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.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Grimm 6x04 Review: “El Cuegle” (All the Better to See You With) [Contributor: Alisa Williams]


“El Cuegle”
Original Airdate: January 27, 2017

“Foretold our fate, by the gods’ decree, all heard and none believed the prophecy.”

I don’t know about you, but I sure am loving that Grimm is back for another season. Er, half a season. Uh, well, let’s just not talk about how this is the last season, okay? We’re on episode four, which means we’re about a third of the way through their 13-episode final season and as such, the Grimm writers have been packing each episode with so much crazy, twisty drama you’d think Shonda Rhimes was writing it now. But I guess they do have a lot of subplots meandering all the way back through season one to wrap up, don’t they?

The latest episode picks up in Renard’s mansion, where he’s just come home after an unsuccessful fistfight with Nick. Meisner is there waiting for him, but is it Meisner? After all, Renard killed Meisner — shot him in the head — and you don’t really come back from that. But here he is, looking pretty solid and un-ghostlike and lecturing Renard about choosing the wrong side.

Before Renard can do much more than argue with Meisner, he has to field an angry phone call from a Black Claw member and try to explain how Nick was able to shapeshift into a Renard lookalike and wreak havoc in the span of 30 minutes or so. When Renard gets off the phone, Meisner has disappeared again. So, still looking like Meisner is just a hallucination Renard’s mind has thought up to torment him. As long as it gets us more Meisner screentime, I’m okay with this.

Back at the spice shop, Diana is demanding a few answers about why Nick showed up looking like her daddy. The team’s answers aren’t really cutting it with her, nor is the explanation that she, baby Kelly, and Adalind are all going to go live with Nick now. But before a huge blow-up can occur, Diana gets distracted by Rosalee. She can tell Rosalee has a baby inside her, but she has a bombshell for the group: Rosalee is pregnant with more than one baby. This is news to everyone and when Monroe questions just how many constitutes "more," Diana says she’s not sure. This could get interesting.

Meanwhile, a new desperate-looking Wesen has arrived in Portland and is busy googling “Portland babies,” which leads him to a website with a bunch of newborns and their parents’ addresses, because that seems like a real thing one could stumble upon? He pays a visit to one of the houses and successfully kidnaps the child. When the mother tries to interrupt the kidnapping, he woges, sprouts a third arm out of his back (his original two were busy holding the baby, naturally), shoves the mom out of the way and runs for it. The husband comes in too late and all he sees is his wife on the floor, mumbling something about someone taking their child.

Back at Nick’s loft, Diana is having a hard time settling into the new home. Who can blame her when she’s just gotten used to living in a mayoral mansion? Plus, she can tell that “lots of people died here,” and not just because of the blood stain on the floor. After she falls asleep, Nick and Adalind discuss her future and we see that Eve/Juliette is still hanging out in the tunnels and can hear every word. She’s more than a little uncomfortable overhearing them and just as she turns to go deeper into the tunnels, she spies the place where Nick hid the Elder Wand. This doesn’t seem good.


The next morning, Nick, Hank, and Wu are all back at work. Nick is greeted with a round of applause, which is nice considering it was only a few hours before that he was at the center of a massive manhunt and had a shoot-to-kill order on his head. Renard calls them all into his office to lecture them about not getting in his way and then dismisses them. After they leave the office, Meisner suddenly appears, lounging in one of Renard’s chairs. Renard starts shouting at him. This does not go unnoticed by Hank, Wu, and Nick, who are still standing just outside the door. From their perspective, Renard is talking to himself, ranting and raving at air.

Nick and team don’t have much time to speculate because they have a kidnapping case to look into. They deduce the kidnapping is Wesen-related due to the hysterical mother who claims to have seen a three-armed, three-eyed monster take her baby. The husband thinks his wife has gone crazy, but Nick, Hank, and Wu believe her. They’ve seen stranger things.

The monster seems pretty harmless so far, though. At his hideout, he’s taking good care of the baby. So, at least he’s not the type to eat babies. Or is he?

Back at the precinct, Wu has discovered a pattern of missing children from all over North America – all from social media-addicted parents who post way too much info online. They head out to gather more info, but as Nick stands up he gets lightheaded. Turns out, Eve/Juliette is down in the tunnels right now, where she’s nabbed the Elder Wand from its hiding spot. It doesn’t like being held by her, however, and does its quavering thing before knocking her backward and leaving her with a red welt on her hand. A red welt that soon turns into a symbol she’s seen before: on the dead guy who tried to drag her down to hell with him.

At the spice shop, the team is pouring through books looking for a three-armed, three-eyed monster, when Hank stumbles across the drawing and description of El Cuegle. According to the book, El Cuegle stalks mothers and steals their newborn babies then, well, eats them during the "hours of dread." This riles the team up — especially Monroe, who gets very upset whenever kids are in danger. Of course, this gruesome description of El Cuegle doesn’t really jive with what we’ve seen of this dude so far. Especially because he’s currently at a pharmacy purchasing cold medicine for the baby, who has a slight fever. Unfortunately, his simple shopping trip goes awry when he suffers what looks like a terrible headache, uncontrollably woges, and terrifies the shop clerk. Then he bolts from the store with his cold medicine and not long after, Nick, Hank, and Wu are called to the scene.

They’re able to track El Cuegle’s car from the pharmacy to an apartment building, where they bust in and find him with the baby. Fighting a dude with three arms is as tough as it sounds and it takes all three of them to take him down. El Cuegle’s panicked when they take the baby, but they just chalk this up to him being upset about missing out on his midnight meal of newborn baby.

Over at the mayoral mansion, Adalind has dropped Diana off so she can spend some quality time with her daddy. While Renard and Diana make dinner, he questions her about how Bonaparte died. She cheerfully tells him that he killed Bonaparte because Bonaparte hurt her mommy. She doesn’t admit that she was the one who forced Renard to kill Bonaparte but it’s probably as close to a confession as Renard is going to get from a child. Renard then subtly encourages her to hurt Nick if he ever does anything to hurt Adalind. Diana says that if Nick ever hurt her mommy, he’d be very sorry. This pleases Renard, who is clearly hatching some sort of plan in that evil head of his.

Back at the precinct, El Cuegle is schooling Nick on why he does what he does. He says his three eyes see the past, present, and future, and he is compelled to take babies based on the visions his future eye shows him. He claims the children he takes are all destined for evil. And he has proof — one of the babies he took years ago, he returned unharmed. And then the baby grew up and murdered 10 innocent people as an adult.

As they’re verifying his story, El Cuegle has another vision — of the baby grown up and murdering his parents. In the vision, the teenager has wrapped a gun in his old baby blanket to silence it and shoots both his parents.

The vision causes El Cuegle to start seizing and foaming at the mouth. He then woges, knocks out a guard, and escapes the precinct. He makes his way to the baby’s house. Nick and Hank aren’t far behind though. El Cuegle breaks into the house and knocks the father out, who again doesn’t see him in his woged form. The mother manages to run into another room with the baby and lock the door. Nick and Hank arrive just in time and scuffle with El Cuegle, who’s thrown down the stairs and dies. As he’s dying, he mumbles something about “the bears.”

Nick and Hank can’t figure out what he means until a little while later. The parents are arguing again: the husband still doesn’t believe that his wife saw a monster. He thinks she’s crazy. Nick tries to assure him that she’s not, but he just sneers in disbelief and storms up the stairs to continue yelling at her. That’s when Hank spies the baby blanket on the table. The same blanket that was wrapped around the barrel of the gun in El Cuegle’s vision. The blanket is embroidered with teddy bears. I guess they should have believed him after all.

As much as I love Grimm getting back to doing what it does best — which is the serial format of introducing a new Wesen mystery to solve each week — trying to do that AND wrap up the ridiculous number of unresolved subplots is a bit too much. The episode felt jarring, cycling between its procedural roots while still trying desperately to wrap up subplots involving Elder Wands, Diana the demon child, the Adalind-Eve/Juliette-Nick love triangle, and more. I wish they could just go back to a weekly procedural with interesting new Wesen each week, but they’ve gone too far down the rabbit hole of meandering subplots to do so effectively. The writers need to focus their attention on wrapping up all the loose ends that have been collecting over six seasons and give us a solid conclusion by season’s end. I just hope they can pull it off.

Bonus Musings:
  • “Look, if this is some kind of revenge haunting, don’t forget I shot you to put you out of your misery!” “Yeah. Thank you for that. Really. But, don’t forget you betrayed us all. That’s the real reason I’m dead.” 
  • “How many babies can one guy eat?” “Is that a real question or a riddle?” 
  • “I’ve got three arms and two cuffs!”
  • “Anything you say or eat will be used against you in the court of law!”

The Man in the High Castle 2x07 Recap: "Land O’ Smiles" (Family Men) [Guest Poster: Stephanie Coats]


"Land O’ Smiles"
Original Airdate: December 16, 2016

Most everything on The Man in the High Castle comes back to family. Bad men kill to protect their families. Good men kill to avenge their families.

