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, August 21, 2017

Game of Thrones 7x06 Recap: "Beyond the Wall" (Death is the Enemy) [Contributor: Melanie]


"Beyond the Wall"
Original Airdate: August 20, 2017

The worst thing that could ever have possibly happened on Game of Thrones happened this week — a dragon is dead and the White Walkers have taken control of it. The long held “Ice Dragon” theory (that I also outlined in a post last week) has come to fruition and no one is really happy about having to say "I told you so." As the witch once said to Dany in season one, only death pays for life. And this week she ended up trading Viserion for the safety of Jon and the rest of the company beyond the Wall.

This is an episode that so easily could have not worked. And many outlets criticized the pacing (what would have once taken several episodes to travel is traversed in a single episode to make up for shortened time this season). But somehow the spectacle of it all, finally seeing Dany’s book three dream about fighting White Walkers, and watching Team Dragon assemble Avengers-style to take on the Night King is fan service in the best possible way.

IN DRAGONSTONE


Dany and Tyrion discuss their situation and she notes that she seems to be surrounded by men wanting to be heroes and who often do stupid things to get there, naming Drogo, Daario, Jorah, and Jon. When Tyrion argues that all the men she listed have fallen in love her at some point in their lives, she denies Jon’s affection for her. Tyrion disagrees.

Tyrion presses the issue of succession, to ensure that Dany’s legacy and the world she creates remains after she dies. He notes that, while she cannot have children, she can choose her own successor to protect her kingdom after she’s gone. Her frustration with Tyrion from previous episodes continues and she tells him his attempts to think of the long game instead of looking at the immediate present got their armies and supplies destroyed.

Later, when the raven asking for help arrives at Dragonstone, Dany mounts her dragons, ready to save them. Tyrion argues against her risking herself for them, saying that “the most important person in the world” cannot risk her life every time someone asks for help, and warning that — if she died — the world would too. She ignores his advice and takes off anyway.

IN THE NORTH


Sansa and Arya’s passive game of cat and mouse comes to a head when Arya confronts her about her letter to Robb, written years ago. Sansa says she wrote the letter under duress and was trying to stay alive. Arya argues that she would have died rather than write those things to Robb and questions Sansa’s loyalty to her family.

Later, Sansa goes searching in Arya’s room and finds her faces. Arya explains her abilities as a Faceless Man and hands Sansa Littlefinger’s Valyrian dagger.

BEYOND THE WALL


Jon and company journey beyond the Wall. On the way, Jon attempts to give Jorah Longclaw, as it originally belonged to his father Jeor Mormont, who always hoped to give it to Jorah. But Jorah declines and instead tells Jon to give it to his own children one day. After a battle with an undead bear and finally stumbling on the Night King’s army, they capture a wight but find themselves surrounded by the army of the dead on all sides, content to let them freeze to death on their small island in the middle of an icy lake. Jon sends Gendry to get a raven to Daenerys asking for aid. They wait it for some time but the Hound, bored enough to toss rocks at the wights, accidentally reveals the lake has frozen over solid once more, allowing the army to advance.

As they are surrounded, Dany arrives with her three dragons and burns a significant portion of the army away. However, the Night King launches an icy spear at Viserion, sending him plummeting to the ground, killing him. Dany watches in horror and all but Jon manage to make it onto Drogon’s back. They’re forced to flee without him when the Night King prepares to launch another spear at Drogon. Jon is eventually rescued by Benjen Stark who gives him his horse and holds the army off long enough for Jon to make an escape.

At Eastwatch, Dany watches, in stoic silence, for any sign of Jon. He arrives back, exhausted and suffering the effects of hypothermia. He wakes, some days later, on a ship to find Dany waiting at his bedside. He apologizes to her for being the reason she lost her dragon. She tells him she needed to know the truth about the White Walkers, and now she does. She promises they will defeat the Night King, together. He takes her hand and, when she bristles at him calling her “Dany” because it’s what her brother used to call her, he offers instead “my queen” and swears fealty to her, telling her she is worthy of his loyalty and the rest of the world will one day follow. Dany then leaves the room, grateful — and flustered — telling him to rest.

Back at the site of the battle, the Night’s King places his hand on the fallen Viserion who opens his eyes once again — this time, bright blue.

UNPACKING IT ALL


It’s tough to put this into a context because it might be the biggest Game of Thrones game-changer since Ned Stark’s death in season one. A dragon is dead. The Night King now has that dragon in his army. Dany and Jon have formed an alliance. Alan Taylor, the director of this episode, said: “I remember when I was doing season one...George R.R. Martin came to visit. He did sort of say things that made it clear that the meeting and convergence of Jon and Dany was sort of the point of the series.” We’re moving into the endgame phase of our story, and the mysterious Song of Ice and Fire.

Up until now the season has had a bit of a back and forth trying to figure out where to settle Dany’s story: conqueror or egalitarian? Invader or prophesied hero? It’s caused some serious debate and some criticism for the lack of sureness in her story one way or another.This episode married both those narratives after several episodes of whiplash storytelling. Up until this point Dany has had an internal (and sometime external) battle over how to proceed, whether it was better to wipe Cersei off the map or delay her campaign for the kingdoms and join Jon.

The Night King decides for her.

When Jon calls for help, Dany responds. It’s a pivotal moment for her story. Up until this point she’s taken counsel, obeyed decisions, and silently watched her conquest and army crumble. But one can’t help but imagine the words of the late Lady Olenna ringing in her ears (“You’re a dragon. Be a dragon.”) when she makes the decision to save Jon. Tyrion tries to talk her out of it, says that that the important people of the world cannot risk her life for a few. Dany disagrees, echoing both her statement weeks ago (“What kind of queen am I if I’m not willing to risk my life fight them?”) and Jon’s challenge to Ramsay Bolton last season (“Will they want to fight for you when they hear you won’t fight for them?”) and goes charging into battle, at great personal cost, for the sake of a few men and the chance that they might get an upper hand in the war to come.

It’s a welcome relief to the red herring hints that she might find herself without allies or a throne after a few impulsive, violent stunts. But this episode hammered home the core of Dany’s decisions: helping other people. She grew up an orphan beggar, abused by her brother and chased by assassins but managed to never have the bitter and entitled streak that got her brother killed. And though she flirted with the possibility this season, she’s committed herself to protecting the realm before she takes a seat on the Iron Throne — if she ever does.

It’s probably the biggest moment for her since she came to Westeros, she has lost a child in a fight she didn’t believe was real, for the sake of a man who she still doesn’t know completely, and yet doesn't blame anyone or regret a thing. It was an incredibly moving scene that brought home the feeling of family between Dany and Jon (the “beggar queen” and the Bastard of Winterfell finally finding kinship in someone). As a personal aside, to see a man who served as the show’s archetypical fantasy hero not only get saved by a woman, but to unconditionally bow to her as his queen and ally. It’s a big step for someone who has spent years watching her favorite action heroes be men and forced to undergo the brunt of fanboy drivel against female characters in positions of leadership.

This episode was especially poignant for book readers who will recall in A Storm of Swords (book three) Dany dreamed she was fighting soldiers made of ice while on dragonback and that this (the battle in the dream) was the true war while the other (her conquest of Westeros) was the dream. It seems to have come to pass in this episode as she knowingly risks her chances at her crown to rescue a group of men from an army that may or may not exist. It’s another big moment, decades in the making, that is one of many reasons this has been the most satisfying season to date.

It seems almost pointless to discuss the other parts of this episode: the Stark drama. Playing Arya against Sansa is getting old fast and one can only hope it resolves quickly. However, many fans have noted that the cold war between the Stark sisters might actually be staged and the pair have been playing Littlefinger all along. After all, the game of faces involves making a lie sound like a truth, and Arya did offer up the dagger to Sansa, handle-first, like a call to action.

As for bigger theories, I’m going to leave that until after next week’s episode to fully flesh out. But the possibilities of this ice dragon breathing ice across the land to even more devastating effects than flames, the strange and repetitive hints in this episode about Dany’s ability to have children and mentions of Jon’s future children leading to many fan conclusions, and the true meaning behind the prophesied Song of Ice and Fire.

So what can we expect from the finale? Well we’ve got Cersei, Jaime, Bronn, Euron Jon, Dany, Tyrion, Viserys, Grey Worm, Missandei, Brienne, and Pod all in one scene. It sounds like fanfiction, but it’s real. Expect some massive shade throwing and absolutely NOTHING to get solved. I’m not saying a dragon died in vain, but I don’t see Cersei caring about anything at this point. Jon and Dany, I imagine, are on their own in this fight.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Twin Peaks: The Return 3x14 Recap: "Part 14: We Are Like The Dreamer" (Excuse Me While I Pick My Jaw Up Off The Floor) [Contributor: Erin Allen]

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"Part 14: We Are Like The Dreamer"
Original Airdate: August 13, 2017

Part 14 is one of those episodes that has so much information and so much happens that it just about makes your head explode.

