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Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Brooklyn Nine-Nine 5x07 Recap: “Two Turkeys” (A Big Family Thanksgiving) [Contributor: Alisa Williams]

“Two Turkeys” 
Original Airdate: November 21, 2017

On this season’s Thanksgiving episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Jake and Amy are celebrating the day with both sets of parents in the same room for the very first time. They’re pretty nervous about it because Amy’s parents are intimidating and controlling and Jake’s are flighty and prone to drunkenness.

Things get off to a rough start when Jake’s mom greets the Santiagos with “Feliz Thanksgiving” and Amy’s mom shows up with her own turkey “just in case.” Then, Jake’s dad emerges from the bedroom with no pants on and proceeds to chat it up about the woes of holiday travel.

Things are pretty tense at the precinct, too. Captain Holt and his husband, Kevin, have come in carrying a fancy English Walnut pie from the Cottage Inn in Saratoga Springs. They drove all the way upstate for it — an annual tradition for them — and they plan to bring it to Kevin’s parents’ house later that evening for Thanksgiving dinner. But then the pie disappears! Holt is furious when no one fesses up and determines to unveil the culprit.

While Holt puts his detective skills to work, things have gone from bad to worse at the Santiago-Peralta dinner. When the conversation turns awkward, Jake and Amy try to turn it to some of their pre-determined topics that both sets of parents have in common. First, they try talking about painting, which both Jake and Amy’s mothers do. Unfortunately, Jake’s mom paints bowls and furniture while Amy’s mom paints on canvas, and both feel the other’s medium is inferior.

Jake tries desperately to turn the conversation to golf, which both fathers enjoy. Except, his father says he’s never played golf in his life. Jake’s confused because he vividly remembers his father going to play golf every Sunday during his childhood. His mom confides to the group that what Jake is really remembering is what his father said as an excuse to leave the house and cheat on his mom. With no other safe topics on the horizon, they brainstorm in the kitchen about what they can do to ease the tension. Board games are out they decide, because both fathers are extremely competitive.

Finally, they turn to alcohol in hopes of getting everyone drunk enough that they all get along. Back at the precinct, Holt has had his office dusted for prints and reviewed his security camera. There were no prints and the footage was obscured, which means whoever did this thought it through. Therefore, Hitchcock and Scully are off the hook. But that still leaves Boyle, Terry, and Rosa as suspects. Holt interrogates them one by one, but they all have airtight alibies. Holt decides to put Hitchcock and Scully’s detective skills — which are only good for food-related crimes — to work.

Over at Jake and Amy’s Thanksgiving dinner, things are looking up. They have successfully gotten both sets of parents drunk, and Amy’s dad even broke out some Cuban rum. With spirits high, he welcomes the Peraltas to the family and toasts Jake and Amy. Jake’s dad follows with his own toast. But then Amy’s dad stands up to make a second toast and it’s clear the dads are getting competitive over who can make the best toast.

As the one-upping continues, Amy’s dad offers Jake his grandfather’s watch and says he’s now officially part of the family. Not to be outdone, Jake’s dad tells them he will pay for their wedding and that Amy is now officially his daughter. Amy’s dad says it’s the bride’s family’s responsibility to pay for the wedding so they will pay. They finally agree on splitting it, but then Amy’s mom says that’s probably for the best given the Peraltas “financial situation,” and the tension is back in full force! To make matters worse, Jake and Amy each blame each other’s parents for things going downhill and begin fighting with each other.

Meanwhile, Holt has unraveled one mystery only to reveal another. Hitchcock and Scully found the pie, uneaten, thrown into the trashcan. They’re all horrified and wonder who could have committed such a heinous act. It would be understandable if such a rare and delicious pie had been eaten. But to throw it away like garbage? Holt must get to the bottom of this. When Kevin comes by the precinct later to pick him up, Holt confronts him. He realized that Kevin’s the only one who could have thrown the pie away. Kevin admits he did, and says that he actually thinks the pie is disgusting and couldn’t bear to bring it to his parents’ house. But, he also loves his and Holt’s annual trip up to Saratoga Springs to get the pie and didn’t want to lose that. Holt says they can still do an annual drive upstate, even if there’s no pie involved.

Jake and Amy have finally corralled their parents and are about to start Thanksgiving dinner. But first, the fathers are arguing about who is the better turkey carver. Fortunately, thanks to Amy’s mom there are two turkeys, so both fathers can test out their skills and prove their superiority.

Unfortunately, while carving his turkeys and simultaneously shouting insults across the table, Jake’s dad manages to slice off his own thumb, which spurts blood everywhere. They rush him to the hospital where the nurse says it will be a while before they can tend to his father. That’s when Amy’s father steps in and says that’s unacceptable and they will take care of Jake’s dad NOW. Thinking he’s dying, Jake’s father admits that he’s fathered several other children and Jake has some half-siblings he never knew about. Jake’s not sure how to feel about that, but tells his dad he definitely can’t die now because he needs more information on this.

It turns out Jake’s dad will be just fine, though. Once they stitch the thumb back on, the two dads apologize to each other and even share an awkward hug, just like Jake and Amy always dreamed.

Even though it was a dramatic and stressful Thanksgiving, it all turned out all right in the end and Jake got the big family Thanksgiving he always wanted. And who knows, if Jake manages to track down all these half-siblings, next year may be an even bigger celebration.

Bullets on the Bulletin Board:
  • “I wouldn’t say I’m controlling. I would say I’m Type A. You should write Type A there instead of controlling.” 
  • “Hola! Feliz Thanksgiving. Jake told me you were Cuban.” “Yes, I did, and I regret it.” 
  • “This doesn’t have to be a big deal. Whoever took the pie, come forward, and all will be forgiven.” *silence* “Smart. You knew I would never forgive you.”
  • “Who wants to hear a joke?” “You mean like a riddle? Because I love riddles.” “No, I mean like a joke-joke where I say it and you laugh.” “No, then I’m not interested.” 
  • “So you think I became a cop just so I could steal your pie?” “Your words, not mine.” 
  • “Here’s what we need from you: a list of the pie’s ingredients.” “We’re looking for anything that might linger on someone’s breath.” “We need surveillance footage from the water fountain. The crumb consistency was dry. Whoever ate it is gonna be thirsty.” “Now what kind of crimped edge are we dealing with here? U-shaped or V?”

Scorpion 4x09 Review: "It’s Raining Men (of War)" (Best Vacation Ever) [Guest Contributor: Yasmine]

“It’s Raining Men (of War)”
Original Airdate: November 20, 2017

Scorpion’s Thanksgiving episode was a pretty emotional one — and for that, I am thankful. When a show that routinely makes me laugh and leaves me entertained manages to deliver such a tear-jerker, it means something is being done right in that writers’ room. While Scorpion is not a show that always necessarily takes itself too seriously, the fact that the writers are able to create such complex and compelling characters means that, when the time comes to have an emotionally heavy episode, the story and the characters can carry it and deliver it to the fullest of its potential.

While most of the team carried the case of the week plot, dealing with a garbage spill in the ocean and with their new not-very-friendly neighbor, Florence, it was on Cabe, with the help of Toby, to carry the emotional weight. And by the end of the episode, I was sobbing like a baby.

First, the case of the week. Florence seems to have no intentions whatsoever to play nice with her neighbors, but to be fair to the chemist, they are not the easiest people to live next door to. As any normal person would, Florence is annoyed when, out of nowhere, Ralph falls through the ducts in her lab and lands on a set of very expensive equipment, destroying it. To his credit, Ralph was actually trying to do a good thing: He was trying to retrieve some moths that escaped from their garage into her vents so she would not get upset. Of course, his methods were not the wisest, but neither is Florence’s reaction.

Granted, she is justified in being upset, but still she makes no effort to communicate with Team Scorpion. She’s even hostile toward Paige, the one person making in effort in reaching out. It’s really fun watching the team react to someone who is essentially just like them but has not had the good fortune of having someone like Paige in their lives. The behavior they find appalling or unacceptable is actually behavior that they often conduct themselves with, but they have Paige to buffer the impact.

After delivering Ralph to his mother, Florence notices a chemical formula on the board and the team explain they are working on dealing with a garbage spill of plastics in the ocean. The binding agent they’d developed will harden the floating mass, allowing them to walk over it and scatter wax worms that would eat and digest the garbage and render it nontoxic and thus get rid of the garbage floating in the ocean and floating towards land. Florence mocks their formula, estimating that it would only have a 93% success rate. She has an offer for them. She claims to have developed a fully organic binding agent that would be 100% digestible by the worms. What she asks for return is one sixth of the take.

It takes some convincing from Paige because Walter doesn’t want to work with her on account of him not liking her, but the team finally agrees to Florence’s offer. And so Walter, Paige, Happy, and Sly — who has to sacrifice his day off — along with Florence, head off into the ocean to finish the job, while Toby stays behind with Cabe at the garage, under the guise of finishing Thanksgiving dinner. Toby, however, has ulterior motives for staying behind which I will get to shortly.

