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.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

New Girl 6x18 Review: “Young Adult” (Princi-PAL)


“Young Adult”
Orginal Airdate: February 28, 2017

In the world of New Girl, there have always been a few constants. You can assume that Schmidt will always raise his voice in a panic over something absurd that someone says. Cece will always roll her eyes at something that happens. Winston will always reference his cat or Aly or latch onto some silly cause/get himself into a silly scenario. When it comes to Nick and Jess, it’s a constant theme that they’re opposites. Jess was a nerd when she was younger, and Nick was a cool kid. Jess is Type-A to a fault, and Nick would rather live life by anything other than a plan. Jess is a rule-follower and Nick is typically a rule-breaker. 

As we covered in last week’s episode, Jess is nervous to begin her job as a principal. It was different when she was vice-principal — there was always someone higher than her that she could default to for issues or blame. Now, the buck stops with her and it’s a little scary. Especially because “Young Adult” depicts a very different school than Jess knew as vice-principal. Now that she’s in charge, students aren’t as cordial with her and—we know, because she’s Jess — this bothers her. Elsewhere in the episode, Winston and Cece prepare to have one last messaround as they pack up boxes for Schmidt and Cece’s move, while Schmidt gets a new assistant who is a little TOO eager to please.


P.J. AND PEPPERWOOD


It’s been a fair amount of time since we’ve had a true Nick/Jess story without involving Reagan or another character. In a callback to both of their prominent character traits, Jess enlists Nick’s help on being cool with her students once she discovers a few of the most popular girls reading “The Pepperwood Chronicles.” Because he would do pretty much anything for her, Nick agrees. But he has an ulterior motive — he’s got writer’s block and is hopeful that hearing about what the girls like will give him ideas (or that they’ll literally just tell him plots he should create). For Jess, this is an opportunity to assert her “coolness” among the students and for Nick, it’s a chance to get inspired.

When the girls meet Nick, they’re immediately fascinated by him (does anyone else love that it’s canon in the show that little girls LOVE Nick?), and they — in turn — provide insights they gleaned from the novel that even Nick didn’t intend to create. Meanwhile, Jess is proud and thrilled that she’s earned points with the coolest girls in school. She earns even more points, however, when Nick goes to leave and tells her that he’ll see her at home.

Aside: I’m not sure entirely why — perhaps because it felt so domestic—this little line got my Nick/Jess heart pitter-pattering. It was cute.

The girls then discover (thanks to Nick revealing it) that Nick and Jess live together and used to be in love. Suddenly, the fact that Jess has an intimate connection with Nick apart from friendship makes the principal even cooler. Jess has scored even more points. And therein lies the problem. The girls decide to nickname her “P.J.” (for Principal Jess), and declare that they’re going to blow off their next responsibilities at school. The problem that Jess has in this episode stems from the fact that she, much like me, is a people-pleaser. Jess wants everyone to like her. Remember how she became determined to get Schmidt’s mom to befriend her?

Jess’ issue here, however, is that there are always lines that we choose to cross or obey when it comes to pleasing other people. What are we willing to do? In order to get these girls to like and respect her as a principal, Jess has to pretend to be their friend. But in doing so, she’s sacrificing her authority — they see her as “cool” but not “in charge.” Eventually in the episode, Jess snaps. It’s because the girls get a little TOO chummy with her and curse at her. It’s then that Jess realizes her priorities have been out of order: being a principal doesn’t mean she has to be liked. She just has to run her school to the best of her ability. She needs to make it a place where education is first, and being liked by her students comes second. The gaggle of girls feel bad for the way that they treated Jess and approach her at the episode’s end with a group apology and a gift card for a coffee place. One of the girls says something eerily familiar, and Jess confronts Nick.

In an absolutely sweet turn of events, Nick used his relationship with the girls to get them to apologize and do something nice for Jess. Again: we’re so used to seeing Nick do this that I’m glad we’ve gotten balances of Nick and Jess doing sweet things for one another this season. But this takes the cake as far as nice moments recently. It’s wonderful that Nick realized how important being a principal is, and how hard it can be. It’s not easy for Jess to accept that she can’t be friends with everyone and the fact that Nick had the girls do something special for Jess speaks volumes to her and to me. 

I could be wrong here, and I really hope I’m not, but it seems like the end of this season might see a reconciliation for Nick/Jess fans after all.


CAT CALLING


Winston is helping Cece pack up her and Schmidt’s stuff to move into the new house. It’s a bittersweet moment because this is the last messaround they’ll have together while she’s living in Apartment 4D. I don’t know when New Girl decided to really commit to Winston and Cece being friends and having shenanigans, but I’m totally all for it. These two are fun to watch. This week, a messaround involves Winston. A crazy cat lady neighbor claims that Furguson is her cat, and Winston is totally baffled by this. It looks like his little kitty has been two-timing him. The neighbor, Gill, tells Winston that the cat is actually named “Sweatshirt” and has been living with her for a year. 

Packing is essentially out the window by this point, because Winston and Cece decide to tag-team an effort to prove that Furguson is actually Winston’s cat. It’s decided that Winston and Gill will each try to call Furguson over and whoever he willingly goes to will be the person who takes care of him. After Cece tries to cheat by sticking a crab leg in her pocket to lure over Furguson (genius, by the way), her true motives are revealed: she’s upset about the fact that Winston will be alone once she moves out. And if the cat leaves him too, he’ll really be alone. These two have such a sweet, random friendship don’t they? It works so well!

In the end, Furguson decides to return to Winston, who feels bad that Gill lost her cat. He agrees to share “cat-stody” (and then nearly-immediately backtracks on that). I like the fact that this week’s Winston/Cece story was light on the shenanigans and heavy on the emphasis of how much closer Winston and Cece have gotten over the years. They’re more than just prank buddies — they’re actually friends who are going to miss one another. Aww.

SCHMIDT’S GOT A CREEPY ASSISTANT


Okay, maybe “creepy” is the wrong word. He’s just overeager. Actually... that’s not true. Jeremy is creepy. He is essentially what would exist if Schmidt could create a robot executive assistant for himself. Jeremy anticipates Schmidt’s every need, thinks through solutions quickly and logically, and does his job efficiently. So efficiently, in fact, that Schmidt is essentially rendered useless at one point in time during the episode. He even offers to help Winston and Cece help pack because he’s that bored.

When Schmidt confronts Jeremy about his behavior, we get a rare moment of Schmidt’s priorities: even though he’s made work and his new promotion a goal for so long, there are more important things in life than work. This isn’t something we would have heard from Schmidt a few years ago. Remember how he was so consumed with rising in his career that he was willing to sacrifice his old friends to make newer, cooler ones (“Prince”)? I love how far Schmidt has come, and I love the fact that he has realized that his job isn’t everything — but it does have its perks to get a robot assistant who cares only about work.

“Young Adult” was a fun New Girl episode that focused on the fact that we don’t have to have it all together in order to be adults and that sometimes having fun needs to be shelved in order to be a leader.

Funny bits and pieces:
  • I love that Jess has a “Lunch with Your Princi-PAL” campaign.
  • Schmidt yelling at Nick in the kitchen literally gave me flashbacks to him yelling, “GIVE ME THE SPOT OR I’LL KILL YOU ALL” in “Parking Spot.”
  • I absolutely loved Nick, Jess, Schmidt, and Cece yelling at one another over the last little bit of coffee. It felt so organic — like it’s something they do every week.
  • “This ain’t nothin’ but the devil’s water.” I CRIED LAUGHING.
  • “It’s like I’m living in my own damn adorable shadow.”
  • “I’ll see you at home.” I don’t know why, but that particular line gave me some Nick/Jess feelings.
  • “Because caring? That is the real messaround!”
  • “You always come through for me, Jess. To the upmost.” “I assure you, it’s ‘utmost.’”
What did you all think of this week’s episode? Sound off in the comments below!

Supergirl 2x14 Review: "Homecoming" (Broken Hearts) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]


"Homecoming"
Original Airdate: February 27, 2017

All right, we have a lot to unpack this week, so let's just dive right in. Although it works to move the season arc along, this is definitely a “character” episode. Action and villains of the week take a backseat to the emotions, relationships, and growth of the Supergirl characters — something I am all for, especially since it meant some really great work from some of the actors.

HELLO JEREMIAH; GOODBYE JEREMIAH


The big, pivotal event of “Homecoming” is the return of Jeremiah Danvers, an event that was self-spoiled by the “previously on” segment before the episode. Jeremiah is rescued from a Cadmus transport by Kara and J’onn, who bring him back to DEO headquarters and everyone welcomes him home with open arms. No one is more thrilled by the return of Jeremiah than Alex, who goes into “dedicated daughter” mode immediately. Mon-El, however, is more suspicious: the appearance of Jeremiah seems too coincidental, his rescue too easy, and his open access to the DEO too potentially useful to the brainwashing Cadmus folks who had kept him captive.

Mon-El is right, we all learn, but he’s right in the worst way. Tact is not something that enters Mon-El’s mind, probably because he has zero experience putting the feelings of other people before his own. While Team Supergirl celebrates the return of the Danvers patriarch, Mon-El and Kara get into a huge fight because Kara’s boyfriend is a tactless douche and brought his suspicions up during family dinner. Alex is the angriest, however, and I think she’s about ten seconds away from punching Mon-El in the face (broken metacarpals be darned) before Kara manages to defuse the situation.


