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

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

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

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

In Appreciation of the Everyday Heroine

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

Friday, November 30, 2018

The Flash 5x07 Review: "O Come, All Ye Thankful" (Family Ties) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]


"O Come, All Ye Thankful"
Original Airdate: November 27, 2018 

Time for things to go Barry-centric again! After a couple episodes focusing on other characters, I suppose we’re due for a more solid delve into the main character of the show and main villain of the season. But I am happy to say that The Flash seems to be keeping its good episode streak this week: while “O Come, All Ye Thankful” had a couple problems I’ll talk more about later, it certainly wasn’t a bad episode, and the West-Allen Family story we get makes up for a lot of faults in my eyes.

‘TIS THE SEASON (KINDA)


It’s Thanksgiving in The Flash universe, which is fitting for an episode all about family relationships (adopted families or otherwise). The episode begins with Barry and Caitlin making pie for the Team Flash Thanksgiving meal. It’s adorable, especially since Barry is awful at it and Caitlin tries to comfort him with puns. Kindred spirits, Caitlin and I. Anyway, Iris and Nora arrive from a mother-daughter day out getting manicures and it looks like their bond is still going pretty strong — a fact which I love and encourage.

Unfortunately, the buzz of a nice day spent with her mom is snuffed out when Iris explains some stuff the Flash Museum in the future left out — mostly stuff involving Barry’s poor judgement and total lack of self-preservation instincts. Nora connects some dots and realizes that the reason why her hero father is missing in the future is because he was being a hero and, like walking into the Speed Force at the end of the show’s third season, sacrificed himself for the greater good. Yep. Sounds about right for our dumb, heroic Labradoodle.

As Nora grapples with new information about her father’s motivations for leaving, a new meta arrives on the scene: Weather Witch, who wants to hold Central City hostage in exchange for her father, Weather Wizard. Her first strike against the city ends up with Barry dead and Nora trying to revive him with some shots of Speed Force lightning to the heart. Quick shout-out to Jessica Parker Kennedy, who plays Nora and delivers a perfect combination of desperation, fear, and horror as Nora attempts to revive Barry — and relief, fear, and horror when the attempts finally succeed. It’s a moment that really nails down exactly what motivates Nora throughout the episode, and why — even though she’s a hero herself and knows what that role entails — she asks Barry to hang up the Flash costume and just be her dad.

Like I said, Weather Witch is looking for her dad, who’s currently locked up in Iron Heights. Team Flash initially thinks she wants to save her dad from prison, but it turns out she wants to kill him for being a deadbeat all her life. Wow. Extreme. Anyway, how wonderfully coincidental that Weather Witch, a former amateur storm chaser, managed to get one of her weather devices infected with dark matter-infused satellite parts and gained powers like her dad’s. Guess life’s just funny that way. Superpowers-related question, though: how is Joss not killed by her own lightning tornadoes? The staff she uses has metapowers. She’s just a normal human; she shouldn’t be immune to lightning.

After her attempts to kill her father are thwarted, Weather Witch decides it’s time to threaten a whole airport full of people and, eventually, all of Central City unless Team Flash serves Weather Wizard up for her to kill. Barry goes to the airport, but he needs Weather Wizard’s wand to counteract Weather Witch’s powers. Nora speeds the wand to Barry, who must risk his own life in the lightning storm if they have any chance of saving all the people still trapped at the airport. Nora looks at her dad, then looks at all the scared citizens, and realizes that being a hero has to mean taking risks and that Barry is the sort of person who would always choose saving others over saving himself.

When Weather Witch is behind bars, Team Flash gets to celebrate Thanksgiving together. Cisco, Sherloque, and Caitlin all need a little convincing to join the party, since they all had a bad year — or, in Caitlin’s case, bad several years. Seriously, Caitlin I am so sorry the writers are so mean to you. Thankfully (ha!) Killer Frost is now available to snark some sense into them, so they go and celebrate with the others as one big, happy, makeshift family.

CICADA SECRETS


Thanksgiving also inspires Cisco in the quest to find out Cicada’s identity. Since they know the victim connected to Cicada is a girl named Grace Gibbons, who doesn’t have any family on record (thanks to the mysterious pro-Cicada doctor), Cisco still figures any family she might have will likely visit on Thanksgiving Day. He hacks into the hospital security and sees Cicada himself arrive at Grace’s room and identifies the man as Orlin Dwyer.

Who is Orlin Dwyer, though? A series of flashbacks throughout the episode tell us he was once a selfish, self-loathing man whose niece, Grace, was dropped off at his apartment after his sister was killed in a metahuman attack. Orlin is initially terrible to Grace and such an awful guardian that I question the efficacy Child Protective Services in Central City. They seriously just drop kids off at the nearest relative’s house without determining if that person is in any way equipped to take care of a child first? Jeez, guys. Run a background check, will you?

Life is tough-going for Grace and Orlin while Orlin utterly fails to be a respectable adult and Grace gets reprimanded by school authority for calling kids rude words she learned from Orlin. After Grace correctly surmises that Orlin hates himself and that’s why he’s such an awful, angry person, Orlin begins trying to make things better for her and them, as a family. He gets a fixer-upper house and even gets her a dollhouse they can build and decorate together.

A year after Grace arrived in Orlin’s life, they’re at the carnival together and are ready to be a family. Unfortunately, the Enlightenment happens. Grace is knocked out by debris and Orlin gets a huge hunk of metal to the chest, which he leaves in until he can deliver an unconscious Grace to the hospital. Dr. Mysteriously Very Helpful takes uncle and niece in, but while she can help the former, the latter’s fate is unknown. The doctor expresses how Grace getting hurt is really the fault of metahumans, which pushes Orlin to officially become Cicada. And the shrapnel he’d been impaled with becomes his dagger.

Now, I really do like this little backstory we get for Cicada, especially since the show established from the start how empathetic the character is toward people with strong family connections. The flashbacks work to reinforce that, explain his connection with Grace, and explain why he blames metahumans for his troubles. However, I think the show might have rushed through all those explanations a bit by putting them all in the same episode.

Personally speaking, I would have found the “learning to be a family” story more compelling if Orlin and Grace’s relationship was extended over flashbacks in several episodes, and I would have found Cicada’s motivations against metas more believable if he’d... y’know, mentioned hating metas at any other point before the doctor brings it up? Orlin’s sister was killed by a meta, but that gets one blink-and-you’ll-miss-it mention, and then nothing. As it stands, Cicada’s motivation seems more like an attempt to blame literally anything for Grace’s injuries, so he latches onto the first option given to him. While emotionally sound, it’s a narratively weak origin for a metahuman serial killer.

Other Things:

  • The music in some of the scenes this episode stood out as particularly great, especially the drum-based music before Barry’s confrontation of Weather Witch.
  • Next week: The Flash’s 100th episode!

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Doctor Who 11x08 Recap: “The Witchfinders” (Whoo Hoo, Witchy Woman...) [Guest Poster: Stephanie Coats]


“The Witchfinders”
Original Airdate: November 25, 2018

Ain’t no party like an early 17th-century party because an early 17th-century party is actually a witch trial!

In the tiny village of Bilehurst Cragg, Mistress Becka Savage has gathered the villagers to drown another suspected witch. When they had landed, the Doctor had reminded the team that interfering in historical events was a big no-no. I don’t see why she bothered. As soon as the “witch” is dunked into the lake, the Doctor throws off her coat and jumps in after her.

A ROYALLY SANCTIONED WITCH HUNT


Despite the Doctor’s heroics, the woman is dead. Becka is furious that the ceremony was interrupted and apprehends the Doctor until a flash of the psychic paper informs her that the Doctor and her team are Witchfinders. Instantly apologetic, Becka invites them back to her manor home. On the way, she tells them that she owns much of the land in Bilehurst and is dedicated to purging Satan from everything and everyone, including her horses.

After a bit of snooping around in the Mistress’ room, the Doctor attempts to reason with Becka but the woman is fiercely devoted to King James I, who in turn supports witch trials. Any further persuasion is interrupted by the appearance of King James himself, in all his foppish ridiculousness. He reads the psychic paper and demotes the Doctor to assistant witchfinder because she’s just a woman. She can’t possibly be in charge. Instead, Graham — the only white male available — is recognized as head witchfinder and given a hilarious hat to denote his position. Becka and the king agree that killing everyone in the village is a price worth paying if it means saving their souls from Satan.

MUDDY WATERS


While the others are meeting the king, Yaz has stayed behind to comfort the granddaughter of the supposed witch. Willa’s day goes from bad to worse when she’s attacked by seemingly sentient roots at her home. Yaz hurries back to tell the Doctor, and they return to Willa together — leaving Ryan and Graham to stall Becka and the King from destroying the entire village by nightfall. As you might suspect, Willa’s grandmother was nothing more than a healer who made medicines to help people. After learning that Becka is Willa’s cousin, the Doctor and Yaz encourage Willa to stand up to her and protect herself and her village.

But there are other problems besides Becka’s misplaced witch hunts. The roots that attacked Willa are made of alien mud, which reanimates Willa’s grandmother and several other bodies buried in the earth. King James comes running out of the forest and orders his bodyguard to shoot the mud zombies but is instead blasted with energy from the mud grandmother. Due to her intellect, sonic screwdriver, and love of talking, the Doctor is fingered as a witch. Poor Willa is pressured into agreeing with the accusation.

Alone with King James, the Doctor urges him to trust her and set aside his fear. Meanwhile, her team track the mud zombies to Becka’s house and see granny taking the ax from Becka’s bedside. The Doctor is tied to the same tree branch as every other witch in preparation for her drowning. When Becka touches the branch, it reacts to her. The Doctor begins putting pieces together. Mud runs from Becka’s eye. The Doctor is dropped into the water.

