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, May 31, 2019

June Television Calendar 2019: It’s Going to be a Crowded Summer [Contributor: Araceli Aviles]

Image result for tv watching gif

If you’re one of the millions of people wondering what you’re going to do with your time now that the September through May network television programming is on hiatus, fear not. The June TV calendar is unusually crowded this year!

Some shows you’ll be seeing on your screens this month are brand new, and there’s something for everyone. If you like soapy drama, ABC’s Grand Hotel is for you. If you’re looking for some star power in your hour, Netflix’s Tales of the City is where you’ll find Oscar-nominated actresses Laura Linney and Ellen Page; and cruise over to Showtime to find Kevin Bacon in the gritty new Boston cop drama City on a Hill. If you really need to start off the summer with a laugh, comedian Gabriel ‘Fluffy’ Iglesias will have you in stitches as a new high school teacher in Netflix’s Mr. Iglesias.

Even with new series, it’s the returning shows that are the most anticipated this month, with fans of these shows waiting one, two, and even four (yes, you read that right, four) years for these returns. Among the big returns are cable sweethearts Younger, Queen of the South, and Good Trouble, streaming smashes Luther, The Handmaid’s Tale, and Big Little Lies, and newly risen-from-the-ashes Designated Survivor, which makes its Netflix debut this month after being cancelled by ABC last year.

Also, in a surprising last-minute twist, CBS All Access will be releasing the entire first season of The Good Fight on mainstream CBS for a limited run. The Good Wife spin-off, currently in its third season, has received critical acclaim and a 96% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The hope is to attract more viewers to the network’s streaming service, which currently has eight original series in its stock, including the upcoming Stark Trek: Picard, which will see the return of Sir Patrick Stewart as Jean-Luc Picard 32 years after he originated the role.

Below you’ll find a full calendar view of every new and returning show. Happy viewing!



Let us know what you will be watching this summer in the comments below!

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

The Flash 5x22 Review: "Legacy" (Letting Go) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]


“Legacy”
Original Airdate: May 14, 2019

As the fifth season of The Flash jutters to a slightly disoriented halt, I must say that the big finale of this meandering season is not as bad as I would have assumed. Granted, there are certain shows out there currently concluding in a way that would make even the most slapdash and silly superhero program look expertly crafted by comparison.

But, even when not held up to the lowest, dumpster fire denominator, “Legacy” makes for a pretty solid finale. It ties up loose ends. It’s got feels. It’s got action. It’s got twisty turns everyone saw coming from a mile away, and twistier turns that actually managed to surprise (me, at least).

STOP TIME TRAVELLING, PLEASE, I BEG YOU.


Very little time has passed since the events of last episode. Ralph is all discombobulated after jumping in front of the blast meant to destroy Cicada’s dagger and the rest of the team is confused as to why he did it at all, until Sherloque explains it was because destroying the dagger would allow Thawne to walk free. I think the dagger in the future is being used to dampen Sherloque’s powers, but it’s unclear why the dagger is the only thing that works. Or why Iron Heights settled on such a ridiculous containment plan — they just strap the dagger to his torso. Is the dagger always strapped to his torso? What happens when he has to change shirts, do they have a different power-dampening field for that? If so, why not just use that other option instead of a jagged hunk of dark matter satellite? This is like if you had a regular prisoner and instead of standard issue handcuffs, you just decided to hold them in 17th century manacles for the aesthetic.

Regardless, this twist at least explains why Thawne was so obsessed with keeping track of Cicada and rooting for Team Flash to stop him (and later, her). When it comes down to a choice between destroying the dagger (thereby stopping Cicada II’s ongoing plan to kill all the metahumans) and making sure Thawne in the future isn’t freed, the team chooses the “save the most people” option. In 2049, the dagger strapped to Thawne disappears and he goes all blurry with speed as, finally freed from his restraints, he kills his captors.

It’s all nonsense, of course, because logically, the dagger ceased to exist thirty years before it was strapped to Thawne’s chest. So that means Iron Heights would have either needed to find a different item to keep Thawne in line, or he would have never been kept in line at all, would have escaped from prison years ago, and would not have been in the execution room on that day in 2049 to escape execution and kill his captors. Thawne could very well be unstuck from time and able to remember the existence of the dagger, but that’s no excuse for the rest of the world.

In related news: I really, really need The Flash to stop writing time travel storylines. They give me a headache every time.

Before Thawne can enact his revenge or reign of terror or whatever it is he wants to do, Barry and Nora arrive and reverse time, un-killing Thawne’s guards. Again, I have no idea what the rules of time travel and time control are in this universe anymore. Undaunted, Thawne prepares to take on Barry and Nora — then, pretty much all of Team Flash arrives in 2049 to stop him. They precede this by throwing a time machine at Thawne, which is genuinely hilarious.

The end result of everything is the start of a new timeline. Nora begins to glow and crumble away, similar to how Cicada II crumbled away earlier in the episode when Nora convinced her younger self to give up her ideas of revenge and stuff. Thawne, whether out of a genuine concern for Nora or just to mess with the West-Allen family, tells them they could save Nora by hiding her in the Negative Speed Force. Nora rejects this idea, afraid that spending too much time in Thawne’s metaphysical domain would make her like him.

Nora disappears, possibly never to be born (and don’t even get me started on the paradoxes caused by that idea). As my issues with the character have always stemmed from the show’s root problem of having not enough story and too much season to work with, removed from the context of a Nora West-Allen who ping-pongs back and forth between heroism and whining, it’s an effective end for her. The acting is great. You can especially see how heartbroken Iris is, but the pain is there for Barry and Nora as well.

Thawne escapes during the heartbreak of losing Nora, but not before dropping a line about seeing Barry in the “next crisis.” This clever little reference to Crisis on Infinite Earths also caps the episode and the season, as the famous future newspaper article about the disappearance of the Flash gets a date change from 2024 to 2019.

So, that’s it. The end of season five. Not the most brilliant season of the show by far, but at least they ended it on an... even note, I guess? Not quite high, not quite low. And it makes for a good lead-in to the Crisis event, at the very least.

Other Things:

  • The scenes with Older Grace and Orlin Dwyer is like, dueling growl-acting.
  • Holy crap the Cisco/Kamilla confession reveal scene was... perfect. Kamilla, thanks to her experience reading comic books, understands that big secret identity confessions aren’t first date (or second, or third) material. More comics/secret identity media need to take a page from this book, because it’s the most realistic reaction to an identity reveal.
  • Speaking of identity reveal: Captain Singh, while passing the job onto Joe, reveals he knows Barry is the Flash. I’m telling you people, that joke I have about everyone in the city knowing who the Flash is and just humoring Barry because he’s dumb and adorable? Looking less and less like a joke.
  • The reversing of Reverse Flash was pretty cool, I gotta say.
  • “You never would have had the means to become extraordinary.” “I don’t need powers for that.” You go, Cisco. Oh wait, that means you’re giving up your powers and leaving — nooo, put that self-confidence back, Cisco!
  • Why does the timeline include a spinning animation effect when it changes the date on the newspaper article?