Uuuuntil Mon-El screws up again, with the help of Winn, and the two of them convince Kara to confront Jeremiah over him secretly accessing DEO files while no one was around to see him. Jeremiah has a ready excuse that computer details back up, which leaves Alex furious at Mon-El, Winn, AND Kara. She even tells Kara that she needs to pick a side or, essentially, stop considering herself part of the Danvers family. I feel like this part of the episode, while well-acted by Chyler Leigh, was a bit extreme for Alex’s character. From past situations and her near-unconditional love of Kara, I think “desperate confusion” would be more fitting than the hurtful rage that she throws at Kara in “Homecoming.”

Anyway, Jeremiah does turn out to be working for Cadmus in the end. Because of course he is. They gave him a cybernetic body and, I assume, a pretty extensive brainwashing procedure and he gives them all the DEO’s information on the aliens currently living on Earth. You know, I keep forgetting Cadmus’s anti-alien mission statement? It’s just always a bit overshadowed by Lillian Luthor’s singular craziness. In the back of my mind, I assume she’s just trying to take over the world, like your average evil cliche.

The action of the episode involves Martian-punching cyborgs and blowing up train bridges, the threat of nuclear explosions, and some gunfire. But as I said, this episode is more about the characters than the action. The fact that it’s Jeremiah who turns against the DEO and his family, the tension between Kara and Alex, and the tension between Mon-El and Kara — all of this is more important and more intriguing than Cadmus’s nefarious schemes (for now). When the truth comes out, it looks like no one gets away unscathed.

Alex’s storyline — from her joy at seeing her father again, to her anger over what she sees as Kara’s betrayal of their family, to Jeremiah’s actual betrayal of their family — is absolutely the emotional weight of the episode, even though so much of “Homecoming” actually revolves around Mon-El and Kara’s relationship. Alex gained the most and lost the most in this episode. Even her mother couldn’t quite accept Jeremiah’s return, nor promise to simply wipe away the fourteen years he’d been gone. But Alex was on board immediately, and she was burned for that instant forgiveness. The fact that she’s the one who let Jeremiah get away in the end, because she couldn’t bear to shoot him even though she knew he’d be taking critical information back to Cadmus, adds another layer of awful onto this very awful series of events.

It’s no wonder she’s drinking at the end of the episode, when Maggie pops up to ask her how the reunion with her father went. And it’s no wonder that that question turns Alex into a sobbing mess in her girlfriend’s arms. Uhg, poor Alex.

HOLY CRAP I GET TO DO MORE THAN JUST CALL MON-EL BORING


Wow, what a surprise — Supergirl stopped treating Mon-El like he’s some charming rogue whose mistakes are instantly forgiven because of a rakish smile and a peppy attitude, and I like him a bit more than I did before! My issue with this character has always been that he’s boring. He’s predictable. He’s a handsome, extroverted and care-free former hedonist with (allegedly) a heart of gold and his arc is practically set in stone: Kara will teach him how to be a hero through faith and love, Mon-El will end up the True Hero that he’s always had the potential to be, and everything is magical and as bland as unsalted soda crackers. I’ve seen this character a million times before and I’ll see this character a million more times.

More than just being boring, though, Mon-El has remained confusingly selfish and sort of terrible while the show itself seems to insist that he's still a future hero and we should all be charmed by his actions. Mon-El didn’t really learn anything after “We Can Be Heroes” (arguably the episode in which his problems are most clearly underlined by Kara) and he continued not learning things in subsequent episodes, but his careless and quippy attitude — and budding romance with Kara — meant that it was fine. No probs here, folks! Mon-El’s still putting himself and his own desires before morality and the safety of the people around him (not to mention before the feelings of the woman he probably cares for more than other other person on the planet) but haha, he’s so rascally! Ain’t he a stinker?

Finally, blessedly, Mon-El’s selfishness and inability to listen to Kara backfires on him in this episode. Usually, these big revelations in characters of Mon-El’s type would come via his own stupid actions and have huge, life-altering losses attached to them, over which our soon-to-be-hero would brood for ages. I suppose Supergirl pulled a semi-interesting twist on this sort of karmic retribution tale by invoking some Boy Who Cried Wolf attributes. Mon-El has spent so much time not taking anything seriously and being selfish that, when he actually turns out right about something, he’s the one who can’t get anyone to listen.

Mon-El’s turning point isn’t a dramatic loss in the heat of battle, but the growth of some self-awareness. Brought about by Winn, of all people. Apparently Winn’s alien girlfriend makes him a wise, wise man — or maybe it’s because Winn’s history of angsting about Kara has actually evolved into some character growth. He even offers up the most perfect bit of advice regarding Mon-El’s relationship: "[Kara] doesn't need a protector or someone to show her off. She does that all by herself."

For the first time since the character has shown up, we actually see Mon-El absorbing the advice and lessons he’s supposed to have learned throughout the episode and putting them to use. Unlike previous times when he’s supposedly “learned” things, he doesn’t just shrug everything off with a grin. When Kara is curled up and crying, rightfully devastated by the events surrounding Jeremiah’s betrayal, Mon-El carefully and deliberately asks her what she needs from him and then follows through with her request, without comment.

Basically, Mon-El learns to shut up and listen in this episode. Hallelujah. I don’t really know what this means for his future as a hero, or if the writers are going to — as I kind of hope they do — just arrive at the conclusion that some people aren’t meant to be heroes. Non-heroes aren’t necessarily bad people. They’re just... more centralized people. As amazing as it would be, not everyone in the world can be Supergirl... but the lack of Supergirl-like attributes in an otherwise good person doesn’t automatically put that person in the realm of villainy, either.

Other Things:
  • I can’t figure out where the “Mon-El doesn’t understand Earth culture” joke ends and the “Mon-El is just a jerk” character trait begins.
  • "And you're right, Alex does deserve the best." Maggie’s pretty fantastic.
  • Mon-El’s secret is probably that he’s actually the Daxam prince, but I can’t figure out why Kara would hate him for that. My favorite theory is that he’s actually evil and being around Supergirl has made a way more significant change in his morality than the show has let us believe.
  • Wonder how long my uneasy truce with both Winn and Mon-El will last. Winn’s probably safe for a while, but frankly, I give Mon-El until the next episode.

The 100 4x04 Recap: "A Lie Guarded" (Broken Treaties) [Guest Poster: Ilene Friedman]


"A Lie Guarded"
Original Airdate: February 22, 2017

I’m going to let season four finish, but, I’m just saying: this is the best season of The 100 we’ve ever had. The parallels between season one Abby/Jaha/Kane and Clarke/Bellamy/Raven are so strong and so important to these characters’ developments/stories that I could cry. These character arcs are finally getting the justice they deserve!

So, what exactly happened this episode? Well the episode starts with a homage to The Parent Trap, with the delinquents floating Jaha in the middle of a lake. The entire camp is laughing as Jasper screams: “It looks like you got floated.” It seems like the delinquents still aren’t over everyone they love getting killed in space -- fair enough. However, things turn for the worse quickly when clouds roll in and everyone is screaming that it is black rain. The problem? Jasper refuses to go inside and decides to dance in the rain instead. It turns out to be regular rain, but no one is happy with Jasper’s unstable antics (I am also kind of sick of them, even though I get why he is the way he is).

But two crazy moments aren’t enough for Jasper: he and Monty decide to rig up a prank in the Chancellor’s office as well. Bad news bears -- Jasper finds The List. Monty tries to play it off as not a big deal, but Jasper is livid. He can’t let Clarke decide who is worth saving; she’s not God. Clarke enters the room, only to be hit with fire extinguisher foam in the face, and a raving Jasper.

But before he can tell the whole camp about The List, Clarke shock batons Jasper, much to Monty’s horror. This leads to Jasper getting locked up and Monty going against Clarke and reading The List to the entire camp. The crowd quickly gathers and Clarke is forced to explain why she picked who she did -- including herself and Bellamy. She told them she picked strong females who could reproduce, people who were healthy, valuable workers, etc. As the crowd's anger escalates, Jaha quickly steps in before things get out of hand. He then defends Clarke and Bellamy's actions as leaders, but proposes a lottery system. Those who work hard get entered into a drawing to be on The List; those who don’t get cut. They will draw names in two months.

Defeated, Clarke releases Jasper and apologizes for locking him up. He called her “Jaha-Lite” -- OUCH. However, a peek of old Jasper appears, which even causes me to laugh: “Someday, when all of this is over, you’re going to realize that foam bit was funny.” He’s not wrong.

Now back in Polis, Bellamy and his hunting party have been captured by Echo and Roan. Ugh... I’m so sick of Echo. Apparently Bellamy’s hunting partner Steven told Echo that Clarke and crew were reinforcing the Ark to ride out the radiation. Roan is now, understandably, enraged and feels betrayed. Kane tries to explain that the ship is a back-up plan, but it is too little too late: the truce has been broken. Echo slices Steven’s neck and imprisons Bellamy and Kane. Haven’t we moved past this by now? The Ice Nation then goes after Indra -- who escapes -- and Octavia.

Octavia rushes off on Helios to warn Skaikru about the breach in the treaty. Echo rushes after her and the two go into battle against one another. Octavia gets stabbed and falls into the river. Echo heads back to Polis and tells Bellamy that Octavia is dead. That obviously goes over well. Luckily, Octavia survives the fall and has time to go warn Skaikru -- which obviously Bellamy doesn’t know. That’s gonna be an interesting reunion.

