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.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Year in Review: Jenn’s Top 10 Comedies of 2018 [Contributor: Jenn]

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In an era of peak television, I’ve often found it easier to flip open my Netflix account and re-watch The Office or Friends or Parks and Recreation for the millionth time. Why is that, I wonder? Perhaps because getting invested in television has burned us all in the past. We’ve fallen in love with shows, only to watch them brutally cancelled after a season. So we flock to what is familiar, what we know, because it’s safe and comfortable. In spite of the fact that I did spend a lot of 2018 falling asleep to my favorite comedies of TV years past, there were also a lot of amazing shows that debuted or continued this year.

It’s time to honor what made me laugh (and occasionally cry) this year, so in no particular order, here are my favorite ten TV comedies of 2018!

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New Girl


God bless this little gem of a sitcom. 2018 has been and felt so long that it took me a while to remember that this series actually concluded this year. And it went out exactly how it needed to — with a few last recurring gags, sentimental storylines, a few well-placed time jumps, and one final game of True American (that made all of us ugly cry. Just me?).

The thing about New Girl? It was always going to end with these weird, wonderful friends figuring out life together — it was a series about them making mistakes, making fun of one another, falling in love, falling into crazy antics, and ultimately becoming better people because they’d done all of those things. Over the series, we got the chance to watch each character evolve and grow into who they were always supposed to become. Jess learned how to be honest with herself and others, to fall in love, and to find her purpose. Schmidt became a better, more well-rounded person. Cece found her life’s purpose, and Nick finally finished that book. Winston got the love story he always wanted and deserved.

The final few episodes of the series this year made me laugh and cry, and I was reminded exactly how much I was going to miss Apartment 4D.

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Crazy Ex-Girlfriend


Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is still firing on all cylinders in its final season. While there have been a few slower episodes here and there, the show continues to prove exactly why it’s always been critically acclaimed. It’s smart, sharp, witty, and the musical numbers continue to be something incredible to witness. I love that in its final curtain call, this CW series is exploring what it looks like to own our stories — mistakes and all — and become better people.

Rebecca Bunch is truly learning where she’s gone wrong in her life and is willing to accept the consequences for her actions. But the final season has been more than just that: it’s focused on what it looks like for all of us to grow up and move on. Each character’s arc has followed the same path, where they’ve learned from their mistakes and have grown up.

The fall finale was genius with the show’s introduction of “new” Greg, and I’m sorry but if a series can manage to entirely recast a main character, make it incredibly meta, write a song about it but also tie it so well into the overall story arc/theme of growth and change... I’m sold. That is why this show continues to deserve accolades.

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One Day At A Time


YES THIS SHOW ALSO AIRED IN 2018. Granted, it was in January, so it’s understandable if you — like me — forgot that its second season debuted this year, let’s take time to honor this comedy. I keep trying to convince people to watch it, and my pitch is: “This show will make you belly laugh and ugly cry.” The second season is no different. It follows a Cuban family who’s just trying to navigate life — the struggles and successes of it. It’s a show filled with incredibly nuanced, well-written women and representation across all forms.

One Day At A Time is sweet, without being cheesy, and poignant without being over-the-top or heavy-handed (which a lot of shows tend to skew toward when attempting to tackle controversial and/or serious subjects). One of the best, most emotional episodes of 2018 is arguably “Hello, Penelope” which features frank discussions about medicine and features a character’s realistic withdrawal when she stops her antidepressants. If you haven’t yet watched this incredibly moving and hilarious show... what are you waiting for?!

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The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel


I was never a fan of Gilmore Girls (you can yell at me in the comments) because I found it difficult to connect with Lorelai and Rory since they talked so quickly and were constantly witty and honestly who can do that in real life? And while The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is essentially the same in terms of rapid-fire dialogue, it seems to work better in an over-exaggerated, bright, bold world and paired alongside Midge’s personality.

Maisel is a show that mostly draws you in with its dialogue, colorful wardrobes, and witty banter. The relationship between Midge and her family (as well as her internal and external struggles with her not-quite-ex-husband) is the focal point of much of the first season, but the true heart of this show is the arc of Midge learning to become who she was meant to be. She breaks free of certain traditional molds by embarking in a career in stand-up comedy. But a lot of the show’s emphasis is on the fact that Midge is very privileged. So while she’s got her struggles and personal issues, she also has a lot of support in her life. How does she reconcile those two things? And how does she put herself first and take risks when her whole life has been safe?

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is an incredibly binge-worthy show on Amazon Prime, and if you’re looking for a period piece with good writing and great acting (Rachel Brosnahan shines), then look no further than this one!

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Splitting Up Together


I’m honestly surprised by how much I’ve enjoyed Splitting Up Together. I thought it was going to be a show about a couple going through a... well, uncoupling, and while it is a show about a marriage that splits up, what it’s really about is how complex families really are. But how all of us are complex, and that’s what makes us humans.

This show makes the point that broken families aren’t bad families; in the midseason finale, Martin (Oliver Hudson) calls Lena (Jenna Fischer) to thank her for the way that she’s been such a great mom. He knows their arrangement is weird to a lot of people, but he actually wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s a sweet, subtle gesture rooted in Martin’s own realization of how messed up other parents actually are. As much as Oliver and Lena’s relationship is tumultuous, the show really focuses on the fact that their love and devotion to their family is unwavering.

Splitting Up Together is perfect if you’ve loved any other Emily Kapnek shows (Selfie, Suburgatory, etc.) because the humor is relatable, and ultimately sweet. Jenna Fischer absolutely shines in this role and if you haven’t watched it yet, check out Splitting Up Together!


Single Parents


I’m not even remotely surprised that I’m in love with a show that is created by Elizabeth Meriwether and J.J. Philbin and also features a slew of New Girl writers. If you loved New Girl and haven’t yet started Single Parents, please do. It’s a delightful little series about a group of single parents, each of whom has at least one child and their own set of quirks. Leighton Meester and Taran Killam are exceptional (and I get major Nick/Jess vibes from them in terms of their chemistry and characters’ friendship), but so are the other cast members. Brad Garrett, Kimrie Lewis-Davis, and Jake Choi are exceptional. But truly the kids are the stars of this show and have impeccable comedic timing.

What really makes Single Parents special is a lot of what made New Girl special — the way the series manages to balance slapstick humor, recurring references, flashbacks, and witty dialogue with immense heart (I genuinely teared up during the midseason finale).

The show might begin with the group of single parents trying to pick on Will (Taran Killam), but after the pilot, these people become a family. And the humor is fixated not on them being mean-spirited toward one another, but attempting to just navigate the quirky, weird qualities they each have. If you need something sweet that is genuinely funny, Single Parents is your perfect next show to binge!


The Good Place


THIS SHOW, YOU GUYS. Mike Schur and company consistently manage to surprise us with the twists and turns they throw. What I’ve always admired about The Good Place though is that it never gives us a plot twist just for sheer shock value. Each step of the journey in this show is perfectly planned out, and I love that we got to watch the characters really grow and settle into their moral journeys this season. You can tell the cast really enjoys working together, and it shines through in their performances. The Good Place deftly has managed to combine humor, heart, and also impeccable attention to detail. The writing of the series is so tight that while plot twists throw us, we immediately want to re-watch the episodes and pick up all the tiny clues we missed along the way.

