Dear TV Writers: Your Fear of the Moonlighting Curse is Killing Your Show

What is the Moonlighting Curse, and why is it such a big deal to television writers? Read this in-depth look at the crippling phenomenon and find out!

Getting Rid of the Stigma: Mental Illness in Young Adult Fiction, by Megan Mann

In this piece, Megan brilliantly discusses the stigma of mental illness in literature and how some young adult novels are helping to change the landscape for this discussion.

In Appreciation of the Everyday Heroine

A mask does not a hero make. In this piece, I discuss why it's wrong to dismiss characters without costumes or masks as superheroes.

Monday, October 30, 2017

From Page to Screen: An Interview with Windfall’s Jennifer E. Smith [Contributor: Megan Mann]


Imagine this: You’re in high school and so in love with a boy who’s just about to turn 18 that you decide to buy him a lottery ticket. It’s just for fun and it takes the pressure off of sending any sort of gift with a hidden message. But then you find out that the numbers you chose — the numbers that really did have meaning to you — were the winning numbers for the multi-million dollar jackpot. His entire life is turned upside down and how do you — how does this love for him that he can’t see is there — fit into that new life? And what does it mean for your life and future?

That, in a nutshell, is the great, sweeping story of Jennifer E. Smith’s May 2017 release, Windfall. It’s a tale about coming of age, finding out where you belong in the grand scheme of things, and how love isn’t always what we think it’s going to be.

Personally, I’m a colossal Jennifer E. Smith fan. I think she’s wonderful and her stories are more grounded in reality than most YA romances. There’s no catastrophic issue, or thinking you’ve read that story a thousand times. She simply writes stories that you could imagine yourself or your friends in. So as you can imagine, when this book was announced, I quickly threw my phone across the room and started screaming. I could hardly put the book down when it came out. And yes, I absolutely cried at one point.

... Which I was lucky enough to discuss with her!

How does it feel to finally have Windfall on shelves ready for eager readers to pick up?


Jennifer: It’s always both nerve-wracking and exhilarating when one of my books goes out into the world. For so long, it’s just mine. And then it becomes something that gets passed between me and my editor. And then, slowly, the circle starts to expand. On the one hand, it’s a really vulnerable thing, having it out there for anyone to read. And on the other, there’s this wonderful sense of letting go. Because after a certain point, it’s no longer mine anymore. The book belongs to the readers. As it should.

How does this book differ from your others?


Jennifer: It’s similar in a lot of ways, because I’m always very interested in exploring themes of fate and timing and chance. But this one also goes a little deeper than some of my other books, I think. It’s a bit more emotional and bigger in scope, which is what made writing it such an exciting challenge.

Writer’s note: I agree wholeheartedly with this statement. There’s one scene in particular when Alice is touring Northwestern that had me in tears.

What was it like setting the book in Chicago — a city, rather than a small town?


Jennifer: I love Chicago, and while I’ve set a couple of my other books in the suburbs, I’d never written one that takes place in the city. It’s always really fun to explore places that mean something to me through the eyes of fictional characters, and this one was no exception. It was a joy to follow Alice and Teddy around one of my favorite places in the world!

How did you end up choosing the lottery as a catalyst for the plot?


Jennifer: I’ve always been obsessed with moments in time that act as hinges — days where there’s a really clear split between a before and an after, and the lottery is such a perfect example of that. So I’d been wanting to write a story about it for a very long time.

What do you hope readers take from your books?


Jennifer: There’s an E.B. White quote that’s always struck such a chord with me: “All I hope to say in my books — all I ever hope to say — is that I love the world.” I feel exactly the same way.

A lot of our readers are also aspiring writers and love hearing advice from those who have achieved that career goal. What’s one word that you would use to describe your writing process and why?


Jennifer: Haphazard! I don’t have a set routine, which is definitely not something I’d recommend. I try to write a certain amount of words a day, but when things just aren’t working, I won’t spend hours banging my head against the keyboard. And on the flip side, when everything is really clicking, I’ll cancel my plans to keep going. So it just sort of depends on the day.

Finally, what do you enjoy doing when you’re not reading or writing books?


Jennifer: All sorts of different things, though the biggest is probably travel. There’s a quote from Zelda Fitzgerald that I’ve always loved: “I hate a room without an open suitcase. It seems so permanent.” That’s me too. I’m always on the move. I’ve been to forty-six of the fifty states and six of the seven continents. This year alone, I’ll have gone to eight different countries. Travel is a huge passion of mine, and because of that, it often finds its way into a lot of my books!

CONCLUSION


That last statement, I can surely agree on. If you’ve got a taste for wanderlust, I would absolutely recommend The Geography of You and Me or The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight. If you want a relatable we’re-together-but-going-to-separate-colleges story, pick up You Are Here. If you want a bit of a Hollywood romance with a twist, I loved This Is What Happy Looks Like. Do you like sports and romance? The Comeback Season.

Jennifer E. Smith explores the depths of love, family, what brings us together, and what tears us apart. She shows how difficult making the right decision can sometimes be and how it’s okay not to be pulled together all the time. Life is messy and full of mistakes, but it’s full of love, hope, and a connectedness too. I could not recommend this lovely writer more. You’ll feel uplifted and hopeful, grateful and okay with knowing that things don’t always work out in the way we want them to, but that they work out how they’re supposed to.

Windfall is on shelves now and the rights have been purchased for the film. Read it before it hits screens!

The Carmilla Movie Review: The Ghosts of Carmilla’s Past Won’t Define Its Future [Contributor: Melanie Moyer]

carmilla-the-movie-still.jpg


“Every love story is a ghost story.” — David Foster Wallace


Spoilers for The Carmilla Movie are included below. Read at your own risk.

If I tell you I’m thinking of a 19th century work of fiction penned by an Irish author about a European vampire who becomes obsessed with a upstanding young woman, you would guess Dracula right? But everyone’s favorite count was late to the party (alternative title: Dracula Shows Up to Vampire Media 15 Minutes Late With Starbucks But Gets to Be the Poster Boy). About 26 years earlier, Joseph Sheridan LeFanu penned a story about a century old countess who exercises her vampiric thrall over a terrified young woman.

Fast forward to 2015 when an independent web series out of Smokebomb Entertainment reimagines the story in a modern-day university, takes back the predatory lesbian trope, showcases a plethora of queer identities on screen, and wins a Canadian Screen Award, several AfterEllen Visibility Awards, and racks nominations at the Streamys and Shorty Awards across three seasons. Now it’s a full-length film set five years after the end of the series where Laura and Carmilla are snug in their domestic life in a Queen East apartment before Laura is beset with strange dreams of Carmilla’s past lover, and Carmilla herself is biologically regressing from certified homo sapien back into a vampire.

Many great horror films personify the past in its villain. Freddy Krueger serves as the demon of children’s dreams as vengeance for his (completely justified) murder at the hands of local parents, Mrs. Voorhees stalks counselors at Camp Crystal Lake in revenge for their neglect allowing her son to drown, the demon possessing Regan comes straight from Father Merrin’s past and attacks Father Karras’ lack of faith, and even home invasion films like Get Out portray a man trying to right the untimely death of his daughter. There’s more than one way to tell a ghost story.

So how does Carmilla look at the ghosts of the past?

On the one hand, with literal ones that just won’t let Carmilla be after 300 years of being kind of an jerk, as well as her own ghost of millennial confusion (same). And the film makes what will likely be a polarizing choice to answer the question of if Carmilla deserves her human life and if she even wants it. Ultimately in our Happy Ending Override, Carmilla gives up her life to free the ghosts she conjured up, trapped in a netherworld of nightmares, making the point that her humanity — her ability to age alongside Laura — wasn’t the point of their happy ending. There’s this great bit from Syd Field that makes the point that while descriptors and aspects make up characteristics, the character themselves is the choices they make. I think that’s potent here where Carmilla’s humanity isn’t defined by her pulse, but by her choice to act on empathy. A choice that, for once, had absolutely nothing to do with Laura and actively went against Laura’s wishes. Yay development!

This film effectively undoes that clean break at the end of the series, though there are hints (such as Laura’s report on the discovery of a fountain of youth and Mattie’s post-credit scene setting up for more stories) that there might be workarounds to the gut-wrenching possibility that Carmilla will have to watch all her friends die after all. This particular bit of self-sacrifice didn’t come with a reverse switch, but the movie tells us that’s okay.

And then, on the other hand, there are the ghosts of Carmilla’s own literary past.

By going back to the events of 1872 novella, this modern adaption literally stares down its problematic first life. In that context, it’s a powerful image to open with: The Laura of 2017 — a feminist and queer icon for the internet community — looking at her (literal) mirror reflection... the 19th century version who history will remember as a victim of predatory lesbianism. It’s yet another win for the queer community taking back its own history. It cleans up some parts, like presenting Elle (the “Laura” of the original) quite in love with Carmilla, rather than having an existential crisis over her attraction as she does in the novella. It also shows our present-day Laura kind of enjoying the bits of the novella where Carmilla slunk about at night like a seductress, “terrorizing” her. I mean, granted, the non-consensual blood drinking and the lying was still pretty Not Great™ but gone is the Laura who tried to chop off Carmilla’s head because God forbid she have a crush.

