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Friday, September 29, 2017

Grey’s Anatomy 14x01 and 14x02 Review: “Break Down the House" & "Get Off on the Pain” (Homecoming) [Contributing Writer: Julia Siegel]

Photo by Richard Cartwright/ABC - © 2017 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

“Break Down the House” & “Get Off on the Pain”
Original Airdate: September 28, 2017

The spring finale of Grey’s Anatomy left us with more questions than answers, especially after all that went down with the hospital exploding and Owen’s presumed dead sister resurfacing after ten years. So, it is a great thing that season fourteen starts the morning after where we left off. With old faces returning, new characters appearing, and all the drama still in place, we should be in for another wild ride of a season!


The destruction from the season finale is extensive, both literally and emotionally. For starters, the hospital has extensive damage and only two of six operation rooms are, well, operational. Stephanie was transferred to a better hospital that specializes in burns, which was a good explanation with Jerrika Hinton leaving the show. Minnick has also quite literally disappeared overnight without a word to Arizona, after promptly being fired for her role in Stephanie’s injuries.

Jo is still initially on the fence about Alex and says that she is still in love with him. However, Alex has yet to tell Jo about his encounter with her estranged husband at the beginning of the premiere. He is still trying to win her back, and even goes as far as giving Jo a solo pediatric surgery to gain her affections. All the couples and budding love triangles are in an ever-growing state of tension. The most interesting character aftermath might be what will happen with Ben, as it was recently announced that actor Jason George will be leaving Grey’s to join the untitled firefighter-centric spinoff series. Ben does mention at the top of the premiere that saving Stephanie was a major rush that he really enjoyed, so it’s safe to assume he will quit medicine at some point over the next few months to become a firefighter.


The other big moment from last season’s finale was the return of Megan Hunt, Owen’s presumed dead military surgeon sister who was also engaged to Nathan. Megan has made her way to Grey-Sloan Memorial Hospital and is in rougher shape than she may appear. With some nasty abdominal injuries, Meredith jumps in to help and be her surgeon prior to Megan knowing the history between Meredith and Nathan. Megan was living in Iraq for the past ten years with her adoptive refugee son, who she plans on getting back to as soon as possible since the U.S. government won’t let her bring him back to the states.

Before the first of many surgeries to come, Meredith tells Megan the nature of her relationship with Nathan when he refuses to tell Megan the truth. Meredith and Megan quickly bond, which is really great for the whole extended Hunt family. It would be nice to see Megan stick around for a bit because she is a great character who could easily add a lot of value to the show. Also, Abigail Spencer is a great talent and an excellent choice for the role. It is refreshing to have an actress like her join in even a recurring role. It will be great to see how Spencer contributes for the next few episodes, as her emotional turn was great in the premiere.

Meredith has decided not to let her personal life get in the way of her professional life. When one of Megan’s surgeries doesn’t quite go the right way, Meredith decides to do an incredibly risky, one-of-a-kind full abdominal wall transplant as a last resort to give Megan back the life she has spent ten years trying to get back. Prior to the surgery, Nathan decides to re-propose to Megan as a sign that he is fully committed to her and her new life. During the happy moment, Meredith walks in to announce that she found a donor abdomen and is shocked to see Nathan proposing. With the proposal cut short, Nathan and Megan wait to discuss the matter further until after the successful surgery. Megan ultimately turns Nathan down, as she feels that he is still in love with Meredith. This will easily turn into a huge love triangle that is definitely not going to sit well with Meredith. The emotional strife should cause some entertaining drama over the next few weeks, and who knows which way this love triangle will ultimately swing.

Other than Megan coming back, Teddy Altman also makes her big return in the premiere to come to the emotional aid of Owen. It is so good to have someone like Teddy back on the show, as Kim Raver is a beacon of happiness and joy. She is also a great actress and someone that I have greatly missed. With Teddy back in the picture and potentially acting as a mediator, maybe Owen and Amelia will be able to work through their differences one way or another. Can we even call Owen and Amelia a couple anymore if they still don’t even want to be in the same room together? Amelia still avoids Owen at all costs during the premiere, which is terrible considering what Owen is going through with Megan’s reappearance. Their awkward conversation just complicates things between everyone, which leads to something that easily should have happened seven years ago.


Just as there were multiple homecomings, there are a few hot and heavy moments that occur over the two hour premiere. The first of these comes in an awkward moment between Arizona, Andrew, and Andrew’s sister, Carina. Yes, you read that right. Carina bumps into Arizona at a bar and seduces her. They wind up at Arizona and Andrew’s apartment, where Andrew walks in on them getting to know each other in ways he didn’t want to know about. Carina then gets a job as an OBGYN at the hospital, so even more awkwardness should occur soon, especially considering her surprising field of study.

Speaking of her new study, Carina gets Amelia as a volunteer, which leads to the most shocking moment of the premiere: the MRI for the study reveals that Amelia has a massive brain tumor. While this does explain a lot about the character and why she acts the way she does (aka moody and bipolar), it is sad news to see another Grey’s character have a brain tumor. We all know that it typically doesn’t end well for these characters, so it will be interesting to see how this diagnosis is handled with regards to Amelia. The irony of the situation may be enough to drag her and Owen back together, if she can get the courage to even speak to him. The brain tumor will probably become one of the largest stories of the season.

Back to the hot and heavy part of this segment, Jo has finally resurfaced and makes a big splash. Jo starts the premiere in a depressed state, as Stephanie has disappeared overnight and she still doesn’t know what to do with Alex and Andrew. She leans on Ben for support and as “the new Stephanie” since she really doesn’t have anyone left. Things get dicey quickly for Jo when Minnick leaves first-day sub-interns for Richard to deal with. One of the sub-interns drops his glasses into the body cavity of Jo’s pediatric patient during surgery, and she winds up sleeping with him a few days later.

Thankfully, this moment is a major wake up call for Jo, and she realizes that she has to come to peace with the whole Alex situation. At the end of the episode, Alex finds Jo and tells her the truth about the Andrew situation and finding her husband. With Alex coming clean and revealing his true feelings, Jo makes a non-surprising decision of her own. Let’s just say they definitely make up and get back on track. Their story is just beginning again, but one can only hope that the estranged husband reappears at some point since that story simply isn’t finished.

With lots going down in the two-hour season premiere, it’s clear that there will be some interesting stories to follow this season. There are plenty of new hookups and love triangles to get around, which means that Grey’s Anatomy is back! It is going to be a wild season that appears to get back to the roots of what makes this show so great. The premiere was an incredibly strong start to the fourteenth season, making Grey’s more exciting than ever.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Brooklyn Nine-Nine 5x01 Recap: “The Big House, Part 1” (Beef Baby and the Cowardly Cannibal) [Contributor: Alisa Williams]

“The Big House, Part 1”
Original Airdate: September 26, 2017

Brooklyn Nine-Nine is BACK, and no one is more excited than me! #Fact. You may recall that season four ended with Jake and Rosa being carted off to jail for crimes they didn’t commit but looked pretty guilty for, thanks to the dirty Lieutenant Hawkins.

Everyone on the team is coping in their own way. Boyle is fairing the worst, naturally. He’s eating sticks of butter like popsicles, daydreaming about Jake being released, and has dyed his hair a dirty reddish blonde (you’ll recall his hair turned white from stress last season).

Jake’s in the protective custody wing of the prison, sharing a cell with a cowardly cannibal named Caleb (played by the effervescent Tim Meadows). Jake has also grown a questionable beard that makes me fear for his sanity. Amy and Boyle pay a visit to Jake, but don’t have any good news to share. Hawkins did a great job covering her tracks for the string of bank robberies Jake and Rosa were framed for and there are no new leads.

Meanwhile, Terry and Captain Holt visit Rosa in the women’s prison. Rosa’s looking fabulous and fearless as always, but Terry and Holt can’t help worrying. Terry won’t stop smiling super hard and Holt won’t stop saying her name repeatedly to remind her she’s more than just her inmate number (he read a study about the dehumanizing effects of prisons). They press her to tell them what they can do to help her on the outside and she finally gives in and says she’ll make them a list.

Back in the men’s prison, visiting time is cut short — which leaves Jake feeling really depressed, so Caleb the Cannibal encourages him to get a contraband cell phone from a guy in the General Population wing. Romero’s one scary dude, but he agrees to get Jake a cell phone in exchange for Jake getting him 100 packets of ramen. Apparently, ramen is a major currency in prison.

While Jake figures out how to get contraband ramen, Holt and Terry tackle the extensive list Rosa has asked them to accomplish which includes rearranging the furniture in her apartment and typing up a huge stack of handwritten letters then emailing them to Pimento in Argentina.

Boyle sneaks Jake some money, which Jake then uses to bribe a guard to sneak in 105 packets of ramen. Jake keeps five packets for himself, hands over the remaining 100 to Romero, and gets a cell phone. Unfortunately, a random search of Jake’s bunk reveals the ramen and now the warden tells him and Caleb that they’ll be transferred to GenPop for breaking the rules.