One of those head-exploding moments happens very early on, so it is difficult to keep up with everything that takes place after. I’m talking, of course, of the reveal that Diane and Janey-E are half-sisters. I never would’ve thought Vegas and the Blue Rose Task Force would connect in this way.

I am so in awe of this connection, that my brain was only partially functioning during Gordon’s telling of his dream. I had to go back and watch the dream scene right after the episode ended to really appreciate the beauty and mystery of it, AND THE PRESENCE OF DAVID BOWIE. His character’s name has been mentioned frequently throughout the season. Gordon’s dream includes a scene from Fire Walk With Me when Phillip Jeffries returns to the FBI. It was a thrilling scene then and it is thrilling now. That all of this FWWM stuff is so important to the mythology continually blows my mind.

In beautiful black and white, and partly taking place in Paris (in the dream), the scene has the feeling of a foreign film, complete with Monica Bellucci as herself. That’s right. Monica Bellucci plays herself in a dream. What a trip. And what a dream. “We are like the dreamer who dreams, and then lives inside the dream. But who is the dreamer?” Errr, what? Like I wasn’t confused enough before. But, who is the dreamer, Monica Bellucci?! Please help! Is this all a dream? This is where Charlie comes in to tell me, “This is Existentialism 101,” right?

Still reeling from Gordon’s dream while still reeling from the Diane/Janey-E news, Lynch compounds the mind-bending element by taking us to Jack Rabbit’s Palace. 253 yards East, amidst smoke and flashing electricity, Bobby, Hawk, Frank, and Andy find Naido, naked on the forest floor. She is alive and speaking in that staticky, staccato noise. Before they can do anything, at exactly 2:53, a vortex opens in the sky above them, and Andy disappears.

He appears in the room where the season began, sitting across from The Giant or ???????. He calls himself the Fireman this time. So that’s what the seven questions marks were for! Brilliant! Andy is shown many visions which include Laura, the two Coopers, Woodsmen, and Naido.

They all materialize back at Jack Rabbit’s Palace not knowing what happened. Andy knows, and takes charge. He cradles Naido and tells the other men, “She’s very important, and there are people who want her dead. [...] Don’t tell anybody about this.” I never expected to see Naido again after she flung out into space on Part 3, so this is super intriguing.

Lucy and Andy set up Naido in one of the cells at the station to keep her safe. After they leave, a stressful scene takes place between Naido, a drunk, and Chad. The drunk repeats every noise he hears, Chad is an ornery jerk, and Naido makes chirps like a monkey. Since I first thought Naido could be Judy back on Part 3, the monkey sounds make me think of that again.

But straining for meaning in every single detail is kind of like fighting against the current. At this point, I think I just want to relax and let it take me where it will. We are approaching the end of this wild ride, and we may get answers, we may not. But, it’s still the most fun I have had watching television in quite awhile.

Speaking of fun, how cool is the story that Freddie tells James? Freddie went into one of these vortexes, was told by the Fireman to put on a certain glove, and then move to Twin Peaks from freakin’ England to find his destiny. Um, that’s AMAZING. The whole thing about the glove is fascinating — he’s like a Twin Peaks superhero!

Sarah Palmer also seems like she might be a superhero, exacting vengeance on scummy creeps. Has she had this power all along? She might have, and we only saw a small glimpse into it with what was shown on the original run. This scene was uncomfortable, and frightening, and satisfying. On a show where violence is inflicted upon women practically every episode, it was beyond refreshing to see a dirtbag get what he deserved. Go Sarah!

Part 14 ends in a similar fashion to Part 12. Two women, Megan and Sophie (new characters), at The Roadhouse discuss some other names. Billy’s name comes up again — his current whereabouts unknown. Also Tina’s name is mentioned. She is Megan’s mom and Megan suspects that her and Billy had a thing.

More questions, but that’s okay. All the delicious speculation helps occupy the time until the next episode. Happy clue hunting, Peakies (or Peakers, or whatever you wish to call yourselves)!  

Stray Observations:
  • This Lois Duffy case. Wow, Bob, wow.
  • That window squeegee bit! All of Gordon’s reactions were great!  
  • “Deputy Diane reporting.”
  • The scene at the Las Vegas Field Office is so random, yet fits in so beautifully. “Wilson, how many times have I told you, this is what we do at the FBI!”
  • “Last night I had another Monica Bellucci dream.”
  • The despicable Chad is arrested. Ah, sweet justice!
  • “Where I come from we call a bloke like this a “Jobsworth.” A person who delights in acting in an obstructive or otherwise unhelpful manner, as in “I can’t do that, it’s more than my job’s worth.””
  • “He just fell over.” “With half his neck missing?!” 
  • Lissie performs “Wild Wild West” on The Roadhouse stage as the credits roll. Credits which include Monica Bellucci as herself (still not over that) and “In Memory of David Bowie.” Ouch, my feels. 

Bachelor in Paradise 4x01 & 4x02 Roundtable: Matchmaking and Misconduct [Contributors: Chelsea, Alisa, & Rebecca]


Everyone's favorite Bachelor spin-off has returned. Chelsea, Alisa, and Rebecca settle in to talk about the contestants who arrived in Paradise, as well as predictions for the season.

What did you think about the contestants that came to Paradise? Any past favorites? Any couples you’re cheering on? 


Rebecca: I really like the mix of people they’ve brought out for this season of Paradise. My favorite couple as of now is Dean and Kristina, and I really hope they work through the rocky patch they were in at the close of Tuesday’s episode. They’re both total sweethearts who have good chemistry and a lot in common. I was also thrilled to see Diggy, Nurse Danielle, and Raven... and of course, my fave Alexis — I adore all of them and really hope they all find love in Mexico! I was also happy to see Wells back in action, even as “just the bartender.” I have a feeling someone may try to cozy up to him (*cough cough* Nurse Danielle *cough*).

Alisa: I really hope Kristina and Dean can make it work because they both deserve love so much and I think they could really be great together if they can get through their issues. I’m so happy Diggy came to Paradise because I adore him. Raven, Nurse Danielle, and Derek are also faves of mine.

Chelsea: They have a really fun cast this year. Nurse Danielle, Raven, and Wells are my obvious favorites. I’m hoping for something on the Nurse Danielle/Wells front since they were friends before the show and that would be cute. I also just really want Wells to be the Bachelor since he’s so much fun. More Wells is what I’m getting at. Dean and Kristina are a surprising match and are so cute. I cannot wait to see how that develops.

Going into this week, we’ve all been wondering what happened with the sexual misconduct allegations. How did you think the show handled it when production restarted? What did you think of the cast talking about it? 


Rebecca: Yikes... I am not even sure where to start. I guess I’ll begin with the fact it was totally, completely scripted. It could have been a really educational discussion about consent, slut-shaming, and race, but instead turned into a ploy for ABC to save face. It was so obvious that the producers fed lines to the contestants, which made the whole thing really uncomfortable and awkward to watch. This article really sums up how I felt about the discussion in much better words than I can find. That all being said, kudos to Raven for her bravery and sharing her story of surviving sexual assault.

Alisa: Seriously so proud of Raven for sharing her story. That’s so difficult and I really hope that no one pressured her to share it and it was really just because she felt impressed to in the moment. As for the rest of it, eh. I mean, I’m glad they had a conversation about it at all and brought up consent, slut-shaming, and racism — all of which were factors in what happened and the aftermath. But they did it in typical ABC fashion, unfortunately, and — like Rebecca said — it just rang a little hollow.

Chelsea: I’ve been in a lot of HR and Title IX training this week for my new job, and I think I’m okay with it being scripted here. These are important topics that need to be talked about in a blunt fashion and that never happens on TV. You need to hear men talk about consent in relationships and have a prominently white cast talk about how race was a factor in the accusations. You need to make people uncomfortable because these aren’t things that are talked about frankly. I don’t think they could have gone further this week if they didn’t do it like this, and I imagine most of these contestants needed a little training in all these areas. There was no way ABC wasn’t going to script that and drive those lessons into every single one of the cast members’ heads.

That all aside, I’m so proud of Raven for speaking up as a sexual assault survivor. Society needs to give survivors platforms to talk about their experiences and she’s using hers well. She’s always been a favorite of mine for other reasons and now I just have the greatest respect for her.

Chris Harrison is a treasure and complete delight in those opening credits. What’s your favorite Chris Harrison moment in Paradise so far? 


