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Saturday, May 27, 2023

The Flash 9x13 Review: "A New World, Part Four" (So Long and Thanks for All the Flash) [Contributor: Deborah M]


“A New World, Part Four”
Original Airdate: May 24, 2023

Alas, all good things must come to an end. And despite my periodic complaints in these reviews (163 of them!) I do count this show as a good thing. For all its flaws, The Flash has frequently embodied everything I appreciate about comic books and comic book shows — not the least of which being a full embrace of absurdity. But how does “A New World, Part Four” measure up as a series send-off? I guess we’ll see!

PART FOUR: FINALE

We begin with a voiceover, in classic The Flash fashion, as Barry asks us to believe in the impossible. As a fun bit, Allegra accidentally answers that plea with “Nope, I can’t believe it,” while Team Flash recaps that Eddie Thawne has become the Negative Speed Force avatar. Just as Mark laments that they could really use the Flash to help deal with this, Barry calls out over the comms. He’s heading to the hospital, but he shares the bad news that the timeline started fracturing back in 2049 and they’ll be in trouble if it reaches the present day.

Zoom/Hunter Zolomon appears in a red-tinged, Negative Speed Force version of the West house, having just died. Godspeed shows up shortly after him. Surprise! The old speedster villains are making an appearance in this grand finale. Considering how boring I find speedster villains, this isn’t a good surprise, but it is technically a surprise. Savitar and Godspeed posture and threaten and generally prove why they’re such unappealing villains, before Wells-faced Eobard Thawne interrupts. He’s also an unappealing villain, but at least he has a little comedy flair. Savitar, the God of Speed, is ironically late to the party.

Eddie says that he’s the reason for the Evil Speedster Meet-and-Greet and holds up the glowing blue crystal, which looks extra cool in the red-lighting of the house. He clutches the crystal and gets a magical costume change, then promises the villains he’ll help them get enough speed to defeat the Flash. This is the corniest thing the show’s done in a long time and I’m thrilled it’s going out with a negative cool factor. Once a nerd, always a nerd, The Flash.

Eddie — now going by Cobalt Blue — interrupts the reunion between Barry and Iris in the hospital, bearing blue roses and a creepy smile. His plan is to kill Barry, destroy the timeline, and rebuild a new timeline where he’s the hero. When he asks for Barry and Iris’s last words, Iris pulls out the ol’ “Run, Barry. Run.” Negative. Cool. Factor. Barry zips Eddie away from the hospital room while Iris carries on being incredibly pregnant.

Speedster fight! Eddie hits Barry with lightning and the blast sends him flying off, destroying like, five cars in the process. Nora saves Barry from another strike, then the rest of Team Flash arrives — in costume — to provide backup. This presents a perfect opportunity for Eddie to present his evil speedster team and declare that he has “a whole legion.” First: four people does not a legion make, Ed. Second: everyone on your side has been defeated before, so I don’t know why you’re so smug.

Another high speed fight breaks out, with each member of the team facing off with an evil speedster. Nora gets Savitar, who stabs her in the same way he was supposed to stab Iris back during the Savitar season, but Nora just yanks the blade out of her gut and stabs him right back. Cecile makes short work of Godspeed and even lands a cheesy one-liner. Chester, who was not part of the field team, somehow ends up facing Eobard Thawne, who speed-electrocutes him and scares us all with the possibility of him being a series finale sacrifice, but Allegra saves him. Khione and CCPD handle Zoom. Barry, of course, gets tasked with Eddie.

All the other villains were subdued but not killed, so when Jay Garrick swipes Eddie’s speed, it gives him the opportunity to suck up the speed of his former allies. Eddie disappears and the temporal storm that had spelled doom for 2049 begins rumbling in the sky, indicating that the timeline has begun to unravel. Barry and Jay realize Eddie’s next step will be to absorb the Negative Speed Force, which will mean overloading and killing himself like Thawne did.

Barry doesn’t want to just let Eddie die, but he’s struggling to find a solution to the problem because the Negative Speed Force is just an endless cycle of fighting and death. Khione says they need coexistence. Barry says it’s impossible, but Khione implores him to believe in the impossible in order to create a better world. Grant Gustin’s really stellar in this scene, by the way.

Speaking of stellar: the fight scene between Eddie and Barry! The all red lighting interspersed with blue-tinted flashbacks, Eddie’s fracturing sanity, and — holy moly, when Eddie punches Barry, Barry actually spits blood all over the wall! I don’t think we’ve ever gotten that much blood on this show before. Barry throws some more speechifying at Eddie and finally gets through to him, resulting in Eddit ripping the blue crystal off his chest and shattering it. The red lighting of the scene shifts to blue in a neat little effect, and while Eddie still seems to be the Negative Speed Force avatar, he’s no longer insane and violent. Eddie wants Barry to tell Iris he’s happy for her, they shake hands, and Barry is transported to the hospital where Iris has officially gone into labor.

Despite only just being past the halfway mark of the episode, everything from here on out is tying up loose ends. Baby Nora is born (and we get an incredibly touching Barry/Iris love story montage as Joe sings to his new granddaughter), Chester has black hole powers (kinda cute that the black hole meta and the light meta are a couple), and a visitation from that timeless version of Harrison Wells inspires Khione to ascend as a goddess protector of the natural order, allowing Caitlin to take her body back. 

A week after the events of the episode, Barry and Iris host a party celebrating the new addition to the family. Barry and Caitlin apologize for the fight they had over bringing Frost back to life and hug it out, and it’s very sweet — if only because they’re two of the original members of Team Flash, and I’m feeling nostalgic. The party’s an array of The Flash faces, but Cisco is notable in his absence. Understandable, since Carlos Valdes couldn’t make the filming, but it’s still a tad disappointing not to see him in the last episode. Anyway, Joe and Cecile get engaged at the party, just to add to the happy vibes.

After the party, Barry soothes a fussy baby Nora by asking her to believe in the impossible, then telling her the story of the Flash. Barry says that, in order to keep Nora from experiencing the tragedies he experienced, he’s going to spread the amazing gift of super speed to worthy people: Avery Ho, Max Mercury, and Jess Chambers. He hopes sharing his powers will create a better world, where nothing has to be impossible.

THE END

Well, that’s all, folks — and what a lovely end! I’d like to take a moment to thank Jenn for giving me the space on Just About Write to ramble about a show that’s teetered between fun, infuriating, brilliant, and bewildering like the world’s wobbliest Weeble. What started as a temporary guest contribution turned into, as stated at the beginning of this review, over 160 installments averaging around 1,400 words each. It is, without a doubt, my longest-lasting and largest writing project ever, and it’s all been dedicated to this ridiculous show full of speedsters and talking gorillas and man-sharks, too much angst and too little Cisco Ramon, wonderful moments and baffling plot decisions. 

I hope these reviews have been entertaining to read. If they’ve managed to inspire a chuckle or two over the years, I’ll go ahead and consider it a success. If they haven’t, well... don’t tell me. I’m very sensitive.

And to sign off, for old time’s sake after a long, long absence, I present you with the very last ever:

BARRY ALLEN PUPPY GIF OF THE EPISODE

THE FAREWELL PUPPY


Other Things:

  • “Meet Eddie Thawne, the dumbest branch on my family tree.” It’s not Eddie’s fault the writers decided his smart plan had to be undone for the sake of extended angst, Eobard.
  • Eddie talking through a stuffed bunny and making a sad face about destroying the universe was funny enough to make him my favorite of the evil speedsters. Not saying a lot, but still.
  • How did Godspeed know Cecile’s superhero name when we just learned it last week and he wasn’t there? Why would Thawne target Chester? How did Zoom know Khione was a goddess? These are just a few of the questions I don’t have to care about getting answers for anymore!
  • Nora, in the waiting room for her own birth: “Am I breaking timeline rules by being here?” Oh, sweetie. It’s way too late for anyone in your family to worry about that.
  • Very cute that Chester memorized the names of all Khione’s plants.
  • Barry, as he watches Nora cuddle her baby self: “Okay, even for us, this is trippy.”
  • Two things about Joe and Cecile’s engagement: adorable that Cecile puts a pillow down to protect Joe’s knees, and hilarious that Joe kneeling is almost as tall as Cecile standing.

Grey’s Anatomy 19x19 and 19x20 Recaps: “Wedding Bell Blues” & “Happily Ever After?” (Couples Galore) [Contributor: Julia Siegel]


“Wedding Bell Blues” & “Happily Ever After?”
Original Airdates: May 18, 2023

A wedding, an awards ceremony, and lots of drama: it sounds like another Grey’s Anatomy season finale is upon us! This year’s two-hour ender is packed full of intense moments in what might be our final episodes for a while with the writer’s strike underway. The episodes are highlighted by the on-screen returns of Meredith and Maggie and plenty of reunions to go around. So buckle up for a wild ride.

WEDDING DAY

On the morning of her wedding, Simone wakes up to a text from Trey saying that he has left a latte outside her bedroom door. She gets out of bed and opens the door to see Trey standing with the hot drink in his hand. Simone isn’t sure he should be there, but decides it is okay since she isn’t in her dress yet. They kiss, Trey leaves, and Simone walks down the hall to Lucas’ room. She is upset to see he has already left for the day, and we see Lucas and Mika on the way to work in the latter’s van. Simone grabs her wedding dress and goes to leave the house only to find Jules at the door. She is glad her maid of honor is there because she needs a ride to Grey Sloan Memorial.

Over at the hospital, Winston gives Teddy parting instructions for his patients before he leaves for Boston. Blue tails behind them and takes notes for his boss. Teddy has a toothache, so Winston offers to stay behind so she can go see a dentist. She refuses to let him miss the Catherine Fox Award ceremony and names him chief of cardiothoracic surgery. Teddy says he has earned it, and Winston is thrilled for the promotion and tells Teddy she won’t regret the decision. After Winston leaves to catch his flight, Blue tells Teddy he can skip Simone’s wedding, but she tells him to go and skip the reception instead since the hospital is short staffed.

Up in the ICU, Jules shows Max the dress she is wearing to the wedding. She didn’t have time to buy a new one, so she is wearing her Renaissance Fair dress. Max tells Jules to stop over-checking her chart and asks if she finished her toast. Jules is horrified that she didn’t know she needed to write one, and Max assures her it will be easy to make up. She then asks Jules if Blue is her date, which Jules scoffs at.

Mika present rounds on Sam to Owen and Link. After four days of formal rounds, Sam is done with the process and asks the doctors if they can just act like his friends now since they practically live together. Mika puts Sam in his place by explaining that they are not friends since she is his doctor and worked incredibly hard for eight years to get to where she is now. All of the men in the room are impressed and gain a bit more respect for Mika.