Frank falls into the latter category. Having gone from an artistic factory worker to a member of the Resistance in a matter of weeks, it’s sometimes easy to forget his motivation. A startling dream reminds him and us. He sits with his sister and her children around a dinner table. As gas starts to pour in from above, Frank tries to block it and screams to his family, “Don’t breathe! Don’t breathe!” Having your family killed like that is enough to motivate almost anyone to do almost anything.

BOMBS AWAY


The Resistance wants to use their new bomb to take out high-ranking Japanese. Doing recon to figure out where to place the bomb, Frank and Sara argue over whether being Japanese or Jewish is a worse sin in the eyes of others. “It makes no difference to me who you are,” Sara says. “But you can’t say the same about me?” He can’t. But she still saves him when he’s nearly shot scoping out a warehouse that Frank realizes is where the Japanese are building an atomic bomb.

Now, the Resistance is in a bind. If the Nazis discover the bomb, they’ll destroy it and everyone else. So where then should the Resistance plant their own bomb while also preventing the Japanese from continuing their work? Frank has an idea.

ED IS THE BETTER MAN


At Childan’s shop, Ed helps sell two counterfeit cufflinks by weaving a darn good story about them to the potential buyer. Once they have the money in hand, Ed offers to make the drop to the Yakuza himself but Childan decides to accompany him. He wonders when Ed will decide to be his own person rather than continue on as just Frank’s friend, essentially. He also tells Ed than he and Frank are “uneven,” and though he means it as a jab at Ed, it really ought to be the other way around. Frank’s entire character turned on a dime whereas Ed has remained steadfast and loyal.

While making the drop to the Yakuza, Ed and Childan are forced to hide when the Kempetai show up. Kido knows the Yakuza were at the barn where the films were burned and sees this as proof they are working with the Nazis. He shoots Okamura and the rest of the Yakuza present. When his Sergeant finds Ed and Childan, they are allowed to leave before Kido sees them. They’re pretty excited to be a) alive and b) free from the Yakuza, but Frank, too busy brooding, does not join in their celebrations. He and Ed are “uneven,” for sure, but one thing they do share: a love for Juliana. Ed hints at his feelings when he tells Childan about a girl who was “special” but “had to go away.”

A GOOD NAZI


One of the most awkward parts of killing a family friend is attending, and being asked to speak at, the funeral. That’s exactly the position in which Smith finds himself. He gives a stirring speech about why the doctor was such a good Nazi, perhaps even hinting to those who know the truth (just Helen and the viewers) that the dead man was a better Nazi than him. When Smith speaks about the doctor’s devotion to his family, it’s clear he’s really talking about himself and his willingness to do anything for his own family.

Juliana is at the funeral as well. She had helped the other ladies arrange the flowers into a nice swastika. She witnesses Thomas having an “absence” seizure, but Helen quickly ushers her son away. Later, the two women have a loaded conversation about the incident wherein Helen urges Juliana not to jump to conclusions because of the “consequences” such conclusions could carry. Juliana swears all she saw was Thomas getting emotional, nothing more.

Every time the Smiths sigh in relief that their secret is safe, something else happens. In addition to Thomas’ seizure, the doctor’s wife is asking questions. She wants an autopsy for her husband because she thinks he was murdered. That evening, Smith asks Helen if anyone else saw Thomas’ episode and she says no. Before he can even question her answer, a call comes from Himmler. Hitler has collapsed.

Final Thoughts:
  • A church funeral for a Nazi seems hugely contradictory 
  • Lucy tells Juliana she’s on a litany of medications, including cocaine. For her sinuses, of course. 
  • Watching John Smith get ready (for the day or for bed, I’m not picky) is reason enough to watch this show. The most problematic fave there ever was. 
  • Childan: “The devotion you and Mr. Frink have to each other would be touching if you hadn’t so thoroughly ruined my life.”
  • Inspector Kido continues to be very layered. On the phone with his wife, who is in Japan with their children, he tells them the Pacific States are no place for them. He clearly misses them and cares about them. Even though it put under scrutiny, he placed his family in protective custody before taking on the Yakuza. 

Friday, January 27, 2017

Arrow 5x10 Review: "Who Are You?" (I Really Wanna Know)


"Who Are You?"
Original Airdate: January 25, 2017

Our identities are often wrapped up in what we do. So when people ask you about yourself, your first response, generally, is to tell them what you do for a living. You'll say, "I'm a mom" or "I'm an accountant" or "I'm an artist." We place an enormous emphasis on figuring out exactly who we are. There are tons of self-help books out there that discuss the topics of finding your purpose and your worth in your identity. In an extremely literal sense, asking the question, "who are you?" will earn you the answer of someone's name. In a metaphorical sense, it begs the answer of what is most true about us — our passions and our fears and our triumphs. In Arrow, there has always been the central question of identity: who is Oliver Queen? Is he a vigilante? A hero? A killer? A regular guy?

What's refreshing about "Who Are You?" as an episode is that it doesn't tread the same worn-out roads of self-actualization that other episodes have in regards to Oliver as a character. Rather, we get a glimpse at a few different characters and journeys. Because whether they're ready for it or not, the back half of this season is going to catapult our characters into some pretty rocky terrain, and how they respond will define who they are and who they become.

EMBRACE THE MIRACLES (OR THE CRAZY)


I will admit that when I saw the promos about Laurel's return, I was skeptical. After all, the team seemed to readily believe that the real Laurel Lance was alive and well. But only Oliver really seemed to want to believe Laurel's story about being rescued by Sara and the Waverider. Felicity, on the other hand, hosted a welcoming party for the former Black Canary for the sole purpose of getting the woman's DNA. When not!Laurel almost reached for a glass of champagne, Felicity's suspicions were heightened further. And thankfully, within the next few minutes, Black Siren got tired of her charade and revealed herself to Oliver and Felicity.

Prior to this, though, Oliver talked about embracing miracles because they don't happen often. It was an interesting sentiment coming from him — you know, the usual King of Doom and Gloom — but it makes sense: Prometheus is trying to wreak havoc on Oliver's life. His primary goal is to turn everything and everyone Oliver loves into a memory. But as Oliver goes darker in the flashbacks, in the present-day, he's desperate to cling to hope. Felicity makes note near the end of the episode of the fact that Oliver being inspirational and uplifting is odd, but welcome, and I tend to agree. Everyone who reads my reviews knows that I'm not the biggest fan of Oliver Queen a lot of the time. But I do tend to believe that he has the potential to choose hope and life and happiness instead of clutching to lying and darkness just because it's an easier retreat.

I think there's a part of Oliver that always knew Laurel wasn't really Laurel. He wanted to believe it though — he needed to believe it. Oliver needed something good and hopeful to happen to prove that there is still reason to be surprised by life. As Felicity points out to Black Siren, Oliver is seeking redemption in trying to rehabilitate her — he's trying to save one version of Laurel because he couldn't save the other. I love that Oliver goes about this in a semi-healthy way in "Who Are You?" because normally Oliver's crusades are one-man missions that get everyone around him in trouble.

Actually, that honor belonged to someone else this week...

A NEW KIND OF FELICITY


Dear Arrow writers, I missed this Felicity Smoak. Give me more of her, please. And sprinkle in some more darkness so that Emily Bett Rickards can continue to shine. Love, me.

But seriously, friends, I think that this is the first episode in a while in which I've really felt like Felicity was well-rounded and on a good trajectory for the rest of the season. Picking up where I last left off though, Felicity actually begins to let recklessness infiltrate her life in this episode. When Black Siren and Oliver have a meet-up — with the rest of the team standing by in case he needs back-up — Felicity makes an executive decision to take down the female villain when it appears she might be a threat. Make no mistake about it, Felicity knew that Black Siren probably wasn't about to attack Oliver. But she needs an outlet to channel her grief and anger into, and currently it's this. Why, you ask? Because when you feel helpless, there's nothing that you crave more than a little bit of power.

I mentioned that Oliver mostly is healthy in his pursuit of helping Black Siren heal and become a pseudo-Laurel, but Felicity continually points out in this episode that Black Siren is not Laurel Lance. At all. And Oliver needs to stop pretending that she is. But Felicity isn't issue-less in this episode either. It's clear she's projecting her anger at Prometheus and her grief over Billy's death onto Black Siren. She jumps the gun, desperate to take the villain down. Why? Because Felicity needs SOMEONE to pay for what happened to Billy. Oliver assures her that Prometheus will be brought to justice but it was really nice to see Felicity facing her own demons in this episode in her own way.

Make no mistake about it: I'm still mad at the writers for the way they handled Havenrock and Felicity's paralyzation. It's absurd to me that it takes losing her boyfriend — a guy we and she barely knew — to send Felicity down a path of self-actualization. But honestly, at this point, I'll take any story about Felicity that I can get that isn't related to her relationship with Oliver, directly. Because this week's story isn't rooted in their feelings for one another at all: it's rooted in their mutual grief and feelings of helplessness.

