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, April 25, 2017

Prison Break 5x04 Recap: “The Prisoner’s Dilemma” (The Sin of Deceit) [Guest Poster: Rebecca]


“The Prisoner’s Dilemma”
Original Airdate: April 25, 2017

Our hearts broke as we watched Michael surrender to Ogygia guards at the close of last week’s episode. The look of disappointment and defeat on his face was enough to make my gut do a total flip-flop; however, as Michael has told us so many times before, we just need to “have a little faith.” For the last forty-five minutes, we’ve watched our favorite prisoner put his meticulous planning and genius brainpower to work once again to craft a “Hail Mary,” as we see in this week’s episode.

“The Prisoner’s Dilemma” opens with Lincoln sitting beside Sheba in the hospital, who is still recovering from her injuries. C-Note shows up at the hospital and informs Lincoln the terrorists will shut down the airport soon. Lincoln realizes they are out of time and asks C-Note to get Sheba and her family on a plane ASAP; he will take care of getting Michael out.

Sheba tells Lincoln and C-Note her father went to grammar school with a federal judge, who may be able to get Michael out of Ogygia. Sheba’s father arranges a meeting between the judge and the group, and the judge offers Michael a full pardon in exchange for a car.

"I HAVE A HAIL MARY."


Michael, Ja, Whip, and Ramal have been sent to solitary and are growing worried as the bombs finally reach just outside the prison walls. Speaking to each other through their cell walls, Michael asks which one of them has an “S” carved into a brick in their cell. Much to the group’s dismay, Ramal’s cell has the “S,” meaning the escape has to start from his cell. At first, he doesn’t want to help, but Michael finally convinces him as the prison begins to enter a full-out riot. The guards, fearing for their lives, abandon the prison and leave the prisoners unattended; however, one prisoner, Mustapha, manages to snatch the keys to the prison gates from one guard and escape. He brushes past Lincoln on his way out.

When Lincoln arrives at the Ogygia gates, the prisoners tell him the only person with keys is Mustapha. While Lincoln runs back to the city to track down Mustapha, the prisoners band together and plan to get Ramal out of solitary to negotiate with the terrorists (remember, Ramal is the terrorists’ leader).

Lincoln finally locates Mustapha, and hides behind a wall as he watches Mustapha confront a group of terrorists. They ask him if he’s police, but don’t believe him when he says “no.” The terrorists shoot Mustapha, killing him instantly.

"I WANT TO SEE THE TRUE FACE OF WHO'S PULLING MY STRINGS ONCE AND FOR ALL."


In New York, T-Bag follows Kellerman, whom he is convinced is the mysterious Poseidon, from the Department of State to his house. T-Bag breaks in, much to Kellerman’s surprise. T-Bag berates Kellerman for not exonerating him when he did so for the other surviving members of The Fox River Eight before accusing him of hacking Sara’s phone and sending assassins after her and her family. Kellerman denies hacking the phones and tells T-Bag that Poseidon is a rogue CIA operative with loads and loads of power.

Back to Ogygia. Michael instructs Ramal to remove the brick with the “S” and he’ll find string and a metal spoon. Michael explains how to use the string and spoon to yank down the cell’s water pipe. As Ramal works, Michael hears the prisoners threatening to kill Sid if Michael doesn’t get Ramal out of solitary.

Ramal fishes the water pipe through the slot in his cell door and removes the pins on the hinges of Michael’s door, but only after making Michael promise to get him out. Michael grabs keys and quickly unlocks Ja and Whip, but pauses at Ramal’s cell. He tells Ramal he won’t release him unless he helps Michael and his cellmates get out of the country.

The gang makes their way to the infirmary and Michael tells Ramal to use the phone to secure cars to get them to the Yemen border. Ja considers stealing pills from the infirmary, but Whip talks him out of it — or so we think.

Outside of the prison, Lincoln is still waiting for terrorists to leave Mustapha’s body so he can grab the keys. Michael’s messenger, the kid who referred to him as “Bubble Gum Man,” runs into Lincoln and they work together to create a distraction so Lincoln can get ahold of the keys.

"THE ENEMY OF MY ENEMY IS MY FRIEND."


Kellerman tells T-Bag what he knows as the latter. Apparently, Poseidon was upset with U.S. foreign policy and went rogue; the state department has been looking for him since. Kellerman suspects Poseidon sent Michael to Yemen to break Ramal out of Ogygia. Suddenly, A&W and Van Gough (I know you were wondering when they’d show up!) shoot Kellerman and T-Bag through the kitchen window. T-Bag manages to escape out the basement window and call 911. Kellerman begs Van Gough just to tell him who Poseidon is, so he can die peacefully, but Van Gough shoots him, killing him. The duo leaves Kellerman’s house as sirens approach.

Meanwhile, the rioting prisoners have realized Michael and his crew have escaped and scour the prison for them. The crew hides under some cots in a cell and Michael solemnly asks Whip that if he dies, to find a Mike Scofield in Ithaca, New York and tell him that his father loves him. One of the prisoners finds the crew hiding in the cell, but Sid shows up and shanks him, allowing Michael, Whip, Ja, and Ramal to flee.

Finally, Lincoln makes it back to the prison, just in time to watch Michael climbing over the roof, making his escape. He yells out for his brother, but Michael doesn’t hear.

Michael, Ramal, Whip, and Sid run for the auto shop, leaving Ja behind once they realize he’s high and therefore a liability. Michael asks Ramal to have his men shoot Ja if he tries to follow.

"OUR WAY OUT IS UNDER THE WOOD BENCH."


The whole group of escapees, including Ja (who had stolen a map Michael had drawn of the auto shop), arrives at the rendezvous where they are met by a large group of rebels. Michael realizes Ramal has double-crossed him — Ramal even plans to slit Michael’s throat on camera.

Lincoln finally tracks down his brother and manages to get to a machine gun on one of the rebels’ cars. He threatens to kill Ramal if he doesn’t let Michael go, but Whip abruptly launches himself at Ramal and manages to turn the knife around on Ramal, killing him instantly. Lincoln kills the other rebels and the group flees. Once they get to a safe spot, Michael embraces his brother and promises to explain everything. They watch Ramal’s murder on television and learn the entire terrorist group has declared war on them.

T-Bag is driving when he notices A&W and Van Gough standing near a tree. T-Bag parks and hides at first, until he sees a third person has joined them. He takes out his phone to get a picture of the third person, and it is revealed that A&W and Van Gough were meeting Jacob, Sara’s husband.

THE VERDICT 


I’ve mentioned before that “gotcha” plot twists are Prison Break’s signature, and we’ve encountered multiple of these just in this past hour. There’s so much good stuff to unpack, but I’d really like to focus on Jacob, who went from “poor, immobilized husband” to “potentially evil power player” in the blink of an eye.

Here’s my prediction: Jacob is Poseidon. It seems far-fetched, but it’s exactly the kind of far-fetched tale Prison Break would weave. Us fans who have watched the previous four seasons have been through our share of crazy upside-downs and surprises; heck, we’ve even seen people come back from the dead to hold positions of crazy high power (Michael’s mother and Paul Kellerman [R.I.P. for real this time], for example). Characters we thought were meek and innocent turned out to be masterminds.

Even if he’s not the infamous Poseidon, Jacob is definitely in on this whole thing somehow. And it actually makes total sense; his involvement doesn’t come completely out of left field. I have wondered for weeks now why A&W shot him in the leg and didn’t just kill him, but if he is an ally, it makes sense why she’d want him alive. Additionally, we don’t really know that much about him. He’s a dark horse, an underdog, someone to whom we aren’t (or weren’t) paying attention. He would be the perfect character to be behind this whole scheme.

On a side note, I was kind of hoping Kellerman would stay alive, but I’m not that heartbroken. He needed to die in order for the pressure to be on T-Bag and Sara to find Poseidon. And I will end this review/recap with how I’ve ended the other ones: Sucre. Where. Are. You.

Honorable Events Worth Mentioning:
  • Kellerman tells T-Bag that Poseidon got his nickname because he is so untouchable that a nuclear submarine couldn’t even find him.
  • “It’s a freaking Mexican soap opera out here!” 
  • The reason Ramal needed to pry the hinges off of Michael’s cell door was because his side of the solitary chamber was old and hadn’t been remodeled, unlike Ramal’s side. The hinges on Michael’s cell were rusty and old.
  • T-Bag drinking the kale smoothie. The whole scene was just way too funny.

Veep 6x02 Recap: "Library" (*Gary’s Voice* Holla, Holla, Holla!) [Contributor: Erin Allen]

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"Library"
Original Airdate: April 23, 2017

My notes on the second episode of season six are basically the entire thing verbatim with laugh-cry emojis, and “Gary” written a bunch of times with a ton of exclamation marks. This is an episode I will watch over and over. It is so hysterical. Do yourself a favor and watch it immediately. I’ll try to make my praise brief, although I can’t make any promises.

Determined to make something out of her joke of a presidency, Selina embarks on building her presidential library. Her attempt at this goes about as well as her stay in office did: horribly. She feels the need for one after attending the opening of President Hughes’ Library and Museum. “I don’t understand how a guy who never cracked a book can open up a library.” I will have the same thought if our current president ever gets a library, so someone save me that in GIF form for when that time comes. The jabs at her short term as a president are great. Former President Stevenson says, “Can you even have a library? I think it’d be more like a bookmobile.” Selina herself insensitively compares her short stay with Kennedy’s, saying “he was also a part-termer.”

Her staff gets excited about the potential library. Richard is ready to hit the ground running, until he remembers they are on an plane. “Let’s do this! Oh, you know what, we are on an airplane. I know that.” Gary starts thinking about all the possibilities. “Your outfits alone are going to be a wing. Dresses. Belts!” Andrew starts racking his brain for unethical ways to get funding, such as reallocating money from The Meyer Fund (“That’s actually a felony.”) and shuffling papers around so it looks like they have the money (“That’s also a felony.”).

Alternatively, Yale is not excited. They come back to Selina with an emphatic no. Their next best bet is Smith College, where Selina did her undergrad. Smith is “open to exploring.” Andrew creepily responds, “Nothing like a Smith girl open to exploring.” To which Selina comes back with: “Lesbians really know how to run a library, I can tell you that.” All this lesbian talk leads us to meeting Regina “Gigi” Pell who is the president of Smith College and Selina’s former schoolmate (with benefits, apparently — if only Selina could remember).
Regina: Do you remember that night, junior year?  
Selina: No. 
Regina: Chardonnay on the quad after Julia Child Day?   
Selina: I’m strictly a Scotch girl. Always have been. I never really experimented with ... um, Chardonnay, so I think you’ve got me confused with somebody else.  
Regina: I don’t think I was confused.  
Selina: Good for you.
Regardless of Selina’s seeming amnesia, Regina is enthusiastic about the library... until a sex scandal rocks Selina’s team. The scandal is perpetrated by Andrew. Yeah, real shocker. Mike weasels his way into a job as communications director for all of 30 seconds until he reads what the press is saying, out loud.
Selina: You’re hired. 
Richard: Congratulations. 
Selina: What are they saying? 
Mike: They’re mad at you for victim-blaming Helen for Andrew’s behavior. 
Selina: You’re fired. 
Richard: Tough break, buddy.
Not everyone faults Selina, though. Amy commiserates via phone telling Selina she’s right to dump Andrew. “You can’t just be that woman standing by her man like Lobotomy Barbie.” Catherine is sorry that he did this to her. Marjorie pipes in with her unique comforting words: “Ma’am, you are unstable and manipulative, and I worry about the genes you will pass down to our child, but your ex is worse.” Selina sincerely responds, “I appreciate that. Means a lot. You’re like a son to me.” And then she almost lets Marjorie call her “mom.” Almost.

