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.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Bachelorette 12x06 Roundtable: The Quick Train to I-Love-JoJo-ville [Contributors: Chelsea and Alisa Williams]


JoJo and her men spend the week in Buenos Aires where Wells finally gets his first (and last) kiss with our leading lady. A second two-on-one date has Derek and Chase tangoing for JoJo’s heart, and James Taylor uses the group date to air his grievances. Chelsea and Alisa share their take on this week’s episode.

What do you think about the one-on-one with Wells? Should JoJo have given him the rose? Or was it time to say goodbye?


Chelsea: I really liked Wells and I don’t think he was given enough time on the show with JoJo for anything to happen. From following him on Twitter and Snapchat, I can tell that he and JoJo are different people and probably wouldn’t work. He’s a super fun, nice guy that likes music and hanging out with people. And JoJo likes her guys to have a little edge to them. I love that the show made their date seem so much more awkward than it probably was with the terrible music and the editing. I’ll take Wells though. He seems like the perfect guy for me and my friends.

Alisa: I liked Wells, even if I could never quite figure him out. He always looked like he was half-asleep or coming down with the flu, but maybe he was just a low energy dude who just doesn’t like fighting fires or participating in performance art. But all in all, he seemed like a sweet guy who got terribly awkward and tongue-tied around a beautiful, confident woman, and it became his downfall. I think saying goodbye was probably the right choice. I never really saw it working between JoJo and Wells. They seemed like completely different people, and I think that became increasingly clear during their date when JoJo wanted to talk about exes and unicorns, and Wells just wanted a nap.


Do you think James Taylor did the right thing by telling JoJo his opinions of Jordan? 


Chelsea: I like James Taylor and didn’t fault him for telling JoJo, but it was clearly a thing the producers tried to drum up since they have no drama in the house. We didn’t see their “drama” go down and it wasn’t a real issue. Very petty of the show in my book. At least if you’re going to create some drama, let us see it unfold and tell a whole story.

Alisa: I agree with Chelsea completely. That drama seemed so random and it came out of nowhere. James Taylor and Jordan are self-described BFFs in the house who have had absolutely no tension and then BOOM. So Jordan apparently schooled you on the rules of poker off camera one night and acted super arrogant and entitled about it. Big deal. I personally can’t stand Jordan because he’s one of the bullies of the house, and James Taylor certainly wasn’t wrong in his description of Jordan’s less-than-stellar personality. But come on. Let’s not get our feelings hurt over a game of poker.


What are your thoughts on the remaining men? What about the ones that have gone home? Is your favorite still standing?


Chelsea: Of the remaining guys, I love James Taylor but I don’t think he’s going to win and I really like Luke. James Taylor is too good for this show and needs to be protected. Luke looks like a bad boy at first but seems to be a teddy bear when he talks. I really want him to be the Bachelor next season. I do like Robby a lot and I hope to see more of him. Alex is the only guy I despise.

Though I do need to add that the show dragging out Derek’s exiting and all of his crying was one of my most favorite things I’ve ever watched. It was just magical and hilarious. After learning about Derek outside of the show and how he prepped for it all, it made me really dislike him. Glad to see him gone, even though he has that adorable Jim Halpert face.

Alisa: So my favorite man, and the only one I was rooting for, was sent home. I’ll miss you, Derek. It’s true you got disturbingly cocky about how this two-on-one would go which made it clear the odds were never in your favor, but up until this week you handled yourself with grace and maturity in the face of Chad-bears and house bullies. I like James Taylor, but I don’t think he’ll stick around much longer. His insecurities are getting the best of him. As for the other men, I really can’t stand any them. Luke seems like your typical bad boy, Jordan’s hair is full of secrets, Alex is an angry elf, and Chase and Robby are completely forgettable.

Hometowns are coming up fast. Who’s going to make the cut?


Chelsea: Luke, Jordan, and Robby seem pretty safe for hometowns. I’m curious to see how those will go and what kind of drama can come from them. I want to know more about Luke since he’s my frontrunner for the new Bachelor. In a perfect world, James Taylor would be my next Bachelor but I don’t think we’ll be that lucky. I’m gonna bet Chase is the fourth hometown contestant.

Alisa: I think it’s pretty clear both Jordan and Luke will make hometowns. I’m less certain about the other two spots. I’m hoping James Taylor is still standing at that point. Hometowns can prove pivotal for developing relationships and I think making it to hometowns could really help JoJo see what a great guy James Taylor is compared to these other men. I’m just going to throw it out there and say Robby will be the fourth hometown contestant.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Game of Thrones 6x10 Recap: “The Winds of Winter” (Rise of the Queens) [Contributor: Melanie]


“The Winds of Winter”
Original Airdate: June 26, 2016

Holey moley. We may have just witnessed the two best episodes in Game of Thrones history back-to-back at the end of this season. “The Winds of Winter” was so full of swerves and gasps that it’s hard to pick one stanout moment. With the amazing opening sequence of Cersei and Loras’ trials ending with the Sept of Baelor turned into a wildfire pyre, you didn’t think it could get any better. In fact, I was sure this episode was playing its best hand first and it’d be a downhill cleanup from there. After all, historically the tenth episodes of the seasons have been calm falling action compared to the crazy of the ninth episodes. But this one went so far beyond “Battle of the Bastards” in all the best ways.

Recap:

The episode opens with various members of court preparing for Cersei and Loras’ trials. Cersei is dressing in what I could only describe as murder clothes, while Tommen is stopped at the door by Ser Gregor. In the sept itself, Loras repents of his sins and receives the seven pointed star on his forehead. Margaery is enraged with this and insists to the High Sparrow that Cersei’s lack of presence for her trial suggests she has something awful planned, and insists they need to leave. The High Sparrow ignores her and Lancel chases a “little bird” into the catacombs beneath the Sept where a massive store of wildfire sits, leftover from the time of the Mad King. He’s wounded by the child and attempts to crawl to the fuses but makes it only in time to watch it all ignite. The Sept is engulfed in flames and everyone within — including Loras, Margaery, Mace, and the High Sparrow — are killed instantly.

Tommen watches in horror from his room. As he watches the smoke rise, he quietly removes his crown and jumps out his bedroom window to his death. Meanwhile, Cersei has taken Septa Unella prisoner and, after berating her for her treatment of her, leaves her with Ser Gregor to be tortured. She is then presented with Tommen’s body and tells Qyburn to have it burned and spread the ashes around the ruins of the Great Sept. She is then crowned Queen of the Seven Kingdoms in her own right and Jaime, returned from the Riverlands, looks on in anger.

At the Twins, the Freys celebrate their victory over the Blackfish in the Riverlands and Jaime warns Walder that the Lannisters will not be pleased if they are called to fight his battles every time he loses a foothold in his own lands. He and Bronn depart with their army to return to the capital. Later, a serving girl brings food to Walder who asks where his sons are; she replies that they are here, and clarifies that they are the meat he has been eating. She removes her face to reveal herself as Arya, who cuts Walder’s throat and tells him the face of a Stark is the last thing he will see before he dies. She leaves him there and departs undetected. Meanwhile, down in Oldtown, Sam and Gilly arrive and he is granted access to the library until they sort out from Castle Black their outdated information on the Lord Commander and Sam’s official letter.

Beyond the Wall, Benjen leaves Bran, warning him that the Night’s King will be back, though nothing dead can cross the Wall because of magic. Bran then wargs into the weirwood tree and sees young Ned Stark at the Tower of Joy where we learn that Lyanna Stark died in childbirth in the Tower, giving birth to Jon Snow. The present-day Jon Snow is holding court at Winterfell with Sansa, after banishing Melisandre for her previous sacrifice of Shireen, as discovered by Davos. Sansa informs Jon that a white raven arrived at the castle, signaling the beginning of winter. The hall of northern lords proclaim Jon the King in the North and swear to follow only him.