The garbage disposal plan starts off perfectly well. Florence’s agent works as she promised and the worms start digesting the garbage as expected. However, one thing they had not expected is that the agent contains an element that attracts jellyfish — thousands of them. With Happy, Walter and Florence on the garbage, Sly and Paige try to redirect the boat towards them but the engines won’t run on account of the jelly fish. Walter, having been against working with Florence to begin with, blames the chemist for their current situation and tensions get higher and higher between the team and Florence, who continues to be stubborn and uncooperative. In a first attempt to get the three back on the boat, Paige and Sly fire a harpoon towards the garbage. Florence manages to get herself across on the rope, but Walter and Happy don’t. the harpoon breaks loose, and not only do they lose their chance to get across, but the harpoon punctures the side of the boat as well. Of course it does.

With the boat taking on water and sinking, Walter and Happy minutes away from falling into the water and getting stung to death, and the Coast Guard still hours away, Florence finally accepts the blame. But that does not matter as much as finding a way to fix the boat and to rescue the stranded — close to dying — Walter and Happy. They finally realize that their only choice is to disguise themselves and fool the jelly fish into thinking they are one of them. And the way to do that is to cover themselves with Sly’s fish-based protein shake.

Shockingly, or maybe not so much because weird solutions are their MO, the plan works and Walter and Happy manage to swim across the jellyfish-filled waters towards the boat. When they get there, before getting onto the boat, they need to fix the hole in the boat. In the meantime, Florence managed to prepare a polymer to fix the boat. As they are patching up their ride, a tumble sends Florence into the water. Without the protection of Sly’s protein shake, Florence is stung repeatedly by the jellyfish.

Fortunately, the team manage to get the boat running and Florence to a hospital just in time to save her life, and just in time for Thanksgiving dinner — which their new neighbor is then invited to as well. Things may not be overly friendly between them yet, but they’ve overcome the awkward first phase in their relationship.

Meanwhile at the garage, Toby had the unenviable task of getting Cabe Gallo to open up about his past. Earlier in the episode, Cabe had told Toby, in one of their therapy sessions, about the night his father had died. Cabe tells Toby a picture-perfect story of supposedly one of the worst nights of his life. Cabe talks of the smell of the pine-scented cleaner his mom used, and the perfect popcorn popping on the stove while he watched TV before the cops came over to deliver the news.

Toby had said nothing at the time, but he had picked up on many signs that Cabe was not telling him the whole truth. Consequently, he spends the rest of the day trying to get Cabe to admit what had really happened that night. However, as Toby expertly works on Cabe, he realizes that Cabe truly believes the version of events he is sharing with the doctor. This drives Toby to conclude that Cabe had altered the memories of that night to compensate and cover up something more terrible than his father dying.

Eventually, Toby manages to get Cabe to remember the true events of that night, bringing back memories and trauma Cabe had kept buried for fifty years. Cabe remembers the night his father died. He remembers that he had not been at home watching TV, instead he was with his father. They had entered a store and moments later, an armed man walked in. Young Cabe had seen the gun but was too late to warn his father who, while reaching for his own gun, got shot and was killed instantly. Cabe cannot understand why he’d repressed this memory for so long or why he had replaced it with the other version. And Toby, once again, helps him through this painful journey and they realize that Cabe had felt guilty and responsible for his father’s death, even at such a young age. Toby explains to him that it was not his fault, and that the same feelings of guilt he is suffering from now — that he has let the team down — are just as unwarranted, and that Cabe has to believe he has never let the team, his family, down.

I have to admit that throughout this whole scene, from Cabe remembering to the realization of what he is truly going through, I was sobbing because it was just that good and that emotional.

And the scene after, with the whole family — Allie and Florence included — gathering around the table and Walter insisting that the father, Cabe, sit at the head of the table and carve the turkey, was just absolutely beautiful.

Of course, it would not be a Scorpion episode without the elements of comedy, and this week it was covered by the ridiculous animosity and trash talking between Florence, Walter, and the rest of the team, and by Sly constantly complaining about his day off being ruined and finally by Walter never giving up on suggesting Happy and Toby name their potential future child Walter (or Walina if it’s a girl).

After a few weeks of focusing on Walter and Paige’s relationship, on Happy and Toby’s attempts to get pregnant, and on Sly’s growth, this episode shifted entirely to Cabe and it did not disappoint. I know I said the same last week, but this may be one of my favorite episodes to date — a perfect balance of everything that makes Scorpion so special.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

The Flash 4x07 Review: "Therefore I Am" (Suspicious Minds) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]

"Therefore I Am"
Original Airdate: November 21, 2017 

The season arc plot has finally risen up, just in time to be squashed back down again by the unrelated plot of the DCTV crossover event! I think something similar happened last time one of these shows had a crossover event (there have been a lot; forgive me for not being specific) and I don’t get the logic of it. Why not use the crossover for filler and avoid breaking pace on the storyline that actually matters? Plus you have the hiatus coming up too, which only makes the pacing worse... But hey, I’m no bigtime TV writer, so they clearly know better than I do.


This week’s episode starts where last week’s left off, with Joe and Barry confronting the DeVoe pinpointed by the Council of Wells. Actually, I tell a lie — it technically starts off with a little flashback scene involving DeVoe and his wife, and although I have a few issues with this episode (more on that later) I can’t fault this stuff with Mr. and Mrs. DeVoe. Comic book shows like The Flash rarely attempt to humanize the villains. Whenever they do show villains being ordinary and likeable, that ordinary likeability is usually revealed to be part of an evil scheme, such as the case of Eobard Thawne pretending to mentor Barry and the rest of Team Flash as Harrison Wells in the first season.

With Clifford and Marlize DeVoe, however, you can tell that they genuinely care about each other and they are, until the events of the episode occur, just a normal couple. The flashback scene we’re given at the episode’s open has them eating lunch together in Clifford DeVoe’s classroom after he, a college history professor, has released his inattentive and listless students for the day. It’s a charming scene of bantering and lamenting the loss of intellectual capacity in younger people, which leads to the introduction of their life-changing plan and the object that would turn Professor Clifford DeVoe into the villainous Thinker.

It turns out that the DeVoe couple is made up of two geniuses: Clifford, who, despite his focus in history, is also something of an ideas man for world-altering inventions, and Marlize, whose degrees in robotics and cybernetics allows her to bring her husband’s ideas to life. Marlize makes a “thinking cap” to help improve the intellectual capacity of its human wearer, but they need a never-before-seen power source to actually make it work. How convenient, that all this is taking place roughly four years ago, and a certain Harrison Wells is about to turn on his newfangled power source, the particle accelerator!

Because I guess there’s no innovation without risk, the DeVoes decide to use the particle accelerator explosion to power the stupid looking hat by sending Clifford out into the ensuing dark matter storm to get hit by lightning. He dies, but he gets better. Once he wakes up from death, Clifford has the ability to know all things, including who Jack the Ripper actually was and that Barry Allen is actually the Flash. Knowing stuff evidently makes you evil, too, since the DeVoes go from being an endearingly devoted couple of enthusiastic academics to a married team of villains who decide Team Flash has got to go. But why, though?

Sorry, that wasn’t a segue. I’m literally asking why this happens. I actually ask “But why, though?” quite a bit throughout this episode, since the show has reverted to its old, terrible pacing and decided to throw a bunch of plot stuff at us in one go, without allowing for a build in tension or a slow, careful unraveling of its mystery. So we get the backstory of The Thinker in this episode, but no explanation for how he went from a normal, if frustrated, professor to a criminal mastermind. His assistant’s identity as his steadfast wife is revealed, but how did she go from a cheerful professor to being the keeper of her husband’s evil lair and supporter of his nefarious deeds? Was it all because they realized Clifford was dying of an accelerated form of a degenerative disease after getting his Thinker powers? Does dying make people into villains? And finally, we have Barry Allen’s sudden turn in this episode, in which he goes from zero to paranoid so fast it made his reaction to Savitar look mild in comparison.

Most of the present-day plot of “Therefore I Am” is all about Barry’s ramping paranoia over DeVoe, and that would be fine if the paranoia, you know, actually ramped up. Instead, Barry is instantly, doggedly suspicious of the DeVoes — and yes, I know that Barry has a history of not being subtle around people he doesn’t trust (it’s one of his stupidest traits, and that’s saying something for a guy who has a lot of stupid traits; like, remember when he broke the universe that one time?) but I’m pretty sure he’s never clumsily broken into a suspect’s house to gather clues like a crazy person before.

Barry’s actions in this episode seem more like the result of a three- or four-episode minor arc, rather than the plot of the episode that literally introduces our hero to the season’s villain. From the first moment he meets DeVoe, Barry is almost manic in his desperation to nail DeVoe as his archenemy and fights against the much more normal-thinking members of his team with the same degree of bonkers as a doomsday prepper trying to tell non-believers about the impending alien invasion from the safety of his underground bunker. Every other member of Team Flash looks at Barry with the same expression of bewildered worry — an expression that I probably had on my face while watching the episode since, like I said, it makes zero sense for Barry’s focus on DeVoe to reach such a degree so fast. For heaven’s sake, Barry nearly gets fired! He gets a restraining order put against him after Marlize complains, sobbing, to Barry’s boss about the crazy guy stalking her husband at his work and breaking into their home.