Felicity throws all of her energy onto Black Siren, even going so far as to let her escape so that she would lead them to Prometheus. She risks her life in the attempt to get justice for Billy's death. It's not something she did lightly, but when Felicity decides to do something, there is no stopping her. And there's an incredible scene between Stephen Amell and Emily Bett Rickards in the Arrow Cave, where he begins to chastise her for letting Black Siren go and almost getting herself killed in the process. She, meanwhile, tells him that he needs to stop projecting his helplessness onto Black Canary. He's seeking redemption for Laurel any way that he can get it, and it's putting their lives at risk. I don't think Oliver realized how far he was willing to go for this redemptive crusade until this episode.

But then again, neither was Felicity prepared for how far she might go to get justice. In a face-off, Prometheus challenges Oliver to choose between battling him and saving Felicity, who is being threatened by Black Siren. When Oliver attempts one last-ditch miniature monologue to sway not!Laurel to the side of the light, it fails and he shields Felicity as Black Siren does her siren thing. But Felicity put her life on the line because justice was more important to her than anything else. It's interesting to consider how far she might go to do this. She went behind everyone's back at the party to swab DNA, didn't tell anyone about her plan to let Black Siren escape, and also commanded Rory, Curtis, and Rene to do something without Oliver's consent.

A reckless Felicity is an interesting one, and I want to see more of her.

MY KIND OF OLICITY


I'll make this short and sweet: I need more Oliver/Felicity scenes like the ones in this episode if I'm ever to believe that these two crazy kids can make it work. I need Oliver being the hopeful one, and Felicity delving into darkness. I need them to challenge each other, to fight and then walk away (but stay in the same room). I need Oliver to be upfront about his crusades, and for Felicity to tell him when they're not working. I need Felicity to push Oliver to become better, and I need them to teach one another things constantly — to never stop learning, because that builds a relationship whose cornerstone is trust.

If this continues — which I know will be short-lived since Annoying Reporter Chick is still existing, after all — I might finally return to being aboard the Oliver/Felicity train. Until then, I'll sit back and hope that Oliver is beginning to learn his lessons.

Overall, "Who Are You?" felt like it resolved a number of loose strings while also giving us new threads to tug at (do we really need someone filling the Black Canary role, show? And what is Prometheus' actual endgame here?). But as far as episodes are concerned, this one actually managed to hit the mark. Kudos, show! Don't make this short-lived for me.

And now, bonus points:
  • (Yes, I kept getting The Who's song stuck in my head. Hence this week's subtitle!)
  • Thank you all for being patient and waiting for this review. As it turns out, having a birthday that falls in the middle of the work week really messes with your television watching/reviewing schedule!
  • I love that immediately, Felicity is skeptical of Laurel's reappearance.
  • "After the past four years, it's just hard for me to accept good news."
  • I'm a huge fan of evil!Laurel (also known as Black Siren). She's a lot more fun, for me anyway, than regular Laurel Lance.
  • I missed Thea.
  • So there was a Diggle story this week, because if you'll recall, he's been arrested. Evil General Dude is planning to have him killed, but thankfully Adrian Chase is able to find a way to get Diggle to remain in Star(ling) City custody and prevent that from happening. Adrian Chase officially became awesome in this episode.
  • Rory remains the cutest and the best character for levity at the moment.
  • "Every meta gets a nickname."
  • "We get to choose what we are. We get to choose WHO we are."
  • I kind of like the fact that Curtis and Rene had a conversation of substance. Also, another character facing an identity crisis? Curtis. He laments the fact that he's not as good in the field as everyone else and feels like he's failing. Rene, however, reminds him that there are things he IS good at and a reason he was brought to the team in the first place. He doesn't need to fixate on what he can't do well, but rather what he can do well. It was nice for them to have a story, and I find that Curtis being a bit more serious is actually nice sometimes. He gets a little too cartoonish otherwise.
  • "When did you find the time to get a PhD in psychology?"
  • "Do you have a sister? I hear he LOVES sisters." Okay, props to the person who wrote that line.
  • "Can we have the room, please?" "Seriously? This is getting good."
  • I'm still not paying attention to the flashbacks. I had hoped that the Russia ones would be interesting, since we waited for them/Bratva for a while now. But sadly, they're not compelling to me at all. I'm actually rather bored while watching them. Bonus of this week's flashback, though? We got introduced to Talia al Ghul!
  • "You really need to shut your damn mouth" is literally the best one-liner said to a villain in recent memory.
  • Felicity got to punch Black Siren, which is officially awesome.
What did you all think of Arrow's return? Sound off in the comments below!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Scorpion 3x14 Review: "The Hole Truth" (I Don't Have Time to Babysit that Emotionally-Stunted Genius) [Guest Contributor: Yasmine]


“The Hole Truth”
Original Airdate: January 23, 2017

In this week’s episode, Sylvester struggles in his election campaign, Paige tries to find some closure with her mother, and Walter reaches a whole new low. Oh, and the members of Team Scorpion accidentally find themselves involved in creating a sinkhole in California. Just another day at the office for this team of geniuses.

At this point, I think Team Scorpion should know that there is no “routine check-up” job when they are involved, and this week’s case was another one of those situations. A simple engineering job with the Army Corps of Engineers turns into an ecological and humanitarian disaster. It also didn’t help that Paige was off helping Veronica, which meant the team was left without a buffer between them and civilians. And more importantly, Walter was left without a buffer, and that is always a recipe for things to go bad.

And if alienating the chief at the site of the job wasn’t enough, the team detected tiny leaks in the tunnels they were inspecting a little too late, which led to a collapse and the creation of a sinkhole. A sinkhole that wouldn’t stop growing. And of course, that wouldn’t be enough of a challenge for the team, so to make things more exciting, a silo of toxic chemicals sitting at the periphery of the growing sinkhole was threatening to fall into it. That meant poisoning the drinking water for millions in Southern California.

The team split up, with Cabe and Sly teaming up with one of the workers — one who made it clear early on he was not a fan of Sly and his attempt to run for office — in order to slow down the sinkhole. Walter, Toby and Happy worked with the chief to drain out the silo.

Eventually, the team saves the day with a series of unorthodox methods, including but not limited to turning the silo into a version of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, building a giant trampoline, and getting inspired by yogurt to stop the flow of the toxic material. But unorthodox is just their style, after all.

While the team was trying their best to prevent the disaster, Paige was dealing with her own human version of a disaster — her mother. Veronica came back last week and when she appeared on the news report on TV, the men who were after her for the money in episode nine reappeared in her life. And of course, who would she go to other than Paige and Team Scorpion? Veronica doesn’t seem like a woman who takes no for an answer — not the first time and not the tenth time. She promises Paige that this would be the last time, that she needs her help to retrieve the money she buried, and that would be it.

Paige agrees to help her mother one last time, and together they pull off a con that allows Veronica to retrieve the money. But the con didn’t stop there: Paige also finds a way to get those men off her mother’s back forever by helping her fake her death. Paige proves this week that, while she might have her mother’s conning and acting skills, at least she knows better than to choose that life. It is interesting watching the parallel between the two women — one choosing the easy life of crime and money, while the other puts her son and her family/friends above everything.

Veronica did not do much this week to change who she is, even if she claims she wants to have a better relationship with Paige and Ralph. However, the day spent together did bring the two women closer, and — for once — made Veronica seem slightly more likable than all the times she had shown up. Veronica leaves once again, but something tells me she will be showing up in the future — if only to check up on whether Walter had made a move to ask Paige out (yes, she is still the biggest Waige shipper that there is).

Someone else who wasn’t having a great week is Sylvester. His opponent is crushing him in the road to elections and it’s all because Sylvester has embraced the fact that he is different. Apparently voters aren’t too excited about being represented by a man wearing a cape. And you can’t blame the public. For anyone who doesn’t really know Sylvester, this all does look like a joke. And it is highlighted when one of the workers on the site lets Sylvester know what he thinks of him and that he is not voting for him.

But Happy was right: by being himself, Sylvester can win over the voters; they just have to see how amazing he truly is and the amazing things he does every day. After spending the day with Sylvester, watching him save Cabe and help save the day, the worker is able to see past the cartoonish version Sly’s opponent is painting of him and truly appreciate what he is capable of.

Finally, there’s Walter. He started the day with one black eye and ended it with two. At the beginning of the day, Happy and Toby warn Paige that her new approach with Walter is not working, and that he is quickly spiraling back into his pre-Paige days when his EQ was drastically low and he would get into fights with people all the time thanks to his complete lack of people skills.

Walter is not doing well at all — not since Tim left and not since Paige decided she was taking a step back. And it shows. He is getting into fights and jeopardizing jobs by infuriating people he should be working with. And with Paige out of the picture, Happy and Toby take on the task of keeping him in control, playing babysitters to the genius, but even they can’t help him. Walter’s steady growth in the first half of the season is facing its biggest trial now and he is in danger of slipping back and losing all the development he went through.

