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Thursday, April 30, 2020

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

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

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

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10. Booksmart (Hulu)

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

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

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

9. The Way, Way Back (Amazon Prime)

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

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

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8. Running Wild with Bear Grylls (Disney+)

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

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

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

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

7. Not Another Happy Ending (Amazon Prime)

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

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

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

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6. Isn’t It Romantic (Hulu)

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

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

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

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5. Onward (Disney+)

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

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

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

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4. Love Wedding Repeat (Netflix)

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

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

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

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3. The Duff (Amazon Prime)

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

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

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2. Middleditch & Schwartz (Netflix)

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

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

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

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1. Never Have I Ever (Netflix)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Original Airdate: Marc 17, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quotes/Favorite Moments:

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

Saturday, April 25, 2020

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Did you always know this would be a graphic novel?

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

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

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

What books are you looking forward to in 2020?

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

What are you reading now?

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

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

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

Sunday, April 19, 2020

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist 1x08 and 1x09 Reviews: “Zoey’s Extraordinary Glitch” & “Zoey’s Extraordinary Silence” (Emotions) [Contributor: Jenn]

“Zoey’s Extraordinary Glitch” & “Zoey’s Extraordinary Silence”
Original Airdates: March 29 and April 5, 2020

The world is a bit upside down right now and I’ve been a little emotionally overwhelmed, which is why I’m combining these two reviews. I was actually struck by the tone of the episodes themselves, and how they made me more emotional than usual. So I’d like to talk a bit about the way that Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist is doing a great job of tapping into viewers’ emotions and the way this show has navigated new facets of Zoey’s powers.

First, let’s recap each episode, shall we?

“Zoey’s Extraordinary Glitch” centers on two glitches, actually: a literal one in the SPRQ Point watch and another in Zoey’s powers. When Zoey and her family learn some devastating news about her father — that he’s deteriorating and may only have a few weeks left to live — she decides to compartmentalize her fear, grief, and other emotions. Just like the digital tech begins to malfunction, so does Zoey throughout the episode. Where we’d normally be hearing other people singing their feelings, we hear Zoey throughout sing hers.

There’s just one important thing: she usually imagines others’ musical numbers; she’s actually singing hers aloud. And she can’t turn off her “heart songs,” no matter how hard she tries. That’s because, as Max points out, the way Zoey’s powers work is that she continues to hear songs until she helps people. Zoey needs to help herself and come to terms with the diagnosis her father received. But she can’t. She sabotages a presentation. She sings feelings to an engaged guy. She confuses Max. She outs Leif and Joan’s relationship.

And still, Zoey refuses to confront her feelings. Until she can’t anymore. She comes face-to-face with her fears and her grief by physically deciding to go see her family at the end of the episode. The problem is that Zoey’s actions in this episode most definitely have consequences. What are they, you ask?


Zoey sings heart songs to both Max (“I’m Yours”) and Simon (“I Want You to Want Me”), and Max walks in on Zoey singing the latter. He’s understandably upset, Simon is understandably confused, and Zoey is… well, unable to decipher what those heart songs mean. Even though they’re incredibly obvious. I’m not one for love triangles on shows — they’re often cliché — and the interesting thing to me about this one is that I’m not on board a Simon/Zoey train (I’m only half aboard the Max/Zoey one and that half is because Skylar Astin is so endearing). Simon is engaged. And flirting. And having deep emotional moments with Zoey. Which is emotionally cheating.

The show really doesn’t make much of a case for Simon/Zoey: Zoey knows it’s wrong, Simon knows it’s wrong, and we all know it’s wrong. So why does the show keep returning to Zoey’s feelings about Simon? Good question.

Similarly, the show is dragging the Max/Zoey of it all along. I wrote before about how I’m not really compelled by the “best friend” argument that shows use, and this pairing is no different. But Max seems to be pretty fed up with Zoey by the end of the episode, even though he expresses empathy when he recognizes her dad is close to dying.

The one thing I’ll say about “Zoey’s Extraordinary Glitch” that weakened it for me is the lack of Mo. I think that truly impacted my enjoyment, even though I was delighted that the whole episode featured Jane Levy singing for once.


The next episode, “Zoey’s Extraordinary Silence” returns to our familiar formula, except that it spends a lot of time focusing on father/daughter relationships. Specifically, the one between Howie — Mitch’s caretaker — and his daughter, Abigail, who’s Deaf. While a lot of the episode was spent with Howie essentially trying to put his college-age daughter in a bubble to protect her from the world, the most powerful part of the episode came in the form of Abigail’s agency: a heart song in American Sign Language.

