10 Shows and Movies That Have Brightened Up Quarantine Life

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

Getting Rid of the Stigma: Mental Illness in Young Adult Fiction by Megan Mann

In this piece, Megan brilliantly discusses the stigma of mental illness in literature and how some young adult novels are helping to change the landscape for this discussion.

Jenn's Pick: Top 15 Jeff/Annie Moments

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

Friday, February 28, 2020

For Life 1x02 Review: "Promises" (Debts) [Contributor: Thomas]


"Promises"
Original Airdate: February 18, 2020

Life is complicated.

I really enjoy For Life and all the webs it weaves. There are connections between both minor and major characters that are intriguing moving forward. In the pilot, we find out that the warden, Safiya Masry is married to Anaya Harris. Harris is running for district attorney against current D.A. Maskins who has goals of becoming attorney general eventually. Under Masry, many changes have occurred at Bellmore Correctional Facilities. Masry wants to make sweeping changes; she makes the effort to build relationships with inmates, being on the grounds and eating the same food as the imprisoned population. The relationship these women have could be seen as a conflict of interest because of the close relationship Masry and Aaron Wallace share as warden and prison rep.

The reason being that Harris’s opposition, D.A. Maskins, is one the key people who unjustly jailed Aaron Wallace. Glen Maskins is fascinating to me. In the first episode, it feels he’s going to be a mustache-twirling villain for the show, but For Life is more nuanced than that. Instead, he worked with Henry Rosewell, the same lawyer who is currently helping Aaron get free. Maskins and Henry Roswell, as former lawyers worked over others to get ahead. Their self-preservation was the main objective. This mentality left those in their way decimated... including Aaron.

What I love about this show is we see politics but from both sides. As this episode title conveys, promises are extremely important under this system. The politics of the prison and the struggles as prison rep navigating his Black community but also fulfilling a promise for the Aryan prisoners. On the inside they’re not called promises, they call them "debts" which shows the weight of their actions. Aaron reminds the warden and in turn the audience what’s at stake for every move he makes while he is in that prison.

It’s great seeing Bobby D, better known as Wee-bay in HBO’s The Wire, and the fresh face playing Aaron’s daughter. She brings a sense of realness and determination I love to see. It’s revealed at the end of the pilot she’s pregnant and we now see Ronnie, the baby’s father, who is very invested in her well-being. I think one of my favorite parts of this episode was seeing his conversation with Aaron. Though scared, he’s not intimated and shows how much he cares when he explains how he doesn’t want her to go up to visit Aaron every week. It’s a five-hour round trip and that’s not good for her or the baby. It was a shocking scene because he raised great points and Aaron, in turn, respected his position.

I’m really excited to see where this show takes the audience this season.

This review was originally posted at ELVNTWNTYSVN.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Doctor Who 12x09 Recap: “The Ascension of the Cybermen” (They Always Come Back) [Guest Poster: Stephanie Coats]


“The Ascension of the Cybermen”
Original Airdate: February 23, 2020

On a nice country lane, a man finds an abandoned baby in a basket and brings it home. He and his wife adopt the baby boy, Brendan, and they make a very happy family together. One day Brendan gets sick but recovers. When he’s grown up, he becomes a policeman because he wants to make a difference. While chasing a thief, he’s shot and falls off of a cliff but is miraculously uninjured. After serving many years in the force, Brendan retires and is given a clock as a memento. His father and first chief are waiting for him outside, somehow the same age as before. They take Brendan into a back room, thank him for his service, and forcibly remove his memories.

The Doctor and the Fam arrive at the coordinates they got from Shelley in last week’s episode. At this point in time, the Cybermen have nearly wiped out all of humanity and themselves. This settlement only has seven humans left. When the Cybermen’s ships appear in the sky, the Doctor, Yaz, Ryan, and Graham quickly set up tech meant to repel the relentless machines. But they are taken by surprise when Cyber Drones (a.k.a. Cybermen heads) fly in and blast their machinery and some of the humans. With nothing to help her, the Doctor sends the last few humans to their escape ship and insists the Fam accompany them, which they, reluctantly, do.

However, Ashad and his Cybermen attack the companions, and Ryan is separated from the other two, who make it aboard the escape ship. It takes off, leaving him, the Doctor, and Ethan behind. After lobbing a grenade at Ashad to create a diversion, this trio steals a Cyberfighter and takes off after the refugee ship. The plan is to cross a boundary called Ko Sharmus that will send them somewhere else in the universe where the Cybermen can’t follow. Ethan deftly flies the Doctor and Ryan there. Ashad contacts them to threaten not only to wipe out humanity but everything else as well. Although he was initially rejected by the Cybermen, he now believes he was chosen to revive the entire race.

FINDING REFUGE


The humans’ ship is falling apart and ends up dead in space surrounded by equally dead Cybermen. Yaz and Graham convince the others to use any remaining power to propel them into the docking station of a nearby Cyberman ship. Amazingly, this works! Aboard the Cyberman ship, Graham and Ravio have a look around and discover thousands of dormant Cybermen warriors waiting to be activated. Soon, Ashad and his Cybermen board the ship as well and begin activating the warriors.

The Doctor makes contact with Ko Sharmus, which turns out to be a person. He fought in the Cyber War and escaped an internment camp. Along with others, he built a shelter and discovered the boundary that takes them elsewhere in the universe. Everyone else has gone through but he waited in case there were other humans still alive and in need of guidance. He shows the Doctor the boundary, which looks like a purple portal.

With the Cybermen en route to kill them, Yaz, Graham, and the other humans weigh their options. Taking a ship of Cybermen to Ko Sharmus isn’t a great idea but neither is landing anywhere else or allowing the warriors to remain active. They watch Ashad attack one of the warriors, causing it to scream. Yaz sends a message to Ko Sharmus to alert the Doctor to the situation. The Doctor tells them to leave the ship but they have no way to do that; they’re completely trapped and the Cybermen have breached the bridge.

The portal flashes suddenly and Gallifrey is visible on the other side. Then the Master pops through and lands in front of the Doctor. That can only be bad.

Final Thoughts:
  • Without seeing next week’s episode I can’t say for sure but my instinct is this one would’ve been stronger had the two been combined into one, longer episode. So much here was setup and delaying the real plot. 
  • I also wonder if this entire season would be better if it was condensed only to "Spyfall," "Fugitive of the Judoon," "The Haunting of Villa Diodati," this episode, and next week’s. Those are the real meat and all that feels worth watching. Just like I said in series 11, you could skip or watch the other episodes in any order and it wouldn’t matter. I know Chris Chibnall can do tight, effective storytelling but I’m not seeing that in his stint as Doctor Who’s showrunner. Maybe he needs fewer episodes that are a bit longer?
  • Shame on the BBC publicity department for totally spoiling the Master’s return with images of him against the purple background of the portal. 
  • What was Brendan’s story telling us? Did I miss something?
  • An ongoing theme this series is having a lot of new characters in an episode and never using their names! I swear Ethan’s name was said once, maybe twice. I still don’t know the names for any other human refugee except Ravio.

The Flash 6x13 Review: "Grodd Friended Me" (Monkey Mind Meld) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]


“Grodd Friended Me”
Original Airdate: February 25, 2020

Grodd’s back! Even when the episodes themselves aren’t anything to write home about, I always love when the giant talking gorillas come out on The Flash. Nothing else more succinctly highlights how ridiculous these comic book shows’ source material was. Any time one of these DC programs gets too big for its britches and starts in on the angst and tough topics, I remember the talking gorillas and I am at peace.

In the case of “Grodd Friended Me” we have something of a mixed bag, quality-wise. Barry is back on his annoying high horse for most of this episode, which is frustrating but, hey — the hero doesn’t always have to be likable. In addition to this, the subplots involving Nash Wells with Allegra and Iris still trapped in the mirror feel too scattered, like they were mostly there because time needed to be filled. But then again, it’s a talking gorilla episode, so... you gotta weigh the good and the bad.

GOING APE


Barry is wandering the streets holding a bouquet of white flowers when he gets a metahuman alert. He speeds off, dropping the flowers and contacting STAR Labs, where Kamilla and Chester P. Runk are the only people manning the other side of Team Flash. Because he’s Mr. Grumpypants this week, Barry throws a minor hissyfit and says he’ll just handle everything without help from home base. The criminal activity taking place is a jewelry store robbery by Pied Piper, who has developed a (justified, if Chester’s reaction is anything to go by) grudge against the Flash and his team in this post-Crisis timeline. Also, Pied Piper can fly with sonar now.

