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Monday, April 30, 2018

Grey’s Anatomy 14x21 Recap: “Bad Reputation” (Crisis Mode) [Contributor: Julia Siegel]

“Bad Reputation”
Original Airdate: April 26, 2018

It’s full-blown crisis management time at Grey Sloan Memorial now that Harper Avery’s lifelong secret has made its way to the press. The hospital is left reeling when the staff learns another Avery secret: Jackson’s donation to fund the Surgical Innovation Contest and compete in it. The Avery Foundation needs something positive to happen quickly before everything hits the fan again.


Catherine Avery hires a crisis management fixer to help with the situation that could quickly get further out of control. The crisis lady feels that the best way to get ahead of the bad PR is to create some good press through fixing a child with a massive facial tumor. Jackson is forced to work with Meredith on the case, since Meredith gave back both of her mother’s and her own Harper Avery awards. Meredith decides that they will do the surgery pro bono after the foundation sponsoring the child wants to pull out of the surgery when they hear about the Avery scandal.

Jackson wants to be careful and not remove the whole tumor, but Meredith pushes him to be his regular, risk-taking self. Eventually, Jackson realizes that he is being silly by giving into the bad press and completes the whole surgery. During the surgery, Jackson and Meredith devise a plan to save the Harper Avery Foundation, all of the hospitals bearing the name, and Catherine from taking the fall.

Catherine is overcome by emotion when Jackson and Meredith present their plan of disbanding the Harper Avery Foundation to form the Catherine Fox Foundation and rehire all of the women that Harper abused. This is a really big step to fix the problem that the deceased man caused. However, the Surgical Innovation Contest might be over, but as Jackson reminds us, lots of good has come out of it.


Even the doctors not involved in the scandal aren’t having the best day. Alex and Jo have a shaky day that includes a familiar face returning to the hospital and the beginning of wedding planning. April does help the couple out by taking on the job as their wedding planner, so maybe the wedding will actually occur before the season ends, since Sarah Drew is not returning next season. Nurse Olivia, a.k.a. the nurse that got syphilis from Alex way back when, comes into the ER with her young son, who swallowed a whistle. Alex is more than surprised to see Olivia, especially because things didn’t end so well the last time.

Olivia takes the chance to spend another day bashing Alex and his past and doesn’t miss a beat when she finds out that he is engaged to Jo. Unfortunately, Jo is a bit concerned with the information she learns from Olivia, even though she should know better that Alex isn’t that person anymore. It does look like this experience will bring them closer together. The blasts from the past aren’t over for Alex yet, as he will go looking for his mother in the next episode.


The big happy storyline of the episode deals with Owen’s rapidly expanding household. Owen brings his foster baby, Leo, to the hospital for his six-month check-up and meets Leo’s mom, Betty, for the first time. The foster system allows Betty to attend Leo’s appointments so she can see her baby. Even more interesting: Betty is a fifteen-year-old drug addict, whom Amelia recognizes. Amelia takes Betty under her wing for the day and feels that she should take in the teen, who was living on the streets, to give her a better life.

She goes to Richard to ask for his advice on taking in a teen battling drug addiction, and he tells her to go for it if she really sees something good in the girl. Amelia decides to extend the offer to Betty, but doesn’t know how to ask Meredith if it’s all right to bring her into their home. Owen is proud of Amelia and her offer, so he tells her to stay with him for a while so Leo can have his mother in his life. Betty accepts and if it sticks, Owen is finally getting the family he always wanted.

The Handmaid’s Tale 2x01 and 2x02 Review: “June” & “Unwoman” (Speed Walking to Totalitarianism) [Contributor: Mel]

"June" & "Unwoman"
Original Airdate: April 25, 2018

It is time again for a horrifying look at misogyny on a rampant and fundamental federal level, and for once it’s not the news! The Handmaid’s Tale is back to venture into a completely unknown world. Literally. With the first season ending right where the book left off 30 years ago, everything from this point on is new territory. You’ll remember last year this show was a cultural juggernaut in the world of a tumultuous election and a spotlight on women’s rights. It won eight Emmys and two Golden Globes, as well as critical acclaim across the board.

And so this new season opened with a two-parter to kick things off. Last season we left as Offred was being carted off and the Waterfords watched their best chance at having a child being lead to certain oblivion. There was, off course, a spark of hope in Offred’s reunion with her husband and daughter.


"June" opens with striking scene of the rebellious Handmaids led to an overgrown Fenway Park, which has been converted into gallows. They are, ultimately, spared but forced to undergo cruel punishments as penance for refusing to stone Janine (Janine herself is now on her way to the Colonies). June is quickly spared from further corporal punishment when Aunt Lydia learns she’s pregnant, but she is forced to watch while her fellow Handmaids are tortured as a result of following her into rebellion (one gruesome scene involves handcuffing the hands of the Handmaids to a gas stove top and igniting it).

During her ultrasound appointment, Serena and Fred are overjoyed at the image of their child and attempt to make amends with their former Handmaid. After the appointment, June is left a key by the attending nurse which ultimately leads her to a butcher truck that gets her safely away to a discrete warehouse where Nick is waiting. She cuts her hair, burns her Handmaid robes, and cuts the tag out of her ear, proclaiming herself June Osborn.

In flashbacks, meanwhile, Hannah has come down with a cold and the school calls while June is at work. They inform her that children are required to be fever-free for 48 hours before they can return to school and — since they could not get a hold of June — they’ve called an ambulance. At the hospital, June is questioned by the nurse about giving Hannah Tylenol to break the fever and scolded for trying to avoid missing work. June is told that if she cannot prioritize the safety of her child then they will be forced to make other arrangements. Shaken, June arrives home with Hannah and learns that the Senate has been targeted in a massive shooting during a session and an explosion has gone off at the White House.

"Unwoman" opens with June being delivered to a run down and abandoned version of The Boston Globe where she’s instructed to wait for further developments. Meanwhile in the Colonies, Emily (formally Ofglen) is forced to work on radiated land with several other “unwomen.” Emily acts as the barracks doctor for the sick women. One night, Mrs. O’Connor — formerly a Commander’s wife — arrives at the Colonies to a cold welcome but Emily seems to befriend her before ultimately poisoning her for facilitating rape as wife of a Commander. At The Globe, June is horrified to see the remains of an execution scene for the journalists and insists to Nick that she needs to get out. He, in turn. insists it won’t be safe for her to leave for weeks. Ultimately she relents to waiting.

In the flashbacks Emily, a professor in biology, is relieved of her fall classes after the “new board” learned she had a picture of her wife and child as the background on her phone. A few weeks later her boss — who is also gay — is left hanging outside one of the buildings with the word “faggot” spray-painted beneath him. Emily and her wife attempt to flee to her wife’s native Canada but the border patrol declare their marriage no longer valid under the new laws and Emily is forced to stay behind.


While the first season is a look very much at the status quo of Gilead and the possibility of a bubbling resistance beneath the surface, the second season (which goes beyond the last page of Margaret Atwood’s novel) imagines what life on the run — and in a resistance — might look like. But that’s not so much the story in the episode — at least not the one I focused on and came away with. For me one of the best parts of the show continues to be the scenes in the past where we watch the slow burn toward tyrannically theocracy. I think these small bits of change are even more relevant with the publication of Amy Siskind’s new book The List which systematically tracks every time some form of our government or rights was put on the chopping block in Trump’s first year.

To me this is the real triumph of the show. The world of Gilead is horrifying and the scenes throughout are visually stunning to watch but it’s only an abstract concept until you see exactly how a society ended up there. In episode one we see that June suddenly has to have her husband sign off on birth control prescriptions, is no longer allowed to keep her maiden name post-marriage, and is scolded and vaguely threatened into prioritizing caring for her child full time over going to work. Emily, who has a great bit where she knocks down some mansplaining in her lecture hall, is suddenly out of a teaching job because a picture of her wife and child is on her phone. Even more reminiscent of recent past is the revocation of Emily and Syl’s marriage certificate by the government.

It wouldn’t be unacceptable to head into this season with a fair bit of skepticism considering they’re developing a sequel to a book that’s been in print for over thirty years. And there’s always the danger of oversaturation and shark jumping when it comes to dystopian stories in today’s entertainment media. But the grounding of this is in the very real possibility of the United States slipping into some version of Gilead between minor policy changes, growing attitudes of misogynistic pushback on fourth wave feminism, conservative punishment for queer members of society (you know since we have that VP who “wants to hang ‘em all”), and the possibility of mass shootings with assault weapons. The Handmaid’s Tale has always been a warning, above all things. And while I’m interested to see where June goes from here, how Serena copes with another loss of a chance at a child, and how June’s family is fairing, the dark and terrifying way dystopian seems to creep on America in the flashbacks is the most eerie part of the show.

Friday, April 27, 2018

The Flash 4x19 Review: "Fury Rogue" (Neither Furious Nor Roguish) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]

"Fury Rogue"
Original Airdate: April 24, 2018 

The Flash’s fourth season is getting to me, folks. I hate to keep harping on the same thing, but I can’t help blaming the 23-episode run for my fatigue. In a world of 10- and 13-episode seasons of quality television, I no longer have the stamina for shows that refuse to tighten their story arcs and cut out all the filler. Main narratives last too freaking long now, and for every episode that keeps the plot ball rolling, there are a handful more that do nothing and mean nothing in the grand scheme of things — only existing to get the show closer and closer to milestone episode numbers — all the while giving the impression that things are happening while they’re really just treading water. Stalling until the end. Implying character development that never comes, masterful plans that never work out, foreshadowing that comes to naught...

