Monday, December 31, 2012

Fringe 5.09: "Black Blotter"

“That Walter would think nothing of going off on his own to New York right now. He'd share all his secrets with the Observers, demonstrate his unequaled brilliance. A man of your staggering intellect and vision would be recognized by the Observers, valued, revered even.”

I had been hoping that “Black Blotter” would be haunting and beautiful like the similarly named after a pharmaceutical “Brown Betty” in season 2. Instead, it was by far the most “Lost”-like of any episode of “Fringe” I can recall. I mean, seriously, there was an expedition into the woods, a mysterious signal, and a skeleton in a vehicle. How much more “Lost” can you get? That being said, the episode still had its own, unique “Fringe” flavor. I thought this was most evident at the height of Walter’s acid trip, where the episode goes full-on Terry Gilliam/Monty Python animation homage for a good minute or so. That kind of reminded me more of season 3’s off the wall animation-heavy episode “Lysergic Acid Diethylamide,” which I guess is appropriate considering Walter’s drug of choice in this episode. While this episode didn’t affect me emotionally in the same way “Brown Betty” did, I think I enjoyed this episode more than other episodes this season, because we were back to the creative team taking more fun, wacky creative risks.

The episode opens at the lab, where Astrid is asleep. She wakes up thanks to a strange noise, which turns out to be the radio Olivia grabbed from the pocket universe a few episodes ago. She goes out into the main room in the lab to find out that Walter has been tripping. Meanwhile, in another room, Peter and Olivia aren’t having an easy tie sleeping, either. Peter’s been getting headaches ever since he performed impromptu surgery on himself to remove the Observer tech from his brain (big surprise, right?). Olivia is trying to comfort him a bit when Astrid knocks on the door and asks Peter and Olivia to come out and see Walter and hear the radio. The radio appears to be broadcasting some sort of mysterious signal.

It turns out Walter dropped acid in an effort to remember the grand plan for defeating the Observers. While this is a noble purpose, the rest of the team isn’t too thrilled with what Walter has done. They’re even less thrilled when he tells them that Nina has agreed to remove the Walternate parts of his brain once the Observers have been defeated. There’s not much the team can do about any of this, though, so they press onward. Olivia and Peter, with Aneil’s help, are going to try an triangulate the source of the signal that has come through on the mysterious radio. This is important because they think that the signal might be coming from Walter’s old associate (per the videos), Donald. Walter’s tripping too much to be of help. He’s seeing visions of faeries and his old lab assistant who died in a fire way back when.

Olivia and Peter don’t have much trouble finding what they think is the source of the signal out in the middle of the woods. They encounter a scene of past devastation, and this is when the episode starts to be a whole lot like “Lost.” There are long-dead skeletons of Observers and Loyalists lying about. Inside a vehicle, there’s also one particularly interesting skeleton. It happens to belong to none other than Sam Weiss, Olivia’s old mentor. It appears he died trying to defend the signal from the Observers. Only what Olivia and Peter have found here isn’t the actual source of the signal. It’s just a relay station. So all that traipsing about through the woods didn’t get them very far. Also very much like “Lost.”

We next have a scene where a significant portion takes place inside Walter’s head. His former lab assistant is trying to goad Walter into going to the Observers and telling them everything he knows. A vision of a younger Nina also gets in on the act too, although I think she’s meant to be the angel to the lab assistant’s devil. The lab assistant leads Walter to a compartment under the floor, in which is a journal that basically chronicles Walter’s entire life’s work. When we next see Walter, he thinks he’s in a cab in Manhattan, in front of an Oberver precinct. He’s about to tell everything he knows to the Observers, and the lab assistant is trying to convince him that the evil version of himself is the true him. It turns out, though, that Walter is actually in the old car with the rest of the team, and they’re approaching a place called Thimble Island. This appears to be the actual source of the signal that has been broadcasting on their radio. The team successfully rents a boat, but as they’re trying to leave for the island, a bunch of Loyalists try to stop them and there’s a bit of a shootout. It kind of reminded me of the timeskipping outrigger shootout early in “Lost” season 5. Only without the confusion over who is shooting whom.

The team approaches the one house on Thimble Island. The signal is emanating from inside it. They’re met on the front porch by a guy with a gun who seems very wary of visitors. Then, out of the house comes the Observer child from a few episodes back. There’s a woman at this house, too. The guy with the gun asks the team for a password, but nobody has a clue what he’s talking about. Furthermore, the transmission was encrypted and they haven’t been able to decrypt it. All of a sudden, Walter goes on a trip in the form of a Terry Gilliam/Monty Python-style animation sequence. When he comes back to his senses, Walter says “black umbrella,” and that just happens to be the password. The guy puts down his gun, and they’re allowed in. I did definitely appreciate the care that went into the Gilliam homage and thought it was much more “Fringe” at its creative zenith than anything else we’ve seen lately.

We then get a sort-of touching scene where the Observer kid (who hasn’t aged a day in twenty some odd years, by the way) has to say goodbye to his adoptive parents so he can go off and save the world with the Fringe team. Back at the lab, Olivia tries to make nice and be motherly by making the Observer kid some hot cocoa, but he still won’t say a word. In another room, Walter has an extended sequence where he basically remembers how much of an ass he was to his old lab assistant. Not wanting to return to the person he was, Walter then tries to burn his life’s work journal. He’s still seeing visions of his former lab assistant and a younger Nina, though, so all is not really well. The lab assistant taunts Walter by saying that burning the journal won’t do any good – he’ll still revert to being evil. Nina, however, tells Walter that he needs to keep fighting. Walter himself just looks conflicted and confused.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Person of Interest 2.10: "Shadow Box"

“I’m not gonna make it, Harold. Sorry I screwed up. But I meant what I said yesterday. So thanks, Harold. It was fun.”
- Reese

We have reached the fall finale of season 2. And boy do I have to say the promo for it make it look really intense. We start with the Machine picking up a part of a recorded message from a young woman to her parents and then we see a figure on a surveillance tape smashing a case and making off on a motorcycle. Cut to the library, we find Finch and Reese struggling to give Bear a bath. I have to say it was a rather amusing way of getting out the exposition on this week’s POI; Abby. She was working for a military charity up until a few weeks ago when she left and started working for a temp agency, at the city planning office. She’s also ditched her cell phone and moved out of her apartment. Just as its time to dry Bear, Reese decides she could be in imminent danger and he needs to get eyes on her.

Meanwhile, over at the precinct, Carter and Beecher are flirting a little after their dinner date. Beecher wants to go out again but Carter is trying to find out what happened to the IA cop Lionel shot. Beecher starts to offer up some intel when Agent Donnelly shows up. With HR decimated, the Feds are back on Reese’s trail. They now believe that Snow is working with him and they’re being bankrolled by the Chinese. Donnelly wants to read Carter in but only if she accepts a temporary assignment with the FBI. Carter calls Finch to get Reese’s location and finds him impersonating a US Marshal (from the case he worked last season with the woman hiding from her crazy ex-hubby Marshal). It appears Abby stole an engineering plan for a block near Wall Street. Carter is a bit miffed that Reese was impersonating a federal agent but Reese is quite jovial. He also knows what Donnelly told her. There’s a funny bit where Reese tells her he thinks Beecher might be good for her but only if he treats her right. God forbid he doesn’t, because he’d be getting a visit from Reese. It was kind of endearing. Meanwhile, Reese asks her to get security camera footage from the time Abby left.

After some snooping we see her get onto a motorcycle and then Carter gets the footage from where it was stolen. It’s the video from the beginning of the episode and we see the guy drive straight through a window. Kind of impressive. There’s also a report that the motorcycle was seen near a construction site where explosives were stolen. Looks like Abby is mixed up in something serious. By taking a closer took, Reese determines that the motorcycle driver may be ex-military and he’s got a high-end prosthetic arm. Unfortunately, Carter has to put out an APB on Abby.

Back at the precinct, Lionel is trying to do some digging on Beecher. I can’t tell if he’s just trying to protect his partner of if he thinks Beecher knows something about his involvement in the IA guy’s death. At the library, Reese and Finch and trying to find any other leads they can to Abby. Reese takes the payphone number Abby listed on her temp agency application while Finch goes to check out the charity. Reese ends up waiting at the apartment he finds near the phone and watches the whole video of Abby we saw at the start of the episode. At the charity, Finch learns that Abby was fired for stealing money. And the owner, Mr. Chapel thinks it started up because of a marine named Shane. Carter does some digging and surmises that he is the motorcycle driver. Finch decides he’s going to stay until the charity closes and sneak back in to see what intel he can gather. Pretty much simultaneously, Abby and Shane show up. Finch does some hacking while Shane breaks into the safe and they escape together. Reese tries to keep Abby from getting away and she finally calms down enough to let him at least explain he’s there to help.

Things aren’t really improving with either Finch or Reese. Abby threatens Reese with Shane’s imminent arrival. And Shane is not pleased that Reese has Abby. The foursome ends up meeting on neutral ground and they part company, for now. Finch has cleverly planted a tracking device on Shane via his prosthesis. And it actually works. They track our couple to the investment bank where Chapel is likely hiding all the proceeds from the shoddy loan foreclosures he’s been handing out to returning veterans (including Shane). Chapel sends his goons off to try and intercept Abby and Shane but Reese is on his way there, too. Meanwhile, it looks like Lionel may have a reason to distrust Beecher. Using the app that Reese gave him at the start of the season to highjack other people’s phones, he realizes Beecher is having a meeting with the head of HR (well Lionel doesn’t know that’s who it is be we do). Lionel follows Beecher to meet where we overhear some talk about a Russian trying to muscle his way into a new area of the city from behind bars. Simmons shows up and tells Lionel to get lost. The next day Simmons and Quinn meet up. They’re going to try and get the Russians on their side as a new revenue stream since Elias has burned HR.

Things are starting to heat up. Carter is meeting with Donnelly and he fills her in on his theory about Reese. They picked up the communications bandwidth Finch and Reese use to communicate the day he disappeared last season and at the robbery at the charity (obviously that was Finch but they don’t know that). But the next time our boys communicate, the FBI will know about it. Meanwhile, Reese catches up with Abby and Shane as they are about to blow their way into the bank from below. He’s going to stop them at first until he realizes why they’re doing what they’re doing. He’s not happy about Abby getting threatened by Chapel’s goons and the DA. He’s all gung ho about sticking it to Chapel. They time both the blast to get into the bank and to pull the safety deposit boxes down to their level with the passing Subway trains. I thought that was rather clever. Meanwhile, Chapel’s goons have arrived and just as Abby and Shane find the evidence and account information they need to sink Chapel for good, a shootout begins. Now things are really heating up.