Character growth in this series has always been believable. One of my favorite episodes this season featured Michael and Eleanor on a journey by themselves in which they had the opportunity to explore the concept of free will. Ted Danson and Kristen Bell were tour de forces, and everything in the episode felt true to their characters. The performers are top-notch, truly (D’Arcy Carden deserves an Emmy for that finale), and each brings incredibly nuanced and yet hilarious skills to the table. Jameela Jamil and Manny Jacinto often have to deliver lines that would sound absurd coming from everyone else, and William Jackson Harper got the chance to do some really fun physical comedy in 2018.

I’m already itching to see what happens to Michael, Janet, and the humans in 2019. How about you?

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GLOW


Ironically one of the reasons I really loved GLOW this year was because it got more serious. Sure, the series was still funny and I appreciate all of the dry wit that episodes bring. But the fact that it pushed itself outside of the confines of the first season truly made it special. “The Good Twin” was an ambitious episode that really paid off, and Alison Brie and Betty Gilpin deserve all of the awards possible for their confrontation in “Nothing Shattered.” The whole cast truly is special and I loved that we got the opportunity to see more of them shine this year. There were deeper storylines for them (please tell me everyone else appreciated the emotional story Tammé  had with her son), and we actually got the chance to not just watch them and their wrestling alter egos in the ring, but explore more about why they’re choosing wrestling and how it impacts the rest of their lives, for better or worse.

GLOW is one of those fun, easy-to-binge shows because the content and format lend itself to watching one more episode, and then one more episode. I love that 2018 brought us more of a series with nearly all women stars and allowed us all the chance to get to know more complex, diverse women on television.

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Brooklyn Nine-Nine


What a gem of a comed this one is, you guys. Brooklyn Nine-Nine thankfully got picked up by NBC after its cancellation at FOX, and I for one am grateful. I’m not sure exactly when this series became a favorite of mine (because it took me three attempts to even start watching it in the first place), but it did. I’m a sucker for ensemble comedies, if you haven’t noticed that pattern yet, and this show is the best current example of a workplace ensemble comedy.

But what I’ve always appreciated — apart from the commitment to recurring jokes, callbacks (shout-out to all the writers who remember all the things), and flashbacks — about Brooklyn Nine-Nine is that when it chooses to be series, it does so purposefully. “Moo Moo” (though it aired in 2017) and “Show Me Going” are two recent examples of the fact that when the show focuses on the fact that it’s not just a workplace comedy but a workplace comedy about a police station, it shines. “Show Me Going” was the perfect balance of intensity and humor, and that’s the balance Brooklyn Nine-Nine has locked down.

I already saw the first two episodes of the upcoming season and let me tell you... they’re excellent. Catch up on the series if you haven’t yet, and dive into all the romance, humor, silliness, and joy that Brooklyn Nine-Nine holds.

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grown-ish


Ironically I began watching grown-ish before I watched black-ish. The Freeform series is fun and features the same kind of narration that black-ish does. But grown-ish takes the narration a step further, frequently breaking the fourth wall and having Zoey directly address cameras. (In the season two premiere, she literally tells the audience to stay put while she goes and does something.) What I really enjoyed about grown-ish this year was the fact that it featured a stellar and diverse cast and though it’s more suited for college students and young adults — like a lot of Freeform’s content — it’s appealing to a wider audience. This isn’t just a series about college students partying, or Zoey trying to find her place in the world. It’s about friendships, arguments, love, identity and purpose — all things that everyone can relate to.

While watching black-ish definitely will help you understand Zoey’s personality better (I started watching black-ish frequently this year and love it too), it’s not necessarily a requirement to watch grown-ish. You’ll be able to jump right into this fun comedy series and hopefully enjoy it as much as I did. Catch up before season two returns in a few weeks!

What were some of your favorite comedies this year? Did 2018 feel simultaneously as long and short to you guys as it did me? Sound off in the comments below!

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Blindspot 4x08 Review: "Screech, Thwack, Pow" (Diversions) [Contributor: Jen]


"Screech, Thwack, Pow"
Original Airdate: December 7, 2018

Blindspot delivers a tepid mid season finale and truly makes me wonder how much gas is left in this tank.

CASE OF THE WEEK


"Screech, Thwack, Pow" is just a series of diversions. The writers make us think they are turning left when they are really turning right. This is a technique Blindspot uses often. Once an episode is fine. Three or four diversions gets to be excessive.

The case of the week is about a nuclear missile launch from a submarine; it's headed straight for Manhattan. If you are wondering how many times we've done a nuke storyline this season, I think it's either once or twice already. The fact we know we'll have multiple nuclear attacks shows you how many times Blindspot repeats the same threats on New York.

The missile launch is all diversion of course. It's Boston hacking NORAD for Remi so the FBI is too busy stopping a nuclear attack to pay attention to what she's doing. However, her hack of NORAD ultimately gives her plan away. During a nuclear attack, the CIA moves their blacksite prisoners out of the country to a secure location. Is that really the CIA protocol? Doubtful. I feel like there are other CIA priorities happening during a nuclear attach other than getting their blacksite prisoners a first-class ticket to Maldives.

I really thought Boston was toast this week, but he convinces Remi to keep him alive so he can assist her while she's on the run with Shepherd. Meanwhile, after he turns all the stoplights green for Remi, he leaves them yellow for Rich Dotcom to find like a yellow brick road. Boston's favorite movie is The Wizard of Oz. This was Boston's cutest and coolest trick. The fact the yellow lights are thrilling me should be a signal (pun intended) this episode wasn't a real barnstormer.

Remi snatches her mother in transit, but Kurt catches up to them. Remi fires on Kurt and he swerves his car — excessively in my opinion — and it flips. This is how the episode opened, so we're meant to believe Remi kills Kurt. I yawned my way through it because there's no way Blindspot kills off Kurt Weller. We still have half a season. Diversion number two.

Kurt arrests Boston and he explains how Remi tricked him into helping her. He tips Kurt off to Remi's increasingly alarming and lucid Roman hallucinations. Rich uses a program he created which can impersonate people. It looks like the person is saying words they never said. Rich used it on Patterson earlier in the episode. Rich sends a message to Remi "from Roman" to meet at a certain location. Lame? Yes, but if it gets us closer to arresting Remi, sticking whatever cure for this zip nonsense in her arm, and getting back Jane, then I'm for it.

Remi tells her mother to stay put and she arrives at the location. Of course, Weller is there as diversion number three. "Screech, Thwack, Pow" ends with Kurt and Remi running at each other WWE-style to punch it out. No, I am not kidding. Yes, it is as stupid as it sounds.