The underlying story of this episode is Barry dealing with the changes Crisis made to the world: Pied Piper’s backstory and his ability to fly, train tracks where there were never train tracks, and he was carrying flowers at the start of the episode because he’s been searching all across the city for his parents’ graves. Tuning into the Team Flash comms and hearing the voices of people who are only kind of team-adjacent didn’t exactly help with Barry’s mood. The new changes to the world send Barry to Gideon, possibly the only computer in existence that could track differences in alternate realities, but his terrible mood makes him a real drag to be around. He even yells at poor Chester, who is a wonderfully endearing nerd who should never be yelled at.

Everyone leaves Barry to his sulking. He’s also fiddling with a device that could help organize the thousands of changes to the world that Gideon came up with — it’s a little earpiece, which Chester boosted a bit before Barry yelled at him. Barry puts the earpiece in and is suddenly zapped into unconsciousness.

When he wakes up, Barry is inside a cage. Caitlin is there, but not listening to anything he’s saying. Then Thawne-Wells appears, and it becomes clear that Barry is in the past... until it becomes clear that Barry is not in the past but instead, in a memory. A Gorilla Grodd memory.

Due to some fuzzy technobabble that, even by this show’s standards, is not anything close to adequately explained, Grodd pulled Barry’s consciousness through the earpiece that zapped him and into the gorilla’s mind. Grodd is currently being kept under sedation at ARGUS and wants to escape. He says he’s changed and learned from his experiences as an evil gorilla, but Barry’s aggressively not buying it. Like, seriously, even when Barry lists all the stuff that Gorilla Grodd has done to humanity he still comes off as self-righteous and unlikable in a way that screams “gonna learn a lesson by the end of the episode.” Kudos to The Flash for allowing your main hero to come off as an unforgiving jerk in the meantime, I guess. Most shows try to avoid that sort of thing.

Barry knocks Grodd out (in his own mind?) and makes a run for the “gate” that will take him back to consciousness. Unfortunately, that gate is guarded by Solovar, the way more powerful other talking gorilla on this show, and Barry can’t defeat him on his own. Hey, kids, it looks like we’re in for a moral lesson on learning to work together, even with people you don’t like!

There’s a lot of back and forth between Grodd and Barry but, of course, Barry eventually realizes that he has to give Grodd a chance or they’re both doomed. Considering Barry’s unforgiving jerk-ness this episode, I’m not entirely sure how much Barry trying to help Grodd is a genuine realization that, hey, maybe don’t write off a superintelligent gorilla for his past transgressions when you’re perfectly willing to forgive, say, Ramsay Rosso even though he actively sought out evil for his own gain and killed people — or how much of it is because Barry knows he can’t escape without Grodd’s help.

Regardless, though, their only option is to team up. Barry says some nice things to Grodd that may or may not be genuine (and he says some nice things to Chester, which I really hope are genuine because Chester P. Runk does not deserve your crabby mood swings, Barry Allen). Barry and Grodd merge consciousnesses, which in Grodd’s mindscape means they actually combine together, and square up against Solovar. We’re all treated to the perfectly ridiculous image of a CGI gorilla painted with the Flash’s emblem, sparkling with Speed Force lightning as it fights another CGI gorilla wearing golden armor.

Thanks to some fast working over on Team Flash, Barry and Grodd are able to cleanly separate from each other and return to their own bodies. Grodd is released from ARGUS on parole or something, Barry has learned a lesson, Chester appears to have been adopted as an official member of Team Flash, and oh, hey — Cisco is coming back next episode! Yay, I missed him.

Other Things:
  • Grodd’s not looking as good as he’s looked in previous episodes. Did the music budget take a bite out of the CGI budget this season?
  • Barry’s hilarious “This might as well happen” expression when Chester finds out Barry is the Flash is golden.
  • I guess Nash Wells’s Harrison Wells hallucinations has to do with Eobard Thawne coming back, though I have no idea why or how. He is the only Wells left without a multiverse, but Eobard Thawne wasn’t a Wells. Did the show forget he was just borrowing the real Harrison Wells’s face?
  • Everything Chester says makes me like him more. He’s so worried about Barry being mad at him! It’s adorable.
  • “Ralph is your life coach?” Yeah, Nash, and it seems like he’s been doing a pretty good job for Frost, surprisingly.
  • Everyone on Team Flash has endangered Barry, “Even the janitor. Put too much wax on the floor.” That does sound pretty dangerous for a speedster.
  • Oh, yeah — Iris’s mirror subplot. Eva’s evil. She’s physically connected to Mirror Iris. Surprise!
  • Minor gripe: Eva’s story about how science only cares about hard evidence should’ve clued Iris into the whole thing being a sob story to garner sympathy. Science accepts theories, even seemingly crazy ones. What do you think, say, theoretical physics is all about?
  • The subtitle of this review calls Grodd a monkey. I know he’s not. I just like alliteration.

Whenever You're Ready: The Good Place Series Finale Post-Mortem [Contributors: Deb and Jenn]



It’s been a minute now since The Good Place ended. But though it technically wrapped up its journey, we’re not ready to stop talking about it or its impact on us! Deb and I joined forces, as only two girls from the absurd state of Florida can, to put words to our thoughts about this incredibly important, bright, beautiful, heart-wrenching, and hilarious comedy series.

Check out what we had to say about “Whenever You’re Ready,” which characters we relate to the most on the show, and what The Good Place taught us in the end.

What are your thoughts about the finale? Based on “Patty,” did you predict how the series might end?


Deb: I did figure the show would go where it ended up going after I watched "Patty." That episode kind of set up the only possible ending for everyone, as much as the idea of it pained me to think about. When the Final Door was brought up in "Patty," I couldn't help feeling like it was essentially them going, "When you're too bored to keep existing, go ahead and walk through the door and you'll stop," which felt super dark and sad to me, and nothing like I wanted from this optimistic show. Thankfully, I was right on most of the finale details (our heroes eventually walking through that door) but wrong on the nuances surrounding those details. Instead of making the motivating factor of going through the door boredom, or diminishing returns on paradise, or similarly negative emotions, the show made it all about feeling complete, accomplished, and (here's a returning theme on this show) being the actual best version of oneself.

And to be honest, the final "answer" to what happens after a person walks through the door — the idea that that person becomes inspiration for humans on Earth to do more good — sealed the deal and made the finale perfect to me. I always wanted Team Cockroach to end up in the Good Place but I also wanted them to find a way to keep helping humanity, and the ending managed to give me both those things.

Jenn: As soon as they began talking about walking through a door in “Patty,” I knew what was coming. Like you said, Deb, it was the only fitting end to the show though. Once they got to the actual Good Place, I kind of figured that they wouldn’t just end it there. The show had built up these characters and their respective journeys so much that I knew the eventual end to their character development had to be more than just reaching the Good Place.

It was truly a perfect way to wrap up the show though. If they had just ended in the Good Place, it would have been fine but ultimately something we could have predicted. What we really needed was to be able to see them grow beyond even the most perfect version of perfection and make a choice: stay or go.


Let’s talk about everyone’s final decision in “Whenever You’re Ready.” Each character chose to leave or chose a different path. How did you think that choice aligned with their character development?


Deb: Those final decisions are like a master class of excellent character development. Jason had his "perfect game of Madden" and reconnected with his dad, but his true moment came when he learned to be thoughtful and reflective after a lifetime of impulse control issues. Chidi realized he was ready to go when he noticed Eleanor had love and affection from her mother and had essentially become part of an extended family, but really his moment was the second he made an immediate, certain decision about needing to leave. Eleanor, who had been lonely and selfish all her life, got her moment after accepting an afterlife without Chidi, and after doing whatever she could to help the people around her who still needed help, like Michael and Mindy St. Claire. Tahani, since she didn't actually go through the door, is the most interesting case: she settled her personal affairs by learning everything she could and reconnecting with her family, but the thing that sent her to the Bad Place was her tendency to feign helpfulness — so, instead of going through the door, she actually sets to work helping people. And then Michael gets to be human!

