10 Shows and Movies That Have Brightened Up Quarantine Life

As we navigate a global pandemic, here are 10 shows and movies that might bring some much-needed joy into the mundane.

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.

Jenn's Pick: Top 15 Jeff/Annie Moments

In 2013, Jenn put together a list of the 15 best Jeff/Annie moments. Revisit and discover those memories!

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Jenn’s Pick: 10 Shows and Movies That Have Brightened Up My Quarantine Life [Contributor: Jenn]

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It’s been a weird few months. While March seemed like it was an entire decade in itself, April has appeared to fly by. And with May creeping up behind us, it’s hard to believe that 2020 is nearly half over already. Whether you’ve been doing well in quarantine, are going a bit stir crazy, are suffering from anxiety and depression, have gotten sick or know someone who is, this is a very weird time to be on planet Earth. And it might be really hard for you to watch anything remotely sad or dramatic at the moment. I talked with my best friend recently and we both agreed that in these uncertain times (a phrase everyone likes to use now), it’s hard to watch anything that doesn’t make us laugh or lift our spirits.

So I wanted to provide you with a few “lift my spirits” options as you navigate the rest of this pandemic. These are all movies, shows, and specials that I’ve watched over the last few months, and I hope that they provide you with as much joy as humanly possible.

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10. Booksmart (Hulu)


I got the chance to watch Booksmart virtually with my friends Chels and Jen. It’s a charming, funny, coming-of-age film that features some wonderful women. Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Denver play Molly and Amy, respectively, who are high-school overachievers. They don’t party and they’ve spent the last four years rigorously planning out the rest of their lives (well, Molly definitely has). But on the last day of school, Molly discovers that even the kids who spent the last four years partying and seemingly not caring managed to get into good schools. What was it all for, then?

Booksmart proceeds to follow the best friends through the night before graduation: their chance to make up for four years’ worth of lost time by being wild and crazy. As you might expect, shenanigans ensue and friendships are tested. I really enjoyed the fact that this movie features female friendships and also that it portrays them realistically. Not everything with Molly and Amy is good and the movie’s tipping point is a really dramatic fight between the two. While Booksmart brought the laughs, there’s definitely real heart at its core and that’s what made it so endearing.

14 Reasons Owen From "The Way Way Back" Is The Best Friend You ...

9. The Way, Way Back (Amazon Prime)


I decided to re-watch this movie recently and man, does it hold up. Written and directed by Oscar-award winning duo Jim Rash and Nat Faxon (long live Community and Ben & Kate), this charming and quiet comedy about a shy boy named Duncan who’s forced to accompany his mother, her boyfriend Trent, and Trent’s daughter to Trent’s beach house in Cape Cod for the summer. This is a place where all the adults go wild and crazy and the kids act like adults. But Duncan soon discovers a water park where he meets a ragtag group of adults who befriend him and help him grow in his confidence.

This sweet, charming, funny coming-of-age story has an all-star cast: from Steve Carell playing the truly awful and abusive Trent, to Sam Rockwell playing the slacker-but-kind mentor, Owen, to the incomparable Maya Rudolph and Allison Janney, this film has it all. It truly stands up as a coming-of-age comedy that’s earnest, fun, and sweet.

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8. Running Wild with Bear Grylls (Disney+)


Sometimes you want to watch an escapist show like a sitcom because the world is in chaos. And sometimes you want to watch other people do things you’d never, in a million years, be willing or able to do. That’s where the newest season of Running Wild with Bear Grylls comes in! Bear takes his celebrity guests on adventures in different environments: from beautiful cliffs to caverns and canyons, you get the chance to watch him and his guest traipse through the wild. But Bear also gets honest with his guests, asking them about their stories. It’s a really cool, disarming way to get to the heart of who a person is.

The season currently on Disney+ features some incredible people: Brie Larson, Joel McHale, Channing Tatum, Cara Delevingne, and more. Watch as they rappel off the side of mountains, skydive, scuba dive, and eat things they’d never eat in a million years. It’s fun, it’s engaging, and it has nice heart to it.

(I would not make it in the wild, which makes this extra fun for me: I get to watch someone do things I never could from heights that make me dizzy just watching.)

We sense you need some help — Karen Gillan Gif Hunt Part 6

7. Not Another Happy Ending (Amazon Prime)


If you’d like a predictable rom-com, I’ve got just the thing for you! Not Another Happy Ending is a British romantic comedy that stars the lovely and talented Karen Gillan as Jane Lockhart. Jane writes a successful, best-selling novel and her publisher Tom (Stanley Weber) is waiting for her follow-up. The only problem? Jane is so happy and in such a good head space that she’s blocked. And that doesn’t bode well for Tom, who needs another smash hit of Jane’s in order to keep his business afloat. So Tom decides to do what any reasonable person would: he tries to make Jane as unhappy as possible so she’ll be inspired to write.

Not Another Happy Ending unfolds in pretty predictable ways, but also fully develops Jane’s relationships with others, including her father. One of the most unique things is that Jane’s main character, Darsie, comes to life for Jane. And she’s the only one who can see her. Their interactions are a highlight of the film.

It’s cheesy, it’s fun, it features great accents and clothing... give this one a shot!

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6. Isn’t It Romantic (Hulu)


Speaking of rom-coms, Isn’t It Romantic combines two of my favorite things: rom-coms and meta commentary. Starring the very funny Rebel Wilson, Priyanka Chopra, Adam Devine, and Liam Hemsworth (with additional hilarity by Betty Gilpin), this story is about Natalie, a woman who’s living in New York as an architect and is just trying to be taken seriously. Living in New York is not as glamorous as rom-coms make it seem, which is something Natalie rants about to her best friend and coworker, Witney (Betty Gilpin). Natalie has hated rom-coms since she was a child. They’re fantasies and give people unrealistic expectations about love.

Then one day, Natalie gets mugged and knocked out at a subway station. And she suddenly wakes up in New York: Rom-Com Version! Everything else that follows is a hilarious meta commentary on all the tropes rom-coms have (a clumsy leading lady, an idealistic setting, no sense of time, random musical numbers, a flamboyant best friend, etc.), and Natalie soon realizes what’s happening. She decides that the way out of the rom-com has to be to fall in love. So she tries to do just that.

Isn’t It Romantic is so charming and cheesy and if you love rom-coms, you’ll love the fact that this movie points out how tropey they are. Plus, take note of some of the perfect background details. Grab your favorite snacks and enjoy this little gem.

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5. Onward (Disney+)


Full disclosure: This one WILL make you cry but it’s also a really fun twist on an adventure tale from Disney and Pixar. Elf brothers Barley (Chris Pratt) and Ian (Tom Holland) lost their dad when Ian was so young that he doesn’t remember him. On Ian’s 16th birthday, the brothers discover that their father left him a magical staff with a way to bring him back for just one day. The spell fails, unfortunately, and only bring Wilden’s torso and legs back. The boys go on a quest to find another gem to complete the spell so they can bring their dad back.

Onward is unlike most Disney/Pixar films I’ve seen. It features a completely different world and I love the fact that the movie features a quest. The theme of family runs deep in this movie, and let me tell you that there will be some moments that make you a little choked up, especially if you have siblings. The animation in the film is great, and though I found parts of the middle act a little slow, the final act makes up for it in spades.

Like I said, bring tissues. But you’ll ultimately leave this one with a sense of hope.

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4. Love Wedding Repeat (Netflix)


A friend of mine told me to watch this movie because she knows I love rom-coms. True to her word, it was almost exactly what you’d expect it to be. Miscommunications and misunderstandings abound as the story centers around a few hours at a wedding. What’s pretty unique about the film happens right before the third act, so I won’t give that away. But the main focus of the film is missed chances and complex relationships.

The entire story is set against the backdrop of main character Jack’s (Sam Claflin with a bad haircut) sister’s (Eleanor Tomlinson) wedding day. Jack’s sister, Hayley, just wants to have a normal day without any issues. Unfortunately, a guy named Marc shows up who tells Hayley he’s in love with her and threatens to ruin her big day. Meanwhile, Jack has issues of his own to deal with: Hayley’s former roommate, Dina (Olivia Munn), has showed up to the wedding. Jack and Dina met three years prior and had an amazing connection. But Jack never told her how he felt or made a move. He lost his chance.

What happens after is chaos as exes meet, new relationships form, secrets come out, and someone gets slipped sleeping pills in their champagne. Love Wedding Repeat isn’t revolutionary, and I wouldn’t say that it’s the best rom-com out there, but it’s incredibly perfect for what it is: a shenanigans-filled, predictable romp through a rom-com.

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3. The Duff (Amazon Prime)


If you’re looking for a fun teen comedy with just enough rom-com to satisfy your shipper heart, The Duff is the film for you. Starring the incomparable Mae Whitman, Robbie Amell, Allison Janney, Ken Jeong, and more, this film is a nice twist on a high-school tale. The best part too is how the movie wove technology and fantasy sequences into its storylines. Because at its heart, this is a movie about Bianca (Whitman) who has two best friends named Jess and Casey who are more popular than she is. One night at a party, Wesley (Amell) tells Bianca that she’s the DUFF of the group: the designated ugly fat friend. Bianca is rightly horrified and she begins to research the term, soon pushing Jess and Casey away for befriending her knowing that she was their DUFF.

But Bianca and Wesley team up: Bianca to help him pass science, and Wesley to help Bianca shed her DUFF status and go on a date with her crush, Toby. Of course, there are mean girls and misunderstandings, hidden feelings and shenanigans... and the movie is a gem because of it. It’s a sweet, endearing tale. Mae Whitman and Robbie Amell have great chemistry and the film is so enjoyable to watch. Go check it out on Amazon Prime.

