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.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist 1x02 Review: “Zoey’s Best Friend” (Live in Your Power) [Contributor: Jenn]


“Zoey’s Best Friend”
Original Airdate: February 16, 2020

Being a manager is a challenge, and a common one at that. I’ve struggled in the past to deal with leadership responsibilities, as well as managing people and their emotions. Zoey is beginning to understand the nuances that come with being a new manager of a team of all men, especially when she feels underqualified and extra-especially when she’s just unearthed a new, unwanted superpower.

“Zoey’s Best Friend” is a solid second episode in what is quickly becoming a delightful, relationship-driven NBC comedy! (Let’s hope they keep it on the air longer than they kept most of my other NBC comedies.)

THAT’S FRIENDSHIP


The central conflict in this episode is that at the end of the pilot, Zoey discovered that Max loves her. Or, she corrects herself, because he sang “I Think I Love You,” he might just THINK he’s in love with her. And because she can’t let Max know what she knows or how she knows it, she spends most of the episode trying to avoid him. She sets him up with their barista because she doesn’t want to go out to a fancy farm-to-table restaurant they’d planned to try (such a hip, millennial thing to do). She sets incredibly strict boundaries and insists on only seeing him as a coworker. And in the end, all this does is leave Zoey and Max frustrated and alone.

Interwoven with Zoey’s relationship struggles with Max is the struggle she has with managing a new team. Joan wants her to be firm, to set objectives, and Zoey… well, Zoey wants to be very Zoey about her management style. So she hands out a set of rules and a journal to each of the men on her team. They poke fun of her for doing so, but the laughing stops when Zoey tasks her team with developing a scavenger hunt for the app that leads to a giant party.

It’s a really cool idea, but Zoey makes a very common mistake as a manager: she micromanages. She hovers over her team’s shoulders, inspecting their work. They, of course, are incredibly stressed out by this and Zoey — so frustrated by something she did to herself — makes another new manager mistake. She does the project herself. And while Zoey somehow makes it through the presentation of the app, Joan calls her out on her behavior as a manager.

The primary issue with people who micromanage and do things themselves is that they’re typically control-oriented to begin with. Throughout the episode, we see how Zoey exhibits this character trait. Instead of letting things just happen, she decides to take matters into her own hands and prevent awkwardness, embarrassment, or failure. She controls people and even though she knows she can’t control her new power, she still tries.

So when Zoey tells Mo at the end of the episode that she used to take apart VCRs as a kid just to see how they worked, I’m not the least bit surprised. Already I can tell that Zoey is a go-getter who’s more comfortable in the driver seat than in the passenger one.

She remedied her error in management by apologizing to her team and assuring them that she won’t micromanage anymore. She trusts them and believes in them. Her issue is a little more complex, however, because Autumn — the barista that Zoey sends Max to dinner with — and Max are on another date by the end of the episode. It seems that Zoey’s desire for control might have some unintended consequences for her.

Max, to his credit, communicates his feelings (about being brushed off) to Zoey. He shows up at her parents’ house with butterscotch pudding for Zoey’s dad. And it’s incredibly sweet that he cares about Zoey’s family as if they were his own. While many shows would write Max as some lovesick, fawning goofball who immediately becomes a jerk whenever the girl he likes brushes him aside, Max seems to truly prioritize his and Zoey’s friendship without resorting to being mean. They fight at work, but he’s justified in confronting her about her professional “boundaries” and questioning her motives out of curiosity.

It’s safe to say that while Zoey doesn’t necessarily know how to handle Max’s feelings, maybe this experience will help her handle them better in the future (especially if he begins to sing about Autumn instead).

Elsewhere in the episode, Zoey’s powers become a bit more unwanted when she realizes her father misses intimacy with his wife. It leads to a funny exchange with Mo, but ultimately a very sweet moment between Zoey’s parents. I’m really interested to see how their relationship continues to develop. I often worry with shows like this that have separate storylines that don’t fit into A-plots. But Max interacting with Zoey’s family will hopefully lead them more into the A-story in future episodes as opposed to being relegated to background characters.

Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist continues to be fun and sweet, emotional in all the right places and a little dramatic in the best ones too. Here’s to more music next week!

Additional things:
  • Here’s my ranking of favorite to least favorite songs this episode: “Sucker,” “I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” “Moondance,” and “I Got the Music in Me.”
  • Mo has truly become the best part of this show already, if you can’t tell by the number of quotes I have below.
  • “Am I acting weirder than normal?” “Hard to tell.”
  • “Ooh, that song’s hot. How did Max look doing it?”
  • “You THINK it’s Whit— This power is wasted on you.”
  • “Could be cool. Could be confusing. Could be both. We’ll see.”
What did you all think of the episode?

Monday, February 17, 2020

The Flash 6x11 Review: "Love Is a Battlefield" (Iris Imposter!) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]


“Love Is a Battlefield”
Original Airdate: February 11, 2020

It’s almost Valentine’s Day in both reality and on The Flash, so we get a themed episode this week! Any other time, Iris and Barry finding themselves between crises (and I mean both the average, villain-of-the-season crisis as well as the capital-C Crisis) and able to enjoy a nice, romantic time together would be an adorable breath of fresh air. Unfortunately, Iris is post-dragged-through-a-mirror Iris and not regular Iris, so even the romantic stuff they manage before the villain of the week shows up is tinged with uncomfortable mystery.

HEARTACHE TO HEARTACHE?


The day after Iris’s trip through the mirror, she wakes up and serves Barry freshly squeezed orange juice and pancakes that aren't hideous to look at or horrible to taste. This is just the first of odd Iris developments: later, at their early Valentine's dinner, Iris reveals that she can speak Italian.

That little revelation (and, you know, the dinner in general) is interrupted by the arrival of Amunet Black, who is looking for some piece of tech owned by another patron of the restaurant. For the first time since becoming a superhero, Barry attempts to solve the meta human issue at hand as Barry Allen instead of the Flash. It goes about as well as you would think a nervous-looking CSI awkwardly holding up his ID badge and pathetically insisting that he totally is a real cop might go, which is to say... not very well. Pretty funny, though.

Even Amunet is amused, but not so amused she forgets to threaten Barry about knowing his secret identity, and she tells him if he shows up as the Flash, or if any Team Flash members try and stop her, she'll reveal Barry's secret to the world. I still think Barry getting outed as the Flash would shock/bother all of zero people but for the sake of the episode’s integrity, let’s keep up the charade of that prospect being a real threat.

Since their date was ruined, Barry and Iris decide on a different couples activity: foiling the plot of a metahuman crime boss! Like I said, it’s really a shame this whole storyline is tainted by Iris very obviously not being “our'' Iris, because Barry and Iris being a crimefighting duo is something the show needs a lot more of. Also, this episode has some really great moments for the two of them as a couple (more on that later) and Iris not being Iris is a similar disappointment in that regard.

On their quest to uncover Amunet’s plans, Iris and Barry head to a bar the villain’s been known to frequent. While Barry panics outside, Iris goes into the bar and acts all tough, right down to hitting the bar’s bouncer over the head with a beer bottle. The bartender hands over information on Amunet’s next target. Barry and Iris follow the lead and find Amunet stealing another device, but before they can stop her, Goldface (still a stupid name) shows up. Apparently there’s a metahuman gang war going on, and whatever Amunet’s stealing is at the center of it all. Barry and Iris still don’t know what her ultimate goal is, though.

Amunet and Goldface, who used to date, are distracted by fighting over each other’s music tastes (Goldface is apparently a fan of Radiohead’s “OK Computer” and the Straight Outta Compton soundtrack) and general post-breakup nagging. Barry uses this distraction to save a security guard from being crushed and Iris uses it to steal the piece of tech Amunet and Goldface are supposed to be fighting over.

Later, Iris tells Barry she spoke to Ryan Choi and he worked out that both items Amunet was after are related to taking care of plants. She wants to follow this information deeper into the web of Amunet Black and Goldface, but Barry is starting to get wary about his wife’s involvement. Bringing up his concerns does not go over well, leading to a pretty fantastic speech in which Iris says she can neither be Barry’s “damsel in distress” nor be the voice cheering him on from the sidelines. It’s almost like she’s talking to the writers as well as to Barry and, again, I really wish this wasn’t coming from Mirror Iris, because it’s spectacular.

After the West-Allen fight, Iris finds Amunet Black’s hideout. She tells Amunet she wants “in” on whatever she’s planning, having figured out that Amunet’s been stealing stuff that’ll help her take care of a flower which has pollen that can be turned into a telepathic narcotic. Iris tells Amunet she wants the pollen to read Barry’s mind, because she thinks her marriage is in trouble. Perhaps because her own relationship problems are on her mind, Amunet buys this excuse enthusiastically.