Jake’s terrified of GenPop but decides to use some job interview tips he learned at a seminar to get in good with a gang. But after striking out with 16 gangs, his last resort is Romero’s gang. Romero agrees to give him a chance and even christens him with a prison nickname: Beef Baby. There’s just one catch: Jake has to kill a guard. This particular guard is known for beating up prisoners for no reason, including some in Romero’s gang. After some back and forth, Jake convinces Romero to let him just get the guard fired instead of killing him. Romero reluctantly agrees and gives Jake 24 hours to accomplish the deed.

Terry and Holt return to Rosa’s prison with the good news that they’ve completed her entire list. She asks if it was too much to handle and Terry eagerly tells her she didn’t give them enough to do. So she hands off another long list of items. They accomplish this list (which included filing her taxes and picking up her grandmother in Pennsylvania) with a little less enthusiasm than last time. She tells them she has one last request: she wants them to cancel her cable. Terry and Holt thinks this sounds easy but three hours and multiple transfers later, they’re at their breaking point.

They return to the prison to see Rosa and try to put on a happy front again but when she asks them to take her dog to Argentina to be with Pimento, they finally break down and tell her she’s asking too much. She’d been waiting for that the whole time and tells them so. She needs them to stop acting so happy and fake and just treat her normally so she knows her old life is still there waiting for her when she gets back. They agree and Holt lets her know he ended up locking her into a two-year contract with extra cable channels.

Meanwhile, Jake and Caleb have hatched a half-baked plan. Caleb will use Jake’s contraband cell phone to record the guard beating up Jake and then they’ll show the warden and get the guard fired. Unfortunately, Caleb isn’t the greatest with recording cell phone video (he has been in prison for 15 years, after all). After three beatings, Caleb finally gets a usable recording, but the warden is more concerned about the contraband phone than about the beatings.

Jake explains that he was really trying to save the guard’s life by getting him fired instead of killed. The warden agrees to fire the guard if Jake will work as his snitch. Jake agrees, if he’s allowed to keep his cell phone. Now he’s in with Romero’s gang but also working for the warden, neither of whom are good guys. But at least he still has his contraband cell phone and can talk to Amy whenever he wants.

Bullets on the Bulletin Board:
  • “What’s going on with your face?” “I hate seeing you like this so I’m flexing my eyes real hard to keep from crying. It’s okay. We can still have a normal conversation!”
  • “At least you have people who wanna come and visit you. My family hasn’t been to see me since my trial. You eat nine people and all of a sudden they ‘don’t know who you are anymore.’”
  • “Wait. What? Did you say you eat people? Are you a cannibal, Caleb?” “Well, that’s not how I would define myself. If we’re going by what I’m most passionate about, I would say that I’m a woodworker.”
  • “I want 100 soups.” “Soups?” “Yeah. Ramen. They’re like a major currency in here.” “Really? That is very surprising.” “You can’t smoke anymore so Ramen has replaced cigarettes. NPR did a big thing on it.”
  • “But my tough prison beard hasn’t fully grown in yet! Just give me six or seven more years.”
  • “How are you going to do it? Shiv him? Shank him? Stab him?” “Are those different?”
  • “Why do you want him to lose his job? He’s a good man with a family.” “I mean, he did stomp on my head a bunch of times.” “Those were warning stomps.”

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Twin Peaks: The Return 3x18 Recap: "Part 18: What Is Your Name?" (Road Trip!) [Contributor: Erin Allen]


"Part 18: What Is Your Name?"
Original Airdate: September 3, 2017

The final part of the 2-part finale and the 18-part film is nothing like I imagined it to be. It ties up some loose ends while leaving others painfully wide open (Audrey, where are you, girl?) It ends on a cliffhanger similar to the Season 2 finale, with a question that leads to a thousand other questions that you can spend a lifetime (or several lifetimes) pondering. “What year is this?” is the new “How’s Annie?” I can tell you one thing: if Dale Cooper, time-traveling, world-jumping, White Lodge space hunk, doesn’t know, then I, for sure, don’t know.

The last part begins with a flaming Mr. C in the Black Lodge, and MIKE creating a new Dougie out of a seed. We get a little reunion between Dougie and his family. It was so sweet of Cooper to arrange for that. He had a lot to do, and the fact that it was one of his first concerns is heartwarming and characteristic of the Cooper we first met in Season 1.

There is an overlap of the end of Part 17 where Cooper loses Laura in the woods. He ends up in the Black Lodge where moments from Part 2 are interspersed. Once again MIKE asks that dreaded question, “Is it future or is it past?” The arm tree also asks an unnerving question, “Is it the story of the little girl who lived down the lane?” Last time we heard that was from Audrey. This tease really made me stick to my expectation of seeing Audrey again, which, sadly, we do not. But, you know what? That’s on me for expecting anything when I know full well with Lynch I’m only to expect the unexpected, which is exactly what I got.

Laura whispers to Cooper and gets hurtled into oblivion, and Leland tells him to find Laura. Seeing these repetitive bits from Part 2 takes on a whole other context with what we’ve seen now. How it relates to the multiple timelines, I don’t know, but it gives you more to think about and different things to think about than the last time we saw them. “Is it future or is it past?” Indeed.

Cooper exits the Red Room to find Diane waiting for him in Glastonbury Grove. They assure each other that it is really themselves, and begin the first road trip of Part 18. Diane seems wary of whatever they are set out to accomplish. They crossover (from where/when to where/when is up for debate) at one point, and end up at a motel. Cooper goes in to get a room, and Diane sees a tulpa or doppelganger of herself. Then they go into Room 7, and fan fiction ensues. Not really, but kind of? It is a bizarre sex scene (set to The Platters’ “My Prayer”) that seems to be some sort of ritual with what purpose or goal, I do not know. This is one of those points that is of hot contention and has many, many theories flying around it.

The next morning, Diane is gone. She leaves a note to Richard and signs it ‘Linda.’ Cooper and Diane are Richard and Linda. I don’t even know where to begin to sort this out in my brain, but there it is. Cooper leaves the motel, but it is a completely different motel than the one they entered the previous night. That was some wild sex to alter the whole space/time continuum like that.

Cooper goes in search of Laura Palmer with a pit stop at Judy’s Coffee Shop where he deep fries some rude cowboys’ guns. He finds her in Odessa, Texas, living in a house with a crackling telephone pole labeled #6 outside of it. Only it’s not Laura. Well, it is, but she seems to think she is Carrie Page. He convinces her, quite easily, to drive with him to Twin Peaks to her mother’s home. There is a dead guy in her living room and a small white horse on her mantel.

The two embark on the second road trip. There are long, quiet moments with very little dialogue. There is a bathroom break at a gas station. Not much happens in these scenes, but there is something profoundly beautiful in seeing Cooper and Laura together like this. And Sheryl Lee gives a wonderful performance.  

They arrive in Twin Peaks. Laura/Carrie does not recognize anything — not the Double R or the Palmer residence. They encounter an unfamiliar face at the door. The woman whose name is Alice Tremond who bought the house from a Mrs. Chalfont. This is enough to make your head explode and prompts the very appropriate question from Cooper: “What year is this?” Laura hears Sarah/Judy’s voice call out for her from the house, Laura screams, the lights go out in the house, and we cut to black. Shocking. Absolutely shocking. The credits roll over that enigmatic image of Laura whispering into Cooper’s ear.

It is amazing that David Lynch and Mark Frost can give us something that can be taken a million different ways, and make different sense to different people’s theories. That really is true art.

“What matters is what you believe happened.” -David Lynch

Stray Observations:
  • There is a lot of face massaging on this season.
  • “In those days I was too young to know any better.” 
  • Sheryl Lee’s Laura Palmer scream is one of my favorite screams of all time.
  • The Lynch/Frost logo at the end was silent which might be the most terrifying thing of all. 

Friday, September 15, 2017

Twin Peaks: The Return 3x17 Recap: "Part 17: The Past Dictates The Future" (Will The Real Cooper Please Stand Up?) [Contributor: Erin Allen]


"Part 17: The Past Dictates The Future"
Original Airdate: September 3, 2017

I’ve been avoiding writing my final recaps because it really means it’s over, but who am I kidding? It’s never over with Twin Peaks, and David Lynch makes sure of that with this two-part finale. The owl cave symbol turns into an infinity symbol, so that pretty much sums it up. I’ve been thinking about the original run for 15 years and I suspect I will be thinking about The Return for the next 30.

The identity of Judy is revealed...sort of. Cooper goes back in time to save Laura... we think. All the characters converge in Twin Peaks and it’s the last time we see the town and its inhabitants as we’ve come to know them. It is bittersweet. We get footage of Fire Walk With Me as well as the pilot which brings back characters we haven’t seen in The Return like Josie, Catherine, and Pete. (Part 17 is in memory of Jack Nance.)

I’ll do a brief rundown of the events that take place, but I’m not going to even try to explain the time-traveling bit because A) I don’t really understand it and B) there are hundreds of theories online to keep you occupied for... well, ever.