It’s so important that the show didn’t have Abigail suddenly burst into spoken song (thus implying that her Deafness is something to be “fixed”), but rather the beauty is that she signed “Fight Song” while Zoey got the chance to witness. Is Howie right by saying that there are struggles for Deaf people in the world? Of course. Is he right to try and keep his daughter from living just because of those struggles? Well, he comes to the realization that he might have gone overboard in trying to “protect” Abigail. He agrees that she should go to Africa. I enjoyed seeing a character apart from the family have a chance for growth and a real storyline.

I think it was great that Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist was able to highlight some of the struggles and conflicts that Deaf people face, even within their own families. Family is such a huge theme on this show, and it’s refreshing to see parents as humans — people who make mistakes sometimes that warrant them apologizing to their child.

A smaller plot of this episode is that Max is offered a promotion within the company. It means not working for or with Zoey, obviously, and Max asks what she thinks as his friends/maybe more. Zoey is incredibly diplomatic in her answer, telling him that in any case — as a friend, boss, or anything more — she would be the worst person. So as of the end of “Zoey’s Extraordinary Silence,” it looks like Max will no longer be part of the team.

And finally, there’s an emotional song and dance between Simon and Jessica to “Happier.” It’s unclear as to whether the two are on the verge of a breakup or have actually broken up, but one thing is clear: something is terribly amiss and it begs the question of if Simon told Jessica about his kiss with Zoey. (I assume he did.)

The past two episodes of Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist hinged on emotional moments, confessions, and revelations. I look forward to seeing how the consequences of these moments affect the rest of the season.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

For Life 1x04 Review: "Marie" (A Time for Everything) [Contributor: Thomas]

Original Airdate: March 10, 2020

I love this this show isn’t just focusing on Aaron’s journey. This episode is all about Marie. She even has a voiceover speaking of how she felt blessed, safe, and secure. That she believed that there would be “time for everything.”

Marie is shown as being great at her job; she cares about her patients and goes above in beyond in both encouragement and action (like how we saw she gave her personal phone number to a patient she was admitting chemo to). She’s told by her supervisor Vanessa that she’s “too good not to apply” to nursing school.

It’s funny seeing Aaron’s gruff voice outside of the prisoner. He has a John Q, working man-type quality both inside and outside the cell. Marie supports Aaron when she sees how passionate he is about growing his club. After they sign the papers to a space almost double the size, she recommends he talk to possible investors at Jazz’s birthday party. One of my favorite scenes in this episode is the kitchen conversation between Aaron and Marie. Marie is not ready to bet on herself with this nursing school. She’s apprehensive to commit to a nanny and would prefer if Jasmine was with family, especially considering what happened to her mom (possibly elder neglect in a nursing home).

She doesn’t want to be pressured but feels Aaron is trying to fix a problem that’s not even real yet. I love that they come to an understanding and we see him apologize and back off. She stands her ground and says it’s her problem and that she’ll figure it out. It’s nice when there’s a conflict but the audience can see both sides of the argument. It’s a testament again to great writing from my new favorite drama. And I love seeing 50 Cent’s influence on this show. Aaron and Marie enter their club with a classic Fif record playing as they do. It reminded me of the song choices of the movie Hustlers and 50’s success with Starz’s show Power.

Shortly after they dance, Michael greets Aaron talking about e. The triumphant feeling of success is destroyed by the DEA storming the club. Michael Miller, Angelo Torres, and Aaron Wallace are all under arrest by the DEA for allegedly being drug dealers. Things move fast, and the next time we see Aaron it’s behind the glass. We learn they’ve denied him bail and Aaron meets the then-Assistant DA Maskins who seemed like he was “out for blood.” They were talking “Kingpin charges” and that they had undercover cops and surveillance on the club for months. Michael was a two-bit hustler masquerading as a drug dealer, and his foolishness leads to a girl overdosing in the club. Angelo was also dealing drugs and they both flipped, pinning Aaron as the mastermind of their operation.

I can’t imagine how jarring this entire situation was for Aaron — feeling like he was on top of the world one moment, then in a cell with no idea when he’d get out next.

But I really like that they show Marie and Jazz. It’s unfathomable how much pressure it is to have to explain to a seven year old why her dad isn’t home that day and that you don’t know when he’ll be back. Unfortunately dreams cost, and Aaron and Marie took out a second mortgage to cover the construction of the new club. Not only does that make them vulnerable financially, but Marie also has to think of how to pay for lawyer fees and commissary. We also find out that Aaron’s parents are working overtime trying to cover his legal expenses.

You can already see the cracks in Aaron and Marie's marriage — even after she promises that they’re not to let this situation tear them apart. It’s a nice change seeing her be the optimistic one as opposed to how we’ve grown accustom to his determination to get free. As the audience, I can see why her views changed, especially after almost a decade of  Aaron being in prison with a life sentence.