In the episode, Barry explains his actions as just a result of “a feeling” he has (technically, he calls it his “Spidey-sense,” so nice Marvel reference, DC show) regarding DeVoe, telling him that he’s the reason for everything that’s happened since he got out of the Speed Force and the reason he got out of the Speed Force at all. Barry thinks DeVoe has potential to be worse than any foe they’ve ever fought, and the fact that previous villains who know the Flash’s future have cited DeVoe as an important enemy means Barry is probably right. But these excuses seem pretty flimsy when contrasted with his actions in the episode.

I mean, yes, Barry proves to be correct when DeVoe straight-up admits that he’s the villain of the story and knows all about Barry, the Flash, and every member of his team. But the culmination of this narrative doesn’t really make up for its poor execution, since we the viewers already knew that DeVoe is The Thinker and the fun would have come from the ratcheting tension of Barry and the team figuring it out. So, just like the mysteries of previous seasons, The Flash managed to bungle the big reveal by shoving all the tension into one episode, rather than over the course of a few.

But I guess they have time to make up for it, so I’m not going to write this season off just yet.

Other Things:
  • WALLY CAME BACK! For the wedding, presumably, so I really hope he’s involved in the crossover event.
  • "How are you not scared?" "Because we're the Flash." This season’s Barry/Iris relationship has been pitch perfect. A great balance of involving the romance in the plot as critical elements of two of the show’s main characters, and not allowing it to consume the plot.
  • Another mystery of the episode: Marlize’s dedication to Villain Chic with that slicked-back hair and lab coat.
  • "What is knowledge without love?" Yeah, sure, The Thinker. To quote Jeff Winger: "Profound, but technically meaningless."

Blindspot 3x04 Review: "Gunplay Ricochet" (End Point) [Contributor: Jen]

"Gunplay Ricochet"
Original Airdate: November 17, 2017

Team Blindspot has to stop a bomber in "Gunplay Ricochet," but we are waiting for the bomb they are going to drop on Jeller. However, rather than blow the couple apart, Blindspot uses the episode to show Kurt and Jane's foundation is going to tough to crack.


Blindspot put the "new tattoos work with old" concept to work this week with the horn skull. The horn skull tattoo is the symbol used by a bomber named Marcus Dunn. Before each attack, Dunn would send a one page manifesto to the "Times" blaming modern technology as a supreme evil. Each letter ended with the image of the horn skull. However, it was believed that Dunn blew himself up in his last attack. There have been crude copycat bombings since Dunn's death. Patterson thought the horn skull tattoo was pointing to a copycat bomber. However, there wasn't enough to go on until the imagery of Jane's new tattoo is placed over the horn skull. Using satellite imagery, the team discovers the new tattoo is in the exact shape of a parking lot in Brooklyn. The bird's eye within the horn tattoo also points to a specific space number: 219.

I actually understood all of that!

The team heads to the parking lot and there is a van sitting in space 219, but it does not contain a bomb. Instead there is a letter to Claire Dunn, the bomber's daughter. There's a threat for another bombing and it's signed "Dad." The handwriting is a match, so Team Blindspot realizes Marcus Dunn
isn't as dead as they thought he was.

The team brings in Marcus' daughter, Claire, and she reveals that a courier — not her father — leaves the letters. A stakeout leads to the courier, who recognizes Jane as Remi. Now things are getting interesting. The courier's name is Rosamond "Rossi" Ott.  Zapata explains, "If you want to disappear from the face of the earth, Rossi is your guy." He was also like an uncle to Remi, but Jane does not remember him. Rossi did the adoption for Remi and Roman. By that, I assume he means providing the falsified identification as well as the "official" paperwork for the adoption.

Rossi refuses to discuss Marcus Dunn, but super spy Zapata tracks down Rossi's go bag. Rossi's coded ledger is in the go bag and because Patterson is the queen of all code breakers, they are able to locate Dunn's home. Honestly, did anyone believe the local police could diffuse the bomb without Team Blindspot? Of course, it was a decoy. Of course, they were almost all blown up. Team Blindspot saves the day on this show, darlin'.

Dunn sends another manifesto that says he's going to bomb a university and evidence from his home helps the team narrow down which one. However, Patterson realizes Dunn's letters contain a code Roman has cracked. When she overlays the sea urchin tattoo over Dunn's letter, it gives her a new location for the bomb — a hospital. How was Roman able to crack a code to a letter released only an hour earlier and put a tattoo breaking that code on Jane's body 18 months prior? Simple: Marcus Dunn has used the same code for the last thirty years. All the letters reveal the bombing locations, if Jane's tattoo is placed over them.

The team arrives just before the bomb is about to explode. Reade and Zapata track down Dunn. Reade is forced to shoot the bomber before he kills Zapata. As for Kurt and Jane, they defuse the bomb together seconds before it explodes. Whew. Not that I was worried.

The tattoos Roman placed on Jane's body help take down a wanted bomber. It's absolutely clear Roman intends to use these tattoos to actually make the world a better place. Rather than destroy it like Shepherd. However, his real endgame is to torture Jane. Roman put Rossi in Jane's path for a reason and that reason is the real bomb in "Gunplay Ricochet."


Kurt and Jane's relationship is the focal point of "Gunplay Richochet," and fans are treated to a doozy of a goodie: We get to watch Kurt and Jane's wedding video.

The Blindspot writers even named it "Case Closed: Kurt and Jane's Wedding." The whole writing staff on Blindspot has gone shipper crazy and I am living for it. This is actually a beautifully creative way for viewers to experience the wedding. We hear from all the supporting players and their perspectives on Kurt and Jane's relationship, including Kurt and Jane themselves. That's why there is no "Team Blindspot" section in this week's review. The team is anchored by Kurt and Jane's love story. "Gunplay Ricochet" is the episode where the team honors that.

It starts with Reade and Zapata who, let's be frank, speak for Jeller fans everywhere when they say, "Don't screw this up. However, I feel they also say something that speaks to this whole ridiculous "Moonlighting Curse" and why television writers need to do what Blindspot has done with their main couple and dive headfirst into the commitment of marriage.
Reade: Yes, and we also can't wait to see how two of the most headstrong ultra-competitive alphas are gonna function as a couple. 
Zapata: [laughs] Yes. This marriage is going to be extremely entertaining.
For some reason, weddings are typically the end of stories. The couple gets married and rides off into the sunset. It's not very often viewers actually witness the marriage on their televisions screens. This is slowly changing over the years with couples like Meredith and Derek, Jim and Pam, Booth and Brennan, and Castle and Beckett, but those couples were all married YEARS after the shows exhausted the "will they/won't they" drama.

Blindspot tried that for two seasons and, quite frankly, the show suffered as a result. One of the main reasons season one was as successful as it was, I believe, is because of the partnership between Kurt and Jane. When Blindspot severed that partnership rather severely at the end of season one it essentially cut the anchor. Season two felt adrift and listless as a result.

Most television shows would repair Kurt and Jane's romantic relationship by simply putting them back together and continuing the on-again, off-again dating for another three seasons. But not Blindspot. Instead, they dove headfirst into marriage because I think the writers finally realized they have all the drama they need built into their characters. Because Reade and Zapata are right: Kurt and Jane are both headstrong, stubborn, ultra-competitive alphas. Each is used to being in control and giving orders. They struggle with being vulnerable, which is why getting them together was such a hot mess. Blindspot only needs to mine what is innate in the characters. They will find all the drama they need and it will feel organic.

We are seeing it already. Jane tells Kurt that Roman called her and wants to punish her for choosing Kurt and the team over him. Kurt's displays a very manly and hyper-protective lower octave when he asks, "Did he threaten you?" Gave me chills.

Weller recognizes there is still a part of Jane that cares for her brother, but that's not the reason she's telling Kurt about the phone call. What's important to Jane is Kurt and their marriage. If there are no secrets between them, then there's nothing Roman can use against them. Jane advocating total transparency and a completely open and honest relationship with Kurt? I'm a proud mama. My child is grown. Go with God, dear girl, and make me all the Jeller babies.

Unfortunately, Kurt doesn't fess up about Berlin. It's a little strange that Kurt "Stop Lying To Me, Jane" isn't all in on the transparency plan. Is it out of character? Eh, no. I think this gets into the alpha issue between them.

Whatever Berlin is about (and it's NOT about cheating, so don't worry about it), I believe Kurt thinks it's in Jane's best interest not to know. He's protecting her because that's always the reason Kurt and Jane lie to each other. This incessant, "I know what's best for you" belief is fed by needing to be in control and being the person who always makes the tough call. This time it's Kurt doing it, but we've seen plenty of times when Jane has. Similarities are not always what bind a couple.

However, it is important for us to understand that the 18 months haven't changed Kurt. This is still the same man Jane fell in love with. It's simply that his protectiveness doesn't always lead to the best decision making. Kurt's love for change, however, is at the heart of those decisions. That's why Kurt needed to come next in the wedding video. Kurt's words to Jane on their anniversary are essentially the wedding vows we never heard.
Kurt: I guess I'm not the best at expressing myself. Maybe that's why it took me so long to make a move on you.