Rebecca: Chris Harrison is SUCH a gem. He truly is too good for the messiness that is the Bachelor franchise, but my heart will absolutely shatter if he ever walks away from the show. He really is the perfect host. I usually fast forward through the opening credits after the first episode, but I think I’ll continue watching them all season as he totally owns those credits in that dapper suit. I’d let him rescue me from the ocean any day.

Alisa: Okay, so Chris Harrison is my biggest celebrity crush and that’s no secret to anyone including my boyfriend. I swear we’ve seen more of Chris Harrison in the first week of Paradise than we did the WHOLE SEASON of The Bachelorette, and I hope the Chris-fest continues all season long! Also, I think Chris — who always looks quite dapper — has really stepped up his wardrobe this season. That suit in the opening credits...those perfectly tailored slim fit linen pants in episode two... the man knows how to dress. Or at least knows the importance of a good stylist. Either way, I am here for it!

Chelsea: Chris Harrison is just a treasure and I adore how dorky he was playing lifeguard in a suit in those opening credits. He’s here to save the cast and viewers from all the crazy things this season. Paradise looks so great on him and his wardrobe person deserves a raise and fruit basket.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Thrones and Theories For the Final Act of Game of Thrones [Contributor: Melanie]

Image result for game of thrones season 7 episode 5

DISCLAIMER: This was written several hours prior to the episode six leak and contains no information or theories beyond what was presented as of episode five.

Since my recaps for individual episodes have gotten too long and analytic for me to put in theories every week, I wanted to get them all out there before we move into the endgame stages of this season. As seven years of watching has told us, the penultimate episodes of Game of Thrones seasons tend to be the most important ones (though last season’s finale came very close to outshining “The Battle of the Bastards”). We’ve got a set-up of Jon leading a party into the wilds beyond the Wall to capture a wight and return with it, long enough to prove to Cersei the threat is real and hope she cares enough about literally anything besides herself (we’ll get into if that’s true or not).

So below I’ve listed out my theories and personal deadpools for the coming last two episodes and what it means going into the final season of the show. I’ll likely have a part two to this with amended theories when all is said and done. But for now, here is where things stand in my mind...


THE ICE DRAGON


At first glance, it sounds like a fanfic idea. But it’s a theory that has been floating for some time and George RR Martin himself has helped stoked those fires. Back in 1980, George RR Martin published a children’s novel companion entitled The Ice Dragon. Though Martin has claimed the stories contained in the short novel do not take place in the world of A Song of Ice and Fire many still believe it’s a massive hint to an element he decided to include in his books. Ice dragons do exist in the world of Game of Thrones — of course it’s in the same way many people thought the White Walkers existed, but look at where we are now.

Ice dragons are a completely different species of dragon from the ones found in Valyria, at least from what we know. They’re larger — where Valyrian dragons are “fire made flesh,” these ones are ice. According to legends told around Westerosi campfires, these dragons roam the Shivering Sea and the White Waste (an arctic sea north of Essos). There are theories that they’re descended, in some way, from the dragons found in the fires of Valyria, but they’re little more than myth in the world of GoT.

But will we see one this week? Or in coming episodes? I have to imagine the Night King has a lot more up his sleeve than an army of of snow zombies. Though the battle at Hardhome proved how deadly they can be, three dragon still seems like more than enough of a match when fighting from the safety of the air... unless the Night King has some aerial support of his own. From interviews with George RR Martin, we know he has had an interest the idea of an ice dragon long before A Song of Ice and Fire and it seems that interest may have even been what sparked the idea that became the book series. There’s a very real possibility that the final battle will be between the Targaryens and their dragons and the Night King and his.

After all, Dany dreamed several times in the book of the Wall, and herself fighting an army of men in armor of ice and getting the feeling that “this was the real war” and “the other had been a dream.” Jon has similar dreams as well.

THE SUICIDE SQUAD


We know not all of our buddies in Jon’s group are making it home. Tormund has cheated death enough times on GoT that he might finally be on the chopping block here. Beric Dondarrion has also been brought back so many times that it’s likely time for him to go as well. Jon’s got bulletproof plot armor and I don’t see them bringing Gendry back just to off him an episode later (but anything is possible in this show). There’s a real chance Jorah may die but he still might have some resolutions to make with his family that save him from death up North. The Hound also seems to have an important role. His fear of fire, yet his ability to look into the flames and see visions is incredibly eerie. A fringe but still, somehow, active theory in the fandom is that he might even be the Prince That Was Promised. Fat chance. But he’s important. Then again, it’s entirely possible they all die and Jon makes it out as the only survivor of the group.

That all being said, I don’t actually think they’ll get their wight. I think this episode, in conjunction with the theory above, might serve a larger purpose at revealing had big the fight against the White Walkers will actually be.

“A Targaryen alone in the world is a terrible thing.” 

When Maester Aemon died, he lamented that he was leaving his niece, Daenerys, as the last of her kind. However, we’ve gotten almost 100% confirmation that she has more immediate family than she realized: not only is Jon snow the son of her eldest brother, but his conception and birth happened under legitimate circumstances, giving him the same last name as Dany. But, that’s not the end of the growing list of secret Targaryens. Dany may not be a brotherless orphan after all.

Jon’s scene with Drogon, where the dragon allowed him to place his hand on his snout, was an obvious hint to Jon’s heritage. Dragons have an exclusive bond with those of Valyrian descent, their fellow natives to the peninsula of Valyria and the Fourteen Flames. In fact, Quentyn Martell (a character cut from the show) was descended from the original Princess Daenerys who married into House Martell. He believed his ancestry (she was, roughly, his great-great-great grandmother) gave him connection with Dany’s dragons. He was wrong and burned alive by them when he attempted to touch one. But Drogon allows Jon to touch him and Tyrion is allowed to approach and touch Viserion and Rhaegal when they are in Meereen.

The theory that Tyrion is, in fact, Daenerys’ half-brother has been around just as long as R+L=J and just got a huge boost in possibility. King Aerys had an obsession with Joanna Lannister and eventually left court, where her husband Tywin was serving as Hand of the King, out of discomfort with his attentions. However, they fatefully meet again at a tournament held in King’s Landing and, almost a year later, she dies giving birth to Tyrion — taking the secret of his paternity to her grave. But, Tyrion is described in the books as having hair so fair that it’s nearly white. Tywin makes comments that he “cannot prove” Tyrion is not his son and — with his dying breath — tells Tyrion, “You are not son of mine.” Tyrion is also introduced to us with having a lifelong fascination with dragons and the desire to ride one some day.

He might be getting his chance. We know from a prophecy Dany witnessed in A Clash of Kings (though the show omitted it) that “the dragon must always have three heads” and, as per the traditional bond between dragons and riders, Dany and Drogon are bonded for life. That leaves a dragon open when Jon finally has his. It’s entirely possible that third dragon and the final spot in the Targaryen triad belongs to him.


HYSTERICAL PREGNANCY AND CERSEI'S VALONQAR


By which I mean that Cersei is a liar. It seems a little too convenient that just when she found out Jaime went behind her back, she whips out the one bit of information that would keep him loyal to her. According to prophecy, she will have no more children. Perhaps this betrayal of Jaime’s trust and abuse of his affection for her is what will finally make him see the light, that it’s possible for her to even turn against him, in order to hold onto her power. Between the two of them, Jaime is more likely to be the one to see reason if a wight is brought before them and I could see him joining in with Jon and Dany to deal with the evils beyond the Wall.

But according to prophecy, he may also be the one who kills Cersei as the woods witch told her a “valonqar” (High Valyrian for “younger brother”) will “choke the life out of [her].” Cersei thought it referred to Tyrion, but many have come to believe Jaime — who is the younger twin — is the one who will kill her. He’s no stranger to regicide and may find himself utterly devastated when he learns she lied about her pregnancy to ensnare him into loyalty.

There is, however, a theory that the use of the word valonqar is not an accident. It is the only time the witch speaks in High Valyrian, suggesting the younger brother in question will have ties to Valyria, the homeland of the Targaryens. If it’s true that Tyrion is Aerys’ bastard son, it would not only explain her odd use of the word  but also have been a massive clue the witch tossed Cersei about the truth of Tyrion’s parentage.

BREAKING THE WHEEL


Dany vowed in season five to “break the wheel” of power in Westeros that has kept the high lords in power and the people weak. She brought this back up in episode five of this season when she promised the Lannister soldiers that she intended to unseat Cersei and the political games of the Great Houses. So far the scene has certainly been set for entire overhaul of how Westeros is run. Not only are the majority of the Great Houses now extinct, but even their replacement houses have fallen. Doing a head count from the South up: the Martells are extinct, the Tyrells are extinct, their replacements — the Tarlys — are extinct, the Lannisters are down to three with no heirs (likely down by at least one more by the end of the season), the Baratheons are extinct, the Tullys are down to one with no heirs, the Greyjoys are down to three with no heirs (likely down by at least one more by the end of the season), the Arryns are extinct, and the Starks are down to three: a bastard and some unproductive infighting.