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2. Middleditch & Schwartz (Netflix)


Improv can be hit or miss. Either you’re laughing hysterically or cringing in awkward secondhand embarrassment. I’m delighted to say that Middleditch & Schwartz, for me, is the former. I knew of Ben Schwartz primarily through Parks and Recreation, so seeing him at home in improv was an utter joy. There are only three episodes of this improv special, but they’re so worth your time. Thomas Middleditch and Ben Schwartz perform one elaborate improv each episode based on a conversation they have with an audience member about something they’re excited about or looking forward to. They then build the story on stage around that plot and develop characters along the way.

Guys, I laughed so hard that my stomach hurt after I finished episode three. These guys play off one another spectacularly and manage to move around the stage (and even into the audience) with ease. They craft some truly hilarious stories and play a wide variety of characters whom they often forget. They break the fourth wall, they pause to explain the plot to each other, and they’re genuinely just so dang funny.

I can’t recommend Middleditch & Schwartz enough. Their creativity and hilarity is insane. Go watch it right now.

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1. Never Have I Ever (Netflix)


Mindy Kaling’s newest endeavor is so fun from start to finish. Does it occasionally frustrate me? Of course. Do I then have to remind myself that these are mostly high-school sophomores? Yes. Never Have I Ever is filled with wonderful representation, tells a tight story in 10 episodes, features the actual best voiceover narration, and manages to give us some really wonderful emotional moments. Don’t say I didn’t warn you: the final two episodes will leave you crying, but mostly happy tears.

Never Have I Ever tells the story of Devi (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan) a sophomore in high school who wants to improve her social standing in the wake of some painful memories from her freshman year: her father died in the middle of an orchestra performance and she was so traumatized that she lost the use of her legs for months. But she has a plan: she’s going to get a boyfriend and she wants her best friends, Eleanor (Ramona Young) and Fabiola (Lee Rodriguez) to do the same. Devi decides to try to sleep with the most attractive guy in school, Paxton Hall-Yoshida (Darren Barnet) to achieve peak “cool” status.

This show was such a quick binge that I managed to start and finish it in one day. I’m not kidding. I got so invested in the emotional core of the story (Poorna Jagannathan is going to break your heart in scenes as Devi’s mother, trust me), and I love that the show is witty, smart, and fun. There are so many fun pop culture references, great treatments of coming-of-age stories, a real and hard look at grief and the way different people, including teenagers, process. And it’s got incredible character development in the course of just 10 episodes.

Never Have I Ever is a great little comedy and I highly recommend it during these crazy times.

What are YOU watching during this pandemic to lift your spirits? Sound off in the comments below!

For Life 1x05 Review: "Witness" (Compromises) [Contributor: Thomas]


"Witness"
Original Airdate: Marc 17, 2020

The last episode, "Marie," was my favorite episode of the series so far. The way the show handled time and the acting performance from Joy Bryant as Marie was Emmy-worthy. This week, we are back in present day and the story is continuing.

I’m glad we get to see more of Henry Roswell. He's the former state senator and sponsored Aaron while he was petitioning to become a lawyer. In this episode, Henry encourages Aaron to keep digging. The police file that was gifted to Aaron shows the neglect by the police but Henry warns to slow down and reminds him that there’s only one shot at asking for a retrial. Henry suggests that Aaron take a case similar to how the police department handled eyewitnesses. After winning that case, he can tie it to Maskins or O’Reilly and this would prove a pattern.

The continuity on this show I really enjoy. It’s always great to see when moments from previous episodes aren’t in a vacuum but that the characters' actions have consequences. When Aaron was representing Felonious Munk’s character, Hassan, we discovered that the guards were helping the flow of drugs into the prison. This is the complete opposite of warden Safiya Masry’s goal. With her reform-based programs, she needs the guards to buy in, which is what she reinforces to Captain Foster after a prison fight.

I like that we see she’s a woman of her word. She respects Aaron’s boundary of only telling on the guards and in turn she doesn’t stay silent but instead she confronts Smitty who is caught on camera selling smack to inmates. It’s revealed that Captain Foster, played by Glenn Fleshler, is involved in the transport of drugs into the prison population. This was shocking to me because of how he treated Aaron after he became involved in representing the neo-Nazis. It turns out that Foster is just a good actor because he is involved with Will Bill, head of the neo-Nazis. He smuggles drugs, which he passes off to Will Bill. It’s fascinating to me that he’s not in need of money; instead, it seems it’s the greed that’s motivating him. He said he paid off his mortgage, got a boat, and isn’t afraid of retiring. Again it turns out he’s bluffing because his father and sick and his father’s medical expenses aren’t cheap.

We see that Hassan is still imprisoned and it’s a reminder that actions have consequences. Even though Hassan should be a free man, he’s still imprisoned because of the judge and Aaron’s inexperience. Rafi Lopez is a prisoner who needs a new lawyer and he seems like the perfect candidate for what Aaron needs to prove in court. The problem is that Rafi needs that cosign from Hassan to prove Aaron’s straight up.

Rafi is the key to trap the D.A. but there’s a risk of those involved getting dirty in response to Aaron’s prodding. Meanwhile at home, Jasmine and Marie are aiming to track down the witnesses from Aaron’s case. We also see Maskins’ home life with his wife; he also has a son in high school who is hearing about the case from kids at school. There’s a great scene between Maskins and his wife where they discuss the perception that he’s the “racist white man putting innocent Black people away.” Again it’s great to see that Maskins isn’t just some monster but a misguided man who wants to protect himself.

We’re also introduced in this episode to Adam Yamada at O’Reilly’s son’s christening. Here we learn of Dez’s ambition of being the next Bronx D.A. after Maskins wins Attorney General. Yamada is the lawyer who Aaron is trying to go up against in the Rafi Lopez case. Four years ago a plea deal was made, and the lawyer feels Aaron has nothing. But Maskins warns not to underestimate him: “A cornered animal is always dangerous.”

Aaron gets Yamada in the courtroom under the understanding that Aaron was arguing the lineup used for Rafi’s case was invalid because the other suspects' facial hair didn’t match his client's. When the judge agrees with Yamada that this assertion is silly, Aaron reveals there were two lineups and one got tossed. The judge recoils and feels betrayed that Wallace blindsided both of them, but Aaron convinces the judge that it should be looked at which leaves Yamada hanging. Yamada is accosted by O’Reilly after the judgment is made. We, the audience, finds out this connects to O’Reilly and possibly Maskins. Yamada says that O’Reilly recommended for him to plea out and make the case go away. We see already battle lines being formed with O’Reilly feigning ignorance and Yamada realizing he himself will need a lawyer if their conversation is exposed. I like seeing O’Reilly flustered. He feels threatened now that Wallace’s case can directly affect him but Maskins stands firm not risking to bury the blame on the NYPD to save O’Reilly.

We see the ramifications of actions set up earlier in the series. It’s frustrating seeing the lack of open communication between Marie and Darius. Feelings are complicated, especially when you love an imprisoned man but also are living with a man who loves you immensely. Instead of explaining that she’s back on board helping Aaron track down witnesses, she hides lists and phone calls she makes.

After getting intel from Smitty, Masry interrogates Will Bill and tries to entice him to flip by luring him with accommodations like a private cell and a sponsored visit from his dying mother. This doesn’t bode well for Aaron’s rep because he represented Joey Knox (who was beefing with Will Bill). It looks like Aaron snitched and that could lead to him turning up dead.

One thing I do enjoy about this show is though it wasn’t immediate, the characters in the show usually are honest with each other. Marie finally explains that she lied earlier about Darius.

My favorite example of Aaron Wallace is in this episode: Aaron was so on point. He went face-to-face with his enemies and was able to hit them where it hurts. There was a deposition of Adam Yamada and Aaron quotes case law and decisions that were made that proved he was in the right. He got Yamada to admit on record that he received approval from Dez O’Reilly to go after a plea deal in not just this case, but many like it. We got to see Aaron’s swagger; he was in his element, so much so that Yamada had to plead the fifth and his lawyer recommended that they take a break.

Aaron’s victory was short-lived, however, after O’Reilly put him in a corner. They were willing to settle and Dez knows that Aaron doesn’t want to show his client but legally he had to. The offer is $100,000 and the deal is that Rafi stays imprisoned. Their fervor is not just because Aaron had them on the ropes, but that Rafi is actually guilty. Though the lineup was illegal and wrong, Rafi admitted to Hassan he committed the crime and had no remorse. Again, we see the complicated nature of prison politics as Rafi threatens Aaron if he doesn’t get him out.

The last scene in this episode features Rafi exciting the prison which is great for Aaron but terrible for society because Rafi was not remorseful and is highly likely to rob again. This is great for the audience because we see Aaron won’t always have slam dunk cases or even be on the right side as the defendant.

Quotes/Favorite Moments:

  • "I’m not just gonna get you off. I’m gonna make them suffer."
  • "I hate it, but you’re almost always right."
  • "Time to put your big boy pants on, Dez; it’s getting real."

Saturday, April 25, 2020

The Flash 6x16 Review: "So Long and Goodnight" (Oh No, Joe!) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]


“So Long and Goodnight”
Original Airdate: April 21, 2020

Heeeey, how’s everyone holding up? Keeping calm, keeping safe, keeping sane? We’re stuck in some weird, scary, frustrating times right now which is why the return of this show from mini-hiatus got delayed into a larger-than-mini-hiatus. I gotta be completely honest with you all: like my awareness of dates and control over my sleep schedule, I’m afraid current events have caused me to lose my firm grip on the details of The Flash. Who’s a mirror person? Black Hole? What’s the main evil dude’s name again? Something, something, Speed Force powered by love... Ah, well. We’ll muddle through somehow.