This film also made a great point that we are the makers of our own unhappiness. Elle was unwilling to accept her own role in her death, attempting to shove the memory away and blame the thing that she could actually get her hands on. The issues of Carmilla’s continued vampirism were nothing more than what-ifs Laura conjured up based on societal expectations and her own quarter-life crisis. Carmilla herself was the one who forced the ghosts to manifest when a therapist (who probably should get their license revoked) forced her into some exposure therapy before she was ready. Some problems are very real, but many of the ones our characters go through here required introspection and communication, not spells, five-year plans, or a magical broach.

Beyond all that? This movie was just a ton of fun to watch and I hope Smokebomb gets to make more content in this universe (rumors about a young adult series). You can find the original web series on the KindaTV YouTube channel and the film itself is streaming on Fullscreen and available for purchase here.

Scorpion 4x05 Review: "Sci Hard" (Allies and Enemies) [Guest Contributor: Yasmine]


“Sci Hard”
Original Airdate: October 23, 2017

Die Hard is probably in my top ten movies of all time. So this episode being called “Sci Hard” and featuring Cabe Gallo as John McLane just totally made my week.

In this week’s episode, the team is broken up — a consequence of events beyond their control — but still manage to make useful allies (and some enemies) and work together in order to save the day.

With Sylvester away in Vermont for the Bar Exam, the team is one member short when they head off to a tech exhibit, Tech-splosion, where their good old friend Richard Elia — who is always fun to have around — is unveiling his latest mind-blowing tech endeavors in E-Life and the AI butler Barnaby, which, among other things, provides a phone banking app. Also at the exhibit is Vadat, a member of the Vor Collective, the elite of the elite of the genius world, who just happens to hate Walter. It’s a long story that happened a long time ago, but it led to members of the collective getting a form of e-coli and Walter being forever banned from the Collective. Vadat really, really doesn’t like Walter and he is vocal about it.

But when a group of assailants take the exhibit visitors hostage, Vadat has no choice but to trust Walter and team and even help them to save the day. The assailants are there to basically steal the money from Elia, but he admits to Paige and Walter that the app is not ready, that it is all just for show, and the team needs to fake the money transfer in order to save everyone and figure out how to stop them.

Running late to the exhibition means that Toby and Happy are not in there with the hostages. Instead, they are on the outside, and while they try to explain to the cops who they are and try to offer their help, Cabe’s current legal situation sends this the wrong way. Toby and Happy tell the police officer in charge that they have a man on the inside in Cabe Gallo, but when the officer checks on Cabe, he finds out he is currently suspended, and his theory is immediately that Cabe is behind this — a disgruntled government employee out for revenge. And if that is not enough, he assumed Toby and Happy are his accomplices.

Inside the exhibit, Cabe is lucky to have not been rounded up with the hostages. With everything he is currently going through, including his SUV being taken and having to buy a beat up old car that even Happy cannot fix, Cabe jumps at the opportunity to try an isolation chamber. When the assailants attacked, that was where he was and by the time he gets out, all hell has broken loose. He manages to get in touch with Happy and Toby, and despite the warnings from the police, the three of them start working together to bring the thieves down.

At the same time, Happy hacks Elia’s laptop and sends a Morse Code message to Walter and he — along with Paige, Vadat and Elia — is also on board with the mission. Which leaves Sylvester, who is still in Vermont taking the Bar. I think Sly breaks more than one rule in having his phone on him and turned on, but luckily the team manages to get in touch with him. He sneaks off into the toilet and gets all caught up, but he also gets caught by the Proctor of the Bar.

Luckily, he gives Sly a chance to explain and what happens next may just be one of my favorite things. The Proctor believes Sly, but not only that, he spends the episode being completely in awe of Sylvester and Team Scorpion. The Proctor allows Sylvester to continue helping the team while finishing his Bar Exam, in the toilet. Seeing someone be so much in awe of Sly and almost hero worship is awesome, because Sly deserves that.

The team are required to do some badass things and some crazy things. Sly has to hack a bank, while Toby and Happy have to rob a bank. Yes, rob a bank. And Cabe gets to play John McLane, take down the bad guys, and prove that he has also picked up some tech skills from the geniuses. Inside, Walter and his unexpected ally do some fake hacking with guns pointed at them while it is Paige at the end of the day who rescues the hostages by getting everyone through Elia’s trap door and distracting the assailants with confetti and balloons.

This is honestly one of the best things about this show: the fact that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s not slapstick, but it’s comfortable and confident enough in its storytelling and its characters that it manages to wrap up the humor and the silliness into an hour procedural drama just so seamlessly, never forgetting the heart and soul of the show.

For example, the running joke this week is once again Happy and Quintis using silly acronyms to organize their married life. They are trying to get pregnant and the new rules are turned appropriately into STORK. It’s an opportunity to have an underlying running joke throughout the episode while also developing this relationship and proving that you can have a couple be happily and healthily married and still keep their story interesting and fun. It may serve as a comedic element, but the essence of it is always these two people, and their relationship and how they are navigating this new and scary chapter of their lives. It’s fun and silly and hilarious, if only because it ends up giving us Toby in tightie-whities.

Even separated, the team is still stronger and smarter and more together than any other team. It’s season four and they’ve definitely found their rhythm and are so comfortable in their abilities and confident in themselves and each other. And at the end of the day, it’s what really matters. They’re not just a team, they’re a family that can rely and depend on each other — whatever gets thrown their way.

Scorpion 4x06 Review: "Queen Scary" (Scooby Boo) [Guest Contributor: Yasmine]


“Queen Scary”
Original Airdate: October 30, 2017

This week’s episode of Scorpion somehow felt like it was two separate episodes in one — one was potentially funny, with so much room for humor, and the other was just a generic, almost forgettable case. Unfortunately, that meant that the episode itself fell flat and if it weren’t for the threads of character and relationship storylines, it could almost be forgettable, which is a shame after last week’s extremely fun episode.

The primary job of the day for Team Scorpion is to prove or disprove the existence of ghosts. With their current financial situation, they have to take any job that comes to them and this one came in the form of a producer looking to produce a documentary in which a team of geniuses investigate the possible existence of ghosts. The team take the job, and even though they go there determined that they know the answer, they still do their job and earn their pay by doing the necessary scientific research. One team member refuses to go, citing his reputation as one of the top five smartest men in the world, which he wouldn’t jeopardize by appearing on such a show. So Walter stays back at the garage while the team investigates the strange happenings aboard the Queen Mary.

The team quickly resolves this. They find the reason behind the recent hallucinations and they are due to an EMF caused by an installation of an antenna a few days earlier, which means this case is wrapped up halfway through the episode. There were barely enough ghost jokes and puns, and barely enough scared Sylvester or cynical Walter before the case was closed and another was opened.

The antenna belongs to a company that delivers natural gas ships to ports without a crew. As a result of the malfunctioning system, one ship is on course towards Malibu instead of Long Beach. The connection between the two cases is scientifically sound but totally unnecessary in my opinion. The events that follow — the team trying to redirect the ship and avoid a disaster — are very straightforward Scorpion, but by far one of the least exciting or interesting cases. The best thing about it was the fact that it was Paige who finds the scientific solution in the end, proving that she may not be a genius by their standards, but she is very smart herself.

And that is an absolute shame because while they do manage to save the day by a hair, I think it was far more interesting and entertaining watching them trying to find ghosts on a haunted ship.

I hate to say it, but I was really disappointing with how the two cases were handled this week, especially when the relationship and certain individual storylines that carried through the episode were so good.

First, there was Cabe and his struggle with his upcoming court date. Cabe Gallo isn’t one to open up or express his emotions. But lucky for him, he is surrounded by a group of people who love him and who have grown to know him like no one else does. Throughout the episode, Cabe voices concerns about Ferret Bueller’s living conditions, and continues to think of way they can make him happier and more comfortable. Happy is the one to pick up on this and understands what truly is bothering the team’s father figure. She recruits Toby to talk to him, in his capacity as a psychiatrist. It does take some coaxing from the doctor, but he eventually manages to convince Cabe to talk to him. It’s always beautiful when the walled-up characters finally open up and Cabe is no different. He finally admits his fears and that he is worried about his future and potential incarceration.

Another amazing thing about this storyline is how Happy (and Toby) dealt with it. Happy was the first one to pick up on the situation but she did not confront Cabe about it. She kept an eye on him. She watched him and studied his development, and then she went to Toby about it. He is the professional and more equipped to deal with it — and he did use a great mix of professionalism and pure care and friendship. I love when Toby gets to display his skills as a psychiatrist almost as much as I love seeing how far Happy’s people’s skills have grown and how much she has come to love and care for this team.

Cabe was not the only one to learn a valuable lesson this week. The team, for one, learned that you could never trust a Hollywood producer. Happy’s line, “what a shock, a Hollywood producer is a dirt bag,” was the perfect punchline after the team see the trailer produced for what has been documented and it is made to look like Team Scorpion believe in ghosts.