Grey’s Anatomy 15x25 Review: “Jump Into the Fog” (The Shoe Drops) [Contributor: Julia Siegel]


“Jump Into the Fog”
Original Airdate: May 16, 2019

It’s season finale time! There’s a lot of ground to cover with the final episode of the season. Everything from an arrest to a confession to a baby to the worst fog storm to hit Seattle happens over the course of the hour. It’s going to be a long few months before Grey’s Anatomy returns in the fall, so let’s jump right into the finale action.

SOME KIND OF MIRACLE


When we last saw them, Owen, Schmitt, and golden blood donor Francis were trapped in a multi-car pile-up on the freeway caused by a very sudden fog storm. Owen goes into full Captain America mode to attend to the scene and find a way to get Francis back to Grey Sloan in time to donate blood to the dying Gus. Thankfully, Owen manages to find an ambulance and helps treat the injured driver while hitching a ride back to the hospital. Francis is unsure of getting out of the car, but Owen convinces her that if he carries her again, she will be fine. The three of them make it safely back to the hospital, and Owen’s patient also survives the trip.

Jo volunteers to help take Francis to a safe and quiet space so she can donate blood and agrees to help Bailey with the incoming traumas before discussing her leave of absence. While still nervous about giving blood, Francis’ fears are quelled by Jo’s reassurances and her own realization that you have to push through your fears to overcome them. Meanwhile, Meredith and Alex are doing everything they can to keep Gus alive as he starts to code in the hypobaric chamber. After several minutes of CPR, Jo arrives just in time with the blood that Gus needs to survive. Gus wakes up and lives to fight another day, while all the doctors are overcome with emotion upon saving the boy.

The other miracle of the episode involves Kari, the quadriplegic woman hoping that her stem cell treatment will help her regain some function of her extremities. Kari and Toby have begun to lose hope and think that the treatment is unsuccessful, until Kari’s finger twitches. When she isn’t able to move again, Kari starts to spiral further and feels that she will never move. Through a healthy dose of encouragement from Link, Amelia, Nico, and Koracick, Kari is able to squeeze Toby’s hand and move her fingers. It appears that Kari will make more of a recovery than she thought, though I’m not sure we will see this recurring storyline next season.

IT'S A GIRL!


Teddy starts the episode in a panic from going into labor at Owen’s house. Amelia takes on the role of supportive friend even though Teddy hasn’t been the kindest person toward her. Amelia and Teddy decide to drive to Grey Sloan instead of calling an ambulance, since Teddy’s contractions aren’t too close together, but they get stuck in dead stopped traffic from the freeway being closed thanks to the accident that Owen, Schmitt, and Francis were caught in. Amelia hunts down a police officer, explains the situation, and manages to get her and Teddy a ride to the hospital.

The squad car arrives at the ER right after Owen’s ambulance, which confuses the heck out of Owen. However, he is more than happy to be there for the birth of his daughter. Teddy goes on a quick rant about Owen and Carina’s quick fling, which Amelia accidentally spilled the beans on during the ride over. Funny enough, after several wonderful months together, Teddy doesn’t even think to call Koracick to let him know that she is in labor. Poor Koracick is at Teddy’s new apartment, which he bought for her, and is assembling baby furniture while Teddy is having the baby.

Right before the baby is born, Owen professes his love for Teddy and proclaims that he will spend every day fighting for her love if she will let him. Teddy admits that she loves him too, so we will see if they can have a real romantic relationship this time. The baby is finally born, and Carina asks the new parents what they want to name her. Without ever discussing baby names, Owen and Teddy say Allison in unison. Welcome baby Allison Hunt-Altman!

THROUGH THE FOG


Francis’ comments about pushing through fear resonated with Jo, who is ready to come clean about her recent struggles. Meredith told Alex the truth about Jo before Gus crashed, and Jo is ready to face her husband. After they save Gus, Jo tells Alex that she isn’t okay with the truths she learned when she met her birth mother and needs more than the help he can give her to move past it. Alex is just happy to finally learn the truth and wants to be there for Jo through it all. Jo decides to take a leave of absence and get treatment in the in-patient psychiatric ward at Grey Sloan. This is a huge step forward for Jo, and I really hope we get to see her recovery happen next season. Jo had to face the toughest arc this season, so it would only be right to let the audience see it through, since her recovery will be just as tough as hearing the truth.

The literal fog also takes a victim at the end of the episode. Maggie and Jackson are having a rough camping trip and try to make it back to wherever their car is on foot. The nature walk is full of arguments, as both doctors find themselves at odds with the each other. Maggie thinks that Jackson is too privileged and wants her to change too much, while Jackson feels that Maggie could expand her horizons if she wasn’t so stubborn. After their squabbling, it seems like their relationship is doomed. They eventually get back to their car, but they quickly get caught up in the wall of fog. Jackson makes the dumb mistake of leaving the car with only a flashlight to see if he can find a way out of the fog. As he leaves the car, you should get a sinking feeling in your stomach, which is confirmed at the very end of the episode as Jackson appears to be missing. Hopefully Jackson isn’t a casualty of the weather, but I don’t expect him to come out unscathed.

TELLING THE TRUTH


The other big moment of the episode began at the end of the penultimate one, with DeLuca taking the fall for Meredith’s insurance fraud. DeLuca gets arrested, and no one is happy to hear what he has done. Meredith will not let her boyfriend take the responsibility for her actions and as soon as she is out of the hypobaric chamber, she goes and tells Bailey and Catherine the truth. Naturally, Meredith tries to take the full blame and say that no one, not even DeLuca, was involved in the fraud. She is willing to pay the price for her crime and fight for what she believes in. Richard and Alex won’t let Meredith sink her own ship, and both try to claim to Bailey and Catherine that they were the single guilty party. Bailey and Catherine can’t believe their ears, and the three doctors finally admit that they all knew about the insurance fraud and didn’t turn Meredith in.

Bailey does the only logical thing she can think of and fires Meredith, Alex, and Richard, who are all completely shocked. Meredith goes home, says goodbye to her kids, and heads to the police station. She talks to DeLuca quickly to tell him how much of an idiot he is, that she is turning herself in, and that she does love him. The episode ends with Meredith going to turn herself in, so it is clear what direction the early part of next season is going to take. Season sixteen is sure to be crazy, and the fall can’t get here soon enough!

Sunday, May 19, 2019

5 Reasons to Binge-Watch Single Parents Before Its Second Season [Contributor: Jenn]

  

I’m rewatching Happy Endings as I write this post. That’s probably not super relevant to you, but I rewatch the series once a year. It was a cute, delightful ABC comedy that focused on friends who were essentially family. Comedies about “found families” have long been my favorites (New Girl, Friends, Parks and Rec, Community, etc.).

So when Single Parents premiered with a similar premise — and a largely behind-the-scenes staff from New Girl — I knew it would be something that was right up my alley. But the most nervewracking time of year for TV lovers is generally May: Upfronts season. That’s when television networks announce their upcoming shows, as well as renewals and cancellations for their current series. And even though Single Parents was a delightfully written, funny, well-acted show, I was worried that its smaller ratings and lack of buzz would put it in serious danger of cancellation (R.I.P. to Splitting Up Together).

