Ted Lasso, Rom-Coms, and Emotional Vulnerability

Why is it important that a show about men who play soccer did a rom-com homage?

Dickinson Behind-the-Scenes: An Interview With the Artisans

Meet the artists who brought the Apple TV+ series to life!

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Looking for a new TV series to watch? We recommend them based on your preference for musicals, ensemble shows, mysteries, and more!

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Ashvini Reviews Camila Cabello’s Debut Album, Camila [Guest Poster: Ashvini]

Camila Cabello is an absolutely sensational singer-songwriter. Her songs are delicately crafted, so blunt and brilliant and raw in their deliveries and melodies, and her voice is a piercing, provocative blade of careful power. She’s ready to fight for you, bleed for you, and ache for you. She’s an artist through and through because she wears her heart on her sleeves. Only artists confront the most sensitive and human realities with unwavering confidence.

And with Camila, she’s thrown down everything she has; she’s torn her wounds open willingly for your listening pleasure in each of the eleven tracks, with the wish that you’ll learn and relate to her experiences. So below is my track-by-track review of her album.

“Never Be Same”

I think that this song could have been boring if anyone else was singing it. This whole comparison:

Just like nicotine, heroin, morphine, 
Suddenly, I’m a fiend and you’re all I need, 
All I need, yeah, you’re all I need

... is one that is common. Countless songs have compared love, or rather loving someone, to a drug addiction — as this palpable, damaging thing. Because hey, matters of the heart have the capacity to do that. Yet there’s something about Camila’s voice — the sharp, effervescent nature of it — that makes these lines convincing. Even though I know better, I believe it. Suspension of disbelief and all of that.

Also, I’d like to mention that her falsetto especially is kind of distorted and weird, and I enjoy it.

“All These Years”

Apparently this song was quite difficult for Camila to release because it’s so personal. And it is. It’s a courageous thing to be open about exes, because you hold a piece of them that only you understand. How could anyone else relate?

But it’s something we all go through. Being close to someone who you used to be vulnerable with after so long, brings back a rush of memories that are just that. Memories. Something you can only remember and never have back. Never relive. And it sucks.

The chorus is great at explaining this emotion:

'Cause after all these years,
I still feel everything when you are near,
And it was just a quick "Hello," and you had to go,
And you probably will never know,
You're still the one I'm after all these years,
(Oh yeah)

You can’t have that person back in your life like it they used to be, but you still feel everything for them. And who knows if they even feel the way you do. To you, those memories are the world, and that’s where the anguish lies. It’s this dull ache that settles in your heart: crushing and unmistakable.

“She Loves Control”

This is my favorite song on the record. Not only do I relate to it immensely — just the title itself might as well be the name of my memoir — but God, it’s the combination of Camila’s wistful vocals, the upbeat bass, and the delicately played strings of the alluring Spanish guitar that makes it one to remember.

I could wax poetic about how much I adore this song for many paragraphs, so I’m just going to leave it at this: give it a listen and get ready to play it on repeat into this summer.

“Havana” (feat. Young Thug)

I first heard this song at my sorority chapter in October and every girl in my house collectively lost their minds, dropping everything just to turn up. And that is a sure sign that a song is a hit. That night I went home, downloaded “Havana” on my Apple Music account (holla), and listened to it on loop for what was realistically a month. Everything about it is so addictive, so cool, and fun that it kept me moving through life.

I love the blend of the Latin — particularly Mexican and Cuban — motifs with the modern hip-hop collaboration from Young Thug. It’s a sweet blend of elements which are especially representative of Camila’s background and family, and her music journey. It’s like a dedication to who she really is, or who she wants us to see as a musician, and I’m intrigued.

“Inside Out”

Of all of the songs on this record, this was the one I wasn’t quite sure about in terms of general likability, at first. But after a few listens, I did come around to it. I think what I was at odds about was that it seemed like a blend of songs she has already done. This could have very well been an interlude to “Havana” for all we know, like “I Have Questions” was to “Crying in the Club.” Also, the repetitive, bubblegum pop nature of this song is overdone but it’s different because it’s Camila. She’s starkly different in skill and presentation as a musician, and her fun, bouncy nature is just a piece of her. This song is just a piece of her.

Really, I do enjoy this song for what is, which is a part of Camila is as an artist: someone who wants to take risks, challenge herself in different music genres and schemes, but grounds herself with her smooth, effortless lyrics.


Upon my first listen of this ballad, I cried. Which... okay yes, I cry a lot. But listen, this song is beautiful and heartbreaking. What I really love about this is that you, as the listener, gets a glimpse of what Camila is like in the bittersweet mood swings of heartbreak.

Everything about what she feels for someone who’s no longer in her life is so evident in the construction of the song, and it’s fascinating to me — the way she weaves a story simply but with so much intensity.

The contrasts between verse one and chorus one, and verse two and chorus one, where she swells back and forth between the lovely little highs of being in love and the consequences of those highs is pretty darn clever. It’s especially clever when she pulls back briefly and welcomes in chorus two and presents this light to dark contrast immediately. The impact of that back and forth with the effect of her melodious, lilted voice while delivering utterly devastating lines like:

Secret keeping, stop the bleeding, 
Lost a little weight because I wasn't eating, 
All the souls that I can't listen to, to tell the truth. 

... is a punch to the gut.

“Real Friends”

You know, this song represents a lot about my generation. We live in a time where recognition — or being liked — is more important than ever, because we deem it to be a projection of how many friends are in our circle or, dare I say, our squad. Which... it’s not at all. There are so many people who like my Instagram pictures but who I have never carried even one conversation with in real life. And it’s hard to deal with this disconnect.

That’s not to say that I don’t have a few friends in my life who I love and care for both on and off social media, but I think the number of truly challenging, truly life-changing friendships is harder to develop if you put too much value into your likes from random people than into the reality of those who actually care about you.

I’d like to believe that that’s what Camila is getting at in this song: which is that type of loneliness that can result from people who act like your friends on different platforms, but don’t show up in real life or prove that you truly matter to them in any tangible way. It’s hurtful to have to deal with that when all you want is validation and recognition. And to want those things is not at all a strange thing. That’s what makes us human. To me, “Real Friends” is about wanting to experience those emotions with friends in a way that is recognizable and honest — no holding back and no guises.

“Something’s Gotta Give”

Listening to this track is like slowly falling into an abyss of your own feelings: things you don’t want to admit to anyone, much less yourself. It’s really the repetition in the pre-chorus that makes this song as fierce and somber as it is:

I should know by now,
You should know by now,
We should know by now,

Camila is with someone and they aren’t communicating like they should, they aren’t confronting the very real problems that surround them, and they should know better. But they’re just waiting on the edge for something to push them — some extreme situation to come along to force them to deal with their issues. And it’s agony, this waiting, because something’s gotta give. But you just have to wait, until there’s no reason to stay.

If anything, this songs cements the fact that Camila can write a heck of a love ballad — one good enough to make you mull over the problems in your own life.

“In the Dark”

I think this song is an amalgamation of the unsettled feelings I have when I meet a cute boy and he’s acting like something’s he not. He’s so scared to be himself around his friends, but sometimes he’ll say these really profound things giving me a sneak peek into who he is. It’s odd.

I think that we’ve all experienced this, in romantic and platonic situations: where people put on airs of something they are so clearly not, and all you want to do is just grab them by the shoulders and yell, “It’s okay to be you! I validate you! Don’t hide!”

I mean, I don’t think I’ll ever do that, but it’s a nice fantasy, right?

“Into It”

This track sounds a bit like Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Let’s Get Lost” — like a darker, less hyper-rhythmic version of that song. Although, I suppose the sentiment between the two songs is similar. Like in “Let’s Get Lost” in “Into It,” Camila sings about someone in her life that she wants to dive headfirst with, holding nothing back; she’s into it and everything that person wants to do. She’s all for careless fun as long as they’re together. It’s sweet and silly, unexpected and engaging.

It’s a honeyed ditty that I can’t quite shake.


With Camila, a narrative is sung.

Camila takes bits and pieces of her life — significant people and essential moments and valuable places that have influenced her and her persona — and written the impacts of those factors into each trill and run that she expends. It’s a delightful thing to hear the jagged honesty of who she is woven through her lyrics, and I don’t know if it’s just her persona or something else, but there is a genuine depth pulsating in each track that is unbreakable.

Thus this record is a reflection, through and through, of what’s it’s like to be young, broken, and desperate to piece yourself back together despite everything.

I’m certain that this album is proof that this can be done, tenfold.