Aaaaanyway. “Fury Rogue.”


Ralph Dibny is gone, but his presence lingers throughout this episode like a bad smell. I know I’ve likened him to garbage three reviews in a row, but it’s so appropriate, so often. Anyway, Barry isn’t dealing with his grief and guilt over the loss of Ralph very well at all, saying he’s just fine and that all his experience in losing people means he copes with grief like a pro. Hey, Barry — buddy, pal, labradoodle of my heart: You suck at grief. Your suckage at grief caused you to break a timeline and delete a baby. Who are you trying to kid, kid?

But that’s going to be the character thread of the episode, so I guess we have to put up with Barry’s obvious absence of coping strategies until he inevitably breaks down in tears. Over Ralph Dibny. Jeez, that’s ridiculous. You know, if The Flash wanted us to feel anything over the loss of Ralph, maybe they should have tried making him a better character. Not a perfect character, not a morally good character — I understand that the point of Ralph was to take someone who was not a hero and, through work with Team Flash, turn him into a hero — but just a better character. They should have streamlined his arc, made him a jokester with a hidden heart of gold instead of an inappropriate and all-around gross dude, given him an air of ne'er-do-well flippancy and apathy that could slowly be chipped away by the ethics and compassion of our superhero team. Then, maybe, I would feel like we had actually lost something when DeVoe sucked up his brain and stole his body.

Instead, the only thing even remotely tugging at my heartstrings throughout this episode is the acting ability of Grant Gustin, who manages to sell the shell-shocked state of grief Barry is dealing with during most of the episode, then the overwhelming guilt that finally breaks him down at the end. But I’m not sad about Dibny, as I should be — I’m sad about Grant Gustin making Barry sad about Dibny, and that’s the exact wrong way to pull empathy out of your audience. A character should stand on its own, and the loss of a character should be sad in its own right.

As for the plot of the episode: Team Flash needs to get Fallout, the nuclear meta, from ARGUS before The Thinker gets his hands on him. To keep Fallout from going nuclear — and since they no longer have Killer Frost on the team — they skip over to Earth-X to retrieve Leonard “Citizen Cold” Snart so they can use his cold gun. Apparently breaking into another universe is faster than making a new gun. Unfortunately for everyone, the Earth-X version of Laurel Lance/Siren follows after them in order to get revenge for them killing her version of Oliver Queen. The only good she brings is causing Cisco to try and explain the complicated Canary continuity.

Of course, DeVoe has predicted all these things — including Snart, Siren-X, and the transportation of Fallout — and interrupts their travel plans to gloat a little. He even uses Dibny’s voice to freak Barry out. It works too well, actually, as the only thing that throws DeVoe off is Barry freezing instead of attacking, which allows Siren-X to get the jump on them. We later learn that DeVoe has completely lost any ability to understand human emotions, much to Marlize’s dismay, which is how he failed to factor in the results of Barry’s grief. Siren-X gets ahold of Fallout. She also takes Joe and Caitlin hostage.

So... Why is a team with Cisco “Vibe” Ramon on it using a van to transport Fallout? I don’t believe it was ever established that traveling by breach would affect the integrity of Fallout’s containment suit — oh, what’s that? They needed to use the van so that the rest of the plot could happen, regardless of whether or not it makes any sense within the universe or causes our heroes to look like clueless idiots? Okay, yeah, I guess that also works. I would have gone with a plot that DIDN’T include logic holes that make the heroes look like clueless idiots but hey, to each their own.

All right, maybe I missed something and my snark is off its mark. I’ll try and give the show some leeway in that regard, since there are bigger fish to fry and I’ve already complained about everything from pacing to the emotional thrust of this episode being utterly devoid of any emotion.

Hey, how about some positives? I’ve already mentioned the great acting from Grant Gustin, but there’s also the charming addition of Earth-X Leonard Snart hamming it up as Team Flash’s temporary therapist. He gives great advice. He lends an ear. He accidentally makes puns. It’s wonderful! And, unfortunately, it’s probably the last time we’ll ever see Wentworth Miller playing this character on a DCTV show ever again, which is sad because the bizarre, over-the-top way he portrays Snart has honestly grown on me over the years. Still, sending the character off after helping Team Flash work through their problems, to go get married and live happily ever after, is a fairer fate than characters usually get on these kinds of shows.

Another positive: scenes between Harry and Cisco. After Harry accidentally overloaded his brain with dark matter, he discovers that he’ll slowly lose all his intelligence, and he’s been keeping this info from Cisco while trying to look like he’s building a new Thinking Cap. It backfires and, in a desperate attempt to keep Ciscio from a similar fate, he destroys the Thinking Cap and tells his friend the truth. The true highlight, however, is when Harry confesses that he broke his promise to Cisco not to use dark matter by admitting all the self-worth issues he has while facing The Thinker. Harry believes his only purpose, as a non-meta, non-weapons-savvy member of Team Flash, is being smarter than all the villains they face. In that regard, he can’t be useful against DeVoe — and now that he’s fried his brain, he thinks he can’t be useful to the team at all.

Cisco talks him out of leaving for his own Earth, with the promise that they’ll work on getting his intelligence back. I can’t help suspecting that the intelligence-reversing dark matter Thinking Cap — and Marlize’s inevitable turn against her loveless, awful husband — will play a part in defeating DeVoe.

Back to “Fury Rogue”: Siren-X is at CCPD, threatening the city with a nuclear blast from Fallout. Snart saves the day by giving Barry a pep talk so he can get out of his psychologically frozen state of grief and knock Siren-X out. Snart and Caitlin cool off Fallout with cold guns until they can contain him and transport him to an ARGUS safehouse, where his keepers have provided a virtual reality system. DeVoe has hacked into ARGUS’s security, proving that he knows where Fallout is being kept.

I can’t believe we still have four episodes to go.

Other Things:
  • What actually happened to Siren-X?
  • Caitlin might still have some Killer Frost in her. I’m glad, since I really like anti-hero Killer Frost and learning of Caitlin’s growing friendship with her alter-ego was fun.

iZombie 4x08 Review: “Chivalry is Dead” (White Knight) [Guest Poster: Chloe]

“Chivalry is Dead” 
Original Airdate: April 23, 2018

Like with many of the recent episodes of season four, “Chivalry is Dead” is a comparatively quieter one. Especially when looking ahead to next week’s episode description and promo, this one definitely feels like a slow build toward something far more intense and jarring. I appreciate that the show has given both the narrative and its audience a chance to breathe before giving us anything else new to engage with. While last week’s episode struggled a bit with its narrative progression, “Chivalry is Dead” manages to progress the most vital plot threads forward in a way that feels organic and substantial.

The case of the week centers on a live-action role player (LARP) who is murdered during a duel with someone else from his team. When Liv eats his brains, she takes on the mannerisms and persona of a “chivalrous knight” in a move that is simultaneously grating and yet also endearing. Seeing Rose McIver in a role like this really speaks to her talents as an actress because she manages to completely embody the character to the point where (at least for this episode) she ceases to be herself. While I wasn’t a huge fan of the brain itself — because medieval culture and lore just aren’t my thing — the case does allow two vital plot lines to better integrate, so I still see value in it.

Whilst on “chivalrous knight” brain, we get to see Liv further cement herself as the new Renegade. It is the ideal brain to be on, because it allows her to act the part of “savior.” Liv has always associated herself as a proponent of justice and “goodness” throughout the series, and so now to be seen both literally and metaphorically as a “white knight” gives her the confidence and conviction to assume her role as Renegade. However, it is evident throughout the episode that Liv still doesn’t have a firm grasp on the responsibilities and consequences of her recent actions. This is made especially apparent at the end of the episode when she loses track of one of the people she is supposed to smuggle into Seattle. When the girl finally does arrive, Liv’s “healing” scratch doesn’t work. I do not know what we are supposed to glean from this interaction (either that Isobel has some type of immunity or that Liv is losing her “spark”) but it will definitely have an impact on how she handles things moving forward.

The inability to help a dying girl is going to psychologically affect Liv more than she is probably willing to admit. Especially since the only reason she is on this crusade in the first place, and the reason she eats brains in order to solve crimes, is to feel like she is helping people. All she ever wanted pre-series was to become a doctor. And when that was no longer a possibility, she found other ways to help. But if she can’t help Isobel or gets imprisoned or killed for her actions, it is going to lead to even more problems both ideologically and emotionally for everyone in Liv’s core group.

I fear that not being able to help Isobel will push Liv to be even more brazen and reckless than usual, and that it will lead to her ultimate downfall. Especially considering everything else that is happening simultaneously throughout Seattle, I worry that Liv is not even aware of the mounting problems that are facing the city and — more importantly — she is not equipped to handle them by herself. Her motivations are seemingly coming from a pure place, but her recent actions have not necessarily been a reflection of that. If she is going to make a meaningful impact for the citizens of Seattle, she is going to need a lot more support and assistance than she currently has at her disposal

The case of the week additionally allows for some more integration of the Clive/Dale relationship storyline. By the end of the episode, we find out that the victim was murdered by a member of his LARP-ing group after he was caught sleeping with the friend's wife. During her interrogation, the wife discusses the difficulties of being in a zombie-human relationship and realizing that the lack of intimacy creates a lot of tension in her marriage. As we are well aware, this is the exact same thing that Clive has been struggling with all season. I appreciate that even in a small way, Clive is able to emotionally connect with another person over their similar relationship woes.