Jenn: The fact that Jason was a fakeout of walking through the door until after Chidi was ultimately the most perfect piece of writing ever. But the decisions each character made to either stay or go were so in line with who they’d become. Eleanor was the most heartbreaking for me, because as soon as Chidi knew with a sense of peace that he’d fulfilled all he’d wanted to, Eleanor didn’t want to let go. And you’re right, Deb: Eleanor had spent her whole life on earth pretending she didn’t need anyone. The hardest thing she had to do, then, as an evolved version of herself was let the love of her life leave without her. And because there was still work for her to do, I love that Eleanor didn’t stay longer than she needed but stayed long enough to help more people… something Chidi would’ve been proud of. And Chidi, blessed Chidi. His peaceful decision is just so wonderful. He knew, in a way that he never knew things on earth. Tahani’s choice was so interesting. I don’t know if, out of the group, I would have expected her to stay. But she was kind of always the natural “next Michael” in some ways. Eleanor had played the role of leader for so long that for her to stay would have been unnatural. Tahani still had growing to do and new things to learn. Her personal affairs were in order, but I think she realized her job wasn’t done. MICHAEL GOT TO BE HUMAN AND IT WAS SO LOVELY.


What made The Good Place special, in your opinion?


Deb: It never shied away from this idea that we should help each other and strive to be better people than we are, even though a lot of lesser shows would’ve tried to undercut any sincere message with cynicism, for fear of coming off as too “cringe.” The Good Place took every opportunity to double down on its key concepts instead of throwing them away, and I think that makes it more special than just being funny, clever, and well-acted alone would have. Like, if the end of the show was a punchline — “They think they made it to the real Good Place but they’re actually still in the Bad Place! Roll credits.” — it would have severely diminished the show as a whole in my opinion. All four seasons of jokes, lovable characters, and the amazing cast would be the same, but the show would have still ended up less.

Jenn: I think one of the most lovely things about Mike Schur shows is that they’re comedies of optimism. The Good Place was a show about incredibly deep, profound moral and philosophical concepts wrapped in an ensemble comedy blanket of bright love. The show was never cynical; it elevated the best parts of humanity. It reminded us that it’s never too late to change into the person you can become. It reminded us that we can all be better. The end of the series emphasized those values. It gave its characters realistic, wonderful, and heartfelt send-offs. The Good Place was this crazytownbananapants series about a far-out concept that actually really humanized it. I think one of the things you can say about this comedy is that you truly saw humanity: the good and the bad and the ugly, but also the wonderful promise of change. It was funny and whip-smart and honestly everyone should study this show.

Image result for janets episode the good place gif

Let’s talk more about character growth and development! How did the show do at shaping and developing our core characters throughout the seasons?


Deb: I’ve talked about this one before but I keep bringing it up because, as a writer, it fascinates me how well done it is, but the show’s ability to “subconsciously” grow characters through reboots and story resets is incredible. It was more a thing in season two and a bit of season three, but we also saw some of it when Michael woke up Chidi in season four, and it became one of the key elements of the afterlife system the Soul Squad developed: people, even without concrete memories of experiencing catalysts for growth, cannot help but grow. It’s just amazing how the show managed to make this happen on a meta-level (subtly changing the main characters in a remarkably consistent, but incremental, way despite reboots and resets being an “easy out” opportunity) and established it as a truth of The Good Place’s actual universe.

Jenn: I agree with you, Deb! The show’s ability to reset itself left us with some really cool character growth. I’ll always love Chidi’s most of all: he went from someone unable to make a simple decision to a person who was able to make the hardest decision of all with such peace. But more than just that, Chidi became confident (“Shut up! I’m confident now!”) and put his faith in things that were hard to explain. He fell in love, he made great sacrifices, and he gave that forever sob-inducing speech about ocean waves. Eleanor, too, showed incredible growth. I love characters who go from selfish loners to softies, and that’s who she became in the end in the best way. Eleanor was always more than just a girl from Arizona. She was a leader. She was a girl with a broken past who had to be hard to survive, and even in death, she tried really hard to not need people. It was so wonderful and a testament to Kristen Bell (that girl from Arizona speech kills me) that we saw all these incredible layers to our protagonist.

Honestly all of the characters grew on this show. Even Janet! Even Mindy! Even Shawn, a little bit! That’s what made The Good Place so dang good: CHARACTER GROWTH FOR EVERYONE.

Image result for michael good place finale gif

The Good Place was a show that threw us twist after twist, constantly reinventing itself. Did that work for you? Were there things that didn’t? What’s the most surprising or refreshing twist?


Deb: I loved all the twists, but honestly the most surprising and refreshing twist was there was no twist at the end. They got to the Good Place! It was a little bit terrible at first, but they fixed it! They spent thousands upon thousands of blissful Jeremy Bearimys together, making themselves and the people around them better, and then when they all felt like they were complete and ready to leave, they left and imparted some spirit of goodness on the Earth when they did. I was hanging out quite a lot around The Good Place discussions online and so many people, having gotten used to a show that pulled twists out of nowhere, were eager to see what the “last twist” would be: would they all end up actually still being in the Bad Place? Would the whole show actually be part of a demon test for Michael? A simulation from a rogue Janet? Nope, nope, nope! Everything was played completely straight and sincere, and I could not be more grateful.

Jenn: The end of the first season will always be one of my favorite moments to witness live on social media. The reactions to the twist that they were in the Bad Place was just SO good. I wasn’t generally as much of a fan of the show during the first half of season four as I wanted to be (I think so much time spent on other characters hindered that), but I really enjoyed the twists that were thrown our way.

There being no real “final twist” was refreshing. For a show that had done so many experimental things and rebooted itself a whole lot, I liked that we just got to witness the bow on the series for exactly what it was: a narrative bow, wrapped so neatly.

Was there a character you related to most throughout the show? If so, what drew you to them?


Deb: I connected to Chidi immediately. He’s an overly anxious bookworm who likes cold, overcast weather and staying indoors to read, which is me in a nutshell. Chidi’s a lot more selfless and is definitely a lot smarter (I’ve tried reading philosophy books — they’re really difficult) than I am, but he has the most elements I relate to out of everyone.

Jenn: I think I’ll always connect most with Chidi, too. I was always fascinated with the fact that his reason for being in the Bad Place was so much less “bad” than everyone else’s. And yet that’s what made it so powerful, too. Chidi didn’t realize how his indecision hurt people and being plagued with self-doubt isn’t inherently bad (it’s very human), but what you do or don’t do with it can be. I’m definitely not as smart as Chidi, but I relate to his fears and insecurities on a pretty deep level.

Image result for chidi wave gif

What made you cry hardest in the series finale?


Deb: The “wave returning to the ocean” speech from Chidi legitimately broke me. When I was actually watching the scene, I was full-on sobbing and just thinking about it, all this time later, will still get me teary-eyed.

Jenn: Well, considering the fact that I started crying 10 minutes into the episode and did not stop until it ended, that’s hard to say. But that wave speech utterly broke me into sobs. And Janet saying goodbye to Eleanor was really heart-wrenching for me too. Janet really being there for everyone in their time of need was so poignant because she’s part of the squad. She’ll still be there after they’re all gone and it was hard to watch her say goodbye to almost everyone she loves.

Mike Schur obviously is the king of writing good-hearted ensemble comedies. What will you take away from The Good Place, specifically? What do you know or feel now that you hadn’t before the series?


Deb: In the most practical sense, I’m taking away how to create an amazing, heartfelt, hilarious story. But philosophically, I think those underlying ideas — the emphasis on self-improvement and that we owe it to one another to try and help — are going to stick with me for the rest of my life. Especially that wave returning to the ocean speech, which I think Mike Schur said on the podcast that was extrapolated from a pre-existing concept but as far as I’m concerned, The Good Place gave that to me. I’m thankful for that.

There was just this overwhelming sort of “peace” to everything about the show that I can still feel whenever I think back on it. It’s this ultimate feel-good show, not only because everything works out well for all the characters I love and I don’t get anxiety when I watch it, but also because its universal message seems to be “it’ll all be okay. Try your best, love people, and it’ll all be okay.”

Jenn: I think I’ll always take away that there’s a place for deep, philosophical concepts in comedy. Comedies don’t have to dumb themselves down to be accessible. Mike Schur and the writers found ways to make really high-level concepts palatable. And, moreover, he found ways to make them funny! I think, or hope, that The Good Place paved the way for experimental comedies to exist just like this one. And the other thing I’ll always take away from The Good Place is just how good it really was. I love comedies where characters gently jab each other but ultimately love and sacrifice for one another. That’s what Mike Schur and J.J. Philbin and Liz Meriwether and Gloria Calderón Kellett and others do: prove that there’s a place for comedies about people who genuinely have love for each other.

Image result for michael good place finale gif

Is there anything else you’d like to add?


Deb: I really hope the success of this show sets a precedent for Jacksonville, Florida being depicted in more media — specifically, I would like this city which I call home to develop an image as an insanely ridiculous swamp-town full of Jason Mendozas. It’d make me feel a lot better about living here.