Understatement of the century, Weller. I've seen walls talk more and move faster than you.
Kurt: I can't believe how lucky I am. I love what we've become. I love the person — the man — that you make me. You are my north star. You're my starting point. And you're my end point.
Sullivan Stapleton's acting is pure perfection in this scene. When Kurt Weller cries, I cry. I love what what he says too about what Kurt and Jane have become. "Become" is an interesting choice of words and it speaks to the truth of relationships. Kurt and Jane are a constant evolution. We are constantly growing as human beings and the responsibility of your partner is to be committed to learning about the person you are. This doesn't just happen in the dating phase. It's important in marriage too, because you don't suddenly stop evolving as a human being when you get married.

Of course, Kurt's "You're my starting point" is a callback to that exquisite Jeller scene in the fifth episode of season one. Jane tells Kurt he's her starting point after Kurt helps Jane through a panic attack triggered by a traumatic memory. It's my favorite Kurt and Jane scene because it's the moment I knew this show wasn't about the tattoos or Jane Doe's identity. It's about the relationship between Jane and Kurt.

It's why we know all roads lead back to them. It's why Kurt calls Jane his "end point." However, unlike most television shows, marriage isn't the end point for this couple. We are still in the middle. Kurt and Jane are still figuring out how to be together. They will make mistakes. They will hurt each other. What's important is how they work through those times. It's what makes this fictional couple feel real.

It's also the meaning behind Director Hirst's advice when she says, "Despite your accomplishments, there will be some days when you just don't think you can make it. But then that is when you lean on each other. To the good times and the bed. May love rule mightily over both."

As for Jane's "vows," this day and the love she found with Kurt Weller, is something she never thought possible.
Jane: I never thought that, uh, this would happen for me. I never thought that I would have what we have. And today is just... so perfect.
Kurt adorably interrupts Jane's video message because he couldn't find her. This spoke to me on a deep level. I remember on my wedding day not wanting to be away from my husband for more than a few minutes. It felt like I was missing an arm. So whenever we were separated for too long, one would find the other.
Jane: Did you think I ran away already? 
Kurt: I'm not gonna give you that chance. I'm never gonna let you out of my sight. Ever.
Kurt finds Jane hurt and unconscious after the bomb in Dunn's house explodes. All the worry and fear in Kurt's voice as he whispers his wife's name tells us everything we need to know. If Jane is dead, so is Kurt Weller. Jane is his entire world, which is why he spent 18 months searching the globe for her.

Much to his relief, Jane is okay and Kurt holds onto her tight. This is emblematic of their entire relationship. It's like Kurt has been holding on to Jane, terrified to lose her, since the moment she came into his life. First as Taylor Shaw, and then eventually as Jane Doe. The last person Kurt loved as much as he loves Jane Doe was Taylor Shaw. The trauma of losing Taylor still informs on his relationship with Jane — even though they are not the same person. The 18 months Jane was gone only feeds Kurt's fear.

After the bombing, Jane sits in the locker room with Kurt, upset over Roman messing with her happy life. She tells him she wants to live inside their wedding day forever.
Kurt: We're gonna have a lot more perfect days. We get that for the rest of our lives.
Your wedding day is one unbridled moment of perfect and pure happiness. Or at least it should be. But marriage isn't about one perfect day. It's not even about living in perfect happiness, because that's not possible. Human beings are imperfect by nature.You will have days filled with incandescent joy in marriage. You will have days that are anything but joyful.  However, surviving the darker days does make the lighter ones brighter. You appreciate the perfect days more because you found your way through the imperfect ones together.

Of course Patterson, the number one Jeller shipper, goes last. And her words are perfectly Patterson

"If life was like Dungeon & Dragons, Jane you would be an elf paladin. And Weller, you are a dwarf monk. That does make you, like, four feet tall. But you know what? I just thought you would think wizard is a little bit too nerdy."

Can we wrap her up and sell her? The world needs the extra adorableness. "What I'm trying to say is, you are guys are amazing warrior on your own," Patterson continues. "But together,  you can defeat anything." Patterson speaks to the essence of Blindspot. Kurt and Jane are interesting and strong characters separately, but together they make each other better.

After diffusing the bomb together, Jane remarks: "That was kind of hot." Yes, you two are always hot. One of the key components of this show's success is your hotness. Kurt agrees and they start making out in the field with Patterson on the comms. This is legit straight out of fan fiction. I want to say I enjoyed every moment, but there was no way Blindspot was giving us this many goodies without a swift kick in the OTP butt. There were carrots all around me, but I was searching for the stick. I knew there was a bomb coming. Something that would surely separate Kurt and Jane.

Rossi leaves and envelope for Jane. I thought, "Here we go. This is Berlin. There's something awful in that envelope." Well, it turns out that Remi and Roman's adoption wasn't the only one Rossi put together. He did an adoption for Remi when she was 18 years old, which means... Jane has a daughter out there.

I am equal parts, "WHAAAAAAAAAAAT????" and "Oh. That wasn't that bad." Obviously, Jane having a daughter is a big bomb, but it doesn't really rock the foundation of Jeller like I feared. They certainly weathered Bethany's arrival just fine. They'll be able to work through Jane's daughter as well. Perhaps I should have had more faith in the writers, but I am not used to all this Jeller stability. Is there such a thing as "will they/won't they" PTSD?

The point of building the episode like this is to show that Kurt and Jane are not as easily breakable as Roman believes. Kurt and Jane are going to face tough times, because that's their life. That's everyone's life really. However, the foundation Blindspot built is strong. The anchor will hold. Kurt and Jane will always be the end point.

Stray Thoughts:
  • When the writers proclaim the fan favorite couple as endgame in the show itself, there's really nothing to worry about. Ever.
  • Roman is super evil, but man can he wear a suit.
  • I want to ship Roman and Blake so bad. But again, he's evil: so she needs to run for this hills. Then again, maybe Roman will stop all his plotting, marry Blake, and have double date nights with Kurt and Jane.
  • Reade has a secret. He's working with the guy from the State Department for some reason. I know I'm supposed to be super curious, but I don't really care.
  • Weller was calling Reade "boss" and "sir" the whole episode. It's adorable when Kurt is supportive of his bro.
  • "Or German or Czech. No one seems to know, but he's wanted in seven countries for like all of the crimes." Patterson's "all of the crimes" made me giggle.
  • Zapata gave Kurt a hard time about doing the bomb squad's job. She is my spirit animal. Kurt: you are not part of the bomb squad. I know you are Kurt Weller, but stop trying to do everything.
  • To myself: Jane, how do you not remember Rossi is your uncle? Oh. That's right. Never mind. I'm an idiot. (Sometimes I forget that Jane doesn't have all her memories back.)
  • Seriously what happened to Bethany? They moved to Colorado for this kid. Has there been a custody arrangement worked out? When is Kurt going to see his daughter?

Friday, November 24, 2017

Legends of Tomorrow 3x07 Recap: "Welcome to the Jungle" (Giant Gorillas) [Contributor: Marilyn]

"Welcome to the Jungle"
Original Airdate: November 21, 2017

We begin this week's episode in 1967 Vietnam, right in the thick of war. Soldiers are patrolling through the jungle when they encounter something that tosses them around like rag dolls. Something large. Over on the Waverider, Sara is still in her coma and the team is waiting for her to wake up on her own. Stein tells Jax when he stops in to check on Sara that he knows how to separate them, once and for all.

Amaya is working out some aggression on a punching bag and Nate is having difficulty getting her to talk about what’s bugging her. Turns out, it is her granddaughter. She promises that she won’t hesitate to stop Kuwasa, even if she is her granddaughter. Zari admits to the team that she didn’t take Helen back to Troy. She tells them there’s no anachronism without Helen in her place in time so it’s all okay. They pick out another anachronism — one in Vietnam. There’s mixed feelings among the team about going there. Zari, Amaya, and Ray talk to the only remaining survivor of the last patrol that encountered the anachronism. The man is shaken up, and says what they encountered was pure evil and it had a message: stay out of the jungle. A local girl talks to Zari, Amaya, and Ray, telling them the jungle is dangerous. She offers to show them what’s doing the attacking.

Meanwhile, Nate and Mick go into the jungle to find some clues and they see where the patrol was attacked. It doesn’t look good. Mick is especially bothered about being there and reveals that he’s upset about the chance of running into his father. Nate tells him the chances of that extremely low. Of course, the pair gets surrounded by another patrol, this time including an elder Rory. Nate tells Mick’s dad (Dick, of course) that they’re there to investigate the disappearance of Alpha Team and the soldiers stand down. Mick is upset and Nate has to take him aside and tell him to buck up about his dad. This is when Mick reveals that he let his father burn to death — something Nate hadn’t known about before.