Balerion the Black Dread — Aegon the Conqueror's dragon — famously forged the Iron Throne in his flame. Based on Dany’s goals and the way things seem to be going in Westeros, rather than sit on the throne, I foresee her using the flames of her own Black Dread, Drogon, to melt down the throne and finally break that wheel that cause so much strife in the world. Not sure if it’ll happen by the end of this season, but this week’s episode is 71 minutes long and the finale is 81 minutes which gives plenty time for some serious plays (especially with how fast everyone suddenly seems to be able to move around the continent).


THE HANGING PIECES


I’m mainly talking about Euron Greyjoy here. We haven’t seen him in a while and that’s a little unnerving. While I don’t think he’ll play a part in the campaign at Eastwatch, I don’t entirely trust Cersei’s desire to negotiate an armistice with Dany, especially with Euron still wandering around the seas. According to interviews, he might just top out Ramsay and Joffrey for the most deplorable, universally disliked character on the show. That makes his absence nerve-wracking. In the books, Euron has in his possession the Hellhorn — horn forged from an enormous dragon — covered in Valyrian glyphs. It’s said that those who blow on the horn will gain control of any dragon who hears it; and that could mean trouble. There is no mention thus far of the horn in the show but I can’t imagine Qyburn and Cersei’s ominous plans to kill a dragon would end with such a fizz. With Cersei meeting with Qyburn and refusing to tell Jaime (and thus the audience) what they were discussing, right before agreeing to an armistice with Dany, it may suggest she has a secret weapon we don’t yet know about.

Meanwhile, will Melisandre be making her return this season? We know she left for Volantis after bringing Dany and Jon together, but claims she will have to return to Westeros one day because it was prophesied that she would die there. This means she still has some part to play in the war — perhaps called back to revive someone again?


ALL MEN MUST DIE


This week’s penultimate episode, “Death is the Enemy,” will become only the third 9th episode (or in this case 6th episode) in the show’s history not to feature a battle. It will instead feature our Hateful Eight (Seven) getting WRECKED by the White Walker army waiting for them beyond Eastwatch. Which begs the question... what will it really be about? We’re not getting the bombastic battles we’ve had in the past. The only other two episodes not to feature a battle at this pivotal point in the season were ones in which some portion of the plot trajectory was irrevocably altered: “Baelor,” in which Ned Stark was executed, and “The Rains of Castamere,” which featured the Red Wedding. So what could happen this week to rival those episodes (widely considered two of the biggest plot twists in TV history)?

We don’t know much about the White Walkers. But I have a feeling we’re going to learn something this week that’s going to change the plan of attack when it comes to them and possibly take things from horribly awful to really, really effing bad. On the one hand, there is the ice dragon theory that says the Night King will be able to match Dany’s trump card. There are theories, some intertwined with that one: that we’re going to lose a dragon (Viserion seems the most likely candidate). There is also the possibility of a deep and dark look into the the nature of the wights and the White Walkers. The wights are the resurrected bodies of those who have died. We caught a glimpse of Wun Wun among them in the first episode this season which begs the question: Are we about to see some old friends back from the grave?

At one point in the book, Jon dreams that he’s fighting Robb and Ned as wights. He still carries baggage over his inability to help his family when Ned was executed and Robb went to war and, eventually, died. With Sansa and the rest of the North questioning his loyalties, he may find himself facing that guilty once again. And he’s not the only one with baggage. Jorah may be facing down the wight of his father in atonement for his own sins against the Mormont family.

There’s some logistical questions. After all, Ned’s body is in the crypts at Winterfell and Robb’s was mutilated after his death at the Twins. But we don’t know exactly how wights are brought back and find their way into the army of the dead.

There is also an Instagram post from Jason Momoa of great interest that suggests Dany may meet of her own past demons in the army of the dead. Momoa was in Northern Ireland with the Game of Thrones creators Benioff and Weiss with the cheeky caption “ALOHA DROGO.” It’s slim at best, especially with Drogo burned on a pyre thousands of miles away, but if death is the enemy then so is everything that comes with it: regrets, unrealized potential, and the ghosts of the past.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Game of Thrones 7x05 Recap: "Eastwatch" (Keeping It In the Family) [Contributor: Melanie]


"Eastwatch"
Original Airdate: August 13, 2017

Is my introduction to these posts even worth it any more? Even I just want to jump right into the HOLY COWness of all of this. In spite of another “filler” episode, laying down groundwork and setting up Game of Thrones’ infamous penultimate episode gambit this was a crazy ride. There were reunions in nearly every scene, first meetings for characters, and the return of a long-awaited fan favorite. Yes, that’s right, Gendry finally stopped rowing long enough to get back on camera.

There was also a HUGE revelation that proved a long-held fan theory about the nature of Jon Snow’s conception and birth. He was never a Snow to begin with.


IN THE REACH


Bronn pulls Jaime out of the Mariana’s Trench that somehow appeared in the Blackwater Rush last episode. They escape and make their way back to King’s Landing. Tyrion walks the battlefield, sullen, while Dany rounds up the survivors and tells them she plans to create a better kingdom for them than Cersei ever did, asking only that they bend the knee to her in return. Some do, but the Tarly men are noticeably stubborn. Dany and Tyrion both try to talk sense into them but they refuse to bow to a foreign invader. She has them executed by immolation a la Drogon and the rest of the Lannister hold-outs drop to their knees.

IN DRAGONSTONE


Dany returns and is greeted by Jon, who not only faces down Drogon but reaches out his hand and places it on the dragon’s snout. Drogon is calm and allows Jon to continue the interaction before Dany dismounts. She informs Jon her campaign was a success and she believes, in the long run, it was beneficial to the whole of the Seven Kingdoms under Cersei’s rule. Their discussion is interrupted when a group of Dothraki arrive with a visitor claiming to be a friend of Dany’s: Jorah Mormont. They have a happy reunion.

Tyrion is concerned by Dany’s behavior and attempts to rationalize it. Varys says he too once tried to rationalize Aerys’ actions until it was too late, but believes Daenerys is not her father or too far gone that Tyrion’s counsel won’t be able to calm her. He then reveals he received a raven from Sansa. Jon is distraught to find his entire family at Winterfell, vulnerable to the march of the White Walkers at Eastwatch. He asks Dany’s permission to return home but she is reluctant to let him leave to march to his death. Tyrion devises a plan where they capture a wight and bring it to Cersei to make a play for an alliance against the White Walkers with their combined forces.

Jorah volunteers to go and retrieve the corpse, much to Dany’s dismay. Jon also says he’ll go as the only person who has previously fought them. Later, Dany has a heartfelt goodbye with Jorah and a tension-filled one with Jon.

IN KING'S LANDING


Jaime returns horrified by the battle and tells Cersei it is a war impossible to win. She decides she’d rather die fighting than surrender to Daenerys. Later, Davos and Tyrion sneak into the city where Tyrion has arranged Bronn to bring Jaime to him. The two have a less than warm reunion and Tyrion informs him of the White Walkers and their plan to bring proof. Jaime relays this information to Cersei who knew Jaime went to meet with Tyrion and warns him not to betray her again. He reveals Olenna murdered Joffrey but Cersei reveals that she is pregnant, wiping away Jaime’s doubts. She decides an armistice with Dany is more beneficial, at the moment, than a prolonged war.

In Flea Bottom, Davos finds Gendry, the bastard son of King Robert, working at his old blacksmith shop. He recruits Gendry to their fight up North and, after a brief run in with Goldcloaks, he, Gendry, and Tyrion safely make it out of the city.

AT THE CITADEL


The maesters receive a raven calling for aid against the White Walkers because of Bran’s visions of their march. They laugh it off, angering Sam who begs them to do something about it because he’s seen the Walkers beyond the Wall. They agree to ascertain the truth of Bran’s visions before doing anything, and Sam storms out. Later he’s pouring over scrolls, looking for any clues to the defeat of the White Walkers while Gilly reads to him interesting facts and footnotes she finds in various scrolls. She asks him what an annulment means and reads a brief record of a Prince “Ragger” getting his marriage annulled in Dorne in order to marry another woman. Sam, frustrated, ignores her and decides it is time for them to leave in order to help Jon and the others more directly.

IN THE NORTH


The Northmen continue to have trouble trusting Jon’s judgement. Sansa does not disagree with them, but brushes aside their desire to place her on the Northern throne. Arya is irritated that her sister did not defend their brother but Sansa argues she cannot afford to lose their bannermen. Arya suggests dealing with them as criminals of treason, executing them, but Sansa refuses. They part on icy terms.