Meanehile, Darius is dirty-macking — playing both sides even though Darius and Aaron are described as being close as brothers. Marie admits her fears to him and he rushes over to hug her. This is juxtaposed with seeing the disconnect between Aaron and Marie. His co-defendants flipped so they could save themselves and this revelation is shocking to Aaron. Marie and Aaron are even shown no longer holding hands after he disagrees about agreeing to a plea deal.

It’s ridiculous that a non-violent offense, for what I assume a first-time offender, could even carry a life sentence. We get to see how the system is broken and how most cases don’t go to trial. Aaron's lawyer talks about him getting 20 years with a plea deal, and possibly getting out in 12 years for good behavior. The catch is that taking a plea deal is admitting guilt and since he’s innocent, he wants to clear his name. Marie, I believe, is more focused on getting Aaron home to Jazz and herself than admitting guilt. It makes sense now that she’s technically a single mother, with Jasmine even wishing for her father to come home during her birthday.

Aaron’s really got a raw deal: he has to face the possibility of spending the rest of his life in prison for something he didn’t do, or serve the consequences for more than a decade for something he didn’t do. It doesn’t help that even if he did take a plea deal he’d have the name "felon" branded on him, and couldn’t go back to building his businesses because I highly doubt in New York they’d insurance or give a liquor license to a club for a person who just got out of prison. He rejects the plea deal and is determined to clear his name.

I love that we get to see the original trial where his supposed best friends testify against him. Michael Miller can’t even really look at them while testifying meanwhile Angelo is looking slick and cocky while on the stand. Darius steps up, even hitting Michael after Miller testified. We know the lawyer and Darius believes Wallace testifying is a bad idea but he wants to clear his name. Maskins is seen as an effective lawyer. He catches Aaron in a lie. He tees him up for the reveal that Aaron actually did know Miller was a drug dealer. By the shock on everyone’s face, I don’t think the lawyer knew about Aaron knowing about the girl who overdosed at the club.

Again I’m reminded the casting director is on point. The casting of Marie and Aaron’s daughter Jasmine is great. In every iteration, the actors playing this role is bringing her best conveying hope that he father will return home but also being frustrated it has been so long.

The next scenes are a montage after Marie promises that she’ll take care of them. I don’t really remember many montages in television; usually I’m more familiar with them in film, but this one was very effective. We, as the audience, see her journey studying, working, being an attentive mother, and it paying off as she’s getting A’s in her classes and eventually achieves her goal of becoming a nurse.

One of the most intriguing parts of this show is how none of the main characters are all the way corrupt or just evil. Maskins, who I don’t like and was responsible for incarcerating an innocent man, is shown to be a brilliant lawyer who is surgical in the way he dissects Wallace’s testimony. I see why he truly believes that he got the right person who was responsible for operating a drug empire.

Similarly Darius, who is dating Marie while she’s still married to Aaron, is shown as a very supportive friend. He visited Aaron almost every week early on. We learn he encouraged Aaron to protect himself and his investments by suggesting surveillance for the club; but Aaron insisted it was too expensive. Unfortunately regardless of if his heart is genuinely in the right place, we know that Marie and Darius are eventually going to start dating behind Aaron’s back.

I feel bad for Maisha, who doesn’t have lines and is just shown beside Darius being silent. She is a good actor though because after Darius gives Marie a custom stethoscope, we see his disdain as she probably realizes that his heart is not with her but is focused on Marie.

Earl, Marie’s father, has a hard conversation with Marie and speaks about how he was apprehensive about Aaron. He says Aaron’s belief in himself led to reckless spending. Very soberly he says that regardless of if Aaron is innocent, Earl won’t ever forgive him for putting Jasmine and Marie through this terrible process. This show truly is brilliant. The second half of this episode has probably my favorite scenes in this series so far. A focus on Marie gives us, the audience, so many answers I know I had questions about.

It’s revealed that after Aaron has been in prison for eight years, Marie has filed for a divorce. They have this heart-wrenching conversation filled: Aaron is delighted at the prospect of him finally figuring out a plan for getting back to his family, but it’s understandable that Marie doesn’t share his enthusiasm. She wants somebody that can be there, physically. Turns out that person is Darius. I’m glad they showed she actually got divorced from Aaron. Assuming she kept the last name, it makes sense why she’s still referred to as Mrs. Wallace. But it’s a welcomed change that instead of an illicit affair, she advocates for herself and makes the hard decision to pursue a mutual friend who has been through highs and lows; it’s just tough that the person she falls for has such a strong connection with her ex-husband.