Paige’s decision does make sense, because she cannot continue to hold his hand through this, especially when he seems to be reeling against the idea of becoming a better person. I think at this point Walter is going to have to come face to face with a huge loss — or a potential huge loss — because of something he does, in order to have reason to start fighting for himself again. Because, at the moment, he does not seem to truly understand the severity of his decline.

I think that was another great episode, perfectly balanced between the case of the week and Paige and Veronica’s story. Walter’s journey continues to be the backbone of the character-driven aspect of the show, as we alternate every week between Quintis and Sylvester’s stories.

Lucifer 2x12 Recap: “Love Handles” (Real vs. Manipulation) [Guest Poster: Ilene Friedman]


“Love Handles”
Original Airdate: January, 23 2017

HOLY MOTHER OF GOD (almost literally). What was that episode? What did I just watch? What is happening to my babies? Why was this episode so stressful?! Someone please explain the horror of that cliffhanger again.

(Also, could we end at least one episode without Chloe’s life being in danger? First the car, then mother dearest trying to blow her up, and now poison. Give our girl a break!)

Okay, I am getting ahead of myself. First, this week’s episode began with a pretty hot dream, where Chloe and Lucifer are about to get it on, horns and all. But before anything good happens, Chloe wakes up to a very amused Maze eating popcorn and enjoying the show. Maze tells Chloe that she should loosen up.

Meanwhile, Lucifer has another therapy session with Linda, where he again misinterprets Linda’s advice, leading to some awkward situations with Chloe. However, once Lucifer leaves Linda’s office, Charlotte shows up and tries to convince Linda to give Lucifer some bad news. Linda, who is the best, doesn’t fall for it and kicks Charlotte out of her office.

The case of the week answers some of the questions that began in last week’s episode: the poison vials. The serial killer, who turns out to be a former professor of the school, is forcing people to relive his own personal hell. What is that, you ask? Well, the professor decided to save his life’s work over a student’s life, when a car caught on fire and killed the student instantly. The professor lost everything. He is now forcing people to choose between cutting off limbs, mutilating themselves, or destroying their careers. If they don’t, a random person gets poisoned. The team realizes it’s the professor and they go off to stop him.

This leads Chloe and Lucifer to an underground lab where the professor is holding his latest victims. The professor releases the one-of-a-kind poison gas into the room and flees. Lucifer, knowing it will not affect him, insists that Chloe leaves and he will save the victims. Chloe chases after the professor, while Lucifer waits for her to get out of range so that his immortality stays intact.

Once Chloe corners the professor, he tells her: “I’m not a monster. I’m human.” He then goes on to say that “choice is an illusion.” But most importantly, he says, “You’ll understand that soon enough.” Then, the professor kills himself. Which now we know is really, really bad.

Lucifer then runs out to find Chloe unharmed. The two embrace (and I die a little) and Lucifer reiterates that this is real — they are real. This all goes to crap when he meets up with Maze and his mother in a bar. However, Maze backs out of her agreement with Charlotte, only for Lucifer to turn around and see a picture of Amenadiel and Chloe’s mother. He learns that God put Chloe in his path and that their relationship may not be real, but manipulated.

Furious, Lucifer storms into Chloe’s house, asking if she knew the whole time. However, he stops instantly when a shaking Chloe turns around and we see that her nose won’t stop bleeding.

Final Thoughts: 
  • The season finale is next week and I think there is way too much to resolve. If there isn’t a season three, I may lose my mind. Look at how much there is to still discover! We have barely seen Amenadiel, we know God’s showing up at some point, we have no idea how Chloe is supposed to be used to get to the Silver City... too many unanswered questions!
  • Dan being awkward around Charlotte is forever hilarious.
  • I still don’t know if Charlotte truly gives a crap about Lucifer, and — although everything she has said has been true — we all know something just isn’t right. 
  • CHLOE BLEEDING IS NOT OKAY, WRITERS. THAT’S EFFING RUDE!

Grey’s Anatomy 13x10 Review: “You Can Look (But You’d Better Not Touch)” (Bottle #2) [Contributing Writer: Julia Siegel]


“You Can Look (But You’d Better Not Touch)”
Original Airdate: January 26, 2017

It’s been a little over two months since the last episode of Grey’s Anatomy, and the wait couldn’t have been anymore agonizing. When we left off, several killer cliffhangers remained floating in the way only Grey’s can deliver. What will happen to Alex? Will he go to jail? Will he bite the bullet and protect Jo? Will Jo’s entire life get upended again? If you have been itching for the answers to these questions and more like I have, then you might be a little disappointed to find out that only one of those questions will be briefly answered. Instead of putting our minds at ease, Grey’s Anatomy presents its second bottle episode.

MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE 


Prior to the fall, Grey’s had never done a bottle episode. So it’s a little weird that we now have two. Thankfully, both are really good and help to expand the characters they focus on. This time, the focus is on Bailey, Arizona, and Jo as they go to a maximum security hospital prison to treat a very dangerous 16-year-old inmate’s atypical pregnancy. Each character takes a small personal journey, but the main point of the episode is more subtle than you might think.

Let’s start from the top. Bailey’s journey is a reality check more than anything else. At the most basic level, she gets a taste of how good she really has it running Grey-Sloan after seeing the minimal resources the prison hospital has. With one doctor and the bare minimum of supplies, Bailey is forced to open her eyes and realize that her life isn’t all that bad. She likes to complain a lot about how tough being the Chief of Surgery is, so hopefully this quiets her down for a bit.

Bailey also has an eye-opening experience by having to face her fear of prisoners. She hates the idea of helping someone who has committed crimes and doesn’t even want to be near a prison let alone in one. She’s forced to overcome her reasonable concerns and be her tough self again to make it through the day. This was also a subtle hint at the secret that she withholds the entire episode. At the very end, she reveals to Jo and Arizona that Alex is going to take the plea deal and go to jail. It’s very likely that some of Bailey’s anger and fear during the episode was misguided due to her feelings about Alex winding up in a place like the one she spent the day in.

LONG-DISTANCE PARENTING 


Next up is Arizona, who had a lesser arc compared to the other two main characters. Arizona is faced with juggling a crazy patient, the patient’s mother, the patient’s lawyer, and her own moral code. Even though all the characters are faced with big time morality questions, Arizona is hit the hardest. The inmate says that when her baby is delivered, her mother will adopt the baby, raise her, and bring her to visit her jail-bird mom. Right before starting the procedure to help the baby in utero, Arizona is called away to another room in the hospital where the mother is waiting to speak to her. Unsurprisingly, the mother tells Arizona that she only wants the baby, has no plans to see her daughter, and will never allow the baby to know her.

Obviously, this is a struggle for Arizona, as she has had this fight before. She spends part of the episode trying to change this stubborn mother’s mind without much luck. Arizona is faced with withholding the news from her patient in order not to upset her further. Enter a huge morality struggle, and ten minutes later everything goes awry. Arizona knows the hardships of having a child that she doesn’t get to frequently see, which becomes her arc for the episode. She tries to get everyone to see reason from her standpoint, even though no one wants to really listen to her. You can’t help but feel bad for her because Arizona is the nicest character on the show and somehow winds up always getting the short end of the stick.

Arizona is also faced with the morality of having a violent inmate in restraints while giving birth. She sticks up for the little guys yet again and eventually gets part of her way by convincing the prison doctor to remove the handcuffs that are cutting her patient. Arizona gets a personal win by sticking to her ethical and moral codes and for doing the right thing in a bad situation.

PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE 


Secretly, this episode is all about Jo. Even though it doesn’t appear like it on the surface, this bottle is meant to examine Jo’s past, present, and future. Jo does a majority of the work of keeping the patient calm and as docile as possible by connecting with her on a personal level. Jo gains the trust of her patient by telling her about her rough childhood and how they aren’t that different. In return, the patient goes into her cushy life prior to prison and recounts how one bad decision can change everything. Jo’s recount of her past and her reactions to a child having a baby in jail makes it seem very probable that she might have been a jail baby.

If you think about it, her emotions and thoughts on the topic seemed a little too personal. She is also able to calm her patient down by telling her how great her baby’s life will be and that her baby will miss her every day. With a tear in her eye, it’s clear that Jo is reflecting on her own past and how she wishes to know her real parents. We still don’t know much about Jo’s childhood other than she was in the foster system, so this episode could have subtly discussed her past.

In the present, Jo is struggling just like her patient, being torn apart inside by her two imminent futures. With the trial set for the next day, she knows that the love of her life will either go to jail just to protect her or her life will be blown up by her fake identity being exposed to the world. Either way, Jo knows she is screwed and doesn’t know how to handle the truth of either situation. Being in a prison hospital definitely doesn’t help because she knows that Alex very likely will wind up in a jail because of her drunken mistake and the lack of the truth.

The episode forces Jo to look at all angles of her life without making it blatantly obvious. Her past was full of turmoil, her present mindset is very rocky, and her future will be a struggle no matter what happens in court. Jo is a bomb that is waiting to build enough pressure to detonate, and she will definitely lose her cool very soon. The next episode should be pretty rocky for everyone, but Jo might have it the worst after hearing that Alex is going to take the plea deal.