In Dorne, Olenna is bartering an alliance with the Sand Snakes in the wake of the massacre in King’s Landing. Varys arrives at the meeting and offers Olenna vengeance in the form of “fire and blood”. The Tyrells and the Dornish agree to the join forces and back Daenerys as the queen. Meanwhile, in Meereen, Dany informs Daario he will not be joining her when she sails to Westeros; he is distraught, but she holds her ground. When she walks out, she informs Tyrion the decision did not bother her and she is ready. He tells her she is finally a part of the game of thrones and she admits she is scared. She then offers him a pin and proclaims him Hand of the Queen.

They sail with a fleet of thousands of ships bearing Targaryen, Greyjoy, Tyrell, and Martell banners as the dragons fly overhead.

HOLEY MOLEY.

So, I’m breaking my form on these recaps a little bit but there’s some serious game-changing logistics that need to be discussed. First of all, Jon taking up position as King in the North is an interesting (and much theorized) turn. This is cementing his position as a Stark, which is interesting since this episode confirmed the theory that his mother was Lyanna and his father Rhaegar (we didn’t get confirmation of the father, but we all know). The North is now united behind Jon as their king, as well as the wildlings and the remaining men of Castle Black. Essentially, the North has completely solidified into one unit. Which we’re going to need.

But that makes the stuff with Dany even more fascinating. She has the support of the Dornish forces and the Reach, which means she controls the entire South. Song of Ice and Fire much? The stage is set for Dany and Jon’s fateful meeting as twin rulers of their respective geographic holds of Westeros and the fact that they’re actually related is going to make it interesting as well. And with Dany’s acceptance of Yara’s claim as queen of the Iron Islands, she’s likely to also accept the Stark claim of sovereignty over the North.

But speaking of Dany’s army, she has got an invasion force like nothing the world has ever seen. Three dragons, 8,000 Unsullied, an uncounted number of Dothraki, the Tyrell army, the Dornish forces, and what remains of the Iron-born. Based on the number of ships, that is a %&$@-ton of soldiers willing to die to get her that iron chair. Keep in mind, the Tyrells have the largest army in Westeros already. And with Cersei likely to become one of the most unpopular rulers Westeros has ever seen, the thrones has essentially been handed to Dany. Well, it won’t be easy, they’ll probably be more fighting and endless bureaucracy before she gets to comfortably sit down on her ancestral throne, but emotionally, Westeros is ready to hand itself back to Targaryen rule if it means deposing Cersei.

And that’s one of the most interesting set-ups of last night. The last two seasons will become the Dany vs. Cersei show. Which is insanely cool and, honestly, probably where we all should have seen the show heading from day one. Cersei is the anti-Dany, not only in temperament and action but she constantly compares herself to the worst parts of the Targaryen legacy, while Dany consistently tries to rein in her darker parts and emulate Rhaegar’s legacy. What’s more, Cersei’s prophecy of her children dying before her has come true, the “queen come to take everything [she] holds dear” is on her way, and the “little brother” she was warned to fear is now Dany’s right-hand man.

It’s ON.

I’ll have some follow-up posts but this is my word vomit reaction to last night’s crazy awesome episode.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Series: Summer Lovin' -- Week 14


This week marked the official start of summer, which for most of us means nothing more than just higher temperatures and even more humidity. But as the summer wears on, we're still finding more things to love each week. Whether binge-watching the latest Netflix series or picking up a good book for beach reading, we're still immersing ourselves in art each week. Joining me to discuss what they're lovin' are:

Beauty & the Beast 4x04 Recap: “Something’s Gotta Give” (Baby Aboard?) [Guest Poster: Bibi]


“Something’s Gotta Give”
Original Airdate: June 23, 2016

In this week’s episode, open with Cat waiting for Vincent, who is a no-show, for their coffee date. Heather arrives telling her that her new DHS office space is almost completed and reassuring her that she will see Vincent soon, and that if anyone can balance being newlyweds plus their current work and beast loads, it is them. Elsewhere, we find J.T. completely distraught over Tess and using work as an escape. He is still trying to figure out his life, but his break-up with Tess and not having her support is making it harder. Hopefully within the next couple of episodes we can see J.T. get some additional clarity on what he wants out of life.

Cat, in an attempt to solve the identity of the bounty hunter, gets a message from Deputy Secretary Hill frantically telling her to meet him at DHS. When she arrives there, she is informed that Deputy Secretary Hill never showed for work. Thinking he is in grave danger, she calls Vincent to meet her at Deputy Secretary Hill’s place for back up. She finds Deputy Secretary Hill and his family tied up and being tortured into giving up information about beasts to an unidentified assassin. Vincent arrives just before Deputy Secretary Hill is killed in front of his wife and daughter, throwing the unidentified man off of Deputy Secretary Hill’s balcony.

While Vincent struggles to keep his day job, Cat realizes that she is late and could be pregnant. She asks Vincent if he wants kids, and when his response is less than ideal, she continues to avoid taking the pregnancy test until the end of the episode.

Since Beauty & the Beast loves storylines that mirror Cat & Vincent’s relationship, this week they were tasked with getting information from an account of a Russian mobster. They were supposed to meet this informant at a school and get information on his boss’s whereabouts. When they arrive, this man is kidnapped and Cat takes it upon herself to let his wife and two young boys have safe refuge at their apartment. She thinks the wife may have answers as to why her husband was kidnapped and soon finds out that the wife knows next to nothing about her husband. They haven’t been close since their kids were born, and you can see the fear in Cat’s eyes and comparison to her own relationship. Cat and Vincent have been married for two months and are already having a tough time balancing career and marriage. Cat is completely frightened at the idea of adding a baby to the mix, and it makes sense, because with Vincent’s life constantly being threatened, marriage and parenting isn’t easy.

In an attempt to take some of the heat off of Vincent, J.T. decides to pose as a DHS agent in hopes of getting them to stop posting info on beasts. Instead, he gets kidnapped by them and chained because he is mistaken for a beast. To get himself out of the situation, he gives a speech that basically reveals he is really insecure about the current stage of life he is in and the lack of direction he has. He is deeply missing something and has yet to discover what that is and how to fix it in his life. The bloggers let him go and once Tess and Heather figure out that J.T. isn’t where he promised he would be, they go to find him. They find him safe, but laying in a parking lot, embarrassed and ready to go home.

Back to the kidnapped informant, Cat enlists the help of Tess and NYPD to put the pieces together. They realize that a lot doesn’t add up. While Cat should be focused more on the details of this case, she is consumed by thoughts of this potential pregnancy. She goes home to try to brainstorm even more with Vincent but they just end up in a huge fight, resulting in her confessing that she might be pregnant. Vincent feels terrible for his initial response to wanting kids and while they both know it is important to figure out whether or not Cat is pregnant, they think helping the kidnapped informant is more urgent.

Vincent clears his head and decides to try to track the informant one last time. He finds the informant in a junk yard and kills his kidnappers one by one. We soon learn from J.T. that this informant and accountant is actually an assassin. Vincent senses he isn’t who he says he is, but is shot by the informant in attempt to stop him. Eventually, Cat shows up to save Vincent and kills the assassin. Now, Vincent is beyond exposed and whoever this assassin worked for knows all that Vincent is capable of.

At the bar, Tess encourages J.T. and reminds him to keep pushing (safely) on this journey to figuring out what his destiny is. She reminds him to be himself and that she loves him, but he needs this time to figure out his life and what will truly make him happy.