Finch is not pleased with Reese’s sudden bank robber routine. But he does get to the bank after Carter relays to Lionel that Donnelly is on to them. As Finch sneaks inside and meets up with Abby and Shane (now dressed incognito), Chapel shows up as well. Boy is not going to be happy. Finch tells Reese to abort and get the hell out just as Chapel’s goons pretty much decide the same thing. Things get tense, when Reese smashes his phone and ear bud after thanking Finch for the chance to do some real good. The FBI closes in and they spot a guy just out of frame in a suit with his hands behind his head. You can’t see how it is at first and I remember on first watch shouting at me TV that “No! John couldn’t give himself up”. Seconds later it’s revealed that it’s the lead goon and John has mixed himself in with the other goons (who all happen to not be wearing ties. I had to wonder if in the chaos of trying not to get caught, the guys came to a decision to all get caught together. I’m thinking not but it was still pretty hilarious. Carter fails to ID Reese (yeah she’s not going to sour that relationship) and they all get taken into custody as Finch, Shane and Abby bask in the fact that Chapel got screwed over big time. I’m looking forward to seeing where the show goes in the New Year.

Arrow 1.09: "Year's End"

“This guy, the other archer. He’ll get his. And you’ll give it to him.”
- Diggle

We’ve reached the fall finale of Arrow. We begin with the baddie of the week from the pilot, Adam Hunt. He’s stressing about wanting to get back into the game when a figure shows up and shoots him three times in the chest with arrow. We get a vague outline of a hood and a bow. I’m guessing it’s not Oliver. Speaking of, he and Dig are doing some more training down in the man cave when Diggle mentions having to take his nephew to see Santa. Oli realizes it’s Christmas and that he forgot about the holiday. No holidays on the island after all. We cut back to the island and Oliver is sitting in the cave. His sort of captor/rescuer comes back with food and water after being gone for days and brings the military guy who was torturing Oliver for information. The archer basically tells Oli that the guy has a way for him to get off the island and that Oli has to kill him.

Oliver gets back to the Queen mansion to find Moira and Walter entertaining high ups in the political world, including the police commissioner and Tommy’s dad (aka the Well Dressed man). They’re discussing the drop in crime and whether the vigilante has had any effect on the crime rate. Oliver says they need a better name for the vigilante and Mr. Merlyn suggests “Green Arrow”. Oliver declares it lame. Right in the middle of dinner, Walter gets a call from Ms. Smoke about the list of names they discovered last week. Not surprising, a chunk of Oliver’s victims are on it. And so is a member of the Queen Consolidated staff. Dinner is interrupted by the news of Adam Hunt’s murder. We jump back to the scene where Detective Lance is skeptical about whether the vigilante actually did it. It didn’t make sense for the vigilante to take $40 million and then come back several months later and kill him. Plus the arrows are different. Oli overhears all of this and after a brief conversation with Diggle in the man cave, sends our dear Detective a burner phone. Oliver wants the chance to find this poser for himself.

Meanwhile, Walter is following up on the staff member Ms. Smoke ID’d on the list. It doesn’t appear to be going anywhere as nothing seems off about this guy (other than maybe he’s a little jumpy). Later that night, Oliver and Thea are out at the diner and Oliver is bemoaning the fact that they aren’t having the annual Christmas party. Thea says that after the boat went down, they just weren’t in the spirit. Oliver is going to remedy that by throwing one this year. We get another flashback where we learn about the purpose of the island (and no it’s not some uncharted place full of plane crash victims with a cork in the middle keeping all the light in). It was a Chinese penitentiary for the worst criminals. The guy who ordered Oli’s torture explains that his unit was ordered to go in and kill all the prisoners. They missed two: Death Stroke and Oli’s archer buddy.

Malcolm is not happy with Moira. They’re having a little clandestine meeting about the guy Walter talked to earlier. Moira says she’ll handle it but Malcolm is skeptical about her abilities to keep her family in line. Meanwhile, another baddie whom Oliver dealt with only a week before gets an arrow through the chest. Detective Lance still thinks it is the work of the copycat but his superior says to blame it on the vigilante. When Lance refuses to do so, he gets taken off the case and gives Oli a call with information he needs to track down the guy giving the vigilante an even worse name. Only problem is Oli’s got until Christmas before Lance comes after him again.

Oliver’s gotten his hands on the arrows used in the murders and he’s managed to discern they are a custom job. So of course, he goes to our resident IT guru and she uses her Google fu to find the shipment and address. Oliver heads out to check it out and barely escapes before the place blows up. Meanwhile, Detective Lance is moping around Laurel’s apartment. Sarah’s birthday was around Christmas so they’re spending the holiday together. Tommy shows up briefly to give her a present and it turns out to be an old picture of her, Sarah and Detective lance. Tommy is trying to be sweet I suppose.

Oliver’s Christmas party is in full swing and he’s trying to enjoy himself. He snaps a family photo before Tommy and Laurel show up. Things are a little awkward and Laurel confesses to Liver in private that he’s been holding her back from a real relationship with Tommy. She was emotionally numb for five years and then Oliver returned and she started to feel again. Guess that’s confusing. They aren’t the only ones having little private conversations. Walter and Moira are having a talk of their own where Moira sort of confesses to getting the Queen’s Gambit salvaged as leverage against her own bad people. I have to say these two scenes were well done and I liked how the Christmas music was used to move the scenes along. Oliver’s mood darkens however when he finds Thea with his buddy Shane in her bedroom getting it on. Thea claims she never wanted the party because things will never be the same as they were. And the copycat has taken hostages. Oliver is determined to stop this guy before more people die. We get another flashback where Death Stroke and some of the other goons show up. Oliver manages to get away but they get the archer. I keep wondering how much longer this guy is going to be around to teach Oliver the skills he needs.

Oliver heads off to the hostage situation and manages to get the hostages out without being caught in the crossfire. Unfortunately, Oliver gets into it with the other archer and gets the crap beaten out of him. Oli does get a knife in the other archer before crawling off and calling Diggle for back up. Oliver wakes up in the hospital with Walter, Moira and Thea at his bedside. Dig’s taken care of everything (telling them Oliver was riding his motorcycle and got cut off by a semi). As Oliver is starting to recuperate, we learn the identity of the other archer; Malcolm Merlyn. Which makes me wonder who made the list and why. Things aren’t going well for Walter though. Malcolm has deemed Moira’s attempt to keep Walter in line and so he’s taking Walter for six months until whatever the plan to take over Starling City is realized. Oliver vows to get the top gun after he recovers. And thus ends the fall run of Arrow.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

New Girl 2.11: "Santa"

“I am so sick of hanging out with Christians. This is my last Christian Christmas.”

“Santa” didn’t quite live up to last year’s “The 23rd,” although it was still plenty entertaining. “New Girl” really has taken the place of HIMYM as the show that really tackles life as a single late 20 – early 30 something in a positive way, and I definitely appreciated this episode for that. I enjoyed the creative team’s take on the craziness that is trying to negotiate the plethora of holiday parties just before Christmas. I also liked how seamlessly Nick’s new girlfriend, Angie, integrated into the group. I mean, she’s obviously another placeholder until the creative team decides Nick and Jess can be together, but she has an up for anything attitude that allows her to just dive into whatever craziness the group gets going. Not as satisfying in this episode, however, were developments in Jess’ relationship with Sam. I really don’t understand what Jess sees in him. He’s kind of a douche, and not in the endearing way that Schmidt can be.

So the episode opens with the roommates sitting around making holiday decorations and talking about Santa. My favorite comment of the whole exchange is when Schmidt talks about how his rabbi always said that Jewish kids had to keep quiet about the whole no Santa thing until the last Christian kid at school knew the truth. It would be bad for the “brand” to ruin a kid’s Christmas. Anyway, Winston let’s slip with a “whether or not Santa’s real,” and the rest of the gang starts ragging on him for still potentially believing in Santa Claus. This devolves into a food fight of sorts, and a cranberry winds up lodged in Winston’s ear. They manage to get most of it out, but a little piece is still stuck, significantly impairing Winston’s hearing.

The roommates want to have a final “holiday hang” before everyone goes their separate ways for Christmas, and since their last opportunity to do this is on a Saturday, it means navigating a maze of potential party opportunities. The first party they hit up is a cookie decorating party thrown by Sadie and her wife. Schmidt thinks the party looks lame, so he only wants to spend five minutes there. And it doesn’t help that he’s constantly sniping with Cece over her turning him down after he said he loved her. Making things even worse is the fact that Jess’ ex, Sam, the commitment-phobe pediatrician, is at the party. Jess wants absolutely nothing to do with Sam, and she tries to have her friends shield her from him. That whole plan is ruined by Winston, though, who goes up to Sam and starts talking to him about his ear problem, most likely because he didn’t hear Jess saying she didn’t want to see Sam.

The gang moves on to a swankier party at a house with what looks like a glass wall and a DJ. Sam’s there too, much to Jess’ chagrin. Apparently Winston traded the location of their next party to Sam in exchange for an ear exam. Jess tries to think on her feet and tells Sam that she’s dating Winston. This makes Sam leave Jess alone until Sam removes the rest of the cranberry from Winston’s ear and says he’s jealous. Winston’s response is to stage a dramatic break-up with Jess, which was pretty darn hilarious. Although he tossed water at Jess’ coat, which is kind of unforgivable in my book. The coat was teal and Kate Spade and rather fabulous. So sue me. I have coat envy. And at a price of over $600 (yes I Googled the damn coat), it will continue to be envy. Anyway, Jess continues to run away from Sam, and she only pauses when he tries to give a speech about why he wants her back. Jess rightfully doesn’t believe what he’s saying though, and continues to turn him down.

The next stop on the party train is Winston’s work holiday party at the radio station. Nick and Jess have a rather sweet little conversation where they try to give each other courage to go ahead with their relationships. Nick’s a bit overwhelmed about how outgoing and forceful Angie is with her sexuality. An incident the last party where they broke a prop sleigh attempting to have sex didn’t help things. Jess convinces Nick that Angie’s adventurous side is good for him, so he sets to winning her back. By giving her the most awkward lap dance ever. Which is then followed by Angie returning the favor. And then Schmidt breaks up the fun by trying to show Nick how to improve his lap dance technique. I just laughed hysterically through this whole sequence.

Jess is driving rather erratically as the gang makes their way to the next party, not because she’s drunk, but because she’s so torn about Sam. She kind of wants to believe that he wants a real relationship, but she doesn’t want to get hurt again. Her crazy driving catches the attention of a police officer, who pulls her over. He’s African American, older, and has a long scraggly beard. Jess promises that she wasn’t drinking, and the officer decides to believe her. While the rest of the gang is whooping it up over the fact that they just saw “Black Santa,” Jess has come to the realization that she wants to believe Sam and give him a second chance. The next stop for the van isn’t going to be a party – it’s going to be the hospital where Sam works.