However, we still don’t know whether he actually did or not! The end of the mid-season finale left us with Alex hearing Meredith’s pleading voicemail. His indecision was agonizing, and he hadn’t made up his mind by the time the end credits rolled. So, there is a slight chance that he decides to go to court, but from the looks of the trailer for the second half of the season, it appears he took the deal. Next week should give us more concrete answers, but it’s a definite that Jo is screwed one way or another now that people know her dirty little secret.

The Flash 3x10 Review: "Borrowing Problems from the Future" (Operation: Save Iris) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]


"Borrowing Problems from the Future"

Original Airdate: January 24, 2017

Welcome back from the break, everyone! When we last left our friends in Central City, Barry had a peek at a future in which Iris gets killed by Savitar but bought an apartment for them to share anyway, hinting that maybe Barry would move past the haunting vision of a future without Iris and live life in the present for a change. Of course, we all know that’s not going to happen. Barry’s too Barry to simply take things as they come, especially when his loved ones are in danger and he has the opportunity to mess more things up with well-intentioned idiocy.

So this episode is aptly titled, as Barry spends the whole time “borrowing problems from the future” and acting like a paranoid jerk to everyone around him, fearful that everything he’s doing will inevitably lead to the death of his girlfriend. Or, at the very least, will do nothing to prevent the death from happening.

Also, you know how I spent several paragraphs in my review for the previous episode talking about how The Flash believes that the future is mercurial and impossible to predict? Ha! They go in the complete opposite direction this episode. I feel such a fool. An annoyed, confused fool.

THERE ARE PROBLEMS IN THE PRESENT, TOO


“Borrowing Problems from the Future” is definitely what I would call an “establishing” episode. It’s here to set up the B-half of this season, and very little else. All the elements of the episode, from the reveal of Kid Flash to the Central City public, to Julian’s inclusion in Team Flash, to the reveal that Caitlin will eventually become Killer Frost — all of it had more to do with what’s to come than with what’s currently going on. Which makes sense, since setting up the rest of the season is pretty important. I just wish this sort of thing wouldn’t happen at the expense of the episode-centric plot, which turned out largely forgettable and still failed to remove itself from the Iris Death Flash-Forward.

The main villain for the episode is Plunder and, from what I read of him, he’s a pretty significant character in the comics. He’s just a throwaway villain of the week on The Flash, however, and mostly just there for Barry to work through his fear of the future. Plunder was mentioned during the flash-forward as recently being captured by the Flash, which means that Barry wants to avoid capturing him in order to prevent as much of the future from happening as he can. It is, perhaps, the stupidest and most basic future-prevention plan you could ever imagine, and I’m surprised that Cisco didn’t chastise Barry for his simplistic approach when the team found out.

Although Barry does successfully avoid capturing Plunder, his attitude raises red flags with Team Flash and he eventually has to come clean about why he’s acting so weird. This leads to his acceptance that Plunder has to be captured regardless of his fears — but it’s not the Flash who publicly stops Plunder. It’s Wally, announcing himself as Kid Flash and inadvertently changing the future that Barry saw. Proof that small things can be stopped, but will bigger things be as easy?

Thanks to Cisco’s Vibe powers and a trip into Barry’s future vision, the show gives us a little checklist for future events to look out for, including things like Killer Frost’s rise to villainy, a gorilla attack, a “six-figure book deal” for Music Meister (hello, musical crossover episode!), and Joe West being honored at City Hall. We also get a specific date: May 23, 2017. Hmmm. That date seems oddly season finale-ish, doesn’t it?

LET’S TALK ABOUT IRIS


You know your main character is kinda messed up when you feel gratitude for him only wasting half an episode lying to and snapping at all his friends and family because something important is weighing on him. And I don’t doubt for a second that the future death of Iris West is incredibly important, but you’d think that heroes in these shows would learn by now that keeping things a secret — for half an episode or half a season, it doesn’t matter — never ends well. At best, Barry lucked out this time by only alienating his team members a little.

The most alienated was probably Wally, because Barry inexplicably took a lot of his frustration out on him. Why? I couldn’t really figure it out. I don’t think there was anything in the flash-forward that indicated Wally would be pivotal in Iris’s death, but still Barry acted like the development of Wally as Kid Flash directly correlated with Iris getting killed by Savitar. Granted, I personally believe Barry is right in saying that just because Wally is the fastest speedster we’ve seen so far, that doesn’t mean he’s ready to be a hero. The moniker “Kid Flash” — while incredibly condescending — is actually pretty accurate. Wally is immature about everything, from listening to orders, to acting instinctively, to dealing with the press. It might be a problem in the future, if he doesn’t grow out of it.

But for now, the problem is Iris’s impending doom, and what Barry plans on doing about it. Initially, he just (unsubtly) asks H.R. questions about time travel theory and fixed points in time. His sketchiness makes it look like he’s going to try to figure it all out on his own but, as I mentioned earlier, he does eventually come clean to Team Flash and Iris herself.

Which, major kudos to Candice Patton for the scene in which Barry tells Iris what he saw in the future. Patton executed a perfect mix of fear, devastation, acceptance, and hope that was incredibly moving and some of the best emotional work I think she’s been given all season. Maybe multiple seasons? Iris hasn’t been able to do a whole lot as essentially the only “normal” member of the team — not super-powered, super-intelligent, or a member of the police — but I have high hopes that this storyline will treat her as more of an active player.

On the surface, Iris looks like a MacGuffin — simply a potential loss for our hero, which triggers the plot and sets things in motion. However, she isn’t locked into this role. If done well and thoughtfully, this storyline could be a huge opportunity for The Flash writers to shine a spotlight on Iris as a character in her own right. They’ve already hinted at her nebulous role on the team through dialogue, and while Iris talking about how she doesn’t fit in with the rest of them might have just been heavy foreshadowing for the danger to come (not to mention shoehorned opportunities for Barry to comfort her and reaffirm her importance), I prefer to give the writers the benefit of the doubt. Maybe I’m wrong in that. Too soon to tell. I truly hope I’m not, though, because Iris deserves to be more than just Barry Allen’s girlfriend.

Other Things:
  • I really love this episode’s title for reasons I can’t pinpoint.
  • Hologram Cisco shouting “SCIENCE!” is super amusing.
  • H.R.’s museum opening was genuinely sad for me. He was so happy about being useful and good for the team, and he failed, and there’s nothing worse than being excited for something and getting disappointed in a major way.
  • And Cisco yelling at H.R.’s sadness was one of the rare times where I did not find Cisco endearing.
  • I’ve decided that I am anti-Caitlin/Julian, on account of the fact that Julian is clearly evil and Caitlin doesn’t need that drama.
  • That said, I like the idea of grumpy Julian being on Team Flash. There hasn’t been enough grumpiness since the loss of Harry.
  • Apparently on H.R.’s Earth, they give reptiles as housewarming gifts?
  • But still, Barry is SO EXCITED that he got a turtle! What an adorable labradoodle.
  • Oh yeah, apparently H.R. is about to get assassinated? Don’t know where that’s going.

Timeless 1x12 Review: “The Murder of Jesse James” (In Which Lucy Crosses A Moral Line)


“The Murder of Jesse James”
Original Airdate: January 23, 2017

If you’re a fan of pop culture based on comic book heroes and heroines like I am, you’ll quickly realize that there is one central theme every movie, television show and comic book hero faces: the question of how far they’ll go in order to defeat the bad guy. What generally makes the hero the hero and the villain the villain is that heroes are above unnecessary killing — the villains generally tend to see people as obstacles en route to their goals. Heroes, on the other hand, tend to place a hefty emphasis on preserving humanity and fighting for the greater good. And so, heroes often grapple with the morality of killing a bad person in order to justify saving other people. Aren’t they doing something good by ensuring that there is one less bad guy on the streets? We’ve seen Oliver Queen struggle with this in Arrow recently, and it’s interesting to watch our core three characters — Wyatt, Lucy, and Rufus — struggle with the very same thing in this week’s Timeless.

Our heroes are burnt out. They’re tired of chasing Flynn and losing. They’re tired of facing insurmountable obstacle after obstacle. They’re tired of the lives they’re having to lead and the things they’ve left behind — or lost altogether. “The Murder of Jesse James” finds every character in a very precarious situation: Wyatt has visited his wife’s killer in prison and decides he’s going to go back in time and save Jessica; Lucy is tired of forgetting her main mission — restoring her sister to existence; and Rufus is caught in a really difficult place when Connor Mason tells him that Jiya will be trained as a pilot and he’ll be, essentially, eliminated after that.

With that context in mind, let’s dive into this week’s very existential and really emotionally compelling episode of Timeless, shall we?

WELCOME TO THE WILD WEST


With all of their emotional baggage dragged along with them, Team Timeless heads to the Wild West, where they realize that Flynn is tracking the notorious Jesse James. When the trio arrives, they enlist the help of Bass Reeves — inspiration for The Lone Ranger — and his friend whom I’ll refer to as #NotTonto in hunting down Jesse James and Flynn.