But there was bigger lesson to be learned by Walter as well. Benching himself for the case was not the only thing he did this episode that was selfish. At the beginning of the episode, he and Paige are at a concert for her friend and it turned out he had not been listening to her play. Instead, he’d been listening to a lecture on his phone the whole time. This upsets Paige, naturally, and she spends the episode angry at him. With a little push from Toby — again being the amazing shrink that he is — and a little help again from Paige, Walter finally realizes why it is important to share your partner’s interests. Walter is lucky Paige loves him so much and is patient with him because he really is struggling with the whole normal relationship thing. But this slow and bumpy road is actually fun to watch him navigate, with the help of Paige, because it shows how much he has grown and how much he wants to be the man that Paige deserves to be with.

The highlight of the episode for me, to be honest, was Toby’s Halloween costume. All he did was wear a sign around his neck that said, “I love ceilings!” and went as a ceiling fan and I am still laughing at that.

Unfortunately for me, this was a forgettable episode case-wise but one that did push forward Cabe’s story as well as the Waige relationship, while continuing the trend of showcasing Quintis as this healthy, ever-growing, loving and established relationship — which just may be my new favorite trope.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Blindspot 3x01 Review: "Back to the Grind" (United) [Contributer: Jen]


"Back to the Grind"
Original Airdate: October 27, 2017

Welcome back Blindspotters! I apologize for the delay in my review. I was out of town when it aired. But wow, what a premiere! "Back to the Grind" eliminates nearly all of Blindspot's season two hiccups by focusing in on what we love — action, Team Blindspot, and Jeller. It also adds in something that's been missing from the last two seasons: a Big Bad we care about.

TEAM BLINDSPOT


Don't worry: I'm not getting rid of the "Case of the Week" section. Thanks to everyone who voted in my Twitter poll. However, Team Blindspot is the Case of the Week in "Back to the Grind."

Reade, Zappata, and Patterson are all kidnapped and the box that unlocked all of Jane's tattoo was left in Reade's apartment. Added bonus? It includes Jane's location. Go get her, Kurt! Oh Blindspot, I love it when you make things easy for me.

The team has been separated for 18 months. Kurt and Jane married (YESSSSS), left the NYO and moved to Colorado to be close to his daughter Bethany (awww, I like the name). Unfortunately, a hit was put out on Jane by a former Sandstorm loyalist and she went into hiding. Kurt has been searching for her ever since. Reade took Kurt's position and is running the NYO. Zappata left for the CIA and Patterson is in Silicon Valley developing an app.

We have new additions to Team Blindspot this season — Rich Dotcom (Ennis Esmer has been promoted to series regular). He's paroled, living in Jane's old safe house, and funnier than ever. Welcome aboard, Rich. Also, Mary Stuart Masterson's Eleanor Hirst is sticking around and running the NYO, so I'm high-fiving a million angels.

Roman kidnaps Reade, Zappata, and Patterson to draw Jane out of hiding. Roman needs a mouse for his little game to work. He is determined to make his sister pay for what she did to him. Roman wants to snatch away Jane's happily ever after with Kurt and her friends. He wants to ruin her life just like she ruined his. The new tattoos are penance — they are Jane's prison.

The reason Roman is such an effective Big Bad is because we care about him. Despite all that went wrong in season two, the writers did build the relationship between Jane and Roman effectively. We want to see Roman sitting down at the kitchen table with Kurt and Jane, laughing and drinking wine. We even understand and sympathize with his motivations. Jane zipping his memories was a pretty cold move, even if she had the best of intentions. However, the darkness in Roman is terrifying. He's  a sociopath. Roman has willfully chosen evil despite being given every chance to choose good. This makes him the perfect foil to Jane Doe.

The first tattoo leads Kurt and Jane to Venice where Kurt proposed. Roman has orchestrated a meet with the man who put the hit out on Jane. Essentially, she has to take a drug which will fake death. Kurt delivers the dead body and collects the bounty — ending the $10 million hit on Jane. It's an elaborate way of putting Jane Doe back in the duffel bag from the pilot. Only this time Jane emerges like the Amazon Queen she is. IT. IS. AWESOME. Kurt and Jane kick serious butt, complete with a boat stunt sequence straight out of Miami Vice.

Roman has sold Reade, Zappata, and Patterson to the highest bidder — a.k.a. the Venezuelan government. They are being held at a military compound. Kurt and Jane have to go in solo because our relationship with Venezuela isn't the best. Kind of figured that out, Blindspot. Venezuela just bought three high-ranking U.S. law enforcement officials. If this is their definition of a good relationship then I'd hate to see what a bad one looks like.

Again, the "going it alone" thing is an elaborate way of getting Kurt and Jane into a tank. Yes, I said that correctly. They rescue Reade, Zappata, and Patterson in an armored tank. I'm cackling because this is too much fun. Reade, Zappata, and Patterson aren't going to be outdone. Their captors want Patterson to hack a computer. They kidnapped Reade and Zappata to use as collateral against Patterson if she refuses to do it. Not cool, Venezuela!

Patterson uses their disgusting lunch of Mexican-style chicken stew to make a bomb. Yes, apparently military TV dinners can be made into bombs, folks. Every meal contains a packet of magnesium heater powder. Just add water and you get a hot meal just like from home. Well, not really, but it's hot.

Apparently the main component of flash bangs is also magnesium powder. Patterson combines the heater packet with the computer and BOOM. They get the world's largest flash bang. It gives Reade, Zappata and Patterson the chance to overpower the guards and escape. Blindspot science is nifty.

Once home, Reade proposes a joint task force between the CIA and FBI to work Jane's tattoos. We have gone global with the new tattoos and this conveniently puts Zappata on the case. Well played, Reade. The gang is back together! Unfortunately, each team member is carrying secrets:
  • Jane hides passports and a pile of money in an air vent.
  • There is a tattoo on Jane's body that Zappata knows something about (re: CIA) and doesn't want the team to find out.
  • Patterson and Rich Dotcom have been in contact, and have some kind of personal relationship, despite pretending otherwise.
  • Roman approaches Weller on the street. He gives Kurt an ultimatum. Either help Roman with the tattoos or he's going to tell Jane what happened in Berlin.
Dun, dun, DUN! Team Blindspot is united again, but as always with this show there are secrets that threaten to tear them apart. Goody. Let's have some fun.


KURT AND JANE


Finally! We made it to Kurt and Jane. Are you dying from all the feels because I sure am? That opening sequence is something straight out of fanfiction! Kurt and Jane get married. Patterson officiates, Zappata is maid of honor, Reade is best man, ALL THE PRETTY DRESSES, Kurt and Jane are heart eyes galore, there's cake and dancing. Sigh. I'm in heaven.


It doesn't stop there! Kurt and Jane hop in their moving van complete with a "Colorado or Bust" sign on the back while Reade, Zappata and Patterson wave goodbye. Zappata is particularly a weeping mess, so I feel like she speaks for us all. Kurt and Jane purchase a rundown little love nest. He carries Jane over the threshold (SWOON) and we get a montage of them fixing the place up. It's like they are are Chip and Joanna Gaines from Fixer Upper! There's running with baby Bethany in a stroller, because while our Jeller is living in marital paradise, physical fitness is still very important to them. I am convinced Martin Gero is Santa.

I told him so.















He agrees.














Kurt puts baby Bethany to bed and they cute talk about how much they love having her there while Allie works nights. Kurt falls asleep with Bethany because, "it's like snuggling with the cutest little hot water bottle." (This is a factually accurate statement about babies). Jane loves waking up to her fat little face in the morning. Kurt happily munches on the veggies Jane just cooked for dinner and asks, "You ever thought about having one of our own?" and gives her the cutest eyebrow raise in the history of the world. Yes, that's right. We are five minutes in and Jeller is already talking about babies. IS THIS HAPPENING ON MY TV SCREEN RIGHT NOW? BLINDSPOT, IS THAT YOU?


Then masked gunmen break in and try to kill Kurt and Jane. Never mind, it really is you, Blindspot. The fight sequence is fairly fantastic as we watch Jeller use domesticated culinary tools as weapons. The cutting board and the kitchen knife are the real highlights.

Their newly refurbished home gets pretty messed up in the process though. Do you have any idea how much a kitchen renovation costs? Jeller put those cupboards in themselves. Those are hardwood floors, man! THE ASSASSINS MUST DIE. Decorating destruction that hurts my eyes isn't the only horror inducing moment — the cutest little hot water bottle with the fat cheeks is sleeping in her room while gunfire is being sprayed everywhere. Jeller's walls look like a Jackson Pollock painting. Don't worry: the baby is fine. Blindspot hasn't gone that dark.

However, Bethany is the impetus for Jane leaving. Keating (CIA) offers to help Jane get out of town. The Sandstorm operative who set up the hit committed suicide, but not before setting up the bounty on Jane's life with a dark web fixer. The CIA is unable to find the fixer (we needed supervillain Roman to figure that out) and the best assassins in the world are coming after Jane. Meaning that Kurt and baby Bethany are going to be in danger constantly.

Kurt offers to go with Jane in another swoon-inducing moment: "You're my wife. So whatever we face, we face together." Jane seemingly agrees, but slips out in the middle of the night while Kurt is sleeping — leaving her wedding ring on the dresser. Jane is a broken, sobbing mess as she leaves and quite frankly so am I. Why can't we have nice things? When Kurt wakes up in the morning, his 18-month search for Jane begins.