The gang piles into the hospital, but the (male) nurse at the reception desk tells them that visiting hours are over and they need to leave. Angie has a solution to this problem, though. She flashes the nurse, and he happily lets the gang pass through. Hey, it worked for Lily and Robin in “Okay Awesome,” so it makes sense that it would work here too. And it was another example of Angie gelling well with the rest of the group. Anyway, they don’t get very far before a security guard stops them. Jess, thinking quickly, tries to pretend they’re carolers, launching into “O Come All Ye Faithful” with gusto. Zooey Deschanel really does have an impressive voice. The rest of the gang tries to join in, but it’s pretty messy, and it’s clear that they aren’t actually madrigals caroling at the hospital. Sam hears the ruckus, though, and he vouches for them with the security guard. Then he and Jess kiss, and they’re officially back together. While the scene had an unfortunate result, I did like seeing the gang just let loose and do something stupid and silly together. As the gang leaves, they realize that Nick and Angie are nowhere to be found. I guess Nick finally decided to let go of his inhibitions. At a children’s hospital. Eww.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Holiday "Classic" Recap: Chuck: "Chuck Versus Santa Claus"

“Christmas at the Burton household meant the annual Salvation Army con job.”

“Chuck Versus Santa Claus” was a bit more of a subdued Christmas episode than I remember. I think when I decided to do a “Chuck” episode for the holiday recap this year, I might have been thinking of an episode from season 1. Nevertheless, this episode had plenty of humor in the first half, and it also had plenty of heart. A good combination for Christmas, I think. By this point in the series, the usual gang is pretty much a cohesive unit, although Sarah and Chuck are still only “fake” dating. I like that in these earlier episodes, Chuck shows some intuition about how to deal with people beyond anything the Intersect or supplementary spy training could have provided. He’s a smart guy, even if he doesn’t have much to show for it thanks to Bryce (with good intensions) derailing his life back at Stanford. Chuck is more of a leader and force to be reckoned with in this episode than any of the upper Buy More management, and I like that. It’s a good balance at this point in the series. Chuck is confident enough in himself to exert a leadership role when needed, but he also has to rely on “civilian” tactics to get himself out of precarious situations.

Anyway, as would be expected given the title of this episode and the fact that it’s the holiday recap, it’s the day before Christmas at the Buy More. Big Mike and Emmet are excited about the potential for profits, especially since Emmet jacked up all the prices by 15% for the occasion. Over at the Orange Orange, Chuck is trying to get Sara into the Christmas spirit with an invitation to the very cozy-sounding Bartowski family Christmas. After a little hemming and hawing about how much Christmas with her con man dad sucked, Sarah finally accepts the invite. In other kind of inconsequential setting up the episode news, Awesome informs Ellie that he has already purchased a kickass Christmas gift for himself – a skydiving weekend for him and his buddies. Ellie is seriously miffed that her fiancĂ© would be so careless with his safety, but Awesome says he need more excitement in his life.

As the Buy More staff prepares for the onslaught of last minute shoppers, the Nerd Herd underlings are transfixed watching a televised police car chase on the big wall of televisions. The chase is headed right for the Buy More, and the bad guy manages to crash his car right through the store’s front plate glass windows. He then gets out of the car wielding a gun. It turns out that the guy’s name is Ned, and it appears that he isn’t really a bad guy ever. He’s just the most ineffectual small time criminal ever who wanted to get his kids some presents for Christmas. Local police arrive on the scene en masse, including Big Mike’s cousin, played by the guy who was the dad/cop on Family Matters back in the 90’s (sorry, I’m on a train and can’t IMDB his actual name). Also on the scene is a top LAPD hostage negotiator, who, with a little help from Chuck, manages to negotiate the release of one hostage. Emmet, of course, is only too eager to be that one hostage. Once he gets outside, Emmet uses the abundance of tv news cameras to advertise for the Buy More, which makes Big Mike happy.

Sarah and Casey, meanwhile, manage to sneak their way into the Buy More from Castle in an effort to extract Chuck from the potentially dangerous situation. Chuck doesn’t want to be extracted, though, because he doesn’t want to leave Ellie and Awesome behind. Plus, gunman Ned seems pretty harmless. Ned sees Chuck talking to Casey and Sarah, and it agitates him a bit. Chuck, however, convinces Ned to uncock his gun. Ned doesn’t really know how to handle a gun, though, so he ends up accidentally shooting off one of Casey’s toes. Casey’s reaction to this is pretty hilarious, especially when he starts talking about how it’s a point of pride that he made it through three wars without losing an appendage.

Once the chaos from the accidental shooting has calmed down, we get a sweet scene where Chuck convinces Ned to let everyone in the store call a loved one. It’s a very Christmassy scene, where even Casey calls his mom. Chuck takes Sarah behind the DVD racks and gives her a rather special early Christmas gift- his mom’s old charm bracelet. Sarah thinks Chuck should save the bracelet for a real” girlfriend, but Chuck really wants Sarah to have it. Meanwhile, the hostage negotiator comes into the store to find out what was up with the gun shot. He convinces Ned to let two more hostages go, and unfortunately for Chuck, those two hostages end up being Sarah and Casey. Just after his protection leaves, Chuck flashes on the hostage negotiator and realizes that he’s F.U.L.C.R.U.M.

Outside, Sarah and Casey go talk to the SWAT team (who are actually NSA/CIA operatives. They find out that Ned’s not actually married, and it quickly becomes apparent that Ned and the hostage negotiator are both F.U.L.C.R.U.M and have been in cahoots this whole time. When it seemed like he was calling his “wife,” Ned was actually calling the hostage negotiator to let him know that Chuck is the asset Sarah and Casey have been protecting. Inside the store, the hostage negotiator reveals to Chuck what he knows, and he demands to know the location of both Bryce and the Intersect. He says that Ned will shoot Ellie if Chuck doesn’t talk. Chuck says he doesn’t know where Bryce is (he thinks he’s dead), but he does know where the Intersect is. Chuck stupidly tells the hostage negotiator that he’s the Intersect.

The hostage negotiator tells Chuck the new plan. Chuck is going to be released into an ambulance, and the ambulance is going to take him to a secure F.U.L.C.R.U.M. facility. In one brief moment of compassion, the hostage negotiator does let Chuck say goodbye to Elle and Awesome. Chuck tells Awesome that now is the time to be brave. Which means Chuck wants Awesome to go ahead with the plan he was trying to draw up to tackle Ned (which Chuck vehemently opposed up to this point). The plan at first seems to go hilariously badly, mostly because Ned’s got some sweet F.U.L.C.R.U.M. moves. Jeff and Lester attack Ned with plastic candy canes, and it reminds me of Merry and Pippin charging that troll in “Fellowship of the Ring” after they think it’s killed Frodo. Morgan ends up saving the day by popping up from the fake snow in the Santa’s Village and spraying the fake snow at Ned.

Outside, Sarah and Casey see Chuck being loaded into the ambulance, and the shoot the tires of the ambulance out before it can get very far. Chuck uses the opportunity to escape from the ambulance, and there’s a brief chase through a Christmas tree stand. Sarah catches up with the hostage negotiator and has him at gunpoint. He says that if he’s arrested, F.U.L.C.R.U.M. will stop at nothing to get him back, and when they do, he’ll tell them that Chuck is the Intersect. Not wanting to take any chances, Sarah shoots him point blank in the head. Chuck sees this from behind a nearby Christmas tree and wonders if everything he thought about Sarah was wrong.

The final scene is the aftermath at the Buy More, which consists mostly of happy reunions. Two characters aren’t especially happy, though. Chuck and Morgan have both had a rather rough time. Chuck’s still shaken by what he saw Sarah do. Morgan’s upset because Anna still refuses to take him back after the whole chickening out about moving in together incident, and worse still, she kissed Lester as he was rolled away on a gurney following the whole failed attack on Ned. For the record, Anna realized kissing Lester was just plain gross and regretted it almost instantly. She still doesn’t want Morgan back, though. Chuck and Morgan, both melancholy, have a bit of a bro moment over how their women both did something unspeakable. So it’s not the merriest Christmas for the “Chuck” crew, but I hope all of you had a very merry Christmas yourselves!

Monday, December 24, 2012

HIMYM 8.10: "The Over-Correction"

“Sometimes you fall for someone you’d never expect, but that doesn’t make it wrong. Doesn’t everyone deserve to be happy?”

So “The Over-Correction” was as overly broad and cartoonish as most of the episodes of HIMYM lately, but so help me, I actually laughed at some of it. I feel dirty. I guess part of that could be because I know that things turn out okay (for now) for Barney and Robin soon enough. This was definitely a jokey filler episode though, in the vein of some of the series’ worst episodes like “Rabbit or Duck?” I have to admit that the gang all stuck in random closets (most of them in Barney’s apartment) was pretty darn funny, and Ted having a pretentious (and kind of funny) background plot was a welcome change from him being angsty in the foreground. And there were some decent callbacks to past seasons, too, such as Marshall’s love for fish-related standup comedy and the infamous “Intervention” banner. I’m not sure if knowing now that HIMYM has been renewed for a ninth (and hopefully final) season makes me more or less irritated at the filler-ness of this episode. If this was the eight season, I’d be upset that we were wasting our final hours with these characters on this silliness. Now that a ninth season is certain, I’m wondering if this might be a sign of how the creative team intends to stretch out the remaining story to fill an additional season. I’m not hopeful.

The main plot of this episode involves Robin failing to come to terms with Barney and Patrice’s new relationship. Robin can’t stand and doesn’t respect Patrice (her yelling at Patrice is a running gag on the show that isn’t nearly funny as her former work-related running gags), so she can’t for the life of her figure out what Barney sees in her. The rest of the gang spectulates, coining a new term for a social phenomenon as they often do, that Patrice is Barney’s “over-correction” after the untrustworthy Quinn. Robin is determined to put a stop to this, ostensibly to save the innocent Patrice from the nastiness that is Barney, and she wants to do this by showing Barney’s Playbook to Patrice. The idea being that if she sees the Playbook, Patrice will realize that Barney isn’t the kind of guy she wants to be with (and Robin will have him back for herself, naturally).

Meanwhile, Ted is kind of miffed that the rest of the gang keeps taking his stuff (all labeled “Property of Ted Moseby,” naturally) and not returning it. It’s silly stuff like a Cleveland Chamber of Commerce cooler (that Lily is now using to store pumped breast milk) and a Vote for Ted hoodie that Marshall took and never returned. And it turns out the gang has taken other stuff of Ted’s that Ted didn’t even know about. Like Barney taking Ted’s Christmas ornaments, for instance. This all comes to a head mid-way through the episode when Robin finds herself in Barney’s apartment, desperately snooping around for the Playbook. She finds other important books, like the Bro Code, hidden in secret retractable compartments that made me think of the National Archives, but she has trouble finding the Playbook. Just as she is about to hit paydirt, Barney comes home, and Robin has to run and hide in a closet. She hears Barney on the phone talking to Patrice and inviting her over for a nice night in, and Robin knows she’s going to need help to get out of the apartment unseen. She enlists Ted’s help on pain of destroying Ted’s prized red cowboy boots that are conveniently in Barney’s closet.