But to my glad surprise, ABC renewed Single Parents for another season! And my challenge to you is to catch up on the series before it returns in the fall. You’ve got plenty of time to kill this summer with most series — besides your favorite reality trainwrecks — on hiatus until September. So let me try to convince you to binge-watch this charming comedy with five reasons to catch up before its second season.


The show’s kids are hilarious and central to plots.


You know how a lot of television series feature kids, but only when it’s convenient to the plot? And sometimes kids in those shows can be presented as one-note, ancillary characters. But Single Parents is, at its core, a show about found family. And the children of the single parents are essential to the show. Each kid is brilliant in his or her own way and holds their own against their adult counterparts.

Marlow Barkley plays Sophie, who’s the smart, ambitious, wise daughter of Will (Taran Killam). The show centers around their relationship quite often and it’s adorable. Marlow plays Sophie with such delightful candor (and intimidates the adults) that it’s endearing. Meanwhile, Graham is played by Tyler Wladis with hilarious little quirks and nerdiness. Graham’s single mother, Angie (Leighton Meester) tries her best to protect him. And though Graham begins the series as an unsure, clingy kid, he meets friends and adults who embrace him as he is and encourage him to try new things!

Poppy (Kimrie Lewis) is mother to a young son named Rory (Devin Trey Campbell), who loves fashion, performing, and in general is incredibly creative. Rory has a fun-loving, big personality and Devin does a great job of filling scenes. He commands attention all on his own, and that’s something pretty incredible for a child to be able to do in scenes with seasoned actors. I can’t wait to get more of him in the fall!

And finally, there are Mia and Ella Allan who play twins, Emma and Amy. Their dad is Douglas (Brad Garrett). Because Douglas is older than the rest of the single parents, he often has unconventional ways of raising the two girls. They’re whip-smart, sassy, and also able to pretty much build anything you could want. What I enjoyed about the first season was that we got an episode devoted to a plotline featuring Emma and Amy butting heads as twins. Mia and Ella got the chance to shine both comedically and emotionally, communicating the kind of unique bond that twins have — and the rough stuff they have to go through as a result.

Seriously, you’ll enjoy the kids on Single Parents just as much (if not more, possibly) than the adults. That’s something to celebrate.

It’s got great guest stars to support its cast and stories.


When Single Parents gets guest stars like Hannah Simone, Adam Brody, Chris Harrison, Vanessa Bayer and more, you know that it deserved a second season. Not only do the guest stars stand on their own, but they balance out the main cast. Saturday Night Live alums Taran Killam and Vanessa Bayer get the opportunity to play opposite each other as exes, and Bayer does a fantastic job bringing humor to Will’s ex-wife. And it was fantastic to watch real-life couple Leighton Meester and Adam Brody play opposite each other in the season finale. I won’t spoil the circumstances in which Chris Harrison shows up but... let’s just say that it’s worth watching.

Single Parents deserves all the best guest stars in season two and I hope it gets them!


Single Parents is genuinely heartwarming, endearing, well-meaning, and good.


When you’re a show created by the same people who worked on New Girl, audience members might pick up on some similarities. The show utilizes flashbacks in similar ways as the former FOX comedy, but mostly you might notice some similarities in the way that Single Parents blends heartwarming moments with genuine hilarity. One moment you’ll have a slapstick scene featuring Will (Taran Killam), and the next he’ll be creating a heartwarming gift with Graham for Angie.

Single Parents’ pilot begins with a scheme — Will Cooper is an overeager room parent whose life revolves around his daughter, Sophie. The other single parents realize that they need to help him get a life or risk being strapped to room parent duties the rest of the year. Though the friendship and interest in Will begins as a way to get what they want, the group truly becomes a family. Episodes feature different adult and kid pairings: Will gets to bond with Graham, Douglas has the chance to spend time with Rory, and Miggy (Jake Choi) bonds with a lot of the kids since they pretty much see him as a big kid himself.

What I really love about Single Parents is that it manages to feature all kinds of families and relationships, while bringing genuine heart and love into the interactions. It doesn’t matter that the adults aren’t related — they’re a village; they need each other to help raise these kids. Each adult not only relies on the help of someone else to raise their kids or step in (or just babysit), but they also rely on each other for support when things are weird or rough. They’re a tribe of single parents, and parenting alone most or all of the time brings unique challenges.

What I always love about Elizabeth Meriwether’s comedies is that they bring unexpected, quirky, weird, messy individuals together. These people become bonded by the things they have in common, and begin to love each other — quirks included. A lot of comedies these days can often be sharp, mean-spirited, or dark. And while Single Parents features occasional barbs, the core of the comedy is sweet, gooey, and heartwarming. The parents love each other, even though they drive each other crazy. The kids love each other, even though they don’t always get along.

And it’s delightful.


   

  

It’s setting up two romantic pairings that deserve to be explored.


If you know me at all, I’m a sucker for a good romantic pairing on a television show. And with New Girl, I called a pairing from the pilot in Nick and Jess that eventually came to fruition. There was something about the chemistry between the actors that left me wanting more. The same held true for me with the pilot of Single Parents. I began to sense that Taran Killam and Leighton Meester’s natural rapport would eventually lead, possibly, to their characters becoming close — and maybe even romantic. And while Single Parents hasn’t officially pulled the trigger quite yet on this particular pairing, it’s definitely allowing Will and Angie’s relationship to evolve from reluctant friends to people who genuinely, truly care about one another rather deeply. Their chemistry is so wonderful, and the GIF above features a schmoopy look between them with heavy subtext so take that as you will.

But what surprised me more was the relationship between Douglas and Poppy that gets explored. I won’t spoil anything for you guys, but I absolutely love how Brad Garrett and Kimrie Lewis play their characters. They’re about as opposite as can be — she’s a creative, quick-witted feminist and he’s an older, conservative dermatologist. But they have a sort of natural chemistry and balance that really works. It’s surprising, but in all the best ways. Poppy brings out a softer side that Douglas keeps buried because of the things he’s gone through and loss he’s experienced; and Poppy, conversely, opens up and allows Douglas to see some of the vulnerability that she hides. Their connection is really quite special.

Single Parents has done an excellent job playing around with the strengths that each actor brings to their role, including in terms of chemistry. I didn’t think that by the end of the first season we’d have two potential romantic couples, but I’m not mad about it in the slightest. And you need to watch the series so we can talk about how wonderful each pairing is.


There’s so much character development left to explore.


If there’s anything I’m more of a sucker for than romantic pairings it’s character development. By the end of a season of a television show, I should be able to chart some visible progress that each character has made on his or her journey. Good shows provide realistic growth; great shows give you the kind of growth you don’t even realize is happening until you reach the finale and feel a sense of satisfaction.

Single Parents did a great job with its cast, developing not only the adults’ characters, but the kids’ as well! Graham becomes more confident. Sophie continues to be assertive, but Will actually grows and learns to let go (and be his own person). Angie slowly allows other people to help her — and help her open up. Douglas learns, practically, what it looks like to be a father and accept that he has a soft side. Poppy learns how to pick herself up and be decisive and confident. Miggy grows in responsibility. Rory, Emma, and Amy learn how to be teammates with their friends since these three characters are kind of used to going it alone.