TEAM BLINDSPOT


This episode is focused on catching up all our characters on what the other characters have been up to. Reade and Weitz tell Patterson they are on their way to Mexico to catch Zapata. Weller tells Rich and Patterson his wife is taking a ride on the crazy train. Rich: "It's like her brain is trying to reboot the system to factory settings. Only, in her case, it reset to Remi."

I really love how Rich can boil down overly-complicated plot points into simple, accurate, yet hilarious, explanations. I also love how plans aren't plans until Patterson signs off on them. Patterson in charge of everything is the realest thing about this show right now.

Down in Mexico, there's some bartering with the Mexican drug lord in exchange for his hacker. For a second, I thought Madeline was going to trade Zapata for the hacker. Tasha working for the Mexican drug cartel sounds a heck of a lot more interesting than this plane nonsense. But alas, nope. Tasha talks her way out of it, like a stone-cold killer: "I know where all the bodies are buried. And where to put the new ones. Do yourself a favor and take the money."

Why is she suddenly scarier when she speaks Spanish? After she makes the deal with the cartel for the hacker, Tasha separates from Madeline and Reade literally runs into her on the street. That's right, kids! Reade lands in Mexico, the very large country, and walks directly into the person he's searching for. Diversion number four. Sigh. I'm trying to hang in there, but do the turns in plot have to be so ludicrous?

Whatever, I shouldn't be complaining. Maybe if Reade arrests Tasha we can be done with this plane storyline too. We end with Tasha squaring off with Reade and Weitz. She's outgunned so I'm not sure what her play is. We're supposed to be worried Tasha and Reade are going to shoot one another, but mostly I don't care. I just want Zapata to go home and stop pretending she's the mistress of all evil (because she isn't). If not, then Blindspot should go all-in and actually let her become the mistress of all evil by running a drug cartel. Just do something other than the nothing I've been watching for weeks on end.

KURT AND JANE


There was a nuclear threat and Kurt left Jane a goodbye message because he didn't want their last conversation to be about threatening to kill one another. Kurt says: "Jane, I don't know if you'll ever hear this but, uh... you're the love of my life, and I never stopped fighting for you. I love you. Goodbye."

HERE ENDETH THE SHOW. Just kidding, but it was a sweet moment. Consider it the highlight, because we don't get much Jeller other than the two of them going all Fight Club on each other.

Here's one of my slight frustrations with the whole Remi plot: she hasn't done anything all that awful yet. Maybe if she killed Boston, there might be some ramifications. But honestly... once they cure her, I'm not sure what consequences — if any — there will be for Jane. Not that I want Jane to be punished for something that's not her fault. Of course I don't want that.

However, the stakes aren't all that high. We know Remi will get cured eventually, so it's about the damage she does in the meantime. Kurt isn't telling the FBI or CIA about what happened, so even Jane's job will be waiting for her when she gets back. Kudos to Kurt for not sending the love of his life to CIA blacksite to be tortured again. That was a real low point in their relationship. Let's not revisit it.

This is the midseason finale, but nothing feels very exciting to me. It all unfolded relatively predictably, despite the multiple diversions Blindspot had going. The whole "Remi and Zapata are evil" storylines have grown stale. I'm ready to move on. Last week was wonderful because it allowed Kurt and Remi to hash things out, but that's done now; so let's cure her and move on.

My general restlessness and boredom mean I'm ready for this show to be done. There just doesn't seem to be a lot of story left to tell. It's time to wrap Blindspot up after this season. Cure Jane, kill Shepherd, hook up Reade and Zapata, give me Jeller babies, and Patterson can rule the world and get a spin-off with Rich Dotcom.

The end. Roll credits.

Stray Thoughts:

  • Rich leaves a goodbye voicemail to Boston, but then tricks him into saying "I love you" by allowing him to think he's going to spend the rest of his life in supermax. They are so horribly dysfunctional and hilarious. This is also diversion number five, I believe.
  • A PSA for Remi: You can't just yell someone out of their PTSD.
  • How many "Cure Remi" subplots do we have going now? Four? Oy. Pick one and move it along.
  • Her mother knew the zip was poison and yet Remi still wants to work with Shepherd. If that doesn't sum up their highly toxic and dysfunctional relationship, then I don't know what does. But sure Remi, WELLER is the problem here.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

The Flash 5x09 Review: "Elseworlds, Part 1" (Swapsies!) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]


"Elseworlds, Part 1"
Original Airdate: December 9, 2018 

It’s midseason finale time! And crossover time! At the same time! This year’s crossover of DC Arrowverse shows (sadly lacking in the crew from Legends of Tomorrow) involves a life switcheroo between Oliver and Barry, and it’s probably the most fun crossover we’ve gotten so far. I must credit a lot of the episode’s fun to just how terrifically well Barry and Oliver play off each other — it’s clear that the writers saw the appeal of opposite characters being thrown together in a crossover event, but I think the actors really had fun with the experience as well. To wonderful results.

NOT EXACTLY FREAKY FRIDAY


The big event begins: a great battle has taken place on a desolate battlefield, littered with flaming wreckage and the bodies of costumed heroes. The Flash (John Wesley Shipp version) looks to be the last alive as he crawls toward a large book, but the book is scooped up by an echo-voiced someone. I’m going to go ahead and say that the echo-voiced someone is the Monitor, since it’s easier for recapping purposes. The Monitor takes the book and opens it and it emits a stream of white light. Later, the Monitor gives that glowy book to a man named Deegan, a psychiatrist distracted by eugenics and evening out the human/metahuman playing field. With the book, Deegan can manipulate reality.

In Central City, the sky is red and full of lightning, and Oliver Queen is waking up... as Barry Allen. Oliver walks through Barry and Iris’s apartment, which is now decorated with poorly Photoshopped images of Stephen Amell’s face on Grant Gustin’s body. Iris is making breakfast and kisses her “husband” hello. Oliver is freaking the fork out but, like in most depictions of body-swap/life-swap tropes, Iris is only mildly confused by the man she thinks is her husband acting like he has no idea who he is. Also, it’s been a while since I watched Arrow, but Oliver smiles a lot in this scene (keeping up Barry appearances) and it doesn’t sit well with me. Oliver Queen smiling is just too weird, guys.

Oliver realizes he has Barry’s powers as well as his life and has some fun zipping around the apartment. Then Iris comes back and tosses him Barry’s Flash suit ring and, now donning the Flash’s new primary red outfit, immediately blames Barry for whatever shenanigans might have led to the most recent weirdness in his life. Which... yeah, that’s fair.

After Oliver clumsily stops a robbery and gets to S.T.A.R. Labs, Caitlin checks him over and finds no anomalies, much to his dismay. Also to his dismay: human contact! Prickly Oliver is not on board with the hug-fest that is Team Flash, or their need to talk about feelings, or their overall concern for their friend. Hey, like, this episode kinda makes me feel sorry for Oliver Queen? Dude’s clearly in a constant state of abject misery and loneliness.

Time to check in on Barry, who wakes up in the middle of a sparring match with Diggle. After Barry somehow manages to beat Diggle, he mentions calling on S.T.A.R. Labs for some “important Green Arrow business” (smooth, Barry). That’s interrupted by an alert that something bad is happening in the Glades. Diggle describes what it is, exactly, but it’s just gibberish to me, so... something bad is happening in the Glades, and it’s a job for the Green Arrow.