There’s a little bit of a twist in Flynn’s pursuit of the Wild West this week though that I thought was really interesting and tied in, narratively, to the present-day. As Connor Mason trains Jiya to become a pilot for the ship, she begins to ask questions about whether or not Connor had any video footage of other pilots so that she could understand how to better operate the machine. Connor dismisses this, and it’s just sketchy enough that Jiya begins to dig. What she finds is evidence of another pilot — a woman named Emma — who time-traveled.

And as it turns out, Flynn finds her in 1882, hiding out. He knows her story: that she was a pilot and was recruited by Rittenhouse to do bad things, and faked her death in order to escape their clutches. Emma isn’t the kind of person to be trifled with, and Flynn knows this. So he plays the empathy angle — they both had their lives destroyed by Rittenhouse — in order to get her to go back to his ship with him. Meanwhile, Flynn gets Jesse James-d when the outlaw demands Flynn’s high-tech machine gun in exchange for Flynn and Emma’s escape. Our villain has no choice but to obey.

Meanwhile, Bass and #NotTonto agree to help Team Timeless track down Jesse James, a dangerous outlaw, but only on one condition: he’s brought back alive. Wyatt publically agrees, but secretly confides that he plans to kill James before they return. Rufus is horrified, and this is where some really interesting conversations about morality take place. Rufus is still affected by the man he shot and killed during “Space Race,” and he doesn’t understand how the team can talk so flippantly about ending someone’s life — whether that person is bad or not. Rufus is firmly against killing, while Wyatt has proven before (even in last week’s episode) that he will kill when he thinks it is the best course of action. Throughout the entire episode, he’s prepared to end Jesse James’ life. But the difficulty in letting a killer be brought to justice rather than buried is eventually what Wyatt decides to face.

Not so with Lucy Preston.

It’s so interesting, to me, that Lucy has evolved in the way she has. In this episode, she’s battling immense guilt for forgetting her sister’s birthday — a sister who, by the way, does not exist anymore. Lucy feels like she’s losing her grasp on the thing that drove her to this job in the first place. As a result, Lucy has begun to compromise that “don’t rewrite history” thing she preached at the beginning of the series. A hopeless Lucy is a dangerous Lucy, and the team quickly learns this when she shoots and kills Jesse James. Yes, that’s right — she KILLS HIM. And she barely bats an eye while doing so. You can tell that Wyatt is shocked by this (he had his own gun trained on an unarmed James), and what it might mean for their team. But Lucy is numb, going through motions without caring anymore. That is what makes her so dangerous and so volatile in the episode. And that’s what made her so compelling to me this week.

I’m not used to watching the heroes of the story crumble under the weight of their moral decisions, but this week’s episode saw Team Timeless spiraling and shifting themselves toward a darker side. While Wyatt made the decision not to kill Jesse James, Lucy did — and that’s something she can’t come back from easily. But Wyatt isn’t entirely free of these moral tangles, either: by the end of the episode, he recruits Rufus to help him steal (or, I guess, borrow) the time machine in order to go back in time and save Jessica. Now that Lucy has crossed a moral boundary, Wyatt is even more determined to follow through with his plan, it seems.

Whether she likes it or not, Lucy Preston is the moral compass of the team and when she crumbles, so does everyone else. Her decision to kill marks a line that she can’t un-cross, and I’ll be interested to see how her decisions continue to affect the rest of the team. Lucy is tired — emotionally and physically — and just wants her old life back. But she’s struggling to regain the pieces of herself that existed when her sister did. Same with Wyatt. And same with Rufus.

Timeless doesn’t often leave me feeling pretty down, but this week’s episode didn’t exactly end on a high note for any of our characters. Still, I’m interested to see what happens next and whether they find any hope amid their pretty bleak circumstances.

Timey-wimey bits:
  • “It’s not exactly Google Maps.”
  • “The Lone Ranger’s black? That’s... awesome.”
  • Lucy finds ways to proclaim her awesome feminism in every era. This week, she tells The Lone Ranger: “You’re not escorting me. I’m helping you.”
  • Lucy falling off the horse is one of the best subtle comedic moments.
  • Jiya is in too deep already with Connor Mason, who threatens her by the episode’s end. Eesh.
What did you all think of this week’s episode? Sound off in the comments below!

The Bachelor 21x04 Roundtable: Do You Call This Immature? [Contributors: Alisa, Rebecca, Rae, Chelsea]


This week on The Bachelor, the ladies get really excited to go to Milwaukee in the winter, Nick runs into yet another ex, and Corinne reaches her full potential — of driving everyone crazy. At least Nick looks like he's having fun, though he may be the only one. See what Alisa, Rebecca, Rae, and Chelsea think of the episode and let us know your favorite Corinne quote in the comments.

This episode in particular seemed full of moments that made me wince. Which part of this episode made you cringe the most?


Alisa: Every scene Corinne was in made me cringe. She’s great entertainment but after three weeks, her antics are starting to get old. And slightly concerning. I mean, do they have an on-site therapist? If not, perhaps Corinne’s unraveling will be the impetus they need to invest in one. Oh, also when Nick was on his one-on-one with Danielle L. and they just happened to run into his ex. Please. So staged and super boring.

Rebecca: Definitely when Nick ran into his ex. It was obvious the show staged it, which made it even more uncomfortable. It was Danielle being fake-happy to get to talk to the ex that made me cringe. If my boyfriend and I ran into his ex on the street and he wanted to stop to talk to her, I’d kill them both. There’s no way she was that happy and cool with it.

Rae: Nick’s ex said, what, two words the whole time? It was so unnatural, and then nothing even happened. But I think the most cringe-worthy part was Corinne versus Taylor. I’m completely expecting them to both go on the two-on-one next week, and possibly both go home.

Chelsea: Honestly, I only remember the Corinne things and not much else. Her whole presence makes me cringe but she’s a glorious trainwreck. I don’t know how she has made it this far through life without being slapped. Nobody can be that obviously dumb. The two one-on-one dates didn’t really stick with me. Running into the ex didn’t really make an impact, and I couldn’t even try to guess which two gals got that time. I really felt like Nurse Danielle this episode when she was just listening to one of the girls complain about the Corinne and she looked like an exhausted mother having to deal with the children.

What do you think of Nick’s family?


Alisa: Nick’s family seems so nice and supportive. I vaguely remember them from past seasons (they sure have been through this a few times!). They seemed a bit skeptical of Nick’s feelings for these girls, and who can really blame them at this point? Bella obviously adores her big brother and that says something good about Nick, I guess. I always tend to like the families better than the bachelors.

Rebecca: I love Nick’s mom, I hope I look like her when I’m her age. She has the look nailed down with that short hair and leather jacket and I’m HERE for it. His sister was also very cute, and it’s adorable how much she looks up to him.

Rae: I wish we could see more of him family, but I guess that will hopefully come down the line. I’d love to see all of his brothers and sisters and in-laws navigate meeting a new girlfriend. They seem fine, but every big family has to be hiding at least a few crazy things, right?

Chelsea: I would’ve liked more time with his family. But it’s still super early in the show, so it was almost weird we were meeting them so soon. Parts of it were cute but forgettable. I’ll be more interested to see how they are down the line.

Raven had a breakout moment this episode — what do you think about her?


Alisa: Okay, so before the date, I just thought she was really weird and I was pretty sure she had a shrine to Nick in her childhood bedroom complete with a voodoo doll of him fashioned from the hair of a thousand cats. After the date, I’m even more convinced of these things, but I’m much more fond of her and find her seance-at-dusk vibe endearing. Her story about beating her cheating ex with a stiletto after pummeling the other woman with her bare fists was fantastic. I don’t even care if it was true or not. Anyone who can weave a story like that deserves a rose. Let’s keep her on through hometowns so she and Nick can light a candle at his shrine and perform a blood oath under the full moon to bond their souls for eternity.

Rebecca: I didn’t really have an opinion of her before, but I really like her now and I think she’s the dark horse of the competition. Echoing Alisa, she does seem a little crazy, but I like it. And I always love and appreciate any woman who gets revenge on her cheating ex. She’s cute, but I don’t see her winning... although maybe she’ll surprise us.

Rae: I love Raven now, and I would follow her to the ends of the earth. That story about her ex was so great. I hope she does make it to hometowns because I want to see the mother that told her to “go to him.” I also thought their date was really cute, and it looked like they had fun roller skating around. She seems to really like him! I hope she won’t be too sad when it’s all over.

Chelsea: Raven took me by these past couple of weeks, and I’m so glad I added her to my final four for the season. I think she has the potential to go far and has a good chemistry with Nick. She really stood out the most this episode without unnecessary drama. Her story about the cheating won all of us over, and I just want more of her.


Favorite Corinne quote of the night?


Alisa: Does her just drunkenly grabbing her own boobs and shouting something semi-coherent about not being immature count as a quote? Because that's what I'd like to pick.