Jane often makes impulsive decisions that are significant head-scratchers, but I'm Team Jane on this one. Her motivations are absolutely pure. She loves Kurt and Bethany desperately. She knows Kurt would follow her to the ends of the earth. Can you imagine a world in which Kurt agrees to let Jane go alone? I sure can't. Jane doesn't want Kurt to sacrifice his life with his daughter. Bethany is the reason they are in Colorado in the first place. If she tells Kurt where she's going, then that puts him at risk. So as tragic as it is, slipping away in secret does feel like Jane's best option at the moment.

We see how well Jane knows Kurt because he does follow her to the ends of the earth in searching for her. So much for trying to maintain his custodial arrangement with Bethany and Allie. You get bonus points for trying Jane, but this man is stupid in love with you. I am Team Kurt on his decision to look for his wife. Jane is Kurt's family — his life. Of course, he's going to go after her. What I love about this separation plot is that both characters operated exactly in character. Their motivations were driven by their love for one another, not secrets, which is why it works.

"I'm sorry. I knew that you loved me so much that you would walk away from your whole life. But I loved you too much to let that happen."

It's the reason Blindspot is able to put the pieces back together rather quickly. Kurt and Jane reconcile instead of starting divorce proceedings. Kurt is hurt, but he's not angry. He's hoping things can just go back to the way they were. Jane wants to go back to Kurt, but she doesn't want things to be the same. While Jane loved her life with Kurt, there was something missing: "There were some parts of me that woke up again. Parts I didn't even realize I was missing. Life in Colorado was amazing. I had you, I had peace. I just... I didn't have a purpose."

As much as Jane craved the simple life with Kurt, she's realizing that perhaps she's not built entirely for it. Jane wants to use her skills to make the world a better place and make yummy dinners for her husband in their love nest. She wants a balance. Jane needs something outside of Kurt and their relationship to define herself by.

This isn't a bad thing. Jane has evolved to a very healthy place and this is a natural byproduct of that. Jane is a hero at her core. The need to make the world better is what drove her to join Sandstorm with her mother. However, the means she used to achieve that goal were terribly askew and wrong. The memory zip and her relationship with Kurt taught Jane the right way to go about it. We cannot remove what is innate in this woman though. Jane may have desperately wanted out of this life, but she also needs it. It fulfills her the same way her love for Kurt does. It's also one of the reasons Kurt Weller loves her so much.

Kurt and Jane kick butt and save the day in "Back to the Grind," but they do it together. They are a united front. We end the episode with Kurt giving Jane her wedding ring back. He's carried it with him every day since she's been gone. Jane falls into his arms and we can breathe a sigh of relief. Things aren't perfect, but they are together.

Jane's tattoos are the unifying plot point in Blindspot's story. It's the reason why the characters are brought together. What's wonderful about this new set of tattoos is both Kurt and Jane are needed to unlock them. The two of them together is the key.

Blindspot is essentially acknowledging what is required for this show to work. We need Kurt and Jane together working as a united front. It's what we had in season one when we were first drawn to the show and what we lost for much of season two. The time apart has created a distance between them, and both Kurt and Jane are carrying secrets (the money and Berlin). However, there seems to be a commitment from Blindspot that rather than separating the element that grounds the show, Kurt and Jane will fight their way through together.

Call it the "Moonlighting Curse" or whatever, but so often television shows are afraid to put their main couple together. Not until years and years of "will they/won't they" has exhausted itself. Blindspot attempted the same in season two to nearly disastrous results, so it is a breath of fresh air to see a show acknowledging drama can still be found in a couple being together. Perhaps even more drama than with the couple separated.

Jeller and Blindspot took the plunge. They are married now. The stakes are higher because their lives are entwined. They are one. Their choices impact one another on an entirely new and much deeper level. Staying together is often a much bigger challenge than getting together. Finding your way through that is all part of the joy and sorrow of "in good times and bad." Marriage isn't the end of the story. It's the beginning of one.

Stray Thoughts:

  • No, Blindspot. I will not be walking down the "Kurt cheated on Jane in Berlin" path. He's hiding something, but it sure isn't that.
  • Jane was in an accident that left her unconscious for days. Just enough time for Roman to put the new tattoos on her body without her knowledge. We like to call this a convenient plotline.
  • Patterson's reaction to the new lab setup was gold.
  • We don't get to see the proposal in Venice? COME ON! That has montage written all over it.
  • "Well dammit, we've got time. This tank is slow as hell." Reade wins everything for this LOL line.
  • That was some mighty close dancing at Kurt and Jane's wedding, Reade and Zappata. Things that make you go: "Hmmmm."

Friday, October 27, 2017

The Flash 4x03 Review: "Luck Be a Lady" (Murphy’s Law) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]


"Luck Be a Lady"
Original Airdate: October 24, 2017 

The Flash continues its winning streak of light-hearted episodes with “Luck Be a Lady.” The dialogue was wonderful (thanks in no small part to the return of Harry, whose semi-confrontational relationship with Cisco always leads to some great lines) and the situations were funny, bordering on slapstick — much like the hijinks associated with Barry’s malfunctioning, techy suit last episode. If they continue down the path set by the past two weeks, I think The Flash might actually be able to recover from last season’s failed attempt at “darker and edgier” storytelling.

Unfortunately, “Luck Be a Lady” fumbles a character exit (whether that exit be permanent or temporary), which makes for a real downer ending for what was otherwise a fun, engaging episode.

GET (UN)LUCKY


In a switch from the Thinker codas of the previous two episodes, this episode actually begins with the Thinker... thinking out loud, I guess? He’s narrating some of the grand scheme he’s got going on and giving us a little bit more information about what’s happening (or will be happening) in this season’s main arc. Thankfully, the show has learned from its bad habit of trying to plant huge, critical mysteries into the identities of its villains: The Thinker is enigmatic but his identity is less important than what he’s doing with the new metahumans, and Team Flash and the viewers are pretty much on pace together with big reveals regarding him. Eobard “I’d Forgotten How Terrible This Name Is” Thawne, Zoom, and Savitar all had identity mysteries injected into their very character, which made things boring when we figured out who they actually were, but it looks like the Thinker might just be... a villain. Just, doin’ nefarious things for capital-R Reasons.

“Subject was born in Sarasota, Florida,” says the Thinker, “the first indignity in a life full of unfortunate circumstances.” Wow, serious burn on Sarasota out of nowhere, The Flash! Anyway, he’s talking about our metahuman of the week, Becky, who has had bad luck her entire life — until that bad luck suddenly turned around three weeks ago, when she caught a bus with a bunch of other people and ended up blasted by a bright light. Now Becky is so lucky she can just walk into a bank and walk out with bags full of cash and no one will stop her. Mostly because they’re all tripping over stuff, falling off ladders, so on and so on. Even Barry falls into Becky’s bad luck field when he goes after her, tripping on a bunch of marbles “like a cartoon.”

Basically, Becky is doing whatever she wants, the lives of the people around her be darned, and Team Flash can’t get near her without being subjected to the same terrible luck as everyone else. Also, it seems like bad luck is contagious, as even things unrelated to Becky start going wrong. Barry and Iris lose their wedding venue, Joe’s house is falling apart, Wally got dumped, and here’s the real kicker: Team Flash made Becky (“Hazard,” as Cisco has dubbed her) in the first place. That bright light outside the bus Becky was on? That was Barry returning from the Speed Force, bringing a wave of dark matter with him and creating at least twelve new metas.

It’s only the third episode of the season and the biggest mystery (where new metas like last week’s Kilg%re came from) is already getting solved. I’m happy that the show is being straightforward about what’s going on, because this is, for some reason, more fun than dragging out a pointless mystery. The Samuroid from the season opener? Sent by the Thinker so the team would need Barry back. The Thinker needed Barry back to create the new metas. Now all that’s left to figure out is why he wanted to create new metas in the first place.

But first: the Becky problem. It seems that the quantum field causing the bad luck around Becky is expanding in proportion to the amount of good luck she’s having, pulling in a large radius of the city that includes Joe’s house going from some leaky pipes to a full-on danger to life and limb, an airplane getting a bird to the turbine, and the particle accelerator... which is going to explode. Again.

The team rushes to fight against everything that’s going wrong, but they know that whatever they do to stop Becky will only increase her good luck and thereby increase their bad luck. Harry, taking refuge from Earth-2 where he’d been kicked off his own daughter’s superhero team, is actually the one who figures out how to stop Becky by just letting the particle accelerator explode. Why’d that work? Well, blah blah technobabble blah, negated Becky’s quantum field and stopped her luck. Barry slaps her in cuffs, ships her off to Iron Heights, and the day is saved.