The last major moment in the episode is the pregnancy test reveal. Cat had a scare in season one and Vincent had the same reaction then that he does now. Since we saw in season two that beast genes are hereditary, he is worried if they have kids, they will be subjected to a life like his. To be honest, we knew from the beginning of the episode that Cat was likely not to be pregnant. I actually would’ve preferred a twist like that now, and I would’ve enjoyed seeing how the writers handled that for the rest of the season. It is would be a tad bit complicated and tricky, but that is life. Her second negative pregnancy test almost felt unnecessary since we have seen a version of this storyline on the show in season one. I was hoping they would change it up a bit, but alas, that was not the case. The end of this episode for me was a bit underwhelming, but I am hopefully the seasons continues to build momentum next episode.

So what do you think J.T. will end up doing professionally in the long run? How long will Tess and J.T.  be broken up? Will Heather get more integral storylines instead of just being awkwardly placed? Will Vincent and Cat have a baby by series end?

Share your thoughts below!

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Wynonna Earp 1x13 Recap: "I Walk the Line" (Got Work to Do) [Contributor: Isabella]


"I Walk the Line"
Original Airdate: June 24, 2016

It's no coincidence that this episode is called "I Walk the Line" not only because of Willa and Bobo's goal to literally walk across the line together, but also because of Johnny Cash's song that corresponds so well with what many of the characters are feeling (and also the entire tone of the show).

If you haven't given the song a listen already, you should. But I'll go through some of the lyrics at the end of the song for you:

You've got a way to keep me on your side.
You give me cause for love that I can't hide.
For you I know I'd even try to turn the tide.
Because you're mine, I walk the line.

I keep a close watch on this heart of mine.
I keep my eyes wide open all the time.
I keep the ends out for the the tie that binds.
Because you're mine, I walk the line.

I know this should automatically scream Willa and her relationship with Bobo, but I think it veers more into Wynonna's territory. There's definitely a reason why Bobo can keep Willa on his side: some form of Stockholm Syndrome she's developed. But what I find to be the most interesting aspect of the show as a whole is the relationships Wynonna's developed with people like her sister Waverly, Dolls, Doc, and even Peacemaker.

They're drawn into her world for various reasons, but each stick with her. Wynonna has a way of keeping them on her side. For Waverly, it's a familial and unwavering bond of love. For Dolls, it's a partnership and romantic, passionate love. For Doc, it's a willingness to be a better person (and unrequited love on his part). These three people were there with Wynonna at the end of the line.

Her relationship with Peacemaker might be the most complicated and underestimated relationship yet. Peacemaker was confused when Willa came into the picture. Peacemaker faltered and didn't cooperate with Wynonna at all. And yet, in this finale, Peacemaker came back to her. It recognized the inherent bravery and drive to act for the greater good that only the true Earp heir can carry.

And now to recap the rest of the episode...

Picking up right where the last episode left off, Doc and Dolls manage to work together to get Wynonna out of the champagne-crazed partygoers — by throwing her out the window. Don't worry, of course she's fine. Well, up until the part where she gets ambushed as she's changing out of her party dress by one of her various exes who wants the antidote.

Meanwhile, Willa and Bobo's messed up relationship seems to be going just fine up until Bobo — or, as Willa calls him, "Robert" — begins to burn up. They followed the prophecy: Willa's walking across the threshold with Bobo willingly and they've got Peacemaker... Wait, they don't have Peacemaker. Waverly ran off with it and it's safe in her possession. That is, up until the point where she gets taken by a now-deranged Chrissy Nedley.

As Doc and Dolls stock up on ammo, Doc finds Dolls' stash of "medicine" that, as he describes it, has been keeping some parts of him alive and some dead since he was a young boy. They can't get too into this conversation however because Nicole walks in. Dolls is pretty much set on not involving her, but Doc just comes out and catches her up on everything: "Purgatory's overrun by Demon Revenants a.k.a. Wyatt Earp's resurrected outlaws. Bobo del Rey is their leader. I am Doc Holliday. Yes, that Doc Holliday. And Dolls here is just a dick." It makes perfect sense to Nicole and now she's officially a part of the Black Badge Division.

Wynonna is saved by Willa, who knocks Wynonna's ex out. Wynonna has Waverly on her mind, but Willa's anxious to find Peacemaker. Wynonna's worry worsens when she gets a call from Chrissy to find Waverly, or else she'll get hurt. They run over and when they get there, Chrissy keels over and Willa gets to work on untying Waverly. She finds Peacemaker in Waverly's bag and furiously snatches it from her. Waverly senses something's wrong and snatches it right back, throwing it over to Wynonna. Waverly's reasoning for not trusting Willa was because she saw something in her eyes when they visited Bobo's place, noting "I don't think the Willa that came back is our Willa." Impatiently, Willa brings out her own gun, willing Wynonna to hand Peacemaker over. At that moment, Nicole walks in. Setting her eyes on Nicole, Willa threatens to kill Waverly's girlfriend (and now Wynonna knows) if she doesn't give it to her. Wynonna doesn't want to up until the moment she sees Waverly's devastated face and tells Wynonna that she loves Nicole. After she hands it over, Willa shoots Nicole anyway in order to slow them down.


But wait! Even though Nicole was shot, she's not bleeding out. As it turns out, it's because she's wearing a bulletproof vest, a.k.a. what I take to be a huge middle finger to all the television shows that have killed off their lesbian and bisexual characters, particularly with a bullet, in this year. On this show, they've already shot both Nicole and Waverly, the two lady-loving ladies, and had them survive. Although I said in this Sunday's Summer Lovin' series: "I know people are reluctant to begin watching a new show because they don’t want to get hurt again. I can’t make you watch it and I can’t promise that we won’t get hurt, but I think this is the show to take that risk for,"  I actually believe that Wynonna Earp won't be killing off Nicole and Waverly.


Wynonna runs off to catch up with Doc and Dolls at Shorty's and finds the place and all the people in there a mess. Just prior to her arriving, Dolls was shot and — in an effort to get him to feel better — Doc injected him with one of the serums. It's the one that causes Dolls to growl, get superhuman strength, and throw bad guys out the window. Even better news? They're able to get an antidote for the people drugged up on poisoned champagne.

Bobo's got problems of his own when the mysterious man that spoke to Doc when his car didn't work reappears. He lets Bobo know that if the heir crosses the boundary with Peacemaker tonight and hate in her heart, everyone will be doomed. Well, he may not have used those exact words, but basically everyone's pretty much screwed. He also mentions something about what Willa used to be, but Bobo says that he'll be able to save her and himself if they just cross over.

He makes his way back to his house, only to find Waverly waiting for him. She tells him she's waiting for Willa to get there and while they wait, they have a little chat. Waverly keeps bringing up how Bobo basically coerced her 13-year-old sister to trust him, which he doesn't see anything wrong with. What he does make sure to tell her though is that she's not even an Earp. She can't ask him what he's talking about before she has to run and hide because Willa arrives. She watches them run off together with Peacemaker as she cries.

Doc and Wynonna (not Dolls because of his gunshot wound) catch up with them and have a standoff in which Bobo uses his weird telekinetic powers to retrieve their weapons. Unfortunately for him, they thought ahead and one of the weapons has a bomb attached to it. He notices it just in time for him to throw it toward where Doc is standing. It throws both Doc and Bobo to the ground, leaving the two sisters to approach the line. Willa walks across the line, opening up the prison gates of Hell and letting a snake-like creature slither forth. Willa and Wynonna both cock their guns at each other. Wynonna completely reluctant and unwilling to shoot her sister, but Willa completely ready. Willa attempts to pull the trigger multiple times, but it doesn't work. Before Wynonna can think of shooting, Willa is shot, but not killed by Dolls. The snake slithers around her, squeezing her into its grasp and forcing her to drop Peacemaker. He drags her away, but Wynonna follows. She grabs Peacemaker and aims straight at her sister's forehead. She pulls the trigger, killing her. She then runs back across the line with the snake racing after her. Just like sliding into home base, she slides right out and into safety.