Barry manages to handle himself well during the fight, but Diggle almost gets jumped and Oliver super-speeds in to haul both Diggle and Barry away. Diggle promptly vomits into a trashcan, as is his wont. Able to talk for the first time since the life switch, Oliver is searching for answers while Barry is having fun with his new ability to climb the famous salmon ladder. Then Oliver mentions waking up in Barry and Iris’s bed, and Barry’s not having fun anymore.

Back to S.T.A.R. Labs, where they come clean to Team Flash in the hopes of figuring out how to fix it. Caitlin asks if Barry time traveled again and broke the universe and, I repeat: that’s fair. Anyway, no one believes them and even Iris is confused about why Barry would ever want to think he’s Oliver Queen. After all, Oliver Queen lives a life of constant sadness, vengeance, and desaturated colors while Barry Allen is allowed to smile and lives in a city that actually experiences sunlight. Turns out it’s all just a distraction so Iris can drug Oliver while Ralph knocks Barry out.

Both wake up in a cell, each handcuffed. When Oliver mentions that “everyone on Earth” thinks they’re each other, Barry gets the bright idea that maybe other Earths were unchanged. If they could get to Kara’s Earth, she might be able to convince everyone they’re telling the truth. Problem: they’re still in prison, which means they must break out, and that means Barry has to dislocate his thumb to escape his cuffs and then shove his hand into a toilet. Gross. On both counts. Oliver takes roughly half a second to figure out phasing and they escape, only to be stopped on the way to Kara’s Earth by Iris.

Barry talks all romantic and seems to win Iris over, so she gives them the breaching device and they head straight into...

The Smallville theme song! Okay, so actually it’s Earth-38, in Smallville, but they’re playing the Smallville theme song! I can’t fully express how much joy I felt upon hearing the early-2000s wail of Remy Zero. Bonus fun: I’m pretty sure the set that Barry and Oliver meet up with Kara, Clark, and Lois on is the actual Kent Farm set from Smallville. Either that, or a spectacular replica. Oh, this crossover is my favorite.

As Kara and Clark are chatting about Clark’s recent trip to Argo, Oliver and Barry arrive, surprising Lois, and Kara cuts in before she smashes one of their heads in with a hammer. Introductions all around. Barry is thrilled to be meeting Superman. Oliver continues to be grumpy. Really, even though the whole episode is fun, the scenes with Barry, Oliver, and Kara together in Smallville stand out. Beautiful things happen whenever Kara and Barry get to buddy up, and those things are only amplified by the contrast of Oliver’s grouchiness. It’s like two golden retriever puppies trying to play with a cantankerous old cat.

Except things go awry when the cantankerous old cat takes a swat at one of the puppies. During a training session, Barry gets his revenge over Oliver shooting him with arrows during the first crossover and Oliver snaps. Later, he confesses to harboring envy — without using the word — over how carefree Barry’s life seems to be. Oliver learns lessons and they’re accompanied by painful memories, but Barry can use Oliver’s skills and still have a good time. Oliver pretty much admits he’s only effective as the Green Arrow when he’s angry and tormented. Jeez, man. Again, this episode does a better job getting me to feel for Oliver than all the seasons of Arrow I’ve watched.

Cisco shows up on Earth-38 to call Barry and Oliver — and, since they’re there, Kara and Clark — in to help with the destructive robot rampaging through Central City. It’s AMAZO, the main antagonist of the episode, but here I am first mentioning it in the second-to-last paragraph of this review because it’s only in this episode so they can have a climactic battle at the end. And what a climactic battle it is! While Clark, Kara, and Oliver hold it down, Barry taps into his inner Oliver (i.e., he gets angry) and lands an arrow right in AMAZO’s robot eye. Oliver grins and gives Barry a thumbs-up after. It’s weird.

With the battle over, Iris and Barry have a talk that basically boils down to, “Barry, don’t turn into Oliver Queen. He’s really sad and we did that angsty stuff in season three. It didn’t work.”

Meeting up in the labs again, Cisco vibes the Monitor and Deegan, who’s holding the reality-controlling book. Oliver quickly sketches what he, Barry, and Cisco saw for everyone else and announces that their next stop is Gotham City.

Other Things:

  • Literally everything to do with the Barry/Iris/Oliver non-love triangle was comedic perfection. Like I said, the actors really had fun with this one.
  • “Guess you forgot you can’t get drunk?” “This day could not get any worse.”
  • “Are you puffing out your chest?” “Yes.” Barry’s reaction to Oliver being so... Oliver. It’s phenomenal.
  • I would love a whole episode of Kara and Barry needling Oliver and mocking his Batman Voice.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Doctor Who 11x10 Recap: “The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos” (The Return of Tim Shaw) [Guest Poster: Stephanie Coats]


“The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos”
Original Airdate: December 9, 2018 

On a bare-looking planet, Andinio and Delph, members of the Ux people, have been walking for decades but have finally found the right place to build a shrine. Delph’s earth bending is interrupted by a figure materializing behind them — a very familiar figure. I’d draw out this reveal but it’s pretty obvious it’s Tim Shaw, the villain from this season’s premiere. I guess he didn’t get sent back home after all.

GRAHAM'S PLAN


Roughly 3,500 years later, the TARDIS Team answer a distress call from that same planet. They arrive inside an abandoned spaceship and are met by a man with a gun and short-term memory loss. The Doctor is able to talk him down and persuade him to attach a neural balancer, which she and the team are also wearing. It blocks out the signals on the planet that make you forget things. The man, Paltracki, slowly remembers details and his ship is found to be in perfect working order. He receives a call from Andinio and the “Creator” (again, obviously Tim Shaw) demanding the return of an object Paltracki stole. Either he gives it back, or the remainder of his crew will be killed.

The object looks like a crystal with a small, black mass inside. The Doctor isn’t able to identify what it is exactly and Paltracki can’t remember. They take it with them as they trek towards Tim Shaw’s ship, passing through the wasteland of the battlefield on the way. In a true show of honesty, Graham privately tells the Doctor he intends to kill Tim Shaw as payback for Grace’s death and nothing she can do will stop him. It’s unusually bloodthirsty for the typically easygoing Graham.

Once aboard the ship, the group breaks apart. Yaz and Paltracki go one direction while Ryan and Graham search for the surviving members of Paltracki’s crew. On the way, Ryan picks up where the Doctor left off in criticizing Graham’s plan to kill Tim Shaw, saying Grace wouldn’t approve and neither does he. Ryan even tells his grandad, for the first time, that he loves him and doesn’t want him to break up their TARDIS Team. The argument is interrupted by cyber bots, but a swift-thinking Ryan tricks them into shooting one another. They quickly locate the crew, who are trapped in stasis chambers.