The library gets put on hold until Selina gives in and rehires “Frida Swallow” as her portrait painter. Smith still backs out, giving Selina the opportunity to tell Helen to “pack up your crayons.” Gary gives the painter a death glare, and trips up Selina by stepping on her dress, which is the perfect wrap-up to this whole debacle.

Amy has to deal with a scandal of her own in Nevada. Her Howdy Doody fiance/candidate can’t handle her unscrupulous campaign tactics, and goes on a bender which results in him spending a night in jail. The dash-cam footage gets released and it is bad. The episode ends with Lobotomy Barbie... I mean Amy, standing by her man during his public apology.

Jonah also has to deal with romantic troubles. Kent and Ben convince him that it would be better for him, career-wise, to get married. “If it’s any consolation, statistically speaking, married congressmen have sex with more single women than single politicians.” We see Jonah go on three dates, and they all go badly. The first two are unsuccessful because the women get to know Jonah as a person and run the opposite way. The third actually hits it off with him until Dan comes in and outs Jonah as the deplorable human that he is. Dan tells him: “This is for trapping me in a job that makes me long for the days of Selina Meyer.” It was nice to see Dan in that scene because his storyline without the other veteran cast members isn’t as interesting as the rest of the strong subplots.

So much for keeping it brief, huh? And I’ve even got more below! “Library” is an outstanding episode of an outstanding series.

Stray Observations: 
  • That first scene with the physical comedy between Selina and Gary is hilarious! I’ve watched it probably a thousand times already. Julia Louis Dreyfus and Tony Hale are almost balletic in their execution of that move. I am so impressed. 
  • “If only the American people could’ve known you for your sense of humor and not your bizarre indifference to apartheid.”
  • “Where is La Presidenta?”
  • Richard sees Selina and Gary running, and joins them. “Are we running from something scary, ma’am?”
  • Gary running! 
  • In response to considering a female architect for the library, the first woman President of the United States says, “Well, we’re not redoing a kitchen here.” A feminist, Selina is not. 
  • “Nobody in Congress cares about ethics.” 
  • Furlong to Jonah: “Good luck trying to get your precious back from those mean hobbits, Smeagol.”
  • “A job’s a job.” “That’s a false equivalent, but I appreciate the sentiment.” Gary Cole delivers Kent’s robot feelings in the best possible way.
  • The artist, Helen Wright, is played by June Diane Raphael of Burning Love and Grace and Frankie fame.  
  • “I guess AIDS had a good run.” 
  • Richard is so resourceful: “My pen’s out of ink. I’m just going to scratch it into the paper, and go back and trace over it to see what I wrote, like a suspense movie.”
  • Kent’s face after Jonah says, “Find me Mrs. Right. Not my mom.” is priceless.
  • “Can you play that back? I want to see him cry again.” That’s my Amy. 
  • Richard Splett’s family calls sweatshirts “Splettshirts” because of course they do.
  • “It’s what I’ve come to expect from the gatekeepers of the patriarchal ‘phallus quo.’” 
  • “You just rolled your eyes like you’re the world’s bitchiest mime.” This is such a great description of Gary. 
  • “If Catherine’s uterus is as loamy as the doctor says, you’re going to be a grand-ma’am.”
  • Gary’s freak out on Andrew is epic. “You are the devil!” 

Monday, April 24, 2017

Class 1x02 Recap: "The Coach With the Dragon Tattoo" (Blood, Gore, and Football) [Guest Poster: Stephanie Coats]


"The Coach With the Dragon Tattoo"
Original Airdate: April 22, 2017

There are some thing that once you survive them together, you’re automatically friends. An alien attack at prom apparently isn’t one of them. It’s been a week since our band of misfits saved their school and possibly their planet, and football (soccer) star Ram is ignoring his new would-be friends. He’s got a lot on his mind already: the violent death of his girlfriend right in front of him. Losing his leg and getting an alien prosthetic that won’t cooperate during practice. And, most recently, seeing the skinned body of the assistant coach in the locker room. As we’ll soon discover, this isn’t the last of Ram’s troubles.

WORST COACH EVER


It’ll take most of the episode for our heroes to figure it out, but we know from the start the person behind the killings is Head Coach Dawson. He has a massive dragon tattoo on his back, buttocks, and bicep that comes to life and attacks innocent people. It’s also very good at cleaning up after itself. Ram had hidden after seeing what remained of the assistant coach and when he emerged, the room looked spotless, leading him to believe it was a hallucination.

The slim “hope” of PTSD is soon washed away when Ram witnesses a dragon grab a cleaning lady and kill her right in front of him. He’s even sprayed with blood yet again. Seriously, this poor kid. The incident is enough to make Ram reach out to Tanya, who in turn tells Charlie and April -- because someone has to make this team a team, and I guess it’s going to be the 14-year-old. Let’s be real, she’s the smartest one of the bunch. Tanya is even trying to hack into UNIT.

These three are able to verify Ram’s story by asking Mr. Armitage, the nice headmaster who was also on Doctor Who during Clara’s tenure at Coal Hill, about a missing cleaning lady. Sadly, Mr. Armitage barely has time to be suspicious when a dragon appears through the space-time rift and kills him. At least Ram has three more people to back him up. And Charlie is very good at drawing. His sketch of the dragon is dead on, enough that Ram recognizes it as his coach’s tattoo.

ELEMENTARY, MY DEAR CHARLIE


Pausing the dragon slaying for a moment, let’s check in with Quill. She’s been paying no mind to all of the bloody killings because she’s too busy scrutinizing the school inspector. The dude is pretty creepy, so I can’t completely blame her. He sits silently in her classroom day after day, unblinking, and taking notes. In a very Sherlock moment, Quill tells Charlie all the parts about the inspector’s appearance that are incongruous (like fake glasses and pants 40 years out of date). She thinks the inspector is dangerous to them.

In fact, she’s so convinced of this she nearly dismisses the dragon problem altogether. But maybe she’s blinded by lust. When she corners the inspector and asks what he wants, he responds, “You.” She takes this as invitation to snog him senseless, although he doesn’t participate and we’ll find out why in a minute.

During this sudden and awkward make-out session, the dragon appears. Quill and the inspector sprint to a classroom for safety. When the dragon breaks in, Quill offers the man up as a sacrifice. Only... he’s a robot.


BLOOD OF THE DRAGON


Thankfully, Quill’s unfortunate encounter with Inspector Gadget has at least brought her to the aid of her charges when they need it most. They’ve confronted Dawson outside the school but his tattoo is still on him. There’s more than one dragon at Coal Hill. The one on Dawson is the female. She came through the rift and was bonded to his skin somehow, giving him strength due to her dragon blood. Her mate came looking for her and has been forced to kill somewhat at Dawson’s bidding because the female dragon needs blood.

In a moment equal parts heartfelt, Doctor-esque, and pure cheese, Ram tells the male dragon he doesn’t have to live on Dawson’s terms. After all, Ram lost his girlfriend recently so he knows about... these things? Well, it works. The dragon drags Dawson into the rift. Maybe now Ram can make first team again.

But he’ll still need to practice. And really, more than anything else, he needs someone else to help him. Ram tells his dad everything’s that happened and his dad, to his credit, doesn’t freak out. Instead, he helps his son practice his football skills.

Final Thoughts:
  • Interesting that both this week’s Class and Doctor Who episodes were driven by grief.
  • After examining the robot inspector’s parts, Quill sees “Property of Governors.” Earlier, the headmaster mentioned the school’s “governess.” Who do we know in the Doctor Who universe who likes nicknames and seems like an evil school teacher of sorts? Missy (a.k.a. the Master). While I’d be surprised if Michelle Gomez reprised her role on Class, it seems a fair guess as this moment. 
  • Also, it warrants mentioning, Quill snogging the inspector is very reminiscent of Missy snogging the Doctor in series eight’s “Dark Water.” 
  • Ram about Quill: “Oh, yeah, her and her happy superbest sparkle team.” 
  • Tanya: “Is a coach really a teacher?”
  • “At first I thought he was an evil designer of casual coats and gifts, but I guess that's somebody else because this Paul Smith, he is nowhere to be found.”
  • “You and your little team, you go pretend to save the world. I'll just stick to saving you from boring old death.”
  • "Oh, please, Quill, help us with a skin-peeling dragon. We're just little arses of smart who don't even know what evil looks like."

Once Upon A Time 6x18 Review: “Where Blue Birds Fly” (Back Where I Belong) [Contributor: Julia Siegel]


“Where Blue Birds Fly”
Original Airdate: April 23, 2017

With only a handful of episodes left before the season finale, it’s about time for the heavily referenced final battle to begin. Before we can get to the fun, something wicked comes back into play just in the nick of time. A trip back to Oz shows the old and brings the new in a surprising turn of events.


THE LION, THE WITCH, AND A TIN MAN 


The episode’s main story takes place many years ago in Oz, with Zelena in the height of her power. The flashback seems out of place at first, but its timing makes sense at the end of the episode. In another hidden tale from the Land of Oz, Zelena was friends with the boy who would eventually become the tin man. As a grown adult, he returns to her Emerald Palace to ask for help in finding him a heart. Without finding the supposedly magical crimson heart, he will turn into a tin man forever.

Like all evildoers, Zelena wants to prove her old friend wrong by defeating the beast that guards the magical heart. While looking through the nearby forest for the object, the pair encounters a ferocious lion. To add some humor to the episode, Zelena turns the lion from brave to cowardly. All we were missing from this party was a brainless scarecrow. After her hard work, Zelena learns that the magic heart actually has to steal someone’s magic in order for it to be useful. Being the wicked witch that she is, Zelena refuses to give up her magic to save her friend, which she feels guilty about to the current timeline.

This missing piece of Zelena’s history doesn’t really add anything to what we already knew about her, but rather confirmed her evilness in Oz. The only thing the flashback adds is the crimson heart, which comes into play at the end of the episode. I guess it also was a moment of reflection for Zelena, who shows that she has gone through a 180-degree character arc. In just one episode, Zelena was able to show her entire character arc for the series, which is an impressive feat... but more on that later.