I think Clive will need to continue to reach out to other people for support as he continues to navigate his relationship obstacles with Dale, because navigating it by themselves has not been enough so far. Even though they are trying to communicate better, Clive is clearly crumbling from the pressure of it all. Watching Clive be so despondent this episode was hard to process. I have said it a million times but I will keep saying it until it happens: Clive deserves to be happy! We have seen him struggle in other ways before, but watching him suffer emotionally the way he has this season has been a bit too much for me. He deserves better than the storyline he has been given this season. Some of our other core characters deserve better too, including Peyton.

“Chivalry is Dead” gives Peyton something tangible to do for the first time all season by integrating her into the Renegade plotline. Even though I previously bemoaned the fact that Peyton was not getting adequate development or screen time, I am not sure I like what the writers have decided to do with her storyline. Now that she is more aware of what Major and Liv have been respectively working on, it makes sense for Liv to want to include her in her Renegade plans and take advantage of Peyton’s connections and authority in the Mayor’s office to further her own agenda. That is ultimately my main issue with this storyline: it paints Peyton as reckless even though that has never been a facet of her characterization. Peyton is methodical, hard-working, and sensible. Bribing a prisoner for information and then stealing a duffel bag full of cash is not only a poorly thought-out plan, it is also incredibly dangerous.

Especially with the revelation that Stacy Boss (someone Peyton has always been at odds with) is back in Seattle and the fact that it is technically his money that was stolen does not bode well for Peyton’s future. I do understand that now that circumstances have changed in New Seattle, maybe Peyton is more inclined to break the rules in order to help her friends and “the greater good” but it is evident that this decision will have negative consequences in upcoming episodes. It is not yet clear what will become of Peyton now that she has positioned herself as part of a resistance effort, but that it won’t be anything good.

The plot this week is far less focused on the Fillmore Graves/Major storyline, but there is still some crucial plot development regarding Major. I have discussed this a lot in my previous posts, but much of Major’s development this season has been focused on his moral quandaries. He has made very clear and definitive choices about where his loyalties lie, which is unwaveringly with Chase Graves. It has resulted in choices that characterize Major as a villain, but we have seen glimmers of recognition lately — that he is aware that his behavior is ultimately wrong. We see this presented a lot more clearly in “Chivalry is Dead” when Major buddies up to a corrupt Fillmore Graves soldier in order to then feed information about him to Chase.

It is apparent that once Major sees how far the other soldier is willing to bend the rules to suit his needs (even if this involves terrorizing or even killing people) that Major finally wakes up to the reality of what he has been a part of. He may not technically be as harmful as this other soldier, but he perpetuates many of the same notions and promotes the same culture of fear for the citizens of New Seattle. It is unfortunate that it took seeing this behavior reflected in someone else for Major to have a moment of moral clarity, since Peyton, Ravi, and Liv have long made it apparent how they feel about his Fillmore Graves associations, and what it has meant for his integrity. But it is also unfortunate, because it is increasingly apparent that Major is now too closely embedded as an “enemy” and that finding a way to reconcile his actions is going to be nearly impossible.

Elsewhere, the episode works to fuse the church/cult storyline with Blaine’s narrative arc. This ends up being important for a couple of reasons. It is vital from a narrative standpoint, because it has been clear since the beginning of the season that Angus and his cult will serve as catalysts for a full-blown uprising against Fillmore Graves, and other corrupt forces in New Seattle. Even though Angus and his followers are their own source of destruction, they view themselves as being morally justified in their pursuits. His group is comprised of dangerous but easily corruptible people. When Blaine sees an opportunity to exploit the dumb and hungry zombies in his father’s group, he does. It is apparent that Blaine is playing the long game when it comes to taking down his father. So he decides to play nice for a while.

Blaine honors the standing reservation for the church to eat for free at Romero’s once a week. He holds his tongue to avoid saying regrettable things in front of his father, all in an attempt to lull Angus into a false sense of trust and security. So when Stacy Boss returns to Seattle to collect on a debt owed to him, Blaine — being the manipulative and calculated person that he is — uses it as an opportunity to solve two problems at once. Watching Stacy and Blaine work together should make us all very fearful for our core characters’ futures. Stacy is only acting courteous toward Blaine because he wants his help. He has no other reason to trust Blaine and vice versa. It is a calculated move, but thankfully one the Blaine now knows how to take advantage of. Watching this particular relationship unfold in the next few weeks will be very interesting. And considering that Stacy’s storyline was never fully wrapped up before, I am glad the show is taking the opportunity to do it now.

As is made apparent in the promo for next week’s episode, during the brain “buffet” on the prison transport bus, one of the more dangerous prisoners escapes. It will lead to very negative consequences for the citizens of Seattle if he is not caught, but will also have ramifications for the people ultimately responsible. This plays into exactly what Blaine wants. He wants chaos to erupt in New Seattle — and if the blame gets partly directed at his father, even better. It will be interesting to see how all of the oppressive forces (Fillmore Graves, Blaine, Angus, and now Stacy Boss) will run counter to each other in the coming episodes. It will undoubtedly lead to destruction and carnage, but will also hopefully make for a compelling arc to end the season on. This is really what this season has been building to anyway, and I am now prepared to watch it unfold.

Ultimately, “Chivalry is Dead” serves as a necessary catalyst for very important things to come. On its own, the episode is quieter and more simple in structure but it is used intentionally to give the audience a break before the sensory overload that is promising to unfold starting next week. The episode still manages to develop integral storylines, while also delivering the type of fun (and funny) case of the week that we can expect from this show. Tune in next week for my coverage of “Mac-Liv-Moore,” which — based on the direction I think the show is taking us — will be an intense and exhilarating viewing experience.

Scorpion 4x22 Review: "A Lie in the Sand" (I Wanna Make Our Dream Come True) [Guest Contributor: Yasmine]

“A Lie in the Sand”
Original Airdate: April 16, 2018

It’s never easy watching a finale when the fate of the show is still hanging in the air, and it becomes extra hard when the finale is so divisive and ends on the most bitter and infuriating and heartbreaking cliffhanger possible. That was the case with the Scorpion season four finale. With the network still not announcing whether the show will come back for a fifth season, the finale and the way it played out was hard to swallow.

I admit that in terms of the narrative and the character arcs, I am extremely happy and satisfied with how things went. It played out exactly how I wanted and expected it to play out. But the fact that we don’t know if the show is coming back — that is the tough part to make peace with.

For the case itself, while it carried the episode quite well for the length of it and was in classic Scorpion style (exciting, action-packed, and kept me at the edge of my seat, while providing a few laughs on occasion) is, in retrospect, almost forgettable. It did manage to carry the weight required to push the emotional and psychological journeys of all the characters forward perfectly, but it was just another “save the day while all the odds are against them” case. It did introduce us to Sly’s pen-pal, who is also Scorpion’s biggest fanboy, but it served better in how it managed to send everyone on a very important and revealing journey of self-discovery.

Sylvester was the one who brought the case for the team this week via his pen-pal, Alex, in Northeast Africa. Throughout the day, as Alex fulfills his dream of meeting and even assisting the team, it becomes clear that in their correspondence Sly may have taken some liberty with some details. While the stories about the team that he told Alex may have been true, he may have painted a more “super” heroic version of himself. And that’s always been Sly’s problem. Despite all the amazing things he’s achieved, is capable of, and has proven to be able to do, he’s always selling himself short. His lack of self-confidence has been the main reason he has not asked Flo out yet and why he felt he needed to embellish the stories he’s told Alex. This case was the necessary outing for Sly to realize that he is an incredible guy and that he does not need to lie to paint such a picture of himself.

Happy and Toby’s journey, as a couple and individually, has been my favorite part of this season. While I adore Sylvester and love his growth, I think the challenge of keeping a couple’s story interesting after they get married is the biggest one the writers faced this season. And I think they did a great job at not falling into the typical pitfalls with Happy and Toby. I think their desire to have a child together, while seemingly a natural step forward for a newlywed couple, was, in their case, a huge leap forward in their individual story arcs, whether as a reflection of Toby’s growth (and a step away from his immature ways) or for Happy and her desire and readiness to commit and have a family.

I really appreciate that this was the focus of their season and that the writers did not resort or the typical tiresome tropes of adding drama to an established couple — yes, I am talking about love triangles here. Happy and Toby’s love and commitment and their trust in one another was a breath of fresh air and a very welcome change of pace to how such couples are usually handled on TV. So this made their arc of trying and failing to conceive such a heartwarming and relatable story and struggle. Here are two people who have grown so much and are finally at a place where they both know what they want and what they’ve earned and are trying so hard to get it, yet the hand of fate is working against them. It was so beautiful watching them all season continually try and try and never give up, going through it side by side and supporting each other fiercely and with such devotion and love.

I think it was obvious all along that these two were going to end up adopting. It makes the most sense for who they are, their pasts and their story. It was still necessary to see them go through the process of trying to conceive. I think it taught them a lot about who they are and what they want and brought them so much closer together. But in the end, I think it was inevitable that the child that would complete their family would be adopted. I think it’s a beautiful way to take their story forward and is so respectful of both their pasts and their characters. Crossing my fingers that the show gets renewed; I cannot wait to see Toby and Happy as parents!