Amaya, Zari and Ray follow the girl into the jungle and she tells him she’s going to introduce to them “The New God.” Conveniently, their tech and gadgets stop working as they’re inside the “dead zone.” That’s a cheerful thought. The girl offers to introduce them to this god, and they find it’s a giant gorilla. It is, in fact, Grodd, the telepathic gorilla from The Flash. These guys aren’t familiar with him though. The girl warns them they’re only there to document what they see, not interfere. Amaya wants to take down Grodd while Zari and Ray take down the communications jammer and notify the Waverider.

Stein has apparently gathered scientists throughout history to help him figure out how to separate Firestorm. Jax admits to a comatose Sara that he’s scared; who is he if he’s not part of Firestorm?

Mick and Nate discover they can no longer contact Ray. Nate wants Mick to confront his father issues and work them out. But before anything more can happen, they find a soldier who walks dazedly out of the jungle. He claims to be enlightened and says that this country is no longer theirs; it belongs to their new god. He and his friend open fire on Mick, Nate, and the other soldiers and they take them out. After, they talk to Dick Rory about the soldiers he’s lost and it’s clear that he’s upset by it. He mentions wanting to marry his sweetheart and start a family. Mick starts to see his father in a different light. Later, Nate finds Mick holding a lighter to his own arm. He’s alarmed and finds out that Mick is having a hard time dealing with the reality of who his father is. And how he thinks he’s the sick one — that he should have burned in that house and not his father.

Ray has heard of Grodd, and reveals that he’s just another meta and belongs somewhere else. Zari picks up the signal from Nate and he tells her and Ray what’s going on with Mick. They need to get out of there as soon as possible. They also inform Nate about Grodd, and the Waverider picks up the transmission. Gideon reveals that Grodd will use Vietnam to start World War III. He’s suddenly a huge problem. Meanwhile, Amaya ventures into Grodd’s lair to take him down and he assaults her telepathically. He’s got a lot of anger about humans — what they’ve done to each other and him. He tells her that he wants to help humans find peace.

Zari finds some top secret documents before the girl pulls a gun on her. They learn Grodd and his “army” plan to kill the president. Zari tries to talk the girl down by relating to her — if she really wants peace, it’s going to start with her. Zari also tries to warn the team about the president’s convoy being targeted but Grodd gets into the girl’s head, and has her knock out Zari. On the Waverider, Jax and Stein argue about going in as Firestorm to help out. Jax says he’ll have to learn to do this without Stein sooner or later.

Dick Rory plans to take his soldiers into Grodd’s camp but Nate thinks that’s a terrible idea since these guys will shoot first and ask questions later, and their friends are there. Dick knocks out Nate, leaving Mick (who is reluctant to do anything to his father) alone. Amaya tries to reason with Grodd. She tells him she understands the world is cruel. She tells him they aren’t there to hurt him; they just want to bring him home. He realizes they’re time travelers and he doesn’t want anything to do with that. Amaya suggests taking him to a time before humans — a time in which he could live in peace. He wants to know why he should trust her and she shows him her powers. He allows her to touch him, which seems to calm him.

But then the soldiers attack the camp and Grodd is furious, believing that they’ve betrayed him. Grodd wants to take the Waverider and use it to alter history and get rid of humans altogether. The team needs to warn Stein. Mick saves his father from Grodd as he charges through on his way to the Waverider. Amaya, Zari, and Ray are among the “traitors” rounded up by Dick Rory and the soldiers. Mick has gone full “Colonel Kurtz” — a reference to Apocalypse Now. He’s frozen, unable to do much more than listen to his father’s orders. Mick’s finally able to shake his trance when he sees that his father is pretty much around the bend. He threatens to kill him, but instead gives him a warning. He knows the act he wants to commit will mess him up in the future. Then, he knocks him out.

Jax tries to intercept the president’s convoy by posing as an MP. But the soldiers guarding him set off landmines and he nearly sets one off too. Jax freezes the landmine and saves the president. He leads him and the rest of the convoy through the minefield while Stein pilots the Waverider. Before Jax can get clear, Grodd jumps onto the exterior. Sara shows up right then, awoken from her coma. Except not really. She’s being controlled by Grodd and fights Stein until Isaac Newton knocks her out. Stein shifts the Waverider, knocking Grodd into a napalm inferno.

Dick Rory thanks Mick for pulling him back from the edge. His issues with his father, for now, seem to be taken care of. Back on the Waverider and headed through the time vortex, Amaya goes to Ray to tell him he was right about Kawasa. She realizes now that her granddaughter was made into a monster, not born that way. It gives her peace and hope. Stein tells Jax that he’s going to be just fine without him. Jax shows him what LBJ gave him for saving his life: a pecan pie recipe from Lady Bird Johnson. Sara arrives, angry that no one was going to save her any pie. The team, reunited, is ready to chow on some Thanksgiving.

We see Grodd land in the present day... with Damien Darhk. He wants to work with him, of course. And offers him the magic of time travel without having to use the Waverider. That isn’t good. Mostly because it means we’ll see Grodd again.

This was the weakest episode of the season, so far. Legends of Tomorrow is best when it’s silly and fun and not taking itself very seriously. The problem with Gorilla Grodd is that he’s too serious. The characters take him too seriously. That was the problem when he was introduced on The Flash, back when I watched that show, and it was a problem in this episode. The Vietnam War is an interesting time and place to visit but, again, it’s almost a little too serious. It wasn’t an awful episode, but it wasn’t one of the best. I’m looking forward to seeing my favorite team return to the form I know and love in the crossover next week.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Jenn’s Pick: A Definitive Ranking of the Friends Thanksgivings [Contributor: Jenn]

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While many have Thanksgiving traditions involving food and family, one of my favorite traditions during this holiday is my annual re-watch of all of the Friends Thanksgiving-themed episodes. I love that each of them are so different, and yet still make me laugh every time I watch them. In the spirit of giving, I've decided to rank the show's ten Thanksgiving-themed episodes from worst to best. So join me for pregnancy pants, rumors, and plenty of jokes.

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10. "The One With the List"

This episode ranks dead last, partly because it's not even really a Thanksgiving episode (there's just a plot point that involves Monica cooking with Mockolate), but mostly because it involves Ross creating a list of reasons he shouldn't date Rachel.

Ross is the worst.

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9. "The One With Chandler in a Box"

When Chandler kisses Joey's girlfriend, the latter gets upset — refusing to speak to his best friend. But soon, Joey discovers a way that Chandler can pay for his crimes: by spending Thanksgiving in a giant box, thinking about what he did and how he betrayed their friendship. Meanwhile, while preparing Thanksgiving dinner, Monica accidentally gets ice in her eye and needs to go to the eye doctor. As it turns out, the on-call doctor is Richard's son. Things get awkward when she invites him over for dinner.

While I don't necessarily hate "The One With Chandler in a Box" (it does give us that wonderful Monica scene where she points out how messed up everyone is and how hypocritical it is for them to lecture her), there are some elements of it that I don't care for. The storyline with Monica and Richard's son is weird, and it's kind of pointless. He literally shows up to affirm exactly how weird it would be for them to pursue anything romantically. And while having Chandler locked in a box most of the episode does afford some fun off-screen comedy and a few little physical bits from Matthew Perry, it's a little far-fetched of an idea, even for these friends to execute.

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8. "The One With Rachel's Other Sister"

When Rachel's sister, Amy, shows up unexpectedly on Thanksgiving, everyone learns pretty quickly just how grating she can be. I'll be the first to admit that the reason this episode ranks pretty low on my list is because of that — Amy is irritating. Even though this technically isn't a bottle episode, it's a pretty self-contained Thanksgiving episode: all of the plots revolve around the holiday. Rachel has to deal with her petty, immature sister; Monica worries about using her wedding china for Thanksgiving; and Joey gets lessons on lying from Phoebe because he forgot to show up with the rest of the Days of Our Lives cast for the Macy's parade.

Perhaps the best thing about the episode is the conversation the group has about who would get Emma, should anything happen to Ross and Rachel. I love that the group actually discusses stuff like this, being as close-knit as they are. There are some funny moments in the episode, but more just involve Amy's inability to remember her niece's name.

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7. "The One Where Chandler Doesn't Like Dogs"

For some random reason, Phoebe has a dog in this episode that she's hidden from Monica and Chandler, and we learn that Chandler hates dogs and kind of also fears them (we also learn that Ross hates ice cream because of course he hates anything that's actually good). The gang spends the episode hiding the dog from Chandler in multiple locations, while Rachel tries to figure out whether or not she should tell her assistant, Tag, that she has feelings for him. In what is actually the best plot of the episode, Ross plays a game where he has to name all 50 states and challenges himself to do so before dinner. He fails spectacularly.

Apart from giving us one of my favorite lines of the show ("It's a moo point. It's like a cow's opinion. It doesn't matter — it's moo"), this episode allowed us the chance to watch David Schwimmer do what he did best: play a superior Ross slowly dissolve into hysterics. I've played the state game before, and it is REALLY hard to actually do. (If you want to challenge yourself, do it. I got 49/50. STUPID CONNECTICUT.)

