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, October 31, 2016

Lucifer 2x06 Recap: “Monster” (Guilt) [Guest Poster: Ilene Friedman]


"Monster"
Original Airdate: October 31, 2016

This week’s episode of Lucifer guaranteed one thing — Lucifer is incapable of figuring out his own emotions. Now, this isn’t exactly shocking to any regular viewer; but to watch my favorite devil’s guilt eat him up inside killed me a little.

The episode begins with a zombie-themed wedding, but with the groom getting shot and the bride getting killed right before they say, “I do.” When Chloe arrives on the scene, no one has figured out why the couple was targeted.

Upon Lucifer’s arrival, it is clear he has gone off the deep end. Lucifer refuses to see Linda and he has been drinking and sleeping with everyone in sight. When he arrives at the crime scene, he looks way worse for the wear and he is not acting like himself as the guilt of Uriel’s death consumes him. Lucifer begins eating the wedding cake and then extracting evidence by making out with a bridesmaid. Chloe is not too pleased, but at least he gets results.

Once the suspect, the bride’s ex-boyfriend, is brought in. Lucifer proceeds to lock himself in with the suspect to get them to admit to the murders. He uses his powers to break off the handle so Chloe cannot enter and then scares the crap out of the ex-boyfriend. It turns out he didn’t kill the bride.

Chloe is understandably incredibly upset with Lucifer at this point, and Dan can’t believe Lucifer isn’t benched yet. I mean with that attitude, I would bench him for drunk and disorderly contact alone, plus intimidating a witness. But what do I know? Oh, and did I mention that he assaulted a police officer too? Yeah. Lucifer punches Dan in the face.

Prior to the face punching, Lucifer steals Dan’s badge and gun and then swipes confidential hospital paperwork that the detectives needed for the investigation. Dan then calls out Lucifer, which leads to Dan getting punched and Lucifer getting benched.

The files lead Chloe and Dan to the next victim. Luckily, Lucifer arrives first. He uses himself as a shield for the victim, begging the sniper to kill him instead. The killer, however, does not want to shoot an innocent person, which gives Chloe enough time to arrest him. Lucifer is baffled by his horrible luck and still wracked with guilt.

Lucifer was just so depressing this week. He has never killed a living soul before, so navigating this a first for him. This leads him to finally talk to Linda, who is fed up with Lucifer’s metaphors. She insists he tells her the truth or she will stop their therapy sessions. So, Lucifer decides to show Linda his true face. Linda is shocked into silence, her lip quivering, and he quietly leaves. This is where my heart breaks all over again.

Final Thoughts:

  • The bonding between Maze and Trixie was the absolute highlight of the episode. It was a great parallel for the way Trixie reacted to Maze’s true form while trick-or-treating and Linda reacting to Lucifer’s. In fact, the look of relief of Maze’s face was priceless and I almost shed a tear. 
  • I do not trust dear old mom and how she is manipulating Amenadiel. There is no way she’s one of the “good” guys and I feel like Amenadiel is going to get screwed ROYALLY. It seems to me mom is turning her sons against God. 
  • BUT WE GOT TO SEE LUCIFER’S FACE! It honestly wasn’t that bad (gimme horns) and Linda better get her crap together so she can help our baby out. 
  • Also, I am kind of sick of Amenadiel and his whining. I cannot find the ability to care. 

Superstore 2x06 Recap: “Halloween Theft” (The Case of the Missing Irregular Produce) [Contributor: Alisa Williams]


“Halloween Theft”
Original Airdate: October 27, 2016

Superstore was back to what it does best in the latest episode — putting our beloved characters in ridiculous situations and letting them fumble their way out. In what I hope becomes an annual tradition, the team welcomed Halloween to Cloud 9 in the only way they know how: with sarcasm and ennui.

At the start of shift, Dina puts the employees on high alert for any suspicious activity they may encounter. The team, however, is much more concerned with the fact that Dina is the only one not wearing a costume. Dina’s not about to be peer pressured into wearing something... until she realizes that Sandra dressed up as her for Halloween. Not wanting to be twinsies with Sandra all day, Dina grabs the first costume in the Halloween aisle without even looking at it.

She’s soon back again, barking orders at everyone dressed as a sexy police officer. Her costume is quite revealing and Garrett, more than anyone else, is having a difficult time not staring. It bothers him that he’s attracted to Dina considering the “personality that lies beneath.”

Meanwhile, Mateo gets a pleasant surprise when Jeff turns up. There was a stabbing at a neighboring Cloud 9 so Jeff thought he’d drop by and take Mateo out to dinner. The relationship all still has to be hush-hush, of course, since Jeff is regional manager, but Mateo doesn’t mind.

While Mateo and Jeff get their date details settled, Amy, Jonah, and Glenn are at the front of the store handing out candy to all the kids. Just then, Dina walks up and tells one of the moms that candy from strangers can contain razor blades and heroin needles. The mother dashes off with her child. Glenn is upset and tries to stand up to Dina about the situation but fails miserably. To prevent Dina from further berating Glenn, Amy and Jonah tell her that they saw some suspicious people headed to the store room with toilet paper and shaving cream. She storms off to investigate.

Dina quickly discovers that the chain link cage in the store room was left unlocked and there is a crate of irregular produce missing. The produce was scheduled to be shipped off and destroyed, but now someone has stolen it. Naturally, Dina refuses to let the employees leave until she has interrogated them all. The employees are upset by the possibility of their evening plans being ruined by her. Amy’s been looking forward to trick-or-treating with her daughter all day, Mateo has a date that he can’t tell anyone about, and Jonah is going to see Nosferatu at the theater. Amy calls on Glenn to put a stop to this but he cows under Dina’s command.

While Dina’s busy interrogating employees, Amy calls a secret meeting in the store room for everyone else. She asks them to fess up about who stole the fruit, but no one does. With no other options, Amy, Mateo, and Glenn decide to visit a neighboring Cloud 9 (NOT the one that had the stabbing) and steal their “uglies” to trick Dina into believing someone returned the produce.

Amy and Mateo find the produce section and start searching for ugly fruit to purchase. Meanwhile, Glenn has wandered off and finds himself talking to a fellow store manager. As he asks where the bathrooms are, the assistant store manager walks up. While Glenn watches on, the two have a pleasant conversation and high five. Glenn is shocked at how nice the assistant store manager is and the great relationship the two have with each other. He’s more than a little jealous that he has to deal with Dina while this store has a really nice, respectful assistant store manager. Glenn is telling Amy and Mateo about the unfairness of the situation on the drive back when Amy gets a call from her daughter, who doesn’t want to go trick-or-treating anymore and would rather go over to a friend’s house. Amy is crushed but tries to play it off like she doesn’t care.

Back at Cloud 9, Dina has followed Garrett into the bathroom to interrogate him about the produce. He’s doing his best not to stare at her chest, but since he’s refusing to look at her, she assumes he’s guilty of something. Garret finally crumbles under the situation and admits to stealing the fruit just so Dina will stop questioning him.

Jonah is dealing with his own uncomfortableness while he mans the jewelry counter with Cheyenne. They’ve been gossiping about different employees when Cheyenne mentions that everyone thinks Jonah has a big crush on Amy. He’s immediately flustered by this revelation and tries to deny it, but it’s been pretty obvious since episode one of season one that this is true.

Glenn, Amy and Mateo finally arrive back at the store and storm in just in time to stop Garrett from signing a false confession. Dina starts to be rude to Glenn again but, empowered by the interaction he saw at the neighboring store, he finally stands up to her and calls a stop to all the madness.

The employees are finally dismissed to enjoy their night. Mateo meets Jeff behind the store and they head off to their date, but not before Cheyenne witnesses them leaving together. Garrett, Dina, and Amy decide to join Jonah at the showing of Nosferatu. As they’re walking out, Jonah complains that no one commented on his Halloween costume (he was Brexit).

This was a fantastic episode. All the crazy quirkiness I love about this show was in high gear. The absolute best part was watching Myrtle, the elderly store employee, chase a poor customer dressed as Death around the store the entire episode. Priceless.

Laughable Lines:
  • “Let’s watch out for people buying toilet paper, eggs, shaving cream, ketchup, your squeezables, your squirtables, everything is a weapon today.” “What about guns?” “Those are fine.” 
  • “Attention Cloud 9 shoppers: I vant to suck your blood! And test it for diabetes. At home insulin kits are now half off.” 
  • “Irregular produce? You mean like, rotten?” “No. What I’m talking about is lumps, bumps, extra appendages, apples that look like pears, pears that look like guavas…” “So, we’re just throwing away perfectly good food because it’s ugly?” “Looks matter, Jonah. You should know that, being the prettiest person in here.” 
  • “You don’t have the courage or the intelligence to have stolen anything.” “Then why are you even talking to me?” “I just wanted you to know that.”