Simone walks into the hospital and past Schmitt, who wants to know why she is there. She asks if he knows where Lucas is and then goes to find him in the skills lab. Simone tells Lucas she is upset he left the house without her. She starts giving him notes about their now-mutual patient, Toby, the breast cancer patient from a few episodes ago. Simone says that she can’t be at the hospital today because she is getting married and wants to leave Toby in Lucas’ hands. She also tells Lucas that she can’t deny his feelings and the connection they have, but she wants him to know that Trey does love her. She thinks their relationship deserves a chance even though she doesn’t want to hurt or lose Lucas. She asks Lucas to take care of Toby for her, and Lucas replies that he would do anything for her.

Outside Sam’s room, Link tells Mika that she did a great job and that Sam needed some humbling. Owen tells the intern to order a CT angiogram for Sam, and Mika reminds them that she has Simone’s wedding to get to. Link and Owen are more than happy to cover for her. Before she can go, Link asks Mika if Sam has been inappropriate to her or anyone else. Mika says if he is asking about Jo, the inappropriateness is reciprocal. Owen offers to take over Sam’s care, but Link refuses the help.

We then see Simone and Jules running from the hospital to the parking lot to get to the wedding and right past Blue, who winds up with a situation of his own. Blue sees a mother, Carmen, looking for help for her son, Enzo, who is passed out in her car. Blue scoops up Enzo and carries him inside the hospital while shouting for help for a potential opiate poisoning in an eight year old. Carmen only speaks Spanish, and it so happens that Blue appears to be fluent in Spanish. Blue calls for someone to page Owen to help with Enzo. After Owen arrives as backup, Blue asks Carmen if she gave Enzo any medications, which she didn’t. Blue tells Owen that he thinks he might be wrong, but it seems like a textbook case of opiate overdose. Right on cue, Enzo wakes up. Owen wants to admit the boy for further testing and tells Blue to call Child Protective Services since they now know Enzo overdosed. Carmen then collapses, and Owen orders a toxicology screening for her too.

BUMPY RIDE

Mika is driving herself and Helm to Simone’s wedding in her van and tells her date how proud she is to have shown the attendings who she really is that morning. She can’t believe how great she can be when she isn’t working multiple jobs and is getting eight hours of sleep each night. Mika thanks Helm for taking the kryptonite out of her system and standing up for her. She then asks Helm if she can kiss her at a red light, and the two share a very passionate kiss.

Back at Grey Sloan Memorial, Lucas meets Toby, Simone’s breast cancer patient from a few episodes back, in the lobby. Toby wasn’t aware that Simone was getting married that day and realizes her doctor didn’t mention it to make sure she kept her appointment. Lucas tells Toby that Simone asked him to be there for her, and he promised to do so for her and won’t leave to go to the wedding. Toby thanks him and goes to pre-op before her mastectomy.

Link wheels Sam into an elevator to go upstairs for the angiogram, and Jo sneaks into the elevator too. She shows Sam some of the ASL that she learned in the past two days and is surprised to find out that Sam also knows a few signs. The two flirt, which visibly angers Link. When the door opens on the next floor, Jo decides to join Link and Sam for the test, much to Link’s chagrin.

Mika and Helm make it to Simone’s grandmother’s house and are instantly bombarded by an anxious Trey. He tells Mika that he was in charge of ordering the flowers, which didn’t show up because the company had the wrong date. Trey is freaking out, so Mika tells him to take a deep breath. She offers to go get Simone a bouquet, so Trey asks her to try to find tulips because they were her mom’s favorite flower.

We then see the party going to Boston get on Catherine’s private plane. The hostess greets Nick when he gets on, and we see that Winston and Richard are already there too. Bailey makes it in time and tells the group that Ben couldn’t make it due to the floor collapse at the firefighter’s ball in the Station 19 season finale. Bailey talks about how she didn’t want to go with them on the private plane at first because planes terrify her, which is clearly a nod to the season eight tragedy that took the lives of Lexi and Mark. Catherine walks over to the seated Nick and tells him how happy she is that he was able to come. Richard then tells Nick that he is sitting in Catherine’s seat and makes him move to a couch where Winston is sitting. Amelia then pops out of the back of the plane, and Winston is not thrilled his sister-in-law is joining them. When she sits on the couch next to Winston, he makes Nick switch seats with him so he doesn’t have to sit next to Amelia. With tensions running high before the flight takes off, it seems like it will be a long trip to Boston for this crew.

At the hospital, CPS arrives to ask Carmen questions about Enzo, who has been separated from his mother. Blue is with Carmen and asks the agent if he can stay to translate since she knows very little English. The agent says a translator is on the way and kicks Blue out, but Carmen asks the intern to stay with her son and tell him she is still there before he leaves. Blue finds Owen and tells him that Carmen only had a vasovagal response and did not overdose. Owen says Enzo’s tests came back clean, but he could have fentanyl in his system since that doesn’t show up on a normal blood test. Teddy comes over to see what is going on, and Blue tells her that he is skipping Simone’s wedding to help Carmen and Enzo. Teddy keeps grabbing at her face, so Owen tells her that she needs to go see a dentist. She would rather rip her own tooth out because she is pulled in four different directions at once at work and can’t step away to take care of herself.

On the plane, Amelia can’t wait to see Meredith. She assures Nick that he made Mer very happy, to which he replies that Mer has a funny way of showing it if that is true. Amelia reveals Mer asks her about him and thinks she might be ready for them to be in a relationship now. Nick says that the harder someone chases Mer, the further she runs, which makes it sound like he has given up. Winston sarcastically quips that it is perfect that all three sisters are single at once. At the back of the plane, Bailey tells Catherine and Richard that she wants to get as far away from the couch situation as possible, while Catherine is happy to watch the show. The plane hits a bit of turbulence, which makes Bailey nervous.

Next, Jules helps Simone get dressed for her wedding. Simone is missing her mom and tells Jules that her mom’s favorite bird was the robin. On her first date with Trey, a robin was perched close to them, so she took it as a positive sign from her mom. Simone knows Trey is a good, steady man, which is what her mom would have wanted for her. She thinks her mom would be proud of her on her wedding day. 

Simone’s dad then shows up, and a bird flies into the window of the room they are in. Jules looks out the window and sees that the bird is not okay. Simone wants to know what kind of bird hit the window, but Jules won’t say, which tells us that it was a robin. Jules then rips Simone’s dress when trying to zip it up, which makes the moment anxiety central for the two interns. The count is up to three bad things occurring before the wedding even starts, so maybe the signs are pointing the opposite way than Simone first thought.

THE PLOT THICKENS

In pre-op, Toby is waiting for her procedure time, so Lucas goes to check in on her. Toby talks about how she regrets not appreciating her breasts more, and Lucas reminds her that the surgery will save her life. She knows it won’t be the same, which Lucas agrees with because she will be cancer-free. Toby tells Lucas that he is cute, a doctor, and knows the right thing to say, so she is curious why he isn’t going to the wedding. The look on Lucas’ face tells her the reason instantly, which they will bond about later.

Teddy joins Link and Jo for Sam’s scan in Winston’s place. The scan shows Sam has a grade one aortic transection, which Teddy thinks is a deceleration injury from the crash. She says this injury usually heals on its own and that they should rescan him in 48 hours. Jo volunteers to watch Sam, so Link tries to override her and say he will do it himself. Jo complains that Link doesn’t even like Sam, so Link snaps back, “Not the way you do.”

Elsewhere, Blue finds Max wandering around the ICU as he brings Enzo up to a room. Max says she got turned around and wants to know why there is someone in her room. Blue explains that she must have wandered from the north side to the south side, and her room is on the north. Enzo asks for his mom, and Blue gets a page for a consult. Max says she will sit with the boy and can rest in a chair instead of a bed. Blue decides to let her do that because he can’t seem to say no to Max. Before he can leave, the police come over to Blue and say they need to ask him a few questions because Enzo tested positive for fentanyl, which makes it a criminal case now.

Back at the wedding, Jules is trying to fix Simone’s dress when the latter’s grandma wanders in. Simone pretends to be her mom since that is who her grandma thinks she is. Her grandma tells her not to marry Kenneth if she doesn’t want to. She also says she should go with Dwayne, Simone’s father, if that is who she wants to be with. Jules and Simone are stunned at the revelation, to which Jules says, “The plot thickens.”

Blue goes back to the ICU and finds that Max got kicked out of Enzo’s room. She now knows the full situation after eavesdropping on everyone and asks Blue why the mom would give fentanyl to her son. She then asks if the police have the situation wrong. Blue thinks they do, but he feels he might be partial to single moms and their sons since he had a single mom. Max tells him to fight if he thinks it is wrong, but Blue is worried he will lose his job if he does speak up. Max tells Blue a story about how many years ago, she didn’t ask a coworker why she had bruises on her face and then that coworker turned up dead a few weeks later. She says not asking still keeps her up at night. Blue goes down to the ER to find the police handcuffing Carmen. He questions Schmitt as to what is going on and asks if there was an interpreter for her interview with CPS. He doesn’t want to see the family split up and knows the system is making assumptions they wouldn’t make if Carmen was speaking English. Owen overhears and tries to calm Blue down, but the intern won’t let it go. He goes over to Carmen and asks her if Enzo ate any candy or if she left him alone at all. Carmen replies that Enzo did not eat any candy and the only time he was alone was when she took a shower.

WHAT TO DO?

In the sky, the private plane is still experiencing a lot of turbulence. Amelia is freaking out, and Winston thinks it tracks that she wants to tell the pilot what to do. We see a flight attendant fall from the turbulence, but she is fine. Amelia tries to apologize to Winston again, but he wants nothing to do with it. He asks if there was any truth to what she said about him being the reason Maggie left. Amelia admits that there might have been some truth to what she said, but she thinks Winston should love Maggie, not compete with her. Winston feels Amelia doesn’t know him at all and doesn’t understand what he overcame to be there. He doesn’t appreciate the fact that she called him small and a coward because his marriage didn’t work out. Winston then says that maybe Amelia is the reason Maggie left. Catherine tells Amelia and Winston to stop wasting time with petty arguments just as the turbulence gets a lot worse, which worries everyone on board. 

Catherine thinks the plane is going down and says this isn’t the way she is supposed to die. The plane starts to plummet, and Amelia says that she can’t die because she is a mom. Winston reaches out and tells her to give him her hand. Richard takes Catherine’s alcoholic drink and looks like he wants to drink it, but Bailey slaps it out of his hand and exclaims, “Oh hell no!” before he can take a sip. The plane gets through the turbulence and the pilot apologizes for the roughness. Catherine inappropriately laughs at the situation, while everyone else looks worse for wear

At the hospital, Max gets to sit with Enzo again, while Blue and Schmitt watch from outside the ICU room. Blue thinks he is going to get fired for sticking up for Carmen. Schmitt tells him that he also grew up with a single mom, which he finds to be a strength. He knows not all single moms are like his and Blue’s, so they have to follow protocols. Owen arrives to give some good news. The police searched the rental place that Carmen and Enzo are staying at and found a bag of weed gummies and fentanyl that was left behind by previous tenants. Owen tells Blue that he fought the good fight, but the intern doesn’t know what to do with the rage he feels about the situation. The police have let Carmen go, and mother and son are reunited at last.