Wynonna's about to shoot Bobo, who's completely ready to die, but is stopped by Dolls' boss. They're taking Bobo and Dolls both to a maximum security black ops prison outside of the triangle. As they're driving away and crossing the border, Wynonna shoots Bobo and watches as Dolls gets driven away. She's completely set on breaking him out of the prison though, and she makes sure to tell Doc that.

After the dust has settled, Waverly, Doc, and Wynonna walk by the line and where Willa was killed. As Doc and Wynonna talk about what they're going to do next, Waverly stoops down to inspect an odd-looking gushy mud patch on the ground. As she touches it with her finger, the substance spreads along her body and across the face. She seems fine, up until the point where she approaches Wynonna and asks her, "Are you ready?" To which Wynonna responds, "Sweetheart, I'm ready for anything."

As if to test this, Waverly pulls out a gun and shoots.


Other Points of Interest:
  • Can I just say that I knew we shouldn't have trusted Willa? Also, her relationship with Bobo is seriously screwed up because she was his hostage since age 13!
  • Everyone going crazy off of that poisoned champagne didn't seem to be trying their very best to get at Wynonna at the start of the episode, did they?
  • "I had Peacemaker in my hot little hand." Hot little hand? Okay, I'm going to excuse Willa for saying this because she hasn't been out in society in awhile.
  • "Agent Haught, welcome to the Black Badge Division." So does this mean Katherine Barrell's going to be a series regular next season? Oh, let it be so.
  • The Doc and Dolls friendship is everything I need in life.
  • "I'm the ... Earp heir and I've got work to do."

Game of Thrones Recap 6x09: "Battle of the Bastards" (Home is Where the Heart is) [Contributor: Melanie]



Well, this is not at all how I thought things would go. The Battle of the Bastards was a messy, gory cluster$@%& that really couldn’t have gone much worse. Virtually all of the Stark forces were slaughtered before the Vale arrived to help and Rickon was murdered in front of Jon. The scenes were dramatic and, in some cases, hard to watch. Ramsay Snow’s continued smirk was even harder to watch sometimes. The way his character was handled from his arrival in season 3 has been interesting: they’ve essentially pushed us to the edge, seeing how far you can make a character so incredibly unlikable before it becomes too much. And it’s safe to say this guy trumps Joffrey for worst human being on the show.

And now he’s gone. The beauty of his demise was that he was chased back to Winterfell and, when cornered, attempted to simply shoot Jon Snow point blank. This episode was a smorgasbord when it came to depicting why Ramsay is human garbage: he’s willing to sacrifice his own men by firing on them to hit enemy forces; he refused a single combat resolution to the fight in order to save their forces; he killed Rickon after some psychological torture; and then went running back to his castle. Jon Snow doing a number on his face was lovely, but the ultimate trigger pull going to Sansa was the best part.

Ramsay’s death was incredibly poetic. Sansa, never once laying a hand on him, managed to make a completely satisfying end to this monster of a human being. As he tries to get back inside Sansa’s head, asserting that she cannot kill him, she calmly informs him his words, his memory, and his name will be wiped from the pages of history before releasing his own dogs, whom he starved for a week, on him as he assures her they won’t attack their master.

And then one eats his face.

And Sansa walks away vindicated. To be honest, I wasn’t sure they were going to let Sansa have the final victory in this scene. The show got some serious (and deserved) criticism for portraying Sansa’s rape by Ramsay from Theon’s perspective and how being him forced to watch was somehow more important than the act itself. I was fairly certain they were going to let Jon get the final say in Ramsay’s plot. But Jon backed away and Sansa was free to deal with Ramsay in the way she saw fit.

And while we’re on the topic of powerful women, Dany very calmly retook control of her city (with some needed guidance from Tyrion). When Yara and Theon came to parlay, not only did Dany recognize Yara as the commander and conduct their alliance, but there was for sure some flirting going on there. Yara is among GoT’s few female queer characters, and the only one to be portrayed so explicitly as such. So, hopefully we don’t turn this into something objectifying and portray a real power play by two female rulers.

Recap:

The episode opens in Meereen with an unhappy Dany conferring with Tyrion. She intends to burn the other two cities in retribution but Tyrion warns her father once wanted something similar for King’s Landing. She backs down and he suggests a parley with the masters. They meet and Dany informs them she intends to collect their surrender before flying off on Drogon, rallying her two remaining dragons, and burning a portion of the master’s fleet. Greyworm informs the masters one of them will be killed as punishment for the siege; two offer up the third. Greyworm kills the two who spoke up, allowing the third to live and pass on warnings back in his city about what happened and Daenerys’ mercy.

Later, the Iron Fleet arrives in Meereen, and Theon and Yara meet with Dany and Tyrion. After some back and forth (RIFE with the aforementioned flirting), Yara agrees to back Dany for the Iron Throne with the aid of her ships and Dany promises to back her claim to the Salt Throne at Pyke.

At Winterfell, Jon and Sansa parley with Ramsay the day before the battle. Jon suggests a single combat trial to end it before it begins but Ramsay, knowing he’d lose, refuses. They part ways for the night and Sansa warns Jon not to play into Ramsay’s games. They argue strategy before Sansa leaves. The next morning, Jon and his forces take the field opposite the Boltons. Ramsay frees Rickon and tells him to run to Jon and begins firing arrows at him. Seconds before Jon can get to his brother, Ramsay shoots Rickon through the heart, killing him. Jon, Tormund, and the others rush at the Bolton forces in fury.

The battle is gruesome and quickly falls apart for the Stark forces. Ultimately, Sansa arrives with the forces of the Vale who turn the tide and decimate the Bolton forces. Jon and the remaining men chase Ramsay back to the castle where Wun Wun knocks open the gate, allowing the forces to flood in. Ramsay attempts to shoot Jon before he’s overpowered and taken prisoner. Later, Jon is collecting Rickon’s body and Sansa goes to see Ramsay who has been locked up in the kennel. He tells Sansa she won’t kill him, but she quickly sends his own ravenous dogs on him after informing him she will erase his memory from history.

Secondary Material:

Meereen is saved in essentially the way most people predicted it would be after the end of Dance.  The Iron Fleet arrived, also as predicted, though with Yara taking Victarion’s place as Dany’s suitor. Hopefully now we can finally put Slaver’s Bay to the rudder and get the heck back to Westeros. But, we’ll see.

Other than that there’s not much to be said here besides acknowledging that next week’s episode is titled “The Winds of Winter” which is the title of the book being adapted this season. Fun.

Theories:

We’re closing out the season with the King’s Landing storyline, which has been pretty meh. The one interesting thing here is Qyburn’s “rumor” that many suspect may be the caches of wildfire. We’ve been reminded twice now of Aerys’ “burn them all” rants so it’s possible Cersei, who was willing to do it before, might cash in on the wildfire and just end the tomfoolery in the capital. And Jaime can’t come to her aid, and after his encounter with Brienne, may not want to.

We need to pull the trigger on this R+L=J stuff that we’ve been hinted through Bran’s strange memory walks. It will likely be a last minute reveal, if it’s revealed at all this season. Hopefully this season closes out with Dany having concrete plans to get across the sea now that she’s got the ships, the dragons, and the army. And the Stark hold over the North may not be so solid; it’s likely Jon (a bastard) and Sansa (a girl) will face opposition from other houses, especially given they won Winterfell with wildling forces.