A FALSE GOD


Wandering off on her own, the Doctor encounters Andinio, who is now wielding a gun. She claims people came to attack Tim Shaw and so the Ux defended him because they believe he is their messiah. While speaking to Yaz, Paltracki expands on this for our benefit. His crew was part of the last fleet sent by the Congress of Nine Planets in response to the atrocities the Ux and Tim Shaw were committing. Those atrocities might have to do with the crystal, especially when several more crystals are discovered in a room.

Tim Shaw has the Doctor brought to him and helpfully tells her that she’s the reason for every wicked thing he’s done. She damaged his recall device and injured him with his own DNA bombs, so he accidentally landed on this planet instead of returning home, and was gravely ill. But he got lucky. The Ux believed he was their messiah and nursed him back to health and have preserved him all these years, doing his bidding because they believe he’s a god.

Using Stenza technology and the Ux’s powers, he has been stealing planets and trapping them in the crystals. He orders Andinio to attack a new target: Earth. The Doctor cries that the technology isn’t stable; the planets are trying to break out of their crystals. Bringing another planet on board the ship would be catastrophic. Of course, Tim Shaw doesn’t believe her or care. He does unhook his Darth Vader breathing mask to go after Ryan and Graham, though, who are freeing Paltracki’s crew. Alone with Tim Shaw, Graham decides to be the bigger man and not seek revenge, although he does shoot the alien in the foot when he’s about to attack Ryan. The pair lock Tim Shaw in his own stasis chamber and leave him there.

The Doctor and Yaz place their own neural balancers on the Ux and convince them to put the planets back where they belong. Using the TARDIS, the Ux, and the Stenza tech, the planets are sent back to their rightful places in the universe. The Ux seal the ship so no one else can get to Tim Shaw (though I sense this will ultimately happen at some point) and Paltracki agrees to transport them somewhere new. The Doctor advises them all to “travel hopefully,” then steps into the TARDIS and departs with her friends.

Final Thoughts:

  • I noted that this season is full of too many standalone episodes and not enough continuity and plot arcs. Then in the finale, Tim Shaw reappears. But this is probably the laziest version of an arc, if you can even call it that. We could’ve easily gone from episodes one or two straight to the finale and it would’ve made complete sense. Nowhere else in the season was Graham thirsty for revenge or keen on vengeance because of his grief over Grace. Just in this episode. The Doctor is fundamentally the same here as in the premiere. We’ve had maybe two hints that Tim Shaw would reappear and none of them on the level of say, the Bad Wolf arc in season one or even the less-than-subtle Hybrid arc in season nine. 
  • This was a perfectly fine episode but lackluster for a finale. It felt like every other episode this season. I hope the New Year’s special (the show is skipping the annual Christmas special for the first time ever) gives us something really substantial because it’ll have to hold us over until early 2020, when season 12 premieres. 
  • By the way, Whittaker and the rest of the TARDIS Team are returning for season 12. Rumors have been floating around the Internet for weeks that Whittaker and Chibnall were ducking out after one season but those have proven to be false, as most of us suspected they would be.
  • I did appreciate the references to Nine and Ten when the Doctor talks about other crazy things she’s managed to accomplish with the TARDIS. “I once towed your planet halfway across the universe with this TARDIS and turned a Slitheen back into an egg. So let’s give it a go!”

Sunday, December 9, 2018

The Flash 5x08 Review: "What's Past Is Prologue" (Memory Lane) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]


"What's Past Is Prologue"
Original Airdate: December 5, 2018 

Welcome, one and all, to the 100th episode of The Flash! Ah, a hundred whole episodes of this gloriously goofy and occasionally grim show about a dude who runs really fast. Can you believe it? Seems like only yesterday we met Barry “Humanoid Labradoodle Puppy” Allen... sigh. But anyway, what does the show have in store for us during this milestone episode?

Turns out, it’s time travel! ...Yeah, that’s pretty much par for the course. Keep on doing dumb things, The Flash. I do love you for it.

HAS NO ONE LEARNED THEIR LESSON?


Team Flash is still trying to get info on Orlin Dwyer, the human alter-ego of Cicada, but they’re not coming up with a whole lot of helpful information. They think they’ve figured out why he’s targeting metas; they assume it’s because Orlin’s sister was murdered by a metahuman, but as I said last week, we never really get that impression from the flashbacks. It always seemed more like the doctor helping him had more influence over his actions than any sense of sadness or revenge, but I suppose I can’t expect Team Flash to jump to that particular conclusion.

Cicada’s dagger is the most crucial obstacle for the team, but Nora comes up with an elaborate plan to negate its power-dampening power: she and Barry will go back through time and collect materials that can counteract the dark energy and magnetic properties of the dagger by using Savitar’s suit and the Speed Force transmitter used by Zoom to steal Barry’s speed, recalibrated with the energy from the original particle accelerator explosion. Right. Okay, I think I got it. And they’re going to keep their plan a secret from Cicada by planting the items in the past for their future selves to find? I guess? This is seriously a hundred episodes worth of convoluted, I’ll say that much.

After short diversion during which Barry wants to keep Nora from time traveling with him (Iris talks some sense into him), the two speedsters decide they’ll go to the past together. Cisco et al. have pinpointed the perfect dates and times for Barry and Nora to travel to, so that they can avoid making too many ripples in the timestream. These moments just so happen to be important moments in the history of the show, too — when you boil it down, we’ve basically got The Flash’s version of a clip show. But, you know, better?

Barry and Nora are ready to go to the past. Ralph even cues up Huey Lewis and the News’s “Back in Time” to mark this momentous occasion that happens way too often. I’m not denying that the music is actually a really cute moment, though. I always applaud the show for its forays into corny whimsy, and nothing’s cornier than Huey Lewis and the News.

First stop: the end of the Savitar fight from season three. I’m getting flashbacks to how horrendously boring that whole season was. Yeesh. Past-Barry phases into Savitar’s suit, it explodes, Nora grabs the tiniest shard imaginable, and ends up witnessing Iris shooting Savitar-Barry in the back. Nora’s life is a world of weird, let me tell you. She runs off with Barry after that, both pursued by a Time Wraith. You guys remember Time Wraiths? Because I sure didn’t until this episode reminded me they existed.

Back through time. Barry and Nora are tossed out of the Speed Force and into 2016, just before Zoom steals Barry’s speed and kidnaps Caitlin. While the others play out a past episode, Barry searches for the transmitter Zoom used and Nora witnesses a scene of Iris comforting Barry in the hallway. Harrison Wells — the angry, mildly antagonistic version from Earth-2 — interrupts Barry’s search and almost breaks the transmitter in a fit of rage. Barry manages to distract him with an idea for finding then-missing Jesse, dodges an encounter with Zoom, and he and Nora zip back into the Speed Force.

Unfortunately, they had been running from Zoom, so their aim at a timeline wasn’t exactly precise. Barry and Nora stumble out of the Speed Force and accidentally break the transmitter. After fighting about whether they should seek out Eobard Thawne-Wells for help with the broken transmitter, Barry stumbles across an unconscious version of himself. Turns out, they landed in that episode from the second season where Barry traveled back in time to ask Thawne about running faster. Jeez, there have been so many stupid time travel gambits in this show I had actually forgotten about that one.