Later, Arya follows Littlefinger around the castle as he speaks discreetly with several individuals and places a letter under his bed. She sneaks into his room and removes it. It is the letter Sansa was once forced to write to Robb, asking him to surrender and swear fealty to Joffrey. From the shadows, Littlefinger watches with satisfaction at his planted information.

Bran has a vision of the army of the dead and the Night’s King heading to the Wall.

BEYOND THE WALL


Jon and company arrive at Eastwatch where they reunite with Tormund and find he has taken the Hound and his entourage prisoner. After some debate, they decide to work together, going beyond the Wall to face down the evil beyond.

UNPACKING IT ALL


Let’s knock the reunions out of the way first. When last Dany and Jorah saw each other, he was dying of Greyscale and she was queen in Meereen. She sent him to find a cure for his incurable illness (Targaryen genes allowed Dany to never be sick in her life so she doesn’t really understand the concept, forgive her). He did it and is now back on Dragonstone. Her welcome of him was warm, though not as heartfelt as some might have hoped. It was likely the productive of zero time for longing glances but it also seemed to be in place to create the ever present tension of Jorah being head over heels for a queen who sees him as her oldest and most trusted friend and nothing else.

We also saw the return of Gendry who finished his massive rowing expedition of season four to be recruited by Davos to fight beyond the Wall. He takes quickly to Jon for both their positions as bastards and the friendship their fathers shared long ago. Gendry is reunited with Thoros of Myr, whom he still holds a grudge against for giving him up to Melisandre.

Let’s begin with the massive reveal that fans have suspected for some time: Jon was not a bastard. There is a blink and you miss it reference to a prince once annulling his marriage to a Dornish woman. The prince in question was Rhaegar; the Dornish woman was his Martell wife, Ellia. This, in all likelihood, means he married Lyanna during their year in hiding, before she gave birth to their son Jon. This makes him not only a legitimate Targaryen, but with the best claim to the throne, if we follow the Targaryen bloodline. Why does this matter? Well, we’re not really sure yet. Jon has shown his distaste for crowns. But it does almost 100% lock in the chances of Jon and Dany marrying considering A) the Targaryen practices of incestuous marriages to ensure bloodlines, B) Dany’s need to ensure her claim stays strong by marrying it to Jon’s (literally), and C) the massive bedroom eyes going on between them all episode.

There is a second hint about Jon’s heritage earlier in the episode when Drogon allows him to reach out his ungloved hand and touch him. This is a highly symbolic moment. Targaryens hold an innate bond to dragons, only those of that bloodline have ever been able to get near a dragon. In A Dance With Dragons, a character with distant Targaryen ancestry attempts to touch one of Dany’s dragons, only to be roasted alive. Drogon, able to sense the connection in Jon’s heritage to him, has no qualms. If Dany took note of this, she really didn’t let on.

That connection will likely be put to use when Jon finds himself in a bad way beyond the Wall next week and Dany sends some dragons to rescue him...oh, and all those other people he went with, was there even other people there? She didn’t notice.

On a less political note, there is something sweet about the growing bond between Dany and Jon. He was raised a bastard, unwanted by the only mother figure he knew, and treated as a half-brother by his siblings. Dany grew up a slave to the only family she knew and a beggar on the streets. The powers that be in the world of Game of Thrones have plucked these two orphans from obscurity and unlucky lives, raised them up, and brought them together. And, after all, Maester Aemon (who was actually Dany and Jon’s uncle) said before dying, “A Targaryen alone in the world is a terrible thing.” The last Targaryens are no longer alone. It might be the one sappy, nice thing this show will allow us to have.

This is part of the reason I’m not entirely sure Jon will ever find out about his heritage, at least not in the big bombastic reveal we’re all hoping for. No matter what his last name has been, Jon has been a Stark and a Northman through and through. He was raised as Ned Stark’s son, he was one of two of Ned’s children who actually “had the look” of the First Men as opposed to the classic Tully beauty (the other being Arya), he carries a sword with a wolf hilt and has a direwolf companion like his siblings. His allegiance and identity lie in Winterfell so I don’t see him jumping for joy and dropping everything to be king if he finds out what he really is. In fact, he might even abdicate his claim in favor of Daenerys because, as I’ve mentioned before, I believe the Prince and Azor Ahai to be two separate people given the description of one as a ruler and one as a warrior. Jon has lead the fight against the White Walkers so far and Daenerys has united half a million people from different cultural backgrounds into one, cohesive nomadic kingdom of her own. It doesn’t need to be reiterated by me for the millionth time that Jon and Dany are two sides of the same coin with almost identical pasts.

And there is still the conclusion of Cersei’s prophecy: that a younger queen will take away all she holds dear. I foresee the longheld theory that Dany will use Dragon’s fire to melt the throne, just as her ancestor Aegon used Balerion’s fire to forge it.

What we can all agree on is that Rhaegar was a massive, massive word I cannot say in this review for abandoning his wife for another woman because “prophecy told him so.” There are some dubious things about Rhaegar’s annulment and the legal and social implications that we can save for another day. Just know that he’s a massive turd.

I’d like to close out the recap for this week with yet another call-out of the gender double standard that has plagued Game of Thrones and its fandom for years. This time, I’m talking about Sansa. She’s gotten the brunt of the sexist and flat-out misogynistic comments over the years with (male) fans calling her “whiny” for her years spent enduring emotional and physical abuse at the hands of Joffrey and the Lannisters. You know, when she was a twelve-year old girl trapped, all alone, in the capital and her brother refused to trade any prisoners to free her because she was a girl and therefore not worth it.

The show did a fairly good job of coding her in a sympathetic light, but that didn’t stop the (male) fanbase from complaining about her storyline and even complaining about her rejection of the Hound’s affection for her because he rescued her from would-be rapists and apparently she owes him?? Now she is the eldest Stark in Winterfell and, with Bran giving up his claim to lordship of the castle, she is the rightful Lady Stark in her own right. But, the Jon fanboys aren’t seeing it that way (and, unfortunately, neither is Arya). In their eyes, Jon is, at best, a bastard, born in Dorne, who is a disgraced member of the Night’s Watch. At worst, he’s not a Stark at all, but the legitimate son of another House entirely who has now abandoned his post as King in the North. He has no claim to the title he holds, and they might very well go back on their election of him as their king. I’m not saying they should, but what I am saying is Sansa isn’t dealing in any sort of back alley betrayal. She’s the legitimate Lady Stark, Lord of Winterfell, and Warden of the North and I wouldn’t even have to explain this if she was a man.

But, anyway, there’s only two episodes left of the penultimate season of Game of Thrones!

Series: Summer Lovin’ -- Week 27

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It's hard to believe that summer is already winding down. Seriously, where did the time go? As many people are buying school supplies and prepping for a return to books and exams, we're celebrating a few more weeks of summer and all it has to offer us. Joining me this week to talk about what they're lovin' are:

Let's get started!

Saturday, August 12, 2017

3rd Annual Golden Trio Awards — SPECIAL CATEGORY NOMINEES

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So much good stuff happened across television this year that we always create an extra special category to celebrate performers and shows in! We hope you enjoy our selections and root for your favorites by voting them into our #Top3 winners next week!

Below, you'll find photo collages with the nominees and then the polls below the photos. You can vote multiple times and we encourage you to cheer on your favorites on social media with the hashtag #GoldenTrioAwards. Tweet, Tumble, and Facebook them into the spots they deserve!

And be sure to check out the COMEDY/VARIETY and DRAMA nominees when you're done, too!

HAPPY VOTING, Y'ALL.

3rd Annual Golden Trio Awards — DRAMA NOMINEES

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It's been a crazy year for drama series, hasn't it? Between the finale of Orphan Black, the rise of new series like The Handmaid's Tale, This Is Us, and more, plenty of actors and writers wow'd us with their tear-jerking and emotional work. And we want you to honor it by choosing the three best performers in each category to receive gold, silver, and bronze.

Below, you'll find photo collages with the nominees and then the polls below the photos. You can vote multiple times and we encourage you to cheer on your favorites on social media with the hashtag #GoldenTrioAwards. Tweet, Tumble, and Facebook them into the spots you think they deserve!

And be sure to check out the COMEDY/VARIETY and SPECIAL CATEGORY nominees when you're done, too!

HAPPY VOTING, Y'ALL.

3rd Annual Golden Trio Awards — COMEDY/VARIETY NOMINEES

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Enjoy our Comedy nominees by voting them into our #Top3 winners next week! This year, you'll see a lot of different comedies represented, including newbies like One Day At A Time, the tragically cancelled Sweet Vicious, and many more!

Below, you'll find photo collages with the nominees and then the polls below the photos. You can vote multiple times and we encourage you to cheer on your favorites on social media with the hashtag #GoldenTrioAwards. Tweet, Tumble, and Facebook them into the spots you think they deserve!