I love that there was so much growth in the first season of the show, but there’s so much more left to explore in the second season. I’m just grateful Single Parents gets the chance to shine again in the fall.

Have you checked out Single Parents yet? If so, what did you think of the series? What shows are you adding to a “must binge-watch” list this summer? Hit up the comments below and let me know your thoughts!

Friday, May 10, 2019

The Flash 5x21 Review: "The Girl With the Red Lightning" (That Title is Meaningless) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]


“The Girl With the Red Lightning”
Original Airdate: May 7, 2019

Here we are, folks: the penultimate episode of season five of The Flash. How’s everyone feeling? If you’re anything like me, the emotional descriptors would be along the lines of “underwhelmed” and “frustrated,” since this season didn’t so much “ramp up” to its finale as it lazily, haphazardly oozed toward it. Like emptying a bucket of water across a swath of dusty desert sand, the culmination of this show’s latest season feels uneventful, inevitable, and ultimately fruitless.

In keeping with that same metaphor, The Flash’s attempt to stretch too thin a plot over too large a season once again reared its ugly head, furthering season five’s narrative entropy even worse than last season. I mean, I liked the episode before last season’s finale — this one? Not really anything to write home about.

THE PLOT & THE PROBLEMS


In a well-written story, the return to focusing on a primary antagonist this close to the finale would be tense and heavy with foreshadowing and impending doom. In the lead-up to the end, this is when the story gives the villain the upperhand, strikes the heroes down, and asks “What now?” as the audience eagerly anticipates the possible answers. For The Flash, Cicada II — the primary antagonist we return to focusing on in this episode — is too underdeveloped to be anything more than a passing curiosity. It doesn’t matter how much power the show gives her, how many lives she threatens, or what sort of crazytown bananapants reasoning they saddle her with. She’s nothing to us.

This week, we follow up with last week’s realization that Cicada II plans to launch a meta-killing virus that could murder thousands. She has the last piece necessary to make her bomb and, other than the dagger-destroying plan, Team Flash has few options for stopping her and no way to find out when she’ll strike first or where. (Side note: there’s vague mention of Cicada II having a follow-up plan to her bomb launch, but no one raises the logical question of how she expects, as a meta, to survive the meta-killing virus. Did the writers not realize she’d die along with everyone else, or are they trying to imply that Cicada II doesn’t care?)

Nora realizes she still has that mental connection with Cicada from being stuck in her memories way, way earlier in the season. With the help of the same psychic device Caitlin used for all of one episode in order to better connect with Killer Frost, Nora tries to control her mental connection long enough to figure out Cicada II’s plans. You know, I would usually applaud a show for bringing back plot points and props like this brainwave thing, but I genuinely can’t this time. The device was used so briefly and so insignificantly (I think it was also the thing that helped Cecile, and the thing that helped King Shark? But those could have been totally different but functionally similar technobabble machines, so I don’t know) that it feels less like picking up plot breadcrumbs and more like the writers just ran down an arbitrary list of things that could benefit the finale. Even Nora’s mental connection with Cicada II should have been played up more; instead, it’s always felt like something of an afterthought for the characters that only existed because the writers knew it’d come in handy in the eleventh hour.

Speaking of conveniences: turns out, the key to Cicada’s master plan (i.e., launching a bioweapon to kill all metas in an instant) is the dagger — you know, the only thing Team Flash technically has a weapon against? Cicada crams her dagger into her homemade bomb in order to “supercharge” its power or reach or blah, blah, blah megalomaniacal villain jibber-jabber. Still no mention of how Cicada won’t die in the blast. I really don’t think anyone thought of that when they were writing out Cicada’s evil plan.

Despite her usefulness as a spy on Cicada, Barry and Iris fight with Nora about involving herself in dangerous villain-stopping activities. Even this West-Allen Family Drama scene is lackluster, as it basically just retreads the same ground that’s been tread all season. Nora wants to be a hero. Barry and Iris want to protect her and keep her from doing stupid, harmful stuff out of over-eagerness. Iris is a mediating voice of reason. Barry is emotional and reactive. Nora borders on teenager-esque rebellion despite being old enough to rent a car without the “young renter” surcharge. In the end, Nora gets her way and uses her Cicada connection to figure out the villain is launching the bomb at CCPD headquarters, where all the city’s metas who haven’t turned into either villains or heroes have gathered to get the metahuman cure.

At the end of the episode during the fight with Cicada II, it’s revealed that Cicada II doesn’t really need the dagger to fight. Understandable, since I’m sure her actual powers come from that glowing head wound of hers. Team Flash seems shocked and confused, though. Ralph connects the dots between Cicada, the importance of the dagger, how she could kill people in the future without the dagger, and how her time travel should affect the timeline (Hey, Ralph: this season established with Nora’s presence that nothing affects the timeline! You’re using your logical past seasons thinking cap, buddy) and arrives at the conclusion that, while stopping the metahuman virus bomb — which Cisco manages — is good, shooting the dagger is not good.

In a twist that isn’t really a twist because, what’s that you say? The arch nemesis of The Flash is actually evil and he showed up this season so clearly he’d have a significant role in the finale? Yeah, that twist — Eobard Thawne has been plotting things with Cicada all along and he’s in possession of the Cicada dagger.

Okay, cool. This does... very little to explain away all the problems I’ve had with this season’s plotting.

Other Things:

  • The episode is titled “The Girl with Red Lightning” but it’s just... such a nothing title. They could have called it “The Girl with a Nose Bleed” and it’d be just as meaningful to what happens in the episode.
  • Ralph says “timey-wimey”!
  • Sherloque sends the Earth-1 version of his girlfriend to his own Earth, but wasn’t it established that he marries the same woman over and over again from different Earths? Wouldn’t his original Renee still be there?
  • I’m glad we get a tiny supporting story with Joe. I’m not glad it only lasted about three scenes.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Grey’s Anatomy 15x24 Review: “Drawn to the Blood” (Storm’s A Brewin’) [Contributor: Julia Siegel]


“Drawn to the Blood”
Original Airdate: May 9, 2019

The end of the season is quickly approaching us at rapid speed, as all the season-long storylines take big twists and turns to set up what is sure to be yet another unforgettable Grey’s Anatomy season finale. All of the characters are being forced to face their demons under harrowing circumstances, which start coming to a head in the last ten to fifteen minutes of the penultimate episode. Let’s dive in and see who is on the mend and which characters’ times are quickly running out.

ADMITTING YOUR FAULTS


The plot that has had the most impact over the past handful of episodes is Jo’s struggle to accept her beginnings and come to terms with the truths she learned when visiting her birth mother in Pittsburgh. Alex has resorted to sending Meredith to stay with Jo until she finally spills her secret while he stays at Meredith’s house. It takes quite a bit of time, but Meredith eventually gets Jo to open up by saying that she has gone through every bad situation and lived to talk about it. Jo tells Meredith that she could not possibly know what it feels like to be born from rape and know that violence is not only inside you, but your fate.