Down the hall, Sam is still flirting hard with Jo as she checks his chest tube output. She thinks they can remove the tube in a few days and finds that the nerve signal in his right leg is still strong. Sam asks if they can tell their kids this was their first date, and Jo laughs and leaves the room. Link is waiting outside the room for her and isn’t happy about watching the flirting. Jo asks if there is something he needs to say to her. Link doesn’t approve of the relationship because she is one of Sam’s doctors. Jo is surprised he is going that route and says, “You slept with an intern. Did I judge you?”

Simone and Trey’s wedding is finally about to start. As Simone steps into the backyard for the ceremony, we see that Mika found flowers and got enough to decorate a bit. Mika gives Simone a bouquet of flowers that she collected from the neighbors’ yards. Simone instantly pricks her finger on a thorn and proceeds to bleed on her wedding dress. Jules immediately steps in to help Simone hide the blood with the bouquet. Surprisingly, Simone doesn’t freak out, and her dad starts walking her down the aisle. After a few steps, Simone sees a dead robin outside the window of the room she was getting ready in, and she starts to realize she might not be able to go through with the wedding. Mid-aisle, Simone asks her father if her mom was engaged to someone else before him. They stop walking, and Simone wants to know the truth before going any further. Jules tries to stall Trey at the altar to ensure he doesn’t think anything is wrong. Simone’s dad tells her that he met her mom two months before she was going to get married. Her mom called off her wedding last minute, and they both knew they were meant to be together. Poor Simone is confused and doesn’t know what to do with all the signs now pointing to a not-so-joyous day.

CODE BLUE FOR EVERYONE

Blue finally gets Max back to her own bed, and the elderly patient thinks she and Blue are a dynamic duo. She also sees why Jules is falling for him. Blue doesn’t believe her since Jules barely talks to him anymore. Out of nowhere, Max start having trouble breathing. Blue calls for help and gets her oxygen as she starts to crash. Blue begs Max to hold on. A nurse comes in and reminds Blue that Max has a DNR. She tries to stop Blue from saving Max’s life when he asks for an intubation tray.

Teddy goes to her office and is followed in by Owen. He wants her to eat and brought her a smoothie, knowing that it would hurt her mouth to chew. Teddy is glad that Owen always takes care of her, and the two sit on the couch together. The Catherine Fox Award crew then lands in Boston. Bailey calls Ben and asks Nick if he is going to follow everyone else when he doesn’t immediately get up. Nick wants to meet up with them later because there is something he needs to do first. Bailey leaves a voicemail for Ben and exits the plane. After taking a deep breath and sighing, Nick gets up to leave too.

Back at Grey Sloan Memorial, we quickly see Blue trying to revive Max, but the nurses won’t bring him an intubation tray due to the patient’s DNR. Then, Link goes into a supply closet and pushes a cart into the wall to let off some steam. The scene cuts back to Schmitt finding Blue attempting to save Max’s life. He tells Blue not to intubate because that is not what Max wanted. Blue informs Schmitt that Max has a collapsed lung and was fine one moment and coded the next. He begs his boss to help him save her, and Schmitt caves and asks the nurses for a chest tube tray.

Downstairs, Lucas is still sitting with Toby and talking to her when Simone comes running into the hospital in her wedding dress with a desperate look on her face. She locks eyes with Lucas through Toby’s room’s window and walks slowly toward him. Lucas gets up and goes out to meet her. Simone calmly tells him that she didn’t get married. Toby tells them to go and that she will be fine by herself. Lucas and Simone start walking down the hall and straight into an on-call room. Simone locks the door behind her, and Lucas immediately kisses her. She turns around so he can take off her dress. As the dress falls to the ground, they kiss again. Simone takes off Lucas’ scrub top, and they continue to make out. Lucas carries Simone to a bed, and the rest is left to your imagination. It’s about time these two got together, and we will see more of how it plays out in the second episode.

The first episode ends with Nick taking a taxi to Mer’s new house in Boston. He takes a deep breath and knocks on the door. A man answers the door, and Nick, along with the audience, is quite stunned. Nick asks if Mer lives there, and the man replies that she is at work. He introduces himself as Michael and says he will let Mer know he came by, but it is probably best if Nick texts her. It is quite surprising to see a man answer Mer’s door, but don’t forget that there are multiple reasons he could be there. This would have been a fantastic cliffhanger to a normal weekly episode, but thankfully, we don’t have to wait a week to find out what happens next.

“Happily Ever After?”

The second hour opens in Boston, where Nick is drowning his sorrows at his hotel’s bar. He thinks Mer has moved on with a new man, but he can’t wallow long because he gets a text from Mer asking him to go to her lab, stat. We then see potential new lovebirds Simone and Lucas lying in bed after sleeping together. Lucas asks what happened at the wedding, but Simone wants him to stay in the moment as long as they can. They start kissing and are interrupted by Lucas getting a page. He groans when he sees that Schmitt needs him to cover the ER. Simone says she should check on Toby anyways, and they kiss before parting.

Jo then goes to check on Sam. His friend Kwame has returned and shows him photos of his new baby boy. He tells Sam that they named the baby Sam after him, which was his wife’s idea. Kwame says he will be back the next day and leaves. Mika comes in to tag out Jo per Link’s order. Jo protests, so Mika tries to tell her that since she is wearing black scrubs, she is currently an OB resident, which means Link outranks her. Jo sternly replies that she outranks Mika no matter what color scrubs she is wearing and sentences the intern to cover the pit. After Mika leaves, Sam comments that Link doesn’t want Jo alone with him and asks what the story between them is.

Over in Boston, Nick arrives at the hospital Mer works at and finds Bailey, Richard, and Amelia walking toward Mer’s lab too. They deduce they all got the same text from her. Mer, who is wearing her Dartmouth sweatshirt, is on the floor trying to figure something out and talking to herself. She says that everything is wrong and that they need to question everything they know about Alzheimer’s if they are going to cure it. Understandably, the group is quite confused.

Back at Grey Sloan Memorial, Blue and Schmitt talk about the Max situation after they save her life. Blue tells Schmitt that Max was perfectly fine before she coded, and he isn’t sure why her pressures aren’t rising after reinflating her lung. Schmitt wants Blue to report what he did to Teddy and document everything for the committee that will be looking into it. Jules comes into Max’s ICU room and wants to know what happened. She angrily asks who intubated Max when she has a DNR, and Blue owns up to saving her. 

Owen is working in the pit and sees Helm walk in. She tells him that she was in the getaway van and since she is at the hospital, she will change and start working immediately. Owen seems happy to have Helm back, but he is immediately forced from his reprieve when an ambulance pulls up with a car crash victim with a left arm injury. When the gurney comes out of the ambulance, we see that the patient is Trey. Lucas comes out to help too and mutters, “Oh shit” under his breath when he realizes who he has to help.

STRONG REACTIONS

Up in the ICU, Schmitt explains to Teddy and Jules what happened and why he and Blue saved Max. Jules, who is still angry, says that Max was clear with her wishes. Teddy states that Schmitt and Blue need to speak to Max’s medical proxy to decide what happens next. Blue looks at the paperwork and sees that Jules is the proxy. Teddy tells them that it is Jules’ choice to put Max on pressers or to take the tubes out. Jules asks Teddy if Max will survive if they extubate her, but Teddy can’t answer the question. Jules agrees to the medication and asks Blue to not talk to her. Teddy then asks Schmitt to look at her tooth for any sores, which is a comical scene. Schmitt doesn’t see anything and respectfully says that he isn’t a dentist.

Elsewhere in the ICU, Jo tells Sam about her and Link’s history. When she is done, Sam says he gets why Link is acting the way he is and tells her that Link loves her. Jo immediately disagrees, but Sam argues that no guy does all of the things Link has done for a person who is only a friend. Jo is tired of explaining their status to people when she doesn’t think it is like that between them. Clearly Jo is just lying to herself at this point. Sam tells her that Link had years to figure out what he knew in minutes and that he plans to sweep Jo off her feet like she deserves when he is out of the hospital. Jo says she needs to check on other patients and leaves because Sam hit a nerve.

Downstairs, Simone has decided to stay and work for the rest of the day. She meets Toby to go to the OR for her surgery and tells her patient that she wants to be there because her failed wedding is enough for one day. Lucas comes around the corner and tells Simone they need to talk. He tells her that Trey is in the hospital as a patient with a minor arm fracture from a car accident. Simone sprints off and leaves Lucas to chase after her once again.

Blue then finds Jules in the intern locker room to tell her that Max is stable now and the drugs are working. He tells her about how he chose to save her life. Jules tries to explain that being kept alive by machines isn’t life according to Max, which is why she had legal papers drawn up and signed. Jules says, “It’s not for you to choose. Do you know the position you put me in?” She hates that she might have to decide to unplug her favorite person in the world, which must be the real reason she is upset. Blue is also visibly upset. 

In a trauma room, Trey asks Owen, Link, Helm, and Mika if Simone is in the hospital. He explains that he knows what his injuries are because he is a second year surgical resident in Baltimore. Owen and Link clearly don’t know who Trey is, and the women don’t tell them. Link explains that Trey needs surgery to repair his arm. Simone and Lucas rush into the room, and Trey immediately realizes that Simone must have left him for Lucas. He gets out of bed and punches Lucas square in the face with his unbroken arm.

In Boston, Mer tells the group that top scientists believe in plaque therapy to treat Alzheimer’s and that they use medications that are approved to remove plaque. She says they can no longer trust what is being published about the disease and its treatments because a doctor in Tennessee found evidence of tampered images. Nick asks Mer the last time she slept was. Mer doesn’t answer and says that Jackson had to go to London, which means she is probably working around the clock. It seems odd that Jackson would be in London when the Catherine Fox Award is handed out, but I guess that was the best excuse the writers could come up with for Jesse Williams’ schedule. Mer says that she gathered everyone who knows her best to show them her new Alzheimer’s theory before telling the world what she found.

In the hotel, Maggie sees Winston in the hallway and asks him to help with her dress. Winston is blown away by Maggie’s dress and new hairstyle. They go into Maggie’s room so he can help zip up her dress. Mer is blowing up Maggie’s phone, but Maggie is in no rush to answer. She instead congratulates Winston for becoming chief of cardio at Grey Sloan Memorial, and he sarcastically replies he was left with a messy department. Winston gets the door for Maggie and they start to walk out. Midway, Maggie turns around and kisses Winston, and they go back into the room to reunite.