Scorpion 4x15 Review: "Wave Goodbye” (I Cannot Let You Lose Control) [Guest Poster: Yasmine]

"Wave Goodbye"
Original Airdate: January 29, 2018

The focus on the two main relationships — Quintis and Waige — continues in this episode of Scorpion, and they’re even going head-to-head in the battle of the ships. Toby and Happy want Walter and Paige’s desks to be able to spend more time closer to each other, something they believe would help them get pregnant, and the way to get it is to go up against those two in a little trivia game that determines which couple know each other better.

It’s interesting that it comes at a time like this for Walter and Paige. Those two are relatively out of the honeymoon phase in their relationship and starting to have to deal with new challenges and real world relationship issues, and this game makes things interesting on that front.

It does not start great for Waige, since their practice question is about their first kiss and even on that, they disagree. Paige considers the one during the Quintis wedding as their first kiss, while Walter says the one at the garage way back when they were trying to prove there was nothing between them was their first kiss. Then Cabe pipes in to point out the kiss when Walt was unconscious at the hospital. The two spend the episode arguing this matter — even though they were once again trying to save the world — and still cannot get to a consensus.

But before the battle can officially commence the team takes a quick trip to Mexico to patch up a nuclear reactor that is threatening the area it is in.

Toby asks to be benched, promising to help from the garage, and he stays back under the pretense of being hurt and needing the rest. However, Toby’s true reason to stay behind quickly becomes clear as the others head out. His ex, Amy, shows up with a problem she needs his help with. After the fiasco at the bunker, Quincy left her but not after stealing all her money and selling her identity in the black market. She knows Toby’s past had him in circles with unsavory types and needs his help to fix this.

Toby agree to help her but unfortunately for him, he is seen driving with her by Sylvester, who is also staying behind for this job. Sly doesn’t tell anyone of what he has seen but he is obviously shaken by it. For a while, he manages to keep it to himself to help the team.

And speaking of the team, the seemingly simple patch-up job takes a turn for the worse — which is what we have come to expect with these people. This time it is not their fault when an earthquake hits, a tsunami looms on the horizon and chances of evacuation are slim.

But the team manage to use what they have and a little bit of out of the box thinking and they actually stop the tsunami from happening — using some good defensive blocking — and once again save the day.

Unfortunately, things are not going so great for Toby. His journey through his dark past puts him face to face with the people he had thought he’d gotten out of his life as well as people who are not too happy to see him, and he is faced with temptations that seem too hard to fight back against. It all ends with him and Amy being buried alive, but someone who seems to be the kind to hold a grudge. While buried together and caught in a tight spot, Amy kisses Toby. But the doc, ever faithful to his Happy, puts a quick stop to it. However, Happy has spent all day worrying about him, and while she does manage to rescue him in time, she is livid.

Back at the garage, Toby admits the truth that he was helping Amy to a very unhappy Happy. She’s rightfully pissed off at him for lying and for getting himself involved in this mess in the first place. Toby is honest and open and does not keep the kiss from her, but what Happy is angry about is not that. She never thought for a moment he would be unfaithful. Happy is angry at him for going back to that world, where he was once so lost and a mess. She admits that she worries about him losing control and falling back into that world she worked so hard in helping him quit. She fears losing him to that world when they are trying to start a family.

Toby promises her that any other man would have lost control. But he has Happy Quinn and he would not risk losing her for anything.

Finally, Paige and Walter agree to let Happy and Toby win the battle of the ships after the rough day they had. However, these people are too competitive for their own good and when Quintis call them chicken they decide to go ahead with the battle.

But they still cannot agree about the kiss: Walt now believes it was the kiss at the wedding and Paige says it was the one at the garage.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Grey’s Anatomy 14x10 Recap: “Personal Jesus” (The Rule of Three) [Contributor: Julia Siegel]

“Personal Jesus”
Original Airdate: January 25, 2018

After the return of Paul Stadler, you knew his arc would come to quite an exciting end. His fate was left in limbo after being the victim of a hit-and-run, but the fallout is pretty astonishing. On top of that drama, April has one of the worst days in her life. Her faith is tested, yet her end reaction is a bit extreme for her character. With four interwoven stories that will pull your emotions in every direction, this episode is one heck of a ride.


Even though the Paul/Jo/Jenny abuse storyline may not have been the primary focus of the episode, there was a lot of content packed into a very short amount of time. The episode starts where it left off: Meredith finds Alex and Jo in plain clothes looking into an ER private room. Paul is being treated for a head wound and other injuries from a hit-and-run, and his fiancĂ© Jenny is being questioned by the police. Of course, Meredith thinks that Alex and Jo are responsible for the accident, but they swear they didn’t do it and instead think that Jenny was fed up with Paul’s abuse and decided to end it for herself.

When she’s done with the police, Jenny finds Jo and thanks her for doing what she didn’t have the courage to do. In a moment of confusion, each woman thinks the other committed the crime and the audience is left to wonder whether they are telling the truth. It is later revealed that Paul was hit by a drunk driver, whom the police found, so everyone is in the clear of criminal charges. In a heartfelt moment, Jenny breaks down and explains to Jo the cycle of abuse and how it was a slow burn. The details of how Paul became abusive and made both Jenny and Jo think that they were crazy and at fault were chilling to hear.

Both women then decide to go visit Paul in his hospital room, where he is putting up a big stink to Meredith about staying. He gets very nasty when both women walk in, especially when he finds out Jo is there to protect Jenny since neither wants to be alone with their abuser. Jenny tells Paul that she is going to speak to the police and report the abuse and attempted murder that he committed. She reveals that the previous night Paul tried to strangle her in anger, which is yet another reason why he might be the most evil character to ever be on the show. Jenny then asks if Jo will testify against Paul in court, which she wholeheartedly agrees to do. To end her big speech, Jenny breaks off her engagement to Paul and says she will only ever see him in a court room.

What happens next is a true act of God: Since he can’t control his anger, Paul tries to get out of his hospital bed to go after Jenny and Jo. But because he is still a bit disoriented and has a mild concussion, he trips and smacks his head on the end of the bed. The move knocks him unconscious, and Meredith timidly checks to see if he is still alive. In the best karma moment ever, Paul has given himself impact syndrome, which can occur when the brain suffers a second traumatic impact while still recovering from the first. Amelia declares him brain dead, which leaves Jo as his power of attorney. Yes, they are still technically married because the divorce papers have yet to be given back to the lawyers and made official.

This turn of fate leaves Jo at a loss. She starts hysterically laughing, then crying, because one weight has been taken off her shoulders and been replaced with a second. Paul’s condition isn’t enough closure for either woman, so Jo decides to make something good out of all the evil and donate all of Paul’s organs. The whole thing is poetic because in the end, Paul’s own violence was his downfall, and Jo was able to have a clear conscience by giving a happy ending to all her terrible memories. Her line about evil becoming something good in the end is a fitting conclusion to Paul’s tale.

While this might not be the finish that we had all wanted, it is good that Jo can finally have a peace of mind and move on. My prediction is that she and Alex will be engaged quickly and possibly even be married before the end of the season. Both of them deserve some happiness after all the terrible things they have dealt with. We probably will never see Paul again, but Matthew Morrison was fantastic in the brief amount of time we had with him on screen.


It is now time to weave together April’s interesting arc from this episode. For starters, everything in the episode is connected back to her. She was initially treating Paul when he arrived at the hospital, so we can check that one of the list. As we all know, April is in charge of the ER. We don’t always get to see a lot of what happens in the ER anymore, so think of this episode as a day in the life of being an ER doctor. April deals with four patients simultaneously so once again, while these stories are independent, they all tie back together at the end of the episode. One of the subplots isn’t important to the overall episode and won’t have ramifications for the rest of the season, so I will not waste time mentioning it.

If domestic abuse wasn’t enough of a ripped-from-the-headlines storyline, then this episode is for you. It features an equally awful plot about a 12-year old boy being shot by the police. Ben is out on his ride along with the fire department  which he will be joining full time in the spin-off Station 19 (premiering March 22)  when they are called to the scene of an act of police bias and brutality. A cop thought an African-American boy was breaking into someone’s home, so he shot the unarmed child. The boy, Eric, was actually trying to get into his own house, but had forgotten his key and was trying to climb in through a window.

Ben arrives at the hospital with Eric, and let’s just say that Ben is not happy with what happened. The police have Eric handcuffed to the gurney and won’t take the cuffs off for him to be treated. Bailey and Jackson also have some choice words about police bias, which concludes with a powerful monologue to the police by Jackson. Eric has suffered a gunshot wound to his neck, and the bullet just missed the carotid artery. April is trying to assist Jackson and Bailey in the ER, but they kick her out and rush Eric to surgery. His carotid artery bursts in surgery, and he dies on the table.