Once Upon A Time 6x06 Review: “Dark Waters” (Bonding) [Contributor: Julia Siegel]


“Dark Waters”
Original Airdate: October 30, 2016

The Land of Untold Stories strikes again this week with a surprising blast from the past. With a great Hook-centric episode, Once Upon A Time has gotten back on track. Reconciliation, family bonds, and revenge are brought back to the forefront, which is what this show has always been about.

SUBMERSION


I never thought I would see the day when Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea would be the story-of-the-week on Once Upon A Time. Nemo and crew make their first appearance in a flashback during the time of the Dark Curse. It turns out that Hook has a secret connection to the first mate of the Nautilus, which is discovered later in the episode. Nemo is led to the revenge-driven Hook by a magical harpoon and wants to make Hook his newest crew member. It’s an odd story and doesn’t seem to fit in the context of the show, but the present-day version will at least drive the show forward.

In current time, the Evil Queen shows up at Emma and Hook’s residence to see Henry for ulterior motives. She tells him about the special scissors that Hook didn’t get rid of in order to try and drive a stake through part of the family. Henry gets super upset by the news and takes the scissors down to the docks to get rid of them. When Hook shows up to stop him, they are both taken by the crew of the Nautilus. Hook is forced to rekindle his bond with Henry, who currently isn’t happy to be around him.

Hook reveals to Henry that the reason they were captured is his mystery connection. Funny enough, Hook’s orphaned half-brother, Liam, is the new captain of the Nautilus and wants Hook dead. As we know, Hook murdered his father and left Liam as a young, orphaned boy. Liam is revenge-driven, and Hook wants both Liam and Henry to know that he isn’t like that anymore. Hook wants to make a family with Emma and Henry and doesn’t want to rip them apart. By making a sacrifice, Hook proves himself to Henry. It was a tender moment and a very happy one because it verifies Hook’s place within the family.

The other silver lining to the story was Liam and Hook forgiving their differences and coming together. Hook being the main character of this episode was great because he hasn’t been too involved this season. He has needed confirmation of his position with everyone, so it’s good that he worked out problems with two people.

CHANGE OF HEART


A small storyline of the episode was Belle’s changing thoughts on Rumple. After bumping into Snow at the town hospital, Belle realizes that she isn’t sure whether she wants to keep Rumple out of her and the baby’s lives or not. At first, she thinks that there’s no way she wants Rumple around. But after her ultrasound, Belle decides that maybe Rumple can change. She feels that she can possibly reconcile with him and goes to the pawn shop to give the extra ultrasound photo to Rumple.

It’s good that Belle has probably turned a new leaf. She is going to need Rumple around once the baby comes, after all. On the other hand, Rumple may also have had a change of heart. He revealed to the Evil Queen that he wants the magical scissors for his own purposes. He hints that he might want to cut his own magic string to get back with Belle. There are going to be some moral dilemmas coming up in the near future, so it should be good to watch what happens next.

DOUBLE STANDARDS


The most fun character of the season is the Evil Queen. She has consistently been a great addition to the show and brings the fun. This week, she is up to a lot of trouble. First, she stirs up the dissention between Hook and Henry. Her ultimate plan is to rip apart the Charming family one person at a time for seemingly no other reason than because it amuses her. It is fun to watch Lana Parrilla kill it in a great role.

After her first plan goes awry, the Evil Queen moves on to plan B. This time, she decides to manipulate Rumple more than usual. She is trying to play him like a fiddle and get whatever it is she actually wants. She says that her one desire is to kill Snow White, but what else is new? It’s hard to say whether she is telling the truth or not, but there has to be more to her evil plan. I can’t imagine that the only evil act she truly wants to commit is destroying Snow White.

The Evil Queen seems to be two steps ahead of everyone at all times. She has a grand plan and is executing it at her own pace. She doesn’t get very upset when something doesn’t go quite according to plan, which leads me to think that there is something more there for her. There’s more that we don’t know because the Evil Queen is more docile than she was in the past. She will be the most interesting character to watch for the next few weeks because, as always, she’s running the show.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Walking Dead Premiere: Did it Go Too Far? [Contributor: Megan Mann]


Last Sunday, like millions of other people, I was counting down the hours until the season seven premiere of AMC’s The Walking Dead. After months of waiting, viewers tuned in en masse to see who met their fate at the end of Negan’s famous bat Lucille, as well as the aftershocks that rippled through Rick’s group.

I, too, was waiting anxiously to find out. I was talking about it hours before in my San Diego Comic-Con exclusive Lucille t-shirt and texting my friends about who I knew was going to die. I was nervous and I was scared, but I was also tired of waiting and talking about it. I wanted answers.

As the episode started, I felt my heart pick up and my face flush. Did I actually want answers? I wasn’t sure anymore. But regardless of whether I wanted them or not, I sure got them.

This episode picked up moments after the end of Lucille met her first victim. Negan looks into Rick’s face and asks one of his cronies what weapon Rick had before he was searched. He asked for the weapon, struck the axe from his belt, and dragged Rick by the scruff of the neck to the waiting RV for a little joy ride of sorts. He took him to one of the road blocks his saviors had set up to block the other group from going anywhere after defying Negan so many times — a road block that was now choked with walkers as the fire had drawn them there.

Negan told Rick that it was do or literally die in his command: you obey or you all perish. There was no flexing on that. He delivered chilling line after chilling line and made the audience seriously on edge and scared for the fate of our favorite characters.

Negan tossed Rick’s axe into the hoard of walkers and told him to go fetch it like dog he was training. With no choice, Rick was thrown from the RV and had to search for the axe and survive. If he didn’t do as Negan said — if he didn’t survive — it would be the end for the rest of the line-up waiting back where two had already fallen. As images flit through Rick’s mind of Lucille meeting the others, with Negan’s voice echoing from the RV, he makes the choice to obey and submit to Negan and his saviors.

As they head back to what can be considered ground zero in this horrible string of events, a beaten down and scared out of his wits Rick is thrown back to the ground as Negan again delivers a speech to his terrified audience. He believes that Rick doesn’t truly get it. He grabs Carl, asks for a pen and draws a line across his arm. He instructs, with such icy ease, Rick to “go ahead and cut your kid’s left arm off.” Michonne pleads with Negan saying that the group understands where they stand, begs not to hurt Carl. Rick begins to panic and offers it to be his arm instead of his son’s. Negan repeats that in order for Rick to understand his new place, he will do as he says. Carl, understanding what needs to be done, softly tells his dad that it’s okay; he needs to do it.

Tears, snot, sweat, and blood fall from Rick’s face as he pleads with Negan. Negan yells at him to do it and just as he raises his axe, Negan stops him. The group has finally understood the new dynamic; but most importantly, Rick has now come to terms with no longer being the man in charge. He knows that there’s no way out of this — that they’re outnumbered so heavily that they can’t topple this enemy in the way that they had done to those threats previous. The episode ends with Maggie weeping between the two pools of blood as the others carry the bodies away for burial.

It’s been almost a week and I’ve still been thinking about this episode. It was truly a work of art. The writing was some of the best writing I have experienced on this show. It ran the spectrum of emotions and had me jumping out of my seat and white-knuckle clutching a blanket to my chest. I was sad, I was angry, I was scared. It was truly beautiful writing and exquisitely acted. Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan was terrifying in his villainy. He wrapped himself up in that character and delivered his lines with such ease and coolness that you weren’t sure you ever wanted to cross his path on the street. Andrew Lincoln, although always wonderful on this show, proved what a true talent he was as he masterfully made us believe this was happening to him: that he was scared and hopeful and capable and defeated. It was truly spectacular to watch.

But over the last week, I have seen countless articles detailing how violent the episode was and how it crossed the line when it comes to what should and shouldn’t be on our televisions. It was graphic and hard to stomach in parts — of course it was — but I don’t think that it crossed any lines.

I’ve always been a fan of really dark, gritty TV shows. My favorite show of all time is Sons of Anarchy, a graphic look at the world of a rebel motorcycle club, so I’m not exactly surprised by anything that crosses my path at this point. I’ve watched every episode of The Sopranos and Game of Thrones — TV shows far more graphic in nature than what happened in this week’s episode of The Walking Dead. It could be argued that the last two shows were on HBO and not AMC or FX, but it nonetheless shows that violent episodes are neither new, nor do they typically get called out for crossing any lines.