Ultimately this was an emotional rollercoaster that ended up incredibly satisfying in a lot of ways. It may be remembered as the best episode of the show to date, overcoming the “Rains of Castamere” for that mantle. Check back here next week for one final recap!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Bachelorette 12x05 Roundtable: L-O-V-E [Contributors: Alisa Williams, Chelsea, Rae Nudson]


The first L-bomb is dropped this week on The Bachelorette as JoJo goes cliff jumping with a former Olympian in Uruguay. Not a bad life for our girl, but it’s not all fun and games. Alisa, Chelsea, and Rae share their thoughts on this week’s dates.

Were there any surprises with who got a rose and who didn’t?


Alisa: I was shocked that Evan got a rose in the first ceremony but SO GLAD to see him leave in the second ceremony. The other eliminations all seemed pretty straightforward to me. At this point, the guys who get next to no screentime and whose names I can’t remember are still the ones getting the boot. I think next week is where it will start to get really interesting with who stays and who goes.

Chelsea: I’m not really surprised with who was let go. JoJo has made it clear who her frontrunners are so far. I was hoping Alex would go in the second ceremony because he has been the actual worst this season. Like more aggressive than Chad ever was and such a bully and instigator. He thinks he’s a nice guy, too, and plays victim, and it just makes it worse. I’m surprised Evan and Vinny made it as far as they did though. I’m surprisingly going to miss dumb Daniel. He made it way too far, but God bless his commentary.

Rae: Chelsea, I so agree with you about Alex. Alex is worried about mini-Chads but he is the biggest mini-Chad of all. Maybe even a medium-size Chad. I hope he goes quickly. I’m glad Wells is still around, but I’m getting worried for his fate since he’s not getting much screentime and hasn’t had a one-on-one yet. I was also shocked Vinny lasted as long as he did, but he seems like a good guy! Goodbye, Evan, I won’t miss you.

Who are your favorite guys?


Alisa: Okay, so I love Derek. He’s just adorable and seems way more mature and intelligent than the rest of the lot. I felt like the other guys were really letting jealousy get the best of them when Derek got the group date rose, and I thought his ability to rise above and just confront them about it in a rational, calm way was impressive. I’ve been a fan of his since early on when he handled Chad’s crazy in much the same way during episode one. A cool head under the pressure and crazy circumstances of this wacky show is a very attractive quality! I don’t think he’ll be JoJo’s pick in the end, so I sure would like to see him be the next Bachelor.

James Taylor is pretty adorable too, and definitely a favorite. I wish he’d gotten more screentime this episode but I guess we had to devote a big chunk to Chad’s crazy, so oh well. I still think James Taylor is a) way too innocent and kind-hearted to be on this show and b) a fluffy puppy in disguise. I think he’d be good for JoJo, but again, I don’t think she’ll pick him.

I couldn’t care less about any of the other guys. They can all go.

Chelsea: I really like Wells, but more for me than JoJo. He cracked me up eulogizing during the protein powder funeral. He and James Taylor are too much fun and just too adorable for this show. I would love for either of them to be the next Bachelor. What an upgrade they would be over boring Ben.

Luke is super up and down for me. He can be super whiny but then he has great moments with Jojo and the guys and I start liking him. Like Derek, he’s one of the more mature guys on this show. He knows what he wants and goes for it. I appreciate that.

I like Derek and his John Krasinski face. He seems way too mature for this show, and I like that he didn’t stoop to Alex’s level and tried to talk to the guys about it even though Alex and the gang started playing victim. Very disappointed in Robby for being part of that mean girls clique.

Rae: I love the way Derek handles what could be awkward conversations by calmly stating the truth. He did that with Chad too (“Are you scared of me?” “Of course, you’re very aggressive”). He just seems so nonplussed by all this macho nonsense. I’m also a little up and down with Luke, but he is one of my favorites, too, and I think he would be great with JoJo.

What do you think of Robby telling JoJo he loves her?


Alisa: Oh, Robby. I think Robby’s a good guy. Probably. He seems like he is. But don’t they all at first? Even Chad seemed normal for the first 2.5 seconds. The thing is, when you throw out the big L-word on your very first one-on-one date, it causes all sorts of alarm bells to go off in my head. Major red flag, dude. Even if you are feeling it, recognize that it’s waaaay too early and just keep that under wraps. I know things move fast in Bachelorville but there’s fast and then there’s stalker speed. Recognize which you are. Robby’s proclamation just made me think he’s two episodes away from a heart and shield tattoo on his wrist (anyone else remember Kasey from Ali’s season?!).

Chelsea: I wasn’t a big Robby fan until this episode. I love how he finally opened up about himself and we got to see this more emotional side of him. Before this, he and JoJo seemed to just be really attracted to each other, but now I could see him as husband material. I think it’s fine that he said he loves her because now he stands apart from the rest. He also had one of the more mature reactions to the article drama, and was ready to defend JoJo before entertaining the ex-Chad. And if he doesn’t win the show, I think he has a strong chance of being the next Bachelor.

Rae: Sorry, I just can’t take Robby seriously at all. I feel like every time he is with her he just does things he thinks he’s supposed to do on a date? I don’t know why I’m not feeling his vibe! Possibly because he told JoJo he loves her way too soon, which makes me think he’s insincere. Am I being judgey? Probably! Do I care? Not really.

James Taylor is way too innocent for this world, but I'm not sure what to make of his comment that no one who cries this hard could possibly be lying.

Anything else you want to add?


Alisa: I think the next time any man, anywhere in the world, dares to proclaim that women are more catty, more jealous, more crazy, more petty, or more anything really, then men are, said man should be forced to watch this episode on repeat until he recants his statements. Alex and Jordan and the other guys were basically just auditioning for a boys-version remake of Mean Girls and it was awful and horrible and irritating and almost made me wish Chad would come back. Almost.

Chelsea: Let’s talk about how the show totally stole a page from UnReal’s book with that magazine stunt. That was literally a plot point last year for the show and they completely planted that for some drama. And sure, it worked for the show, but get some original ideas Bachelor franchise.

That bro spa date of Robby and Jordan was adorable. I’d watch that show. It would be better than the upcoming Ben and Lauren reality show that I will attempt to suffer through.

And to back up Alisa — Alex, Chase, and Jordan (though more Alex) were super petty at the cocktail party to Derek. Derek was trying to address how Alex and Chase were acting toward him, and the two of them debating the way JoJo worded giving him a rose shows how much more petty and insecure they are than Derek. I don’t know why they dragged Robby and Jordan into it, but calm down, boys.

Rae: Yes, I agree with both of you on all of those points. Also, I could see Jordan and JoJo ending up together and aiming for C-list celebrity, but I get an off vibe from him, too. I think because he admitted to being a jerk to his last girlfriend, and I guess it takes self-reflection and improvement to see that, but it still doesn’t make me trust he wouldn’t do the same again. No more jerks, JoJo!

A Feminist’s Take on The Bachelor Franchise [Guest Poster: Rebecca]


If it has the word “bachelor” (or some variation of the word) in the title, I’ve watched it. The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, Bachelor Pad, Bachelor in Paradise — I’ve seen them all, and I love them all. Although I fully recognize the franchise has evolved into a platform for fame and publicity rather than a space for hopeless romantics to find a shot at love, I put that skepticism aside for two hours each week, eating up the contestant’s stories about their personal struggles, failed relationships, and openness to finding love once again. I get invested in these people’s lives, and each season I develop a tiny glimmer of hope that this time, the relationship will work.