Rebecca: It’s a tie between “I want to be in a spa eating a nice taco — preferably chicken” and “Michael Jordan took naps. Abraham Lincoln took naps.”

Rae: “I am not privileged in any way.” Or the 100 times she said “poop.” Also, who eats tacos in a spa? I haven’t been to very many spas, is that what they serve? Seems messy, at best.

Chelsea: I feel like my two-year-old niece has more coherent sentences than Corinne. My favorite quote of the week was actually the gal that told Corinne to “chew your food.” Does that count?

And, as we do each week, here are our Bachelor Fantasy League Standings:

  1. Chelsea (320 points)
  2. Patti (250 points)
  3. Alisa (210 points)
  4. Rae (190 points)
  5. Rebecca (140 points)

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Suits 6x11 Review: "She's Gone" (Change is in the Air)

 

"She’s Gone"
Original Airdate: January 25, 2017

Sudden change will either do one of two things to you: strengthen you, or break down your resolve. None of us really knows how we will respond to change, however, until we’re in the midst of it. And oftentimes, we behave in ways we didn’t expect — we snap at our close friends, we stay stuck in denial, or we adapt and move forward. In Suitsmidseason finale, we saw all of our characters experience a pretty earth-shattering change in the abrupt departure of Jessica Pearson from the firm. With no more leader to look to, “She’s Gone” finds our characters wondering exactly what to do next — and not having much time to act. If they wait too long to figure out who actually is managing partner now that Jessica is gone, the whole firm will be weakened and fall apart in no time at all. And, if you’ll recall, Mike is experiencing his own form of change as he tries to figure out what to do with his life now that he’s out of jail and can no longer illegally practice law. Change affects us all, and while some characters are using Jessica’s absence to embrace new possibilities and grow and adapt, others find themselves sinking back into their same old bad habits.


HARVEY VS. LOUIS


The biggest hurdle that Harvey and Louis have to tackle in this episode is the question of who will be the ultimate leader of the firm now that Jessica has left. As much as the two spend time in “She’s Gone” trying to play co-leaders, the reality is that this dynamic can’t last forever. Someone has to be the ultimate authority. And, as Robert Zane notes, that decision will tear Harvey and Louis apart.

You know, up until this episode, Harvey and Louis have been in a pretty good place recently. They banded together and have seemed to grow closer as individuals and co-workers. That’s why watching them have one of their biggest brawls ever in this episode was so painful. Of course, it was Louis’ fault — he wanted to be vindictive toward Robert Zane and prove his worth. What he didn’t realize was that Zane was trying to offer the firm help, not take Pearson Specter Litt away from them (though is it just Specter Litt now? Inquiring minds want to know), or force a merger for his own glee. When Louis tried to recruit Zane’s associates AND his biggest client, things started to hit the fan. The reality is, Robert Zane let his associates out of their non-competes, and Louis realized far too late that Zane wasn’t trying to hurt Pearson Specter Litt; he was trying to help them. Because as much as Robert Zane tries to be tough and unforgiving, he cares about the place his daughter loves and doesn’t want to see her sink with it.

The fact that Louis did this behind Harvey’s back, as you might imagine, sends Harvey into a tailspin of rage. But I was surprised at the self-actualization/resignation from Louis in this episode. He recognized the fact that what he did — wanting to beat Robert Zane and steal his associates away because he perceived the man to be a threat to his pride — makes him unfit to be leading the firm. It’s a startling moment, really, because we’re so used to seeing Louis fight back against Harvey and seek to prove his worth. That’s kind of Louis’ whole shtick, after all: he does something rash, messes everything up, and then tells the person (or people) he’s hurt/betrayed that he did it all because he wanted to be taken seriously. With Tara’s baby on the way, though, I wonder if Louis has started to at least subtly recognize the fact that all of his actions have consequences, and he has to start taking responsibility for them. He can’t mess up and then complain when Harvey doesn’t see him as an equal. And he can’t be seen as an equal if he keeps getting the firm into hot water.

So when Harvey does blow up (and it’s a doozy, stopped only by Donna and Gretchen in the doorway), Louis doesn’t immediately rant and rail against him. He’s quiet and contemplative and it’s probably the first little bit of growth we’ve seen in Louis in this area in a long time.

But that doesn’t mean Harvey is totally in the right, either. He’s internalized his anger and grief over Jessica suddenly leaving, and isn’t handing the fact that Mike left very well either. Harvey is slowly losing control on the things in his life that were certainties. As Donna implies, he might be lashing out against Louis because it’s easier to pick a fight with him since it’s familiar than face the unknown and decision-making that comes with it.

Only time will tell when Harvey and Louis will be back on good terms (my assumption is that it won’t take long for them to make amends, since they’ll be forced to work together to get the firm back on its feet), but my hope is that this episode taught Louis exactly how ill-equipped he is to be a leader and that it helps him become a better one.

THE HARVEY/DONNA OF IT ALL


You guys don’t know how much I wanted to prepare you for that opening scene, but I couldn’t spoil anything. Needless to say that while this episode didn’t have a whole lot of Harvey/Donna interaction, it had significant moments — and I’ll get to the end in a bit — that were integral to these two moving forward as co-workers and partners.

The episode opens with a Harvey dream-turned-nightmare where he’s in bed in the morning and Donna (wearing his shirt) brings him coffee. The two clearly spent the night together, and kiss (!!!), before Donna tells him that she’s quitting her job as his secretary. This, of course, doesn’t sit well with Harvey who feels like Donna is abandoning him. Quickly, Donna retorts that she hasn’t left him — Jessica has. It’s then that Harvey wakes up, panicked. What does the dream mean, you ask? Well, it’s pretty obvious that Harvey has these conflicting feelings warring inside of him. On the one hand, he’s dreaming of what could be — of the happiest thing he can think of, which is (no surprise) Donna. It’s in her that he finds comfort and solace and happiness. Remember how the midseason finale ended? It ended with the two of them holding hands, and with Harvey accepting the comforting presence of someone else. As long as Donna is by his side, Harvey feels okay. The moment her presence is threatened, he unravels. And now, because of everything that has happened with Jessica, Harvey is able to open up more to Donna than ever before. Instead of being alone, he allows Donna to be present with him in these moments of vulnerability.

And that is precisely why their scene at the end of the episode is so important. Donna has always been the only person gentle and firm enough to break through all of Harvey’s walls. As I noted just a few moments earlier, with Jessica gone, Harvey’s walls are weaker than ever and it’s allowing him the opportunity to actually be vulnerable. That’s why Donna gently tells Harvey that before the firm can become whole again, Harvey needs to stop relying on them as his sole source of family. He has other family — a biological one — and he needs to make things right with them before he can be the leader that Pearson Specter Litt needs him to be.

It’s an abrupt, emotional end to the episode as Donna tells Harvey: “Please? Go see her.” This is going to be the season that Harvey starts actually dealing with his issues with his mom (things, in my opinion, that have prevented him from starting a relationship with Donna), and the fact that it was Donna and not a therapist who encouraged him to do this is so important to me and to their relationship. And Donna is right, after all: the people at the firm don’t mind Harvey relying on them for help and support but he cannot ask them to be his only family. It’s too much pressure on them and it prevents Harvey from confronting the issues with his real family.

As this season of Suits moves forward, I’m excited to watch Harvey grow as a person and a leader. And that will, undoubtedly, bring him closer to Donna.

MIKE STARTS ANEW, AND RACHEL CONTEMPLATES HER FUTURE


With Mike rejecting Harvey’s offer to work at Pearson Specter Litt in a consulting capacity, you might wonder what his new plan is. You’re not alone. Mike’s whole plan in "She’s Gone" is to accomplish the things he said to the jury before he went to jail. Namely, he wants to actually dedicate the rest of his career to helping people. He doesn’t want to return to a corporate law environment. He wants to do some good in the world. But as Mike quickly finds out, there’s one thing preventing him from doing that: a little checkbox on every job application that asks if he’s ever been convicted of a felony.

Yikes.

Starting with a fresh slate isn’t as easy for Mike as he would have hoped for. And Harvey doesn’t make it any easier for him in this episode. He asks Mike to consider returning to the firm, and tries to force the hand of those in authority (specifically Anita Gibbs) to get Mike back in a law job. When Mike learns about this, he’s furious that Harvey went behind his back and did something he was explicitly told not to do. Harvey means well, but he doesn’t understand that his need for things to return to a quasi-normal and Mike’s need to make a difference in peoples’ lives do not currently align. They may never align again.

Instead, this episode finds Mike trying on a profession which I thought he would actually be well-suited for: a teaching job at his old Catholic school. Fittingly, Mike teaches a class of juvenile delinquents and after a rough start, he finally breaks through to them when he tells them that their teacher has cancer and will likely die. It’s the same priest that Mike had when he was in school, and the news sobers the class — allowing Mike the chance to break through to them.