More seriously, though, I'm just thankful for this show's existence. It's a ray of sunshine in an increasingly gloomy world and I thank Schur and the whole crew and cast for bringing it to us.

Jenn: I want more shows like this on television. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it a million times over — it’s so necessary to have good-hearted comedies on TV right now. The dark, cynical, sarcastic comedies where people hurt others aren’t bad, necessarily (sometimes they’re the ones that get the most awards), but I think The Good Place proves that people are drawn to optimism and nuance and brightness and joy too.

The fact that the show was able to blend these very, very deep and intellectual topics with comedy and character growth gives me hope for other writers and showrunners out there. The Good Place’s stories were always very intentional and thoughtfully-done. I never felt pandered to. I never felt talked down to. I never felt like the show was just doing things for the sake of shock or awe. Everything had a purpose and shows can learn from that.

(Also continue to make fun of Florida, Mike Schur. We deserve it.)

What did you love most about The Good Place? What do you miss? Sound off in the comments below!

Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist 1x03 Review: “Zoey’s Extraordinary Boss” (Marriage Woes) [Contributor: Jenn]


“Zoey’s Extraordinary Boss”
Original Airdate: February 23, 2020

I’m 31 and single, but spend a lot of time with married friends. Though they all love their spouses, each one of them will tell me a single truth: marriage is hard. Even under the best circumstances, people are messy and complicated and it makes sense, then, that marriages are too.

Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist spent its first two episodes focused on our titular character, Zoey Clarke. But Zoey takes more of an ancillary role in this episode in order for the show to spend some time focusing on Joan and Zoey’s mother, Maggie. “Zoey’s Extraordinary Boss” features a storyline about Joan’s desire for more in her marriage, and Maggie’s slow descent to a breaking point. And it provides a new layer of interest and emotion to the show. So let’s dive in!

NO SATISFACTION


Zoey has found a new way for Mitch to communicate with his family since that whole yes/no button method last week didn’t quite fulfill their needs. Now Mitch is able to type his responses to the family and the first thing he communicates is... lemonade. Maggie hides her disappointment from the family, but Zoey can hear the sad song within her. We soon realize that Maggie is disappointed that the first thing her husband said to her was a request for something she wasn’t providing. Zoey’s brother, David, watches his mom have a full-on meltdown at the grocery store when a pair of sorority girls take the last of the lemonade from the store.

Maggie isn’t fine. And David makes a great point: he and Zoey get to return to their lives. No matter how much they can help out when they’re at their parents’, at the end of the day, they go back to their own lives. This, meanwhile, IS Maggie’s life. She gets no reprieve and even though she fakes a smile for everyone and generously plays the hostess, pretending nothing bothers her... things do. She’s hurt and scared and doesn’t accept help readily.

Zoey pointing out that her mother’s smile is one of the things she loves most about her, but knows when it’s fake was powerful. It’s so nice to see television shows that feature adult children helping and guiding their parents. We’re so often used to seeing parents portrayed as impenetrable forces of wisdom. And though Maggie is, of course, wise, she’s still a human who needs help. And Mitch knows it too. That’s why, at the end of the episode, he tells his wife to accept help from their kids. It’s a lovely little moment that reminds us while being strong is fine, we can’t always be strong. Sometimes we need a little help.

LOUBOUTINS AND A SONG


Lauren Graham really gets the chance to shine as more than just a one-dimensional “all business” boss in this episode. The main plot is as follows: Joan’s husband is a big deal and he’s supposed to appear at a party for SPRQ Point watch launch. But Joan’s on edge and it turns out it’s not because of work, but personal stuff. Zoey indulges her boss in a conversation about her relationship (because she hears her secret frustrated song and continues to hear the song everywhere she goes), which I think is actually quite great for a few reasons. One, we get a new dimension to Zoey’s powers in this episode; if she hears someone’s personal song and does nothing with the responsibility she’s given, the song won’t just go away. It demands action!

Second, we get the chance to see two women on this show bond. Granted, it’s mostly about a man and that’s a little disappointing, but Joan being vulnerable with Zoey is wonderful because Joan is right: they’re the only women there. Zoey works in tech, and it’s a male-dominated field. Even though Zoey is exhausted after her day drinking and marriage discussion with her boss, Joan is clearly appreciative and in a way better mood the next day! She even gives Zoey a pair of Louboutins. But just as Zoey feels like she’s truly made a difference in Charlie and Joan’s marriage. Until Charlie shows up and we see exactly how selfish and conceited he is.

Joan’s clearly spent so much of her life playing second place to Charlie. And it’s a reminder that even strong women aren’t heartless. Joan really cared about Charlie at one point and has been bending over backwards to make things work. The moment she tells Zoey that she had to beg Charlie to come to the SPRQ Point watch launch by apologizing to him is heartbreaking. And what’s even more heartbreaking is the fact that Joan has never been able to confide in another woman about this. Or at least we don’t see her confide in anyone until she talks to Zoey.

The most important part of the episode happens in the bathroom (where all important women conversations happen) when Joan mentions that Charlie left the event before debuting the watch like he’d promised. (After he, like the jerk he is, told Joan he was under a time crunch and she told him where he could shove it.) Zoey points out that Joan should to the demo. She’s the one who knows the product best. She’s the one who should be in front of everyone, not Charlie.

Joan debuts the watch to “Roar,” which is pretty perfect, and she and Zoey share a subtle acknowledgement of their new bond as the episode ends. I love episodes of shows that focus on female-centric stories and “Zoey’s Extraordinary Boss” was one of them. It reminded us that women are allowed to be vulnerable, ask for help, and take charge of their own destinies without needing to rely on men for everything.

As Zoey continues to understand her powers and use them for good, I’m excited to see what kind of relationships form as a result!

Additional things:
  • Favorite to least favorite song rankings: “Superstar,” (because that made me laugh out loud) “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart?”, “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” and “Roar.”
  • “I haven’t breathed outside air in 48 hours.” “Outside air is for winners.”
  • “Do you just make these statistics up?” “35% of the time.”
  • “She day drank.” “I did.”
  • “You know I’ve got my fighting nails on. I’m like Wolverine, but daintier.”
What did you enjoy most about this episode?

Friday, February 21, 2020

Doctor Who 12x08 Recap: “The Haunting of Villa Diodati” (Remember Jack’s Warning) [Guest Poster: Stephanie Coats]


“The Haunting of Villa Diodati”
Original Airdate: February 16, 2020

It’s Lake Geneva in 1816 and it’s a great night in literary history. Tonight, Lord Byron will challenge Percy and Mary Shelley to write a story and Mary will write Frankenstein. But at the moment, Percy isn’t around and Byron is too busy flirting with both Mary and Ms. Claire Clairmont. A storm rages outside, adding theatrics to Byron’s scary storytime until the Doctor, Graham, Ryan, and Yaz knock on the door. Now it’s a real party. Under strict rules not to mention Frankenstein or sleep with Byron, the Fam enjoys a period adventure that’s about to be more than they signed up for.

Graham finds himself going in circles while searching for the bathroom. Whenever the lightning flashes outside, ghostly figures appear in the house. A skeletal hand bursts from a fallen painting and scuttles along the floor. It bursts into the room just as Dr. Polidori, who is having terrible insomnia, is challenging Ryan to a duel. After destroying the hand, the Doctor determines it’s human, leading Polidori to accuse Byron of bringing evil into the house. He does have a skeleton in his chambers, after all, and that skeleton is missing both hands. The Doctor asks after Percy and learns he started having visions of ghosts around the time the storm came.

Believing Percy to be holed up in his chateau nearby, Yaz, Ryan, and Mary decide to visit him, but they get caught going in circles on the stairs. In fact, everyone in the house is trapped in a loop wherever they are and are unable to leave. Outside, something or someone is conducting electricity near the lake. Polidori arises from sleep in a trance and walks out of the room by going straight through a wall. He reappears moments later upstairs in Byron’s room, where the Doctor determines he must be dreaming and therefore unaware of the barriers the rest of them see, such as the walls.

The entire house is like a perception filter. If you can see through it, you’ll find walls aren’t actually there and doors are hidden behind them. Mary is able to find a door to lead them off the stairs and to her infant son’s room. But baby William isn’t in his crib. Instead, there’s only a skull and a hand. Polidori awakes suddenly, unaware of what’s been happening. No one can leave the house and the Doctor believes whatever is outside conducting electricity is causing the storm and the oddities in the house. It’s a time traveler and just then it makes it inside. When fully formed, we see it’s a Cyberman.

