Sunday, May 29, 2011

Game of Thrones 1.06: "A Golden Crown"

“Sometimes possession is an abstract concept.”

I think “A Golden Crown” is my favorite episode of “Game of Thrones” thus far. This isn’t surprising considering it was written by Jane Espenson, who has written beloved episodes of Joss Whedon’s shows such as “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (“Band Candy”), “Angel” ("Room w/a Vu”), and “Dollhouse” (“Briar Rose.”). Espenson has also written extensively for "Battlestar Galactica" and was the original showrunner for that show’s spin-off, “Caprica.” This episode has intriguing character interactions, but it also propels the plot forward in a significant way. There were shocking twists and fun banter, and all of it affected the plot. I think Tyrion’s journey in this episode played the most to Espenson’s strengths, as he used his cunning and wit, as opposed to physical strength, to get himself out of a very messy situation. While it could be brutal in its violence at times (the whole show can be, really), there was a lightness to that storyline that really let Espenson shine. The final twist of the episode, where we say goodbye to the wonderfully creepy Harry Lloyd as Viserys, also played to Espenson’s strengths. While I realize this twist was conceived by “A Song of Ice and Fire” author George R. R. Martin, the wordplay inherent in Viserys’ fate sounds like something Espenson would dream up herself if given the chance, evidenced by her often punny episode titles.

The episode begins, again, not long after where the last one ended. Ned is in bed recovering from the leg wound inflicted by one of Jaime Lannister’s men, and he wakes up to a rather horrid sight. King Robert and Cersei are looking over him. This doesn’t exactly give Ned much of a chance to get his bearings before dealing with the serious consequences of the escalating Stark/Lannister feud. King Robert wants to get this whole feud worked out immediately, but he seems to want to achieve that by getting Ned to give into everything Cersei and the rest of the Lannisters (and Robert himself in the case of Ned’s objection to killing Daenerys) wants. He wants Ned to send a raven to Cat ordering her to free Tyrion, he wants Ned to not take any action against Jaime, and he wants Ned to stop whining about Daenerys. Ned complains that this doesn’t seem quite fair considering Jaime and his guard openly attacked Ned and his guard out in public. Cersei interjects, going right into the mode she was in after the big Joffrey/ Arya/ butcher’s boy incident. In other words, she starts weaving outrageous lies about Ned being the one to attack Jaime. Luckily, Robert sees right through his wife and doesn’t let her get too far into her lying, nagging show. He’s had enough, and he slaps her. I normally don’t condone violence towards women of any sort, but I actually cheered after that slap. Cersei is just so incredibly vile and gives a bad impression of women everywhere that I was just glad to see her leave the room. Robert re-installs Ned as Hand and basically gets everything he wants.

The least interesting plot thread of this episode took place in Winterfell, so I’ll get that one out of the way next. Bran’s special saddle is finally ready, so Robb and Theon take Bran out into the woods to try it out. While Bran is happily riding around, Robb and Theon argue about whether or not to raise an army against the Lannisters in response to the King’s Landing incident. Theon thinks raising and army is the way to go to protect the honor of the House, but Robb quickly reminds him that it’s not Theon’s House. Again with the “Theon doesn’t belong here” motif. If there’s any way to grow a traitor in your midst, that would be it. While Robb and Theon are arguing, Bran rides off, and he finds himself surrounded by thieves. They are wildlings from north of the Wall. One of them was played by Natalia Tena, aka Tonks from the Harry Potter films, which I thought was pretty cool.

Robb swoops in to save the day just as the thieves are cutting Bran off his saddle. He kills one thief and takes another hostage just as the other thief takes Bran hostage. Theon solves that problem by shooting an arrow in the back of the thief holding Bran. Robb is kind of pissed about this- I guess only a certain amount of bloodshed to save your brother is acceptable in the Stark honor code. Theon’s isolation grows near the end of the episode when he passes by his favorite prostitute, Ros, sitting on a cart headed for King’s Landing. Ros is leaving the North because she thinks the Stark/Lannister feud will lead to a war that will take away most of her clients.

Of course there’s plenty of political intrigue happening in and around King’s Landing. King Robert and Renly are out on a hunting trip, mostly so King Robert can kill things and talk about the good old days, but I was very happy to see Renly question whether or not the old days were really so good. Dragons burned cities and armies were at war. Meanwhile, back at King’s Landing, Ned has to sit on the Iron Throne in King Robert’s place. A peasant appears before him claiming that his village has been destroyed, and the attackers, led by an unusually tall man, left dead fish behind. Peter slyly reminds Ned that fish are the sigil of House Tully, Cat’s House. Ned knows from the description of what happened that the perpetrator is the Mountain, and after only a little provocation from Petyr, lets loose with a very harsh judgment. The Mountain is to be stripped of his title, found, and executed, and Tywin Lannister, head of the Lannister House and the Mountain’s employer, is to be summoned to King’s Landing to answer for his bannerman’s crimes. Since Tywin Lannister is pretty much bankrolling King Robert at the moment, this is a bold and dangerous move.

Because he’s rather blatantly stirred the pot and provoked the Lannisters, Ned wants Sansa and Arya to go home to Winterfell immediately. They both complain bitterly about that, Arya because she wants to continue her swordfighting lessons and Sansa because of Prince Joffrey. Ned tries to placate Sansa by saying he’ll find her someone else to marry who is more worthy of her, but since Joffrey recently apologized (most likely at his mother’s command) and gave Sansa a necklace, she’s still smitten. Sansa starts going on about how Joffrey is a golden haired Lion so unlike his father (even though the Baratheon sigil is the Stag, while the Lannister sigil is the Lion), and this makes the wheels start turning in Ned’s mind. He consults the book Jon Arryn was reading right before he died and realizes that all Baratheon children before Joffrey had black hair, not blond. Clearly, Joffrey is not actually King Robert’s son.

My favorite plot of the episode was Tyrion scheming his way out of his imprisonment at the Eyrie. Tyrion bribes the guard to get an audience with Cat and Lysa. This is a very funny sequence where Tyrion has to convince the guard that even though he doesn’t have any gold on him at the moment, he will be able to pay as soon as he’s freed. He has to use commonly known phrases about Lannisters, such as “a Lannister always pays his debts” to finally convince the guard. Tyrion tells Cat and Lysa that he wants to confess his crimes and begins a long list of transgressions that conspicuously don’t include attempting to murder Bran or murdering Jon Arryn. Cat and Lysa cut him off just as he’s starting to tell a story about bringing a jackass and a honeycomb into a brothel. Robin wants to hear the rest of the story, and for once I have to agree with the creepy, annoying kid. I want to know what happened, too!

Lysa, of course, wants to resolve the matter by holding a trial where her son will be the judge. Tyrion, thankfully, recognizes this for the ridiculousness that it is and requests a trial by combat instead. The knight Lysa selects to be her champion is a little reluctant to take on the task, because he thinks the size difference between himself and Tyrion would make it not a fair fight. He agrees to fight if Tyrion can name a champion as well. Tyrion tries to name Jaime first, which I found funny because it means Tyrion doesn’t mind risking Jaime’s life to save his own, but bringing Jaime to the Eyrie would take time, and Lysa wants to have the trial that day. One of the fighters Cat picked up at the inn agrees to be Tyrion’s champion. The fight sequence is quite impressive, because the Eyrie doesn’t have an executioner. The loser is pushed out the moon door in the center of the hall. After a rather long battle, Tyrion’s scrappy, street fighter style champion wins. Lysa chides the champion for not fighting honorably, but he takes the high road and instead commends his now dead opponent for fighting honorably himself. Tyrion, now a free man, gets his purse of gold back and promptly tosses it to the guard.

We finish by rejoining the Dothraki for the most shocking plot of the episode. Daenerys is in her tent, once again fascinated by the dragon’s eggs she got as a wedding gift. She picks one up, places it on a fire, and picks it up again when it’s hot. One of her servants, convinced her Khaleesi just injured herself, yanks the egg from Daenerys’ hands. The servant is burned, but Daenerys is not. Later, Daenerys continues to prove her toughness in a Dothraki pregnancy ritual where she has to eat an entire horse heart. I think the idea is that if she can’t eat the whole thing, something will be wrong with the baby. Daenerys succeeds in eating the heart, and the crowd cheers adoringly. Viserys is quite jealous about this, I guess because he feels that as “rightful king” he’s the only one who should be getting any adoration. He tries to take the dragon eggs from Daenerys’ tent, but Ser Jorrah stops him. Ser Jorrah can’t stop Viserys from leaving, but he can keep him from stealing the eggs.

Later, Viserys, who is by now very drunk, crashes a big feast being held in Daenerys’ honor. He’s making an ass of himself, but the final straw is when he pulls out a sword and threatens Daenerys. Bloodshed is strictly forbidden in the Dothraki sacred city, and threatening the Khaleesi is even worse. Khal Drogo says that Viserys will have his wish- a golden crown. This is quite deliciously literal. Khal Drogo puts gold jewelry in a kettle and melts it down. Then, after telling Daenerys not to watch (she doesn’t listen to the request), he pours a big heaping ladleful of the molten metal right over Viserys’ head. He doesn’t survive, but he doesn’t lose any blood. So Khal Drogo gets what he wants (Viserys’ death) without breaking the traditions of the sacred city. Quite ingenious, really, although the scene is quite graphic and disturbing. There is no crying by Daenerys over her brother’s death. More steely than ever, she says that Viserys was no Dragon, because if he was, fire would not have killed him.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Big Bang Theory 4.24: "The Roommate Transmogrification"

“I would have slept in my own bed, but it’s being used to bring shame to my family. And the memory of Gene Roddenberry.”

I found “The Roommate Transmogrification” to be a somewhat lackluster fourth season finale for “The Big Bang Theory.” It did have a better balance between original and new characters that some other episodes this season have lacked, but it lacked any depth. Most importantly, the episode, and this season in general, has lacked the quantity of nerd humor that originally drew me to the show. I loved the earlier seasons for great nerd humor lines like “That’s how we roll in the Shire or emotional moments like Sheldon giving Penny gift basket after gift basket and then a hug for Christmas after she gives him “Leonard Nimoy’s DNA.” This season has contained no such memorable lines or scenes for me, and worse, it depicted women in the most stereotypical way possible. This episode tried to mix things up a bit and set up some stories to begin next season, but they weren’t stories that especially interested me. I don’t watch “Big Bang Theory” for soapiness. I turn to other shows for that. I turn to “Big Bang Theory” to celebrate geek culture, and I think it’s a shame the show is losing that sensibility.