WHERE THEY WENT WRONG


Let’s rewind back to the beginning of the episode, when Team Flash (minus Wally) got a Breach Alert on all their phones while they were out for a family lunch (minus Wally). It turned out that the alert was because Wally had a date scheduled with Jesse from Earth-2, but — as he stood there, giant teddy bear and flowers in his arms and an adorable, adorable grin on his face — Harry ends up stepping through the portal instead, in order to deliver a Breakup Cube. The name of the cube speaks for itself. We get a very weak excuse from Harry on behalf of Jesse, whose recorded hologram fuzzes out so she can’t even deliver the breakup in person, and it’s all just the beginning of this episode dealing Wally West one bad hand after another.

During the climax of the episode, pretty much everyone tapped into The Flash on Twitter noticed a curious lack of Wally as everything around Team Flash fell apart. There were three different crises happening at once: Barry trapped in the casino with Bad Luck Becky, Harry and Cisco dealing with the explosion, and Cecile and Joe getting attacked by the West house. Wally was absent for all of them. Furthermore, Wally’s name wasn’t even mentioned — not so much as a “Where’s Wally?” was uttered by any of the characters despite the fact that Wally is a speedster with abilities comparable to the metahuman leader of the team.

And that, I suppose, is the problem: The Flash can’t find something for two speedsters to do in every episode. When the big final battle happens, Barry must be the one to save the day, so Wally must be incapacitated or completely ignored, or else there’s no tension for the viewers. Aren’t there ways for The Flash writers to write themselves out of this corner without sidelining Wally? I mean yeah, it is kind of understandable that this show is called The Flash, so the Flash shouldn’t have to share the spotlight with someone of similar power, intelligence, and even, in some ways, personality — but writing off Wally by ignoring him, and then making that part of the reason he’s going? That’s a bit ridiculous.

Because yes, Wally confronts his friends and family about no one noticing his absence during the Becky battle. How freaking sad is that? He went to go see Jesse on Earth-2 and get a better breakup message than a fuzzy hologram and a stuttered explanation from her dad, then comes back to find an entire episode climax happened while he was gone and no one cared enough to notice his absence. With this revelation, Wally decides to leave Central City and stay in Blue Valley (holy smokes, a city that doesn’t have the word “city” in the name!) for the foreseeable future. Everyone makes sad faces at the idea, but no one fights him on it. Hugs all around.

Wally deserved a lot better than this.

Other Things:
  • Becky has a MySpace page? Really?
  • There are so many little things I adored in this episode that have been noticeably absent in previous seasons. The team hanging out outside of work, having fun, for one.
  • Iris trying to speed-marry Barry right after a funeral had me cackling. “I love this coffin, is that cedar?” Candice Patton’s comedy skills are absolutely stellar.

Once Upon A Time 7x03 Recap: “The Garden of Forking Paths” (Same Old, Same Old) [Contributor: Julia Siegel]


“The Garden of Forking Paths”
October 20, 2017

Well, it’s a lot of repeating the past once again (pun intended) on this week’s Once Upon A Time. Whether you like the “new take” this season is taking or not, can we all agree that the show needs to figure out whether it is following a new story or just fully committing to being an exact repeat of the first season? The show seems to be teetering on a thin line and trying to play both sides, which doesn’t sit well with me. Personally, I’m getting tired of seeing the same thing over and over again with no surprises or solid twists, which is the biggest difference between seasons one and seven.


PLOT HOLES 


One of the reasons why this season isn’t as magical as the rest of the series is the overly consuming plot holes. Every episode seems to trip over the last, and the constant shifting of timelines isn’t helping. A prime example is how the beginning of this episode takes place before the second episode of the season. However, it isn’t immediately clear that time has been backtracked. Little things like this make it more difficult for viewers to follow along and keep track of what is happening in the new stories.

Another funny plot hole in this episode is the rather rapid change of appearance of Regina and Hook in the unnamed fairytale realm. When they appeared in the realm after being summoned by Henry’s magic bottle, Regina and Hook were in their typical Storybrooke street clothes. Somehow, within a few hours of being in this new realm, they have managed to find eerily similar outfits to the ones they wore when they lived in the Enchanted Forest. Regina even magically found the time to have her hair all done up and dyed several colors! Now, I understand that this is more than likely to make it easier for the audience to differentiate between realms, like in the past, but it’s simply not realistic for this to have taken place. Instead of clever, it comes off as silly.

WHO’S THAT CHARACTER?


I could go on and on about the multiple issues and holes throughout the first three episodes, but then this article would be way too long. So, for everyone’s sake, let’s move on to a guessing game. The end scene of the third episode shows Lady Tremaine/Belfrey in her secret Seattle lair with a chained up female character, who isn’t named by Belfrey. I’m assuming that this character is the shady Alice who made a brief and wacky appearance in the season premiere, but there’s no real way to confirm that. Maybe this is just a random character who they forgot to properly introduce.

While watching the scene play out, I really didn’t know what to think because I simply didn’t know what was going on. Is this a mystery witch? If so, who is she and what role is she going to play? Also, why wasn’t she given a name in that five-minute-or-so scene? If this was Alice, then we have some bigger plot hole issues with not much time passing and her entire appearance changing.

WE FINALLY HAVE A MOTIVE


There was one giant positive aspect of this episode, and it is definitely worth mentioning that the show is at least trying to move slightly forward. While most of what is occurring is an exact copy of the first season, we at least know why Lady Tremaine is so nasty. Cinderella had a hand in Tremaine’s daughter’s death many years ago, much like the reason why Regina used to hate Snow White. Tremaine’s main objective is to fuse her very dead daughter with either Henry or Lucy’s heart.

While this is pretty extreme, especially when one candidate for death is her innocent step-granddaughter, it is good to know that Tremaine at least has a motive for her wickedness. Up until now, Tremaine was just another evil character with zero backstory. This attempt to make things interesting at least gives the show somewhere to grow in the Seattle timeline. I don’t doubt that most of the season will mimic the first season, but maybe we will get some more original moments to keep things afloat for a bit.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Melanie’s Top 10 Halloween Films [Contributor: Melanie]

Image result for halloween gif

We are almost done with the month of October which means you obviously should be well on your way to spooktown and don’t need me to write you this list, right? But if you slacked at the beginning of month and want to finish strong, I’ve got an epic list of ways you scare yourself silly by October 31st.

hxM.jpeg

Trick or Treat (2007)


This is my number one horror recommendation when October rolls around. This film, written and directed by Michael Dougherty, is an anthology horror film taking place in a small Ohio town on Halloween night. It follows the seemingly unconnected stories of a homicidal school principal, a group of school kids who play a fatal prank, a young woman looking to partake in a rite of passage on Halloween night, a local shut in with a dark past, and a neighborhood couple who face the consequences of breaking Halloween traditions, all watched over by a strange trick or treater known only as Sam.

the-witch-2015-4.jpg

The Witch (2015)


Not only was this the best movie to come out in 2015, but it was also one of my favorite recent films period. This debut for director Robert Eggers was a foray into the most primal fears of the human mind and the unjust ways we selfishly protect ourselves. The story follows a Puritan family in the early days of colonial America who are excommunicated from their settlement for differing religious practices. They are forced to fend for themselves at the edge of the woods where something seems to be lurking nearby.

halloween-1982-1.jpg

Halloween (1978)


How can you not watch Halloween on Halloween? Throughout his illustrious career, this has remained one of John Carpenter’s most iconic films, helping launch the well-known tropes of the slasher genre and burgeon the role of the Final Girl in the horror film pantheon of characters. The film revolves around a group of babysitters who are hunted by a deranged and recently-escaped murderer returning to his hometown on Halloween night.

MV5BMjM2YTAwY2UtMDM0NS00Yjc3LWI2M2MtMzhkM2IwZGM2NGUzXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMzI4Nzk0NjY@._V1_.jpg

The Haunting (1963)


On the list of scariest films of all time, The Haunting generally tends to rank high, even to this day. And it’s no wonder, considering Shirley Jackson’s source material helped define the entire genre of terror fiction. The film follows a group of strangers brought together as members of a paranormal investigation group at country house with a dark history. As the nights go on and the strange atmosphere of Hill House begins to wear on the group, they’re forced to confront whether it’s truly supernatural or all in their heads.

sleepy_hollow_live_02.jpg

Sleepy Hollow (1999)


This is a story we all know, and one that may have frightened you once or twice while you were out late trick or treating on Halloween night. The old legend goes that a headless horseman haunts the Upstate New York town of Sleepy Hollow, carrying a jack o’ lantern and chasing you into the night. Tim Burton’s take on the story is a lot more supernatural and heavier in the mythos of the story, following a young Ichabod Crane who was sent to investigate a series of disappearances in the quiet town that’s under a dark curse.

the-exorcist-2-1200-1200-675-675-crop-000000.jpg

The Exorcist (1973)


The scariest horror film of all time is still a must-watch for horror fans during October (and also, always). This critically acclaimed film changed the way we looked at horror films, and echoes of its influence can still be felt today in the work of James Wan and other directors. The film centers around two stories that are brought together by horrifying events: on one side, the daughter of a divorced actress has fallen under the influence of something evil while a local priest tries to reconcile is faith with his cynicism after his mother’s death. As it turns out, Father Karras may need all the unwavering faith he can muster to help Regan.