WEDDING BELLS 


To take everyone’s minds off of the doom and gloom that is about to go down, Snow plans a day of wedding venue shopping! The big day is approaching quickly (the musical May 7th episode will feature the TV wedding of the year). Like any good mother, Snow interrupts Emma and Hook’s breakfast-with-benefits to start a day of wedding planning. Snow, David, Emma, Hook, and Henry embark on a journey throughout town to find the perfect location fit for a royal wedding.

Like any good father, David isn’t satisfied with any of the locations that Snow thinks would be good. Through a heartfelt conversation about being overprotective, David admits that he wants the final battle to occur prior to the wedding because he doesn’t want the weight of the battle in Emma’s mind on her wedding day. The noble speech rings true for Emma, who feels the same way as her father. It is nice that there is some happiness left in the sea of darkness that has plagued this season. Each of the actors in these scenes was particularly great in this episode, and I saw the most genuine smile from Jennifer Morrison than I have in the past five or six episodes.


MAKING PROBLEMS AND SOLVING THEM 


Zelena was the character of the hour, so it’s fitting to end with her present-day arc. Just like in the clips from Oz, Zelena feels that she has to yet again prove herself as the best to Regina after they learn that the Black Fairy is hiding out in the mining tunnels beneath the town. Zelena has been the most unstable and questionable character in the entire show, so it was no surprise that she stormed down into the tunnels to fight the Black Fairy herself. What could possibly go wrong when a crazy character goes to fight the most powerful fairy in the show’s universe?

Zelena walks right into the Black Fairy’s trap, and her magic turns the fairy crystals growing in the tunnels into dark magic. Of course, Regina blames Zelena for what happened and reverts back to her old self by essentially banishing Zelena back to Oz. Regina doesn’t want to deal with her sister anymore, which is more characteristic of the Evil Queen. Surprising us all, Zelena shows Regina up again by not listening, sticking around, and using a crystal to get the crimson heart from Oz. She uses the crimson heart to take away her magic, which reverts the crystals to light magic.

Zelena rarely does anything that doesn’t directly positively impact her own selfish motives, so the sacrifice is a bit shocking. The character has come a long way and really hasn’t been used much in the latter half of this season, so it was good to see her get her due. With big shakeups coming to the show to keep it afloat, it wouldn’t be surprising if Zelena’s time on the show is up, especially since she doesn’t possess magic anymore. At the very least, Zelena’s story has been fully told and has allowed the character to develop to her full potential.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Scorpion 3x22 Review: “Strife on Mars” (Man, This Party Sucks) [Guest Poster: Yasmine]


“Strife on Mars”
Original Airdate: April 17, 2017

Well, this Scorpion episode was emotionally exhausting, for both characters and viewers.

Even though everyone’s busy with planning the double bachelor/bachelorette part for Toby and Happy, Team Scorpion cannot say no to a job that would take them to a Mars Biodome simulation to fix its power grid. Kapper, the man behind the project and eyeing a billion-dollar deal with NASA, visits the garage and sells his project as the leading project in advancement of space exploration. The intro video the team watches is exciting, as Kapper describes the biodome as an Eden and promises the team they will not have to worry about dealing with the two resident scientists, Sal and Jen, who have been living there and testing the biodome for eleven months.

Paige and Ralph stay back at the garage with Kapper to overlook the team’s work, Toby, Happy and Walter head towards the biodome, while Cabe and Sylvester trail behind in the party bus with a few more party errands to run, most importantly picking up the piñatas, custom made to look like Toby and Happy.

Once they arrive at the biodome, the three geniuses realize that Kapper had lied about almost everything. The experiment is a failure and the place is a disaster. It is falling apart and the two scientists in there have long abandoned their scientific journey and are just living out the rest of the twelve months because Kapper won’t let them out.

The small engineering job to fix the grid turns into a disaster, of course, when the generator explodes. Kapper makes a run for it, abandoning the team both in the biodome and at the garage, and it is up to the team and the scientists to find a way to get out, with the biodome literally falling apart around them, temperatures increasing to fatal degrees, toxic fumes and doors they cannot open.

With some crazy idea, wacky science and a DIY Molotov cocktail, the team manages to make it out, but not before the experience proves to be a little more emotionally, let alone physically, taxing for those stuck inside.

Starting with the soon-to-be wed happy couple — who began the episode with Toby moving his things to Happy’s apartment, and then had to spend the day with two scientists who found being in love and being in a relationship and working together everyday a recipe for failure on all fronts. The moving of Toby’s things in the morning had led the two to a small argument, with Happy considering Toby’s stuff junk and Toby reminding her that her apartment is no longer her apartment, but their home. And then they spent the rest of the day watching two people who, eleven months ago, had been so in love with each other, but realized after living together and working together in close proximity that they could not stand each other at all and ended up resenting each other.

Both Toby and Happy realize that what happened to those two should serve as a cautionary tale for them but refuse to accept they will end up the same. They share a moment at the garage in the end, voicing their concerns, but also confidently agree that they won’t end up like that. And as a token of good faith, Happy brings Toby a painting that he has, which he suggested they hang in their apartment, of Toby Dick (a whale in a fedora) and she calls it a housewarming gift.

The character who went through the most traumatizing emotional roller coaster, though, was Walter. Being in that biodome triggered memories of being in the rocket earlier in the season, and that did not go well at all for the genius. Throughout the episode, Walter kept getting flashes of what happened there and demanded answers from the rest of the team. They kept avoiding it until there was no escaping the truth — and the truth was quite painful. Walter found out that he had confessed to Paige that he loved her, and that she had said she loved him too. And worst of all, the whole team knew and have kept it a secret from him for all those months.

After returning to the garage, Walter takes some time to himself while the others take part in the worst party ever. Later, he joins them downstairs and asks to speak to Paige privately.

Then Walter does the most non-Walter thing he has ever done — and yes, it does break Waige shippers’ hearts everywhere, and yes, I can see how they feel they are being mistreated by the writers. But keep in mind that if this was not their endgame ship, they would not be making it so hard and throwing so many obstacles in its way.

Walter thanks Paige for her work with Scorpion, and then he fires her.

And that is a horrible thing. But it is also a great thing. This is Walter’s first purely emotional decision. This is Walter at his most normal — at his most human. Compare this to Walter’s break-up in the pilot and compare it with every other time Walter was supposed to have an emotional reaction to something but he just remained... Walter. Logical, scientific Walter. Yes, this is a heartbreaking moment for Waige and for everyone involved, but it is a very important moment in Walter’s journey and it is the final piece of the puzzle that is Walter becoming the man who deserves to be with Paige.

He’s going to have to fix what he did, but I personally think he is finally ready to do that. He just needs to be aware of it all, and I think it is not going to take long for him to get there.

Secret Film Festival 2017: A Review [Contributor: Erin Allen]


My local theater puts on a Secret Film Festival every year. “The titles are secret, the awesomeness is not” is their tagline. Past titles include Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Slow West, It Follows, and What We Do in the Shadows. I made my third consecutive pilgrimage for the 12th annual event and saw some great films. You can read about my experience at the 10th annual fest here and the 11th here.

The premise? Twelve hours of movie viewing from midnight to noon of unknown independent film festival favorites. Sometimes you are given a choice between two movies, and the host gives you a short description of the film beforehand.

FILM #1

Described as a 70’s action/comedy.


Free Fire is a film from the independent distribution company, A24, which is on my radar after reading about Rae’s A24 challenge. It’s very Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs with a lot of violence and comedy. Gory brutality mixed with witty dialogue and a John Denver soundtrack makes the one location setting fresh and exciting. The cast is really strong with Brie Larson as the sole female role. The sound editing and mixing are phenomenal. The plot is simple, but executed with vertiginous choreography and efficient editing which keeps the film engaging throughout. I think this was a perfect choice for the opening film.

There are many great quotes, but this is my favorite:

Stevo: Do you have any headache pills?

Bernie: I got crack.

Stevo: Talk about a f'ing sledgehammer to crack a nut.


FILM #2


First choice of the night. The options are a medieval convent comedy based on Boccaccio’s The Decameron, or a Polish comedy/drama/horror/musical with subtitles.

I went with the first option. We were informed that the second option would be available to choose later, so I thought this was a smart move. 


The Little Hours is a hilariously irreverent comedy with a stellar cast. It has so many of my faves! Aubrey Plaza, Molly Shannon, Nick Offerman, and Fred Armisen to name a few. It also stars John C. Reilly, Alison Brie, and Jemima Kirke. Dave Franco plays a servant boy on the run who takes cover in the convent. He soon realizes it might not be much safer since the nuns are overcome with wicked temptations of debauchery.

This quote:

Father: Such abusive language!

Sister Fernanda (Aubrey Plaza): That’s just the tone of my voice.

She is basically April Ludgate in a habit.

FILM #3


The choices are a horror/mystery with disturbing imagery directed by the director of Trollhunter, or a film described as if Napoleon Dynamite and Rushmore had a scrappy Australian baby.

Loving both of those quirky comedies, I went with the latter. 


Girl Asleep definitely has some Napoleon Dynamite-esque qualities, but the Rushmore description didn’t vibe. It’s a coming of age story with a nightmare fantasy/adventure element that reminded me of Where The Wild Things Are. Great visual representations of the horror that is adolescence. Bethany Whitmore in the lead role is fantastic. There is also a very cool mythical character called The Huldra, which is a Finalandian warrior-ess that added to the strong female themes. It is the directorial debut of Rosemary Myers who directed the stage play. I hope to see more from her in the future.

FILM #4


The fourth film gave me the opportunity to see the film I passed on earlier, but I still didn’t bite. I chose the horror/comedy/drama about the bond between a mother and her unborn child.


Prevenge is a super dark look at how pregnancy can make you go kind of crazy. I so related to the main character’s feelings of being pregnant, how it can feel like a “hostile takeover” and that you are a “human sacrifice to [the baby’s] will.” I love that this was portrayed in a dark comedy-style horror film. Oddly enough, to me, pregnancy kind of lends itself to this genre rather than fluffy rom-com flicks. Alice Lowe wrote, directed, and starred in the film while seven months pregnant. That fact is impressive by itself, so it’s even more inspiring that the film is so outstanding.

Overheard by another moviegoer: “That made me not want to have kids. Like ever.”

FILM #5


The first option is a Korean film about trains and zombies. The second is described as “a drama/mystery that will go good with your current state of sleep deprivation. It’s Donnie Darko meets The Machinist meets Mr. Robot.

I chose the second because I really love Donnie Darko.


Buster’s Mal Heart is a time-traveling mind-bender. Rami Malek is great in the titular role, which is good because you spend the whole movie with him. I love stories about wormholes and the space-time continuum, even if I don’t really understand it. This film is a deeply intimate look at how these theories can create a paranoia and a singular obsession in the most mild-mannered people.