And be sure to check out the DRAMA and SPECIAL CATEGORY nominees when you're done, too!

HAPPY VOTING, Y'ALL.

3rd Annual Golden Trio Awards — INTRODUCTION

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WELCOME to the 3rd Annual Just About Write Golden Trio Awards!

You're probably wondering exactly what these are, what this whole #Top3 business is, and why this is so important. To give you a bit of a background, Chelsea is going to explain the Twitter game (see: obsession) that she created a few years ago that has inspired these awards. We run through this every year, but if you're new around here or to the awards, here's a bit of a refresher course!:

So in July 2013 I started this little thing called #Top3 on my Twitter and personal blog as a small scheme to figure out somebody's favorite movie. It quickly escalated into a five day a week competition game with winners and wonderful bragging rights. I'd give people a random Film or TV category and they would respond with their #Top3 choices for the category. No more, no less, and you had to have #RUTHLESSNESS when making your picks. There were three winners because some things just do not compare.   
My Top 3 films (To Kill a Mockingbird, Beauty and the Beast, Lost in Translation), for instance, have nothing in common writing, editing, or directing wise other than the fact that they are films. Honoring multiple pieces shows just how rich we are in quality content. I did this game for about six months before I grew tired of it, but at least once a week since the game ended I've had at least one person ask if I would ever bring it back. It was a fun way to talk about pop culture and get people interested in things they may not have seen.   
I brought the idea of bringing back the game to Jenn a few weeks ago after the Emmy nominations and we brainstormed a way to bring it back in a more self-contained format. We asked all the lovely ladies of this site to fill out their top choices for each category, then Jenn and I compiled all the ballots before narrowing down each category to seven. The overlap in the ballots helped us narrow down and we ruthlessly managed to cut down the rest until we represented as many shows as we could. #Top3 for me was always about showcasing as much great content as possible with all the winners.   
I owe Jenn and the entire Just About Write team a big thank-you for helping me with this elaborate scheme and making me love the idea of #Top3 again. You ladies are amazing and I am proud to be working with you.   
Back to you, Jenn!

When Chels approached me with the idea to combine #Top3 and an awards ceremony a few years ago, I was automatically on board. This year, we compiled nomination ballots together, and -- after barely any difficult compromising -- Chelsea and I managed to narrow down the nominations in each category.

We're so excited to be doing this again and that you all have responded so positively to it over the past few years. In the posts that will follow, you'll be met with a few different ballots:






Comedy and Drama are pretty self-explanatory, but our Special Category ballots contain an awesome array of fandom-focused categories from OTP of the Year to Favorite Ensemble, and more!

The nominations open today and will be closed by 8 AM EST on Saturday, August 19. By mid-week, I'll round up the top 3 people/shows with the most votes in each category and those will be your third annual Golden Trio Award winners! (Gold will be awarded to the most votes, silver to the next, and bronze to the third highest.)

Did I mention that we're excited? Because we are! Take time and fill out your ballots. You can vote AS MANY TIMES as you would like. Share on social media! But most importantly, have half as much fun voting in these as we did creating them! :)

Friday, August 11, 2017

Twin Peaks: The Return 3x13 Recap: "Part 13: What Story Is That, Charlie?" (It’s Not Me, It’s “Just You”) [Contributor: Erin Allen]

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"Part 13: What Story Is That, Charlie?"
Original Airdate: August 6, 2017

Part 13 is a hodge-podge mix of stories. Some are major plot developments and others seem like just a simple glimpse into the lives of some of the Twin Peaks residents. Still, there’s a lot of information to sift through, including possible (most likely intentional) timeline tampering. “Is it future or is it past?”

Cooper is still out celebrating with the Mitchum Brothers which makes the short scene of him playing catch (or attempting to play) with Sonny Jim on Part 12 a source of confusion. The Mitchums go big when they celebrate. They buy Cooper/Dougie a car and a play set for his son. They buy Bushnell extravagant gifts, as well. Anthony panics when the party train arrives at Lucky 7, and Mr. Todd informs him that he has one day to kill Dougie.

Their arrival at the insurance firm is in full quirky Twin Peaks form. The jazzy music and dazed Cooper going along with the festivities is fun to watch. As is the whimsical play set that is put up in The Jones’ backyard. I’ve never seen a backyard play structure with a light up marquee arch in front of it. And why was there a movie premiere spotlight and dreamy carnival music playing? It was so surreal and cool.

Anthony acquires the means to poison Cooper/Dougie, revealing that some of the local detectives are in cahoots with Mr. Todd. Luckily Cooper’s weird ways cause Anthony to abandon his plan and confess. This is a nice scene that involves coffee and cherry pie... and dandruff? Odd as it is, it plays really well. Kyle MacLachlan has been very consistent with this bewildered version of Cooper. The slow blink gets me every time. Tom Sizemore is also impressive as Anthony. The guilty unraveling of this guy has been intriguing since his introduction way back on Part 5.

Big things are happening with Mr. C. He’s made it to The Farm, looking for Ray. He finds him, and the only thing standing between him and killing the man that betrayed him is an arm-wrestling match with Mr. Clean. This scene is entirely nerve-racking and entertaining. I was curious to see if Mr. C still had his evil powers after BOB supposedly left his body. The bout with Enzo (the Mr. Clean looking dude) proves that Mr. C is still a force to be reckoned with. He coolly taunts him before winning the match and punching a fist-sized dent into his face, killing him.

His victory leads to an interesting interaction with Ray, which the rest of The Farm guys watch on a big screen from another room. Ray and Mr. C’s conversation is fascinating. It mentions Phillip Jeffries and Major Briggs, and the owl cave ring makes an ominous appearance. Ray was told to put the ring on Mr. C after he killed him. Ray doesn’t get that chance. After giving Mr. C the coordinates and telling him about a place called The Dutchman’s, Mr. C shoots Ray. The ring that Mr. C instructed Ray to put on his left hand, ring finger fades away and falls onto the floor of the Black Lodge. There is a shot of Ray lying dead on the Black Lodge floor, and then a push in on the ring sitting atop the marble table.

About halfway through this interaction, Richard showed up at The Farm and watched the screen, mesmerized. Does he recognize Mr. C?

So Shelly and Bobby aren’t together anymore. I can accept that... sort of. But, why you gotta break up Norma and Big Ed? Why? Ed’s still pining. 25 years later. If that’s not the saddest thing, I don’t know what is. Oh, wait, it’s the credits rolling over Ed sitting alone in silence at his gas station eating soup out of a Double R to-go container.

I’m glad Peggy Lipton got a more meaty scene in this episode. Norma’s been an observer every time we’ve seen her. Her interaction with this guy Walter exudes that sweetness we know Norma has in spades, interjected with these tense glances at Ed. I want to know more about what happened with these lovebirds! And I want Walter to take his market research and get out of Twin Peaks. For good.

Speaking of heartbreak, whatever is going on with Audrey is super heartbreaking. “I feel like I’m somewhere else, and like I’m somebody else. I’m not sure who I am, but I’m not me.” She freaks out and has a meltdown, not sure if she wants to go looking for Billy at The Roadhouse after all. All the while, Charlie is infuriatingly calm and patronizing. “Are you going to stop playing games or do I have to end your story, too?” That sounds like a threat. And it scares Audrey. “What story is that, Charlie? Is that the story of the little girl who lived down the lane?” WHAT IN THE WORLD?! She says, “It’s like Ghostwood here,” and breaks down in tears. Oh Audrey. My heart hurts.

But the pain continues in a scene that makes my eyes and ears hurt. James Hurley performs “Just You” at The Roadhouse. I never in a million years would’ve imagined this. His cringe-worthy falsetto voice and the two brunette singers doing the Donna and Maddie vocals is totally insane. Renee, the girl who James made eyes at on Part 2, gets emotional. I hope she knows that he wrote that song for someone else. All of this is ludicrous, and James is a ridiculous character, but at the same time, I LOVE IT. Lynch takes trolling the fandom to the max with this exhibition. James is a “love to hate” character for a lot of fans, so even if you were rolling your eyes, you were still in total awe that Lynch did that. He. Did. That.

Stray Observations:
  • This conversation about Mormons between Chantal and Hutch though. 
  • When Becky calls Shelly and tells her that she’s worried about Steven who hasn’t been home in two days has me wondering about the timeline again. Is this before she went and shot up Gersten’s door?
  • Nadine fangirling over Dr. Jacoby is superb. Also, their little moment at the end — I ship it. 
  • The Sarah scene is fantastic and so spooky. The soundtrack of the boxing match with the static noise on a loop was like “some haunting melody.”
  • The reflection of Ed is not in sync with him during part of that end scene. Is it intentional? Is it more of this time looping phenomenon? And what was that piece of paper he burned?