This episode also kicks off the Tag/Rachel saga. I liked Tag, if only because he was played by Eddie Cahill. He was young, but genuinely sweet. But ultimately, the title of the episode — which focuses on the dog — became the least interesting plot point in it.

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6. "The One Where Underdog Gets Away"

This is the first true Thanksgiving episode in Friends, and a fun one. It features the gang preparing for Thanksgiving, but ultimately all being stuck together after each of their plans fall through. Rather than spend it with their parents, who are away, Monica and Ross host Thanksgiving at Monica's apartment. Rachel, meanwhile, prepares to go to Vail while Joey plans to spend the holiday with his family. Both Rachel and Joey's plans fall through — Rachel's because the gang gets locked out of the apartment and she misses her flight; Joey because a questionable choice in an ad campaign led his family to shun him for the holiday. This year begins the saga of why Chandler hates Thanksgiving so much too, by the way.

The gang eventually sits down for dinner together — grilled cheese, after being locked out of the apartment ruins the meal that Monica had on the stove — and they all toast to the fact that their holiday plans fell through so they could spend a crappy one together. This isn't the most joke-heavy episode, but I love it because it a) is the first Thanksgiving, and b) reminds the audience that it doesn't matter what these friends do, as long as they're together.

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5. "The One With the Late Thanksgiving"

After talking to two of my best friends about their Thanksgiving episode rankings, I was surprised they had this one listed further down. I love the last Thanksgiving episode of Friends, even though it features three fractured storylines. Initially, Monica refuses to host Thanksgiving because life is too hectic. But everyone else insists... and then they prioritize other things above the dinner. Rachel and Phoebe enter Emma in a baby beauty pageant, while Joey and Ross head to a hockey game. Chandler, meanwhile, is really excited to help Monica with dinner because he made the cranberries. He's weirdly proud of them the whole episode.

There are fun shenanigans in this one that make it memorable — the "Rock, Paper, Scissors, Fire, Water Balloon" for instance, and the visual gag of the gang poking their heads through the door. It's fun because by season ten, the group dynamics have been long established, so the actors get to have fun with the stories that come their way. Why I really love this episode though is for the end: Monica and Chandler get the call that, in spite of their ruined Thanksgiving, they're getting a baby. Their friends are there to hug and congratulate them and all ends well. Just as holiday episodes should end.

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4. "The One With the Football"

When the gang decides to play a game of touch football on Thanksgiving, all bets are off in pursuit of the coveted Geller Cup. This episode is so much fun. I admit that I enjoy episodes of television shows that take the characters out of their normal sphere of action. So when the gang gets to move from the apartment to a field to play football, I do a happy dance. Plus, who doesn't love an episode where we get to watch Ross and Monica bicker non-stop the entire time? I love how competitive the two are with each other (their sharp qualities balance each other out, and it's more fun when the rest of the group points out how absurd they're being), and that Phoebe gets to play football. And whether or not it actually counted, Rachel caught the ball and made a touchdown. Good for her!

Really though, the MVP of the episode is that creepy Geller Cup. Yikes.

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3. "The One With All the Thanksgivings"

I'm such a sucker for flashback episodes, especially the ones in Friends. So you had to know that this flashback-filled Thanksgiving episode would rank among my favorites. It's the episode where we see a few of the characters in their best flashback attire, learn how Chandler hurt Monica when they were younger, and also see Monica's worst Thanksgiving. Any episode featuring the pre-nose job Rachel and fat Monica are great episodes in my book. This Thanksgiving episode has the edge though, because in the present-day, we get the chance to see Chandler confess his true feelings to Monica by telling her that he loves her.

The episode being centered around Chandler and Monica is actually what makes it so fun and so heartwarming, too. Chandler hates Thanksgiving (as he explains in the oft-quoted "More turkey, Mr. Chandler?" scene), and so to be able to have him take back the holiday in a way by making it about professing his love to his girlfriend is pretty great.

And did I mention... flashback characters?

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2. "The One With the Rumor"

Where to even start with this episode? Obviously it takes home the silver medal for being so dang funny and also hosting one of the show's best guest stars: a young Brad Pitt. The main plot of the episode is that Will, one of Monica and Ross' friends from high school, is in town and drops by for Thanksgiving. Unbeknownst to Rachel, she made Will's life miserable in high school, and he hates her. In a more Thanksgiving-centric plot, Monica decides to cook a turkey, only after Joey verbally agrees that he will eat it (since only a few people want/will eat turkey this year). It leads to Joey's meat sweats and him donning a pair of Rachel's pregnancy pants. Matt LeBlanc gets to have a lot of fun in this episode with the physical comedy of Joey eating, while everyone else is at the top of their game in joke delivery.

Rachel learns that Ross was a co-founding member of the "I hate Rachel Green" club in high school, and helped start a rumor about her that spread around ("Everyone at MY school heard! You were the hermaphrodite cheerleader from Long Island?"), while Rachel spread a rumor, that turned out to be true, about Ross making out with the school librarian. This episode is the perfect integration of a guest star into the plot, since Will is the catalyst for the hilarity ensuing. Plus, some of Will's lines are my favorites of the episode ("My two greatest enemies, Ross: Rachel Green and complex carbohydrates" and "Queen Rachel does whatever she wants in her little Rachel land").

Honestly, this episode is just so much fun to re-watch. But not as fun as my #1 pick which is, you've guessed it...

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1. "The One Where Ross Got High"

This episode is everything. I quote this scene with my friends on a near-weekly basis. I yell "I WANNA GOOOOOO" like Joey. I love the outtakes of Matt LeBlanc and David Schwimmer trying to get through the line, "It tastes like feet." And I love that this episode takes place during Thanksgiving and features our favorite parents, Jack and Judy Geller. When Jack and Judy arrive, Monica hides the fact that she's living with Chandler because they apparently hate him. Ross figures out why, and explains that he smoked pot in college and blamed it on Chandler. Throughout the remainder of the episode, we focus on a few minor stories in addition to that one: Rachel is tasked with making the dessert and accidentally (without her knowledge) screws up the recipe, while Phoebe ruminates on a dream she had about Jack.

Why is this my favorite Friends Thanksgiving episode, you ask? Because it's quintessentially and unashamedly the show in a nutshell: an episode featuring a few misunderstandings and mishaps, hilariously loud confessions, and overexaggerations. Everyone brings their A-game, and it's an episode so frequently quoted that you'd be hard-pressed to find a Friends fan who doesn't know each of the confessions by heart.

Well, there you have it! Do you agree with my rankings? What are your favorite Friends Thanksgiving episodes? Sound off in the comments below and have a happy holiday! :)

Supergirl 3x07 Review: "Wake Up" (Mon-El Part II: The Dullening) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]

“Wake Up”
Original Airdate: November 20, 2017 

Hahaha, this episode is called “Wake Up” and it’s featuring the return of the character most likely to cause me to fall asleep at my keyboard. But hang on just a moment! This week doesn’t return the Mon-El you all know and... “love”? (sounds like a lie, but okay). Instead, the Mon-El in “Wake Up” is bearded, quiet, brooding, and... snore. Sweet merciful heavens, I thought he was boring before, but you add some angst to Mon-El and you’ve got anthropomorphic Ambien! Never again shall I be plagued by insomnia, for all I must do in order to slip off to the land of Morpheus is contemplate the heap of bearded porridge that Supergirl has gifted unto me. Bless you, Supergirl, and your creation of the most generic character imaginable.

Buckle up and get ready to slap yourself out of a boredom-induced haze, because it’s about to get very, very blah.


Winn informs Kara of a ship found that, according to the rock layers above it, has been on Earth for 12,000 years but is made of something not on the periodic table. They locate the ship and, rather than allowing Kara to just smash through a city sidewalk to get to it, J’onn phases Kara, Winn, and himself down because convenient superpowers. On the ship, they see people in stasis tubes. Their investigation is interrupted by a hunk of wet cardboard — oh wait! It’s Mon-El! Kara is overjoyed at the sight of him. I am not.

Kara seems more than happy to let Mon-El rejoin their life after some rest, but he’s got other plans — like beating up two DEO agents in order to steal something from storage. Kara catches him and throws him in a holding cell, then desperately asks what the heck is going on. Mon-El 2.0 only seems capable of frowning, moping, and talking in vague, useless circles. Compared to this version of the character, the Mon-El of last season seems downright delightful, and I would not say such a thing lightly. Even when Kara breaks down crying, telling her former boyfriend that she hasn’t been sleeping because she has visions of him dying or disappearing into the blackness of space, his expression doesn’t change.

Mon-El convinces Winn to break him out of the cell because Winn is stupidly easy to manipulate. They return to the ship with all the stasis pods, but before they can do much more than light up some walls, Kara shows up to take Winn back and return her ex to prison. Before she can do much, she notices that Mon-El still has the necklace she gave him and he confesses that he’s acting so weird because it’s actually been seven years since he and Kara said goodbye.