A GOOD OL' FASHIONED TORCH-WIELDING MOB


Even though the team begs the king to bring her up, he hesitates for a long time. It doesn’t matter. The Doctor is very good at holding her breath and learned how to escape from chains from Houdini so she was already free. She confronts Becka directly and the woman finally breaks down. After chopping down a tree spoiling her view, she was infected by the alien mud. In the hopes of ridding herself of the infection, she sought out and killed “witches,” but it’s made no difference. As everyone watches, she is overtaken by the infection and transforms into a Morax, an alien army that the Doctor deduces were imprisoned under the tree for war crimes.

The Morax escape with the King. To protect themselves, the Doctor has her team and Willa chop up the branch from Becka’s tree, which was used as a sort of lock on the Morax’s prison. When made into torches, the tree will be toxic to the Morax. The mob of five march toward the remainder of the tree, where they find the Morax preparing to release their own king and infect King James.

The Doctor is able to reactivate the prison, which draws all of the Morax back into it, except for Becka. Grabbing a torch, the King lights her on fire, destroying her completely. He boasts at having actually vanquished Satan. In the morning, Ryan rebuffs the King’s request to go with him to England and the Doctor and her team depart, giving King James and Willa a look at true magic as the TARDIS dematerializes.

Final Thoughts:

  • This episode did a great job of finding a balance between the season’s theme of people being the true villain and an actual monster of the week. Becka Savage was a villain all on her own because she killed innocent people, namely women, in an attempt to save herself. But the Morax were just as awful and wicked. 
  • Alan Cumming as King James I was so funny and so gay. He took one look at Ryan and was instantly flirting. We couldn’t have asked for a better guest star to portray a historical figure.
  • I’m glad this season has found a good way to address how the Doctor is treated differently as a woman than when she was a man without making that a focal point of every episode. 
  • The Doctor: “These are hard times for women. If we’re not being drowned, we’re being patronized to death.”
  • The Doctor: “Honestly, if I was still a bloke I could get on with the job and not waste time defending myself!”
  • When told that many women were accused of being witches because they talked too much, the Doctor replies, “Which is daft because talking’s brilliant!” I love her so much.
  • Throughout the episode, the Doctor was adamant that she doesn’t believe in Satan. Um, she literally met the devil as the Tenth Doctor. Just sayin’.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Blindspot 4x06 Review: "Ca-Ca-Candidate for Cri-Cri-Crime" (The Jig Is Up) [Contributor: Jen]


"Ca-Ca-Candidate for Cri-Cri-Crime"
Original Airdate: November 16, 2018

"Ca-Ca-Candidate for Cri-Cri-Crime" is highly focused on the case of the week, but that's just because the writers want to drop the "Kurt knows" bomb at the end of the episode.

CASE OF THE WEEK


New York Congressman Justin Trimble's murder triggers the tattoo database. He spells out "GPA" with his own blood (yuck), which leads Team Blindspot to a tattoo they already solved — the flag. Does anyone else remember this tattoo? I sure don't, but then again I never remember the tattoos.

The marked stars on the flag correlates to Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Alaska (GPA). Given the political angle of Justin Trimble's death, the team determines the tattoo is pointing to Growth and Prosperity for America — the most powerful lobby in the United States. One of the candidates GPA gave money to was Matthew Weitz, the director of the FBI.

However, when the team questions Weitz, he says he doesn't know Trimble very well. Patterson and Rich rapidly discover evidence to prove he's lying. Why does anyone ever lie to Patterson on this show? Lying to Patterson is like shooting a gun at Wonder Woman. (Yes, I just compared Patterson to Wonder Woman and I am completely comfortable with the analogy.)

Rich is not convinced of Weitz's guilt simply because he lied, saying: "I know the role of FBI director has been a little Defense Against the Dark Arts around here lately, but it makes no sense for Weitz to be working against us. That's career suicide, and Weitz loves his career."

Rich gets ten points for using logic and 100 points for referencing Harry Potter. This whole Weitz thing hits the team squarely in their Eleanor Hirst-damaged hearts, but quite frankly I always thought the team was a little quick to trust Hirst. It's nice to see them distrustful of the next FBI director — it is Weitz we're talking about here — but Rich plays out the director's angle and it doesn't make sense. Honestly, having a reformed criminal and smarmy politician on the team may be the best thing to ever happened to the show. Team Blindspot often needs help seeing the shadier side of things.

Kurt and "Jane" investigate the murder scene and they find a USB drive Justin had been hiding. He was being blackmailed and recorded the conversations. Unfortunately, Justin pushed GPA too hard for evidence. GPA became suspicious of his motives and had him killed. The team needs to find out who else is being blackmailed.

Weitz shows up at Frank Davenport's house, who is third in line for Speaker of the House. Davenport also got Weitz his job at FBI.  It's all about networking people! Don't let anyone tell you different.

Justin wanted to blow the whistle on GPA, but Weitz needed proof he was being blackmailed before opening a criminal investigation. Unfortunately, Trimble lacked the finesse required for such a task and he was murdered. Weitz is certain Davenport is also being blackmailed since he voted the same as Justin on every GPA-related bill. Davenport refuses to listen to Weitz and tells him to let it go.

Jeller and Patterson Dotcom (Yes, I made Rich and Patterson a ship name. They are work spouses after all) come to the exact same conclusion: "This whole conspiracy is about China." Kurt notes the outline at the bottom of the flag is the same shape of the Yangtze River. Roman was trying to tell the FBI that the country has been infiltrated by China. Patterson Dotcom came to the same conclusion when they discovered China's interests were represented in all the bills GPA lobbied for.

Yeah, what else is new?

Sorry, it's probably highly concerning I'm not more freaked out by China owning the U.S., but it's not a shocker. We are trillions of dollars in debt and I'm fairly certain we owe China a large chunk of that bill. I'm more or less bitterly resigned to this fact.


Weitz shows up five second later and announces this case is all about China. The nonplussed reactions are gold. Weitz showing up late to the party will always be hilarious. He has determined it's time to let the rest of the team in. Why Weitz didn't tell the team what was going on in the first place is beyond me. It all feels like an extremely roundabout way of painting Weitz in an unflattering light. We've had an evil FBI director. I didn't need to do it again, even for a short amount of time.

Trimble informed Weitz another congresswoman wanted to blow the whistle on GPA and the team discovers Elaine Bell has the same voting record as Justin. Weitz also recognizes a common phrase on her calendar, which is code for keeping a meeting closed and quiet. The team assumes she's about to meet with GPA, but they aren't fast enough getting to her house. The same assassin who shot Trimble shoots Bell in her driveway.

Team Blindspot cannot figure out who is working for GPA because their donor list is so prolific. Weitz orders every field office to put every congress person on the GPA donor list into protective custody. All in total it's over 100 people and it's a fairly impressive Weitz moment. He is useful for a change. Miracles do happen.

Reade and Weitz go to Davenport's house to put him into protective custody. Davenport confesses what GPA has on him: he had an affair with an underage girl. He agrees to the protective custody, but just wants to secure his office before they leave. WEITZ AND READE LET HIM WALK AWAY.


NOOOO! Why are characters so stupid? This is clearly outside of protocol. No FBI agent worth their salt would let someone in protective custody out of their sight for five seconds. This is the stuff they used to pull on The Following all the time. FBI agents would split up and then... "Oh no!" the killer murders them one by one. How about you just stay together, idiots, LIKE YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO! Sorry, I'm still super bitter about how stupid that show was. Moving on.

The five seconds gives Davenport plenty of time to call his GPA associates and gives me the chance to scream, "I told you so." Weitz and Reade end up in a gun battle. Well, technically Reade is in a gun battle because the FBI director does not carry a gun.


Say what now? Is that a thing? That doesn't feel like it's based remotely in reality.

Weitz finally figures out Davenport lied about the underage girl and is working for GPA. Davenport pulls a gun on Weitz, they struggle, and Reade saves his life. Kurt and Jane also stop a GPA assassin making a second attempt on Elaine Bells' life. Weitz vows to have all the GPA legislation repealed.

TEAM BLINDSPOT


Reade is debriefed over the files Zapata stole by Sabrina Larren, who works directly for the CIA director and is taking over for Jake Keaton. Larren tells Reade he's in a safe place and can tell her how Zapata gained access to the FBI server. I want to be proud of Reade for telling the truth, but he was so blindly stupid to this completely obvious lie that I could only shake my head at him. Reade lies about everything to the higher-ups (including his drug past), but this? This incident requires full transparency? Sigh.

This is the second stupid thing Reade did this week. The first is putting a murder suspect target on Zapata's back. The woman Tasha broke into Reade's apartment with is Claudia Murphy, an MI6 agent. (So Tasha wasn't lying about that!) MI6 believe she is missing and potentially dead.

Reade theorizes Murphy may have threatened Zapata and she retaliated. This convinces Larren to bring Zapata in, dead or alive. Of course Reade is right about Tasha, but he didn't need to hang a billboard out there for the CIA. Reade assures Larren the whole "dead or alive" thing is no problem for him.


Larren does not believe Reade for a second and convinces Weitz to fire him since he cannot be objective when it comes to Zapata. Facts are facts. No argument from me.

However, Weitz firing Reade is all a ruse. He needed the CIA to believe the FBI stopped looking into Zapata. Weitz explains when the CIA says "dead or alive," it typically just means dead. He's grown fond of Team Blindspot (uhhh, really?) and wants Reade's help to bring Tasha in alive. And thus the Save Zapata Super Secret Task Force is born.

Back on Tasha's show (doesn't it feel like she's on her own show?), Madeleine instructs her to target Adam Booth. He is the head engineer at Bradley Dynamics and Madeleine's best shot at infiltrating Project Arvo. Apparently, building a global army is quite expensive and Crawford left HCI Global $40 billion in debt. Bradley Dynamics is their main competitor and Madeleine wants Project Arvo to fail so HCI picks up some more lucrative contracts. This feels like a lot of exposition for simple corporate espionage, but whatever.