With little choice left to them, Barry and Nora decide to visit Thawne-Wells after all. Thawne spends a little time trying to figure out who Nora is, first guessing a couple lady speedsters before settling on her being Barry’s daughter. Apparently, Thawne is more familiar with a universe that’s closer to the comic books, in which Barry’s daughter is named Dawn. Nora, by the way, is terrified of Thawne during their encounter, which is understandable enough when the guy is screaming about going home, but there’s definitely a sense that she knows more about how dangerous he is than she should.

Thawne fixes the transmitter while dropping a few digs at Savitar-Barry that I can’t help but agree with. Also, Barry tells him that the idea of using Savitar’s suit to get Cicada’s dagger was Nora’s. Thawne-Wells looks impressed and calls Nora a “clever girl,” but must speed back to the plot of that season two episode before he can say much else. Onto the particle accelerator explosion!

The version of Thawne-Wells that no one knows is actually Thawne-Wells is about to turn on the particle accelerator when he senses something amiss. It is, of course, Barry and Nora arriving. Hiding out in Thawne’s secret room, Barry activates the Gideon computer and sets it to work doing something… important, I guess? The audio cuts out while Nora tries to poke at the Reverse-Flash speed suit, which Barry interrupts. He tells Nora the reason why he hates Thawne so much: Thawne killed Barry’s mom, hoping a truly tragic event would break Barry and prevent him from becoming the Flash. Thawne really needs to read more comics. Tragedy creates heroes, you doof!

Once Gideon finishes recalibrating or whatever, the particle accelerator explodes. We get shots of people affected by this show’s major catalyst — from season one’s shot of Barry getting struck by lightning to last season’s shot of DeVoe getting struck by lightning. Ah, we’ve come so far on this single plot device. Let us appreciate all it’s given us in a hundred episodes, just for a moment...

Moment’s over. Barry stashes the dark matter-dosed transmitter in a pillar at the hospital and he and Nora return before Huey Lewis finishes playing. With twenty minutes left in the episode, Barry actually thinks he’s about to get Cicada. Ha! You poor, foolish Labradoodle. No, instead, you’re going to fight Cicada, almost win, launch his dagger into space, and he’s going to recall it. From space. What? And then Killer Frost will save everyone from getting murdered because she’s actually immune to Cicada’s powers thanks to being a non-dark matter meta, which is a neat reveal, but... what?

Cicada gets away, but here’s a twist! All episode, Sherloque has been suspicious of Nora and her journal full of time language code. It kinda makes him seem sort of shady (he even repeats the “clever girl” line from Thawne-Wells earlier) but things only get more intriguing when we see that some of Sherloque’s translation of Nora’s journal reads “the timeline is malleable.” ...What?

After taking a quick trip back to watch the original Nora and Henry in the past and have a father-daughter moment with Barry, Nora uploads her journal to Gideon, sending it to “the same recipient.” Nora then decides to deliver a message to said recipient and does a bit more time traveling. She arrives in 2049, angry at someone who’s revealed to be... Thawne-Wells! Probably! I can’t really explain why Thawne would still be wearing Wells’s face and there have been so many versions of Harrison Wells that he could be literally anyone, but the episode does seem to be hinting at this being Thawne-Wells, so let’s go with it.

Other Things:

  • Holy crap, Tom Cavanagh directed this episode and played three (four, if you count Thawne pretending to be Wells) technically different characters? Applause to you, man.
  • I loved everyone talking over each other while trying to figure out the best name for a power-dampening dagger dampener. Moments that give me the impression these actors have a lot of fun on set are my favorite.
  • Thawne-Wells and Cisco doing an awkward handshake puts the “awkward handshake” count of the season on two, I think. New running joke?
  • Next week: Crossover event!

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend 4x07 Review: “I Will Help You” (Hello, Mr. Nice Guys) [Contributor: Jenn]


“I Will Help You”
Original Airdate: November 30, 2018

In the November 16 episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (which was fun, especially because it spent most of its time playing around with different character pairings and dynamics; as a related aside), Rebecca and Darryl have a weird moment where they almost kiss. Why, you ask? Because Darryl spent the whole day being nice and kind to Rebecca. And she realizes that as icky and weird as their moment was, it gives her hope. She now knows she has the ability to be attracted to good guys — not horrible, messed-up ones.

So “I Will Help You” ending with epiphanies for Rebecca was entertaining, to say the least. But let’s back up and focus on what the episode was really about: telling the truth.

YOU’RE A MEAN ONE, MAMA BUNCH


We haven’t seen Rebecca’s mama since Rebecca tried to take her life. And when we return to Naomi’s life, we learn that she’s pretty much all caught up on what Rebecca’s been up to. With one notable exception. You see, Naomi doesn’t know Rebecca has quit the law firm. So she spends most of the episode bragging to Audra Levine and her mother about how successful Rebecca is. Slowly, Rebecca slips into more and more guilt over whether or not she should actually tell Naomi she’s running a small pretzel stand in the lobby of her old law firm.

There’s a stark contrast between the way Naomi ultimately wants to be perceived and the way Rebecca wants to be perceived. Though Rebecca comes through for her mother by providing her with a minor celebrity so Naomi isn’t caught in a lie, Naomi ultimately wants people to see her a certain way. She lies and bolsters herself because weakness is not an option. And it’s no wonder Rebecca learned to do the same. But what’s really refreshing at this point in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is that Rebecca has learned that if she can’t be honest with herself, she can’t be healthy. And if she can’t be honest with others, she really can’t be healthy.

Rebecca has made a lot of mistakes in her life. A LOT. But the one thing that’s admirable is that this time around, she’s choosing to be better. She’s actively choosing the harder path rather than hide — from herself and others.

So when Rebecca reveals to her mother that she’s made the decision to open a pretzel stand, not practice law, Naomi doesn’t take it well. Moreover, Naomi confronts Rebecca, telling her that she’s called the law firm and told the new senior partner that Rebecca wants her job back. In the moment, Rebecca does something we all have wanted her to do — she stands up for herself.

She doesn’t blow up at her mom for no reason. She tells Naomi off by setting boundaries. That’s healthy! It’s so healthy, because Rebecca knows that she’ll never earn the approval of her mother but she sure can try to earn her respect. Rebecca tells Naomi that she crossed lines, and that if she wants to be a part of her life, she has to respect who she is. There is no wiggle room for anything else. And if Naomi can’t accept that, then she can’t be a part of Rebecca’s life.

It’s a rare moment in the series where (because of the blocking of the scene, too) Naomi doesn’t have the upper hand or bigger persona. In a tiny New York apartment, Rebecca has emboldened herself and become bigger; and Naomi has shrunk into a place of submission. After all she’s been through — some of it self-inflicted — we root for Rebecca to tell her mom exactly what her place in her life is.

With that bold, courageous step, Rebecca gains a little bit more of control of her life back.