THE POST-MODERN PROMETHEUS


This is the “lone Cyberman” from Jack Harkness’ warning. The Cyberman is unfinished but still deadly and is searching for “the guardian.” The Doctor follows after it while telling the others to stay put. Although the Cyberman kills a maid hiding baby William, it spares the baby’s life. The Doctor and the Cyberman fight, with the latter recharging via lightning. He is looking for a substance called Cyberium and seems familiar with Percy Shelley’s writings. Speaking of Percy, he’s discovered in the basement looking ill and disheveled.

Shelley has been trying to protect the Cyberium, which was found by chance in the lake. It immediately bonded to him, making him invisible in the house and giving him the ability to change perceptions in the house. He’s been using the latter to keep the Cyberman at bay while writing down all of the symbols and numbers that have been flooding his mind. The Doctor reads Shelley’s mind to learn the Cyberium is used to wage a massive war in the future. To protect the future, someone (maybe Jack?) sent it back in time but the Cybermen have followed it. The Doctor doesn’t see any way to get the Cyberium out of Shelley without the Cyberman’s help but her companions wonder whether, given what Jack said about the Cybermen, letting Shelley die is necessary. Taken aback, the Doctor reminds them that changes in the past may affect whether they exist in the future.

The time for debate ends when the Cyberman appears, ready to kill Shelley to get the Cyberium. Mary attempts to appeal to his soul and although she learns his name, Ashad, he viciously recounts murdering his family after joining the Cybermen. He has no mercy for Shelley so the Doctor tricks Shelley’s mind into thinking he’s dead, forcing the Cyberium to exit his body. The substance bonds with the Doctor instead but Ashad threatens to burn Earth to ash to get it from her. Reasoning that the Cybermen may be inevitable, the Doctor gives up the Cyberium.

Knowing she’s messed up by giving away the substance, the Doctor resolves to use the symbols and numbers Shelley scribbled down to fight the Cybermen in the future. She tries to persuade the fam to stay behind in their own time but they’re sticking with her.

Final Thoughts:

  • I wasn’t really into this episode until the Cyberman reveal and then it was far more interesting. I do wish the mysterious time traveler had been another surprise cameo, even Jack Harkness back yet again, but I’ll take a half-finished Cyberman.
  • A mangled Cyberman being the new inspiration for Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is pretty cool.
  • One of the ghostly maids looked a lot like Eve Myles a.k.a. Gwenith Cooper from Doctor Who’s “The Unquiet Dead” and Gwen Cooper from Torchwood.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Grey’s Anatomy 16x14 Recap: “A Diagnosis” (Mania) [Contributor: Julia Siegel]


“A Diagnosis”
Original Airdate: February 20, 2020

If you don’t watch Station 19, now is a good time to start. Grey’s Anatomy and its spinoff series have been crossing over stories and characters for the past five episodes, so you will be missing a lot if you don’t watch both series. With the new set up, the action starts on Station 19 before continuing on Grey’s. This week, a husband and wife, Scott and Rachel, were camping and got attacked by a bear. Scott’s nose was ripped off, and he was badly clawed up. Rachel’s brachial artery was severed, and she almost bled out in the woods. Good thing the Station 19 crew was camping nearby, heard their screams, and jumped into action to help. Jackson was on the trip as Vic’s plus one and had the group find Scott’s severed nose in hopes of being able to reattach it.

Other memorable Grey’s mentions in Station 19 included Ben mentioning that he really wants to have a baby with Bailey, and Captain Maya Bishop meeting Carina DeLuca for the first time at Joe’s Bar. Carina buys Maya a drink, which could be the start of the third show-to-show relationship.

A BAD DAY ALL AROUND


Grey’s opens with Jackson arriving in an ambulance with Scott to Grey Sloan Memorial. We then see Maya run into the hospital to drop off Scott’s nose. She asks a nurse to bring the nose to Jackson and Helm, which is seen by Carina and thus completing the loop of the shows overlapping. In the OR, Jackson and Helm work to save Scott, while Owen and Jo are fixing Rachel’s arm. The scene then changes to the next morning and the recurring storyline of Suzanne, whom DeLuca and Riley still can’t diagnose. Suzanne has been off all medication for three days, yet they are no closer to figuring out why she is sick. Unfortunately, Riley won’t let DeLuca give Suzanne any medicine to stop her nausea even though she is vomiting. Riley tries to explain to DeLuca that they need Suzanne to suffer a little in order for her symptoms to come to light. DeLuca, who seems a little strung out, disagrees and storms off.

After lying to Link about getting a paternity test, Amelia decided to lock herself in her room at home. She won’t talk to Link or anyone else and isn’t too warm towards Maggie, who checks in on her. Amelia wants everyone to leave her alone, so Maggie agrees to honor her wishes. Back at Grey Sloan, Nico asks Schmitt how apartment searching is going. Schmitt isn’t having much luck, but Nico is still adamant about not living together. To soften things up, Schmitt invites Nico to go with him to look at a potential apartment later that night. Nico declines, as he says his parents are in town and he is going to dinner with them. Schmitt is excited to have a chance to meet Nico’s parents, yet Nico shoots him down again before leaving. Hayes walks by and brings Schmitt with him to look in on Joey, the foster teen with the broken collarbone from last episode. They try to get Joey to do physical therapy so he can regain mobility in his arm, but the kid is being stubborn and won’t listen to them. Hayes wants to find a way to cheer his patient up and goes to find a solution.

Link and Jo are then seen conversing at a nurse’s station. Neither has heard from their significant other, which is affecting Jo more than Link. Jo tells him about the bear attack and is afraid that Alex and Amelia are like bears and will eventually jump out of the woods at them. Link tries to talk her down by saying that Alex is going through family stuff and will tell Jo about it when he’s ready. He doesn’t think she has anything to worry about. Jo doesn’t return the favor when she admits that Amelia shuts people out sometimes, which scares Link.

Richard is back at Grey Sloan, and Bailey gifts him a bunch of new doctors that need his help to be trained properly. Bailey is worried about Richard and wants to give him his mojo back. Richard begrudgingly accepts Bailey’s “gift.”  Jackson and Helm check in on Scott, who is awake and appears to be doing well. Jackson explains that they sewed his nose into his arm to keep it viable until his face heals and they can reattach it, which will easily make anyone squeamish. Jo and Owen go to see how Rachel is doing. She can’t believe that Scott jumped in front of a bear for her, but she’s less surprised when a man named Bryan comes flying in and saying that he loves her.

Over at another nurse’s station, Hayes asks a nurse where he can find the video game cart for Joey. Meredith is standing there and starts chatting with Hayes about how she is organizing a pro bono surgery day. She also tells him that there is a game room on the fourth floor he can check out for video games. DeLuca then comes flying down a flight of stairs and interrupts their conversation by standing between the two doctors. He completely ignores the fact that Hayes is standing there and starts talking to Mer, which annoys Hayes. DeLuca mutters “Give me a second” in Italian, and both Mer and DeLuca are surprised when Hayes tells DeLuca in Italian that he needs to learn some respect. Hayes tells Mer to count him in for the pro bono day before leaving. DeLuca is clearly going crazy at this point, and he tells Mer that he hasn’t slept in three days. Carina pops out of nowhere again and overhears her brother rambling, which clearly worries her. Mer is also worried about DeLuca and wants him to take a break. He tells her he can’t and leaves. Riley has shown up to the desk, so Mer tries to convince her to make DeLuca take some down time because he isn’t a machine. Riley says she needs DeLuca to be all in if they are going to solve the case, which doesn’t lighten Mer’s mood.

DIFFICULT PATIENT CARE


Back at the Grey/Shepherd/Pierce house, Maggie barges into Amelia’s room and tells her she called out sick from work. Amelia isn’t happy that Maggie isn’t respecting her space, but Maggie convinces Amelia that she needs her. Her speech does the trick, as Amelia calls Maggie an excellent sister. Over at Grey Sloan, Helm tells Rachel that Scott would like to see her. Bryan is still there, and Rachel blurts out that she isn’t in love with her husband anymore. She tells the doctors how she reconnected with Bryan online and was going to tell Scott on the camping trip that she is now in love with Bryan. Jo steps in by going to Scott’s room and lying about why he can’t see his wife. Poor Scott wants to tell Rachel he loves her before she goes back into surgery, but Jo shuts him down. After leaving the room, Jo tells Jackson that Rachel is in love with someone else. His reply about how patient care can sometimes be complicated is perfect.

An increasingly stressed out DeLuca is back in Suzanne’s room. He tells her that they have ruled some things out, which is a good thing, but they still don’t have a diagnosis. Suzanne’s mouth starts bleeding, and DeLuca isn’t sure what’s happening. He quickly checks her latest lab results and sees that her cell counts are bottoming out. He then makes the biggest mistake by yelling at Suzanne and her sister because he is over tired and doesn’t know how to help her. DeLuca momentarily calms down and realizes that Suzanne needs a bone marrow biopsy.

Carina catches Mer in the hall, and both women voice their concern about DeLuca. Carina is very worried that her brother is displaying signs of mania, which runs in the family. Mer isn’t so sure. Carina goes on to say that what is happening is obvious, and if Mer wasn’t in a relationship with him, she would see it too.

The conversation prompts Mer to pay Bailey a visit in her office. Bailey takes the opportunity to complain about her menopause symptoms before hearing what Mer wants to talk about. Mer tells her everything that has been going on with DeLuca and that she is worried for him. In a skills lab, the new doctors are practicing various techniques, but Richard isn’t paying any attention to them or teaching them. He seems to be off in his own world and doesn’t seem to care about his doctors. In a procedure room, DeLuca and Riley are taking a bone marrow sample from Suzanne. Riley asks DeLuca if he always gets this close to patients and whether he is still dating his boss. DeLuca says that he thinks he is still in a relationship with Mer, so Riley tells him it makes sense why Mer was concerned about him. Schmitt and Hayes bring Joey to the game room and want him to play a Wii Sports-like game. He is too distracted by his thoughts of his foster siblings to play. Hayes notices his sole focus and decides to try a different strategy for his patient.

Back in the OR, Jo and Owen are flushing out Rachel’s arm to keep it from getting infected. Jo asks Owen what would happen if Amelia’s baby turns out to be his. Owen doesn’t understand what she is talking about and tries to laugh it off, which makes Jo quickly say that she is being hypothetical. The fact that Amelia hasn’t told Owen the truth yet is getting very annoying, as it seems everyone else knows but Owen. Jo apologizes and says that she has been thinking about worst case scenarios since she still can’t ahold of Alex. Owen convinces her that Alex wouldn’t do anything to hurt her or screw up their marriage. Bailey calls DeLuca to her office and explains to him that all doctors get too involved with their patients from time to time. She has decided to put Mer in charge of the case and tells DeLuca that Mer will have to approve everything for Suzanne’s care. She has also instructed Mer to put Suzanne back on her medications. Bailey wants DeLuca to go home and get some rest, which doesn’t sit well with the chief resident. He fiercely argues back, which prompts Bailey to tell him to leave before he says anything he will regret.

BEING HELPFUL


Hayes finds Bailey in the hallway, and she immediately guesses that Joey won’t do his physical therapy. Hayes asks her for help in finding a way to help Joey. Bailey goes too far down the road with how to help him post-discharge, but Hayes simply wants to focus on how to help him now. He has the bright idea of asking Bailey if she knows how Joey could talk to his siblings, so Bailey agrees to try and figure out a way to make that happen.

Amelia has decided to open up to Maggie and reveals that she is having a boy. She tells Maggie that the baby might be Owen’s, so Maggie asks if it might be or is Owen’s. Amelia doesn’t know and still doesn’t want to know. She also spills on Link’s issue with not knowing the paternity, which leads Amelia to question if she wants to be with him if the baby is his because of him questioning their relationship. She wants Link to love her more than the Owen issue matters and feels it shouldn’t matter whose baby it is. She continues to tell Maggie how she loves her more than her own biological sisters, so biology shouldn’t matter. Amelia’s always found ways to not be happy, and this is another example of her self-destructive behavior. Maggie tries to make Amelia understand that it’s okay for Link to be terrified because she would be too if she were in that situation. Maggie knows that Link’s issue isn’t about how much he loves Amelia, and it’s really sweet how hard she is trying to make Amelia see the truth. Amelia still doesn’t see it, and their talk ends with Maggie holding a bawling Amelia.

Speaking of Link and Owen, the two doctors share a very awkward elevator ride at the hospital. Owen asks how Amelia is doing with her pregnancy. Link says things are complicated, but the baby is healthy. You can see how hard Link is trying to not tell Owen the truth which gets even harder when Owen decides to give Link some advice on how to deal with pregnant women. The look on Link’s face says it all, as he so desperately wants the conversation to end.

DeLuca isn’t happy when he finds Riley clearing her belongings out of an office. He tries to convince her to stay by saying that he is the only one that got kicked off the case. DeLuca wants her to stay and consult on the case, but Riley doesn’t want to do that. Naturally, this is the perfect moment for DeLuca to get a message that the bone marrow test results are in. The results show that Suzanne has macrophage activation syndrome, which means that her white blood cells are eating her red blood cells. Riley says she has never seen a case of Still’s disease before and can’t believe they have figured out a diagnosis. They realize they don’t have much time before Suzanne’s organs will shut down, so they race out of the room.

MAKING THINGS RIGHT


After surgery, Jo tells Bryan that Rachel will make a full recovery. He decides to tell Jo his life story about how he never thought he could be a homewrecker. He spins a yarn about how life happened and that he doesn’t care who gets hurt as long as it’s not him because he is so in love with Rachel. We then see Scott coding in his room. Owen, Jackson, and Helm jump into action to try and revive him. Owen decides to crack Scott’s chest right there in the room to figure out what is going on, while Jo sadly watches from outside the room. Jo goes back to Rachel’s room to deliver the bad news that Scott had major bleeding inside his chest that the doctors were unfortunately unable to stop. Rachel is incredibly upset at the news of her husband’s death and tells Bryan to leave.

Jo is pretty upset by the whole thing too, so she goes to a stairwell to give Alex a call. When she gets his voicemail, she leaves a long message for him. Jo says that she needs him to call her and tell her exactly what is going on. She says she would jump in front of a bear for him and needs to hear his voice. It’s a pretty moving message, so we will have to wait and see how Alex responds, which will happen off-screen if it’s not through texts.

After the somber scenes, we finally get some happiness: Hayes, Bailey, and Schmitt go to Joey’s room and bring in his three siblings to visit. Bailey managed to pull some strings to get them there. Joey immediately snaps out of his funk and is extremely happy to see his siblings, who are allowed to stay for pizza and video games. Bailey leaves the room and sees one of the new doctors leaving. He tells her that Richard told the group that they could leave early, which annoys Bailey.

Mer is checking on Suzanne when DeLuca and Riley rush in and announce that Suzanne has Still’s disease. Riley tries to quickly communicate how rare the condition is and that there is no cure, but they can manage her symptoms. DeLuca goes to put something into Suzanne’s IV, and Mer tells him to back away from the patient. He says he can’t wait around for her orders and gives Suzanne a dose of steroids, which should start to make her feel better within minutes. Mer throws DeLuca out of the room and goes outside to yell at him about not consulting with her first. DeLuca walks away after some nasty remarks, and Mer isn’t any happier with Riley for making her resident not follow her orders. Riley says that the situation is muddy because DeLuca is Mer’s resident and boyfriend.

ENDING ON A BAD NOTE


After the hallway chat, Mer goes back into Suzanne’s room and finds that she is getting better. Mer has calmed down fast and tells her patient that the team suspects that she had Still’s disease before the appendectomy. Mer explains that Suzanne’s immune system is in overdrive and that the steroids will fix the problem for now. They will get her on the right medications to manage the disease from here on out. DeLuca has been watching the whole thing from outside Suzanne’s room, and after she leaves, Mer tells him he can go in. DeLuca is peeved that Mer is getting the credit for solving the case, so he doesn’t want to talk to Suzanne. They move down the hall to an area where a bunch of nurses and doctors are hanging around, including Hayes. Mer tells DeLuca that he made a great diagnosis, but going rogue and giving Suzanne steroids that could have hurt her could have cost him his career if he was wrong. She tries to make him understand that he should have taken a minute to consult with her before giving the patient the steroids.

Things go downhill quickly when Mer tells DeLuca that he isn’t being himself and needs to get some sleep. He starts to get even crazier and yells loudly. Hayes decides to step in and tells DeLuca to calm down in Italian in an attempt to get through to him. DeLuca tells him to mind his own business in Italian. Hayes clearly wants to protect Mer more, but Mer tells him everything is fine. Mer’s final attempt to make DeLuca see sense includes telling him that he sounds like his father and to please leave and get some rest. DeLuca goes fully off the deep end and shouts that he doesn’t need this or her and officially breaks it off with Mer very publicly before storming off. Hayes rushes over to Mer and tells her that she should write DeLuca up because his behavior is unacceptable, but it’s doubtful Mer will go that far.