REUNIONS

In the hospital ER, Mika cleans up Lucas’ face and says that she is on his side, but she doesn’t want to get dragged down in a fight between him and Simone. She doesn’t want to live in a house like that either. Owen asks Mika to help with Trey’s surgery, so Mika asks Lucas to look after Sam for her. We see Simone looking out the window of Trey’s trauma room at Lucas to see if he is okay. Trey thinks Simone and Lucas were having an affair. Simone tells Trey there was no affair and that she didn’t leave him for another man. She felt that she had changed and wanted different things. He doesn’t understand why she said yes and moved up the wedding if that’s the way she felt. Trey asks if any of their relationship was real, post-Baltimore. Simone admits it was real, so Trey says he will move to Seattle so they can figure out their relationship. She apologizes for letting it drag on, but she wanted to do the right thing and was confused. She now knows what she wants. Trey thinks her whole life will change if she is with Lucas because he has a family name to fall back on, while Simone has nothing. Trey says that he won’t be there to clean up the pieces when it gets messy.

Schmitt finds Blue taking a break outside to tell him that Max is doing better. Blue wonders what will happen if she doesn’t wake up and is also surprised that Schmitt isn’t yelling at him. Schmitt tells Blue how he killed a patient the year before when he was sure he knew how to save him and didn’t. He learned more from the mistake and the wounds that ate at him, not from someone yelling at him. Schmitt knows he didn’t have to yell because he has been in Blue’s position

We then see Winston and Maggie in bed together. Winston decides to rapidly fire questions at her for fun. He asks what she would name a dog, and Maggie replies Ruth, which makes them both laugh. The next question is what she would buy with a million dollars, and Maggie wants new boots. She asks the same questions to Winston, who answers: Marlon and a time machine. He wants to go back in time to tell his mom that he was nominated for a Catherine Fox Award. Maggie knows Winston’s answers were much better than hers and decides to get dressed so she can finally check in with Mer before the award reception.

At the Boston hospital, Nick, Bailey, and Richard are shocked after finding out Mer’s thoughts on Alzheimer’s. Richard tells Mer that she will be written off as crazy, not cutting edge, and will jeopardize her reputation with the foundation, which could destroy her career. Mer wants to know if Amelia sees what she sees and wants her sister-in-law to say that plaque may not be causing the disease after all. Amelia is still a bit stunned, but she isn’t happy that Mer’s findings insult Derek’s work as well. Richard wants Mer to keep her discovery to herself but Mer doesn’t want to lie and let science catch up to her. Richard thinks she should do the Alzheimer’s work on the side and not make it public in order to maintain the respect she has built for herself.

GO WITH YOUR GUT

Not long after, Nick is looking around Mer’s lab and she comes in to chat. He knows all the equipment because he did a lot of research as an intern. Mer reveals that Lucas told her that Nick has been very supportive, which makes her happy. Nick doesn’t think they need to do small talk when she has moved on, is happy in Boston, and has broken new ground. Mer asks Nick what he would do if he were her. Nick asks if she came to Boston to follow rules, and if she did, that would upset him more.

At the hospital, Lucas finds Simone as she finishes calling Trey’s mom to let her know that her son is in surgery. Simone says Trey’s family is mad at her and that Trey was on his way to GSM to see her when he got into the accident. She doesn’t think it would have happened if not for her. Lucas reminds Simone that she can’t marry someone she doesn’t love, but she doesn’t want to be let off the hook because she hurt people. Lucas decides to leave to check on Sam and tells Simone to text him if she needs him.

Blue finds Jules sitting with Max in her ICU room. He tells Jules that he understands what she loves about Max. He knows Max isn’t just a funny, sweet old lady, but she is also brave and generous with advice. She reminds him of his own mother and says he has never met anyone like her. Jules says Max is always worried about her in ways that her parents never were. Max wakes up and tries to pull her breathing tube out. The interns try to tell her to relax and that she is okay to make her stop.

Maggie and Winston show up to the award ceremony together and go straight to the table they are sharing with Richard, Nick, Bailey, Amelia, and Mer. Richard wonders aloud why Maggie didn’t come to Mer’s lab and Maggie lies about the reason, which Bailey doesn’t buy. Catherine comes over to their table to steal Mer for two minutes to talk to donors and give them an update on her work. Amelia is looking up the validity of Mer’s research on her phone and walks away after Bailey tells her to put the phone down at the table. Catherine and Mer go over to a table of donors, and one tells Mer that his mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s a year ago. He is happy to have hope from her research. But Mer tells the donor that scientists are focusing on the wrong thing so his money is not being well spent. Catherine tries to silence Mer before she digs her own grave.

Jules and Blue have gotten Max to calm down and stop fighting them. Max asks for a pen and writes a note to them asking to take out the tube. Blue tells Max that she isn’t dying and how he had to make a decision to save her. He thinks she was wrong about it being her time to go and wants her to give them 24 hours to let them help her and stay on the vent. After that, they will do whatever they want. Max agrees to Blue’s plan, and this scene epitomizes the amount of growth Blue has had in a single season.

AND THE WINNER IS...

Lucas goes to check on Sam, who immediately sees the wounds on the intern’s face and asks if the other guy looks worse. Lucas explains he was hit by a disgruntled patient and tells Sam to rest. Sam doesn’t want Lucas to withhold a juicy story. Lucas tells him there is a girl, and Sam stops him and says he doesn’t need to finish because he knows the rest. Sam starts to feel funny and immediately crashes. Lucas calls for someone to page Teddy and jumps into action.

Trey’s surgery is finished and is successful. Link tells Helm that Trey doesn’t want pain meds, but that might change. He tells her it is good to have her back and walks away. Mika comes over and asks how it is to be back. Helm replies she is coming down off a high from their date and is happy to be back at Grey Sloan Memorial. She is happy they got to spend the day together too. Mika gets a 911 page for Sam and runs off. She and Teddy arrive in Sam’s room at the same time. He is bleeding out into his chest, and Teddy knows his aorta must have ruptured.

Jo finds Link outside in the rain and asks him what he is doing. He decided to take a break and was enjoying the quiet. Jo asks if she should leave, so Link counters by asking if that is what she wants. Jo wants to know what is going on and Link asks what Jo wants. She stutters and then asks him to move out. Jo has been thinking about it for a while because she thinks it is confusing for the kids if they keep living together. Link wants to know if it is really about the kids or if it is about Sam. Jo wants to meet someone and isn’t comfortable bringing people home like Link is. Link proclaims that he has been too busy changing his whole life to revolve around Jo and “us” and hasn’t brought anyone home in months. Jo replies that she didn’t ask him to change his life. Their conversation is cut short by a change to another scene, which is annoying. 

But at least it is changed to a good scene: it’s time for the presentation of the Catherine Fox Award. Catherine goes up to the podium to introduce the award and how it is given to a surgeon who shows excellence in the field while pushing boundaries. She introduces the most well-known boundary push, Meredith, and Bailey feels slighted and overlooked since she was supposed to present the award. Ben arrives and sits down next to Bailey, which surprises her. Mer tells the room that for the first time ever, Catherine decided that this is the year to break rules and give the award to a non-surgical project and a non-nominee. Bailey wants to know what is going on, but no one at the table answers. Mer says that in the midst of a national public health crisis, one doctor is trying to change it one procedure and one trainee at a time. She is thrilled to present Bailey with the Catherine Fox Award for significant contribution to medicine this year. Bailey is beyond shocked, and Ben pushes her to the stage. She doesn’t know how to react, and Mer thanks Bailey, who is getting a standing ovation. Bailey is beyond overwhelmed and tries not to cry as she tells the room of doctors, “It has been such a long year.”

Afterward, Maggie debates the logic of a non-nominee winning, and Winston is confused why she is questioning it. She decides that she is happy Bailey won and if she had to lose to someone, she is glad it was Bailey. Maggie asks Winston to get a drink with her, and he wants to know if that is what they are now. Winston randomly asks if they should get divorced, so Maggie quietly asks if that is what he wants. He wants to excel at his job and break new ground. He doesn’t want this to be his last nomination, rather the beginning of many. Maggie suggests they start with that and figure out the rest later. 

Bailey hugs Mer, and Ben tries to get his wife to go take pictures. Bailey is upset that she ugly cried in front of a room of big time surgeons. Mer says that she, herself, is going to cry on her way home because she is going to lose all her funding. Bailey assures Mer that she won’t lose anything because she is too stubborn. Amelia comes back into the ballroom and tells Richard that she missed Bailey getting an award. She wants to go to an AA meeting and asks Richard to join her. Richard admits he almost took a drink on the plane and that is the only thing he can think about. They both know they aren’t like everyone else and can’t take the edge off the same way. Richard wants to stay behind and wait for Catherine, so Amelia decides to find a meeting and text him the address. After Amelia walks away, a waitress puts a vodka tonic down in front of Richard, which he ordered. We don’t see if Richard breaks his sobriety, which might be the most surprising cliffhanger of the episode.

END OF THE SEASON

Mer goes upstairs and slips a letter under a hotel room door. As she walks away, Nick opens the door and asks what the letter is. He reads it, but doesn’t understand it. Mer explains she did pretend not to hear him because she was tired, overwhelmed, scared, and thought she should focus on her kids. She is still tired, scared, and overwhelmed and may have blown up her career, but she tells Nick she misses him. Nick reveals he met Michael. Mer smiles and says Michael is wonderful and great with the kids. She tells Nick that Michael is Zola’s tutor. Mer didn’t know Nick went to her house and wants to know why he didn’t mention it earlier at the lab. Nick replies that Mer was in mad scientist mode and he didn’t want to talk about it. Mer assures Nick that Michael exclusively dates men. Nick tells Mer he thought he was going to die earlier on the plane and realized how badly he wants to live. He spent years trying to avoid pain and went to Mer’s house to never let her walk away. Nick says he wants to live a whole life out of love and pain and her. Mer happily says “okay” and kisses him with a big smile on her face.

Blue checks on Max again, who is sleeping. Jules is still sitting next to her and tells Blue that Max is on minimum vent settings, which he says is good news. Jules is still mad at him and proclaims that Blue is the most selfish, arrogant, impulsive, enraging person. She doesn’t think he cares about anyone else and what they feel or want. He put her in an impossible situation and hates him for that. Jules says she is going to cry to express anger, which will make her hate Blue more for letting him see her cry. She finishes by saying that the worst part is that he saved her favorite person, so she has to love him too. Blue hands Jules a tissue as she cries.

Sam is in the OR for emergent surgery, and Teddy tells the doctors and nurses the surgical plan. She says they will need to stop the blood loss before doing the aortic repair, and everyone will need to work quickly and anticipate what could go wrong. Teddy then faints, and Mika calls for a crash cart.