Ever the good lackey, Zapata threatens Booth's wife, thereby convincing him to take photos of all  pertinent Project Arvo documents. Booth tells Zapata she's the worst after he completes the required task. Zapata pretends like she doesn't care, but then she sad pandas when she turns away. This has been Tasha's arc pretty much all season long. She does something horrible for Madeleine, thereby proving she's not remotely in control, feels bad about it, but does it anyway. We are in episode six. I need to move it along.

Project Arvo is a state of the art aeronautics system, but it's for a commercial airliner and not the army. Madeleine can't beat Bradley Dynamics to market, so she will let them launch their new plane and Zapata will crash it. It will be a PR disaster and put HCI Global back in the black.

... I guess? This feels like one of those Rube Goldberg mouse traps. A lot of things have to go right to achieve a desired goal. Are we really expecting Zapata to crash a plane full of innocent people? No, of course not, because she sad pandas every chance she gets.

This storyline of Zapata seizing power and using it push along her worldview was interesting when it involved controlling Blake. But now Madeleine is controlling Zapata and she's in way over her head. It stopped making sense why Tasha didn't reach out to Team Blindspot weeks ago, so now I'm really shaking my head at the ridiculousness of this entire plot.

KURT AND JANE


We're back to the good old days of Kurt staring at Jane during ops, but unfortunately it's not because of all his fuzzy bunny feelings. He's trying to assess if his wife is crazy. Spoiler alert, Kurt: SHE IS.

Remi has been hard at work running drills to prepare to break into Mama Shepherd's black site location. Her nefarious partner, Violet, has been unable to crack the door key code in a reasonable short amount of time and Remi's patience is thinning. They end up dead in any scenario they run, but getting someone who can break the key code faster will take months. And Remi doesn't have months.

Remi decides to incite mass panic as a means of distraction instead of trying to break into the black site via stealth. I am wondering how one incites mass panic and anything I come up with is very bad. We are rapidly approaching Armageddon Remi, so it'd be super great if Kurt clued into what is going on.

Kurt agrees, thank goodness. He's not buying anymore of "Jane's" lies. Particularly the one about finding a potential black market cure and keeping Kurt out of the loop because she was afraid he wouldn't understand. Remi fails to realize Kurt would burn the world to the ground if it meant saving his wife and it ultimately gives her away. Kurt puts a tracker on her. GAME ON.

I know this whole "Jane is evil" storyline is distressing to those of us who just want our Jeller to be happy and focused on making all the babies. (We'll get there. Just hang on), but it is extremely satisfying watching Kurt turn from being the hunted to the hunter. Remi's lies have been particularly good up until now, but the cracks are starting to show.

Like when Remi asks, "Would you still want to know the truth about your father, knowing how much pain it would cause you?"

See Remi, when you ask questions like this, Kurt is going to think you are hiding the truth from him, because... well, history. And the black market cure nonsense isn't a good enough cover. Might as well hang a sign out there, lady.

What did I enjoy, however, is Kurt's answer. He would want to know the truth no matter what — even if it destroyed his happy memories — because: "They were already wrecked. It was all lies." THY NAME IS CHARACTER GROWTH. I've been waiting years for both Kurt and Jane to understand honesty is one of the most important building blocks to a successful relationship. If you don't have trust, you have nothing. And these two have been willing to blow their trust in one another far too frequently in the past. So at least Kurt has learned some lessons.

Kurt offers "Jane" one final swoonworthy out: "You always run from your problems. This time why don't you try running to me?" It's just so frustrating he's delivering these heart stopping lines while "Jane" is evil. I'm hoping the hot burning sun that is Kurt Weller's love is enough to melt even Remi's cold heart. If not, then we need Kurt to say these lines to Jane again once she's not a homicidal Looney Tune anymore.

Kurt follows the tracker to the warehouse where Remi has been practicing her black site break-in scenarios. Weller runs into Violet and they end up in a shootout. Suffice it to say, Mr. Doe is not a happy camper when he arrives home.

Remi tries to dodge and weave. She gives her level best, "Oh no!" when Kurt tells her Violet almost killed him. But eventually Remi knows the jig is up. Kurt asks her what is going on and the facade drops. Remi reveals her Machiavellian face — the one hiding over Kurt's shoulder, where only we could see, any time he held his wife.

Kurt sees Remi for the first time and finally understands something is horribly wrong.

Stray Thoughts:

  • "Okay, look, it cannot all be armed nukes falling out of airplanes all right?' So much truth here.
  • "I can't believe I'm driving to Westchester twice in one day." Weitz went toe-to-toe with Rich with the one liners this week.
  • No idea how the bullets missed Reade.
  • "Who else is Lebron?" "Patterson. " FACTS

Sunday, November 25, 2018

The Flash 5x06 Review: "The Icicle Cometh" (No Business Like Snow Business) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]


"The Icicle Cometh"
Original Airdate: November 20, 2018 

This week on The Flash, Caitlin tries to reconnect with her long-lost father as most of Team Flash try to figure out who the villain of the season really is and where that evil dagger of his came from. Much like last week’s episode, the show successfully manages to give a character other than Barry the spotlight for a bit — Iris before, Caitlin now. We get a lot more season plot balance in this episode versus last week’s more precisely focused episode, but still. It’s all cool.

(Pun intended. Pun always intended.)

POPS-SICLE


We’re continuing the Cisco and Caitlin C-Story from last week, except now it’s been graduated to the A-story. Congrats, guys! Half the team (Iris, Sherloque, and Nora) splits off to hunt down the dark matter-infused satellite core and Cicada answers and the other half (Caitlin, Cisco, and Barry) head to the North Pole, which some investigation work has identified as the last known location of Thomas Snow, Caitlin’s dad. Aww, Team Flash: Original Recipe is together for this episode! That’s nice.

Once Barry phases himself and his friends through a wall, it takes no time at all for the three to stumble across Thomas. Thomas reveals that he already knows who everyone is because he’s had access to a one-way video feed into S.T.A.R. Labs for a while. Um. Creepy? He says it’s because he used to video chat with Harrison Wells (the real one?) but yeah, the idea of someone secretly watching everyone in the lab long enough to figure out who people are is really, really creepy. Strike one against Thomas!

Thomas went to the lab in the first place in order to stop the progression of his ALS and, because he was dealing in kooky crazy science, he quarantined himself just in case things went awry. The good news is, he made progress with stopping the symptoms of ALS. The bad news is, the site he was working in was shut down. With him inside. By Caitlin’s mom. That sounds really harsh. Some might even call such behavior... cold.

With his story shared, Thomas accompanies the three back to S.T.A.R. Labs. Cisco is not okay with this because he finds Thomas’s story super suspicious, even making a snarky reference to him creeper-watching the lab through that video feed. Valid, Cisco. Super valid. Also, Cisco being suspicious of Thomas? Strike two against him, although I don’t even know why I decided to start measuring strikes. It’s obvious just from the actor’s line delivery that Thomas is actually evil.

While out on a walk with Caitlin, Thomas has some kind of attack and his arm goes all icy. Caitlin takes him back to the lab and, when he comes to, he explains that his attempt to cure his ALS led to something deadlier: a mutation that’s rewriting his genetic code, which will eventually kill him. Then Thomas admits that he found the genetic marker for ALS in Caitlin and, wanting to stop the disease before it ever manifested in his daughter, did some experimental cryogenic gene therapy on her that gave her the Killer Frost alternate personality.

Cisco is understandably judgmental about this dude’s willingness to do scientific experiments on his own daughter. Seriously, Caitlin’s mom felt no qualms about locking her husband up in a black ops site and faking his death, and her dad performed experiments on her when she was a little girl. Frankly, it’s a miracle Caitlin has such a gentle personality, because her parents are nightmare people.

Caitlin, Barry, and Thomas devise a plan for stopping the deterioration of Thomas’s cells while Cisco protests against everything that’s happening so conveniently on Thomas’s behalf. Cisco recognizes that both Caitlin and Barry are letting their emotions get in the way of their rationality. Barry just sees the Snows finding each other again as a lovely reunion between father and daughter, like what Nora experienced when she traveled back in time to meet him, and Caitlin is so desperate to have a family member she can genuinely connect with that she’ll accept anything Thomas tells her. Even after Cisco uncovers holes in Thomas’s story, Caitlin takes her father’s side over her friend’s.

Eventually, though, Caitlin’s scientific brain manages to work out the truth without the bias of familial love clouding it: Thomas’s cryogenic meta personality plotted everything just to manipulate Caitlin into making a serum that could permanently suppress his human side. When Barry, Caitlin, and Cisco confront him, he turns all frosty and knocks them out, then swipes the serum Caitlin developed. He still needs to apply the serum in sub-zero temperatures, though, so he heads to a DOD site to find a device that allows him to do so.

Team Flash follows Thomas — now dubbed Icicle — to the site so they can stop him, but it’s too cold in there for regular humans to survive. Caitlin, who is apparently immune to the cold thanks to Killer Frost, is the only one left standing while everyone else freezes. And speaking of Killer Frost, desperation to prevent Icicle from destroying Thomas Snow forever causes Caitlin to manifest Killer Frost again. She’s able to fight off Icicle and destroy the serum but, after a brief moment in which Thomas seems to fight through the Icicle personality, he escapes in the end.

The whole experience wasn’t a total loss, though, because when Caitlin returns to S.T.A.R. Labs, Cisco (inspired by the sudden reappearance of Killer Frost during the fight) provides a new explanation for how Killer Frost was lost in the first place: DeVoe hadn’t destroyed her, but instead locked her behind a mental block. Ostensibly, Caitlin would just have to access that part of her mind again, and Killer Frost would be back for good. He gives her Harry’s mental dampener from last season, which allows Caitlin to directly communicate with Killer Frost, so they can build up their relationship. Neat!

SEARCH FOR CICADA


Everyone who isn’t chilling with Caitlin in the A-story is on a quest to find more information about Cicada. Iris and Nora team up because after the whole jumping-off-a-building thing, Nora now sees her mother as the coolest human on the planet (and it’s adorable even when it’s awkward). Oh, and Sherloque is there too. Their job is to hunt down the actual satellite core, from which Cicada’s dagger likely originated. In an endearingly odd pairing, this leaves Ralph with Cecile to track down the names of people who might have been treated by FEMA after the Enlightenment crisis.