What confuses me most about this episode being deemed too graphic or violent is that this sort of violence happens literally every other week on The Walking Dead. We watch as the group, in whatever formation they find themselves in at the time, decapitates a slew of walkers or burns them. We see axes meeting faces, bullets to brains, or running the walkers over with cars. How about the episode where Glenn has to watch Noah get trapped in a doorway and eaten alive by walkers? Or we see Bob’s leg get sawed off and roasted for dinner? What about those episodes? Were those not graphic and crossing the line?

Or are we suddenly upset with the violent and graphic nature of the show because a living human took a barb wired bat to the head of two other living human characters?

I believe that this is the crux of the argument. Even after six full seasons of nothing but death and decay, killing or eliminating every single foe or threat as they sought means of survival, a trail of dead walkers, I think that taking the violence from the walkers or “dead characters” to real, beloved characters was just too much. See, we can accept what the humans do to walkers because the latter are theoretically dead and therefore can’t really feel the pain of what’s happening to them. But the victims of Negan’s brutality were living, breathing humans that met their end for the sake of whipping the group into order. Moreover, the perpetrator of these heinous acts was a living, breathing human being — not a walker.

I went into the episode knowing that what I was going to see would be graphic (and they warned you after every commercial break that it was going to be violent). They knew what they were doing, fans of the graphic novels knew what was coming, and yet we all tuned in anyway. It may have upset us and may have had us reaching for cover, but fans knew what they were getting into with this hotly anticipated episode.

And to be honest, this episode was no more graphic than some other insanely popular shows still on air. I didn’t hear so many people losing their minds during The Battle of the Bastards earlier this year, so it seems odd that people are up in arms now over this show's premiere. It was, in my opinion, a beautifully shot, written and acted episode. It was an episode that should be considered for awards in many categories and set the tone for what is arguably going to be the best season of The Walking Dead.

I, personally, cannot wait.

Grey’s Anatomy 13x06 Review: “Roar” (Doing the Right Thing) [Contributor: Julia Siegel]


“Roar”
Original Airdate: October 27, 2016
            
A surprising return, Alex at his best, and Bailey standing up for herself are at the forefront of this week’s new episode of Grey’s Anatomy. There’s also a shocking showdown on the way that is likely to shake up life at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital. Even though it all seemed random, a lot went down very quickly.

WELCOME BACK!


Was I the only one scratching my head when Dr. Leah Murphy randomly showed up as Grey Sloan’s new resident? It’s been a few years in show time since Murphy was fired, so seeing her back is a little more than surprising. Shonda Rhimes did a good job of keeping this secret because there was no indication that Murphy was going to show up. I’m not sure what the motivation to bring her back was or how long she will be a guest star for, but at least she’s a familiar face.

After being fired, Murphy enrolled in another hospital’s residency program and became the top of her class. She idolizes Maggie and came back to Seattle to work with her. Murphy wants to be a cardiothoracic surgeon, so it seems like a good fit. Whether Murphy will handle the pressure of coming back or not will likely span a few episodes.

CATHERINE'S COLDNESS


Catherine Avery has always been cold-blooded, but in this week's episode, she went further than I thought she would. Not only did Catherine threaten Bailey into making a decision about Alex’s employment, but she also indicated that her husband, Richard, might be a problem to the education of the hospital’s residency program. Catherine is overstepping her job title yet again, and it’s getting old. She needs to back off and let the proper people run the hospital. Next week’s episode is going to focus on an overhaul of the residency program, so the big question is whether Catherine’s influence will cause some doctors to be fired. It’s a little soon in the season for such a huge move, but it should be interesting to see what exactly happens.

COMING TOGETHER 


Alex and Bailey were each able to come into their own in this episode and came together. After thinking a pregnant patient has cancer, Alex consults with Bailey, who takes the case. Bailey keeps trying to put Alex in his place after Catherine’s threat. Alex doesn’t take any of her nonsense and oversteps her authority multiple times, just like he used to. It was good to see Alex sticking to his guns and doing what is right. His suggestion was also able to give his dying patient some extra time to potentially allow her baby to be born.

Bailey also does the right thing by eventually standing up to Catherine. She says that she won’t fire Alex and believes that he deserves another chance because he is an amazing surgeon. It was nice that Bailey stood up for her one of her own.


ODDITIES


There were also two odd things in this episode. First, Meredith only shows up for the first thirty seconds and the last minute of the episode. She leaves the house in the morning to go to work, but she’s never shown. This is so rare because Meredith is the titular character, so where was she? It’s always a little off-putting when Meredith isn’t around. At least she was there for the end scene, which was a very nice moment with Alex. He truly believes he is going to jail now, and my fingers are crossed that he doesn’t. I don’t think Meredith will survive without her two best friends.

The second thing I noticed wasn’t necessarily odd, but definitely shouldn’t be happening. It appears that DeLuca likes Jo and is trying to get with her. Jo doesn’t see his advances, but it’s pretty clear that they are spending a little too much time together. DeLuca needs to back off and let her figure out her problems with Alex.

Jo and Alex are good for each other, and they deserve each other. It would be rough to see that be even more jeopardized when Alex is already in hot water. Also, when is Jo going to admit her past to everyone? That has to be coming up soon because there’s no way she can keep it bottled up for long.

Series: This Week's TV MVPs -- Week 45

Image result for clap glee gif

Welcome back to another fun week of the TV MVP Series. I feel like I say this every week, but this week we had some especially powerful performances on television, and I'm incredibly excited to honor them alongside y'all. This week, Megan joins me as we discuss some powerhouse dramatic performances. Let's get started!

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Despite Its Efforts, The Great Indoors' Pilot Fails To Be Funny


Many people know this, but I absolutely adore Joel McHale. I was a fan of The Soup for years, and a huge (like, really huge) fan of Commuity for many more after that. And after years of receiving random Twitter DMs from him and begging him to return to Orlando to do a stand-up show, he finally came to Orlando last April. Close to the show date, I got a Twitter message from his personal assistant saying that Joel wanted to offer me backstage passes and tickets to the show. (I know, right?) So I got the chance to meet and talk with Joel, my best friend in tow. It was incredible and such a great experience. Joel McHale is — on the surface — the snarkiest, most self-deprecating person you'll ever meet. But not much furhter below that, he's a really kind person. Like, a very appreciative, very nice human being who went out of his way to make my experience memorable and enjoyable.

So when Community was cancelled, I knew Joel would eventually go on to do bigger and better things. I had hoped that he would return to television someday as the lead in another comedy.

I just wish it hadn't been The Great Indoors.

As a millennial, I know that my generation has been reduced to a buzzword lately. And as someone who is a millennial in marketing, I know that to be even more true. We're easy to make fun of (watch John Crist's hilarious "Sponsor a Millennial" spoof), which is why so many people make fun of our generation unnecessarily. I've heard all of the punchlines, too — we're dependent on our phones and digital media; we're narcissistic; we're entitled; we're naive and know nothing about anything that happened before we were born, etc. etc. So when I saw the preview for The Great Indoors, my immediate response was cringing. The jokes weren't funny; they were trite and stale — retreaded comments that I've heard a million times over.

I know that my generation has issues and I know that sometimes we're just plain absurd. But what I think is immensely problematic about the pilot of The Great Indoors is that it serves only to point out what is wrong with this generation, and it does it so extensively that it becomes grating. The characters are caricatures, and if I already dislike all of them off the bat because of that, there's a slim chance I'll stick around longer than the pilot to see what happens to them. To top it all off, Joel McHale's character, Jack, is presented as this aloof, older, out-of-touch character (who would be more engaging if it was discussed that Jack has been living abroad and that's why he's so out-of-touch, but the show doesn't really draw those lines well at all) who clashes immediately with the millennials. I did enjoy the dynamic between Jack and his friend/bartender Eddie. It provided a few nice moments where you can tell that Eddie has assimilated to the culture and has learned how to interact with a younger generation, where Jack is resistant to change, in general, and to changing his ways for other people.

Joel McHale can carry a lot. He's a talented actor who does the best with what he's given here, but let's be clear: he's not given a lot of good material to work with. There's the incredibly snarky dialogue (which he sells), and then there's the incredibly-forced comedy (which he struggles with, because it's forced — like the moment that Jack assumes Mason is gay). The problem with multi-camera comedies is that when a joke falls flat and is accompanied by a laugh track, it's even more evident that the joke is bad.

While I think that the most compelling relationship is the one between Roland (Stephen Fry) and Jack, the show also asked us to care about a relationship that Jack once had with Roland's daughter, Brooke. We obviously know that the show is setting these two up to be a "will-they-won't-they" pairing, but I didn't really sense any sort of chemistry there. Joel McHale had more chemistry with the baby bear, in my opinion. (And does the character remind anyone else of a British attempt at Annie Edison? Maybe that's just the #pathological shipper in me...)