SEVERAL EVIL PLANS COME TOGETHER


Joseph Carver! That’s evil Black Hole dude’s name. Anyway, Carver is chatting with a henchman about how annoying it is that people keep wanting him to stop doing evil stuff and casually orders the assassination of Joe West. We don’t see which metahuman assassin he gives the job to, but I’m gonna spoil it and tell you it’s freaky-deaky Rag Doll. Man, I do not like that guy. Rag Doll, I mean. I don’t like Carver either, but it’s more of a ‘meh’ than a shiver of soul-deep disgust.

Oh, and Joe’s not at the focus of just one villain. In the Mirror World, Iris has learned to focus enough that she can actually read things despite the warped mirror-ness of everything around her. She’s figured out that there’s a way to phase through the mirror and maybe get the two of them out, then reveals that her husband is actually the Flash. Eva doesn’t want Barry/the Flash to come to their rescue, so she orders Mirror Iris to do anything within her power to get Barry to use up all his superspeed. The situation with Joe has provided a convenient opportunity: if Mirror Iris guilts Barry enough, he’ll fry his powers to keep Joe safe.

Meanwhile, the Flash family is unsuspecting of the hit out on their de facto patriarch and playing Pictionary. The evening is interrupted when Joe gets a phone call from Chief of Police David Singh, who tells him there’s been a break in the Carver case. Joe leaves the party, but on the way to Singh, the brakes in his car go out. Apply the handbrake, Joe! Quick, before the creepy metahuman in your engine causes the car to accelerate too much and renders the brake ineffective! Apply the — oh, fine. Slam your car into a cement wall and tuck and roll into a ditch. That works too.

Even after his near-death experience and the explosion of his vehicle, Joe is still fired up about getting some legal dirt on Carver and rejects the idea of witness protection as soon as Singh brings it up. Everyone makes worried faces because Joe’s clearly in danger but isn’t doing anything to keep himself safe.

Later, Joe is trying to get a former Black Hole meta (Sunshine, from the last episode) to turn over information on Carver and Rag Doll’s telltale gross crunching can be heard from inside a nearby file box. It looks like Joe is getting through to his potential witness, but then Rag Doll pops out of his box. Joe fires at Rag Doll, but he twists and bounces the bullets back at Joe while Barry is speeding to his rescue, having figured out that Rag Doll is their assassin. Barry manages to catch most of the bullets, but his speed fritzes out before he can get the last one, which scrapes Joe’s shoulder.

Even now, two assassination attempts and one flesh wound later, Joe is still refusing witness protection and doesn’t want to back down from the Carver investigation. Mirror Iris shows up as Joe is leaving STAR Labs, notices that Barry’s speed monitor has gone from green to yellow (I’m not sure why that’s a thing. I thought the speed monitor did that monitoring on a speed-burst-by-speed-burst basis) and does a convincing bit of worry over her not-father’s safety. Please, show, tell me the psychology of the mirror doppelgangers. Do they have self-actualization? Are they robots? Is the stuff she feels about Iris’s family real or just good programming?

Joe, in full reckless mode, visits Carver to accuse him of hiring Rag Doll to kill him. Carver plays it cool until he drops some knowledge he shouldn’t have about how Rag Doll attacked Joe. The jig officially being up, Carver shrugs it off and confesses, saying that Joe’s been too annoying to let live. Joe reveals that he’s recorded the whole confession. Hey, advice to anyone trying to capture voice recordings as evidence: upload that thing to the cloud in real time with live-streaming! Also, don’t reveal that you’ve been recording the person you’ve been recording until they’re sitting in a police interrogation room, because they’ll find a way to break your phone. Which Carver does to Joe.

Again, Joe refuses to go into witness protection. Perhaps frustrated by Joe’s combined refusal to be assassinated and taunting lack of self-preservation, Rag Doll targets his family instead of Joe himself and takes Cecile hostage. When Barry and Joe locate where Rag Doll is holding Cecile, Barry tries to distract the creepy meta while Joe is on hostage rescue duty.

Unfortunately, Cecile is tied to a pressure-sensitive bomb and that makes successful rescue pretty difficult. After getting advice on the make of the bomb from Nash Wells leads nowhere, Joe decides to switch places with Cecile so she can get to safety. Cecile doesn’t want to go but Barry guides her out, returning at super-speed to rescue Joe before the bomb goes off. Once again, Barry’s powers malfunction. However, to his (and our) great relief, Joe has managed to disarm the bomb out of pure luck and probably a lot of prayer.

Joe finally accepts that he should go into witness protection. Barry and Cecile are there to say goodbye to him before he’s taken off to locations unknown. Wait, why would Joe be the only one going into witness protection? Half this episode was about using Joe’s loved ones to get to him when the direct approach failed, why wouldn’t Carver just target Cecile or baby Jenna (or Iris or Barry or literally anyone Joe is close to) again to flush him out? At the very least, Cecile and their daughter should be going with him.

After Joe is driven away, we see Singh in his car, talking to Eva through his rear-view mirror. It’s (probably) Mirror Singh! And he had a plot to get Joe out of the way all along! Dun, dun, duuuunnn!

Speaking of mirror doppelgangers: Mirror Iris, having failed in her duty to get Barry to use up all his speed, has decided to crush Barry emotionally instead. She feigns upset at having missed saying goodbye to “her” father, then kicks Barry out of their apartment. As Barry is walking away, all sad and brokenhearted, the yellow light on his speed monitor fades into red. I guess it’s connected to his emotions now? If speed and emotions are connected in some way, maybe that will tie in with Barry’s plan to create a new Speed Force with the power of love.

Other Things:
  • It sure is convenient that all these non-cooperating forces (Carver wanting Joe dead, Eva getting Singh to get Joe out of the way so she’s the only one who can get revenge on her husband, Eva getting Mirror Iris to guilt Barry into using his powers) converged so perfectly this episode.
  • Ralph and Cisco had a little plotline that had them cross paths with Sue Dearbon again. We learn that Sue’s been hitting banks and stealing stuff to protect her parents, who are being blackmailed by Joseph Carver. They have a couple little moments that hint at an alliance, including Sue giving Ralph the big ol’ honkin’ diamond she stole. She tells Ralph to “look into it” because he might find “something interesting.” Everything’s coming up Black Hole, people!
  • “You should’ve seen me about two years ago. I was a real crap-bag.” You’re right, Ralph! I’m so glad you’ve improved.
  • Ragdoll is the most psychologically messed up metahuman villain, on top of being the creepiest. Jeez.

Ask An Author: Talking with Tyler Feder, Author of Dancing at the Pity Party [Contributor: Megan Mann]


During college, I took a course that featured graphic novels. At the time, I was still of the belief that not only was YA not real literature, but that graphic novels were scarcely more than longer comic books. Readers, I can assure you that I was not only wrong on both fronts but now spend most of my time reading as many YA and graphic novels (half of the time a delicious crossover of the two!) as I can get my hands on.

So, you can imagine the happiness that welled inside of me when I found Tyler Feder's Dancing at the Pity Party on my doorstep!

This beautiful, insightful, poignant graphic novel details the relationship shared between Tyler and her delightful mother, the difficult journey her family found themselves on once her mother was diagnosed with cancer, and the long, winding road that they walk in grief after her passing. It's a story that anyone who has lost a parent should read, yes; but it's also an important read for those of us who need to better understand how to help those who are struggling with loss.

I got the chance to talk to Tyler about the importance of her book.

Congratulations! Dancing at the Pity Party is finally available! How does it feel?


It feels surreal!  I’m so proud of the book and so excited to share it with the world, and it’s definitely strange to be releasing it during a pandemic.

What made you decide to write a graphic novel about losing your mom during college?


It was more of a full-body urge than a real decision. This story has been weighing on me for a decade, and I felt like I needed to put it into some kind of big creative project before I could fully explore other topics in my work.

Was writing this a cathartic, emotional, or a heavy mixture of the two experiences?


All of the above! There were many emotional moments and times of catharsis, but also it was hard just in the way that writing a BOOK is hard — deadlines and hand cramps are real even when the topic is so personal!

What I loved about it is that you tie in such levity to such a dark situation. All of the chapter ends were so funny. I think, without sounding too much like Sirius Black or Dumbledore, that we really can’t have the light without the dark. Is that what you were going for?


Yes, absolutely.  In my experience, levity and grief are so tied, and it would have felt weird and wrong to include one without the other.

Something else that I think is super important is not only highlighting how difficult it is to lose a parent, but how the Jewish faith grieves their dead with Shiva. For some, that’s not common knowledge. Do you think that process helped when you lost your mom?


I was just talking to my sisters the other day about how nearly all my memories of the Shiva are positive ones. It was so healing to be stuck in a house for a week with so many people I love, an abundance of comfort food, and lots of familiar smells and sounds. Highly recommend!

Sometimes people tend to keep difficult subject matter, like an entire novel about losing a parent, at a distance because of what it might bring them. Do you hope readers find some sort of healing in your work?


Yes, of course! I think being open and honest can make difficult subjects more approachable and less scary. If I can bring comfort to any number of people in a similar situation to mine, I consider that a win.

I think my favorite parts were the pages that were entirely dedicated to what you should and shouldn’t say to someone who is grieving, and how your own grief is a very complex process and different from everyone else’s. Which of those resonates most with you?


I think people have a tendency to use euphemisms when they talk about death and grief, but I find it much more comforting when people acknowledge just how bad things really are. To me, an “I’m so sorry you have to go through this” is way better than a “She’s in a better place.”