The Bachelorette 13x11 & 13x12 Roundtable: The Final Rose [Contributors: Chelsea and Rebecca]


Well, readers, we reached the end of the line: the finale for The Bachelorette happened this week and boy, was it a doozy. Follow along with Chels and Rebecca as they recap exactly what went down and who Rachel's final rose went to.

Rachel accepted Bryan’s proposal after a long and hectic finale. What did you think of the moment? 


Rebecca: I know I’m in the minority for liking Bryan, but I thought the proposal was very sweet. It’s clear they’ve been very into each other the entire season, so I don’t think anyone was surprised he was her final pick.

Chelsea: I’m with Rebecca in the minority of Bryan fans. He’s been consistent all season with his feelings and hasn’t played games with her. And she’s been super obvious with him being her favorite. He was sweet re-proposing during the live show and I’m glad she’s happy. I’ve said all season that I trust Rachel’s decision.


Peter has been struggling the past few episodes to get into the same place as Rachel. Were you surprised to see them break up before a proposal? Do you think he’s ready to be the Bachelor?


Rebecca: I was not surprised that Peter didn’t propose. He’s made it very clear he had no intention of proposing, and props to him for staying true to himself and not allowing himself to feel pressured into doing something he wasn’t ready to do. Perhaps, in another setting, he and Rachel could have worked, but he couldn’t/wouldn’t give her what she wanted, so she made the decision to choose someone who could/would. Whether or not that decision was influenced by the franchise and viewer’s pressure for an engagement, we’ll never know, but we have to trust that Rachel made the right decision.

Side note though — this finale’s formatting was whack. Not a fan. I like the two-hour episode and then the live After the Final Rose afterward.

Chelsea: By that point, I wasn’t surprised that he didn’t propose, but I feel like he knew what show he signed up for and had a really good long game. His high school yearbook photo with the quote of him saying he wants to be the Bachelor in the future makes me think he had a really good long game and maybe wasn’t as genuine as he seemed. The whole break-up and After the Final Rose was so uncomfortable to watch. If those are his real values, then I do not think he will ever be ready to be the Bachelor. I would still watch his season but if he’s really looking for love, then this franchise is not for him.

I second Rebecca’s note about the finale format. It was just an unwatchable mess.

Eric got closure with Rachel after being eliminated early. How would you like him to return to the franchise? 


Rebecca: The way Eric handled the break-up was, in my opinion, more mature and respectful than any other break-up in the history of the franchise. I’ve really come to love Eric, and I would love to see him return to the show as the next Bachelor. As much as I love Peter, I agree with Rachel that the process isn’t right for him, and we shouldn’t blame him for that. I already know the process wouldn’t be right for me, as I’m the same as Peter: I would need looooooots of time to consider getting engaged/married to someone, and 6 or 8 weeks or however the long the show runs for is definitely not enough time. But for others it is, and Eric is one of those people, so I think he’d make a great Bachelor. Plus we’d get to see more of his family, and we all know how wonderful they are.

Chelsea: Eric handled his break-up with Rachel so well and has really had a few great episodes the last few weeks. I still don’t think he’s mature enough to be the next Bachelor but I’m glad he had a clean and friendly goodbye. I don’t think I can forgive him for wearing that white t-shirt and tennis shoes to the last rose ceremony. That kills any chance of me wanting him to be the next Bachelor. He is one of the few that would thrive on Paradise though.

Any stray thoughts from the season? 


Rebecca: I just want to reiterate that Rachel is hands-down the BEST Bachelorette the franchise has ever had. She handled her season with so much class, elegance, and confidence. She stayed out of the drama, didn’t string any of the men along by keeping them longer than they needed to, and stayed true to herself through the entire process. I have so much respect for her and wish so much happiness for her.

Chelsea: Rachel was an amazing Bachelorette but had the WORST selection of guys. Kaitlyn is right up there with her but she had so many great men to choose from, it just wasn’t fair. I’m just so impressed with how Rachel handled all the drama and still managed to have fun. The show format for a lot of this was a mess and I do think it took away from the quality of her season. She kept her word all summer and I just loved and respected her more and more each week. Wishing her and Bryan all the happiness.

Fantasy League Scores:

  • Chelsea (the winner!): 710 points 
  • Rebecca: 640 points
  • Alisa: 530 points
  • Rae: 280 points

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

7 Books That Changed My Life [Contributor: Melanie]


It’s National Book Lovers Day! I know what you’re thinking — that’s basically every day, right? But, with things being... well, the way they are, it’s more important than ever to bring the focus back into one of the best lines of defense we have against oppression, prejudices, and violence. Books and stories might not have the power to stop bullets and create vaccines, but they can help create and shape the people who will one day have the power do those things. After all, several studies showed that millennials who read Harry Potter as children were less likely to vote for Trump than those who had not. Stories like Harry Potter focus on revealing people for who they are — not what fear or prejudice makes them out to be.

So, to honor the books of youth and to do my part in spreading literacy awareness, I’ve put together a list of the books that changed my life in some bombastic, and some surprising, ways.

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To Kill a Mockingbird


This is first on my list because it is first on any list in my life (even my grocery list). I’d hazard to say this was easily the most important book I’ve ever picked up. I first read it in 9th grade because 9th Grade Honors English said I had to. But the person who picked up that book for the first time and the person who put it down when she was finished were two different people. What helped a great deal was having a teacher who was so enamored with the book and had read it so many times that she was able to recite passages by heart.

We all know the story: It follows the life-changing summer of a young girl in 1930s rural Alabama. Her lawyer father makes the decision to defend a local black man — Tom Robinson — who is accused of raping a white woman. Tom and Atticus’ harrowing story is told through the eyes of young Scout Finch who has both a childlike innocence to what she sees, and a moving and innate understanding of what compassion and fairness is. This teacher instilled such a love of this story in me that I can still recite the passage she made us memorize for the test: “I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through, no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do.”

It was one of the few times in life that I knew exactly how and when I’d be able to use something I was taught in a high school classroom. It is a sin to kill a mockingbird.

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Harry Potter


You knew this one was coming next. Fun fact about why I started reading it in the first place: The year is 1999 and one my mother asked me (likely while I wore some sort of denim overall ensemble) if I liked the Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling. Me, thinking she was referring to Beatrix Potter (because seven-year old Mel) said “yeah, sure.” I was handed the first three books — the only ones out at the time — and nothing was the same after that. In fact, I still have a smudge on the first page of Sorcerer’s Stone where a bug crawled on it and met an untimely, but textually rich, demise in my backyard tent.

You don’t need another twenty-something telling you how important Harry Potter was for an entire generation or how unique the experience was. We know that. What last year's election from hell revealed was how much those kids reading by flashlight in the backyard learned from seven books that they grew up alongside. It’s a children’s story full of hate, genocide, government propaganda, intolerance, and segregation. By the time Trump appeared with his scapegoating, arrogance, and general contempt for anyone who wasn’t him, we’d seen it all already. Because the truth is that Harry Potter is as much a story about protecting, loving each other, and treating each other as human beings as it is about a boy at a wizarding boarding school.

After all, the only reason Voldemort was not able to murder an infant child was because an act of pure love and sacrifice shielded him. That might not work in our world, but that doesn’t mean we can’t try.

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Lord of the Rings


I didn’t start reading these until after I stumbled upon watching the first movie. I distinctly remember hiding behind my couch when the Ring Wraiths came on screen because I was convinced they could see me. Since then, I’ve read as much in Tolkien's universe as possible and learned that the magic box in the living room isn’t actually real. Lord of the Rings has its obvious place in our world: the modern-day staple and bar for high fantasy, the linguistic major’s paradise, and New Zealand’s claim to fame. But there’s much more going on beneath Lord of the Ring’s Dwarf and Elf populated surface.

At its most basic level, Lord of the Rings is about survival, and what groups of beings will do to ensure their survival. We could choose to be like the Elves, who abandon Middle-earth to its doom and exercise their divine privilege of immortality to sail far away to the Undying Lands. We could be like the race of Men, fractured and divided, with some on the frontlines, losing a terrible war while others pretend to not see the struggle of their fellow people. We could be like the Ents who see the damage and hold conferences on what to do, ultimately deciding to stay out of a conflict. We could be like the Hobbits, blissfully unaware of danger until it’s too late.

Or, we could be like the Fellowship: a unified group of every peoples on the planet who have vowed to put aside their differences, embrace their natural gifts, and work together to help keep at bay an evil that never should have happened in the first place (many have made retrospective parallels between the One Ring and atomic weapons). There is, also, Sam’s famous speech from the films about why people choose to keep going: “Because they were holding onto something... that there’s good in this world. And it’s worth fighting for.”

I also may or may not have an Elvish (Qenya) poem tattoo (I do).