I also identify as an intersectional feminist, meaning that my feminism includes more than just gender equality — I also take into account race, class, sexual orientation, (dis)ability, or any other identity a person may have when viewing and critiquing our sociopolitical system. This means that The Bachelor franchise often enrages me... and yet, I keep coming back for more.

I’ll be the first to say The Bachelor has a multitude of issues. We hardly ever see non-white contestants, and if we do, they usually get cut within the first couple of weeks. And why have we not had a bachelor/bachelorette who identifies as LGBTQIA+ before? It’s a very straight, very white television program — a show that should face criticism because of these things. But if we choose to only consume inclusive and diverse media that aligns with our personal belief systems, I have a feeling we’d be sitting in an empty room, staring at a blank wall. Even what the general public would label our most-feminist media (like BeyoncĂ© or Orange is the New Black) sometimes have problematic aspects.

But I don’t think enjoying The Bachelor makes me a bad feminist. It’s very similar to liking rap/country music — two of the biggest music genres that I think negatively portray women and promote toxic masculinity —and still considering yourself a feminist. I think it’s okay to support this kind of media as long as you think about why you enjoy it. Do you enjoy The Bachelor because of the concept and cast, or do you enjoy it because society has engrained into our minds that we should find enjoyment in other people’s drama? Either answer is perfectly valid. I like The Bachelorette infinitely more because of the power the show gives the woman. She is in charge of the progression of her relationships with each man and in control of her sexuality. And, of course, I enjoy breaking from the trend we get so often of pitting women against each other. But that doesn’t mean the show is without flaws, and I fully recognize that.

My feminism pervades throughout every aspect of my life. I write articles like this one; I attend protests, rallies, and speakers; I speak about intersectional feminism on all my social media platforms; and I take my beliefs into consideration when deciding who and what to vote for in elections. I work hard to be a good feminist, and because of that hard work, I think it’s okay for me to “take a break.”

I do feel a little bit guilty whenever I watch The Bachelor (or any form of the show) because I know I am feeding into a culture that preys on female stereotypes and validates white standards of beauty. But as long as we recognize how the media we consume affects our society and ourselves on an individual level. We should think about why the music we listen to, the shows and movies we watch, and the books we read are so popular, and how those reasons may stem from promoting stereotype, or delegitimizing a certain type of people’s experiences. Living in today’s world is hard work; the things we do for pleasure shouldn’t have to be.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

A Poldark Roundtable -- Part 2: Why You Should Be Watching [Contributors: Jenn, Meredith, Marilyn, Hope, Jen K., Megan, and Jen W.]

We brought you part one of our roundtable about a week ago, so check that out if you haven't. Here is part two, where the staff and I discuss our favorite episodes, the beautiful setting of Cornwall, and why you should be watching this show!
 

One of the most noticeable things about the show is the absolutely breathtaking setting. But there’s more to Cornwall than just its beauty. Discuss the importance of setting to the show.


Mer: The show’s location team managed to find this absolutely breathtaking place that looks totally untouched by time (at least the parts we see.) The gorgeous water and beaches, the hills and escarpments, the fields, and those perfect blue skies with white fluffy clouds — the entire setting takes you back and lets the viewer feel as though they’ve truly landed in the 1780s. It’s the absolute perfect backdrop to an overall stunning show; to have this visually stunning setting on top of everything else is just the cherry on top of the Poldark sundae.

Marilyn: Cornwall is one of the most beautiful locations on the planet, I’m sure of it. Those sweeping vistas! The windblown cliffs! The sparkling ocean! The crashing waves! The waving fields and wildflowers! I mean... wow. Natural beauty doesn’t even begin to describe it.  And I think that rough, natural beauty kind of reflects the story, in a way. Cornwall is beautiful but hard and unforgiving and rough. And so is Ross Poldark.

Hope: Cornwall is gorgeous. The sea is not only beautiful, but also tumultuous and wild. The cliffs are sharp, the windblown fields of grass are soft... there’s just this contrast that perfectly mirrors the story itself. Also, Cornwall perches on the very southwestern tip of England, surrounded by the sea, and the story and characters perch on the edge of an old era, surrounded by changing times. It’s all very poetic.

Jen K.: The scenery is just breathtaking. It gives it a Pride and Prejudice or Wuthering Heights-like feel to it. It just adds to the romance of the story. Furthermore, you understand why Ross has such a deep connection to the land and why he refuses early on to abandon it for a career as a lawyer. It’s easy to understand why he loves his home so much and the pride he takes in working it.

Megan: I think if the show had a more city setting, say London or even Manchester, it wouldn’t have worked. Cornwall is absolutely breathtaking and it’s as much a part of the show as the characters and the story. Without that setting, the story wouldn’t work as well. It has the proper setting of small town gossip and that intense family standing that wouldn’t hold up as much in a bigger city. Plus, how could Ross possibly set up a mine where there wasn’t one?

Jen W.: I want to go there. It feels of the time. I can't imagine placing it anywhere else. It's important to the breadth of the story to have it set there — for Ross’ mine, for what remains of his family and his home. I couldn't imagine the show without Cornwall.

What has been your favorite episode or scene in the series so far?


Mer: Episode three is my favorite! There are so many great scenes throughout the entire series, and many parts of episode four rank in my “best of” list, but overall as an episode it’s definitely three. The beginning of the romance between Ross and Demelza — how it all unfolds and where it goes — is so profound and important, and just so lovely. I could rewatch episode three over and over again. Honorable mention goes to the scene in the finale where Ross finds Elizabeth at Demelza’s bedside. I won’t spoil it, but that scene leads to my absolute favorite line of the series.

Jenn: I won't spoil it, but there is a scene in which Eleanor Tomlinson and Aidan Turner absolutely act their faces off and had me sobbing on my bed. I think that's when I definitely knew that Poldark wasn't just a really good show that was fun, but that it was a force to be reckoned with. The actors threw everything they were into this moment and the result was one of the most moving scenes I've watched recently.

Marilyn: It’s like picking a favorite child. I’m a fan of the build-up in a good love story — the growing tension between Ross and Demelza, the long looks and the teasing flirtation. But I might have to pick the scene in which Ross buys Demelza her first cloak. She is so happy to get the cloak. It was such a darling moment. And it was really a solid sign that there was something steady building between them. Her smile! And his smile when he saw how happy it made her! Ahhh, it’s the little things.

Hope: It’s been a while, and I really hate picking favorites, but I the scene that stands out for me the most is the Christmas party. When Demelza sings, everyone gains a little more respect for her and you can see it in Ross’ eyes that he’s completely in love. I think I remember seeing an interview where Aidan Turner says he believes that is the moment Ross truly falls in love, and I think I agree. It’s a turning point in the series. Both sides of the Poldark family are in one place and Demelza, for a moment, is the center of attention of each and every one of them. And for Ross, it’s as if she’s the entire room. It’s just such a powerful scene.

Jen K.: Episode four, hands down. It really digs deep into Ross and Demelza’s relationship. I loved Demelza’s transformation in the episode. She is so uncertain as the lady of the house, but so certain in her love for Ross. She grows by leaps and bounds in confidence by the end. I also enjoyed that Poldark took the time to examine what Ross was feeling. I think Ross wasn’t quite sure what he felt for Demelza, so it was heartwarming to watch his realizations dawn on him. It’s like the sun coming out on a cloudy day. Ross sees the light in this episode. He can be a bit flippant about Demelza’s fears, but overall we see how much he loves her.