Iris accompanies Amunet to steal the psychic flower but before Amunet can officially do so, Goldface shows up and takes the UV container built from the pieces of stolen tech. While the two fight, Barry shows up and he and Iris look on, unable to do anything until Iris has the idea to burn the flower and set off the telepathic pollen, which Barry does with a lightning bolt. I guess the pollen is also kind of an aphrodisiac or love potion as well as a way to read minds, because Goldface and Amunet immediately go all goopy and start thinking romantic stuff at each other, then begin violently making out. Also, “Love is a Battlefield” by Pat Benatar starts playing, appropriately. This season’s keeping up with the great needle drops in the second half, I see. Who increased their music budget?

Iris and Barry officially make up. As they’re embracing in front of a mirror, we see through to the other side, where the real Iris is screaming for Barry. Again, I really wish this great Barry/Iris episode had actually included real Iris, because everything else about it was terrific. Then again, maybe this whole thing is going to turn out to be like that “The Enemy Within” episode of Star Trek: The Original Series where Kirk gets split in two but both versions are still technically Kirk. After all, Mirror Iris has all the memories and feelings that normal Iris would have, she’s just slightly “improved” with the ability to cook, speak Italian, and bust beer bottles over heads without flinching.

I guess we’ll find out in a future episode!

Other Things:

  • The B-plot involved Frost, Allegra, and Nash Wells trying to help Allegra with her love life for Valentine’s Day. I mostly liked this plot because of how pro-Valentine’s Day Frost is, which seems like it should be completely out of character but it actually works. We still don’t know what, exactly, Nash’s relationship is with the Allegra doppelganger from his Earth, but we get more implications that she’s his daughter or daughter-figure.
  • “She said no onesies.” “Please don’t call it that.”
  • “I can’t unsee this.” “Well at least it’s less violent than a gang war? ... barely.” Barry and Iris’s facial expressions in that scene were amazing.
  • Nash appears to hallucinate another Harrison Wells at the end of this episode. It’s really starting to seem like the show throws random shocks out via Nash Wells because they don’t actually know what else to do with the character.

Doctor Who 12x07 Recap: “Can You Hear Me?” (Nightmare Fuel) [Guest Poster: Stephanie Coats]


“Can You Hear Me?”
Original Airdate: February 9, 2020

The Doctor lands back on Earth for the Fam to have some time to reconnect with friends and family. Impatient to meet up with the trio the next day, the Doctor decides to jump ahead but is interrupted by a strange noise echoing from Aleppo. Back in 14th Century Syria, a woman named Tahira warned others about creatures that come at night. Everyone dismissed her claims but at nightfall, she was proven right. Beasts with long claws attacked everyone except Tahira. The Doctor tries to get a read on the situation and even encounters one of the beasts, though they aren’t familiar to her.

Just as it seems that this episode may be light on companions, each of them experiences something strange. Graham has weird visions of a woman trapped and two planets colliding. Ryan’s friend, Tibo, describes a recurring nightmare of a man watching him, even when he’s awake. When Ryan stays the night, he witnesses a strange man detaching his fingers and attaching them to Tibo before disappearing along with Tibo. Yaz sees the same man in her flat after waking from a nightmare.

All three companions call the Doctor about these experiences so she grabs Tahira and heads back to Earth. Since the monsters from Aleppo don’t exist, at least according to the TARDIS, the best option to solve this mystery is plugging Graham into the TARDIS’ telepathic circuit. This way, the Doctor can lock onto a location for the planets from his vision. That’s how they end up in deep space on a platform monitoring the collision of two planets. Zooming in, the Doctor sees an orb caught between the planets that’s barely keeping them apart. Graham realizes the woman from his vision is trapped in that orb, which leads the Doctor to deduce that the orb is a prison.

BORED IMMORTALS


Tahira wanders off while the others are talking and sees one of the beasts from Aleppo on the platform. The man everyone has seen is also there. He is responsible for creating Tahira’s beasts and everyone’s fears. Detaching his fingers again, he puts each person into a dream state and handcuffs them. Yaz dreams of something from her past, Ryan sees the Earth burning, and Graham’s cancer returns and Grace blames him for her death. The Doctor, meanwhile, is oblivious as she solves the prison puzzle. Just as she’s breaking the lock, the mysterious man appears to her. He is Zellin, a mythological god who is extracting nightmares from across time on Earth and feeding them to the prisoner.

Now that prisoner is freed... just as Zellin planned. He lured the Doctor there knowing she could break the lock. The prisoner is Zellin’s immortal partner, Rakaya. Together they messed around with the people of the two colliding planets to see which civilization would be destroyed first. When the people figured out the game, they trapped Rakaya between their planets. Since then, Zellin has been feeding her nightmares to keep her strong. After putting the Doctor into her own nightmare of the Timeless Child, the two gods head to Earth to spend eternity feeding off of fearful humans.

But the Doctor is smarter than they thought. She wakes herself up, undoes her own restraints, and frees the others. Using the beasts Zellin made from Tahira’s fears, the Doctor lures the gods back to Aleppo. With Tahira demonstrating mastery over the beasts and her fears, the gods are imprisoned together in the orb between the two colliding planets, with a beast there to scare them for eternity.

The Fam prepares to leave Earth once more. Ryan encourages Tibo to join a support group and Graham confesses to the Doctor about his worry his cancer will return. Yaz recalls three years ago how she had run away from home only to be found by a kind policewoman thanks to her sister. The officer convinced Yaz to keep trying because things get better, even placing a wager that in three years Yaz will feel that way. Knowing the woman was right, Yaz visits her to hand over the winning amount. But while she may feel content with life on the TARDIS, Ryan is starting to wonder how long they can keep growing older while their friends and family live their lives without them.

Final Thoughts:

  • At the start of the episode, I thought we were in for a story filled with horror and monsters of the week. Instead, the plot was more wandering and philosophical as it tried to tie mental illness and horror together in ways that didn’t quite work. 
  • That’s not to say Zellin and his floating fingers that he sticks in your ear to give you nightmares and steal your fear wasn’t scary. Because it WAS.
  • I’m almost certain Rakaya’s name was never said in this episode (IMDb lists the character). Was a scene left on the cutting room floor where Zellin or the Doctor names her?
  • What does Graham have to do to get a dang hug?
  • Ryan’s worries about the sustainability of traveling with the Doctor confirm a growing worry I have that we may see one or more companions depart after series 12. The show isn’t making very good use of them this season anyway.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist 1x01 Review: “Pilot” (Music is All Around) [Contributor: Jenn]


“Pilot”
Original Airdate: January 7, 2020

I’m a sucker for musicals. I loved Glee(’s first season) and Smash(’s first episode) and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend(’s entire four seasons). The easiest way for a network on television to hook me is by marketing something as a musical comedy. And when that musical comedy stars Jane Levy, Skylar Astin, Lauren Graham, and Mary Steenburgen, that doesn’t hurt either.

You’ve guessed it: Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist made it onto my radar as soon as the show’s concept was announced. And since I’ll be reviewing it all season, let’s kick things off with a plot recap: Zoey Clarke (Levy) is a computer coder at SPQRPoint who’s going out for a promotion along with all of her other coworkers because her strong-willed boss (Graham) is forcing them to. Zoey’s family life is sad and challenging. Her father (played by Peter Gallagher) has a rare neurological disease and is slowly losing motor functions. Because Zoey’s been getting headaches and slightly blurred vision, she’s worried she might have what her dad does. Under her mother’s (Steenburgen) advice, Zoey gets an MRI done. While in the MRI machine, the technician plays music to keep Zoey calm. And everything is fine until an earthquake hits.

Now, Zoey’s begun to hear everyone’s thoughts as pop songs. And the only person she’s told is her neighbor, Mo (Alex Newell).

Now onto the fun stuff: my thoughts about the episode!

A DEEP TAKE ON A SILLY CONCEPT


The idea that an entire show would be based around people singing their thoughts has a certain quirky, zany quality about it. So imagine my surprise when the show, right off the bat, used the concept to communicate the deep ideas of grief and depression. “Mad World” is the most powerful son in the episode to me. Zoey hears an extremely upbeat, outgoing coworker’s inner thoughts as the song and begins to cry at how raw it is.

Zoey and her coworker, Simon, go out for cheesecake and he opens up to her: he carries around a photo of his dad, who recently committed suicide. Simon isn’t really doing well with that grief and loss. He hasn’t talked to anyone about it either, but Zoey encourages him to open up to someone about what’s going on inside of his head.

“I’ve become a real expert on bottling my shame and pain and hiding it from the world,” Simon says. He does end up opening up to Zoey... and then Simon also opens up to his fiance, Jessica (much to the surprise of Zoey and the audience).

