “You know, everyone dies. Maybe he’ll die.” I laughed SO hard at this line, especially because it was just loud enough to hear but not so loud that it was the focus of the mumblings between the group.
  • Slow-motion “Motown Philly” might be one of the best things New Girl has done yet.
What did you all think of “The Decision”? Tweet me or hit up the comments and let me know!