Paranormal-Activity.jpg

Paranormal Activity (2007)


Okay, look. Listen. Look and listen. Paranormal Activity may not stand up so well in retrospect thanks to terminal franchise choices, but when it was released it was one of the scariest films of the past twenty years. Don’t let anyone try and mansplain you otherwise. This was the best attempt at replicating the beauty of The Blair Witch Project by focusing in on tension and a slow burn rather than jump scares or heavy plot. Set in a quiet southern California suburb, the film focuses on Katie and Micah, a couple who decides to try and capture the strange paranormal activity of their house and soon finds a lot more than they bargained for.

latest

The Blair Witch Project (1999)


You knew this was coming. Not only is this easily my favorite horror film ever but it’s probably one of my favorite films period. It revolutionized the way films were marketed at the dawn of the internet, is possibly one of the most quintessential films of the 90s in both aesthetic and subject matter, and defined an entire twenty years of found footage films. The story is presented as the footage recovered from a doomed film crew that went into the Maryland woods in order to make a documentary about a local legend of a witch. While they are never heard from again, their footage portrays their final days.

1446129276CRAFT_30.jpg

The Craft (1996)


Okay, I freaking love this movie. If you want to point to any one thing being responsible for the witch craze of the 90s, this was probably it, predating Buffy and Charmed (the latter of which some consider to be a bit of a rip off). Since then it’s become a cult classic and considered a feminist viewing requirement. The film follows a young woman who comes to a new school and finds herself falling in with a group of social outcasts with similar powers to her own. Together, the coven exacts revenge on their bullies... before the consequences come back to haunt them.

scream-1.jpg

Scream (1996)


Admit it: You were scared to answer your landline (for a while, back when you still had a landline). This postmodern look at the slasher genre reignited horror films and helped burgeon in an age of meta horror is a favorite of mine virtually any time of year. And now you get double circa 1996 Neve Campbell and Skeet Ulrich for your October. The film follows a young woman one year after the murder of her mother, who seems to be stalked by the same killer.

So there you are: my recommendations for a scary good time! Hopefully you can enjoy the rest of your October as it winds down and the premature holiday season slowly creeps in to throttle us all with peppermint scents.

Legends of Tomorrow 3x03 Recap: "Zari" (Ode to a Water Metahuman) [Contributor: Marilyn]


"Zari"
Original Airdate: October 23, 2017

The episode opens with Seattle in 2042. ARGUS is transporting a prisoner in an armored tank when a puddle of water forms into a woman, just like we saw in the premiere. She gets into the van and goes to free the prisoner. But the prisoner is already gone. A Time Bureau agent sees this and calls in a Code 99.

Nate is talking to a reluctant Stein about Amaya when they find her on the ceiling... sleepwalking as a spider. They wake her and she’s shaken by her lack of control. Stein want to science the problem, taking her to the med bay. Sara intercepts the distress call from the Agent (Gary). She's curious and wants to help. So the Legends go to 2042 and find a world that is under martial law. It looks like ARGUS is running things — or at least acting as the heavy in this new police state. They find Gary hiding and ask him about the female meta he saw.

They’re interested in this water meta, and realize she was there to kill the ARGUS prisoner — a rogue hacker. They track the woman, Zari, and offer her their protection. An ARGUS droid finds them, telling them they’re under arrest for violating the Anti-Metahuman Act of 2021. Zari hacks the droid so she’s not spotted and gets away while soldiers run in.

The Legends don’t go quietly of course. They fight the ARGUS soldiers and disable them easily. In fact, Mick is disappointed he doesn’t get a chance to shoot anyone. They don’t notice the water metahuman watching them speculatively. Onboard the Waverider, Stein wants to run more tests on Amaya but she doesn’t want any of that. She tells him and Nate that it’s her totem. Stein suggests they go to talk to Amaya’s ancestors, see if they know what’s going on.

The Legends are trying to track Zari... again. But she’s doing a better job of hiding from them again. She’s a hacker with a long rap sheet. Mick suggests they look for her at his old bar. Except his old bar is practically unrecognizable. But they find her there and Mick talks to her. Again, the team tries to convince her to take their offer but before she can answer, the water meta finds them. They try to fight her but she overpowers Sara. They get Zari to the ship get nowhere with the water meta.

Zari gets introduced to the Waverider and the team grills her. Gary isn’t too happy to see her there, saying she’s not allowed to know about time travel. They tell her that the police state that is 2042 is basically their fault, because they broke time, and they plan to fix it but they wanted to help her too. She asks for their help breaking her brother out of prison. Mick is all for it (snort) while Gary sputters. The rest of the Legends want to do it so the Agent is overridden.

Nate suggests Amaya taking something to help her do a vision quest to visit her ancestors and find out what’s going on with her totem. Nate tested it, to make sure it was safe. Amaya goes along with it and they attempt to do the vision quest.

Back in 2042, the Legends infiltrate the ARGUS prison and find out everyone locked up is a meta, and they’re getting experimented on. Jax decides to free all of them all at once. The prison is chaos and they lose track of Zari. We see her grab a totem out of a lockbox and she admits to the Legends, when they catch up with her, that she used them to pull of this heist. She taps the totem and Amaya’s totem is activated at the same time.

Ray calls Nate to bring the Waverider to them but he’s feeling awfully high. On the ground, Zari uses her totem to call a tornado and rises up in the sky. Ray goes after her, but Nate is having trouble operating the Waverider. The Legends finally make it on board the Waverider. They want to apprehend Zari but Gary cautions against that. He wants them to put things back the way they should be, darnit! But Sara’s not interested in that. At least, not until she thinks about it. She’s mad at Zari for playing them. Jax pleads her case, suggesting they help her rather than turning her over to prison.

Nate is still high and Sara has just about had it with everything at this point. Amaya is still under, caught in her vision — in the world between worlds. She comes across a woman who represents her ancestors. She tells the woman of her troubles. The woman tells her to embrace her totem, not fight it. The totem becomes more powerful as the threats become more powerful. She tells her to find “the girl,” who needs her protection. That must be Zari.

Zari finds all her people gone, their camp destroyed. She tells Ray about her totem, which had belonged to her brother. ARGUS killed her brother and took the totem. The water meta shows up and Ray tells Sara. Meanwhile, the Time Bureau displays excellent timing by arriving with an even bigger ship, just to make things interesting.

Sara yells at Gary for telling the Time Bureau where they were and he runs away through a portal. Agent Sharp calls them up, snarking at them about how awful they are. She and Sara trade some barbs but Ray renews his call for help. Sharp offers to help with Ray but the Legends don’t want to involve them and let them take control. Sara fakes them out and they get away. The water meta has Ray in a precarious position but Zari distracts her with the totem. She offers Zari revenge against ARGUS in exchange for the totem. She tells her she can’t control the power, she can free her from the burden and help her get justice.

Zari turns her down and grabs Ray so they can run from the water meta who isn’t terribly pleased to be rejected. Sara works to evade the Time Bureau ship, then plays chicken with them. Oh yes, that’s exactly what it sounds like. The Time Bureau ship jumps away at the last minute. Meanwhile, the Waverider’s shuttle is en route to help out Ray and Zari. Amaya faces off against the water meta, using her totem against her. And it seems she’s a good match for her. The meta activates her own totem and disappears. Very interesting.

Sharp warns Sara that the next time they cross paths, she’s going to exile the Legends. Sara isn’t too worried. They go to 2042 to pick up the rest of the team. Amaya thanks Nate for helping her get a handle on her totem. He’s worried she’ll leave now that everything is better. She says she can’t leave. She has to stay for Zari. But Sara intends to drop Zari off in 2042. Amaya tells Zari she’s not safe, then she tells her about her own totem, and how they’re bound together. She asks her to come with them. Mick suggests that this is doing something rather than sitting around waiting. So she agrees to join them — at least for now.

We end with a vision from Ivy Town in 1988. Little Ray Palmer is being pursued by bullies on his bike. He hides in a sewer drain and inside the drain is... no, not Pennywise the clown. Admit it, you had that thought too. But no, not him. That’s for next week’s Halloween episode, which looks frankly amazing.

Again, if you’re not watching Legends of Tomorrow, you’re missing out. You can’t take it too seriously... it’s even sillier than The Flash is when that show is at its best.  If you want a chuckle, you can’t go wrong.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Supergirl 3x03 Review: "Far from the Tree" (Good Dad, Bad Dad) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]


“Far from the Tree”
Original Airdate: October 23, 2017 

This week on Supergirl: paternal drama! More specifically, the paternal dramas of Maggie and her prejudiced, abandoning father and J’onn and his presumed-dead, doubtful father. The best part of “Far from the Tree” is its focus on supporting characters with some good stories to tell but not a whole lot of opportunities to tell them. Like, I would probably watch a whole show about J’onn J’onzz bonding with his dad and participating in a Martian revolution. Unfortunately, behind-the-scenes snafus (like the casting of a very much not Mexican actress to play Mexican-American Maggie Sawyer, whose culture is then given a prominent place in this episode, and not in the kindest of lights... oops) made half this episode uncomfortable to watch.

TERRIBLE DAD AWARD GOES TO...