The Great Indoors tries really hard to make millennials the butt of every joke, and it fails because it's just trying too darn hard to be funny. The one moment where I chuckled involved a gag where an elevator closes as Jack says: "blah blah blah." It's a subtle moment, but one that was funny because it wasn't FORCED. I find that the problem I have with mostly every CBS comedy is that they're trying too hard to be funny that they're actually losing humor — and an audience — in the process. If this show wants to succeed and actually get millennials to watch it, maybe it should point out more nuanced humor within the generation rather than beating the same dead horses that everyone else has.

As of now, though, The Great Indoors isn't saying anything new about millennials or generational dynamics — it's just expecting us to laugh when we've been hearing the same tired jokes for years and years.

Pilot Grade: D

Friday, October 28, 2016

Blindspot 2x07 Review: "Resolves Eleven Myths" (Truth Bombs Dotcom) [Contributor: Jen]


"Resolves Eleven Myths"
Original Airdate: October 25, 2016

Kurt and Jane are searching for a sense of normalcy in "Resolves Eleven Myths." Luckily, Rich Dotcom arrives just in time to drop some truth bombs on them.

CASE OF THE WEEK


Rich Dotcom hacks his way back into Team Blindspot's lives when he breaks into Weller's apartment and holds all the FBI files hostage. There's always a catch with Rich, and this time is no different. Turns out he's being hunted by an assassin named The Acadian, who killed his boyfriend, Boston, and is now after him.

Rich's plan is to get arrested by the FBI so they are forced to take out The Acadian when the assassin comes hunting for him. "Resolves Eleven Myths" really builds the suspense as we await The Acadian's arrival and he does not disappoint when he finally shows up.

He's essentially a super ninja who also happens to excel in chemistry. He kills two FBI agents and then rigs a bomb that Patterson has to diffuse. Patterson being Patterson is able to dismantle the first bomb, but not before triggering the second. She and Weller make a run for it as it explodes. It looks like Patterson is severely injured, because Blindspot loves to send my heart level skyrocketing.

Then, The Acadian runs into Reade and Zappata and, well... kicks the every living crap out of both of them. Seriously, I felt like I was in the middle of a Jackie Chan movie or something. The Acadian takes Zappata hostage and injects her with a neurotoxin. There are three bottles, but only one contains the antidote. The other two can kill Zappata immediately. The Acadian will tell Team Blindspot which bottle is the antidote, but only after they hand over Rich.

It's at this point in the episode that I really started to stress out. I'm a big fan of everybody in the cast, so if it's all the same, I'd like everyone to survive — even Rich Dotcom. So it is Weller to the rescue! He comes up with a fairly ingenious plan to loop the security footage so it looks like Rich Dotcom is alone. Then, when The Acadian shows up, Team Blindspot will pounce. My man! See? He's not just another pretty face.

It all leads to a final showdown between Jane, Kurt, and The Acadian. The Acadian's fighting skills are far superior and Jane is really the only one who can take him. However, they are forced to kill The Acadian before getting the antidote. Luckily, Zappata was paying attention (and holding on for dear life to her series regular contract). She taps out the correct vile via Morse Code to Reade and thus, is saved.

Rich Dotcom doesn't get away this time. Team Blindspot anticipates his conniving ways. Patterson realizes Boston's death sounds a lot like Dobby's death in Harry Potter. So she tracks Rich's hacks, and they are able to apprehend both men.

Whew. What a ride.

TEAM BLINDSPOT


These are the type of Blindspot episodes I love — a streamline case of the week that allows for tight and suspenseful action with meaningful character developments. Zappata nearly dying added another level of depth to her relationship with Reade. I can't tell if they are going for "romantic" with these two or not, but at this point it doesn't matter. What matters is the emotional connection between these two characters, be it platonic or otherwise.

Zappata is afraid that Reade isn't telling her everything about Coach Jones' murder. She wants to take the knife from evidence. Reade angrily tells Zappata that she's still an addict. Instead of gambling with cards, she's gambling with his life. She gets a high from the risk. It's not about Reade at all.

Ouch. This is the danger with our loved ones — they know exactly what buttons to push to cause maximum damage. Reade, of course, apologizes to Zappata when she makes her full recovery. He was just trying to protect her by pushing her away. Zappata accepts Reade's apology but then... takes the knife from evidence.

So, is it true? Does Zappata get off on the risk and therefore keeps escalating her involvement? Yes, Zappata is addicted to the rush, but in a way that's what makes her a good FBI agent. She's almost fearless. Even brazen.

However, her primary motivating factor is to protect Reade. She knows him better than anyone and he is lying to her about something. Of course, Zappata remembers that Freddie took Reade's knife when she kicked him out of the apartment. So, perhaps my theory that Freddie killed Jones and Reade is protecting him isn't so far off the mark. Reade may not have physically killed Jones, but I don't think he made an effort to save his life either. I think that's what Reade is afraid to admit to Zappata.

KURT AND JANE


SO. MANY. FEELS. It's almost like Martin Gero knows the Nas and Weller make-out sessions cause our skin to crawl and blood to boil, so he tosses us extra Jeller goodies to make up for it. We open the "Resolves Eleven Myths" with Kurt and Jane happily cooking and kissing in their apartment together. Hello! What fun world is this and can we stay? Then, Jane's brother Roman knocks on the door. Kurt and Roman hug like old friends and the three enjoy a nice, quiet dinner party. Jane has everything she wants.

That is, until Remi shows up and kicks the crap out of Jane as she says, "This doesn't belong to you." Watching Jane's two selves slug it out is spectacular because it's some amazing stuntwork. It reminds me of an episode of Arrow when Oliver Queen fought The Arrow. There's a speed and brutality to it that makes it one of Blindspot's best stunts.

Later in the episode, Jane tries to move on with the handsome Water Guy, but she realizes there's so much about her life she can never share with another person. Her attempt at "normal" simply isn't possible.

The dream is simply a manifestation of the voice that lives inside Jane's mind — Remi's voice. No matter how much Jane tries to claw her way out of her old world and build herself a new one, Remi is there, waiting, to tell her she can't do it. Whatever peaceful or happy life Jane envisions for herself isn't real. It's a world, and a place, Jane doesn't belong. It's a world, and a place, that doesn't belong to Jane.

When you are told you can't have something, one of two things happen: you either give up, or you fight harder for it. When Jane heard Remi's voice on her "normal" date with Water Guy, she listened and gave up. She bailed on the date.

However, when The Acadian sent Kurt crashing through a glass and nearly knocked Jane out, she heard Remi's voice again. Only this time, Jane didn't back down. It ignited a fire in her that made Jane fight even harder for Kurt. Jane decided, in that moment, Kurt Weller does belong to her and she will do anything to protect him. There's a fierceness and ferocity to Jane's fighting after that and The Acadian is put on the defense for the first time. Together, Kurt and Jane are able to stop him.

Jane Doe is someone of tremendous will. When Jane puts her mind to something, she can do almost anything. It doesn't matter what the "normal" picture looks like. What matters is who Jane wants "normal" with — and that person is Kurt Weller. He's someone worth fighting for. Kurt Weller is someone worth living for. Perhaps, just as importantly, Jane wants to belong to someone. She wants to belong to Kurt and vice versa.

The reason I so dearly love Rich Dotcom episodes is because Rich is basically me: "Kurt is clearly still in love you with you. You don't see this? You don't see this? He's just confused, Jane!"

I yell this every week at Kurt and Jane. For real.

I rather enjoyed how Rich picked up on the weird energy and assigned blame to Nas. Rich isn't wrong. Nas has upset the equilibrium of the team, primarily because she's moving Kurt and Jane like chess pieces around a board. She's been their intermediary for weeks and now that she's sleeping with Kurt, she really has sandwiched herself between them. When Kurt and Jane are off balance, then the whole team is. Rich Dotcom — Captain of the Jeller ship — understands this.

Kurt confronts Nas about listening in on their private conversations with Dr. Borden. To prove her trustworthiness, Nas tells Weller about "Omaha." It's a no-restrictions surveillance program run by the NSA. Weller seems satisfied with this piece of juicy intel and sleeps with Nas. Again.

Really Kurt. REALLY? There is a MOLE. She's been spying and lying for weeks. Nas just hands over classified intel to you and everything is cool? Ugh. I know Nas isn't the mole, because that would just be too convenient for me, but that doesn't mean Kurt has to jump right back into bed with the woman. Aren't you supposed to be having trust issues, Weller? This feels like Oscar and the favorite tea all over again.