THE NICE GUYS


There are two sub-plots this episode, both of which focus on the men in Rebecca’s life becoming better individuals. After Nathaniel’s emotional awakening last week when he confessed his heart to Heather, he’s decided to think more of others. Unlike what we’d expect, it’s not an act — Paula recognizes that Nathaniel really is trying to grow as a person, offering to help one of Rebecca’s prison clients pro bono, and giving her money she needs.

But Nathaniel isn’t the only one whose softness is on display in “I Will Help You” — Josh agrees to house sit while Rebecca is in New York. While he’s house-sitting, he decides he wants to do something nice for Rebecca as a thank you. So he enlists the advice of Darryl (for the most hilarious, short-lived song about how to clean and be an adult), and decides to go out of his way to tidy up the home.

When Rebecca returns, she’s surprised and impressed! But when her date cancels on her and she spends an evening laughing and eating with Josh, she begins to realize something — she’s in trouble. Because in that moment, she remembered all the great times she and Josh had and feels those feelings again. When Paula tells Rebecca that Nathaniel was selfless and she believe he’s actually trying to become better — for his own sake, not to impress Rebecca or win her back — Rebecca begins to do the same and reminisce on all their good times.

The episode ends with her vocalizing that she’s in trouble, but it’s a good kind of trouble! For the first time really in the series, Rebecca is attracted to all of the good qualities a man possesses. She’s not attracted to Josh to fill a void, she’s not attracted to Nathaniel because he’s mean and dismissive. She’s attracted to them because they’re kind, selfless, and learning to become better people. Rebecca Bunch is attempting to cultivate honesty in every area of her life, and the self-awareness of how she’s feeling (as well as her ability to vocalize it to Paula instead of internalize it) is really a sign of growth.

Rebecca can only go up from here, right?

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Blindspot 4x07 Review: "Case: Sun, Moon and the Truth" (Game On) [Contributor: Jen]


"Case: Sun, Moon and the Truth"
Original Airdate: November 30, 2018

The powder keg that is Kurt and Jane finally exploded in "Case: Sun, Moon and the Truth." The secrets are out. Kurt knows. Remi's ruse is over, but now is finally when things start to get interesting.

KURT AND JANE


I am focusing only on Kurt and Jane because this is a massive Jeller episode. We pick up immediately from where we left off with Kurt confronting "Jane" with all her lies. Amazingly, she still tries to keep her cover going. Remi tells Kurt the woman who shot at him is the Sandstorm operative they've been searching for and she's been running her own operation.

Kurt replies, "I don't know what's worse: the fact that you are still lying to me, or you still think I'll ever believe you."


Kurt Weller is officially no longer Remi's patsy. It's refreshing to see Kurt on defense because he's been played for a fool so long. Unfortunately, Remi is not above low blows to keep her cover going by saying: "Finding out your dad was a killer made it impossible for you to trust anyone. Even your own wife."


I thought this was particularly nasty of Remi and really hit Kurt where it hurts, which is the point of course. We know it's all lies. Kurt is right about her, so it makes me want to scream that she uses his child murdering, pedophile, vile excuse of a father against him.

But this is what Remi has done for months. She's used everything she knows about Kurt Weller against him — particularly his trust and love for Jane. We have witnessed firsthand how Remi's plan was supposed to go: destroy the FBI from within by making Kurt Weller fall in love with her by pretending to be someone she's not.

My only hang-up in this grand scheme is why use the zip? Why not just do what Remi has been doing for months — pretend to be someone Kurt would fall in love with? Maybe there was an explanation in seasons one and two that I've forgotten, but the zip was quite the gamble. It erased everything that made Remi... well, Remi.

What's good about "Case: Sun, Moon and the Truth" is that this is something Kurt and Remi dive into quite extensively. In the middle of their showdown they are interrupted by a neighbor who needs to use their phone. Immediately, we should be nervous because Kurt and Jane don't have normal neighbors. Come on: it's Kurt and Jane.

Of course, they are ambushed and taken hostage by someone named Eve. The $500,000 Remi stole was Eve's money and she wants it back. Remi dodges and weaves, but Eve has her on surveillance camera stealing the money. Rookie move, Remi! This blows the lid off all her lies with Kurt. He remember a person using zip can revert back to their former self in the event of a major trauma... like the one Jane had a few months ago!


REALLY, WRITERS? Kurt knew this all along? He never considered for a second that's what could be going on with all of Jane's strange behavior? I hate when Blindspot throws in convenient plot contrivances to connect their storylines. This just makes Kurt look like even more of an idiot for not figuring it out sooner. My annoyance is tempered by the fact KURT KNOWS. We can finally move on from the main male protagonist being a complete dummy.


Eve forces Kurt and Remi to steal something she wants from the FBI evidence storage unit. She straps bombs to them so they cooperate. However, they are able to go into the storage unit alone when Kurt tips Eve off to the surveillance cameras he installed inside the storage unit when he was Assistant Director of the FBI. I love when Kurt throws his old titles around. It's hot.

This gives Kurt and Remi the chance to block the signal on their bomb vests. They use duct tape. Yeah, you read that right. Remi at least has the common sense to be insanely nervous about this plan, but Kurt is confident because he knows how ops with Jane go. The stuff they come up with always works. 

The two need to work on each other's signals because they cannot reach their own. This puts Remi in uncomfortably close proximity to Kurt Weller. He chooses this moment to ask her why she didn't kill him with the poison in the syringe. Remi doesn't answer, but you can cut the sexual tension with a knife. Jaimie Alexander and Sullivan Stapleton have chemistry that doesn't quit.  One of Blindspot's great strengths is finding new and interesting ways to capitalize on it without the relationship going stale.

They get the six pieces of duck tape on in the nick of time and Eve sets off the bombs.


Remi clings to Kurt for dear life and it's a rare moment when her true feelings rise above her mission. Kurt gently cradles her head in his hand, softly reassuring Remi the way he would Jane, but adding a smug, "And we're not dead." It's his way of sticking it to Remi for her lack of confidence in him, but also subtly acknowledges the way she held onto him. Kurt felt Remi's defenses come down in his arms and they both know it.

Now Kurt is going to use it to his advantage. As they search for the case Eve wants, Kurt and Remi embark on a philosophical discussion of sorts. He's picked up on Remi's rage and how much of it is directed at him. Boy, you ain't kidding, big fella. Kurt would like to know why Remi hates him so much and her answer is very simple: "Everything fell apart because of  you."

She means the Sandstorm operation — the plan to simultaneously end the U..S government and install a new one. Instead of leading Sandstorm to victory, Jane was the primary force leading to its failure and destruction... including the incarceration of her mother and eventual death of her brother.

Kurt is not buying it. Sure, it's a good list of reasons to hate him, but none of them are the real reason. We've watched Remi use everything she knows about Kurt against him all season long. Now it's Kurt's turn to use what he knows about Jane and Remi.

Kurt says: "I was supposed to fall in love with Jane. That was your plan. Things fell apart because Jane fell in love with me. You hate me because I remind you what a failure you are."