The episode opens with the boys plus Priya getting ready to order their dinner at the Cheesecake Factory. Priya wants to know if Leonard wants to split a Shepherd’s Pie with her, and this eventually devolves into Priya and Penny, and eventually Howard too, joking about Leonard’s lactose intolerance. While I appreciate that Priya and Penny are no longer being super catty to each other (yay for character growth that sticks!), I’m kind of tired of Leonard flatulence jokes. Bernadette arrives at the restaurant with a big announcement. Her dissertation has been accepted, so she’ll be getting her PhD soon. To make things even better, she’s been recruited by a big time pharmaceutical company, and they’re going to be paying her a great deal of money. This, of course, leads to a lot of jokes at Howard’s expense, because he’s the only one of the core group of four guys to not have a PhD (he has a Masters in Engineering instead).

Later that night, Raj takes off his noise-cancelling head phones and hears Leonard and Priya in his room having a little Star Trek roleplay fun times. This is the final straw for Raj, and he runs out of the apartment in disgust. His first stop is Howard’s house. Howard tells Raj that he’s going out with Bernadette, but Raj is welcome to spend the evening around the house with his mother (who is yelling out for “her future daughter-in-law the doctor”). Howard’s mom gets extra creepy when Howard asks if Raj can stay over, saying that she and Raj can play doctor because he’s a doctor too, and Raj hightails it out of there almost as quickly as he left his apartment. Meanwhile, Sheldon is at home Skyping with Amy. In what I didn’t find to be an especially funny joke, Amy is directing Sheldon in how to massage his neck when Raj shows up at the door. Raj thinks it’s only fair that he gets to sleep in Leonard’s room, and Sheldon reluctantly agrees after he has Raj sign a waiver. There’s also a safety presentation, which I actually found pretty funny. Sheldon, of course, has painted luminous arrows to act as guides to the apartment’s exits.

Leonard arrives home the next morning, puts his Captain Kirk costume back in the closet, and has quite the surprise when he sits down on his bead to see Raj still sleeping in it. Surprisingly, he’s not especially angry at Raj. I guess he’s more embarrassed about Raj hearing what he and Priya were up to. Raj wants Leonard and Priya to spend the night at Leonard and Sheldon’s apartment sometimes, but that isn’t going to work because, big surprise, Priya and Sheldon don’t get along. Leonard has another idea, though. He and Raj could temporarily switch apartments until Priya gets her own place. During lunch at the university, Sheldon gives Raj a whole bunch of paperwork to make that happen, including forms to give Sheldon medical power of attorney over Raj. The boys think that’s fair because Raj gets to make medical decisions for Sheldon, too. I just thought the whole thing seemed silly. I liked some of the other items Sheldon gave Raj better. There’s an ID and lapel pin with the yellow lion on a field of Azure. It would have been fun to see the apartment flag flown upside down in distress during this episode, but it didn’t happen, unfortunately.

One of Raj’s duties as the non-Sheldon roommate is to pick up dinner, and Sheldon is actually impressed with Raj’s work. Raj puts out a whole fancy set-up on the coffee table, complete with tablecloth and candles. He describes it as “the difference between eating and dining.” I kind of miss the old shy, goofy Raj as opposed to the current vaguely creepy Raj. This was reinforced earlier in this episode when Leonard said Raj could bring girls over to the apartment as long as he didn’t do so forcibly. That throwaway line was not at all funny to me. Penny stops by the apartment to ask for the new Wi-fi password, and she’s a bit taken aback by the roommate switch. She’s especially troubled that Leonard and Priya have taken the big step of deciding to live together. Penny and Raj bond over the wine Raj bought to go with dinner. Raj vents his frustration at being alone, and Penny says that if they weren’t already friends, she wouldn’t be against dating him. She also admits that she made a big mistake letting Leonard go.

Meanwhile, over at Raj’s old apartment, Leonard and Priya are enjoying an evening alone when Priya’s parents call through the computer. Priya shoos Leonard away into the bedroom because she still hasn’t told her parents about them, and Leonard grumbles but agrees to it. When Priya’s parents mention that she’s moving back to India next month, however, Leonard rushes out of the bedroom to express his shock and totally blows their cover. Priya runs off, unable to deal with the upcoming conflict, and Leonard has an awkward short conversation with her parents before shutting the computer on them. Howard isn’t having a very good evening in the relationship department, either. Before they’re about ready to go to sleep, Bernadette says she has a gift for him. That gift turns out to be a Rolex watch, which finally starts making Howard feel really inadequate. He had been surprisingly supportive of Bernadette’s success earlier in the episode, but his friends’ jokes at his expense gradually wore him down.

Penny wakes up the next morning horrified to find herself naked in Leonard’s bed lying next to Raj. To make matters worse, Raj still can’t talk to her sober. Out in the living room, Sheldon discovers Leonard sleeping on the couch. It appears that he and Priya have broken up (thank goodness!). Howard also shows up at the door, needing to vent about his fight with Bernadette over the Rolex. Sheldon directs Howard to Leonard, who actually understands such issues. The gang is all conveniently perfectly positioned to catch Raj and Penny’s walk of shame. Penny says it’s not what it looks like and runs out of the apartment, and Raj just looks kind of dazed. Sheldon, of course, can’t even figure out what happened or what all the fuss is about.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Glee 2.21: "Funeral"

Since I was going crazy with finals and such recently, Sarah was nice enough to do the write-up for the penultimate episode of this season of "Glee," called "Funeral."


“In the history of our relationship, I have said many things to you. But there is one thing I’ve never said. Good luck. You have something that Jean had that I do not have. A pure heart.”
- Sue

So I have to say right up front that this was not one of my favorite episodes of “Glee”. There really was very little to move the overall plot forward (not that there’s really been much of a cohesive season-long arc). But we begin with Will announcing that Jesse is going to be the New Directions show choir consultant. Finn is not pleased with this at all. He and Jesse get into it (not to the extent at prom of course), and Jesse thoroughly insults Finn. At Jesse’s suggestion, Will is holding auditions to see who will sing lead at Nationals (everyone else will just sing/dance behind them). Finn is really pissed and tells Rachel he’s not auditioning. This storyline is rather pathetic, so I’m getting it out of the way now. We get Rachel, Mercedes, Santana and Kurt trying out to sing lead. Jesse summarily tells everyone but Rachel they suck. He says he’s practicing to be a reality show judge and has to be mean and demeaning. I really just wanted to smack him in the face with a large book (and trust me I’ve got plenty). Will is pretty against the whole thing at this point, and I’m glad he isn’t just letting Jesse string him along. I mean yes, Jesse is pretty to look at, but he’s dumber than Finn in some respects. I mean come on! Did he really think he wouldn’t have to attend non-show choir classes in college to pass? Is he really that stupid? Apparently he is. Rachel is really not bright in the men she chooses. At least Finn was sort of dopey and sweet early on.

We next find Sue, Terri and one of the guys who was in Acafellas with Will hacking Figgins’ e-mail account. They’re going to divert the Glee club’s flight to New York for Nationals through Libya so that they’ll either just be killed or kidnapped and killed. Terri remarks that Sue really woke up on the wrong side of the bed that morning. No kidding. We learn why soon enough. Becky approaches Will with her mom about joining the Glee club because Sue kicked her off the Cheerios. Will says he’d love to have her in the fall, but he couldn’t let her join right then and there since they were only a short time away from Nationals. He then rounds on Sue rather angrily for kicking Becky out. And thus begin the big storyline of the episode. We learn that Sue’ sister, Jean, died that morning from pneumonia. Sue is extremely pissed off and wants to be left alone. Now I normally hate Sue being a complete and utter terror to Will and the Glee kids, but I have to say, I was at least glad they made her human. More on that in a minute.

Next we kind of randomly see Emma helping Will pack up his apartment so he can hit the road right after Nationals for April’s play on Broadway. Guess he really did decide he’s going. He hasn’t told the kids yet though. His reasoning appears to be that since he’ll be back before summer’s over (come on, it’s April Rhodes- she’s bound to fail), they don’t need to know. It’s a cute scene, but a bit on the random side. Meanwhile, news has now spread about Sue’s sister because Kurt and Finn show up with flowers and sympathies. Kurt really understands about losing someone you love. Sue kind of freaks out on them and yells at them that she doesn’t want to feel how she does any more and how exactly are they going to make it all better? A perfectly human response with just the tiniest hint of Sue thrown in. Much better than how she normally is. She says she can’t go back to Jean’s room at the nursing home to pack up her things, sand she won’t plan a funeral. So Finn and Kurt go back to the Glee club and Finn says they should do a service for Jean. The kids are a little apprehensive (Jesse completely shoots it down), but Finn, taking charge, says they’re doing it (and Will is behind them). Sue has agreed to let the kids hold the service because Kurt and Finn agreed to help Sue clean out Jean’s room.

So we find Kurt and Finn helping Sue sort through all of Jean’s things. They’ve sorted into piles the things that Sue doesn’t need to keep, like old newspapers and magazines, things she’ll definitely want to keep (photos and such), and a pile of thing they weren’t sure of. I’ve got to hand it to them, they’re at least smart about how they’re approaching it. Sue tells them to toss it all (except a stuffed elephant that Jean had since she was six). When the boys try to tell her that the things she wants them to toss have memories of Jean, she snaps at them that she’s got plenty of memories of her sister. And she’s expecting the kids to ruin Jean’s funeral. Kurt asks why Sue is letting them plan the service if she thinks they’re just going to screw it up, and she says that Jean didn’t have many friends, and she thought with the glee kids, at least it would be a full house. That’s really quite sad now that I think about it.

The funeral is lovely. A lot of people from the nursing home are there, plus the kids. Sue gets up to read the eulogy, but she breaks down. In a move of great kindness, Will gets up and reads it for her. She doesn’t snap at him or anything. In fact, she really seems grateful for his help. Kurt and Finn have decorated in front of Jean’s casket with cartoon mushrooms and other things that remind them of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (her favorite film). The kids then get up and sing “Pure Imagination” (which I think is from the original film). It was sweet and we heard some solos from different people like Kurt and Tina and Artie. Very nice. After the funeral, it looks Finn is giving Quinn a ride home when he breaks up with her. She’s really pissed (she’s such the drama queen), and Finn stares at Rachel as she leaves the funeral parlor longingly. But it looks like she’s not quitting Glee club. She tells Finn the next day during rehearsal that it would mess up her New York plans if she quit now.