The bottom line is, Kurt is attempting "normal" with Nas. He feels like she understands him and the job. They share a connection... blah blah blah. I hate to break it to you buddy, but Nas is Jane 2.0. She's Jane Lite. Nothing is going to be as good as the original, Weller. It doesn't matter what the "normal" picture looks like. What matters is who Kurt wants "normal" with — and that person is Jane. Nas is just a symptom of Kurt's confusion. 

Rich Dotcom gets it. It'd be super great if Kurt and Jane started getting it too.

Stray Thoughts:
  • "This is like when they brought in the second Aunt Viv. Remember that? That was messed up." I spit out my Coke when Rich said that. Super accurate. Super hilarious.
  • Patterson giving Jane relationship advice is the cutest. Also... I guess they are back to being friends that give relationship advice? I feel like we missed a conversation here Blindspot, but okay.
  • "Did you two have sex? Was it bad?" Never change, Rich Dotcom; and come back often.
  • The mole let Roman know Jane's loyalties are with the FBI. Gulp. That's not good. It'll make turning him all the trickier.
  • I'm really afraid the mole is Dr. Borden. We're running out of suspects here, people. It has to be someone we care about, otherwise this plot point falls flat on its face.

Lucifer 2x05 Recap: “Weaponizer” (Brotherly Love) [Guest Poster: Ilene Friedman]


“Weaponizer” 
Original Airdate: October 24, 2016

Well this week’s episode of Lucifer has left me paranoid and with a million questions. It really does seem that they are dragging out the mystery this season.

This week’s episode picks up right before Chloe’s horrific car accident that left me a bit dead inside. Lucifer and Amenadiel’s brother Uriel is hanging around. We see him move a skateboard, which leads to a series of events that causes Chloe’s accident.

Lucifer finds out about the accident and is convinced it is divine intervention but is unable to prove it. That is, until the victim of the week — Wesley Cabot — appears. Apparently this infamous fight star was murdered. And, at the crime scene, Lucifer see’s Uriel outside the window.

Lucifer confronts his brother on the roof, leaving Chloe to the investigation. It appears Uriel is very good at finding patterns (I'm getting flashbacks to Final Destination franchise). Uriel cannot kill Chloe outright — no angel can — but he can predict outcomes, and therefore cause her death. He gives Lucifer an ultimatum — either hand over their mother in 24 hours, or Chloe is going to die.

Lucifer seems barely phased, believing that Amenadiel will get them out of this bind. He tries to persuade Amenadiel to intimidate Uriel, so that Uriel will just leave. The plan works, until Uriel realizes that something is off and then proceeds to beat the crap out of Amenadiel. This leads to Lucifer discovering that Amenadiel has become a fallen angel. And I, for one, am incredibly disappointed. Lucifer is now furious, getting ever anxious that he has to clean up Amenadiel’s mess.

This leads to Lucifer becoming livid, because no one knows what God wants. He then goes on to state that God could have opened a portal back to hell because it smelled bad, or it could have been to bring dear old mom back to hell. Who knows? To be fair, Luci does have a point.

It is later discovered that Uriel actually has his own plan in mind, not God's. He does not want mom to return to heaven and for their father to forgive her like Lucifer and Amenadiel had. What exactly did she do, again? The bottom line is that Uriel’s ultimate goal is to kill their mother. And how, you may ask? Well, he stole his sister Azrael’s Blade of Death, which permanently kills any deity. No heaven, no hell — just gone. Who thinks that particular item is going to come back into play?

Lucifer and Uriel begin to brawl, but Uriel figures out Lucifer’s pattern a little too fast. Good thing Maze makes an appearance and is way harder to predict. However, while Maze is distracting Uriel, Lucifer comes charging in with Azrael’s Blade and kills his brother. And just by the look on Lucifer’s face, you can tell this utterly destroyed him. It doesn’t help that Uriel whispered something to Lucifer before he died, that he didn’t understand. I MUST KNOW WHAT IT IS!

When Lucifer arrives home, he is in tears. His mother asks where Uriel is, and Lucifer collapses into tears in her arms. Do you hear that? That’s my heart breaking.

Final Thoughts:
  • Lucifer’s attempt at a catchphrase needs to stop like, yesterday. 
  • I need to know what Uriel said PLEASEEEEE,
  • I am so not here for moody Amenadiel. I need him to be big and powerful again; screw this mopey angel. 
  • I am 100% sure God is not gonna show his face this season.
  • I bet Ella is the one who finds out Lucifer is the devil this season — or my favorite shrink.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Arrow 5x04 Review: "Penance" (The Avenging Friend)


"Penance"
Original Airdate: October 26, 2016

Nicholas Rowe once said, "guilt is the source of sorrows, the avenging friend that follows us behind with whips and stings." Arrow is no stranger to the topic of guilt. In fact, they even once had an episode titled "Guilt" (that's cutting out the middleman in terms of theme right there, folks). But this episode, you'll notice, isn't titled that. Instead, it's titled "Penance." I think that most of us understand the concept of penance, and what's extremely important in this episode is that we encounter a few of the characters paying the price for the guilt they feel. You see, guilt is different from penance. While guilt is a feeling, penance is taking action on that feeling. We know from last week's episode that Felicity feels guilt for the death of Rory's family and for what happened in Havenrock. And Diggle feels guilt for what he did to Andy. If the feelings stopped there, that would be it. But Felicity and Diggle end up punishing themselves in this episode in order to try and assuage the feelings within themselves. Luckily, the two have partners who are able to pull them out of that guilt and penance and bring them on a path toward healing.

Before we get started with this review, you'll notice it's later than usual, and that's because... I really don't have much to say about "Penance." While there were some good moments, the episode ultimately left me more confused than ever as to what this season is trying to accomplish (and no, writers, just by having Felicity say "legacy," you cannot justify your theme). It felt like yet another filler episode and I suppose if the show wants to get the fillers out of the way early in the season, that leaves more time for important episodes later on. Still, I found it really difficult to stay engaged in the episode. Additionally, I'm kind of confused as to what lessons Oliver is supposed to learn this year. Literally the lesson this week for him was: "Go against your friend's wishes because you know better than they do, and it'll all work out." That's exactly what Oliver and Lyla did. I know they were saving Diggle from himself, but also they were directly contradicting what he wanted. It's a fine line because Diggle's health and sanity and character growth were on the line, but also I'm kind of disappointed that the show literally told us that Oliver will just keep doing things for people because he knows best and instead of having any issues, it'll all be peachy in the end.

Ugh.

PRISON BREAK


Even this week's Bratva flashbacks bored me, but for the sake of parallelism, they also took place in prison. As we knew from the end of last week's episode, Diggle wanted to keep himself locked away so that he could pay for what he did to Andy. Oliver and Lyla won't have it, while Felicity refuses to participate in the prison break because she doesn't agree with the fact that Oliver is making choices on behalf of others yet again. I can't say that I blame her, and I'm really glad that we got to see a little bit of a snappier, biting Felicity this episode. It's easy for Arrow to ignore what has happened in the past (that is often their method of operation), but I'm happy that we had the chance for Felicity to remind Oliver that he has issues with letting other people do things he doesn't agree with. Oliver is, at his worst, rife with potential to be a toxic male character. His experiences and his growth as a person are what keep him from backsliding into that person. And I'm extremely thankful the show had Felicity point out how absurd what he was doing was and not support the mission by helping. That shows healthy progress on Felicity's end. Go girl!

Oliver and Lyla eventually break into prison, get Diggle out (in the most unbelievable sequence ever), but not without a bit of a fight from Diggle. He tells Oliver that he has to stay in prison and suffer because it's what he deserves after killing Andy. Oliver's brilliant theory is that Diggle doesn't deserve to be in prison for the things he's accused of, and if he wants to pay penance for Andy's death so badly, he can do it as Spartan. I'm not going to lie: this was the most baffling logic. But then again, Arrow is not a show known for its iron-clad reasoning, I suppose. Diggle is appreciative that his friend wants to pull him back from such a dark place, and I'm glad Oliver is too. But then Oliver muses that he probably hasn't changed and — at the end of the episode — Diggle tells him that he hasn't changed, and that's a good thing.

I don't even know what else to say about this storyline because I love Diggle, I really do. I just feel like the show has really rushed the arcs of both him and Felicity in order to get to more plot and stories this season. Arrow knows it already has too much to juggle — focusing on the new recruits, allotting time for Oliver as mayor, Bratva flashbacks, more crossovers, tying up loose ends from last season, and giving screentime to the bad guys — and unfortunately what seemed to get cut already this year are the dangling threads from last season. I was really hoping we would get a chance to see Diggle really process what happened, or that we would at least see him more in action.