Meanwhile, Skaikru group three is heading to Becca’s island to try and find a way to reverse engineer Luna’s blood. Luna feels like she is only being protected because of her blood, but Nyko tells her that the Sky People are good and she should trust them. They arrive at Becca’s island, where drones immediately start shooting at everyone. Luckily, Raven and Luna come up with a plan to save the group. Luna grabs a drone -- FROM THE AIR -- and Raven is able to hack into the system to take down all the drones. Now, it seems that Raven had a little brain glitch, but maybe I was seeing things -- it looked like she got a headache before getting to work on the drones.

The crew then safely arrives in Becca’s lab and the real work begins.

Final Thoughts:
  • You know who I think can reproduce? Clarke and Bellamy. 
  • I like this version of Jaha, but dude has so many personalities these days that it’s hard to keep up. 
  • Monty not being on that list was BS. 
  • Murphy will always be my problematic fave: holding Emori’s hand over the line, saving Raven’s butt, etc. 
  • Anyone else beginning to ship Luna and Raven? I see it. What are they called? Runa? Laven? HELP.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Series: This Week’s TV MVPs -- Week 54

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If you're not still reeling from the Oscars, you should be reading this week's installment of our TV MVP Series! This week, we celebrate some powerful dramatic performances across the board, and even honor a writer/director.

Joining me are:

  • New guest contributor, Jessenika!
  • Erin
  • Julia
Let's kick this off!

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Oscar’s 2017: Chelsea’s Chaotic Dreams [Contributor: Chelsea]


Movie Super Bowl is upon us this weekend, and unlike the past few years, the 80th Academy Awards is looking to be the most predictable awards show of the year. With La La Land sweeping everything but the SAG Awards (for which it was not nominated for Best Ensemble), it’s looking to sweep again tonight. The only thing that could get in its way is the new crop of Academy voters and the inevitable backlash at its frontrunner status.

Instead of being boring and just trying to predict who will win what, I’m going to go through my dream chaotic Oscars scenario, and luckily, I’ve seen almost every nominated film this year, including the short films and documentaries.

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BEST PICTURE
Arrival
Fences
Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or High Water
Hidden Figures
La La Land
Lion
Manchester by the Sea
Moonlight


This is one of the many awards La La Land has in the bag, and the only thing working against the film is the lack of SAG ensemble nomination. The only other film to win Best Picture without that SAG Ensemble nod was Braveheart, and that was the first year of the ceremony. In my perfect world, Moonlight would be taking this home because, favoritism aside, it is the best made film and the most important film of 2016. I would be DELIGHTED to see something like Lion or Arrival hop in there and throw everything into shambles, but if there was going to be a populist upset, then Hidden Figures would be your film. What I would give for one of those four films to snag Best Picture.

BEST DIRECTOR
Denis Villeneuve, Arrival
Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge
Damien Chazelle, La La Land
Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea
Barry Jenkins, Moonlight

Barry Jenkins is really the only director that deserves to be nominated here. I just do not like Damien Chazelle’s work and white perspective on jazz music, but he’s gonna take this because how does the film with 14 nominations not win Best Director? Denis Villeneuve was a nice addition here, but I wish we had a Pablo Larrain, Mike Mills, and Ava DuVernay in here instead of Gibson, Lonergan, and Chazelle.

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BEST ACTOR
Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge
Ryan Gosling, La La Land
Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic
Denzel Washington, Fences

Sunny Pawar was the Best Actor of 2016 and I will fight people on this. This batch is just a really bad category where they could have done so much better. The Oscars have a history of rewarding white men with sexual abuse allegations, so Casey Affleck will be in great company when he probably wins. Denzel is our only real hope for an upset, but what I wouldn't give for Andrew Garfield to win (even though Hacksaw Ridge is really awful). Gosling is just riding that La La Land wave.

BEST ACTRESS
Isabelle Huppert, Elle
Ruth Negga, Loving
Natalie Portman, Jackie
Emma Stone, La La Land
Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins

Ahh, the category where everyone is pretty great and we could’ve had six more nominees. Emma Stone is the clear frontrunner, but if we had to give her an Oscar for anything in her filmography, it should have been Easy A. She was robbed. Let’s toss this one to Ruth Negga or Isabelle Huppert instead, while mourning the fact that the Academy does not deserve Annette Bening and all the wonderful work she’s given them.

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BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water
Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea
Dev Patel, Lion
Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals

The only chaos I would accept here would be Dev Patel getting this over Mahershala Ali and only barely because Ali is so dang good in Moonlight. His performance in the first act reigns over the entire film and is a masterclass in nonverbal acting. Hot dad Dev Patel can only win if he brings Sunny Pawar on stage with him in a matching tux.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Viola Davis, Fences
Naomie Harris, Moonlight
Nicole Kidman, Lion
Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures
Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea

It’s just a shame that Greta Gerwig and Lupita Nyong’o couldn’t have snuck in here for 20th Century Women and Queen of Katwe, respectively. I would swap those two in for Nicole Kidman and Michelle Williams in an instant. This one time I will go with the general consensus though and award Viola Davis, because it’s ridiculous that we haven’t yet. She is one of our few GREAT actors working in the industry today and I only wish she was getting a lead actress statue.

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BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Hell or High Water
La La Land
The Lobster
Manchester by the Sea
20th Century Women


Y’all, 20th Century Women is just so good and the best thing I watched last year. Writing does not get better than what Mike Mills delivered. I also really don’t like any of the other four nominees and this would have been a great place to reward Jackie or The Edge of Seventeen. I know La La Land and Manchester are battling hard for this one, but why don’t we just give it to the super fun and pro-women film instead to make up for its snubs across the board?

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Arrival
Fences
Hidden Figures
Lion
Moonligh
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Unlike the Original side, this category is just stacked with great scripts. Moonlight and Arrival both won WGA awards, but these two scripts are going against each other for the first time since the Academy decided Moonlight was an adapted script. As much as I wish Arrival would win anything, I gotta pull for Moonlight here. I don’t want any chaotic nonsense to get in the way of this beautiful film.

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Arrival
La La Land
Lion
Moonlight
Silence


I would sell both kidneys if Lion or Moonlight got this one. The first hour of Lion is the most beautiful thing I’ve watched in years, and Moonlight is everything that is right in film. Arrival and Silence are beautiful as well and just as worthy of being nominated. One of the top three biggest reasons I hated La La Land was the cinematography and realizing that it was done by the man behind the horrid cinematography of American Hustle and Joy. Do we really want to give that guy a statue before somebody like the great Roger Deakins, who is the Susan Lucci of this category?

BEST FILM EDITING
Arrival
Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or High Water
La La Land
Moonlight


This would be the perfect place to reward Arrival because that film is seamless and the editing is what makes all the mystery work. Moonlight is just as worthy, of course. Pass on the others.

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BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
Deepwater Horizon
Doctor Strange
The Jungle Book
Kubo and the Two Strings
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story


The Jungle Book was all visual effects, but how cool would it be for a stop-motion animated film like Kubo to win? It would just be wild and perfect.

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
Arrival
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Hail, Caesar!
La La Land
Passengers


The fact that this is the only nomination for Hail, Caesar! is why we don’t deserve nice things. Channing Tatum should be sweeping the awards season for his song and dance number.

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BEST COSTUME DESIGN
Allied
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Florence Foster Jenkins
Jackie
La La Land


Fantastic Beasts winning anything would be the first Oscar win for the Harry Potter franchise, and again, this is why we don’t deserve nice things. Jackie would be the best winner though and it’s just laughable that La La Land is here and Hidden Figures is not.

BEST MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING
A Man Called Ove
Star Trek Beyond
Suicide Squad


BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

You know what, why not? Give it to Suicide Squad.

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
Jackie
La La Land
Lion
Moonlight
Passengers


LION OR JACKIE, DON’T FIGHT ME ON THIS! LA LA LAND ISN’T ACTUALLY GOOD MUSIC! DON’T LET THEM FOOL YOU WITH THEIR SLICK HOLLYWOOD MEDIOCRITY AND FLUFF! DO YOU KNOW HOW OFTEN FEMALE COMPOSERS ARE NOMINATED? 'CAUSE I DO, AND IT’S A SAD FACT. JACKIE NEEDS THIS ONE.

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BEST ORIGINAL SONG
“Audition (The Fools Who Dream),” La La Land
“Can’t Stop the Feeling,” Trolls
“City of Stars,” La La Land
“The Empty Chair,” Jim: The James Foley Story
“How Far I’ll Go,” Moana

What does Lin have to do to get an EGOT over the meh musical songs? Moana was so good and possibly the best Disney Princess film.

BEST SOUND EDITING
Arrival
Deepwater Horizon
Hacksaw Ridge
La La Land
Sully


Hear me out: Deepwater Horizon would be such a deserving winner here. Or Arrival because we don’t know what aliens in coffee beans really sound like.

BEST SOUND MIXING
Arrival
Hacksaw Ridge
La La Land
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi


Sticking with Arrival on this one again. If The Force Awakens can’t win an Oscar, then Rogue One surely does not deserve any.

Image result for zootopia gif

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
Kubo and the Two Strings
Moana
My Life as a Zucchini
The Red Turtle
Zootopia


Low-key cheering for Moana because I’m a sucker for a good musical, but Zootopia is the most political film of the past decade. Who doesn’t want the film that's about taking down a leader inciting fear upon the citizenry and dealing with sexism in the workplace to win? Why isn’t Zootopia up for Best Picture again?

BEST DOCUMENTARY
Fire at Sea
I Am Not Your Negro
Life, Animated
O.J.: Made in America
13th


All of these are great, even though I’m only two hours into OJ: Made in America. But can we give this one to 13th for Ava DuVernay, or Fire at Sea? Let the O.J. miniseries be this year's award winner.