Iris and Nora figure out that the core might have fallen into the water, and Iris talks Nora through a technique she used when she was briefly a speedster. It’s a real mother/daughter bonding moment, but not quite enough to end all the awkwardness between them. They do manage to pull up the satellite core, though, and bring it to S.T.A.R. Labs just in time for Ralph and Cecile to arrive with a name that could possibly belong to Cicada’s daughter, making Team Flash one step closer to the villain’s identity.

Other Things:

  • We do get some scenes with Cicada himself, and he’s developed a horrible case of Batman Voice I don’t remember being so annoying in previous episodes. Also, the doctor who keeps helping him out is getting more and more intriguing.
  • So Cecile is a straight-up metahuman empath now? I can never tell if the show wants her abilities to be permanent or not. I do appreciate the Deanna Troi Star Trek reference, though.
  • Holy crap do I love Iris and Nora’s awkward handshake at the end of the episode. It’s beautifully inept. Kudos.
  • “Ralph Made Me Laugh, What Is Happening” count of the episode: at least two. First, when Ralph authoritatively held up his wallet, sans any form of ID, when meeting with the FEMA field director guy. Second, when he swept everything off the guy’s desk while leaving, just to be petty.

Grey’s Anatomy 15x08 Review: “Blowin’ in the Wind” (The Perfect Storm) [Contributor: Julia Siegel]


“Blowin’ in the Wind”
Original Airdate: November 15, 2018

We have sadly made it to the midseason finale of Grey’s Anatomy, even though it’s still early in the season. The one thing that Grey’s Anatomy has always delivered is a real solid finale (whether midseason or end of season). This time around, every main character is forced to face the demons that have been haunting them this season, which culminates in the last minute for almost all of them. And because this is a midseason finale, you know you will be quietly seething for the next several months until the show returns and we learn what exactly happens after those massive cliffhangers!

Unfortunately, no midseason premiere date or month was announced at the end of the episode, so it looks like we might be in for a long winter.

CRY FOR HELP


The midseason finale picks up where we left off, with Meredith bailing Richard out of jail in the beginning of the big windstorm. Richard goes into the hospital the next morning to talk to Alex about what happened, but has to talk to Bailey instead when Alex is nowhere to be found. Bailey is surprised by Richard’s outburst and arrest and decides to bench him from patient duty for the day. Both Meredith and Bailey tell Richard that he needs to find a new sponsor and straighten out his life. Richard tries to call Catherine to tell her what happened, but Tom Koracick picks up her cell. A very shocked Richard thinks that his wife is cheating on him and doesn’t know the truth of why Catherine would be with Tom.

Meanwhile, when she realizes that Alex isn’t in the hospital, Bailey decides that she can still perform her chief duties and starts by taking command of Richard’s situation. With the storm in full swing, the hospital becomes overrun with trauma patients. Only a third of the regular staff made it in to work, so Grey Sloan is running on fumes. Bailey makes her way to the ER to assess the situation and gives everyone a pep talk. She wants to keep the hospital open since all the others in the area have closed due to the influx of patients.

Bailey is proud of herself for handling things so smoothly and keeping the hospital afloat, but gets a good dose of reality when she talks with Richard at the end of the episode. Bailey reveals that she and Ben are taking a break. Richard insists that Bailey is in worse shape than he is and that she needs help getting her life back in order; she is pushing everyone and everything that she loves away. Both characters are in dire need for help and are quickly falling apart. Let’s hope they heed each other’s advice when the show returns.

SECOND HONEYMOON


Alex and Jo spend the episode at home after sleeping in and missing work. They realize that they haven’t spent much time together since getting married and take the day to enjoy their “second honeymoon.” While going through some boxes, Jo finds their marriage license and realizes that it was never sent to the courthouse. Even though Alex and Jo find out they aren’t legally married at the moment, they still feel married and decide to keep things the way they are. Why they won’t send in their marriage license is beyond me though.

SPILLING SECRETS


This season has played around with one big secret long enough, and now Catherine’s diagnosis throws another huge wrench in the mix! After milking Teddy’s pregnancy non-reveal since last season’s finale, it’s about time that Owen finds out he is going to be a father. Teddy shows up at the hospital to see if she can help with the influx of patients and to finally tell Owen the truth about why she came back to Seattle. She waits until they are ready to scrub in to surgery together to ask him if they can grab a coffee and talk when they are finished working. Owen skeptically agrees and wants to know what’s going on. Teddy has never had good timing, and it just gets worse as the surgery commences.

Jackson, Teddy, and Owen work to remove a giant candy cane decoration that has impaled an older man. They work carefully to try and not cause extra bleeds and are surprised to see that the man didn’t sustain much damage. Since their patient will live, the doctors enjoy a brief moment of happiness. Of course, this is when Teddy decides to blurt out that she is pregnant with Owen’s baby. Naturally, no one in the OR knows how to react, and the varying levels of shock on their faces are pretty funny.

Teddy gets called away for another consult and leaves Owen in the OR. Owen runs after her to discuss why she kept the news from him for so long and finds Teddy as she is getting into an elevator. The doors open on the next floor and in walks Amelia, who has news of her own to share. Amelia has an emotional arc throughout the episode, as she deals with the return of Betty and the loss of a patient. The patient’s last phone call to her mom before surgery has a profound effect on Amelia. Amelia realizes that she wants to protect Betty and wants to become her official foster mother. She runs into the elevator and tells Owen and Teddy her plan, but she doesn’t know their big news yet. Then, the power suddenly goes out, and the three docs are stuck in the elevator with a presumably dying patient and one huge secret hanging in the air. This was the moment we all were waiting for, but it does make for a nice cliffhanger.

Meredith, meanwhile, spends the day weighed down by Catherine’s secret diagnosis. She doesn’t want to tell Richard — or anyone else — what happened in L.A. because she feels it’s not her place. Poor Meredith has to bear everyone’s secrets lately. Her day gets worse when Maggie won’t stop hounding her about coming back early from her trip and is upset Meredith won’t listen to her complaints about Jackson. Meredith eventually snaps and tells her about Catherine. Since Maggie is immature, she tells Jackson about his mother’s diagnosis instead of letting him find out from Catherine. We don’t get to see Jackson’s reaction to the news, but it seems that Maggie is finally committed to him if she wanted to be the one to tell him.

LET'S TRY THIS AGAIN


No big episode of Grey’s Anatomy would feel complete without the steamy factor. Schmitt is assigned to work with Nico to help move the patients in the clinic to safety. Since he isn’t happy to be working with Nico, Schmitt takes the opportunity to act like a pouty teenager because Nico doesn’t want to be part of his coming out story. After they are done helping the patients, Nico decides he is going to try and make it back to the main hospital building. Schmitt advises him not to do that because the wind between the two buildings could be much worse than he thinks. Nico should have taken Schmitt’s advice — as soon as he tries to take a step outside, Nico is blown away by the wind. Schmitt runs after him and finds Nico against an ambulance. Once they are both inside, Schmitt reveals his true feelings for Nico, which turns into a steamy reunion. Their story ends with uncertainty, as a sparking power line falls toward the ambulance before the scene cuts away. It’s likely that one of these characters, or both, may be in some serious trouble.

Schmitt isn’t the only person to take a chance on love in this episode. Cece the matchmaker is back and wants to set Meredith up with Link, whose new shorter haircut looks very good. DeLuca, who is checking Cece’s vitals, doesn’t understand what is going on. Meredith says she has too much on her plate and doesn’t want to get involved with anyone. However, she has a quick change of heart and asks Link if the invitation for drinks is still open. Link is very happy to accept a date with Meredith, much to the chagrin of the onlooking DeLuca.

Later in the episode, we find out that Amelia’s brain dead patient is an organ donor and a match for Cece. DeLuca explains to Cece that she is only getting the organs because UNOS can’t pick them up in the wind storm and that she might die on the table from her health complications. Cece decides to take the organs — she would rather die trying to save herself and know she did everything she could. Her words inspire DeLuca to come clean to Meredith about his feelings; he lays his cards on the table. Meredith is a little flustered by DeLuca’s declaration of love and leaves the room they are in because she doesn’t want to do something she will regret while her mind isn’t in the right place (and probably because she is thinking about seeing Link that night for drinks).

Meredith doesn’t exactly turn down DeLuca — she tells him that she'll think about what he said. DeLuca is proud of himself for finally telling Meredith the truth and potentially having a chance. Soon after, Meredith goes to catch an elevator to the OR for Cece’s transplants. Right as she gets in, DeLuca strolls into the same elevator and is accused of stalking by Meredith, who is not happy to be in a small box with a guy she may or may not have feelings for. As Cece and the brain dead patient are being prepped in the OR for surgery, the power goes off. Not only are the two surgeries in limbo, but Meredith and DeLuca are trapped like Teddy, Owen, and Amelia.

And since the episode ends right there, I’m betting there will be some elevator shenanigans in our future. Now that there are almost certainly two love triangles in play, Grey’s Anatomy fans have a lot to look forward to whenever the show returns.

Doctor Who 11x07 Recap: “Kerblam!” (Special Delivery) [Guest Poster: Stephanie Coats]


“Kerblam!”
Original Airdate: November 18, 2018


So far in season eleven, Doctor Who has addressed, among other things, racism, privilege, and religious persecution. When the Doctor gets a delivery mid-flight in space from a creepy looking robot, she opens up the box to find a fez and a note that says: “Help me.” It seems pretty clear that this episode is going to address the evils of billion-dollar corporations or the exploitation of workers or rogue robots. But don’t write this episode off just yet.