Near the end of the episode, we also get something else super powerful and emotional: Zoey’s dad’s thoughts in song form. Zoey and her family wonder what Mitch is thinking. He’s lost his ability to speak, can barely eat, and needs constant help with medications and normal tasks. For Zoey, it’s an incredibly frustrating and sad thing to witness — her father’s slow decline, a wasting away of who he used to be.

But then, when Zoey really needs advice from her dad, she suddenly hears him begin to sing “True Colors” to her and she immediately begins weeping with joy. This could be what she’s been searching for: hope. Her father is still there, and he can communicate with her. And that’s something Zoey desperately needed that this new “gift” provides her with.

WHAT COMES NEXT?


The concept for Zoey’s Extarodinary Playlist is a fun one, but it’s also providing some inner conflict and character development. “I almost felt embarrassed listening to it,” Zoey tells Mo about hearing her coworker’s deep, dark inner thoughts.

And that’s going to provide such an interesting source of conflict moving forward. Because Zoey hears Simon’s thoughts, she reaches out to him for help. He, of course, has no idea and calls it a miracle that they found each other. But while Zoey’s “gift” might come with perks and benefits like helping a friend through a rough time or knowing her dad’s mind is still functioning, it’s also going to come with some drawbacks as we see in previews for the season. Zoey’s found out her best friend Max (Astin) is in love with her, and she’s going to need to figure out how to deal with that. In the pilot, she learns that the “supportive” guy in her office is really out to destroy her.

Is knowing someone’s private thoughts and then acting on that knowledge a good thing or a bad thing? Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist is toying with the idea of what would happen if we knew what people were thinking and where the boundaries of what we do with that knowledge stop and start. Zoey even confesses what she did (minus the music part) to her mom, acknowledging that she crossed a line to form an emotional connection with a coworker. So what does she do with the knowledge she shouldn’t know? Will that be a question that comes up throughout the season?

Perhaps, but ultimately while the show explores some deeper concepts, I think it’s primary aim is to communicate something that Mo says in the pilot: “Good music makes you feel things you can’t express in words.”

And it’s true. Good music and great lyrics can put thoughts to words when you didn’t even know there were words for how you were feeling. The idea that everyone has a musical happening in their minds (via streams of thoughts) is such a fun one, and I’m excited to see how the show continues to explore this idea in the rest of the season.

Additional things:
  • Each week I’m going to rank the songs in the episode. Here are the pilot rankings from favorite performance to least favorite: “Mad World/True Colors,” (it’s a tie), “All I Do is Win,” “All By Myself/What A Man/Help.”
  • “Almost as if they were all singing what they were thinking. Out loud. Collectively. As a people.”
  • I, too, use Slack at work. I’m a millennial. I get it.
  • I absolutely love that we get Jane Levy in a leading role again! RIP, Suburgatory.
  • “Oh, good. A dance break.”
I’ll be back when Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist officially debuts on February 16 on NBC! Until then, folks!

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Golden Trio Awards: Film Edition — The Best of 2019 [Contributors: Chelsea Eichholz, Paige Kiser, and Jaime Poland]

Image result for oscars 2020

On this day of the Academy Awards, Chelsea, Jaime, and guest writer Paige would like to shed light on some of their favorite movies of 2019 that they wish had received more love from all the different voting bodies.

Here at Just About Write, we use the #GoldenTrioAwards to reward media that doesn't usually get recognized. And so we've decided to throw a mini Golden Trio Awards: Film Edition! Below you will find a collective list of nominees that these three women narrowed down, as well as their decisisions for gold, silver, and bronze winners in each category.

Enjoy these winners!



Best Picture
Booksmart
The Farewell
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
The Lighthouse
Knives Out
Little Women
Marriage Story
Midsommar
The Nightingale
Parasite
Pain & Glory
Portrait of a Lady on Fire
Ready or Not

Gold: Little Women
Silver: Midsommar
Bronze: Knives Out



Best Director
Olivia Wilde, Booksmart
Lulu Wang, The Farewell
Rian Johnson, Knives Out 
Greta Gerwig, Little Women
Noah Baumbach, Marriage Story
Jennifer Kent, The Nightingale 
Bong Joon-ho, Parasite
Celene Sciamma, Portrait of a Lady on Fire

Gold: Greta Gerwig, Little Women
Silver: Celene Sciamma, Portrait of a Lady on Fire
Bronze: Olivia Wilde, Booksmart



Best Actress
Awkwafina, The Farewell
Ana de Armas, Knives Out 
Saoirse Ronan, Little Women
Florence Pugh, Fighting with My Family, Little Women & Midsommar
Tessa Thompson, Little Woods
Scarlett Johannson, Marriage Story
Adèle Haenel, Portrait of a Lady on Fire
Daisy Ridley, Star Wars Episode IX: Rise of Skywalker
Lupita Nyong’o, Us

Gold: Tessa Thompson, Little Woods
Silver: Lupita Nyong’o, Us
Bronze: Florence Pugh, Midsommar & Little Women



Best Actor
Robert Downey Jr., Avengers: Endgame
Adam Driver, Marriage Story
Daniel Craig, Knives Out 
Robert Pattinson, The Lighthouse 
Leonardo DiCaprio, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Antonio Banderas, Pain & Glory
Adam Sandler, Uncut Gems 
Winston Duke, Us

Gold: Antonio Banderas, Pain & Glory
Silver: Robert Downey Jr., Avengers: Endgame
Bronze: Robert Pattinson, The Lighthouse 



Best Supporting Actress
Billie Lourd, Booksmart
Zhao Shu-zhen, The Farewell
Jennifer Lopez, Hustlers
Laura Dern, Little Women & Marriage Story
Lily James, Little Woods
Merritt Wever, Marriage Story
Park So-dam, Parasite
Melanie Scrofano, Ready or Not

Gold: Jennifer Lopez, Hustlers
Silver: Zhao Shu-zhen, The Farewell
Bronze: Park So-dam, Parasite



Best Supporting Actor
Chris Evans, Avengers: Endgame & Knives Out
Tom Hanks, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
Chris Cooper, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood & Little Women
Robert James-Collier, Downton Abbey
Joe Pesci, The Irishman 
Willem Dafoe, The Lighthouse
Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Song Kang-ho, Parasite

Gold: Song Kang-ho, Parasite
Silver: Chris Evans, Avengers: Endgame & Knives Out
Bronze: Chris Cooper, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood & Little Women



Best Adapted Screenplay
Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely, Avengers: Endgame
Micah Fitzerman-Blue & Noah Harpster, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck, & Geneva Robertson-Dworet, Captain Marvel
Julian Fellowes, Downton Abbey
Dean DeBlois, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
Lorene Scafaria, Hustlers
Steve Zaillian, The Irishman
Greta Gerwig, Little Women

Gold: Greta Gerwig, Little Women
Silver: Lorene Scafaria, Hustlers
Bronze: Dean DeBlois, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World



Best Original Screenplay
Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins, Susanna Fogel, & Katie Silberman, Booksmart
Noah Baumbach, Marriage Story
Lulu Wang, The Farewell
Nia DaCosta, Little Woods
Rian Johnson, Knives Out 
Pedro Almodóvar, Pain & Glory
Bong Joon-ho, Parasite 
Céline Sciamma, Portrait of a Lady on Fire

Gold: Bong Joon-ho, Parasite 
Silver: Lulu Wang, The Farewell
Bronze: Nia DaCosta, Little Woods



Best Comedy
The Beach Bum 
Blinded By The Light
Booksmart
Charlie’s Angels
Knives Out 
Long Shot
Ready or Not
Someone Great

Gold: Booksmart
Silver: Ready or Not
Bronze: Knives Out 



Best Visual Effects
Ad Astra
Avengers: Endgame
Captain Marvel
Detective Pikachu 
Dumbo
Godzilla: King of the Monsters
1917
Star Wars Episode IX: Rise of Skywalker

Gold: Detective Pikachu
Silver: Avengers: Endgame
Bronze: Star Wars Episode IX: Rise of Skywalker



Best Music/Score
Detective Pikachu 
Hustlers
Little Women
Marriage Story
Midsommar
Parasite
Someone Great
Star Wars Episode IX: Rise of Skywalker

Gold: Detective Pikachu 
Silver: Hustlers
Bronze: Someone Great



Best Production Design
The Farewell
Knives Out 
The Lighthouse 
Little Women
The Nightingale 
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood 
Parasite
Ready or Not

Gold: Knives Out
Silver: The Nightingale
Bronze: Little Women



Best Costumes
Downton Abbey
Dolemite is My Name
Hustlers
The Lighthouse 
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood 
Midsommar 
Little Women
Portrait of a Lady on Fire

Gold: Portrait of a Lady on Fire
Silver: Midsommar
Bronze: Little Women



Best Cinematography
The Beach Bum 
Booksmart
The Farewell
Knives Out 
Little Women
Midsommar 
Pain and Glory 
Portrait of a Lady on Fire

Gold: Portrait of a Lady on Fire
Silver: Pain and Glory
Bronze: Midsommar 



Best Editing
Booksmart
Hustlers
Knives Out 
Little Women
Parasite
Marriage Story
Us
Varda By Agnes

Gold: Varda By Agnes
Silver: Hustlers
Bronze: Little Women

What were your favorite films of 2019? Sound off in the comments below!