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
Land of Mine
A Man Called Ove
The Salesman
Tanna
Toni Erdmann


Cheering for The Salesman purely in support of filmmaker Asghar Farhadi being unable to attend the show due to the Muslim travel ban.

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT
Extremis
4.1 Miles
Joe's Violin
Watani: My Homeland
The White Helmets


I really loved all of these even though they’re all super hard to get through. Three of them tackle the Syria and refugee crisis in some way, while the fourth deals with a Holocaust survivor donating his 70 year old violin to a young girl. The fifth looks at families, doctors, and patients exploring end-of-life decisions. Oddly enough, the Holocaust one is the most uplifting, but I’m pulling for the Syrian docs.

BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT
Ennemis Entreniers
La Femme et le TGV
Silent Nights
Sing
Timecode


All of these are really bad. Sing is the only somewhat enjoyable one that isn’t a GREAT film, but it’s the best thing here.

BEST ANIMATED SHORT
Blind Vaysha
Borrowed Time
Pear Cider and Cigarettes
Pearl
Piper


Piper
is adorable and just a joy to watch. I’m cool with Pixar getting its first win here.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Grey’s Anatomy 13x14 Review: “Back Where You Belong” (Coming Home) [Contributor: Julia Siegel]


“Back Where You Belong”
Original Airdate: February 23, 2017

In one of the more aptly-titled episodes of the year, the doctors of Grey-Sloan Memorial Hospital are forced to face their personal demons in order to aide their patients. This is a pretty common theme of the past few years, but this episode was done particularly well. Through not-so-subtle parallel patient stories, all of the major storylines of the season start to come full circle.


EMOTIONAL BEATING 


One doctor has been suffering more than the others this season, and it may not be who you are thinking. Jo has been dealing with Alex, DeLuca, and her own personal turmoil all at the same time. It’s hard not to feel bad for her, even though she did bring all this on herself. Now that Alex is out of his impending jail sentence and back at work, it seemed as if one of Jo’s stressors was eliminated. Unfortunately for her, Jo faces the psychological struggle of her past when a patient’s life looks similar to her own.

Jo’s patient-of-the-week is a dying boy, whose mother is donating her kidney to him. Things get complicated when the long-lost father shows up to the hospital, who is revealed to have beaten the mother in front of the son years prior. Naturally, Jo doesn’t want to allow the father to be near the patients after they express their discontent. She goes through a mental struggle when the father becomes the only viable option for a kidney for the son (the surgery on the mother goes awry). Jo clearly has trouble dealing with the situation, as it makes her think of her own abusive past. It was good to see Jo have to overcome her personal aggression to save her patients, and it came via some great acting by Camilla Luddington. While this story hasn’t quite wrapped up yet, since Jo’s mysterious husband has yet to appear, Jo is finally heading in the right direction.


LOST AND FOUND 


The Meredith/Riggs/Maggie love triangle was blooming in the late part of last season and the early part of this season. They cooled down a while ago, but it’s about to start up again in the next new episode. For now, we just have to deal with Riggs having a slow breakdown, Maggie trying to console and understand him, and Meredith being stubborn (more on this in the next section). Riggs and Maggie team up to help a Jane Doe with probable psychological problems after she wanders into the emergency room and collapses. They locate the parents of the woman through the serial number on the pace maker they remove, and the parents say that their daughter had been missing for twelve years.

Riggs becomes increasingly emotional throughout the episode, as he reflects on searching for his lost fiancĂ©e. He struggles with the fact that the parents of his patient gave up on searching for their daughter, moved on with their lives, and are now blessed with having her back. He would give anything to get his Megan back, a truth that is shown just through his eyes. Maggie wants to help Riggs talk through it, but he doesn’t want to share his feelings or story. I felt bad for Maggie because she only wanted to help. Riggs is a tortured soul, but I have a feeling that he and Meredith might actually be good for each other. I haven’t liked the idea of them together since the character of Riggs was announced last year, but after Meredith’s speech to Maggie at the end of the episode, it might be a good time for both of them.


STUBBORNESS 


Bailey and Meredith also have loose ends to tie up. Bailey takes a few hours off from the hospital to go talk some sense into Meredith. Like typical Meredith, she refuses to come back to the hospital unless Richard gets his title and the residency program back. Like typical Bailey, she won’t budge and wants Meredith as her supportive number two. Stuck in no-man’s land, Bailey leaves while Meredith stands firm. Bailey’s next move is to send Richard in to talk some sense into Meredith, who gives a heartfelt speech about how she doesn’t want to be her mother that made me tear up.

Meredith listens to her father figure and takes her job back. Thankfully, Meredith’s little non-accomplishing strike comes to an anti-climactic end. I mean, how long could Meredith stay away from the hospital she owns anyway? This was one of the most boring and ridiculous storylines of the Minnick/Richard saga, so I am very glad to see it end.

To wrap it all up, Alex came back to the hospital, Meredith took her job back, Jo faces her hidden feelings, Maggie tries to get out of her rut with Riggs, and Riggs shows some good emotion during the first time he’s been featured in a few episodes. Some stories wrapped up while others took a turn for the better in an episode that questioned ethics, morality, and the human psyche.

The Flash 3x13 Review: "Attack on Gorilla City" (Preternatural Primates) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]


"Attack on Gorilla City"
Original Airdate: February 21, 2017

Oh, The Flash. You just take the ridiculous nature of comic books and lean right into it, don’t you? You wonderful, wonderful show. And nothing emphasizes that ridiculousness quite like a city full of psychic gorillas, one of which is bent on world domination and revenge.

WELCOME TO GORILLA CITY


Last episode ended with Jesse showing up and telling us that her father is being held in Earth-2’s Gorilla City, where they sent Grodd in that one episode with an amazing name. Yeah, did they forget they sent the crazy-powerful super intelligent ape to Earth-2 or what? Jesse and Harry were both like, “Tra la la, goin’ home!” when they left. Of course the ape kidnapped Harry, people! What were you expecting Grodd to do, live out his life in peace and not put a revenge plot into motion? It’s like you’ve never even met crazy-powerful super intelligent apes before.

Team Flash, of course, volunteers to rescue Harry from Gorilla City. Well, Barry, Cisco, Caitlin, and Julian volunteer — the rest of the team stays behind, because who needs THREE speedsters when just one will (probably) do? Also, I love that Julian volunteers to go. Not only because it’s pretty clear that he wants to hang around Caitlin, but also because he shows up wearing a full-on Indiana Jones trekking-through-the-jungle outfit, complete with a wide-brimmed hat. It’s just terrific that he owns those clothes. It’s doubly terrific that he practically jumps at the chance to wear them.


The Gorilla City action starts pretty quickly, with Cisco opening up a breach to Earth-2 and the Away Crew stepping through to an Earth-2 Africa that looks remarkably similar to the temperate forests of Earth-1 Canada. Gorilla City seems to consist entirely of an amphitheater, a prison, and massive statues of apes. Listen: I’m not a professional municipal planner or anything, Gorilla City, but even I can pinpoint a few problem areas in your city concept.

It’s really no surprise that there’s trouble in the Gorilla City government. It’s doubly not a surprise when the team gets captured by Grodd and we find out that much of that political gorilla trouble stems from our favorite psychic simian. Apparently, Grodd wants The Flash’s help in defeating the current Gorilla City leader, Solovar. When Solovar is defeated, Grodd tells Team Flash (by talking through Harrison Wells for absolutely no reason other than the real-life reason that it’s pretty expensive to keep the animated gorilla on screen for a long time), then he’ll let everyone (Harry included) go free and never bother Earth-1 again. Ha! Yeah, you make a compelling argument, Grodd, but you’ve clearly gone full villain at this point and your sympathy credit is in negative numbers.

We get to see that amphitheater from the earlier Gorilla City establishing shot put to use in a gladiatorial death match between Barry and Solovar. Not really sure why Solovar would participate in a fight to the death when he’s supposed to be running a whole city and has responsibilities and stuff, but like I said — Gorilla City isn’t exactly a gem of political progress or civil engineering. Joking aside, though, I was incredibly impressed by the CG stuff that The Flash pulled off in this episode. While Gorilla City may be lacking in obvious marketplaces or other signs of civilization, the sweeping shots of the things it does have, the crowd shots of hundreds of gorillas watching the fight between Solovar and Barry, and the fight itself — it was all really impressive work for a CW show. I suspect that it absolutely devoured this season’s budget, but it was neat.

Though Barry does defeat Solovar — with Cisco offering helpful commentary and Julian offering hilariously unhelpful commentary — he refuses to kill the killer gorilla in front of the gorilla onlookers. For the second time of the episode, Barry gets knocked out with some darts (he’s supposed to be the Fastest Man Alive? Really?) and locked in a cage to await another one of Grodd’s villainous speeches. Once he comes to, Grodd tells Barry that the fight against Solovar totally counted and he’s leader of genius-gorillakind now, but he was totes lying about staying in the city and leaving Earth-1’s humanity alone. Surprise!

Grodd proves that he really is a pretty smart gorilla when he allows Team Flash to believe they’ve tricked him (it’s a whole plan involving faking Barry’s death by getting Caitlin to freeze him a bit) and they escape. The chipper Team Flash returns to Earth-1 with Harry, to reunite him with Jesse, and are completely ignorant of the fact that Grodd’s new position of power within Gorilla City has allowed him to amass the city’s populace as a massive gorilla army.