We then finally get to see the rest of Link and Jo’s fight/conversation. Link is yelling at Jo about how many times he has changed his work and Scout schedules to be there for her and Luna. Link says he cares about the two of them and wants to know if they are just roommates like she told Sam. Jo replies, “What was I supposed to say?” and claims it was semantics. Link says it isn’t semantics, rather it is love. Link finally proclaims, “I’m so completely in love with you, Jo. How don’t you see that?” He talks about loving her since they were in high school and worked at a restaurant together. Link wanted to tell her a hundred times and says it all the time to himself. He knows he should have said it out loud sooner, but he didn’t want to freak her out. Link concludes with, “I love you, and I’m gonna love you forever.” Jo smiles and replies, “You unbelievable dummy. I love you too.” Link is shocked that they both feel the same way. They stare at each other for a second, and Jo walks over and kisses Link. The whole story of Jo and Link getting frustrated at each other and then proclaim their mutual love would have worked better if it was one full scene, not spread out.

The season ends in Sam’s OR. Teddy is passed out on the ground, and Mika is telling her to wake up. Simone comes in and finds Sam bleeding out. Teddy now has no pulse, and both she and Sam are critical. Lucas decides he is going to do Sam’s surgery himself because they paged all the attendings and no one is coming. He and Simone know they have to do whatever it takes to save Sam and Teddy. Simone asks a nurse for a gown and gloves, and Mika protests Sam’s surgery because her name is on his chart, so it will be on her. Lucas and Simone start operating on Sam, and we see a nurse get Owen in the ER and tell him to get to the OR immediately. Owen runs, and we get a quick glimpse of Jo and Link kissing in the rain. They are soaked and don’t care as they smile at each other. The happiness is fleeting as Teddy is crashing when Owen arrives. Mika has to shock her, but it doesn’t work. Owen then takes the paddles and tries, while the Lucas and Simone continue working on Sam. Owen begs Teddy to stay with him and shocks her again. There is no response on the monitor, and the episode abruptly ends. 

Normally this would be a pretty massive cliffhanger, especially with not knowing when the next season will air. There are two reasons why this isn’t the shocking ending the show wants it to be. First, Teddy’s constant tooth problem over the two hours should have clued you in that something bad was going to happen to her. Second, casting announcements for next season were announced the same night the finale aired. So if you want the spoiler of whether Teddy lives or dies, you can see if Kim Raver signed on for season 20 with a simple Google search. 

It will be interesting to see where everything goes for all the potential new couples next season as Grey’s Anatomy enters its third decade.

Monday, May 22, 2023

The Flash 9x12 Review: "A New World, Part Three" (Cross Road Blues) [Contributor: Deborah M]


“A New World, Part Three”
Original Airdate: May 17, 2023

It’s the penultimate episode of the season and the series, and this is usually when The Flash drops the pacing ball and deflates all the tension that’s been building but I’m happy to say that isn’t the case! “A New World, Part Three” is probably the weakest of this final arc so far because of few logic fumbles and some bizarre choices, but it’s still not bad. And I’m still pretty interested in seeing where all this goes. Accept a polite golf clap and a hum of interest from me, The Flash, because I remain intrigued.

PART THREE: CHANGES

We start right where we left off, with Eddie having just dug a bullet out of his chest to prove his identity (hope that form of identification doesn’t catch on) and Captain Korber trying to make sense of whatever’s happening. “I believe you,” she says, “but this city is a lightning rod for insanity. You could be a clone or a cyborg.” I guess a few decades of comic book nonsense does wonders for a Central City citizen’s self-awareness. Before Korber can rein in the still-reeling Eddie, though, she gets sucked into a blue vortex in the sky. Lightning rod for insanity, you say?

Back at present-day STAR Labs, Team Flash is trying to figure out how to get Barry back before his baby is born but they don’t have much to go on. Thankfully, Speed Force Nora is able to drop in briefly, explain that Barry’s in 2049, and that Barry’s death means the destruction of the entire timeline. Too-da-loo! Wait, is that last part true just for this occasion, or all occasions? Like, will Barry die of old age and destroy the world?

Team Flash of 2049 is celebrating a victory while Nora (daughter-Nora, not Speed Force Nora or mom-Nora) leads the team in her father’s off-world absence. They should also be celebrating the fact that none of them appear to have aged at all in the almost thirty years that have passed. Either the costume and makeup departments decided to take the week off when they were filming the future episodes or The Flash is implying some stuff about anti-aging technology within the next three decades.

Searching for the Flash leads Eddie to the Flash Museum, which is of course right on top of Team Flash’s “secret” headquarters. Eddie starts to freak out because a screen in the museum breaks the sad, sad news that his season one death was all for naught, but he’s interrupted by Nora in a blonde wig, claiming she’s his daughter. Okay, the goofy blonde wig is definitely a point toward the theory that costuming just wasn’t around for the filming of this episode and everyone had to make do. Another vortex appears and Blonde Nora tries getting Eddie to follow her in, but Actual Nora speeds in and saves him, bringing him to Team Flash for investigation.

“Eddie Thawne died 34 years ago. How is he alive and why hasn’t he aged a day?” asks Allegra, who also hasn’t aged a day in almost thirty years. None of you have aged a day! I’m pretty sure Chester still has the exact same hairstyle! Whatever. The team thinks Eddie is triggering the vortexes with his emotions while the writers’ dedication to returning again and again to the Eobard Thawne well gives poor Eddie an existential crisis, since he realizes he died “to stop a supervillain that didn’t stay dead.”

The blue crystal gets Nora just in time for Barry to show up in 2049, but Team Flash of the past has a plan to figure out what’s going on in the future by projecting Cecile into the body of her future self. The plan encounters a hiccup when Cecile learns she no longer spends time with her family in the future, freaks out, and bounces back to the present. This gives Negative Speed Force Nora some time to manipulate Eddie a little bit, fight Barry a little bit — generally cause an echo-voiced ruckus a little bit.

Barry stops Eddie from taking the blue crystal from Nora and they end up in the West home, where Eddie had been living as Malcolm Gilmore. Barry picks up an award for Gilmore that glows blue and briefly shifts into an award for Joe West, which Barry recognizes as a sign of negative tachyons. He theorizes that everything in the life of “Malcolm Gilmore” is made of negative tachyons, as part of the crystal’s plan to make Eddie the avatar for the Negative Speed Force. Why create Malcolm Gilmore in the first place, though? Why not just drop Eddie into the future? I suspect the writers wanted a nod to some comic book Cobalt Blue canon and didn’t fully think that one through, but we’ll see.

While Barry is optimistic that Eddie will work with him to defeat the Negative Speed Force, he underestimates the power of angry disembodied voices and rejection from Iris West. After Eddie looks up 2049 Iris (the only cast member who gets a gray wig, although that’s as far as the aging makeup goes) and she tells him she’s sticking with Barry, a red lightning storm rolls in and he’s stuck on the villainous path.

With her doubts about her future assuages thanks to a pep talk from Chester, 2023 Cecile inhabits her 2049 body again and manages to push the Negative Speed Force out of Nora before Barry has to hurt her or she manages to hurt him, but again the crystal disappears and there’s still that red lightning to deal with. Chester explains that it’s the timeline fracturing, and Cecile promises to warn the team in the past while Barry is pulled away by that glowy blue light once more.

Meanwhile, yet another cover of “I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues” plays as Eddie rages against fate and then finally succumbs to the voice in the crystal, which has appeared in a glass box in Malcolm Gilmore’s lab. It shows Eddie his potential life, with goofy blonde Nora and Iris, and then shows him all the speedsters of the past. He reaches toward it and opens a swirling blue vortex. Boy, I sure write weird sentences when reviewing this show. I’m gonna miss that.

Other Things:

  • I will admit to a brief moment of finding Mark endearing when he said he loved Barry. Cute.
  • “If by this you mean, just go on and astrally project myself into my future body, protect Barry from the Negative Speed Force, and save all of temporal existence before coming back and teaching Jenna her multiplication tables...” Jenna’s on multiplication tables? Isn’t she like five?
  • Rick Cosnett is a much more charming actor than I remember him being. Some of his facial expressions in this episode are brilliant.
  • It is very sweet how Barry immediately hugs Eddie when he sees he’s alive again and there’s no real awkwardness about the whole Iris thing. And when the awkwardness about the Iris thing does set in, it’s implied that’s mostly because of the angry crystal voice growling at Eddie. Both of them are good dudes.

Grey’s Anatomy 19x18 Recap: “Ready to Run” (Vulnerability) [Contributor: Julia Siegel]


“Ready to Run”
Original Airdate: May 11, 2023

Catherine Fox Award nominees, family injuries, and love struggles are the highlights of this week’s episode of Grey’s Anatomy. This episode is a mixed bag of emotions to set up what should be a big last bang after stalling on many storylines during the second half of the season. With only a two-hour season finale left, Grey’s Anatomy is queueing up a collision course for several characters as we rush toward the finish line.

GREAT NEWS

The episode begins with good news all around. The hour opens with Simone trying on her wedding dress at the intern house while Mika helps her with alterations. Lucas walks into the room and is stunned at how beautiful Simone looks. He asks his friends if they saw that Richard has a big announcement to make and wonders what it could be. Mika tells him to go shower since they have to leave for work in five minutes. Outside the hospital, Schmitt and Helm meet at the coffee cart before work. Schmitt wants Helm to come back to Grey Sloan Memorial and tries to convince her using some weak attempts at making his job look appealing.

Inside, Richard and Teddy tell a lobby full of doctors that the hospital hasn’t had a Catherine Fox Award nominee in a while, but this year, they have two doctors nominated: Nick, for his xenotransplantation, and Winston, along with Maggie, for the partial heart transplant. The award ceremony will be in Boston, which immediately upsets Nick. Richard congratulates both men for the nominations. Amelia congratulates Winston, but he still won’t talk to her even after her apology at the end of last episode. Richard approaches Nick to tell him they will have the final travel plans later that day. However, Nick tells Richard that he doesn’t want to go to the ceremony.

Owen, Link, and Mika then go check on Sam Sutton, the military veteran who sustained over 90 fractures from a wind suit flight gone wrong last episode. Mika presents the case and tells the attendings that Sam’s nerve signals are strong and he has no signs of infection two days after the miracle surgery Link pulled off. Owen and Link tell their patient that they are planning to write an article on him for a medical journal to help other doctors with similar cases. Sam asks them where Jo is, and Link gets very upset when he learns Jo told Sam that she is single. Sam makes it clear that he intends to continue flirting with Jo and is interested in her.

Bailey and Blue are on their way to see Max in the ICU when Jules approaches them and asks to be on the case. Bailey thinks Jules is too close to Max to be involved, but Blue volunteers to switch with Jules and be on Amelia’s service for the day. It is surprising that Bailey doesn’t stick to her gut and allows the interns to switch services. Jules and Bailey go into Max’s ICU room and are happy to find out that the delirium has gone away and Max is feeling a lot better. The patient wants to tell Jules a few things about her wishes in case she gets delirious again. Max asks Jules to feed her cat, cremate her and sprinkle her ashes over the Grand Canyon, and let her go and not resuscitate if she codes. Jules assures Max that she will be able to go home in a day or two and isn’t dying. They are downgrading her to a regular room, but Max wants Jules to hear her out anyway. Bailey assures Max that her wishes are noted and she will get the official DNR paperwork for her, much to Jules’ chagrin.