Maggie and Alex are having a wedding shower, thanks to Alex’s mom being ultra-enthusiastic about the wedding. During a meeting with Eliza Danvers and Alex, Maggie tells the full story of how she was abandoned by her family — essentially, they caught her with a girl when she was fourteen, her dad packed her a suitcase and dropped her off at her aunt’s, and the last thing he said to Maggie was that she “shamed” him. Later, Alex brings up that maybe the wedding/shower could be a way to mend some bridges. Maggie rejects the idea at first, but ends up calling her father (why did she even have his number?) and inviting him to the shower. To everyone’s surprise, except the viewers who saw promo photos of Maggie talking to her dad, he accepts the invitation and intense awkwardness ensues.

First bit of awkwardness: Maggie meets her dad, Oscar, at the bus stop. Her mother is noticeably absent, even though she’d also been invited. Oscar tries making an excuse but it’s clearly false, and Maggie stops him.

At the shower, Oscar starts off well by showing that he’s always carried a picture of Maggie in his wallet, but things go downhill when he sees Maggie and Alex kiss. Buddy, what did you think was going to happen at a wedding shower? Anyway, he storms off and Maggie storms after him, demanding an explanation. Here’s where the Maggie plot starts unraveling a bit: Oscar tells Maggie that when he moved from Mexico, he was harassed relentlessly for being an immigrant (even dropping a reference to “building a wall,” which either implies that President Wonder Woman is more Trump-like than we’d been led to believe, or someone in the writer’s room done goofed for the sake of being topical) and the only thing that might invite harassment and a difficult life more than being Mexican is being gay.

It’s all delivered as if the root of Oscar’s prejudice is fear and love for his daughter, and a need to see her live a safe, happy life — but none of that jibes with the backstory we’ve been given. As Maggie rightly says, a father fearing for the welfare of his child would not simply abandon her and cut all ties with her. I can’t even figure out why the writers made this Oscar’s excuse, since it’s an obvious lie and we’re definitely not supposed to feel for him at the end of the episode or wish for Oscar and Maggie to truly reunite. We’re supposed to applaud Maggie standing up to her father and disowning him right back (which we do!), so why the attempt for sympathy? Why try and make Oscar out to be anything other than what he is: a closed-minded, prejudiced non-father who really should have stayed as far away from Maggie as possible.

PAPA WAS A MARTIAN CAPTIVE


Before plotlines diverge, Kara and Alex are busy planning the wedding shower. So that she can properly help her sister with romance-related stuff, Kara has put on a happy face despite the Great Angst that Mon-El’s absence has left within her heart. Ah, yes. The Mon-El void. Smells vaguely of damp saltine crackers. Also, I just realized that this little exchange between Kara and Alex is the only time Mon-El is talked about or hinted at this entire episode! Huzzah!

Kara opens her apartment door to find J’onn J’onzz, who has decided to heed M’gann M’orzz’s plea for help in the previous episode and join her on Mars. He’s visiting the Danvers sisters because he wants to let them know what’s up, and to tell them to watch over the DEO while he’s gone. He doesn’t expect Kara to immediately volunteer to help, too. After a half-hearted protest, J’onn agrees to take Kara along with him to the Red Planet. Road trip!

I mean that more literally than you would expect, since J’onn’s main mode of interplanetary transportation is disguised as a 1952 Chevrolet Deluxe convertible. Man, I don’t drive but I do love me some vintage automobiles — especially ones that can transform into spaceships and launch its passengers out of Earth’s atmosphere at warp speed. I hope the introduction of this car makes way for some more off-world storylines but, knowing this show, that hope is probably in vain.

The White Martian rebel force greets Kara and J’onn once they land. They all fit into the exact molds you’d think a rebel force would fit into: Till’All, The Angry One; N’keyy, The Idealistic One, and M’Gann, The De Facto Leader Because We Know Her Already. They’re looking to get their hands on a legendary staff before the evil White Martians get to it, but there’s only one person who knows where the staff is and he’s not telling. Also, that one person happens to be the father J’onn thought he’d lost to war hundreds of years ago. (Major shoutout to David Harewood for this entire episode, by the way — every bit of acting, from the second J’onn realizes his father is still alive until the very last interaction between the two, is brilliant.)

Of course J’onn wants to see his father, but the Rule of Drama insists that, in cases such as this one, the father can’t recognize the son until we’ve properly piled on the paternal pathos. M'yrnn J'onzz thinks J’onn is a White Martian trick and refuses to let down his mental guard — not only because doing so for a White Martian would be catastrophic, but also because allowing himself to think that his son is alive, then learning he was wrong, would be like losing J’onn all over again. Kara vouches for J’onn, winning M’yrnn over because she’s clearly not a White Martian and shares his status as one of the few survivors of a lost race. With Kara’s help, J’onn gets his father to mind-meld with him and shows him a scene from their past, in which J’onn’s daughters greet their grandfather on J’onn’s birthday. It’s a remarkably good scene, especially considering that it’s all acted by CGI Green Martians.

With his identity proven and the last members of the J’onzz clan properly reunited, M’yrnn tells the Resistance the location of the staff. In the nick of time, too, since the bad White Martians are making their move and the rebels cannot allow them to get their hands on such a powerful device. A fight for the staff breaks out, but not before Kara makes a grand entrance (i.e., distraction) by blasting some Britney Spears on J’onn’s car radio and adding in a nice Looney Tunes reference for extra cool.

Then Kara proceeds with some... pretty ruthless fighting, actually. That’s not normal, right? Anyway, the staff ends up in the hands of the good White Martians in the end, but they don’t want it. They think it’s too powerful to remain on Mars at all, which just seems silly. Whatever — the good guys win! J’onn invites his dad to return with him to Earth, which I hope means we’ll be seeing more of the character this season, because I really liked him

Other Things:
  • I guess it’s just a good habit for J’onn to call Kara “Supergirl” even when she’s not on Earth and doesn’t need to protect her identity, but it’s still weird.
  • M’yrnn lands on Earth and immediately picks a weed, then holds it like a treasured flower. He’s great.
  • So Alex and Maggie are probably going to break up over one wanting kids. That’s... whatever, show.

Arrow 6x02 Review: “Tribute” (Sisterhood of the Traveling Green Arrow Suit) [Contributor: Jenn]


“Tribute”
Original Airdate: October 19, 2017

I’m not a parent.

I don’t plan to be one anytime soon, but from what I hear, everything changes once you hold a newborn baby — your baby — in your arms for the very first time. You want to give them the world, your priorities shift immediately, and your thinking is altered forever. Oliver Queen never really experienced that particular part of parenthood. He was flash-forwarded in time when his son was older, had already established a bond and relationship with his mother. William didn’t see him as a provider or protector or even as dad. He was just the guy who knocked up Samantha (my word, not William’s).

At the end of last week’s episode, we saw William take a small step toward Oliver. It’s understandable that the kid is hesitant to bond with someone he doesn’t know, but this week we explored an even deeper level of hesitancy with Oliver and William — the young boy is fearful that Oliver won’t come home one day. And then he’ll be alone.

So Oliver spends this episode figuring out, in the midst of the leaked photo of him as Green Arrow, how to be a father, a mayor, and a superhero at the same time. Meanwhile, Diggle and Dinah basically hash out the former’s physical injuries and issues when he fails to protect her in the field. And then Curtis and Felicity spend most of the episode being pretty adorable and productive. Let’s dive in, shall we?

A FATHER’S PLACE


I really like that Arrow had Oliver talk to Rene this week about fatherhood. Last week, we got to see conversations between Quentin and Oliver, and I have no doubt there will be more of those in the future as well. But as I pointed out in my review of the premiere, there is quite the “dad club” already among Team Arrow and the writers making the decision to switch up pairings is actually quite refreshing. I’m not generally the biggest fan of Rene, but this season so far, the show has been utilizing him really well — he’s no longer that irritatingly rebellious-for-the-sake-of-rebellion team member; he’s genuinely being helpful and productive.  Moreover, he’s giving Oliver some good parenting advice, and a shoulder to lean on. And if there’s one thing Oliver needs these days, it’s a shoulder to lean on.

Oliver is navigating parenthood in the best way he possibly can. But he’s also serving as the Green Arrow. And he’s the mayor of Star(ling) City. It’s not easy juggling three very different responsibilities. At best, it’s a recipe for disaster. At worst, it can cause irreparable damage. As most things do, Oliver’s face being outed as that of Green Arrow’s has consequences attached. The FBI begins an investigation into the claims that he’s a law-breaking criminal/vigilante, and this time it doesn’t seem like they’re willing to turn a blind eye. Even when Oliver seemingly is absolved of the conviction (thanks to Curtis and Felicity’s clever skill set) and it’s deemed to be a doctored photo, the FBI is relentless. Oliver will always have someone looking over his shoulder — and that’s in addition to the numerous people who want to kill him.

Furthermore, “Tribute” basically asserts that in order for Oliver to truly get this parenting thing down, he needs to spend time with William. He needs to be present and not phone in their relationship. And he needs practice. Oliver is so used to lying that he feels guilty when he tells William he’ll always come home. He confesses this to Rene — he can’t promise that to his son. He doesn’t know whether or not some bad guy will kill Green Arrow. Rene reminds him that all parents lie to their kids to some degree if it’s for their wellbeing. It’s essentially Parenting 101 — your kid thinks the world of you and you want to paint the best picture of the world as possible. You have to believe you’ll always come home to your child, so you tell them you will.