Gordon explains to Albert and Tammy what Judy is. It is an “extreme negative force,” once known as Jiao Dai, that Briggs, Cooper, Phillip, and Gordon have been searching for. Cooper had a plan in the event that he were to go missing. Gordon says, “I don’t know if this plan is unfolding properly.” Upon the conclusion of Part 18, I wonder this, as well.

Mr. C uses the White Lodge to teleport to Twin Peaks which is really cool imagery. When he arrives in the parking lot of the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s station, he says, “What is this?” I’m not sure if he is even aware of the overall evil plan. He is just a tool in the grand scheme of things. And who would’ve thought that the one to stop him from executing whatever mission he was on would be Lucy Brennan. “Andy, I understand cellular phones now!”

Freddie realizes his destiny which is to destroy the BOB rock that comes out of the dead Mr. C. This is an intense battle, and filmed and edited in such a way that only Lynch could offer. Freddie came to be such a cool Twin Peaks character — literally a superhero.

The next scene happens with Cooper’s face superimposed over it. “Some things will change. The past dictates the future.” Naido turns into Diane like we suspected. She has the same chic bob, but it is neon red and awesome. The superimposed Coop says, “We live inside a dream,” Cooper bids his friends farewell, and he leaves with Diane and Gordon as the room goes dark.

The Great Northern room key opens up a door that leads Cooper to the Dutchman’s where the Phillip Jeffries teapot is. He tells Diane and Gordon, “I’ll see you the curtain call.” Cooper appears out of darkness which gave me chills because it was one of the few promo shots we got of The Return, and then MIKE says the Fire Walk With Me poem. More chills!

Teapot Jeffries gives us some really cryptic clues, among them the owl cave symbol morphing into an 8. Also, that it’s slippery in there. Er, what? Phillip Jeffries is still out there being a total enigma. I love it.

Cooper transports back to February 23rd, 1989 in the woods with Laura and James. Laura saw something that night and screamed. This shows us that it was Cooper. After Laura leaves James (I LOVE YOU, JAAAMES!) and runs back into the woods, Cooper intervenes, preventing her murder from happening. The pilot episode begins, but Laura Palmer’s body wrapped in plastic blinks away and the day proceeds without the life-changing discovery.

Cooper tells the young Laura (played by present day Sheryl Lee, who looks phenomenal) that he’s going to take her home. And just when you’re thinking, wow, Cooper really went back and saved her, we cut to the Palmer house where Sarah is moaning grotesquely off screen. She enters the frame and attacks the prom photo of Laura, but it is impenetrable. Cooper looks back and finds that Laura is gone and we hear that infamous scream. Did she go back to contend with Sarah/Judy?

The episode ends, fittingly, with a Roadhouse performance by the incomparable Julee Cruise singing “The World Spins,” music by Angelo Badalamenti and lyrics by David Lynch.

Stray Observations:

  • Bushnell Mullins is like a doppelganger of Gordon Cole. “I’m Dougie’s boss.” “That makes two of us.” 
  • Jerry was all the way in Wyoming! “He said his binoculars killed somebody.”  
  • “Just entering Twin Peaks city limits. Is the coffee on?”
  • If The Return had changed your mind on James being cool, the FWWM footage should have set you straight again. 

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Younger 4x12 Recap: “Irish Goodbye” (Every Beginning Has Its End) [Guest Poster: Bibi]

“Irish Goodbye”
Original Airdate: September 13, 2017

The finale is here y’all, and it has been a rollercoaster of emotions this season for our Younger crew! The emotions do not stop when Josh calls Liza in the middle of the night and tells her he is going to marry Clare. How fitting, since we ended last season with him proposing to Liza and we will end this one with a true test of their friendship as Josh marries someone else. Liza is completely shocked, but he explains that he wants to know what his future holds with Clare. The wedding is so that Clare can get a green card and live out her dreams in New York City. Josh asks Liza to come to their wedding in Ireland to support them, because she is responsible for them getting together.

Liza promptly wakes Maggie up and tells her that they are going to Ireland. When Liza tells Kelsey, she thinks it is odd, but virtually reserves her judgment as Zane passes by and she realizes she has more to deal with at work with him. When Liza tells Diana that she needs some unexpected time off for Josh, Diana admonishes her for chasing boys and being in a perpetual state of distraction. While she is saying this, Zane pops in and Diana is immediately smitten! I mean, it makes sense  he is beyond handsome, but he is a snake, so Diana better watch her back.

In the morning meeting about the new hit Marriage Vacation, Zane and Kelsey clash more than ever. Zane takes over the meeting, dropping that Good Morning America wants to feature the book during a segment. Kelsey, having met the GMA contact at a networking event, already set this up. Zane, never knowing how to truly be a team player, lets it be known that this was his idea, since he and the contact are friends. He pitches for Charles to join Pauline on stage, and give the viewers an exclusive on their “reconciliation.” Charles immediately and vehemently declines, with Kelsey backing up and fighting for his family not to be exploited in the middle of the book release. Zane pushes back, but Charles stands firm on the matter.

In Ireland, Liza and Maggie arrive and walk into a trap — no one in Clare's family is aware that the couple is doing this for a green card, so they are having a very large, traditional wedding. While all of this seems fast, I had a feeling it was coming. Josh has yet to fully heal from his relationship with Liza and has fully committed to Clare, because instead of taking time to be whole again, he “needs” to be with Clare to get over Liza.

Clare ropes Liza into heading to Dublin to pick up her wedding dress and basically corners Liza into lying for her and Josh. Clare makes it seems like it is Josh’s idea to bring her to the wedding, so she could lie for them since she owes him or “them” this. I am not sure where Clare gets off feeling entitled to such things, but she makes it a point to let Liza know. Liza, feeling guilty for lying to Josh and then cheating, still seems conflicted and is really uncomfortable with lying to the government about Josh's marriage.

Liza immediately confides in Maggie that they want her to lie. She stresses that this doesn't feel right because Josh has barely spoken two words to her since she arrived in Ireland. Maggie also points out that this doesn't seem like Josh because he hates lying, and now he is okay with it? Although Maggie thinks something is fishy, she advises Liza to just play along. While giving her sage advice, she starts to sink into a hole in the ground, and Liza has to get Clare’s mom to help. Liza is determined to find Josh and sort this whole thing out.

At Good Morning America, Pauline shines in her interviews. While she is doing what she can, not everyone is happy with the segment and the producer want Charles to join her on stage for a juicier exclusive. Zane’s friend presses him for more and while he initially says no, she threatens to cut the segment if Charles doesn't appear on the program. Zane then indirectly gives her the go-ahead to request Charles’s presence on stage. Charles cannot say no in the heat of the moment, so he begrudgingly agrees to the interview. Kelsey is pissed, because she knows Zane someone manipulated this into fruition. Charles, meanwhile, is furious when he gets off the stage and Zane immediately tries to pin it on Kelsey. Charles’s face says he soon may come to regret putting Zane in this role. Pauline and Charles chat after GMA — she wants to reconcile and Charles says they are a work in progress. He begins to text Liza in that moment, but erases it. I really would finally like to see Charles and Liza just fully give their relationship a shot, but that never seems to be their fate.

After Maggie gets cleaned up, Clare’s mom starts to confide in her a bit. She tells Maggie that she is an "artist" and painted this landscape that she's been seeing on a loop in her dreams, since Clare's father died. Her mom reveals that she has thought a lot about dating women since her husband died, and after seeing the painting, Maggie understands why.

Liza finally catches up with a drunk Josh and their conversation goes just about how you would expect for one had with someone who has been drinking his way through Ireland. Liza honestly tells him that she doesn't want to lie to the federal government and Josh gets upset, asking her if she is only okay lying for herself, but not for him. Liza tells him that he and Clare have not been together long and she is not sure of Clare's intentions. Josh tells her if she doesn’t want to be there, she should go back home.

Maggie tells Liza to stay and be the best man that Josh needs her to be, if they are truly friends. Josh is making a mistake, but he needs to do this his way and learns these lessons on his own. At their rehearsal dinner, Clare's best friend figures out — by stalking Instagram — that Clare and Josh just met and this reveal threatens to blow up their happy evening. Liza stands up in the heat of the moment and covers for the couple, saying that she knows it’s been six months of true love because she introduced them, and when someone you love proposes, you say yes.

Liza goes back to her room to decompress and watch Charles and Pauline's GMA interview, when Josh knocks on her door. She keeps telling him to follow his heart and not get married if he isn’t sure, because she knows firsthand what it is like to be in a marriage that doesn’t end well. Josh, still drunk from the day, pulls her in and kisses her. In Josh’s moment of vulnerability, he tells her that it has always been her. I believe it. Josh was madly in love with Liza. She introduced him to so much more in relationships than he ever experienced, and unlocked so much in him. He wanted her to be his wife, and when he found her kissing Charles — right as he was about to propose — he was angry, but that love is still there.

I do not think he has allowed himself the time to move forward from that love and unless he deals with the end of that relationship, he will continue to taint all future ones. They kiss and Liza says they cannot do that. Josh knows they cannot either, yet somehow he says the life he wants is any life with Liza. In a beautiful scene between the two of the two of them, Liza goes to get him water and he lays down in her bed. When she returns, she lies down next to him, as Josh is already asleep. The song playing in the background is so perfectly positioned for this scene and could be the soundtrack to their relationship.