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Doctor Who 12x06 Recap: “Praxeus” (One Word: Plastics) [Guest Poster: Stephanie Coats]


“Praxeus”
Original Airdate: February 2, 2020

Earth is in a bit of disarray. A British astronaut, Adam, crash lands in his space capsule and goes missing. A submarine has also disappeared suddenly. In Peru, a beautiful river is overflowing with plastic but travelers Jamilla and Gabriella must camp there overnight. Crows attack Jamilla in the night and she’s gone in the morning, but Ryan is there to help Gabriella sort through the confusion. He tells her birds are falling out of the sky everywhere and collects one of them to take to the Doctor. They track a distress signal online to an abandoned hospital nearby and find Jamilla’s body. She has strange scales on the side of her face, which Ryan, stupidly, touches. Jamilla starts convulsing, then disintegrates completely.

In Hong Kong, Jake, a police officer on leave, arrives at a warehouse. This is the location that Adam supposedly messaged him asking for his help. Graham and Yaz help Jake inside and they find Adam hooked up to a machine. He tells them to leave just before masked creatures burst in and start shooting. Jake may be an ex-cop but he’s still good with a gun so he’s able to get everyone out safely. Depending on which one you ask, Adam and Jake may or may not still be married as well.

The Doctor gathers them into the TARDIS. She has already been to Madagascar, where she found a survivor from the missing submarine who also disintegrated before her eyes. They’re all heading back there but Yaz wants to stay behind to find an important-looking piece of alien tech. Gabriella volunteers to go with her. They find the tech but have to hide when one of the creatures stumbles in and then teleports away. The two women decide to follow it.

PROBLEM AND SOLUTION


At a lab in Madagascar, Suki and Aramu do their best to help the Doctor figure out what is attacking Earth and why. While everyone else goes inside the lab to analyze Adam’s deteriorating state, Aramu stays outside to monitor a flock of birds. Bad idea, Aramu. Adam is infected with an alien pathogen and the same scales have started forming on his neck. Suki believes they can reverse engineer a cure using Adam and the dead bird Ryan brought him. That bird is full of plastic, which the Doctor believes is the source of the alien bacteria. Because humans have polluted the planet with so much plastic, there are microplastics in our bodies from the air, food, and water. That means the bacteria can attack us just as easily as it attacks birds who eat plastic. Outside, Aramu is predictably killed by the birds.

Yaz radios in to tell the Doctor what she and Gabriella have discovered, including that the alien creatures are transmitting to Madagascar. And now at Suki’s over-equipped lab and eagerness make sense: she’s working with the aliens. They call the pathogen Praxeus, she says, and “it knows you’re on to it.” Then she teleports away. Birds burst into the lab but everyone is able to escape into the TARDIS with the samples needed to make a potential cure. Adam volunteers to let the Doctor test it on him.

While exploring what they think is an alien planet, Yaz takes off the mask of one of the dead creatures. The Doctor, who arrives shortly after, says the aliens are humanoid in appearance but not actually humans. They are, however, also infected with Praxeus so they’ve most likely come to Earth to try to find a cure for their own race. Suki confirms that’s correct. And they aren’t on another planet; they’re deep below the Indian Ocean. The creatures in the masks were Suki’s crew. They all came to Earth to use it as a lab because we have so much plastic here. It was the perfect petri dish for studying Praxeus.

But things went awry almost immediately. Their ship crashed, causing Adam’s capsule to crash too and the submarine to go haywire. Samples of Praxeus leaked out of the ship and spread into the ocean and the layer of plastic on it. Suki is hopeful now, though, because they have a cure but the Doctor doesn’t know if it works on humans, much less any other species. And she’s right and wrong. Suki dies a moment later but Adam comes in looking much better. The antidote is ready and they can use Suki’s ship to discharge it all over the Earth’s atmosphere thereby killing Praxeus everywhere on the planet.

It’s a perfect plan, until the autopilot fails. The Doctor leaves their chances to a wing and a prayer but Jake takes more direct action and stays behind to fly the ship. Having always felt inferior to his astronaut husband, Jake feels this is the right thing to do. He successfully sends the antidote across Earth even as the ship breaks apart in the process. A millisecond before he’s going to die, the Doctor swoops him into the TARDIS. All is well.

Final Thoughts:
  • It’s either feast or famine in series 12. Last week’s episode was the best of Chibnall’s Doctor Who. This week, we returned to the “performative wokeness” genre that’s made up most of his era. It had a light message about the evils of pollution, never addressed the actual issue of corporations being the ones who dump most of the plastic pollution into the oceans, and wrapped up things very neatly at the end. Mediocre and forgettable. 
  • An episode like this is why I worry that all of the potential from “Fugitive of the Judoon” may be completely squandered in the end.

The Flash 6x10 Review: "Marathon" (Living in a Post-Crisis World) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]


“Marathon”
Original Airdate: February 4, 2020

Previously on The Flash: there was a multiverse! Now, not so much. With all our DC TV heroes on one Earth, you’d think that would mean a significant increase in crossovers and cameos, but something tells me Team Flash will still manage to be inexplicably solitary in its endeavors to save Central City. Another remnant of a pre-Crisis world? Season-long plot arcs, apparently. It seems to me (and I very, very, very much hope I’m right about this) that the back half of season six will have absolutely nothing to do with Bloodwork and will instead revolve around that intriguing shady metahuman kidnapping ring we got a hint of at the beginning of the season.

Will this decision to adopt half-season plot arcs breathe a little life back into the show? Hard to say this early on, but “Marathon” was certainly a great return. There was a nice smattering of humor, some drama, Crisis fallout, back-to-normal stuff, and — here’s the thing that really gives me hope for this plot — Iris! Iris seems to finally be coming into her own as an investigative reporter, and I have my fingers crossed her role won’t be terribly diminished as the story unfolds.

POST-CRISIS CLEANUP


After a cute opening segment in which Barry foils a poorly planned robbery of the newly reopened CC Jitters coffee shop, we get our first hint at what’s changed after Crisis via a Cisco rant. Yeah, I’m not so sure why everyone seemed so happy when the Infinite Earths got reduced to one Earth. Cisco has it right: this is a nightmare of deaths, bent realities, twisted timelines, and unknown evils. They lost an “infinite” number of doppelgangers, some of whom we’ve met and liked. The new Earth Prime had to make space for new cities like Supergirl’s National City and Metropolis, which begs the question of what happened to all the people who were there before those cities got placed on the map. And to top it all off, some long-defeated villains are back, plus some villains — and aliens now! — from other Earths the team might eventually have to worry about. It’s a headache. Also, Cisco doesn’t remember owning his Superman shirt!

The other post-Crisis remnant we get this episode is what removes Barry from the main plot so Iris can take the lead. I guess I was wrong about my assumption that no cameos would happen despite the merged Earths, since John Diggle shows up. To be fair, though, Dig was already a part of The Flash’s Earth and his show is over, so...

Anyway, Dig has something to give Barry on behalf of Oliver: an old mask Barry made for him in the early Arrow days, which Barry immediately starts looking at for clues to some secret mystery Oliver wants him to solve. He spots a smudge on the mask that contains trace particles of Lian Yu-type soil and Mirakuru super soldier serum. Barry jumps to the conclusion that there’s still Mirakuru on Lian Yu and Oliver wants him to get rid of it before it falls into the wrong hands.

All this culminates in Barry dragging poor motion-sick Diggle off to Lian Yu, scouring the island, and finding no Mirakuru. Barry’s confused by this, but Diggle clarifies that Oliver’s gift was really just a gift — not a mystery to be solved, and not a mission for Barry to devote himself to. Oliver learned too late that jumping from crusade to crusade was no way to live life and didn’t want Barry going down that same path. Good thing Diggle was there to translate for Oliver, because there’s no way Barry could’ve figured that out, even if he hadn’t been distracted by mourning. Oliver kinda sucks at gift-giving when the gift isn’t, like, self-sacrifice.