Ria Mae’s "Don’t Let You Go" was a phenomenal choice to end this episode. It reminds me of when Scrubs was airing, the musical supervisor made brilliant choices and now this show seems to be carrying on that legacy. This song works both for the scene of Marie and Darius being together and for the uncertainty that this episode leaves us on.

Quotes/Favorite Moments:

  • “I’ve won cases with people dead-guilty and I’ve lost cases with totally innocent people. I don’t have to remind how the system is stacked against you.”
  • “In the meantime it’s you and me. I’m gonna take care of us. Mama’s got us.”
  • The montage of Marie’s hustle; she has to be supermom while balancing nursing school and taking care of herself.
  • “You found yourself. All those years of you wanting to be a nurse, somehow I was holding you back.”
  • “I used to think I was blessed. And then for the longest time I was sure I was cursed. And now from one moment to the next, I realized I don’t know what I think. Now I’m not sure about anything.”

Saturday, April 4, 2020

For Life 1x03 Review: "Brother's Keeper" (Caring About More Than Yourself) [Contributor: Thomas]

"Brother's Keeper"
Original Airdate: February 25, 2020

I’ve recently gotten back into writing reviews for this show and, since the world has essentially stopped waiting out this pandemic, I feel there’s no time like the present to continue what I’ve started.

Aaron Wallace was plucked from his friends and family, accused of a crime he hasn’t committed. He has been sentenced to serve life in prison and being ever resourceful he becomes a lawyer while incarcerated. He is now serving as prison rep for his fellow inmates.

This episode, he’s shown helping a fellow Black man, Hassan, get free. This comes after the Joey Knox situation where, because of a debt, Aaron was put in a situation of defending a neo-Nazi which caused strife in his community. What I enjoy about this show is that instead of having bottle episodes that neatly tie every storyline together, For Life continues the story with main, recurring, and guest characters remarking about what has taken place.

One narrative device that this show does that I like is their use of the monologue. Typically the audience hears a voiceover spoken near the beginning of the episode. Usually this is done by Aaron, in this episode it’s Hassan that lays the groundwork for the episode. He speaks about caring for not only yourself but showing kindness to everyone.

Hassan is shown leading a support group for addicts in recovery. He then encourages Frankie, who is afraid about relapsing after getting the required number of days sober to exit the program. Frankie explains about the ease of gaining drugs once he goes back into gen-pop (general population) which prompts the warden, Safiya Masry, to step in and assure steps are being put in place to prevent the ease of flow. We are then shown that Masry isn’t just talking; the contractors shown working demonstrate that she’s serious about the transitional wing she plans to place people like Frankie instead of just having them go straight into general population.

Hassan has been clean for three years and even wrote a 28-page letter apologizing to his brother, trying to make amends for the wrongs he did on the outside. In this episode, Aaron is trying to convince Hasan’s brother, Calvin, to go on the stand and serve as a witness to the depraved state Hassan was in. If he can prove how intoxicated Hassan was, Aaron hopes to ask for leniency and that he won't serve the full 15 years.

The acting in this show is phenomenal: from the main to supporting cast, it’s remarkable. The gruffness of Aaron’s voice gives a sense of realism of someone who has been imprisoned for nine years. The nervous energy Masry has when Frankie talks about how easy it is to get drugs into Bellmore reminded me of how one mistake could destroy all her hard work of setting new systems in place. Jamal, Aaron’s right hand man, brings a levity to some of the more difficult scenes and Calvin, who the audience has just met this episode, brings emotion that shows how excruciating Hassan’s addiction has been on his family. I understand why he resists helping Aaron at first.

We learn why Aaron has taken this case, whereas the other characters are in the dark still trying to find out why. Masry is intrigued and is hopeful that Aaron is genuinely helping an inmate she cares about, while District Attorney Maskins and Assistant D.A. Dez O’Reilly are puzzled. Aaron is using Hassan’s case to try and gain access to his police file. After being roadblocked last episode, he seeks to appeal to Hassan’s brother, who is a cop.

After a scene where we see Aaron’s competence as a lawyer and him discussing that he’s “one for one so far” with his cases, and we hear about how Masry gave Hassan “a sense of purpose,” we see the trial. Judge Cummings hears Aaron, as the defendant, try to prove Hassan’s depravity and shows him signing a plea deal that wasn’t lawful. Unfortunately for Aaron, his preoccupation with his own case leads to his lack of preparation on Hassan’s behalf.

This show is not predictable. I truly believed after Aaron got punched back to reality with the decision the judge made and his impressive showing that the judge would easily release Hassan on time served. Instead we are shown that regardless of his growth in his craft, he still has ways to go as a lawyer.

We see that Maskins and Dez O’Reilly are after Aaron. They felt threatened after his success in proving wrongful imprisonment of his first client. According to O’Reilly, they were embarrassed and “want to make sure that doesn’t happen again.” They fight back by getting a subpoena to check the Bellmore surveillance tapes. The tapes show he forged and filed a fake letter that was used in his case. They also tried to scare Marie into turning on her husband by sending uniformed agents to her job. They also have Maskins speak with her directly where he shows he’s researched her, as he knows about her boyfriend and about their daughter Jasmine.

Again: Maskins is not an evil villain, but instead tries to appeal to her and we see he truly believes that they got the right guy and that Aaron was a drug dealer who got what he deserved.

At the prison I’m reminded why I love the dynamics between Aaron and Masry. She calls him out on trying to use Hassan and he doesn’t back down to her demands if it conflicts with his freedom as shown in the last episode. She believes in upholding “the line,” which prevents them from having a problem but Aaron doesn’t have time or the luxury to do such things. He explains how Judge Cummings denied Hassan’s freedom to “teach” a lesson about how to be a better lawyer and how Maskins, who’s running for the “highest office in the state,” is after him and coming after his family. I love that both have valid points and neither is portrayed a villain or unreasonable; instead, regardless of their personal views, they come to an understanding of Aaron's use of the line and him giving her information about the guards and drugs that will better the prison.

Aaron couldn’t find a precedent in New York that clarifies the difference between an abandoned building and a residence. He missed his opportunity to use an out-of-state precedent to try and sway the judge. It’s easy to write off Judge Cummings as just another “Clarence” who doesn’t use his power to rightly release Hassan, instead subjecting him to years of being in jail for another 12 years. But there’s also his remark about how he views judgeship: “Some judges feel it’s their job to make law in a courtroom. I am not one of those.” He talks about how Aaron was lucky to even try again with Hassan’s case but that he needed to be better.

Aaron loses the case but Calvin not only restores his relationship with Hassan,  but also gives Aaron a photocopy of his police file. Marie tries not to get so hopeful after the warning from her boyfriend Darius about not losing focus, but it’s a great ending to an action-packed episode.

Favorite Moments/Quotes:
  • “The police didn’t do their job, prosecution dropped the ball, and previous counsel was derelict in his ethical and legal obligations. Everyone failed him the first time around, Your Honor. Please let’s not do that to him again.”
  • The conversation of Blackness in America and how it’s perceived from the highest level with D.A. Maskins all the way to those affected like Aaron and Hassan was great.
  • My favorite parts of this episode where those confrontations between Hassan and Aaron about Aaron being for himself, Calvin and O’Reilly speaking about the system working, and seeing Calvin and Hassan reconnect. They even have a discussion about the Black judge on the bench and if he’s a “Clarence” (in reference to Supreme Court justice, Clarence Thomas, who is seen by many as a sellout to his race).
  • “Everybody’s in here for themselves, just gotta be smarter about it. Slow down.”
  • “This isn’t a reaching facility... your opportunity to call witnesses you certainly didn’t give your client the best opportunity to win today. Motion denied.” 
This review was originally posted at ELVNTWNTYSVN.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Grey’s Anatomy 16x20 Recap: “Sing It Again” (Seeing Ghosts) [Contributor: Julia Siegel]

“Sing It Again”
Original Airdate: April 2, 2020

Contrary to the promos, Grey’s Anatomy’s penultimate episode of the season turned out to be a much bigger episode for Tom Koracick than Richard. This episode would have been more impactful on the Richard front if a vast majority of the hour was dedicated to the doctors trying to solve his condition. While Richard’s medical mystery is a part of the episode, too much time was spent on other stories that either didn’t matter. Here’s to hoping that next week’s impromptu season finale will be satisfying, since the season has been cut short by several episodes due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


The best thing about this episode is that it makes it clear how much Richard means to all of the characters. The episode begins with Richard, Catherine, and Maggie on Catherine’s private plane heading to Seattle. Catherine went to Los Angeles to pick up her husband, which is a very nice gesture. Maggie isn’t happy that the internet is trolling Richard and has turned him into a meme. In Seattle, Jackson spent a few hours on a shift in Ben’s PRT rig during a call to a five-alarm fire that began on Station 19, furthering the suspicions that Jackson might be spending more time on the spin-off than the main show in the future. Ben encourages Jackson to leave the site of the fire so he can be back at Grey Sloan Memorial when Richard and Catherine arrive. Jackson decides to go, wanting to be there for his mother and Richard.

At Grey Sloan Memorial, a war room has been set up for the doctors to work in to solve Richard’s condition. Meredith, Bailey, and Amelia are currently in the room working on a differential diagnosis. Bailey is on the phone trying to get Richard’s test results from the hospital he was brought to in L.A. that way they have all the necessary information to work off of. Elsewhere in the hospital, Teddy and Owen meet up at the surgical board. Teddy has decided to take over all of Maggie’s cases to allow her colleague to focus on Richard. Teddy is incredibly on edge while talking to Owen, clearly still not 100% sure what her heart wants.

Link and Amelia are then seen talking while walking through the halls. Amelia has also cleared her day to work exclusively on Richard’s case. She is also complaining about being super pregnant, her due date only being a few weeks away. Amelia walks off to return to the war room, and Link hangs around the lobby when he sees Jo and Schmitt walking into the hospital together. Link tries to butt into their conversation and tells Jo that she has replaced him with Schmitt. He then starts telling his best friend about how he is starting to freak out over becoming a father, and it’s not too surprising that it’s finally hitting him.

Back in the war room a team consisting of Amelia, Bailey, Koracick, Teddy, Maggie, Catherine, Meredith, Schmitt, and Helm convene. Bailey goes through Richard’s medical history with everyone and discusses some potential diagnoses. Maggie chimes in and wants everyone to be prepared that Richard isn’t himself before they go and see him. Koracick wants to know if dementia and Alzheimer’s are ruled out, as he thinks the problem must be neurological. The group says no, but Meredith flat out denies that Richard could have Alzheimer’s. She says that she had a front row seat to Alzheimer’s and that Richard doesn’t have it one too many times throughout the episode.

We then get introduced to a completely irrelevant storyline: Link and Owen check in on a patient who has been admitted with a foot fracture. Her husband explains that a book that he was trying to get fell off a shelf and landed on her foot. The surgeons plan her surgery for the same day. Richard is being admitted and put into a hospital room as Jackson, Catherine, Meredith, Amelia, Maggie, and Bailey watch. Richard seems to think that he’s completely fine and has no idea that Catherine wasn’t at the conference with him. He doesn’t know that anything happened, which is scary. Catherine plays along and tells him that she was at the conference with him to keep him sane. Richard agrees to medical tests for Catherine’s sake, and everyone in the room is quite freaked out at Richard’s mental state. Bailey wants Meredith to add auditory and visual hallucinations to the list of symptoms after their encounter with Richard.


Elsewhere, Teddy wants to talk to Koracick, who says there’s nothing to talk about. Their conversation gets halted when Koracick is shocked to see a little boy wheeled into the hospital in a wheelchair and an older woman says hello to him. He is more than surprised to see his ex-wife Dana and practically faints at the sight of her son, who he says looks and sounds exactly like his dead son, David. Dana apologizes for not calling, but didn’t know where else to turn. Her son, Guthrie, has an aggressive brain tumor that has spread to his spine. No other doctor has been able to help him, and Dana wouldn’t have come if she had any other option. Koracick looks like he has seen a ghost, and there’s no way you can’t feel bad for him now.

Koracick and Teddy recruit Helm to help do a workup on Guthrie. Both of the boy’s parents are present now, and Guthrie tells the doctors about his passion for cooking. Koracick can barely speak or be in the same room as Guthrie and wants to get new scans. He tells Teddy that he thinks the boy is David reincarnated. Teddy assures her friend that she is here for him and will stay close to help.

Richard is getting an MRI of his brain, and Amelia, Maggie, and Meredith are watching and waiting for the scans. Richard tries to prove to the group that he doesn’t have a problem by listing the steps of a whipple procedure. Maggie tells her sisters that Catherine is trying to scrub the internet of the bad press, while Meredith confirms that Richard is listing the correct steps. The scans show up on the computer screen and show no signs of dementia, according to Amelia. She also thinks that the scans indicate that he probably doesn’t have Alzheimer’s either, which makes Meredith say the same line about the disease again. Meredith stomps out of the room at the Alzheimer’s mention.

In the OR, Link and Owen are fixing their patient’s foot. Link tells Owen that Amelia stayed up all night watching the conference footage to look for clues to Richard’s condition. This makes Link worried that Amelia will go into pre-term labor. Owen asks Link if he is nervous about the baby, which prompts Link to list all the things he is freaked out about. Owen tells him the truth about parenthood and Link looks like a deer caught in headlights, so the truth clearly didn’t help him.

In another story that doesn’t go anywhere, Jo is running the show in the ER, which is overrun with injured firefighters from the five-alarm fire. Schmitt comes to the ER to help, and Jo is extremely flustered. More on this time-waster later. We then see DeLuca visiting Richard and telling him stories. DeLuca seems much happier and calmer than the last time we saw him. Bailey pops into the room while waiting for Richard’s blood cultures and wants a word with DeLuca. She isn’t happy to see her suspended resident, but he says he is innocently there to visit his friend. Bailey wants DeLuca gone as soon as visiting hours are over. DeLuca’s purpose for visiting turns out to be two-fold, as he also wants to figure out what’s wrong with Richard. He tells Bailey that Richard told him something about having a decreased appetite and urges her to add it to his list of symptoms.

Amelia finds Teddy after being paged and gets filled in on Guthrie and his condition. Amelia knows that this case is going to be incredibly tough for Koracick and reveals that she knew David. Teddy wants Amelia to take over the case and save Guthrie because Koracick is in no condition to do so. Koracick shows up and tells Amelia that Guthrie’s tumor is encroaching his brain stem and getting bigger. Upon seeing Koracick and hearing the update, Amelia tells him that she will take over from here.


Owen and Link go to their patient’s room to tell her and her husband that the surgery went incredibly well. She will make a full recovery if she stays off her foot for twelve weeks. The patient wants to know why everyone is singing, but she happens to be singing everything she says. Everyone is confused as to why she thinks people are singing and why she is singing herself. As the patient asks what is happening, Owen pages neuro.

In the war room, Jackson, Bailey, and Maggie are working on Richard’s case. Catherine walks in and is getting more flustered by the minute. She wants them to work harder and figure out what is wrong with her husband, and apparently expects them to solve it immediately. Another awkward family conversation occurs when Amelia, Teddy, and Koracick talk to Dana, who is afraid of losing another child. Dana isn’t keen on Amelia doing Guthrie’s surgery because they came to Seattle for Koracick. She once again tells her ex that she ran out of ideas and didn’t know what else to do because she can’t handle losing a second child. Amelia assures Dana that she is just as good as Koracick, who also gives Amelia a stamp of approval. Koracick admits to Dana that he can’t operate on Guthrie, but gives the fake reason of not being able to because of the hospital’s policy about family. He gets a page and walks off because he can’t handle even talking about Guthrie.

The singing patient’s husband wants to know what is going on with his wife, who is still singing everything she says. Koracick pops into the room for a consult. Owen tells him what is going on, and Koracick orders a brain MRI to rule out a stroke. Koracick thinks that the patient might have an exceedingly rare condition linked to musical outbursts, which doesn’t sit well with the husband. Back in the ER, Schmitt is talking to Jo about Nico’s Instagram. Jo snaps at him and says that this isn’t the time for him to pine over his ex. She tells Schmitt now is a perfect time for him to shine and help in the ER while everyone else works on Richard. This storyline doesn’t go any further at the hospital, making it the most wasteful of time.

The singing patient is getting an MRI, and Teddy comes into the room to check on Koracick. She announces that Guthrie is on his way to pre-op. Koracick admits to her that he has always thought that if he had gotten to the hospital in time, he could have operated on David and saved him. He also says that when he is in the same room as Guthrie, he feels like he is drowning.  Koracick’s struggle is the most vulnerable we have ever seen him and adds a lot of depth to the otherwise prickly doctor.


Meredith and Maggie are in Richard’s room, having him complete a cognitive impairment written test. It’s clear that Richard is struggling with the test, unbeknownst to him. Maggie wants to take a break from the test since he is struggling, and Meredith agrees that they can take a break after seeing Richard doing poorly. In the singing patient’s room, Owen and Link are happy to see Koracick come in and report that the scan showed no sign of stroke or bleeding. The doctors think that the singing must be a side effect of being under anesthesia and that she can go home tomorrow, much to the dismay of her husband.

Jackson finds Catherine in a conference room, but has no update for her. She doesn’t understand that Jackson is trying to offer his support and feels that he is letting Richard down if he isn’t working on the case. Catherine wonders how no one saw that Richard was deteriorating. She also tells her son that she is dying inside and kicking herself over wondering what she would have noticed if she could have put her pride aside. Catherine wants Jackson to go back to the team and figure out what’s wrong since she can’t.

The singing patient has now gotten on her husband’s nerves. Owen and Link bring him coffee outside of his wife’s room. The husband wants to know if the singing will fade. Owen says it might fade, but maybe he could grow to like it. Link suggests getting her an instrument to help, but the husband doesn’t like that idea. All of a sudden, the singing stops, and they think the patient has gotten better. They go into the room and find her in cardiac arrest.


In the OR, Amelia and Helm are in the middle of Guthrie’s surgery when Amelia starts going into labor. She tells Helm to get Koracick and page Link. Koracick quickly makes it to the OR, and Amelia tells him that he has to scrub in and take over immediately, much to his dismay. Maggie, Meredith, and Bailey make their way back to Richard’s room and talk about how the test shows signs of dementia, but there is no sign of the cause. At this point, it actually seems like the condition might not be neurological, but rather something else that is causing neurological symptoms. The trio is shocked to find Richard missing from his room and nowhere to be seen.

Back in the OR, Amelia is being wheeled away in a wheelchair as Koracick takes over the surgery. Amelia tells him that he can do this on her way out the door. Teddy is watching from the gallery and starts talking to Koracick when Guthrie starts to crash and he freezes. Teddy tells Koracick to breathe and focus on the tools in his hands. She focuses him on the patient and explains that he can save Guthrie. This snaps Koracick out of his daze, and he gets to work. They get an air embolus out of Guthrie’s blood, and he stops crashing. Koracick immediately continues the brain surgery and is back in his element. 

Owen and Link are trying to save their crashing patient while her husband watches from the doorway. They figure out that she has air in her chest cavity. After relieving the air, the patient is fine and stops singing, which surprises everyone. Link’s phone then goes off, and he finds out that Amelia is in labor. Owen tells a stunned Link to go. Link arrives in Amelia’s hospital room and finds out that Carina is on vacation with her girlfriend, Maya Bishop from Station 19. Amelia is freaking out about giving birth and babbles on about how giving birth isn’t the finish line. She is worried about all the bad things that could happen to the baby in its lifetime. This causes them to both freak out, and they hilariously both scream every time Amelia has a contraction.

We then see that Richard is in an OR, preparing to operate on a patient. Meredith walks in and wants to know what he is doing. The scene quickly changes, and we see Richard standing in the middle of the OR by himself about to operate on himself and cut his abdomen open with a scalpel. The whole OR scene is in his head, and now his condition has real consequences. Meredith asks Richard what kind of surgery he is attempting, and all Richard says is that he is glad Meredith is there to help him. He thinks he is the only one that can fix what’s wrong, but Meredith tries to make him think that she can fix him because he taught her everything she knows. She pleads with him to not cut himself and tells him that she still needs him and that she’s not ready to let him go yet. She tries to make Richard understand that no one in the hospital is ready to give up on him. Meredith wants Richard to hand over the scalpel and after some thought, he gives it to her. Richard thinks that Meredith is Ellis and tells her that he thinks something is wrong with him. Meredith sadly tells him that something is wrong and that everything will be okay. She asks Richard to take her hand and go with her, and Meredith takes him out of the OR.

It’s now nighttime, and Koracick has completed Guthrie’s surgery. He tells Dana and her husband that he removed the tumor and that Guthrie is on the road to recovery. The husband thanks Koracick and goes to see his son. Koracick tells Dana that he can’t believe he actually did it, and Dana apologizes again and thanks him. As they are both on the verge of tears, Koracick says that Guthrie is a good name and walks away before they both end up sobbing in the hall.

Over in Amelia’s hospital room, things aren’t progressing much. Amelia is having big contractions and is in a lot of pain. The OBGYN comes in and says that Amelia is in false labor, which surprises Amelia and Link. Amelia tells Link that the pain now hurts less. If Amelia couldn’t handle false labor, how’s she going to get through the real thing? Elsewhere in the hospital, Teddy finds Koracick in his office. He thanks her for helping him. Teddy apologizes to him because he’s had more than enough pain. Koracick assures her that she has taken away more pain than she’s caused him. He clearly still wants her, but she leaves without saying another word.

Schmitt arrives at Jo’s apartment and finds his roommate home. He wants to go sleep at the hospital and says he doesn’t want to overstay his welcome. Jo says she won’t change the way she works just to please their friendship and asks him to stay because he keeps her sane. Schmitt agrees to stay, and they settle in to watch TV together.

Owen and Teddy meet up in a hallway, and Owen takes her into a supply closet where they start making out. Teddy wants to marry Owen as soon as possible and suggests they get married this weekend. They then have sex in the closet. After the weeks of deliberation and anguish, Teddy has apparently made her decision out of nowhere, which is an unsatisfying conclusion to that storyline.

Richard gets wheeled back to his room. He wants to know where he is, and Maggie tells him that he is in the hospital. Richard wants to know if he is at Seattle Grace and asks to send the interns in so they can start rounds. Catherine, Bailey, Jackson, and Maggie are upset to hear that Richard doesn’t know where or when he is. Catherine walks out of the room because Richard doesn’t even recognize her. Jackson consoles her as she says she doesn’t think she can do this. Meredith goes into an office and finds DeLuca there. She wants to know what he has thought of that they haven’t. She knows that he is there to figure out what is wrong with Richard, and they agree that his condition doesn’t make sense. Meredith tells him that the two of them aren’t leaving until they figure it out. She wants to know if he’s with her or not. DeLuca says he is in and shows her his notes. It’s good to see that DeLuca is more lucid in the quick scenes we see him, but having him go down the rabbit hole of figuring out another medical mystery might not be the best thing for his mental health.