Lucas and Simone are on Teddy’s service for the day and walk quickly down the hall with her. Teddy has a patient named Ray with an abdominal aortic aneurysm that could rupture at any second, but won’t consent to life-saving surgery. Ray is panicking about the procedure and rushes out of the room, so Teddy tells the interns to run after him.

DOING THE OPPOSITE OF WHAT YOU SAY

Jo finds Link and tells him how Scout had an annoyed face like his father when Luna got a hedgehog toy that he wanted in daycare. A nurse comes up and tells Jo that Sam is looking for her. Link gives Jo the annoyed face she was just talking about and says that it was inappropriate of her to tell a patient she is single. Jo thinks Link’s disapproval is misplaced chivalry and assures him that she can handle herself.

Teddy and the interns run after Ray and catch up to him. Ray is worried about the potential surgical complications mentioned on the consent forms, so he doesn’t want the surgery anymore. Teddy tries to explain what will happen if the aneurysm bursts and says he has a 10% chance of it rupturing at any moment. Ray knows the forms say he could die a dozen different ways if he has the operation, so he would rather take his chances without it. He doesn’t want to be forced into it and leaves. Teddy turns to Simone and Lucas and says they can’t force a patient to consent, so they should go to the skills lab and wait for a page if anything comes up.

Jo goes to see Sam, who lies about paging her to ask a question about a plate in his arm. He actually wanted to thank her for saving his life and was bored and wanted to flirt with her. Jo says she doesn’t have a boring day and tells him about her dual specialties. She asks Sam what he does now, and he replies that he is still a pilot and is a simple guy. Jo stalked Sam’s social media to find out what wing suiting was after he took a clear interest in her. Mika comes into the room, and Jo uses her presence as an excuse to go back to OB.

Lucas finds Ray signing a form that he is leaving the hospital against medical advice and asks to talk to him about the surgery. He tells Ray that it is his decision, but he wouldn’t be able to sleep without knowing Ray was fully informed about the procedure. Lucas asks to walk out with him, and Ray agrees to the company.

Jules excitedly wheels Max into her new hospital room and is happy to announce the room has a window. As they go into the room, Max’s two best friends jump out from behind the door to surprise her with a visit. Jules will only let them stay for an hour, and Max is glad they brought her crochet bag and toiletries. Max walks to the bathroom on her own and winds up falling and hitting her head. Jules rushes to her side and is shaken by seeing Max’s head bleeding.

Richard finds Winston and Nick and asks the former if it will be awkward seeing Maggie in Boston. Winston says yes and will still go to the ceremony since so few Black men have been nominated for the award. Richard is proud of Winston and his mindset and turns to Nick to tell him that the award means something and if Winston can rise up and see Maggie, then Nick can see Meredith. Nick still doesn’t feel the need to go to Boston for a dinner and turns down Richard’s request for his attendance at the event. Richard says that it will be a smear against Grey Sloan Memorial if Nick doesn’t go to the ceremony and, in not so many words, he highly suggests Nick attends.

A NEW APPROACH

Back in Max’s room, the elderly patient isn’t sure how she fell. Bailey and Jules find that Max has a broken rib and order a CT scan and neuro consult. Jules tells Max she will stay with her and will call her friends with updates after Max tells them to leave. Meanwhile, Mika and Simone get work done in their new skills lab. Simone is doing wedding planning in between research, and Mika tells her that she does not have a plus one and that Lucas will not be going to the wedding. She asks why the wedding was moved up, and Simone replies that her grandma is getting worse, so they moved it up for her sake. Simone reveals her grandma gets excited by wedding conversations and is herself when they talk about it. Helm pops in to take a look around the new space. Mika is mad at Helm for causing the surgical chiefs to have a meeting about her. She tells Helm that she needs to be mad for a minute, so Helm leaves. Simone thinks Mika and Helm have chemistry, but Mika refuses to make the first move after past embarrassments. 

As they walk outside the hospital, Lucas talks to Ray about the latter’s job as an illustrator for graphic novels. Ray tells Lucas about how he had a very vivid dream when he was little where his grandpa, who had died before Ray was born, told him they would be together when he turns 30. Ray doesn’t want to die and has been really careful his whole life because of the dream. Lucas doesn’t want Ray to die either. He knows statistics freak Ray out, so Lucas suggests they draw the surgery. Lucas explains the procedures through some bad drawings and promises that it has been tested over and over. He assures Ray that they can address any potential problem in the OR, but they can’t be with him if the aneurysm ruptures at home.

Back inside, Max gets a brain CT scan with Bailey, Amelia, Jules, and Blue waiting for the results. Amelia asks Max if she got dizzy before she fell, and Max doesn’t think so. Max talks about how it might be her time to die, and the scans reveal she has a brain bleed. Jules asks to scrub in, but Bailey turns down the request because Jules and Blue traded services. Bailey also thinks Jules is too close to Max and essentially gets Jules to confirm that she considers Max family. Bailey kicks Jules off the case even though Blue offers to switch spots again, which is very unlike him. It seems like he might be finding those emotions he so desperately has been trying to avoid all season.

Elsewhere, Lucas finds Teddy and tells her that he got Ray to consent to the surgery and sign the forms. His different approach worked and convinced the patient that the surgery is the best way to go. Teddy is glad Lucas got through to Ray and tells him to get the patient to radiology for new scans before he bolts again.

Jo goes back to Sam’s room to see how he is faring when she gets a break in her schedule. Sam needs help with an itch, so Jo sticks a tongue depressor down his right hand’s cast. They flirt and bond before Jo gets paged to deliver twins. Jo is obviously playing with fire because Link told her not to and neither is capable of telling the other about their repressed feelings for one another.

A LITTLE LATE

In the OR wing, a group of hospital workers applaud Winston for his Catherine Fox Award nomination. Owen and Amelia see the commotion and complain about not getting recognition for their work. Bailey tells them to stop complaining before she complains herself. It’s pretty funny as she goes on about her own accomplishments and why she should get a nomination. Owen and Amelia stare at her in disbelief.

Blue has a nice conversation with Max as he brings her to the OR for brain surgery. He tells Max that Jules loves living with her. Max talks about how she rarely sees her son Pete and that she thinks she raised him to be too independent. She is happy to have adopted Jules as her honorary child and give her lots of attention and care because Jules didn’t have that as a child and needs it now. Blue thinks Jules is lucky to have Max, but Max believes she is the lucky one.

While Ray gets a CT scan, Teddy asks Lucas how he convinced the patient to change his mind. Nick pops his head into the room to thank Teddy for helping the residents out. Before they can chit chat, Ray’s aneurysm bursts, which throws the doctors into immediate action. They call a code blue, activate massive transfusion protocol, and realize that they can’t get to the OR in a matter of seconds. Teddy tells Nick, Lucas, and Simone that they will need to open Ray up on the CT table. Nick and Teddy start operating while Lucas and Simone trade off chest compression duty. 

We then get a montage of Amelia and Blue operating on Max’s brain mixed with Ray’s impromptu surgery. Ray is heavily bleeding in his abdominal cavity. They try to shock him after repairing the aorta, but there is no response. After another round of compressions, Nick tells Teddy that they need to stop. Teddy doesn’t want to stop because Ray is only 29 years old. Nick knows they did everything they could and that Ray can’t be revived. Teddy stops compressions and calls time of death as Lucas stands still in shock.

Schmitt finds Richard in the hallway and wants to know how his conversation with Helm went. He is hoping Helm will come back and asks what her demands were. Richard reveals that Helm’s requests weren’t unreasonable, so Schmitt talks about how Helm is a proven asset since Richard trained her and that they need her back. Schmitt tells Richard that the hospital needs more senior residents and begs him to give Helm whatever she wants.

Lucas has the tough task of calling Ray’s mother and giving her the bad news. Nick watches and tells Lucas that it is never easy to make that call. He goes on to say that people with ADHD feel losses harder and that it matters that they fought for Ray. Lucas says that Ray knew he was dying, which upsets him. He also reveals that he always felt he was different and not lazy like everyone always said. Lucas went down a rabbit hole online after Nick mentioned he thought the intern had ADHD, and now Lucas feels he has every symptom. He doesn’t get why his family of doctors didn’t see the signs. Nick feels Lucas’ family didn’t think to look for anything wrong they were blinded by wanting him to reach their high standards. Lucas tells Nick that he wants him to win the award, but Nick says the award doesn’t mean anything... which was the wrong thing to say when the kid that looks up to you is trying to tell you that you matter to him.

STEPPING UP

We then check back in with Sam, who asks Mika how long a delivery takes. Mika tells him to take it easy and not be so aggressive with his flirting. Jo waltzes back in and says the twins weren’t ready to come out yet. The two doctors check the nerve impulses in Sam’s right leg, which turn out to be weak. Jo opens up the bandages around Sam’s knee and finds a lot of fluid in the repaired flap. She tells Mika and Sam that they have to fix it then and there if he wants to keep his leg. Without morphine and with him awake, Jo slices into Sam’s leg to relieve the pressure, while Sam tries not to scream from the intense level of pain he is experiencing. 

Elsewhere, Blue finds Jules in an on-call room and brings her the flowers she got for Max so she can take care of them while Max can’t. He tells her that the surgery went well and Max is in the ICU now. He hopes Max won’t be there long so she and Jules can both go home. Blue tells Jules that he also knows the fear, anger, and grief of sitting next to the hospital bed of someone you aren’t sure will make it. He wants Jules to know it is okay to have those feelings and that he is there for her. Jules coolly says that she is fine, so Blue leaves. As soon as the door shuts, Jules breaks down and cries as the emotions from Max’s situation finally overwhelm her. 

Back in Sam’s room, the patient thinks it is cool that Jo sliced into his leg and saved it. Mika makes a comment about being the third wheel in the room, which annoys Jo. A page comes in that the twins are finally ready to be delivered, so Sam tells Jo that she is his hero and would like her to sign his cast before she goes. They continue to flirt as Jo signs his cast and leaves the room. After Jo leaves, Sam tells Mika he was right about asking Jo to come to his room all day.

Downstairs, Richard finds Nick to tell him he cares deeply about the residency program and feels that a Catherine Fox Award nomination for the hospital’s residency director is a big deal. Nick says he wanted to find Richard too in order to ask for a seat on the plane to Boston. He has decided to put aside his feelings if there is still room for him to go. Richard is happy to arrange it and gets what he wanted.