Cool quote: “It was a cosmic mistake that we made it this far.”

FILM #6


No more decisions to make. The final two films are not options. This makes me nervous because the sixth film is described as a horror film about heavy metal and family and Satan. I’m not really good with horror or Satan. Going to Catholic school for most of my education kind of made anything having to do with demonic religious themes scare the crap out of me. If I had a choice at this point, I would’ve chosen the alternative. Not to mention that it is now the morning of Easter Sunday, so watching a movie about Satan seems a tad sacrilegious. I armed myself with popcorn and mustered the courage.


Well, this was absolutely terrifying, but in an absolutely entertaining kind of way. The Devil’s Candy has satanic forces, a haunted house, and a really adorable heavy metal-loving family. I like that the filmmakers chose not to go campy and presented a straightforward narrative without straying from the elements that make the horror genre so captivating. I thought it was so twisted to be watching this movie on Easter, but the ending actually made me think of this as a perfect film for the holiday. And I swear I’m not saying that under possession of the Devil.

After the credits rolled, the emcee said, “You just watched The Devil’s Candy. Happy Easter.”

FILM #7


The closing night (day) film is an animated film about high school, with a warning for people with photosensitive epilepsy.


If this was a graphic novel, I would’ve been all over it. It was initially created as a comic short story, actually. I don’t think it’s very successful in the animated feature format. My Entire High School Sinking Into The Sea has an impressive cast of voice actors starring Jason Schwartzman and including Susan Sarandon, Lena Dunham, and Maya Rudolph. The animation has a strobe-like effect (hence the warning) that is somewhat irritating to watch. That coupled with the frantic nature of the plot made viewing this film kind of exhausting. It could have something to do with the fact that it is at the end of a long marathon, but my past two experiences at the festival had humorous closing films where my punchy demeanor enhanced the viewing.

The title describes the plot of the film. It takes all those high school personalities that we are familiar with and puts them together in a confined space during an emergency. While it is amusing at times, I found myself quite bored, so it was a little bit of a disappointing ending. I think The Little Hours would have been the better choice to close the festival.

THE FILMS I DIDN'T SEE


Film #2 and #4 alternative: The Lure


Film #3 alternative: The Autopsy of Jane Doe


Film #5 alternative: Train to Busan


You know how it is weird when you go to a matinee and you come out of the theater and it is still light out? Well, it’s even weirder to go in at night and come out in the middle of the day. The Secret Film Festival is a unique experience, and one I look forward to every year. I enjoyed almost all of the seven movies I watched. It was promising to see some films directed by women and so many strong female characters. My favorites were Free Fire, Girl Asleep, and Prevenge.

Do you think you could survive The Secret Film Festival? Would you have made the same choices as me? Let me know in the comments!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Bates Motel 5x09 Review: "Visiting Hours" (Brother’s Keeper) [Contributor: Erin Allen]


"Visiting Hours"
Original Airdate: April 17, 2017

The penultimate episode of Bates Motel is a quiet one. It focuses on how the murders affect the people involved and how their reactions affect those close to them.

GIVE DYLAN A BREAK


The amount of crap Dylan gets from people in this episode is absurd. He is grieving the loss of his mother as well as the fate of his brother. His wife is harsh, the lawyer he hired guilt trips him, and Madeline puts some blame on him. And he is understanding about all of it, taking each burden on his shoulders as it is handed to him. The massive amount of compassion that Dylan has is why he can empathize with every person that takes their sorrow and frustration out on him. 

At first I was a little perplexed as to why both Emma and Madeline were so distraught about the deaths of Audrey and Sam, respectively. Of course a family member dying is awful, but I figured that the victims being awful would make the hurt a little less severe. It wasn’t until the man at the funeral home tells Emma that “sometimes those are the hardest losses” that I started to understand how the ill feeling about the relationship can expose the unresolved issues and keep them exposed like an open wound. Dylan already understands this having gone through something similar with Caleb, and if he finds out about his death, he will have to deal with even more of these conflicted feelings. Dylan is patient and accepts other people’s pain and worry, and adds it to his own, but how long can he keep that up? Emma does soften a bit toward the end which is good because Dylan needs her support and to grieve with her.

Madeline is much colder, judging Dylan on his relationship with his brother and how he is dealing with his grief. I realize her horrible husband is dead, but that is no reason to get nasty with someone she doesn’t know and has no idea what he’s been through. It felt like a kick him while he’s down moment, and the whole episode really made me super sad for Dylan.

PRISON BREAK


When I described this episode as quiet I meant up until the last five minutes when Romero breaks into the jail and takes Norman. Is it a thing to ship a murder? Because if Norman is going to die, I want Romero to be the one to kill him. Romero is a broken hearted shell of a man who only has this revenge killing to keep him going. If he completes his mission, I’m not sure what will become of him. If he doesn’t, I don’t see him surviving the pain and defeat.

The thing is, I don’t even know if I want Norman to die. Even though he is bat-crap crazy, I am kind of fond of the Mother he created. Although she is not Norma, Norman was close enough to her to imbue some of her spirit into his manifestation of her. Even the death of a whacked out version of her will feel like the death of Norma, my most beloved character on the show.

And does Norman deserve to die? Mother makes an interesting point: “Death isn’t about deserving. It’s just part of the deal.” This kind of thing is an oft-debated subject. Dylan says “Norman is sweet, he’s just out of his mind.” Who pays for the sins of the crazy person? Will it bring justice to the victim’s families? Everyone is a victim in this situation, including Norman. He is consumed by his disease, and we witnessed his valiant albeit futile fight against it. His lawyer makes a good case to Dylan: “No one is going to want to see his illness once they see the evidence of his crimes. They need to see his connection to humanity.”

I surmised in my review of “The Body” that there is no way out for Norman. I don’t think there is a way out for Romero either. However it ends in the finale, Romero will just suffer more or cease to be. It is tragic, but we have to know that there was always a high possibility of not getting a happy ending. The film didn’t have a happy ending. The film didn’t even have closure, so even that is not guaranteed. I have enjoyed this series so much, and especially this last season, that I predict the finale will be satisfying even if I can’t pinpoint what a satisfying ending would look like to me.

Motel Amenities:
  • I wonder if Chick’s manuscript would’ve been used in Norman’s trial.
  • “I never wanted to bring you anything but happiness.” 
  • “I don’t know if we’re going to make it through this.” Um, excuse me, Emma?!
  • “Everyone has multiple personalities. We pull out what we need when we have to.” I love love love this line!
  • Mother talking to Julia about being a mother is so enthralling. We see Mother saying these things about motherhood and it makes sense. She is still a mother trying to protect her child even if she is a figment of Norman’s delusion. But, we know Julia is seeing Norman say this to her which must be really eerie. 
  • “One step closer to Hell?”
  • “Now a bad time?” “It’s going to be a bad time for awhile.”
  • “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” by The Beach Boys is a gut-wrenching song to play while Romero is on the screen. 
  • I like how Vera Farmiga as Mother stood up in the courtroom when the judge asked the defendant to stand.
  • “Norman only tricked me for a couple of weeks. How did he trick you for your whole life?” Take a seat, Madeline. Take several seats. 
  • The scene where Emma goes to see Norman is fantastic. She needed a little redemption after being so hard on Dylan. She immediately sees that it is not Norman and she asks to speak with him. Mother won’t let him talk to her because he is sleeping and she wants him to wake up to the smell of apple pie so he will know everything will be okay. I can’t with this imagery, Mother. All the tears. Then Emma asks Mother to tell Norman that she misses him. More tears. 
  • OMG, Romero is having Norman take him to Norma’s body. The finale is going to be INTENSE!

Brooklyn Nine-Nine 4x14 Recap: “Serve and Protect” (Blackmail and Break-ups) [Contributor: Alisa Williams]


“Serve and Protect”
Original Airdate: April 18, 2017

Veronica Hopkins has taken over the audit of the Brooklyn Nine-Nine precinct this week and things are not looking good for the team. Her sordid past with Terry could mean the Nine-Nine gets shut down. During the morning staff meeting, Terry hesitantly brings up the conflict of interest but Veronica says even though it took her years of intense therapy to get over Terry and she  hasn’t had a successful relationship since, she is NOT biased against the precinct. Yikes. Who knew Terry left such a path of destruction, broken hearts, and empty yogurt cups in his wake before meeting his wife?

The whole team is feeling rather gloomy about the prospect of being shut down, but no one more so than Rosa, who hates people and the idea of having to start all over in a brand new precinct with brand new people. To cheer her up, Jake tells her about a case he’s snagged involving Cassie Sinclair, the lead star in their favorite cop show, Serve and Protect. Apparently, the actress’s laptop was stolen and she needs the Nine-Nine’s help in tracking it down.

While Rosa and Jake track down leads on the set of Serve and Protect, the rest of the team tries to figure out what Terry did to Veronica to leave her so bitter and vengeful. Terry has no idea, so Amy tries a little “girl talk” with Veronica but fails miserably. Boyle and Captain Holt hatch a plan of their own: they’ll appeal to Veronica’s boss, Deputy Commissioner Grayson, about the situation. He’s vacationing in the Poconos with his family, but that won’t stop them. Time for some undercover hijinks.

Back on the cop show set, Rosa smells something fishy with the executive producer, but Jake is too enamored with his offers of free food and a possible consulting gig. They also get a bit side-tracked by the co-star on the show, Mark Devereaux (played by the adorable Nathan Fillion), who thinks he’s a real detective because he’s been playing one on TV for 15 years. He meanders into Cassie’s trailer to chat with Rosa and Jake, and picks up the laptop case, not realizing he’s supposed to wear gloves in real life.

The executive producer continues to distract Jake, who ardently refuses to believe such a nice man had anything to do with the stolen laptop. While Jake chats with the writers and gives them tips on how to write their characters, Rosa tracks down video surveillance that clearly shows the executive producer breaking into Cassie’s trailer and coming back out with a backpack full of something – presumably the laptop. Jake is super bummed.

They barge into the producer’s office with a warrant. A very hurt and embarrassed Jake tells the producer the show sucks and he hates it while Rosa locates the backpack. But when they open it, there’s no laptop, just a bunch of pills. It seems Cassie has a prescription drug problem and the producers are intent on saving her from herself, which is why he broke in and stole them. The producer is pretty mad and tells them to get out and that Jake can forget his cushy new job as a consultant on a show he says he hates.

Meanwhile, Amy and Gina decide it’s time to interrogate Terry about his failed relationship with Veronica. Terry still claims there’s absolutely no reason for Veronica to be angry with him. According to him, he planned and executed the perfect break-up at a mid-range restaurant (nice enough she knew he cared but not so nice she thought a proposal was coming) and he even bought her a break-up gift (with gift receipt in case she didn’t like it). In his recollection, afterward Veronica thanked him and the other restaurant patrons clapped their approval. Amy and Gina aren’t buying it.