The next day, Liza wakes up alone and Maggie comes to find her, since they are late for the ceremony. After the night they had Liza assumed Josh would be backing out of the wedding. Josh tells Liza that because he keeps coming back to her, no matter how ill-advised, he needs to move on. In order to move on, he needs to put as much space between them as possible. For him, that means a marriage. So Josh goes all in with Clare, even if it could end up being the biggest mistake of his life thus far, and gets married.

During the final scene, Liza cries silently as Josh and Clare take their vows, getting understandably emotional about her ex-boyfriend marrying someone just months after he was going to propose to her. While in the ceremony, we see that Charles is calling Liza, only left wondering what could be about. I guess we have to wait until next season!

So, what did you think about the finale? How do you feel about Liza’s overall growth this season? Do you think Liza should take Diana’s advice and just be single for a while? Will this marriage between Josh and Clare last? How long will Zane and Kelsey be able to work together? Will Pauline figure out that Liza is the one that Charles is smitten with? Until next season, share your thoughts below!

Bachelor in Paradise Was a Hot Mess This Season, And Here’s Why [Contributors: Rebecca, Alisa, and Chelsea]

Well, Bachelor in Paradise has ended and our ladies aren't exactly thrilled with the disappointing antics they were forced to endure this season. Hear what they have to say about the new Bachelor and more!

Before we go to Paradise, we have to talk about our new Bachelor. How surprised were you to see Arie announced? Who were your top three picks for our next leading man? Is the franchise in trouble going back five years? 

Rebecca: They’re definitely in trouble. No one knows who Arie is — even people like me who have been watching the show for YEARS. Literally the only things I remembered about him were his pretty eyes and that he drives a race car. Not very memorable. My top three picks would have been Ben Z, Wells, and Eric.

Alisa: Well, Rebecca remembered wayyy more about Arie than I did. I watched Emily’s season too but have absolutely no recollection of Arie except that the name sounded vaguely familiar. I think it definitely says something about the franchise if they’re having to go back five years to find someone. I mean, come on. Ben Z has been my absolute top choice for Bachelor ever since he was a contestant. He can talk to me about his dog all day long and into the night and that would be fine with me! I also really liked Diggy, Will, and Fred from Rachel’s season. Going back a little further, I mean, they could have at least tried to convince Luke to do it after he was ROBBED last season by the hot mess that is Nick. Point being, there are PLENTY of great picks that people would actually remember and if they ALL turned producers down, well, that says something about the show and its future.

Chelsea: This is so disappointing of a pick. So many of us don’t even remember him or we can’t even go back to watch his season. We could have had a Wells, Ben Z., or Peter but nope. I think there is a huge disparity in what Mike Fleiss the creator wants and what the other producers want on the show. I didn’t think it could get worse than Nick’s season but here we are.

So much has happened in the past two weeks in Mexico for the cast. The only solid couple at this point seems to be Derek and Taylor. What do you make of this little fairytale? 

Rebecca: Derek and Taylor are sooooooooooo boring. I could break my keyboard with how many more o’s I want to add on. I have no doubt they’ll get engaged, but I don’t see them lasting long-term. Taylor still strikes me as immature, stirring up drama for the fun of it. I literally always forget about them until they come on screen. I wish we had seen more of Diggy/Dom and Adam/Raven instead.

Alisa: Ugh. Derek and Taylor are the worst. I’m still mad about their whole “fight” a couple weeks back. Like, I don’t think anyone on Twitter heard what she said to him that elicited the “F you.” She flat-up said to him that he has a ton of qualities she doesn’t want in a relationship partner. People acted like he just casually swore at her out of nowhere, but umm... how do you just casually tell someone they’re not right for you but you’re with them anyway, and then expect them to not have an angry reaction? Not saying swearing at your partner is the appropriate response, but what Taylor said wasn’t appropriate either. All of this is to say, they seem like the type of couple who’s gonna smile and front for the audience but when the cameras are off (or they think they’re off), that’s when the real Taylor and Derek come out and it’s not pretty and it’s not perfect. Taylor is super immature and Derek is, I don’t even know, not interesting enough to psychoanalyze. And yeah, I don’t see them working out long term. But I’m sure their mutually amicable break-up announcement that literally no one will care to read will be just as perfect as they appear.

Chelsea: These two are just an exhausting couple to watch and I’m just waiting for them to break up. They might like each other in Paradise but I’m curious to see how they’ll function in the real world. I find Taylor to be overly critical and annoying, and Derek just wants his franchise love story. I mean heck, he broke up with another franchise alum before going on the show. Let the countdown to the end begin.

The Kristina/Dean/DLo saga was faced head-on. How did you feel about the conclusion?

Rebecca: Wow, I have a lot of feelings about this. I feel horrible for Kristina. To not only have someone you were falling in love with admit to you that they loved you before going after some other girl ONLY because she’s really hot, but then to have your best friend take the other girl’s side has to be such a painful experience. I get what Raven is saying — that Kristina should be more angry at Dean than DLo — but DLo does have some fault here. She knew Dean and Kristina were pretty serious and just didn’t care. I get that in life, you need to go after what you want, but stealing another person’s man right in front of them is a different level of disrespect. As Kristina’s friend, Raven just needed to shut up and listen and offer support, even if she didn’t agree with Kristina.

But the worst of the lot is Dean. I’ve lost so much respect for Dean throughout this whole situation. He’s shallow, immature, and childish, and letting Kristina go is a mistake that will haunt him for the rest of his life. I hope he has fun banging DLo while he can, because that relationship has zero depth and will not last. Kristina is way too good for him and too good for The Bachelor franchise in general.

Alisa: I don’t think I can add anything to this that hasn’t already been said on Twitter by #BachelorNation. But I’ll reiterate some of the wise words that were flowing that night. Dean is disgusting and I think what struck so deep with that situation is that SO MANY girls have been in a similar situation: where there’s a guy you’re so in love with who says you’re perfect for him in so many ways but... then he proceeds to tell you why he just wants to be with someone else who he KNOWS isn’t right for him but he just needs his “freedom” or he’s just “not ready” or he’s just “not good enough” for you but you really are perfect and you really are his always (just not his right now). And that level of manipulative crap is what keeps girls hanging on to guys that absolutely DO NOT deserve them. It’s disgusting, Dean’s disgusting, and he’s no better than pretty much every guy I ever met in high school and college. Good luck to him and DLo. They deserve each other.

And as for Raven... look. I’ll say what I said on Twitter that night: “Truthful friends are important. But learning when a friend just needs you to be silent and listen? Even better.” Having someone hurtle truth at you when you’re in pain and feel broken is NOT helpful. There’s a proper time, place, and tone for truth. I hope Raven and Kristina’s friendship is strong enough to get through Raven’s density and the added pain she caused that night. And I hope Raven learns and grows and becomes a better friend after it. But if not? Then Kristina has EVERY RIGHT to cut Raven loose just like she did Dean. Because friends who are just going to kick you when you’re down (whether intentionally or not), are better off dropped, in my opinion.

Chelsea: Dean is the definition of "WE WERE ALL ROOTING FOR YOU!" He had so much good will going into Paradise and was becoming a Bachelor frontrunner, but he could not have screwed up worse than his Paradise performance. He really showed just how immature he was and how he does need to work on being able to communicate before beginning a relationship. He led both of those girls on and they both need to never look back. DLo does have some fault in this scenario but it was clear from the time they got back to Paradise that Kristina and Dean weren’t a solid couple. They both needed to communicate with one another more clearly about their situation.

For some crazy reason, contestants weren’t feeling Ben Z. this summer. Were you sad to see him go home to his puppy? Which other contestants did you want more of? 

Rebecca: I definitely was sad to see Ben Z go home, but it was his time and Zeus needed him. I also wish Kristina could have stuck around, but if I was in her situation, I would have left too. I kind of wish Fred would have stayed around a bit, as Rachel was so dismissive to him when he was on her season and we didn’t get to see much of him. Normally, I would say I wanted more of the twins, since they were such a treasure last season, but they were nasty this time around. I’m positive their return was a publicity stunt to spice up the season, because they were acting completely out of character — or else fame has REALLY gone to their heads. I’m all for the bubbly, fun-loving, easy-going, unfiltered, ditzy twins we’ve seen in the past, but this time, they were rude, whiny, and just flat out mean, especially to Tickle Monster and Serial Killer. No thanks. I’m completely turned off by them now.

Alisa: Okay, well, Ben Z. is a national treasure and even though of course I was sad to see him go, it’s not like we were seeing much of him all season anyway, other than dumb edits that made him look boring. But honestly, every time I have to travel away from my pups, all I do is talk about them and show people pics of them, so I feel ya, Ben. Basically, Ben Z. is like the beautiful chiseled-jaw boy version of me and I am here for it. Give him and Zeus their own show! If ABC won’t, can we Kickstarter it?