Meredith gives Jo one of her famous monologues and tells Jo that she is the exact opposite of violence. Mer describes how much balance Jo has brought to the world through all the good she has done in Seattle. Jo understands Meredith’s points more when Meredith opens up and tells her about drowning during the ferry accident back in season three. The two decide that they need to talk to Alex and Bailey, explain Jo’s situation, and get her a proper leave of absence; that way she can get the help that she needs without jeopardizing her career. When they arrive at Grey Sloan, they find a group of doctors surrounding a conference room in which Bailey and Catherine have been all day, which no one takes as a good sign.

Meredith asks DeLuca to wait outside the room with Jo until Bailey is free to talk, while she goes to hunt down Alex. After she leaves, DeLuca is called into the conference room by Bailey, and we learn that the meeting is about Meredith’s insurance fraud from the previous episode. If anyone actually thought that this was going to be a one-time thing and kept a secret, a point is clearly made that the issue will not be resolved quietly or easily.

Bailey and Catherine want DeLuca to tell them exactly what happened, which leads to surprising results. Catherine and DeLuca go to the hypobaric chamber that Meredith and Alex are in (more on that next), and DeLuca tells Meredith through the window that he lied and didn’t tell them that their young patient was uninsured, so he used her daughter’s name on the insurance forms. DeLuca has decided to fall on the sword and turn himself over to the police, much against the wishes of the begging Meredith. This will be very interesting to watch play out in the finale, and I’m not sure what’s going to happen next.

HELP IS ON THE WAY


Alex has finally found Gus, the boy with golden blood, a donor and has her flying in from London. However, there is a catch: Francis, the donor, is extremely agoraphobic and refuses to get off the plane after her therapist is detained for an issue with his visa. Schmitt is tasked with picking Francis up and delivering her to the hospital, but she won’t leave without her therapist. Schmitt calls Owen for help, who decides to take matters into his own hands and go to the airport to help. Meanwhile, Gus is getting worse and has a heart attack, while his father slips on some Legos and breaks his coccyx and tears his rectum. Alex takes Gus to the hypobaric chamber to help with his oxygen levels, which is where Meredith finds them.

Owen and Schmitt have a very frank discussion with Francis about fulfilling her promise to donate her blood. Francis is too overcome with fear and explains that anything she does could cause her harm. Eventually, Owen convinces her to get out of the plane by video calling Alex that way Francis and Gus could meet. Gus’ mother speaks for her unconscious son and explains how desperate they are to help him. Francis finally agrees to go to the hospital after Owen tells her that he will protect her from any harm that will come her way. Owen, Schmitt, and Francis start making the drive to the hospital, but get postponed by a nasty fog that has settled over the city and is making it impossible to see. Out of nowhere, a massive multi-car pileup starts to occur around them, leaving the group stranded and at risk in the middle of a highway.

BURSTING AT THE SEAMS


The mystery of who Owen loves will have to wait for the finale because he didn’t have any time to speak to anyone other than Schmitt and Francis. That doesn’t mean the two women in question couldn’t start to make their intentions clear. Teddy and Tom begin the episode looking at cribs for the unborn baby online, but Teddy is being strangely uncommitted to everything he suggests. She goes on to help both Gus and Kari, the paralyzed woman being treated with stem cells following a snowmobile accident. Teddy’s feelings become more open and apparent when Kari tells Toby how much she loves them and accepts who they are unconditionally. She further opens up with Gus’ mothers’ pleas to Francis to save her son.

Meanwhile, Amelia and Link reach a new step in their relationship when they wake up in the same bed. Amelia is freaked out since they haven’t spent the full night with each other before and subconsciously realizes their relationship is becoming realer than she intended. When Owen gets called to help Francis, Amelia wants to take Leo home to Owen’s house since the baby is suffering from a cold. On her way out the door, she is confronted by Link, who wants to know whether Owen is her past or future. He realizes that he might be getting strung along and doesn’t want that to happen, given he has started having feelings for Amelia.

Amelia doesn’t know how to respond and asks Link to give her some time to think about it. While at Owen’s house, Amelia hears a knock on the door and finds Teddy on the other side. Teddy asks Amelia if she still loves Owen or if they are totally over and finally confesses her own love for Owen. Teddy wants to take a shot in the dark and tell Owen how she really feels and gets Amelia’s blessing right before her water breaks. The two doctors and Leo start making their way towards the hospital, only to be caught in the fog too.

CAMPING


Maggie makes good on her promise to let Jackson take her camping, but the results are mixed. While she likes feeling relaxed, Maggie finds herself hating the great outdoors after getting stung by a bee and twisting her ankle while running away from said bee. This is the comic relief section of the episode, but it turns grim quickly when Jackson sees that Maggie has countless texts from Alex about Gus and his condition. Jackson and Maggie know that they are needed back at Grey Sloan and start packing up their gear, only to be interrupted by a text from Teddy saying that her water broke. Maggie is now the only cardiothoracic surgeon that can help Gus, so Jackson suggests that they leave all their possessions in the tent and come back for them later. As they unzip their tent, the sky opens up and it starts pouring on them. They appear to be stuck in their current position while they are very sorely needed at the hospital.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

The Flash 5x20 Review: "Gone Rogue" (Just Gone) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]


“Gone Rogue”
Original Airdate: April 30, 2019

In the latest episode of The Flash, Nora throws yet another tantrum. This time it’s because everyone she’s been lying to for months is understandably wary about her partnership with a time-traveling murderer. She teams up with third-tier villains for a heist, because sure, that sounds like a great way to get back into the good graces of your heroic friends and relatives.

Additionally, Iris and Barry fight some more before agreeing that what they really want is Nora “home” with them, even though her “home” is actually about thirty years into the future. Where are those Time Wraiths, anyway? Extended coffee break over in the Speed Force? Maybe all the universe’s time travel fail safes are so sick of dealing with Barry Allen and his timeline-annihilating kin they’ve all formed a union and have gone on strike. Their demands are as follows: stricter narrative rules regarding time travel in the Arrowverse, more erased babies, and better dental.

NORA, NO!


When did Nora find time for a costume change? She’s sporting a purple-and-black getup for her stroll on the Dark Side, although I guess it’s more like... the Charcoal Gray Side than the Dark Side, since she’s not actually evil. But I have no idea why she bothered with a costume at all, since all the “Rogues” (Weather Witch, Bug-Eyed Bandit, and, to my horror, Rag Doll) she gathers for her plan already know who she is. Like, literally — they even know her name is Nora and it takes them five minutes to figure out the Flash is her dad. It’s unclear why no one asks how the Flash can be her dad when they’re roughly the same age.

Anyway, Nora kidnaps Cisco and Sherloque because Cisco needs to use his technical know-how to help her with that meta-powered phone from the beginning of the season and Sherloque was just there, I guess. When Cisco agrees to reprogram the phone for her (after Nora threatens him with a Thawne-esque hand phasing through the chest — not cool, Nora!) and successfully does so, Nora and the Not Rogues use it to break into a vault holding power-dampening tech. Rag Doll is really gross in the scene where he breaks into the vault, by the way. Man, that is a creepy character.