Outside of the hospital, Bailey finds Richard sitting on a bench. He doesn’t want her checking up on him, and Bailey retorts by saying she doesn’t want her residents leaving early. Richard doesn’t feel he has it in him to deal with the new group of residents because they aren’t good enough doctors to work at Grey Sloan. He says it feels like a punishment and like Catherine won. Bailey asks how she can help him. Richard doesn’t want help and is tired of everything. Bailey tells him it sounds like he is depressed, and Richard walks off saying he will be okay.

Back inside the hospital, Schmitt tells Nico that he wants to meet his family. Nico doesn’t want to make it a big thing and says that his family is too critical of him. He then reveals that his family doesn’t know he is gay, which shocks Schmitt and explains why Nico has been acting so weird. Nico leaves to go to dinner with his family without discussing it further with Schmitt. We then quickly see that DeLuca has decided to not go home and instead visits Suzanne.

Link goes to visit Amelia and finds Maggie answering the door instead. He is worried about Amelia, and Maggie assures him that she is fine. Amelia comes downstairs and informs Link that she won’t be getting the paternity results. She wants to raise her baby with someone who will love him no matter what a blood test says. Amelia says that she wants to raise the baby with her sisters and tells Link to go home because they are over. Link is shocked, and Maggie thinks it’s the hormones talking. Link wants to know if Amelia will tell Owen the baby could be his, but she won’t answer. Link leaves completely speechless. No sooner has the door closed when there is another knock. Maggie answers the door, and Jackson is standing on the front step. He has also been impacted by the bear incident and apologizes to Maggie for leaving her in the woods all those months ago. His apology is brief and came out of nowhere.

The episode ends with a quick shot of Mer texting Alex to ask him where he is because she needs him. He starts to reply, but the three dots disappear and he doesn’t answer, leaving Mer alone and sad for the first time in a long time.

For Life 1x01 Review: "Pilot" (From Inmate to Lawyer) [Contributor: Thomas]


"Pilot"
Original Airdate: February 11, 2020

After finishing The Good Place, I was searching for a new show to watch. As a fan of 50 Cent’s transition into film, I heard about his moves with the STARZ network and his production company, G-Unit Film and Television. This is how I first found out about this new series on ABC, For Life.

The story is loosely based on the story of Isaac Wright Jr., a man who was falsely imprisoned and became a lawyer while incarcerated. This series’ main character is Aaron Wallace. He is imprisoned with a life sentence for a crime he didn’t commit. He has spent the last nine years incarcerated and is shown entering the courtroom where he was charged — but this time no longer powerless.

British actor Nicholas Pinnock brings a Denzel-esque performance to the role where, as a viewer, you understand the gravity of the situation. He has a raspy voice and it’s believable that this man has done almost a decade inside the pen. Wallace is shown suited up and entering in the courtroom with a purpose. What I enjoy about this opening moment in the series is it shows the difference between the prosecutor and the defendant. Wallace is a lawyer and, as prison rep, he is helping his fellow inmates like Jose Rodriguez. We can see he cares about the people he represents, as he’s shown greeting Rodriguez’s grandmother as they enter the court.

The prosecutor, in contrast, has been handed this case last minute as a favor for a friend and is not concerned about the outcome, even telling the person on the phone to “order the drinks, give me 30 and I’ll meet you there.” Dez O’Reilly served under Glen Maskins before he was District Attorney for New York. Now as Assistant District Attorney himself, O’Reilly is surprised to see the opposing council is a person he put away nearly a decade ago. O’Reilly and Maskins took Aaron's life and freedom away from him and being a lawyer is how he proves his worth and fights back.

In a Sorkin-style “walk and talk,” Maskins and O’Reilly are befuddled how Aaron was even in that courtroom. This is a vehicle to understand Wallace’s journey from inmate to lawyer: He worked for the paralegal association, representing other inmates he also gained degrees from online. Wallace found a loophole and took the Vermont bar, which is the only state where you’re allowed to “sit for the bar exam with a degree from an unaccredited law school.” From there, he applied to have his license accepted in New York where he is currently housed. We learn there’s a “morality test” and as, a convicted drug dealer, Aaron had to have someone who advocated for him. This sponsor was a former colleague of Maskins, Henry Roswell, who's a retired state senator and former public defender.

The first case for Aaron Wallace is Jose Rodriguez, who’s sentenced to 20 years for rape and attempted murder. Allegedly, the girl he was with OD’d on pills that he gave her; but the drug dealer changed his story and Judge Tanaka is looking at each lawyer’s case to determine if a retrial is necessary.

In the prison we find out Aaron Wallace’s motivation. He’s a complex character; he’s not just being prison rep because it’s a good thing to do. Instead it’s a way to protect himself inside, and being a lawyer is the way Aaron sees to get out of this prison. His goal is go at the D.A., case by case, bit by bit proving that Maskins is unjust and that they “worked” him over. Ideally if all falls right, he’ll be able to go back home to his family.

As Wallace’s narration says at the beginning: “I was just like you,” and spoke of having a family, businesses and friends. Under the RICO law, he’s imprisoned and taken away from his wife, Marie, played by Get Rich or Die Trying’s Joy Bryant, and his daughter Jasmine, played by Tyla Harris.

There’s a scene between Aaron and Marie in the visiting room. As Marie is entering, you can see prison doesn’t just affect the incarcerated but those who love and care for them. There’s crying from children and arguments between visitor and inmate. This all sets the scene for what follows: life doesn’t stop when you’re on the inside. Jasmine, first shown as a little girl during the opening monologue, is prepping for her SATs according to Marie.Aaron still has to sign her report card, and that gives reason to why Marie is there. You can see she cares for him; she brings him ties to wear for when he stands in front of the court as a lawyer. But there’s some obvious tension that explodes when he sees Jazz’s grades. Marie feels that the pressure is on her for Jasmine to succeed, while Aaron believes Darius — Marie's new boyfriend — is too soft on Jasmine. But when confronted, Marie tells Aaron that she’d throw Darius out “if you came back home; but you’re not 'cause you’re locked for life.”

This is a hard scene to watch. There’s conversation about how Aaron denied a plea — that instead of being locked up for life, he could’ve seen outside in the next three years. Aaron tries to reminisce and is remorseful about not being home with his family. It’s too much for Marie to stand, and she leaves as he calls after her.

This show is great because it doesn't just show the prisoners' lives but the warden's as well. Safiya Masry is the warden who is shown as someone who cares. She’s married to Anya Harrison, who is Brooklyn’s District Attorney. Played by Indira Varma, Masry is immediately thrown into the action when she joins the guards after there is a fight in the prison. She isn’t worried about guards who don’t like her reforms; when she learns one quit that morning, she feels they’re better without him. Captain Foster, played by Glenn Fleshler of HBO’s Barry, objects and feels Masry is moving too fast with changes. Masry comes back with facts: violence is down 34%, suicide attempts are cut in half and drug usage has also dropped.

It’s refreshing seeing Masry as a warden who is about change and not just words; she wants to be among the people walking the yard and fostering a relationship with Aaron Wallace. Speaking of, on the yard we see prison politics at play. The neo-Nazis seek the favor of Aaron Wallace for Joey Knox’s release. This is antithetical to his community where Bobby and his best friend Jamal reside. The leader of the Nazis threatens to spread malicious rumors about the warden and Aaron if he doesn’t help.

Jose Rodriguez got his retrial. I really like that this show has both the prison element and the judicial element. We, as the audience, get to see both sides. And there’s an element of humanity in these moments where we see both Rodriguez and Wallace in civilian clothes, showing that inmates aren’t just property of the state but are still people with personalities, hopes, and dreams. Rodriguez is shown on the stand telling the judge his side of the story: there was an age gap in the relationship between himself and Molly Davidson, but her parents looked down on him because of where he was from. Molly came from privilege, and he was in a household of poverty.

For Life demonstrates that Aaron is still learning as a lawyer. He explains that because of the age gap in New York, once Rodriguez turned 18 years old it would be considered statutory rape, which explains that charge from earlier in the episode. But his point about the legality in other states is rightly objected because their laws don’t apply in this case.

There’s a distinction between these lawyers at play. For O’Reilly, this is just another case and — as he told Maskins — he believes he’ll run circles around Aaron. But for Aaron, this is the first case to help prove his point that the New York judicial system and, by extension the district attorney Glen Maskins, is crooked.