So after thinking on the auditions over the weekend, Will nixes the whole idea of having only one person sing lead, so they are back to writing original songs as a group. They’ll do a group number and a duet, and they’ve only got the week to write the songs (again, it’s nearly impossible to write really good songs in a week if you aren’t doing it on a regular basis!). Additionally, Sue tells Will she’s calling off her hatred of the Glee club. She’s quite thankful for them and Will in helping with Jean’s funeral. She tells him that he has a pure heart, something Jean had too. Sue’s going to focus her attention now on government (she felt the pain of rising healthcare costs). And she’s let Becky back on the Cheerios and promoted her to head of the squad for the new season. Maybe we’ll get some actual good use out of the character now. Additionally, it seems we are losing Terri (thankfully) as well. She managed to score first class tickets to New York for the kids to make up for the ticket fiasco earlier, and she’ going back to Miami to be manager of a Sheets N’ Things (which if you knew she was on Nip/Tuck before, is really funny). Overall, a somewhat decent episode. I still don’t 100% trust Sue’s intentions to leave the Glee kids alone, but we’ll see how Nationals turns out.

Body of Proof 1.09: "Broken Home"

Sarah joins us again today for a write-up of what seems to be the season finale of "Body of Proof."


“Funny thing, you always go straight to the bodies. Whenever something is bothering you, this is where you are drawn for solace.”
- Peter

We begin (what the network claims is the season finale) with a somewhat blurred view of a man pronouncing a young woman dead. We quickly fade to someone flipping through pictures of the dead girl on a phone. It turns out Lacey was looking at them on a paparazzi website. The Principal is not pleased one of his students is using her phone in class. He doesn’t think it’s appropriate to be looking at dead bodies at age 12. Megan has no problem with it and quickly commandeers the phone when she learns the girl was the daughter of some big socialites. She also discovers in one of the photos something that looks suspicious, so she calls in the pronouncing doctor. He says when he saw the girl (Nikki Parkson), she was lying flat on her back when he pronounced her dead. She’d been very ill for the past 2 years. He promptly tells Megan he has better things to do and leaves. Enter Peter, and Megan explains that the blood in Nikki’s ear should have flown down her neck if he was lying on her back. So now Megan wants to interrupt the funeral. Megan attempts to ask Kate for permission/assistance but she’s not around. And Curtis says he wants nothing to do with her schemes. Smart man that Curtis. Megan’s on her way out of the building when he runs into Todd. He wasn’t happy that she just ran off from the school and left him to be the bad guy. Megan promises she’ll talk to Lacey and be the bad cop. I have to wonder what Todd is doing there anyway.

So Megan and Peter are at the funeral home, and they walk in to find one of the morticians touching up Nikki’s make up. Even with the blood gone, Megan discovers evidence of foul play. There are ligature marks on Nikki’s neck. And in typical Megan fashion, she informs Nikki’s mother and brother that they can’t bury Nikki because there is now a murder to solve. Her brother is pissed off and admits that Nikki hung herself. Lucky for Megan, Kate swoops in to handle things. Back at the lab, Megan confirms that the marks on Nikki’s neck are consistent with suicide by hanging. Peter, Kate and Sam are at the Parkson house talking with Nikki’s mom and brother when Nikki’s sister, Sarah, shows up. She and Peter talk, and we learn that Sarah was thrown out of the house five years earlier after her dad died and she got caught with some drugs. She and her mom no longer get along. I have to say I don’t blame Sarah for not liking her mom. She’s kind of uptight and all about herself.

Sarah shows Peter Nikki’s room. She points out where Nikki hung herself and what she used to do it. Sarah says she and Nikki kept in touch a little after he left, and Sarah came back to try and cheer Nikki up. Peter and Kate get back to lab to find Megan examining the body. The rope from the curtain matches the mark on her neck but it turns out there is bruising on the muscles of her neck and throat. She was manually strangled and we’re now back to murder. Sam and Peter show up at the Parkson home and after Sam acts kind of badass, they get into the house with a warrant. They figure out that whoever strangled Nikki then had to put the rope around the beam first to make it look like a real suicide. Meanwhile at the lab, Megan tells Ethan to change the death certificate. Curtis also discovers Nikki had gout. And we also bring back the other storyline in the episode. Lacey ha arrived so Megan can yell at her and be bad cop. It turns out Lacey thinks that Megan and Todd are getting back together. Megan is a little freaked out about this and rightly suspicious.

Megan has every right to be suspicious. After she leaves a voicemail for Todd to call her back, we cut to him and Kate in a hotel room. They’ve apparently been having a fling for a while and they think it might be time to come out. Megan’s clearly distracted when Ethan says that Nikki did have gout. Which doesn’t make sense since the meds she was on was used to treat gout. So they test her pills and find he was being given placebos. It also turns out there was semen found in Nikki’s sheets. Sam also learns that money wasn’t motive for the murder because all of Nikki’s money was going to the rain forest.

Megan and Sam are back at the Parkson home to question Nikki’s mom. Megan confronts her about wanting to keep Nikki sick so she (her mom) could feel important and wanted. That’s why she gave Nikki the sugar pills. Nikki’s brother has had enough and tells them to get out. Back at the lab, Megan still can’t believe that Nikki’s mom could do this to her. Todd shows up and he and Megan have quite the shouting match about him sleeping with Kate. He makes the decision to tell Lacey. I knew he was a jerk. Sam and Peter are interrogating a guy who apparently slept with Nikki (it was his semen on the sheets). He’s got a record including pot possession down in South America. This has me thinking there’s some relationship to Sarah. He says that he and Nikki were in love and he did sleep with her the night he died but he couldn’t have killed her. Sarah confirms this when Sam and Peter go to talk to her. She says she walked in on them and then threw Shane (pot guy) out of the house. She also says that her brother went up to Nikki’s room and was yelling at Nikki. Too bad the brother has lawyered up and now the cops can’t talk to him.

So they’re trying to figure out how they’re going to determine whether it was the mom or brother that killed Nikki when Kate tries to approach Megan. But Megan blows her off and heads down to the morgue. Peter makes the observation that she always goes to the bodies when she’s frustrated, and she tries to make him see how wrong it is for Kate to be sleeping with Todd but, he doesn’t get it. Then, while she’s examining Nikki’s body to calm down, Megan discovers that the polish on Nikki’ toenail doesn’t match her hands, and she takes a swab to try and match it to Nikki’ brother. Kate and Todd are out to lunch and are trying to figure out how their relationship is going to work with Megan. Todd doesn’t want to complicate things at work for Kate. He still doesn’t seem to really give a crap about Megan.

Kate gets back to the lab, and she and Megan get into it about Todd. They really are good at yelling at each other. And classic Ethan bursts in at the worst possible moment. It turns out the DNA under Nikki’s toenails belongs to Sarah. I guessed it would be her. It turns out Shane was in on it too. He and Sarah were going to get Nikki’s money that she put in a fake rain forest fund. But Nikki wanted to change where her money was going so that’s why Sarah came home and killed Nikki. At the funeral (back where we first started) Megan and Peter go to pay their respects to Nikki while Sam and a bunch of cops arrest Nikki’s mom for interfering in her medical care. And we learn the brother isn’t a complete jerk. He made sure that Nikki’s money is going to help fund research for her disease. And Megan and Lacey are out to dinner as a thank you for Lacey helping Megan solve Nikki’s murder. Quite happily, Lacey understands how Megan feels about Todd dating Kate. We end with the two sharing a dessert and enjoying their time together and their newfound relationship.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

HIMYM 6.24: "Challenge Accepted"

“He’s out printing up a whole new batch of resumes because he misspelled the phrase ‘detail oriented.’”

“Challenge Accepted” wasn’t all horrible, but it was certainly mediocre in the pantheon of HIMYM season finales. Season one’s “Of Course” is a lot of fun with “Angel” alums Alexis Denisof and Amy Acker, season two’s “Something Blue” is very emotional and makes me a bit teary even though I could care less about Ted and Robin’s romantic relationship, and “The Leap” is notable for its sense of hope. “Challenge Accepted” just had some Barney and Robin moments that made me happy to really take it out of the dregs of HIMYM overall. There wasn’t really a whole lot of the unexpected with this episode, even though there were a few things that were probably intended as twists. Long-time viewers of the show, however, could see these events coming from a mile away. While somewhat disappointing, I will certainly be back to watching the show this fall. On the whole, the season was more successful than the disaster that was season 5. I appreciate that there was a season arc, even if one of the season-long plots (Ted and Zoey) was horribly annoying. You can’t win them all.

This episode fast forwards through the summer of 2011 and takes place in September. Ted claims that the summer isn’t really worth talking about because all that happened was that he and Barney argued a lot over who was going to press the button to destroy the Arcadian. Things pick up a bit when at MacLaren’s with Barney and Robin, Ted mentions that he saw Zoey again for the first time since their break-up. Zoey’s life hasn’t gone so well since divorcing the Captain, either financially or personally. Of course, she wants to try a relationship with Ted again. Barney and Robin try to wave Ted off this idea pronto. Besides the Ted and Zoey fuss, the other major plot of this episode involves Lily and Marshall. Lily is picking up some soup for Marshall. It happens to be his favorite soup from a kind of shady restaurant. Inexplicably, Robin has joined her for this errand. I say it’s inexplicable because as Lily is purchasing the soup, Robin reminds Lily that Lily has gotten food poisoning there before. Lily corrects Robin. She’s gotten food poisoning from this restaurant three times before.

Ted has a meeting with the contractor for the new GNB headquarters, who just happens to be played by the awesome Chi McBride, aka Emerson Cod from “Pushing Daisies.” He doesn’t really have a lot to do in this episode, but since the HIMYM producers went to all the trouble of hiring Chi McBride, I’ve got to hope he’s going to be more of a fixture next season and this was just a way to introduce him. Since “Pushing Daisies” is still my all-time favorite show, and Chi McBride was incredibly funny on that show, I have high hopes for where HIMYM can go with this idea. Contractor Chi (which is what I’m going to call him until I bother to learn the character’s name) wants Ted to choose some lighting for the building. He needs to order 50,000 of whatever light bulb Ted chooses. Ted brings the two possible light bulbs to MacLaren’s and fusses over them, much to Barney and Robin’s chagrin. Barney tells Ted that either light bulb will be fine because the building is all new, and “new is always better.” Robin scowls at this, obviously thinking about how Barney seems to want to move on to a new romantic interest.

Meanwhile, Robin’s prediction about what will happen to Lily from eating the soup seems to come true. Lily vomits on her Kindergarten class’ guinea pig, and she just can’t stop vomiting. She thinks she must have food poisoning, so she rushes home to try to stop Marshall from eating any of the soup. Unfortunately, Lily is too late. Marshall is already on his third bowl. He goes to MacLaren’s to join his friends and orders jalapeño poppers. He wants to eat them before the food poisoning sets in because they’re unhealthy but very tempting, and he’s hoping the food poisoning will give him a food aversion to them. When Marshall gets home, Lily is not happy to find out that he told the group she was sick. She thinks that when someone has a stomach ailment, you should be discreet and just say something like “under the weather.” She has a good point. Marshall lies and says he told the rest of the group that she just had the sniffles, but back at MacLaren’s, Barney and Robin make diarrhea jokes while Ted continues to fuss over the light bulbs. This was probably the low point of the episode to me. The diarrhea jokes were stupid, and Neil and Cobie didn’t even seem all that into the jokes. Ted puts an end to it when he tells Barney he can push the demolition button and runs out of MacLaren’s.