After hours of questioning, it finally comes out that Terry had planned to break up with Veronica earlier but then her mom passed and so he waited until she’d had time to grieve. He stayed with her another 18 months, even though he didn’t want to — but he claims she had no way of knowing that. Amy asks when he purchased the break-up gift and he admits he bought it when he originally planned to break up with her. Which means the gift receipt had an 18-month old date on it so Veronica knew exactly how long he’d been planning their break-up. Oh, Terry.

Boyle and Holt aren’t having as much success in the Poconos. They track down Deputy Commissioner Grayson, who is completely unsympathetic and a bit of a jerk, but just as he’s snubbing their attempts to talk, a young, attractive woman (clearly not his wife) walks up and asks if he’s ready to go. Grayson’s a philanderer and this has Boyle’s brain spinning with all sorts of blackmail opportunities. Holt is completely against this plan at first, but Boyle explains they won’t really be blackmailing him — they’ll be getting him to blackmail himself by pretending they know more than they do and letting Grayson come to his own conclusions. Holt is more agreeable to this circular logic, but such nefarious dealings are not his strong suit, so Boyle gives him a crash course in insinuation with eyebrow raises and subtle pauses between words.

When Holt tries to confront Grayson, it doesn’t quite work out as planned. Grayson just thinks there’s something wrong with Holt’s face because he keeps raising his eyebrows between each word. Before Holt can make his point, Boyle rushes out of the room to call the whole thing off. Grayson leaves and Boyle tells Holt that he’d rather the precinct be shut down and the team split up then have Holt compromise his morals.

Back at the precinct, Rosa and Jake are still feeling really bummed about not solving the case, when they suddenly realize that maybe the other lead actor — Mark Devereaux — fumbled the laptop case in front of them to cover up the fact that his prints were already on it. They confront him and he does a pretty good job of denying it until they tell him they already found the laptop in the trunk of his car. Then he admits everything. He was jealous of Cassie’s success and wanted to see her humiliated and kicked off the show.

Meanwhile, Terry, with some newfound wisdom about what he did wrong, offers Veronica a real apology and says he hopes that she’ll give the precinct a chance. She accepts his apology and says she’d love to give the Nine-Nine the chance it deserves — but she’s already turned in her report and it was really bad. We’ll have to wait until next week to find out the fate of the Nine-Nine.

Bullets on the Bulletin Board:
  • “Why are you being such a Gloomy Gus?” “I’m a Realistic Randy.” “Didn’t go with Rosa, huh?”
  • “Captain, can we talk?” “Boyle, you know my feelings about bathroom conversations.” “Steadfastly against.” 
  • “I’ve been broken up with six times.” “Really? Only six?” “Yep. Oh wait. Does it count if they end the relationship but still want to be friends?” “Yes.” “Oh. Then 210.” 
  • “Listen to yourself. You’re letting all this cloud your judgment.” “I love clouds. They keep the sun away on hot days.” “He doesn’t want us to solve the crime so he’s buying us off. It’s shady.” “I love the shade. It keeps the sun away on hot days.” 
  • “I didn’t do anything! I respect women! I’m a feminist! I believe women should be on all the money. I want to pay for a sandwich with a $10 Ellen DeGeneres.” 
  • “You’re right. No matter what happens, we’ll feel better knowing we didn’t resort to blackmail.” “I agree. From now on, the only black male I want anything to do with is you.” “That was incredibly inappropriate.” “I know, but I had thought of it and I was so proud I just had to say it out loud.”

Veep 6x01 Recap: "Omaha" (How The Mighty Have Fallen) [Contributor: Erin Allen]


"Omaha"
Original Airdate: April 16, 2017

The season six premiere of Veep was as sharp as ever. A year has passed since Selina Meyer lost the presidency in the historic House vote, and this episode catches us up on what the gang has been doing. While it is all very expositional, the fast-paced witticism makes it feel like anything but. All the characters we love and love to hate are back in all their vulgar glory. Except Sue. Man, do I miss Sue.

Selina makes her first public appearance since she handed the reigns over to Laura Montez. I wonder if the whole country is pronouncing it L-OW-RAH. Dan — or Danny, as he is unfortunately referred — is lucky enough to interview her for CBS This Morning. She fakes nice and happy as Gary scoffs behind the camera, still bitter about her fall from grace. “Look, I don’t have grace. I don’t want grace. I don’t even say grace.” There’s a little Elaine nugget for you Seinfeld fans.

Being an ex-President is a busy job apparently, or that’s what the Meyer camp would like people to think. She is writing her memoir which she feels is “a debt a president owes to history,” and she has set up The Meyer Fund that raises money for adult literacy. And AIDS. And possibly another fun cause, like stuttering, in the future. Selina is grasping at straws, trying to stay relevant.

Amy is far removed from Washington, running a gubernatorial campaign for Buddy Calhoun in Nevada (NE-VAH-DA?). Calhoun is also her fiance, which is just disappointing and repulsive. I want so much more for Amy. She still has her acerbic attitude and biting remarks which is shaking up the country bumpkins that make up his team, calling one lady who is dressed in purple, “purple mountain’s majesty,” and starting a smear campaign against the opponent’s wife. “We are going to drag this state into the twentieth century. That’s right, I said twentieth.”

Ben has taken a stint at Uber, and looks so tragically out of place. His politically incorrect humor doesn’t go over well, and he doesn’t speak with the aid of technology or what he calls “a slideshow thingy.”

We first see Jonah giving an impassioned speech to Congress against a healthy lunch act. “When I was a kid I ate sloppy joes. Pizza on a bagel. The only green bean I ate was a green jelly bean, and I grew up so tall that my stupid mom had to get a different car.” They cut to show that he is speaking to an almost empty room and the C-SPAN camera cuts off most of his head. “I will fight against green beans the same way I fought against this deadly disease called cancer. For the children.” Last season Jonah was diagnosed with testicular cancer, and we see that he is completely bald now as a result of treatment.

With his attack on green beans, Jonah has made an enemy in Congressman Furlong whose district’s chief agricultural product is the green bean. Furlong slings the raunchiest insults on the series, and it seems Jonah will frequently be on the receiving end of those this season. However, Jonah has Kent Davison on his team, and we find out that Ben will join them when things predictably don’t work out at Uber. This should make for some hilarious sparring in the episodes to come.

Mike is overwhelmed at home with three kids, but too stupid to realize or care that he is overwhelmed. He has been providing information that he has in his press secretary diary to Selina for her book. His wife forces him to demand that that “help” turn into a job, and he finds himself back with Selina in a similar capacity as before, but without any pay. “You get paid when the book is finished.” What’s the timeline for that?” “I don’t know.” Yeah, good luck with that, Mike.

Richard has remained by Selina’s side since her presidency ended. In the last season finale, the two shared her final night in the White House together. I’m really glad he is her right-hand man. I miss Amy in that role, but Richard is a great replacement.

Unfortunately, her ex-husband, Andrew, is on her team, too. And they are dating? Gary’s face is my reaction to this: disappointment and disgust. Andrew is the worst. He is doing something for The Meyer Fund, but I don’t think anyone really knows what that is. He also gets a finder’s fee for Selina’s speaking engagements. “What do you find?” Selina asks him. “Besides the most beautiful woman in the world?” Flattery gets you everywhere with Selina (unless you are Gary), and Andrew knows this.

The Meyer Fund gets its operating money from Catherine and her inheritance. Catherine’s partner and Selina’s former secret service guard, Marjorie, runs the charitable foundation. Marjorie is just as humorless as ever and it is still just as funny. “I didn’t know you were going to give me AIDS.” Selina and Gary laugh as if she made a joke, but she looks at them deadpan. When Catherine comes in, Marjorie tells her “I have AIDS now.” Catherine laughs and Selina and Gary are so confused. “It’s her delivery or something.” Clea DuVall’s delivery of straitlaced Marjorie killed me last season, and it looks like that hasn’t changed.

Finding worthy speaking engagements is proving harder than Selina expected, running into sexism along the way. The National Auto Dealers offered her half what they had for Hughes. “I will not work for less than 87 cents on the dollar. And tell them I’ll stand in front of a glass podium and wear a short skirt.”

The season picks up after a long year for Selina which included a break at a “spa.” Catherine mentions that it was good to see her making public appearances instead of sitting in her bathrobe with Gary. Gary continues to be her faithful, put-upon bag man. He is in heaven, or was in heaven — their bonding time is coming to an end as she reenters the political spotlight. She tells him a secret. He loves that he gets to hear a secret, but he does not love the content of this secret. Selina wants to run for president again. “I think you’re definitely ready for this. Are you sure you’re ready for this?” he says in the same breath.

Nobody reacts to this news very well. Catherine breaks down in ugly sobs. Ben says what I think we are all thinking: “I can’t watch you lose again.” It really was one nightmare after another with nothing ever working out for the Meyer team. But, it also was such a glorious spectacle, a hot mess that you couldn’t look away from. Whatever we are going to watch Selina and crew attempt this season will be great.

Stray Observations:
  • Selina refers to her time in the White House as the Meyer years, and Dan corrects her by saying “year.” I love how this throws her and she is on live television so she can’t get mad at him.
  • Mike is totally into Bubble Guppies. 
  • Furlong calls Jonah "Congressman Powder."
  • The Meyer Fund offices are in the South Bronx and it is not up to Selina’s high standards. Obviously, Gary agrees and commiserates with her. “We should be in the meatpacking district. So chic.”
  • Richard takes everything Selina says seriously and puts 110% into even the smallest of tasks. It doesn’t matter if Selina is being sarcastic, Richard will find out if she can host Showtime at the Apollo. (It’s a soft pass, by the way.) 

Prison Break 5x03 Recap: “The Liar” (A Modern Day Odyssey) [Guest Poster: Rebecca]


“The Liar”
Original Airdate: April 18, 2017

Trigger Warning: There is a very brief mention of rape in the second half of the episode.

As we all know, social media and the Internet are black holes — especially when it comes to your favorite books/movies/TV shows/etc. Last week, after episode two of Prison Break aired and browsing Twitter, I stumbled upon an article comparing this season to Homer’s The Odyssey. And as a recent college graduate with a degree in English literature, I was appalled that I hadn’t made the connection sooner!

I did get a sense of déjà vu in the first episode, when Dr. Whitcombe tells T-Bag that “Nobody” was his benefactor. One of my favorite parts of The Odyssey is when Odysseus defeats the Cyclops using his wit and pretending to be a man named “Nobody,” but I didn’t make that connection at the time. Additionally, the first thing that comes up with you Google “Ogygia” is a reference to an island in The Odyssey. And, of course, the overall premise of both tales is the journey of man who disappeared for several years trying to return home to his beloved wife and son. Pretty awesome stuff!