Schmitt goes to Joe’s Bar after work and thinks it is funny that he is now a regular there. Helm tells him that she gave notice and is coming back to Grey Sloan Memorial. She tells her friend that resident wellness is important to her and wants to help her fellow residents with burn out and mentorship. She agreed to come back only if Richard made her co-chief resident with Schmitt, which she is surprised he agreed to. Schmitt gives Helm a big hug and is very excited to have her back and as his co-chief resident. He feels the job is too much for one person and is happy to have help. Helm also reveals that she will be getting eight weeks of vacation, which shocks Schmitt. Mika walks into the bar and right up to Helm to ask her to be her plus one to Simone’s wedding. Mika reveals her feelings to Helm and says it is okay if she is not interested, but at least she asked. She wants the wedding to be a date. Helm tells Mika that she is about to become her boss, and Mika understands that it would be inappropriate for them to go on a date. However, Helm says since the wedding would pre-date her employment at Grey Sloan Memorial, she will go to the wedding with Mika.

Jo checks in on Sam again to see how his knee is doing. Sam is doing better and asks Jo to scratch an itch on his neck. Link comes by and isn’t happy to see them flirting. He very pointedly tells Jo that he will pick up food for them on his way home. Sam asks if they live together, and Link says they do at the same time Jo says they are roommates. Link isn’t happy with the difference in answers, and Jo tells him she will see him later and stays with Sam.

The episode ends with Simone working on wedding favors at home. Lucas walks in the door and asks if Mika is home, but Simone tells him she is at the bar. She apologizes for the loss of Ray, but Lucas doesn’t want to talk about it. Lucas tells Simone about how he probably has ADHD and overthinks things because he can’t get out of his head due to thinking of all the possible complications of every thought. Out of nowhere, Lucas asks Simone to not get married. He knows he might be too late, but he couldn’t live with himself if he didn’t say something while she could change her mind. He tells her that he sees her and that Trey doesn’t. Lucas ends with, “I love every single thing I see.” Simone doesn’t know what to say and is stunned into silence as a tear rolls out of the corner of her eye. Will Simone actually tie the knot with Trey in the season finale? I personally don’t think she will go through with it and leave her fiancĂ© at the altar next week.

Friday, May 19, 2023

What the Heck Has Happened to Ted Lasso? [Contributor: Jenn]

In March of 2020, the world shut down. We all went into lockdown, trying to find toilet paper at a grocery store was like being in the arena in The Hunger Games, we were wiping down groceries with Clorox, and making masks out of whatever scarves and fabric we could find. It was bleak and isolating, and it lasted a lot longer than we all hoped it would. When COVID-19 shook us, it shook some of us hard. I vividly remember sitting on my bedroom floor, crying, as I watched a 4K video of Magic Kingdom Park’s “Happily Ever After” firework special on YouTube. I missed people. But most of all, I missed emotional connection.

Enter: Ted Lasso on Apple TV+. That summer, the comedy series debuted to near-unanimous acclaim. Its first season was the bright spot of joy, hope, and positivity that so many of us needed. I have to believe that part of the attraction to the series — and perhaps a large part — was because it seemed to be exactly what we were missing in our personal lives. We were able to emotionally connect to characters, their arcs, watch them grow, and be reminded that goodness and hope are possible to find in the world. 

That first season was near-perfect gold.

Season two of the series was mostly good, in my opinion, but did suffer from the dreaded “sophomore slump.” If you’re unfamiliar, it’s a pretty common phenomenon in television: when shows start their series strong but inevitably begin to teeter in their second season. I knew Ted Lasso had the potential to pick up the broken pieces of the show and repair them. In fact, I was excited to see exactly how they’d do it in season three.

Well, folks, it’s season three — almost the end of the season, actually — and like many, many, many other people on the internet from fans to TV critics alike, I have no idea what the show is doing. So I write this because I need to process my feelings in something longer than a tweet. And I write to highlight the show’s weaknesses because I know its strengths; like many of you, I was enamored with this series and I’m just so baffled by what it’s become.

As a brief aside, criticism is pointing out flaws in a piece of media because you care about it — what it is, what it was, and/or what it could be. “Hate” is simply dunking on something because you dislike it, want it to fail, and want to shout that dislike from the rooftops. For example, I hate Glee (a collective fever dream if there ever was one) but I am critical of Community! If you love this season of Ted Lasso, then good for you. I will not stop you from loving it. But I will say that if your love of anything prevents you from ever being able to notice its flaws, that’s not love — that’s infatuation. Those rose-colored glasses prevent you from seeing red flags. 

In TV criticism, like most things in life, two things can be true: you can love something and also want it to do better.

For me and my journey with Ted Lasso, the rose-colored glasses of infatuation have been removed. And I dearly love this series that I believe could — and should — do better. Before we get into some of the mistakes the show has made this year though, I’d like to take a moment to note that Phil Dunster should be in Emmy consideration because his evolution of Jamie over the years — particularly this season — has been phenomenal. If you’d have told me in season one that by season three Jamie would be my favorite character, I doubt I would have believed you. But today he is! He has had all of the best writing, character growth, and some of the best scenes in the season (the Amsterdam bike ride and the Uncle Day scenes alone are top-tier). He has done nothing wrong, and I am so happy he’s gotten to shine. This article is not about him.

So with that said, let me attempt to pinpoint where I think Ted Lasso has gone awry this season and what can be done about it if the show continues next year.

THE BLOATED EPISODES

The longest episode of Ted Lasso’s first season clocked in at 34 minutes. The longest episode (so far) of the current season clocked in at 66 minutes. When you take a show that, if it was on a network, would be labeled a “half-hour sitcom” and suddenly turn it into an hour-long dramedy, it just doesn’t work. The tone naturally shifts. The pacing gets rushed in places and dragged out in others. And, in points we’ll cover momentarily, we lose character development and plot threads from episode to episode because they’re naturally unsustainable. 

In fact, the show becomes a series of self-contained episodes at that point, with plots naturally just resolving within the course of 60 minutes.

If Ted Lasso had debuted as an hour-long dramedy, I would have fewer issues with this season. As it is, more doesn’t always equal better. More screentime means more storylines. More storylines means more plot development to cover. But if those plots won’t carry from episode to episode like they have in previous seasons, then what’s really the point? I believe if the show was forced, like network TV series are, to cut their episodes to 20-ish or even 30 minutes, the writers would have had to make some hard decisions this season. It might have resulted in actual tighter storytelling though. Did we really need a departure episode with five separate storylines that, combined, took up 63 minutes of our time? Or could we have narrowed the storylines down to the essential ones that had seasons-long implications — perhaps including a few brief scenes of the others? (We could have. We should have. And I know which ones I would have cut!)

Comedy series don’t always naturally lend themselves to an hour-long format. For a season and a half, Ted Lasso managed to keep its show in the roughly 30-minute range. Only around the midpoint of season two did things start to shift into 44-45 minute territory. And honestly, when your cast expands and your show’s episode length expands in an unprecedented way, things can go south pretty quickly.

TOO MANY CHARACTERS WITH NO SUSTAINED FOCUS

Ted Lasso has always had a lot of characters; that fact has never been an issue for me because for the first few seasons, we spent significant quality time with only a few of the footballers: mostly Roy, Jamie, and Sam. Later on, Dani and Isaac became more prominent figures. This season, Colin joined that list. In an ensemble cast, that’s natural — sometimes a show will discover that their once-side characters are actually more interesting as primary characters and they bump them up from a “recurring” to a “series regular” role. 

Allow me a related tangent for a minute: For those who are fans of Community, this happened naturally with Dean Pelton (played by Jim Rash). As the seasons went on and some of the series regular cast members departed, Jim Rash got a more prominent role to play in the group. He’d been around since the pilot so it made sense to integrate him more into the show’s stories and bump him up to a series regular role. Some might argue (like me) that Dean Pelton works better as a side character who pops in and out of scenes, delivering jokes or one-liners, instead of becoming a main cast member. But the writers, for the most part, knew the appropriate balance of a character we were used to seeing on the sidelines suddenly incorporated into an A-story.

Not so with Ted Lasso. Let’s just start out by noting that the football team alone is huge. Besides Jamie, Isaac, Colin, Sam, and Dani — who were all series regulars — we also saw these characters in some capacity each episode in scenes of significance: Roy, Keeley, Rebecca, Ted, Beard, Higgins, Nate, Trent Crimm, Rupert, Nate’s girlfriend we’re meant to care about now (Jade), Keeley’s ex-girlfriend we were meant to care about for a few episodes there (Jack), Will, etc. 

(Also: did we all also forget the focus that Zava took up for the first part of this season too?!) 

I don’t think Ted Lasso needs to suddenly drop-kick characters out of its universe. 

But what I do think is that it is very, very unsure who — besides its titular character — the show is actually about

And because it is unsure, it is trying to spend too much time, equally, on everyone. It’s why Colin became a focus for a few episodes, but then Sam was the focus of another storyline. It’s why you’re beginning to see some of the recurring football players in stories (like Van Damme). But that’s also why the series is struggling: because it doesn’t know, beyond Ted, who is actually the center of the story. To me, it is always a show about Rebecca.

But do you see how things begin to bleed together rather unfortunately? If you have a season of long episode runtimes with no real direction and a huge cast, you can make episodes about anything you want! But that doesn’t mean you should, and that doesn’t mean they serve an overall purpose in the arc of season. It means you are creating a bunch of self-contained storylines that have no bearing on the overall narrative.

At the beginning of Ted Lasso’s third season, I began to think that we were headed into an interesting theme, asking the questions: “When is it time to go? How do you know you’re ready to leave? And what are the consequences if you stay somewhere too long?” Unfortunately right now, most of the stories in these episodes aren’t answering this central, thematic question at all. 

It’s like the show began on a highway, driving toward a destination. But along the way, all these side roads and off-ramps began to pop up. Some of them were paved, some were just dirt and rocks running through fields. But the show decided that every road was equally important and split off on vehicles, driving into them all. The issue here is that the writers have forgotten how to navigate back to the central highway. Some of those roads abruptly stopped shortly after they started, and some are still winding and weaving around curves, parallel to the highway — close but not quite back to where we need to be.

MISSING: ALL THESE REBECCA PLOT THREADS

Sometimes (maybe three times) there’s a green matchbook. 

But is that really important this season, do you think? It was for an episode! It seemed like Rebecca had some real complex emotions over discovering she can’t have kids early in this season. So when a psychic tells her that she will become a mom, Rebecca is incredibly hurt by what she believes is the psychic taunting her. 

And even though we’ve seen the matchbook a few times this season — presumably as red herrings like the show did last year with the Ted/Rebecca texting — nothing else has resulted from that in terms of Rebecca’s overall character depth. We have spent very little time on any sort of self- 

This is when the old adage “show, don’t tell” could actually be inverted: I want to SEE how Rebecca is actually feeling about all of this. If this story is so important, why not devote time and an actual arc to it? Why not make it a central point in the season and build the stories around it? Why not show Keeley and Rebecca together more, processing the perils of wanting things as a woman, the expectations of motherhood, the desire — or not — to have children? Why not show Rebecca processing it with Dr. Sharon? Something! Anything to tell me the show remembered Rebecca actually had a really rough time with that news and that it is a core part of her character like they say it is! So far this season, that one episode is the deepest we’ve gone with Rebecca’s core desire of: “Wants to become a mother.”