What do you hope readers, whether they lost a parent or not, take away from Dancing at the Pity Party?


I hope that readers who haven’t experienced loss get a better understanding of what goes on “behind the scenes” and learn how to better help the grieving people in their life. For readers who have lost someone they love, I just hope they feel seen and know that they’re not alone.

Okay, let’s move to graphic novels. How do you feel about the wider reach of graphic novels now?


Both as a creator and consumer of graphic novels, I love it!

What would you tell someone who doesn’t see graphic novels as “real books”?


First I would give them a giant eye roll, but then I would remind them that graphic novels are not just the funnies in the newspaper! They can have just as much depth and complexity as any traditional novel! They just develop that depth in a different way.

Did you always know this would be a graphic novel?


Yes I did! It’s easiest for me to express myself with a combination of words and pictures, and this book actually started as a four-page graphic essay for a Creative Nonfiction class I took in college a year or two after my mom died. I can’t believe that essay is now a real live book!

Since this is a hard time for writers to get the word out about their work, what are some other books that are coming out during the pandemic that you want people to know about?


I am so excited to read Madame Clairevoyant’s Guide to the Stars!  The author, Claire Comstock-Gay, writes the most beautiful and moving horoscopes for The Cut, and I’m sure her book will be just as lovely. Also, although the incredible Samantha Irby definitely doesn’t need a shout-out from little old me, I read an excerpt of Wow No Thank You and I can’t wait to gobble the rest of it up!

What books are you looking forward to in 2020?


My art friend Beth Evans’ book Hi, Just a Quick Question comes out in August! We’ve worked on our books together at many coffee shop art dates, and it’s going to be so cool to see the finished product!

What are you reading now?


I treated myself to ordering two of Lisa Hanawalt’s books (they haven’t arrived yet) and I’m particularly looking forward to reading Coyote Doggirl.

Guys, I cannot stress enough how much I immensely enjoyed this book. I laughed, I cried, I found new ways to help those who are dealing with something beyond my own comprehension. Dancing at the Pity Party is a lesson in empathy and understanding, of loss and of hope, and is a must-read for everyone.

We want to thank Tyler Feder for talking with us about her incredible new book Dancing at the Pity Party out NOW from Penguin Teen! Follow her on Twitter and Instagram and pick up your copy today! (Preferably from an independent bookstore of your choice, as they need your help!)

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Jenn’s Pick: A Definitive List of My Favorite Community Episodes [Contributor: Jenn]


A few years ago, Community ended. It was a show that put my blogging on the map. That blogging led to reviews and thinkpieces and more writers and show reviews on my Just About Write staff. I got the chance to go to Comic-Con in San Diego and sit across the table from writers, producers, and actors of new and established shows. Over the years, this site has fluctuated in what shows we talk about and how many people talk about pop culture. But one thing has remained true: Community put me on the map.

I’ll always have a complicated relationship with the show, don’t get me wrong. There are periods of the show (and not just season four) where the storytelling was rocky, and the character development was nonexistent. I have qualms with a lot of things (and if you were around when I reviewed the show, you’ll know that I can talk a lot about things that needed improvement), but I’ll also always love the show more than I love most comedies on television. When it was good, Community was so good. And when it was bad, I stuck around because I remembered what was good.

Over the years I’ve tried to narrow down my favorite episodes of the show, and I think I’ve finally arrived at my definitive conclusion. That being said, everything from #15 through #8 is probably subject to change in order. I said what I said.

Let’s dive into my top 15 favorite episodes of Community though, shall we? 

15. “Cooperative Polygraphy” by Alex Rubens


I talked about this episode when Chelsea, Jaime, and I discussed our underrated favorite episodes of Community in my podcast. “Cooperative Polygraphy” is meant to sound like Megan Ganz’s classic (which is included further down this list), and it functions like it too: it’s season five’s bottle episode, taking place right after Pierce died and right before Troy leaves. It’s an emotionally-charged episode where the study group members take a polygraph and then reveal some of their deepest secrets.

The interrogation is led by Mr. Stone (Walton Goggins) who tells them that if they agree to the test, they’ll be rewarded with Pierce’s estate. Initially, the interrogation seems like a way for Pierce to get in one last jab at the study group — he forces the study group members to own up to various secrets including but not limited to the fact that Abed put tracking devices on everyone, Britta was high in Shirley’s church, Annie overcharges Troy and Abed for the rent, and the list goes on and on.

The study group begins to unravel, as they usually do in bottle episodes. And Jeff decides to have the group air their grievances and secrets once and for all so that there’s nothing left between them and — more importantly — nothing that Pierce can hold over them. The irony of the whole episode is that Pierce doesn’t really instigate a lot of their in-fighting; they manage to do that all on their own. And then, in the final round of questions, Pierce tells the study group members how he really feels about them. It’s a scene that makes me weep every time (especially when Britta gets her iPod and Troy gets his bequeathing).

This bottle episode is a solid, emotional one that provides a great bridge between two other excellent episodes.

14. “Pascal’s Triangle Revisited” by Hilary Winston


In terms of season finales, “Pascal’s Triangle Revisited” is such a tightly-written and delightful story. It sets up a lot of what’s to come in season two, and it provides a great balance of laughter and emotion. I didn’t get the chance to watch this episode live, but my friend and cohort Jaime did. And she was so surprised by the ending, in the best way possible, that she told me I needed to watch Community.

The episode serves as the rom-com of season finales, where Slater and Britta compete for Jeff’s heart and attention at the end-of-school dance. Instead of choosing either of them, he runs into Annie outside of the dance, they have a good heart-to-heart, and the two end up passionately kissing. That’s how the finale ends! It was so breathtaking that it’s no wonder Jaime told me to get on board.

Additionally, “Pascal’s Triangle Revisited” is a clear example of Hilary Winston’s prowess in writing each of the characters. Her episode “Football, Feminism & You” remains one of the all-time best for this reason too. Even though I know that many writers contribute their ideas and voices to each episode, there’s something special and notable about a Hilary Winston episode. There’s a charm and an endearing lightness to it. In “Pascal’s Triangle Revisited,” one of the things that still makes me laugh to this day is the running gag of Troy eating a giant cookie. It’s so subtle, it’s so funny, and Donald Glover completely sells it. We get a lot of character growth in this season finale and it really does feel like the entire season built up to the moments we witness.

It’s one of my favorites for a reason!

13. “Regional Holiday Music” by Steve Basilone and Annie Mebane


I watched Glee, and after season one the show went completely off the rails. But when I heard the summary for “Regional Holiday Music,” I knew I would immediately fall in love with the episode. And I was right. After season two’s incredible foray into a stop-motion Christmas, how would season three hold up? Spectacularly. The episode features guest star Taran Killam as Mr. Rad, a delightfully crazy parody of Glee’s Will Schuester. Mr. Rad convinces Abed to recruit the study group to fill in for the glee club during the Christmas pageant. What happens next is the study group slowly getting brainwashed via song (“Teach Me How to Understand Christmas” is the best parody of “Santa Baby”). The best thing about this episode is that it’s not just funny like a normal Community episode: it’s funny through the additional element of song as well! It was the perfect parody of Glee, with subtle moments and jokes throughout that wouldn’t confuse a viewer who’d never seen the FOX musical comedy but would also reward those who had.

I watched this episode live (kids, watching an episode live means that there were commercials you had to sit through and you had to time it perfectly to get back from the bathroom or kitchen before the show returned because you couldn’t rewind the episode). I remember clearly because my aunt, her fiancĂ©, and my cousin were in town visiting and I still lived with my parents at the time. I recall shutting myself in my bedroom to watch because this was the last episode that would air and we had no idea when it would come back. It wouldn’t, as it turns out, return after a normal winter hiatus; the show wouldn’t come back until almost three months later.

“Regional Holiday Music” spends a lot of the episode being silly and hijinks-y with a Christmas flair to it. But the end of the episode is what truly hit me, as the kids say, in the feels: the study group shows up at Abed’s apartment singing “The First Noel.” And then they settle in to watch television while a choir quietly sing: “We’ll see you all after regionals.” The ending of this episode still makes me emotional and a little nostalgic for that reason.

Overall, “Regional Holiday Music” is such a solid episode of television and I rewatch it every Christmas season.

12. “Basic Intergluteal Numismatics” by Erik Sommers


Some of the strongest episodes of Community aren’t, in my opinion, the high-concept ones. They’re ones that are quintessentially Greendale — which means a bit chaotic, odd, and quirky. “Basic Intergluteal Numismatics” is one of my favorites for a reason. It’s shot like a David Fincher film, dark and gritty with suspects and suspense around every corner. But it’s also the episode right before “Cooperative Polygraphy” which means that this episode ends on a somber note: Pierce is dead. And this time, it’s real.

The reason I love this episode so much is that it features all of the characters at their best: Jeff and Annie are playing detective and chasing leads about the ACB (a nice throwback to “Intro to Political Science” and in the series finale, I think we can all assume Annie was the ACB somehow...), Duncan and the study group play various roles, and the end of the episode has such an emotional gut punch to it — the shot of the study group hugging each other as they look at Pierce’s empty chair stays with me all these years later — which is what Community was good at. It would make you think you were in the midst of the silliest, most pointless capers and then remind you of the emotional foundation the show was best when it leaned on.

Season 1 community jeff winger GIF - Find on GIFER

11. “Romantic Expressionism” by Andrew Guest


I think this episode, along with Hilary Winston’s “Football, Feminism & You” proves that I enjoy when the show is simple and features character-based shenanigans. I don’t care for Jeff and Britta as a romantic pairing, but I absolutely love when they team up as friends. So “Romantic Expressionism” makes my list for that reason! It features Jeff and Britta trying to break up Vaughn and Annie’s budding relationship. They use Troy as a pawn in their schemes which leads to some laugh-out-loud moments from Donald Glover.