Chelsea: Ben Z. is a treasure and proper gentleman, and I cannot believe that a single woman didn’t go after him. The show gave him a horrible edit but even through that, you could see that he was a genuine, caring guy. He would have been the best Bachelor behind Wells. Kristina or literally any of the other girls needs to go back and reconsider Ben Z. I think the show needed to feature more of Diggy and Dom. They had a really great date and we didn’t see much else of them. Also, how did grown adult with a doll Adam, Ticklemonster, and Serial Killer Jack Stone get more love this summer than Ben Z.? It’s ridiculous.

This whole season was such a disappointment.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Genuine Fraud is a Twisted Ride from Start to Finish [Contributor: Megan Mann]


Do you like intrigue? Murder? How about a story that starts at the end and works its way back to the beginning a la Quentin Tarantino? Do you like to feel like you’ve been jerked around and ultimately know nothing, read — what you assume is — the biggest twist in the middle, but actually discover that the most messed up parts of the story don’t come until the end?

Well, then I have the book for you! Genuine Fraud by e. Lockhart, much like her previous work We Were Liars, will have you screaming at every turn, but unable to tear yourself away from the page as you discover each wild twist that comes next.

Genuine Fraud opens with Imogen working out at a resort in Mexico, quickly throwing the reader into her world of secrecy and lies. An innocuous conversation with a woman at the gym is torn apart: was the woman merely being friendly, or is she an undercover cop tracking Imogen down? Instead of finding out, Imogen hatches a plan to escape, first slapping on a wig and heading to Vegas, where she steals wallets and a passport and then returns to Mexico — this time with a new identity.

And if that wasn’t enough, it turns out our duplicitous main character’s name isn’t really Imogen after all: It’s Jule, who constantly reinvents herself and steals from strangers without them noticing. She can memorize credit card information in seconds and retain information faster than she can greet you. But what is she running from?

As the story unfolds, we discover that Jule has fabricated her entire life story, and hey, remember how this book starts at the end and works its way to the beginning? Well it turns out there is a real Imogen: Imogen Sokoloff, Jule’s best friend, who’s started seeing through all the curtains surrounding the truth of who Jule is. Jule doesn’t want anyone to see the real her or know what she’s been through, so she instead creates a narrative that better suits her.

But as the book moves forward and we learn more about Jule (all of which just makes you wonder how little you actually know about her after all), more questions arise. Did Jule ever even go to school with Imogen? How did she find out who Imogen was? And how did everything wind up so twisted? And most importantly: did Imogen, a young, beautiful girl who has the world at her fingertips, really kill herself? Or was it something far more sinister?

Did Jule kill Imogen?

Listen, I was a mega fan of We Were Liars. For a while, it was the only book I would name when asked for suggestions on what to read next. It started in one place, then took you on a wild ride and just when you thought things couldn’t possibly get more insane, you realized you still had a hundred pages left. The book was entirely surprising and unpredictable, and e. Lockhart brought that same energy to Genuine Fraud. It was a rollercoaster of “OH MY GOD! and “Wait, WAIT?!” that had you glued to the book and made the words dance in front of you faster than you thought you could read them.

I think that’s what makes a book like this so special. So often, we run to books that have these moments of intensity that are there for shock value rather than actually build and strengthen the narrative. It’s what makes e. Lockhart’s stories so unique: they’re thrillers in a way that you don’t often find, in a genre dominated more by dystopias and supernatural than anything else.

I would absolutely recommend that everyone pick up Genuine Fraud. It has all of the crazy, Single White Female vibes you could want, but with a deranged 17-year-old. It’s a callback to the stories Imogen Sokoloff loved so much — Victorian novels that were dark and Gothic and mostly made orphans into heroes rather than gutter rats — with a modern twist. It’s everything you could want for a cozy read as the seasons change from scorching to cool and your nights are better suited to cozying up with a good book.

If you’re a fan of Victorian novels or action films such as The Bourne Identity, I would highly suggest you high tail it to your local store and pick up a copy of this magnificent new adventure. You’ll probably throw the book a few times or scream, “WHAT AM I READING?” But don’t worry — that just means it’s really well-written.

Genuine Fraud by e. Lockhart is in stores now!

Friday, September 8, 2017

Younger 4x11 Recap: “It’s Love, Actually” (It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye) [Guest Poster: Bibi]

“It’s Love, Actually”
Original Airdate: September 6, 2017

As the season finale approaches, the stakes are getting higher on Younger! After a few weeks of dating, we seemingly say farewell to Josh’s relationship with Clare. Josh and his band play a farewell concert and the whole crew is invited. Josh confides in Liza, saying he feels like timing is always an issue with him. His timing with Liza was off and now the same thing is happening with Clare. It is a moment of transparency where Liza has very few words to say. However, I am not sure how long Liza can sustain this friendship. It feels like she is always still investing in her exes after their relationship ends, and is that truly what’s best for her? For any of them? Who knows.

The next day, Josh and Clare are down to hours left together, and Josh is heartbroken that he and Clare never got to know what they could've been. Josh isn't ready to let go, and proposes that they visit each other and do the long distance thing for a while. Clare's dream was to be a New Yorker and fall in love with the perfect New York guy. In her final weeks, she got to do that. But she would rather let Josh and this dream go for now, especially since she won't be eligible for another work visa for two years. Josh is so devastated that he starts crying. I like Josh, so I feel for him. But also, this relationship wasn’t that fleshed out and it happened aggressively fast, so I do not have the same kind emotional connection to their end that I would want. Josh is a good guy though and I want him to win. I would like for the writers to focus on his career a bit more next season, and his growth in other areas — not just when it pertains to a woman.

At Empirical, Diana is being honored at an awards dinner for her work on P is for Pigeon. Diana proposes an awards push strategy, since the release of Marriage Vacation is just around the corner. Diana and Charles reveal to Kelsey and Liza that they want to release Marriage Vacation as an Empirical title, not Millennial. They want to rebrand it under Empirical, and have seem to made a final decision — only giving Kelsey and Liza the faux courtesy of being involved in the conversation. After the meeting, Kelsey is understandably upset. Liza asks her to breathe, take some time to see their perspective, and not to act rashly. From the look in Kelsey’s eyes, she cannot be trusted to keep her cool. In the midst of all of this, Zane is blowing up Kelsey’s phone asking for a dinner date. Against her better judgment, Kelsey begrudgingly agrees to a food truck lunch, once Zane reveals this isn’t about their personal relationship, but rather their professional one.

At the food truck, Zane flirts incessantly and Kelsey doesn't have the time to be bothered with his antics. He gets the point and tells her that he's leaving his current company. While they started off too rough by taking professional jabs at each other, he wants them to turn over a new leaf by going into business together and starting a new company using L.L. Moore as leverage to do so. Zane says L.L. Moore’s contract has an editor’s clause and he HAS to go wherever Zane does. This is perfect timing since Kelsey is fed up with Charles and how he is dictating a lot of the decisions. Liza, being cool-headed, recommends that Kelsey talk to Redmond and verify this editor’s clause. Kelsey and Redmond play Zane, and Redmond reveals that the clause says L.L. Moore CAN leave, not that he HAS to. Kelsey catches Zane in another lie, and decides that starting her own company with him is not the best idea.

After Diana told Richard that it was time for Ethan to move out of the apartment, Richard decides to surprise her. Richard "heard" Diana's concerns and came up with the perfect solution — he finds a two-bedroom apartment for the three of them to move into. Diana doesn’t even have time to fully address this, but the look on her face says it all!

Elsewhere, Jay and Liza have a fun date with one of chef authors that Jay’s company works with. They keep getting interrupted because lots of people keep walking up to Liza asking her about Marriage Vacation and expressing how excited they are read it! The date is a success despite the interruptions, and Liza and Jay continue to take it slow. Liza thinks that Jay could be a legitimate contender for a relationship and she doesn’t want to mess that up.

While trying to sleep, Kelsey’s house guest, Lauren, wakes her to borrow a suitcase. Apparently Josh is going on an impromptu trip to Ireland to see Clare. Although Clare has said plenty of times for him not to come, Josh thinks surprising her is still the best idea. Kelsey thinks it is terrible and Lauren does too, although she will not admit it to Josh. Surprising someone in another country could either go terribly well or terribly wrong, so good luck Josh!

Diana, in an attempt to resolve the Ethan living situation, goes to see Richard's ex-wife (who is a therapist, remember) for a small fee of $300. What starts off as a conversation about how Ethan can move back with his mom and how Diana can assist in repairing their relationship, ends with Diana unraveling more of Richard’s lies and lack of consideration. Richard’s son never fell out with his mom — Richard wanted more time with Ethan and requested his presence, without discussing it with Diana first. Diana likely pays way more than $300, but Richard’s ex-wife lays it all out for Diana so that she has the full truth and can make an informed decision about whether or not she wants to stay.