Squaring away the Crisis aftermath stories, Cisco decides to hit the road and start documenting everything that’s changed in the world, leaving Nash Wells in charge of the day-to-day Team Flash stuff. Maybe Cisco will bring a storyline or two back with him as a souvenir?

IRIS INVESTIGATIONS


In what I’d consider the A-plot of the episode, Iris is working with Allegra, Kamilla, and Cecile to unravel a mystery involving McCulloch Industries, a shady organization of assassins called Black Hole, and the metahuman kidnappings hinted at earlier this season. Iris’s first lead is a former McCulloch employee, who is so paranoid about saying anything regarding the nefarious dealings between McCulloch and Black Hole that he won’t even allow himself to be recorded because they might recognize his voice.

Iris follows her source’s info to McCulloch and a meeting with the CEO, Joseph Carver. This meeting leads to Iris nearly getting killed twice — once, in her office (where a light beam turns her investigation pinboard into sparkly purple ash) and again when she checks in on her source (who gets the same fate as that aforementioned pinboard). Iris, being awesome, stubborn, and caring as she is, is doubly motivated to get to Black Hole/McCulloch.

I appreciate whenever Iris gets a good storyline because it allows her real, not-just-Barry’s-cheerleader personality to come out. She’s, perhaps, way too determined to get her “scoop,” brushing aside getting sued by Joseph Carver, almost getting killed by a light gun twice, and pretty much everyone around her telling her to slow down. Action Star Iris is just such an incredibly fun, interesting character that I can’t believe how rarely she gets to make an appearance — if I were the writers, I’d be trying to get Iris into high speed car chases and shoot-outs constantly.

After determining who the light-shooty assassin is (a new version of Doctor Light, this time named Dr. Kimiyo Hoshi, who uses a gun to focus her light powers), Iris cleverly blackmails Joseph Carver into calling off his assassin squad by, well, telling him she knows he has an assassin squad. She also informs him that if anything happens to Iris, her friends, or her family, she has a “deadman’s switch” in place that would release all the info she has on McCulloch to the public.

However, Iris is one of those investigative reporter types who just can’t let a job well done stay done. She recalls the last word her source said before dying — “mirror” — and a room, AV3, in the halls of McCulloch when she’d been visiting Carver. Mirrored back, “AV3” turns into “Eva,” the name of Joseph Carver’s missing wife. Not sure how she got into the building after hours, but Iris returns to McCulloch to investigate the AV3 room. Once she’s inside snooping around near a large mirror, a pair of hands reach through the mirror and yank Iris inside.

Next week: Iris seems okay... but is she?! (She’s not.)

Other Things:

  • “Gorilla City's part of Earth-Prime now. Don't you wanna go myth-bust it?” “No. Gorillas are atheists.”
  • Allegra’s alternate-Earth doppelganger has some connection to Nash Wells. Dunno what yet.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Grey’s Anatomy 16x12 Recap: “The Last Supper” (Worst Triple Date Ever) [Contributor: Julia Siegel]


“The Last Supper”
Original Airdate: February 6, 2020

The latest episode of Grey’s Anatomy is the simplest one in a long time in terms of story structure. With only two storylines, the featured characters get fleshed out in ways that were sorely needed. The Station 19/Grey’s Anatomy symmetry also grows stronger, as Jackson, Nico, and Koracick showed up on the firefighter drama and Vic Hughes and Dean Miller crash Richard and Catherine’s dinner party.

A DINNER TO REMEMBER


First on Station 19, Vic was nervous about attending her first family dinner and invites fellow firefighter Dean Miller to come with her in an attempt to set him up with Maggie. Miller is unsure at first, but he eventually agrees to go. Jackson visits the firehouse and assures Vic that she will be most welcome at the dinner and has nothing to be worried about. Well, Jackson couldn’t have been more wrong. Grey’s Anatomy starts with Jackson running into Maggie in the halls of Grey Sloan Memorial. She is coming from a meeting with Koracick where she asked for her job back. Richard and Catherine, who are also in the hospital, are walking and arguing about the dinner. Richard wants to cancel because he doesn’t feel it is the best way to tell Jackson and Maggie that he and Catherine are separating. Catherine wants to throw a dinner party for their kids as a way to lessen the blow of the news. The first awkward moment occurs when the four of them bump into each other in the hall and walk their separate ways.

Later that day, Maggie is the first one to show up at Richard and Catherine’s house. She brings them a box of chocolates for their anniversary. Funny enough, Richard and Catherine have completely forgotten that their anniversary is in a few days, but they don’t tell Maggie that their anniversary isn’t the reason they are holding the dinner. Jackson shows up with a piece of artwork from a South African artist that Catherine admires. Richard is all kinds of nervous once both of the kids are home and wants to spit out the news. Catherine beats around the bush and wants to wait until after dinner. The doorbell rings for a third time, and Jackson answers the door expecting to find his girlfriend. Vic and Miller have arrived, and Jackson didn’t know that Vic invited Miller. That’s better than Catherine, Richard, and Maggie, none of whom knew that either firefighter was coming to dinner.

Miller introduces himself to Richard and Catherine, as this is their first meeting. Vic also meets Richard for the first time. Maggie is none too pleased that Vic has shown up and doesn’t even try to hide her disdain. Catherine and Richard excuse themselves to the kitchen, and Catherine tells her husband that they can’t possibly tell the kids about the separation now that they have dates in attendance. Richard says that they should have already broken the news to them. Back in the sitting room, an awkward silence hangs in the air, until Jackson breaks the tension by asking Vic and Miller if they have had any cool calls lately. They recount the details of Station 19’s episode, which serves as a small primer for anyone who didn’t tune in to the first TGIT hour.

Maggie can’t take the conversation, so she goes to set the dining room table. Jackson follows her in an attempt to not be rude, but Maggie starts an argument over how quickly Jackson jumps into relationships and doesn’t mourn the ending of one first. She recounts how they immediately started dating after he got divorced from April and that he jumped into things with Vic right after they called it quits. Maggie is also mad that Jackson is trying to set her up with Miller, which he vehemently denies. The viewers know that it’s really Vic who is trying to set up Maggie and Miller, but Jackson isn’t privy to that knowledge. Maggie tells Jackson that Miller asked her out a few months back when Jackson was on his nature walk. She turned him down once and still doesn’t seem interested in him. Back in the sitting room, Miller doesn’t understand why Vic didn’t tell Maggie that he was coming. He’s none too pleased with being thrown in over his head either.

On that note, dinner gets off to a great start, as tensions are running extremely high. Catherine continues to be extremely cold to Vic, going so far to rudely ask her if the food is to her liking. Miller blurts out that Vic will put anything into her mouth and quickly amends that she will eat any food. He tries to rebound by telling a story about the time Vic stopped a snake from eating a baby, and his charm eventually irons out some of the awkwardness. He asks Richard and Catherine what they prefer to be called, which turns into another funny moment. Richard naturally tells Miller to call him Richard, while Catherine says he should call her Dr. Fox. Miller continues to run the conversation by asking Jackson and Maggie whether they started dating before or after their parents got married, which leads to a hot debate about whether the step-siblings considered each other family or had qualms about their relationship.

Maggie says there was nothing wrong with her and Jackson dating because they had very different upbringings and didn’t grow up together. Vic takes the opportunity to reveal that Miller’s family also has a lot of money in hopes of Maggie warming up to him a bit. As the conversation continues, Vic asks Richard about working at Pac-North and says that the hospital’s reputation has been getting a lot better with the first responders over the past several months. This makes Catherine go from cold to pure ice because her hospital, Grey Sloan, isn’t getting the same attention as Pac-North, which is becoming a competitor.

Miller tries to warm the atmosphere with his natural charm by asking Richard and Catherine how they met and how they got engaged. Maggie tells the story of Richard’s proposal as everyone at the table listens and smiles. Even Richard and Catherine can’t stop themselves from enjoying reliving the happy moment. After the story, Jackson gives a very sweet toast to Catherine and Richard and says that no matter what hardships they face, they always find a way to make it through. He also says that Richard has been more to a father to him than his biological father.

Catherine and Richard take another moment in the kitchen, where she says that maybe they rushed into getting a separation and shouldn’t split up. She admits that Jackson is right that they always find a way back to each other, so she doesn’t want to give up. Richard isn’t buying it, and Catherine continues to tell him that she still loves him. If things are to work out between them, Richard wants Catherine to apologize for not standing by him when Bailey fired him. Richard knows apologizing isn’t Catherine’s strong suit, but he says that if she loves him and wants to fix their marriage, she has to apologize. Catherine tearfully says she’s sorry and starts to add a “but.” Richard cuts her off by saying that apologies can’t have buts after them. He says that it’s too late for them and leaves Catherine crying in the kitchen.