Sadly, I feel like Arrow has already mostly shut the door on this story for Diggle. Even though it might be touched upon in the next few episodes, it won't be a focus and that's unfortunate because David Ramsey deserves to shine in a storyline all his own.

#TEAMGUILT


So let's briefly talk about the other character whose story from last season gets pretty quickly wrapped up: Felicity. What I will say right off the bat is how irked I am by the fact that Felicity's story — this huge, guilt-inducing, life-altering story — not only got brushed aside as a "moral of the week," but that it was used in order to prop up a new male character. Felicity couldn't even have her own story about guilt; it had to be shared with Rory. And in some ways, I guess I can sort of understand why the two are paired up: they're both suffering from the same event, but in different ways. I did enjoy the end of the episode because it established the fact that people who are feeling guilt need other people to hold them accountable. We can't navigate our guilt by ourselves because when we try, we drown. 

The problem, of course, arises not from the fact that Felicity needs to lean on someone during this time but that her guilt is not her own. It is used to prop up Rory's tragedy, and HIS story of his father ends up becoming the focus, not Felicity's. If you doubt that, think about what Felicity did toward the end of the episode — she researched Rory's father and learned about his life and his sacrifices. In the end, Felicity's potentially interesting and dark arc (one of the first that she's had apart from a storyline with Oliver) is reduced to a plot point in a male character's story.

Again, this doesn't mean that Arrow can't bring elements of Felicity's guilt back into the fold. But as far as the meat of the story is concerned, it seems like we're finished with Havenrock. Felicity and Rory spent most of the episode at odds, but then made up and agreed to hold each other accountable if they ever begin to sink into guilt or despair. I don't understand how this story could be so quickly covered and then concluded. Heck, we devoted the entire back half of last season to Oliver and Felicity's romantic drama, but we can't even devote twenty minutes over the course of two episodes to the fact that Felicity was forced to take thousands of lives in order to save others?

Sure, Arrow. Sure. 

Honestly, I don't have much more to say about this week's episode in terms of plot or characterization. It was fun to watch the newbies spring into action, but Oliver's decision to knock them out instead of letting them help him or even talk to him was absurd. Every week, we seem to get a story involving how Oliver knows the way he's leading is wrong and admits he needs help correcting his ways; then we get episodes like "Penance" where a character who used to serve as this show's moral compass tells Oliver he SHOULDN'T change and is, in fact, glad that he's as stubborn and controlling as ever.

And to top it all off, the two leading women left on the series are relegated to B- and C-plots on the regular. I guess I just expect a little more from Arrow at this point. "Penance" wasn't a terrible episode by the show's standards, and it definitely wasn't rage-inducing like a lot of season three and four were. However, it just wasn't interesting. It took too little time focusing on the characters and much more time setting up ACU stories, prison breaks, and Wild Dog's capture. Nothing in the episode feels really earned, and that's the biggest problem of all.

Because when nothing in an episode feels earned, what's the point?

Observations & favorite moments:
  • I love the codename "Artemis," but I still prefer to call her "Baby Canary."
  • One thing that was definitely on-point in this episode and I need a lot more of? Quentin Lance's sass. He was back to his old self and it was so glorious.
  • "Please make sure no one destroys the city while I'm away."
  • "And if you were thinking about lying, I do admire your consistency." SHE WENT THERE AND GOD BLESS, IT WAS GLORIOUS.
  • "Wow, the ever-expanding clubhouse."
  • "Oliver forfeited his opinion when he left town." SHE WENT THERE AGAIN AND GOD BLESS, IT WAS EVEN MORE GLORIOUS.
  • "You scared?" "No, but I'm not stupid either."
  • I don't know why Felicity couldn't send the baby Team Arrow into the field with someone like Thea watching their backs at least. It seems like that would have been the smartest move, but okay.
  • "Was he... waiting for an entrance line?" Rory, hilariously meta and also just hilarious.
What did you all think of "Penance"? Sound off in the comments below!

This Is Us 1x05 Recap: “The Game Plan” (#WhereIsJack) [Guest Poster: Bibi]


“The Game Plan”
Original Airdate: October 25, 2016

In this week’s episode of This Is Us, we get a brief glimpse of Rebecca’s life as a child, and see her parents — her mom serving her father and the kids not being allowed to interact with dad as he watched football. It is from these moments that we see and discover why she is so hesitant to have children with Jack in the future. She doesn't want to become her parents. So when Rebecca and Jack get married, he teaches her about football, so she won’t become her mother. She eventually becomes a super fan, and they bond over Steelers football.

Meanwhile in the present-day, Kevin has shown up at Randall and Beth’s home and wants to spend time with his brother and family, in an attempt to likely stop feeding his insecurities about the play. Randall has a full house, so he decides that he and Beth deserve Kevin’s hotel room to take time for themselves just for the night. Kevin has to agree to watch the girls with William, while Randall and Beth spend some time alone.

Kate and Toby are doing well, and she surprises him with breakfast in bed. He asks her out, and she says no. It is Sunday Night Football with the Steelers playing and she likes to watch the game alone. He thinks it's weird, and — in traditional Toby fashion — he inserts his way into joining her for football.

In flashbacks, Rebecca and Jack are at the bar waiting for Miguel and his wife. They are enjoying football, until Rebecca keeps dropping not-so-subtle hints that she doesn’t want children and thinks that they’ll ruin their dynamic. Jack shrugs her comments off at first, but then they really start to bother him. The whole episode, as Miguel and his wife share stories of their two kids at home, Jack wants more and more to start a family with Rebecca. Rebecca is still very hesitant about the whole thing.

Meanwhile, Toby invites another “football enthusiast” to the house to watch the Steelers play. Kate, thinking it would just be the two of them — especially when she was so adamant about being alone — isn’t welcoming. Toby has obviously told his friend about her and is excited about the interaction, but Kate is solely focused on football. It makes her seem standoffish to Toby. And while that isn't her intent, to be fair, she did stress the importance of watching the game alone. Toby pauses the game to have conversation, and Kate asks him to un-pause the game. Toby doesn't seem to get how important this really is to her.

At the hotel, Randall is just so excited to have some kid-free romantic time with Beth. He is like an eager newlywed in this hotel room and Beth clearly doesn’t have the same level of enthusiasm. Beth tells him she’s late and feels terrible and could potentially be pregnant. This definitely puts a damper on the mood and they go to the pharmacy together to get a pregnancy test. It is in the pharmacy that Randall really has a meltdown. He starts talking about how a third kid will ruin his Charleston retirement dreams.  She informs him that this wasn’t planned and her birth control is new, so there was a window of time where they could get pregnant. They aren't happy about this, but they head back to the hotel to take the test. Once they settle in, they start to think about what their lives could be like with a third kid and really start to not hate it. So when they find out that they are not pregnant, they are relieved.

Kevin, watching the girls and William a little bit too, decides to let the family help him run lines for his new play. It is in this moment that they get into a conversation about death. The girls are curious and Kevin does a great job of scaring them into thinking William, their parent, and everyone they care about deeply will die and there is nothing they can do about it. Bless his heart, he was trying to have an open and honest conversation with them about the circle of life, but it ended up just scaring (and probably scarring) them. Once William takes them to bed, he comes down and has pep talk with Kevin.

Kevin is struggling so much with this play because he is insecure about his acting abilities. He doesn't think he’s good enough to step out and do something different with his career. William tells him that not only was The Manny one of his favorite programs, but Kevin needs to stop doubting himself and trust his instincts in his career and with this play.

In the bar, Jack and Rebecca get into a heated debate about children. It is not the ideal place, but Jack says because his father only paid attention to him while he watched football, he always envisioned that he would bring the tradition of football to his kids. When he met Rebecca, he knew immediately he wanted his kids to be with her. She doesn't know what’s wrong with her, but she does know that she doesn't want to become her parents. And maybe that fear is what’s pushing her to be the exact opposite of them. Eventually, they make up and we find out that they conceived Kate and Kevin that very night in the bar.

Kate goes home with Toby in tow, and he wants to know why she's been acting weird. In a moment that I predicted — but yet still wept through — Kate tells Toby about her dad. The tradition of watching football is because of him. She watches the Steelers “alone,” but really she watches with her dad in spirit. He is dead and Toby gets to meet his ashes in that very moment. She opens up to him in a beautiful scene that really shows how deeply she loved and misses her dad.

In an attempt to gain his nieces’ trust and affection again, Kevin does something bold and shares a piece of himself that not even Kate knows. Every time Kevin gets a new project, he paints how it makes him feel. He shows the girls the painting that he did for this play. This play is about life and death, and he talks about Jack, his grandfather, and more. He talks about how even though people leave us physically, we carry them everywhere we go. We carry their memories with us always.