YEAH, EARTH-2 TOTALLY DOESN’T NEED SPEEDSTERS


I was rather amused by the fact that this episode’s opposition revolved entirely around Earth-2, where apparently a city of warmongering gorillas has been permitted to just... boil in resentment, I guess? This is amusing because the other half of this episode, the Earth-1 half with Wally and Jesse, was all about Wally and Jesse reconnecting and Jesse deciding that she wants to stay on Earth-1.

Ignoring, for a moment, how adorable Wally and Jesse are together (i.e., very adorable) and their budding romance (which happens questionably fast, but I’m not going to raise too much of a complaint about that — like I said, they’re pretty adorable)... Jesse is supposed to be a superhero over on Earth-2, isn’t she? Like, she has an actual job to do, saving people from the same sort of stuff that Team Flash saves people from? And she’s just going to leave so that she can join up with the main crew?

And from a viewer’s perspective... sigh. I think I’m burnt out on all the speedsters, The Flash. You gotta give me something different. We’ve had evil speedsters and good speedsters and time-traveling speedsters and dimension-traveling speedsters. We’ve had inept speedsters and speedsters who got their powers from drugs and speedsters who got their powers from particle accelerator explosions and speedsters who can connect directly with the Speed Force and we have the God of Speed. Look: I love you, show, but I think you need to dip your bucket in a new well, because this one’s coming up dry.

Other Things:
  • Other budding romance during this episode: Julian and Caitlin! Aw, they’re so cute together and he’s definitely going to die or turn evil. But he believes in Caitlin, and that’s really sweet.
  • "I'm sorry I took the smile from your face." H.R. must really be a writer, because that was downright poetic.
  • Huh, I wonder why Julian got so excited about the Planet of the Apes.
  • I could not keep a straight face whenever Tom Cavanagh had to speak as Grodd speaking through Harry.
  • "Barry. Cisco. ... Indiana." Julian is only allowed to wear his Indiana Jones gear from now on. It’s the best.
  • "I bet he couldn't even remember an ATM code if he tried." "All those numbers." "It's only four digits." I hope H.R. and Harry interact more in the next episode.
  • "I think we should find a local steakhouse and be terrified together." Julian is smooth.
  • "You finally gonna get some sleep tonight?" "Well, that last part is entirely up to you." Barry is also smooth.

Arrow 5x14 Review: "The Sin-Eater" (Absolution, or Absolutely Not)


"The Sin-Eater"
Original Airdate: February 22, 2017

"I'm a sin-eater. I absorb the misdeeds of others, darkening my soul to keep theirs pure." — Raymond Reddington, The Blacklist

The concept of a sin-eater isn't really new to me as a viewer going into this week's Arrow. As someone who is a Christian (and also someone who watched The Blacklist and Sleepy Hollow ages ago), the idea of someone absorbing the payment that another person deserved is pretty commonplace for me. Raymond Reddington's quote from The Blacklist is probably the most concise explanation of what a sin-eater actually is: a person who does horrible things and absorbs the horrible things of others in order to save them. On The Blacklist, Red absorbed a lot to keep Elizabeth Keen safe. In Arrow, we often see Oliver as a kind of sin-eater  willing to take on darkness so that other can keep their souls pure.

The allusion is really loose in "The Sin-Eater," however, which is pretty disappointing. Instead of focusing on the fact that Oliver does dark things in order to protect the people he loves from being darkened, there are heavy-handed allusions and direct references to sin and the sin-eater in the flashbacks and a literal "sin" drop from Thea to Quentin and then from Quentin back to Oliver. (Both scenes in which, for the record, I literally groaned at.) Subtlety has never been within this show's wheelhouse, but I was hoping for something a little more nuanced and a lot less blatant in "The Sin-Eater," especially because without those random title and thematic drops, this episode is kind of all over the place.


THE DEADLY TRIO


Liza Warner, China White, and Carrie Cutter (also known as Cupid) escape from a really, really low-security transportation bus. Like, really low security. Y'all, these people ARE BAD. WHY ARE THEY IN A SCHOOL-BUS TRANSPORT VEHICLE? That tiny bit of logic aside, the women decide that they want to do a jailbreak and head back to Star(ling) City in order to get their hands on the money Tobias Church left behind. Seems pretty logical, I suppose, though I definitely wish we would have spent more time on these female villains.

Villains aren't exactly new within Arrow, but to have three female villains in one episode is. These are complex women and are basically used in "The Sin-Eater" as a B-plot which  by the way  is not really connected to the theme of the episode at all. I wish that we would have dropped the whole Susan Wells/Oliver part of this episode and made the flashbacks more concise so we could have spent some time focusing on the trio of baddies. As it was, however, these women basically just drop bodies in the episode to get their hands on money. They get caught (kinda), escape, and then finally get caught by the SCPD. Or the ACU. I'm really not sure which, but the worst part is that it kind of doesn't matter anyway.

The only significance in the B-plot is that Liza Warner tries to compare herself to Quentin Lance. (Quick aside, the actress who played Liza made me sigh in frustration. All she did was dramatically scene-chew and raise her voice. Cool.) This is where Quentin picks up the idea that what he did (team up with Darhk) and what Liza did (kill people) is not the same thing. He tells her that the difference is that he's owned up for his sins and isn't using them to justify more wrongdoing.

Yawn.

That was about it for our ladies in the episode. Although...

TAKE OUT THE TRASH, LADIES. YOU TAKE OUT THE TRASH.


I really don't know why Annoying Reporter Chick is still here, nor why she's the apple of Oliver Queen's eye. I'm not even the biggest fan of Oliver/Felicity anymore (the show hasn't done a great job proving to me that they deserve to be back together), but I can't stand her. She tried to destroy Oliver's career, backstabbed Thea, and wouldn't bat an eye if publishing a story about Oliver Queen being the Green Arrow would give her more notoriety and prowess. At least, that's how I see her.

Susan (ugh, fine, I'll use her name) has proven that she's more dedicated to her craft than she is to the people she's doing stories about. And as you'll recall, Thea threatened the woman before. She warned Susan that if she messed with her or her brother, she would be taken down. Thea made good on her promise in the episode after Oliver confided that Susan asked if he was Green Arrow. Because Oliver is apparently blinded by... something for Susan, he doesn't handle her question well at all.

Since Arrow finally decided that its two longest-standing female characters should share a scene again, Thea approached Felicity about Susan's question. The two women panicked, and Felicity easily hacked into Susan's laptop. What they discovered was worse than they feared: Susan has hard evidence that Oliver wasn't on the island the entire five years; she's got photos of him in Bratva. So Thea hatches a plan: she tells Felicity to plant a few documents on Susan's laptop and then calls in an anonymous tip that Susan's been plagiarizing her pieces for years.

When Oliver confronts Thea later in the episode about this, he says it's something Moira Queen would have done. Honestly? That sounds like a praise to me. Yes, Moira was morally ambiguous. She was ruthless and she was intense. But she protected her family above everything else, and genuinely did what she thought was right (whether or not it was, notwithstanding). But I don't understand why Oliver is upset with Thea, and I'm really frustrated that Arrow made a woman apologize to a man for doing what she felt was right. It makes Thea look weak, and what she pulled was anything but that.

Thea was able to see something in Susan that Oliver cannot  namely, her ability to destroy him on every level and her willingness to do so. If Susan wasn't thinking of still using that evidence against Oliver, it would've been deleted from her laptop the moment they first got together, romantically. And if Oliver was smart, he would have realized that and thanked Thea for saving him instead of blaming her for ruining Susan's career. I'm not afraid of love interests in Arrow, but it seems wildly contradictory and self-righteous of Oliver to tell Thea that there's something wrong with her and he's worried about her because she chose to destroy someone's career  someone who would have easily done that to Oliver, given the chance.

And Susan kind of DOES admit to that in the episode, subtly. She has a sneaking suspicion that Oliver, or someone close to him, outed her. Because now if she tells the world that Oliver is the Green Arrow, no one will believe her. She's a discredited journalist. So, Susan, what you're saying is that you now can't do something you probably would have done if you weren't discredited? Cool. You're the worst.

I really hate Susan as a character because she adds no value to this show. We're supposed to readily believe that Oliver would side with Susan over Thea and Felicity  the literal two most important women in his life? (No, literally, they are.) So I'm disappointed in Arrow for undermining Thea's act of strength and ruthlessness by having her profusely apologize. The scene should have been: "No, Oliver, I'm not sorry. I won't apologize for taking down someone who would have easily, without a second thought, taken you down instead. It's my job as your sister and as a member of your staff to protect you. You didn't ask me to do this, but that is why I did  because you are too wrapped up in your own world to see the dangers right in front of you. And saying it's something mom would do? That's a compliment. She might have been wrong sometimes, but she would sacrifice everything for us. You should consider doing the same."

#micdrop

I'll now be accepting offers to write on staff, Arrow.

THE OTHER PROMETHEUS STUFF


This episode ends with Prometheus expertly playing Oliver (you have to give him props for the lengths he's willing to go to in order to slowly pick apart Oliver's life; he's not doing anything by random choice) for Billy Malone's death. When Oliver tells the SCPD that Green Arrow killed Billy Malone by accident because Prometheus set him up, the police chief (I think? Or is he head of the ACU? I don't actually care, but I'm curious) seems grateful that this confession is brought to light. Why, you ask? Because shortly before Oliver delivered this news, Prometheus delivered the SCPD some missing evidence  namely, the evidence that was covered up by Adrian Chase.