Jackson finds Catherine in the kitchen and asks her what is really going on. Catherine quips about having two extra people at dinner, which prompts Jackson to ask what the big deal is. She says now isn’t the time to talk, so they go back to the table. Tensions between Maggie and Jackson escalate again, causing Catherine to shout out that it’s clear that Maggie and Jackson hate each other. She then gets on Richard’s case for texting and accuses him of having a girlfriend and talking to her throughout dinner. She steals his phone and finds out that he has been texting Alex about giving Maggie an offer to lead Pac-North’s cardio department. Maggie wants to know if this is the news that they wanted to say earlier, and Catherine shuts her down by announcing that she and Richard are separating. The table gets real quiet, and Richard apologizes for everyone finding out this way. Jackson and Maggie follow their parents out of the room, leaving a stunned Vic and Miller behind. Miller tells Vic that he owes her big time.

Jackson consoles his mother in the kitchen and is sorry that she and Richard hadn’t worked things out. Catherine is crying and blubbering about how she is a failure. She also says that she doesn’t want Jackson to lose Richard, but he says that he isn’t losing anything. Vic walks in to drop off some dirty dishes. Catherine takes the opportunity to finally warm up to Vic by offering her some of her famous cobbler. Richard and Maggie talk outside and explains that no one knew because he and Catherine tend to keep their problems to themselves. He does think that their relationship is really over, which Maggie is sorry about. However, Maggie is happy that she and Jackson can stop pretending to get along. Maggie also wants to know what the price of the Pac-North offer is. When Richard shows her the number that Alex sent him, Maggie is stunned, as it is much higher than she expected. Maggie tells Richard she will take the job and start on Monday. As Maggie walks inside, Miller is getting ready to leave. The two awkwardly hug before he walks out. Vic apologizes to Maggie for bringing Miller along on her way out. Maggie also apologizes for taking her hatred of Jackson out on her, and they agree to have a fresh start.

After all four guests leave, Richard tells Catherine that he will spend the night at a hotel. She says her driver is on the way, so he doesn’t have to leave. Catherine is disappointed to learn that Maggie took the offer and accuses Richard of dragging Maggie’s career down with him by encouraging her to work at Pac-North. Richard is very offended and completely disagrees. Catherine picks up her phone and calls one of her people to have them find out what the price to buy Pac-North is. Richard doesn’t think the scheme will work, but Catherine is sure of herself. She thinks that if the hospital is truly turning around, it could be a good investment. Or, she could just shut it down to spite him. In typical Catherine fashion, she tells Richard that she isn’t sorry for anything before walking out of the house.

NO MORE HIDING


The second story follows a very poignant day for Schmitt. He is at home in his basement resting and still not back at work following his broken heart syndrome. Nico is there hanging out with him, and the couple have seem to only grow stronger lately. Mrs. Schmitt comes downstairs to inform her son that his favorite uncle, Saul, is dying in hospice care and that now might be the only time to go say goodbye. Schmitt is quite distraught by the news and tells Nico how Saul always treated him much better than anyone else in the family. They decide to go visit Uncle Saul together.

Upon arriving at the hospice center, Schmitt learns that Saul is in end stage heart failure and probably doesn’t have much longer to live. Schmitt decides to come out to his uncle and introduces him to Nico. He tells his uncle that he is in love with Nico, and Saul immediately flatlines and dies. Schmitt can’t believe what he saw and thinks that he killed his uncle with his gayness, which causes the young doctor to spiral. He starts obsessing about Jewish tradition and feels that he can’t leave his uncle’s body until he is buried or the burden is passed on to someone else in the family. Schmitt is very happy when his Aunt Gerty, Saul’s wife, shows up, as she can take over the responsibility of sitting with her dead husband. Gerty informs Schmitt that she has no intention of staying with Saul’s body, as she really doesn’t care. It’s quite the odd encounter that leaves Schmitt and the audience confused.

Schmitt and Nico pass the time by playing some cards, as the hospice center is backed up with the number of people who passed away on that particular day. Out of nowhere, an older man walks into the room, sees Saul’s dead body, and starts crying. He starts saying that he didn’t know Saul had passed and he knows exactly who Schmitt is. The man also immediately knows that Nico is Schmitt’s boyfriend and reveals that Saul knew that Schmitt was gay because he too was gay. The man introduces himself as Daniel Schwartz, Saul’s longtime partner and love of his life. Schmitt is shocked at the reveal, especially when he finds out that Aunt Gerty knew her husband was gay all along too.

The three men sit with Saul, and Schmitt tells Daniel and Nico stories about his favorite memories with his uncle. Daniel says that he can teach Schmitt how to prepare Saul’s body following Jewish tradition, as Saul taught him what to do. Nico leaves the room, and Schmitt and Daniel don yaurmulkes while cleaning Saul’s body. The process is one of the strongest religious moments that Grey’s Anatomy has ever had, and it really is touching. Schmitt asks Daniel why Saul pretended not to be gay his whole life and married Gerty. Daniel explains that it was a different time and that Schmitt takes the freedom that he has for granted. He goes on to say that Saul was ashamed of himself for being gay and wouldn’t let himself be out and proud. Saul asked Gerty to pretend to be with him and get married, which she agreed to because they did care for each other. Daniel doesn’t think it was an accident that Schmitt was there at the end of Saul’s life because Saul would have wanted Schmitt to know that it’s okay that he is gay and that Schmitt has the freedom that he never gave himself. The men finish by covering Saul’s body in a sheet and saying a prayer.

Nico and Schmitt return to Schmitt’s house and start packing up his belongings. Mrs. Schmitt comes downstairs and wants to know what is going on. Schmitt informs her that Saul died and that he is moving out. He is not fine with the fact that his mother doesn’t accept him for who he is and he tells her that he can’t stand it anymore. Mrs. Schmitt accuses Nico of putting her son up to moving out. Nico says it was all Schmitt’s idea and that he agrees with everything his boyfriend said. The two take Schmitt’s possessions and leave his mother flabbergasted in the basement.

Grey’s Anatomy 16x11 Recap: “A Hard Pill to Swallow” (Slow Recovery) [Contributor: Julia Siegel]


“A Hard Pill to Swallow”
Original Airdate: January 30, 2020

Love is in the air at Grey Sloan Memorial once again. However, relationships will be tested in many different ways. By the end of the latest episode of Grey’s Anatomy, one couple will strengthen their love, while another might be doomed. Before we get into the nitty-gritty romantic details, it’s worth noting that Alex’s fate is still not resolved, as he isn’t mentioned at all in the episode and Justin Chambers’ name still appears on the main cast list.


HONESTY IS THE BEST POLICY


The episode begins with Meredith and Amelia hanging out and complaining about their problems in a surgeon’s lounge at Grey Sloan Memorial. Mer wants Cristina to tell her if Hayes is a professional or personal gift but in typical fashion, Cristina is unwilling to answer. Amelia talks about wanting rigorous honesty in her life, but she has yet to tell anyone that Link may not be the father of her baby. Cue the perfect timing for Hayes to walk in, help Amelia tie her shoe that she is struggling with, and offer Mer a cup of coffee. Mer is still unsure how she feels about her “gift” and declines the offer. Once Hayes leaves, Amelia shows how much she likes him by telling Mer that Hayes is a great gift.

The great mystery of the hour is then revealed when Jo finds Teddy frantically searching around a nurses’ station. Teddy reveals that she has lost her engagement ring and can’t figure out where it could have gone. This sub-plot provides the entertainment of the episode, so more on this later. Mer is feeling a bit confused about life and decides to go to DeLuca’s office to chat. He’s not in a great mood because he has a post-operative patient with odd symptoms that he can’t crack. Mer suggests filling Bailey in on the case and getting her opinion, then tells him in Italian that she misses him. DeLuca tells Mer that she doesn’t have to miss him because he didn’t dump her. Mer leaves with a smile on her face and without saying another word.

Amelia finally decides to spill the beans to Link and has him meet her outside near the coffee cart. In a jumble of remorse and word vomit, Amelia reveals that Link may not be the father of her baby. Link is very surprised and immediately dons a look of pure hurt. Amelia wants him to know that no matter what, the paternity doesn’t change the way she feels about him and wants their relationship to continue. Link knows that Owen is the other potential father and asks Amelia if she has told him yet. She says that she wanted to talk to Link first because their relationship is more important. Amelia continues to tell Link that she loves him and that she doesn’t want to get a paternity test because that’s how little the results matter. Link takes the news surprisingly well at first, but his brave face won’t last long.