Eric’s story sends an incredibly strong message against police bias. The characters’ points of view, discussions that undermine their faith in the system, and the nonchalance of the police toward what happened is truly eye opening. I wish this particular storyline could have been given a full episode just to itself because it is so important and impactful. The writers did an excellent job of not glamorizing the issue. The inclusion of Bailey and Ben giving Tuck a talk about police bias was especially emotional and difficult to watch. It is awful that we live in a world where this still occurs, and this episode went head on into the harsh reality that plagues America.


April’s biggest case of the day turns out to be a pregnant woman going into labor. We quickly learn that the patient is actually the wife of April’s ex-fiancĂ©, Matthew. Since the last time they saw each other was when she left him at the altar, there are a lot of unresolved feelings there. April has to deliver Matthew’s baby, then tend to his wife, Karen. The tension and awkwardness of the whole situation is pretty comical... until Karen starts having some post-birth complications. Karen was one of Arizona’s patients, but Arizona wasn’t around to help out for various reasons. April didn’t know that Karen had a history of low blood pressure and doesn’t realize that she is bleeding out until her blood pressure is through the roof. Karen is rushed to emergency surgery, where she dies on the table.

Her death can be attributed to April, since it seems April didn’t read her chart to know about the low blood pressure. While Karen’s story is short, it’s the interactions with Matthew that are more powerful here. Matthew and April have some time to talk, which reopens a lot of April’s old wounds. The worst of the conversation comes when Matthew talks about taking the pain of being left on the altar and turning it into something beautiful. Then, he says that April must be doing well since she has Jackson and had heard they had a baby about three years ago. Unbeknownst to him, April’s life has been a living hell between the divorce and losing her first child. The conversation visibly shakes April, which was some great acting from Sarah Drew. It’s been a long time since we have seen April this rattled, and the consequences are pretty disastrous. 


Throughout the course of the episode, April feels that she can’t do anything right and isn’t wanted by anyone. This makes her think that no one believes she can do anything right either. Between dealing with Paul, Eric, and Karen, April had a rough day. The worst part is that she finds out that all three patients died when going back to check in with the other doctors. Each death weighs heavier on April, with Karen’s death being the real kicker. She loses it when she sees Matthew holding his baby by himself in the nursery.

Through a series of voiceovers, April discusses how her faith failed her today. She essentially says that there’s no point to faith if terrible things happen to people every day. This isn’t the first time that we have seen her faith waver, but it is the first time she totally goes off the rails. April winds up sharing an intimate scene with intern Vik in her shower, which we all know isn’t going to do any good for her. Over the years, April has faced some really tough situations, but none have destroyed her faith. It is a little unreasonable that one bad day governed by the rule of three would crack her.

April’s faith has always stayed with her even in the worst of situations. She watched Derek get shot point blank in front of her and talked the gunman out of not shooting her. She broke her promise of not have sex until she was married by sleeping with Jackson the night before taking her medical board exams. She then failed her medical boards and stopped practicing medicine. She thought she had found her soulmate, but felt guilty and left him at the altar. April dealt with the struggles of losing her unborn child and the futile relationship with Jackson that followed. This character has had a lot of hardship, yet it seems unlikely that one bad day in the ER would destroy her faith.

Where April goes from here is a mystery. It is unclear what impact her one-night fling with Vik will bring and whether that will be enough to snap her out of her spiraling. This episode dealt with the harsh reality of losing patients due to awful situations. While none of the stories were particularly happy, it’s not like April was directly responsible for killing the three patients. For someone who has been very solid and unwavering in their beliefs, April fell apart easily which probably means that this new mentality won’t last too long. Or, this was the final straw for April’s faith because it seems that God doesn’t look out for her or care about good people being hurt.

The Bachelor 22x04 Roundtable: A Bunch of Forgettable Dates [Contributors: Alisa, Rebecca, and Chelsea]

Well, The Bachelor is still happening... even if it's putting most of our recappers to sleep. Between weird age differences and utterly boring dates, the roundtable still had a lot to say. So let's dive in!

This week was a whirlwind of drama, with a lot of the episode focused on Bekah’s age. Arie clearly has a strong connection with her. How do you think the show handled the revelation and how do you feel about the pairing?

Alisa: The whole thing was weird, but not just because of the literal age gap. Yes, to be perfectly honest, I do think there’s a bit of an ick-factor with the fact that she’s 14 years younger. I mean, he became a teenager before she was even born. So there’s that. But the bigger issue is that they’re at totally different places in their lives. Bekah seems super fun and lighthearted and ready to live her 20s to the extreme. As she should. Arie on the other hand is self-admittedly a cardigan-wearing grandpa who goes to bed before the sun sets. And that’s totally fine, too. But that makes a relationship hard when you’re not just two different people who grew up as part of two different generations — you’re also living two totally different types of lives. They do seem to have some intense chemistry going on but so do Arie and like five other women, so I’m not swayed by that. And let’s be honest — the fact that Arie is more freaked out by Bekah’s age than by Krystal’s BLATANT manipulations for time and attention is a real problem. He’s so convinced baby Bekah will break his heart because she’s 22 rather than worrying about Krystal who’s possibly a sociopath. Learn to prioritize your concerns, Arie.

Rebecca: Alisa took all the words right out of my mouth. Age gaps don’t bother me so long as everything is legal and consensual, but this 14-year age gap is a little creepy just because of the setting: a reality TV show, competing against other women, some of whom are nearly 10 years older than you... the whole thing gives me some icky vibes, but I love Bekah and I trust her and her judgment. I agree that Arie has waaaay more important things to be worried about, like the fact Krystal is actually evil.

Chelsea: Yeah, normally an age gap doesn’t bother me too much but he literally looks 25 years older than her, and is clearly in a different place of life than Bekah. My stepdad is 13 years older than my mom but the dynamic is way different. They’re on the same page of where they want to be and not on a reality show. It should be noted that Krystal is the only girl that is 30 years old left on the show. The average age of all the girls left is 26 ½, so Arie already has nearly a decade on his ladies. I think the problem really was they cast ladies for Peter’s season and ended up with an older Bachelor than what they had planned. Arie might still be in his twenties mentally (Bekah is clearly smarter than him) but he really needs to grow up.

The group date was quite rough and a bit disgusting to watch this week. What were your favorite moments during any of the dates this week and what is your ideal date for the show? 

Alisa: My favorite part was Krystal trying to confront Tia and Caroline and them literally laughing in her face and calling her on her nonsense. I am so completely bummed that Caroline left this week because she was hilarious and I hope we see more of her in the Bachelor ‘verse. My ideal date for the show would be a girls-only date where all the ladies go to some amazing city and just explore for the day and Arie stays home and naps in his favorite cardigan and we don’t see any of him for the entire episode.

Rebecca: Alisa, that is the kind of date I would go on! There seem to be a lot more friendships this season than normal, and I’m so here for it. Honestly, I had to Google what the group date was because I had forgotten, and I don’t remember who got the other one-on-one besides Bekah, so obviously none of them made a great impression on me.

Chelsea: I’m so sad we’re not watching Tia & Caroline’s Happily Ever After, because those ladies were living their best lives on that dumb wilderness date. They both handled Krystal and her ridiculous confrontation about the group date like champs, and it’s truly tragic that Caroline went home this early. But also, girl save yourself from Arie. You can do better! On most other seasons, Caroline would be a frontrunner to win or for Bachelorette but now I’m hoping she gets a nice vacation in Paradise.

I really don’t remember much of the dates besides the eating bugs and almost tricking them into drinking their own pee. That’s not romantic at all. These group dates seem way too big to be productive and Arie is clearly not an outdoors kind of guy for them. Seinne had the only normal date of parasailing and dinner and making the most of her quality time. Another wonderful gal that is too good for this nonsense. Pretty sure Bekah’s date was just in a hot tub and just felt weird.

My ideal date for the ladies would be them going out to brunch, with bottomless mimosas (obviously), a day of fun activities like shopping and mini golf, and ending it with karaoke. And Arie would be at home with Krystal and we wouldn’t see them, so it would be the best.

Krystal was prime diva this week creating drama on the group date and during the rose ceremony. How much longer do you think she’ll last this season? 

Alisa: Well, I have her in my top four so I hope she lasts through hometowns because I need the points! She the worst but she is also one of the only entertaining parts of this season.

Rebecca: I think she’ll get eliminated right before hometowns. That’s about the time when the true colors come out, and I have a feeling the other girls will make sure Arie finds out exactly who she is before he takes her to meet his family. Oh wait... she already did *eyeroll emoji*.