A VERY WORRYING FIRST DAY


The delivery came courtesy of Kerblam, a huge Amazon-like corporation that uses delivery robots to reach customers anywhere on a planet or in space. Team TARDIS arrives on Kerblam’s home planet and registers as new workers in a gigantic packing plant. By law, Kerblam has to maintain a 10% human workforce in all areas and Judy — the team’s tour guide — is in charge of those 10,000 human workers. The plant is experiencing regular but brief power outages that don’t seem to concern Judy but do get the Doctor’s attention.

The team is split up. The Doctor and Ryan are sent to packing, where they meet Kira, a nice, soft-spoken woman who admits that a few people have gone missing recently. Graham is sent to custodial services, where he’s paired with Charlie — a nice man who provides Graham with a brief history of Kerblam and gives him a diagram of the warehouse.

Yaz gets, arguably, the worse assignment. She goes to the warehouse to retrieve orders and is paired with Dan, a seasoned worker saving money to support his daughter. Could he be an indentured servant? Yaz and Dan are gently reprimanded by a teammate, one of the robot workforce, for talking instead of working. When she gets an order from deep within the warehouse, Dan insists on taking it instead. Thankfully — either because she’s a cop or because she’s been with the Doctor long enough already — Yaz is smart enough to follow Dan anyway. He encounters another teammate that seems to be malfunctioning. Then, Yaz hears him scream and all that’s left of Dan is his scanner and the necklace his daughter made him.

DON'T BE SUSPICIOUS


The Doctor, Yaz, and Ryan report that Dan is missing. Judy and the manager, Mr. Slade, appear concerned but cautious about this news. Kerblam is its own jurisdiction and they’re the ones responsible for all employee welfare. That doesn’t seem ominous at all.

Graham finds the group outside and they all watch as Charlie and Kira are adorably unable to talk to one another because each has a massive crush on the other. The Doctor, Ryan, and Yaz sneak back into Slade’s office after hours but are promptly caught by Judy. She’s suspicious because there’s no record of them before today. However, once the Doctor shows evidence that workers have been going missing and someone sent a “help me” message, Judy agrees to help. Almost as soon as Graham and Charlie arrive, the power goes out. A somehow still active teammate enters and attacks Charlie. He’s saved when Judy rips off the robot’s head. Yeah, she can stick around.

Now convinced that the teammates are rebelling against the humans, the Doctor needs to investigate what changed in the Kerblam code to make them behave this way. She procures Twirly, the first version of Kerblam’s delivery bots, to help sift through the code. From a video feed, Slade sees this and grabs a gun. Teammates escort Kira down to dispatch to receive a special “gift.”

TWIRLY TO THE RESCUE


It’s time for the team to split up again. Yaz, Ryan, and Charlie slide down a dispatch chute to get to that level in search of Kira. The others remain with the Doctor, who plugs Twirly into the Kerblam system. Fairly quickly, the robot says help is needed in dispatch and the pieces fall into place for the Doctor — a human didn’t send a “help me” message because the robots were rebelling; it’s the other way around.

The robots are asking for help.

Using the delivery bot’s ability to teleport, the Doctor transports herself, Graham, and Judy down to dispatch as well. Slade is there waiting for them with his gun... but twist: he’s not the villain in this story. He was suspicious of the Doctor but now sees she’s trying to help, so he joins their group. They discover a disgusting pile of goo that is the liquefied remains of the missing workers. There’s also an army of delivery bots waiting to be sent out. But every box has something different in it so how could they be a threat?

Kira arrives in a small room in dispatch and a box appears with her name on it. Inside is only bubble wrap. Outside the room and unable to get in, Charlie screams for her not to do what every person does with bubble wrap. But she can’t hear him. She pops a bubble. A gas is released and Kira disappears, dead like the others. Dead like every person who receives one of the packages the army of delivery bots is holding.

HUMANS ARE THE WORST


Ryan realizes it first: Kerblam isn’t evil or forcing its workers into servitude, and the robots aren’t attacking people at random or staging a rebellion. Charlie is behind everything. Ryan runs to the others and tells them. Charlie holds up a button to activate the army of bots and confesses. He’s angry because only 10% of the workforce is human and he believes people have been replaced by technology. So he intends to show the danger of technology by killing thousands of people using Kerblam’s own delivery bots, making it appear that they have malfunctioned or gone rogue.

But Kerblam’s system has been fighting him the entire time, sending a message to the Doctor, trying to kill him in Slade’s office, and even taking Kira in the hopes that Charlie’s affection for her would stop him from going through with his plan. But he presses the button anyway, then smashes it on the ground.

Working quickly, the Doctor uses Twirly to change the delivery instructions for Charlie’s bots. She sets them to deliver their boxes to themselves and to pop the bubble wrap right where they are in dispatch. She and Graham both call out to Charlie to leave with them but he runs among the bots and dies when they explode. The Doctor teleports everyone else away safely.

In the aftermath, Judy says she and Slade will explore including more people in Kerblam’s operations. Remembering Dan’s kindness, Yaz requests they stop off to see his daughter so she can return his necklace to her.

Final Thoughts:

  • There’s a clear theme this season of people and their hatred being the enemy rather than monsters or killer aliens. I like this theme but after seven episodes of it, I have to say it’s starting to feel a little old. “Kerblam!” is the first time this season we’ve seen the villain of the story face any consequences for his actions. If everything ties together into a larger arc by the season’s end, I’m prepared to take this criticism back. But as it stands right now, I’m ready for a more old-fashioned Doctor Who episode. 
  • I’m glad the show continues to mention Ryan’s dyspraxia and how it affects his ability to do things like jump down a chute or leap onto moving conveyor belts. A lot of other shows might’ve made a big deal about it once and then forgotten about it but there’s obviously conscious thought going into how someone with dyspraxia would approach the adventures in the TARDIS. 
  • I know the fez is a ~thing~ in Doctor Who but I never particularly cared for it. However, Thirteen in the fez with her rolled up pants was a ridiculous and fantastic look.
  • The Doctor: “The system isn’t the problem. How people use and exploit the systems, that’s the problem.”

Thursday, November 15, 2018

The Flash 5x05 Review: "All Doll'd Up" (Parental Reflect) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]


"All Doll'd Up"
Original Airdate: November 13, 2018 

Shout-out to the foley artists on this latest episode of The Flash for their sound work on Rag Doll, our metahuman villain of the week. To get that distinctive crunching every time Rag Doll contorted his freakish terror body, I assume they used... my nightmares? The horrifying psychological shadows buried in the cavernous infinity of my mind? That ancient, primal dread that exists, ineffable but undeniably present, within my very DNA?

I’m pretty sure it’s one of those three. Either that or like, crushed soda cans and wet macaroni.

Hey, have I mentioned that I have a childhood-deep irrational fear of dolls?

MAMMAS DON'T LET YOUR BABIES GROW UP TO BE PETRIFYING DOLL-MASKED FEAR DEMONS


To be totally honest, Rag Doll doesn’t factor into the episode a lot as a character in his own right. I think he’s simultaneously the least humanized and most humanized metahuman we’ve gotten in a long time, as he’s completely driven by an emotional revenge, but his behavior, his movements, the way he speaks, all borders on animalistic. His story isn’t framed like the metavillain stories usually are, with a clear-cut motivation and understandable modus operandi, and the mystery of him means he’s a bit like a spider in the corner of a room: lurking, anxiety-inducing, but out of the way.

The episode’s real focus is on Iris’s relationship with Nora, and Rag Doll’s past is used to highlight things about said relationship. This is the kind of “filler” episode I love The Flash throwing at us when it doesn’t have anything to say about the main villain of the season, because it keeps the characters’ stories moving even while the season arc is put on hold.

The episode starts when Iris and Barry get an alert that someone’s stolen a Monet painting from a museum (Barry is impressed they were proactive enough to do so at 10 o’clock in the morning). Nora has been ignoring her parents for two weeks, but she shows up during the Flash’s high-speed chase just in time to ignore her mother’s advice and almost get two civilians blown up. When the West-Allen family returns to S.T.A.R. Labs, Nora gets a stern talking-to from her parents, whines like a bratty teenager about how her mom never lets her do anything cool, and flees back to Joe and Cecile’s to do some more bratty teenager stuff. Nora must be in her 20s. Her attitude is kinda embarrassing.

Rag Doll makes his first appearance when he steals a couple’s heirloom jewels. He gets spotted by one of them, and the lady correctly labels the whole encounter “terrifying” when CCPD shows up to get the report. I’ll say! Rag Doll can bend and squish himself into small places and open jewelry boxes by smashing his hands paper-thin and sticking his fingers inside. It does seem like a tall tale from a frightened lady, though, so Barry doesn’t fully believe the story until he’s at the scene of Rag Doll’s next victim, where Barry himself witnesses Rag Doll folding through the slats of a vent like the world's worst kind of origami.

Unlike the first couple, this latest victim doesn’t just get something stolen — his whole building gets blown up, and Barry has to race him out of the explosion. The guy is an architect who’s incredibly proud of his life’s work, but Rag Doll sends it all up in flames. Much like how the jewels from the couple were heirlooms, the architect’s building was important for more than just its monetary value. Rag Doll is targeting people emotionally more than financially.

While still worrying about her fight with Nora, Iris accompanies Barry on an information-gathering trip to a party hosted by affluent Central City resident and mother of our masked metavillain, Theresa Merkel. It’s an excuse for Iris and Barry to get all dressed up and have a lovely, romantic (but brief) dance together in a ballroom. But after talking to the cold and withholding Theresa Merkel, Iris’s heart isn’t in the romantic setting or the two of them finally getting the long-delayed “first dance” of last season’s interrupted wedding. She’s thinking about how Nora sees her as cold and distant, and Iris is afraid the future her might be just as bad a mother to Nora as Theresa was to her now-villainous and emotionally messed up son.

Meanwhile, Nora’s hanging out with Cecile, who has made an exchange: for every chore Nora completes, she'll get one story about Barry, except Cecile has secretly been telling stories about Iris instead. Ever since arriving in the present, Nora has stubbornly refused to get to know Iris because she assumes her mother has always been the same as the woman who raised her and getting to know Iris now would be a waste of time. Considering how many cool stories Cecile was able to impress Nora with, this assumption is proven very wrong.