Back inside the hospital, DeLuca finds Bailey and gives her a status report on how well all of the interns are healing from the accident at Joe’s Bar. This is apparently Bailey’s first day back since the accident, which is said to have occurred one week prior. They run into Koracick in the hall, who is a bit mad that Bailey didn’t run taking a few personal days off past him. Bailey shrugs him off and goes with DeLuca to see his patient, who had an appendectomy three days ago and is still running a fever. Suits star Sarah Rafferty guest stars as the patient, who has her two young daughters and sister visiting with her. The kids are afraid that their mother is going to die because their father went to the hospital a year prior and wound up not coming home. Bailey says they will run some labs to find out what the problem is and tries to reassure the kids that their mother will be fine.

CRISIS MODE


Mer runs into Hayes on her way to the ER, which they both wind up going to. They see a teenager coughing up blood and run over to help. Meanwhile, Maggie is still sulking at home and finds Richard on her doorstep. He wants to know why she quit her job and invites himself in to make a pancake breakfast, much to the chagrin of Maggie. The scene changes again to Jo finding Link on the same bench outside. He still looks a bit stunned and tells Jo what Amelia told him. Before they can really talk about it, two men come walking up the path shouting for help. One is injured, and his friend explains that the injured man had his hand crushed in a cab door and also has a fish stuck in his throat. The looks on Jo and Link’s faces probably matched the audiences’ confused looks.

Over in the ER, Hayes tells the teen’s father that there is a bleed in his son’s throat and that he and Mer were able to stop it for now. They aren’t sure why the kid is bleeding, so Hayes asks the father and the patient’s friends, who have appeared in the waiting room, whether they know anything. Everyone denies knowing a potential cause, and Hayes leaves to take the patient for a CT scan. In the Grey-Pierce-Shepherd household, Richard is doing his best to be a father to Maggie and is also mad at the fact that there is no food in the fridge. Maggie doesn’t feel that she deserves Richard’s kindness and rambles about how she is struggling with being sued by her uncle for killing her cousin. She tells Richard that she is depressed and wants to be alone.

The entertainment subplot resumes when Owen arrives at Grey Sloan to take Teddy to lunch and talk wedding plans on his day off. She immediately bursts into tears and tells him how sorry she is that she lost his family ring. Surprisingly, Owen isn’t upset at all and simply says that they will find it together. The lighthearted stories continue when Link and Jo bring Jackson in on their case. The patient can’t talk because the fish he swallowed is lodged in his throat. His friend tells the doctors the story of how after the patient’s bachelor party at a bar, he swallowed a fish from the aquarium on a dare. The patient keeps trying to talk, so the friend gives him a phone to type a message on. He says that his fiance told him not to do anything stupid and asks them not to tell her what happened.

A NEW EPIDEMIC


DeLuca and Bailey have gotten their patient’s labs back, and they tell her that her white blood cell count is high. The plan is to keep her in the hospital for one more day, and if she doesn’t improve, they’ll do a scan in the morning. The kids don’t want their mom in the hospital for another night, so Bailey gives in and decides to do the CT scan now.

Over in the OR, Link, Jo, and Jackson have figured out that their patient swallowed a bronze catfish and are working to remove it. Link is a little spaced out, which prompts Jo to ask him if he’s okay. He says that he isn’t losing his mind over the news. The answer isn’t good enough for Jo, so she lets him know that he can be mad at Amelia and still love her. She then tries to convince him to want a paternity test. Speaking of Amelia, she pops in on Owen and Teddy looking for the engagement ring in a lounge. She wants to tell Owen that he might be a father again, but is thrown off by finding Teddy with him. Owen gets a text from daycare saying that Leo is sick, so he and Teddy leave before Amelia says anything.

Mer and Hayes are waiting for their patient’s scans to load, and Hayes gets chatty about his teenage sons. He apologizes for being crass when they met and explains that he lost his wife two years ago last week. He asks Mer if they can start over, and Mer quickly agrees. She tells him that two years is a tough time, but the loss will get a little better. Their bonding gets cut short when the images load and show inflammation in the teen’s lungs. Hayes points out that his lungs look like those of a 60-year-old smoker, not a high school athlete. They both think that their patient has been vaping, so they confront the father and friends. The friends confirm that he is a vaper, and they thought it was a safe thing to do. Hayes gets a bit emotional and goes off about the dangers of vaping. Mer and Hayes then present their differing opinions on how to treat their patient to his father, who chooses Mer’s less risky option. Funny enough, this is the second medical show this week to cover the vaping epidemic. New Amsterdam’s January 28 episode had a very similar case.

A HELPING HAND


Richard and Maggie’s conversation continues when Richard presses his daughter about why she quit. He assures Maggie that the reason why he couldn’t look at her after his niece’s death was because of what he put her through. He wants Maggie to know it wasn’t because she killed his niece, but Maggie won’t listen. She insists that her mistakes caused her cousin’s death, not that she was already on the brink of death as Richard suggests. Maggie feels that she can’t be a surgeon anymore because she can’t trust herself. She wants Richard to leave, so he does.

We then see Owen, Teddy, and Leo in an exam room. They gave Leo an X-ray just to make sure he was fine. When the films pop up on the computer screen, they are relieved to see that Leo is sick because he swallowed Teddy’s engagement ring. Owen and Teddy laugh and know they simply have to wait it out. Back in the OR, Mer and Hayes try to stop the bleeding in their patient’s lungs with Mer’s idea. Hayes thinks that they need to switch to his treatment of removing part of the damaged lung. Mer doesn’t want to give in, but when her way fails, they switch over to Hayes’ idea. This scene shows the two doctors working very well together and having strong communication after only knowing each other for a week. It’s becoming more and more clear that Mer and Hayes could have a strong relationship, even if Mer doesn’t want to believe it.

The scene changes over to the other OR for a quick minute. Jackson, Link, and Jo have finally removed the fish from their patient’s throat. Based on their ongoing conversation, Link is clearly not handling the Amelia situation well anymore and is starting to show his true feelings: hurt and disappointment. As Link and Amelia’s relationship starts to crumble in Link’s mind, Mer and Hayes continue to show how they can have very civil discussions in their OR. Hayes tells Mer that he has seen multiple vaping injuries and that in his experience Mer’s approach typically goes sideways. He reveals that the last vaping case he saw was with Cristina and calls her a nightmare. Cristina apparently had the same idea as Mer and forced it on Hayes, but it didn’t go her way, just like the current patient. Mer is surprised to hear all of this, but it’s unclear if she’s simply surprised by the nightmare comment or everything.

THAT AWKWARD MOMENT WHEN...


We finally get an update on Bailey and DeLuca’s patient, but things go south fast during her CT scan. The patient starts to code while in the scanner, and Bailey and DeLuca realize that she has fluid building up around her heart. After removing the fluid and stabilizing their patient, Bailey and DeLuca tell the family that they aren’t sure what is causing the problems. The patient assures her kids that she won’t die and that the doctors will figure out what is wrong with her. Bailey confirms that they will solve the case and tells DeLuca to get as many opinions as he can from other doctors.

Jackson, Link, and Jo check up on their patient after surgery, and he asks them for their advice on what to tell his fiance. The friend starts to say that he should tell her the truth, but is interrupted by the fiance showing up. Naturally, the fiance is not happy about her man’s stupidity, and things get awkward for the doctors real quick when she announces that she is leaving him for being so dumb. Her speech about him showing her over and over who he really is hits Link hard.

Richard shows up again at Maggie’s with a bag of groceries. Maggie wants Richard to be mad at her over destroying his family. She says that she deserves to be sued. Richard finally makes his pancakes and tells Maggie that he replays that day in his mind a lot too. He says that he thinks about what he could have done better and knows there is nothing they could have done. He wants his niece’s death to teach Maggie the valuable lesson of knowing that she is imperfect and only human because she has yet to realize that. Richard urges Maggie to let the insurance settle the suit with his brother and continue being a surgeon.

Back at Grey Sloan, Teddy still feels awful about losing the engagement ring. Owen tells that it’s totally fine and not a problem because they know they will get it back. He assures her that it could have been a lot worse. It’s very odd that Owen is so relaxed about the whole situation. This is the type of thing he would usually get worked up about. Leo finally poops and Teddy says she’ll take care of it since it was her mistake.

Hayes tells his patient’s father that he and Mer removed a part of the kid’s lung and that he will have a difficult recovery. The father thinks that he is an idiot for not realizing that his son was vaping. Hayes meets up with Mer outside of the patient’s room. She apologizes for not listening to him and going with the lung removal in the first place. Hayes is fine with it and is glad that Mer isn’t pushing that she was right like Cristina did after their past unsuccessful case. Without thinking, Mer says that that sounds like Cristina. Hayes is a bit confused, but before he can ask if Mer knows Cristina, Mer quickly walks away as she realizes she has said too much.