Elsewhere in the episode, I enjoyed that we get the chance to have Shirley, Abed, Troy, Chang, and Pierce sharing a story together. It’s something that rarely happened then and rarely happened later on. But the idea that the characters on the show hang out together apart from when they’re all in the study room is a great one.

Ultimately, my enjoyment of “Romantic Expressionism” comes down to the tightly-written jokes, the chemistry between the cast members (that scene around the table, though, especially the look between Jeff and Annie), and the way that the episode drives the plot forward.

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10. “Emotional Consequences of Broadcast Television” by Dan Harmon and Chris McKenna


As we round out the top ten, I have to include the series finale in this list. Though it’s no shock that I didn’t care for the sixth season (there was no real emotional depth to many of the episodes, which relied on extraneous characters or jokes to anchor them), the series finale gave me a fairly decent sense of closure and returned us all to the sentiment that made me fall in love with the show in the first place.

The series finale hinges on meta-ness; each character pitches to the others what their ideal “season seven” would look like. Jeff isn’t humoring anyone by pitching a new season of their “show,” and begrudgingly listens to everyone riff. In his mind, next year changes nothing. They’ll all be where they currently are.

And Jeff sticks to this — until Annie announces that she’s leaving. She got an internship in Washington, D.C. for the summer. She’ll be gone the whole time, and maybe will return in the fall. But maybe not. This new uncertainty startles Jeff, and he returns to the idea of pitching a new season. Then Abed announces he’s leaving too because he got a job in California. This shakes Jeff even more, and his new reality — one without two people he loves — is beginning to terrify him.

The finale resolves itself with Jeff pitching a new season of the show to the group and then privately imagining what could happen if Annie didn’t leave (they’d get married, have a kid, and be happy... right?). Jeff and Annie have a conversation I wish they’d had years ago where they discuss their age difference but in a very mature, realistic way. She laments that she’s not more accomplished; he laments that he’s not heading out into the world for the first time. He tells her he loves her, in his own way, and she tells him to kiss her goodbye. It’s sweet, romantic, and comes a billion years too late but whatever. I’m not bitter. Their relationship is left open-ended, but it’s clear that they care about one another (though we never got Annie saying how she feels about Jeff). The timing just is off. Maybe the movie, ahem, can remedy this.

“Emotional Consequences of Broadcast Television” lives up to its name. It’s an emotional, full-circle journey for its characters and caps off a season that was missing the heart I’d fallen in love with so much over the years. We end the finale believing that the characters will all probably be okay in the end. Even if they’re sad, even if they’re displaced from each other, Jeff makes a point: they saved his life. He loves them. And we love them too.

9. “Asian Population Studies” by Emily Cutler


“Asian Population Studies” is probably the most innocuous choice to include in my top ten, but it’s become a favorite of mine over the years. I think this episode plays with the Jeff/Chang dynamic in such a fun way (Joel and Ken bounce off each other so well), sets up some good story for Shirley, has the return of Rich from pottery class (while also giving us a reference to kettle corn that I make every time I eat it: IT’S A FUN TIME SNACK!), gives me some nice Jeff/Annie moments, and features Ludwig Göransson’s “Running Through Raining” which is one of my favorite scores from the show.

This is a great group-centric episode, which as you’ll discover tend to be some of my favorite ones. Though there’s a slight B-story I suppose — Pierce and Troy trying to figure out if Shirley’s baby could be Chang’s — but there’s only really one plot here: the study group has returned from break, learned Annie has a crush and it’s Rich, and vote whether to admit him to the group. It’s a simple, straightforward storyline that gives me big laughs every time (Jeff stalling, Chang’s slow clap, Pierce and Troy’s minor story together, “MEZZANINE?!”, etc.) but also gives us a glimpse into these characters’ strengths and weaknesses.

Plus... kettle corn.

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8. “Debate 109” by Tim Hobert


We all knew this would make it onto my list, didn’t we? You might think that since I mentioned earlier I’m a fan of Jeff/Annie, it’s only for that reason. But truly, this episode has the most solid storytelling all around. Even the C-story is fun! The A-story, as you very well know, features Jeff and Annie teaming up for a debate. While “Football, Feminism & You” gave us a bit of their dynamic, this is the first episode that really kicked the two into high gear when Annie kissed Jeff at the debate, after the two fought off their tension for most of the episode. It’s a turning point for the show (one that comes up in “Romantic Expressionism”), and things aren’t ever the same between them. I have to say, Joel McHale does an immense job in this episode; he really gives that rom-com LOOK when Annie lets down her hair and after she kisses him. He never gets enough credit for his subtle acting, but Joel deserves it.

The B-plot is one of my favorites, honestly: Britta asks Pierce to help her quit smoking. And while the two clash as they typically do, in the end Pierce only really does want to help her. He’s so used to being excluded that he’s absolutely delighted when someone asks him for help. Even though his methods are unorthodox, Pierce ends up actually helping Britta. It’s an endearing little story and while Pierce has his moments of being annoying, I wish we had the chance to see more of this dynamic in the show.

There’s even a C-plot that ties into the A-plot: Abed makes movies that predict the group’s behavior, and this episode provides a line (“Why am I crying? Was I listening to ‘Come Sail Away’ by Styx again?”) that comes back around in the next episode on my list. But I digress: Abed’s film and observance of the other characters leads to some epic and hilarious lines (“You’re right, Britta. My feet are long and stupid. You can’t un-ring that bell!” and “I’mma die by werewolf,” and “Jeff, I think your shirt’s trying to get out of your pants” among others) that have stayed with me to this day.

The combination of all of these solid storylines, plus the introduction of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes into my life makes “Debate 109” a classic.

community donald glover danny pudi abed nadir Troy Barnes Abed x ...

7. “Geothermal Escapism” by Tim Saccardo


It must be hard to write the departure of such a beloved character. The writers had their work cut out for them with “Geothermal Escapism,” the episode which says goodbye to Troy Barnes. The reason that I love this episode so much is because it blended a high-concept episode (a game of “The Floor is Lava” goes horribly awry of course) with an incredibly poignant emotional storyline. Troy is leaving soon and the group decides to play this game as his send-off. Abed offers a prized comic book valued at $50,000 and because season five of Community had no paintball game, this episode serves as its surrogate. Britta spends most of the episode at odds with the rest of the group — while everyone split into teams or groups, Britta’s roaming the hallways trying to find Abed so she can get him to come face-to-face with Troy leaving. She thinks he’s put on the game so that Troy won’t go.

But that’s not the truth. Or the entire truth, at least. Abed does admit that he’s playing the game because he’s sad about Troy leaving. And the way that Danny Pudi as Abed heartbreakingly explains that by playing the lava game, the group could see the world the way he sees it: engulfed in chaos and flames because Troy will be gone. Troy also admits to wanting to play the game because he’s afraid of leaving too. Britta was right about the conclusion, but her sole focus on Abed makes her see beyond the problem to the person. Her compassion and heart that she’s so known for are evident at the end of the game, and I love that Donald, Gillian, and Danny got to share such a heartbreaking but lovely scene.

And then Troy says his goodbyes, and I weep. Troy wishes he’d been friends with Annie in high school because he’d lost out on four extra years of her awesomeness. Jeff tells Troy he’s braver than he is because he’s never even left Colorado. Troy leaves the group on a boat with LeVar Burton as a rendition of “Come Sail Away” plays. And then I weep harder. “Geothermal Escapism” was an incredible episode from start to finish.

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6. “Basic Lupine Urology” by Megan Ganz


Megan Ganz makes a back-to-back appearance on this list. First off: I know that all of these episodes are influenced by many different writers and their voices/ideas. But just like there’s something special about a Hilary Winston episode that sets it apart, there’s something special about a Megan Ganz episode that sets is apart too. “Basic Lupine Urology” doesn’t just function as a stellar tribute to Law & Order — and boy is it stellar — but it also serves, again, to hit us with an incredibly emotional ending. And it allows the ending to just hang there. No punchline. No joke invalidating the emotion. Just the reality of Professor Kane finding out about Starburns’ death, Jeff and Annie looking at each other, and the audience hearing out that a character they spent most of the episode with is gone.

“Basic Lupine Urology” is an incredible foray into homage without ever diverting from character growth. Abed and Troy easily slip into their pseudo-roles as detectives with Jeff and Annie assuming the roles of prosecutors. Britta is the computer tech, Shirley the captain, and Pierce is... well, being Pierce. The entire episode is framed around a destroyed yam experiment in Biology which leads to a lot of wonderful moments from the minor characters in the show. A lot of what Community hinges on is the idea that Greendale Community College is absurd, filled with absurd people, and everyone gets roped into overreacting to things. Thus, it makes sense that there’s a trial for a tampered yam, and that numerous days are devoted to this.

One of the things I love about this episode, besides how wonderful of an homage it is, is that it furthers some character growth on Jeff’s part. He genuinely takes Professor Kane’s advice (“A man’s got to have a code”) to heart and passes it on to Annie when he sees the way that winning has swallowed up some of her character. He tries to steer her back in the right direction and for Jeff Winger, that’s growth. To put someone else’s well-being above his desire to win is tremendous growth. And that’s why I love this episode.