Back with Barry and Iris, Iris shares more of her fears about what kind of mother she’ll be for Nora, whether she’s destined to be the kind of mother whose daughter inevitably pushes her away. Iris pushed her own mother away when Francine came back into her life, Nora definitely pushes Future Iris away... but Barry tells Iris that she can change everything, can make different decisions when it comes to raising Nora. Like Cecile’s insistence that Nora learn about Iris as she is now, Barry tells Iris to stop worrying about what the future might bring and to reconnect with the present. After this rare occasion of Barry playing cheerleader to Iris for a change, Iris runs off to follow a lead and Barry goes home.

Not sure how Rag Doll has been choosing his victims, but it looks like Barry — or, rather, Iris — is next in line. Rag Doll kidnaps Barry and ties him up on the roof of a tall building, using a pair of pilfered meta-cuffs to make him powerless. Rag Doll’s goal is, as stated previously, to cause emotional pain like the emotional pain he lived with throughout his life, being raised by a cold-hearted mother. He wants to cause the same pain in Iris by killing Barry. When she shows up with Ralph, Iris immediately gives in, but Rag Doll pushes Barry off the building anyway. So Iris straight-up dives off the building after him so she can unlock the cuffs and save both their lives. Iris West-Allen is freaking amazing, people.

Nora witnesses her mother saving her father via the most awesome and reckless thing imaginable, and the seed of “maybe Iris is cool after all” planted by Cecile’s stories fully sprouts. It gets even better when Iris tells Nora that she’ll answer all the questions future her considered off-limits, that there’s no reason why Nora shouldn’t be able to get to know present-day Iris. It looks like the burned bridges between mother and daughter are finally being rebuilt.

A CISCO & CAITLIN C-STORY


The other character-driven plot going on this week involves Cisco and Caitlin trying to track down Caitlin’s dad, with the help of Ralph and Sherloque. I guess the team is taking a brief breather from tracking Cicada, which, like I said, is perfectly alright by me. The show taking a handful of episodes out of the season to put the season plot on pause while they build characters is not only okay, but commendable. Especially when they manage it as well as they did with this episode.

Cisco, hoping to remain useful despite the injury done to his hands (and his powers) by Cicada’s blade, has been overtaxing himself by vibing clues to Thomas Snow’s whereabouts and keeping his pain secret. He doesn’t want to be useless by being powerless, which clashes with his initial negative feelings about having powers at all. Caitlin, with her Killer Frost journey, can relate. But, she informs Cisco that there’s no way he could ever be useless — that he’s a genius in his own right, without needing powers to help the team.

He proves this at the end of the episode by jumping onto four of the satellites DeVoe launched into orbit during his world takeover last season. Cisco takes control of those satellites, finally putting Team Flash back online and giving them a fighting chance at tracking down the shards from the meta-empowered satellite... and tracking down Caitlin’s father.

Other Things:

  • Next time: we meet up with Caitlin’s dad! Will it be another good character-driven episode?

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend 4x05 Review: "I'm So Happy For You" (West Covina, Or Change) [Contributor: Jenn]


"I'm So Happy For You"
Original Airdate: November 9, 2018

"The more things change, the more they stay the same." "The only constant is change." There are so many cliches about change that I'm sure you could name off the top of your head. Why's that? Because everyone has to deal with change. And — unless you're one of those rare weirdos who just loves it when their life shakes up — most people are pretty resistant to change by nature. Even if they don't fight against it, they unconsciously try and avoid it. We like things to be predictable. We like to be comfortable. Change is the exact opposite of that. It's newness and starting fresh. It's having to get to know someone again instead of settling into comfortable familiarity.

This week, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend was all about change. Every storyline focused on changes disrupting our main characters and how they handled it. "I'm So Happy For You" eventually finds the characters in varying states of acceptance, but it takes a little bit of prying for them to get there.

COMPETITIVE MUCH?


It seems like an absurd confession (because Rebecca whispers it), but I actually relate to the reasons why Rebecca felt fearful about Heather and Valencia leaving in this episode. She confesses to her therapist that she's fueled by competition. Her friends seem to be moving forward in their lives — they're hitting the adult milestones of settling into their careers, permanent relationships, and owning homes — but Rebecca is fearful because she's not where they are. She doesn't want them to move on until she's hit all those milestones too. Look, as someone who's almost 30 and single, with no real possibility of an engagement, marriage, buying my first house, or children soon... I get it.

Sometimes the reason we're afraid of change is because we're afraid of being left behind in its wake.

Rebecca's logical solution? To find people who are further behind in their lives than she is to make herself feel better about her position in life. So she befriends her two much-younger coworkers in hopes that their presences will make her feel advanced and content. This obviously backfires because Rebecca is just burying the real fear (which eventually resurfaces) beneath a coping mechanism. It's then that Rebecca realizes exactly how terrible the young people she's hanging around with are and returns to her girl group by the end of the episode with heartfelt, self-deprecating apologies.

What I really love about this episode and Rebecca's progress is that it's realistic. I understand why Rebecca felt the need to compete with her friends' statuses. She was beginning to feel like she'd be left behind. And while Valencia and Heather, specifically, call Rebecca out for her horrible behavior... they also acknowledge that her self-flagellation isn't necessary. And Valencia and Heather aren't entirely excited about their change — they're scared, too! Change is scary!

But if it wasn't for Rebecca meddling to split Valencia and Josh apart, Valencia would never have realized her career path. She would never be in a position to be moving to New York. She wouldn't have changed who she was.

And Heather wouldn't have met her husband. Paula acknowledges too that she wouldn't be where she is without Rebecca. Though her actions have often been morally ambiguous at best and heinous at worst, the women know that they wouldn't be where they are or where they're going without the help of Rebecca Bunch. They would not have changed.

So while it doesn't make everything better (Rebecca still ends the episode feeling sad because she's losing two of her best friends), this small reassurance helps Rebecca realize that change is difficult for everyone. But ultimately, even the difficult pushes that change gives us can help us move into the places we're supposed to be.

COMFORTABLE IS GOOD, RIGHT?


White Josh echoes something in this episode that I recently said to my friend. We'd both recently broken up with our significant others, and I told her that I wish I could skip all the awkward small talk, getting-to-know-each-other phase and start my next relationship right in the middle of us knowing one another. White Josh feels similarly in the episode. He and Darryl aren't together, but they're spending a LOT of time together. (This leads to an impressive musical number.) See, Josh and Darryl have settled into a kind of relationship that is natural and easy. They're not together, but they know one another.

So when White Josh goes on a date, he returns back to Darryl's place and complains. His date wanted to ask all kinds of questions about him, his friends, and his life. Darryl is the first person to wake White Josh up with a splash of cold water to the face. They can't continue to remain comfortable, not change, but also not be together. White Josh has to realize that the pattern they fell into — the being together without actually being together — is holding both himself and Darryl back from truly finding happiness with someone else. You can't remain comfortable and move toward change; you have to sacrifice the things that are easy in order to become the best version of yourself.

As much as my friend and I want to skip over the difficult, awkward parts of dating — and as much as White Josh wants to do the same — we can't just fast-forward through the details to get to a place where we feel content. It's in the discontent that we become who we're going to be.

While I think we can assume White Josh and Darryl will end up together in the end, they both need to learn an important lesson right now in moving on.

AND THEN THERE WAS PAULA


I have mixed feelings about Paula's storyline this season. It feels weird that we've spent four years with her and we're now just starting to focus on her relationship with her kids in a meaningful way. Picking up from last week's storyline though, Brendan and Paula continue to bond. And then Brendan tells her that he's planning to move to South America.

After Paula gives Rebecca an inspired speech about how when you grow, you learn to say hello and goodbye to people pretty easily — the older you get, the more you have to do it and the more okay you get — she learns her son is moving, and she doesn't take it well. Thinking a relationship with a girl Brendan really cares about would keep him at home, Paula schemes... only to be schemed on by her own family who figure out her motives pretty quickly. (Sidenote: WHY did no one else on the show figure things out this quickly?!)

Paula gets to sing a nice song to her son about how she spent most of his life thinking he wasn't going places but, as it turns out, he is. And she's actually proud of him. It's a nice song, but I still don't know why I should care about Paula's family this much. They've been given a lot of focus, and I'm not sure it's earned. (I honestly think it's mostly to fill the B/C-plots this season.)

Still, at least Paula and Rebecca have each other again to lean on.

And they'll need each other with all the winds of change that keep coming!

More fun stuff:

  • I still will not get tired of the "Meet Rebecca" variations at the end of the opening theme. 
  • Did you all love the fact that Scott Michael Foster just appeared in one song and not the rest of the episode, and Nathaniel just wanted to be part of the musical number? No? Just me?
  • The end montage with all the changes was incredibly sweet, to be honest.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Doctor Who 11x06 Recap: “Demons of Punjab” (Love Abides) [Guest Poster: Stephanie Coats]


“Demons of Punjab”
Original Airdate: November 11, 2018

At an unspecified time in the past, Yaz and her family are celebrating her Nani’s (grandmother’s) birthday. She gives Yaz, her favorite granddaughter, a broken watch that belonged to Yaz’s grandfather but won’t provide any detail about the watch beyond that.

Now in the TARDIS, Yaz persuades the Doctor to take them to visit her grandma when she was younger and the Doctor reluctantly agrees, so long as they don’t interfere with anything.

Yeah, because that’s always worked out well before.

FAMILY SECRETS


Pretty soon after landing in 1947 Pakistan, the Doctor has a telepathic flash of strange-looking aliens. There’s no choice but to investigate. The team encounters a man in a cart who seems to know Yaz’s grandma, Umbreen, and agrees to take them to see her. He greets a holy man also walking along the road as they leave. Arriving at Umbreen’s house, the TARDIS Team claims to be distant relatives and family friends but right away Yaz notices a problem. The man who brought them, Prem, is Umbreen’s fiancĂ© — but he’s not her future grandpa. Then again, he’s wearing the watch. Did her Muslim grandma have a secret Hindu first husband?