Chelsea: I feel like Krystal could go home this next week if we’re lucky (sorry, Alisa). She’s not entertaining enough — like Corinne’s trainwreck — to make it to hometowns and there are still some really great girls in the game. I hope her little meltdown in the previews has her packing next week. I did LOVE when all the girls sat down during the rose ceremony after she snagged Arie.

We saw a bunch of the women bonding this week on the show, particularly Tia and Caroline. Who are your favorite ladies at this point? Do any of them have Paradise or Bachelorette material? 

Alisa: I’d love to see Caroline and Bibiana show up in Paradise. I thought Chelsea was going to turn out to be a much bigger villain this season but she’s being outshined by Krystal. Maybe if Chelsea were to go to Paradise she could really let her villain flag fly. Becca and Bekah are both too sweet and good to be on this trainwreck of a franchise. Jacqueline has a hilarious Twitter account that I just discovered so I hope she shows up in Paradise and brings that sass to the screen. Seinne is amazing and way too smart and mature to be on Paradise. I’d be so excited if she was the next Bachelorette. You know, they really gave Arie a pretty fantastic bunch of women to choose from and it’s too bad he’s undeserving and going to eff it all up.

Rebecca: I also really love Becca, Bekah, and Seinne! Bibiana was robbed and definitely deserves a shot at love in Paradise. I’d love to see Seinne as the next Bachelorette as well. Both the Beckahs (get it — Becca and Bekah?) are too good for the Bachelor franchise, but I love them both so much and hope to see Bekah in Paradise, since I think Becca will win. I’d also love to see Tia go to Paradise with Raven.

Chelsea: I’m with Alisa in that I though Not Me would be more of a villain based on the premiere. There’s clearly footage of her trying to be villainous based on that last bumper but it clearly wasn’t big enough to make an impact. For the next Bachelorette, I would LOVE to see Caroline, Seinne, or Becca. All three of those girls are funny and smart enough to follow in Rachel’s footsteps. For Paradise, I really love a lot of the girls. I think Maquel and Bekah would thrive on the beach away from boring Arie. Justice for Bibiana getting sent home far too soon and Jacqueline for not getting enough screentime this year. And then of course Tia will take the snark master mantle from Raven and do great things on the beach. I just hope she has better taste in guys than Raven did in the end. Maybe Tia and Ben Z. can find love this summer?

And now, our Bachelor Fantasy League standings:

  1. Chelsea: 250 points
  2. Rebecca: 200 points
  3. Alisa: 130 points

Arrow 6x11 Recap: "We Fall" (The Price We Pay) [Contributor: Marilyn]

“We Fall”
Original Airdate: January 25, 2018

This week’s Arrow was a singularly fantastic episode, perhaps one of the best of the series. That’s not hyperbole either. This episode brought together all the elements that make Arrow great and even gave us something new to love: a strong family dynamic. And, shock of all shocks, I loved it.

The day starts with all kinds of technology malfunctions across town: car accidents, hospital equipment backfiring, elevators shocking people (including Captain Pike)... even a plane crash. It’s Cayden James demonstrating his power. Meanwhile at the Queen’s apartment, we are treated to the most adorable domestic scene. Oliver and William are having an arrow shooting contest using suction cup arrows. William is a natural and even bests his father, which he gloats about. Oliver is very obviously proud. I’d say the kid is poised to take over for his dad someday. Hopefully far in the future. Felicity joins them and she and William discuss some schoolwork that goes rather adorably over Oliver’s head before William heads off for his field trip. That leaves Oliver and Felicity to exchange a good morning kiss — something much appreciated by the fans. Of course, after that, the news of the day catches up with them and Oliver needs to rush off to deal with the fallout while Felicity heads to the bunker to see if she can find out what’s going on.

At the bunker, Dig is training hard now that the chip is working. He’s feeling better and stronger than before. Felicity fills Dig in on what’s going on and then when Oliver is roped in, Dig brings up the idea of looping in the newbies — just so they can put pieces and knowledge together faster. It’s a smart move. At the precinct, Oliver talks to Quentin, asking him to fill in for Captain Pike. Meanwhile, at the NTA Lair where the bitter are still bitter, Curtis answers a call from Felicity and she mentions putting their heads together. NTA agrees and when one of Curtis’ t-spheres comes to life, they realize it’s locking onto Vigilante’s visor again. Dinah suggests they use it to trap him, which just seems too simple. But what do I know. So they get their super suits and head out.

Thea rushes into the precinct and Quentin fills Thea in on what’s going on, promising to help in whatever way she can. She suggests setting up off-grid safe zones for people to hide out in until the crisis is over. Oliver goes to City Hall while NTA hunts down Vinnie. Vinnie confronts Curtis, telling him that he’s undercover with Cayden James. But Curtis isn’t buying it, and neither am I. Vinnie then asks for Curtis’ help and tells him to go to the subway tunnels: to save some lives there in an hour's time.

Meanwhile, Mayor Queen is addressing his staff about the crisis and the death of a councilman when Cayden James shows up. He gives the absolutely fantastic fake name of “Ben Gale,” which is the most brilliant Lost reference I’ve ever seen in a show. Anyway, he’s there to tell Oliver what he wants from him. He’s got control of the city’s infrastructure and wants money — lots of money. $10 million dollars to be exact, by that night and every night afterward. Oliver says that will bankrupt the city. Cayden doesn’t care, and wants him to suffer. Oliver insists he didn’t kill his son but Cayden insists that he did — one year ago today to be exact when he accidentally shot him. Something about that is weird. Oliver doesn’t miss a shot. Ever.

At the bunker, Felicity is working away, trying to find a way to counterhack Cayden James. But she can’t. She learns from Alena that Cayden manipulated her several episodes ago, getting her to help him load up a virus, which is what allowed this whole sequence of events to happen. Oliver shows up and tells them about Cayden, his demands, and his insistence that Oliver killed his son. NTA calls up Felicity to share some intel, asking her to look at the subway where the systems have gone offline. She offers to help Curtis get it online but he cockily tells her that they can handle it without her help. But Felicity notices that Cayden is shutting down all access in and out of the city. Which means that William’s school bus is stuck in a tunnel.

On the bus, William is being taunted by some bullies (they give him crap about his mom being hot which... I can’t argue that. Felicity is pretty fine) while Oliver and Dig suit up to go save William. NTA is dealing with the subway thing but honestly, after Curtis’ rudeness to Felicity I don’t even care. Surprise, surprise, Curtis is unable to fix the issue on his own and Dinah has to use her cry to stop the subway trains from colliding. Dinah has her faults in this all, but she deserves a better team. Back in the tunnel, the gas lines blow and the kids on the bus are panicking. William keeps a level head, getting all the kids out the emergency exit at the back of the bus. On the way out, he gets trapped behind a fallen sign. Oliver and Dig arrive and Spartan helps all the other people get out of the tunnel while Oliver goes to look for William. He finds him and frees him from behind the sign. They hurry to safety before the tunnel is engulfed in a fireball, but now William knows that his father is suiting up as the Green Arrow — something he promised him that he wouldn’t do anymore. Whoops.

Oliver and Dig bring William down into the bunker and he has a look around. He’s pretty upset with his father for being the Green Arrow again. Oliver doesn’t really have an excuse, he feels he has to be the Green Arrow right now. William is clearly hurt, but Oliver doesn’t have time for a discussion. He has to go meet Thea and asks William to hang at the bunker until he returns. NTA, meanwhile, is feeling super cocky and I can’t wait until they’re knocked down about fifteen pegs. Curtis tells Dinah that he got the information about the subway from Vinnie; she and Rene are both pretty annoyed about that fact. Curtis tells them that Vinnie claims he’s a double agent, but Dinah doesn’t really believe that. She’s adamant about not working with Vinnie again and lets them know this in no uncertain terms.

Thea and Quentin want to help people but no one is showing up at the safe zones; they’re all too scared. Oliver has an idea though. Back at the bunker, Felicity is talking with Alena who believes that Cayden was sent faked evidence that Oliver killed Cayden’s son. They just need to track the evidence — a USB drive — and find who sent it. Dig, meanwhile, is disappointed that he’s not back under the hood. He wants to be the Green Arrow, partly for William’s sake. Felicity feels bad for the boy, but is unsure what exactly to do. She’s still learning how to be a step-mom. Oliver is on television, holding a press conference — telling the public what is going on, who is doing this to them, and urging everyone to go to the safe zones.