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5. “Cooperative Calligraphy” by Megan Ganz


We’re heading into the final five, and of course the Megan Ganz classic bottle episode is on my list. This episode fires on all cylinders. It’s hilarious, quick-paced and witty, and clearly demonstrates every character’s personality in a way that furthers their growth while also highlighting what can be incredibly toxic about them. The study group goes on lockdown because Annie’s purple pen goes missing. The study group ends up having to forgo a puppy parade (!!!) to look for it, and everything about the episode — every minor and major reveal — is so funny and real. Season two, especially this early on, was tricky: the group had just gotten back together after the reveal in “Anthropology 101” that Jeff had slept with Britta and kissed Annie at the transfer dance. “Cooperative Calligraphy” isn’t the last of its kind: an episode where the study group is at each other’s throats over secrets they’ve kept from each other. But it’s one of the earliest and best examples of the kind of simple episode that Community could still do well.

In a series that could do episodes about paintball wars, stop-motion animation, and references to any and every movie, it was extra impressive that the show could be compelling when the group never left the study room. From the moment we see the monkey take the pen to the story that Troy tells at the end of the episode, there are no lulls, no dull moments, no breaks in “Cooperative Calligraphy.”

It is A+ storytelling.

Fistfull GIF | Gfycat

4. “A Fistful of Paintballs” by Andrew Guest & “For a Few More” by Hilary Winston


My favorite paintball episode isn’t “Modern Warfare”: it’s the two-episode saga of season two. “A Fistful of Paintballs” has so much that I absolutely adore. It’s got Annie front-and-center in the story, wielding her paintball gun like the champion she is. Stylistically, it’s a fantastic Western homage. I love the incorporation of everyone’s playing cards into their character introductions. I absolutely LOVE the Pierce vs. Annie-of-it-all. Annie is the one who’s constantly standing up for Pierce and he’s the one who attacks people like a wounded dog so they don’t kick him out first. Pierce is the villain in season two, no doubt, but the finale gives a different shade of villainy to him. When Annie confronts him about the fact that they voted to kick him out and it’s lucky it had to be unanimous because she was the holdout, Chevy and Alison do an incredible job of conveying different sides to their characters: Pierce softens and Annie hardens. She refuses to see Pierce as someone to defend, and he tells her (not for the last time) that she’s his favorite and he doesn’t want to fight with her.

(It’s my own personal headcanon that Pierce helped Annie find the apartment she moves into in season two.)

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The school erupts into this epic paintball showdown in “For a Few More” against City College when the homage shifts from Western to Star Wars — foreshadowing Donald Glover’s future. Once again, the moments of levity (“POP WHAT?!”) are matched only by the style, tone, and character development. While Andrew Guest and the writers set up Annie and Pierce’s arcs in “A Fistful of Paintballs,” Hilary Winston and the writers double down on their character traits, as well as expand Troy and Jeff’s leadership styles in “For a Few More.” I want to also note that though Pierce technically is the person to save the day, Shirley and Britta were the last women standing and that’s pretty awesome.

The ending of “For a Few More” is what I really love though. Again, apart from the moment part of the ceiling falls down, there’s no joke that ends the season. Pierce leaves the study group, and even though Jeff predicts his return... he doesn’t come back. And the group stares, bewildered and saddened, when he doesn’t. This double-hitter of a paintball finale honestly stands up against a lot of the rest of the episodes. It’s why they remain favorites.

Latest Football Feminism And You GIFs | Gfycat

3. “Football, Feminism & You” by Hilary Winston


Yes, you’re right: Hilary Winston’s “Football, Feminism & You” nabs the metaphorical bronze medal for my top Community episodes of all time. I talked extensively about this with Six Seasons and a Podcast and on my own podcast, but let’s reiterate: this episode has some of the best, tightest, and funniest storytelling of the show. There’s no need for an homage or a high-concept episode when you already have hilarious and compelling characters who can drive ANY story you want forward with ease.

This episode was the first to ever make me laugh out loud while watching, and it remains a favorite for that reason and so many more. “Football, Feminism & You” wove together some really great stories: Troy is recruited to the football team and, for his own selfish reasons, Jeff is enlisted by Dean Pelton to help. Meanwhile, Annie tries everything in her power not to get Troy back into football because he’s finally noticed her. She’s selfish too in the episode, but in a more palatable way than Jeff. Elsewhere, Britta learns the intricacies of female friendships when she refuses to go to the bathroom with Shirley. And Pierce helps Dean Pelton come up with a school mascot. And that’s what you missed on Community!

The thing that I really appreciate about this episode is that Hilary Winston understands the nuances that make each funny: Troy gets his scene on the football field, Jeff’s dripping sarcasm, Annie jumping out of a bush, Britta crying over peeing alone her whole life, and Shirley’s subtle responses to the characters around her. Pierce and Dean Pelton get the chance to get to riff off each other, which is more delightful than I expected it would be. And, as you might have noticed already, the thing I love about this episode is the heart behind it. Britta and Shirley get the chance to bond on an emotional level, Jeff recognizes that he was wrong and apologizes to Annie (and they share their first genuine “Milady?” “Milord.”). And Troy gets the chance to deliver one of the best truths of the series — none of them chose Greendale. But they ended up there because the real world wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. Instead of fighting it — like Jeff does in the episode, calling the real world “the outside” — they should all make peace with where they are.

It’s something that will carry Jeff and the rest of the characters on their journeys throughout the series. They’ll all eventually leave Greendale and then return again. But that’s okay. They think of it as failure but as silly as it might sound, Greendale has always welcomed them. No questions asked. No judgements. And the foundation for this lovely little nugget of truth was laid in the very early episodes of season one. “Football, Feminism & You” is stellar. And I’ll always stand by that.

Which Is Probably Pathetic Alison Brie GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

2. “Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design” by Chris McKenna


I didn’t plan for it to happen, but Chris McKenna wins the silver and gold medals for my favorite Community episodes. And boy, is “Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design” an epic sight to behold. The only downside of the episode (and this is the only one) is that it doesn’t leave any real room for Pierce, Britta, or Shirley stories. But the little bits we get of them throughout are so great (Britta’s hair flip will forever be my mood), and the tight A/B storytelling remains one of my favorites. I think the concept — a conspiracy is afoot! — and all the double-crossing in the A-story is right up my alley. The episode keeps you guessing until the very end who actually is teaming up together. And, as we discover, Professor Garrity will always have the last laugh.

The cast is astounding though: Joel and Alison have never been better in this episode and one of my favorite underrated moments is when Annie goes off-script. Can we talk about Joel-as-Jeff in that moment for a second? His face is absolutely heartbreaking when he hears about how he really, truly hurt Annie (watch his reaction at: “You buried me like a shameful secret”; Jim Rash’s “woah” is also underappreciated in that moment). And how cathartic it must have been for Annie to lay everything out there while being in a position of power for once? For the way that season two began — atrocious in terms of Annie’s character regression, I SAID WHAT I SAID — season two redeemed her when they began to give her the power and control to make her own choices. Like in this moment: she gets the chance to shoot Jeff. Yes, it was part of a plan. Yes, they needed to sell their deception to the dean. But it was a real moment for Annie, and Jeff praises her for it later on.

Elsewhere though, this episode would be nothing without Troy and Abed. What began as an innocuous sleepover plan quickly, as happens in Greendale, goes sideways when Troy and Abed’s blanket fort gets too mainstream for even them to handle. The best part of this is that the blanket fort creates a backdrop for storytelling. It’s Troy and Abed’s friendship on display but it’s also the exact kind of thing that Greendale would be gung-ho about (as we even see next season in the Pillows & Blankets saga).

The subtle jokes in this episode — it did, indeed, originally air on Latvian Independence Day — and the high-stakes A/B stories really and truly drive it into one of my top spots. “Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design” is arguably one of the best. Or at least I think so.

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1. “Remedial Chaos Theory” by Chris McKenna


It should be no surprise that the Community classic, “Remedial Chaos Theory,” is at the top of my list. I doubt anything could even nudge it from this spot. The episode is the highest of high concepts — Jeff does create different timelines, okay? — while also being incredibly character-driven. It’s Community at its finest: humor, insanity, and heart. You know the story by now: Troy and Abed are hosting a housewarming party for their new apartment (even the beginning joke: for those who don’t catch it, 303 was supposed to clearly air after 304 since Pierce makes the Eartha Kitt reference in “Competitive Ecology”) and when it comes time to decide who goes downstairs to get the pizzas, Jeff says they should roll for it. Abed warns him that by doing so, he’s creating six different timelines... and the adventure unfolds.

It’s an episode that then hinges on a “choose your own adventure” concept: what would happen if one person left the room? How much would that really change things? We begin to explore this as one by one, different characters get chosen to leave. When Troy leaves, the entire apartment erupts into chaos. His departure is what spurs the darkest timeline after all. Sometimes when people leave, more subtle things happen: Shirley gets upset that her pies burned. Britta says she and the pizza guy are in love. Jeff and Annie almost kiss (or kiss). Pierce threatens Troy with a troll doll.

The story itself within the timeline creation is really great too: Troy is becoming more of a threat to Jeff as a leader and he doesn’t like it at all. Jeff and Annie talk about how she lives in a terrible neighborhood, and in the real timeline, Abed offers for Annie to move in with them. Pierce tries to mask his loneliness over Troy moving out by being a jerk — a common theme — and Shirley tries to find meaning in being the person who makes food for everyone. (Shirley is an Enneagram 2, I can feel it.)