This week’s episode, “International Break,” also delivered the end of a semi-baked storyline that could have been much better handled for Rebecca’s character: her desire to beat Rupert. After it has been hammered into the coaches and us all season that Rebecca just cares about getting ahead of her ex-husband, the resolution to this story — that suddenly Rebecca is reminded of why she loves football and that it doesn’t matter whether she beats Rupert or not — felt... quick. Too quick to be believable. Suddenly Rebecca feels comfortable enough around Rupert to be smiling and laughing (don’t get me started on the show making Rupert mistake that for some sort of romantic affection, ugh), then walking away from him and convincing everyone to not join Akufo’s Super League?

Power poses and little green army men can only do so much legwork for storytelling. 

I had actually really liked where I thought the story was going though in the beginning of the episode: Rebecca is put off by the Super League invitation, believing they only want her there because otherwise it is a bunch of old white men who own football teams and she’s a woman. Higgins, actually, is the one to convince Rebecca to attend the meeting by telling her that it doesn’t matter why she was invited — if she gets a seat at the table, she should take it. And then she can decide what to do with it. 

Before the lunch meeting, Rebecca has a slight anxiety/panic attack in the mirror, but when she pictures herself as a little girl, she actually begins to calm down. It’s almost as if she remembers what she affirms later on: the kid part of us that wanted to be accepted is still inside us. So she does her power pose which is mimicked by little!Rebecca in the mirror. It was a beautiful little moment about anxiety and seeing yourself for who you are. 

This is then slightly undercut by the fact that the lunch’s real purpose was not that Rebecca faced her anxiety with courage, but that Rebecca was willing to let the notion of beating Rupert go. (Rebecca and Keeley discuss it later on in the episode where Keeley tells Rebecca that her ability to do that was a huge step in progress... something I’d believe if I’d seen more of a story thread connecting this all.)

MORE PLOT THREADS THAT ARE MISSING IN ACTION

And then we have all the things with Ted and Michelle suddenly appearing again. Ted doesn’t, seemingly, care that much about Michelle’s dating life for most of this show. It stings, of course, but he’s slept with Sassy (I miss her) and seemed to be in a good emotional place after his sessions with Dr. Sharon (I miss her) last season. But now, without warning, Ted is panicked about Michelle moving on — with fans speculating that perhaps this will lead to a reconciliation where Ted chooses to go back to the U.S. to be with her and Henry. There’s no real reason for the show to do this, other than the fact that it remembered Michelle existed, and it would be a regression in Ted’s character to seek after a woman he has let go of. So where’s this plot even going? Who knows!

Also what is happening with Sam and the woman who works with him (whose name genuinely escapes me)? Were they setting them up to be close friends or something romantic (Rebecca’s little bit of jealousy suggested the latter)? What are the long-lasting consequences of his restaurant being attacked? Because we spent an entire episode with him and that story — only for the show to really never speak of it again. That’s the consequence of a season with bloated episodes: stories only matter in the episode they happen in, then very little matters after the episode concludes.


ROY/KEELEY: MISSING PLOT THREADS TOO

Meanwhile, the whole Roy/Keeley of it all truly bothers me — and I loved them as a couple for the last few seasons. “International Break” finds the pair reconciling... though is it healthy? The ironic dialogue Keeley is delivering to Rebecca as the latter spies Roy in Keeley’s robe suggests otherwise!

Roy and Keeley were such a core part of the series by the end of last season. When their breakup was announced at the beginning of this season, it was unclear why they broke up in the first place. In the show’s most recent episode, the two reconcile. But there’s nothing in the middle of these two episodes that suggests Roy did sufficient work on himself and/or realized he was being an idiot. Instead, the show learns on Phoebe’s teacher as the one to deliver an “a-ha” moment of emotional catharsis for our favorite curmudgeonly footballer. Which apparently involves Roy apologizing for not treating Keeley right or not valuing her as the amazing person she is? (It makes no sense; there is literally no real evidence I can find for that.)

So the choice to hinge a couple we seemingly all rooted for getting back together via a throwaway line from a woman who once flirted with Roy? A bit odd to me. Have Roy and Keeley even significantly interacted prior to this episode? Really? (I’m not counting the moment he approaches her about the video she made because that conversation ended with Roy NOT saying something helpful.)

But I think the Roy/Keeley issues are a symptom of Ted Lasso’s larger problem: there is simply too much happening to devote a significant amount of time to any of it. So the show is asking us to suspend our disbelief and accept plots that don’t quite make sense. And if the series hadn’t been so tightly written with their plot threads in past seasons, I might be willing to look the other way. As it is, I don’t even have to try to find plot holes or fraying threads now; the show is offering them up to me pretty obviously.

KEELEY DESERVES THE WORLD, BUT WAS TREATED LIKE GARBAGE

Separating Keeley and Rebecca this season was a bold move — and it was a bad one. Instead of Keeley being a confident boss like we saw at the end of season two, she’s being love bombed by her boss (HER BOSS, Y'ALL!!! A WOMAN IN A POSITION OF POWER OVER HER IS ALSO HER LOVE INTEREST) and not noticing that anything is awry at all. (Also “love bombing” as a psychological term is actually emotional manipulation. It is often a symptom of someone’s narcissistic personality disorder or abusive behavior, so I will need the writer who decided to make it a lighthearted joke instead of taking it seriously in a timeout corner ASAP.)

I’m glad the show decided to explore Keeley’s bisexuality. But I wish it hadn’t been right after she very clearly stated she wasn’t over Roy. Oh, right, and I wish it wasn’t WITH HER BOSS. (If I had a nickel for every time Ted Lasso did that storyline, I’d have two nickels. Which is not a lot but it is weird it happened twice, right?)

Not only does her BOSS start a relationship with someone she has power over, but her BOSS then uses said power and tries to shame Keeley into apologizing for a sex tape that got leaked without her consent. When Keeley will not, Jack breaks up with her, leaves for another country, ghosts her, pulls her funding, and “apologizes” with a shady text. All while Keeley is just... accepting this. She even pines over Jack by sending an extremely long wall of text messages. KEELEY JONES? There is only a shell of the woman we knew in seasons one and two in this storyline and I’m so mad that Keeley is one of the characters this season to suffer the most. She deserved to have better writing and she deserves the chance to shine. Instead, the show isolated her and shrunk her power down for the sake of a very bad story.

Keeley was isolated on her own PR island where she was apparently struggling to tell people what to do. I would have loved if the show chose to explore her imposter syndrome a little bit deeper than it was. I am all for realism in people struggling with new jobs, positions of power, and responsibilities. But it just seemed like at every turn, Keeley was shrinking in her confidence, incompetent, and overzealous. Her PR firm storyline was barely a story in the end.

What, exactly, did separating Keeley from the whole cast do? Nothing. The best scenes of the show work because of the dynamic between the characters, as evidenced in the Rebecca/Keeley dynamic which is truly lightning in a bottle. This PR/Jack story just made Keeley — a confident character whom Roy and Rebecca affirm in “International Break” multiple times — feel like a helpless, lost, unsteady woman instead of the confident boss she really is. It’s as if the show didn’t know who she was without the rest of the cast. I’m glad that it seems like she’s being incorporated back into the fold now but it’s almost too little, too late for me after what they chose to do this season.

THE NATE OF IT ALL

My issues with Nate are pretty much everyone else’s issues with Nate. I wasn’t a huge fan of making him the villain of season two, but if we got the chance to see some sort of arc or growth in season three, I figured it would all be worth it. And, as you might have guessed, I was wrong! There is no Nate redemption arc! There’s really not even growth! 

Let’s rewind for a minute, shall we? Nate’s villainy stemmed from his deepest insecurities. Everything he does and everything he did was based on those feelings of inadequacy. He felt abandoned by Ted and he lashed out. He got the slightest taste of power and used it to hurt and humiliate Will. He believed he was entitled to his position because he worked hard to get there and thought Ted did not. He assumed that if he just succeeded, he could earn the love and adoration of other people and maybe — just maybe — that would be enough to make him feel like he was something. But no acclaim and no accolades can fill the void in Nate’s heart.

Unfortunately Nate learned very little after season two. Until the most recent episode where he quits West Ham, he’s perfectly fine with mocking and humiliating Ted Lasso and his former teammates to earn the acclaim and approval of Rupert (anyone else see a pattern here?). He doesn’t apologize to Ted in the elevator. He mocks him in a press conference. He becomes Rupert’s shadow and when Rupert apologizes for the fact that Ted, Henry, and Beard are at a West Ham game, Nate deletes the response saying that it was okay and sends exactly what Rupert wants to hear.

After one conversation with his father — a very brief one at that — we’re supposed to believe Nate is going to turn a corner? Because he played the violin and his dad said all he wanted was for Nate to be happy? One brief conversation does not erase years of family trauma, especially if the only progress that has been made on this relationship happened in this scene alone.

Also, I’m sorry: a card apology to Will and a clean/laundered Greyhound locker room does not make up for the horrible way Nate treated him. There is nothing the show can do within the next two episodes that will suddenly make Nate’s “redemption” arc an actual thing. The show should have spent the entire season showing us Nate realizing that chasing fame and adoration is wrong. Instead, we just get more scenes of him scrolling social media and news articles looking for validation. The show could have shown us what happens when you choose to follow a morally bankrupt leader instead of a flawed, kind one. Instead, the writers decided that the moment Nate realized Rupert didn’t actually want to hang out with him for a guys’ night was the last straw. Not, you know, anything else horrible Rupert did that Nate knew about from working at Richmond all those years. Ugh. Y’all, this whole character “arc” is not an arc at all. It’s a bunch of random dots on a scatter plot.

The worst part of it is that the Ted Lasso writers put Nate together with Jade — a woman who found Nate bothersome and then suddenly, with no explanation, has decided that she wants to date him. We don’t have time to unpack all of that so I’ll just breeze right past it and ask: Are we supposed to care more about Nate now that he has a girlfriend? Does the show think that this will soften him for us and/or erase our memories of how Nate outed Ted’s mental health crisis to everyone? Is there actually a point to any of this meandering story? (No.)

Isolating Nate in his own storyline this season was necessary, but the problem is that the writers didn’t devote the necessary time and effort to making Nate grow as a person. There is no reason for me, Ted, or any of the Greyhounds to believe Nate has learned anything at all between the time he left Richmond and now. 

Because he hasn’t.

MOVING FORWARD

Do I think that all hope is lost for Ted Lasso? No. I wouldn’t write this if I didn’t think there were things that the show is doing well or that it could improve. I just hope that the show realizes where its strengths are (concentrated, tight stories with a few characters as a focus) and where its weaknesses are too. At the end of the day, I’m still rooting for Richmond and I know that so many others are too.

Because it is okay to like something and still want it to be better.