Of course, Nora’s new pals turn on her as soon as she’s fulfilled her job of strategizing. We even get a little indication that Weather Witch — the character the show dedicated a whole episode to portraying as repentant — maybe killed Silver Ghost, the meta she’d tentatively partnered with during her most recent appearance, and stole her idea of forming a metahuman villain crew. Cool. So that whole episode is retroactively pointless. Good to know this show is capable of wasting my past self’s time as well as my present self’s time.

Weather Witch et al. demand the Flash save his daughter by turning himself in to them and unmasking in front of the whole world. Uh, question: why? The Flash isn’t Batman (or Green Arrow — a.k.a., Budget Batman). His secret identity — at least as far as the show is concerned — holds no significant place in his mythos. If there have been lines about people in Central City speculating on the identity of the Flash, they were long enough ago that I don’t remember them. It’s basically a running joke that Barry takes so little care guarding his identity the citizens of Central City are probably just humoring him about the whole thing being “secret” at all. Like, aw, the dumb human Labradoodle thinks the mask that leaves a third of his face uncovered actually makes him unrecognizable? No, don’t tell him the truth, it’ll make him sad.

Barry does show up, but he’s a hologram played by Sherloque. Then the real Barry shows up along with Iris and Joe, all three having disguised themselves as armed guards. Everyone stops the bad guys. Nora and Barry have a heart-to-heart. Turns out, Nora’s whole ploy was an effort to get a device capable of destroying Cicada’s dagger, rather than Cicada herself. Good thing Team Flash has stumbled into a way to stop Cicada II, since the B-story of the episode involved figuring out Cicada’s master plan is to atomize the deadly failed metahuman cures and kill all the metas in the world.

REALLY THOUGH, NORA, NO.


The Flash has, I think, a tendency to get sloppy as it closes in on its season finale. I’ve banged the drum of “just make shorter seasons!” for years now, but these later episodes — where the writing should be calculated, details should be critical, and absolutely everything should be leading up to the climax of the season — truly emphasize how necessary tighter writing is for this show. I managed to summarize all the critical points of this episode in the previous five paragraphs and tucked those critical points within hundreds of words of time-wasting asides and inconsequential details. This, the third-to-last episode of the season, had only two truly important revelations: Nora’s retrieval of the meta-tech-destroying gun and Cicada II’s plan for mass murder.

That isn’t good, people. This late in the season, we should not be getting episodes in full of stuff that doesn’t matter. Also not good: the portrayal of one of the season protagonists as someone capable of flying into a red-eyed rage when faced with ideas she doesn’t like. Why did Nora “go rogue” for an episode? Because she was afraid Barry and Iris wouldn’t trust her plan if she told them outright. So instead, she broke the law, threatened her friends with bodily harm, and continued to profess the “good” qualities of a confirmed murderer who traumatized her father for life.

And what’s worse? The show agrees with her! We can tell the show agrees with her because Iris thinks Thawne cares about Nora, and Barry is the one — not Nora — who really apologizes in the end, telling Nora he’ll never abandon her again and she’ll stay with them forever, and blah, blah, blah, Time Wraiths! For the love of all that is good, where are the Time Wraiths! Why have all the consequences of time travel been abandoned? We explored the consequences of time travel in this very season as a reminder! Remember the metaphor of a broken coffee cup never being the same even if it’s put back together? Nora is pulverizing that metaphorical coffee cup every second of every day! Nora cannot stay with Iris and Barry, and it’s ridiculous that the two of them think she can, and it’s ridiculous that the show is keeping up this charade! Aaaaaaaaargh!

Other Things:

  • "You're not fireproof are you, Monsieur Ramon?" "Am I fire— oh, god!" Carlos Valdes is just, so great with his line deliveries.
  • Barry, you don’t think maybe the reason why you feel weird when Nora calls you “dad” is because you’re not actually a dad yet and she’s in her mid-twenties? It really ain’t that deep, buddy.
  • I guess Grace has a murder-suicide plan in mind, considering that she’s a meta and would definitely die if set off her meta destruction bomb.
  • If the show is hinting at Thawne being kind of good (which he is not, by the way), I kind of wonder if they’re setting things up for him to be next season’s Harrison Wells/Tom Cavanagh character. It’d certainly explain why he still has Wells Face.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Female Empowerment and the Rise of Antiheroes: An Exploration of Good Girls [Contributor: Jenn]

(Image credit: NBC)

Women are expected to be everything.

We’re supposed to be smart, kind, and tough (but not too tough), funny, beautiful, trendy, thin, cellulite-free, and wrinkleless. But perhaps the most dangerous thing a woman is expected to be is likable. When unlikable female characters grace television screens men and women alike don’t quite know how to handle them, especially if they’re not outright villains. Critics take to social media and blogs demanding that the female characters meet their expectations.

But what if female characters don’t have to be likable to be good?

What if they can be problematic instead?

As you might have guessed from the title of this post, we’re going to be talking about antiheroes. Traditionally, you’re used to seeing male antiheroes on television (Breaking Bad’s Walter White is one of the most oft-referenced recent examples) — an antihero is, by definition, the protagonist of the story but someone who lacks heroic qualities. They might do morally decent things from time to time, but they might not be for the right reasons. And, traditionally, an antihero will make you question whether you’re supposed to be rooting for them in the first place.

That’s kind of the joy of well-written characters, in my opinion. I don’t want clean-cut heroes who always do the right thing; people are, realistically, far more morally grey than they are black and white. So if a character makes a choice that is within the scope of their characterization, habits and patterns, and fits with their journey (all of those are key) but it isn’t a “good” one, I’m usually more inclined to be drawn to them.

I think there’s a deep fear within writers to construct antiheroes who are women. And I think that’s why shows try to make their female characters either the clear-cut, morally conscious, and generally “good” women — who tend to serve as angels on the shoulders of male protagonists — or just straight-up villains. Not many shows take risks by presenting unlikable women whose personalities are more abrasive than inviting, and who tend to make bad decisions with self-focused moral justification (while still having sympathetic character traits). But when shows can present female antiheroes well, they have the opportunity to really thrive.

One of the most recent shows to portray a dynamic female antihero with skill is NBC’s Good Girls.

Note: Spoilers for the series will follow!

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“GOOD” GIRLS


This NBC drama follows a trio of women — Beth, Annie (Beth’s sister), and Ruby — who are struggling financially. Beth’s husband has cheated on her and gotten their family into serious financial trouble. Annie is a single mother trying to make ends meet with a grocery store gig. And Ruby’s a working mom who’s desperately trying to support her family, including medically caring for a daughter who has kidney disease. The women are desperate, and when they hatch a plan to rob the store that Annie works at, they do so because they feel like they have no options left. No extra shifts or job will help cover the holes they’re buried under. And they justify their decision — no one will get hurt, they’ll use fake guns, and they won’t get caught. It’ll be one job, then they’re done.

Unfortunately, things don’t quite go as planned. Not only does Annie get recognized but the women realize the money they stole actually belongs to a gang, led by a man named Rio. He wants his money and that’s how three mothers get involved with a gang. The curious thing — and most interesting — is to explore how each woman has developed, morally, since the show’s pilot.