Unfortunately, Cayden is entirely expecting this turn of events. Oliver returns to the bunker and Felicity fills him in on what she’s learned about the evidence that Cayden has. Oliver does a pretty good job at looking like he understands her mile-a-minute babble. William is still sitting alone, sulking, and she says he should go talk to him. He will but he’s not quite ready yet. Felicity gives him a bit of a pep talk about dealing with William. She tells him that the thing that hurt her the most about her relationship with her father growing up wasn’t so much the bad that he was doing, but that he didn’t tell her about it. She didn’t like the lies. She believes William can handle the things that Oliver has to do so long as Oliver is telling him the truth about them. Elsewhere, Dinah is still ticked at her teammates and they tell her they won’t work with Vinnie if she doesn’t want to. They agree to discuss it reasonably. Vinnie signals NTA with Morse code to the t-sphere, telling him that Cayden and his crew are going to attack one of the safe zones that Quentin and Thea set up. Dinah agrees they should suit up and head out.

They show up at the safe zone and are joined by Dig and Oliver, who were alerted by Curtis about what was happening. This one time they agree to work together. And right on cue, Cayden’s crew shows up with guns to terrorize the citizens. The heroes drop in and engage the gunmen while Felicity and William watch from the bunker. Actually William is nervous, concerned for his father. She gives him this great speech about how Oliver does what he does, why he does it… but how she loves him anyhow. Because there’s no guarantees in life, especially this one, but it’s worth it to help. This wonderful speech is intercut with shots of the team fighting the gunmen and it’s really rather stunning. Vinnie saves Rene in the field and Dinah sees it. And William starts to get perspective on why his father does what he does, and how important it is to have faith in those we love. THIS right here is why I love the show.

NTA lets OTA know that nothing has changed before everyone stalks off to their own respective corners. Back at the bunker, OTA can’t help but notice that they don’t know where NTA got their intel about the raid. Oliver goes to talk to William while Dinah meets with Vinnie and thanks him for the help. It looks like they’re patching things up. At the Queen family apartment, they’re having a family meeting. Oliver apologizes to William for lying and promises that there will be no more secrets and no more lies. He says if William wants him to stop being the Green Arrow, he will. William tells Oliver that Felicity showed him what he does and the boy gets that the city needs him to be a hero. Plus, he’s not as worried about being an orphan now: he has Felicity. That’s pretty fantastic and just about everything I’ve wanted from this little family. I may even have had a tear or two in my eyes. Oliver and Felicity share a sweet, tender moment before Alena interrupts with a text, telling Felicity that they were unable to find out who sent Cayden the evidence. And Oliver has to get to City Hall. Cayden’s deadline looms near and he’s decided to... pay him. That just seems like a really, really bad idea. He promised the city he wouldn’t negotiate with terrorists. And here he is, caving to those demands.

This was a great episode, solid from start to finish. Yes, the newbies are continuing to be super annoying. But I think it’s beyond apparent by now that their overconfidence is a house of cards and that will come tumbling down soon. They’re cocky and arrogant and that will work against them. The only questions are how and when? The rest of the episode gave us a blessed lack of Black Siren (and so Quentin and Thea weren’t weighed down like last week) and a lovely abundance of Felicity really getting into the groove of being a step-mother. Plus, Oliver is no longer lying to his son about being the Green Arrow so that is also a good development. If only all Arrow episodes could resonate like this one, we would be a lucky fandom indeed.

Join me next week when we watch “All for Nothing,” which sounds more than a little ominous.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Series: This Week’s TV MVPs -- Week 66

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Wow, it's been a while since we've done this, hasn't it? Apologies for being a little MIA and scatterbrained with this series — life got busy toward the end of the year and I dropped the series as a result. But primetime television has made its midseason debut, and it's time to celebrate some of the best performers on TV this week. Joining me this week are:

Let's do this!

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Blindspot 3x11 Review: "Technology Wizards" (Light Switch) [Contributor: Jen]

"Technology Wizards"
Original Airdate: January 26, 2018

Back with another review! Sorry it is so late, Blindspotters. One of these days I'll be able to watch this show on time. "Technology Wizards" is a slight step up from last week's "Balance of Might," but that's not saying much since we were at rock bottom.


It's dueling Cases of the Week! Kurt discovers Avery alive, but so is the German gangster Max Kohler. Kurt thought he killed Max in the same shootout he "accidentally shot" Avery. This is becoming a pattern, Weller. You were the Assistant Director of the FBI. You James Bond for a living. Get your act together.

Max Kohler's real name is Dedrik Hoehne and he's holding Avery captive... for some reason. Avery lied about Roman and Kohler, but I still don't understand why. I also don't understand why Roman kidnapped her for months. Unfortunately, "Technology Wizards" doesn't do a lot of clarify that other than that Roman manipulated her. It feels a little thin, but there's no point of trying to make sense of it now. Hopefully, they'll dig a little deeper in upcoming episodes.

Of course, Jane's kidnapping expert ex-boyfriend Clem (yes, that is my bitterness speaking. Leave me to my pain) is more than happy to help Kurt and Jane find Avery. Most awkward mission ever. They find Avery's location, but Kurt and Clem are too busy fighting about tactics. Kohler is able to escape with Avery again. (They should have done it Kurt's way.)

Avery's super secret agent genes kick in and she signals to her mama where she's located when Jane demands proof of life via cellphone video. Jane and Clem kill the kidnappers, while Weller has rendezvous with Roman in the underground tunnel. Before you get too excited, they are separated by a clear, bulletproof wall. East and West Berlin built this wall underground to circumvent the Berlin Wall so enemies could meet without the threat of death. I have absolutely no idea if it's historically accurate or not, but it sounds cool so I am going to believe it is true.

Patterson's chickens come home to roost in the second Case of the Week. Someone hacked the back door in her Wizardville app and is blackmailing subscribers to do embarrassing and illegal things like rob a bank wearing a diaper. It leads back to Boston: Rich Dotcom's ex boyfriend. Boston was one of the original Wizardville app coders and probably created the back door. I'm casting serious side eye at the writers over this one. Patterson is a genius and she's been freaking over this back door for weeks now. She never once considered the felon she hired to code had something to do with it? Give me a break.

However, it is Boston's new boyfriend Sanjay who is really using the back door to do serious harm. He blackmailed Johnny Sheridan, a top engineer embezzling millions from the defense contractor he works for. Sanjay blackmailed Sheridan into stealing white phosphorus bombs to sell on the black market. Yup, bombs again.

But it's white phosphorus bombs and not nuclear bombs so it's a completely different plot line. At least the target isn't New York City this time. Oh wait... it IS New York City.

There are three options for why the writers continually repeat this plot line:

  1. They really love bombs.
  2. They believe the audience forgets an episode immediately after watching and won't remember the six other bomb-related episodes. (I submit the constant flashbacks from prior episodes as proof).
  3. They don't care it's repetitive and are phoning it in until hiatus.

Given where we're at, I'm going with option three.

Boston selflessly volunteers to find out the location of the meet and it is conveniently his apartment. I don't know where black market sales go down, but I can guarantee you they don't happen in the apartments of the purveyor.

Things get a little dicey for a bit, but Boston finds a way to signal to the team the sale is happening (who knew tea kettles were multi-purpose?) and Team Blindspot saves the day!


Kurt versus Roman gave the men the opportunity to trade zingers without simultaneously beating one another to a pulp. I'm here for letting these two boys fight it out.

Kurt very proudly tells Roman he has nothing to hold over him anymore. He told Jane everything. (Psst, Kurt — your marriage is in shambles because you were too stupid to figure out the most obvious plot line in the history of Blindspot, and perhaps television as a whole. I wouldn't be bragging about your honesty.) Roman's reaction, however, is on point: "Really? How'd she take it?"

Yes, I even cackled along with Roman. Sometimes he's very charming in his evilness and makes me like him. Particularly when Kurt and Jane are being easy-to-manipulate-dummies. Roman: 1, Kurt: 0.

Kurt is down, but he's not out. He asks Roman if he's tired of being alone, which hits Roman in his Blake-shaped heart. Roman shrugs it off because he's not meant for that kind of life. Aww, man. Can't one of my ships sail on this show? Weller twists the Shepherd knife and tells Roman that no matter what his motivations were, he lied and manipulated Avery just like Shepherd did to him. That did the trick. Roman totally wanted to kill Kurt. Roman: 1, Kurt: 1

I'm calling this one a draw. Until next time, boys!