"LOOK, BUBBLE GUM MAN IS SENDING US SOMETHING AGAIN!"


This episode picks up directly where “Kaniel Outis” left off, with Michael sitting in his cell looking at his tattoos and writing a letter in Arabic. He folds the note into a paper airplane and sticks a piece of bubble gum in it, throwing it outside much to the delight of some Yemen children who wait near the prison. One exclaims gleefully that the “Bubble Gum Man” has another gift for them.

The kid chews on his gum while making his way to Lincoln’s hotel and slipping the note beneath the mat. As he is turning to leave, he runs into Lincoln, who forces the kid to explain why he’s there. It’s clear the kid is frightened, but he relaxes after Lincoln offers him some Tic-Tacs.

Sheba examines the message from Michael, saying the letters and spacing resembled spokes on a wheel, like the city center. Sheba, Lincoln, and C-Note discover a red dot seemingly randomly placed in the message, and Lincoln realizes this is where he’s supposed to meet Michael after the escape. Lincoln promises to pay to get Sheba and anyone she wants out of Yemen if she can secure three plane tickets — one for him, one for C-Note, and one for Michael.

"ARE WE BREAKING OUT MICHAEL SCOFIELD OR KANIEL OUTIS?"


The gang follows the map and finds that the red dot is located at an abandoned auto shop, bought from the previous owner by an American. The shop is clearly not in operation and is littered with maps, markups, disguises, and passport photos. C-Note, Lincoln, and Sheba realize Michael is trying to break out multiple people (including Abu Ramal), causing the group (especially Sheba) to wonder who they’re really helping.

Inside Ogygia, the prisoners are becoming extremely agitated because the bombs are increasing in frequency and proximity. Abu Ramal and his gang call for “homosexuals” to be killed, and Sid (Michael and Whip’s cellmate whose father is Mohammed, the Sheik of Light) fears for his life. Michael finally convinces Ramal to let Sid go after threatening not to include him in the breakout if he kills Sid.

Back in New York, the man and woman who have been out to get Michael’s family learn that Michael has contacted Sara via Mike. (Side note: I’ve finally learned their names! Blonde chick = A&W, man = Van Gough. Thanks, IMDB.) They’re staking out Sara’s family at the hospital where Jacob is staying, still recovering from his gunshot wound and muse that Sara will be the one to lead them straight to Michael.

"LAZARUS HAS RISEN FROM THE DEAD."


Jacob is told he can leave the hospital soon, much to Sara’s dismay, as she thinks he needs more time to recover. Sara goes the bathroom and is followed by T-Bag, much to her surprise. She appears afraid, defensive, and frightened — and rightfully so, but T-Bag promises her he just wants to help. He tells her what he knows about Kaniel Outis and shows off his prosthetic hand.

As she leaves the bathroom, Sara checks her phone and notices strange codes and images flashing across the screen — she realizes she’s been hacked. She goes to a nearby phone shop to get a new phone and asks the salesman for help identifying her hacker.

Back in Yemen, Whip voices his concerns about the escape to Michael. He isn’t sure if he can trust Michael anymore, since more and more people have been invited to participate in the escape. Michael assures Whip that he’s just pretending to be on Ramal’s side but they’re not actually going to break him out. Whip puts his arm on Michael, who punches him. A guard comes to restrain Michael, and Michael stealthily commandeers his watch. He whispers something to Ramal as he leaves the yard.

A friend of Sheba’s offers to make Lincoln a fake passport, since he had to surrender his in the first episode to get a meeting in Ogygia. The gang agrees that C-Note and Mohammed will kill the lights while Lincoln and Sheba get the passport; however, upon arriving at the place to receive the passports, Lincoln and Sheba realize they’ve been set up. They are knocked unconscious and dragged away to separate rooms. When Lincoln comes to, he can hear Sheba being interrogated and severely beaten.

A guard comes into Michael’s cell and asks him where his watch is. Michael plays dumb, and the guard searches the cell top to bottom. He doesn’t find anything, so he puts the prison on lockdown and inspects every prisoner and every cell.


"ANY CHANCE POSEIDON WILL JUST LET US KILL HER?"


A&W and Van Gough show up at the cell phone store Sara had visited. They threaten the salesman into telling them that he had seen Sara. Looking out the window, the duo realizes Sara is watching them from a store window across the street; now Sara knows what her attackers look like. They attempt to chase her down, but Sara manages to evade them.

As the Ogygia guards search the prison cells one by one looking for the watch, Michael’s cellmates, Whip, Sid, and Ja (the junkie with the illegal cell phone) talk about what they’re going to do when they get out of prison.

In New York, Sara, Jacob, and Mike arrive to Jacob’s parent’s lake house for a getaway. Brian, the cell phone salesman, calls Sara and tells her whoever hacked her phone used her thumbprint. We see a flashback of Sara sitting in Paul Kellerman’s office, drinking out of a glass of water. The camera zooms in on her fingerprint on the glass. She finally agrees to work with T-Bag to figure out what’s going on and tells him to visit Kellerman.

"I'M NOT MUCH OF A BROTHER."


Fifteen minutes until breakout. Whip tells Michael he’s become a brother figure to him and presses Michael to disclose if something happened to him in solitary. “Did you become Kaniel Outis in your head?” he asks Michael, who does not answer.

Five minutes until breakout. Ramal assures his cell mates that Michael will come for them when it’s time, but their excitement is halted when the guard finds his watch in Ramal’s cell. We learn Michael slipped the watch into Ramal’s pocket when they were whispering in the yard.

The lights go out, and Michael and his cellmates begin the escape, unlocking a grate in the ceiling above Michael’s bed. Chaos ensues inside Ogygia, and it becomes an all-out brawl between the guards and prisoners. Ramal heads for Michael’s cell, followed my others, including two brothers who shanked a guard.

Lincoln can hear Sheba screaming as she tries to defend herself from being raped by her interrogator. He finally manages to break down the door and fight off her attacker. He calls C-Note and tells him to go to the rendezvous without himself and Sheba, as Sheba needed to get to a hospital.

Michael, Ja, Whip, and Sid are all up in the vent when Ramal and his gang enter the cell. Whip breaks the top bunk so there is no way for them to climb up, but the brothers yank Sid out from the vent. Michael promises if they let Sid back up, he’ll bring them along. A guard shoots on of the brothers, and Michael makes the heart wrenching decision to leave Sid behind. The guards realize Michael and his cellmates have escaped. They call up to some other guards on the roof, who capture Michael, Whip, and Ja.

From the rendezvous point, C-Note watches as Michael reenters the prison with his hands up.

"I NEVER STOPPED LOVING YOU. THE WHOLE LIE, IT WAS FOR YOU."


In solitary, Michael examines the eye tattoos on his palm. He finally grabs Ja’s cell phone, which is very low on battery, and makes a video for Sara. He tells her he still loves her and implores to not to let anyone put “Kaniel Outis” on his headstone if he is killed. Before he can say his real name, the phone dies.


THE VERDICT 


I knew it! I knew there was no way Michael would have ever let someone erase his identity like that. Whether or not he actively played a role in this is still unknown, but I have a feeling he had a hand in it.

I thought this episode did a great job with fleshing out secondary characters, such as Whip and Sheba. We get a glimpse into Sheba’s past, and we are painted a better picture of who Whip is outside of “Michael’s cellmate.” We see him as a human with hopes and fears, whose experiences have completely obliterated his ability to trust. I also feel like this episode has set up the bigger picture of the series — instead of just watching Michael try to escape and hook back up with Lincoln, we’re learning more about why this whole thing is happening in the first place. This has been my favorite episode of season five thus far for these reasons.

That being said, I would be remiss if I didn’t express my sadness and disappointment that we haven’t seen Sucre since his brief appearance in the first episode. I’ve mentioned before that he’s my favorite character after Michael, so I was hoping to see a lot of him this season. I’m confident he’ll make an appearance later in the season, but I’m an impatient fangirl who wants her Sucre fix now! Perhaps he’ll show up next week to save the day.

Honorable Events Worth Mentioning:
  • In the beginning of the episode, when Michael is writing his letter to the kids, it seems as if he’s copying his tattoos onto the paper.
  • Van Gough has a bandage on his ear.
  • We get our first glimpse into how Michael ended up in this situation. Michael mentions that himself and his other cellmates came to Yemen for foreign relations reasons, but were betrayed.
  • The donation from “Outis” to Dr. Whitcombe was in the sum of $1 million... now how would Michael have access to that kind of money from a prison in Yemen?
  • This is the first time we get the name of whoever is behind all of this: Poseidon.

Class 1x01 Recap: “For Tonight We Might Die" (Prom) [Guest Poster: Stephanie Coats]


"For Tonight We Might Die"
Original Airdate: April 15, 2017

Doctor Who spin-offs were, at one time, fairly common. There was the short-lived The Sarah Jane Adventures and much-loved Torchwood. Now, there’s Class. If we had to compare Class to the two other televised spin-offs of the longest running sci-fi show in history, it’s much more Torchwood (though with a lot less sex). There’s a bite to the humor and an excited energy that would feel very at home with Jack Harkness and his crew. And yet Class is something wholly different than Torchwood or Doctor Who, in the best way possible. It’s possibly the most grounded Whovian show and the most human, even if some of its main characters are not.

CLASSMATES 


Let’s start with the humans first. At Coal Hill Academy, we meet April MacLean (Sophie Hopkins) who is very much the teacher’s pet and is also in charge of the autumn prom. For the duration of the episode, we’re going to pretend like that’s a normal thing even though I’m not entirely sure. April is severely lacking in volunteers and is decorating alone in the gym at night when a shadowy creature attacks.

At the same time, Tanya (Vivian Oparah), a gifted younger student, is at home tutoring school soccer star Ram (Fady Elsayed) over Skype. When she’s also attacked by the shadows, she turns on every light in her room as Ram stays on Skype to comfort her.

April needs the help of math teacher, Ms. Quill (Katharine Kelly), who hands her an alien gun to shoot at the shadowy form in front of her. Except classmate Charlie (Greg Austin) steps in at the last moment because the gun kills both its target and the person wielding it. Quill is frustrated by Charlie’s valor because it means Corakinus, king of the Shadow Kin, escapes, but not before April becomes his Horcrux, so to speak. While the gun didn’t kill either of them, it does mean they now share April’s heart, so killing one means killing the other.

OUT OF TOWNERS 


As she deserves some explanation, Charlie reveals to April he’s an alien. Given Charlie’s awkwardness and lack of any pop culture knowledge, April isn’t surprised. Finally, a character in the Doctor Who universe that doesn’t look shocked when learning about aliens who look like humans. Depending on who’s speaking, Charlie was either prince of the Rhodians or an overlord and fought in a war against the terrorists or freedom fighters called the Quill, who shared their planet. When Ms. Quill and her kin were defeated, an alien creature was inserted into her brain telepathically linking her to Charlie and making her his forced bodyguard. She can’t even wield a weapon now.

Doctor Who and its spin-offs are always at their best when dealing with human problems in an alien world. Is Ms. Quill’s punishment extreme? Would death or imprisonment have been better? Can forced subservience grow into genuine understanding and compassion for one’s former enemy and prevent further civil wars? The answers almost don’t matter because while the Rhodians and the Quill were busy fighting, the Shadow Kin infiltrated and slaughtered the whole planet. Ms. Quill dutifully saved Charlie’s life and they were both rescued by the Doctor, who then dropped them off on Earth.

THE MONSTER MASH 


Looking out for (or trying to make) her friends, April tells Tanya and Ram everything and while they believe her, they’re also distracted by the upcoming dance. April flies solo because Charlie asked Matteusz (Jordan Renzo) instead of accepting her fumbling proposal. Ram and girlfriend Rachel arrive in style while Tanya’s mom only lets her daughter go provided she writes a paper about the experience after. Sheesh. 

All things considered, it’s not the worst part of the night. Not far into the dance, April — thanks to her shared heart with Corakinus — knows the Shadow Kin are on their way. Ram sees them first when Rachel is killed right in front of them and his leg is cut off when he tries to fight back. The students all run except for Charlie, Tanya, April and Ms. Quill, but they’re useless against the Shadow Kin. What they need, is a doctor.

And just like that, he’s there. Okay, Ms. Quill called him earlier, but his timing was still impeccable. The Doctor helpfully points out Corakinus is after the Cabinet of Souls, a sort of box that contains the souls of the dead Rhodians that can be used as a weapon... somehow. Charlie does have it but it’s empty; it was merely a fairytale told to Rhodian children. 

Corakinus is pissed he can’t have his weapon. Before he can hurt anyone else, April threatens to kill herself and thereby him. Instead, Tanya turns on the lights and the Doctor gives them a boost with the sonic. As the Shadow Kin retreat, Corakinus tries to take April with him. Ram knocks him out with a chair. That’s right; the dude who just lost one of his legs saves the freaking day.

DIAGNOSIS: ALIENS 


The Doctor fixes the rip in time and space the Shadow Kin were using and then fixes Ram’s leg. He gives the teen a prosthetic alien leg instead. Before the Time Lord leaves, he warns the new band of friends that Coal Hill is an epicenter of sorts (or Hellmouth, if you will) for alien activity because of his frequent visits over the years. So the new sci-fi Scooby Gang better be prepared.

Ms. Quill would just like to be off. The Doctor insists she and Charlie stay to help and really, they don’t have much choice. They don’t have a time machine of their own. But Charlie does have his own secret. The Cabinet of Souls isn’t empty after all.

Final thoughts:
  • As much as I love the Doctor, especially Capaldi’s Doctor, I don’t think this episode truly needed him. The dynamic between the students both with each other and Ms. Quill as well as the diversity of characters was more than enough for me to buy in without needing the Time Lord. That said, I never say no to a little more Capaldi on my screen. 
  • There’s a moment where the Doctor sees a memorial wall at Coal Hill and stares for several seconds at the names Pink, RD and Oswald, C. I cry silently.
  • Ms. Quill is my favorite simply because she’s deadpan hilarious. See: “No wonder this country only exports Downton Abbey." “Leave us! We are decorating!”
  • Also, she goes from sarcasm to pretty terrifying in 2.5 seconds. See: “You think you know what waits for you here. You think the same plan will work. But I am what waits for you, and I am war itself.”
  • Charlie: Anything? Ms. Quill: Yes, there was a huge attack I'm keeping secret from you. Charlie: I should've put a creature in your head to make you nicer. Ms. Quill: Yeah, should've, but didn't. 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Reasons Why You Should Watch 13 Reasons Why : A Roundtable Discussion [Contributors: Jenn, Marilyn, Jen K., Rae]

(Photo credit: Variety)

13 Reasons Why debuted on Netflix only a few weeks ago, but has already generated massive buzz, both about its content and execution. A harrowing, sad story of a young woman named Hannah who takes her life and leaves behind thirteen tapes with reasons as to why, this series was an addicting ride from start to finish. Because we had a lot of feelings about the content, characters, and resolution, some of the writers formed a roundtable to discuss 13 Reasons Why. So join Jenn, Marilyn, Jen K., and Rae as they talk about this show!

Warning: Massive spoilers ahead for the series. Read at your own risk.

Let’s start off with this question: Did you read the book that the series is based on? If so, how does it compare overall?


Marilyn: I have not read the book but I have seen articles that discuss the differences and I leafed through the book this last weekend. The series seems to have fleshed out the characters more, added more nuance to the story, and basically beefed everything up. Which I think is a good thing.

Jenn: I actually never read the book! But now I want to.

Jen K.: Same! Never read the book.

Rae: I... also never read the book.


We’ll dive into the characters first. Who was the most complex or compelling character for you? Who was the least interesting?


Marilyn: So many of these characters were compelling. The really layered characters like Justin and Jessica were perhaps the most interesting. They were not immediately “good” or “bad” — there was a lot to their stories and watching them evolve over the course of the present day (as well as through flashbacks) was one of my favorite things. I also found Alex to be very interesting, especially when I rewatched the episodes. He was played with a lot more nuance than I originally noticed.

As for least interesting, I would say Courtney. Mostly because I didn’t feel she had a very solid reason for her decisions and they seem fairly selfishly motivated without any redeeming reasoning. Marcus too.

Jenn: I really loved Justin’s characterization because we’re meant to believe, at the beginning, that morality is black and white and that people are too — Justin is bad, and Hannah is good. But the most interesting thing to me is that Hannah wasn’t totally good and Justin wasn’t totally bad. He made bad decisions, but he didn’t make them selfishly. And, in the end, the realization that Justin tried to keep Jessica safe was heartbreaking. He did what he thought was best, and it was painful for him (that scene at the party when he realizes what he let happen to Jessica was so sad). I also really love Alex. He’s really one of the only characters who, by the end of the season, feels remorse for the way he treated Hannah. He tries to get other people to own up to what they did wrong and recognize that because of it, they deserve whatever punishment comes their way. And that’s exactly why I loved Sheri so much too. She was a good-hearted person who made a mistake, but felt guilt over it and tried to make amends the best way she knew how.

I agree with both of you who found Courtney to be the least interesting. Her stakes were so low and convoluted that I found myself rolling my eyes at her more often than not. I also really didn’t like Marcus as a character at all. I found his motivations to be better than Courtney’s, but his personality was just grating.

Jen K.: Justin was one of the more complex characters, which believe me was a shocking discovery. After watching the first episode, I was not expecting to sympathize with Justin in any way, but by the end I did. I thought 13 Reasons Why did an excellent job of showing Justin’s reasoning behind the decisions he made, particularly with Jessica and his “friendship” with Bryce. Justin’s decisions were still horrible and spectacularly wrong, but I think it’s important to show characters who do the wrong thing believing those choices are for the right reasons. We as humans can rationalize just about everything. Sometimes we believe that if we have a “good reason” for doing something then it’s okay — especially kids. Some choices are just wrong, no matter the reasoning, no matter the situation, and it’s important for children and adults alike to see that.

Least interesting I would agree with Marilyn and Jenn and say Courtney because I cringed almost every time she opened her mouth. Marcus too because he seemed the least impacted by the tapes. He took narcissism to a whole new level.

Rae: Agree with everyone about Justin, who I found very interesting, and Courtney, who I did not. I also feel like Bryce was not a very good villain. I get that the show may not want to give humanity to a rapist, but part of what the show was exploring was that a rapist could be a random guy at a party who seems like a fun guy, or is someone who you thought was a friend, and Bryce didn’t seem to me like a fully fleshed-out person. I also didn’t love Tony. I feel like the show could have just... skipped him? I kept getting annoyed with his mysterious statements and any resolutions he brought were not satisfying enough to be worth the irritation.

Jenn: I agree with you about Tony, partially, Rae. I think I liked him as a person and a character. He was a fun mentor-figure to Clay and helped him become a better, bolder individual. But in terms of his role in the mysteries Hannah created, I feel like the show hyped his involvement up too much and the resolution was just kind of meh.


13 Reasons Why digs deep into some really difficult and, at times, uncomfortable topics like mental health, suicide, and rape. What are your thoughts on how these subjects were handled?


Marilyn: I’ve seen some are concerned that these heavy issues are handled lightly or that these issues are glorified. I didn’t see it that way at all. I felt that the creators went to great lengths to try to portray all this in as realistic a fashion as possible. The nuances of mental health and even rape were explored. Suicide was portrayed as hard and painful and permanent. It’s not easy to watch and it isn’t supposed to be.

Jenn: There’s no doubt that this series was hard for me to watch, especially the final two episodes. But I agree with Marilyn, and don’t think they were sensationalized or glorified. The message of this series, overall, is that we never know what’s going on in someone else’s life and that’s why we need to be there for people. It was not glamorous and 13 Reasons Why showed us that — not only how painful it was for the person suffering, but for those closest to them too. The rape scenes in particular were so hard to watch because Bryce sounds like people in real life. He’s not some off-the-wall, fabricated villain. He’s scary because he’s so realistic. I don’t know that mental health was tackled with the tact that it deserves (Hannah’s depression is really only hinted at, as is Clay’s mental state), and I would have liked to see more of a focus on that part of Hannah’s life. But honestly, the whole series was spent discussing difficult topics and I’m grateful that the show was bold enough to go to places that made us unsettled, as viewers. I felt something while watching the show, and that’s the most you can hope for when it comes to television.

Jen K.: I didn’t feel any of the topics were glorified. As a parent, I was particularly pleased with how they filmed Hannah’s suicide. It was horrific and brutal, but not sensationalized. It wasn’t warm and fuzzy, with candles and Sarah McLachlan music playing in the background either. They didn’t shy away from showing that suicide — no matter what form — is a particularly awful way to die. I appreciate they didn’t shy away from the parents finding her body. Their pain and horror was palpable and as difficult to watch as the act itself. Hannah couldn’t feel it, but her life mattered. She was deeply loved. All the characters needed to be more cognizant of the impact they have on others — even Hannah herself. I thought the parents finding her body drove home that message in a really profound way.

The rapes were very difficult to watch, which to me, says they were handled the right way. Rape should be difficult to watch. If a show is going to explore a sexual assault storyline, it should done with a survivor’s perspective being the focal point in hopes of promoting understanding, education and prevention. Although Jessica’s perspective is a little lost because the truth is withheld from her, which is its own brutalization, she knows deep down something happened. We slowly watch her try to avoid and forget until she begins to unravel. It was like watching someone drown episode after episode. The moment Jessica finally broke down in front of her father was the first time I felt like she came up for air. 13 Reasons Why also tackled the issue of consent and the “boys will be boys” attitude that’s so pervasive in our society, which makes women objects and not people. Bryce was a monster, a serial rapist, and it doesn’t matter he can hit a baseball. Maybe shows like 13 Reasons Why can help show the havoc and horror people like Bryce wreak.