Ted lures Barney down to the lobby by saying that Hugh Hefner is there, and this provides just enough time for Robin to finally find the Playbook. It’s not enough time, however, for her to escape the apartment. She ends up having to hide in the closet again. Robin wants Ted to continue helping her, so she texts him a hilarious picture of herself with the boots and her pocket knife that reminds me of something out of Robin 101. Ted tries to lure Barney downstairs by saying Jon Bon Jovi is there, but Barney isn’t buying it this time. Robin does, however, manage to get the Playbook in a position where Patrice will eventually find it. By the point that Patrice discovers the Playbook, we’ve discovered that Lily is hiding in Barney’s apartment, too. Apparently his big screen TV makes it a pretty kickass retreat for pumping breast milk, but Lily doesn’t want Barney to know she’s been taking advantage.

Marshall is the only one of the gang who doesn’t end up in Barney’s apartment. He’s back home dealing with his own nightmare. His mom, Judy, has come for a visit. He really wanted her to stay at the apartment, in spite of Lily presenting him with an extensive list of alternate options. Mostly because the apartment is kind of crowded with the baby and Lily’s dad, Mickey, being around most of the time. Early in the episode, Judy reveals to Lily that she thinks she might be ready to get back into the dating scene. I thought this was a little preposterous, considering her husband of several decades hasn’t even been dead for an entire year yet, but whatever. Lily thinks it’s a great thing that Judy wants to get out there again. What she doesn’t anticipate is what Marshall discovers, to his horror. He hears his mom and Lily’s dad having sex over the baby monitor. He tries to call Lily immediately, but she’s too wrapped up in the drama over at Barney’s apartment.

Anyway, when Patrice discovers the Playbook, she’s not happy, and Barney makes a big show of trying to prove to her that he’s a changed man. They have a long conversation out on the balcony, conveniently out of earshot of the rest of the gang. Then Barney takes a very drastic step. He burns the Playbook. The rest of the gang looks on in shock. Robin still thinks she has a chance of breaking Barney and Patrice up, though, and the rest of the gang (minus Barney) end up staging an intervention to basically tell her she’s gone whackadoodle. Meanwhile, Lily is horrified to learn Marshall’s news, although she and Marsall do try to put up a supportive front. Until Judy and Mickey say they’re just “family with benefits,” that is. Gross.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Fringe 5.08: "The Human Kind"

“Peter I've lost you before over this and I'm not going to let that happen again. Now, your thinking is way ahead of mine, I understand that, but the fact that I am here has got nothing to do with any of that, except feeling. And soon, you're not going to be able to feel anything, not for me, not for Etta.”

I have to admit, “The Human Kind” kind of threw me for a loop, much in the same way as the final season of “Lost.” I guess that shouldn’t be surprising considering both shows are under the Bad Robot banner, but I still don’t quite know what to make of it. I was glad that the very misguided plot of turning Peter into an Observer seems to have been rectified, but on the other hand, the solution to that problem seems a bit too simple. Almost as if the creative team said “oops…Peter as an Observer is depressing…nevermind.” There really wasn’t a lot of meat to this episode. The team (minus Peter) diligently continued on Operation: Betamax while Peter was continuing to try and rearrange Windmark’s future. It’s a little disappointing that we’re still getting episodes with so much filler so close to the end of the series overall. My mom has been watching older episodes of “Fringe” on the Science Channel lately and lamenting about how the show has changed so much in the past couple seasons. I guess it’s just made me grumpy about the show in general.

Anyway, the episode opens with Olivia meeting with Aneil, the team’s Resistance contact. Aneil has more Observer tech, and he turns it over to Olivia. The hope is that the Fringe team will be able to run tests on the Observer tech and get a better sense of what is happening to Peter. Peter, meanwhile, is in his lair, continuing to furiously plot out Windmark’s timeline. It a kind of confusingly cut sequence of scenes, some Observers, including Windmark, discover Peter’s timeline and figure out what he’s trying to do. The fact that Peter has “you are here” plotted out for when Windmark discovers the timeline is kind of creepy. At the lab, Olivia shows the rest of the team the Observer tech, and everyone is understandably very concerned. Walter calls Peter, begging him to come back to the lab, but Peter brushes him off. Olivia is shaken up by the whole situation (understandably), so she just wants to dive into the next Betamax tape mission. This involves going off in search of a very large magnet.

When we next see Peter, he’s still trying to change Windmark’s future in very small ways, believing that all of this will add up to one big change that will let him kill Windmark. This one is as simple of setting up a cup of tea so that Windmark will bump into it and miss the walk sign to cross the street. It turns out that Windmark, since he has figured out what Peter is up to (thanks to seeing the timeline), has been making his own tiny adjustments to the future. This culminates in a rather strange Matrix-like Observer fight between Peter, Windmark, and another Observer. Peter manages to kill the other Observer and get away from the fight. Windmark, however, is still very much alive. Peter feels no pain from his injuries, which makes sense considering what Walter has discovered through experimenting with Observer tech. Walter can extrapolate the changes the tech makes in the brain, and he can see that as certain abilities are enhanced, emotions are destroyed.

Olivia drives out to the country for her magnet, and she makes her way to what looks like a junkyard. Olivia asks for a magnet, and one of the junkyard proprietors goes and talks to a woman before giving Olivia an answer about the magnet. The conversation between the two junk yard proprietors is quite deliberately mysterious. They look at an image of Olivia, and the woman says, “that’s her.” It turns out that the woman’s name is Simone, and she tells Olivia about a man long ago who asked her mother to keep a magnet safe for when it would be needed. Olivia figures that the man must have been Walter. Olivia can’t leave with the magnet right away because she’s waiting for fuel for the truck that will transport the magnet. While she’s waiting, a little girl tells her that people have been saying Olivia is her reward wire. Olivia immediately goes into action, pulling a gun on Simone and warning her that there had better not be Observers on their way. Simone assures Olivia that the junk yard is legit, and just at that moment, someone arrives with the fuel for the truck.

As they walk to the truck, Olivia and Simone have a vintage “Lost” season 2 science versus faith conversation. With Simone on the side of faith, of course. Olivia isn’t impressed, and she drives off before the conversation can go much further and reveal how Simone knew Olivia would be coming. As Olivia is driving, she comes upon what looks like an accident scene. There are smoking cars on the side of the road. Olivia turns finds a child-size doll, and as she turns it over, two highwaymen ambush her. The whole thing felt very Rousseau-like. When they realize she’s a highly sought after fugitive, the highwaymen take Olivia back to their compound, and one of them calls the reward wire. The highway man demands that the Observers pay him up front for delivery of Olivia. Windmark actually agrees to this. As the highwaymen are trying to drag her to their vehicle, however, Olivia gets the better of them. She uses a bullet she got from Etta to shoot and kill them.

Peter shows up at the lab asking to be patched up from the big Observer fight. As he’s working, Walter tries to explain to Peter what the Observer tech is doing to his brain, but Peter doesn’t really seem to care. Peter leaves the lab as soon as Walter is done patching him up, which I found to be kind of disappointing. Safe from the highwaymen and Observers, Olivia calls Walter and demands to know where Peter is. Olivia finds Peter and starts talking to him about needing to hold on to Etta. Peter just desperately wants to be able to kill Windmark, and the Observer tech has made him rather single-minded in this goal. Eventually, though, as Olivia keeps talking, Peter’s memories of his family come flashing back like it’s “Lost” season 6 in the sidewaysverse and Desmond just crashed into somebody. Suddenly, Peter takes a knife and literally cuts the tech out of his head. What a lovely way to end an episode. Or not.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Person of Interest 2.09: "C.O.D."

“I can help you make things right, Herman. But you gotta trust me.”
- Reese

This week’s new number is a cab driver named Herman. At first glance he seems like a standup guy. He pays his bills on time, has good credit and no complaints from anyone. He’s driving a passenger who tells him to wait for a call and he’d get the second half of $500 (literally ripped the bills in half). Finch and Reese weasel their way into his cab to plant tracking, video and sound. They’re going to try to keep an eye on all of his customers since they don’t know where the threat could be. Finch also learns that Herman defected from Cuba and was a really good baseball player but missed his chance at the majors when he hurt his arm, ending his career five years ago. He’s been driving the cab ever since. Finch has Carter checking his GPS log against the police scanner for the last couple days to see if anything pops. Meanwhile, Simmons and the head of HR are chatting. They need back in Elias’ good graces. So Simmons is going to set up a meeting and poor Lionel is getting dragged along for the ride.

Reese is tailing Herman and realizes that he’s emptied out his entire savings and is carrying it around in a garbage bag in the trunk of his cab. He goes to meet a guy named Mr. Mendoza and hands over the money. Looks like Mendoza is a coyote to getting people out of Cuba. And the prick has just upped the price. Herman will need twice what he has (so $80,000) to get Herman’s wife and son out of Cuba and into the country. Herman is getting desperate now. He goes to a former baseball buddy and fellow defector and asks for some money. Obviously it isn’t anywhere near enough what he needs to save his family.

Lionel is a little annoyed he has to go meet Elias’ guys but Simmons twists his arm. It looks like things may be looking good for HR when Elias agrees to put everything in the past if they bring the last mafia Don to his boys (out of Witness Protection). Carter is continuing to dig into Herman’s route the previous couple days and ends up at a crime scene in Morning Side Park. The guy from the start of the episode, a Russian national is dead. Carter is going to have to stick close to this one since the Secret Service is involved. Meanwhile, a Russian woman gets in Herman’s cab and after making him drive to an isolated location, asks what happened to her friend Mr. Bullet Hole. Herman denies knowing anything and she gets out. Reese climbs in and they narrowly escape as two cars try to box them in and shoot them.

Herman is understandably freaked out by all of this but Reese finally gets him to admit that the Russian left a laptop in the car and seeing as Herman needed the money to get his family out of Cuba, he sold it to a friend. Unfortunately, when they go to talk to the friend to get the laptop back, the laptop is gone, the store is trashed and the friend is dead. They need to figure out where it went and what the hell is on it. Finch works his magic and discovers that the shop owner sold the laptop online to someone named Demon Eight. So now Finch just has to track it down. He’s discovered that the Russian probably put a beacon on the laptop that activates when it’s loaded. He assumes the woman (part of the Estonian mob) has the access code and has been tracking it as it moved along. Carter helps put more of the puzzle together when she feeds some intel to the Secret Service. She learns that the reason the government was so interested in the Russian is that he’s a high grade hacker who stole drone codes and sold them to someone in Pakistan. But they don’t know what’s on the laptop. Carter invites her Secret Service contact to the crime scene at the computer store.