Obviously in this post I want to talk about who I view to be the series’ primary antihero (Beth), but in order to do that we need to talk about how each of these women began their journeys.

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ANNIE IS GREAT


Annie was the most flippant of the group at the beginning; she casually talks about robbing banks and killing a dude who tried to rape her (because hello, he tried to rape her). She’s quick on her feet, scrappy, and sassy. But while Mae Whitman is an absolute delight in her comedic beats of Annie, she also does a fantastic job though portraying Annie’s emotional nuances. The reason why Annie is the way that she is? Because she has to be. She’s barely scraping by, and she’s not getting help from her ex.

Moreover, Annie really does also have a heart. She can joke with gang members and make rapid-fire sarcastic comments but she cares deeply about the people around her. She loves her sister. She loves her child. She loves her friends. But she also spends time with an elderly woman because she feels so guilty for something that the woman doesn’t know about (and that Annie didn’t technically do). That is who she is.

Annie’s also the kind of person who’d do whatever it takes to protect and keep Sadie, her child. Since Annie had Sadie when she was a teenage, Annie and he are close. Really close. In a lot of ways, they take care of each other instead of presenting a traditional mother/child dynamic. But there comes a tipping point in this season of Good Girls where Annie and Sadie’s relationship fractures because of Annie’s moral choices. Annie isn’t exactly a cut-and-dry antihero; while she does make mistakes, she ultimately does the right thing most days. She has a line she will not cross, and a set of standards she adheres to. Her decisions aren’t always morally upright, but she’s doing them because she feels she has no options. I don’t think she’s truly an antihero.

Unlike Beth (who we’ll discuss later on), Annie and Ruby have made choices in Good Girls that put themselves and their own interests on the line for the sake of doing what is “right.” Annie comes clean to Sadie about something she’s been hiding, and Ruby decides to talk to Detective Turner and offer him information about Beth in order to save her husband, Stan. And speaking of Ruby...

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RUBY’S PRIORITIES


Ruby is the one in the group who has the most on the line in a lot of ways. She has a husband who’s a cop. She’s got two kids, one of whom has kidney disease and medical bills that pile up. And she’s willing to do whatever it takes to protect her family. However, Ruby and Stan’s relationship is what sets her apart from the other women in the group. While Beth is still technically married, she’s more or less still married to Dean for the sake of convenience instead of love; Annie has a complicated relationship with her ex and a new one with her boss, Noah (who she doesn’t know yet is actually an undercover agent).

Ruby is willing to sacrifice herself, her own interests, and Beth (though she doesn’t pull the trigger, she did think briefly about turning in Beth’s whole operation) because there’s nothing she wouldn’t do to save her husband. She knows how great of a man she is — and he is such a great guy and husband — and it’s that kind of love that leads both of them to make sacrifices and sometimes bad decisions for the sake of one another. Ruby is also the one of the group who’s come clean to her significant other about everything — everything the women have done, from start to finish, that’s been illegal or illegal adjacent.

Stan, of course, had to catch Ruby in a lie in order for this all to come to light. Still, she tells him what she’s done because she weighed the cost — she couldn’t gain the money and resources for her family but lose her family in the process. Ruby is such a fantastic character because she’s layered (again, she returns to illegal activities in order to try and save her husband from jail), passionate, and a caretaker for the women. Retta does an amazing job conveying each of these layers with precision and empathy.

Ruby’s generally the one of the group who’s most uncomfortable with lying — even making a joke about how Beth mentioning a new plan gives her hives — and the exploits, unless she can justify them. While both Annie and Ruby lie repeatedly and compulsively throughout the series to people, neither of them do it so deftly and with skill like Beth.

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AN ANTIHERO TO ROOT FOR (SOMETIMES)


Beth has spent her life being looked at as “just” a housewife and mother — and her husband is included in that group of people. Dean cheated on Beth with multiple women, got their family and his business into financial ruin, and refused to see Beth as his equal or partner. He doesn’t respect her, and Beth spent her life being okay with that. When you’re not used to having power, you easily slide into mediocrity. Beth was content to make sandwiches for her kids, snacks for sporting teams, and pick up kids in carpool. She coasted. She was fine.

Until she realized how much trouble her family was in. They were going to lose their house, their stuff, their ability to provide for their children. Beth’s children ultimately are what drive her throughout some of her decision-making. The other thing — the main thing — that drives Beth though is power.

When you’re not used to having power — when people around you, including your own husband have denied you of your agency and reduced yoru identity to nothing — acquiring it is life-changing. It can be used for good. Or... well, not. I’m not saying Beth isn’t genuinely motivated in instances by her children. It, however, is what all three women tell themselves to justify their behavior. If Beth says she’s gotten into bed (literally and figuratively) with Rio because she needs to right the financial wrongs Dean made because she wants to protect and provide for her family, she sounds noble. If she says she’s done all of it because she loves the rush of being in control, of being in power, of being at the top… well, then she’s an antihero.

And that’s exactly what I love about her.

Because the truth is that Beth really does do all of this because she wants to reclaim the power she’s lost over the years. In some ways, you can empathize with her struggles (and Christina Hendricks truly is a force to be reckoned with when she gets the chance to unleash the full range of Beth’s emotions).

But this is where antiheroes get sticky — can we empathize with all of Beth’s decisions? The funny thing is that Beth is so good at lying, at manipulating, at bending people to do what she wants, at covering her tracks, at thinking ten steps ahead, at playing the game... that she doesn’t want to give it up.

Who would she be if she went back to being a housewife and mother? Would she be okay with giving up her power for the sake of her family? “One Last Time” told us that Beth would be leaving a life of crime. She had one last hook-up with Rio, and seemingly said goodbye. I don’t know about you but I’m not sure that will stick. Not only because Rio and Beth have insane chemistry and she won’t be able to stay away, but because Rio knows Beth has tasted power and that she’s not going to handle returning to a life without it easily.

   

Power is like a drug for Beth. She’s willing to do whatever it takes to get it. She brings her children with her to scope out a house for a drug delivery. She rushes to check on her money when her house is robbed instead of checking on Dean. She lies and justifies and blackmails and makes promises because she’s good, really good, at what she’s doing. There’s a reason she’s the leader and it’s because she’s embraced her role as an antihero.

She justifies her decisions but at the end of the day, most of what Beth does isn’t morally upright and she’s kind of okay with it as long as she continues to benefit. Now, Beth is also a sympathetic character — she’s a woman who’s been wronged, repeatedly, by a man and has children — and because of that, she’s the perfect antihero. The line between “hero” and “villain” with her shifts with every decision she makes. Is she truly doing something for her kids? Or is she doing it because it makes her feel good? Is she lying because she feels like she has no other choice? Or because she knows she’s just good at it and can get away with it?

Good Girls doesn’t ask us to decide whether Beth is right or wrong. There are characters throughout the series who have their own opinions, and we’re asked to frame our perception of her decisions through their interpretations, as well as our own. Agent Turner thinks she’s a villain and wants to take her down. Annie and Ruby think she’s in deep but that ultimately she’s a good person (that scene where Dean takes the kids is, again, a sympathetic one). Rio respects her — something she’s never had from her own husband — and thinks she’s incredibly capable.