And this brings us to the other core relationship on the show and I suppose the most explosive storyline of the finale. I have to admit that, as much as I hate it, I certainly saw it coming. I can imagine the fandom is split on this, especially when it comes to Paige’s reaction and the proportion of things and how they escalated. But to be honest, I have to personally side with Paige on this. And just to make things clear, I think Walter’s initial “mistake” — going with Flo to the lecture — was barely even a mistake. It was how he handled everything afterward and how he’s failed repeatedly, not just with Paige but with everyone else, to accept his own shortcomings or to own up to his mistakes (or even try to adapt and adjust) that warrant Paige — and the rest of the team’s — reactions.

Repeatedly, Walter has played down his lying and his deception. And after being given chance after chance — after several confrontations from the team — not only did he disrespect them and their advice, but he also failed at taking these chances. He allowed a small lie to grow and his deception to become more and more damaging. He held his own fate — and the fate of his relationship with Paige — in his hands, and he can only hold himself responsible for how things played out.

My main issue with Walter this season has been his blatant refusal to change or adapt or make room for others, whether in his romantic relationship with Paige or even with the rest of the team. Somehow this has been the most conceited we’ve seen Walter ever. In several situations Walter has shown his disregard for the rest of the team, his refusal to accommodate Paige or her friends, his blindness toward the importance of everyone on this team and how Scorpion is as much dependent on them as it is on him.

I know I am being harsh on him right now. And do not get me wrong, I absolutely love Walter. He was the reason I was attracted to the show and the one character I am constantly rooting for because I think, in him and his character, the show carries all its major themes. I want Walter to succeed. I want him to find happiness within himself and with his friends and family. And this is why I honestly believe what happened in finale is exactly what needed to happen. In order for Walter to understand the value of what he has, of his friends and his family, for him to appreciate what he and Paige share and the life they can have, he needs to lose it all. He needs to fail and lose everything before he can succeed and have it all again.

The scene in the garage was so emotionally overwhelming and so beautifully acted by everyone involved. Paige’s breakdown was raw and vulnerable and I cannot in a million years fault her for how she feels and her outburst. She was one hundred percent justified in feeling the way she felt after everything that happened and how much she invested and sacrificed for their relationship, only to have Walter not even try to show her the same commitment or willingness to sacrifice or change or compromise or even own up to his mistakes.

I still believe Walter and Paige are meant to be together and that they will find their way back to each other. This is just a bump along the way. Yes, it looks like a mountain more than a bump, but all great couples have to face the impossible before they get their happily ever after, right? That’s just it for these two. They will come back to one another when they are ready, when they are stronger and more in love than ever before.

But first they must overcome these hardships and this break-up, which is more than just a personal one. Paige was not alone when she stormed out of the garage. Sylvester, Happy and Toby all did so, too. And rightfully so. Walter has been treating them as less than equals for a long time, and I think they have had enough. Centipede may not be here for long because, let’s be honest, this show is about Team Scorpion, but for the time being it’s a good thing that it is happening. For starters, Walter needs to see that these geniuses are very capable of doing it all without him and that the people he’s considered dispensable can actually do it better, would be a huge wake up call for him. And I also think it’s a good self-esteem boost for everyone else, especially for someone like Sly, who has been putting himself down for too long.

It is absolutely heartbreaking seeing this family so shattered and broken, but I think from a narrative point of view, it is the best thing that could happen to the show and to the characters.

And yes, I am aware I completely ignored Flo here but I just... I do not want to talk about her suddenly having feelings for Walter and breaking Sly’s heart. That is too much for me to handle! Let’s just cross our fingers and hope the show gets renewed so we get the chance to watch this family rebuild from the ashes and come back stronger than ever.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

New Girl 7x03 Review: "Lillypads" (When Pre-Schoolers Take Over) [Contributor: Jenn]

Original Airdate: April 24, 2018

One of my favorite things about New Girl is that they only ever tried to do anything remotely romantic between Schmidt and Jess once. And it was in “The Story of the 50” (and in that brief kiss from “Parking Spot”) that we learned how absolutely wrong for each other Schmidt and Jess would be. They’re so much more hilarious as polar opposite BFFs/occasional rivals. If anything is true about them as a pairing, it’s that they share a love for Nick. But flash-forward three years into the future and we see that Schmidt and Jess have a new person in their life to fight and fawn over — Ruth.

“Lillypads” is a hilarious glimpse into Schmidt and Jess as parents. If you recall, only one of them is actually Ruth’s parent. And since our B-story was pretty self-contained and not as exciting as the A-story was (at least to me), we’ll spend the majority of our review discussing Jess and Schmidt’s flaws and strengths.


Jess has always been ambitious but Schmidt is right about one thing: Jess values free thinking and encourages imagination. She’s worked at private and public schools, and has been a teacher of both adults and children. But the constant is that Jess values creativity and fun over rules and structure. She always has. This is a woman who walked into Apartment 4D singing tunes and brought that free spirit into her classroom too. So when Schmidt instructs Jess to prepare Ruth for her interview at a pretentious pre-school, logically he should have known what he was getting himself into.

And yet still, Jess does crafts and practices breathing with Ruth, much to Schmidt’s dismay. Jess wants Ruth to be a creative, free-thinking young woman. It’s not really because of noble reasons though. Jess is still mad at what’s happened to her throughout her career, especially the way she’s seen pretentious private schools destroy the creativity of children and turn them into robots. She doesn’t want Ruth to be drained of her individuality and personality, so she gives Ruth no constraints. If she wants to call the color green by a new name (“Denise”), then by all means, she should! There should be no rules or limits to her creativity.

But Schmidt does not see the world through the same lens Jess does. He sees structure and rules and order as stepping stones to a bright future. He’s got Ruth’s life mapped out for her already, and he wants her to succeed. It’s noble, but at the same time it means that he wants her to be studied and bribed to do her work correctly. Because that’s the thing about Schmidt — he always believes there is a right way and a wrong way to do something.

Obviously, the two are at odds the entire episode, believing that what they’re doing is in Ruth’s best interest. Schmidt thinks that teaching Ruth what is right and wrong from this young of an age will help her succeed in life. Recognizing letters and numbers, being able to cut a perfect circle and always giving the textbook answer will help secure her future. And really, Schmidt just wants his baby girl to have the best life she possibly can. His methods might be a bit questionable and harsh, but he genuinely thinks he’s doing what’s best for Ruth. Similarly, Jess thinks that SHE is doing what’s best for Ruth. Jess has seen kids get burnt out and drained of life and fun from a young age. Kids should be able to play and make up stories and nap without fearing they’re falling behind or doing something wrong. Because she loves Ruth a whole lot, Jess wants her to have the best life possible.

When Ruth arrives at the pre-school interview, she’s meowing like a cat and Schmidt’s panic is evident. But then Ruth cuts a perfect circle in her evaluation, as Schmidt and Jess watch on. And then she asks the teacher about the circle. What if it wasn’t a circle, but a moon? And what if the moon was sad? For a moment, Schmidt seems disappointed by the answer. Not the teacher, though! Even though Lillypads values technical skill and ability in their students, they also value creativity. The teacher evaluating Ruth gives her points (and tadpoles) for creativity. Jess and Schmidt rejoice because somehow together, they’ve become the perfect parent.

You might be wondering how Cece, Ruth’s ACTUAL other parent, and her personality factor into little Ruth. Well don’t worry — it’s hilarious. When Benjamin’s son has a breakdown because his father berates him, Ruth stands up to Benjamin and insults him by calling him “Denise.” She then tells the whole pre-school class and all those watching that the system is corrupt.

And Ruth leads a revolt.

It’s a hilarious (albeit a bit dark) scene that demonstrates one thing — Ruth is Cece’s daughter. She has the feisty, fiery spirit of Cece Parekh within her, the technical skills of Schmidt, and creativity inspired by her Aunt Jess. But the three adults agree on one thing at the end of the episode: Ruth will be whoever she wants to be, and they can’t change or stop that. Nor should they. Slightly traumatized by the experience, they let Ruth choose which pre-school she wants to go to.

I loved this story in “Lillypads,” not just because it’s always fun to see Schmidt and Jess at odds, but because it is pretty true to life. A lot of kids are pressured, from a young age, with placement tests and rigorous schooling exercises. And though tests are a necessary part of schooling, there’s something to be said about a happy medium between Schmidt and Jess. Kids need structure but they also need freedom to play and create and explore. They need to learn what colors and shapes are, but they also need to play pretend and color outside of the lines every now and then. They need the drive of Schmidt, creativity of Jess, and passion of Cece.

There’s no doubt about it, though: Ruth’s gonna do what Ruth’s gonna do.

And now, bonus points:
  • Basically all you need to know about the B-story this week is that Nick procrastinates writing and Winston tries to prep himself for testifying in court. Nick procrastinates when things are important to him because he doesn't feel like he's good enough. There's a sweet moment where Winston tells Nick that he's good enough and he needs to believe that he is. You can see Nick actually feel the impact of his oldest friend's words for a moment, and it's kind of touching. And also Winston gets nervous testifying in court because he doesn't like the pressure. That's about it.
  • I love the recurring references to Banyon Canyon and no one knowing what happened.
  • "Have you not seen Star Wars? Robots are helpful and often delightful!"
  • "I'm not letting your hippie dippie mishigas ruin Ruth's future."
  • Every time I see Benjamin in this show, I'm reminded that he was Todd in Community and ugh, Todd is the worst. (Benjamin is also the worst.)
  • "You know I would have punched you in the face for free."
  • "I need my eyes for TV."
  • *whispers* "Green is whatever I want it to be." Seriously, I'll say it EVERY WEEK, but the girls who play Ruth are the absolute cutest.
  • "Ruth... is that coffee?" "Yup!"
  • "Aren't you 11 pages away from getting punched in the face?"
  • "This place is like the frikkin' Louvre."
  • "Excuse me, she lived inside of me ya jerks."
What did you think of this week's New Girl? Sound off in the comments below!

Brooklyn Nine-Nine 5x16 and 5x17 Recaps: “Nutriboom” & “DFW” (Creepy Cults and Secret Sisters) [Contributor: Alisa Williams]

Original Airdate: April 15, 2018

We were treated to back-to-back episodes of Brooklyn Nine-Nine last week, so let’s dive right in, shall we? In the first episode, Jake’s shipment of Nutriboom has just been delivered by Boyle-lookalike, Bill. If you’ll recall, in this season’s Halloween Heist episode, Jake made an ill-advised agreement with Bill to buy $8,000 worth of the nutritional shake. It’s clearly a pyramid scheme and Jake wants out, but Bill shows him the contract (written in white ink on white paper) where Jake agreed to be charged quarterly for the next 85 years. Jake and Boyle decide to head down to the Nutriboom corporate office. Jake has an added incentive for wanting out of the contract — he needs that $8,000 to pay for his and Amy’s honeymoon.

Speaking of Amy, she is super excited to be a newly minted sergeant. Holt and Terry give her some tips for gaining respect around the office. While Terry’s advice is a bit vague, Holt’s is downright intimidating. He basically tells her she has to be perfect, succeed at all her goals, and to remember that she now represents all Latina police women everywhere. No pressure at all!

Because of all the pressure, her first briefing does not go well. There’s a know-it-all officer named Gary who keeps interrupting with useful tips and suggestions which irritates her. She assigns the squad the job of revamping the precinct’s filing system, but Gary keeps sending her emails with suggestions on how to do stuff better. When Amy complains to Gina, Rosa, and Terry, they laugh and tell her she has an “Amy” on her team. She’s incredulous and doesn’t think the overeager, people-pleasing Gary is anything like her, but finally has to admit that yeah, he’s exactly like her. She doesn’t want to go to Holt for advice because he made it clear that success is the only option and she doesn’t want him to think she’s failed on her first day as sergeant.

Over at Nutriboom HQ, Jake’s feeling a little pressure, too. Turns out that if he wants to cancel his Nutriboom contract, the cancellation fee is $10,000. Or, he can sign up to work off his contract in “labor hours” for the founder, Dr. Stovelman, through Nutriboom’s charity. While Boyle is ready to sign a check for the full amount, Jake refuses. He’s mad and wants to take Nutriboom down. He just needs to prove the company is a huge financial scam. They enlist Bill’s help. Since he’s a high level Nutribroom associate, Boyle will impersonate him and infiltrate the inner circle, with Jake tagging along as a new recruit.

Once inside the cult-like gathering, they’re surprised to see Hitchcock and Scully there, but not all that surprised because Nutriboom does seem like just the thing they’d be involved with. Fortunately, they think Boyle is Bill and don’t recognize Jake, so their cover is still sound. They wait for a distraction (the over-the-top introduction video for Nutriboom) and then sneak over to the employees only section.

Jake quickly finds the company’s financial documents but as they’re downloading, Boyle sees another Nutriboom employee approaching. He runs out to distract him, but the employee proves more difficult to distract than he originally thought. While everyone else easily thought Boyle was Bill, this guy isn’t so sure. He says Bill seems really off and even though Boyle is using all the knowledge Bill gave him about himself, the employee still isn’t convinced. Finally, Boyle pulls out the cringe-worthy factoid that Bill likes to give neck massages to his coworkers, and offers this guy one. He readily accepts, and Jake is able to sneak out with the downloaded files. Boyle, however, is suddenly stuck giving neck massages to a line of eager employees. When he finally meets back up with Jake in the lobby, he is traumatized from the experience. Turns out, Bill gives his neck massages from the front, while maintaining eye contact with the person the whole time. Just a little creepy, even for Boyle.

They dig through the files, but don’t find any evidence of wrongdoing. They do, however, find a $100,000 payment to a black-ops-type firm on the same day that Dr. Stovelman’s wife, Debbie, mysteriously vanished. It’s long been rumored but unproven that Dr. Stovelman had her murdered. While not enough to arrest him, this could be the clue they need to get facetime with him and make him nervous enough to confess something. But to get to the founder, they first need to get to Nutriboom’s celebrity spokesperson, Jay Chandrasekhar.

Meanwhile, Amy asks Terry, Gina, and Rosa for advice on how to deal with her “Amy.” Terry doesn’t have any advice, because he never succeeded in figuring out how to deal with her. Gina says the secret is to start rambling on about a topic that Amy doesn’t care about until she walks away. Amy decides to give this a try with Gary, but it doesn’t work. They end up talking about bodies of water for hours. Finally, Rosa tells her the true secret is to always be on the move, like a shark. That way he can’t even get her attention in the first place. Amy puts this new plan into action as she’s installing a new shelf. Gary approaches her but she distracts him and dashes off. She manages to avoid him at several turns and then circles back and gets her shelf installed. Unfortunately, the whole wall collapses under the weight of one shelf. Gary had been trying to tell her that that particular wall had water damage and shouldn’t be used.

Amy finally confides in Holt about the situation and he tells her she should have come to him in the first place. He has a lot of experience managing an Amy. He asks if the ideas Gary kept giving her were any good and she admits she didn’t even listen to what he had to say because she was just so irritated. Holt says she should always listen to her Amy’s ideas, because managing an Amy is a pleasure, not a chore. And if the ideas are good, using them will only make the precinct better. So, she shouldn’t be intimidated by her Amy; she should consider him a valuable asset.

Jake and Boyle manage to track down Jay Chandrasekhar, who is overjoyed that the NYPD is investigating Nutriboom. They’ve basically been holding him hostage and making him promote their products. They even kidnapped his dog to keep him on the line. He agrees to help with their sting operation. But things don’t go according to plan. Jay is suddenly kidnapped and thrown into a van by two Nutriboom thugs. Jake and Boyle dash into Nutriboom HQ and demand to know where he is. They find Jay in the basement and he’s acting like he’s been brainwashed. He’s also been reunited with his dog, who he now claims was just lost in a park for a year. He says Nutriboom found the dog for him and is a great company.

Jake says this still doesn’t explain the disappearance of Debbie Stovelman... but all of a sudden she walks into the room! It turns out she went off the grid and started the rumor of her murder because the feds were investigating Nutriboom. But their case fell apart when she went missing. She tries to bribe Jake but she has underestimated him. Jake refuses the bribe and goes to the feds with what he knows. Unfortunately, the feds say they may eventually be able to take down Nutriboom a few years from now, but in the meantime, there’s no money for Jake and Amy’s honeymoon and they now have a Nutriboom thug who’s been assigned to follow them at all times.

Bullets on the Bulletin Board:

  • “Jake, a piece of advice: just give up. It’s the Boyle way. That’s why our family crest is a white flag.”
  • “‘Doctor’ is spelled with an ‘e’?” “It’s the British spelling.” “That can’t be right.”
  • “Remember: failure is for failures.”

Original Airdate: April 15, 2018

In the second episode of the night, Jake is meeting his half-sister for the first time. In the Thanksgiving episode earlier this season, we learned that Jake’s promiscuous pilot dad fathered several other children in various cities with major airports. Jake has three half-siblings out there, and one of them responded when he reached out. She’s flying to New York and Jake and Amy are off to the airport to meet her.

While Jake and Amy head out, Terry walks into the breakroom and finds Holt and Boyle doing yoga. Holt’s doctor told him he needs to get more exercise, so Boyle agreed to teach him the basics of yoga, but Terry’s insulted and wants to know why Holt didn’t come to him to learn about body building. Boyle says it’s okay — Terry may have a lot of muscles, but through yoga, Holt will gain bone strength which is far more important. Terry says anybody can do yoga and quickly tries to strike the warrior pose Holt and Boyle are currently in. His back makes an awful cracking noise and he quickly hobbles out of the room, pretending everything is fine.

Meanwhile, Rosa confides in Gina that she and her girlfriend broke up, and Gina says she has the perfect girl for her. Rosa’s dubious because Gina’s tried to set her up before and it was terrible, but Gina says it’s different now that she knows Rosa’s bi. Before, she was only setting Rosa up with men, and all men are secretly monsters, Gina says. But she knows tons of fabulous women. Rosa reluctantly gives in.

Over at the airport, Jake is freaking out about meeting his half-sister, Katie (played by the amazing Nasim Pedrad). He’s afraid they won’t bond and the whole thing will go horribly wrong. Well, it doesn’t go great. Katie comes out in handcuffs, escorted by two police officers. She tells them she was just so nervous about meeting Jake, that she went into the airplane bathroom and started vaping. When the flight attendant told her to stop, she punched her. Jake and Amy are horrified and Katie’s afraid she messed up meeting her brother and offers to leave. Jake tells her its ancient history and quickly changes the subject to Diehard, but Katie’s never even heard of Jake’s favorite movie. What they do, however, have in common is a fondness for their dad’s copilot, Steve, who their dad often sent to hang out with them on his behalf. Finally, they’ve found something to bond over.

Back at the precinct, Terry’s back has gotten even worse. He can barely stand. Boyle tells him to just admit he can’t handle yoga, but Terry says he can handle it fine. Terry gets Scully to tell him where his and Hitchcock’s secret nap room is so he can lie down. The only problem is, when Terry wakes up, he can’t get up, and the nap room is sound-proofed so no one can hear him calling for help.

After a great evening of bonding over their absentee father, Katie admits to Jake and Amy that her life hasn’t been so great. She just lost her job and the love of her life broke up with her. But, she’s here in New York now and ready to take in the sights. She even offers to take care of the meal... by putting a piece of glass in her food and making a scene so the restaurant comps it.

After they get home, Amy tries to gently tell Jake that his sister is kind of awful but he won’t hear it. What they do hear is a crash from the living room and when Jake goes out to investigate, it turns out Katie has brought home one of the living statue people from Times Square. Jake quickly goes back to bed, thoroughly grossed out.

The next morning, Jake’s sister surprises him and Amy by telling them she’s decided to move to New York. What was supposed to be a three-day meet-and-greet may turn into a life with a scheming sister in the same city. This seems like a very bad idea and so Jake and Amy decide to fly Katie’s ex-boyfriend, Kurt, up to New York and get them back together so Katie goes back to Dallas like she’s supposed to.

While Jake and Amy put their plan into motion, Holt calls Boyle into his office to ask if he’s heard from Terry, who didn’t make it home last night. They know he’s probably still at the precinct because his car is still there, but they’re worried. Scully overhears them discussing it and admits that Terry is probably still in the secret nap room. He accidentally tells them where it is (supply closet F), and they find Terry lying there, unable to move. Boyle offers to carry him, which Terry thinks is impossible, but Boyle says yoga has given him excellent bone strength and proceeds to carry Terry out of the supply closet and through the precinct.

That evening, Jake, Amy, and Katie are out for a walk through the streets of New York when Kurt just happens to appear in front of them. He professes his love to Katie and says that even his probation officer back in Dallas couldn’t stop him from hopping a plane and reclaiming his love. Oops. Back in the apartment, as Katie’s packing up and Jake and Amy are getting to know the gem that is Kurt, things suddenly turn from bad to worse. The silver street performer from last night shows up to look for his wallet, which he thinks he lost in the couch cushions. Kurt gets mad at Katie for cheating on him even though they were broken up, and Katie reminds him that he cheated on her like 10 times. He says it’s only because she was sad all the time after her mom died. Jake gets mad and defends his sister, saying she’s too good for the likes of Kurt. As Jake’s pushing him out the door, Kurt lets it slip that it was Jake who paid for him to fly up here and take Katie back so she wouldn’t move to New York. Katie gets mad at Jake and storms out.

Rosa’s not faring much better in the love department. She meets up with Gina’s friend at a bar, but the girl is instantly awful. She’s on some weird diet where she only eats clear foods. When she asks for a skinny margarita, Rosa refuses to order it just on principle. But all hope is not lost. Rosa has a great connection with the cool bartender and they end up hooking up. When Rosa strolls into work late the next morning, Gina tells her that the bartender, Aubrey, was actually the real person she wanted Rosa to meet. But she knew Rosa would reject anyone she put directly in front of her, so the awful skinny margarita friend was just a decoy. Rosa has to admit, it was a great plan and Gina really is a good matchmaker after all.

Meanwhile, Jake realizes he was being just like his dad by only wanting a relationship with his sister on his own terms, from a distance. He races to the airport and apologizes to Katie. She accepts the apology and says even though she’s returning to Dallas and her life there, she still wants them to keep in touch.

Bullets on the Bulletin Board:

  • “Becky and I broke up. She eats soup too much.” “What, like every day?” “It happened twice.”
  • “Also, I slapped a stewardess. Real hard. With my fist.”
  • “What?! Then why did you make me feel so bad?” “To teach you a lesson about the destructive power of word play.”

Supergirl 3x15 Review: "In Search of Lost Time" (Anger Waves!) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]

“In Search of Lost Time”
Original Airdate: April 23, 2018 

The A and B-plots aren’t very connected this week on Supergirl, unless you count M’yrnn J’onzz and Sam Arias both trying to take control of their lives as a theme. M’yrnn has Martian dementia and has to get his metaphorical car keys taken away. Sam is secretly a megalomaniacal Kryptonian genetic project programmed to destroy worlds and has to get locked in an invisible box like the world’s most dangerous mime. There are some surprisingly similar elements. Both halves of the episode are executed well, too. Except for Sam’s willful ignorance and inability to recognize herself in photographs, I can’t complain about much of anything. And even when Sam was annoying me, it was all made better because Lena Luthor is back!

Wait... that’s two episodes of Supergirl in a row that I’ve actually enjoyed? And this one even has more than ten minutes of Mon-El screen time, but I enjoyed it anyway? What new spore of madness is this! Where’s the poorly paced, convoluted, Idiot Plot-prone television show I remember from all those months ago? Could this be... improvement?!

Nah, it’s probably just a fluke. I fully expect these dummies to get back to being dummies next week.


Team Supergirl is having a charades night and it’s rather adorable, much like the group karaoke session we saw last week. Also like last week, this moment of fun is interrupted by the plot — or something plot-adjacent, at least — as Supergirl has to leave to break up an alien bar fight. A Kalanorian, which are a race of psychic/empathic aliens who are sensitive to psychic interference, has to be taken down after she goes absolutely bonkers and trashes the bar. Team Supergirl sedates the Kalanorian and stores her in a holding cell, but they don’t know what’s going on. J’onn blames astrology.

It becomes clear pretty fast that M’yrnn and his Martian brand of prayer/psychic reorganization of his brain is actually what’s to blame for the disturbances, including the Kalanorian freak-out and a burst of anger that nearly ends with Winn shooting some DEO agent for talking back to him. J’onn struggles with the idea of confronting in his father, since in Martian terms it includes reducing M’yrnn’s independence, which Alex likens to her mother taking away her grandmother’s car keys. I don’t think it’s ever clarified what, exactly, the procedure involves — dampening his psychic abilities? Completely removing them? Using J’onn’s psychic restraint to restrict M’yrnn’s?

Whatever it is, I’m surprised no one thinks of just transporting M’yrnn to some secluded location to do his psychic prayers. Like, they know they have access to the Fortress of Solitude, right? And Martians can fly? And even if they can’t fly, Supergirl has flight and super speed she could use to zip M’yrnn up to the Arctic, let him do his prayer thing far away from any living creatures, and zip him back down.

But no, they’ve decided on a solution that breaks J’onn’s heart, so he stalls on facing his father. When he finally does, M’yrnn’s anger at the prospect of being talked down to by his own son sends psychic anger waves out and makes the whole DEO erupt in chaos. People are thrown through windows. Desks and computers are demolished. First that robot flying monkey attack, now this! The janitorial staff at the DEO better ask for a raise this month.

In the training room where Mon-El is still trying to teach Kara how to use her cape as a weapon, the psychic anger waves cause more ranting than homicidal violence. Kara finally, finally says out loud what we in the audience have noticed about Mon-El since he showed up, and it’s genuinely so perfect that I’m going to make some rare direct quotes: “You were reckless, selfish, you lied, and you didn’t apologize. And then there was the time I got you a job at CatCo. I vouched for you at my place of employment and then you had Eve do all your work for you, and then you screwed her in the closet. You didn’t apologize for that and, shocker, I apologized to you for trying to make you into a better person!” Ah, delicious.

She wraps it all up by saying, “I gave my heart to a lying jackass who was unaware of his behavior towards me, who disrespected me at every turn, and now is this ‘reformed’ person who wants to reminisce about the good times?” and the only thing that saves Mon-El from Kara spending an eternity absolutely eviscerating him is Alex coming in with a device that blocks M’yrnn’s psychic waves.

The best thing about this speech Kara gives — besides it being evidence that the show has finally realized that its “leading man” was genuinely horrible — is that Kara doesn’t take it back in the end. Kara apologizes to Mon-El for the brutality of what she said and for punching him, but she doesn’t say she was lying and even tells him she’s thankful for the moment. She’d romanticized everything about Mon-El after his disappearance and ignored the stuff he did that genuinely, deeply insulted her.

As for the chaos at the DEO: J’onn gets through to his father, who allows him to put a cuff around his wrist that stops the psychic bleed. Everyone goes back to normal. M’yrnn apologizes to the DEO for causing problems, and it’s incredibly sad because M’yrnn just wants to cling to what he has left in the universe, after losing most of his family, his people, his planet, and faces the prospect of losing his memories as well.


Lena is carrying the weight of the Worldkiller plot for the duration of the episode, having quarantined Sam in a lab for study. Sam’s hospital bed is surrounded by invisible energy barriers (are those standard in National City?) so she can’t escape, and the implication is that Lena is either waking her up for the first time in three days or has woken her up before and she was in Reign mode instead of Sam mode so she got knocked out again. Either way, she wakes up as Sam and Lena tries her absolute best to explain why she’s trapped in an invisible cage, but that sort of thing is always really hard to explain without coming off a bit evil.

Even presented with tons of evidence, Sam refuses to believe that she and Reign are the same person. On one hand, I get why Sam doesn’t want to believe she’s a murderous alien entity, but on the other, Sam’s face isn’t exactly obscured in the photos Lena shows her and Reign matches Sam’s stature. Sam already knows she’s been having blackouts and that she’s apparently bulletproof. Two plus two equals you’ve killed a lot of people, Sam! But Lena is clever, so she figures out a way to knock some truth into Sam: By berating her until she rages out and turns into Reign long enough to get it all on film, then showing Sam the footage.

After Sam is forced to accept that she really is Reign, she breaks down crying. This, like the scenes with J’onn and M’yrnn in the other half of the episode, is a supremely well-acted moment between Sam and Lena. Sam makes Lena promise to keep her locked up until she can figure out how to stop Reign from coming back and makes her promise not to say where Ruby, who currently thinks her mom is being hospitalized with a contagious disease, is staying. She doesn’t want to risk hurting her daughter if she becomes Reign again.

Meanwhile, pigeons start to fall from the sky. Mon-El blames the Worldkiller Pestilence.

Other Things:
  • I can believe Kara has genuinely been tearing the buttons off all her shirts every time she changes into Supergirl. Snap closures, woman!
  • We find out that Sam gets mentally transported to some creepy forest when she turns into Reign. It gives me American Gods vibes, actually.
  • I still don’t care about Lena/James, show.
  • By the way, everywhere (including my closed captioning) spells M’yrnn’s name as “Myr’nn” but that doesn’t fit Martian naming conventions, so I don’t know who’s right.

Once Upon A Time 7x18 Review: “The Guardian” (Into the Darkness) [Contributor: Julia Siegel]

“The Guardian”
Original Airdate: April 20, 2018

Don’t you love when a show starts a plot, randomly drops it for no reason whatsoever, and then brings it back after several months just because they can? That’s pretty much the story of the latest episode of Once Upon A Time, and it makes this one feel very out of place. However, we do get a great performance by Robert Carlyle in this Rumple-centric episode.


The plot-of-the-week brings up the months-old story of Alice being the guardian that Rumple has been looking for. In case you need a refresher, a person pure of heart can be the guardian of the Dark One dagger and be the ultimate light above the darkness for all eternity. Back at the beginning of the season, Rumple felt that Alice could be this guardian that could take the darkness out of him so he could eventually reunite himself with the deceased Belle. After mentioning it in one episode, the whole guardian thing was pretty much dropped, with the exception of mentioning that Anastasia could also be a guardian.

Alice’s storylines in both the fairy tale realm and Seattle haven’t even mentioned the whole guardian thing until this episode. In the fairy tale realm, we see Rumple in a shrine for Belle that is straight out of Coco. This terrible “reference” to Disney-Pixar’s latest success is even more out of place than the impending guardian storyline. Rumple decides to test Alice to see if she really is a guardian by telling her that she can cure her father’s curse by taking Facilier’s heart out of his chest and crushing it. Alice and Rumple go to Facilier’s tent residence, where she takes his heart.

Unsurprisingly, Alice can’t crush Facilier’s heart and puts it back where it belongs. It is a little upsetting that Facilier could have been out of the picture a long time ago. Rumple gets his answer and decides to tell Alice what she really is and the power that she can wield. During the reveal, Rumple’s dagger speaks to Alice, proving her guardian status. She summons the dagger and starts pulling the darkness out of Rumple. However, Rumple realizes that if Alice successfully traps the dark magic, then she will be immortal and have to live with protecting the dagger forever. Rumple decides that he can’t take Alice’s normal life away from her and takes the darkness back, and he transforms into the old scaly Rumple of the past. The act of pure selflessness proves that Rumple has changed and is also becoming pure of heart.

Back in Seattle, Rumple and Hook find Nick’s dead body in the precinct, and Rumple notices that his dagger is missing. He assumes that Facilier must have stolen the dagger since he killed Nick; but when confronted about it, Facilier denies that he took it. Rumple starts to stumble into madness and goes as far as stealing the only bit of magic that Regina has in order to locate the missing dagger. After an all-day search, Rumple runs into Alice, who has been hearing voices since the morning. Rumple searches her backpack and finds the dagger stashed away in there, making him realize that Alice had inadvertently guarded the dagger. So Alice is still the guardian and will probably wind up taking the burden that Rumple once protected her from by the time the series ends.


Other than the dueling Rumple/Alice storylines, the only other plot that occurred was Henry trying to make sense of learning that he really is Lucy’s father. Henry goes to the police station to convince Hook to let him talk to Nick, but winds up convincing Hook to let him go along to Nick’s apartment since he is dead. Hook reluctantly agrees, and Henry finds the medical record that proves that Lucy is his child. More confused than ever, Henry brings the document to Jacinda and shows her the wild truth. Henry even says that he verified the document’s authenticity with the hospital, which causes them to both be very confused. Hook also has a bit of a reality bender when he learns that Nick was killed from a single stabbing of the heart from the inside, which of course was courtesy of Facilier’s voodoo doll. Hook and Henry both don’t know how to explain the magic that is becoming more and more apparent, so it seems like they might start believing soon.

Friday, April 20, 2018

iZombie 4x07 Review: “Don’t Hate the Player, Hate the Brain” (Middle of the Road) [Guest Poster: Chloe]

“Don’t Hate the Player, Hate the Brain” 
Original Airdate: April 16, 2018 

This episode, while decent enough, feels really out of place with the rest of the season. After a fast-paced and narratively ambitious first half of season four, “Don’t Hate the Player, Hate the Brain” feels largely inconsequential from both a narrative and tonal perspective. While I do appreciate that these middle of the season episodes have taken the time to slow things down and refocus, this episode feels a little too simplified. With the exception of two important plot elements, everything else about this episode feels like it could have been found as a plot in a previous season. And who knows, maybe it was intentional on the part of the writers to give us something easily digestible before moving on to what is bound to be an intense conclusion to the season. However, in a series that has to cover a lot of material in such a short time frame, this unfortunately feels a little like a waste of space. Despite some of my own misgivings about it, the episode still manages to have some trademark iZombie humor, thanks to the case of the week and our core characters.

The case itself is pretty standard — which is partly why the episode feels like something we have seen before. An egotistical “player” is killed essentially for being a giant tool. Liv eats his brains and takes on the personality of the “sleaze ball,” to the annoyance of everyone around her. While the brain itself lacks dimension beyond being that of a truly repulsive person, Rose McIver manages to play the character with a lot more humor and warmth than just pure sleaze. The case itself is only interesting because it turns out that a newly-turned zombie is the murderer. Before this season, zombies (other than Blaine) weren’t the perpetrators of crime. So to have a murder be the direct result of the fraught relationship between humans and the undead was an interesting perspective for the show to tackle.

Liv eats the brains in order to solve the case as per usual, but more than anything, being on “player” brain allows Liv to cultivate a personality where she feels like she can help Clive with his relationship. Clive’s relationship woes become an integral aspect of this week’s episode, as they take an unfortunately somber turn. I discussed in my previous posts that regardless of what happens with his relationship, I want Clive to be happy. I also expressed concern that Dale was asking too much of him from their current arrangement, and this episode confirms that. Clive is the one who has always been reluctant about the idea of having an open relationship, but he agrees because he loves Dale.

But when he finally puts himself out there (and goes home with someone) Dale immediately has a negative reaction. It doesn’t surprise me that she responds this way, but her comments were still enough to make me want to scream at her. She is hypocritical, passive-aggressive, and unkind in her response to Clive’s actions. She fails to acknowledge how much guilt, pain, and confusion their entire arrangement has caused Clive. Their emotional disconnect, coupled with her anger and resentment, will only lead to further complications in their relationship. It is disheartening to watch because again, I just want to see Clive happy and right now he isn’t. Compared to some of the other plot threads of the season, this one might not seem as vital to the overall plot, but it is still an important element to explore because it serves to further Clive’s characterization. I don’t know what else I hope to see out of this plot line moving forward, but I hope that it results in Clive eventually finding a way to be happy — even if it means his relationship with Dale has to end.

Elsewhere in the episode, the focus is split between Liv, Chase, Major, and Peyton. The Renegade storyline takes a backseat for most of the episode, and the only significant development is that Liv finds a way to make zombie I.D. cards for anyone new who gets smuggled into the city. It does not make for the most exciting of plot developments, but it does allow for important elements to come together. In the search for a supplier of brains, Liv finally has the opportunity to meet Angus at his church. I guess it never occurred to me that Liv and Angus had never met, because she didn’t even make the connection that Blaine was his son. I understand that it is a necessary meeting, so that everyone can now be aware of each other. Understanding who Angus is, and knowing about his connection to Blaine will undoubtedly become important later in the season. But for now, the plot point feels very incomplete and out of place with everything else happening in the episode.

The connection that the show is trying to establish between Liv and Levon feels additionally out of place, and quite frankly a little forced. Every time Liv gets a new love interest, it feels like they are used as a distraction on her road back to Major. While I have genuinely liked some of her boyfriends from past seasons, they either end up dead or caught up in Liv’s hijinks, and it is frustrating to watch. By making Levon part of Renegade’s crew, it is clear that he can keep up with some of Liv’s more elaborate and dangerous plans, but that is not enough to justify putting them together romantically.