Unfortunately for Mike, one of the students told his parents that a convicted felon was his teacher and Mike gets the boot from his Catholic school. I’m actually a lot more bummed about this development than I thought I would. Watching Mike teach these kids could have been a really interesting development for his character and for his career. I would watch a show that contrasted the teaching world with the high-powered world of law. Alas, Mike is now back on the job hunt and who knows what else will await him!

(Undoubtedly, he’ll find himself back at Pearson Specter Litt because isn’t that how these things always go?)

Meanwhile, Rachel is contemplating her future when her father offers her a job after graduation at his firm. Her dad — and the dean of her school — make a good and compelling argument: when she faces the character and ethics portion of The Bar Exam, it will look better if she works for his firm rather than Pearson Specter Litt. Gretchen and Rachel have a nice moment in “She’s Gone,” when the latter accidentally leaves her offer letter in a case file. Gretchen promises not to tell, but Rachel wants to talk to someone about this. She’s conflicted because she’s loyal, but also if she’s loyal to Pearson Specter Litt and doesn’t pass The Bar, she will be loyal for nothing. Gretchen tells her that if Harvey and Louis don’t get their act together, she won’t have to choose between her father’s firm or her current one anyway.

After Louis has been torn a new one by Harvey, Gretchen tentatively approaches him and tells him that he has managed to make a mark on the firm’s future: he got ten new associates to come and work for them. But there’s one other thing he can do to help Pearson Specter Litt get back on its feet: show some love to a person who has been loyal to them for a long time.

That person, as you’ve guessed, is Rachel. Louis and Rachel have always had an interesting dynamic, and I’ve liked their storylines together in the past. He treats her with respect, for the most part, and she’s unafraid to stand up to him and hold her ground. I think Rachel is one of the few people Louis really and truly cares about, and so his offer to her to become a second-year associate is really sweet. They hug (aww!) and she accepts his offer. I guess Rachel’s loyalty will be tested this season and I’m interested to see if anything or anyone can drive her away from Pearson Specter Litt.

The back half of this season of Suits has the potential to be interesting and propel character development (and maybe some Harvey/Donna relationship development) for everyone. Bring on the drama, show!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Supergirl 2x09 Review: "Supergirl Lives" (Under a Red Sun) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]


“Supergirl Lives”
Original Airdate: January 23, 2017

Ah, it feels like it’s been an age and a half since we last visited National City! Slightly less time since we last saw Kara, on account of her her being involved in the CW’s DC crossover event. Well, I say “involved.” They didn’t actually let her do anything, which was absolutely ridiculous since she’s — without a doubt — the most powerful DC character on television right now. But that’s a rant for another time, perhaps. For now: “Supergirl Lives.”

SUPERGIRL DOES INDEED LIVE



Although we open up with Supergirl foiling a robbery, that’s really just a way to introduce the fact that Kara feels like she’s in a rut. Without any really big bads attacking her city, and with the appearance of Guardian to pick off most of the little guys, Kara hasn’t had a whole lot to do as Supergirl in the time since she defeated a bunch of aliens on Barry Allen’s Earth. Apparently going off to other planets is a great way for Kara to restore some pep in her step, though, because that’s what happens in this episode and she seems pretty refreshed at the end of it. Is that why the episode gets this title?

The main plot for “Supergirl Lives” begins with a woman seeking help from CatCo reporters (namely, Kara and — to a far lesser extent, since he’s useless — Snapper Carr) to find her missing teenage daughter. The police won’t help because the girl has a history of running away, so the distraught mother skipped straight to... a news agency? Um, I don’t really get what logic she was working with, there, but she lucked out and accidentally got to plea for help to a bored Supergirl, so hooray!

During her investigation for the missing girl (Izzy), Kara learns that a number of people have gone missing and the thing they all have in common is that each one of them had bloodwork done at a particular clinic. Did Izzy’s mother not know her daughter was getting bloodwork done at some clinic somewhere? Furthermore, the portal that sends Earthlings to another planet is kept on location at the clinic, which means that these kidnapped people probably never left the premises. But the administrator of the “clinical trial” (who was working with aliens to gather humans as off-world slave labor) still documented their arrival well enough for Winn to use a computer and find the bloodwork connection in the first place? I just have too many questions.

Anyway, Kara and Mon-El (who works as a bartender now but took the day off because he has the work ethic of an absent-minded sloth) are the ones investigating the multiple missing persons cases and they show up at the clinic, only to be presented with that aforementioned portal to another world. Although Kara tells Mon-El to go get Alex — who is busy enjoying her giddy new relationship with Maggie — the moron follows her through the portal and they both get trapped. Also: the planet has a red sun, which means that both Kara and Mon-El are powerless as well as trapped, plus no one on Earth knows where they are because Mon-El can’t follow basic directions.

The good news is that Kara and Mon-El find the missing people from Earth! The bad news is that the whole lot of them are going to be sold as slaves to one of the Dominator race we all remember from the big CW DC crossover. Without actual superpowers, the only thing Kara has going for her is unyielding optimism in the probability that someone back on Earth will realize she’s missing and start retracing her steps.

Which they do! Unfortunately, a missing Kara sends Alex into a tizzy and she sorta breaks up with Maggie because she thinks her happiness is cursed? I’m not sure. Feels like fabricated drama, and it’s swept away by the end of the episode so it doesn’t even really matter. What does matter is that Alex and the DEO teams up with Winn in order to mount a rescue of Kara. And Mon-El, too, I guess. Even though he’s terrible.

Turns out, though, that Mon-El is the only one they didn’t need to rescue. Not only does the Dominator stop one of the guards from shooting Mon-El during what would have been a totally great heroic sacrifice that I swear I would not have gleefully applauded at if he were to die, but also he bows? As wary as I am of the idea that significant portions of future plots might revolve around the human-shaped lump of beige that is Mon-El, I’m pretty curious about what all of that really means. I’m thinking that everyone who guessed Mon-El to be the actual Daxam prince is right, but I don’t really get the Dominator connection or why anyone would care to honor the prince of a destroyed planet.

So Alex and the DEO (and Winn) use a portable yellow sun device to re-power Kara and Mon-El long enough to get all the humans through the portal and put a serious dent in the slaver planet’s industry. Once they’re all through the portal again, Kara destroys the control panel and, presumably, makes it inoperable.

WINN-ING OR WHINING?


A minor plot in this episode was Winn’s arc, in which he goes from fearful of getting hurt while helping James be Guardian to being more confident after traveling through the faux-Stargate and hitting an alien with a rock. Now, I don’t really care about Winn Schott’s crisis of heroism. Him whining about how hard it is to be a hero instead of just a wisecracking lackey had me rolling my eyes so hard I probably sprained something.

But what’s worse is that the writers constantly hijack James’s story (which is pretty minor to begin with, this season, since it basically just amounts to “James is a vigilante now” and little else) with Winn’s boring antics, thereby taking a character that I genuinely liked last season — James — and making him absolutely worthless this season. Mehcad Brooks is a really good actor and Supergirl’s twist on James Olsen is an interesting one: not a youthful sidekick clinging to the capes of the more powerful, more interesting heroes, but an adult with significant standing in his career field, the likability that leads to him befriending not one, but two Kryptonian superheroes, and — with the emergence of the Guardian plot — potential for a lot of really good stories. Instead, we get James either punching people or grinning at them, with very little plot tethering him to this show.

I don’t want to say that the romantic interest between James and Kara was the bulk of James’s reason for existing (especially since the James/Kara romance subplot was terribly handled when it was going on) but it really feels like they have nothing to fall back on for him this season. They had to get him out of the way in order to make the horrendous pairing of Mon-El and Kara happen, but didn’t put a whole lot of effort into giving him something else to do.

James being Guardian, like I said, is an interesting development — however, the writers know that we’re not here to watch some other vigilante punch people; we’re here to watch Supergirl punch people. Therefore, they can’t devote too much screen time to James growing as a hero. If he paired up with Kara, maybe they could develop the idea more — but James’s vigilantism is being kept secret from Kara, which shuts that possibility down and keeps the whole James/Guardian idea as more of a distraction than a genuine vessel for character growth.

And yes, I do know that I titled this section of the review like I was going to talk about Winn, only to spend three paragraphs talking about James. It was an intentional inversion of what the show always does. Also, to reiterate: I don’t care about Winn.

Other Things:
  • Roulette was the person orchestrating the whole human slave labor thing, by the way. This role could have been played by literally anyone, so I ignored her return in my review.
  • Also missed in the review: Maggie knows Kara is Supergirl and she figured it out all on her own because she’s the only person in this universe with a brain.
  • Less ignored in the review, but still deserves a spotlight mention: Alex and Maggie are freaking adorable and Alex’s happiness makes me happy, but also terrified that the writers will destroy her.
  • Thanagarian Snare Beast mention! Unfortunately, Supergirl does not get to fight a giant spider at any point in this episode.
  • "You want a medal?" asks Snapper Carr to the reporter who presented him with an interesting, well-documented, important article that he was willing to let slip by because he has zero investigative instincts and just wanted to eat a danish. I dislike this character immensely.
  • Oh yeah, and Mon-El wants to be a hero now. Yawn.