But how do you feel about Beth? Is she a good girl? Or is “good girl” her cover? And what about Annie? Ruby?


Good Girls is such a compelling show for a variety of reasons — it’s funny, dramatic, fast-paced (I binge-watched the first season in less than a day; I have no regrets) — but chief among them is its portrayal of complex, nuanced female characters who aren’t always likable and aren’t always right. They live and thrive in morally grey areas and that’s pretty great to see. It’s up to us to decide whether they’re the heroes or antiheroes of their own stories.

I’m just happy to be along for the ride.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Grey’s Anatomy 15x23 Review: “What I Did For Love” (Facing the Music) [Contributor: Julia Siegel]


“What I Did For Love”
Original Airdate: May 2, 2019

After a week off, Grey’s Anatomy returns with a special two-part crossover with spin-off series Station 19, though only the Grey’s Anatomy hour was a true crossover. Most of the event focuses on Seattle Fire Department Chief Lucas Ripley being treated by Maggie after collapsing outside of a flower shop. In other storylines, Meredith creates a problem, while Alex is left cleaning up her and Jo’s messes. And, with love very much in the air, all of the couples face challenges.

WEIGH AND MEASURE


The action of the episode begins as several doctors prepare for an incoming trauma. They are surprised to see intern Schmitt pop out of the ambulance and describe what happened to his John Doe patient. In case you missed the previous episode of Station 19, Schmitt was at the same flower shop as Ripley and found the fire chief facedown and unresponsive on the sidewalk. Bailey recognizes Ripley, and everyone, especially Schmitt, is surprised at who they are treating. Maggie is called in to help out and discovers that Ripley has an unnamed underlying heart condition that caused him to pass out.

Of course, Ripley is a terrible patient and constantly tries to convince Maggie and Station 19’s Captain Sullivan, Andy Herrera, and Ben Warren that he is fine enough to leave the hospital for a little while. While they all feel bad that he wants to go accept Victoria Hughes’ marriage proposal, Maggie explains that he isn’t stable enough to leave and she needs to get his test results back to see if anything else is wrong. The trio of firefighters eventually get kicked out, which leaves Maggie and Ripley alone for some unexpected bonding time. Ripley tells her about Hughes and how he regrets not saying yes to her proposal right away. Maggie then tells him about her lack of commitment to moving in with Jackson. Ripley convinces Maggie that if she really loves Jackson, she already knows the right choice to make.

Apparently that’s all Maggie needs to hear because she runs off to tell Jackson the good news. She almost ruins the moment by telling him that he should have said, “Would you consider moving in with me?” since she is a scientist and likes to weigh and measure the pros and cons of every situation. Maggie has Jackson promise that he will love her even with all of her science quirks, and the two agree to move in together. Maggie gets Ripley’s test results and goes to check on him, only to find his bed empty. She alerts the other firefighters that they need to find him and get him back to the hospital immediately because he has low calcium levels, indicating hydrofluoric acid poisoning from the coffee brewery explosion.

The Station 19 hour sees Sullivan, Andy, and Ben trying to get a hold of both Ripley and Hughes, while going to Hughes’ location since they expect Ripley to be wherever she is. While en route to Hughes, Sullivan gets Ripley on the phone and tells him the bad news. Ripley gets himself to Seattle Presbyterian Hospital and has them call Maggie, who is the only Grey’s character to cross over. The trio eventually finds and brings Hughes to Ripley, who accepts her proposal before succumbing to the hydrofluoric acid poisoning. It’s a pretty sad outcome considering Ripley was a great addition to the regular Station 19 cast. He will be missed.

FIGHTING THE SYSTEM


Back at Grey-Sloan, Alex has a new patient: a young girl suffering from a bowel obstruction. The girl and her father are refugees seeking asylum and tell a very timely story of being separated at the border. Alex brings Meredith in for a consult, and they learn that the father doesn’t have health insurance. Both doctors assure the father that they will figure something out and have DeLuca help him fill out a state aid form in hopes of getting the family temporary insurance. The girl’s MRI scan reveals that she has a mass in her intestine which will need to be surgically removed. The father quickly learns that he isn’t eligible for state aid because he makes too much money at his job, yet not enough to qualify for normal insurance. Meredith is very upset that the system is failing good people and takes matters into her own hands by committing insurance fraud to get the girl the surgery she needs.

Richard sees Meredith’s daughter Ellis’ name on the operating schedule and rushes to find out what happened, only to discover Meredith’s lie. He can’t believe that she would risk her medical license and potential jail time, but she argues that she can’t stand by and do nothing. After the surgery, Meredith is summoned to Richard’s office. He tells her that, against his best instincts, the best thing to do now is to further the lie by falsifying records to make the girl look sicker on paper. If they keep her in the hospital for at least 30 days, then state aid automatically kicks in. Meredith decides to roll with it, so this should be a storyline that continues to play out through the finale.

MISUNDERSTANDING


After a rocky few weeks, Jo shows up to work in a pretty chipper mood. Her sole job of the day is to watch Gus, the autistic boy with golden blood. A call from a hospital in Winnipeg boosts Jo’s spirits further when she learns that they have a golden blood patient too. The woman on the phone was calling for Alex, so Jo hangs up to find him. On her way, she bumps into Gus’ mom and tells her that they might finally have a donor. The mother is overjoyed at the news, and Jo couldn’t be in a better mood.

Alex is very happy to hear that Gus can finally get his blood transfusion and tells Jo to call the Winnipeg hospital to confirm and tell them to send blood immediately. The call doesn’t go as Jo planned, since she finds out that they were calling to see if Gus could donate blood; their patient had an accident and needs surgery. Jo is devastated that Gus isn’t getting the blood and that she told his mother he was. Jo runs into Ben in the hallway and has a mini-meltdown before finding Teddy and starting the process over. Teddy offers to help Jo tell the family that a simple misunderstanding happened, but Jo wants to do it on her own.

At the same time, Ben and Teddy go to Bailey’s office to warn her about Jo who, in turn, talks to Alex. Bailey and Alex get to Gus’ room right after Jo tells the mother what happened, and they find Jo uncontrollably sobbing. Alex has a conversation with Bailey about not knowing how to deal with Jo, who is beyond a hot mess at this point. Jo needs to start to talk about meeting her birth mother before she loses her job and husband.

LOVE PENTAGON UPDATE


It’s time for the weekly love pentagon update! Owen finds out that Amelia is seeing Link, and he isn’t happy about it. He tries to talk her out of it, but Amelia puts Owen in his place by saying he doesn’t get to have an opinion on her life anymore. Owen’s less happy to see Tom and Teddy moving forward with their home search and the knowledge that Tom cancelled his Baltimore trip to be there for the birth of the baby. Tom buys Teddy her dream apartment and the two continue to be going strong. Owen is continuing his therapy sessions and admits they are working. He tells his therapist he feels clearer than ever and is ready to tell her that he loves her.

Of course, we don’t get to find out whether “her” is Teddy or Amelia, but since the episode leads the viewers to believe Owen still has feelings for Amelia, it’s probably a bait and switch and he will profess his love for Teddy.