My other flailing romance took a blow this week too. Zapata was prepared to profess her feelings to Reade, but he pulls out an engagement ring for the girlfriend whose name I can't remember. If I can't remember her name, it means Blindspot has put zero effort into this relationship. This makes it difficult for me to believe she is any kind of road block to Reade and Zapata. But Tasha went sad panda on me while hugging Reade and pretending to be happy for him, so I wanted to cry.

Rich confessed his love to Boston and apologized for being a narcissist. He wanted another chance with Boston. However, Boston wanted Rich to say all of this two years ago but he didn't and Boston moved on. This is supposed to hit us squarely in the Reade/Zapata parallel eyes, but I'm firm on it being a red herring. One, Zapata is not a narcissistic criminal. Two, Reade was not in any position to start a romance when he kissed Tasha. Three, Tasha was totally in love with Reade at the time, but couldn't admit it to Reade because she was scared to lose their friendship. Now she's just scared to lose him entirely, so Zapata will woman up and tell Reade the truth. She'll probably do this at the most inconvenient time, but that's television for you. And Reade, you better say: "I love you too" because you do love her. The only reason you gave Meg (Hey, look! I remembered her name!) a second glance is because Tasha shot you down.

I'm making the leap that Jane's daughter will become part of Team Blindspot. She held a gun in Jane's face and didn't shoot her, which I think is official initiation. Why Avery chose to pull a gun on her mother — the same woman who just rescued her — is a little mind-boggling. Jane explains Roman manipulated Avery, but manipulation means Roman told Avery everything Jane would say. Most of Jane's arguments were shot down — yes, even Shepherd and the baby stealing. Although, I'm Team Avery on this one. It's not like Remi cut all ties with her mother after she stole her baby.

Avery knows Roman can't be trusted, but that doesn't mean she trusts Jane. Really? She just dropped six bodies for you. I'd say that counts for something. Jane — in her first mother/daughter talk — does a pretty good job. She tells Avery to look at the dead bodies around her and rethink her life.

Avery realizes she's an orphaned teenager with a super secret agent birth mother who, until about five minutes ago, didn't remember she existed. Her uncle manipulated and lied to her in some elaborate plot to mess with said birth mother's marriage. This same person convinced her to faked her own death and then kidnapped her. Now she's pointing a glock at her birth mother with a bunch of dead bodies laying around her. I'd say Avery is having a bit of day.

Avery drops the gun and starts crying. Thus, Jane is able to whisk her away onto the plane and hopefully provide this child with some parenting in the upcoming episodes. The kid needs it.


Jane did not sleep with Clem. She just slept in the hotel room, poured her heart out to him, and flirted. However, we are not supposed to hold anything that happened with Clem — either past or present — against Jane because... drum roll please....

Kurt and Jane were on a break!

I was kidding about the Ross/Rachel excuse in my "Balance of Might" review. I didn't really believe Blindspot would use "we were on a break" as a legitimate reason why Jane didn't cheat on Kurt. Apparently, because Jane left in the middle of the night (without discussing it with Kurt) and didn't know if she'd ever see him again, it was perfectly acceptable for her to kiss another man a few short months into her trek across the world.

I'm sorry — at any point was there a discussion about dissolving the marriage? Were they separated? Was Kurt allowed a vote? NO. Blindspot has the most fluid definition for marriage that I've ever seen. This isn't a light switch Kurt and Jane can switch on or off whenever it suits them. You are either married or you are not. It's sort of like how you can't say you are a little bit pregnant. Certainly, there are stages to a dissolution and uncertainty as to where the relationship is going, but guess what? YOU. ARE. STILL. MARRIED.

Until you say, "Hey I want a divorce" or "We should legally separate" or "Let's agree it's okay to sleep with other people while we are still married, but separated by distance and circumstance," it is not okay to kiss or sleep with someone else. If you do then YOU ARE CHEATING. End of discussion. There is no way Blindspot is going to wriggle out of this mess of a storyline on a technicality. The fact they are even trying just shows what a mess it is.

Kurt spends most of the episode trying to out-alpha Clem, while Jane passive-aggressively takes Clem's side in every disagreement. She comes clean to Kurt about her romantic past with Clem, but Kurt is not allowed to be upset with her because he killed her daughter.

Yeah... except he didn't. What's truly frustrating is Blindspot has dissolved Kurt and Jane's relationship into tit for tat. They are keeping score now and we, as the audience, are required to keep score too. "Kurt can't be angry at Jane because he did this," and "Jane has to forgive Kurt because she did this." That is not how a marriage works. Making a mistake and hurting your spouse isn't suddenly permission for your partner to make an even bigger mistake and hurt you back. Kurt and Jane didn't lie to one another about their transgressions as retaliation, but those mistakes are being used as some kind of get out of jail free card. Particularly in Jane's case. Kurt isn't allowed to be angry about the cheating because, a) they were on a break, b) he killed her daughter, and c) he lied.

At least in Ross and Rachel's case, the topic of a break was broached. That is not the case with Kurt and Jane. Jane is making the rules up as she goes and Kurt has to follow along because he lied too. Except Kurt didn't kill Jane's daughter and he wasn't briefed on the dating rules before Jane skipped town. More importantly, those aren't the reasons Jane kissed Clem! Jane kissed Clem because she wanted to. It's as simple as that.

Kurt and Jane's marriage really is a light switch to Blindspot. They will switch it off for ill-conceived, illogical, and poorly written drama and switch it back on when it's convenient. We — as viewers — are simply expected to go along as Jeller flips off, on, off, on off, on, and off.

Marriage means something. It's not just a piece of paper. It's about the vows taken and the commitment promised. If Blindspot insists on treating Jane and Kurt's marital status as something they can turn off and on whenever it suits them, then why did they bother marrying them at all?

The only real glimmer was this line from Jane: "Maybe we should stop trying to protect each other because it just seems to make things worse."

The entire Blindspot audience just screamed "YES," you idiots. This is what we've been telling you to do for three years! If you just listened to us you'd be on your way to Jeller babies.

Stray Thoughts:

  • There was way too much thigh touching on Clem's part and Jane's hug lasted way too long. I do not approve.
  • "Do you think Avery's death was part of it all? To hurt Jane?" Patterson you are brilliant, but that's just about the stupidest thing I've ever heard you say. DUH. Of course it was. Now even the character — whose defining characteristic is her intelligence — has to act like a moron to make this storyline fly. Kurt and Jane are one thing, but DO NOT MESS WITH PATTERSON, WRITERS.
  • Avery faked her death with a drug. Pretty sure that was on my list of possibilities.
  • "This was just another plan to tear us apart." DING DING DING. Someone give these two a cookie.
  • Kurt's dagger eyes on Clem and extra firm handshake did give me a chuckle.
  • "Sadly not the first time I've seen that in New York." I don't live in New York, but I believe it.
  • Jane has been searching for Avery for days. She busted Kurt over his lies putting Avery's life at risk. Avery has slipped from her grasp once before. She finally comes in contact with her child and... sticks her in a closet and tells her to stay put? Huh? How about not letting her out of your sight, Jane? Give Avery a gun.
  • Crawford is the target. We knew this and Roman knew it, but I feel he should have given Kurt a "spoiler alert" warning. Our Kurt is having trouble keeping up this season.
  • "You think she'll be okay?"
  • "Yeah she's tough. Just like her mother." I will not be won over with one apology and a single warm piece of dialogue. However, it was nice to see a shell of Jeller again.
  • "She still loves you." Everybody knows that, Clem. We really didn't need you to tell Kurt that. Patterson had it covered. You still remain a pointless plot device.
  • Was that the Arrow hospital set? It looked familiar.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

The Flash 4x11 Review: "The Elongated Knight Rises" (I Don’t Really Care About Ralph Dibny) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]

"The Elongated Knight Rises"
Original Airdate: January 23, 2018 

Why does Ralph Dibny get so much focus on this show? This is the second episode named after him this season and the third one with a direct focus on his character growth. Are they trying to make up for him being almost irredeemably awful? Because focusing even more on him isn’t actually helpful, if so. It’s like when you try drawing a picture and it doesn’t come out quite right so you erase and try again, and it’s still not right so you erase and try again and — stop, stop! There reaches a point where what you’re working on is no longer a drawing, but an unfathomable mess made of graphite smudges and chaos. What I’m saying is... back off from the Dibny stories, The Flash. Just a bit.


I guess I was wrong about Barry not having much use behind bars, since he’s only a week in and already stopping a full-on riot. I just don’t think Central City’s legal system is very good, people. Not only have two men from the same family been wrongly accused of murder on evidence that had to be questionable, but there are frequent riots within the prison walls and they hire their nurses without performing strenuous background checks.