Guys, I wept. It’s been a tough week for me anyway, as a person I loved dearly who is no longer here would've celebrated a birthday this week. And to say that this show became a moment of therapy for me is an understatement. At any rate, Kevin redeems himself from the fear earlier ignited, and his nieces get a better understanding of not only the circle of life, but their uncle as well.

While Kevin is talking, we see a montage of things: Kate and Toby watching another Steelers game with the lucky hat Jack gave her on his urn. Then we also see Randall in the girls’ room, crying after packing up William’s things, presumably after he’s passed. While we don’t know which part of the timeline this is — and we don’t know when we lose Jack — the parallels of seeing Randall and knowing he's lost both his fathers is heartbreaking. This Is Us, please stop making my life so challenging!

What did you think about the episode? Did you know that Jack was dead? For me, Rebecca still wearing the necklace pretty much gave it away. And how cute was it to see the relationship between Kevin and his nieces?!

Share your thoughts below!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Younger 3x05 Recap: “P is for Pancake” (Get it Out of Your System) [Guest Poster: Bibi]


"P is for Pancake"
Original Airdate: October 26, 2016

We open “P is for Pancake” with Maggie telling Liza that she’s met a new woman at the community garden and wants to impress her. Maggie is enthralled with this woman, talking about how she’s not her usual type and this is fueling this pursuit. Liza supports this, and tells her to go for it!

At the office, Liza is surprised when she walks in and finds Bryce at her desk. Bryce says he’s “hot desking,” and purposefully being a disrupter because he doesn’t like hierarchical structures in the workplace. Diana comes in and wants Liza to get her coffee, but Bryce warns Liza against it. This causes more tension between Bryce and Diana, and they continue to be on shaky ground. Even though Bryce is inconsiderate, Charles thinks the young benefactor can help take Empirical to new heights. During their chat, Diana notices that Charles and his new girlfriend were photographed at the opera. She is immediately jealous and instructs Liza with digging up dirt on this new woman.

Maggie’s new crush reveals that she has a boutique and is hosting an event that she invites Maggie to. Maggie decides to take her famous Bolognese sauce there to woo the new woman. But when she arrives, the boutique isn’t what she expects. As it turns out, her new crush is a conservative Jew. 

Kelsey confides in Liza that she is going on a lunch date with Lucas, who she met on Handlebar — a new app for those that can’t handle a bar on the first date. She tells Liza to message her in case the guy is boring, but she ends up hitting it off with him. After her date, she goes to the bar with Lauren, Max, Liza, and Josh for a date debrief. Lauren thinks the guy is too perfect and she needs to find a bad pancake first. She thinks that this relationship is predestined to fail. Lauren believes that the first person you date after a serious relationship is the “bad pancake.” That relationship is doomed, because the first pancake always gets burned. 

At the office, Liza tells Diana that she needs to relax a little to help adjust to the new work culture. During their conversation, Liza reports back on Charles’s angelic girlfriend. Not only does she work for a non-profit, but she has numerous charities that she is a part of. To make Diana feel better, Liza tells her not to worry about Charles’s new girlfriend because she is likely the bad pancake. 

Lauren invites Kelsey and the crew to a party that Max and the other interns are having. Lauren wants to meet Lucas, the mystery man behind her blind date, and see what he is hiding and after meeting him, thinks this guy is soulmate material and Kelsey will screw it up with her newly widowed brain. 

Kelsey listens to Lauren and breaks things off with Lucas. He already knows about the bad pancake theory and tells Kelsey that he will wait for her, because she is worth it. He then casually mentions that he lives on Roosevelt Island that apparently is a huge deal-breaker for Kelsey, now making him the bad pancake. Lauren convinces Kelsey to go Roosevelt Island to hook up with him. Kelsey listens to her friend, and they don’t even make it off the tram. But as it gets to his stop, Kelsey tells Lucas that she isn't getting off the train, because he is the bad pancake after all. 

While at the party, Liza gets a Google alert that P is for Pigeon has won a literary award. She excitedly calls Diana to let her know the good news, and that Diana’s hard work paid off. Meanwhile, the medical interns who are attending the party are talking about conception and how much harder it is for women in their 40s to have children. Josh starts asking a lot of questions, which worries Liza. On the walk home, Josh asks Liza if she would want to have another kid in the future, but she shuts him down. This just goes to show that they are having a good time, but in terms of the future, what does that look like for Josh and Liza? Can they have one?

Back at Empirical, Diana informs Bryce of the Man Booker Prize and he is still unimpressed. Charles steps in and stands up for Diana and print media. In a move that we all saw coming, Charles basically tells Bryce that he no longer needs his investment in Empirical. Liza tells Charles how proud she is to work there, but of course Charles can’t even take the compliment because he is afraid of bankruptcy. 

So what did you think about the episode? Will Empirical survive without Bryce and his money?
Share your thoughts below!

The Flash 3x04 Review: "The New Rogues" (Mirror, Mirror) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]


“The New Rogues”
Original Airdate: October 25, 2016

Sometimes you can watch an episode of a TV show and just feel how much fun the cast is having with everything they’re doing and saying. “The New Rogues” is one of those episodes for The Flash. Just about every scene of it felt joyful and reminded me of why I love this show in the first place. And it’s not because I have any particular love for The Flash as a character, or because I’m heavily invested in this show about time travel and people who can run really fast — it’s because it’s a show that relishes the absurdity of its material. The Flash not only accepts how ridiculous its premise is, but actively thrives off of that ridiculousness. You can tell that the actors on this show might not really get what they’re saying about molecular decelerators or Droste effects, but they absolutely adore the fact that they’re able to say these things.

All I want from my superhero shows is fun, and “The New Rogues” is a whole lot of fun. As a bonus, it also delivers some terrific lines, great comedic performances, a pleasantly entertaining A-plot, and a sprinkling of romance. I really can’t ask for much more than what this episode has given, and I am so happy that the doom and gloom of last season is nowhere to be seen here.


SO MANY YEARS OF BAD LUCK


The plot for this week is simple. It’s even more simple than last week’s return to simplicity, since this week Alchemy isn’t even in on the action and only gets one passing mention to remind us that a season story arc is still going on somewhere in the background. This episode’s metahuman villain, Mirror Master, and his companion, Top (not one of Cisco’s best names, let’s be honest) actually got their powers the old-fashioned way, via that particle accelerator explosion three years ago. Ol’ MM gained the ability to slip through any and all reflective surfaces, while Top causes extreme vertigo in her opponents. Why didn’t Cisco name her Vertigo? Is that villain name already taken? Anyway, Mirror Master had been trapped in a mirror for those three years since the explosion, while Top had been captured at some point and only gets to go back to her villainy when her reflective beau returns to take over Central City.

Mirror Master and Top were once part of Captain Cold’s crew, and I’m not really sure why the show brought back Captain Cold for these two previously unseen villains, in what appears to be a one-off flashback. Was it just more believable that Team Flash could imitate Captain Cold, rather than some unknown, in the exciting final showdown? I suppose it’s all good. Wentworth Miller briefly got to ham it up as the horribly named Leonard Snart, which just adds to this episode’s fun. No complaints from me.

Because they had been in a fight that was interrupted by the particle accelerator explosion, as soon as Mirror Master — actual name Sam Scudder — pulls himself through his looking glass and into the present day, he’s on the rampage to find Snart and... kill him? Probably kill him. It’s always murder and revenge with these villains, I swear. Why can’t they be more like the heroes of the story and — Oh. Wait. Never mind.

Three years and one whole season of a spin-off have passed, however, so Snart is nowhere to be found. But Mirror Master is nothing if not opportunistic, so he decides that the absence of Snart just means an easier time of taking over the city along with his vertigo-inducing girlfriend. As per usual, Mirror Master and Top win a couple fights against our heroes before the good guys can figure out how to defeat the bad guys, and Barry actually gets trapped in a mirror for a little while. But defeat them they do, with the help of a lot of broken mirrors (I guess Barry’s reached a point of diminishing returns on the bad luck), and after Barry is rescued from his mirror by none other than... Killer Frost! DUN DUN DUN!

Or like, Caitlin with Killer Frost powers that she’s still keeping from the team for some reason.