While anticipating being very sick very soon, Marshall gets a call from a big time environmental law firm. They want to interview him, and the interview has to take place that evening, even though Marshall thinks he’ll be sick from the soup by then. Marshall really wants the job, so he takes steps to prepare for being sick like lining his briefcase with a plastic bag and getting an adult diaper from a neighbor. The interview, unfortunately for Marshall, does not go well. It’s a real test on Marshall’s stomach, with the hiring partner showing him photos of all sorts of horrible environmental disasters. When the hiring manager says that he wants to allow 20 more minutes for Marshall to ask him questions, Marshall has had it. Despite Lily’s advice, he tells the hiring manager in rather crude terms what he thinks is going to be happening to him soon because of the soup. And then he runs out of the office, horribly embarrassed. Once he arrives home, all Marshall can do is sleep, and he sleeps all night without getting sick. The next day, when complaining about how he blew his interview and it’s been a crappy year so far, Lily tells Marshall that she’s been sick because she’s pregnant. Doesn’t everybody know that a woman being sick is TV shorthand for pregnant?

Anyway, shifting back to the main plot of the episode, Robin finds that Ted left his phone behind when he ran off from MacLaren’s. She discovers that right before he left, Ted received a text from Zoey, and they’re planning to meet for coffee. We then get a little montage of flashbacks showing how Ted runs back to old girlfriends the instant he’s feeling a little stressed. My favorite was when Ted tried to ask Robin for coffee and she just blew a raspberry at him. Barney and Robin decide it’s their mission to figure out where Ted has gone and stop this foolishness. First they visit Lily, because they think she might remember romantic stuff like where Ted and Zoey had their first date. Lily doesn’t remember that, but she does have a voicemail from Ted that was left on his way to meet Zoey and includes a subway conductor announcement in the background. Fluent in “conductor,” Lily uses the announcement to tell Barney and Robin where Ted is. Robin doesn’t think there will be time to stop Ted, but Barney winks, and Ranjit appears in his towncar.

Barney and Robin have a lovely little conversation in the towncar where they talk about how Ted and Zoey did love each other at one time, when they’re really talking about themselves. I like the acknowledgement that there was something genuine between them. Eventually, Barney and Robin are able to find “The Intersection,” which is the name of the coffee shop in Brooklyn where Ted is supposed to meet Zoey. Zoey is sitting there alone. There’s a flower shop next door, and Barney and Robin correctly figure out that Ted is in that shop trying to pick out the perfect orchid for Zoey. As Ted leaves the flower shop, Barney and Robin tackle him, and they manage to convince him not to restart things with Zoey. Ted gives the orchid to an older woman to give to Zoey, but she gives it to another blond woman instead. There’s a brief “and that’s how I met your mother” psych when that happens, which seemed a little disrespectful of the audience, but it didn’t seem to bother me as much as it bothered the rest of the online fandom.

We then see that it’s time to blow up the Arcadian, and amazingly, Barney lets Ted do the honors. After the event, Robin and Barney are happily walking down the road and bantering, when all of a sudden, Nora reappears. Barney asks her out to coffee, Nora reluctantly agrees, and Robin looks very sad. Can this plot get any more anvilicious? Finally, we fast forward “a little ways down the road” to the wedding that was teased back in the season premiere. Predictably, the groom at that wedding is Barney. We don’t know who he’s marrying, but if it’s not Robin, all logic of television is blown out of the water. Since Cobie is already a regular on the show, it doesn’t make sense for Barney to be marrying anybody else. And if he does, I’ll probably quit watching, because it still makes me sad how Barney and Robin’s relationship was handled so poorly in season 5. Immature? Maybe, but here at MTVP, I tell it like it is!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Game of Thrones 1.05: "The Wolf and the Lion

“Oh? Did I kill him too? I’ve been a very busy man.”

I had heard from reputable sources that this episode is the best of the first six this season, but I have yet to love “Game of Thrones.” I don’t dislike it, but I think the pacing and the way in which this very broad, complex story is being told just isn’t working for me. I feel like this might have been translated better to a visual medium as a series of movies. I know it’s generally the HBO style to chop up a season with one big arc into “chapter of a book” style episodes, but maybe that just isn’t a style I like. I don’t like the other extreme either- procedurals where each episode is a self-contained unit. I think my preference is an episode that has a beginning, middle, and end but also moves a larger arc forward. There was more forward motion in the plot this week, at least, and fewer downloading Westerosi history scenes. This episode propelled the show more forcefully towards some inevitable major conflicts, especially the Seven Kingdoms versus the Dothraki and the Starks versus the Lannisters. I am definitely interested to see how this all plays out, even if I am tired of hearing quizzes on Westerosi history and characters circling each other and threatening each other without actually doing anything.

The episode picks up pretty much where the last one left off- the aftermath of Ser Hugh of the Vale’s death. Ned is looking over the body with several of his advisers, and it seems like he suspects foul play. Ser Hugh, as Jon Arryn’s squire, likely would have known whatever information it was that got Jon Arryn killed. Ned doesn’t have much time to dwell on this, though. He has other rather ridiculous things to attend to. Like trying to stop King Robert from jousting. King Robert is still intent on reliving his youth. Or he just wants to hit something. Probably both. Thankfully, Ned is able to eventually talk him out of it, although it doesn’t stop Robert from heaping some abuse on his Squire, the youngest Lannister sibling. The tournament continues, and Sansa is quite taken by the “Knight of the Flowers” who gives her a flower before he begins his joust. He’s up against the Mountain, and Sansa is petrified that he’s going to be killed. Amazingly, the Knight of the Flowers wins. Enraged by the loss, the Mountain throws a huge tantrum, cutting off his horse’s head (yes, you heard that right- they don’t skimp on the gore with this show) and moving to attack the Knight of the Flowers. The Hound gets involved and fights the Mountain for a minute or so until King Robert puts a stop to the mess.

Meanwhile, Cat and her entourage are taking Tyrion to her sister’s home, the Eyrie, to be judged for the alleged crime of arranging Bran’s murder. Tyrion rightfully suspects that as soon as word gets out about his capture, there’s going to be trouble. Soon enough, a full-on battle breaks out on the road. Tyrion begs to be untied so he can defend himself, and Cat obliges. Tyrion then proceeds to completely kick ass and kill a guy with a shield. Who says the small can’t be mighty? Things go from bad to worse once the group reaches the Eyrie. Cat’s sister, Lysa, has completely gone off the deep end, especially since her husband, Jon Arryn’s, death (which Tyrion warned Cat about, but Cat wouldn’t listen). She is seated in what looks like a throne room nursing her son. Who looks to be about 6-7 years old and is completely indulged in his every whim. Even though Lysa wrote to Cat to warn her about the Lannisters, she is extremely upset to see a Lannister in her home. Cat barely manages to keep Lysa from doing horrible things to Tyrion. Instead, Tyrion is placed in a holding cell.

Much of this episode is devoted to introducing us a little better to some of the story’s more minor (at least thus far) characters. Some time is spent early on depicting Ned’s ward, Theon Greyjoy. First we see Theon practicing at archery while Bran does lessons about the houses of the Seven Kingdoms and mopes about both not being able to shoot arrows anymore and that his mother has left. We then see Theon enjoying some time with Ros, who is apparently the most popular prostitute in the North. Besides going for the shock factor, all we really get out of this scene is that Theon seems to want more respect for being a Greyjoy than he gets. He complains about it at length to Ros, at least. We also get to know the Knight of the Flowers and Renly, the youngest brother of King Robert, a little better. They are lovers, and they have a conversation over shaving about how the Knight of the Flowers thinks Renly should be king, and he’s willing to begin to take steps to see that happen.

The rest of the episode is devoted to King’s Landing political maneuvering. There are lots of threatening conversations between characters, and finally some action, too. Ned has an extended conversation with Varys, the member of the Small Council who is most famous for being a eunich, who tells Ned that the King is doomed unless Ned saves him. Varys speculates that the King could be poisoned just like Jon Arryn was. He also says that the current popular theory is that someone paid Ser Hugh to poison Jon Arryn because Jon Arryn started asking questions. Later, when Arya is down in the dungeons chasing a cat as part of her sword fighting training, she overhears Varys talking to a higher-up from Pentos (across the Narrow Sea) about how Ned is getting too close to the truth and has already “found one bastard.” Varys speculates that soon the “Wolf and the Lion will be at each other’s throats.” Varys is just at the center of all the intrigue in this episode, as he has a notable conversation with Petyr, too. Each threatens the other, with Varys threatening to expose how Petyr helped the Starks realize a Lannister tried to kill Bran and Petyr threatening to expose that Varys was talking with someone from Pentos. Their circling is interrupted by Renly, who informs them that the King is going to be attending the next Small Council meeting.

Arya had a little trouble getting out of the dungeon, and she had to take a route that took her outside the Red Keep. She has a little trouble getting back in and essentially has to threaten the guards to let her pass. The guards first thought she was a boy, then thought her father was a drunk. When Ned and Arya are reunited, Ned is not happy that Arya wandered off again. Arya is very afraid about what she heard and tells Ned everything. Ned doesn’t really have a chance to react to it, though, because a member of the Night’s Watch arrives. Officially, he’s there to try to recruit more men for the Watch from the prison, but unofficially, he wants to warn Ned about what Cat has done. Ned finds out that a Small Council meeting has been called, and at first he’s concerned it will be about Cat taking Tyrion prisoner. It’s actually about Daenerys, though. Word of her pregnancy has made it to King’s landing. Robert wants Daenerys and her unborn son killed immediately, and the rest of the council agrees. Ned is the one dissenter, and he resigns over it. Robert is seriously pissed about this and goes on a long rant as Ned is leaving. Petyr catches up with Ned and offers to introduce Ned to the last person to whom Jon Arryn spoke before he died. That person turns out to be the mother of yet another of King Robert’s bastards, who also has dark hair like the bastard Ned met in the last episode. Jon Arryn had been tracking all of them down when he was poisoned.

After the Small Council meeting, King Robert tries to justify his choice to have Daenerys killed to Cersei. I found it interesting that even with their sizeable marital issues, Robert still seeks Cersei’s counsel. I guess he realizes the value of her Lannister-bred skill at manipulation. Cersei thinks Ned should be reinstalled as Hand and Daenerys should not be killed. King Robert, in response, goes on a rant about how his army is useless since it’s decentralized between the seven kingdoms. It’s a pretty similar rant to the one Joffre went on in the last episode. Then the conversation turns to their marriage, where they even seem surprised they’ve been together seventeen years considering they hate each other. Cersei takes the opportunity to ask about Ned’s sister, who was once Robert’s betrothed. Robert reveals that he can’t remember what she looked like, but because she was supposed to be his and was taken away, he’s still upset.