As they go deeper and Diana learns more, you can see her whole face change and know what’s coming next. When Diana confronts Richard and calls him out for being the inconsiderate liar that he is, he admits to it — but doesn’t apologize. When Diana brings this to his attention, he halfway apologizes but it isn’t sincere and the damage is already done. Diana tells Richard that he and his son better be out when she returns from the awards ceremony. This is the proudest I have ever been of Diana. Richard tried to manipulate Diana and she regained her power by letting him go. She realized her worth and walked away for the person giving her far less than she deserved.

At the awards ceremony, Charles lets Liza know that book has changed his and Pauline’s relationship. While there with Jay, Liza is still visibly shaken by any and everything Charles and Pauline do together. Zane finds Kelsey and proposes that they give their personal relationship as shot since they will not be owning their own company together anytime soon. When Kelsey asks Zane what his next move is, his response is cryptic and you realize very quickly that you still cannot trust him.

After Diana receives her award, Charles has some BIG announcements at the Empirical table. The first being that L.L. Moore is coming back home to Empirical. Kelsey is floored, especially after what just transpired with Zane. So, was he testing her? Were he and Redmond playing her together? While this announcement is great news for the company, seeing as money is tight, Liza isn’t even focused on that and is just focused on how close Charles and Pauline are. Just when we thought the surprises were over, Charles makes one final announcement: Zane has just been hired as Empirical’s executive editor, as he was instrumental in bringing L.L. Moore back. So what exactly does this mean for Zane and Kelsey?

In the final shocking scene, Pauline, Jay, Charles, and Liza are getting ready to head to their respective homes. Pauline stops Liza and thanks her for making her life better and getting her back into her home. Liza is visibly upset but to be honest, and while my heart hurts for Liza, a bit of this is on her. I will say she was in an impossible situation, but Liza did choose not be open and completely honest about her feelings for Charles and then very quickly, things changed. Assuming Liza knew that she was in love with him, I wish she would’ve told him sooner, before he moved forward with his estranged wife. Jay goes after Liza and realizes what we all know. Except Jay is the only person who gets her to confess it: she is in love with Charles. Liza has spent all season and much of last season not allowing herself to lean into these feelings because of life’s many variables. She needs her job to support herself and her daughter, and sleeping with the boss is probably not the best idea.

Liza however, hasn’t been truthful with Charles or herself. Her heart is way more invested in him, and she pushed Charles away, allowing him to think that he was the only one to feel this way. It is a sticky situation for sure, but I would’ve preferred that Liza just tell Charles that while her feelings were growing. She apologizes to Jay for not being able to feel differently and for them not being able to be together. Poor Jay!

This whole time we think that timing is crappy for Josh, but boy is it a mess for Liza too!

So, what did you think about the episode? How do you feel about Liza’s growth this season? Share your thoughts below!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

3rd Annual Golden Trio Awards -- DRAMA WINNERS

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This year, our Golden Trio Awards were tighter than ever. It is undoubtedly the year of peak television, and our awards proved that. Between new network dramas, incredible performances in streaming service shows, and more, there was a lot to celebrate in the drama category. So without further ado, let's get to the winners!

(By the way, you can check out our Comedy winners here.)


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GOLD — This Is Us

Jenn: Did any of you make it through This Is Us without crying? I didn’t think so. Perhaps the most beloved hit of the new television season, this NBC drama began reminiscent of Parenthood in a lot of ways, but totally forged its own path as the first season wore on. The thing that strikes me about the show is just how simple it is — it’s about family. It’s about love. It’s about life. And it’s about how our relationships can be messy and our families can be broken, but still filled with love. It’s truly a character-centric show and every single cast member is exceptional. If you haven’t yet watched this show, get out from the rock you’re under and do so before the show returns at the end of this month!

SILVER — American Gods

Deb: American Gods is proof that a book adaptation can not only live up to the quality of the literary original, but also improve upon it in a number of ways. I was astounded by the level of effort everyone involved in this show managed to put forth, from the writing to the acting to the visuals, and I can’t thank them enough for turning my favorite Neil Gaiman novel into what is now one of my favorite shows. If I had the ability, I would hand American Gods all the awards I could imagine.

BRONZE — The Handmaid's Tale

Jenn: The Handmaid’s Tale came out at a time in our history in which we could (unfortunately) relate to it. That was the whole point of Margaret Atwood’s novel, though: she wanted it to be a dystopian novel that didn’t involve far-fetched technology or unbelievable scenarios that would lock it into a time and place, thereby outdating it at some point. No, Atwood’s novel was meant to be timeless — a tale of what can happen when people in authority abuse their power and oppress those they’re ruling. The Handmaid’s Tale is a haunting, raw look at what it means to be a woman in Atwood’s dystopian society. It follows the journey of one particular handmaid, but it’s a story not just of struggle and oppression but of what it means to be set free from bondage. It’s a show about rising up in the face of horror and finding your voice. I don’t know about you, but that’s a message we desperately need today.


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GOLD — Sterling K. Brown (This Is Us)

Jenn: What could I possibly say about Sterling K. Brown that hasn’t already been said? (Probably nothing, but I’m going to try.) What truly impresses me about him as an actor is his understanding of the balance between Randall’s strengths and insecurities. He’s proud of who he has become and the life he built, and his strength is that he’s passionate about his family — he’s passionate, really, about people he loves. He’s an incredibly kind and gentle human being. But where Sterling K. Brown really shines is in his ability to portray the darker, humbler side of Randall’s ambitions. We see his insecurities, his weaknesses, and his brokenness. But it’s encouraging and relatable. What makes Randall such a wonderful character is that Sterling K. Brown is playing him. In the hands of anyone else, Randall wouldn’t be as beloved as he is. I truly believe that.

SILVER — Ricky Whittle (American Gods)

Deb: I did mention that American Gods managed to improve upon the source material, and a prime example of that is Ricky Whittle as American Gods’ main protagonist, Shadow Moon. Whittle’s portrayal of Shadow manages to inject endearing humanity into a character that, in the book, was difficult to connect with — while still keeping in line with the spirit of the book and allowing for a terrifically satisfying character arc to unravel over the course of the show’s debut season. Shadow is charming, stoic, and sympathetic, and I have no doubt that much of his relatability stems from the talent of the actor playing him.

BRONZE — Freddie Highmore (Bates Motel)

Erin: Freddie Highmore used his incredible talent and range to play the iconic serial killer, Norman Bates. He showcased with brilliant complexity the many sides of Norman, from the vulnerable, mentally ill young man to the “Mother” he created. His perpetual teary eyes kept me in a state of constant feels overload. Highmore did justice to the source material and added levels upon levels of emotion on top of it.


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GOLD — Melanie Scrofano (Wynonna Earp)

Chelsea: Y’all, how many actresses can do their own stunts and act their butts off while nine months pregnant?! I can barely walk up a flight of stairs without catching my breath. Wynonna Earp changed the game this year when they shocked us all with the revelation that not only was Wynonna pregnant but they wrote this into the show when they found out their lead actress was pregnant and decided to keep it a secret for the better part of a year. Scrofano had a heck of a year not only with the pregnancy but with having to protect Gooverly and getting Dolls back. She deserves every Emmy for the emotional rollercoaster she’s taken us on this year, and a nice long vacation to spend with her new little human. Thank you for giving us the pregnant superhero we truly don’t deserve.

SILVER — Mandy Moore (This Is Us)

Jenn: Mandy Moore does not get nearly the credit that she deserves for This Is Us. Every actor on this show is incredible, make no mistake, but sometimes I think we forget the strength within Rebecca. Moore perfectly portrays the balance between the woman trying to find herself in her passion and the woman trying to hold her family together. There are so many incredible, tear-jerking moments throughout the first season of This Is Us, and the amount of heart that Moore brings to the show is one of the drama’s greatest assets. There’s something so genuine, so real, and earnest about Rebecca. She’s a regular person — not a superhero or an unattainable goal. She is a woman who is still trying to find herself and taking us on the journey with her. Thank you, Mandy Moore, for your incredible portrayal and congrats on the silver medal!

BRONZE — Elisabeth Moss (The Handmaid's Tale)

Jenn: God, Elisabeth Moss was a revelation in The Handmaid’s Tale this year. Out of all of the dramas that could have appeared on the scene, this one seemed incredibly poignant and apt to today’s society. (Maybe even scarily so.) Moss was exquisite and I have no doubt that an Emmy win could be in the bag this year for her. What’s really great about Moss is that her skills are two-fold in this series: she does incredibly moving, powerful voiceovers; and she also does wonderful acting. The palpable pain and anger and tension and grief felt by Offred in the series is so raw and so gripping. The thinly-veiled rage in her whispered tones in the voiceovers is just as captivating, and watching the contrast between June’s life and Offred’s life and knowing they’re played by the same actress was so good. Moss deserves all the accolades.


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GOLD — Malcolm Barrett (Timeless)

Jenn: I fell in love with Timeless this season and it’s thanks to the cast. They’re all incredibly talented and endearing, but Malcolm Barrett really shone for me. In most shows, Barrett’s character of Rufus would remain predominantly the sidekick source of comic relief. But while Timeless does utilize his comedic chops (and some of the greatest, funniest lines were delivered by Rufus this season), what really struck me was Barrett’s ability to express the emotional side of his character. Rufus is a genuine person who believes the good in people and when faced with the atrocities of history and difficult choices, finds it really hard to treat human beings as anything other than that — human beings. His empathy and compassion are what make him outstanding, and Barrett’s performance delivered those qualities in spades this year. I’m grateful that Rufus exists and that Timeless gets its much-deserved second season because I can’t wait to see more of what Malcolm Barrett has to offer!