In addition to being the day of Umbreen’s wedding, it’s also the day of Partition, when India is divided into India and Pakistan. The Doctor knows this will cause intense violence and millions of deaths too. Prem’s younger brother, Manish, is all for the division. He even creates a border with a piece of rope to show where Umbreen’s family, who are Muslim, “belong” in Pakistan and where his family, who are Hindu, “belong” in India.

HAUNTED BY DEMONS


The Doctor gets a long psychic flash of the aliens and runs into the forest, where she and the team find aliens crouched over the dead holy man from the road. Prem shoots at the aliens but they teleport away. The holy man is covered in a weird purple dust. Prem reveals he’s seen the “demons” before, during the war. When he went searching for his older brother, he saw the aliens standing over his body. Prem, the Doctor, and Ryan stumble upon a doorway to a spaceship. Inside, the Doctor learns the aliens are Thijarians — well-known deadly assassins. When she grabs a canister of the purple dust that was covering the holy man’s body, the Thijarians are summoned back to the ship. She’s able to use the sonic to get herself and the two men to safety, though they get split up in the process.

They all meet — along with Umbreen and Prem’s families — in Prem’s barn. The Doctor uses the Thijarians’ mini teleporters to create a temporary barrier around the property. Manish as well as Umbreen’s mom, who has opposed her daughter’s marriage from the start, think the aliens were summoned because of the impending union. Umbreen is unmoved; Prem is the one certainty in her life, she says. She proposes they get married first thing in the morning.

WITNESS ME


The men and women separate for the night. The four ladies, the Doctor included, chat around a fire. Umbreen reveals her family and Prem’s have always worked the land alongside one another. She and Prem grew up together. The holy man who died was supposed to perform the wedding ceremony so instead, Umbreen asks the Doctor to do it, and she agrees. The stag night goes less pleasantly. Manish and Prem argue over a Hindu marrying a Muslim, and the younger brother storms out.

That night, the Thijarians break through the force field and take the Doctor back to their ship. There, they show her how their homeworld was destroyed and they decided to give up their assassin lifestyle in favor of traveling throughout time and space to honor the unacknowledged dead. They are staying near Prem because tomorrow on his wedding day, he’s going to die alone. The Doctor asks about the holy man and they show her how he died, though we don’t get to see. She returns to the barn and tells the team what she’s learned. Yaz is heartbroken for her grandma and doesn’t want to leave until she can be sure Umbreen will be okay. The others agree to stay as well.

LOVE, HOPE, AND LOSS


In the beautiful morning light, the Doctor performs the wedding ceremony at Manish’s makeshift border. She sonics off the rope but Umbreen picks it up. With Yaz’s help, she binds together her hands and Prem’s in the Hindu tradition. From a distance, Manish watches hatefully. He returns to the barn during the reception, where Umbreen tries to honor him for working the land during the war and helping to keep her family alive. He shirks her praise and before storming out again, saying he wishes Prem had died in the war rather than return and disgrace their family by marrying Umbreen.

Determined not to let his brother spoil the day, Prem gives Umbreen his watch, though he drops it on accident, breaking it. Umbreen reassures him — this is now their moment in time forever. The Doctor follows Manish and confronts him just as he grabs Prem’s rifle from the war. She knows he killed the holy man. Manish tells her to leave with her friends if she wants to live. Armed men are on their way to enforce the new border.

Umbreen and her mother race to gather essentials from their home. Then, Prem sends them into the forest while he goes out to confront Manish and the men on horseback. He walks forward alone. He recognizes one of the men as someone he served alongside in the war. Team TARDIS runs into the forest, but Yaz stops to watch. The Thijarians arrive and promise to watch over Prem. Yaz and the others continue to run as Manish rejects his brother’s attempt at peace and one of the armed men shoots Prem.

Back in the present, Yaz visits with her grandmother. Where before Yaz had pressed for the story of her grandfather’s watch, now she says she’s fine to wait until another time to hear it.

Final Thoughts:

  • Season 11 is turning into a massive history lesson and I love it. I’m sure there are critics and viewers complaining that the show is too political but Doctor Who has always been at its most profound when it reflects the issues we face in contemporary life. Every “political” message has been spot on.
  • I was critical last week that none of the bad guys this season have faced any consequences from their behavior, especially when that behavior has almost always resulted in people dying. I stand by that criticism, but I also acknowledge that in many episodes this season, the true “villain” is a social problem such as racism, prejudice, or greed. It’s a lot harder to punish those kinds of villains, but I do appreciate how much the show drives home the point that love, compassion, unity, and acceptance are always stronger. 
  • The Doctor: “Gold star for Ryan! Wait, was I awarding points? Ugh, I forgot about the points!”
  • Prem: “I don’t know how we protect people when hatred’s coming from all sides.” Graham: “All we can strive to be is good men. And you, Prem, are a good man.”
  • The Doctor: “Love, in all its forms, is the most powerful weapon we have. Because love is a form of hope, and, like hope, love abides ... in the face of everything. You both found love with each other. You believed in it, you fought for it, and you waited for it. And now, you’re committing to it. Which makes you, right now, the two strongest people on this planet. Maybe in this universe.”

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Grey’s Anatomy 15x07 Review: “Anybody Have a Map?” (Beginning of the End?) [Contributor: Julia Siegel]


“Anybody Have a Map?”
Original Airdate: November 8, 2018

A pseudo-bottle episode stands in for the normally plot and cast-packed second to last episode of the year. While the latest entry in Grey's Anatomy may not directly play out in what appears to be an action-packed winter finale, the three storylines will most certainly have an effect on the rest of the season. If you watched this episode and aren’t sure what the point was, it focuses on Richard, Catherine, and the extended families of those closest to them. So let's dive in!

CATHERINE


Catherine hasn’t popped up since the season fifteen opener because she's been very busy with putting the final touches on converting the Harper Avery Foundation hospitals to Catherine Fox Foundation hospitals. Much to Richard’s chagrin, Catherine decides to stay in Los Angeles an extra day for the ribbon-cutting ceremony of her latest masterpiece and to welcome Meredith Grey and Tom Koracick for a consult. The two docs, under the impression that their VIP patient will be an A-list celebrity, have their worlds rocked when they learn that Catherine is their patient and a recent scan revealed that she has a massive spinal tumor.

The three characters of this story spend the episode reeling from the news that Catherine could potentially be very sick. Tom performs a biopsy to find out exactly what type of tumor they are dealing with. If you are wondering why Catherine asked Tom and Meredith to be her doctors, there are some very good reasons: Obviously, Meredith is very close to Richard, who is going to need a lot of support once he finds out the grim news. Meredith is also considered to be one of the best general surgeons in the country (and let’s not forget those early years where she was training to become a neurosurgeon under Derek). Catherine trusts Meredith and goes way back with Tom.

The nice part of this emotional story is that we get more backstory on Tom. He tells Meredith that Catherine is a very close friend of his and that she was the one to wake him up from his hazed slump after he lost his child. He credits Catherine with helping him to realize his full potential as a surgeon. And as one of the best neurosurgeons, Tom is Catherine’s first choice.

Unfortunately, Catherine has a chondrosarcoma on her spine, which is a form of cancer that cannot be treated with chemotherapy. Tom is nervous about attempting to excise the tumor because she could become paralyzed, a quadriplegic, or die during the surgery. Catherine has fought many battles in her life, so I don’t expect for her to give up easily. I’m more worried about how her husband and son will handle the news, considering both are in downward spirals lately.

RICHARD


The second plot of the episode follows Richard through a day at Grey Sloan Memorial. One of his favorite, and prodigal, nurses happens to collapse in pain in front of him. Oh, and she’s 28 weeks pregnant. Richard personally cares for Nurse Frankie all day, who then decides to go against Richard’s wishes and not have surgery to fix her splenic torsion. She decides wait and see if her spleen will fix itself so that she doesn't have to put her baby in harm’s way. This proves to be a fatal mistake: Frankie’s condition gets worse, leading to surgery.

In the OR, Richard does everything he can to save the nurse’s life, but he can’t find the source of the extreme bleeding. He calls Alex to meet him in the OR in case the baby has to be delivered, that way the child can get the best care possible. Alex arrives in time to deliver the baby and save its life. Richard’s attempts at saving Frankie’s life fall short, and he is so emotional that he can’t say the time of death. Richard then delivers the bad news to the rest of the nursing staff. He’s had a pretty tough go lately — the loss of Olive, not going to AA meetings, not finding a new sponsor, keeping things to himself, not having his wife around, and now having one of his favorite nurses die on his watch.

To say that this character needs help is an understatement. In a brief glimmering moment of hope, Richard goes to a short-lived AA meeting. He storms out of the building after hearing a woman tell a story about a local bar that gives free shots for AA chips in the form of one shot per year sober. In the next scene, Richard finds and goes into the aforementioned bar, gives the bartender his chip, and has eight shots of vodka poured in front of him. This was the first moment of the episode where I truly thought that Richard had lost it. After staring at the shots for a moment, he gets up, goes behind the bar, grabs a baseball bat, and starts smashing everything in sight. He tells the frightened bartender that taking away people’s sobriety ruins lives and that he doesn’t appreciate it. Granted, this has more to do with his own inner struggles than the bar’s practices but the point stands.

The episode ends with Meredith getting a collect call in L.A. from Richard, who has been arrested for his actions. This second moment of Richard losing it is more startling than the first. His actions are more than a cry for help. I’m assuming he is going to be charged with destruction of property and could be facing jail time, which could in turn affect his medical license. Between his outburst and when he eventually learns that Catherine is sick, Richard needs to find help before it’s too late. If there’s one character that I’m concerned won’t make it out of this season alive, it’s Richard.

JACKSON


The final story of the episode features Jackson and Maggie trying to reconnect. Things seem to be back to normal until Maggie accidentally picks up Jackson’s phone instead of her own and finds several text messages from another woman saying that she misses Jackson with several heart emojis. Naturally, Maggie is furious and accuses Jackson of cheating on her with the mystery woman. Jackson denies the allegations immediately and tells Maggie that he met this woman while on his spiritual sabbatical and only talked with her. He tries to get Maggie to understand that he opened up to this woman about his stress and problems because she had been through similar experiences. Jackson, who is already on thin ice, says that it was nice to talk to someone who understood where he was coming from.

Maggie briefly decides that Jackson is telling the truth and that situation with his new confidant isn’t earth-shattering. She tries to be a better girlfriend by giving Jackson the chance to open up to her and tell her all of his problems, but it goes south quickly. Jackson all but says that he still has feelings for April and is grieving the end of their relationship. Guess it finally hit him after... how long? Jackson is shocked when Maggie gets up and leaves in tears, saying that she can’t do this. Dude, how can you be surprised that your girlfriend probably wants to dump you after you tell her you are talking to other women and might have feelings for your ex-wife? Considering his fragile state this season, the news of Catherine’s illness will probably hit Jackson hard, and it might be the thing that brings him and Maggie back together since it impacts Richard, and therefore her, too.

Blindspot 4x05 Review: "Naughty Monkey Kicks At Tree" (The Real Remi) [Contributor: Jen]


"Naughty Monkey Kicks At Tree"
Original Airdate: November 9, 2018

Remi fights her impending death in "Naughty Monkey Kicks At Tree" and hopes for a cure, but her emotional breakdown reveals the real cure will be Kurt Weller.

CASE OF THE WEEK


Rich Dotcom truly is an inspired addition to the cast, so I don't mind the Blindspot writers jumping through ridiculous hoops to connect him to the case of the week. Rich and Patterson get a hit off one of Jane's tattoos — the scythe. There is a serial killer/assassin of the same name and he's escaped FBI capture for years. The CIA always believed The Scythe worked for the Russians, and Rich accurately points out the scythe would be a nod to the USSR. Jane's scythe tattoo has a cluster of dots, which matches the facial recognition scan of Luther Dolov, who has just entered the country.

Remi and Weller capture Luther Dolov after he murders a doctor working for an alternate energy research lab. However, Luther is not working for the Russians this time. He rambles on about the people of New York being parasites to the environment, and Rich recognizes a passage Luther references. Several years ago, Rich created a website where people would pay him to offset their carbon footprint. They paid a fee and Rich would use the money to plant trees or help clean the ocean.

... Of course, he didn't; he just pocketed their money. Why didn't these people just plant a tree themselves? They almost deserve to have their money taken if they are this stupid.

Rich grew bored pretending to be a world leading environmentalist, so he created, "an algorithm that scourers the Internet for anything remotely ecological, whips it up, and spits it out as propaganda." Rich moved on long ago, but someone used the site to inspire environmental terrorist attacks.

Patterson digs into everyone who once bought into Rich's website and finds Daniel Katzovich. He began ELM or Eco Liberation Movement, which has carried out several terrorist attacks all in the name of protecting the environment. Unfortunately, the FBI hasn't been able to connect Daniel to these attacks.

Dr. Miller was a member of ELM, but she wanted out. She was stockpiling white phosphorus, which starts fires that can't be put out. It's so awful it's banned in war. ELM took Dr. Miller's phosphorus stash and then had her murdered so she couldn't talk.

Rich goes undercover with Weller to figure out ELM's next target. Rich Dotcom undercover is always hilarious, but most of the time he blows the op with his ridiculousness. This time Rich is fairly effective, in no small part because of Patterson telling him to rein it in constantly. They discover ELM is planning an air strike with drones filled with white phosphorus. There's a shoot-out, and Keaton takes a bullet for Remi, but the team is able to stop the attack.


TEAM BLINDSPOT


Reade and Zapata are reunited, but unfortunately it's not the reunion I was hoping for. Tasha and her torture-loving partner are angling for Reade's password, which he refuses to give. Naturally.

Soooo... are we doing this? Tasha is going to stand by while Reade is tortured? Not to say this is a deal-breaker: Kurt "allowed" Jane to be tortured and they worked through it. All right, technically Weller didn't know about the torture exactly, but come on. She was at a CIA black site! Weller never asked, but he knew what was going on.

Reade and Tasha square off. She's begging him for the password, and he is trying to figure out what the heck happened to the love of his life. Tasha's basic reasoning is that she worked for the NYPD, the FBI, and the CIA and was burned by every agency. They are all corrupt, so she's looking out for number one now and doing things her way. Ehhhh... it's not the full story, but it has a very "my soul be damned" ring to it which is what she's going for. Tasha is trying very hard to convince Reade she's evil now.

Reade asks her, "Did you ever love me?" Tasha replies: "Yeah. I've always loved you."

SOB. Let's just ignore when Tasha pretends like she's just saying what Reade wants to hear and he's nothing more than a mark to her. Dude, she's trying to make sure you keep your eyeballs. The lady with the meat fork is craaaaazy.

Crazy Meat Fork Lady decides torture isn't the way to break Reade's will — Tasha is. She puts a gun to her head and threatens to kill Tasha if Reade doesn't give up the password. Zapata is legitimately freaking out because this nutcase will actually do it. Thankfully, we only get to the count of two before Reade coughs up the password.

At least Reade isn't a total dummy. He tells Tasha: "You worked with Blake because she was easy to control, but Madeleine is a different story." DING DING DING! Zapata has been in over her head for a while, but "Naughty Monkey Kicks At Tree" is when she finally gets the upper hand.

Tasha gives Madelaine whatever information she wanted from the FBI and then she kills Claudia (a.k.a. Crazy Meat Fork Lady). Claudia has been threatening Tasha from minute one, but I was still completely shocked when she killed her. Maybe it's the way she killed her. Tasha opened the trunk and it was covered in plastic. She doesn't hesitate putting three bullets in Claudia, and then casually tosses her in the trunk. STONE COLD.

Zapata lies to Madeleine and tells her Claudia was MI-6. Madeline has been looking for a mole, but she thought it was Zapata. Is she? I still can't quite figure out what Tasha's endgame is in all of this. She's not working for the CIA, that's for sure. So I don't know who Tasha would be a mole for.

KURT AND JANE


Remi finds out Kurt had Allie look into her contact, so she knows he's not buying the happy wife routine completely. Therefore, in a stunning move of diabolical subterfuge, Remi cuts her hair. DON'T BELIEVE IT, KURT. ALL THE SECRETS ARE IN THE HAIR! Sometimes I feel like Martin Gero reads my tweets and then makes storytelling choices based off of them. I was onto the hair, so of course he cuts it. Kidding. Kind of.

Patterson finds a potential treatment for "Jane," but she has to be tested to find out if she's a viable match. This isn't a simple blood test. Remi has to undergo a spinal tap with no anesthesia. SERIOUSLY? Yeesh.

We do get some amazing Kurt "Husband of the Year" Weller scenes out of it. He kisses "Jane's" hand, and constantly reassures her everything will be all right even though he's not sure it will be. Someone copy this man's DNA and replicate him already.

Despite all her training and desire to watch government agencies burn, Remi is scared. She puts on a brave face with the no anesthesia thing, but she is genuinely concerned she's going to die. When the test comes back and she's not a match, it begins to dawn on Remi — she might actually die.

What's fascinating about this scene is it's not Kurt comforting Jane. It's not Kurt comforting Remi pretending to be Jane. It's Kurt comforting Remi. For the first time, we see Remi drop her guard. All the anger and hatred seems to fade away. She's not obsessed with getting her mother released. The mission no longer matters. Remi is just scared. She doesn't want to die. She allows herself to take comfort in Kurt. He holds Remi and instead of the Machiavellian glare we typically see over Kurt's shoulder, we see her fear instead. Remi buries her head into Kurt's shoulder and allows herself to be loved.

It's really a stunning moment and I think a critical turning point. Remi keeps coming up with reasons why Kurt Weller needs to remain alive. However, it's becoming clear Kurt is having an impact on her. She's fighting it with everything she has, but Kurt is making inroads even though it's completely unbeknownst to him.

This is an important question for Blindspot to answer: Would Kurt and Jane even be together if she had not lost her memories? The short answer is no. The zip brought them together, and the zip is bringing them together once again.

It's clear Remi is developing feelings for Kurt, but they aren't connected to her memories as Jane. This is Remi's heart and soul being impacted. She may shut the door as soon as it opens, but the point is the door is opening. Remi isn't able to admit it, but she is beginning to fall for Kurt. Is it love? Is it more powerful than her desire to see the world burn? No, not yet, but we're getting there. Ultimately, whoever she is — memories or no memories, Jane or Remi — she will always find her way to Kurt Weller.

We also have confirmation Remi is beginning to remember Jane's memories. She insists Keaton bring her to Shepherd as her dying wish. Remi tells Keaton he owes her because not long ago she was the one being tortured by him at a black site. The way Remi references the torture makes it abundantly clear she remembers it.

If Remi is beginning to reclaim Jane's memories and developing feelings for Kurt then it's game, set, and match. Shepherd doesn't stand a chance. Remi is determined to free Shepherd, who is the most important emotional connection to her besides Roman. Shepherd is a master manipulator and unfortunately Remi has no clue how evil her mother truly is (or how evil their plans are together). I fully expect Remi to free Shepherd next week and the only combatant against that woman is Kurt Weller. He will be the only person who can emotional influence on Remi on the same level. A fact that will surprise not only Shepherd, but Remi as well.

Stray Thoughts:

  • "And the right to apologize for turning a perfectly good online scam into a terrorist organization." I love how Rich is just as righteously indignant over his scam being co-opted as he is about the threat to millions of lives.
  • Kurt needs to tell Patterson what's going on. Patterson knows all. Patterson fixes all.
  • Keaton took a bullet for Jane, so I'd say they are square now.
  • Keaton is in a medically-induced coma, which is going to make getting to Mama Shepherd trickier.