This is the "you fell in love with me too, na-na-na-boo-boo" speech. As burns go, it's a solid one. This also answers why Mama Sandstorm used the zip on Remi. If Remi was still Remi — if she retained all her memories — then there was a chance the mission would fail. 

We can only pretend to be someone else for so long. The fear was Kurt Weller would eventually figure it out. He would see through the ruse and the mission would fall apart. Sandstorm's success hinged entirely on Kurt not only believing in who Jane was, but also falling in love with her. There could be no room for error, which meant Remi had to be erased. She had to become someone new. Someone Kurt would fall in love with. It had to be real.

Mama Sandstorm was right to be concerned. She was right to use the zip, because Kurt has seen through the ruse. Remi pretending to be someone else — pretending to be Jane — wasn't enough to fool Kurt. The piece nobody counted on, particularly Remi, was this new person falling in love with Kurt. Remi believed even without her memories she would somehow retain herself. She believed all the training would stay in her mind and body. She was right about one of those. Remi stayed in Jane's body. She recalled all her physical training, but mentally she became someone else. The memories erased who Remi was and allowed for someone else to be born.

What's fascinating about the Jane/Remi character is we are always examining how much of Jane is in Remi and vice versus. Stripping Remi of her memories, her training, and all the garbage Mama Sandstorm poured into her traumatized mind allowed someone new to take hold. The person Remi could have been. The person she's truly meant to be — Jane. 

Remi wants to know why Kurt loves Jane so much. Kurt not only answers her question but explains the central internal battle of our heroine: "She's the strongest person I've ever met and, considering everything that she's been through, she's still compassionate and kind."

Remi is right. The zip made her a blank slate, but Jane wasn't someone Kurt molded. What drove Jane, from minute one, was an intense compassion. In the beginning of the series she was acting off instinct. She had no other means of making decisions because she had no memory to rely on. What is natural and instinctual inside of Jane is kindness, love and selflessness. 

This is why Kurt Weller fell in love with her. I think for both Jane and Kurt it was love at first sight. 


The moment Jane touched Kurt's face, she was reaching for someone to hold onto. She was looking for a place to start and she found it in Kurt. And Kurt found a place to start in Jane. 


We can argue he fell in love with Jane, at first, because Kurt believed she was Taylor Shaw.  Of course, this was always Remi and Sandstorm's plan. However, one reason Kurt believed Jane was Taylor was because he saw all the same goodness. Her goodness isn't erased because Jane wasn't Taylor, nor does it erase why Kurt fell in love with her.

So now that Remi is back, where did those qualities go? If Jane was acting off instinct in the beginning, then goodness is what is innate in Remi... until it was destroyed by her mother. Kurt says: "Jane has exactly what you don't. That's the choice to be whoever she wants to be. You're the one that's been shaped into a weapon. You are exactly who your mother made you to be."

This sums up the entire conundrum that is Remi and why the zip was such a gift. It gave Remi a choice for the first time in her life to be someone else. She chose Jane. The reason Remi hates Kurt Weller so much is because he reminds her of who she can be. Kurt's love and his faith in Jane is a constant mirror reflecting the best parts of Remi in the face of the worst.

Remi wants to know why it took Kurt so long to figure out she is not Jane if the two women are so different. Kurt replies, "Parts of you inside of her that keep her alive. There's nothing of her inside of you."

This is where I disagree with Kurt. I believe this is his anger and betrayal talking. He sees Remi's fight, her will to survive, and even some of her dubious characteristics in Jane. Keep in mind Jane has a habit of lying to Kurt frequently. He can acknowledge Remi lives inside of Jane. He cannot acknowledge Jane lives inside of Remi.

He's wrong. The reason she can't kill Kurt, the reason he felt Jane in his arms as Remi held onto him so tightly, is because Jane lives inside of Remi too. Jane is the best parts of Remi. She is who Remi becomes when you strip away all the rage, violence, and abuse. The memories may be gone, but Remi cannot ignore what is instinctual in her heart. Her goodness is instinct. Her love for Kurt is instinct. Every action she takes is a means to bury those feelings deeper and deeper until they are erased.

Blindspot is continually examining the meaning and impact of memory on our identity. We are our actions. We are our choices. Remi and Jane are completely different people. It is the age old battle of good versus evil. The angel versus the devil. The light versus the dark.

Yet, we know there is grey within us all. Nobody is entirely good or bad. Our identity is not a light switch. The zip may open and close doors for Remi and Jane, but each persona still has free will.
Jane has made the wrong decisions. She has lied, betrayed, and killed. Jane is a good person, but she is not perfect.

As for Remi, there is some part stopping her from killing Kurt Weller, Edgar Reade, Patterson, and Rich Dotcom. She may argue it's tactics and it is to her advantage to allow her husband and friends to live, but we know different. It is love buried deep inside.
Remi: So you did make it out of there. 
Kurt: I think you called because some part of you still cares about me. It's why you locked me in that hallway instead of killing me. There is some part of Jane still inside of you. I'm not giving up on her. 
Remi: Well that's good to hear because as long as you believe that, you can't kill me either. But if I see you again, I won't have that problem.  
Kurt: I will find you. I will not give up on my wife. I will get her back. 
Remi: So then I guess it's game on.
Remi's phone call makes Kurt see the truth. If he wants to save his wife, then Kurt has to see the Jane in Remi just like he sees the Remi in Jane. Patterson and Rich's cure will save Jane/Remi's life, but it's going to be Kurt's love, and the love he sees in Remi, that's will save Jane's soul. Hopefully Kurt gets his wife back before she kills anybody. GAME ON.

Stray Thoughts:

  • Rich and Patterson solve another tattoo and find another of Roman's data caches. It's full of medical research so we are full speed ahead on these two finding a cure for Jane.
  • Zapata is headed to Mexico with Madeleine to convince the cartel to share their computer hacker so they can crash this plane. I am getting bored with this storyline. Zapata is not going to crash a plane so can we move onto something more interesting?
  • Weitz and Reade discover the pilot Zapata and Madeleine uses from documents they obtained from HCI Global. This feels highly stupid of Madeleine and Zapata not to conceal the name of the pilot better, but whatever. Weitz and Reade know she's headed to Mexico and they are going to follow.
  • Madeleine offered Weitz the presidency of HCI Global. I still can't figure out if he's good or bad, but I am leaning toward good.
  • I miss Kurt as the Assistant Director. Can we go back to that please?
  • Is it me or are they putting Zapata in less and less clothes every week? Of course, Audrey Esparza looks amazing, but all these low-cut and silky tops feel very negligee. Are they somehow equating sexy with evil? I don't love that message.
  • $500k is all it takes to run a terrorist organization? Seems low.
  • "Mints of the fifth floor bathroom were enough to sell me. How do they make them spicy hot and minty fresh at the same time?" Rich officially gets all the best lines now.
  • Rich hitting himself with the pickax has me rolling.
  • Do the video cameras not pick up the doors being ripped off? There's a shocking lack of video security at the FBI storage center.
  • I love Weller didn't trust Remi for a second and he blew up the case.