As Abed says later on, there are consistencies in each of them that ground them as a group. Shirley is giving. Annie is driven. Britta is a wild card. And Jeff... well, Jeff will always go the extra mile not to do work. He devised a system from the beginning to never have to get the pizza. And in the real timeline when the group discovers that fact, they send him downstairs to fetch their food. As soon as he leaves, the group doesn’t dissolve into chaos. In fact, Pierce doesn’t even give Troy the troll. Britta gets to finish singing “Roxanne,” and the entire group joins her in song and dance. Jeff returns to find that everyone is stable which, to me (and the writers can have whatever reasoning they want) is early proof that the group doesn’t need Jeff as much as he needs them. He watches them dance around and have fun without him. It’s a little sad, but ultimately a reminder that while there are things that ground these characters, they also have outgrown the need for Jeff’s constant leadership. As Annie pointedly notes just a few episodes earlier, they’ve evolved.

And though it was rocky at times after this — again, not just in season four — I believe this. The group changed. They evolved. They became better people because of each other. One truth remains: I love Community and I always will.

Honorable Mentions: “Paradigms of the Human Memory,” “Advanced Dungeons & Dragons,” and “Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas.”

Sound off in the comments below with some of YOUR favorite episodes of the show!

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Grey’s Anatomy 16x21 Recap: “Put on a Happy Face” (Unexpected Hope) [Contributor: Julia Siegel]


“Put on a Happy Face”
Original Airdate: April 9, 2020

The impromptu season finale of Grey’s Anatomy works better than anticipated. Like a typical season finale, we are left with a bunch of cliffhangers and lingering questions that no doubt would have been answered in the regularly scheduled final episodes of the season if production had not been suspended. This episode gives us the good, the bad, and the ugly and winds up being satisfying because someone unexpected pulls out the best save in Grey’s Anatomy history.

WE WILL NOT GIVE UP


The episode opens with a compilation of the doctors working on finding a diagnosis for Richard over the course of several days. We see Catherine sitting at Richard’s bedside while Meredith, DeLuca, Bailey, and Amelia are in the war room discussing possibilities. Another day shows Bailey playing cards with Richard, who doesn’t appear to be mentally present. Meredith and DeLuca are still working together and have gotten nowhere. The next day Maggie brings breakfast to Richard. Mer and DeLuca are in the war room all day as a bunch of doctors come in and out to work on the case. There is a several day time lapse to show that Mer really did mean that she and DeLuca would not leave the hospital until they figured out what is wrong with Richard (it did leave me wondering who has been taking care of Mer’s three kids in her absence).

We then get to the day the episode takes place within, and Maggie approaches Mer in the war room after DeLuca steps out for a moment. Maggie is concerned that DeLuca hasn’t slept in days and that Mer can’t see that he is still struggling. She also feels that Mer is putting Richard through a lot of unnecessary stress by not agreeing to Koracick and Amelia’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis. Maggie reveals that Catherine agrees with the neurosurgeons and plans to take her husband home that day, but Mer still won’t give up.

At the OR board, Link and Amelia meet up. Link wants to catch an early movie and dinner before the baby comes, but Amelia has decided to keep operating as much as possible. Link would rather see her lighten her load even though he understands her argument. She slowly walks off to her next surgery and looks like she’s going to pop any minute. We then get an awkward lover’s moment when Teddy meets up with an arguing Koracick and Owen in the hall. Owen and Teddy have planned a last-minute small wedding for that night, and Owen is mad that Koracick didn’t give them time off. Koracick didn’t know they requested time off for an impromptu wedding and is stunned to hear the news. He does the right thing by giving them whatever time they need, and a pleased Owen walks off. Koracick gives Teddy a withering look and thanks her for the heads up before storming off.

Hayes, Jo, and Jackson are working together for the day on a 13-year-old female patient with moebius syndrome, a rare neurological condition that affects the muscles that control facial expressions. The teen is excited to finally have surgery that way she can be a normal girl and smile for the first time in her life. The surgical plan is to transfer muscles and nerves from her legs into her face to correct the problem. The girl’s dad isn’t too keen on the surgery and has apparently backed out of letting his daughter have the procedure four times in the past year. He feels that his daughter is perfect the way she is and doesn’t need surgery, so she tries to explain to him why she wants to be normal like everyone else. The dad agrees to the surgery, but you get the feeling this might be temporary.

DeLuca has found out that Richard is being discharged and decides to yell at Catherine and Maggie outside of Richard’s room, which causes a scene. He thinks they are making a big mistake by discharging him, but Catherine says they haven’t made any progress in weeks, which makes no sense when we were shown the doctors working for, at most, one week on the case. Mer comes running over to see what’s going on and apologizes on behalf of her ex to Catherine. The three women return to Richard’s room to see Bailey attempting to get him in a wheelchair to leave the hospital. Richard is incredibly grumpy and refuses the chair because he wants to walk. When he stands up, his leg gives out. Richard says he has no feeling in his toes or his leg and thinks his leg has fallen asleep. Mer jumps on this new symptom immediately and finds that Richard’s calf is tender and that his fingers are numb and tingly too. This convinces Mer that Richard does not have Alzheimer’s, and she wants to do an EMG to check his nerve function. Richard doesn’t want any more tests, but Mer convinces Catherine to consent to the test for him.

THE RIGHT CHOICE


Owen and Schmitt are working together in the ER and meet an ambulance as it pulls up. Their new patient is a 21-year-old male, who has part of a wooden baseball bat sticking out of his chest. The man is a minor league baseball pitcher, and the bat splintered and struck him in his chest. The docs book a CT scan and OR for their patient, who doesn’t want surgery. Owen assures him that he doesn’t want to be awake when he pulls the bat out of his chest, and the patient agrees to the procedure.

In another room Koracick, Amelia, and Helm are conducting an EMG on Richard. The test is causing a lot of pain for Richard, and Koracick and Amelia are surprised to see that he has no motor output to his legs. Seeing signs of sensory nerve degeneration makes both docs rebuff their Alzheimer’s diagnosis because they now know that Richard’s mind and body are failing him. The docs meet up with Catherine, Bailey, Maggie, and Mer to talk about the results. Bailey wants to do a nerve biopsy to rule out a tumor and get a definitive diagnosis. Maggie gets a page for a trauma consult with Owen’s patient and has to leave as Bailey tells Mer to meet her in the OR for the nerve biopsy.

Amelia asks Koracick to take over the case for her, which makes him think he is taking over because he is a better doctor than her. She tells him that her water just broke, so he needs to take over so she can go have a baby. Everyone is stunned when Amelia casually starts to walk away while sending them luck on the procedure. Bailey offers her a wheelchair, but Amelia says she is fine and keeps on walking. Mer calls down the hall to let her know she will call Link. This is easily the most amusing and fun scene of the episode.

Jackson, Hayes, and Jo are bringing their patient to surgery and get stopped at the last minute by the teen’s dad. He wants to stop the surgery because he is frightened. Jackson and the girl convince the dad why the surgery is necessary and that everything will be fine. He eventually consents and lets them go on their way. We then see Koracick join Teddy in an elevator. Teddy tries to make small talk about Richard, but Koracick wants to know why he didn’t get invited to her wedding. Teddy doesn’t know what to say other than that she loves Owen, which prompts Koracick to say that he knows Teddy is in love with both him and Owen. Koracick feels that Teddy is racing to the altar before she changes her mind again, and he doesn’t think this shotgun wedding will work. Teddy tries to convince him that she is making the right choice and will go through with the wedding, but Koracick doesn’t believe her.

SAVING THE DAY


Link runs into Amelia’s hospital room and finds Carina finishing up an exam. Amelia reveals that she felt contractions start at 9 a.m. that morning, but didn’t say anything to anyone because she thought it might be false labor again. She starts to freak out a bit when Carina tells her the baby is actually coming this time. Amelia tells Link she doesn’t want him to leave and grips his hand tightly. Over in CT, Schmitt is once again feeling pain for the patient with a baseball bat in his chest. Owen tells Schmitt to calm down. Maggie shows up for the consult, and the scans show that the bat splintered when it entered the patient’s chest.

We then see Jackson, Hayes, and Jo operating on their teen patient. Jo asks the guys if her only hope of finding love again is through online dating, but they ignore her. Jo decides to get them talking by asking Jackson if he uses dating apps and whether his profile picture is him in front of his yacht or his private jet. Hayes is a little surprised by the knowledge of Jackson’s wealth, and both men say they don’t have online dating profiles. Jo says that Hayes doesn’t need online dating when he has his own personal matchmaker. Hayes wants to know what she means, but Jo decides not to answer. It’s a little hard to believe that Hayes hasn’t caught on to the fact that Cristina sent him to Grey Sloan Memorial to attempt to get with Mer, but I’m sure he will figure out her meddling eventually.

Elsewhere in the hospital, DeLuca is still working nonstop to solve Richard’s case. In another room, Koracick meets with Catherine, who tells him she hasn’t gotten word about the nerve biopsy yet. Catherine takes a moment to vent and admit that she isn’t proud of the mistakes she has made this year and feels she has screwed up everything. Koracick tries to make her feel better by reminding her of the time she messed up and wrecked his car. After a good laugh, Catherine tells her friend that she might want him to have a bigger role in the foundation if Richard needs her because she won’t give up on him again.

Mer and Bailey are about to start Richard’s nerve biopsy in the OR. Bailey thinks they should bring in someone who isn’t family, but Mer reminds her that that person doesn’t exist. As they are about to cut, DeLuca runs into the room and frantically tells them to stop. They think he has officially lost his mind, which he practically confirms by acting like a child and slamming their sterile equipment to the ground to stop the procedure from happening. Bailey is instantly enraged, but she quickly settles down when DeLuca starts to spew his theory. He thinks that Richard’s hip replacement from a few years ago is deteriorating and causing cobalt poisoning, which could cause all of his symptoms. Mer says that they wouldn’t have seen the signs of cobalt poisoning, and Bailey wants a blood test immediately. She gives DeLuca a vial of Richard’s blood and sends him to the lab with explicit directions to tell the pathologists to move this blood sample to the front of the line. Mer and Bailey aren’t the only ones in disbelief that DeLuca has saved the day and come up with the diagnosis of a lifetime. It should be surprising to the audience that DeLuca’s efforts actually paid off and show that he is a great doctor, even though he needs to start taking more care of himself at this point.

