Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween Special Recap: "Mockingbird Lane"

“You're not being open and honest. You're being weird and confusing. You ate a lion while naked.”

Usually for Halloween, I do a write-up of a classic Halloween episode of television. This year, however, I’m switching it up a bit for quite a good reason. NBC aired a little thing this past Friday that Alan Sepinwall likes to call “Busted Pilot Theatre.” It’s related to what I like to call Summer Burnoff Theatre, only there’s just a pilot to air and no other episodes. The pilot in question is a very special one to me because it was written and produced by one of my all-time favorite television auteurs, Bryan Fuller. I’ve featured him here on the blog before, but in short, Fuller brings whimsy, a love for horror and the macabre, and kick-ass female characters to all of his work. He has a gift for putting the macabre in colorful candy coating (most evident in my all-time favorite television series, “Pushing Daisies”), and that gift is definitely on display in “Mockingbird Lane.” “Mockingbird Lane” is nominally a dramedy update of the 1960’s sitcom “The Munsters.” This sounds like a horrible tag line, but because Bryan Fuller was attached, I trusted that I’d enjoy it. And enjoy it I did. It was pretty much exactly what you’d expect to get when you hear that Bryan Fuller is creating a dramedy about a supernatural family.

Overall, “Mockingbird Lane” is most reminiscent of Fuller’s most recent show, “Pushing Daisies,” both in the dialogue patter and the heightened, colorful, semi-old-fashioned look of the show. The opening of the pilot, however, reminds me most of Fuller’s first show, “Dead Like Me.” It’s very macabre with a little less of the candy coating. It still has all the usual Bryan Fuller snark, though. We see a group of faux boy scouts around a camp fire, having a serious discussion about who among them stole all the breakfast food. The fat kid in the group is getting blamed for the theft when the proceedings are broken up by a “baby bear attack.” The “baby bear” is actually Eddie Munster, who is a werewolf, but Eddie doesn’t know that bit about himself just yet. None of the scouts are seriously injured, but they’re all pretty traumatized.

Worried that Eddie’s condition will be found out, the Munsters move to Mockingbird Heights in Northern California. The Munsters overall are no ordinary family. There’s Grandpa (aka “D”), his vampire daughter Lily, Lily’s patched together husband Herman, Lily and Herman’s niece (the one “normal” of the bunch) Marilyn, and Eddie, of course, who is Herman and Lily’s son. The crew moves in to 1313 Mockingbird Lane, the creepiest house on the block, recently vacated by a convicted “hobo murderer.” They love the creepy vibe, though, and the set is absolutely gorgeous and detailed. It would really be a tragedy if the house sets are never used again. The whole Mocking Bird lane neighborhood is exquisite, really, and is what reminds me most strongly of “Pushing Daisies.”

In an attempt to make nice with the neighbors, Grandpa makes some cookies infused with his blood. His and Marilyn’s first stop is the house across the street, where they are greeted by none other than Maryanne Marie Beetle, now just going by “Marie.” Marie has appeared in both “Wonderfalls” and “Pushing Daisies” as the quirky, kind of ruthless entrepreneur behind the Muffin Buffalo muffin company. Marie’s husband eats one of the cookies, and essentially becomes one of Grandpa’s blood slaves for a little while. That ends when he falls off a ladder while painting the Munster house. Herman goes soft and calls an ambulance to deal with the situation. Grandpa wanted to drain Marie’s husband of blood and transplant the heart into Herman. Herman’s heart is on its last legs, you see, because he “loves too much.” Grandpa had wanted to replace it with n artificial heart, but Herman refused because it was his last original organ left, and he was afraid that without his heart, he wouldn’t feel the same about Lily.

A new potential donor becomes apparent when Herman and Grandpa take Eddie to check out the nearby faux boy scout troop. The scoutmaster is a widower, and the scouts are pretty much his entire life. Which is more than a little sad. Anyway, the scoutmaster is very suspicious that the Munsers are reluctant to reveal Eddie’s old pack number. When he finds out it’s the pack that experienced the “baby bear attack,” he starts to be a little more accepting, and then when Lily breezes in looking gorgeous, he’s completely convinced to allow Eddie to join the pack. Grandpa’s got ulterior motives, of course. He now wants to exsanguinate/take the heart of the packmaster. He convinces the packmaster to come to dinner, and he implies that Herman will probably die soon and Lily will need a new wife. Lily doesn’t really want all this death and destruction to go down in their dining room, but it turns out to be a fall down the basement stairs that eventually does the packmaster in.

An interesting theme that ran through the pilot was Eddie’s road to learning about and maybe accepting his true nature. He’s a sweet kid who doesn’t want to hurt a fly, and he’s repulsed by the true nature of his family members. He’s especially disappointed that his mom only “tries her best” not to hurt people. When his parents finally get up the courage to tell him that he’s a werewolf and caused the destruction at the faux boy scouts outing, he engages in a bit of self-loathing and tells Herman that he wants to be a vegetarian. By the end of the episode (with his new heart in his chest), Herman tells Eddie that Eddie can be a vegetarian when he can be, and when he can’t they’ll figure it out together. That’s another theme that carries through much of Bryan Fuller’s work- characters working through their problems together instead of problems driving wedges between them.

I think that the creative team really put together a fantastic cast. Jerry O’Connell plays Herman, and he gets his mouth around the Bryan Fuller dialogue patter perfectly. It almost feels like this dialogue was written for Lee Pace (the patter is so close to his character of Ned on “Pushing Daisies”), but O’Connell pulls it off. Portia DeRossi is Lily, and she pulls of the combination of danger and beauty effortlessly. The other notable performance is Eddie Izzard as Grandpa. He just owns every scene where he appears, which is important considering Grandpa’s power and the influence he holds over the rest of his family.

So I’m sad that we’ve probably said goodbye to this imagining of the Munsters world. Bryan Fuller has said that he wanted to create a drama with monsters as characters, and the Munsters were a convenient frame for that idea, and it’s a shame that, bar some kind of huge schedule bomb at NBC, we’ll never see where he could have gone with it. “Mockingbird Lane” paired with “Grimm” was a wonderfully spooky treat for the Friday before Halloween, though, so I’m definitely glad NBC made the decision to air it. For those of you who are huge Bryan Fuller fans like me, take heart. He’s got another pilot that he shot for NBC called “Hannibal,” and it’s been picked up for mid-season. It stars the incomparable Caroline Dhavernas, and to make it a real “Wonderfalls” reunion, Chelan Simmons will be reprising her role as “Christmas and Easter Jew” Gretchen Speck-Horowitz.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Fringe 5.04: "The Bullet That Saved the World"

“There was a time when we solved Fringe cases. Now I think it’s time we created a few of our own.”

Etta Bishop, we hardly knew ye. Sorry. Spoiler alert. Hurricane Sandy-induced cabin fever has me going a little loopy. All is well (for the most part) here on the Western Shore of Maryland, thankfully. Now my old stomping grounds north of Philadelphia, that’s another story, but at least the weather has calmed down enough now that the clean-up can start. So, back to your regularly scheduled blog programming (albeit a little behind schedule). We start the catch-up with the latest episode of “Fringe.” “The Bullet That Saved the World” sees our team continue their effort to uncover the pieces of September and Walter’s plans to defeat the Observers. It also sees, unfortunately, the end of Etta Bishop. Which is quite a shame, really. I was really enjoying watching the new Bishop family dynamic unfold. I can understand that the creative team thought our usual crew would need the emotional catalyst of Etta’s death to propel them forward, but really, isn’t the creepy observers enslaving humanity enough motivation?

The episode opens with Peter paying a visit to a kind of awesome, packed to the gills junk shop. The place is full of childhood nostalgia to anyone who had the privilege of growing up in the 1980’s. There’s even a Simon game that still works! Peter’s not looking for a game, though. He’s looking for a necklace for Etta (to replace the one they had to use to start the laser). Peter finds what he’s looking for, but trouble starts when he’s at the counter to pay and an Observer jumps in line behind him. The Observer starts to read Peter, and he sees images of Etta. Peter tries to throw the Observer off the trail by thinking about baseball, but it’s only partially effective. The Observer realize something’s up, and Peter runs. The Observer has some Loyalists give chase, but Peter goes down into the sewer. He tries to outrun an explosive device that gets thrown down after him, and he’s only partially successful.

When we next see Peter, he’s above ground, but unconscious. There’s a little kid looking over him and playing a harmonica, which is kind of creepy. Peter makes his way back to the lab and gives Etta the necklace, which is a pretty sweet moment. Meanwhile, Walter and Astrid free another video from the amber. Astrid has to clean it up before they can try to watch it, though. Back at the junk shop, an Observer talks to none other than Broyles. The Observer is playing Simon while he talks, which is really freaking hilarious. It appears that after all these years, Broyles is still in charge of the Fringe Division. The Observer questions Broyles on what he knows about Peter, but Broyles doesn’t say much. The Observer also informs Broyles that someone in Fringe Division recently failed a security check, and the fact that Broyles didn’t know about this until now is a very bad sign for Broyles.

Over at the lab, the team plays the video, and enough of it works for Walter to figure out that the next piece of the plan is hidden in the wall of the subway under Penn Station. Apparently when he was a kid, he thought that would be the perfect place to hide his comic books in the event of global nuclear war with the USSR. The team has to get through an Observer checkpoint to get to Penn Station, though, so they’re going to need a diversion. Walter thinks he has just the ticket in the basement of the lab. Apparently he spent quite a lot of time recreating the fringe events they investigated back in the day. Something he’s going will surely be nasty enough to create the diversion they’re looking for. It’s kind of gross and creepy, really, but that’s Walter for you!

We next visit an Observer stronghold, where an Observer is interrogating the Loyalist who failed his initial security check under Broyles’ watch. The Observer, despite the Loyalist’s best efforts, is able to get pieces about something happening at the Harvard lab. He also figures out that the “Loyalist” is actually a Resistance plant. He’s too low in the rebel organization to know much of anything useful, though. After the interrogation, the Observer confronts Broyles about how Etta deceived them. The Observers now know that some humans have developed sophisticated powers to mask their thoughts. The Observer gives Broyles a significant look during this confrontation, implying that Broyles may have learned to mask his thoughts as well as Etta, and he might be on the side of the Resistance.

Back at the lab, Walter has finally chosen the perfect device for a distraction. In another room, Etta and Olivia bond over the fact that Etta saved a bullet on a necklace from the abandoned Bishop house. Olivia says they used to call it “the bullet that saved the world.” Before they can talk more, though, Etta gets a phone call (from Broyles, presumably), that the lab has been compromised. The team has just enough time to re-amber the lab (so they don’t lose the tapes) before Observers and their Loyalist minions arrive to trash the place. When they do arrive, it looks like nobody was ever there. When we next see the team, they’re at Penn Station, and they’re using projectiles of stuff that melt people’s faces to cause the distraction and retrieve the tube of information from the subway station. Ewwww.

After they’ve successfully escaped, the team stops in a very industrial-looking area to take a look at what’s in the tube. There are all sorts of physics equation written on the paper inside the tube, and Walter doesn’t understand them anymore. This makes him very frustrated, of course. The group is about to leave, for a safe house presumably, when Etta stops them and says somebody wants to talk to them. A car drives up and Broyles gets out. There’s a very happy reunion, especially between Broyles and Olivia. It’s nice for the show to acknowledge that Broyles was Olivia’s boss first, presumably for a while before she even met the Bishops. The happy reunion is short-lived, however, as Observers start materializing everywhere. It turns out that a Loyalist put a tracker on the team’s car before they left Penn Station. Broyles grabs the tube with the equations and drives off (at Olivia’s insistence), and everyone else barely escapes. Obviously, the Observers are not happy about this.

The Observers keep following the team, and there’s a big shoot-out in a bombed out looking industrial building. Etta gets captured, and everyone else gets away (Walter just barely). Before the team can rescue Etta, an Observer forces a childhood memory out of her (he wants to understand why Peter got her the necklace), then he shoots her. When the team finds Etta, she’s slumped against a concrete pole, mortally wounded. She’s also got a powerful explosive device. She’s going to set it off to rid the area of Observers. Peter, Olivia, and Walter are all devastated, but they clear out and let Etta do what she needs to do. They watch from a distance as the building blows up and Etta presumably dies.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Person of Interest 2.04: "Triggerman"

“I suppose I should thank you for saving my life, as well as my current accommodations. Being stripped of all my possessions eliminates certain distractions. I’ve got time to think, to play chess. Though finding a worthy opponent has been a little challenging.”
- Elias

We start again with another voice over. This time the Machine is recording it. It sounds like yet another hit of some kind. Reese is on the stalk, and finds this week’s POI is the enforcer, Riley Cavanaugh, of an Irish mobster. Reese heads inside, clones Riley’s phone and flirts with the hostess. In short order, Mr. Mob threatens the restaurant’s owner for being behind on payment. Apparently the mob isn’t fond of remodels when it eats into their dirty money. The hostess, Annie, turns out to be the widow of one of Mr. Mob’s cronies who was killed a few months ago. Annie kind of mouths off to the guy for her husband’s death. The boys head out to a bar and with some quick thinking on Reese’s part, they figure out that Riley is being sent after Annie to shut her up, permanently.

That night, Reese follows Riley and Mr. Mob’s son Eddie. We learn a little more about Annie’s dead husband, he was killed in Brighton Beach. It was a nice call back to last season when we learned who Elias really was. Finch monitors a call to Eddie’s phone and his dad tells him to kill Riley as well as Annie. Riley’s not stupid. He ends up shooting Eddie before Eddie can do the same to him. Finch and Reese are kind of surprised to find out that Riley and Annie are an item. So now Reese has twice the protecting to do.

Reese is tailing Riley after the accident and decides to get Carter and Fusco involved to help keep tabs on everyone. Finch is hesitant to actually protect Riley, given his background. Reese isn’t so squeamish about it. He’s not really that different from Riley. I sort of found it interesting how Finch was reacting in a way that Root would have. Finch actually braves the big scary world to make sure that Annie isn’t still at her apartment (Mr. Mob’s thugs were already at Riley’s place). We also get a reunion with Carter and Detective Shamanski. He makes some cheesy jokes about how Eddie died. Meanwhile, Finch is in Annie’s apartment trying to figure out where she’s gone while Reese continues to follow Riley.

Shamanski and Carter head over to talk to Mr. Mob and things are pretty much a dead end. But they couldn’t really expect him to be a big pool of conversation. He makes the comment though that if he finds the shooter before the cops, they’ll never know. Fusco is chilling at a bar snooping around. He’s buying people drinks. Finch has had some luck at Annie’s place though. He figured out where the building is. Which is very good since Reese has lost Riley. Lucky for Reese he’s not far from the location. Annie and Riley finally meet up and they argue about whether they’re running away together. We get some backstory on how the two of them fell in love. It looks like Annie may have convinced Riley to go with her until they realize the money he’d hidden has been stolen. In its place is a cell phone that rings and Mr. Mob taunts him. Not surprisingly, mob goons show up and Riley and Reese take them out. Of course Reese gets shot by Riley for his trouble. Thank god for bullet proof vests!

Shamanski has figured out it was Riley who shot Eddie. And he’s getting ready to take him out for good. Not so good for our heroes. We get a brief scene of Fusco buying more drinks for people. Fusco does learn that Mr. Mob has put a million dollar bounty on Riley and Annie. Our heroes realize that Mr. Mob is going to need to get someone to get the news about the hit city wide. Carter gives Reese the update and he tells her to derail a homicide investigation. She’s pissed which isn’t surprising. Annie heads over to the restaurant and she gets some money from the owner so they can get out of town. Some hired guns show up and of course Reese takes them out.

Finch is on his way to try to derail Mr. Mob’s plan. And thus enters Elias. I have to say I’m kind of happy to see him again. I like that the writers are keeping him involved in the storylines. It provides continuity which is always important in a show like this. It keeps things grounded and real. Of course Elias would still be controlling things from inside the prison system. He’s just that connected. And when Finch asks him to make it a big no-no for anyone to go after Riley and Annie to collect the bounty, he has to make a deal with Elias. We don’t know what that deal is exactly but it’s obvious it’s not your usual prison trade.

Riley and Annie are at the train station getting tickets. Finch reports in about the bounty being off limits but it seems one person didn’t get the memo. So Reese has to take them out. It doesn’t work though because the bounty hunter sets a trashcan fire and makes off with Annie. Reese is following Riley and pretty soon Riley realizes he’s being followed. He and Reese scuffle. Reese hypothesizes that Annie’s husband wasn’t killed by a rival mob but it was in fact Riley who did it. Reese and Riley agree to team up and get to Annie in time for a big gun fight in which Riley doesn’t make it. Finch also explains his verbal slip-up earlier (he called Riley “bad code”). He is able to admit that he was wrong about Riley and that people can evolve. So he’s not really like Root. Which is good. We end with Finch and Elias playing chess. Guess we know what the trade was for putting the kibosh on Mr. Mob’s bounty.

Arrow 1.03: "Lone Gunmen"

“I was wondering when you were going to get to that. The white knight swooping in to save the disenfranchised, all by his lonesome with nobody to help.”
- Diggle

Okay, so I know I’ve raised this issue in the last two posts and I’m going to raise it again, but I promise this will be the last time. I’m tired of the voice overs. Especially when they’re overly recap-centric. I understand the show is new and new viewers may still be joining us. But for those of us who keep watching week to week, it’s irritating. But we do start week 3 with a voice over and a work out scene (so at least we get to see Oli shirtless flexing his big sexy man muscles). He’s going after James Holder, a rich guy who put defective smoke detectors into low income housing. Bad boy James. Oliver heads out to deliver some pointy justice when someone else beats him to it. Someone shoots James Holder in the chest and nicks Oliver’s arm. He gets back to his hidey-hole (man cave?) and has stitched up the bullet wound only to realize the bullet was poisoned. This leads us to another flashback. Oliver is in a pretty bad way with that spear still in his shoulder. The guy that shot him has brought him into his hut to protect him (thank you subtitles). Oli is confused but drinks what the guy gives him and grimaces as the spear comes out. Back in the present, Oliver realizes he’s late and gets home to find the cops have brought a drunken Thea home after a night of breaking and entering. He’s disappointed to see his mother coddling her and says he could have benefited from a tighter leash.

Detective Lance and his partner are at the scene at James Holder’s house. His partner thinks Arrow killed him and realized that bullets are more efficient than arrows. Lance isn’t convinced. Back in his man cave, Oliver tests his blood and discovers it was laced with a rare poison used by only one person; a man Interpol has code-named Deadshot. So now Oliver has a new target. We see Deadshot tattooing himself with Holder’s name on his arm. That part I didn’t find entirely believable I mean he has tattoos everywhere. How could he possibly see where he was putting them all? Moving on. It seems Oliver has taken to the idea of creating a night club in his father’s old run-down factory (aka right above his man cave). Tommy thinks it’s a little crazy but he and Oliver are going to scope out the competition the following night at anew club called Poison owned by a guy who has very little regard for Oliver (Oli slept with the guy’s fiancĂ©e at the rehearsal dinner).

Laurel is busy at work cyber-stalking Oliver when her friend says they’re going out that night to party a little bit (to get Laurel out of her slump). And back at the Queen mansion, it seem Moira is taking the hint from Oliver. She grounds Thea for two weeks. We’ll see if it actually does any good. Over at the precinct, Detective Lance’s partner comes back with the ballistics report. Given the new evidence (of sniper rounds and poison), Lance is even less convinced Arrow is behind the kill. So he heads out to Holder’s place to snoop around some more. Meanwhile, Oliver has done some digging of his own and connected the money trail to the Russian mob. He’s got a lead now on who may have taken out Holder. He heads down to Russian territory and manages to convince the guys inside he’s a Captain in the mob and they’re going to get the info he needs. I kind of found that a little unbelievable. Do they not know he’s the recently returned castaway rich boy? Anyway, we cut briefly back to Deadshot as he’s tattooing another name on his chest. Another bidder in the ownership of a big company has died. Detective Lance and his partner head over to Queen land to question Moira and Walter. Walter assures them he’s got his own protection in Diggle and that they’ll call if they need any help.

That night, it seems everybody is out enjoying Poison, including previously-grounded Thea. Oliver tries to get her to leave but she spills the beans about Tommy and Laurel and snubs her brother. Oliver isn’t surprised. Not that he’d have long to be since the owner of the club shows up and starts being the crap out of him and Tommy. Laurel steps in and kicks some ass herself (thanks to karate lessons Daddy Detective made her take). After Laurel tells Oliver she doesn’t need his forgiveness or blessing for being with Tommy, we get another island flashback. Oliver sneaks out of the cave and ends up running confused through jungle until he’s literally caught in a net. Back in the present, Diggle takes the boys to his sister-in-law’s burger joint. We learn that Diggle’s brother was killed in the line of duty (as a bodyguard). We also see that Oliver is super chill about Tommy and Laurel being together. Even better, he gets the name and last known address for Deadshot, Floyd Laughton. Laughton is there and he and Oli have a gun/arrow fight until Laughton crashes out the window. Oliver snags the guy’s laptop and goes to make nice with the pretty IT chick at the company. She reminds me a little of Garcia on Criminal Minds.

While Oliver is getting the low down on the information on the laptop he stole from Laughton, Moira and Thea are having a heart to heart where Moira admits she was always jealous of her husband in how he could handle and connect with Thea. Ultimately, mother and daughter agree to start fresh and Oliver finds out that a man named Warren Patel has hired Deadshot. Oliver knows now he can’t take on Deadshot alone so he pretty much twists Detective Lance’s arm into helping (literally). Before we get to the big climax, Laurel agrees to give Tommy a try. Just before the bids are in, Deadshot starts shooting. Oliver manages to slip out and takes the guy on. Thankfully, he manages to put an arrow right through the guy’s eye. Unbeknownst to Oliver, Diggle was following him and gets hit. Oliver carries him to his man cave and just as Diggle comes around for a minute, he sees Oliver in Arrow get up minus the mask and hood. I have to say I’ve been waiting for this since episode 1. They are going to make a kick-ass team!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Nashville 1.03: "Someday You'll Call My Name"

“All you are is the way the music gets heard.”

“Someday You’ll Call My Name” largely continued the stories that have been set up in the first two episodes of “Nashville.” We still have the Rayna/Deacon/Juliette professional and personal triangle, and there was progress made in Gunnar and Scarlett’s musical career and the political machinations, too. The one real new ingredient in this episode is that the plot with Juliette’s mother is ratcheted up a notch. Since, you know, she actually comes to Nashville and pretty much starts stalking Juliette. The appearance of Juliette’s mom also causes Juliette to do something incredibly stupid that, judging from the teaser at the end of the episode, is going to drive the plot next week. One concern I have from this episode is the development in the political machinations/Teddy’s shady financial dealings plot. I feel like the continuing twists and turns in that plot are taking away from time we could spend exploring the drama in the music scene. I know this is probably a move to make viewers not feel too bad if Rayna ultimately leaves Teddy for Deacon, but it’s too obvious a manipulation. I feel like every character in this show has been obviously balanced to have some good points and some bad points. I certainly appreciate well-rounded characters, but I’m seeing the gears in the writers’ brains turning here. The shades of gray in the characterization should be more organic.

We’ll start with the Gunnar/Scarlett/Avery plot, since so far I like them the best. There’s a little argument when Avery comes home to see Gunnar and Scarlett working on a song. This makes Scarlett a bit worried about the future of her relationship with Avery, and when she and Gunnar get into the studio to start recording their demo, she completely screws it up. Watty has a solution, though. Since Gunnar and Scarlett are only looking for a music publishing deal, it doesn’t really matter who sings the tracks. He can bring in another woman to sing with Gunnar. This doesn’t sit well with Scarlett, although she tells Gunnar it’s just fine. At the Bluebird the next evening, Gunnar gives Avery the heads-up about what happened and warns Avery that the thinks Scarlett is self-sabotaging because she’s worried Avery will leave her if she’s successful. Avery responds by getting Scarlett to finally feel comfortable singing and that she belongs in the studio. He also comes with her to the next recording session, and Scarlett looks at him the entire time she sings. Scarlett’s dependence on Avery kind of irks me, but I have a feeling she will fully come into her own eventually. Meanwhile, the music is gorgeous (and I’m not even a country music fan).

Meanwhile, Juliette’s got quite the family drama going on, as I mentioned briefly already. It starts with a call from the record label saying that her mom is at their office and they paid her $100 to go away. Things only go downhill from there. Juliette’s mom finds Juliette as she’s walking down the street from her entourage. Then she shows up at Juliette’s house while she and Deacon are post-coital and contemplating some breakfast. Juliette ends up shutting the gate on her mom as her mom screams for her to help. Her latest boyfriend left her, and she claims she has nowhere to go. Later, Juliette is told by her manager that her mom got into an altercation downtown. He suggests that maybe it would be a better idea for her to come live with Juliette after all, because then they could at least keep an eye on her. Juliette kind of hates this idea, but she relents, and by the end of the episode, her mom is living with her. Juliette starts acting out herself, and she shoplifts a nail polish while some teenage girls (one of which is Rayna’s older daughter, I think) record the incident on a cell phone.

The political drama surrounding Rayna’s family just gets deeper and deeper. Rayna and Teddy’s finances still aren’t in great shape, mostly thanks to Teddy’s financial deal gone bust, so Rayna’s handlers talk to them about some options. One of those options is borrowing money from Rayna’s dad, which of course is not an option Rayna wants to consider. Another option is Teddy asking the credit union for which he used to serve on the board for a home equity loan. Lamar’s already all over option one, unfortunately for Rayna. He sends Rayna and Teddy a check with a slew of conditions attached, all of which amount to Rayna essentially giving up her music career. Rayna talks about this with her sister, who sheds some light on why Lamar wants his daughter to give up her career. Rayna’s mom had a singer/songwriter “friend,” and Lamar sees Rayna going the way of her mother. Rayna confronts Lamar about this, and it leaves her more convinced than ever not to accept his help. Meanwhile, Teddy goes to the credit union to ask about a home equity loan, but he hightails it out of there as soon as the manager mentions there in the middle of a federal audit dating back to the years Teddy was on the board. Clearly something shady Teddy did at the credit union is going to blow up any day now. Oh, and on a less sinister note, there’s also an adorable talent show scene where we get to see the musical talent of Rayna and Teddy’s daughters, played by real life internet singing sensations Lennon and Maisy Stella.

Finally, there’s the ongoing Rayna/Deacon/Juliette romantic/professional triangle drama. Juliette’s still pushing Deacon to record the track they wrote and sign an exclusive contract to be her bandleader. Meanwhile, Deacon and Rayna are trying to plan the set list for their new, acoustic tour. Deacon wants to do the old romantic standbys like what they performed at the Bluebird, but Rayna’s worried that too much of that will lead her to stray from Teddy. She wants to do the big hits because it’s safer. Deacon goes to record “Undermine” with Juliette while Rayna thinks about what she wants to do. The recording session leads to sex, which leads Deacon to seriously consider whether he wants to stay with Rayna or accept Juliette’s offer. Meanwhile, the sordid family history Rayna learns about makes her wonder even more if she’s going to turn into her mom if she does this tour with Deacon. Rayna and Deacon have a heartfelt conversation where they pretty much acknowledge that they should go their separate ways but they don’t want to. Things aren’t really resolved at the end of it, but they’re both pretty emotionally devastated by it. Deacon goes to talk to Juliette, and it looks like he’s going to accept her offer, but actually, he says he can’t. Thank goodness.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

New Girl 2.05: "Models"

“What's going on? Did you guys watch porn together again? Why do you keep doing that? It's always awkward!”

“Models,” one of the funnier episodes of “New Girl” so far this season was really an exploration of friendship and what it means over time. We examine Jess’ friendship with Cece and Nick’s friendship with Schmidt. Both Nick and Jess must wrestle with the thought that if they met Schmidt and Cece now instead of in college and as a child respectively, they might not be friends. This was a serious topic, but the laughs were woven in for a nice balance. There was both a genuine examination of the worth of long-time friends and silly slapstick like a Jess/Cece boob slap fight. Yeah, that bordered on stupid, really. Although the male critics I read seemed to enjoy it. As did Nick, when Jess told him about it. We also got the return of Cece’s amazing Russian roommate Nadia, whose dry non sequeturs and improper English is never not funny. Overall, this was just a really nicely thought out, humorous episode. It’s definitely worth a watch just to appreciate the craftsmanship that went into it, especially how nicely the A and B stories tie together.

As I already mentioned, one of the friendships this episode explores is Jess and Cece. It’s Cece’s birthday, and Jess wants to celebrate it with a night in eating cake and watching “Clueless,” just like they always do. This sounds like a pretty amazing birthday to me (I adore “Clueless,” and 90’s Paul Rudd is hot), but Cece wants Jess to go out for a night on the town with her and Nadia and the rest of her model friends. Jess is reluctant because she always feels super awkward around Cece’s model friends, but she wants to make Cece happy on her birthday, so she agrees. There’s a funny bit where we see what usually happens when Jess hangs out with the models. All she can really manage to do is describe the objects around her. There’s a sense that Jess doesn’t really respect Cece’s profession and that in turn, her respect for Cece probably isn’t what it should be. We also get a fun flashback of when Cece was first discovered. The model spotter loved Cece but wouldn’t give Jess the time of day. So maybe there’s some jealousy there too?

Anyway, things escalate during the night out. Jess gets sick of placating the models by recreating an old Russian cracker commercial for them (she reminds them of the cartoon monkey in the commercial), and in her rant, she calls Cece dumb for being a model. This leads to the boob slap fight I mentioned earlier, which was kind of the low point of the episode. The only redeeming factor was that it tied back to a story in Jess and Cece’s history, where the only time Jess ever missed Cece’s birthday was when Jess left Cece’s sleepover after she thought Cece touched her boob. The fight isn’t really very long lived, though. A chat with Nick makes Jess realize she should try to make things right with Cece. When she stops by Cece and Nadia’s apartment, Jess fins a very hung over Cece. The problem is that Cece has a car show modeling job booked. Jess gets her to the gig, but the show organizers don’t want Cece to go on stage when she can barely keep from vomiting. Jess offers to take over to keep the organizers from calling Cece’s agency to complain. Jess gets all dolled up and then has a predictably klutzy modeling experience. One of her shoes gets stuck in the rotating platform, she locks herself in the car, the works. After this experience, Jess acknowledges to Cece that modeling is hard work after all, and all seems to be forgiven.

The exploration of Nick and Schmidt’s friendship is a little more odd, but still charming. Nick for some reason has decided he really wants to get a pet turtle, but Schmidt, due to his neatfreak tendencies, doesn’t think this is a good idea. As a gesture of goodwill, though, Schmidt gives Nick a cookie he bought for him while out shopping. Nick isn’t quite sure to do with the random act of kindness, so he just keeps going with his turtle research. Schmidt gets more and more irritated as the episode progresses that Schmidt doesn’t seem to be expressing the appropriate amount of gratitude for the cookie. Winston confronts Nick about this, and Nick says that Schmidt just loves him too much. We get some somewhat funny flashbacks to Nick and Schmidt’s college days, where it seems like Schmidt just randomly showed up in Nick’s dorm room one day. I’m getting a little tired of the Fat Schmidt joke, but it was cool to see how they met. Things get worse and worse between Nick and Schmidt, and when Nick tries to make amends by buying a cookie for Schmidt, the gesture doesn’t have the intended effect. Eventually, Schmidt sees that Nick is really trying to be an appreciative friend, and Nick realizes that the “turtle” is Schmidt.

The episode ends with the gang all happily watching Clueless together and celebrating Cece’s birthday the old fashioned way. One thing I didn’t find quite realistic was how the guys were being all extra chummy when the Schmidt-Nick rift was healed. I remember when my two closest guy friends in college had a disagreement that resulted in them not talking to each other for a couple weeks (which happened to coincide with our campus Thanksgiving dinner…not cool). One day I ran into both of them on the way back from class, they each made some jokes about their upcoming stadium band performance, and the war was over. They went on like everything was perfectly normal while I wanted to start crying and exclaiming “boys!” like Hermione in Goblet of Fire when Harry and Ron finally patch up their differences. So yeah, Jess and Cece could still be working out what their disagreement means to them, but I would have expected the guys to just go back to business as usual. But I guess that wouldn’t have been quite as funny!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Once Upon a Time 2.04: "The Crocodile"

“I came because you’re right about me. I am a coward. I have been my entire life. I tried to make up for by collecting power. But power became so important that I couldn’t let go, not even when that meant losing the most important person in my life. I have lost so many people I love. I didn't want to lose you again without you knowing everything.”
- Mr. Gold

So I have to say I was intrigued by this week’s episode. We meet Captain Hook and see how he relates to Rumpelstiltskin. And I must admit, the actor they have playing Hook is gorgeous and pulls off guyliner way better than Johnny Depp. Anyway, “The Crocodile” begins with Belle getting a really expensive-looking necklace from Rumple. They share a tender moment until Grumpy bursts in demanding his axe back. Rumple gets cranky and threatens to kill Grumpy with the axe. Belle begs him to stop and when he turns, he’s full-on imp. Belle sits bolt upright in bed. It was just a dream. She sneaks downstairs to see that Rumple is busily spinning straw into gold in the basement. She confronts him about it in the morning and he brushes it off. She doesn’t accept his non-answers and storms off. Meanwhile, the fairytale land that was, we finally meet Rumple’s wife, Milah. Rumple has to go off to the tavern looking for her when he finds Bae home alone. She’s busy schmoozing with some pirates, including our handsome Captain (who currently goes by the name Killian Jones). It’s only after Bae shows up looking sad and pathetic that Milah goes home. She tells Rumple she wants a life of adventure but she’ll try to make things work between them. Unfortunately, the next morning, Rumple gets a knock on his door. A neighbor gives him the bad news that Captain Jones and his crew have taken Milah aboard their ship and they’re about to set sail. Rumple goes to the docks and begs Jones to let her go. The Captain’s response is a duel. But Rumple being the coward he is, doesn’t fight.

When Rumple realizes Belle has absconded, he heads to her dad’s flower shop for a chat. Mo doesn’t know where his daughter is but he’s pissed that now neither of them have a beat on her whereabouts. We jump down to the mines to see the dwarves and Charming trying to mine fairy dust. Things aren’t going especially well and pretty soon, Charming and Henry head out. We end up back in the fairytale land that was where a guy in a red hat (aka Vincent from Eureka) joins Rumple and makes a proposal. He can get Rumple a magic bean to go after his son. All he wants in return is eternal life. Rumple offers him youth and he’s down for it. Rumple is about to dismiss the bar maid when Captain Jones saunters in. I think Rumple (even as the Dark One) needs some liquid courage. Just as the bar maid sets the mug of beer down, we cut to Ruby putting what turns out to be Belle’s 3rd glass of iced tea on the table. They have a cute little bonding moment where Belle admits she needs a place to stay and Ruby suggests since Belle likes books, to check and see if they can reopen the library. Belle is scoping the place out (it’s still all boarded up) when red hat guy shows up. He’s acting rather sketchy by asking if she has any spare change or if she’s meeting someone. Then he nabs her.

Back in the fairytale land that was, Jones and his boys are drunkenly leaving the bar when Rumple strategically bumps into the Captain. In short order, Rumple’s announced himself and challenged Jones to that long-overdue duel (Jones say Milah is long dead). They meet the following day at dawn and Rumple is quite handily kicking the Captain’s ass. But a quick death by sword is too good for our handsome swashbuckler. Rumple has to rip his heart from his chest (as we’ve seen Regina and Cora do in the past). And not surprisingly, Milah appears and looks horrified at what her husband is doing. She offers him a trade, the magic bean for her and Killian’s lives (she’s of course fallen in love with him). Rumple says he wants to see the merchandise before he agrees to her terms. On the boat, she shows him the bean but tosses it to Killian before Rumple can get his hands on it. When Milah admits she never loved Rumple, he rips her heart out and crushes it to dust. Jones lashes out at Rumple, only to lose a hand (and thus Captain Hook is born). Rumple gets back to his hidey hole onto find the hand he lopped off doesn’t actually have the bean. Once he’s got his hook all in place, he ungags red hat (aka Smee) and they set off for Neverland using the bean.

In Storybrooke, Rumple has resorted to asking Charming for help. Rumple thinks since Charming has lost the people he loves, he will be in a position to help Rumple. They stop by Granny’s and Ruby agrees to help. She can track Belle by scent thanks to her wolfish qualities. They lose the trail at Mo’s flower shop. Smee had been working for him to reunite father and daughter. The reunion is short-lived however, when Belle admits she fell in love with Rumple. So Mo has sent Belle across the town line. Charming and company realize just in the nick of time that they’re sending Belle under the line via the mine tunnels. They have people patrolling the line to make sure no one accidentally goes over so Mo and Smee had to get creative. Rumple uses magic to pull Belle back just in time. Ruby is pretty impressed with the whole display. She’s grateful for the rescue but tells him and her father she doesn’t want to see either of them again. Later that day, Belle gets the key for the library and as she’s exploring her new home, Rumple appears. He’s given her the key (and the librarian apartment if she wants it) and more importantly he explains why he brought magic to Storybrooke and why he was using magic the day before. She’s not ready to take him back yet but she is willing to maybe go for a hamburger sometime. I have to admit this whole scene made me cry. I mean hamburgers shouldn’t make me cry but it was just so sweet.

We end this week with Captain Hook spying an island. Cora appears and she holds up the jar of wardrobe ash. The Captain is dubious of her swirly shiny dust but Cora promises it will get them to Storybrooke where they will find the ones they’ve been searching for. They really are going to be a lot of trouble.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Person of Interest 2.03: "Masquerade"

“I spent some time feeling lost. Someone found me, told me I needed a purpose.”
- Reese

So I realized after watching this week’s episode that the “previously on” segment was really to make sure people knew what was going on with the Root storyline. Episodes 1 and 2 really were a 2-part season premiere. And now we’re back to business as usual with the regular intro. We begin this week with a voiceover of a mystery guy saying he’s going to take care of a guy who was getting ready and some loose ends. We then see the guy fly out a window and crash onto a car. Back at HQ, Reese is continuing his search for Root until Finch shows up. He’s not too happy to see that Bear is sleeping at the library. Anyway, they’ve got a new number, Sophia Campos, daughter of a Brazilian diplomat. Reese is on the trail and ends up slipping an expensive watch into Sophia’s bodyguard’s pocket. Guess there’s a vacancy for him to fill now. Fusco has managed to nab a bunch of stuff from Corwin’s hotel room, including an RFID reader. Carter offers to take it off his hands if he doesn’t think he can continue digging.

At the interview, Reese pulls a little pick-pocket and snags all the other applicants’ wallets. He really is a funny guy, even when he’s being serious. Hector (Sophia’s dad) likes Reese and ends up hiring him, much to Sophia’s chagrin. She isn’t exactly nice to the people around her. While her father is off having dinner with a Russian diplomat, Sophia sneaks out to go to a club. Of course, Reese is waiting for her and she grudgingly allows him inside the club with her and her friend Gabby. Before they leave the consulate, Reese notices a car watching them but he only gets a partial plate. Finch is a little miffed at this, but when Reese asks if he has somewhere else to be, he answers that he doesn’t. I think Bear is making him nervous. At the club, Reese is keeping an eye on Sophia while she does shots and Finch is trying to keep Bear occupied. It was hilarious to see Finch not wanting to touch Bear’s tennis ball with his bare hands. Unfortunately, as Finch is complaining about Bear being a distraction, Reese has to pull Sophia from dancing on a table and breaking a guy’s phone (he was trying to take a picture).

The next morning, Sophia tries to get Reese fired by saying he attacked an innocent guy and humiliated her. Her father is just happy no one got pictures. So Reese is going to be around a little longer. Sophia is in a mood now and orders Reese to bring the car around because they’re going shopping. It may give Reese a chance to get her cell phone and clone it. Finch makes a call to Carter about the partial plate and she says he belongs to a rental company that went out of JFK the day before. At the last store, Reese is basically a glorified pack mule and Sophia ditches him (thanks to Finch for turning on her GPS). Reese tracks her down and finds her meeting up with her American boyfriend. We also get a sort of adorable scene where Finch actually throws the ball for Bear and then acts like nothing happened when Reese asks about the sound (Bear skidding on the hardwood). Bear really is going to become Finch’s new best friend.

Reese lies for Sophia when they get back to the consulate and they’ve missed a photo op with the Japanese Ambassador. Meanwhile, Carter heads down to the morgue to see if she can find the chip that goes with Corwin’s RFID reader. She’s not the only one looking. Agent Snow walks out of the morgue just as she’s going in. He says he’s been reassigned and he looks really sketchy. Unfortunately, there’s no chip (only an incision where the chip likely was). Finch has done a little more digging and he found out who the rental car was registered to. Reese overhears (thanks to the fact he finally cloned Sophia’s phone) a call between Sophia and Gabby. Gabby sounds pretty freaked about something that happened to some guy named Paul. For once, Sophia is going clubbing and using the front door. On the way, Reese spots the rental car. It turns out it’s not an assassin but a paparazzo. At the club, Sophia is constantly looking around for Gabby but she’s not there. Reese spots a bunch of guys with guns and realizes they’re the hit team trying to take out Sophia (our heroes’ working theory is it might be politically motivated given Hector’s intentions to announce his candidacy for the Brazilian presidency). Reese takes the guys out and gets Sophia out of there. Back at the precinct, Carter calls Snow’s cell number but gets a weird guy asking her if she’s had contact with Snow and when. Something is obviously not right there.

Reese takes Sophia somewhere safe and makes her something to eat to try and calm her down. Carter gives Reese a little grief about the guys from the club but says she’ll look into which gang they belonged to. Reese manages to get some information out of Sophia about Paul. He was a designer drug peddler and Gabby got video from the night they went to his penthouse. Paul was meeting with a guy and things looked tense. Reese IDs the guy as one of the shooters from the club. This of course sends Sophia into a panic about Gabby. Reese agrees to let her tag along as he investigates but she has to stay in the car (because that always works). Carter manages to ID the gang as 14th Street Mafia. She’s going to work on ID’ing the mystery guy from Paul’s penthouse and she tracks Gabby’s phone to the morgue. The shooters already got to her. Back at HQ, Finch is going to take Bear for a walk when he discovers the files on Root that Reese was working on.

Reese has taken Sophia somewhere private and where she can get some air. But he needs Finch to come babysit while he looks for Gabby’s killer. Finch can’t do it. He gets outside and has a panic attack. Honestly, I get he’s freaked about Root, but he has a big freaking dog who would eat anyone who got near him. So Reese enlists Fusco to babysit. Sophia and Fusco make it to the party and things seem to be going ok. Carter ID’s the guy at Paul’s apartment, and so she and Reese go to the bar where he hangs out to get some information. Reese beats the crap out of some guys but they don’t get any information. Finch has been cleaning up the video from Sophia’s phone and realizes there was another person in the apartment; Jack (Sophia’s boyfriend). It looks like he was bankrolling Monty and Paul’s drug operation.

Reese and Carter have to get across town fast since Sophia is going to meet Jack and she’s clueless as to his involvement. Monty whisks her away and is about to shoot her when Fusco comes to the rescue. Carter and Reese show up not long after and ram Monty’s SVU into him. They still have Jack to take care of. Reese finds him trying to schedule a one-way flight to the Caiman Islands and hangs him off the roof so Sophia can break up with him. Sophia has kind of mellowed a bit and is going back to Brazil with her dad. Reese will not be joining her. That night, Carter is on her way out of the precinct when a random CIA woman asks about Snow. Carter tells her it isn’t her (Carter) job to keep track of him. We see Snow hiding out in a basement somewhere and we learn he’s being held captive by Reese’s former partner. She’s got a bomb strapped to him to keep him in line. We end with Reese, Finch and Bear going out for a beer (or something else).

The Newsroom 1.08: "The Blackout Part 1: Tragedy Porn"

“It’ll be a polished, tightly-produced abomination.”

This was kind of an odd episode of “The Newsroom,” perhaps because it was part one of a two-parter. It felt a bit more plodding and preachy than usual, and considering this is an Aaron Sorkin show, that’s saying something. He certainly knows how to bring the preachy. I guess by this late point in the season, the season’s conflicts have all been set up, so it’s time to see how our characters end up resolving (or not) those conflicts. AWM top brass and the News Night crew continue to dance around each other, each hoping they can trip the other up. Will’s baser impulses to seek higher ratings lead him to dumb down the content of News Night. And most of the New Night staff is getting a bit pissy over the aforementioned dumbing-down. Well, I guess it isn’t just his baser impulses. Will really wants to be invited by the RNC to moderate one of the Presidential debates, and he wants to have a debate-format segment on News Night to show them that he can do the job. He’s afraid he won’t get the executive support he needs to do that in the middle of a ratings slump. And he’s probably right. Although the holier-than-thou way he treats the idea of having a debate is kind of irksome.

The episode begins with Will trying to set up some ammunition against Leona’s in-house smear campaign. He’s interviewing a rival reporter named Brian to potentially do a cover story on News Night 2.0. News Night (and Will) needs the good press, and Brian has fallen on hard times and could really use the cover story. So they have a meeting of the minds. We later learn that Brian is Mackenzie’s ex, with whom she cheated on Will, so I’m not sure what sort of masochistic impulse led Will to consider hiring him. But hire him he does, for an off-the-record trial period, at least. It soon becomes apparent that while Brian was hired to cover the quick transition to News Night 2.0, he’s actually witnessing the almost as quick transition back to something like News Night 1.0. This is mostly due to a meeting Will has with Reese, who I only just realized is played by the same actor who plays Danny Castellano on “The Mindy Project.” Reese is a more serious role than Danny, but he’s really just as smarmy. Reese informs Will and Charlie that News Night’s ratings have gone down 50% since they decided not to cover the Casey Anthony trial. All their viewers are bleeding to Nancy Grace’s coverage on HLN. After a bit of protest (mostly from Mackenzie), the News Night team agrees to devote some coverage to Casey Anthony, in an effort to save Will’s job and the possibility of the new debate format.

We next see Mackenzie and Sloan having a bit of a girl’s night at the local bar. Sloan warns Mackenzie about the dangers of the games House Republicans are playing with the debt ceiling, and Sloan really wants to lead an upcoming News Night broadcast with that story. Mackenzie is pissed that she has to lead the next broadcast with Casey Anthony instead of Sloan’s story, and Sloan is pretty equally pissed, although as the episode progresses, it seems like she blames Mackenzie and not the greater forces. Mackenzie ends up revealing to Sloan that Brian’s the guy she cheated on Will with, but the conversation gets interrupted when news gets out that Congressman Anthony Weiner accidentally tweeted a very name-appropriate photograph. The timing of this is perfect, just as Mackenzie is wondering what other infotainment crap she’s going to have to report on instead of real news.

Mackenie’s fears come true back at the office when Will asks her to schedule three minutes of the next broadcast for a story on Anthony Weiner. This argument happens in front of Brian, which of course is all sorts of awkward. After Mackenzie leaves, Brian and Will have a chat, and Brian figures out that Leona is working diligently to manufacture cause to fire Will. Meanwhile, out on the floor, the ducklings are working on preparing for a mock debate (Jim as Michelle Bachmann is kind of hilarious). Maggie goes on this rant about how Michelle Bachmann claiming to hear the word of God insults her as a Christian that was really just another excuse for a Sorkin preach-fest. Anyway, Mackenzie interrupts the rant to inform the crew that they’re going to cover Casey Anthony, and she’s brought in Don to teach them how to sleaze up the broadcast a bit. He does a sort of play-by-play of Nancy Grace’s latest coverage of the trial that is really quite disgusting to behold.

Meanwhile, a very enthusiastic Charlie takes a trip to the New York Public Library to meet with the mysterious NSA employee who called him on the day Osama bin Laden was killed. He’s a rather high-up software engineer for the NSA, and he reveals to Charlie that the NSA is currently capturing tens of thousands of e-mails and phone calls a day, with and without a warrant. He’s testified both before Congress and the Pentagon about this to no avail, and he wants News Night to run a story on it in exchange for damning information about AWM. The information is that AWM-owned tabloid (and thorn in Will’s side) TMI has been engaging in News of the World-like wiretapping shenanigans, and those actions were ordered by none other than Reese. Charlie goes back to the office and tells Will and Mackenzie what he learned, and they’re going to assign Jim to vetting the NSA guy’s story. Will warns Jim about the importance of confidentiality, which I’m sure means that before the end of the season, Jim is going to screw this up royally.

Will has another chat with Reese, and Will can barely contain his contempt for Reese, especially after learning the new information about him. The only real purpose this conversation serves is for Reese to make a comment about the weather. There are tornados and unusually hot weather- the kind of hot weather that can lead to blackouts. Will is snippy right back to Reese. Mackenzie also has herself a rather snippy conversation, but hers is with Brian. He’s trying to interview her for the article, and she’s not being especially cooperative. Neal interrupts this conversation to pitch a story idea to Mackenzie, and for once it’s not bigfoot. He wants to do a story on internet trolling (not that it’s really a novel concept). Mackenzie gives Neal permission to go ahead and do some research, which includes acting as a troll himself towards someone on the News Night staff. He runs into Sloan and asks if she would mind being the “victim.” In a moment that I found absolutely outrageous, Sloan physically pushes Neal into a wall when he asks her this. In what universe does Aaron Sorkin live where a woman would act like this? It was disgusting, and I expect better from his writing.

I’m going to skip over the bit where Will barges in on his therapist and his therapist tells him he needs to forgive Mackenzie. Instead, we’ll fast forward to Charlie being kind of stupid and confronting Leona. He tells her to call of the Will smear campaign, but she refuses. She’s still really pissed that Will continued to take on the Tea Party and the Koch Brothers on News Night even though she explicitly told him not to. She’s concerned that she won’t be able to get favorable legislation through Congress if Will keeps this up. Charlie tries to warn Leona that she’s not going to like the consequences if she doesn’t let up, but she doesn’t listen. It’s clear he’s going to go forward with the NSA story full-throttle now. It was very Tenth Doctor of him to give her a chance to admit her wrongdoing before going in for the kill.

Back at the office, Maggie is stuck interviewing a woman who claims to be one of Andrew Weiner’s conquests. The woman is a real piece of work. She has an agent booking her on all of these interviews, and she wasn’t upset that Weiner was married (she knew that). She was upset that he had other mistresses. She’s just gross. Anyway, while setting up a pre-taped segment with the mistress, Mackenzie and Sloan get into another argument over Sloan’s desire to do the debt ceiling story. Sloan just doesn’t understand the pressure Mackenzie is under, and Mackenzie is frustrated that she can’t run the story she knows is most important (although the consequences turned out not to be as bad as many economists predicted, but I think we just got lucky with that one). The News Night crew finishes all the set-up for the pre-taped segment, and they all seem to be feeling pretty horrible about themselves for stooping this low. Mackenzie goes so far as to as for a sign that they shouldn’t be doing this. And of course, at that moment, the power goes out.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Nashville 1.02: "I Can't Help It (If I'm Still in Love with You)"

“If I wanted to fight like this, I’d have a damn girlfriend.”

“Nashville’s” second episode, while not spectacular, was a decent effort. All of the plots (sort of) advanced, and wisely, more emphasis was placed on the music scene as opposed to the political machinations. A theme of this episode was character choosing between their loves and their career, and surprisingly, it wasn’t just women in this situation. Rayna and Scarlett are having to choose between continuing their career with Deacon and Gunnar and their relationships with Teddy and Avery respectively, but on the flip side, Deacon is having to choose between taking his career to the next level with Juliette and his devotion to Rayna. Scarlett makes a choice by the end of the episode, but the Rayna/Deacon/Juliette mess is still left unresolved. I’m wondering if I’ll end up dubbing them the new Triangle of Doom (the original is Sawyer/Kate/Jack on “Lost”) by the time this all shakes out. I’m so used to seeing the “trials of the woman who tries to have it all” trope on television, that Deacon is sort of refreshing. He sacrificed his own career to propel Rayna into superstardom, and he’s trying to figure out for how much longer he can do that.

Gunnar and Scarlett’s plot was pretty self-contained. Scarlett is reluctant to take Watty up on the offer to produce a demo, and Gunnar isn’t especially happy about that. He’s sick of just being a soundboard operator. Scarlett is pretty dense about this sort of thing. When she wants to change the topic with Gunnar, she invites him to Avery’s upcoming show at a nearby club. What a hurtful way to shut Gunnar down. I think that she’s afraid of having romantic feelings for Gunnar because she had this picture in her head of her future with Avery (even though last week she claimed that Avery kept breaking her heart, and that inspired her poetry). At Avery’s show, Scarlett and Gunnar get recognized by a fellow audience members for their performance at the Bluebird showcase, and Avery is pretty pissed to find out that not only has his girlfriend been writing and performing music, with Watty’s offer, she’s had more success with one reluctant performance than he’s had in a concerted effort at a music career. Seeing Rayna and Deacon put on an amazing acoustic performance at the Bluebird (more on that later) finally convinces Scarlett that she and Gunnar need to take their chance at music stardom, even if it potentially means hurting Avery.

In the political world, Teddy’s campaign manager wants Teddy and Rayna to both participate in a “vulnerability study” where some suits will interview them to see what dirty secrets they can dig up. The idea is to find out all the negative things that Coleman’s campaign could capitalize on. It’s really just a good backstory downloading device, because we get to see Rayna’s interview. It turns out she and Deacon were together romantically for eleven years, but Deacon had a pretty serious drug problem back in the day. Rayna dropped him off at rehab and paid for his treatment, but she also dumped him and started dating Teddy. Rayna and Teddy haven’t been together romantically at all since that point, even though they did eventually go back to working together. Earlier in the episode, Rayna can’t imagine every having romantic feelings for Deacon again, but that changes by the end. All the vulnerability study folks can find is that there mus have been something shady about Teddy’s recent land deal gone wrong, but they probably won’t figure out what any time soon, because we also see Teddy burning documents. Lamar has no problem with Teddy having some secret skeletons. He thinks it will make Teddy easier for him to control.

The main plot of the story involves the Rayna/Deacon/Juliette potential future Triangle of Doom. Watty reveals his big plan to save Rayna’s career. He thinks that she and Deacon should do a small-scale acoustic duet tour like they used to do back in the day. Seeing Gunnar and Scarlett gave him that inspiration. Rayna is really enthusiastic about the idea because it is a way to get out on tour without opening for Juliette, but Teddy isn’t thrilled with the idea of his wife going on this sort of tour with her ex. In exchange for Rayna participating in the vulnerability study, though, Teddy finally agrees to support her desire for the tour. The one remaining obstacle is Juliette. She’s dead set on stealing Deacon away from Rayna in every way. Juliette is a bit more moustache-twirling in this episode than she was in the pilot, probably because her mother wasn’t a factor. The only thing that elevated her above pure villain was her obvious love of country music and her desire to be seen as more than just a pop star for tweens. She sees ensnaring Deacon as her ticket to more grown-up respectability.

Juliette tries to woo Deacon with a songwriting session out in a random field and a $50,000 guitar. He does have sex with her out in that field, but he still won’t join her band. Juliette turns up the heat by blatantly sending the guitar to Deacon while he’s in a rehearsal with Rayna. Rayna is pretty pissed about the whole situation, and she gets more and more irritated as the episode progresses. Juliette isn’t just the new popular country music artist, she’s trying to steal Rayna’s life. Juliette seems to be basing her self-worth on her ability to snag Deacon, too. It’s kind of a sad situation all around. Anyway, Juliette is watching Deacon perform at the Bluebird when Rayna stops by to ruin the party. Rayna was trying to counter Deacon’s accusation that she didn’t support him, and Deacon is delighted to see her. Deacon invites her right up on stage, which makes Juliette livid. When he started talking about a special friend in the audience, she thought he was referring to her, obviously. Rayna and Deacon sing one of their classic love songs, and the crowd goes wild. Rayna and Deacon also really reconnect. After the performance, they sit outside in Deacon’s car, and Rayna says they shouldn’t have sung that song. She jumps out of the car and runs home to Teddy, where she quickly tells him she loves him.

Arrow 1.02: "Honor Thy Father"

“Look, I know it was hell where you were. But it was hell here, too. You gotta let me in, Oli. You gotta let someone in.”
- Thea

Much like the pilot, we begin with a voice over from Oliver, explaining about his father’s wish to clean up the city. We see Oliver as Arrow taking down yet another corrupt business man. Next we find him; he’s off to court to have the ruling of death in absentia nullified. I have to say I wasn’t aware that was a real thing but it makes sense. I still don’t particularly like the voice overs. I think they’re somewhat distracting. But it appears they are here to stay. Anyway, after the hearing, Oliver and Tommy run into Laurel, her friend and their client. Laurel is still kind of cranky with Oliver for sleeping with her sister. Or maybe she’s just acting tough for her client. Not surprisingly, the defendant is another wealthy businessman named Martin Summers who may have ties to the Chinese mafia. As Laurel gives her opening statement, we see Oliver working out and training. He’s going to have his crack at the guy too as the name is in his father’s little book. In fact Oliver threatens to kill Summers if he doesn’t testify that he had the father of Laurel’s client killed.

Back at the Queen mansion, Moira is none-too-pleased that the body guard she hired to protect Oliver can’t keep track of her son. Oliver materializes and feeds his mom a line about being “alone” for five years (apparently this implies he’s getting laid…a lot). He promises to take his body guard with him from now on just as Thea is heading out. She’s on her way to a party to get drunk. She gives Oliver a grief saying all he’s been doing is judging her and ignoring the rest of the family. She can’t see he’s trying to stop her from turning into him pre-castaway. I mean I can see how it’s hard for Oliver. He’s trying to act like he’s still that jackass pretty boy at the same time he’s trying to rectify the city’s wrongs.

Apparently one of Summers’ minions called 9-1-1 after Oliver popped around and Detective Lance is not happy. He doesn’t trust Summers and he certainly doesn’t like him. In fact he gives Laurel around the clock police protection and no matter how much she wants to argue about it, he’s not letting up. Meanwhile, Oliver is getting a tour of Queen Consolidated. The company has been successful in various fields and they’re breaking ground on a new facility for one of the science divisions and Walter and Moira want to name it after Oliver’s dad. Which Oliver is okay with. He’s not happy about being asked to head up his own company. He gets a little pep talk from Diggle (bodyguard) and I have to say, I think they could actually work well together. Diggle is a good guy. We get another flashback to the beginning of Oliver’s time on the island. His dad’s body is still in the life raft and scavenger birds are starting to circle. Oliver is understandably upset and after puking (likely from the smell of decaying corpse) he drags his father’s body from the raft.

We briefly visit Mr. Summers having a meeting with his Triad contact, China White. I’m not familiar with the villains in the Green Arrow ‘verse but this lady has a really bad wig on. The white hair just looks so unnatural. She says she’s going to go after Laurel since going after Oliver’s alter ego and Laurel’s client are too difficult. The next morning Thea sees Oliver’s scars and gets bitchy when he doesn’t want to talk about it. He sort of apologies and says he needs to get better at talking about it but he’s just not ready yet. Thea takes him to visit the family graves (which is kind of creepy and what with Oliver being alive and stuff…they ought to get rid of his headstone). She used to talk to Oliver’s grave and she tells him he needs to talk to someone. So that obviously translates to going to see Laurel. She lets him in and they share ice cream (Oliver dreamed about eating it on the island). Things are going well. At least they’re not arguing or glaring at each other. Of course, things have to get interrupted. Oliver hears someone on the fire escape and a bunch of goons along with China White bust in. Thankfully Diggle is around and takes out two of the guys. He gets a few good swings in at China and Oliver even saves Diggle with a well-timed throw. Guess having a bodyguard can come in handy. I really think they’d make a great ass-kicking duo.

In the aftermath, Detective Lance shows up and tells Oliver to stay the hell away from his daughter (after thanking Diggle of course). So much for Lance blaming himself more than Oliver for Sarah going on the boat trip in the first place. Diggle and Oliver head back to the mansion and Diggle makes a rather astute assessment of Oliver’s knife-throwing abilities. Oliver brushes it off as luck and feigns being tired. He’s just off to take out Summers for trying to hurt Laurel. He manages to take out a lot of his goons but Lance gets called to the docks mid-assault. I guess it was probably for the best seeing as he was losing the argument about trying to keep Laurel safe. There was no way she was going to recuse herself from the case or drop it (which honestly makes me twitchy seeing as whether to go forward with a case is the client’s call not the attorney’s).

Oliver is pretty good at getting Summers to confess. He even has a decent fight with China White before they both take off after the cops arrive. Oliver nearly gets caught by Detective Lance but leaves an arrow that recorded Summers’ confession. Handy little things. Laurel is kind of happy that Arrow is around. He got justice for her client. At the ground-breaking ceremony, Oliver shows up and it appears he’s a little drunk. But he makes it clear he wants people to stop expecting him to be someone he’s not. He flashes back yet again to the island as he carries his father’s body up a cliff and buries it (after finding his dad’s little book of names). He has a little heart to heart with his father’s headstone, saying that in order to honor his father’s wishes, he may have to dishonor his father’s memory. His mother continues to plot with someone who has a notebook with the same symbol as Oliver’s dad. We end with Oliver getting shot by a spear on the island. So at least we know how he got some of those scars.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

HIMYM 8.04: "Who Wants to Be a Godparent?"

“If you want him to be raised by his underwear on a flagpole, Ted is your guy.”

“Who Wants to Be a Godparent,” where Marshall and Lily contemplate what their friends truly mean to them, was probably my favorite episode of this season of HIMYM thus far. It’s not in the pantheon of best episodes of the series, but it was enjoyable, and there was only one aspect of the episode that made me actively angry. Setting a low bar, I know. This, like all episodes of HIMYM that I like more than the average, mirrored issues I’ve experienced in my own life, albeit in a more exaggerated way. Most importantly, it had some genuinely funny moments. I haven’t laughed a whole lot at HIMYM this season, but the game Marshall put together to choose a godparent for Marvin got a chuckle out of me. The game also provided a great opportunity to showcase all the characters, as we got a chance to see how they would all react to a number of parenting scenarios.

The set-up for this episode was Marshall and Lily having their first night out with the gang in a long time (they’ve been understandably busy with Marvin). When they ask the rest of the gang how things are going, everyone pretends that things are just fine because Marshall and Lily had previously told them that now that they’re parents, they only want to hear about problems that are an 8 or above on a scale of seriousness. The rest of the gang are all having issues that might be trivial in the grand scheme of things, but are pretty bothersome right now. Victoria’s dad is making Ted pay for Victoria and Klaus’ called-off wedding, and Robin’s disappointed that Nick’s new bike is really lame. Barney just banged a chick slightly below his usual standard.

Anyway, while capping off their free time with a walk, Marshall and Lily almost get hit by a cab. This makes them (especially Marshall) reevaluate things, and they realize that they probably ought to have a will. They go to a website to draw up the document, which I would usually discourage, but since Marshall’s a lawyer, I suppose it’s okay, and they’re figuring things out just fine until they have to name a guardian for Marvin. First they go back and forth with family members, each not approving of the other’s parent(s) being Marvin’s guardian. They think one of Marshall’s brothers might be a good choice because he has kids and seems to be a good dad, but it turns out that he’s run off to Hawaii or the Caribbean or somewhere else generically beachy. The next level of possibilities would be friends. The only problem is that Ted, Robin, and Barney all want the job.

Robin, Ted, and Barney get more and more extreme in their attempts to become Marvin’s godparents. Ted and Robin get into a sort of teddy bear war, each bringing bigger and bigger bears to Lily and Marshall’s apartment. Barney takes the singing telegram concept to the next level, singing dirty versions of childhood songs, with a different costume for every song. It would be funny if I wasn’t so sick and tired of the return of Cartoon Barney. Is it too much to ask for Barney to be a well-rounded, remotely human-like character? Oh and this isn’t the one thing that really, especially annoyed me about this episode. I’m kind of used to Cartoon Barney rearing his ugly head now and then, so it’s not something that spoils and episode for me on its own.

Tired of their friends falling all over each other in this unofficial competition, Marshall and Lily decide to make the competition official. Marshall comes up with an elaborate, Wheel of Fortune type game called Who Wants to Be a Godparent. Lily’s in a fancy Vanna White dress, and she does the wheel spinning. Which brings me to the one thing that really, really irked me about this episode. It was kind of complete character assassination of Lily. Lily has been many different things, but one constant is that she’s always been strong. In this episode, her role was relegated to either getting weepy every time Marshall made a reference to making a will or death, or being giddy over being pretty again in her dress. It was just not anything like a real person. It was as if she was written as the stereotype of a vapid woman, and it was really disappointing. The Lily I’ve gotten to know over the past three years would have taken a much more active role in figuring out her son’s guardian and wouldn’t have gotten weepy at the mere mention of making a will.

Anyway, the game itself was kind of fun. We got to see how Barney, Robin, and Ted all thought they would handle big time parenting scenarios like informing Marvin of his parents’ death, telling Marvin about the birds and the bees, and disciplining him for stealing another kid’s toy. Robin, given her pseudo-military upbringing, would take a very tell-it-like-it-is approach. Barney would let Marvin run wild and teach him how to be a bro. Ted would go all professor, but with a puppet called Professor Infosaurus. Out of the three, Ted would pretty clearly be the best parent, although maybe he’d be a bit too coddling. It’s hard to say. Anyway, Marshall and Lily are having a tough time making their decision, and eventually Ted, Robin, and Barney get fed up and leave. They also call Marshall and Lily on not being very good friends since Marvin was born. Marshall and Lily argue that Marvin has to come first. There will be no closing MacLaren’s for them anymore.

After Ted, Robin, and Barney leave, Marshall and Lily realize that their friends are their family too, and they need to devote some care to those relationships. They get a babysitter and go downstairs to join the rest of the gang at MacLaren’s. They even rescind the “don’t tell us about a problem unless it’s an eight” rule. The whole gang spends the rest of the night gossiping and working through their minor in the grand scheme of things troubles, and it’s kind of sweet. While I don’t think Marshall and Lily should be closing MacLaren’s every night as new parents, getting out once in a while is probably good for them, and in turn, good for Marvin. Ted, Robin, and Barney all pass out at Marshall and Lily’s apartment, and when the early crying starts to happen, the gang (for the most part) spring into action. Marshall and Lily end up naming all three of their friends as guardians.

Revolution 1.05: "Soul Train"

“Saying goodbye to who? That’s just a body in the ground, Charlie. But Danny, he’s still alive. And he’s close. So you don’t have that luxury. Standing around here crying isn’t going to help.”
- Miles

This week starts in a very brutal way. I can’t tell if it’s just to let off steam or some kind of game but Captain Neville is beating the crap out of his men and then he insists Danny take a turn. Danny doesn’t want to but Neville pops him a couple times in the face. Danny gets a good shot to Neville’s gut but that’s it. He ends up lying bloody on the floor. We flash back to the day of the blackout to see that Neville was a nice guy, trying to give coverage to people when the company doesn’t really cover it. His manager ends up firing him. We cut to Charlie and Aaron standing over Maggie’s grave and Miles says they need to go. They’ve lost enough time. They’re nearly to Noblesville where Neville and company are only to find that Neville’s got a steam-powered train. They’re heading out to Pennsylvania the next day. Which is not good. In Philadelphia, Monroe tells Rachel that Danny’s on his way. Charlie confirms the train’s departure time and Miles says to head out inconspicuously and look for Danny. He leaves Aaron in charge of Nate.

Meanwhile, Neville and his boys are hiding out in the bank and Danny is locked in a cell. Neville goes on a tangent about how Danny probably doesn’t remember banks when Danny tells him to shut. Danny is tired of all of Neville’s speeches and head games. This prompts another flashback. It’s now the night of the black out and past-Neville is kind of a pushover. He tries to tell the kid next door who is having a party to keep the music down but he doesn’t listen. His son, Jason, is really adorable though. Rather interesting we learn that Neville had a thing for punching. He’s beating a punching bag to hell when Jason sees him. Neville tells his son that he can only hit the bag and not people when the power goes out.

Back in the present, Nora ends up finding the only rebel in town, Ken Hutchinson (my brain just screamed Lapidus!). Hutch tells her that the rest of the gang was taken out by militia. Charlie is wandering around when she attracts Neville’s attention. She feeds him a line about spying on a cheating boyfriend but it doesn’t last long. He walks away, she follows and he demands to know who she is. Miles busts in to save the day and is not very happy to see Neville. Miles does a pretty good job beating the crap out of Neville. He even proposes a trade; Nate for Danny but Neville isn’t interested. I have a feeling I know who Nate really is. Which makes it very interesting that Neville doesn’t want him back. Back at the hide out, Aaron is looking at Maggie’s phone and nocks over the makeshift table and Nate grabs hold of the pendant. Aaron manages to get it back by saying it belonged to his wife only to have Nora and Hutch come in. They’re going to blow up the train, regardless of the fact Danny might be on it. I like Nora but she’s kind of nuts. On the way back, Miles and Charlie get into a bit of an argument. Charlie says she has a really good memory of Miles from when she was little but Miles says the guy he sued to be is dead. I have to say that was a really obvious line. I heard it in my head before he even said it.

Neville gets back to the bank and they’re moving Danny somewhere more secure. He has yet another flashback to six weeks after the black out when he ends up being the neighbor guy to a bloody pulp in front of Jason and his wife. Charlie is starting to panic about Nora blowing up the train. Miles says simply that they need to get Danny before she sets the bomb off. Charlie tries to appeal to Nate to give her information but he’s not going to help. Mile pulls out his sword and Nate makes a pretty crazy escape. He catches up to Neville and it looks like they’re on good terms.

Things aren’t going so well for Nora and Hutch. She manages to get the bomb in place (hiding the fuse in a log that’s going to power the train) but when she realizes Danny is on the train, she tries to get the bomb back. Hutch stabs her, there’s really no way she’s getting to the train now. The gang doesn’t look pleased to see the train pulling out of the station early. I anticipate some crazy maneuvers by Miles in the near future. We take a brief detour to Philly where Monroe is getting some news that some of the other nations are encroaching on the Republic’s borders. Thank you rebels!

And then we get the Miles swashbuckling I was expecting. And Charlie holds her own, too. She and Danny almost escape when Nate shows up and grabs her. Neville orders him to bring Charlie to him but Nate saves her. Neville is not pleased with that maneuver but it seems Nate doesn’t much care. They get to Philadelphia and Neville reunites with his wife and we get confirmation that Nate is in fact, Jason. He flashes back to his dad telling him they need to toughen up or they’re dead. Finally, our merry band is stopping in the woods so Nora can patch herself up. She’s feeling pretty guilty about the whole almost blowing Danny up thing. Understandable. Hutch probably isn’t too happy about the train not exploding as promised. I have to wonder if we’ll see him again. Miles tries to give Charlie a pep talk and mentions that he’s got to go to Philly and kill his best friend. Charlie’s not interested. They have a long way to walk. And as Danny is walked through the center of town in Philly, Rachel finally gives in and tells Monroe about the pendants. This is getting interesting.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Once Upon a Time 2.03: "Lady of the Lake"

“You have nothing to fear from me. The apple fell very far from the tree.”

“Lady of the Lake” was easily the weakest “Once Upon a Time” episode of the new season thus far. Sarah and I have mostly delighted in the “Lost” references in the three “Lost”-adjacent shows we’ve been covering this season (“Fringe,” “Once Upon a Time,” and “Revolution”), but in this episode, the stuff that was really reminiscent of “Lost” was reminiscent of bad “Lost,” not great “Lost” like “The Constant.” This episode was basically like Ana Lucia and early season 2 meets the Temple. And the plotting was clunky, too. I could see the writers working instead of everything appearing seamless. It was very mechanical. I was disappointed to see that Andrew Chambliss, who came up in the business on “Dollhouse” was one of the co-writers. I know he’s better than this episode. Now all that being said, the episode wasn’t all bad. There were three main story threads, and only one of them, the present-day Enchanted Forest storyline, was really that bad. There were some sweet moments in both the Storybrooke and flashback Enchanted Forest storylines. So let’s get on with it!

The episode opens in the Enchanted Forest with a scene designed to introduce us to yet another new character- Sir Lancelot. Charming’s holding a Council of War in the middle of the Enchanted Forest (they’re fighting his “dad” King George). Snow is trying to get away from the fighting and make it to the rendezvous point (Charming’s mom’s cabin), and she’s not having much luck. She runs into none other than Lancelot, who has left the Round Table in disgrace and is now fighting as a mercenary for King George. He captures her and takes her to King George. King George reveals that his wife was made infertile by a curse, and so James was the only chance at a family he had. He’s pissed at Snow for taking that away from him, so he gives her a potion that curses her with infertility as well.

In the present day Enchanted Forest, Snow regains consciousness in the pit. She seriously freaks out when she sees Cora and warns Emma that Cora is even worse than Regina. Emma is kind of skeptical, believing that Cora has truly been stripped of her powers. Things improve a little when Emma and Snow are brought to the surface to meet the leader of the safe island (yeah, there would be a lot of references to “the Island’ throughout the rest of the episode), and the leader of the remaining Enchanted Forest denizens appears to be none other than Lancelot. Snow is very happy to see him, and they embrace. This pisses off Aurora, because she wants Snow and Emma to be punished for allegedly killing Prince Phillip. Mulan warns Aurora against vengeance, but Aurora doesn’t listen. When Mulan leaves, Aurora pulls out her knife.

Snow, Emma, and Lancelot have a pow wow, and Snow tells the group she has a plan. She’s afraid to revel too much of it because Cora is nearby, but Lancelot gives Snow and Emma permission to leave the island to pursue this plan as long as Mulan accompanies them. Again, Emma is dubious, but she’s overruled. Emma not trusting her mom is kind of a theme throughout this storyline. Snow, Emma, and Mulan are getting ready to leave the safe island, and just as they are about ready to go, Snow reveals some of her plan. They’re going to go back to Snow and Charming’s old castle to find the wardrobe that was used to send Emma to our world in the first place. Snow is hoping there’s some residual magic still left in it that could take them all back home.

Finally back in our universe, Henry is still struggling to be a decent grandfather to Henry. They’re having an argument over whether Henry can help Charming with the search for Emma and Snow. Charming wants Henry to just go to school, but he clearly doesn’t know Henry very well if he thinks that Henry is going to obey that request. As soon as Charming is out of sight, Henry starts walking away from the school bus as fast as he can. Henry goes to talk to Jefferson, and he convinces Jefferson to go see his daughter (apparently Jefferson thought she’d be pissed at him for leaving her). I guess Henry thinks that if Jefferson gets his family situation sorted, he can help with a portal? Then Henry gets extra devious and calls Regina asking her to lunch- it’s an invitation Regina is only too eager to accept. After Regina has rushed out of her house to the lunch meet-up, Henry sneaks in and steals Regina’s keys that seem to open everything in Storybrooke.

In another Enchanted Forest flashback, Snow runs into Lancelot again. Snow is understandably not happy about this, but Lancelot actually means well. He wants to warn her that King George has sent some of his men to Charming’s mom’s cabin. Snow rushes to warm him, but she’s too late. Charming has to fight off King George’s men, but his mom gets shot with an arrow after failing to head Charming’s warning to stay inside. Snow arrives just as Charming’s mom is about to pass out from her injuries. Charming wants to take his mom to the lake we saw last season, because he thinks the water may be able to heal her from the poisoned arrow. During the journey to the lake, Snow and Charming’s mom talk about Charming’s dream to have children. Charming’s mom tries to give Snow this pendent that is supposed to tell her the gender of her first child, and Snow is forced to admit her infertility. Charming’s mom thinks that the water can heal Snow as well.

In the present day, Snow, Emma, and Mulan arrive at a clearing that should be a good place to camp for the night. Snow and Mulan leave to gather firewood and water, and they leave Emma at the campsite. Snow doesn’t think Emma knows enough about the dangers of the Enchanted Forest yet. Emma turns out to be in danger even at the campsite, though. Aurora has been following (is she this show’s Kate or what?), and she attacks Snow with her knife. Emma stupidly shoots her gun into the air, even though her mother warned her that the abundant ogres are blind and hunt by sound. Predictably, the sound of the gun brings the ogres with a vengeance. This part of the episode was kind of painful to watch, really. It was just that stupid. The gears of the plot were clearly turning at the expense of everything else. Snow, thankfully, gets her bearings and shoots the ogre in the eye with an arrow. Emma feels kind of stupid for causing all that trouble, and I was glad. Eventually, the four ladies arrive at Snow’s former castle, which has been abandoned following the curse.

Flashing back pre-curse again, Charming and company arrive at the lake, but all the water seems to have dried up. Charming thinks this happened because he killed the Siren who lived in the lake last season. Lancelot tells Charming not to give up hope. He finds one sip of water still trapped in a shell. Charming’s mom and Snow argue a little over who should drink the one sip. Charming gives his mom the flask with the water in it, and she appears to drink it. It was a suspiciously quick change of heart, and she’s not getting better, anyway. Her only regret is that she won’t be able to see Snow and Charming’s wedding, but Charming and Snow solve that problem by having Lancelot marry them right away. Charming’s mom dies just as the ceremony (which involves Snow drinking from a cup, of course) is complete. Later, Charming gives Snow his mom’s gender-predicting pendent, and when she holds it, it actually works. The magic water was in the cup she used in the wedding, and they are going to have a girl someday (as we know).

Back in the present, the four women (the one redeeming characteristic of this plot is that it’s a group of only women saving themselves) find the castle nursery and the wardrobe. It’s certainly a bittersweet moment for Snow, since she’s forced to confront the childhood time with Emma that she wasn’t able to have. Lancelot appears suddenly, and Snow is instantly suspicious. It turns out that he’s actually Cora. She’s had her magic all along and has been impersonating Lancelot (who she killed) for years. She uses magic to throw Snow and Emma across the room and tie them up. Emma finally saves the day by burning the wardrobe. This seems to scare Cora off. At the very end of the episode, though, we see Cora gleefully collecting wardrobe ash. So I guess that plan didn’t work so well.

In Storybrooke, Henry uses Regina’s keys to get into the family crypt, the lower levels of which hold all the hearts she’s stolen and all her magic stuff. He opens a box and almost gets eaten by some snakes, but Charming saves him just in time. It turns out Regina alerted him to the lunch deception. Meanwhile, Jefferson takes Henry’s advice and has a sweet little reunion with his daughter. Finally, Charming seems to be finally getting with the good grandfather program. He gets Henry some toy swords and says he’s going to teach him what he needs to know to survive in the Enchanted Forest. They’re going to search together from now on. Things aren’t going to be happy for long though. King George pulls up in a fancy car and creepily watches the swordplay.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Fringe 5.03: "The Recordist"

“Definitely not dwarves.”

“The Recordist” definitely wasn’t a bad episode of “Fringe,” but it wasn’t spectacular, either. The guest characters were memorable, which is something that the worst episodes of the series did not manage to achieve. On the other hand, it was kind of boring. There wasn’t a creature of the week for the team to fight (those days are long past, I’m afraid), and the Observers weren’t really a direct threat because the team was out in middle-of-nowhere northwest Pennsylvania. There’s a little Observer/Loyalist related tension, but nothing like the past couple episodes. It felt like we were marking time a bit too much more my taste, considering this is the final season and every moment counts. I got like this during the final season of “Lost,” too. I got rather resentful when episodes took a detour from spending time on the important stuff, because there wasn’t much time left. Thinking about “Across the Sea” still makes me a bit stabby. Thankfully, “The Recordist” was better than “Across the Sea” and actually included the characters we’ve been following for the past four-plus seasons. Hopefully, the season arc will pick up the pace sooner rather than later.

The episode opens in the Harvard lab, where Astrid is once again working the de-ambering laser. There’s another video tape in the amber, and the team is hoping that this one will be the first tape that will have the beginning of the plan to defeat the Observers. Despite Astrid doing a really good job with the laser, the tape is still worse for wear, and the team has a hard time figuring out what they need to do. It’s clear that it’s the third tape (Walter hid the tapes out of order, which really isn’t surprising). It’s also clear that they need to go to very specific coordinates in northwest Pennsylvania. What’s not clear is what they’re supposed to do when they get to the coordinates. Astrid stays behind to try and get more information from the tape while the rest of the team heads towards Lake Erie. When the team gets to the coordinates, they think they see a kid trying to stealthily travel through the forest. Soon they’re met by a whole group of people who seem to have a rather unfortunate skin condition. It’s rather creepy, although we later learn that these folks are harmless.

A man named Edwin, who appears to be the leader of the group, talks to the Fringe team. Something in the environment caused the skin problem. They aren’t sure what exactly, but it’s definitely getting worse. Edwin takes Walter down to a sort of underground lair that is protected by some pretty advanced tech. In the lair, the walls are filled with data cubes. Edwin explains to Walter that he and his father have both taken on the responsibility to record human history since the invasion, because it is inevitable that the Observers will try to rewrite that history. Meanwhile, above ground, Edwin’s son River shows Peter and Olivia the really cool Fringe Division comics that he wrote and drew himself. He’s psyched about having the chance to meet his heroes in real life. Drawings of herself holding Etta as a baby just make Olivia uncomfortable and wistful, though.

Astrid has done some more work on restoring the video tape, and she discovers that the team needs to find something in a mine. Walter asks Edwin about this, and Edwin informs the team that there is indeed a gold mine nearby. While this is going on, the Observers are alerted to the team’s presence in northwest Pennsylvania, and they’re going to send a squad of Loyalists to collect them. Oblivious to this, the team goes to check out the mine. Walter pulls up something attached to a rope, and it turns out to be a dead body with the same scaly skin condition as the rest of the inhabitants of this area, but much more advanced. Walter believes that whatever is causing the condition is more concentrated in the mine, so the team scrubs the search attempt until Walter can do some experiments to find out what is going on. He figures out that there is something corrosive down in the mine, and he figures it is related to the high levels of certain gasses that the Observers are releasing into the atmosphere. It’s basically causing a massive immune response. Edwin interrupts this Walter lecture to say that he found something useful in the records. There’s a record of a guy trying to get some special sort of rock out of the mine. The Observers took him away when they discovered it. The team needs to find the rocks and get out of Dodge, because the skin growths are already starting on them.

Walter wants to make a fancy mental suit that should protect the wearer from the corrosion so that someone can go down in the mine and grab the rocks, and he sends Peter and Olivia back to the band to get materials. While there, they have a heart to heart about the time right after Etta disappeared and why Olivia’s been in a mood all day. She talks about how she always felt like she’d be an inadequate mother and Etta disappearing kind of confirmed those fears. Also, she gave up on the search for Etta because she didn’t want to find her dead. Peter says that they’re family has inexplicably been given a second chance, and she should try to enjoy it. Etta appears outside the van to cut the conversation short and warn her parents that they’ve been tracked by Observers (she was warned by one of her Resistance friends).

When he finds out that the Loyalists are on their way, Edwin wants the team out of the camp immediately. They’ve done too well hiding for too long for it to be ruined now. The team, however, wants Edwin’s help getting some copper they need from a nearby camp. The other camp only trades with people they know, and Edwin has traded with them before. Edwin doesn’t want to help, though, because he doesn’t want to risk being separated from his son. River, for his part, is very disappointed in his dad. He wants his dad to be a hero like in his comic books. Peter takes Edwin aside for a private chat and convinces him to help. Edwin calls the other camp, and things seem a bit fishy. They claim they have no copper to trade. Meanwhile, the Loyalists in their Hummers are closing in on the camp.

River and Edwin have a really sweet conversation about heroes and cowards, and Edwin explains that whether you’re one or the other isn’t so cut and dry. Meanwhile, Astrid has cleaned up more of Walter’s tape, and they now know they’re looking for some sort of crystal in the mine that can be turned into a power source. