Ted Lasso, Rom-Coms, and Emotional Vulnerability

Why is it important that a show about men who play soccer did a rom-com homage?

Dickinson Behind-the-Scenes: An Interview With the Artisans

Meet the artists who brought the Apple TV+ series to life!

If You Like This, Watch That

Looking for a new TV series to watch? We recommend them based on your preference for musicals, ensemble shows, mysteries, and more!

Friday, May 25, 2018

The Handmaid’s Tale 2x06 Review: “First Blood” (More Than One Way to Bond) [Contributor: Melanie]

"First Blood"
Original Airdate: May 23, 2018

All right, after my few weeks of complaining about the direction of the season, we finally moved back toward what made the first season great. Again, not that I thought season was any massive step down — just a different direction. But this week’s episode brought us back to the nuances that made the first season so terrifying and great.

I love any episode that focuses on Serena. Her expansion from the evil stepmother type in the book into a complicated and, frankly, tragic figure (for more on that check out my interview with Yvonne Strahovski from last fall) is one of the best choices the show made in its adaptation of the work. We’re reminded this week that Serena is very much a woman who abused her privileged position to hand over her own freedom — and the freedom of every woman in America.


June is undergoing an ultrasound and they determine the child is completely healthy, despite her scare. Serena allows June to see the ultrasound monitor to look at her child. When they get home, Serena sets her up in the living room as to not exert her on the stairs. June is cold to Nick’s new wife and June insists that they can no longer have secret rendezvous. That night, June gets up to get water where she has a tense, brief, conversation with Commander Waterford in the kitchen before returning. In the morning, Serena organizes a brunch for June and the other Handmaids to allow them social time.

Serena shows June the nursery and June asks for a chance to see her daughter. Serena denies her and their budding bond turns cold quickly. While June is packing her things to return to her room, Eden expresses her doubts about Nick, who has rebuffed her advances. She believes he might be a gender traitor and, fearing she may turn Nick in, June convinces him to warm up to his wife. Serena shares her frustrations over June with Fred who, as a peace offering, gives June a picture of her daughter. He then attempts to rekindle their relationship but she makes up an excuse to decline. Two days later, during the opening of Fred’s pet project — the Rachel and Leah Center to train new Handmaids — Ofglen detonates a bomb.

In flashbacks, Serena and Fred are speaking at a local college where they receive an angry response from students that quickly turns violent. Serena is eventually able to get the crowd’s attention and insists on the need to focus on the dwindling birth rates, to some positive response. However, as they are leaving the event, she is shot. Fred tracks down the student who shot her and shoots the student's wife in front of him as revenge.


My big takeaway this week was how the show continues to paint a tragic portrait of women turned against each other. Throughout this episode I fell for the false peace and borderline friendship between June and Serena that was, unsurprisingly, ultimately dismantled when the facade fell away. It did, however, for the first time feel like Serena was offering her kindness for more than just the sake of her baby. There’s a connection between June and Serena of shared slavery and pain. But Serena’s resentment of June’s ability to have a child and her resentment of herself for the harm she’s caused a mother create difficult roadblocks to overcome. Their animosity gets to remain between them, with little interference from Fred or Nick. Their hatred just as much as a would-be friendship, is a woman’s issue — between women.

Speaking of which: I didn’t realize how frustrating I found Nick until this week. He often cryptically offers advice to June and claims he knows best for her, but this week his latent mansplaining got turned around when he revealed his reluctance to consummate his relationship with his new wife... which June points out is hypocritical, considering her own sexual slavery. He claims it’s “unfair” and June brushes him off and walks out of the room. While the situation is an extreme one, it is still an example of the different rules that are assigned for men and women in social situations: women are expected to do or be something, while men have the luxury of choice and don’t acknowledge this privilege.

Ultimately, this week was a set-up for me from the bonkers, rushed plot of the first few episodes (that ended up nowhere). And, of course, this show continues to be unsettling and almost hard to watch at times with how close it hits to our unfortunately current home.

Blindspot 3x23 Review: "In Memory" (So Many Twists) [Contributor: Jen]

"In Memory"
Original Airdate: May 18, 2018

Hello Blindspotters! Yes, I am alive. No, I haven't stopped watching Blindspot. Life happened, but I have every intention of catching up. Despite being five episodes behind, I am jumping ahead to the finale, "In Memory," because HOLY FREAKING COW!

Season three was not one of Blindspot's best (maybe it gets better in the last five episodes; does it get better?), but we can always count on their finales. Blindspot has a history of creating mind-blowing finales and "In Memory" does not disappoint. There are so many plot twists it feels like the writers are throwing everything but the kitchen sink at the series. I believe there's a reason for that, but first let's try to unravel all this crazy shall we?


There is no real case of the week other than "Project Stop Roman." It ends where it all began for Roman and Remi — in Cape Town, South Africa. Luke Mitchell's excellent portrayal of Roman has been the one consistency throughout this garbled season. It often felt like Roman was on his own show, but it was much better than anything we were watching on Blindspot! I am Team Roman, for better or for worse. I want him to marry Blake, make a bunch of babies, and get his own spin-off. I feel my expectations were 100% realistic going into the finale.

But Martin Gero lives to torture me, so I don't get nice things. It's interesting Roman uses The Count of Monte Cristo for clues to point Team Blindspot in the right direction. The Count of Monte Cristo is about an innocent man, wrongfully imprisoned for years, who becomes a wealthy after his escape and uses that wealth for revenge against all those who wronged him. Sound familiar, kids?

I once heard the phrase "we are all the heroes of our own story," so The Count of Monte Cristo gives us a lot of insight into a closed-off character like Roman. Roman believe's he's like Edmond Dantes and is morally justified inflicting pain on those closest to him. Primarily because the people he loved sent him to hell.

The real villain of Roman's story is Hank Crawford. The two men meet for a final showdown where it all began — inside the orphanage Roman and Remi were trained and tortured after their parents were murdered. The orphanage where they were trained to become murderers themselves. In a very slick twist, Hank Crawford is responsible for the orphanage. It was his "pet project." Roman, Remi, and all the other children were the trial run soldiers Crawford envisioned policing the world. Nicely done tying that season one loose end up, Blindspot! Also, Crawford is the son of Satan and must die.

Crawford convinces Roman to make a run for it when the FBI shows up. Crawford believes Roman loves Blake and believes in his vision. He wants Roman to tell Blake everything and finish what he started. Incredibly, Roman listens! Really dude? This guy put you in a torture chamber for kids and you still agree with his vision for the world? Roman, my child, there isn't enough therapy in the world for you.

He meets up with Blake (yes, she's in South Africa after being debriefed by the FBI ten minutes earlier. Just go with it), and Blake gave her father up to the FBI with almost no hesitation. Stone cold, that girl. This should have tipped me off to what was coming but, alas, I was willfully holding on to my Rake babies (I decided that's the ship name for Roman and Blake).

It should be noted Roman completely agrees with me about the marriage and babies. We are a united front! Unfortunately, he's too busy rambling about weddings and babies to notice that Blake called him Roman. Not Tom. Oh crap... she knows! Still, I thought it was gonna be okay. Love conquers all, right?

NOPE. Blake freaking shoots Roman! Oh, and it gets worse. When Roman asks, "Was it real? Did you love me?" Blake answers: "How could I? I never knew you." UGH. Just twist the knife inside of me. That would be less painful.

Is Roman a sociopath? Is he capable of love, or is it something he just acts at? I don't believe Roman was a sociopath because he was in constant search of love and needing to be part of a family. Love was the driving force behind most of his decisions. Roman's loyalty to Shepherd is what kept him part of Sandstorm, but it was his love for Jane that made him betray his mother. Even his revenge against Jane was based in his love for her, and the betrayal he felt when Jane zipped him. Roman was even able to form some kind of connection to Hank Crawford, the monster who created him. Yet it was in his relationship with Blake that Roman found real happiness. Yes, everything else was a lie, but his love for Blake was the only truth Roman had left. Now even that was taken from him.

Jane finds Roman sitting against a tree, slowly bleeding out, and death suddenly makes everything clear to him. Roman sees Jane and knows — despite the zipping — she was the truth all along. The love and family Roman scoured the world for was standing right in front of him. Right where she's always been. Roman has wasted so much time, but he's determined to make his last moments with his sister count. You see, the story of The Count of Monte Cristo is not really one of revenge. It is one of forgiveness.
Roman: I'm sorry. 
Jane: I know, I know. Me too. 
Roman: I never got out. I never got out of that hole. 
Jane: That's not true. 
Roman: Here. 
Jane: What is it? 
Roman: I told you once that I wasn't afraid of death. That I was ready. But I'm not. I'm scared, Remi. I don't want to die in this place alone in the dark. 
Jane: You're not. Roman, Roman, look at me. Okay. Look at the sun and this tree and the view. You're home. You made it home. And I'm right here with you. I love you. And I will see you again. I promise.
Jane is right. Roman found his way home in the end — to her. Jane sits against the tree, her head resting on her dead brother's shoulder, and she cries. The only person who truly understands everything Jane has survived is gone. It is absolutely heartbreaking.

Roman is tragic figure. Despite all the evil he has done and the lives he has destroyed, we glimpse the innocent boy Jane spent two years trying to save in Roman's final moments. Perhaps he didn't deserve a happily ever after, but it's a cruel twist of fate that Roman dies after finding the family he's been searching for. Roman loses any chance for redemption just as he realizes everything he's done wrong. It felt like there was still more story to tell with Roman, which makes his death even more difficult to accept.

Luke Mitchell did a phenomenal job portraying this complex and layered character, but his final scene is a tour de force performance. I am a shell of a human being — completely shattered after watching. Blindspot was a better show with Luke Mitchell on it and I will be miss him dearly. Dark and twisty is your thing, man. Stick with it. AND FOR THE LOVE OF MOSES, SOMEONE GIVE THIS GUY HIS OWN SHOW!


Reade broke up with his fiance? Reade and Zapata hooked up!? Y'all gotta tell me this stuff when I'm five episodes behind. YAHOOO! Our ship is sailing!

... Or least it was, until Zapata broke up with Reade because of "bad timing." Well, that five minutes was fun. Honestly, woman, what do you want? I'm Team Reade. Kudos to my brother for his well-aimed: "Don't talk like this is something we agree on" zinger.

It seems Zapata has lost her job at both the CIA and the FBI and has a new career path, which brings us to twist number two — Zapata is the one who told Blake about Roman, and is working for her now. SAY WHAAAAAAAAAAAAT?
Zapata: You should have let me do it. 
Blake: No. It had to be me. I'm just glad you told me the truth when you did. 
Zapata: This is how we take the power back. This is how we change the world.

Obviously, Blake has taken over her father's company and that was probably the reason she had zero problem handing him over to the FBI. I just never thought Zapata would be in cahoots with her! So is she Evil Zapata? Dark and twisty Zapata? I HAVE QUESTIONS.

Also, Tasha is to blame for blowing up not one but two of my ships (Rapata and Rake) this season. Girl, we got some talkin' to do next year.


Jane is suffering from headaches, which never means something good in the world of television. Mr. Gero likes to toy with my emotions, and Jane believes she passed out because she's pregnant. Uhhh... there's a real good way to find out if that's true sweetie. You don't need to pass out and guess.

Instead, Jane decides to run it past Kurt and see how he'd feel about Jeller baby. Oh, you mean the man who's been naming your babies since the first day he met you, Jane? Pretty sure he's going to be okay with it.

Kurt becomes the literal equivalent of a human rainbow after Jane tells him she might be maybe pregnant. (There are no maybes, kids. There's science to help you avoid these kinds of situations. TAKE A FRIGGIN' TEST.) They are moments away from capturing Roman, so Kurt believes it's the perfect time to start a family.

Dude, you just jinxed it. Why'd you have to talk about how everything might be over soon? You had one job, Kurt. Be supportive, but pontificate about impending doomsday and how this is the worst possible time to get pregnant. Instead, you are sunshine. That's just daring Gero to blow it all up again. NEVER DARE A WRITER.

Kurt is shot about five seconds later. Didn't I tell you, boy? I TOLD YOU. He says it's no big deal though. He's fine. No reason to go to the hospital and check out a gunshot wound. Sigh. Can someone please remind Kurt Weller that he is on Blindspot? Season one DVD is on me, fella. It's time you remembered some facts about this show — like the time you dug up the corpse of the little girl your father murdered. BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO YOU IN FINALES, KURT. Get in the game.

Honestly, after the crap he's pulled this season, Martin Gero owes us babies. SO. MANY. BABIES. We should get multiples. But of course, it's not babies. Jane's headaches and passing out are all part of something Roman was working to cure. At first it sounds like Jane has a terminal disease. Yes, we had to worry about both Kurt and Jane being killed in the same episode. I feel like there should be rules against that. It's not a terminal disease though. It might actually be worse.

The zip drug is failing. Jane's memories are returning. She wakes up in the hospital and doesn't recognize anything. Kurt is also in the hospital. Turns out that gunshot wound was serious (as gunshot wounds are) and he had surgery. It did not go well and my Kurt is hooked up to all kinds of tubes. DON'T YOU DARE, BLINDSPOT WRITERS. NO KILLING KURT. I WILL NOT HAVE IT.

Blindspot doesn't need to kill Kurt, but they do need him unconscious for a little while because...


Yup. That's right, kids! Jane has lost all her memories of being Jane, her friendships with Team Blindspot, and her love for Kurt Weller. The zip is gone and everything is undone. Remi believes she's still working undercover at the FBI for Project Sandstorm. (This is going to make Roman's death a lot more interesting). Remi is right where she's always wanted to be — she has the team's, FBI's and most importantly Kurt Weller's trust. That sly smile conveys everything we need to know about the woman Jane could barely remember. Remi is determined, ruthless, and probably kind of evil.

(Source: https://random-fandom-whump.tumblr.com/)

Ohhhh y'all, this is good. I cackled. Literally a gleeful cackle. Kurt in a coma makes perfect sense now because he would be the first person to notice something is wrong with Jane. This gives Remi some time to acclimate to her environment before she has the husband detector on her tail.

Is this another way to keep Kurt and Jane apart? Well... yeah. We won't be getting those babies anytime soon. However, I think this obstacle makes a heck of a lot more sense than the ridiculous cheating/killed my daughter nonsense we were fed this year. I don't have an issue with the writers throwing drama at Kurt and Jane. I just expect it to be good drama. Reversing the zip brings us full circle, back to season one. We get to truly meet Remi, understand her mind, and how she operates. There's an entire other version of "Jane" that we've never met and I am very excited to see the dark and twisty version of our heroine.

What's more, this is an obstacle that requires Kurt Weller to dig deep. He was fighting for Remi's memories all of season one (or Taylor Shaw's, rather), but now he'll be fighting for Jane's memories to return. This is about Jeller fighting for the person Jane has become and not the person she was.

And yes, of course they will win. This show is built upon Kurt and Jane's love. It was her love for Kurt that made Jane turn away from Remi the first time. Now, it will be Kurt's love for Jane that will make her turn away from Remi again. I predict Jane will gain her memories back without losing her memories of Remi. She'll have access to both versions of herself and will make a choice for good.

Why do I say for good? Well... Blindspot's renewal was not a sure thing this year. It was on the bubble and I think one of the primary reasons we scraped out a renewal is because next year is season four. Blindspot will have the minimum 88 episodes required to sell a show into syndication next season. NBC has cut the episode order back to 22 episodes for the last two years and I suspect they'll do it again in season four. Is it possible for Blindspot to continue past next season? Sure, it's a reasonably solid performer on Friday night, even though it's one of NBC's lowest-rated dramas. The ratings in season four will tell us a lot, but given everything the writers have thrown at the season three finale I am thinking they are hedging their bets a little. All of these twists and turns could make for a very exciting final season — if done correctly.

Stray Thoughts:

  • Rich's bitterness about not being able to go to South Africa was hilarious, as was all his arguing that everything the team needs is on "the cloud."
  • Jane's choice to zip Roman's memory was wrong and ultimately severed the relationship a brother and sister could have, but it's difficult not to look at her actions as compassionate. Who would want these memories?
  • All Roman did was mess with Kurt, so I thought it was sweet that he tried to comfort Jane over her brother's loss. I also liked that Jane stopped short of calling Roman her only family, because she knows she has Kurt and he will always be her family.
  • "It felt like he was one of us." ROMAN WAS ONE OF US, JANE. HE DESERVED BABIES. (Also jail, but mostly babies.)
  • "I liked you better with your accent, Tom." Saaaaame, Crawford.
  • Roman left part of his cache of tattoo goodness to Jane! Yahoo! More tattoo fun next year. But who did Roman leave the money and the rest of the tattoo information to?
  • Sorry for falling behind again. The fall schedule for next year works much better for my personal schedule so hopefully I'll be able to keep up better. I appreciate everyone's patience!

Thursday, May 24, 2018

The Flash 4x23 Review: "We Are the Flash" (A Series of Uninspiring Events) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]

"We Are the Flash"
Original Airdate: May 22, 2018 

It’s here! The Flash’s fourth season finale! And it’s... exactly the finale I expected from as season that started out strong but has been slowly losing steam since around the midpoint. “We Are the Flash” is predictable, lacking in emotional oomph, and sub-par on the special effects because they burned all the money on the 22 previous episodes and I’m going to say this again, The Flash: Shorten. Your. Seasons. There would be so many benefits to doing so — better storytelling, more in the budget for CGI that doesn’t make your humans look like plastic action figures, and you’ve already hit those sweet, sweet syndication numbers, so what are you holding out for?


The most lackluster season finale in the history of The Flash season finales begins with the Enlightenment, which starts in Central City but is calculated to cover the entire globe by the end of the episode.

That Enlightenment prediction comes from Marlize, newly arrived at S.T.A.R. Labs with Iris. Marlize is also the person who provides the plot for the first half of the episode: With the help of Cecile’s pregnancy powers, Barry is going to link up with DeVoe’s mind via the hoverchair and search for the good that Marlize still believes is hidden in DeVoe, somewhere. It’s a desperate plan, and everyone knows it. Barry mentions enlisting the help of his super pals instead, but Marlize tells him DeVoe’s powers were “specifically” chosen to oppose anyone Team Flash called to help. Uh... none of DeVoe’s powers include kryptonite radiation, so I still think Kara would be a good choice, but okay.

Barry goes into DeVoe’s brain with the assumption that DeVoe wouldn’t detect him, but there’s still a hoverchair Thinker lurking about. Ducking inside the bus meta bus in DeVoe’s memories allows a moment for Barry to catch the team up on being in someone else’s mind. Marlize directs Barry to the DeVoe household, which is symbolically empty — right down to blank photographs — of anything associated with DeVoe’s humanity.

In the real world, Harry is deteriorating and wants to use the Thinking Cap. Cisco resists the idea for like, a second, and once it’s on Harry’s head, Harry gives Cisco the idea to send Barry to the place where DeVoe and Marlize first fell in love. Then he hugs Cisco, providing the only real moment of genuine emotion in the episode. When the cap is powered down and removed, Harry starts muttering things, including “Nora shouldn’t be here,” which is one of the sentences Barry said during his post-Speed Force bout of crazy. We do figure out which “Nora” shouldn’t be where she is later, but get no clarification for why Enlightened Harry was channeling Barry with the Speed Force crazies.

Back in DeVoe’s brain, Ralph Dibny is there. Evil DeVoe is there. But good DeVoe is not. Where is good DeVoe? He’s dead! Yeah, of course he is. I seriously doubt DeVoe’s goodness was ever as strong as Marlize believed it to be.

DeVoe shows up where Team Flash and Marlize are and threatens them with the plan of using Barry’s presence in his mind to spread the Enlightenment all through time and space, thanks to Barry’s connection to the Speed Force. Marlize zaps everyone to DeVoe’s pocket dimension to hide out.

Since the good in DeVoe is dead, Barry gets the idea that the “good” is actually Dibny, not any version of DeVoe himself. Barry’s idea: get Dibny to the nexus in DeVoe’s mind, get him out, and let him take over his own body again. Confusingly, rather than simply speeding Ralph to that nexus, Barry stops down the road and must fight through a series of duplicated DeVoes, Matrix style. It’s all for the sake of a fight sequence that, thanks to really shotty CGI, was… not worth it.

Dibny gets out. DeVoe is gone. Then he comes back as a hologram, pointlessly, and gets killed again — I guess so Marlize could take action and be the one to finalize his death? — and that’s the halfway mark of the episode. Yeah, for real. The villain is defeated at the halfway mark. I did mention this finale was lackluster, right?

The third climactic event of the episode is Team Flash dealing with the aftermath of Enlightenment’s shutdown, including falling satellite parts that must be dealt with before they destroy the city. Barry zooms around to build up energy to punch the largest satellite part. Then he… reverses, and does it again, except there’s purple speed lightning and someone else lands a second punch. I know who it was (Nora) but… what actually happened? Did Barry die the first time around and Nora reversed it to save him? That sounds like a paradox waiting to happen.

Crisis averted, though. The city cheers! Cecile has had her baby! Everyone is happy! Dibny is alive! ... I am slightly less happy.

Marlize leaves Team Flash to go do Marlize things — real, pre-DeVoe Marlize things, like helping feed people and stuff. I wish the would-be villainess luck in her endeavors. Before she leaves, though, she gives Team Flash something that should help get Harry back to normal. It seems to work when Cisco tries it out, but Harry is too normal. His personality has certainly improved, and he seems okay with his lot in life, but he’s no longer a genius. After hugs and goodbyes, he shuffles off to his own Earth to be with his daughter.

Speaking of daughters: at the welcome home party for Cecile and the new baby (Jenna Marie West, and if that has comic book significance I haven’t figured it out yet) Mystery Girl shows up. Everyone realizes they’ve all interacted with her, and she’s wearing Iris’s jacket, and finally drops, “This house is bitchin’”! But more importantly, she announces that her name is Nora... Barry and Iris’s daughter from the future. And she made a big, big mistake.

Weird, but as a way to tie up loose ends, this finale was perfect. In terms of laying out plot points and foreshadowing, this entire season was perfect! The existence of the bus metas was planted early and each one of them served a purpose, even beyond being metahumans of the week. Barry’s post-Speed Force ramblings (dropping the line from his trial, mentioning Nora, scribbling out the ever-important “This house is bitchin’”) turned up again, adding to the mystery of what he was seeing/thinking when hyped up on Speed Force. Cecile’s powers weren’t just convenient for one episode and forgotten; she’s critical to this finale. Marlize’s turn from her husband, the revelation of emotion and goodness being utterly gone from DeVoe, even the stuff surrounding Ralph Dibny, his evolution from a selfish jerk to the “good part” of DeVoe — all of it was set up with a precision that should be incredibly clever.

So what went wrong? Personally, I’m still blaming the number of episodes the writers had to fill. It’s the only explanation that makes sense to me. It doesn’t matter how great your ingredients are and how skilled you are as a chef — if you’ve got enough food for four people but have to make a stew that serves thirty, things are going to get watered down. The Flash’s fourth season, in the end, is gourmet, watered-down stew. And that’s unfortunate.

But I’ll just hope for better next time. Here’s to season five!

Other Things:
  • Barry has his job back, according to Captain Singh, and I am very surprised that this episode doesn’t end with Barry somehow losing it again. The Flash really has it out for Barry’s CSI career.
  • So how many people who were on life support when the Enlightenment shut off all electronics ended up dying? Everything’s all happy at the end but... yeah. People done died, dudes.
  • Was Cecile channeling Caitlin’s subconscious Killer Frost when she says, “I found Thomas. He’s been this way all the time”? The effect on her voice reminded me of the hissy-echo they put over Killer Frost’s.
  • Joe being able to turn a gun on DeVoe despite DeVoe’s attempts to control him. That’s some willpower right there.
  • I giggled after Cisco and Harry quote Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Iris turns to Barry and says, knowingly, “Star Wars.” Barry’s expression was so worried!
  • Other cute Barry/Iris moment: Barry panicking about Iris mentioning having kids.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine 5x21 and 5x22 Recaps: “White Whale” & “Jake & Amy” (Whales and Wedding Vows) [Contributor: Alisa Williams]

“White Whale”
Original Airdate: May 13, 2018

In the penultimate episode of this season's Brooklyn Nine-Nine, there are only seven days before Jake and Amy’s wedding, which means Amy gets to switch from her month-of binder to her week-of binder (which is somehow bigger?) and she couldn’t be happier. She and Jake only have one day off between now and the wedding, so they have exactly 24 hours to accomplish a huge to-do list. There’s only one slight problem: a con Amy and Rosa have been hunting, who went off the grid seven years ago, has finally resurfaced. Sergio Mendara is a ruthless killer and meth dealer. Jake says not to worry. He’ll handle the wedding stuff so Amy and Rosa can focus on taking down Sergio.

Jake recruits Terry to help him. He has 143 tasks to accomplish and is down to 12 hours to do it in. Terry’s reluctant because he was hoping to spend his day off actually relaxing for once, but he can’t argue with Jake’s compliments about him being the perfect husband and just who Jake needs in his moment of crisis. While Terry helps Jake channel his “groom gut,” Amy and Rosa figure out Sergio is headed back to an old hideout to search for the cash he had to stash before fleeing the country seven years ago. Unfortunately, Sergio is one step ahead just like always, and has left a grammatically incorrect note to taunt them.

Meanwhile, Olivia Crawford, Holt’s primary competition for the commissionership, shows up in the Nine-Nine with bad news. She has a source on the nominating committee that says the job is going to the third candidate, John Kelly. Half the committee is leaning his way, while the other half is split between Crawford and Holt. Realizing they’re splitting the vote, they agree one of them should bow out, but they can’t agree on which one. Crawford thinks Holt should drop out so she can become the first female commissioner (and also because he’s old), while Holt thinks she should drop out so he can become the first openly gay commissioner. Neither is budging. Gina and Boyle suggest Holt start a few false rumors about Crawford to get the committee to swing in his direction, but he doesn’t want to fight dirty.

Things aren’t going well for Rosa and Amy. They track down Sergio’s grandmother in a nursing home to see if she’s seen him but she hasn’t. Rosa is getting frustrated and feels like she’s a worse cop now than their first time going after him. This causes Amy to admit something she’s never told Rosa before: seven years ago when they had Sergio cornered in a warehouse, Amy accidentally let him get away. She was supposed to be covering the back but she thought she heard noise up on the roof and left her post, giving him the chance to slip out. Rosa’s furious and refuses to speak to Amy, but they still have to work together, especially because they just got a tip from one of the nurses that Sergio’s grandmother was just signed out for a physical therapy appointment even though she doesn’t do physical therapy. They head out in silence.

As they’re driving to the supposed appointment, one of the nursing home patients calls Amy to say she just saw a man in the grandmother’s room, digging through her stuff. They race back thinking Sergio must have stashed his money there. He’s gone when they get back, and it’s clear he took something from the wall vent with him. But before they can get too discouraged, the client who called Amy tells them Sergio is in the hallway. They race after him and Amy, in an ill-advised attempt at making up for her mistake seven years ago, jumps off the roof of the nursing home hoping to hit the ground running and cut him off. She misses by a long shot and ends up dislocating her knee as he speeds away.

Rosa tells Amy she was being stupid by trying to make up for letting Sergio get away seven years ago. That’s not even why Rosa’s mad. She’s mad because Amy lied to her. Amy reminds her that they didn’t know each other very well yet when they worked the case before and Amy was really scared of Rosa, which Rosa admits is understandable. As time went by, it just got more and more awkward to bring up. Rosa forgives her and as they’re talking, Amy has an epiphany. The only person who knew they were visiting the nursing home was the nurse who was so helpful to them before. He must be working with Sergio! Rosa, who admitted during their conversation that she was in medical school for three years among other accomplishments, quickly resets Amy’s knee so they can go question the nurse. They pay a visit to his apartment and lo and behold, there’s Sergio! And, finally, after seven years, Amy and Rosa make their arrest.

Back at the precinct, Jake’s accomplished the entire to-do list but realizes he’s gone over budget. In order to help cut costs, he and Terry recruit Hitchcock and Scully to help put together the wedding favors. They’re able to assemble the favors in time to get them to the venue before it closes, but after they finish loading up Terry’s van, Jake realizes he locked the keys inside! It’s a hot day and it doesn’t take long for the chocolate cookies with Jake and Amy’s faces on them to melt. Terry gives Jake a quick pep talk about how trying is the only thing that matters and Amy will know he tried, but Jake takes it completely the wrong way and breaks Terry’s windows so they can retrieve the keys and get to the venue.

Meanwhile, Holt calls Crawford back to his office, and much to the devastation of Boyle and Gina, he tells her that he sent a letter withdrawing his name from consideration. He tells Crawford she’s the type of commissioner he’s always dreamed of having and if he has to withdraw in order to see it happen, then so be it. But Crawford has some shocking news of her own — she also sent a letter withdrawing her name for the same reasons! It seems they’ve just handed John Kelly the commissionership. But Gina says if they can retrieve the letters before anyone reads them, they’ll be saved.

They all quickly head to the mailroom and locate Holt’s letter. Crawford tears it up and Holt asks what her letter looks like. She tells him she withdrew via email (because she’s not a million years old) and that the only reason she even made it this far is because Holt stood up for her at the commissioner’s party a few weeks ago. She wants him to be commissioner and she tells him he better beat John Kelly. He says he will.

Bullets on the Bulletin Board:
  • “We only have 24 hours to accomplish a week’s worth of wedding prep. This is what getting married is all about!” “And spending your life with your soul mate.” “Uh-huh.”
  • “He’s been in every dream I’ve had for the past seven years.” “Even the one you told me about where you’re riding a giant marshmallow?” “Who do you think was riding the giant jellybean I was chasing?”
  • “Yes, that would be vital and important if you weren’t one million years old.”
  • “That’s right. You’re looking at a senior queen.” “What is that? That’s not a widely used term.”
  • “Are you too old to run?” “Are you too inexperienced to know that power walking is a far more efficient and sustainable method of hurrying?”
  • “We only have one option left. You’re going to have to pick up the car and carry it to the venue.” “But how will we get the bags out?” “Is that seriously your only problem with what I just said?” “Pretty much.” 

“Jake & Amy”
Original Airdate: May 20, 2018

It’s the season finale and you know what that means: Jake and Amy are finally getting married! Unfortunately, everything is falling apart! Amy’s veil somehow develops a stain so Terry and Rosa rush off to find a dry cleaner that will clean it ASAP. The ring bearer falls ill with the chicken pox, so Jake asks if Holt will allow his dog Cheddar to step in. Holt says Cheddar loves responsibility so he and Gina head off to pick him up. Jake then tells Hitchcock and Scully that the wedding band cancelled last minute and he needs them to find a replacement. This last one was a lie — he just thought the day would go smoother if Hitchcock and Scully were out of their hair.

Just as Jake reassures Amy that she planned the perfect wedding and everything will be fine, he gets a phone call. The caller uses a disguised voice and tells him there’s a bomb at the wedding and it is set to go off at 5:30 p.m., right in the middle of the ceremony. The bomb squad shows up and to Jake and Amy’s shock and annoyance, Amy’s ex-boyfriend Teddy is leading the charge. He says after Amy dumped him for being boring, he leveled up his cool. It turns out he’s still in love with her but he says not to worry, because he’s a professional... which means he’ll do a super thorough sweep of the building, which will take hours, so they should just cancel the wedding. Teddy then proceeds to propose to Amy which is met with a resounding no.

While Jake and Amy attempt to wait out Teddy and the bomb squad, Rosa and Terry have managed to get the veil cleaned. While they wait for their ride, Terry asks Rosa if she’s bringing a date to the wedding but Rosa says no. She’s put dating on hold for a while because she’s getting sick of all the first-date pleasantries and small talk. Terry says the universe has a way of working these things out and just then their driver pulls up (played by Gina Rodriguez!) and she totally starts flirting with Rosa.

When they arrive back at the venue, Terry realizes he left the veil in the car and they’ll just have to call the sexy driver back. He swears he didn’t do this on purpose and that it’s just the universe trying to forge a love connection for Rosa.

Just then, the cake gets delivered, but they can’t take it inside because of the bomb threat so it’s stuck out in the hot sun. Jake says not to worry — he’s going to track down who made the bomb threat, get them to admit it was a prank, and then he and Amy can get married. The phone call pinged near where one of Jake’s arch-nemeses lives. He put Frank Gillespie away a few years ago after first going undercover and becoming the guy’s best friend. Chances are Frank still holds a grudge, and he just got released from prison recently.

Meanwhile, Holt is teaching Cheddar how to trot down the aisle when he gets an email from the commissioner’s office about the job. He decides not to open it because it’s Jake and Amy’s wedding and he doesn’t want to make it about him. Gina recognizes that he’s really just scared to open it. Jake and Amy show up with their cake, hoping to keep it safe in the precinct, and then Jake, Amy, and Boyle head out to find Frank Gillespie.

They knock on his door but it turns out Frank’s dead. He died shortly after getting released, from a broken heart because his best friend (Jake) betrayed him. So, apparently he’s not their guy. Amy realizes that her arch-nemesis, Dario Moretti, lives nearby, too, so maybe the call came from him. When they get to his apartment, they find a creepy shrine to Amy. Definitely seems like he’s their guy. They bring Dario down to talk to Teddy and Dario admits there was never a bomb — he just wanted to ruin the wedding. But Teddy refuses to give up the search.

Rosa and Terry aren’t having much better luck with the veil situation. They track down their driver, and find out her name is Alicia, but the veil’s no longer in her car. She turns out to be super helpful and tells them she only had one customer after them so they go to where she dropped him off. They find the veil, which fell out onto the street and is now covered in grime and smells like urine. But on the other hand, Rosa and Alicia have gotten some prime flirting in and seem to have a real connection going.

Back at the precinct, Gina and Holt have been staring at his phone for who knows how long, trying to decide whether to look at the email about the commissioner job or not. Holt finally decides he’s still not ready and he’ll just grab Cheddar and head to the venue. But they can’t find Cheddar! They race out of Holt’s office to discover Cheddar has eaten the wedding cake.

Speaking of the wedding, Teddy’s still refusing to let them into the venue. He says they have one vent left to check but their camera broke and the vent is tiny so none of his men can get in there, and neither can their robot. Boyle volunteers to go look. After all, it was pretty much his fault about the bomb because he’s the one who put a wedding announcement in the newspaper with the date, time, and address of their wedding. He heads into the vent and there IS a bomb! Dario was just saying there wasn’t so they’d still hold the wedding and Amy would die. It was his daughter who discovered what he’d done and called in the threat in the first place. The wedding is officially off.

Jake and Amy decide they’ll just get married at the courthouse the next day, but Boyle is having none of it. He says the wedding is still going to happen today and he’ll make it so! He rushes out to decorate the parking lot of the precinct and does a spectacular job. Because her veil is ruined, Terry’s fashioned one out of a shower curtain, which Amy wisely declines to wear.

Just then, Hitchcock and Scully show up. They’ve been out all day and they turn up with a street violinist (played by Fred Armisen) who turns out to be amazing. The wedding is back on and it goes beautifully. And Holt has one last surprise: Since Cheddar got sick from all the cake and couldn’t be the ring bearer, Holt borrowed the bomb squad’s robot to carry the rings up the aisle. Jake’s understandably excited.

At the reception afterward, Holt announces he’s ready to read the email. He was inspired by Amy’s vows, which talked about being able to handle anything when you’re with the right person, and Holt knows his team are the right people to get him through whatever the email says, good or bad. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait until next season (THERE’S A NEXT SEASON — THANK YOU NBC!) to find out whether Holt got the job or not!

Bullets on the Bulletin Board:
  • “His face is too small for his head. He’s a Dick Tracy villain.” 
  • “Human hair is indistinguishable from badger fur.” “That is absolutely not the case.”
  • “Ok, it feels like you googled ‘how to talk to your bisexual friends.’” “Yeah.”
  • “How did you get past the police barricade?” “I moved them.”
  • “Oh, Cheddar, you furry little pig.”
  • “Amy Santiago, I would marry you any time, any place.”

Supergirl 3x19 Review: "The Fanatical" (Identity Crises) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]

“The Fanatical”
Original Airdate: May 21, 2018 

While last week was a real pebble in the shoe of an episode, this week is more like... when you’re walking, and that seam on the toe of your sock is kinda crooked, so you can feel it every time you move your foot a certain way? It’s annoying, but not so annoying that it’s worth taking your shoe off to fix it — and anyway, it’s only when you’re conscious of the sock seam that it bugs you, so if you’re distracted by other stuff it’s all fine and you can ignore it. “The Fanatical” is that kind of episode. Because this is clearly a filler episode that makes little advancement on the Reign front, but it’s trying hard enough with character development and thematic ideas that it’s easier to ignore a glaring truth: This is the nineteenth episode of the season and the writers have, barring a few cursory mentions, hit "pause" on the main arc. Again.

In this latest episode, Supergirl explores the power of truth. Truth: it eases burdens, it increases burdens, it hurts people, it helps people —  yes, truth’s versatility knows no bounds! Especially when it comes to faking narrative depth in a primetime comic book show.


Sometimes I think the writers made James become Guardian because they knew if he didn’t get a superhero costume and vigilante name, he’d literally cease to exist as a character. I mean, as it is, his role on the show amounts to occasionally saying some encouraging stuff to the other characters. Can you imagine how bad it would be if he didn’t even get to punch people in the face while wearing a metal helmet?

James is kind of stuck in the middle of the Lena/Supergirl feud that’s going on right now, so after Lena tells Supergirl off for chastising her about making some sort of blocking device that shields Kryptonian X-ray vision, Kara goes to James to complain. Lena is mad at Supergirl, but still BFFs with Kara. Kara wants Lena to like both her personalities, but she can’t convince Lena to like Supergirl without giving a good reason — i.e., telling her that Supergirl is Kara. She can’t tell Lena that Supergirl is Kara because it might make Lena hate both Supergirl and Kara, and that would be bad.

Since James was the one who told Lena about Supergirl sending Guardian in to search for kryptonite, and since he’s dating Lena and friends with Kara/Supergirl, he’s the one who has to bounce between both parties and listen to complaints. Kara is up first, but her moral quandary/identity crisis is interrupted by a woman named Tanya, who’s carrying Thomas Coville’s journal full of Kryptonian Cult craziness. Because, again, James Olsen is the link between Supergirl and everyone. Isn’t it weird how important that sounds, yet the show never has anything for James to do?

Coville has disappeared, but his followers have turned fanatical in his absence and started worshipping Reign instead of Rao. Tanya thinks she’s come across something in Coville’s journal that might be a recipe for a bomb, but she doesn’t know what they plan on doing with it.

The fanatical (title drop!) Reign cultists catch up with Tanya at the CatCo building. While James it trying to talk to Olivia — one of the old Church of Rao members who seemed to have turned away from worshipping Kryptonians at the end of that episode — others grab Tanya. James suits up as Guardian and goes after them on a motorcycle, even dodging a rocket launcher strike. Why do the cultists have a rocket launcher? Because it looks cool when Guardian zooms through the explosion on a motorcycle, that’s why!

Eventually catching up with the cultists and Tanya in a warehouse, Guardian gets into a fight and gets unmasked for his troubles. When the police show up to arrest the bad guys, they instead turn suspicious of the two people of color in the room (James and Tanya) and James has to throw a smoke bomb so they can escape. Unfortunately, the cultists capture James’s unmasking on camera and are using the footage to blackmail him into turning Tanya and the journal over.

And this leads to the big emotional dilemma for James in this episode, and perhaps for his future as a masked hero: As he tells Lena later on, the first time cops put cuffs on him, he was seven years old and playing around a hotel with his cousins, the oldest of whom was eleven. He was marched into the lobby of a hotel room, handcuffed, because cops didn’t think black children belonged near such a nice hotel. Being able to put on a mask allowed James to be judged by his actions, rather than his looks, and he’s enjoyed the freedom of it. To add to that, the truth of Guardian’s identity as a black man could potentially limit or completely eliminate his ability to be a hero, but James is a hero through and through. He could never trade Tanya’s safety for the security and liberty his mask brings him.

Like Kara’s issues with Lena, James is faced with a problem of truth and identity. There are good reasons why he should keep his identity as Guardian a secret, and good reasons why he should tell the world. A lie of omission is still a lie, and James is a moral person — so is his lying morally wrong? Is Kara’s lying morally wrong? In one scene, Kara asks this question to Mon-El, and Mon-El’s answer is that lying about a superhero identity protects loved ones, which...

Look, I’ve never really bought the “we lie about our identity as heroes to protect our loved ones” idea when it comes to superheroes. In my opinion, a far better excuse is the selfish excuse: keeping the identities apart allows people like Kara and James to live as Kara and James, and not as Supergirl and Guardian. Even in a perfect world where perception isn’t negatively changed when Guardian is revealed as a black man, James loses a part of himself when he stops wearing that mask. Once a hero unmasks, their “human” selves — their normal, everyday, nine-to-five job selves — cease to exist.

Anyway, the decision is taken out of James’s hands. Tanya turns herself over and they use her to infiltrate their secret hideout. When Team Supergirl discovers the end goal of the cultists is to use a certain kind of stone to make a new Worldkiller (it’s seriously that easy?) Kara goes to interrupt the ceremony. Olivia has volunteered to become the Worldkiller, but Kara manages to talk her out of it, learning in the process that the Worldkiller creation stone is another thing that can potentially hurt her.

Not sure what the criminal charge is for trying to turn yourself into an alien overlord, but hopefully Olivia will move on from her culty inclinations and do something with her life. Meanwhile, the existence of a stone that can turn a human into a Worldkiller has given Team Supergirl and Lena an idea for reversing the Worldkiller-ness and curing Sam. Kara and Winn set out in J’onn’s spaceship car to get another one of the stones from a distant asteroid. Meanwhile, Reign is adapting to the kryptonite being used to subdue her.

Other Things:
  • Ruby and M’yrnn bonding was cute. In fact, Ruby was pretty good in this episode. She’s a nice character when she’s not being an idiot and endangering herself.
  • Why did Mon-El wait so long to signal Supergirl during the ending battle? It's like he was doing the cop show thing where the cop has to confirm the suspects are doing illegal stuff before anyone can arrest them, but... that was unnecessary.
  • I sort of loved how messy the climactic battle was. I don't think I can fully explain why, but just the idea of Supergirl panicking about how to save Olivia and then heat-visioning the poor girl's hand felt unique for one of these shows.
  • Ugh, I think next week is going to be a Kara/Mon-El relationship episode.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Grey’s Anatomy 14x24 Recap: “All of Me” (Three Weddings and a Baby) [Contributor: Julia Siegel]

“All of Me”
Original Airdate: May 17, 2018

Humor, heart, and a whole lot of unexpected surprises make the fourteenth season finale of Grey’s Anatomy an unforgettable episode. Stay tuned until the very end, or else you will definitely miss something major. We all thought that we were going to be seeing Alex and Jo’s wedding and Arizona and April’s departures, but three weddings and one massive shocker play out in a way only Grey’s Anatomy can.


The first wedding that takes place isn’t the one anyone expected — especially Jackson, Maggie, Bailey, Ben, Catherine, Richard, and the interns... who all showed up to the wrong location. These wedding crashers don’t even realize they are at the wrong ceremony until the bride starts walking down the aisle. Their stunned faces and awkward attempts at exiting before it’s too late provide the best bits of comedy in the episode. However, it turns out that some good comes from showing up at the wrong wedding: the bride’s mother collapses just as she is giving her daughter away.

Bailey rushes to the mother and has Ben flag down an ambulance. Everyone else has made it out before the commotion, while Bailey and Ben take their patient back to Grey Sloan Memorial. With limited staff around thanks to Alex and Jo’s wedding, Bailey bumps into Teddy Altman at just the right time. Teddy comes strolling through the halls with a suitcase, trying to figure out where everyone is, and Bailey asks if she can scrub in with her for heart surgery on the bride’s mother. I’m really glad that Teddy came back for the finale because she was left in limbo when she kicked Owen out of her house in Germany.

The bride, groom, and all the wedding guests anxiously wait in the lobby for any news, and Ben stays with them to help keep them calm. During the surgery, Bailey asks Teddy why she is visiting... and Teddy asks if Bailey is hiring. This is quite surprising, but makes sense later; Teddy has a whopper of a secret that she doesn’t reveal until the very end of the episode. The surgery is successful, and the bride and groom want to postpone the wedding until the mother is well enough to attend. Like a good mother, she doesn’t want the wedding to be postponed when all the guests are already there. Bailey and Teddy set up an impromptu wedding for the couple at the hospital’s chapel and have Ben Skype in the mother.

This story ends with two surprising moments. Before the wedding, Bailey tells Teddy that she wants to take a brief sabbatical from being chief to live a little. Teddy accepts the role of interim chief of surgery, then sits with the recovering mother to watch the wedding. Teddy is rather emotional and reveals to her patient that she is expecting! There is no way that she isn’t expecting Owen’s baby, otherwise she wouldn’t be there. Also... no one else knows! This indicates that season fifteen will have to pick up right where this one ends because there is a lot of explaining to do. On the bright side, it looks like Kim Raver will be back next season. I’m hoping that she will be part of the full-time cast again and not just a recurring guest.


It’s time for the wedding you have all been waiting for — that is, if the bride and groom can be found! Alex and Jo’s wedding is quite a ride. Pretty much what can go wrong does go wrong in these hilarious scenes. It could be said that Alex and Jo bring it on themselves to have bad luck on their wedding day when they see each other twice before the ceremony. They say they don’t believe in superstition, but after this day, they might change their minds. Before the festivities, Jo comes over to Meredith’s house to tell Alex that she got accepted into a fellowship program for minimally invasive surgery at Massachusetts General. Meredith is quite upset by the news because if Jo takes the fellowship, then Alex will move away too.

Meredith spends the rest of the episode in a state of panic, leading Amelia to say that she must be in love with Alex. Of course, Meredith explains to her several times that she doesn’t love Alex, but that he is her best friend and she doesn’t know how she could lose another person close to her. Meredith gets the final laugh when she tells Amelia to stop projecting her love for Owen on her. Amelia spends the episode denying that she has feelings for Owen again but let’s face it: we all know that’s not true. Owen and Amelia have been living together with baby Leo and teen mom Betty for a month, and their dysfunctional family unit is quite fun to watch. It’s great to see Owen finally have everything that he has ever wanted. Little does he know that his rough year is going to get a lot rougher as soon as he sees Teddy.

Before the ceremony is supposed to start, Meredith finds Jo and offers her an attending job as a general surgeon at Grey Sloan Memorial. Jo thinks that Alex put Meredith up to the offer, so she confronts him, only to learn that Meredith did it all on her own. Alex and Jo then decide that they have some time for an afternoon quickie and find a small shed on the property to shack up in.

Unfortunately for them, they get locked in and have no way out. The band continues to play loudly, so no one can hear them call for help. It gets funnier when Jo discovers a skeleton in the corner. As they are stuck, April and the other wedding planner are freaking out since nothing is going according to the plan. The Justice of the Peace has yet to arrive, the bride and groom are missing, the interns and DeLuca are trashed, the wedding planner has an allergic reaction to shrimp and needs an emergency thoracotomy in the middle of the aisle, and Schmidt passes out and knocks over the wedding cake. Considering their past, it’s a pretty appropriate wedding for Alex and Jo.

Meredith and DeLuca eventually find Alex and Jo, but everything has already been wrecked. Everyone decides to take the ferry back to the mainland and go to Catherine and Richard’s for a reception. While on the ferry, Maggie tells Alex that anyone can become an ordained minister online, and Alex asks Meredith if she will marry him and Jo. In a perfect moment on the back of the ferry, surrounded by their closest friends, Alex and Jo finally get married.


April, Matthew, Arizona, Sofia, and Jackson stay behind at the wedding location to help clean up once the rest of the group departs. The Justice of the Peace finally arrives all disheveled, saying that she got lost on her way there. In a spur of the moment decision, Matthew gets down on one knee and proposes to April in a very moving speech. April says yes with Arizona, Sofia, and Jackson watching. Since the wedding venue wasn’t put to good use, Matthew and April decide to get married on the spot. This is the best way for April to leave the show, as she is getting the ending that she always wanted. She has also left her job at the hospital to do volunteer work for the church. While she will still be living in Seattle, it is nice to know that April left on the proper note.

Arizona tells Alex at the beginning of the episode that she and Sofia are flying to New York after the wedding. She doesn’t want anyone to try and talk her out of leaving because she knows she is making the right choice. At the end of the episode, Arizona reveals that she might have feelings for Callie again, who is now single. The episode ends with Arizona receiving a text from Callie that says that she is excited to see Arizona, who replies that she can’t wait to see her too. I think all fans can agree that while we don’t know for sure what will happen, we are all happy that Callie and Arizona will end up together again. While we don’t get any big goodbyes or sendoffs from April and Arizona, they both get the happy endings they deserve.

The Handmaid’s Tale 2x04 and 2x05 Review: "Other Women" & "Seeds" (Source Material Expiration Date?) [Contributor: Melanie]

"Other Women" & "Seeds"
Original Airdates: May 9 and May 16, 2018

A happy belated Mother’s Day week to all (especially Yvonne Strahovski who — playing against type — just announced she’s pregnant with her first child)! What is a more wonderful way to spend this glorious time in the celebration of mothers than to continue to delve deeper into the chaotic and horrifying post-apocalyptic world of misogyny? In these episodes, we see a reversal of fortunes for June — meaning, she goes back to exactly where she started.

To be honest, it did feel a tad like the past few episodes of her escape attempt were filler material if she only ended right back where she started. But thus is the symptom of pushing a piece of media past its source material cut-off. 


After June is apprehended by the Guardians, she’s chained down to a bed by Aunt Lydia who offers to send her back to the Waterfords if she behaves. June agrees. Commander Waterford believes her disappearance to be a kidnapping, while Serena is less benevolent in her reaction, attacking June before ultimately relenting for the sake of her unborn child. Serena shares her joy by throwing herself a baby shower where June sees that Nick is alive and unharmed, evidently still undetected for his part in her escape. Unfortunately, Ofglen had her tongue ripped out for her part in June’s rebellion.

To continue to force June’s hand,  Aunt Lydia shows her the body of Omar — the man who had been keeping her hidden — where it hangs at the wall. His wife was forced to become a Handmaid and his son was sent to another family. June accepts the blame for what happened to them.

In the flashbacks, June deals with Luke’s ex-wife who brings more hints of the rising theocratic tide when she insists that their wedding vows were “before God,” and therefore must be honored. June rebuffs her and later, the ex-wife watches June, Luke, and Hannah at dinner together.

In the next episode, June seems to be having some sort of health trouble when she starts bleeding in the midst of her pregnancy. Scared, she keeps the information to herself. However, Nick takes notice of June’s apparent melancholy and stress and brings his concerns to Mrs. Waterford. She, in turn, goes to Fred about the issue. But she also points out Nick’s apparent concern for their Handmaid. Fred then arranges for Nick to be married to a woman named Eden in recognition of the work done by the Guardians. During the celebrations, Nick finds June unconscious and she is rushed to the hospital. When June comes to, she learns the baby is okay but steels herself in her resolve to get herself and her child free from Gilead.

Meanwhile in the Colonies, Janine insists Emily keep faith by assuring her that God is watching over them. Emily is not uplifted by Janine’s tactics, even her organizing a wedding for a sick worker. Emily feels pessimism for their position and resents Janine’s attempt to falsely bring hope. Ultimately, the sick worker succumbs to her illness.


Now let's get back to my original issue with the recent episodes. I do think that The Handmaid's Tale is one of the best-written shows out there right now. Additionally, it’s visually stunning and incredibly impactful. I’m just having trouble getting over the hurdle of continued story. As I mentioned, June’s doomed escape attempt felt like filler — perhaps to get to the season’s extra three-episode mark. It seems to me that we’re taking a turn toward more plot-oriented action, rather than a focus on the overall commentary that last season delivered.

Season one was not, of course, a complete adaptation of the book either — nor does any adaptation have a requirement to be 100% faithful to its source material. But I think about Atwood’s original intention of her book and look now at the show which has taken a turn for high-stakes plot points and entertainment value. Season one was June’s story — a look into her life as bigger and more complicated pieces of plot moved around her, eventually sucking her in. This season, the story is about a wider set of characters, a larger world, and it’s taking a leaf from Lost’s book with the past and present timelines. (Though I will say that the flashes into the past showcase some eerie stuff and serve as a necessary warning for The Handmaid's Tale's audience.)

I’m curious to see how this stretch of episodes will look from beginning to end — as the sum of their parts by the culmination of the season, rather than dissected pieces of a larger story. And with The Handmaid's Tale greenlit for a third season, you can bet the writers do have a larger story they’re working toward.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Once Upon A Time 7x22 Review: “Leaving Storybrooke” (The End) [Contributor: Julia Siegel]

“Leaving Storybrooke”
Original May 18, 2018

Oncers, the day that the storybook closes one last time is upon us. After seven years and 156 episodes, it’s time to say goodbye to our beloved fairytale characters. It wouldn’t be a proper farewell without the original cast coming back as special guest stars to bring everything full circle. Over the past seven years, I have been lucky enough to watch every episode of Once Upon A Time and watch new and old fairytales come to life in a way I have never seen before and will likely never see again. The way that creators Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz were able to beautifully craft a narrative that combined reality and fantasy was truly captivating television. For the first few years, you never quite knew who a character was, both personality — and identity — wise. They created new stories in their vision to showcase the powerful messages of hope, belief, and the true magic in reality. And while we now have to turn the last page of this story, these characters will forever live on.


The series finale opens where the penultimate episode left off: Alice and Robin arrive in the Rollin’ Bayou food truck in Storybrooke. They immediately run into Granny, Archie, and the dwarves, who think that they are intruders telling false tales. I don’t blame them for not believing the crazy story, but they find someone who just might be able to help them. Alice and Robin think that Regina is pulling up in her car, but it turns out that Zelena and five-year-old Robin are in the car. After Robin gets the shock of seeing her younger self and her mother, she convinces Zelena that they are real and need everyone’s help to stop Wish Rumple. They plan on using a magic bean to get back to the Wish Realm, and it is a clear point when the audience doesn’t get to see the travels.

In the Wish Realm, Henry, Rumple, and Hook appear in the snow globe and are reunited with Ella and Lucy. Rumple reveals that Wish Rumple used the author’s power to do more than he bargained for and stripped Rumple of his immortality and powers. With Rumple no longer being the Dark One, he is pretty much useless in the fight against his other self. Just as Rumple calls Hook his friend as they are trying to break out of the snow globe, Maui’s fishhook (from Moana) appears out of thin air and allows them to break the glass. The group is free and reunite with Alice, Robin, and Zelena. Robin and Hook run off to find a way into Wish Henry’s palace, and Robin asks Hook for his blessing to propose to Alice. It is a very happy moment when Hook gives her his blessing. A not-so-happy moment also occurs when Rumple takes some alone time to have an emotional breakdown about not being able to get back to Belle.

Meanwhile, Regina is being held hostage by Wish Henry, who is still hellbent on killing her as revenge for the deaths of Wish Snow White and Wish Prince Charming. Regina tries to talk Wish Henry out of his murderous ways and tells him how this isn’t the person he is. Of course, this fails miserably and ends with Regina being shackled in the cave prison that held Rumple for many years in the Enchanted Forest. While Regina is being held prisoner, she has a very real dream in which she shares a tender moment with her Robin. It was really nice to hear Robin give Regina a speech that embodied the spirit of the series. My favorite line of his was when he told her, “Your life is proof that no one’s path is set.” This is a core point that the series made time and time again, as the four main villains throughout the series all became heroes in the end.

Regina eventually snaps out of her dream and wakes up in the cave prison with Robin’s red feather in her hand. Interpret that however you will, but that wasn’t quite a dream sequence. Out of nowhere, adult Henry comes to free Regina, but is thwarted by the palace guards in the classic black full body armor suits. Henry decides it’s a good idea to fight with his fists while the guards attack with swords. Right when it appears that Henry’s fate is sealed, an arrow comes flying from the back of the cave and takes out the guard choking out Henry. Two guards go rogue, take out the other guard, and then take off their helmets to reveal that they are none other than Snow White and Prince Charming! These two made quite an entrance that put an instant smile on my face.


With Regina free, Snow and Charming call a meeting for everyone in the famous War Room for one last session. All of our characters that we have seen in the Wish Realm this episode thus far gather at the table to discuss Wish Rumple’s plan of creating new storybooks that contain individual stories of personal hells for each character. Wish Rumple wants to use Wish Henry to power the books and trap all the characters in the least happiest places for each of them, which isn’t a terrible plan.

Snow gives the most wonderful quote of the night during this scene, which also perfectly sums up the series: “They need to be reminded not to lose hope. If Rumple succeeds, he thinks everyone will be lost for good, but I don’t believe that. Charming and I have always been able to find each other, and I refuse to believe we are the only ones. With love in their hearts — with hope — anyone can do it. They just have to believe that no one would be able to pull them apart forever.”

At this point in the episode, the scene changes to Regina meeting Wish Henry outside the castle gates to try yet again to talk him out of getting his revenge. It works just as well as the first time, and Wish Henry starts a sword duel with Regina. The choreography was a lot of fun to watch, as was this mother-son moment. Regina tries to talk Wish Henry down for a third time and actually manages to break through when he disarms her and goes for the kill. Regina is set to sacrifice herself for him, which is enough for Wish Henry to stop.

Meanwhile, Wish Rumple has appeared in front of the rest of the group and tries to enact his spell to send them all into their new storybooks. To prevent Alice from flying into her book, Hook manages to get to her and grab her hand. Since his spell has yet to be broken, saving his daughter means imminent death for Hook, who is more than happy to give the ultimate sacrifice for his daughter. However, at that moment, Wish Henry gives up his fight with Regina which stops Wish Rumple’s spell. In the end, it is Rumple who makes the selfless ultimate sacrifice and rips his heart out to give it to Hook so that he may live. The move is preceded by a great speech about what it means to be a changed person and how he has evolved. Rumple proves his hero status by giving his life for Hook’s, which gives his blackened heart a clean slate. Rumple’s sacrifice also kills all the other versions of himself, so he saves everyone in the process.

When the series first started, I never thought I would say that I would shed a few tears when Rumple died. The emotional moment only gets worse when Regina gets to the room moments after Rumple dies and says goodbye to him. Then, the emotions hit overdrive when Rumple reunites with Belle in the afterlife in one last tear-jerking Beauty and the Beast montage that is beyond perfection and words. Just knowing that Rumple was able to find redemption and his happy ending is enough for me.


With Wish Rumple (and regular Rumple) dead and Wish Henry turned good, the only thing left is to get everyone back home. Regina has an idea that might be crazy enough to work: she wants to create another curse, but instead of crushing the heart of the person she loves most, she wants everyone to give up a tiny piece of themselves to create enough magic to bring all of the fairytale realms together. The plan is bonkers, but it brings every realm and character together into one giant, new realm. And everyone gets their happy ending. Regina gets the best ending when Zelena and the Henrys surprise her with a celebration party and coronation.

All of the characters are gathered in the Enchanted Forest’s church — which is where the series started — for the final scene. Snow White and Prince Charming, with little Prince Neal at their side, declare that everyone has decided Regina should be named Queen of the new realm. Regina is overcome by emotion and with the fact that everyone has finally accepted her, but for the right reasons this time. Right before accepting the crown, Emma and Hook bust through the doors, carrying their baby daughter Hope. Emma and Regina share one last moment together that helps bring the series full circle. Regina accepts the crown, followed by a beautiful montage of the highlights of the series.

While the montage rolls, Regina says, “I refuse to believe there won’t be more adventures, more love, more family. And yes, there will be more loss because that’s just a part of life. And in the end, we can get past it all with hope.” That’s how the story ends, with happily forever after written all over it!

I couldn’t be happier at the way Once Upon A Time wrapped up, even though it is a bittersweet moment. From all the fans, I would like to say thank you to Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis for writing/creating the perfect finale and a wonderful series and thank you to ABC for allowing this show to air for the past seven years. It has been a pleasure to watch, cry, and embrace Once Upon A Time and bring some hope and magic into my life.

The End.

Friday, May 18, 2018

The Flash 4x22 Review: "Think Fast" (Blinded by the Enlightenment) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]

"Think Fast"
Original Airdate: May 15, 2018 

The penultimate episode of The Flash’s fourth season is here, and boy does that feel true. Not only because this season has dragged out so long I’ve pondered drafting a “half-seasons ain’t so bad, guys!” think piece in the vain hope that it might inspire the producers to dial it the heck back a little — but also, stuff happens! You know it’s close to finale time when stuff happens. And I do love when stuff happens on The Flash, because it’s usually sparkly.


Our episode opens with Diggle trying to get into an ARGUS base. It’s been a while since I’ve watched Arrow, but even I recognized that Diggle wasn’t acting like Diggle. So, it’s really no surprise when the Diggle we see turns out to be DeVoe in a Diggle disguise. Once past most of the security he needs to pass, DeVoe turns back into himself and proceeds to lay down some incredibly cool villainy on all the ARGUS personnel on site. Seriously, the entire opening sequence of DeVoe entering the base where they’re keeping Fallout (the nuclear metahuman) is probably one of the coolest sequences the show has ever done.

So much happens that I can’t really give a play-by-play description, but here’s a basic summary: it’s all set to Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus” (the start of some religious/god themes surrounding DeVoe throughout the episode) and I’m pretty sure DeVoe uses all his stolen powers at least once. Cleverly, this “Hallelujah” hallway fight includes DeVoe briefly cutting out the diegetic sound just as the chorus sings, “And he shall reign forever and ever,” further hinting at The Thinker’s god complex. Fun trivia that’s probably not intentional but my brain makes odd connections: Rodin’s The Thinker statue, which DeVoe’s villain moniker probably alludes to, is part of a sculpted tableau inspired by Dante’s The Divine Comedy and is called The Gates of Hell. So basically, The Thinker sits at the entryway to damnation — i.e., his not-so-enlightening Enlightenment. Yay, religiously inspired metaphor!

At S.T.A.R. Labs, Team Flash is assessing their status re: DeVoe. It is not good. Everyone is inconveniently busy (Joe and Cecile worrying about the baby, Caitlin preoccupied by Killer Frost) or inconveniently stupid (Harry), and all they have is knowledge of DeVoe’s five Enlightenment satellites plus one Amunet metal bomb. Things only get worse when Iris receives a comment on her DeVoe blog post signifying that The Thinker is going after Fallout.

Cue: Real John Diggle! Barry zips over to Star City to retrieve Team Flash’s most accessible associate of ARGUS. Dig immediately vomits into a trash can Cisco has at the ready, and no I don’t think I’ll ever stop being amused by Diggle’s negative reaction to Barry’s super speed. Anyway, he tells Team Flash where ARGUS is keeping Fallout, then logs into the system and discovers that “he” checked into the facility six hours ago. From there, everyone realizes that “Diggle” was DeVoe, Fallout is going nuclear, and DeVoe is going to use the energy from Fallout to power his Enlightenment device.

To add more problems onto their already heaping helping of problems, heat signatures indicate there are six ARGUS agents still inside the building as hostages. Barry can probably get to DeVoe and his portal, but he can’t do that and save six people.

The solution Cisco and Caitlin come up with is for Barry to bring them along with him when he enters Flash Time. Cisco and Caitlin theorize that Barry’s ability isn’t just tapping into the Speed Force, it’s generating a Speed Force “aura” around himself. He thought he had to touch people to bring them into Flash Time, but Caitlin thinks it’s just a method of focus and Barry can let go, allowing her and Cisco to save the hostages while Barry gets DeVoe.

Although scaffolded by absolute technobabble, the Barry/Caitlin/Cisco plot of the episode explores a lot of fun Flash sci-fi while giving us decent character moments — especially when Barry starts waffling on whether he can drag his best friends into a dangerous situation and Cisco tells him to take his “gotta do it alone” self-sacrificing mindset and shove it. Also, Caitlin gets to work through some stuff thanks to this plot, and it leads to the most interesting Caitlin story of the whole season: a suppressed memory reveals that Caitlin was Killer Frost even as a child — which means metahumans did not begin with the particle accelerator explosion.

While Barry, Cisco, and Caitlin practice making breaches and using freeze guns in Flash Time, Iris and Harry have teamed up to hunt down Marlize. Harry thinks there must be some good in Marlize, but Iris is holding an understandable grudge on account of the woman once attacking her with a katana. Iris just wants Marlize contained, since Iris thinks (also understandably) Marlize is just as bad as The Thinker himself.

Again, the Iris and Harry plot works well in this episode, from a character standpoint. Iris starts off pretty patient with Harry’s dwindling intelligence, but you see that patience wear thinner and thinner until it finally snaps when Harry brings up turning Marlize over to their side. Since Iris starts off the episode with optimism for how the readers of her blog could help Team Flash, the bitterness she has toward Marlize is especially vibrant — and then everything flows back to optimism again when Iris confronts Marlize with one of Marlize’s own quotes: “Pessimism isn’t smarter than optimism. In this life, the bravest thing you can be is optimistic.”

Iris ends her big speech to Marlize by saying she believes in her — despite all her previous, pessimistic expectations of Marlize being confirmed when Mrs. DeVoe laments that her husband had been right and humanity corrupts everything it touches, so it should be Enlightened. This subplot is all a rather wonderfully twisty knot of pessimism vs. optimism, and it’s not entirely clear whether Iris genuinely believes in what she says to Marlize, or if she’s saying it because she knows having Marlize on their side makes for a better chance of stopping DeVoe. As much as I love Iris giving a grand, heroic, hopeful monologue, I think I like the ambiguity even more.

But alas, it seems it’s all for naught. Despite being able to save the ARGUS hostages, following DeVoe, and shooting down one of the five satellites with the Amunet bomb, DeVoe is unperturbed. Even when Barry sasses him about quoting Nietzsche, DeVoe just goes on and on about how kids these days need to put down their phones and listen to him. Is this all a latent resentment from his experience as a professor? Too many students had phones go off while he was lecturing, so now he wants to eradicate Google? And emotion, too, I guess, even though he’s clearly fond of curiosity and I’ve always thought that was an emotion.

The team realizes that shooting down the satellite wasn’t the win they thought it’d be when DeVoe sneaks into S.T.A.R. Labs and uses the Gideon computer in Wells’s secret room to launch the Enlightenment for realsies, by shooting a giant laser into the sky. One of these days, I’d really like for a supervillain to enact his plan for world domination with something other than shooting a laser into the sky. Maybe a gentle, rolling fog of evil? A death mist? A sinister glitter bomb?

After a few more biblical quotes from DeVoe, the Enlightenment has officially begun.

(It’s very purple.)

Other Things:
  • Cisco name-drops the Super Friends, and... what... The Flash has been IN the Super Friends! Stop breaking reality, Cisco!
  • “Boom! Mic drop!” “Hold onto that mic.” “It’s imaginary.” I’m glad Iris and Harry got to team up in this episode.
  • Dr. Finkel directly associates Caitlin’s past trauma with her childhood trauma, which implies that it’s documented somewhere... right?
  • “Everyone I’ve tried to teach has ended up worse than when I found them.” You’re just a bad teacher, Barry. I’ve been saying this.
  • Kudos to the show for Iris’s katana wound continuity. Hope it sticks around.
  • DeVoe’s big speech to Barry gave me some serious BBC Sherlock vibes. Did some of the writers do a binge-watch?

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Once Upon A Time 7x21 Review: “Homecoming” (Be Careful What You Wish For) [Contributor: Julia Siegel]

Original Airdate: May 11, 2018

After seven years, we have made it to the first part of the Once Upon A Time series finale. Sniffles aside, we are in for one last epic adventure before we know if the characters will get the happy endings they deserve. Thankfully, there was an open invitation to any actor who had been on the show in any capacity to come back for the final episodes, so just about every favorite character will make an appearance in the finale. Before the storybook closes for good on May 18, let’s take a look at what the last story will have in store for us.


In the previous episode, Henry breaks the curse, Alice defeats Gothel, and Wish Rumple randomly shows up to cause trouble and murder Facilier. A lot happened in a very short time and is still unknown to the main cast at the start of the penultimate episode. Even though the Seattle fairytale characters think that Facilier is still in town somewhere waiting to strike, they immediately start a party at the bar to celebrate the curse being broken. Have these people really learned nothing in the seven years we have known them?

After Henry voices some concern to Regina about the whereabouts of Facilier, Regina goes to Facilier’s office to find him. Instead of finding Facilier, Regina stumbles upon Rumple, who has been stashed behind a waterfall. Rumple informs Regina that Wish Rumple has made his way to the real world and is after the Dark One dagger. Finally, there is some real concern on their faces. Henry, Ella, and Lucy return to Ella’s apartment to celebrate their family reunion, but things definitely don’t go as planned when Ella and Lucy suddenly disappear. Of course, Wish Rumple dramatically makes his entrance and tells Henry that he must help him get the Dark One dagger if he ever wants to see his family again.

Well, it’s time to get the band back together! Regina, Rumple, Hook, and Henry join forces for the millionth time this season and determine that they will find a way to get to the Wish Realm to stop Wish Rumple and save Ella and Lucy. Rumple somehow gets a magic mirror that allows them to jump right into the Wish Realm, and I’m still not sure how that really worked. Unfortunately for our heroes, the crack in the mirror splits them up in two groups upon entry in the Wish Realm.


I always found the Wish Realm to be confusing, and I think we are going to be in for a real head-scratcher in the finale. Don’t forget that the Wish Realm allows for different versions of all the characters to appear and cause trouble. When the heroes get to the Wish Realm, Henry and Regina are together and land in some dungeon, while Hook and Rumple are at a version of Rumple’s farm from the Enchanted Forest. Wish Rumple has turned the Wish Realm into a personal hell for Rumple. Henry and Regina run into Peter Pan in a stockade in the dungeon, who tells them that it will be a lot harder to defeat Wish Rumple than they think.

Henry and Regina find their way to Ella and Lucy, only to discover them trapped in a magical snow globe. First, they encounter Cruella de Vil, who engages in an odd sword fight with Henry. Eventually, Henry traps Cruella in a cage, then Wish Rumple shows up to tell them he has placed a lovely unbreakable spell on the snow globe, to force Henry to help him with his grand plan. Meanwhile, Hook actually knows his way around the Wish Realm (did you forget he used to live there?) and brings Rumple to the cave he had lived in. He blows into a conch shell, and Ariel appears out of thin air. Ariel wants to kill Rumple, but Hook convinces her that he isn’t the evil one and that they need her help. She gives them her remaining squid ink, which Rumple brings back to his farm.

Wish Rumple appears to confront Rumple at the farm and is tricked into grabbing the Dark One dagger, which has been coated with the squid ink. With Wish Rumple momentarily immobilized, Rumple gives a great speech about how he must kill this version of himself if he ever wants to dispel the darkness once and for all and find his way back to Belle. Right as Rumple goes to kill Wish Rumple, Regina bursts through the door and ruins everything. The ink wears off, and Wish Rumple is free again to cause havoc.

Henry decides that the only way he can get his family back without giving in to Wish Rumple’s Dark One dagger demand is to find the author pen and write a different future. After getting the pen, he returns to the room where Cruella is trapped and takes the dye out of her hair as ink for the pen. I absolutely loved how Cruella was only concerned with her hair during the sequence and not the fact that she was still trapped in a cage. As soon as Henry gets the pen filled, Wish Rumple poofs in and takes the pen. Surprise! The real plan was to get the author’s pen, not the Dark One dagger.

In walks Wish Realm young Henry, who appeared earlier in the episode, and Wish Rumple announces that he has made a deal with Wish Henry to write the story that Wish Rumple wants. It’s a really odd scene, but it’s wonderful in the sense that two versions of Henry get to meet. Also, what more could we ask for with Jared Gilmore and Andrew J. West in a scene together? Wish Rumple’s first order of business is to have Wish Henry write Alice’s guardian powers away. He then traps Henry, Hook, and Rumple in the snow globe, leaving Regina for Wish Henry to deal with. Wish Henry is a vindictive fellow and wants revenge on Regina for killing the Wish Realm versions of Snow White and Prince Charming.


The Wish Realm plot stops there, and it feels like a rather abrupt ending for the episode. Obviously, the Wish Realm will be back in the finale, but there are a few more orders of business in Seattle to talk about before the story continues. While the Wish Realm stuff occurs, we get a scene that shows Tiana and Naveen together in Seattle. Tiana is having an identity crisis and can’t quite accept her new reality. This is one of the most realistic moments the show has had over its seven year run and really shows once and for all that Once Upon A Time has always had one foot grounded in reality.

Eventually, Alice feels a disturbance in the Force and knows that Henry, Hook, Rumple, and Regina are in trouble in the Wish Realm. Alice and Robin go to Tiana and Naveen for help, and Tiana reclaims her Queen of Seattle status by rounding up the townspeople to find enough magic to get to the Wish Realm. Some random dude in the crowd gives them a magic bean, which Tiana gives to Alice. Tiana and Naveen decide to stay in Seattle to watch over her people and to find their place in this new world.

Alice and Robin board Tiana’s food truck as Tiana gives them the magic bean, and I really thought they were going to drive that truck right into the Wish Realm. It would have been hilarious and led to some great comedy, but they actually use the bean to open a portal to Storybrooke. Their real destination is obviously way better than the other possibility, and immediately put a few tears in my eyes when I saw the “Welcome to Storybrooke” sign.

Going into the finale, we know that the original cast and many favorite supporting characters will be returning. It looks like Alice and Robin will round up the original group and bring them to the Wish Realm to save the day. The unknowns are: how many versions of each character will show up, where will everyone live at the end, will everyone survive, and will there be one big happy ending to end all happy endings? No matter what happens, I have no doubts that it will be a beautiful finale full of classic Once Upon A Time moments and tearful farewells.