I didn’t expect what happened next. In response to Aaron going at Maskins in the press, somehow Maskins and O’Reilly got to Aaron's witnesses. The drug dealer, who sold the drugs to Molly, is now a part of an undercover case so he can’t testify. Officer Dawkins, who saw the suicide note, recanted his story. Aaron explodes after learning this development of events. Judge Tanaka threatens that he is close to contempt of court and could possibly lose his license if the outburst escalates.

Though defeated, Aaron explained to Rodriguez that he will never find another lawyer more motivated than him.

This is proven when Aaron uses Wild Bill’s forgery expert to manufacture an identical note to the original one written by Molly six years ago. He hoped this would prove her state of mind, and that Rodriguez is innocent which led to Molly being called to the stand. Filled with guilt, Molly then confesses after reading the words of the suicide note she wrote on the day of her overdose.

Aaron Wallace wins his first case as a lawyer and Jose Rodriguez is set free.

No good deed goes unpunished though. The neo-Nazis helped in this case is in exchange for Aaron representing Joey Knox, and petition for his freedom from solitary confinement.

For Life is enthralling and complicated with twists, turns, and interpersonal relationships. I’m excited to see where this show is going and agree with executive producer 50 Cent, who believes that by the second season, For Life will be the highest rated drama on ABC.

Quotes and Favorite Moments:
  • "I use to be just like you. I had a life I loved. I had a family and a home. I owned a business. I paid my taxes. I had my friends. Some of them were kinda friends you’d be better off without, maybe I should’ve known. The powers that be came down of me, So here I am now, nine years late. For the first time back in the same courthouse where they came to take my life away. Except today. No matter what anybody thinks about me, about who I am and about how I got here, today I’ve got a way to fight back. You can be damn sure that’s what I’m gonna do."
  • Most famously known as Wee-Bey from HBO’s hit series The Wire Hassan Johnson plays Bobby, a fellow inmate and friend of both Aaron and Jamal. It was a pleasant surprise, and I genuinely smiled every time I saw him. I like to imagine this is an alternative reality where Wee-Bey was transferred from Baltimore and is serving his life sentence in New York.
  • After Wallace went after Maskins in the press, Masry warns he was being foolish and that it threatens their relationship. Instead of risking Maskins making a fuss and going to the press about Anya and Masry’s marriage being a conflict of interest with Masry allowing Wallace to be prison rep, she recommends he wins the cases he has.
This review was originally posted at ELVNTWNTYSVN.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

The Flash 6x12 Review: "A Girl Named Sue" (Lost and Found) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]


“A Girl Named Sue”
Original Airdate: February 18, 2020

After a few episodes of absence, Ralph Dibney has returned with a good chunk of storyline revolving around the episode-titular girl named Sue. The other story going on involves Iris — the real one, trapped in a mirror. We still don’t have a lot of clues about what the deal is with the split Irises, other than confirmation that the one who isn’t in the mirror has some nefarious plans brewing beneath the surface. Overall, this episode was pretty average in quality, but not terrible.

GO TO THE MIRROR!


Let’s talk a bit about Iris’s plot, which I wish we’d had more of (but wishing for more Iris isn’t exactly a new thing for me). We start the episode with Iris still yelling for Barry from the other side of the mirror. Her desperate but unheeded shouts for her husband to stop having cute moments with her doppelganger are interrupted by a woman, who asks if Iris is really real. It’s Eva McCulloch, who went missing six years previous — turns out, those six years had been spent in the completely empty mirror universe.

Look, I could be stepping out of bounds here by trying to tell someone what they should do with their solitary mirror-life, but if I were faced with six years alone in some place I’d probably... I don’t know, travel? Joy ride in a bunch of vehicles without repercussions? Move into a library and finagle a way to read when everything in the universe is printed backwards? I’m just saying, no wonder Eva’s slightly unhinged if she’s spent six years in the same location with zero variation in her daily life.

Mostly, it seems like Eva has spent her six years in her office, trying over 2,000 times to find a way out of the mirrorverse and pining after her beloved husband. Since Eva’s beloved husband looks to have a highly skilled team of assassins, kidnappers, and brainwashers at his beck and call, something about Eva’s devotion to this obviously evil man seems very off. I would normally say this indicates a potential turn to the dark side for Eva — especially since she’s a twist on Evan McCulloch, the comic book version of Mirror Master, a supervillain — but it’s hard to say. The show really plays fast and loose with the alignment chart of the characters they pull from the comics, so maybe Eva’s just an innocent victim of a manipulative dude out to get her fortune.

Eva is a version of Mirror Master, though. We know this because when Iris’s plan to freeze the mirror into allowing them through (it’s a bunch of technobabble nonsense; it’s not important) fails, Eva gets upset and starts moving the broken pieces of the mirror with her mind. Not quite the ability we saw from the Mirror Master featured on the show, nor anything like the comic version, but still clearly a variation of the character. Eva’s ability to move the mirror back into a solid form, plus the compounding pep talks and sheer determination to get back to Barry from Iris, revives a little hope.

Meanwhile, Mirror Iris has been trying to get her hands on the mirror gun STAR Labs has in its archives. Since Barry thinks the gun is too dangerous to be out in the open, he tells her he can’t help — so Iris goes to the labs to steal it. She’s interrupted by Nash Wells, who is still hallucinating Harrison Wells, as he’s swiping an old journal of the aforementioned Harrison Wells. Iris leaves empty handed, but Barry has a change of heart and retrieves the gun for her, making her smirk the smirky smirk of evil once she turns away.

SUPER SUE


Ralph hasn’t been in the show for a few episodes because he’s been chasing down Sue Dearbon, a woman who has come to represent his self-worth as a detective during the nine months he’s tried to find her. This is the episode where he finally does find her, and absolutely nothing goes as he thought it would: Sue is not a damsel in distress, she doesn’t want to return to her parents, and she’s the ex-girlfriend and current target of a crime boss named John Loring, who has enough connections to kill her and anyone associated with her.

Except none of that’s true either. Well, she’s definitely not a damsel in distress — instead, she’s a high-kicking, explosion-dodging super spy lady who isn’t after Loring because putting him behind bars will allow her to safely return to her loving family. She’s after him because he has a giant diamond that she wants and she’s avoiding her parents because her old life of not committing crimes was too boring for her.

Ralph doesn’t know any of this yet, though. First he has to develop a soft spot for Sue and her tenacity, which happens fairly easily. Ralph starts to trust Sue so much that he even reveals he’s the Elongated Man in order to save them both during a chase sequence. But, in the end, after Ralph and Sue have tracked down and gained access to Loring’s safety deposit box, Sue turns on Ralph so she can abscond with the giant diamond.

This absconding is interrupted by Loring and Ultraviolet, who have both come to stop Sue and Ralph from leaving with the diamond. Ralph manages to stretch his way through the sprinkler system in time to shield Sue from gunfire, but Sue still skedaddles out of there without much concern for Ralph’s safety when he gets blasted by Ultraviolet’s UV rays. She does a little switcheroo that means she leaves with the diamond, too.

Remember what I wrote earlier about this show playing fast and loose with character good/evil alignment? Sue’s a pretty prime example of how iffy that can be. Ralph and Sue have good chemistry in the episode and their banter is nice, especially when backed up by knowledge of how solid the Ralph/Sue relationship was in the comics, but that only makes Sue’s turn against Ralph at the end more disappointing. I don’t really want a morally grey Sue Dearbon, you know? And weirdly, I find myself wishing for things to work out for Ralph. Never would have expected that when he was first introduced, let me tell you.

But there’s a hint that Sue is still working on the side of good: the giant diamond she stole looks to be inscribed with stuff related to Black Hole, which might mean Sue is fighting against them as well.

Other Things:

  • How does Ralph now get injured when people punch him? Every punch should just be like trying to hit a large slab of silly putty.
  • The height difference between Cecile and Ralph whenever they have scenes together is still hilarious.
  • Barry, literally only you and Iris would have known anything about the mirror gun if she investigated it. You two could have gone down there, inspected the gun, and it would have never left STAR Labs premises. Stop being silly for the sake of plot.
  • So Ralph is hurt by a punch to the face but he can also stop bullets? All I ask for is consistency in my ridiculous superhero shows, people.
  • Why does Eva’s mirror occasionally switch to viewing Iris and Barry’s apartment?

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

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


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

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

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

THAT’S FRIENDSHIP


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, February 17, 2020

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


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

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

HEARTACHE TO HEARTACHE?


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other Things:

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