The episode ends on a pretty decent cliffhanger. Petyr and Ned step outside and are greeted by Jaime and a bunch of the City Guard. Jaime claims to be upset about Cat taking Tyrion prisoner and demands justice. He has the City Guard attack, and most of Ned’s guard, including the captain, who was actually a pretty cool guy, are killed very quickly. The captain’s death is especially gruesome, as he gets a blade to the eye courtesy of Jaime. Net gets into a full-on sword fight with Jaime, and one of the City Guard stab Ned in the back at an opportune moment. Jaime kills the Guard for his imprudence, partly because Ned is worth more alive and partly because I’m sure if he’s not going to be alive, Jaime wanted to do the job himself. Although the injury is serious, it doesn’t appear to be fatal, although Sean Bean has that look on his face that he had when Boromir got hit by all those Uruk-hai arrows at the end of “The Fellowship of the Ring.”

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Big Bang Theory 4.23: "The Engagement Reaction"

“Your girlfriend and your ex-girlfriend are hanging out together? Oh yeah. That can only be good for you.”

I didn’t especially enjoy “The Engagement Reaction,” although I didn’t find it especially offensive, either, which I guess puts it above several of this season’s episodes of “The Big Bang Theory.” The fact that I didn’t find it especially offensive is especially an achievement considering this penultimate episode of the season was a Howard-centric story. I’m kind of conflicted about the turn Howard’s character has taken this season with his engagement to Bernadette. Before, Howard sort of played the role amongst his group of friends that Barney plays in the “HIMYM” crew. Both are typically the womanizer whose comments and behavior often border on disgusting, but the rest of the gang for some reason keeps him around anyway. Unlike Barney, however, Howard never seemed to really have much going on under the surface to make the grossness palatable. When Barney decides to make a change in his life and give long term relationships a try, I believe it, because I know what the character has been through and why he decided to put on such an extreme womanizing façade. With Howard, I don’t know all that. So I don’t know why he went from disgusting womanizer to halfway-decent (not completely decent- that wanting Bernadette to be like his mother issue is still there festering under the surface) boyfriend and now fiancé. So it doesn’t mean as much to me because I don’t get the motivation behind it. I think that’s why, even though I wasn’t appalled by anything in this episode. I didn’t really connect with it, either. And the jokes (with the exception of Sheldon’s plot) weren’t funny enough to make up for that.

Anyway, enough of my ranting (for now, at least). This episode opens with a meal, as episodes of “The Big Bang Theory” often do. This time the gang is at the Cheesecake Factory. Bernadette and Penny are both working a shift while the rest of the crew (minus Amy, who doesn’t appear at all in this episode) are there to eat. There’s a bit of kind of pointless banter between Bernadette and Penny about who will wait on the rest of the gang’s table, and Bernadette ends up taking the job. There’s also the beginning of a bit that would run throughout the episode where Sheldon accidentally drinks some water from Leonard’s glass. Sheldon is horrified by this because he doesn’t know what germs Leonard might have backwashed into his water, especially considering he’s dating someone from another country. Okay, maybe I was wrong about there not being anything especially offensive in this episode. At least Raj does sort of call Sheldon on the inappropriateness of his comment. Priya turns the conversation to the subject of Howard and Bernadette’s engagement, and Bernadette reveals that Howard has not yet told his mother about the engagement. Bernadette seems strangely okay with this.

We next see the boys playing a game of Mystic Warlords of Ka’a back at Sheldon and Leonard’s apartment. Raj is doing a running commentary for every play, which is kind of funny, but not really funny enough. It’s more juvenile than funny, really. Anyway, in the middle of the game, Howard gets a text from Bernadette. Bernadette is having a “get to know you” lunch with Howard’s mom at a local deli. Things seem to be going okay with the lunch, surprisingly enough. Later at home, Howard wants to know what his mom thought of Bernadette. Howard is so anxious to know this information that he asks his mom about Bernadette by yelling through the bathroom door while his mother is using the toilet. Well, it’s really more like the producers had to keep up the “we hear Howard’s mom but never see her” gag. Howard’s mom seems okay with Bernadette until Howard says they’re getting married. Howard just hears silence, then a loud thud. Worried for his mother, Howard tries to break down the door, and of course he fails miserably, bouncing off the door and injuring his arm in the process.

Sheldon and Penny are talking in the laundry room, which as the characters themselves, well Penny at least, even mentioned, was something that’s been kind of missed for a while with Penny needing to steer clear of Leonard. Penny even gets nostalgic about Sheldon’s endless “jibber jabber” about things she doesn’t understand. Anyway, the conversation is interrupted by Leonard, who lets them know that Howard and his mom are in the hospital. Penny is ready to go to the hospital immediately. Sheldon, on the other hand, needs more coaxing because of the germs, of course. Penny eventually convinces Sheldon to go to the hospital, too, but he’s not really happy about it. At the hospital, an embarrassed Howard is forced to tell Bernadette that his mom may have had a heart attack, and it happened right after he told her about the engagement. To make matters worse, a doctor arrives in the waiting room to let Howard know that his mother is conscious and asking to speak to Bernadette. Feeling horribly guilty that she may have almost killed Howard’s mother, Bernadette agrees to the meeting. When she gets back, she is very angry at Howard. Howard’s mother likes her after all- she thinks she may have just come down with some food poisoning from their deli lunch. Bernadette leaves the hospital, doing her best screaming impression of Howard’s mom.

The rest of the gang had their own adventures while at the hospital. Penny and Priya both want decent coffee, and they actually decide to go to the hospital cafeteria together to get some. Why they thought a hospital cafeteria would have decent coffee, I’m not quite sure. Raj warns Leonard that no good can come of his girlfriend and his ex getting too chummy, because Penny will share stories about Leonard. And those stories could include reasons Penny broke up with him. Raj’s warning does at least sort of come true. Penny and Priya are getting along a lot better after their coffee run, actually joking around with each other. It’s a very typical TV plot, but it was mildly amusing. Meanwhile, Sheldon wants somebody to drive him home so he can use a toilet, but everyone refuses, so horror of horrors, he has to go find the germ-ridden hospital public toilet. He makes a big show of not touching doors, only crossing through doorways behind another person. On his way back to the waiting room, he ducks into a room to avoid a coughing man on a stretcher, only to find himself in a biohazard quarantine room. Doctors in biohazard suits tell him that he now can’t leave the room, because he’s been “exposed.” Served Sheldon right, really, so I found that bit amusing. I even kind of liked the episode’s tag where the rest of the guys, all in biohazard suits, are playing Mystic Warlords of Ka’a with Sheldon in his hospital room.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Body of Proof 1.08: "Buried Secrets"

Sarah joins us today for yet another Body of Proof write-up. Enjoy!


“We’re more alike than you think, Megan. I just follow the rules.”
- Kate

We begin this week with a woman driving at night, and it’s pretty clear she’s exhausted. She ends up dozing for maybe a second or two, and her car swerves dangerously. Next we see Megan is zipping through photos on her phone of Lacey horseback riding while meeting her mom for breakfast. It doesn’t take long before Megan and her mother are bickering. Megan apparently rode when she was younger and her mom didn’t want her to. Thought it was too dangerous. And in short order, Megan gets called away on a case.

The scene is more than just your normal crime scene. The victim, Joe, was a cop. So Sam and Bud are out for blood. Megan and Peter arrive and quickly notice that something is off. The blood should have coagulated by now, but it’s still dark red and wet-looking. So of course Megan is going to run it at the lab. Before Kate walks off, she warns Megan of the high profile nature of the case (read: don’t screw it up). Back at the precinct, Bud and Sam are starting to go through traffic cams and tips when the driver (the woman we saw at the beginning of the episode) turns herself in. Apparently, when her car swerved she hit the cop. She didn’t think it was a person. At the lab, Megan, Ethan and Curtis have a bit of squabble over testing the blood (it could be contaminated with oil) when Sam and Bud show up to share the news of the driver. Megan does a cursory exam and reveals that Joe was dead before the car hit him (good news for the driver).

Things are not going to be easy with this case. Joe and Sam go all the way back to the academy. She even got him and his wife together. But Peter promises they’ll find out what happened. Based on the skeletal injuries, Megan surmises that he was pushed or tossed off the overpass before being run over. And since there was blood basically everywhere in his body (including his joints), Ethan’s off to do another blood test. But that’s not all that’s odd. Joe’s been on desk duty after a drug dealer filed assault charges against Joe. So Bud and Peter go talk to the dealer while Megan and Sam inform Joe’s wife. Both visits are useful. The dealer said that Joe beat him up for not having info Joe thought he would. And Joe’s wife said he’d been working a case lately (and hoping he wasn’t having an affair). It turns out Joe was working an old unsolved murder where the drug dealer was the primary suspect. The victim was a star lacrosse player. Megan’s examining Joe’s heart, and she finds something that’s odd. It appears to be generic filler for a drug. And we see our little dealer selling them. And then it gets rather ugly. Sam and Bud are tag teaming the dealer in interrogation until he gives his side of things. He saw the girl the night she died, but she left with her lacrosse coach. And he also says that Joe tossed his place a bunch of times and could have gotten the drugs then. Sam is not pleased to hear the kid saying Joe would do drugs.

Sam and Bud have gone to talk to the lacrosse team that the victim played for and find out that Joe had been coming around almost every day for the past month. One of the girls had a theory that the victim was seeing a guy but wouldn’t tell anyone (could have been a teacher and that was strictly forbidden by the school). Meanwhile, at the lab, Peter’s having a hell of a time trying to find her autopsy file. Sam shows up at the lab and bullies Ethan into giving her the results of the second blood test. Joe died from being poisoned with a drug usually used to treat thrombosis and embolisms. Not long after, Curtis finds the girl’s file, and Megan discovers two inconsistencies with the prior ME’s findings. What he assumed to be tan lines was really evidence the victim had been moved before rigor set in and there was a mark on her neck not documented. And that’s enough to exhume the body and do another autopsy.

Megan walks in on Kate watching herself on the news (great crimson colored blouse she’s got on- really nice). Megan explains she wants to exhume the girl’s body but, Kate says to get Joe’s body on the table since that’s the case they’re working. Megan’s not stopping there. She tells Peter to notify the girl’s family of the pending exhumation, and then Peter pawns the task off on Ethan. That’s not going to end well. Meanwhile, Megan pays another visit to her mom. This time in chambers. Megan’s mom is a judge, and she signs off on the exhumation order. The exhumation goes smoothly, I guess. They find a weird little animal-skin ball in the coffin and bag it. Before they leave the cemetery, Megan pays a visit to her dad’s grave. We learn that he killed himself. At least we’re getting some pay off from the previous episode.

Sam is interviewing faculty at the girl’s school. They’ve brought one guy in, and he seems to be their guy. At least, he admits to having a relationship with the victim. And it turns out the ball from the coffin was a 19th century lacrosse ball he used in his Native American history course (which she and two other girls who accused the professor of coming on to them took). But he says he was out of town the day she died.

Megan and Curtis have begun to examine the body and the find a solid plug of particulate matter that would have been loose and uncollectable by the previous ME when the girl died. Before they can get farther than that, Kate bursts in and tells them to stop what they’re doing. They’ve just broken the law. Kate is furious that they broke procedure by not notifying the family. Ethan claims he’s been trying but has had no luck. Kate says Megan better hope when she (Kate) notifies the family they don’t want to file a complaint. I have to say, I saw this coming, but Kate has every right to be super pissed off. Megan doesn’t seem too fazed by the whole thing and tells Ethan he can make up for it by identifying the particulate matter from the girl’s nose. He discovers that while the bottom layer is mud from where her body was found, the top layer is clay. Green clay. And it matches the sample found on a piece of paper in Joe’s pocket. So Sam, Bud, Megan and Peter head back to campus to the tennis courts. They find that the courts were in between the party the girl was leaving and her dorm room. Megan still doesn’t understand why Joe had become so withdrawn and moody. She figured if the case hit him so hard because he had a daughter of his own, he would be home every night tucking her in. So she races back to the lab and tells Curtis to run a chromosome test. And then she heads down to the lab and finds Kate suiting up. The girl’s family gave their blessing for the second autopsy. Megan’s a little miffed that Kate didn’t tell her, but all’s fair in love and war. They begin to examine the girl’s body together and find that there’s a strange absence of fungus on her neck. They roll her and find an imprint of her killer’s hand.

It turns out that Heather, one of the girls on the lacrosse team, broke her finger when the victim ran into her at practice. So Heather followed her and ended up killing her. It was a mistake, but she let the coach talk her into lying about it and then the coach killed Joe when he got too close. Megan says he’s poisoned by the same stuff and he’s going to die. Bud and Sam bring him in for questioning and after he confesses, they give him a bottle of cranberry juice. Apparently that’s enough to cure him. Later, Megan swings by her mom’s chambers to tell her how it all went. Joan (Megan’s mom) says she wants one hour brunch that Sunday with no cell phones. Megan says she’ll do it if her mom signs an exhumation order for her dad. They fight over how Megan needs to move on, and Megan storms out. Back at the lab, Curtis hands over the chromosome test. Megan and Sam inform Joe’s wife that he had Huntington’s disease and all of the changes he’d been going through were related to that. But Megan did find that the paper in his pocket was origami for his daughter. At least they’ll have some peace now.

Glee 2.20: "Prom Queen"

“Oh, you can get married as many times as you want. You only have one shot at your junior prom.”

Overall I found “Prom Queen” to be a rather fun episode of “Glee,” although it certainly had its share of problems, like every episode has this season. I appreciated the joyfulness of prom, however, and the way the episode kind of wrapped up Kurt’s emotional journey this season. I haven’t loved the Kurt being bullied plot, not because it didn’t send an important and needed message, but because it was told in a heavy handed way and zooming over to Dalton Academy for an obligatory scene every episode fractured the storytelling. In this episode, though, I think the resolution was handled well. Karofsky came to grips with the true horror of what he had done to Kurt, and Kurt truly, fully embraced who he is with Blaine’s support propelling him forward. Although Karofsky still hasn’t fully accepted himself in the way Kurt has, this episode brought Kurt’s part of the storyline to a satisfying conclusion. What I didn’t like was some of the music choices and the rather ridiculous continuation of the Finn/Rachel/Quinn/and now Jesse soap opera.

As is pretty obvious from the title, this episode centers around the McKinley High Junior Prom. We open with Jacob Ben Israel interviewing Puck for a video and accusing Puck of being whipped by Lauren. That’s not the only trouble brewing as prom approaches, though. Principal Figgins wants New Directions to provide the entertainment for prom- he’s even willing to pay them. Sue is pretty irate over this and has a whole list of the most horrible songs they’ve ever performed that should not be performed again. I didn’t think that joke was especially funny. It was a bit too meta for my taste. Besides conflict with Sue, there are more typical teen issues related to prom that must be dealt with as well. Lauren, because she’s not a bean pole, is having trouble finding a nice prom dress that fits her. Mercedes has an even worse problem. She can’t find a date, and even though she doesn’t feel like she needs a man to define her, she just thought it would be nice to have a guy tell her she was beautiful and dance with her. I get where she’s coming from.

Rachel actually comes up with a rather ingenious plan to solve Mercedes’ problem, and it’s one I kind of wish I had thought of when faced with my own high school prom drama almost ten years ago (my how time flies). Rachel and Sam decide to jointly ask Sam to go to prom with them. He hesitates because of his family’s financial situation, but Rachel’s got that covered. They’re going to do prom on a budget. Off the clearance rack dresses, the dinner special at Breadstix, the works. I thought the whole thing was really sweet. The sweetness can’t last all that long without some drama, though. Rachel is in the auditorium rehearsing “Rolling in the Deep,” when all of a sudden Jesse St. James appears and starts singing it with her. Because Lea Michele and Jonathon Groff are both accomplished Broadway veterans, I really don’t have anything negative to say about the performance, but I wasn’t especially to see Jesse back. It feels like he’s got some sort of agenda, but I don’t know what it is. Finn sees Rachel and Jesse back together and throws a typical angsty fit. Rachel angsts back as good as she gets about Quinn. I think Rachel’s got the high ground with this one. Finn did break up with Rachel and get back together with his cheating, lying, manipulative ex, after all.

The rest of the boys all seem to have their own brand of prom drama. Kurt wants to go to prom with Blaine. Blaine is hesitant, just because of how he was treated in public school, but he eventually agrees. Later, Burt, Blaine, and Finn are all discussing prom fashion when Kurt decides to show off what he plans to wear. It’s a sort of tuxedo kilt outfit he made himself to honor Alexander McQueen and the Royal Wedding. Burt worries that it might be a little over the top and serve to only bait the more intolerant students at McKinley, and Blaine somewhat agrees. Blaine’s still a little jumpy about even going to prom in the first place. Blaine gets in a little trouble with Kurt for not loving the outfit, but Kurt claims to understand where Blaine is coming from. Kurt’s convinced that the McKinley kids aren’t that intolerant, though. Santana, Karofsky and the Bully Whips have been going kind of overboard protecting him, but there haven’t even been any incidents for them to protect him from. Kurt has even managed to find common ground with Karofsky, with Karofsky tearfully apologizing to him one day. Kurt accepts the apology, saying he hopes Karofsky will have the courage to come out sooner rather than later, because Kurt can see how being in the closet is causing Karofsky a lot of pain. I thought that particular scene was pretty great work by the actors involved.

Meanwhile, Puck wants Artie’s help spiking the special punch Sue provides for the prom every year. He’s worried that being named Prom King will ruin his street cred, so he wants to be Prom Anti-King instead. Artie declines, because he’s hoping Brittany will accept his “prom proposal,” take him back, and they’ll have a good time. Puck and Sam end up helping Artie with the proposal, which is a cute performance of “Isn’t She Lovely” in home ec class. Brittany seems flattered by the gesture, but she turns Artie down. She thinks she needs to work on herself, and she wants to spend prom dancing with other people’s dates. I think this is the first time I’ve ever found Brittany to not be likeable. Her reaction to Artie wasn’t her usual brand of clueless. It was just mean. Upset by the rejection, Artie agrees to help Puck spike the punch.

On the evening of the prom, preparations are under way with a vengeance. We get a rather sickening scene where Finn arrives at Quinn’s house to take her to the dance. He tells her how beautiful she looks, which honestly just makes me want to slap him for the wishy-washyness. And it gets even worse. We move to Breadstix, where the prom on a budget crew, now expanded to four with Jesse, are enjoying dinner. Jesse reveals his plan for what he wants to do since he dropped out of college. He wants to be a show choir consultant, because he thinks that’s all he’s really good at. He had been majoring in show choir at school, and he thought they’d have really smart kids to take the non-choir related classes for him like they did in high school. Finn and Quinn arrive at Breadstix for their own pre-prom dinner, and Finn and Jesse get in yet another argument. Finn used to be so much more likeable before he started this wishy washy business.

Finally it’s time for prom, and Puck, Artie, and Sam give an energetic performance of…infamous YouTube sensation Rebecca Black’s “Friday.” I was kind of appalled at the waste of talent with that choice. Those three guys together on a song can be epic, but instead it was wasted on that drivel. There was a complete 180 for the next song choice, with Rachel singing “Jar of Hearts.” Now I adore “Jar of Hearts,” and Lea Michele performed it admirably, and it’s even appropriate for Rachel’s mindset at the time, since she’s feeling burned by Finn and he seems to be sort of trying to say he wants her back. But I question whether it’s really a good slow dance song for a prom. It’s about a woman telling a guy to stay away from her because he’s hurt her for the last time. Not exactly romantic. Puck and Artie decide to put their punch spiking plan into action in between songs. Which doesn’t make much sense considering Puck’s plan was to distract Sue with dancing while Artie poured in the liquor. Sure enough, Artie gets caught, and Sue’s got him in interrogation in her office. Artie gets saved from torture by Finn and Jesse getting into a full blown fight and distracting Sue. She throws both Finn and Jesse out of prom, and Quinn seems to only be upset because it hurt her chances for Prom Queen. To ratchet up the drama even further, the Prom King/Queen announcements are made. Karofsky is named Prom King. Then Kurt, with a record number of write-in votes, is named Prom Queen. Everyone goes silent, and after looking horrified, Kurt runs out of the gym. Blaine runs after him.

Everything has devolved into chaos. Quinn slaps Rachel, claiming that she lost Prom Queen because everyone knows her boyfriend would rather be with Rachel. In her favor, Quinn is pretty horrified at her actions and apologizes immediately. Santana is also devastated that she wasn’t named Prom Queen, and she and Brittany have a little moment as Brittany tries to comfort her. Brittany would end up back with Artie by the end of the episode, though. That’s able to happen because Artie reveals to Sue that he was pouring lemonade, not alcohol into the punch. A little disappointed, Sue lets him go. After talking it over with Blaine, Kurt decides to go back into the dance and claim his crown. He does just that, and his classmates seem to respect him for it, even giving him a round of applause. It is then time for the Prom King/Queen dance, but even though Kurt encourages him that it would be the perfect time to come out, Karofsky refuses to dance. All is soon well for Kurt, though, because Blaine asks to cut in, and they kick off a big final dance number to Abba’s “Dancing Queen.” Overall, most of the kids (except for Karofsky) seem to leave prom in a better place than when they arrived.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Upfront Wrap-up: A Sampling of Next Season's New Shows

This week was a very busy one in television. It was Upfronts week, the week when the broadcast TV networks present their schedules for the next season to advertisers in the hopes that advertisers will want to pay a lot of money for ad space on the networks. It’s a big deal to those of us who are simply TV fans and not in the advertising business because it’s when we get official confirmation of what existing shows are cancelled and what new shows the networks intend to premiere either in the fall or at midseason. Unlike last year, I am pretty excited about a bunch of the new shows the networks introduced this week, as you might have been able to guess from the Pilot Season Preview post I did earlier this year. Surprisingly, only one of the pilots I profiled in that post didn’t get picked up to series, and that is Krista Vernoff’s “Grace.” I hope she gets a chance to really show what she can do soon, but for now, I’m going to be showing you previews of a slew of cool looking shows that did actually get picked up. I’m probably not going to watch all of these on a regular basis (I have time for maybe half of them), and I’ll probably only be covering 2-3 of them regularly here on MTVP, but I thought I’d take a chance and just go for broke, collecting anything that at all intrigued me here. Because this is a long post with lots of videos, I'll bring you the details after the jump.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

HIMYM 6.23: "Landmarks"

“Okay, what’s the message, because if it’s another hypothetical, yet eerily accurate drawing of my boobs…”

Although it didn’t exactly have a ton of substance to it, I generally enjoyed watching “Landmarks.” It looks like Zoey is on her way out, which is very welcome, in my opinion. Watching Ted and Zoey bicker constantly was not exactly my idea of entertainment. Another positive about this episode was that it featured a comedic, but not cartoonish performance from Neil Patrick Harris as Barney. If you’re one of the one or two people who have been reading this blog since the early months, you know that I have a love for the Joss Whedon internet movie “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-along Blog,” and there was a scene early in the episode where Harris really got to channel Dr. Horrible. I found that to be a lot of fun, of course. I also liked that, in addition to mostly dealing with Zoey, this episode also brought the Arcadian conflict to a head. I guess that’s to be expected considering it’s the season’s penultimate episode, but it’s nice to know what side Ted’s on. Well, it’s nice to know what side he’s on this week at least.

The episode uses a hearing about the Arcadian as a framing device. A committee is considering whether the Arcadian should be named a landmark (thus shutting down the GNB headquarters plans). Marshall speaks on behalf of Zoey and the others who want to save the Arcadian, taking pride in ending his arguments with rhymes. I found that kind of silly- the joke just didn’t work for me. Then Ted is called before the committee, and he’s asked whether, as an architect, he thinks the Arcadian is a landmark. Ted pauses, and we backtrack to see what led up to the moment when he’ll have to make this decision. As most things on HIMYM do, it started during an evening at MacLaren’s. Ted, Marshall, Lily, and Zoey are all sitting at the usual booth, and Barney and Robin are sitting at a separate booth because of Barney’s feud with Marshall and Ted over the Arcadian. I really liked that Robin is sticking with Barney throughout this whole mess- I don’t think he’d have any friends otherwise.

Anyway, my favorite part of the episode is when Robin delivers a message from Barney. Barney has instructed the MacLaren’s kitchen not to make any more hot wings, and he makes his friends watch as he licks each hot wing on a plate in front of him and throws them on the floor. The note instructs Robin to end the message with an evil laugh, but she’s not very good at it. Barney finally comes over to talk to the rest of the group in person, and he gets Ted to admit that he’s gone turncoat because of Zoey. It’s not Ted’s architectural judgment that has him suddenly wanting to save the building. But we already knew that…back at the beginning of the season. Anyway, after getting Ted to make that admission, Barney leaves the group with a real evil laugh- Dr. Horrible style! Because working on the evil laugh is about standards, people!

Barney and Robin have a conversation about just why Barney is so upset that Ted has taken Zoey’s side in the Arcadian feud. We see a flashback to Barney warning his boss, Arthur, that Ted might tell the committee that the Arcadian should be a landmark. Arthur reminds Barney that Ted was only hired on Barney’s recommendation. Arthur is in a bad mood because he’s going through a divorce and has lost custody of his beloved dog, so he tells Barney that if Ted tells the committee the Arcadian should be a landmark, both Ted and Barney will be fired. After hearing this news, Robin tries to change Ted’s mind about what he’s going to say at the committee meeting. She gives him three scenarios about how the meeting could pan out, and none of them are especially good, even if he tells the committee exactly what Zoey wants him to say. If he does that, then he’ll resent Zoey for the rest of their relationship because she will have forced him to give up on his dream of making his mark on the Manhattan skyline. She’s a smart one, that Robin.

That night, Ted appears to be visited by Barney in the middle of the night- Barney dressed up as the architect who designed the Arcadian , that is. Ted immediately assumes it’s Barney playing another of his crazy pranks. Barney did sneak into Ted’s room in the middle of the night to get condoms when he was dating Robin last season, after all. Barney assures Ted that Ted is actually dreaming, and tells Ted he needs to tear down the Arcadian and follow his dream. Ted still thinks it’s actually Barney until suddenly his mother appears. Which was kind of gross and only mildly funny. Ted wakes up almost immediately and calls Zoey. They meet in front of the Arcadian and reminisce a bit about how they first met. As she’s about to leave, Zoey says it was nice to have “one last look at what we’re trying to save.” Ted agrees, and it’s obvious he’s made the decision to speak in favor of the GNB headquarters at the meeting and break it off with Zoey.

At the meeting, Ted does exactly what it was obvious that he would do. He says the building should not be a landmark and gives some very good reasons why. Zoey is incredibly pissed off by this (which is also predictable), and in retaliation, she rushes onto the stage with the tape she recorded back during “Natural History” where Ted said that the Arcadian should be a landmark because of the lion’s head stonework. She plays the tape to quite an uproar, and the committee decides to adjourn for the evening. The gang (even Marshall) holds an emergency pow wow at MacLaren’s. Barney and Ted are convinced their careers are over, and the boys and Robin all start talking about opening a bar. They think it would be especially amusing if it were a court themed bar (I didn’t think that was so funny- sounds too much like work to me), but Lily wants to come up with a plan to save their jobs instead. This gives Marshall pause because he knows how diabolical his wife can be when she puts her mind to it. Sure enough, she comes up with a plan rather quickly.

We see the gang meeting with Arthur, but Saget!Ted refuses to confirm exactly what happened for legal reasons. When the committee reconvenes, something rather unexpected happens. First they say that Zoey’s recording convinced them that because of the lion’s head stonework, the Arcadian should be a landmark. But, what do you know, late in the night, the lion’s head stonework was removed, so now there is no reason to call it a landmark anymore. As they leave the meeting, Ted and Zoey officially break up. And we also see that the lion’s head stonework is now in Barney’s bedroom. And he’s hoping he used the right screwdriver to put it up. Here's hoping Jerry has given Barney some more lessons on how to use tools since we last saw him!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Game of Thrones 1.04: "Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things"

“Distrusting me was the wisest thing you’ve done since you climbed off your horse.”

“Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things,” as the title would suggest, had a general theme of people not fitting in. Bran Stark doesn’t fit in his new life of being unable to walk. Ned Stark doesn’t really fit in the cutthroat world of King’s Landing. Jon Snow doesn’t fit in the world of crude ex-prisoners at Castle Black. Arya Stark doesn’t fit in the woman’s life for which society says she is destined. Daenerys no longer fits among her brother’s family. The world depicted in “Game of Thrones” is harsh, however, and doesn’t take to outcasts or differences kindly. Some of these characters will find a way to thrive despite not fitting in, but I am sure that many will instead meet a tragic end. That’s just good storytelling. Despite being tied together thematically, this episode still continued to be very heavily a set-up episode. By the end some events happen that will obviously have big repercussions down the road, but history quizzes between characters is still the norm.

The opening of the episode sets up the episode’s theme nicely. Bran is dreaming that he’s able to walk, and he follows a bird (a raven, I think) around the grounds of Winterfell. When he wakes up, however, he’s still in his bed with his nurse watching over him. Theon Greyjoy interrupts a conversation with the nurse to let Bran know he has a visitor. We then cut to the main hall of Winterfell, where Robb is talking to Tyrion of all people. Robb vacillates between being hostile and trying to keep up an air of courtesy. Tyrion can tell that he’s not really welcome to spend the night at Winterfell, but he has a gift for Bran. The gift is plans for a saddle that Bran can use to continue to ride horses, even without the use of his legs. Tyrion claims that the motivation behind the gift is simply that he has sympathy for fellow “broken” people. Bran seems happy about the gift, at least. Before leaving Winterfell, Tyrion takes time to mock Theon for essentially being the Starks’ lackey. Theon is the son of a nobleman of the North who tried to rebel against Ned. He became Ned’s ward as a sort of collateral to make sure another rebellion would not happen. So really, the conversation between Tyrion and Theon was pretty much just to download some of this history to the viewers.

Up at the Wall, we meet yet another new recruit to the Night’s Watch. His name is Sam, and to say he wasn’t a talented fighter would be an understatement. He doesn’t really want to fight, and the other men just beat him up. Jon tries to put a stop to it and stick up for Sam, and it mostly just earns him ridicule. Jon can take care of himself, though, so he doesn’t seem to mind. He seems to become especially determined to help Sam when Sam explains just why he wants to join the Night’s Watch. His father did not want him to be his heir, so he gave Sam a choice. Essentially, either join the Night’s Watch and disclaim his inheritance, or die. Of course the way Sam’s father put it was even more sinister. He was going to make the death look like a hunting accident. Jon uses his direwolf to keep Sam safe from the other Knights while he’s asleep, and he also arranges it so the other Knights let him win easily at practice. This obviously annoys the Captain just a bit. This plot, while it seems kind of surface, does lead to some good character development for Jon. Jon and Sam talk about sex, and Jon mentions that he had a chance to have sex with a prostitute once, but he decided not to, because he didn’t want to bring another bastard into the world. The Captain interrupts the conversation to give us another round of stories about just how horrible Winter is for Westeros, especially at the Wall.

My favorite plot of this episode involved the Dothraki. Through conversations with Ser Jorrah, Daenerys learns that Viserys’ plan probably won’t work. The Dothraki have never crossed the Narrow Sea, and if King Robert uses warfare techniques that are at all modern, he’ll win. There are no hordes of commoners eagerly awaiting Viserys’ return- they care more about where they’ll get their next meal. Meanwhile, Viserys is enjoying a bit of bathtub time with a prostitute he hired to be one of Daenerys’ maids. She asks him about dragons, and he enjoys telling her stories he learned as a child and stories about the dragon skulls that used to be on display in the Red Keep at King’s Landing. His mood sours when the prostitute asks what happens to the skulls. Then Viserys just gets nasty, saying she wasn’t hired to make him sad. Viserys’ mood sours further when Daenerys sends one of her servants to call Viserys to dinner. He interprets that as her sending a whore to give him orders. He gets very abusive, saying that Daenerys has “woken the dragon,” but for the first time in her life, Daenerys fights back. She has taken strength from her position in the Dothraki community, and she threatens to cut off Viserys’ hands if he ever hits her again.

Most of the episode, however, takes place in King’s Landing. The upcoming tournament in honor of Ned’s installation as Hand of the King is causing trouble. The Small Council is begged to provide extra security, and Ned obliges from his personal guard. After the Small Council meeting, Ned talks with the Grand Maester about Jon Arryn’s death. The Grand Maester mentions that Jon Arryn was looking for a specific book before he died- a history of the houses of the Seven Kingdoms. Basically, a book of really detailed genealogy. Ned continues his investigation by talking with Peter. They discuss Ser Hugh of the Vale, who had been Jon Arryns squire but was knighted soon after Jon Arryn’s death. Petyr advises Ned not to question Ser Hugh of the Vale himself (there are spies everywhere in King’s Landing), but send his most trusted man to do the job. Ned sends the captain of his guard, but Ser Hugh is just a jerk to him, pulling rank and refusing to answer any questions. Ned also pays a visit to an armorer Jon Arryn visited just prior to his death. The armorer tells Ned that Jon Arryn wanted to see “the boy.” Ned now wants the same thing. The boy works for the armorer, and because of his dark hair and other distinguishing features, Ned instantly recognizes that he must be a bastard son of King Robert.

The Stark daughters are both having a tough time of it at King’s Landing. On his way home from a meeting, Ned runs into Arya, who just wants to talk about her sword fighting lessons. Then she wants to know about Bran’s future, considering Bran will never be able to walk. Ned assures Arya that there are plenty of ways Bran will be able to make a living. When Arya says she wants to be lord of her own hold of land, Ned says she’ll marry a great lord and have many children. Arya says that’s not at all what she wants for her future. Meanwhile, Sansa is worried that her typical woman’s future won’t be happening. After her teacher quizzes her on some Westerosi history, Sansa reveals that she thinks Joffrey hates her. The teacher reprimands Sansa to stop dwelling on the direwolf incident.

The climax of the episode is the big tournament. Sansa is watching from the stands and sitting with Petyr. Which is kind of squicky, considering how he feels about her mother. There’s a big joust between Ser Hugh of the Vale and the Hound’s older brother, who is known as the Mountain. The joust seemed cool and exciting until the Mountain pierces Ser Hugh’s throat and Ser Hugh falls to the ground, with blood spurting out of his neck for just a bit too long for my taste. As Sansa looks on horrified, Ser Peter tells her the story of how the Mountain caused the burns that scar the Hound’s face. Then he tells Sansa not to tell anyone this story, because if she does, she’ll probably be killed. Like I said. Creepy! Why did he tell her that story if it’s so sensitive? Speaking of the object of Petyr’s affections, we end the episode with Cat at an inn on her way home from King’s Landing. Who but Tyrion enters and wants to spend the night. Cat, believing Tyrion organized the attempts of Bran’s life, uses her father’s connections (the inn is near her ancestral Tully home) to draw up a mob against Tyrion.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Fringe 3.22: "The Day We Died"

“Philip, if what we lost in Detroit still means anything to you, just give me one chance. That’s all I’m asking.”

“The Day We Died” was a very ambitious third season (not series, surprisingly) finale for “Fringe.” It faltered on the execution a bit, but as always with “Fringe” this season, and for most of last season as well, I appreciate the effort at creativity. This episode introduced yet another new world to us, differentiated by a white background title sequence as opposed to the blue sequence for episodes in our universe’s present day, red for the Other Side, and 80’s retro (my personal favorite) for flashback. The new world is fifteen years in the future, and only our universe has survived. That doesn’t mean things are all sunshine and puppies, though. Our world is apocalyptic because there are still holes being torn thanks to the destruction of the Other Side. I’m not sure I fully support this plot twist. I usually love dystopian future stories, but I kind of have a problem with this one. First of all, if this was just a one-off (which, given some of the plot developments, seems like a possibility), it feels like it was kind of a waste of a season finale. On the other hand, if this is yet another world we’re going to be shifting to periodically, I think that could be just one twist too many. We already have two complete worlds of characters to keep track of and invest in. A third is too much.

The episode opens in the future with Peter being taken to “Fringe Medical” after an accident. They do all sorts of futuristic-looking medical stuff to him to help him recover from his injuries. A young woman approaches the entrance to the hospital and asks about Peter. It turns out she’s a grown up Ella (Olivia’s niece), and she is now a Fringe agent. I found this to be the most interesting aspect of this particular future. Olivia, who is now married to Peter, meets up with her niece at the hospital, and soon after that, Peter is released. The three talk about the situation that led Peter to be in the accident. A terrorist called Moreau is leading a group called the “End of Days.” This group’s mission is to plant devices at soft spots and try to cause accelerated tears in the fabric of the universe.

We then see Moreau and his team execute one of their attacks. This one is at the opera house the team used to cross to the Other Side in last season’s finale. A light bomb goes off, and the entire opera house disappears. The Fringe team is on the case, of course. Peter examines a device that was left behind by Moreau and his crew, but it’s technology he has never seen before, and he just can’t figure it out. He asks Olivia to see Walter, because Walter is the only person he knows who might understand this technology. There’s only one small problem. Walter is in prison for the crime of starting the destruction of the universe. Peter pays Walter a visit in prison for the first time since Walter’s incarceration. Walter wants an update from Peter about whether things are as bad as he has heard, and Peter confirms that they pretty much are. Time vortexes have even begun to crop up. Walter looks at the device Peter found, but he says that to really help, he would need proper tools and equipment.

Peter decides to call in favors to make Walter’s request happen. Specifically, he goes to Broyles, who is now a United States Senator. Broyles is very, very reluctant to grant Peter’s request, at first saying that Walter will only be allowed to consult on the case from prison. Peter accuses Broyles of caring only what his constituents will think on election day, but Broyles shuts that down pretty quickly. The reason he doesn’t want to let Walter out of prison is because he’s genuinely horrified at all the destruction Walter has caused, including a massive vortex in the middle of the Thames. Peter finally wins the day by invoking something that happened between them in Detroit. Walter is extremely happy to get back into his old lab, even if he is in chains. There’s also a very sweet reunion with Olivia, who is coordinating the return of all of Walter’s equipment from evidence. Walter and Peter have another chat, which pretty much serves to tell us how things got so bad. When Peter got in the doomsday machine, it destroyed the Other Side. The two universes were connected, so that spelled doom for our universe, too. The best part of that exchange was that Peter actually called Walter “dad.”

In a scene that’s probably just there to make us feel really extra sad about events that happen later in the episode, we get to see a glimpse of Peter and Olivia’s home life. Peter shows Olivia a drawing that their young neighbor made for them. It shows the two of them with a child, which their neighbor is so sure they will have soon. Peter uses this to segue into talking to Olivia about how he really wants kids. Olivia would like a child too, but she doesn’t think it would be fair to bring a child into this harsh, apocalyptic world. Peter thinks their neighbor is doing just fine as a child in this world, but he doesn’t win the argument.

Walter wakes Olivia and Peter up with a phone call about a breakthrough. He has found that the canister from the opera house has a distinctive radioactive signature. Fringe’s science division tracks the radioactive signature to a remote forest location. Peter finds a key there, and he hides the key from Olivia, looking kind of sinister about it. It turns out it’s the key to the Reiden Lake house, and that’s where Peter heads immediately. He finds Walternate sitting in the kitchen, and Walternate is only too happy to use the opportunity to make a big, dramatic Evil Speech of Evil. Meanwhile, the rest of the Fringe team is dealing with a report of Moreau and his team breaching the containment area around the wormhole in Central Park. A light bomb goes off, and the Fringe team is knocked unconscious. When Olivia comes to, she sees the wormhole has gotten worse.

At Reiden Lake, Peter tries to negotiate with Walternate and apologize for destroying the Other Side. Walternate’s not having it, though. It turns out he was only appearing in the Reiden Lake house via hologram. He’s really in a van in Central Park. He jumps out of the van and promptly shoots Olivia in the head. This resulted in quite a few expletives from me. Peter presides over a Viking-style funeral for Olivia, with her casket burning on a barge in the water. This made me wonder what the writers thought they were writing. Doctor Who? Star Wars? I guess the Viking-style funeral is the go-to funeral for genre. Following the funeral, Peter is being very (understandably) broody in his apartment, but I was distracted from the melancholy by the contents of Peter and Olivia’s refrigerator. There was steak in a can! That just struck me as a fun bit of whimsy, made possible by telling a story that takes place 15 years in the future.

While Peter is grieving, Walter and Ella have a talk at the lab where they try to come to terms with what has happened, Ella mentions that there “are no happy endings anymore,” which I thought was a lovely callback to “Brown Betty.” In that episode, a very young Ella demanded Walter change the ending of the story he was telling to make it happy, and Walter complied. After talking to Ella, Walter makes a breakthrough on the End of Days case thanks to something he sees on his computer screen. He visits Peter to make a request based on what he has figured out. He essentially wants Peter to use one of the vortexes, the Central Park wormhole, to travel back in time and make a different choice. He wants Peter to choose to do something other than destroy the Other Side when he gets in the machine. Walter explains in detail why he can’t change the past but Peter can (something about how Walter already affected history by sending the parts of the doomsday machine back in time). It all reminded me very much of the Doctor and his rules about “wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff.”

Peter’s future consciousness gets sent back into the Peter who is in the machine in 2011. Instead of destroying the Other Side, Peter creates a bridge between the two universes. Walternate, Alt-livia, and a bunch of Fringe scientists (and their office) suddenly appear inside our Statue of Liberty. Peter stresses to all of them that they need to work together to find a way to fix both universes. And then he promptly disappears. Olivia takes over the cause, reiterating to everyone that they need to work together. Walternate looks dubious, of course. I don’t think he really wants to solve anything. He just wants vengeance. To cap off the episode, we see several Observers congregated outside the Statue of Liberty. Their job is to try and explain to us viewers what the heck just happens. Apparently nobody remembers Peter now because he served his purpose and therefore never existed. In other words, he’s Rory from the second half of series 5 of “Doctor Who.” So where is Olivia’s engagement ring to remind Olivia of Peter like Amy had to remind her of Rory?