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Frankenstein


This is one that has stuck with me for years, and I’ve managed to collect several copies of it over the years. This is another story we all know well: a mad scientist, in his arrogance, creates life from nothing and then abandons it, attempting to pretend it never happened and said life is not having any of it. The Creature is such a unique character in literature, serving as a traditional boogeyman villain while being one of the most sympathetic and sorrowful people out there. He’s rife with existential quotes (“I ought to be thy Adam but, rather, I am the fall angel”) and a childish need for both vengeance against the his creator and love from the closest thing he has to a parent.

It’s a cautionary tale on the dangers of arrogance and irresponsible science, it’s also an introspective story on what makes us human — and all that mortal coil jazz. After all, the Creator is everyone of us: a peoples brought to life by a force of nature we’ll never truly discover or understand, trying to both forgive life for its harshness and rebel against it.

It also doesn’t hurt that science-fiction was invented by a woman (because would a man would ever write about the negative side of arrogance?).

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Paradise Lost


Listen, forget what they told you in high school — if you read one epic poem in your life, ditch The Iliad and The Odyssey and spring right for Milton’s tragic hero rendering of Lucifer. I know, I know, this book wouldn’t exist without Homer’s original tales, but I said what I said. Milton’s poem begins with Lucifer, an angel, banished from heaven for his questioning of God and subsequent disobedience. When he crashes to Earth he famously decides it is “better to reign in hell than serve in heaven.” He the devotes his existence to tainting God’s favorite creation — humanity — like a jealous sibling gone very, very wrong.

There’s a lot going on in this poem (it’s, like, 900 pages so that’s not shocking). In Satan, Milton has created a hotly debated “hero” who is a charismatic leader, a questioning follower, a vengeful offspring, and lonely being. In Adam, we have a hapless victim who leaves the story a loser but with a hopeful that he may find for himself  “a paradise within thee.” Like Frankenstein, it’s rife with existential commentary and rebellion against one’s creator. However, it takes a cosmic level to these arguments, opting out of the metaphor and straight for a direct confrontation with God that has been echoed in later work like Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy and The CW’s Supernatural.

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The Crucible


I know, it's not a book, but the majority of us experience this play in the script form so it’s on this list. The Crucible is easily my favorite play and the bane of all high school students forced to read it. Whatever your opinions on Arthur Miller as a person, he wrote a groundbreaking play that got him on some bad lists during the time of the Red Scare in Cold War America. The Crucible follows fictionalized versions of real-life victims of the Salem Witch Trials and examines the interpersonal motivations, social status quo, and motivations that surrounded the executions of 20 people.

The Crucible has been an important work for me because of the ways in which it can be adapted and interpreted. It’s about finding someone to blame, something to point the finger at, and a big target to bring a frightened people together (sound familiar?). It’s a necessary read, especially for those white, lawmaking men out there who seem to think any criticism of them is a “witch hunt.” Read about the real witch hunts, and the devastating miscarriage of justice that seems to still have echoes today.

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Letters to a Young Poet


For any creative (or even anyone out there who ever wanted something), this book has been on must-read lists forever. It’s a series of — you guessed it — letters written by Rainer Maria Rilke to Franz Xaver Kappus. Kappus was a future writer who, at the time, was serving at the Austrian Military Academy. The letters are mixture of self-esteem boosts as Rilke convinces the young writer-to-be to not give up on his art, and a commentary on what art should be — what it should be able to do, and what you become capable of when you give into creative freedom.

It has burgeoned such famous, yet deeply personal favorite quotes as: “Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.” Poignant stuff for a world ready to turn itself inside out with Islamophobia, homophobia, misogyny, xenophobia, and a plethora of other imbecilic “fears” against our fellow human being.

I’m going to cut this off here because if I don’t, I won’t stop. Which I’m fine with, but you will most certainly stop reading.

The point is, at the end of the day, these are the books that shaped my mind and adulthood. It’s not a perfect list (it’s all quite western) but I’d like to think I turned out pretty okay because of it. So get out there and read the books that will change your life — or, rather, the books that make it.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Twin Peaks: The Return 3x12 Recap: "Part 12: Let’s Rock" (Who Are All These People?) [Contributor: Erin Allen]

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"Part 12: Let’s Rock"
Original Airdate: July 30, 2017

Major plot development abounds, and a fan favorite finally makes her long-awaited appearance on Part 12 of Twin Peaks: The Return.

The episode begins with big news. Albert and Gordon offer Tammy a position on the top secret Blue Rose Task Force. She accepts without hesitation. Agents in the task force are a small and elite group consisting of Albert, Dale Cooper, Chet Desmond, and headed by Phillip Jeffries. Albert is the only agent not to have disappeared without a trace. Tammy is the first woman agent to join, and that is a big deal.

Diane gets deputized temporarily. It seems Albert and Gordon want to keep a close eye on her. She agrees by saying, “let’s rock” and making an oddly overt hand gesture. Also, this room is adorned with red velvet drapes, which is a Black Lodge aesthetic. So all this is a very big deal, too, but in what capacity? I have no idea.

Sarah Palmer is such a tortured soul. Can this woman ever have any peace? Even the new turkey jerky display at the grocery store prevents her from getting her alcohol and cigarettes. Grace Zabriskie blows my mind in every scene she’s in. I love the intensity. You have no idea what is happening in Sarah’s mind or what kind of cosmic connection she has, and I’m pretty sure you don’t want to know. It seems terrifying. I’d probably live off of vodka and nicotine, too. This eerie scene is one of the best of the episode. Some of the score is very similar to sounds in Fire Walk With Me, which is an effectively creepy accompaniment.

Hawk goes to check on her, and she sends a whole lot of mixed signals. She flits between scared, agitated, inconvenienced, and nervous. That insidious fan is whirring and there is a strange noise that she says is coming from her kitchen. Hawk assures her that he is here for her. She replies through gritted teeth, “It’s a goddamn bad story, isn’t it, Hawk?” It certainly seems like a cry for help to me, but she says goodbye and shuts the door.

Frank has the unpleasant task of telling Ben Horne that his evil grandson killed that little boy and attempted to kill Miriam, who is now in intensive care. Ben says that Richard has “never been right.” Ben agrees to help Miriam with her medical bills and to notify Frank if he hears from Richard. Then he waxes sentimental about a bike he had when he was a boy. Cool story, bro, but when is Audrey’s name even going to be mentioned?!

Ben mentions the room key that was returned, and asks that he give it to Harry, thinking he might like it as a memento. Further proof that Harry S. Truman and Dale Cooper are a true BrOTP if even Ben picked up on it. Frank says that he think Harry would like to have the key and adds, “We are just opening an old case involving Agent Cooper. Strange this key shows up after all these years.” Yes. Yes, it is.

And the queen has returned. Couldn’t tell you much about her life, but she is back and that’s all that matters. Bless her heart, she still has her sass. If I closed my eyes, it was the Audrey from 25 years ago. Hers is one of the most anticipated appearances, and it lived up to the hype, in my opinion. Audrey is worth the wait. The baffling narrative of Audrey, Charlie, Tina, Chuck, Paul, and Billy that comprises her scene might be infuriating if it weren’t for the overdue presence of Audrey Horne. Brava to Sherilyn Fenn who brings her character back without missing a beat while the audiences is missing several beats. Clark Middleton who plays opposite her as her husband (by contract only?) rounds out the perplexing scene.

Are you confused yet? Well, hold on, the next scene introduces three new characters who spout off even more names. Abbie and Natalie discuss Clark, Mary, and Angela, and then Trick shows up, frazzled from getting in an accident on the way to The Roadhouse. Who are these people on the screen and who are these people about which they are talking. It’s possible that these Roadhouse vignettes are connected and will lead to something, but it is difficult to pay attention when you have no investment in the characters and what they are saying, especially following a scene that was deliberately ambiguous.

Stray Observations:
  • “Let’s rock.” Chills! Chills, I tell you!
  • Jerry has escaped the woods!
  • Is it about the turkey jerky?
  • And my fear of ceiling fans has returned. 
  • Carl is such a wonderful human. The scene with the trailer park tenant made my heart so full. 
  • This scene with Gordon, Albert, and the French woman could’ve lasted about 45 seconds, but David Lynch is not here for that. He’s here for pun-tastic turnip jokes, beautiful women (“That’s the kind of girl to make you wish you spoke a little French.”), and long silences with significant eye-contact.  
  • “Next stop, Wendy’s.”
  • Yay for more Dr. Amp and Nadine, but it’s just more of the same. 
  • Diane continues to be shady, but I don’t think she knows who she is working for. I still think she is one of the good guys. 
  • Husband? Really? She went from John Justice Wheeler to this whiny dude? 
  • Chromatics make their second Roadhouse appearance.