But this (coupled with the fact that William is in a fight earlier in the episode and Oliver essentially tells him how to fight back) still unsettles Oliver enough to call up Dig and ask him for a favor. Oliver can’t be Green Arrow anymore. He has to be a father, and in order to be a good one, he needs to step out of the shadows. A lot of people have pointed out the irony in the fact that Dig is also a father and so Oliver passing the torch on isn’t really solving a problem — it’s like passing the problem to someone else.

I didn’t really see it that way though. I saw it as a sign of respect. Dig has been in the field for a very long time. He’s fought day in and day out, because he’s a soldier and that’s what he does. He’s made peace with the risks and responsibilities that come with parenting. Dig met his child (let’s not talk about what Barry messed up) on the very first day. Dig has had a bond with his child since the very beginning. But Oliver hasn’t. Oliver never had a moment where he held his son as a newborn and his world changed forever. Dig did. Does that make it easier for Dig to leave Lyla and his kid at home while he goes off dodging bullets from bad guys? No. But it’s a part of who Diggle is, at his core. The identity of “father” is so intensely tied to “soldier” and “husband” and “hero” that he doesn’t know how to untangle them all — and he shouldn’t.

If Dig’s life and identity is a ball of yarn, Oliver’s is a jigsaw puzzle. He’s staring at the different pieces right now — “father” and “mayor” and “masked hero” — and he’s unsure of how they can even all fit together. So he’s taking a step back, and by examining each piece of the puzzle, he’ll be able to get a clearer picture of who he is and can be.

But let’s talk about Dig because he’s got some problems that are only going to be compounded in the near future.

DIDN’T WE LEARN ANYTHING ABOUT LYING TO FRIENDS?


You’d think, after all of the times Oliver lied or hid and Dig bellowed at him, that Dig would have confessed the truth to Oliver before accepting the gig as the new Green Arrow. But no. That wouldn’t make for frustrating television, would it? We follow Dig’s story closer in the episode when he fails to protect Dinah during a fight sequence. She almost dies this time, and it pisses her off (rightfully so). Everyone is supposed to have each others’ backs, but if she can’t trust that Dig will protect her and the team, he’s no good to them all and needs to take himself out of the field. Dig is convinced he can just power through his pain and trauma, and it doesn’t work. He keeps freezing whenever it comes time to shoot his gun, but he won’t tell Dinah why.

She finally finds out, along with the audience, that Dig has nerve damage from the blast on Lian Yu. Unfortunately, it’s degenerative nerve damage. Dig is the kind of guy who needs to be seen as dependable and loyal and strong. He wants people to view him as their protector and the fact that he’s not is killing him. But the fact that he is NOT will end up killing someone on Team Arrow. Dinah warns him repeatedly that he needs to get out of the field and, when she learns the truth of what’s happening, that Dig needs to tell Oliver the status of his medical condition.

Instead, Dig agrees to fill Oliver’s shoes as Green Arrow and lead the team into battle each night. It’s a terrible idea that could go sideways in about a million different ways. It’s the kind of thing that Oliver would do, not that Dig would do. But like I said above, Dig doesn’t quite know how to not be the strong one. He feels like he owes Oliver this, in some way, and so he decides to don a suit and carry around a bow and arrow in order to help his friend and make the city a better and safer place for them to raise their children.

“Tribute” was a good episode (it’s difficult as I’m writing this to remember feeling strongly about it either way, now that it’s been a week since I’ve seen it), and I think that it sets up a potentially interesting conflict with Dig being the center of our story now. Still, I can see Arrow using this particular storyline as a way to justify everyone acting stupidly.

It seems pretty on-par for what I know to be true of the show.

And now, bonus points:
  • ANATOLY RETURNED. In spite of his questionable morals and the fractured relationship that he now has with Oliver, Anatoly makes a valid point in the episode: he’s still not a bad guy. He would never hurt William, and Oliver (deep down) knows that. However, Anatoly warns that there are true bad guys out there who wouldn’t think twice about hurting his child or killing him. That’s who Oliver needs to really be concerned with. And I think by the end of the conversation, Oliver is.
  • There was a very meta scene in the episode where the characters discuss how they actually pay their bills. THANKS, SHOW.
  • “I thought we all had, like, secret jobs.”
  • I find it hilariously off-putting when there’s daylight in Star(ling) City.
  • “I don’t think you understand how this whole rescue thing works.” I missed Anatoly. True story.
  • William has a Flash backpack and I think that’s just great.
What did you all think of “Tribute”? Sound off in the comments below!

Monday, October 23, 2017

Scorpion 4x04 Review: "Nuke Kids on the Block" (Being Human Sucks) [Guest Contributor: Yasmine]


"Nuke Kids on the Block"
Original Airdate: October 16, 2017

Can I just start by saying how much I love the episode titles on this show? It must be the nerd in me but I just do.

I also love when the team has a seemingly normal, unassuming job but the day still manages to turn into an end of the world scenario because one of those geniuses does something unbelievably stupid. And this is exactly what happened in this week’s episode.

The team gets a job to update software and replace old parts to decommission an old nuclear missile. Sounds simple and straightforward enough. But while Walter, Paige and Happy are working on the missile, a little... accident takes place. Happy and Paige had been arguing and bickering all day — about something we will get to shortly — and that leads to Happy mishandling a tool and dropping it, causing it to puncture the missile and release a toxic vapor.

Of course, that is not enough, because once they manage to solve one problem, something else comes up, and the team has to constantly expose themselves to the vapor until the only choice is to detonate the missile and then drive after it to diffuse the nuclear head, which I still don’t think is the craziest thing this team has ever had to do.

What made this week’s case especially tricky was the misbalance in the team’s energy. Everyone was going through something, whether individually or among each other, and that was demonstrated in how they worked together in the field.

The episode started with Paige voicing her concern to Walter that Happy had been spending a lot of time with them recently — practically third wheeling — and it has put a damper on their young relationship. Against Walter’s advice, Paige confronts Happy about that and just like Walter predicted, Happy does not take well to Paige’s comments. All Paige wants is to get some alone time with Walter, which is completely fair especially with them trying to understand their new relationship. But Happy takes it badly. She takes it as though her friendship is not welcome. Or at least that is what it appears to be on the surface.

That charged situation carries with them throughout the day, and even though Walter tries repeatedly to diffuse the situation, it just gets worse and worse. That is until Happy’s husband interferes and, being the great psychiatrist and better husband, he can tell exactly what Happy is going through.

The Quintis scene at the end was absolutely precious and showed once again why these two are perfect together and perfect for each other. Toby manages to help Happy realize what is truly bothering her and helps her admit it. One of the greatest things about their relationship is how Toby can always make Happy come to terms with emotional situations that she would otherwise be terribly uncomfortable with and situations that, without him, she would not have known how to handle or would have just ignored.

Happy wants a family. She wants a baby and she wants that baby and that family with Toby. And if that is not an amazing moment for the two of them, then I don’t know what is.

And speaking of couples who bring out the best in each other, Walter and Paige are still trying to figure out their new relationship. Having Happy third wheel them for a while may have been annoying to Paige, but Walter later admits that he was glad she’d been there. He admits to Paige that he is scared she might get bored of him. He tells her that is how all his previous relationships had gone.

I’m honestly glad this is an issue they have brought up because Walter’s low EQ and his terrible past experiences should be one of the biggest obstacles for them to face and overcome. Walter confesses that he is scared of being alone with Paige and her realizing that she is not interested in the things he has to say. He’s scared that she would get bored and get up and leave in a few weeks.

But Paige reassures him by reminding him that their intimacy may be a few weeks old, but their relationship is three years. She has known him all these years and knows she would never be bored with him. I am really looking forward to watching Walter’s confidence grow and his trust in himself and in the strength of their relationship grow as well.

And moving on to another Scorpion genius who is just realizing their amazing potential and whose trust in himself is growing exponentially, Sylvester certainly made great strides in this episode. With Patty, his young intern, on his back, pushing him to be the best Alderman he can be, and with the team needing him to get over his fears out in the field, Sylvester came to a very important realization this week. After managing to find a solution and get funding for the science club, Sly goes back to the garage and informs everyone that he will be taking the Bar Exam and representing Cabe as his lawyer in his case.

Comparing this Sylvester to the one we met in the pilot, the growth is just amazing, and it’s amazing how much he has become his own person: someone who is strong and determined, who knows his potential and self-worth and is willing to do anything and everything for the team. The self-esteem this young man now has is just brilliant. I just feel so proud of him.

As does the whole team, including Cabe, whose future now lies in the hands of this young genius. And they both deserve this. Cabe, especially, considering the horrible time he’s having — he just spent the day as Scorpion’s junior intern and the butt of every joke Toby made this episode, and as funny as that was, he isn’t a man who would be able to handle the situation for too long. He has a legal battle to fight and he has a badge and gun to get back.

And with Team Scorpion behind him, he can definitely win this fight — but it won’t be without a few hitches, I’m sure.