In the lab Mer, Bailey, Catherine, DeLuca, and Helm are all waiting for the results. DeLuca tells the group that he called the Boston hospital where Richard had his hip replacement to confirm that he has a cobalt hip. The blood test shows that Richard’s cobalt levels are through the roof, and the doctors agree that the cobalt hip needs to be removed immediately. DeLuca pleads with Bailey to let him scrub in on the surgery, as any resident who makes such a diagnosis would be allowed to scrub in. Bailey doesn’t want him anywhere near the OR, but Mer sticks up for DeLuca by saying he doesn’t have to touch Richard and deserves to at least be in the room. Bailey agrees and wants someone to find Link to operate on Richard. Mer reminds Bailey that Amelia is having a baby, and Bailey replies that Link isn’t having a baby anymore and walks out. DeLuca thanks Mer for the help and it is nice to see him get the win.

ONE LAST TIME


Amelia is having contractions and nearly crushing Link’s hand when Bailey rushes in and exclaims that she needs Link for a hip replacement immediately. Both Link and Amelia say that he is busy, which prompts Bailey to explain the Richard situation. Amelia tells Bailey that they are almost done, but Carina tells her that it will be a few more hours. Amelia agrees to let Link go. In the second funniest moment of the episode, Amelia sticks out her hand and fully expects Bailey to tag in as her hand holder since she took Link away from her. Bailey gets guilted into staying and resumes Link’s position, even though we all know this is probably the last place she wants to be.

Jackson, Hayes, and Jo are just about done with their patient’s surgery when Helm comes in to see if Jackson is almost done. She tells them that Richard has cobalt poisoning and is going into surgery to take out the bad hip. Helm also tells them that DeLuca figured it out, which is incredibly shocking news to Hayes. Jackson leaves Hayes and Jo to finish up the surgery. Hayes is not happy that DeLuca was the one to diagnose Richard and tells Jo, “The way he’s been acting, I’m amazed anyone listened to anything he had to say, least of all Grey.” This line perfectly sums up the way Hayes has been feeling since his arrival. Jo replies with, “You seem very interested in who Meredith Grey listens to” and Hayes’ coy, “Do I?” finally shows his true feelings to Jo, who is enjoying meddling a little too much.

Maggie, Owen, and Schmitt are operating on their patient when Maggie’s phone starts going off. She makes Schmitt get it, and he starts reading what is probably a private text from Winston. It’s good to know that Maggie didn’t give up on her one night stand, and I wonder if he would have made another appearance if the season didn’t get cut short. Schmitt then reads off a series of messages about Richard having cobalt poisoning and going into surgery. Maggie stops operating for a moment, and Owen asks her if she wants to go watch Richard’s surgery. She says she is okay and just needed a second. She decides to continue her current surgery.

In the moment that we all heavily suspected was coming, Teddy goes to Koracick’s office after getting paged by him. He starts to tell her a story about how he once saw a guy on the edge of a bridge while driving and stopped to try and stop the guy from not jumping to his death. The guy turned out to be making a phone call and not trying to end his life, so Teddy isn’t quite sure what he is getting at. Koracick tells her that he doesn’t want her to throw her life away by marrying Owen. Teddy hates that she is hurting Koracick, who tells her that he loves her. Koracick makes a last-ditch effort to win Teddy over by saying that he will be waiting in his car tonight and will take her wherever she wants to go if/when she decides to not go through with marrying Owen. Koracick kisses Teddy, but she doesn’t want to kiss him. Out of nowhere, Teddy admits that she loves Koracick and kisses him back. Talk about changing your mind in a split second. They start making out and then have a passionate affair in his office.

GREAT SAVE


Richard’s surgery is about to begin, and Jackson meets Catherine in the gallery to watch with her. DeLuca is barely awake in the OR when Link comes in to operate. Link finds an alarming amount of sludge and tissue damage in Richard’s hip and thinks it’s the worst damage he has ever seen. He tells DeLuca that the implant that Richard had was actually the best hip on the market for a while. Link feels that if Richard’s hip deteriorated, then others might be at risk too. He tells DeLuca that his catch could be a huge game changer. Oddly, Mer has just shown up in the gallery, and it is quite weird that she wasn’t there from the start, but we don’t get an explanation on that. Link asks for someone to get him an update on Amelia.

The audience gets an update when Carina goes to Amelia’s room and Bailey tells her that Amelia’s contractions are three minutes apart. Amelia tells Carina again that she doesn’t want any drugs. She then realizes that she should have thought about asking Bailey to stay and never should have asked her considering Bailey had a miscarriage a handful of weeks ago. Amelia tells Bailey she can leave, but Bailey refuses to leave Amelia alone. Both women are being quite strong given their situations, which is a great piece of writing.

Jo and Hayes visit their patient and her dad to tell them that recovery will be slow but the surgery was a success. A woman runs into the room and asks how the girl is doing. The patient is surprised that her dad has been secretly dating her algebra teacher and tries to smile. The dad says that they were set up by his dentist, and his daughter is happy for him. Jo and Hayes leave the room, and Hayes quickly says that he hates set-ups. Jo finds this just as humorous as I do because we both know that he is falling for Mer due to Cristina’s wacky way of setting them up.

Back in Amelia’s room, Carina tells the mom-to-be that it is finally time to push. Amelia doesn’t think she can. Bailey decides to help her through by climbing behind her on the bed and helping her in the exact way George O’Malley helped her give birth in season two. The scene flashes to Richard’s surgery, which is taking longer than anticipated. Link finally gets the head of the femur out and is ready to put in the new hip. After completing the hip replacement, Link gives the gallery a big thumbs up to tell them that the surgery is over and everything will be fine.

THE FALLOUT


In the other OR, Maggie and Owen have finally pulled the bat out of their patient’s chest. Schmitt reads off another text that says that Richard is out of surgery and stable. Owen tells Maggie that she can go if she needs to. She still wants to stay and says that she does her best work when she’s relieved. Owen’s phone goes off next, and Schmitt finds a voicemail from Teddy. Owen asks him to play the message on speaker, and I know I was not not the only one shouting, “Don’t do it!” at the screen. The message starts playing, and it’s obvious that Teddy’s phone accidentally called Owen and recorded the sounds of her having sex with Koracick. Owen laughs it off; it’s super awkward in the room, and Owen might not quite know for sure what he just heard but he looks mighty concerned.

Next, Link rushes into Amelia’s room. Amelia says she is perfectly fine and that everyone is fine. Bailey has the baby in her arms and tells Link to meet his son. Link takes the baby, and the biggest smiles are on both the new parents’ faces. He sits on Amelia’s bed with their baby in his arms for their first family moment, which is quite sweet. Bailey leaves them alone and you can see the sadness behind the smile on her face. Unfortunately, we don’t get to find out what Amelia and Link name their son, so we will have to wait a few months for that answer. Bailey goes to check on Richard and finds Jackson, Maggie, and Catherine in his room. Richard is stable, off his vent, and doing fine. Jackson says they will know more when he wakes up. Bailey decides to stay with the group and wait for her mentor to wake up.

After checking in on their patient, Owen tells Schmitt once again to not feel the guy’s pain. Owen then goes into a closet to listen to Teddy’s message again. He sinks to the floor as he hears Koracick’s voice, which confirms his worst fears. Owen is openly crying when he hears Teddy tell Koracick that she can’t be with him. She says she is going to marry Owen and that this was goodbye. The message ends and Owen looks absolutely devastated by Teddy’s betrayal.

The scene shifts to Richard’s room. Richard has woken up, and Maggie and Jackson are with him. They are very relieved when Richard knows who they are and that he is at Grey Sloan Memorial. Richard tells them that they are going to have to ask tougher questions if they are quizzing him and in that moment, it’s obvious that Richard is back to normal. As he holds up a non-shaking hand, Catherine walks in and tells him that she wants a bed brought in so she can stay the night. Richard is instantly mad and wants to know what Catherine is doing there. He clearly doesn’t remember anything from the time he was sick and wants her to leave. Catherine is incredibly hurt and Jackson feels it would be best to give Richard a bit of time, so he walks his mother out of the room.

Mer is leaving the hospital for the first time in who knows how many days and is stopped by Hayes. He says the catch about Richard’s condition was great, but Mer gives the credit to DeLuca. Hayes asks her to join him for a drink to celebrate. Mer absolutely wants to get a drink with him, but since she is exhausted, she asks him to ask her another time. He happily accepts and lets her get on her way. Mer then sees DeLuca sitting on the floor in front of a desk crying. She tries to tell him that the case is over and that Richard is fine. But that’s not his problem. He doesn’t know what is going on with him and is in a fragile mental state. Mer suggests that she help him home. With the Mer/Hayes/DeLuca love triangle about to fully start, it is agonizing that we will have to wait several months to find out how things will play out.

The final scene shows Teddy getting ready for her wedding in Owen’s house. She walks into the living room and finds Owen’s mom taking down decorations. She tells Teddy that they are going to have to reschedule the wedding, and Teddy is confused. Owen’s mom got a brief call from her son telling her that he got pulled into a last minute surgery and needs to put off the wedding. Teddy is upset because she knows that something must be up if he didn’t call her. Hopefully she is starting to realize that her actions are going to have consequences. The episode ends with many questionable statuses which works well for a season finale. It will be interesting to see what comes of the many lingering storylines next season.