SILVER — Ian McShane (American Gods)

Deb: The mysterious Mr. Wednesday is a difficult character to pull off, mostly because he exists entirely in moral gray areas and we’re supposed to simultaneously root for him and, on behalf of Shadow, kinda hate him. American Gods was full of stellar performances, and Ian McShane added the perfect touch of gruff anti-hero to balance out the Wednesday-Shadow duo. McShane was a spot-on perfect choice for this role, so much so that I honestly can’t think of a single actor who could play Wednesday better.

BRONZE — Mahershala Ali (Luke Cage)

Jenn: What makes Mahershala Ali so compelling in Luke Cage is just how scary he is without being a character with superhuman powers. Cottomouth is deeply flawed and humanized, which is what makes him so scary actually. The range and restraint that Ali displays in his performance is complemented by the tension that you feel whenever you watch him explode in rage. Ali manages to walk that line of humanity and villainy so well that it's no wonder he won bronze in our awards.


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GOLD — Gillian Anderson (American Gods)

Erin: Gillian Anderson’s Media took on many forms on American Gods as the New Gods’ mouthpiece, and Anderson was tasked with embodying larger than life, pop culture icons in the process. She nailed each and every one without ever losing Media behind the Hollywood facades. She was down-to-earth as Lucy, cool and fierce as Bowie, legendary as Marilyn, and charming yet vulnerable as Judy. Media’s attitude was always just below the surface, and was super interesting when she exposed her true nature. I was shocked that Anderson didn't get an Emmy nomination for this unique and challenging role, so it is nice to honor her here with the Gold, although she deserves much more.

SILVER — Chrissy Metz (This Is Us)

Jenn: Chrissy Metz did such an incredible job this year with This Is Us. Watching Kate's journey unfold was heart-wrenching, but ultimately satisfying. Obviously Kate's weight loss journey was a facet of her storyline this season, but I love that the show went much deeper. This year, Kate had to really process the death of her father, Jack, with someone else. And the reality is that Kate buried a lot of her feelings and grief and guilt over that event. Metz played Kate's journey with such ferocity and vulnerability that it absolutely moved me to tears (hello, did everyone else bawl during this scene like I did? I still cry and get chills re-watching because of that intense, raw pain that Metz conveys). Chrissy Metz did such fabulous work this season that I cannot wait to see what she does when the show returns this month.

BRONZE — Samira Wiley (The Handmaid's Tale)

Jenn: I loved Samira Wiley in The Handmaid's Tale. She was absolutely riveting as Moira — a rebellious, strong, capable woman who was not content to sit by and let life and injustice just happen to her. But what Wiley did well was unearth the layers in Moira. There are two sides to the character: an intense need for justice to be done and a sort of recklessness, as well as an intense vulnerability and loyalty. Moira went through terrible things and while she earned a sort of freedom, even freedom isn't entirely free in The Handmaid's Tale. In a dark, heavy, but deeply engaging drama, Samira Wiley stood out and for that, she deserves to be included in our winners.

Check out our Comedy winners if you missed them, and stay tuned for our Special Category winners soon!

Monday, September 4, 2017

Game of Theories: The Hanging Pieces [Contributor: Melanie]

(Photo credit: HBO)

The time has come. Well, the time is coming more like 2019. But this is the final season break for Game of Thrones ever. After what will become almost 10 years on HBO, the show is drawing to a close with six final episodes — also marking a close to many of the great mysteries that have eluded fans of the books for even longer. So, how could I not take advantage of this last bit of down time (that will also be the longest season gap of the show ever) and lay out some theories and hanging pieces for the world to pick apart? Game of Thrones is nothing if not full of mysterious elements, prophecies with no clear answer, and people of questionable parentage.

Below are the biggest questions and most talked about possible answers for the last season of Game of Thrones.


Aegon Targaryen

FIRST OF ALL: Why did Rhaegar name Jon "Aegon" when he already had a LIVING, LEGITIMATE SON NAMED AEGON? Why you gotta do Ellia dirty like that? I know Targaryens cycle through the same five, vowelphiliac names (even Dany’s dragons have recycled family names) but really? I was more on board with the Jaehaerys theory. Whatever. No one is going to call him Aegon anyway.

But, the truth is out there, R+L=J is canon. But the next question I have to ask... does it matter? We’ve been building up to this for years, with fans guessing pretty quickly what was going down behind the scenes of Robert’s Rebellion. And Jon Snow has gone through hell and back since his first moments as the lowly bastard son of Ned Stark in the first episode. But what is the logistical future of this? After all, Cersei isn’t going to just hop off the throne because there’s another legitimate Targaryen out there. It isn’t likely that this really hurts Dany’s position at all considering that Jon would absolutely never even want to sit on the Iron Throne. And there’s also the matter of Jon being a raised a Stark, through and through. He’s loyal to the North, has a direwolf, and cited his own sense of justice and loyalty through the teachings of his father Ned. Why would being the son of a man who was dead before he was born suddenly matter?

It’s a personal thing.

Jon was raised to believe he was a mistake his father made when he was young — unwanted by many of his legitimate Stark family members. Tyrion does point out, however, Jon’s whining about being a bastard who was raised as a lord was a bit tiresome to people with actual problems (like his fellow brothers at the Wall who didn’t know a home at all). Still, the resentment stung. But what we learn, and what Jon will learn, is that his parents loved him; he had a purpose in the world and wasn’t some mistake in a back alley or born by happenstance. And he’s a prince. This also, ironically, bodes well for Dany who has wandered the last few years, believing herself to have no one else in the world who shares her blood. And though Dany did come to form a relationship with Jon on her own, the knowledge that she is not the last Targaryen — and just happens to have a dragon with an open seat — actually might do more for her in the long run... even if they do have an incestuous relationship that Game of Thrones somehow convinced me I’m way in favor of.


Bran and the Night King

This one has been around for a while. It was first hastened by a section in A Dance With Dragons (book five) when Melisandre looks into the flames and sees a boy, with a wolf’s head, whom she believes to be a tool used by the Great Other. We know the Great Other (the “devil” in the religion of R’holler, the Red God) is the Night King. She did not expand on exactly how she thought this boy was an asset to him, whether it was purposeful or not, but Bran’s recent behavior and the reveal of Hodor’s past last season has lead many to theorize that Bran might actually be the one responsible for many of the horrors in the show. We know he can warg into the past and that it can have dire consequences (such as when he fried young Hodor’s brain, creating a predestination where Hodor would die beyond the Wall, defending Bran).

Many believe he might have done a similar thing to the Mad King, driving him insane in the first place. It’s possible he went back farther, to other events, and caused chaos as well. The Three Eyed Raven told him not to attempt to change the past — that “the ink is dry” — but Bran’s attempts to do just that proved that he already had a hand in causing when event in the past. What’s to say he wasn’t responsible for more as he attempts to stop the devastation before it ever happened in the first place?


The Three-Headed Dragon

This prophecy seemed to have bit the dust (or snow) in episode six when Viserion was felled by an Olympic level javelin toss from the Night King. The prophecy of the three-headed dragon first appears in a vision Dany has in A Clash of Kings (book two) while in the House of the Undying. She sees her brother, Rhaegar, speaking of a “song of ice and fire” before he looks at Dany — almost as if he can see her standing there — and says, “The dragon must have three heads.” Dany, conveniently, had three dragons. Jon Snow had already claimed Rhaegal (well, as far as fans were concerned), the dragon named for his biological father, so the rider of the third was a hot debate and ranged from Bran to Tyrion to even Jaime Lannister.

But then that dragon was killed and scooped up by the enemy, seemingly dashing the theories that three dragon riders would take the field against the Night King. But, as things seem to play out, not every prophecy is exactly what it seems. There are three dragon riders; it just so happens one is the Night King. There’s also a theory that Bran will be able to warg into the ice dragon and possibly use it to their advantage. But, a theory that’s more in line with what Rhaegar seemed to mean with his message to Dany, is that the third head of the dragon has yet to be born.

The babymeter was off the rails in episode six and Dany and Jon’s, uh, intimate scene in episode seven only furthered the possibility that the pair will have a child before all is said and done. Though Dany’s ability to have children was nixed by a vengeful witch in season one, many have theorized that Viserion’s death exploited a loophole in the contract she inadvertently signed: she gave up Rhaego for Drogo, then Drogo for the dragons, and now that a dragon is gone, so is the deal. After all, only death pays for life. Dany lost one child and might be able to conceive another one in return, as per the screwed up rules of Game of Thrones blood magic.