Green Arrow almost gets caught by the ACU, but evades them (natch with a trick arrow). And when Oliver makes his confession as mayor, all seems to be okay. ... Except for the fact that he confessed to the cover-up of a police murder. The news travels and suddenly, Mayor Handsome is facing impeachment for the cover-up of circumstances involving Billy Malone's death. Is it wrong that I'm hoping Oliver will be impeached? Can Thea become mayor instead? I've been wanting this to happen since the beginning of the season. Alas, I doubt that will be the case. But you have to give Prometheus props for slowly discrediting and dismantling Oliver's life. He knew that Green Arrow killing Billy Malone would lead to this, and I'm really impressed by his meticulousness at this point.

Overall, "The Sin-Eater" was pretty disappointing. The flashbacks left a lot to be desired (as they tend to be doing this year), Oliver's care for Susan over his sister was baffling, and the heavy-handed dialogue left me rolling my eyes. Better luck next week, Arrow.

Other bits and pieces:
  • Oliver saying, "You know he's become something else... someone else"? I wanted to bang my head against something.
  • It was weird to see Stephen Amell smiling in this episode. It was even weirder that it was when Oliver was having a conversation with Susan. Ugh.
  • Seriously, Arrow, why don't we have more scenes with Thea and Felicity? WHY?
  • "We all do whatever it takes to survive."
  • Annoying Reporter Chick is also annoying in Suits. I'm sensing a pattern.
  • "Just busy taking out the trash..." BOW DOWN TO THE QUEEN.
What did you all think of this week's episode? Sound off in the comments below!

Blindspot 2x15 Review: "Draw O Caesar, Erase a Coward" (Let's Play Partner Roulette!) [Contributor: Jen]


"Draw O Caesar, Erase a Coward"
Original Airdate: February 22, 2017

This week was a far better effort from Blindspot, and they focus a little less on the tattoos and a little more on the relationships of the team — by spinning the partner board. Huzzah! Let's mix it up!

CASE OF THE WEEK


We're going to do this quick and dirty, mostly because the focus isn't so much on the case of the week as the opportunity it presents to pair up different characters. It's like Blindspot's version of a square dance, and it's freaking fantastic.

Jane's coin tattoo leads to four suspects that are all interconnected in some way, but the team can't figure out how — or what — these people are into. The first suspect comes from a tip from Rich Dotcom. Jane's coin tattoo matches the tattoo of another man called Lelantos. He's a courier, the dark web's version of Fed-Ex. Then, Jane's rare coin tattoo also leads to a second suspect — Marjorie Ellis. The team discovers she's laundering millions out her auction house. The third suspect is Pablo Estebez. His family sponsors dozens of work visas for Mexican nationals. The fourth suspect is Dr. Katz who runs a body, mind, and spirit medi-spa.

The team splits up. Tasha and Jane take Marjorie Ellis. Patterson and Reade find Pablo. Kurt and Roman go undercover at Dr. Katz's clinic, and Nas works her secret contact at Sandstorm.

The team compiles the evidence from their separate investigations and piece it all together. Dozens of Katz's patients are on donor registrations lists. Dr. Katz is bypassing the list and performing black market transplants for his rich patients. Marjorie obtains the organs by kidnapping Mexican nationals provided by Pablo and Lelantos, the courier, transports the victims.

Roman and Weller end up getting kidnapped and thrown into Lelantos' truck transport as Marjorie Ellis tries to unload the kidnapped Mexican nationals onto some unsavory Ukrainians. Team Blindspot is there to save the day, and all the suspects end up dead in the end. Patterson shoots Pablo as he pulls a concealed weapon on a distracted Reade. Marjorie kills Dr. Katz. Reade shoots Marjorie after she shoots Tasha. Weller kills Lelantos just as he's about to kill Roman.

Nice teamwork, crew.


TEAM BLINDSPOT


Alright, now we can get to the meat and potatoes of the episode which is the new dynamics Blindspot explores by changing who partners with whom. At first glance, it seems like none of these characters have anything in common. However, each character has an emotional connection with their new partner that Blindspot wants to explore.

Jane and Tasha talk relationships. Kurt warns Jane to be wary of Oliver. He's worried Oliver could be a Sandstorm plant. Jane opens up to Tasha about her concerns. There's been a long-standing distance between Tasha and Jane ever since the events of season one. Remember, the last time Tasha and Jane really interacted was when she shot Jane. Uh... yeah. They have work to do.

So, the thaw between them is nice. Tasha understands where Kurt is coming from, but she also laments to Jane that she's single. Tasha has trust issues. Underneath all of this, of course, are Tasha's burgeoning feelings for Reade. Even though Tasha never comes out and says it, helping Jane process the pros and cons of dating Oliver subtly outlines the reason why Tasha is falling in love with Reade. She trusts him. Tasha finds a reason to push every guy away. She realizes she'll always be alone, never finding the happiness her grandparents found in one another, if she continues to do that. Reade, for all his faults and problems, is the one guy Tasha can never push away. In fact, she goes all-in with him no matter the circumstance. No matter how many red flags Reade has, Tasha just can't stay away.

The big red flag right now, of course, is Reade's drug use. Tasha is covering for Reade and our perceptive Jane immediately picks up on the fact that there's something more going on with him. She pushes Tasha, but Tasha doesn't tell Jane what's going on. Things haven't thawed that much. Still, Tasha provides excellent advice to Jane. She encourages her to date Oliver, but not be stupid. Jane takes Tasha up on her offer and they do a background check on Oliver, which leads to some unsettling new information.

As for Reade, he's paired with Patterson — primarily because he overslept due to his excessive drug use. Patterson is currently seeing a therapist about her Borden trauma. Despite some reticence about the process, Patterson does tell Reade that opening up about her feelings seems to be helping her cope with what happened. Reade balks at the idea. He tells Patterson that she needs to not think about her problems and blow off steam instead.

It's like he's a bad after-school special right now. Yeah, you're that guy, Reade. Snap out of it.
When they confront Pablo, he laments his life — how he was just trying to survive, but can't live with what's happened to him. He just wants to die. It's almost like Reade is in a trance, because Pablo's words are hitting very close to home. Patterson puts Pablo down just as he pulls a gun on Reade — granting the man his dying wish, essentially.

Patterson, like Jane, is incredibly perceptive. Also she's a genius, so she puts two and two together pretty quickly. She confronts Reade in the locker room after the case is finished. She lists off every physical symptom of addiction Reade is exhibiting, and tells Reade he almost died because he was distracted. When Reade pushes back, Patterson drops a personal bomb: she has a brother who's an addict and... he's still not well. Patterson tells Reade that he needs to get help.

Of course, Reade doesn't listen to her and tells Patterson to mind her own business. This is a hugely important step in helping Reade, however. Tasha cannot save him. Nobody can, but the more people realize what's really going on with Reade, the more he will be forced to face it.

Reade has an impact on Patterson as well. She's been struggling with the idea of therapy for some time, but seeing how Reade is coping with his problems seems to snap her out of that. She knows she's not anywhere near healed, but she's fairing far better than Reade. Out of everyone on Team Blindspot, it's probably Patterson who understands Reade's trauma the best right now, given what she just experienced with Borden.

Which brings us to Weller and Roman. Roman isn't triggering any helpful memories, and the FBI is thisclose to handing him over to the CIA. So, Weller decides to take him out into the field because it worked for Jane. It would seem like Weller and Roman are a mismatch. Weller is so controlled and Roman is so volatile, but they work. It's like a super violent version of Perfect Strangers.

Roman is supposed to pose as Weller's bodyguard. He flips out on Dr. Katz though, because that's what Roman does, and Weller is furious because he almost blows the op. ... Except he didn't. Roman created a diversion to swipe the super secret key card that gives Weller access to everything on Katz and his operation. Weller almost gives Roman his "for Jane only" heart eyes, he's so impressed by his improvising. I think Kurt gives Roman a confidence that he can do this work in a way that not even Jane can. Weller has that kind of impact on the Sandstorm babies.

As for Weller, working with Roman gives him the chance to see him in a new light. He realizes they aren't so different. They both had terrible parents. They both constantly in survival mode, always feeling like they have to go it alone and handle everything themselves. Their lives were both manipulated by the same woman. From Kurt's perspective... it wouldn't take much for him to be on the other side of the glass where Roman is. A few more left or right turns. A few more unlucky breaks.

It's legitimate bonding. So much so that Weller admits to Jane that he likes Roman. Her response? "Just play it cool. You don’t want to come on too strong."

Ah, Jane, you made a little joke! She turns into an adorable little cupcake when her two favorite men are getting along.

Spinning the cast board is an enormous success for Blindspot. We've been getting a lot of the same scenes with the same characters, so mixing up the interactions gives the interpersonal relationships the kick start they need. Blindspot has a deep bench — they need to shift the actors more often, because when they do, it's a wonderful success.


KURT AND JANE


Of course, all of this bonding is dampened by the fact that JANE IS STILL LYING TO KURT. Even Roman calls her out on it. Roman is giving Jane morality advice AND HE'S RIGHT. That's how bad this has gotten. Still, we did get a nice moment: Kurt feels bad for telling Jane to back off Oliver.

"You always look for the best in people," he says. "I wouldn’t want to change that. It’s one of my favorite things about you."

Commence heart eyes. It's been so long since we've had a scene like this I almost didn't know how to handle it. Then, of course, I instinctively squealed and all was right with the world. But, seriously, STOP LYING, JANE. Then I can actually enjoy these scenes on a deeper level.