Megan: I agree with Marilyn. It’s totally hard to pick a favorite on such a phenomenal series. I love any scene with Demelza learning how to be someone higher up in society from herself. I love the scenes that Verity and Demelza share. They’re so full of love, fun, friendship and genuine trust. Even when Demelza was trying to help Verity with her love life (to disastrous results), you can tell that they genuinely care for one another. And I’m a total sucker for a love story, so any tender moment that Ross and Demelza share ranks as a favorite as well.

Jen W.: Episode four! Without a doubt, that was the perfect balance of sadness and happiness, light and dark, despair and hope. It's such a well-rounded episode. And Demelza sings! And Ross’ face! Ugh, totally perfect.

Is there something the show has done that you feel didn’t work? Or that it hasn’t done but should have?


Mer: I’ll be honest — once Demelza was introduced, the sizzling chemistry between Eleanor and Aidan made it so that Ross’s supposed stronghold on his feelings for Elizabeth was less believable to me. If the show does choose to further explore this “triangle,” it’s going to be a hard sell for me because of how real and organic and powerful the relationship between Ross and Demelza feels. Coupled with that line in the finale that I mentioned earlier... we’ll have to see how it shakes out.

Also, I want more Verity. I hope we see more of her in series two!

Jenn: The time jumps. I don’t have much criticism of the show at all, but those jumps threw me off from a narrative standpoint. I was so confused when Elizabeth announced that she was pregnant and then in the very next episode was delivering her baby. And it’s not like I found the Ross/Demelza story to be any less compelling — because it was and the actors have incredible chemistry — but it gave me whiplash because it jumped from zero to sixty really fast. Within the span of an episode or two, Ross and Demelza are married and she's pregnant, as well. Everything happened so fast. And I know that’s because they tried to combine the books the show is based off, but hopefully the second season has some better pacing in that regard. I think that you lose some important things when shows don’t show you the events that happened in that time jump.

Marilyn: I agree that the pacing in the show is sometimes jarring. Time flies quite quickly and sometimes, you don’t even quite know at first just how much time has passed. While it keeps the story moving along, sometimes it’s hard to keep up!

Hope: I also have to choose the pacing. On one hand, I really love how the drama moves forward with zero filler and a near break-neck speed. But at the same time, I wish they had slowed down the pace a bit. I’m sure there had to be some more material from the books they could have used, and have made each season cover one book. It’s not a major issue for me, but it was surprising.

Also, there are a lot of books, and I’d like to be able to look forward to just as many seasons.

Jen K.: The pacing took a little bit to get use to. The time jumps were initially confusing, but once I had a beat on how the show was paced it became easier. I won’t harp on them too much about it. They had a lot of ground to cover in eight episodes. Elizabeth as a character feels a bit one-dimensional and flat. We never truly know what she’s thinking because she seldom voices it. She feels so much like an “Object of Affection” to Ross, but I don’t really understand why other than that she’s pretty and nice. Just saying “everybody admires Elizabeth” isn’t enough of a reason for me. So, I’m with Mer. If the show is going to continue the love triangle, they really need to work on the Elizabeth/Ross side of things to get me to believe it. Specifically Elizabeth.

Jen W.: Where did Verity go, and is she coming back? Also, no more Elizabeth/Ross. I don't believe it. Especially in the wake of episode eight.

Why do you think Poldark is such a hit? What is it about this show that has captivated audiences so much?


Mer: The characters. Oh the story and the setting and the time period all help, for sure. But the relationships between these characters, and the phenomenal writing and acting that brings the characters to life, is the heart of the series. The entire cast has chemistry — nobody more so than Eleanor Tomlinson (Demelza) and Aidan Turner (Ross), and it absolutely shows on screen. These characters, their stories, their interactions with each other? That’s what captivates.

Jenn: Well, let’s be real — it’s the era of period dramas. We all love to see beautiful costumes and scenery that has long passed us by. So the period nature of the show is one of the first things that I think audiences gravitate toward. But the characters are, for me, what really make this show so captivating and such a hit. They’re all really well-rounded and engaging. There’s not a weak actor or actress among the cast, and you can tell that every actor gives it all he or she has.

Marilyn: It’s a beautiful story, for one. But it’s also beautifully acted. And then there’s the location. Add in a sweeping score and it’s no small wonder people get hooked. It’s like watching a historical romance novel on your television screen. And who doesn’t want that?

Hope: The show is a beautiful, emotional force to be reckoned with. The actors are fantastic, the drama is so well-crafted, and it’s visually stunning. Each character is so complex and there is nothing about this series that isn’t the highest level of television out there. There’s literally nothing to argue against, except for its short seasons and long hiatus, which only makes the audience want more.

Jen K.: I think it has a lot of the same elements all great period pieces have — compelling characters with an epic storyline built against the backdrop of beautiful scenery. The acting is top-notch too. I think Aidan Turner and Eleanor Tomlinson are spectacular. The core of the show is the love story between Ross and Demelza, and Poldark nailed it. They are sexy, romantic, tragic, funny, and endearing. That, in addition to a varied and complex supporting cast, is a recipe for success!

Megan: Like I said before, it was just so realized. I am a total sucker for a period piece. I think I’ve seen 90% of BBC’s miniseries since the early 90s and this was one that just hooked me from the beginning. It took you in and didn’t let go until the very last episode. Then, when you did watch the credits roll on the last episode, you screamed at the TV to give you more. Then you got stuck feeling sad because you have to wait. Poldark is just such a rich story and so well-written and everyone is so beautifully cast. It’s sweeping and magical.

Jen W.: I think period pieces that are done well are always a hit, and this one is a cut above the rest. You're instantly transported. You instantly feel for these people. You want to know more about them, you root for them, you laugh with them, you cry with them. That's good TV.

Closing thoughts/what do our readers need to know about Poldark?


Mer: This is the must-watch/must-binge show of the summer. Before series two starts in the fall, do yourself a favor and commit to the eight episodes. It’s such a stunning tour de force — the cinematography, the writing, the story, and above all the acting by everyone in the cast. It’s all superb. Watch. Just... watch.

Jenn: Watch this show! It’s beautiful (the cinematography alone should hook you) and it features a really layered and nuanced male lead. The love story is beautiful and one of the best depictions of a healthy, believable relationship that I’ve seen on television recently. It’s a drama, but has some genuine moments of humor. The character development is astounding and you’ll be engaged from the very start.

Marilyn: Abs. Aiden Turner’s abs. If nothing else sells you on watching this show, that should do it.

Hope: If you’re looking for high-quality television, this is your show. It has everything you could ask for, and it will leave you enthralled. Plus, there’s no better time to watch than now, when season two isn’t all that far off.

Also, there’s a cute, scruffy dog. How can you not watch a show with a cute, scruffy dog?

Jen K.: It’s a great binge with a love story that’s easy to ship. The characters are complex, but the story is easy to follow. It’s also wonderfully funny. Poldark is a lot about Ross’ hair, specifically when he rides his horse. But it’s really fabulous hair. Ross also likes to scythe his crops shirtless and that’s just nifty.

Megan: That they need to be watching it!

Jen W.: Stop reading this and go watch! It's only eight episodes, and you'll be so happy you did!

Penny Dreadful 3x08/3x09 Review: “Perpetual Night” and “The Blessed Dark” (The End) [Contributor: Rae Nudson]


“Perpetual Night” “The Blessed Dark”
Original Airdate: June 19, 2016

The surprising news that Penny Dreadful would not be coming back next season, or ever again, led me to take a bit longer to get my thoughts together than I expected. I am very sad this is the end of Penny Dreadful — as sad as John Claire is all the time — though I understand why the creators felt like they told their whole story. So for the last time, let’s take a look at the story of Vanessa and her friends.