Bailey runs into Koracick again. She decides to tell him that she was at home recovering from a miscarriage, not on vacation. Koracick says that she should have told him. He reveals that his wife had two miscarriages so he knows how she feels. He reveals that he has never gotten over it and that he lights a candle every year on what would have been their birthdays for remembrance. He says that he will light a candle for Bailey’s baby too. For the second week in a row, we get a very touching emotional moment from Koracick. Maybe he will finally completely soften up. Bailey decides to visit the hospital’s chapel and lights a candle for her unborn child.

Link pages Amelia to the plant room to tell her that she should have told him from the beginning that he might not be the father. Amelia agrees with him that she is a perpetual screw up and apologizes for hurting him. Link wants her to tell Owen and Teddy the truth. He also wants a paternity test. As for their relationship, he wants to take things one step at a time and see what happens, which makes Amelia very upset. I’m not sure what Amelia thought would happen, but her fantasy of Link being as cool about the situation as she hoped was never going to come true.

After her day with Hayes, Mer finds DeLuca and asks if he wants to get dinner. In typical Meredith fashion, she is trying to push aside all thoughts of Hayes because everyone is telling her to accept the gift and she has realized he’s a great guy. DeLuca instead wants a consult on his patient because he still can’t figure out what is wrong. The case is unresolved, so here’s hoping it runs into the next episode. The show ends with Richard getting home and finding Catherine waiting for him. She knows that he skipped out of work today and wants to know what he was up to. Richard tells her it took him all day to convince Maggie to not quit medicine. Catherine tells Richard that they need to have a serious conversation because things aren’t working between them, which makes me think their relationship is about to end.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Doctor Who 12x05 Recap: “Fugitive of the Judoon” (Are You the Doctor?) [Guest Poster: Stephanie Coats]


“Fugitive of the Judoon”
Original Airdate: January 26, 2020

Ruth is just a happy, super friendly tour guide in Gloucester. It’s her birthday. Everything is lovely. Except not so much. High above Earth, the Judoon are lying in wait. They’re trigger-happy, intergalactic police for hire who don’t care about collateral damage or civilian casualties as long as they fulfill their contract. And they’re looking for someone on Earth.

In the TARDIS, the Fam question the Doctor about her unusually odd behavior as of late. She’s been going to Gallifrey on her own. She’s been feverishly searching for the Master. The Fam have been excluded from all of this because they “ask too many questions,” though Graham reminds her they do it because they care about her. The family meeting is interrupted by the Judoon’s warning signal as they beam down to Earth, where they begin scanning people to root out the fugitive.

Lee, Ruth’s husband, picks up Ruth’s birthday cake and mutters something disparaging about “humans” under his breath, which means he definitely isn’t one. Upon seeing the Judoon, he hurries home. Just as the Judoon are going to fire a dangerous weapon at Lee and Ruth’s flat, the Doctor intervenes and convinces them to let her arbitrate. They give her five minutes.

Ruth immediately lets the Doctor into the flat but both humans register as, well, human, which is puzzling. A search of the flat uncovers an alien box that Lee recognizes and Ruth doesn’t. Lee convinces them to make a run for it while he deals with the Judoon. He surrenders to them but someone new is with the Judoon, a Commander Gat. She’s tracked him using the broken service medal inside the box. Although Lee is not the fugitive, Gat kills him.

THE MOST CHARMING MAN IN THE UNIVERSE


Around this time is when the Doctor, Ryan, and Yaz realize Graham isn’t with them anymore (and they really don’t seem worried about that). In fact, he’s been beamed aboard some other ship and a very familiar voice is flirting with him over the intercom. It’s Captain Jack Harkness! “You missed me, right?” he says and I really, really did. He immediately kisses Graham because he thinks he’s the Doctor. “Loving the grey at the temple. Kinda distinguished. And still sexy.” Graham is confused and I am so, so happy.

Of course, Graham quickly corrects Jack, who is thrilled to learn the Doctor is now female. He’s piloting a stolen ship and trying to scoop the Doctor up to give her a message, but he ends up beaming aboard Ryan and Yaz instead. Now he has three companions and still no Doctor. To make things worse, the owners of his ship want it back and they’re using nanogenes to get rid of Jack. Before he disappears, he tells the trio his message for the Doctor: Beware the lone Cyberman and don’t give it what it wants, no matter the cost. Something has been sent back in time that could revive the empire of the Cybermen. Jack promises to see the Doctor again (yay!) and sends the companions back to Earth before he disappears.

THE LOOKING GLASS


Alone with the Doctor, Ruth receives a last text from Lee, which she conceals. The Judoon surround them and in a snap, Ruth takes out the squad with insane fighting skills. She’s the fugitive. She’s also just as stunned as I am about what happened. The Doctor believes another identity is concealed in Ruth and Lee’s text triggered it. They decide to drive to the lighthouse where Ruth grew up. On the wall is a button that says, “Break the glass,” which was in Lee’s text. Ruth does and energy floods into her. The Doctor scans the graves of Ruth’s parents and finds a TARDIS buried there instead. Ruth walks up behind her, now in an awesome blue suit with a massive gun in her hands. She re-introduces herself. “I’m the Doctor.” OMG?!?

They teleport into Ruth’s TARDIS, which is in the retro style of the First Doctor (and also Clara Oswald’s TARDIS, just sayin’). Ruth prepares for Gat’s arrival but the Doctor is still super confused. Neither woman believes the other is them. “And how did I end up like that? All rainbows and trousers that don’t reach?” Ruth cracks. She believes the Doctor is in her future, but the Doctor has no memory of being Ruth. The sonic screwdriver confirms they’re the same person, though. Ruth used the Chameleon Arch to disguise herself as a human with Lee as her protector. Gat is her former boss and she’s pissed.

The Judoon pull the TARDIS aboard their ship and Ruth confronts Gat, who is ready to kill her. Against Ruth’s instructions, the Doctor reveals her own identity, which causes confusion among the Judoon and fear in Gat. The latter is also a Time Lord, which means the orders to hunt down the Doctor are from the past because, once again, Gallifrey is destroyed. The Doctor and Gat even mind meld so she can prove it. But Gat has her orders from a not-yet-identified contractee and shoots Ruth’s gun. It backfires and kills her, which was Ruth’s plan. She and the Doctor escape the Judoon, who still have an outstanding contract to bring in the Doctor so we haven’t seen the last of them.

Ruth drops the Doctor near her own TARDIS and they each acknowledge that one of them must be wrong about being the Doctor. Haunted yet again by unanswered questions, the Doctor reconnects with the Fam. They tell her Jack’s message about the Cybermen. She tells them about Ruth. Something massive is coming for her, the Doctor says, and she tries to keep the Fam out of it: “You don’t know me. Not even a little bit.”

But they protest. “You’re the Doctor,” Ryan says. “Whoever you were in the past or are in the future, we know who you are right now.”

“The best person we know,” Graham adds.

They remind her they’re family and they want to stay with her for whatever is coming.

Final Thoughts:
  • This is the best episode of Chris Chibnall’s Doctor Who. Hands down, no contest. There were some very affecting episodes in series 11 and some amazing moments but no episode has been as entertaining and surprising the entire time as this one. No episode has felt so Whovian. Any lingering doubts I’ve been having are gone. If this is the way series 11 keeps up, it’s going to be incredible. This was such a huge step up from the standalone, monster-of-the-week episodes that have mostly made up series 10 and 11. More like this in the future, please!
  • Captain Jack Harkness is back!!! I am SO HAPPY! Within two minutes I was convinced that he needs to be brought on full time to this show. While I’ll never stop being bitter than he and the Twelfth Doctor never met and that he was left out of the 50th Anniversary episode, this was a fabulous comeback. 
  • Here’s the only downside to Jack’s return: it made it even more clear that Chibnall and his writers don’t know what to do with the three current companions. They once again had little to no effect on the plot. Jack had a bigger role in the episode and he didn’t even meet the Doctor. I love Ryan, Yaz, and Graham but honestly, if series 13 was the Doctor and Jack in the TARDIS together, I would be ecstatic.
  • I really, really thought maybe there was a connection to Clara Oswald that was going to come out of this episode. She is out there somewhere with a TARDIS after all, although it’s stuck looking like a 1950s diner on the outside and retro on the inside. 
  • Graham: “This ain’t your ship?” Jack: “You think I’d choose this look? It doesn’t even have a bar!”
  • “Doesn’t time fly when you don’t have all the answers?”
  • Jack, about the companions: “Seriously? Three of you? I had a dream about this once.”
  • Jack: “Oh, she likes them mouthy then, huh?” Ryan: “Yeah, one up from cheesy.”
  • Ruth: “Is there even a word for how dumb you are?” The Doctor: “Doctor.”