Then a lady falls out of one of the space tubes, and that lady is actually Mon-El’s wife. Her name is Imra. He just straight-up kisses her in front of Kara, even after that impassioned speech Kara gave him not half an hour previously. Earlier in the episode, James tried cheering up Kara by telling her, “I’ve never seen you more happy, and I know that he would never do anything to hurt you,” and I can’t tell if that was meant to be an ironic foreshadowing of Mon-El 2.0 essentially ripping Kara’s heart out of her chest and throwing it in the dumpster fire of his hideous personality, or if the show still just really, really wants to tell-don’t-show us into believing Mon-El is a wonderful person despite all evidence of the contrary.

Anyway, this love triangle plot is ten flavors of stupid.


Although still predictable (in that we all knew it was going to happen since self-spoiling is now a promotional technique for these shows), Sam’s storyline doesn’t earn nearly as much eye-rolling as the return of Mon-El does. Most of my issues with Sam’s plot come from the rushed way the show tossed her into the thick of everything without really allowing us to connect with her as a character. A better plan would have been to introduce Sam as a normal, everyday friend of Kara’s about midway through last season, then throw in the evil alien stuff this season. Then we might care a bit more about what’s happening to her and why her inevitable turn to evil is an unpleasant thing.

Sam visits Patricia, her adoptive mother, who had disowned Sam when she became pregnant with Ruby as a teenager. It’s actually a pretty great scene with some good acting, and if we’d gotten more time with Sam and more scenes like this one, I think the show would be in a better place with this character. But we didn’t.

The reason Sam is there is to ask about her birth mother, but Patricia has no answers. They fight and Sam confesses that she’s freaking out because she got shot and never felt a thing, so Patricia is forced to confess that she never adopted Sam — she found her. In a spaceship. Which Patricia now keeps in a barn. People who find space babies sure like keepin’ the ships they came in in barns. Doesn’t seem like a terrific plan (people can walk through barns, you know) but sure.

After Sam takes a crystal thing from the ship, she returns home to tell Ruby she’s going on a trip. She heads off through the desert in another pretty nice sequence that perfectly encapsulates how lost Sam must feel, even with something like an answer. The ship piece guides her to the middle of nowhere, then calls forth a very ugly Fortress of Solitude made of dirt. Man, that’s a bummer. Nice hot/cold (desert/Arctic), earth/water, Reign/Supergirl dichotomy parallels, though.

Because yeah, Sam is Reign. Her evil version of an AI tells her that — despite Sam’s rather charming hope of being a superhero like Supergirl — she’s destined to be a Worldkiller, and “burn the world of man.” Then the AI activates her powers and Sam stops being Sam at all.

Here’s the issue: We know that Kara will have to fight Reign. We know Kara will have to win, unless the show wants to go really dark next season, but the tension of the fight should be the idea of Kara fighting a friend of hers, someone she knows and doesn’t want to hurt. A bit like her fight with her aunt Astra, maybe, but with the knowledge that nothing Sam does as Reign is really Sam’s doing, since the episode makes it clear that Sam gets “activated” as Reign rather than getting convinced that being a Worldkiller sounds like a jolly good time.

And that “I don’t want to fight you” dynamic? Therein lies the rub, since Kara is perfectly okay with Sam, but she’s not exactly best friends with her. They’ve hung out maybe three times all season, which means the ultimate fight between Supergirl and Reign will be less of a struggle between Kara’s human compassion for a friend (thus contributing to the season-long thread of Kara coping with her humanity) and more like a generic situation in which Kara, a hero, doesn’t want to needlessly hurt anyone. Reign becomes just an extended villain of the week.

Also, I predict that Ruby/Sam’s love for Ruby is what’s going to knock her out of Reign mode, because there’s no way the show isn’t leading up to that.

Other Things:
  • I’m not really sure why, but for some reason I seriously liked the Patricia/Sam dynamic. Patricia was only in two scenes, but she managed to come off as a fully formed, morally human sort of character, and the moments she shared with Sam managed to say a whole lot about their relationship using very little. Why can’t the show be this subtle all the time?
  • Also enjoyable: J’onn’s storyline with his father.
  • Speaking of which, I had no idea J’onn apparently lives at the DEO? Where does he keep his retro spaceship car?

Once Upon A Time 7x07 and 7x08 Recaps: “Eloise Gardner” & “Pretty in Blue” (Family First) [Contributor: Julia Siegel]

“Eloise Gardner” and “Pretty in Blue”
Original Airdate: November 17, 2017

What’s the point of a two-hour episode that only has a useful first half? The first hour is easily the most interesting and surprising episode of the season, yet the second part is pretty useless and doesn’t continue the same story. It is pretty clear that these two episodes weren’t initially intended to be shown back-to-back, but I am grateful that some major twists finally came in to play.


Obviously, the first half of the show is the most significant part. For starters, Hook finally gets his time to shine. His dueling, two-world storylines are bound to make the rest of the season way more interesting. The big reveals come in the wish realm flashbacks, which don’t make any sense in the beginning.

Hook, the crew of the Jolly Roger, and Regina are in the wish realm at an unidentified time, yet the timeline and dialogue make no sense at all. The first scene clashes with what we have previously seen in this realm. Luckily, plot points start falling into place when Hook goes on a quest and “meets” Rapunzel. Skip past the ridiculous sequences that follow and secrets start to be revealed.

After a one night stand, Hook learns that Rapunzel is actually the witch who Belfrey has been hiding away in Seattle. Gothel, the witch, had trapped Rapunzel in the tower, who then tricked her way out and trapped Gothel there. The witch uses some odd magic to create a baby out of thin air from her affair with Hook in order to escape her prison. The more interesting reveal comes when Hook names his daughter Alice.

It turns out that Hook’s long-lost daughter is this season’s version of Alice in Wonderland. I have to say, this was a great twist that I definitely didn’t see coming. This should have some good ramifications back in Seattle once one of those two officially wakes up. The other good twist is that Gothel turns out to be Eloise Gardner, the missing person Hook has been trying to find in Seattle. So the family is all back together without two of the three having a clue of what’s really going on.


With Gothel free and major shockers dropped, one would think that the second part of the episode would keep the story going. Unfortunately, it pretty much doesn’t continue to play out, and a plot around Lucy’s custody begins. Hook found Belfrey hiding Eloise, so she is now in jail for the time being. Clearly, Jacinda wants Lucky back and may get her chance.

It’s great that the annoying Belfrey is indisposed for the moment, but shifting the story back to the other characters killed the mood. I guess it was interesting to meet Lucy’s “father,” who is a lawyer and was Jack from Jack and the Beanstalk in the fairy tale realm. He also turns out to be one of Henry’s good friends in the other land. Setting up a sort of love triangle was a boring idea that won’t make things more interesting.

The only other plot point worth mentioning form the second hour is a conversation between Regina and Rumple. Regina wants Rumple to admit that he is awake so they can team up to fix the mess that is occurring. However, Rumple pretends not to know what she is talking about and plays dumb. There isn’t a good reason that I can think of for him to do that, and he doesn’t reveal his motive. The show can only get better if they team up and actually start acting like themselves again.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Brooklyn Nine-Nine 5x06 Recap: “The Venue” (Hero Horses and Vile Vultures) [Contributor: Alisa Williams]

“The Venue” 
Original Airdate: November 14, 2017

On the latest Brooklyn Nine-Nine episode, Jake and Amy have an exciting announcement for the squad: they’ve found a wedding venue and are getting married on May 15! The venue is a gorgeous mansion complete with a library, seven bathrooms, and a gazebo. It was booked solid for the next two years but a couple dropped out (literally — they fell out of a five story window and died). After making their announcement, Jake and Amy head out to meet with 17 wedding vendors to plan the big event.

Meanwhile, Captain Holt has some news for the rest of the team: an NYPD officer has gone missing and they’re tasked with finding him. But this isn’t just any officer — it’s Sergeant Peanut Butter, a horse and Boyle’s nemesis. Apparently, he and the horse won medals of honor on the same day and the horse completely overshadowed him, a slight Boyle has never forgiven. Surprisingly, Boyle is not a suspect in Peanut Butter’s disappearance; a disgruntled former civilian employee of the NYPD named Jesse Gurmwald is.

While Rosa goes off to investigate Peanut Butter’s disappearance with the help of a less-than-enthused Boyle, Terry finds himself in hot water with a new member of the precinct. Terry has a habit of talking about himself in the third person, and while complimenting his own butt in a conversation with Holt, the new officer, named Teri, overhears him and thinks he’s talking about her butt. She immediately calls him out for being inappropriate, and once he explains, she informs him that complimenting his own butt in the third person is both arrogant and just downright weird. Holt is inclined to agree, causing Terry to storm off in an embarrassed huff.

Jake and Amy have run into an awkward situation of their own at the wedding venue. After a morning of booking vendors that could not have gone smoother, they hit a snag when they try to put their deposit down at the mansion. Even though they’d been told it would be held until end of day for them to come in with the money, they find out someone else swooped in and stole it out from under them. That person turns out to be the Vulture, their former temporary Captain from a few years back, and an all-around smarmy and reprehensible dude (played by the hilarious Dean Winters). Apparently, the Vulture has found true love and is getting married, and stealing Jake and Amy’s venue is just the icing on the wedding cake.