This doesn’t solve the lack of a dragon to ride, but the term “dragon” is also a common way to refer to Targaryens themselves (traditionally, the patriarch of the family bore the title of the Dragon). Dany and Jon are both legitimate children of the Targaryen dynasty and, whether they marry or not, their child will have a massive dose of the blood of the dragon flowing in its veins. That child might also fulfill the prophecy of Azor Ahai/The Prince that Was Promised.

There is, of course, still the possibility that Tyrion is the dragon’s third head (I’ll get more into how that’s possible below) — a theory strengthened by hints that he may have feelings for Daenerys, created a similar dynamic between Dany, Jon, and Tyrion, as there was with Aegon, Rhaenys, and Visneya. Considering the teamwork the three have displayed so far, if this Three-Headed Dragon is meant to be a force for good, it would almost have to be Tyrion (if not the child of Jon and Dany).


Tyrion Waters? 

It has been a long-held theory that Tyrion Lannister is no Lannister at all. He said once “all dwarfs are bastards in their father’s eyes,” but it might just be true for him. When we first meet Tyrion, he’s described as having hair so blonde that it almost looks white (an obvious call out to Targaryen traits) and he mentions he had a childhood obsession with dragons and always wanted to ride one (unfortunately he’ll probably never get that chance, with Viserion blue-eyed and bushy-tailed up North). We know context is there, Aerys was obsessed with Joanna Lannister (Tyrion’s mother) to the point that Tywin had her sent away from the capital. However, she and Aerys crossed paths at a tournament in King’s Landing a little less than a year before Tyrion was born.

Then there is Tywin’s constant ranting that he can’t prove Tyrion isn’t his son but he secretly doesn’t believe it, and he was able to touch both Rhaegal and Viserion without getting burnt to a crisp. If this is true, it makes him a bastard, Dany’s half-brother, and Jon’s uncle. It’ll make for a great holiday greeting card.

But I ask again... does it matter? He protects and loves his family, for all their faults. Him being a bastard wouldn’t change how he sees himself and the twins are still his siblings. It might strengthen his already strong bond with Dany and would give her yet another family member to feel less alone in the world.


Speaking of Dragons... Where Did They Come From?

This isn’t a question the show or the books really pose, but it’s one I’ve become interested in. Is it important to know where those suckers came from? Dany is given them as a wedding gift by Illyrio, a benefactor of her and her brother who helped get them off the streets and brokered the arrangement with Khal Drogo. He says he got them from the Shadow beyond Asshai, which we know as the Mecha of the religion of R’holler (the Lord of Light) and one of the many birthplaces of the prophecies of the Prince That Was Promised/Azor Ahai. It probably doesn’t matter but it’s something that I’ve been wondering. My own theory, as per the book universe, is that Quaithe (a Rafiki type spirit guide to Dany in the books, who appeared briefly in season two) gave the eggs to Illyrio to be gifted to Dany, knowing the prophecy of the one who would “wake dragons from stone.”

Something to ponder these next few months.


The Prince That Was Promised

It has been a favorite pastime for Game of Thrones fans to take to message boards and blog posts and debate who our fabled messiah is. It’s actually a hotly debated item in most circles because who you support as the Prince often reveals your allegiance to characters (looking at you, Stannis the Mannis bros). So now that we’re getting ready for our final act, who are the real viable options? The first one is, of course, Rhaegar Targaryen, who believed himself to be the Prince but was untimely killed in single combat before he could even lift a finger in the upcoming War for the Dawn Redux. There is a real chance it was Rhaegar, as George R.R. Martin pointed out he wanted to write a story where the great fantasy hero died and this is everyone living in the aftermath of a legend who got snuffed out too early.

But let’s assume that’s not the case. What does this prophecy actually say?
  • The Prince will be a member of House Targaryen
  • The Prince will be born “amidst salt and smoke” 
  • The Prince will be heralded by a “bleeding star”
  • The Prince will “wake dragons from stone”
  • If the Prince dies, “the world falls with him”
  • The Prince will have a weapon of light and fire, sometimes referred to as a “red sword”, fabled to be Lightbringer, the sword of Azor Ahai
  • The Prince may be the reincarnation of Azor Ahai, or they might be two separate people

Option 1: Jon Snow

As Aegon Targaryen, he fulfills the first parameter. The “salt and smoke” is a little harder to come by, though most agree his death scene in the book which featured smoke and salt (in the form of tears) fulfilled this requirement. The “bleeding star” is another reach, believed to be the blood covering the Dornish sword Dawn, which was forged from a meteorite that was present at Jon’s birth. As for waking dragons from stone? Jon has got nil on that one. If the Prince dies, “the world falls with him” seems pretty believable with how much Jon has defied death and his presence at virtually every major White Walker battle. The weapon? It could be anything. The show did make a big point about Longclaw recently, which is Valyrian steel, so it could be that. Or, in all likelihood, it’s the dragons. As for the Azor Ahai bit, a warrior who tried three times to forge his weapon only to have it work when he sacrificed his wife in the process, Jon has no credentials there.

The biggest thing he’s got going for him is that he just seems like he should be the Prince. And maybe that’s enough.

Option 2: Daenerys Targaryen 

Daenerys obviously fulfills the first parameter. As for “salt and smoke,” she was born on Dragonstone — a volcanic, maritime island — so that checks out. But you could also count her “rebirth” on the Dothraki Sea over Drogo’s funeral pyre which featured smoke and tears. That possibility holds even more credence since it pairs perfectly with both the “bleeding star” (in the books, Dany is the first character to see the red comet at the end of the first book and she says: “It is a herald of my coming” before stepping into the fire) and waking dragons from stone, which she literally does on the pyre.

As for the world falling if she dies, Tyrion said almost those exact words in episode six when Dany went off to rescue the Suicide Squad (“If you die, we’re all lost. Everyone. Everything”). When it comes to the red sword, most people agree, no matter what, the dragons fulfill this requirement. Several characters refer to Dany’s dragons as her “flaming sword.” And, like Azor Ahai, she tried three times to hatch them (once on the brazier the night her handmaiden’s hands were burned but hers were not, once while she was suffering from a fever while giving birth and insisting on putting the eggs over the fire, and then, finally, after she killed her husband — almost identical to Azor Ahai).

She is the stronger candidate for fulfilling the prophecy. The only thing holding people back is that, again, it just seems like it should be Jon. But maybe that’s the point — putting a twist on the trope.

Option 3: A Combination of Them Both

This could mean we will never know exactly who it was the prophecy referred to, as they both battle the White Walkers and fulfill the role (the most likely scenario) or the child they’re 100% having — after the show brought up 3849834 times in the span of two episodes that Dany can’t have children — is the fabled hero. After all, the last book is called A Dream of Spring, suggesting the war will not end when the final page is done but, as Tyrion mentioned to Dany, the legacy endures.


Who’s Getting That Iron Throne?

It is probably the least important question at this point, but one we’re not going to be able to stop asking: who will be sitting in that uncomfortable freaking chair when all is said and done? Literally tens of thousands of people have died in the show because people seem to keep calling fives on the same spot. It matters, even though it really doesn’t, in the narrative of the story, we need that chapter to be closed. The fact of the matter is, I foresee Cersei will be the last person sitting on that throne. Dany’s vision in season two confirms she will never see the throne, and King’s Landing will be bathed in death and winter. She reaches out for the throne, but turns away when the call of her dragons lead her to the Wall. Cersei, as she is wont to do, will keep her place as queen and rule over the ashes and winterfied squalor of King’s Landing until she dies. At which point, a long-held theory that Dany — in a reversal of her parallel character Aegon the Conqueror who used his dragon to forge the throne — will melt it down. The Iron Throne will have its final ruler, and then it will be no more.


Cersei’s Prophecy

We know a large portion of the prophecy the woodwitch Maggy told Cersei when she was a girl came true: she never married Prince Rhaegar but the king instead, she had three children while the king had several bastards, and she outlived all her children. What remains is the “valonqar” — the little brother who will kill her. Many have theorized it might be Jaime, since he’s seconds younger than her and has a history of killing monarchs (and finally got some sense knocked into him and turned his back on her). However, the use of the High Valyrian word valonqar for little brother seems purposeful. And, if theories are true, Cersei does have a little brother of Valyrian ancestry: Tyrion, the bastard son of Aerys Targaryen and Joanna Lannister. The use of that word may be a massive hint that Tyrion is still very much in the running as Cersei’s ultimate murderer. And there is, of course, personal reasons that this makes sense.

What about that young queen who “will take everything (Cersei) holds dear”? She thought it was Margaery Tyrell and killed her accordingly. But it’s becoming more and more obvious that queen of the prophecy is Daenerys Targaryen. After all, Dany has now taken her two brothers from her with Tyrion as her Hand and Jaime riding north to join her. There’s a theory, as mentioned above, that Dany might even take the Iron Throne from her and destroy it in an Aegon-reversal. And if Cersei miscarries this baby (as she’s likley to do) while Dany, thought to be barren, becomes pregnant with an heir, she’s effectively taken everything Cersei had and wanted. Mic drop.

Not all of these questions might get answered by the end, but a good chunk of them are essential to the plot and narrative of the story. And don’t worry — we’ve got a solid year and a half at least to ponder these things while we wait for the final season.