Because, yes, this is where our episode plot begins, though Barry isn't all that involved with it. Jailed Barry is understandably moody (funny aside: the color correction to make Barry’s prison scenes suitably sad and gloomy seriously looks like they just borrowed the desaturation specs from Arrow’s post-production team) and not ready to be “murder buds” with anyone — especially not Axel, son of The Trickster. Thankfully, the conversation with Axel is cut short by Axel complaining of stomach pains from some bad pudding, and the actual crazed murderer is sent to the infirmary. There, one of the nurses reveals herself to be Axel’s mother, medicated and ready to live a normal life with her son rather than a life of crime.

I actually do feel a little sorry for Zoey Clark. Her ungrateful offspring only cares about what his dad thinks of him while she went through all the trouble of actually raising him when he was a kid and breaking him out of prison as an adult. Then Axel’s rejection of her plans to live a normal life leads her to stop taking her medication so that she can become her villainous alter-ego Prank again, and the two of them can become a criminal duo. It’s a pretty messed up family, even excluding the supervillainy.

Back in the villainy game, Trickster II and Prank begin targeting the newest hero on the scene: Ralph Dibny, who is still unnamed. Trickster II calls Dibny out and Dibny loves it, up until Trickster II sprays him with a pink acidic too that actually hurts him. See, up until this point, Ralph thought he was indestructible. He caught bombs, bullets, throwing stars — anything tossed in his direction, his rubbery cells could handle. Until Trickster II’s acid.

Thus, the main emotional arc of the episode become Dibny learning to be a hero despite the risks that come with being a hero. He doesn’t actually want to to the masked crusader thing if it means getting hurt, because getting hurt hurts and no one likes that. He quits on the spot, and we’re expected to care about whether he changes his mind in the end.

Okay, I’m being harsh because it’s Dibny. The truth is, a previously-invulnerable hero learning that pain comes with the superhero suit is an interesting concept, and I would have been really interested in it if it weren’t for the fact that The Flash fumbled Dibny’s entire introduction/character. He would’ve been fine as a washed-up PI with good intentions (last week’s speech to Joe about not planting evidence was proof of that) but add in a personality as a serial sexual harasser? A personality trait, by the by, which has not been addressed at all while the show has carefully tried to deconstruct every other negative trait of Ralph’s since he’s shown up. They just ignore the fact that Dibny is gross and lecherous, telling us that his other negative features can totally be fixed and we should like him now!

I’m not on board with this. It’s like I said: they made a mess with this character, and they can’t keep going back to the same sheet of paper, erasing and redrawing, and expect a masterpiece out of it. It’s bad enough that Dibny’s character development is taking up the time that should have been spent on Wally (and I hear he’s on Legends of Tomorrow now — may those writers treat Wally West better than The Flash writers ever have).

Back onto the plot, though: Trickster II and Prank have kidnapped some innocent bystanders and, inspired by the reaction Axel got from Dibny, they’ve decided that the pink acid goo will be their primary weapon to lure out “Stretchy Man.” This is definitely a time for Team Flash, but Dibny’s still freaking out over his vulnerability and no one on the team knows how to help him. Killer Frost and Vibe take it upon themselves to intervene in Dibny’s stead, but they’re quickly tricked by Trickster II and it’s their turn to get threatened.

Dibny stretches his way to Barry’s prison cell, hoping to convince him to break out real quick and save his friends. So has the Flash just disappeared as far as Central City is concerned? Hopefully no one keeping tabs on the Flash has connected the dots between his disappearance and Barry’s incarceration but, I mean, that assumes that Barry’s worst-kept secret isn’t common knowledge throughout the city. I still think they’re all not saying “you’re the Flash!” to his face because Central City is unusually polite.

All the help Barry can provide, however, is a little pep talk to help Dibny realize the true hero within himself or whatever. Dibny sucks up his fear and makes himself into an umbrella over Caitlin and Cisco just in time and... feels nothing. Harry had, apparently, figured out a way to make Dibny invulnerable to the acid as well as everything else on the planet, so the stakes were always at zero. Cool. Good to know. I suppose it’s nice that Dibny didn’t know he wasn’t going to get hurt but put himself in harm’s way regardless, but it still feels cheap.

The mother/son crime team is jailed once more. Barry is still in jail, breaking up fights and making friends with dudes who knew his father once upon a time. Barry’s little side-story with Dave wasn’t bad, actually — just a bit more “side” than warrants legitimate recapping. Hopefully, Barry will go on more prison adventures in the future and learn some more stuff about his father while he’s in the big house.

Back to their normal day-to-day, Cisco and Dibny are getting coffee when they both realize that neither wants to pay for the brew. They’re saved by the mysterious waitress from Barry and Iris’s wedding, who is very talkative without saying much of anything at all. She bids them farewell and they carry on, while she goes back to her table and proceeds to write in the same alien/futuristic writing that Barry had been using when he exited the Speed Force. Intriguing!

Next week: looks like more filler. Eh.

Other Things:
  • Cute bonus: the actress who plays Prank/Zoey in this episode was on the 1990s The Flash TV show as the same character, and if I’m not mistaken, the photo they show of her and Mark Hamill’s Trickster character together is a still from the old show.
  • Barry phasing his hand through that jail separation glass to hold hands with Iris? Freakin’ adorable.

Instagram Culture Through the Lens of Ingrid Goes West [Contributor: Megan Mann]

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Millennials, for all of their various monikers, live their lives in only one way: extremes. There’s very little middle ground, on the whole, for this generation. We’re up, we’re down, we’re busy, we’re broke, we’re thriving, we’re sleeping too much or not enough. The same can be said for our addiction to social media. We’re either obsessed with it — whether we want to realize it or not — or we’re some sort of weird social pariah because we’re “off the grid.”

For a generation signified by its self-indulgence and narcissism, you’d think there would be far more films focusing on the culture of people in their early twenties to mid-thirties. But there’s a surprising lack of films centered on characters in this age group, let alone ones that seriously explore the positives and negatives of this experience.

Enter Ingrid Goes West. This 2017 film stars Aubrey Plaza as Ingrid, a girl who has just lost her mother. She is introduced to the audience by causing a huge scene at the wedding of someone she considered a close friend. Reeling from this, Ingrid finds Taylor (Elizabeth Olson) on Instagram. Ingrid becomes obsessed with her and decides, on a whim, to move to Los Angeles, emulate Taylor’s life, and hope against hope that she can become her new best friend. This, of course, goes horribly wrong. One of the most interesting aspects of the film is that it is a fascinating look at Instagram culture and how we all fit into it.

First, let’s take a look at Ingrid. We first see her scrolling through an Instagram feed depicting a wedding to which, we assume, Ingrid had unfairly not been invited. But once we see that Ingrid actually wasn’t invited because the bride barely knew her, we realize that Ingrid has fallen prey to one of the most pervasive issues with social media: tricking ourselves into believing that we’re part of people’s lives because we get to see so many glimpses of them. She gets angry, pepper sprays the bride and is then put under a psychiatric hold.

When she comes home, Ingrid’s flipping through a magazine and sees Taylor. She is immediately taken by Taylor, finds her on Instagram, and spends a great deal of time scrolling through her feed before finally following her. It takes a dozen tries (with a comment that sounds cool on a post about a restaurant), then Ingrid waits and practically jumps through the wall when Taylor responds saying she should try the restaurant the next time she’s in L.A. Ingrid picks the magazine back up and sees that Taylor lives in Venice. After that, it’s off to the races.

While most people would not go as far as Ingrid does, it’s not unheard of for someone to want to emulate the life of their favorite social media star — or even someone just outside of their social circle. They see the food they eat, the music they listen to, the type of events they attend, and take their recommendations.

In an effort to have Taylor like her and become her friend, Ingrid studies her and does what she does, eats what she eats, and fabricates her existence to fit into Taylor’s. It’s cultivating a fraudulent life on a digital level.

However, on the flip side, Taylor’s Instagram life is equally as fraudulent — but in a different way. Instead of accepting her life for what it is, she too cultivates a life for herself full of glossy images of Joshua Tree, margaritas, avocado toast, and a boho California dream that she doesn’t live exactly. Sure, those are aspects of her life, but they’re not the humdrum day-to-day world she inhabits. It is a fact that her husband points out in a vulnerable moment to Ingrid toward the end of the film.