TIME TO REFLECT


Even though the title really makes no sense as far as the theme goes, “The New Rogues” does a remarkably thorough job keeping all the little bits of plot in line with the idea of reflection — the literal, Mirror Master kind of eeeevil reflection as well as the “sit and think about your life” kind of reflection. A lot of the time, The Flash has to connect the A and B stories with a clunky line that makes the audience realize whatever’s happening in Barry’s life and whatever’s happening in the metahuman battles are thematically similar. Not the case here. The simple plot and simple character motivations cleaned out the cobwebs and made the themes fun to think about and relate to each other without feeling like the puzzle pieces were being forced together where they didn’t fit. I mean, I was mostly distracted by the hilarity and Tom Cavanagh in a Steampunk outfit, and even I was able to connect the episode’s dots without any subtle-as-a-brick lines to do it for me. Good on you, The Flash!

One of the metaphorical plots associated with the reflection theme is the stuff dealing with Barry and Iris’s relationship, and Barry doing some internal reflecting on why a relationship with the woman he loves (the woman he loves in pretty much every parallel universe or alternate timeline, I might add) seems to be so difficult. The conclusion he arrives at is, of course, that it’s Barry himself causing the problem. Barry is usually the problem. Like, he’s an adorable puppy, but he’s an adorable puppy who chews on your favorite pair of shoes and also occasionally ruins the universe.

This trouble-in-Westallen-paradise storyline is not at the level of awkward as it had been last week, when they were trying to have a successful first date, but Barry has some hang-ups about dating his longtime best friend and the daughter of the man he sees as a father figure and it’s seriously getting in the way of Barry/Iris make-out time. I’m not sure what the difference is between this episode and the last episode, but I found Barry’s awkwardness in “The New Rogues” to not only be more believable, but also more charming. Were the actors just having more fun with the scenes this time around? Was it because they put the focus more on an outsider of the relationship causing the awkward? Don’t know, but it led to some fantastic moments.

And a third plotline adding to the idea of reflection is The Search for Wells 3.0. This is both a literal reflection (Wells is seeing bizarre reflections of himself from other worlds) as well as a metaphorical one (Wells and the team reflect on the value he adds, and what they need from a Harrison Wells). It’s also clearly just an excuse for Tom Cavanagh to try out an array of Harrison Wells alternative personalities (including an Old West cowboy type who ate a bad dinner, a faux-British Steampunk Wells, and a MIME!) and yet another example of the show having fun with this whole episode.

They end up choosing a vaguely hipster Wells who goes by “H.R.,” which I can’t hear and not automatically tack “Pufnstuf” onto. Anyway, H.R. will probably turn out to be evil because good versions of Wells either die or can’t stick around for very long. Or, you know, Tom Cavanagh will just get sick of this personality eventually and really want to play a mime.

Man, I hope we get a few more episodes like this in the future. I know it’s not good for the season-long plot, but between the hero of the show destroying the timeline and the heroes of every other show brooding broodily, episodes like this one are just refreshing.

Other Things:
  • Sam Scudder was touching a mirror when the particle accelerator explosion happened, and he got mirror powers. He should be thankful, really. That could have been so much worse.
  • Jesse’s sweatshirt in her first scene is so weird. Do her elbows get too warm for complete sleeves?
  • “Oh my god. I’ve become Oliver.” You’ve got about sixteen levels of angst to climb through before you get anywhere close to Oliver, Barry. (Please don’t try.)
  • “No touching!” No, touching! Don’t try and prevent the adorableness that is Jesse/Wally, Harry!
  • How much fun do you think Tom Cavanagh has playing all these different Harrison Wells? I bet it’s all the fun.
  • “Staying in is so much better than going out.” I’m having that painted onto my front door.
  • "He's your... our... Joe. Joe, I don't know." Grant Gustin is so good at mumbling lines, to optimal comedic effect.
  • "Oliver told me that Snart... left with some friends of ours on a... trip." I love every line from Grant Gustin this episode.
  • "I love you—" "—I love you too—" "I love her..." For real. Every line is golden.
  • Meanwhile, Harry is saying stuff like, “I care for you too, you jack-wagon,” to Cisco and this episode is just dialogue perfection.
  • “Oh, I got this one. He’s, uh—” “Mirror Master!” “—what the f—” “BOOM!”
  • “Look, I can’t pretend to understand or care about the science of it all…” Joe is all of us.
  • “You can’t trust a mime.” I can’t believe one of the Wellses was a mime. This show, you guys. This show.
  • That West Family Group Date was equal parts awkward and hilarious.
  • I can’t believe how cute Wally/Jesse got in such a short amount of time.

Scorpion 3x05 Review: “Plight at the Museum” (One Problem at a Time) [Guest Contributor: Yasmine]


“Plight at the Museum”
Original Airdate: October 24, 2016

I love when shows take a small break from their crazy action/cases and focus on the characters, and this is exactly what Scorpion did with this episode. The team takes on a private job, at night in the museum, only for it to turn out to have been planned a by a group of evil people there to steal something dangerous. But the case takes a back seat — though it was still fun and dangerous — and the episode focuses instead on the bonds of friendship that tie this group and the current situation that threatens to break them apart. The episode asks characters the question “what does friendship mean to you and how far will you go for your friends?”

Happy is pregnant. Happy wants to marry Toby. Toby wants to marry Happy. But Happy is married to Walter. It is a marriage that has been a secret from everyone for so long, and that fact alone is enough to cause a rift in the group — but the reason behind it is what can cause more problems. The biggest risk in all this messy situation is that Walter may be deported and sent back to Ireland, and thus break up Team Scorpion.

Of course, this would not be Scorpion if this potentially catastrophic situation was not balanced out by something light and ridiculous, even. Enter Walter and Happy’s fake marriage: from them getting married in City Hall and having to share a very awkward kiss, to their photoshopped honeymoon pictures, to eventually having to share a bed in an attempt to convince their caseworker their marriage is legitimate.

In the beginning of the episode Toby finds out they do have an option in which the entire process would be expedited, but that would put them at a greater risk of being found out as frauds and Walter deported. Having just slightly moved on from the fact that Happy had lied to him about being married — he is still angry but his anger is now focused on something else — Toby confronts Walter about this and accuses him of being selfish. Toby claims that he is the one who knows what Happy needs, while Walter claims he knows what she wants.

From there, it is an interesting journey for both men through the episode — Toby as the overbearing father of the unborn child, and Walter as the pragmatic “husband” with a lot to lose in the situation.

The episode strategically breaks the group up into three pairs just before they face their little “situation” at the museum. Paige and Toby are left back at the garage, Sly and Cabe on the loose in the museum, and symbolically enough, Happy and Walter are tied together. While the Sly/Cabe pairing serves mostly as the fighting team for the plot, being the two who discover the break-in and spend most of the time trying to resolve the situation, the other two pairings serve to tackle the emotional aspect of the episode.

As I mentioned above, the episode poses the question of how far one might go for friends and what a person is willing to sacrifice for them. Interestingly enough, the two through whom this question is studied are Walter and Happy. And while these two are the most closed off in the group — and the two with the lowest EQ — they are also both fiercely loyal. While it might come up to the surface as loyalty coming from the concept of the greater good, or justified by some logic, at the end of the day, it is driven by love and compassion for those they love. Happy is willing to sacrifice what is most important to her right now (marrying Toby and starting a family) just so that Walter can stay in the U.S. and, essentially, Scorpion can remain everyone’s family. And by the end of the episode, Walter comes to realize that the risk of being deported is worth it if it means his friends get to be happy and get what they want more than anything.

I cannot state how important that moment is for Walter, and how it is a little silent, subtle Waige moment. This entire season, his journey will be a series of small steps toward consciously and actively becoming the person who deserves and who can be with Paige — who can be the man Paige needs. And in this episode, and with this purely selfless act, he takes another step towards becoming that man.

And speaking of what a woman needs. In the beginning of the episode, Toby claims that he is the one who knows what Happy needs, constantly being overbearing and overprotective. His time spent with Paige, this group’s savior in more ways than one, is very enlightening and educational for the doctor. I love when these two share scenes, and I love how they are always there for each other, supportive of each other, without necessarily being very “vocal” about their friendship. I loved the scene they shared in the end in which Paige reminds him that they’re friends and that what she did for him is what friends do for each other. After providing Happy with parental advice last week, this week, it’s Toby who’s there at the receiving end of Paige’s words of wisdom about what it means to be a parent. But more importantly, she explains to him that Happy does not need him to know what she needs. Happy needs him to ask her what she needs. Toby understands her needs to take a step back, to slow down and to let Happy lead the way. And at the end of the episode, he does just that.

Another great moment of character growth for Dr. Tobias Merriweather Curtis.

I really enjoyed the episode. The case was fun and perfectly set so that the more emotional aspects of the episode can be on the forefront. And every time a character gets to display huge leap of growth, you know it is a good episode.

I have to say, I am really enjoying the season of Scorpion so far and I hope it keeps up this quality of writing.