Amy and Jake head out to confront the Vulture’s fiancĂ©e, Jean Monroe, convinced she’s a horrible human being just like the Vulture. They find her at the Zenith Fund, a charity for children that she created. It turns out she’s the nicest, sweetest human being imaginable. Additionally, the Vulture apparently talks about Jake and Amy a lot and has told Jean what amazing people they are. Their resolve crumbles and instead of demanding their venue back, they end up donating to Jean’s charity to help feed refugee children.

Things are going better for Rosa and Boyle, who have tracked down Gurmwald and Peanut Butter. Despite Gurmwald setting fire to the barn with Peanut Butter inside in an attempt to escape, they manage to capture him and save Peanut Butter. Sure, Boyle had to endure being dragged by Peanut Butter when he grabbed the rope around the horse’s neck and the horse took off, but Boyle decides to have a good attitude about it all. That is, until Rosa shows him the day’s headlines. Apparently a passerby snapped a photo of Peanut Butter and Boyle and now the city’s papers read, “Stud Horse Saves Small Man” and “Hero Cop Saves Helpless Buffoon.” Once again, Peanut Butter is getting all the credit. Even worse, Peanut Butter has been invited on The Ellen Show — Boyle’s life-long dream — and Reese Witherspoon is optioning the rights to the Peanut Butter story.

Meanwhile, Terry asks Holt if he can use $350 of petty cash to throw Teri an ice cream party to apologize for the earlier misunderstanding. Captain Holt refuses, saying that Teri understands what happened and Terry only wants to do this because he has a pathological need to be liked by everyone. To prove his point, Holt challenges Terry to walk across the precinct without saying hi (or nodding) to anyone. Terry fails immediately and has to admit he does crave affirmation and acceptance from every single person he meets.

Much to Holt’s displeasure, Terry decides to go ahead with the ice cream party plan anyway, using his own money. He printed up Teri’s photo and showed it to every ice cream parlor within 30 blocks. None of them recognized her, so he bought every flavor — 200 pints total. Holt asks if Terry’s considered that perhaps Teri doesn’t eat ice cream, but Terry has planned for that too, and has back up options coming just in case: a taco bar, barbecue, popcorn, and vegan. Holt tells Terry that he has become unhinged and informs him that if he goes through with this party, Holt will like him less. This leaves Terry in quite the pickle.

In the breakroom, Amy and Jake are bemoaning their lost venue when all of a sudden Hitchcock’s phone makes a sound — the same sound the Vulture’s phone made when they were talking to him earlier. Hitchcock tells them it’s a hook-up app called “Boink,” and they realize the Vulture is cheating on nice Jean! A quick Google search tells them Jean’s father is loaded and she’s his only heir which is why the Vulture is hell-bent on marrying her. They decide to catch him in the act, tell Jean, and get their venue back. They set up a fake Boink account and contact the Vulture, who immediately responds.

They confront the Vulture and tell him how it’s going to go down: he’s going to nicely break up with Jean, give a generous donation to her charity, and give them their venue back. He refuses, saying he truly loves her even if he does cheat on her with multiple random hook-ups. He says the only way they’ll get their venue back is if they don’t tell Jean about his philandering. Now they’re stuck. And they’ve already called Jean, who shows up at that precise restaurant. The Vulture tells them to act natural and not say a word and the venue is theirs. When Jean sees them she thinks it’s just a nice double date. Jake and Amy, however, are terrible liars and feel bad for Jean. It all comes out. Jean breaks up with the Vulture, and Jake and Amy have to settle for holding their wedding in a rec center on Staten Island.

They’re feeling okay about it all, though, and are determined to make it a great time. Things have turned out pretty good for Boyle and Terry, too. Rosa secretly leaked the dashcam footage showing that Boyle is the true hero of the day and saved Peanut Butter, not the other way around. And Terry decides that instead of throwing a party in hopes that Teri, who he barely knows, will like him, he’ll throw the party in Boyle’s honor.

Bullets on the Bulletin Board:

  • “Wow! Finding a place in the spring in New York is impossible! Sharon and I had to get married in Albany in December. Terry was too cold to consummate.” 
  • “I love our venue so much!” “Me too. It’s like our very own Hogwarts.” “Yes! And I’m Hermione!” “Yes! And I’m Snape.” “Whaaat?”
  • “A horse is a perfect partner. Tough, scary, and they don’t show you 30 pictures of their kid dressed as Wario for Halloween... I’m not talking about Nikolaj.” “I literally just showed you those pictures five minutes ago.” “Really? I don’t remember that.” 
  • “You’re upset because Teri with an 'i' called you arrogant and you have a pathological need to be liked.” “What? No, I don’t! I just happen to be a great person who’s naturally beloved by all, despite my personal ambivalence.”

Monday, November 20, 2017

Grey’s Anatomy 14x08 Review: “Out of Nowhere” (Paper Trail) [Contributor: Julia Siegel]

“Out of Nowhere”
Original Airdate: November 16, 2017

This might be the craziest winter finale yet, as all hell breaks loose at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital. Cyber terrorists render the hospital’s technology useless, meaning chaotic issues for all the doctors. Some of the major storylines include Meredith stuck in the middle of an open abdomen procedure with no access to the blood bank, Maggie and Jackson’s patient knocking on death’s door as an ECMO tube bursts, Alex doesn’t know what life-saving medicine to give his young patient without access to his medical records, and Jo gets one heck of a shocking surprise. Then, the episode ends, leaving the characters and audience in limbo for the next two months!


The crisis-of-the-week is more damaging, and enlightening, than in the past. An unknown person, or group, decided to hack into the hospital’s mainframe, shut down all of the technology, and change all of the codes and such. The hacker is holding the technology, including all patient records, ransom for roughly $20 million. It really isn’t clear why this is happening, so you just have to roll with it. Unfortunately for the doctors, all of the patient records are digital, with no paper trail anywhere in the hospital. All of the heart monitors, scan machines, surgical equipment, etc. are offline as well.

This is a painstaking lesson in not relying 100% on technology. Each character has their own interesting storyline that coincides with the attack. Meredith and intern Schmitt are in the middle of a laparoscopic splenectomy when the attack starts. Of course, she has no idea what is going on and decides to switch to an open procedure, which requires blood bags. Schmitt goes to get the blood from the blood bank, but can’t get in because the room has a keypad that is controlled electronically. Upon Schmitt’s arrival back to the operating room, Meredith is extremely frustrated and says that she wouldn’t have done an open procedure if she knew she didn’t have access to blood. Funny enough, Schmitt’s blood type is O negative, which is the universal donor blood type, so Meredith sets up an impromptu transfusion to continue her surgery. And that is where her story ends for the episode.

Alex finds himself in a worse situation than most when he is forced to make a life-or-death judgement call. His kindergartner patient has a rare blood disorder that causes blood clots and strokes. When the kid starts having some odd symptoms, no one knows which medicine he was given earlier in the day since it was only recorded electronically. Newly-minted chief resident Jo spends the episode trying to hunt down the patient’s nurse to help Alex make the right call. Just as she is trying to get back to Alex, who is about to administer an unknown medicine to the patient, she is stopped by a truly surprising guest star. But, more on that later. The episode ends before we know what drug Alex gave his patient and if he made the right call, which is a tough cliffhanger to swallow.
Tough Love

The one positive of the winter finale is Jackson and Maggie sort of admitting their feelings for each other. Jackson tells her he is glad they aren’t from the same family, and Maggie flirts with him the entire episode, again. When will these two hook up already? They really need to cut the nonsense and get together.

Their shared patient in the episode needs to be transferred to another hospital because the ECMO machine keeping him alive could become compromised from the cyber-attack. While sharing a nice moment on the transport helicopter, an air pocket causes one of the tubes of the machine to come loose and start spraying the patient’s blood all over the place. Some will find this horrifying, while other may laugh at Jackson and Maggie’s reactions to being spurted with lots of blood. After getting soaked in blood, they finally get things under control, but I’m not so sure the patient can survive with the amount of blood he lost. Their story, too, ends in limbo.


Okay, time to get back to Jo’s adventures. After a pretty rough year or so, Jo’s life seems to finally be getting better. She is back and living with Alex, is at the top of her surgical game, and became the hospital’s chief resident. Naturally, Jo wants to prove herself in her well-earned, new position and takes it very seriously. However, poor Jo can never catch a break! On her way back to Alex and his patient with the information to save the kid’s life, she is blindsided when she literally runs into her estranged, abusive husband: Dr. Paul Stadler.

This was quite a shocking turn of events because there was no indication that Paul would show in the episode. Props to ABC for keeping Matthew Morrison’s name off of the guest starring list to add the element of surprise. I’m sure we all thought we wouldn’t see Paul return until sometime in the second half of the season, since Jo filed for divorce two episodes ago. It’s great to know that the show is going to tackle domestic violence through their still-untold story right away, and it’s sure to be a spectacle. All we know for now is that Paul came for Jo quickly, has lots of unresolved anger toward her, and will certainly create a ton of drama.

Grey’s Anatomy will return on Thursday, January 18th at 8/7c.