Ingrid’s feed is a complete fabrication of what her life really is. She’s giving us a version of her life rather than the reality of it. It’s an Instagram smokescreen. There’s nothing bad that is posted, there are no struggles shared. Her feed is cultivated to insight jealousy and sell an idea rather than a fully-realized existence. This is evident in the scene where Ingrid drives Taylor to Joshua Tree and they end up needing to get the car fixed. She asks the mechanic to take a picture of them and when she gets her phone back, asks him to take another one, then another, and maybe just a few more. And could he also get down on the ground to get the sign in at a better angle? Instead of posting just the first snapshot, Ingrid insists on finding the right shot that has the proper pose, background, and angle. It’s all about aesthetic rather than the rawness of reality.

When Taylor’s brother comes to visit and says how he had met a famous model on the plane ride there, Taylor just about falls over with excitement. Being seen with this model could almost guarantee that she’d see an increase in followers. Isn’t that what Taylor is after? She seeks Instagram fame and adoration from countless clicks on a keyboard around the world. She wants to be goals in the worst way. It would somehow validate her and what she’s doing.

Ingrid is willing to change her life to become friends with one person, and Taylor is willing to throw away anyone seen as a stepping stone in order to find the right friends to make her Instagram famous. In essence, they both want to be liked, but they go about it differently.

This is essentially what’s wrong with Instagram culture. We create these lives that are highlight reels instead of whole truths. We create our own version of the truth — one that looks good to others. We post the best photos with the right lighting, the right filters, and a zippy caption. We create new versions of ourselves that aren’t who we are as a whole, though that’s what we brand it as. We also assume that we’re privy to the other aspects of a person’s life: the aspects seen and unseen in this perfectly cultivated world. We insert ourselves where we shouldn’t be and mold ourselves to fit into someone else’s version of their life. As a result, we create false bonds.

Ingrid falsifies her life to gain friends, and Taylor fakes her way through friendships in order to gain fame. It’s the dichotomy of social media: we’re always trying to lie our way to something else.
Ingrid Goes West is a rare look into the Millennial psyche, but an important one. It’s a generation labeled often inaccurately and this film shows that we are constantly having to fake it until we make it. Sometimes that absolutely backfires. And sometimes something new comes from that — something we didn’t expect.

We need more films like Ingrid Goes West that help show the complexities of a generation constantly at odds. We need more films like this to remind us that we’re not alone and that everyone else is just as lost as we are.

Ingrid Goest West is available now for streaming on Hulu.

Supergirl 3x11 Review: "Fort Rozz" (Ladies’ Night Done Right) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]

"Fort Rozz"
Original Airdate: January 22, 2018 

Hey, remember when The Flash tried that all-female “girl power” episode and it was cringe-inducingly incompetent? Well, Supergirl is giving the idea a shot and what do you know, it’s actually good! Like, not the best episode they’ve ever done or anything (there are some flaws) but the success lies in the show’s ability to put a crew of female heroes — or, in this case, a crew with an even hero/villain split — in the limelight without constantly underlining that it’s a crew of female heroes in an explicit attempt to earn some Super Special Feminism Points. Even the B-story of the episode, revolving around Alex babysitting Ruby while Sam is away, is girl-centric and entertaining as it allows us to check up on how post-breakup Alex is doing and it gives us a chance to get to know Ruby a bit more.


Jindah Kol Rozz was once a priestess on Krypton and — because she was a priestess for an evil, world-conquering theology — got tossed into Fort Rozz so hard they named it after her. Team Supergirl thinks ol’ Jindah could give them some answers for the questions inspired by Reign, so they plan on visiting the orbiting space prison to ask her. Problems: the blue star Fort Rozz is currently orbiting will render Kara powerless, and also anyone with a Y chromosome is allergic to its radiation? Okay... I’m going to pretend that makes any scientific sense because it’s just easier that way.

Low on female superhero types (Alex still has that broken leg from the previous episode, since the Legion of Super-Heroes evidently refused to let her use their fast-healing future pods), Kara turns to some past villains to help out. Livewire gets recruited from her job as a waitress in a diner and Psi gets recruited directly from her — I assume — DEO cell. Add in Imra as Saturn Girl, and you’ve got yourself a legit team!

They set out in the Legion’s spaceship and arrive at Fort Rozz in record time. What kind of warp drive you got on that thing, Imra? Flies pretty nice. Also, kudos for cutting off Mon-El’s attempt at mansplaining how to drive a spaceship you’ve clearly driven many times before. You’re less boring now.

Kara removes Psi’s power-dampening headgear (and we get a weird close-up of said headgear that I, as a person who has seen this episode in its entirety, cannot explain) and asks that everyone try and behave, since they’re about to enter a dangerous alien prison and they’re in outer space. So sticking together and not turning on each other is, really, in everyone’s best self-interest. Not that Kara would ever frame the request that way, since she’s more the “do the right thing because it’s the right thing” type.

After finding the body of a dead (male) guard affected by the blue star, the quest is a lot of cautiously going around industrial-looking corridors while Livewire snarks at everything she sees. This is only briefly interrupted when one of the prisoners recognizes the House of El symbol on Kara’s chest and attacks, sending the group into their first, subpar fight as a team. Psi gets bonked on the noggin and — accidentally? — uses her psychic mojo on Imra. They still win, though, and take the prisoner back to the ship to be questioned about Jindah’s location. The inmate isn’t terribly helpful. Psi gets her power-dampening headband back.

A jostling followed by a garbled DEO message tells our makeshift band of sisters some bad news: the prison’s been knocked out of orbit and is heading toward the blue star, where they’ll be burnt up. We’ve added a ticking clock to the mission, hurray!

What luck that Kara and Livewire find Jindah pretty quickly after that. Livewire’s motivation for helping Kara out at all, by the way, is purely selfish: Reign killed some of her friends (she has friends?) and would definitely kill her as well, so it’s best to put her down before that can happen. Kara, as mentioned, is more optimistic in turning Reign onto the side of good. This is all important for character arc reasons.

Jindah is an opponent for maybe five minutes. Then she gets killed by Reign, who shows up specifically to kill her before she can provide any information on Reign’s mission. Wouldn’t a better option have been to rescue Jindah and have another ally — one with experience in being a dark priestess and, presumably, Supergirl-level powers under the yellow sun?

Speaking of powers: Reign has them, even with the blue star. She says that her powers don’t come from a sun, which makes me wonder what they do come from. Again, this seems like something the show could have added background lore for prior to mentioning it, suddenly, eleven episodes after Reign’s whole introduction.

Although Imra was holding Psi back on the ship because of that brief moment where she got mind-whammied, it becomes very clear that Psi’s powers are the ones most likely to help against Reign. Especially when Livewire gets blasted in the chest while protecting Kara. Psi uses her psychic whoomph — I guess they’d be categorized as “anxiety powers” — abilities on Reign, and Reign briefly reverts to a confused, scared Sam before coming to her senses and fleeing back to Earth. Everyone goes home. Kara mourns Livewire/Leslie, since she was a hero in the end, and grants Psi a slightly nicer prison cell.


I normally wouldn’t recap something as innocuous and arguably unimportant as this B-story, but Alex and Ruby’s scenes during the episode were probably my favorites. Alex is fantastic with Ruby, and when they’re together I can really buy that Alex would break up with Maggie because of wanting to have kids. I only wish that the previous two seasons had given us more opportunities to see how Alex interacts with children, so that this character trait was a little better established.

Alex and Ruby spend the day together playing Trivial Pursuit and eating tater tot casserole, then things get a little somber when Alex receives a text from Maggie asking for her to mail her forgotten passport. Are they going to re-introduce Maggie? Personally speaking, I’d rather not have that happen. Bringing in a new woman for Alex to date would be a far better option, since I seriously doubt Maggie could be believably written as having changed her mind regarding children.

Next up, Alex awesomely tells off a girl who had been cyber-bullying Ruby by threatening the little twerp with juvie. I’d say that Alex shouldn’t scare children, even mean ones, but it would be insincere. Scare all the mean children. All of them.

With that adventure over, Ruby helps Alex mail Maggie’s passport and then it’s time for Ruby to go. When Sam shows up to pick up her daughter, Alex casually asks about the business trip she was meant to go on and Sam realizes that she has no memory of a business trip. She has other blank spots in her memory, too, where she was meant to go somewhere but never did. Hey, at least we now know what’s happening when Sam turns into Reign.

Elsewhere: two women are walking along, chatting, when one of them pushes the other out of the path of a speeding car. The first gets hit, but brushes the impact off as nothing. Her eyes flicker. I think more Worldkillers are on the way.

Other Things:
  • Okay, Kara getting Psi a room with a window was really cute. I like Psi in general. She’s a bit kooky and the actress plays her in an interesting way, plus her superpower is unique.
  • “Wow, your advice actually makes sense now. I think I’d actually follow it.” Ha. But also: Kara, you dated that dolt, so...