As for mental health, this was one area I thought 13 Reasons Why was a little weak on. Hannah’s mental health, particularly depression, is a complex issue. Obviously, the focus is on the tapes and the constant harassment and brutalization this girl endured until it became unbearable. However, there were other things going on inside Hannah than what is discussed on the tapes and I wish the show had spent more time focusing on that as well.

Rae: I agree that the show didn’t delve into Hannah’s mental health and how mental health in general could contribute to suicide. That is a huge blind spot that people cannot leave out when they talk about suicide. However, one thing I liked was that Hannah didn’t “look” or “act” depressed, even though I thought the show should have talked about mental health more on the whole. Mental health issues look different for everyone, and I think part of the point was to show how you can’t assume that someone is okay just because they keep showing up for school or going to parties. And I think if people feel like they need help, they should know that those feelings are valid, even if they don’t outwardly portray signs of depression.

Consent was something I thought the series handled well. I noticed that whenever Clay kissed anyone, he stopped and asked “Is this okay?,” which showed clear consent. I think people have this idea that asking for consent ruins romance in some way, but Clay showed that it didn’t have to.


Let’s talk about Hannah, since she was the subject of the series. Did you feel like she was an unreliable narrator? What about her were you drawn to? Was there anything that you disliked about her?


Marilyn: I think at times she was unreliable and I felt that was important to show. She did have a bias, as any person would. She did get some details wrong, such as who stopped going to Monet’s first and Zach not throwing away her letter. I found that to make her more relatable and realistic. Ultimately, I was drawn to her vulnerability. She wanted to be liked and make connections with people. Sometimes I grew frustrated with her dependence on other people’s opinions, but given she’s a young woman in an environment like that, I think it’s understandable that those opinions mattered quite a bit to her.

Jenn: I really liked Hannah. She was smart and witty, but not in an unbelievable way (she wasn’t your typical manic pixie dream girl, for the most part, even though in some instances I felt like she was a little like that). I felt what she felt and I understood her reasoning for a lot of the decisions she made. And at times, I did feel like she was an unreliable narrator, which I loved. It wasn’t that the students were trying to disparage her memory (even though they were in a way, because she called them out and they wanted to ruin everyone else’s lives and her memory because of it), but they remembered the past differently than she did. What was so cool about Hannah was that she was so observant and felt things so deeply. When she was in, she was all in. In a world where she constantly felt vulnerable and judged, Hannah still dared to put herself out there — with relationships and poetry and dreaming. That was what was most admirable about her, and it was all the more difficult to see her life end because of all of the potential she had. Because Hannah felt deeply, she made the audience feel deeply invested in her journey. So when we got to the end of her life, it was painful to watch on so many levels, but definitely because of the fact that we felt Hannah’s pain so tangibly, as if it was our own.

Jen K.: There wasn’t anything I disliked about Hannah. I thought she was wildly intelligent, with a sharp wit and deep empathy for others. She was a beautiful writer and poet. All the things that made Hannah feel like an outsider are the things I loved most about her. It’s why her death was so tragic... oh the things she could have done. Even though there were moments where Hannah felt wise beyond her years, she also felt like a typical teenage girl. Incredibly vulnerable and confused. Yes, I think she was biased, but she was sharing her truth. In some ways, Hannah was oblivious to her impact on others as much as others were oblivious to their impact on her. But that’s what makes Hannah so wonderfully human. Absolutely, I was frustrated with some of her choices and behavior, but I think that’s what made her all the more real.

Rae: I agree! I think Hannah was so great, and Katherine Langford was so compelling to watch. That she was an unreliable narrator was key because it showed that how you perceive things or what you remember isn’t always an accurate way to judge yourself by. Feelings are real, but they aren’t always true — sometimes your anxiety or your doubts can paint the wrong picture and it’s important to take a step back. I loved watching Hannah’s story, and I was glad to get to know her and devastated when she took her life.


Our protagonist is arguably Clay. How did you feel about his character arc throughout the series?


Marilyn: I adored Clay. How can you not? I enjoyed taking the journey with him, learning as he learned and growing as he grew. When the story began, he was confused and sad and unsure. By the end, he’d grown more sure and he’d also become a hero. He was Hannah’s hero. Arguably, it was too late, but it was better than never at all. He was the only one who listened to those tapes and took actions to fix things — to right wrongs and bring the truth to light. And to help the others heal, however he could. Did he stumble, like with what he did to Tyler? Sure. But I felt that was relatable.

Jenn: Clay was great. He really wanted to believe in the good in people, and I think it’s that optimism and — again — the fact that he felt deeply that led him to make decisions he did in the end. He believes in a world that’s fair and just, and that’s admirable because it’s so much easier to be cynical like all of the other characters. He constantly challenged the status quo. It was so awesome to see him go from this sort of timid outcast to someone challenging authority at the end of the series and realizing the weight of his actions. He changed, no doubt about it, but it was a believable one — slow and with missteps and stumbles. But ultimately, our protagonist (because I think both he and Hannah could be considered the protagonists of the series) learned how to become a better, more confident version of himself as a result.

Jen K.: I love Clay. He was so deeply good, earnest and loving, but so unsure of himself. He felt like a teenager, maybe more than any other character. There were times where I felt Clay was in over his head with Hannah — that there were things going on with her that a 17-year old boy just isn’t equipped to help with. But what I love about Clay is he didn’t stop trying to help Hannah even though it wasn’t going to bring her back. He, more than any other character, understood the point Hannah was making with those tapes. Clay wanted to make it right. He wanted justice for Hannah and Jessica. As Marilyn said, he went on this remarkable hero’s journey and allowed Hannah’s life to change him, even after he lost her.

Rae: I feel like everyone pretty much covered what was great about Clay. I liked him a lot as a character, and Dylan Minnette was great to watch.

Image result for 13 reasons why

What made this series so compelling and special to you?


Marilyn: This show forced us to immerse in the core of the human condition, confront harsh truths about ourselves as people and how we interact with others, and showed us ways we could help make it better. The message of “treat each other with kindness because they might be going through something you don’t know about” is a good one. And one we can stand to be reminded of.

Jenn: The writing was so addicting. Each episode was its own story, which fit into an overarching narrative. I loved putting the puzzle pieces together throughout the series. It is the kind of show that just makes you crave more of it. These characters draw you in and compel you with their personalities. I think that watching tragedy unfold can be kind of masochistic, but 13 Reasons Why — though painful — doesn’t feel like its intent was to hurt us. Its intent was to make us feel something deeply so we can heal ourselves and people around us, and I love that message.

Jen K.: I think the show is addressing some really important issues that are not being addressed many other places. In this social media, technological explosion, I think we’ve lost sight of the fact that these are real people being discussed online or in a text or photo. We never know what’s going on in someone’s life, so it’s important to treat others with common decency and respect. We all fail to recognize the impact we have on others. A single choice can change the course of your life, for better or for worse, and we need to make choices considering the consequences and impact to other people. Not just ourselves. I think the show calls every person to be more humble, compassionate, less selfish and to take responsibility. In the end, is it really that hard to be nice? No. It’s not.

Rae: I found it to be really compelling, and I couldn’t stop watching. I found parts of it to be very realistic, specifically some of what Hannah went through and how she reacted. I saw myself in her, and it hit me in the gut.


Why do you think it’s important that other people watch 13 Reasons Why?


Marilyn: Related to my answer about why I find the show compelling and special, I think it’s important that other people learn the lesson this show has to share. Especially if you’re working or living with teenagers. But the message goes for all people and if there’s anything we can use more of right now, it’s compassion for each other.

Jenn: Jen said it above, but this is such an important show right now. The topics being covered are relevant to high-schoolers and aren’t sugar-coated. It might be dark and difficult to watch at times because of the subject matter, but the only way we’re going to start figuring out solutions to the issues students (and others) face is if we realize what’s happening in front of us. Acknowledging there is a problem is the first step to fixing it, and that’s why I think people need to be watching this show. 13 Reasons Why isn’t flawless, and it’s not squeaky clean but neither is life. Recognizing patterns of behavior or problems can help save lives. Learning how to become more compassionate people is essential. And what this show does is not promise answers to problems, but start the conversation.

Jen K.: Honestly, I think if you are a parent it should be required viewing. If you are in junior high or high school, it should be required viewing. 13 Reasons Why drives home some messages that need be seen, not just heard.

Rae: I think it’s important to talk about the issues the show brings up, and I’m glad that is has a part in airing those issues. But I think there is a flaw with the show’s idea that to save Hannah people only had to be nicer. Having compassion is only a starting point. There were so many things contributing to Hannah’s suicide: mental health, rape culture, sexism, and stigma, and the parts of our culture that contribute to people’s deaths need to be addressed as well.


The show’s ending is a bit divisive in the way it was constructed. Was it a fitting end to the show (or its first season, if it’s renewed for another), in your opinion? Why or why not?


Marilyn: If there are no more seasons, I feel satisfied. I think enough can be supposed from what we saw to draw logical conclusions. That said, I wouldn’t mind seeing certain storylines play out (*cough* BRYCE). I do like that the genie is out of the bottle, so to speak, so you know that sooner or later everyone will know about the tapes and what’s on them.

Jenn: I don’t want a second season! I know they left Tyler’s story dangling for that reason as a cliffhanger, but I think that having a second season would remove the sort of unique magic that Hannah’s tapes brought. I think the show is well-equipped and staffed with writers who could do justice to other topics and — as Rae pointed out — figure out solutions to problems that weren’t addressed in the first season (like sexism and mental health). But the fact that the show was so contained in a neat thirteen episodes leant itself to the tight writing that I loved. I think if we went another season, that could be lost. Though I want to know if Alex lives, and what happens when Tony and Clay drive away, and whether or not Bryce is ever brought to justice, I think I would be okay knowing the story ended in an open-ended manner rather than risk ruining the show in the second season. Plus, logistically, unless we went backward in time, Hannah would be lost and she was the core of the series.

Jen K.: I don’t think there should be another season. I fully expect there will be, but I am more in favor of letting the singular season stand by itself. I think the message makes a stronger impact that way. I know they left some unanswered questions with the characters, but that can be very true to life.

Rae: I feel like I’m the only one who wouldn’t mind more seasons! I think if it was meant to be a standalone season, they should have ended it more definitively — the really left it open to continue. But I really liked watching all of the other characters and would keep watching them to see how they continue to put their lives back together. The show would have to change obviously, and I’m not sure how it would work without the scenes with Hannah — and she added so much to the show and was such a great character to watch — but I would give it a chance.

What did you all think of 13 Reasons Why? Sound off in the comments below!