Reese and Herman have a little heart to heart in the cab. Reese understands why Herman did what he did but it obviously isn’t working for him. But Reese wants to help. Herman just needs to trust him. And shortly thereafter, Finch not only finds Demon Eight, but sets up a buy for the laptop. And he’s figured out what’s on it. There are thousands of IDs stolen from the government. If terrorists got their hands on it, they could sneak into the country using stolen credentials. It would be way more than just bad. It would be catastrophic. Finch sends Reese to the buy but the place is empty. It’s wired with surveillance. So creepy.

At the precinct, Lionel gets a call from Simmons. He’s being ordered to go get the last mafia Don. Lionel wants out, though. Not likely, Lionel. Especially when Simmons emails him video footage of the file he stole last year and the fact that there are people missing. Lionel tries to call Reese but it’s not a good time. Finch tracked the laptop to a pool hall but Reese gets held up by some Estonian thugs. Lionel calls Simmons back and says he’s in. Meanwhile, Carter watches surveillance from the computer shop and see our blond woman. Finch heads out to the pool hall with Bear and ends up making Demon Eight disappear. Unfortunately, Ms. Estonia shows up.

Reese and Herman show up just in time to deliver a smack down. Even Bear gets to take down a bad guy. Carter calls saying they need to get out of the pool hall since the cops are on the way. Meanwhile, Lionel has an awkward conversation with Reese when Reese calls him back. Reese is a little concerned. Lionel is edgy about what’s going down with HR and Elias. Turns out, Elias tipped the don off and he wants Lionel to go back to HR with a message (after shooting the new guy that Lionel was with).

Things seem to be going well. Reese and Finch manage to hook Herman up with Carter and she gets his family in the country. We leave them as father and son play catch. Unfortunately, Lionel delivers the message to Simmons and pretty says he’s out for good. And then Simmons makes a call to Carter, telling her that the IA investigator from last year (who caught Lionel stealing recorded) was murdered by a cop. That is not going to end well. Sadly, I don’t think

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Nashville 1.08: "Where He Leads Me"

“You have more talent than anybody that I know. Somebody should tell you that every day. So I’m telling you.”

“Where He Leads Me” was definitely the most relationship-focused of the very relationship-driven “Nashille.” We had the Gunnar/Scarlett/Avery/Hilary quadrangle of doom, the Rayna/Teddy/Deacon triangle of doom, and Juliette and Sean all sharing the spotlight. Each relationship had their important moments in this episode for sure. I like the soapy relationship stuff better than the political intrigue, so this was definitely an enjoyable (for the most part) episode for me. The only thing that could have made it better would have been more music. Gunnar and Scarlett music, specifically. Their stuff is just so gorgeous. It’s pretty much the only country music I own (yes, I have downloaded “Nashville” songs…only Gunnar and Scarlett songs, mind you…although “Wrong Song” is quite tempting as well…from Amazon). I like that this show, unlike much of what I watched, left us with emotional cliffhangers as opposed to life or death cliffhangers. It’s nice to have some variety in the television viewing for sure. It satisfies the girly side of my brain that likes soapy television now and then.

Anyway, this episode picks up pretty much right after the last one left off. It’s the aftermath of the big Edgehill Records anniversary concert. Rayna’s team is all fawning over her and congratulating her, saying that the big finale with Juliette was awesome. The only person who is being a downer is Teddy. He just wants to go home, presumably so he can unload all this “affair” crap on Rayna. And when they get home, unload he does. He tells Rayna about the photos. He also, however, completely lies about the context. He tells Rayna he was trying to comfort Peggy, who was going through a hard time. He mentions nothing about the whole credit union scandal. Rayna really does need to leave that slimebag. Preferably yesterday. She’s too good for his games. Rayna confronts Coleman about the situation, and he shows her the photos. She seems to be more upset about Coleman stooping so low as to hurt her family as opposed to being upset at Teddy being a complete idiot.

On the opposite end of the relationship spectrum, Juliette and Sean appear to be progressing nicely, even with Sean’s determination to wait until marriage for sex. Sean tells Juliette that his parents really want to meet her, and he’s hoping she can come with all of them to church. Because Juliette Barnes in church will so turn out well. It actually isn’t all that horrible, really. Sean’s little sister loves Juliette, and she invites Juliette to sing with the church choir. Instead of Juliette just singing along with some hymns, it turns out to be a whole big production number with Juliette as the soloist. That was a little irksome, but I think overall, this plot was one of the more compelling of the episode. After the service, Sean’s mom invites Juliette to dinner, and Juliette starts to feel like she might be gaining the family she never had. Juliette seems to be continuing to win over Sean’s family at dinner, especially when she gives Sean’s sister pink cowboy boots from one of her music videos. After dinner, though, Sean’s mom is a total bitch, telling Juliette that with her background, she’ll never fit in with their family.

Some of the biggest drama in this episode, I think, revolves around the Scarlett/Gunnar/Avery/Hayley quadrangle of doom. Before work one day, Hayley complements Scarlett on her rendition of “Ring of Fire” at the bar and gives her information about a band that is looking for a new female lead singer. Scarlett mentions this to Gunnar while they’re writing, and he’s kind of pissed at Hayley. He’s seeing it as a deliberate attempt by Hayley to keep him from spending too much time with Scarlett. Scarlett goes all innocent and “well obviously I wouldn’t be good enough for them to actually pick me,” which I found really freaking annoying. Just as soon as she’s broken up with Avery, Scarlett’s acting like the subservient shrinking violet for Gunnar. This kind of makes me rethink being a fan of their relationship. Still love their music, though. Speaking of Avery, a bit time record producer want to work with Avery in Atlanta, and Avery is thrilled. He stops by to see Scarlett and gives her his “record deal” bottle of champagne as a sort of peace offering. Now that he knows what it feels like to have some success, he’s feeling bad about acting like a jerk when Scarlett first got her deal. Scarlett looks a little wistful at this, which proves she’s just as much an idiot as I thought she was.

Rayna talks to her sister, Tandy, about the whole Teddy situation. Tandy assures Rayna that as far as she knows, Teddy’s not a cheater, but she also lets slip that the famiy is about to have a strategy meeting to figure out how to best spin the situation. Rayna decides to invite herself to this strategy meeting, and just as she’s chewing her family out for not planning to include her in the first place, the pictures of Teddy and Peggy go up on a TMZ-like website. Rayna goes to Peggy’s house, thinking maybe they can talk things through, but she finds a gathering of neighbors and an ambulance. Peggy has overdosed on pills. Rayna demands the whole truth from Teddy, smartly realizing that there must be something to these pictures if Peggy is attempting suicide over them. Teddy finally comes clean about the credit union incident, although he places a bit too much of the blame on Peggy for my taste. The realization that her husband is a thief makes Rayna (finally!) consider leaving him.

Gunnar rather stupidly yells at Hayley for giving Scarlett the information about the band looking for a singer. Hayley calls Gunnar on the fact that he clearly has a thing for Scarlett, and she breaks up with him before he can protest too much. Later that evening when he and Scarlett are prepping the Bluebird for opening, Gunnar goes and does something even more stupid. He starts telling Scarlett how talented she is, and he kisses her. Scarlett seems into it for about two seconds before she pulls away. Normally I’d be happy to see some Gunnar/Scarlett progress, but to kiss Scarlett less than a day after getting out of another relationship just seems tacky. That night, Gunnar sings one of the songs he and Scarlett wrote for the crowd at the Bluebird. It seems like he might be winning Scarlett over, but the next day at their day job, Scarlett says she “needs time” and wants to try writing separately for a little while. B the end of the episode, an executive at the publishing house tells Gunnar and Scarlett that one of their songs has been put “on hold,” which apparently is another step towards getting an artist to actually record it. They share a celebratory bottle of champagne, but the callback to Avery’s gesture earlier in the episode makes me wonder if this will just drive Gunnar and Scarlett farther apart. Especially considering that the producer told Avery that he only wants to work with him, not the rest of the band. Avery might be back in Nashville sooner than expected out of guilt.

Deacon is friends with the members of a successful band called The Rebel Kings, and they’re in town for a short respite before heading back out on tour. Deacon is hanging out with them and finds out that the band members are all newly committed to being sober and they also want Deacon to play with them on the next leg of the tour. Deacon tells Juliette about this, and Juliette thinks he’s crazy for even considering turning the opportunity down. Then Deacon makes the mistake of trying to give Juliette a letter that her mother wrote to her in rehab. Juliette throws Deacon out for that one. Deacon then talks to Rayna (the person who is really keeping him in Nashville), and she gives her blessing for the tour. Rayna then goes and plays the Good Wife at a press conference for Teddy (blech), and Deacon finally accepts the offer to go on the tour. After the press conference of disgustingness, Rayna meets up with label head Marshall Evans. Thanks to Rayna and Juliette’s song blowing up on the charts, he wants Rayna and Juliette to do truly co-headlining arena tour. Surprisingly, Rayna doesn’t say know. Juliette might have other plans, though. Desperate to have a “real” family, Juliette asks Sean to marry her. While I applaud Juliette for going after what she wants, it made for a kind of terrible cliffhanger. I really want to know what is going to happen to Gunnar and Scarlett since I like their music so much.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Arrow 1.08: "Vendetta"

“I guess you were right. I’m more interested in revenge.”
- Helena

We pick up this week shortly where we left Oliver and Helena at the end of last episode. They’ve obviously slept together. Helena sneaks off and rolls up on her bike where the leader of Triad is getting into his car with lots of bodyguards. Helena is about to shoot him when Oliver intervenes. It turns into a bit of a crazy shoot-out but Oliver gets Helena to safety. She’s not happy he interrupted her attempt to get the Triad to retaliate against her father. Oli ends up taking her to the diner where he tries to convince her to let him show her his way of dealing with people. She’s not really interested. That night, while Oli is doing his work out (because no episode of Arrow would be complete without him being shirtless), Diggle vehemently disapproves of what Oliver is doing. Oli thinks he can save Helena but Dig isn’t so sure she wants to be saved.