THE BEGINNING OF THE END


Since Vanessa gave herself to Dracula, the end of days have truly started. Darkness has come, and the fog will never lift. The night creatures are flooding London, starting with a pretty cool and gross scene of frogs coming out of the sink in Dr. Seward’s office. Thanks to Dr. Seward’s vampire assistant, she learns that the toxins that have fallen over London are because of Dracula and his new bride.

One thing I really loved about these episodes was how Vanessa’s female friends came to her aid. I wish she had many more episodes to get to know the delightful Cat, but it was lovely that she and Dr. Seward were willing to come and fight for Vanessa. Vanessa’s friendships with Ethan, Sir Malcolm, Victor, and John Clare were of course beautiful, and the foundation of the show, but it was so great to see Vanessa have some women friends and to see female friendship depicted on screen. I wish there was more of it.

When Ethan, Sir Malcolm, and Kaetenay arrive in London, they find it covered in a toxic fog. They rush home to try to find Vanessa, but instead they find a dead wolf and a live Cat. Cat tells them that the fog has killed thousands of people in the last week (the timeline doesn’t quite add up to me because it looks like Lily is chained up exactly where we left her last episode), and that she has been searching for Vanessa as well. She tells them that she’s been helping Vanessa learn about Dracula, and she thinks the king of darkness has finally caught his queen.

Vampire infiltrate the house, and an exciting fight scene follows. But the most exciting part is when Cat’s cool head prevails and she cauterizes Sir Malcolm’s wound from the vampire to save his life. Cat is tough and smart, and does it sort of seem like she’s a good match for Sir Malcolm? I think so. She can certainly stand up for herself, and he likes fiery women.

PARENTHOOD


Meanwhile, Victor and Jekyll are still holding Lily captive with plans to use Jekyll’s personality serum to make her docile. Lily begs Victor to let her keep her scars, and Lily gives an incredible monologue about how her baby daughter died one winter night while Lily was out, trying to earn some money for their food. She begs Victor to allow her to keep her pain because she doesn’t want to lose her memory of her daughter. It was a horrific story, and Billie Piper did a tremendous job with such an emotional topic. It could have veered into maudlin or ridiculous, but she kept it grounded in emotion, and it was tough to watch. Victor sees that Lily’s memories and sadness are what make her human, and in doing so he gets some of his humanity back as well. He puts the serum down and unchains her.

Lily’s daughter fits with themes of parenthood and creating life, but I wish some mention of her daughter had come up before a few episodes ago. Maybe it did, and I don’t remember (if you do, let me know in the comments). Lily goes back to Dorian to say goodbye and finds her surrogate daughter has died by Dorian’s hands. The immortal Dorian tells Lily that to live forever, he has given up emotions and caring to make it easier when people leave him. But Lily, like Victor, chooses humanity and refuses to live that way.

Another unexpected moment of parenthood occurs when both Ethan and Kaetenay transform into wolves during the full moon, and Ethan realizes that Kaetenay is who turned him into a werewolf. This whole season has been about creating life and what responsibilities you have to the life you have created, and Kaetenay’s reveal underscores that theme.

John Clare, too, faces his son. The toxic fog is too much for his son’s lungs, and the already sick child dies. John Clare’s wife begs him to take his son to Dr. Frankenstein so he can be brought back to life like John Clare, but John Clare knows that some things are worse than death. Like Justine, he knows it is better to die as yourself than to live as a shell. His wife tells him to come back with their reanimated son, or to not come back at all. John Clare chooses humanity for his son, but he is also forced back into loneliness himself.

THE BATTLE


After some hypnotizing by Dr. Seward, the Scooby Gang finds the location of Dracula’s lair. So they head there, together, to do battle for Vanessa’s soul. Vanessa’s friends — family, really — say they are here to save Vanessa and will never stop fighting. But Dracula says that Vanessa doesn’t need saving, she made her own choices and she chose to be with him.

Though I don’t think Dracula would be as much of a champion of Vanessa’s independence if she had chosen to leave — since he stalked her for years and years — I do like how Penny Dreadful upends the idea of saving a woman. Vanessa needs help and support, just like anyone, but she doesn’t need saving by any man. It’s a common trope to have a man keep fighting to save a woman even when she says she doesn’t want to be rescued—because of course he would know better than she—and the repetition that Vanessa chose to be here so leave her be reflects the feminist themes that have been the undercurrent of the season. Vanessa made a choice, and that should be respected.

And, ultimately, it is. Vanessa knows that she doesn’t want to stay with Dracula, even after her moment of weakness that led her there. She knows she wants to choose good and she wants the fight to end. So when Ethan finds her, she asks him to kill her. Their reunion was too brief and too cruel, but he tells her he loves her, and he loves her enough to do what she asks. She dies in his arms.

I am still processing this ending and how I feel about it. Let me go into what I like about it first. I like that it was Vanessa's choice. So much of this show was built around people losing their agency. Lily, John Clare, and Ethan didn’t ask to be created — they never would have chosen their fates — and each of them were able to chose their future in the finale. So did Vanessa.

I also like that it fit into themes of her faith. Vanessa had lost her faith, and choosing death for her was choosing to return to God. Her sacrifice to save everyone else was Christ-like, and I thought it was a fitting end to her story. But did it have to end? She hardly got any time with her true love, Ethan, and I wish they had spent more of the season together instead of him wasting time with Hecate. That seems cruel, now that they have no future together.

I also kept waiting for her to be brought back to life, or to come back as a Big Bad, or something, and I didn’t believe she was truly, fully dead until the next morning, when I heard the announcement that Penny Dreadful was over. For this reason, I wish they had told us earlier that it was the last season. That would have allowed me to be afraid for her death and to believe it when it happened, instead of holding out false hope and not get fully invested into the story that was happening in front of me. Of course, I expected her to come back, it’s a show about Vanessa!

On the other hand, I am so, so, so relieved the show is not continuing without Vanessa. If Penny Dreadful had pulled a Sleepy Hollow, I don’t know what I would have done. This show is Vanessa’s journey — she is the center of her friends and the center of this world. It could not have gone on without her and stayed true to the story.

And while I’m glad the show allowed her to make her own choice about her life and death, I want to look at who is allowed to choose death. When Sir Malcolm asked to be shot earlier after he is bit by a vampire, Cat tells him he is being dramatic and offers another solution. Couldn’t someone have offered another solution to Vanessa? Her death is fitting with the themes of her faith, but choosing life and choosing humanity would also have fit with the show. In a vacuum, it might work with no caveats. But with women dying on shows left and right, it stings a little. And though I haven’t read or watched Me Before You, there is some discussion cropping up around that movie and who is offered death as a choice. In stories, I feel like choosing death is reserved for the disabled, or someone, a woman, maybe, in an abusive or bad position. Death is seen then as a mercy, as a way to escape. But when men like Sir Malcolm are given other options, and disabled people and women are handed ways to bring about their death, I think it’s worth looking at this trope a little closer. Why is death seen as an escape and an ok route for some, and not others? Shouldn’t we be fighting to protect the life of every person, especially if they may have fewer resources in life?

I will miss this show, and I’ll miss reviewing it. It has been a delight. But now it’s your turn. What did you think?

Post script:
  • The woman singing over the opening credits of the last episode was haunting and perfect.
  • I am sad that Vanessa didn’t get more time in the last two episodes, but I thought keeping her hidden until later and revealing her as Dracula’s bride was an effective choice. 
  • “While you were in America wrestling with her demons, she has freed herself of hers.” 
  • Dracula repeating that Vanessa doesn’t need saving and that she is her own person is a reflection of Dorian telling Lily that the women in her army weren’t her women. Constantly Penny Dreadful reminded people that women aren’t yours to own or control. 
  • "Men. Always so dramatic." Cat, you were here for too little time.