We currently do not know enough about Levon to understand his motivations or his personality, so making him a love interest for Liv feels too convenient and contrived. Based on how she has handled her last two relationships, Liv is not in a good position to be dating anyone right now. But more than anything, I am not a fan of the relationship because it feels unnecessary. We know that she is capable of having platonic relationships with her co-workers, so why should this be any different?

As Chase continues to struggle with how to manage the mounting problems in New Seattle, he begins to lean on Major to assist him in his nefarious endeavors — a role that Major unquestionably assumes. It is evident that despite publicly claiming he is satisfied with how things in New Seattle have been running (and that everything he has done so far has been intentional) Chase’s emotional responses continue to indicate the exact opposite. He feels threatened by bad press and is exhibiting symptoms of paranoia. He checks his office for bugs and has Major shut down Seattle’s alt-weekly, citing it as “fake news” because it reports on issues that run in contradiction to the Fillmore Graves agenda. It is a plot line that makes me recoil in disgust because of its real-world connotations.

However, despite season four’s socio-politically charged narrative, I am reluctant to make any further comparisons between in-universe events as they relate to our current political climate. I understand why comparisons might be drawn, but doing so gets us too far away from the shows actual intent, (plus it makes me depressed) so I am not going to use this space for that. The real purpose of this plot line is to show how pressure is affecting Chase and how he is choosing to wield his power. Peyton realizes that through his actions, Chase has established an autocracy in New Seattle — a fact he doesn’t deny. He thinks he understands what is best for the citizens of the city he created, but it is increasingly apparent that it is his limited perspective on how change manifests — and his poorly-masked vulnerabilities — that will lead to his imminent downfall. It will also likely lead to Major’s downfall too.

Major has made it very clear this season where his allegiances are, so if Chase is eventually taken out of power, the responsibility for the destruction of Seattle will become Major’s fault too. It is still difficult to interpret the motivation behind some of Major’s actions, but it is evident that the show will continue to address the moral implications for every decision he has made. The look of simultaneous disbelief and disgust that Peyton gives Major during the episode when she realizes the full extent of his actions should serve as yet another wake-up call that he is making poor choices.

Unfortunately, it might be too late for Major to extract himself from Fillmore Graves, and emotionally and morally reconcile the damage he has caused. The rest of the season will undoubtedly determine what ultimately happens to him as the result of being on the “wrong” side of history.

Ultimately, “Don’t Hate the Player, Hate the Brain” is a decent, but frustrating viewing experience. It skillfully weaves humor with aggression and chaos, but it still fails to move the plot forward in any significant way. However, knowing what the show is capable of, I am not too concerned by one mediocre middle episode. I am confident that next week’s episode will be more plot propelling and exciting. Tune in next week for my coverage of “Chivalry is Dead.”

The Flash 4x18 Review: "Lose Yourself" (Death by Ethics) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]

"Lose Yourself"
Original Airdate: April 17, 2018 

This week, The Flash spends a decent amount of time debating the ethics of a superhero killing a supervillain, before accidentally implying that vigilante murder is the best option for everyone and should always be done if given the chance. Oops! Beyond that, the writers’ weeks and weeks of counter-productive character anti-development ends as we are led to believe the team has lost its most elastic and odious member.

And if there seems to be an air of doubt in that sentence, it’s because I can’t genuinely believe this show spent so much effort and screen time on the Dibny character, only to kill him off with five weeks’ worth of shows left to air. But I don’t know, maybe he really is gone for good, in which case all those Dibny-focused episodes were an even bigger waste of time than I had previously thought.

(Also, jeez. Five weeks left. The pacing of this show really is horrendous.)


There’s one bus meta left to save from DeVoe’s clutches, but he appears to have disappeared without a trace. While scanning the actual “bus meta” bus for dark matter clues, Barry and Dibny discuss the team’s inevitable confrontation with DeVoe. Dibny thinks they should just kill DeVoe outright. Barry disagrees, saying that the only way to truly be a hero and keep one’s soul intact is to avoid killing. His plan is to keep DeVoe in the pipeline, locked away forever until he... dies of natural causes, I guess? Lifelong imprisonment, outright murder — either way, Barry’s really skirting the whole due process thing, so he should probably get off that ethical high horse.

Finding the last bus meta’s residual dark matter energy in his seat on the bus jogs Dibny’s memory of a hippie dude who paid his bus fare. According to Barry’s science stuff, the hippie’s reaction to the burst of dark matter was to just... disappear. It’s not great news to bring back to S.T.A.R. Labs, but it’s news.

Harry has news as well: a tuning fork, designed to deliver a blast of sonic waves even stronger than the waves Izzy could produce (which, if you don’t remember, was the only thing to successfully injure DeVoe). The tuning fork — which Harry dubs the Sonic Scepter — even has a “one shot to stun, two shots to kill” feature that nicely ties into this week’s ethical dilemma of killing vs. not killing The Thinker.

Harry has also managed to find a way to predict where DeVoe will appear next. All of Harry’s announcements, by the way, are delivered with the manic enthusiasm of a man high on speed — and not the Speed Force kind of speed, either. As a little subplot, Harry has become addicted to the Thinking Cap he created, probably because he cheated and got Gideon, the giant floating computer head that lives inside his wall (an odd sentence, but probably not the oddest I’ve ever written in a review for this show) to load the cap up with dark matter. Joe, because he’s a cop who probably sees junkies every day and because his ex-wife was an addict, catches on to Harry’s behavior and later unsuccessfully tries to talk him down.

An alarm sounds, indicating that DeVoe might be leaving his pocket dimension, and the metahuman members of Team Flash go to meet him. Except when a portal opens up, it’s not DeVoe who steps out — it’s the bus meta hippie. His power is creating pocket dimensions like the one DeVoe’s chair makes, which means he’s an especially good find for DeVoe because getting his power would allow DeVoe to hop through pocket dimensions quite freely. The hippie, Edwin Gauss, escapes capture and the team must hunt him down by differentiating his pocket dimensions from DeVoe’s pocket dimensions.

The team does hunt Gauss down, tracking him to a hippie commune in the middle of the woods. He’s apparently very famous amongst the hippies, earning the moniker “The Folded Man.” Caitlin separates from Barry and Dibny, mostly so Barry and Dibny can continue their debate over killing DeVoe. Dibny seems like he’s been talked over to Barry’s side of non-murder, but when the team finally catches up with Gauss, they get attacked by a robot samurai like the one from the season premiere. In the fight, Caitlin gets stabbed, so Barry rushes her back to the lab to get patched up, leaving Dibny with Gauss and the decapitated robot head. The head says mean things about killing all Dibny’s friends.

Oh by the way, Ralph Dibny is back to his whining, antagonistic, “nobody is taking this DeVoe thing seriously except me!” personality this week, so that’s just as annoying as the jokester personality, frankly. Don’t know why I thought to mention it. A bit like going, “This garbage is in a black plastic bag and this garbage is in a white plastic bag, which would you like me to throw at you?” Doesn’t matter! Still garbage! Please stop throwing garbage at me, The Flash!

At least the show makes up for it a fraction by giving Dibny non-selfish motivations for his whining. He’s grown to love Team Flash and thinks of them as family, and it’s out of fear of losing them that he acts like a jerk and does stupid things like trying to take on DeVoe alone, only to be stopped by Barry and hauled back to S.T.A.R. Labs. If any of this appreciation for the team had shown through in the last fourteen episodes since Dibny appeared, maybe I’d feel something for the character other than annoyance.

Team Flash formulates a plan inspired by Dibny’s failed plan. They’ll use Gauss to pocket over to DeVoe’s lair in a surprise attack. Unfortunately for them, DeVoe predicted this, so when Barry, Killer Frost, and Cisco arrive, all that’s there to greet them is a hologram. DeVoe and his wife have teleported to S.T.A.R. Labs while the main metahuman heroes are away. A battle ensues.

Iris is kind of the shining light of this whole fight sequence, by the way. She starts it off by throwing an earring that’s apparently loaded with enough explosives to blast a hole in one of the lab walls, then takes on Marlize and handles herself incredibly well while Mrs. DeVoe swings a sword around. The crowning moment of awesome, however, is when Iris reminds Marlize of that time when she asked what Iris was willing to do for Barry, and then answers that question by straight-up stabbing herself with Marlize’s sword just to get close enough to slam Marlize’s head against The Thinker’s hoverchair and shove her into a pocket dimension. Listen, I don’t think it’s said enough: Iris West is capital-A Amazing.

What a pity that her hard work is all for naught, as Ralph Dibny’s final act of ineptitude is to forget to properly lock the metahuman handcuffs he puts on DeVoe, and DeVoe escapes. Then takes Dibny’s body and powers. The bad guys win. Team Flash not only loses one of their team members, but the remaining bus metas as well, and a touch from DeVoe during the melee removed Killer Frost from Caitlin. Also, I’m pretty sure Harry accidentally fried his brain when he overloaded his Thinking Cap with dark matter in his hurry to think of something that could win the battle.

Yikes, this is a bit early for the fake-out downer ending, The Flash. You guys usually wait until the penultimate episode to pull this sort of thing and we’ve got five episodes left in the season. Where can you go from here?

Other Things:

  • Aw, I hope Killer Frost comes back. I really like the idea of Caitlin and Killer Frost becoming besties through post-it notes.
  • Barry looks so strangely angry at the bubbles floating around Gauss’s hippie commune camp.
  • Ha! I was totally right when I predicted that DeVoe would get Ralph’s powers and use them to shapeshift back into himself.