We have a small-ish side plot with Walter and Felicity (our cheery and quirky IT girl who found the Queen’s Gambit location). Walter has returned from Australia and he assures Moira that everything is fine between them. At first, he reacts poorly when Felicity digs deeper into Tempest without his say so. She discovers the symbol in Oli’s book of names. He threatens to fire her if she does anything like that again. But when Walter starts digging after Moira goes to some board of directors meeting for an art gallery, he finds a matching notebook in the house. He’s confused because the pages are blank so he enlists Felicity again to solve the puzzle. He warns her that she needs to be careful. After all, the last person he asked to look into this thing ended up dead of suspicious causes. That doesn’t seem to faze Felicity much. She’s up for the mystery-solving and the challenge. She strikes metaphorical gold (or UV light in this case) when she discovers that while the pages are blank under normal light, they show up under UV spectrum lights. I guess that makes sense since Oliver’s book reacted in a similar way to the heat of a fire. So it would appear Walter is inching ever closer to whatever it is Tommy’s dad and Moira are up to.

Back with Oliver and Helena, he’s stopped by the house to take her on a little trip. They end up at Sarah’s grave and he explains his past and what he did to Laurel and Sarah and how he ruined their family pre-island. Helena wants to trust Oliver but she’s scared (what with the last guy getting murdered and all). Oliver swears he won’t hurt her. He takes her back to the man cave and is trying to teach her to use a bow and arrow. She’s not impressed by the weapon. Well, not until Oli starts showing off, shooting random objects she’s tossing into the air. Diggle shows up and he’s barely civil to Helena. He expresses his distrust to Oliver again but Oli just isn’t listening. He’s going to help Helena get on the right track. And so, that night, they take out Anthony Venza, one of Helena’s dad’s business associates. They take him and his goons out with minimal carnage and it appears Helena is pleased with the result.

The next evening, Helena seems to be in a good mood as she watches her father try to deal with the fallout of Venza getting arrested and losing a big chunk of his business revenue. She heads out to meet Oliver for a dinner date. It turns out they had the same idea as Laurel and Tommy. They all end up at the opening night of a new restaurant. It’s wicked expensive and obviously without access to any funds, Tommy can’t afford it. Things go sideways when Laurel mentions Oliver and Tommy working together on Oli’s night club. Tommy was supposed to talk to Oliver about the idea but never did. The couples break apart pretty quickly. Tommy feels too much pressure from Laurel and he doesn’t believe she and Oli are over. And Helena feels like Oli’s hurt her by making her go to dinner with the love of his life (actually Helena, it was your idea to invite them to your table). So things are not going so well in Starling City.

Tommy shows up at Laurel’s apartment to apologize. He was acting like an immature brat who has never had to take on any responsibility in his life and it scares him to have to rely on other people. Laurel says that he will be fine and that it’s okay to lean on other people. They share a kiss while we cut to Oliver, brooding in the man cave. Diggle appears and Oliver admits that his bodyguard/associate was right about Helena. Oli wanted to save her, to change her because he’s tired of keeping people at arm’s length. He thought the universe owed him one. Unfortunately, as he’s whining about how unfair being a masked vigilante is, Helena is off shooting the Triad to provoke her father to action so she can take him out. Oliver gets to the scene and calls Dig with a cryptic message: war.

The Triad shows up at the Bertanelli compound and things get dicey. Lots of people shooting and flipping over bannisters, including Oliver and Helena. Oli saves Frank as he’s trying to escape with the laptop full of evidence Helena had collected and was ready to hand over to the FBI. Frank makes off with it, only to get shot by Helena. She reveals her true motive and is about to kill her father when Oliver intervenes. They start scuffling and Frank shoots Helena. It’s only a flesh wound and after Oliver professes to care about Helena and tell her that her dad is going to prison for a very long time, she storms off with the threat that if he doesn’t stay out of her way, his secret will not be so secret anymore. Oliver is rather dejected and heads out to the diner where Diggle finds him with the remnants of chili cheese fries with jalapenos. Diggle gives Oli a pep talk about love and Oli heads out to offer Tommy the General Manager position at his night club. Even though Oliver lost the girl, he righted some wrongs in the city, served his father’s wishes and helped his best friend out. Not a bad week for Mr. Queen.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

New Girl 2.10: "Bathtub"

“Took my suits, left the douchebag jar. Typical methhead.”

I wouldn’t put “Bathtub” in the pantheon of great episodes of “New Girl,” but it had its entertaining moments. I like that this particular episode pared up Jess with Winston in a quest to get a bathtub for the apartment and later cover up the damage done by said bathtub. I always appreciate when tv shows switch up the typical character pairings. It’s a good way to spice things up without going to crazy plot-wise. Not only did this episode pair up Winston and Jess, it also put a bit more focus on Winston as opposed to most other episodes this season. On the more negative side, Nick’s plot in this one was kind of inconsequential, and Schmidt’s character arc just continues to make me sad. This episode saw Nick start a relationship with a stripper named Angie played by Olivia Munn. I’m a fan of Olivia Munn, but I’m already getting tired of the parade of distractions on the road to Nick and Jess finally getting their act together. Schmidt has finally broken free from being his boss’ kept man, but the punches just keep coming as he tries to win Cece back. I suppose if Nick and Jess and Schmidt and Cece were all together, the show would pretty much be over, but road blocks get old quick.

The episode opens with Jess giving a presentation to the rest of the roommates. Now that she’s working full time again, she wants to be able to come home from work and have a relaxing bath. There’s just one problem. The loft has no bathtub. Nick and Schmidt think this is a horrible idea, because, let’s face it, baths are kind of gross (you’re sitting in your own filth, people!). Winston, however, secretly wants a bathtub, but he doesn’t want to say so in front of the other guys. Winston and Jess join forces to secretly procure a bathtub, and their plan is to keep it up on the roof until they can sneak it into the apartment. They’re enjoying the tub up on the roof when two of the legs break, and water spills everywhere. Schmidt’s closet with all his many suits is ruined. And it’s terrible timing for this, too. Big things are happening for Schmidt, but more on that later. Winston and Jess then spend pretty much the rest of the episode trying to deflect blame for the suit-tastrophe. They try to pretend that some methheads broke into the loft and trashed the place. The lie gets more and more complicated, and hilarity ensues.

Let’s see if we can get through Nick’s plot pretty quickly, too, before moving on to the tragedy that is Schmidt. Nick has a very wise policy of never crossing the bar while working, because when he does, ba things happen. Like breaking up cat fights bad. Nick is tempted to break this policy, though, when he sees Angie. Even before he talks to her, he’s convinced they’re perfectly matched. They like similar drinks and have lots of other similar tastes. Nick crosses the bar for her, and a big fight involving her boyfriend ensues. The boyfriend needs stitches, and Angie says that someone at her work can do stitches. That’s when Nick discovers she’s a stripper. As we learned from Barney and Quinn on HIMYM, that will probably lead to jealousy issues and won’t end well. At least Nick isn’t a frequenter of strip clubs, though (that we know of), so that avoids some potential awkwardness in the future. Nick tries to call things off with Angie, telling her about his no going across the bar rule, but Angie figures out a way around that. She crosses the bar for Nick.

And now somehow I have to write four-hundred words about the tragedy that is Schmidt in this episode (and the last few episodes overall, really). Early in the episode, Schmidt’s boss has a new assignment for him. Now that he’s not her kept man anymore, she wants him to work on a campaign for a new client, Vitamin Vodka. Meanwhile, Schmidt has come to the realization (with a lot of pushing from the other roommates) that he is actually in love with Cece. It just so happens that Cece just broke up with Robbie due to his not wanting to have kids right away. Schmidt needs good suits both for his Vitamin Vodka pitch meeting and his upcoming profession of love to Cece. So the suit-tastrophe really is poorly timed. Schmidt ends up professing his love to Cece in a really terrible suit with a lightning bolt on the back, but surprisingly, Cece doesn’t turn him down. She agrees to have dinner. Unfortunately for Schmidt, this date is in direct conflict with his job. Schmidt’s boss wants him to do a ridiculous number of Vitamin Vodka shots so he truly understands the project, and Schmidt stupidly agrees to this. By the time he meets up with Cece, he’s completely trashed, and he just ends up sleeping on her couch. Cece doesn’t think Schmidt is father material after this incident, so she calls her mom and asks her to start setting up arranged dates. Schmidt is absolutely devastated, because he thinks he has lost Cece forever. I mean, this is television, so we know that won’t actually be the case, but Schmidt doesn’t know that.

I find this transition of Schmidt from a cartoonish, Barney Stinson-like character (the suit-tastrophe made me go find the video of Barney singing “Nothing Suits Me Like a Suit”) to storytelling punching bag quite interesting. I suppose it speaks to Max Greenfield’s range as an actor that the creative team has decided to give him this material. It just feels like too much, though, especially for a comedy. I’m not saying that Schmidt should never face adversity, but what’s happened to him, in the past couple weeks especially, makes me actively sad. I watch “New Girl” to have warm fuzzies at the end of the half hour. Here’s hoping Schmidt’s life is back on track sooner rather than later

Sunday, December 9, 2012

HIMYM 8.09: "Lobster Crawl"

“Now that we’ve been parents for a while, we realize that pretty much any moron can take care of a baby.”

“Lobster Crawl” was probably one of my least favorite HIMYM episodes of all time. Mostly because it utterly destroyed the character of Robin. For the one, maybe two, of you who read this blog, you know I’m a diehard Barney and Robin fan. I can recite all their great moment from “Zip Zip Zip” onward. This episode kind of makes me want to throw in the towel on them. Watching Robin demean herself in this episode just made me want to hide my face in the couch from the embarrassment squick. And to top it all off, there was a Lily and Marshall story that was such a typical new parents television story that it wasn’t even really worth the telling. The only saving grace was Barney having some genuinely funny moments and mostly acting like a human being instead of a cartoon. I’m still in disbelief, really. Maybe that means I should go watch the rest of “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” and let my thoughts settle, but blogging waits for no one!

Much of this episode takes place at MacLaren’s. The gang is sitting around having dinner and drinks (and Lily and Marshall are feeling like terrible parents for having Marvin there with them), and Robin is just plain embarrassing herself. She’s all obviously giggly at everything Barney says, and she’s constantly twirling her hair like a nervous schoolgirl. It’s ridiculous. Barney, meanwhile, is oblivious to this because a tragedy has happened. He’s gotten ketchup on one of his favorite ties. The tie is beyond saving, so he spends much of the episode in mourning and inventing something called the “Bro Bib” to try and save his other ties from the same fate. This was pretty amusing, even if bordering on cartoonish. Marshall and Lily mention that Mickey is sick, so they have nobody to watch over Marvin, and Ted, of course, immediately volunteers. His work on the GNB building has wrapped up, and the fall term at Columbia has wrapped up as well, so he has some time on his hands. Marshall and Lily are only too happy to accept the help.

Robin and Lily have a little pow wow when Robin fills Lily in on what has happened between her and Barney in the past couple episodes. Lily calls Robin on only wanting Barney because he’s shut the door. Lily compares it to the time a doctor told Robin she was allergic to lobster, and Robin proceeded to almost kill herself by gorging on lobster. This seems like it was just an excuse to get Cobie Smulders in a disgusting swollen allergy face makeup, which really isn’t all that funny. I just can’t believe that Robin Scherbatsky, who is supposed to be an intelligent woman, would do such a thing. Robin remembers that after that gorging/near death experience, she never wanted lobster again. So now she thinks that if she can just have sex with Barney one more time, she’ll get him out of her system for good. Lily doesn’t think this is an especially good idea, but Robin goes with it anyway. She does everything she can think of to win Barney back, including playing laser tag. He’s not having it, though.

Anyway, Ted babysitting Marvin seems to be going well. Lily and Marshall are thrown for a bit of a loop, though, when Ted tells them that Marvin has crawled. Lily is devastated that she missed her son’s first crawl. She starts filming Marvin and demanding that he crawl. Even when she and Robin go out to have girl talk, she tells Marshall that she’ll leave him if Marvin crawls again and he fails to film it. It’s kind of obnoxious, really. Then Ted starts taking the babysitting thing way too far. He’s signing Marvin up for swimming lessons and making a scrapbooks of Marvin’s first. The book had Marvin’s first spaghetti dinner and, most offensive to Marshall and Lily, Marvin’s first time seeing Santa Claus. They’re pissed off that Ted has taken all of these firsts away from them, so they decide they need to find another project for Ted to work on. They stage an intervention for Ted (sadly, without the official Intervention Banner) at the community pool, and they have a head hunter there to talk to him about potential future architecture projects. I don’t think that a new work project is going to fill the hole that Ted was trying to fill with Marvin, though. I think part of Ted’s behavior with Marvin was due to his own frustration at not having a family of his own yet.

Lily suggests to Robin that she catch Barney’s interest by kissing and dancing with a woman (hoping that woman will be herself, of course). Instead, Robin gets her kind of ditzy coworker Brandi to participate instead. The plan works, but not quite how Robin hoped. Barney ends up picking up Brandi, and they go to the WWN studios, ostensibly to have sex in the weather studio. I should have absolutely hated Brandi, because not only is she after Barney, she’s ditzy, but she’s played by Chelan Simmons, aka Gretchen Speck-Horowitz from “Wonderfalls” and the upcoming new Bryan Fuller series (probably not premiering until summer) “Hannibal.” I just can’t hate a character played by Chelan. She’s got the Bryan Fuller stamp of approval, after all.

Anyway, Robin decides to make one last attempt to snag Barney by going to his apartment in lingerie. Barney isn’t alone in his apartment, though. He’s on a date. With Robin’s annoying coworker Patrice. Apparently he ran into Patrice when he went back to the WWN studios with Brandi, and he ended up ditching Brandi for Patrice because they could talk with each other so easily. Their date at the moment is consisting of card games. While its clear Barney is trying to change, I really don’t think this is going to last very long. Despite the many gross aspects of this episode, the ending was kind of sweet. A “few years later,” Marshall and Lily are babysitting for Ted’s daughter while Ted and the Mother have a date night. Lily goes into evil mode as she tells Ted’s infant daughter that it’s time for them to go see Santa.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Once Upon a Time 2.09: "Queen of Hearts"

“Oh you foolish girl! Don’t you know? Love is weakness.”

The fall finale of “Once Upon a Time” showed one area where creators Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz seem to have learned from their experience working on “Lost.” They seem to be making an effort here to parcel out the mythology in small bites and create defined story arks within that larger mythology. There isn’t one defined goal for the whole series like there was on “Lost” (getting off the Island…or so we thought). Instead, there seems to be a goal per season or half season. Last season it was breaking the curse and making the people of Storybrooke remember their true identities. This half-season was about getting Emma and Snow back to Storybrooke. This will hopefully help Kitsis and Horowitz to avoid completely pointless episodes like “Lost’s” “Stranger in a Strange Land,” because there is always something new that the characters are working to achieve. In the course of watching the characters try to meet these goals, we’ve been given backstory, often in the form of the character-centric episodes that were a staple of “Lost.” Actually, I think that “Once Upon a Time” is strongest when it sticks to the character-centric episode model. When it doesn’t it becomes a bit meandering and disjointed. This particular episode wasn’t character-centric, but because it was trying to wrap up the story arc, it held together anyway.

We start with an Enchanted Forest flashback, where Hook finds Belle in Regina’s dungeons. Hook offers to free Belle if she helps him kill Rumpelstiltskin (because of that whole feud they had over Rumpel’s wife back in the day). Belle, since she’s still inexplicably in love with Rumpelstiltskin, refuses. Hook is about to attack Belle when Regina enters the dungeon and stops him. Regina says that she is in a better position to help Hook kill Rumpelstiltskin, and she will help him if Hook helps her kill her mother in exchange. Hook agrees, and Regina pulls out Jefferson’s hat to send Hook to the land to which she banished Cora long ago. Wonderland, of course. It doesn’t take Hook long at all to find Cora in Wonderland. She’s the Queen of Hearts, naturally. And so we see the beginning of Hook and Cora’s unholy alliance.

Cora explains to Hook that if Regina’s curse happens as planned, it will still be more difficult than Hook thinks to kill Rumpelstiltskin. In the land without magic, nobody will remember their true identities, so Hook won’t even remember that he wants to kill Rumpelstiltskin. Instead, Cora wants Hook to help her kill Regina. So Hook and Cora head back to the Enchanted Forest, and Hook shows Regina a seemingly dead Cora in a coffin. Regina asks for some time to say goodbye, and she gives this long monologue about how Cora was her weakness, and now that she’s gone, she can do what she needs to do. After Regina leaves the room, Cora sits up, clearly not dead. She’s shaken by what Regina said, and she’s worried that Regina might have gone farther down the dark path than she originally thought (she’s not upset that Regina’s gone evil, she’s upset that Regina might be able to defeat her, really). Cora tells Hook they need a new plan. They are going to protect themselves from Regina’s curse with a sort of freezing spell. This spell is what created the safe haven we saw the ladies visit earlier in the season. This is when I became especially appreciative at how quickly the creative team is explaining things.

In Storybrooke, Mr. Gold is still trying to work all the angles, as always. He’s kind of the Ben Linus of this piece in that sense. He wants Regina to help him sort of poison the portal that Emma and Snow are supposed to use to get home, because both he and Regina are worried that Cora might come through that portal instead. He points out that Regina really wins either way. If Cora comes through the portal first, she dies and Regina is free of that baggage. If Emma and Snow come through the portal first and die, than Regina will be the only mother figure left in Henry’s life. Gross. Regina seems a little reluctant to participate in this at first because of her promise to Henry, but when she sees Henry reading fairy tales to a still comatose Charming, she tells Henry that she’s going to go help Emma and Snow. Instead, she helps Mr. Gold steal all the diamonds from the mine so that they will have enough magic to poison the portal.

In the present day Enchanted Forest, the ladies find Rumpelstiltskin’s old cell (the one where Snow and Charming talked to him about how to avoid Regina’s curse). They’re looking for the squid ink that is supposed to help them return home. As they’re searching around, Aurora finds a scroll that just has “Emma” written on it over and over. Clearly things aren’t going to be quite as easy as Emma and Snow hoped. Oops. Things then go from bad to worse. Aurora (controlled by Cora) locks the gang in the cell, and then Cora arrives to make her Evil Speech of Evil about how she has Aurora’s heart. Hook is with her, too. While the ladies are stewing in the cell and trying to figure out how to get free, Emma realizes that she’s been Rumpelstiltskin’s pawn for pretty much her entire life. He set things in motion to almost guarantee she’d be the Savior he needed.

After the Evil Speech of Evil is said and done, Cora and Hook head out to the (now dry) lake, because they’re hoping the lakes magic will re-energize the wardrobe dust and create a portal. The dry-ness of the lake isn’t much of a problem, because Cora just uses her own magic to make the water reappear. Cheater. Back at the dungeons, Snow realizes that the writing on the scroll Aurora found is all in squid ink, and she uses that magic to break them out of jail. Cora and Hook are just about ready to jump through the portal (which Regina and Gold have successfully poisoned on their end) when the ladies arrive on the scene. First the ladies successfully retrieve Aurora’s heart, and Mulan rushes off to return it to its rightful owner (this whole concept of ripping out hearts is so odd…and gross). Snow and Emma continue the fight, and the first on Team Evil to go down is Hook, thanks to a knock-out punch from Emma. Cora is a bit more difficult to take down because she can teleport, but she’s stopped when she tries to grab Emma’s heart and is stunned by the realization that it is magically impervious to her heart-grabbing ways.

As soon as Henry finds out what Regina and Gold are up to, he heads out to the magic well and begs them to stop. Gold still wants to leave the portal curse in place, but Henry insists that good always triumphs and it will be Emma and Snow coming through that portal, not Cora. Regina finally decides to believe Henry, and she steps up to the well and absorbs the curse herself. It takes a toll on her, but she survives. Emma and Snow are indeed the ones to come through the portal, and there’s a happy little family reunion while Regina just glowers from the sidelines. She’s feeling left out, poor thing (that was sarcasm for you Sheldons out there). Emma goes the pawn shop (what an appropriate place for Mr. Gold to own, by the way) to talk to Mr. Gold about what she learned in the Enchanted Forest. He admits that he did orchestrate most of her life, but the magical impervious heart powers were all hers. Snow awakens Charming, and Henry thanks Regina for saving everybody. Emma, who has rejoined the group by that point, suggests that they all go over to Granny’s to celebrate. Regina decides not to join and continues to look sullen.

Back in the Enchanted Forest, Mulan gives Aurora her heart back. Aurora tells Mulan about how she learned that people ffected by the sleeping curse aren’t really dead, and the two ladies decide that their next mission is going to be to try and rescue Prince Phillip. On our side of the portal, we see the Storybrooke crew happily walking down the street to Granny’s. The camera pans out, and we see a ship approaching the Maine coast. In what might be my absolute favorite moment of the series thus far (mostly because of the really cool visual), we learn that this is Captain Hook’s ship. He and Cora somehow found their way into our universe, and they’re heading to Storybrooke to make trouble. Hook and Cora’s arrival should make for a very exciting second half of the season. I certainly don’t object to seeing more Hook. He’s a somewhat more cleaned up Captain Jack Sparrow, which is most definitely fun to watch.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Person of Interest 2.08: "'Til Death"

“Besides, our journey starts here. Any mystery around the corner, we can discover together.”
- Grace

This week we begin with a flashback to 2006. Finch and Grace are at a bar chatting about painting and Italy. They have such an easy chemistry together and they appear to genuinely enjoy each other’s company. I suppose that may have something to do with the fact that Carrie Preston and Michael Emerson are married (and odd side-note she played his mother in an episode of LOST). Back in the present, Finch is out walking Bear near Grace’s apartment. I’m guessing this is a common ritual. Unfortunately, a pay phone rings with not one but two new numbers. Finch fills Reese in on our duo, Sabrina and Daniel Drake co-owners of a small publishing house. By the way, Mr. Drake is played by Mark Pellegrino 9so that’s two Lost-alum shows he’s been on this week). Reese heads to the office to see what he can find out while Finch heads to their house to snoop. They think that a militia leader named Wade Huggins may be after them for publishing a scathing expose on his organization.

Reese manages to get into the building without a problem. He’s there under the guise of attending a meeting with Harold Crane who never intends to show up. Got to love Finch when he’s being crafty. Anyway, Reese overhears a meeting between the Drakes and Henry Brooks, their first investor. There’s an offer to buy the company but Sabrina doesn’t want to sell. Sounds like discord among the top brass. Meanwhile, at the house, Finch downloads some files off their computer. The house is huge but a bit of a mess. Looks like a giant remodel. Shortly after the meeting with Henry, Finch and Reese are tailing the couple on different sides of town. Reese has to call Carter for intel on Wade because Lionel keeps sending his calls to voicemail. Lionel is acting a little jumpy and sketchy this episode. As Sabrina is leaving her meeting he spots a guy putting something under her car. He discovers it’s a bomb and gets it away from the car before it blows. He disables it as Finch waits with baited breath on the other end of the line. Finch has to jack Daniel’s second phone and it looks like he may have taken a hit out on his wife.

Finch and Reese listen in as the Drakes are arguing on their way back to the office. Meanwhile, Finch has enlisted Carter’s help in tracking down the bomber (an old friend of Daniel’s). Meanwhile, Reese inquires why the Drakes just don’t get a divorce and we get a rather humorous bit where Reese tries to guess where Finch grew up based on what baseball teams he likes. It doesn’t get him anywhere, though. Over at the precinct, Carter gets her new pal, Beecher, to look into the whereabouts of Santiago (the bomber). There’s definitely some chemistry there. Reese follows the Drakes to a book signing for one of their authors and comes to realization that the machine spit out both numbers because both Mr. and Mrs. Drake are victim and perpetrator. Sabrina hired a sniper to take out her husband.

We jump back to 2006 and Finch and Nathan are having dinner. Finch is reluctant to talk about Grace and Nathan warns that too much mystery in a relationship can be a problem. He recounts seeing his ex-wife a friend’s wedding and how she just ignored him. Sounds kind of harsh. In the present, we find Lionel on a first date with a woman named Rhonda. A mutual friend set them up. Of course Finch tracks him down and sends him to stake out Sabrina at the office while Reese and Carter keep tabs on Daniel at home. It’s not long before both hit men take their second shots. Reese roughs the sniper up a bit but he gets away. As Daniel is protesting and asking what’s going on, Reese knocks him out and stuffs him in the trunk. Carter is rather appalled. Meanwhile, Lionel is tracking down Santiago. They exchange a few shots but he gets Sabrina out of there. Of course, just as Carter gets introduced to Rhonda (she went on stakeout with him), Reese puts a bag over Sabrina’s head and tosses her in the back of the car. Because that’s so legal, John.

Kidnapping the Drakes is Reese’s idea of marriage counseling. His tack of trying to force the information about their respective hit men by just being himself and cocking a gun doesn’t work. All the Drakes do is snipe at each other. We cut briefly to Lionel and Rhonda saying good night with the promise of another date in their futures. It’s nice to see Lionel get some attention and be happy. As our gang watches the Drakes continue to bicker, Finch thinks they need to try something different. We cut to one of the sweetest flashbacks ever. It’s Grace’s birthday and Finch sends her on a scavenger hunt. First to the ice cream truck near where Finch first plucked up the courage to meet her. Then that evening she goes to an art gallery. Back in the present, Finch sets out wine and a nice meal for the Drakes with a picture from their home where they looked happy and in love. I felt there was a little bit of Ben sneaking into this scene. We gain a few tidbits about why the Drakes let their feelings fester to hate. At one point in time, Sabrina was pregnant. But based on the looks on their faces, she lost the baby. Reese decides, after Sabrina and Daniel give up what little information they have, to take them home to set a trap.

Using the Drakes as bait works out well. Carter and Lionel take out Santiago and his boys while Reese handles the sniper (using a nail gun to do him in). As all of this is going down, Sabrina and Daniel have a heart to heart. They shut each other out after she lost the baby and just stopped communicating. They share a passionate kiss before they’re both taken away in handcuffs. With their lawyers, they won’t be doing much time. We end with Finch showing Grace around the gallery, including a painting by her favorite Italian painter (I’m thinking Finch bought it). Grace says she’s had the best birthday and Finch is about to tell her all about himself and the Machine when she stops him. She tells him nothing he says will drive her away and that he should tell her in his own time. Whatever’s out there, they’ll face together. God I wish he could get back together with her!

Nashville 1.07: "Lovesick Blues"

“You know what, Teddy? I believe you. I just don’t think anybody else will.”

Man did the drama heat up in “Lovesick Blues.” Well, the heat was turned up, and then kind of turned back down, to be accurate. Thing got pretty testy between a number of characters by the mid-point of this episode, but by the end, everything seemed to be on an even keel again. Except for Avery and Scarlett. They’re still most definitely broken up, thank goodness. I liked this episode because it really focused in on the music. The political stuff was only on the periphery and barely took up any of the episode’s time at all. Instead of political drama, this episode focused on a big concert for the 25th anniversary of Rayna and Juliette’s record label. Although, honestly, I’m not sure why either of them are still with this particular label. The label doesn’t treat them especially well, and both could probably make plenty of money for any label in Nashville. Overall, the episode was better structured than most. All of the plot threads came together, at least loosely, at the big anniversary concert. I like to see care taken in the structure of individual episodes, so that was definitely a sign that “Nashville” is trying to be more than a simple nighttime soap.

Since both Rayna and Juliette are in the doghouse with their label, Rayna for wanting to change her sound and Juliette for being a PR disaster, the label is putting a lot of pressure on both of them regarding the anniversary concert. Marshall Evans, head of the label, even wants to meet with both of them individually. He is only going to let Juliette perform one song in the show, and it’s going to be a duet with Rayna of all people. Rayna doesn’t like the idea of performing a duet with Juliette any more than Juliette wants to perform with Rayna. Marshall’s tactic for getting Rayna to do his bidding is the threat of an immediate Greatest Hits album. Rayna hated the idea of greatest hits when her dad tried it, and she hates it just as much now. More than she hates Juliette, apparently. This time, however, Rayna takes the pressure and uses it to get something positive. She has her manager tell Marshall that because she’s doing the label a huge favor by helping to rehab Juliette’s image, the label is going to let her do whatever she wants with her next album, and that means Liam will be producing.

There is also, of course, plenty of Gunnar/Scarlett/Avery drama in this episode. Thanks to sleeping with his manager, Avery and his band get to headline a pretty big show. Meanwhile, over at the Bluebird, Scarlett is still moping around about the break-up, even though she was the one who left the relationship. Gunnar suggests that maybe Scarlett should write about it, barely hiding his frustration at their inability to get any work done, but Scarlett’s not having it. She wants to keep on moping. She’s driving her Uncle Deacon crazy, too. We get a kind of amusing scene of Scarlett bustling around Deacon’s kitchen like there’s no tomorrow while poor Deacon is just trying to get some breakfast. Deacon thinks Scarlett needs to get out and get her mind of Avery, so he offers to get her and Gunnar tickets for the big anniversary show. Hayley has a similar idea and takes Scarlett out to a club. When Gunnar sees her, he can’t take his eyes off of her, even though he’s supposed to be with Hayley. That can’t end well.

Meanwhile, in the brief foray into the political plot this week, Coleman calls Teddy while Teddy is just about to sit down for a family dinner. He wants to meet by the Riverwalk to talk candidate to candidate, and Teddy agrees. At the Riverwalk, Coleman shows Teddy the pictures of him and Peggy and tells Teddy to withdraw from the race, or he’s going to leak the photos. Teddy takes the problem to Lamar, who advises Teddy to just come clean. Teddy hasn’t really done anything wrong that can be proven (he hasn’t had an affair and the credit union stuff has been buried), so he’s better off getting it all out in the open. Teddy calls Peggy and tells her he can’t have contact with her anymore. She’s pissed, and I have a feeling she’ll do something drastic by the end of the season. Lamar also wants to turn up the head on Coleman’s drug possession case. The DA wasn’t going to press charges, but Lamar’s going to change that. Lamar is just gross.

Anyway, Scarlett enjoys her night out a bit too much for Gunnar’s taste. She flirts with some guys and she sings a (gorgeous) karaoke version of Ring of Fire. Then she starts making out with one of the guys she as flirting with. Gunnar gets really pissed at Scarlett, says some unkind things to the guy she was kissing, and says some even more unkind things to Scarlett herself (including implying that she’s a slut). Scarlett, enraged, goes home to Deacon’s house, and Hayley is just flabbergasted and doesn’t know what to make of the situation. Instead of heading home, Scarlett goes to see Avery. She misses him and thinks she wants to get back together. Just as Scarlett’s starting to apologize, the manager walks out into the living room in her underwear and makes Scarlett look like a fool. Scarlett leaves the house again, hopefully for good this time.

There’s storminess going on all over Nashville in this episode. Rayna and Juliette are having a rather epic fight over what song to perform for the duet. Each wants to perform one of her own songs. Rayna just really lays in on Juliette, giving her this huge preachy speech about how Juliette is still new to the business, and Juliette storms out. Deacon tries to stand up for Juliette, and he gives Rayna a copy of “Undermine” to show that Juliette is actually a decent songwriter. Then he storms out too. Things don’t go any better for Juliette at home. She and Sean are getting pretty hot and heavy, but he backs out at the last minute when Juliette wants to have sex. This brings all of Juliette’s insecurities to the surface, and she kicks him out of the house. Later, Rayna stops by to (sort of) apologize, and she says that the only way they’re going to break through their impasse is to write a new song together. And they do. And the result is a whole lot of fun.

We get to see that result at the big anniversary concert. Before the show, Scarlett and Gunnar make up, which pissed me off just a little. I’d like to see Scarlett and Gunnar together eventually because he treats her better than Avery, but what he said to Scarlett at the club was in no way okay, and she doesn’t ever really call him on that. Sean and Juliette make up too, when he comes to see her in her dressing room before the show. He explains that he respects Juliette too much to have sex with her before marriage. Which is kind of cheesy, but sweet, I guess. The concert itself is a huge success. Rayna and Juliette blow the doors of the place with their finale song, which is a song about a cheater that really reminds me of Carrie Underwood’s “Before He Cheats.” Everybody seems to love it except for Teddy, who just looks guilty.