Jane does blow up her relationship with Oliver at the end and I hope it sticks because I am just super done with other love interests. Tasha finds out Oliver changed his name 12 years ago, which is a red flag. Jane decides honest is the best policy with a guy she barely knows (insert eyeroll here), and confronts him about it. Oliver is ticked Jane went digging into his past when she refuses to tell him anything about her. We can look at this one of two ways: either Oliver is a regular guy and has a legitimate reason to be mad at Jane, or he's a Sandstorm operative who flipped out because he's a spy.

This ties back to what Zapata is realizing about Reade though. There's a trust between them. They understand each other. They know the risks of their work. It's the same with Weller — Jane is searching for something she already has with Kurt. Sometimes it's not about looking for someone new. It's seeing the person who's right in front of you. Tasha has realized this, and now Jane has to as well.

She, however, is further than along than Kurt. Jane is immediately frustrated that Kurt's concern about Oliver is professional and not personal. Kurt, Jane would like you to be more jealous. So, his comment about what he likes best about Jane goes a long way. But Kurt doesn't have a blindspot for Jane anymore. There are trust issues here and given that she's lying to him again, Kurt is right to be hesitating about initiating a personal relationship.

Jane should attempt a new dynamic with Kurt — honesty.

Stray Thoughts:
  • Kurt and Roman fighting is an atheistic I didn't know I needed. There was a lot of male testosterone happening. Thanks, Blindspot, for that unexpected gift.
  • "You speak Spanish?" "I guess so."
  • Jane diving under the truck was super cool. She has reflexes like a cheetah.
  • Tasha’s high ponytail really works for me.
  • Nas looks like she's being choked to death. I admit I gasped, but there's no way they kill off Archie Panjabi, right? 
  • Jane is closer to realizing what's right in front of than Weller is. Her frustration over Weller being so cool with Oliver was pretty obvious. Be more jealous, Kurt. Jane would like that very much. 

Friday, February 24, 2017

Riverdale Roundtable: What Betty and Veronica’s Revenge Says About Slut Shaming [Contributors: Rae and Megan]


Episode three of Riverdale was a doozy. Not because of the whole murder thing, but because only three episodes into the series, the show is already tackling a tough topic: slut shaming.

Veronica goes on a date with the star of the football team only to find out the next morning that there's a campaign against her online. She won't stand for it, and Betty comes to the defense of her new friend. Having gotten the school paper out of mothballs, Betty is ready to expose this situation for what it is. She finds other girls that this has happened to and reveals that it's due to an ongoing points system the boys have created, without considering the girls whose reputations are being ruined as a result. It's all a game — a game Betty and Veronica want to put to an end. Below, Rae and Megan talk about the episode, female friendships on TV, and where Riverdale is going.

Riverdale could have handled this topic like almost every other TV show, but it didn't. What did you like about the way the show handled slut shaming?


Rae: I like that it was effective — that there were real consequences from the school after their actions were brought to light. That doesn’t happen often in real life, especially for someone who is a star athlete. It wasn’t just secret revenge for Betty and Veronica — it was brought to light to everyone in their community. I can’t exactly recommend an activity that chains someone to a hot tub (I was very concerned that someone was going to die from overheating and alcohol poisoning or something?), but I love that the girls took control of a situation instead of remaining passive victims. For everyone watching who is unable to take action in their own lives for whatever reason, it could be really cathartic to see that on TV!

Megan: I was surprised that the writers tackled it so soon into the series, but I was glad. Like you said, there are seriously very few consequences in real life for someone like that. I enjoyed that the show made it inclusive — that it wasn’t just something that affected one of the main characters. It’s important to show that this can happen to anyone, not just the pretty new girl, you know? I thought that was important. They saw the injustice and wanted to see it remedied. I think that’s so amazing, as that’s not what girls are generally taught.

Do you think it was bold for them to take on this topic so early on in the series?


Rae: It definitely makes Betty and Veronica’s characters come into sharper focus, and it helps cement their bond. So I actually think it was very smart to do something like this so early on. Especially with Betty, it gave such a good idea of the pain and hurt that she is always trying to cover up. And for both of them, it gives such a good idea of what they will and will not tolerate, and what they will do to get justice. This could be very important going forward, especially as they get more involved in a small-town murder.

Megan: I definitely agree with that. There’s a certain idea that girls, especially high school girls, just let things slide and don’t ever speak up. But if they do, they’re just labeled a "b--ch." Instead of letting Betty think less of Veronica for the rumor, she actually comes right to her side and gets the full story before she just shuns her, like she might have on something like Gossip Girl. I think that it shows how the writers really want to bring these characters into the here and now and flip the idea of teenage girls on TV on its head. Instead of just dealing with the blowback, they become a force all of their own and won’t stand for it. I didn’t think of it like that before, but you’re right. In a small town murder aftermath, it’s important that they want to get the truth.

Why do you think this is a topic for them to have taken on at all?


Rae: Well, we’ve all been there, haven’t we? To be a woman in the world is to be under constant scrutiny and to constantly fight to not feel shame about pretty much everything in your life. It’s so important to address that women face shame about their bodies, sexual activities, social media — pretty much everything — and I very much admire any show that centers women’s experiences like that.

Megan: I think for anyone who knows anything about the Archie comics, that these two girls are constantly fighting over Archie, it’s nice to see that Riverdale doesn’t follow that story. They seem to want to make Betty and Veronica these strong voices and personalities who fight the good fight for ladies. I know I’ve referenced Gossip Girl already, but it’s an interesting parallel. On that show, they basically just took it and didn’t really do much and that was setting a weird standard for girls watching. But I think with Riverdale, they’re realizing that girls want to see much stronger voices in their TV viewing experiences.

Most scenarios like this see the perpetrators not facing any sort of punishment. Why was it important that Betty and Veronica were seeking justice on behalf of ALL of the girls?


Rae: So many women are overlooked when justice is served — if it ever gets served — that it’s great that the show recognized that this was happening to women all over the school. It’s so important to realize that even if a woman can’t speak up or come forward on her own, that doesn’t mean harassment or abuse isn’t happening.

Megan: Right! And I thought it was great that the group of girls was really diverse. It wasn’t just the pretty blondes and new girl, you know? It was girls of all different shapes, sizes, and ethnicities. I thought that being so inclusive brought to attention that it can happen to literally any girl, and that it does happen to all different types of girls.

This episode focuses on how easy social media has made rumor spreading. It’s relevant. Do you think Riverdale did a good job of depicting that?


Rae: Yes, absolutely. I was lucky enough to escape high school before social media became pervasive, and it absolutely changes the game for kids in school today.

Megan: I think that they really did. It shows how pervasive it is. It’s easy for something to happen and then suddenly everyone know about it. It shows that there’s a lack of privacy when it comes to certain things, especially in a situation like the one that Veronica found herself in.

Let’s go back to how Betty and Veronica ultimately handled the situation. They did the modern day equivalent of a written confession by taking a video of him admitting the wrong and posting it to social media. But Betty took it to an extreme in order to get a confession out of him. Do you think they were playing into the “crazy girls” narrative?


Rae: That’s a good question, and I don’t know that I have an answer. I’m wondering how they will handle things with Betty’s sister because we don’t know much about her right now except that she had a breakdown and is currently in a hospital or clinic. But with Betty, I do think the show wasn’t glorifying her extreme behavior, and it came across to me that it could be cause for concern, especially since Veronica was also worried about Betty. So I don’t think it was necessarily irresponsible of the show, but I do think it will need to be careful about how it portrays mental health and takes the women seriously so it doesn’t write off girls as crazy. I think the way that Betty is starting to show her emotional issues can be a great way to explore her character, and I hope it doesn’t come across that she’s “crazy” and that’s it.

Megan: The mental health aspect is important to bring up. From what we can tell so far, Polly’s admittance has been hard on Betty, and it’s absolutely taken a toll on her. We just don’t know the extent of that. I agree that if they writers are not careful, it’s going to come out messy and a little like they’re preying on the fact that so many people are finally being open and honest about their mental health issues. It’s going to be something that they’re going to have to treat delicately, but also realistically. If it’s not coming off as genuine, people won’t really respond to it.

What do you think this says about the type of female friendship narrative they’re trying to tell on Riverdale? Where do you think Betty and Veronica are heading?


Rae: I think it says great things about Betty and Veronica’s friendship — that they are willing to go to extremes for each other and show they have each other backs can create real, meaningful friendships. And any show that highlights that kind of friendship between women is great to me!

Megan: I remember watching the two actresses on a talk show and they said that they wanted to change the narrative of female friendship on TV from being rivals to actually being friends that are there for one another. I know that I’ve already mentioned it, but it’s nice to see that two girls can be friends and go to bat for one another repeatedly instead of having the smallest thing tear them apart a la Serena and Blair on Gossip Girl or Marisa and Summer on The O.C. I think it’s so crucial for girls of any age to see that sort of bond on television — to remember that girls don’t have to see each other as competition; they need to see each other as allies and someone in their corner. I think it’s a great development.

What do you think this episode says about the rest of the season?


Rae: Honestly, it prepared me to never be fully prepared about what is going to happen on Riverdale. I certainly didn’t expect Betty in a wig, handcuffing a guy to a hot tub to exact revenge.

Megan: You know what? I couldn’t have said it better for myself. Now I can’t wait to see what this small town has in store for us!

You can catch Riverdale on The CW airing Thursday nights after Supernatural.

Suits 6x15 Review: "Quid Pro Quo" (Setting an Example)


"Quid Pro Quo"
Original Airdate: February 22, 2017

The moral high ground always has a cost attached to it. That’s just a fact. You can keep your soul and your morality intact, but there will always be a price to pay for it. You might still have your convictions, but you’ll probably lose something else in the process. Mike Ross has never really held the moral high ground in Suits. I don’t know that any character on the show can claim that they have, really. Each person has lied or cheated or bent the truth just a little in order to get what they want (even Donna has done some less-than-legal stuff to protect the people she cares about). This is a show about cutthroat lawyers, and that’s how the system works.

For a long time, Mike Ross was fine with the system working this way because it suited him. He could still claim that he was helping other people, but the truth was that he was mostly helping himself. He boosted his ego and he felt good by working as a lawyer when, in reality, he was a fraud. I lamented the storyline of Mike going to prison because it didn’t seem like he really learned anything in the process. He spent a few months there, and then returned the same smug, self-centered guy who entered. He wasn’t really humbled by the experience, but the past few episodes have been trying to rewrite that narrative — albeit shakily. In “Quid Pro Quo,” we get the closest to seeing a humanized, humbled version of Mike Ross than we have in a long time. He has his sights set on being a lawyer again because he watched Oliver fail in court.

But in this episode, Mike wants to pull the plug for once and take the moral high ground by not blackmailing and extorting the woman who had an affair with Ethics Dude (yup, still calling him that). Mike claims that he doesn’t want to become a lawyer if it’s at the cost of extorting someone and not saving the miners who are relying on him to win their case.

Harvey on the other hand, doesn’t want to pull the plug. And that’s where our real problems in the episode begin. Also in “Quid Pro Quo,” Louis tries to separate his personal and professional life, while Donna and Benjamin work to shop The Donna around to potential investors.

THE ROOM WHERE IT HAPPENS


(Aside: I know that “quid pro quo” is a legal term that means “if you do something for me, I’ll do something for you.” But whenever I hear it, I always think of its inclusion in the Hamilton song “The Room Where It Happens.” Thank you, Lin-Manuel Miranda.)

The episode opens with Mike telling Rachel that he’s going to pull the plug on the whole “get Mike to become a lawyer again” operation because it’s become too risky. He is disappointed, of course, and that disappointment isn’t lost on his fiancĂ©. But is Mike’s disappointment temporary? Or would he always go through life upset by the fact that he was unable to become a lawyer again. This is where the argument in the episode for Rachel’s involvement falls apart for me. Rachel decides to go behind Mike’s back, team up with Harvey, and secure him a chance at being a lawyer again. And the reason she does this is because she says she saw how disappointed Mike was at the chance of becoming a lawyer getting ripped away from him. She knows that disappointment would never go away, and she can’t live with a man who’s so unhappy about his dreams falling apart without fighting for those dreams.

On the one hand, I get it. Rachel wants to do this for Mike so that he won’t look back on his life and be filled with regret that he didn’t compromise in order to secure the thing he wanted. But on the other, does Rachel really think that Mike’s only chance at happiness and satisfaction is by becoming who he used to be? Until he couldn’t teach, Mike was actually pretty content with that career path. I think he could have been a really great teacher, and I think he could have been happy. But Rachel doesn’t think so.

And when Mike finds out that Rachel did this behind his back, he’s livid. She, on the other hand, won’t apologize. Mike realizes, in that moment, that Harvey and Rachel will always stubbornly fight for him — even if it goes against what he wants. I don’t really know if that’s a good thing though, do you? I’m a bit torn as far as the Mike/Harvey/Rachel story goes in “Quid Pro Quo.” On the one hand, they are clearly a team in looking out for Mike. Harvey doesn’t really have to convince Rachel to get on board with a plan to extort someone in order to get Mike in the Bar. But on the other, does someone really have your best interests at heart when they’re going against what you said you wanted in the first place?

Once Mike sees the lengths they go to, he decides that he’s going to start fighting for his dreams. And as Mike gets deeper into the case with Velocity (and sees what the miners are suffering), he decides to fully get back on board with becoming a lawyer. In fact, he says: “I wanna be a lawyer. I don’t care how we do it.”

I almost liked Mike in this episode. ALMOST. But the truth is that no matter where his heart was, originally, Mike returned to being the same person we’ve always known. He’s ultimately fighting for himself. And “Quid Pro Quo” tries to sugarcoat this storyline by using the word “dreams” a lot, which provokes a kind of assumption of innocence. It doesn’t matter HOW Mike gets there, right? Just that he gets back to being a lawyer so he can do some good in the world! (Never mind the irony in him doing shady things to become a person who helps others.) I don’t know exactly what it was about this week’s episode, but this storyline rubbed me the wrong way.

Harvey started to resemble the same character we’ve always known, too. After weeks of watching some really emotional, really incredible character progression from him, “Quid Pro Quo” was Harvey Specter at his Harvey Specter-est: banging down doors, blackmailing people, and sacrificing pawns to get what he wants. And what he ultimately wants is Mike to become a lawyer and work at Pearson Specter Litt again.

But Harvey is now in charge of the firm and he has to look out for its best interests. And that means, during this episode for a brief stint, he pulls out of the trump card on Mike: Pearson Specter Litt withdraws from the Velocity case, infuriating Mike (mostly because he only learns about it when he’s in a meeting with Palmer). But the firm had to withdraw because Palmer pressured Pearson Specter Litt’s only clients to drop the law firm. When Louis tells Harvey this, he essentially reminds him that the firm comes first. As much as they all care about Mike, it’ll be pointless to try and protect the miners if they end up losing the firm in the process.

Ultimately, everything works out — as it is wont to do in Suits — because Harvey, Rachel, and Mike worked together to take down the bad guys, shake them for settlement money (twice as much as Palmer initially offered), and blackmail Ethics Dude into getting Mike into the Bar without any issues. All’s well that ends well, right?

DONNA PAULSEN, LIGHT OF OUR LIVES


Donna’s story was about chasing dreams too, but it actually took a sadder turn than I anticipated. Still, I’m thrilled to see a story for her that doesn’t involve the firm directly, and includes someone supporting her. If you’ll recall from last week’s episode, The Donna began to work as it showed our favorite redhead empathy. Excited by the fact that this assistant is now ready to be shopped around, Benjamin and Donna agree to meet with potential investors. The former is nervous, because he’s socially awkward. And that’s why Donna — whose name is synonymous with “take charge” — sets up meetings with clients.

The first person she approaches is Stu, that jerk who apparently has a soft spot for Donna (because how could he not?). Donna is willing to let him in on the ground floor of The Donna, but he wants 90% ownership and she is unwilling to give that to him. So Donna and Benjamin take another meeting with one of Harvey’s clients, and Donna displays her spectacular ability to be... well, DONNA.

I’ve kind of wondered for a few weeks now exactly what the purpose of The Donna is. As Donna Paulsen explains in her pitch, it’s better than Siri or Alexa or Cortana put together, because it’s based on a woman whose powers of observation nearly rival Sherlock’s. (Now THAT is a show I would watch the crap out of.) At the end of the meeting, Donna and Benjamin are confident that they’ll have an offer from the client, since the two men seemed really interested.

But when Donna sneaks back to eavesdrop on what they’re saying, she finds the two men laughing at the prospect of doing business with a legal secretary. The only reason, apparently, they took the meeting in the first place was because they like Harvey Specter. There’s no way they’re going to invest in his secretary though. It’s an extremely heartbreaking moment to watch Donna’s face fall and tears well up in her eyes. Because for as strong as she is — and boy is she strong — Donna still wants people to accept her and care about her. She’s outwardly extremely confident, but even she has her insecurities. Sarah Rafferty absolutely nails the moment Donna listens by the door, and it’s so sad to see her face fall and watch her dreams crumble.

While Donna is ready to give up on her dreams, Benjamin is not. I absolutely love the scene in which the two converse and Benjamin encourages Donna not to give up on THEIR dream — they’re a team now, and he won’t give up on her, just like she didn’t give up on him. They’ll succeed or fail, but they’ll do it together. For once, Donna is the one who gets to be on the receiving end of an inspiring speech. We’re so used to watching her deliver monologues that spur on Harvey, Mike, Rachel, Louis, and pretty much every person ever. But who inspires Donna? This week, it’s Benjamin and I’m glad someone was there for her while everyone else is busy with Mike-related stuff.

So Donna re-approaches Stu at the end of the episode, who’s on board with The Donna. Donna, meanwhile, is on board with working with Stu because for as scummy as he can be sometimes, he actually believed in her and the product. Loyalty goes a long way in Donna’s book.

“Quid Pro Quo” was about fighting for your dreams, but it makes me wonder exactly how this season of Suits will end. It can’t be all sunshine and rainbows for our characters, so who will have to watch their dreams crumble in the season finale? We’ll just have to wait to find out!

And now, bonus points:
  • “Oh my God. Maybe I really AM a genius.”
  • I didn’t talk about it above, but the Louis/Tara storyline this week was sad — only for Louis though because Tara is the living worst. (Sidenote: I think maybe the actress who plays Tara is the reason I’m finding her character on Arrow and her character in Suits so unbearable. Also, Tara just isn’t a great character to begin with.) She encourages openness and honesty in the relationship, so in this week’s episode, Louis decides to tell her that he knew about Mike being a fraud and used the knowledge to get his name on the door. Tara is stunned, and then horrified. She tells Louis that some things should stay hidden, and he shouldn’t have told her about that. Louis is upset, Tara is upset, and I wish this story would just go away now.
  • “I wouldn’t expect anything less from a big mouth like you.”
  • “You really are like me, aren’t you?” “Unfortunately.”
What did you all think of this week’s episode? Sound off in the comments below!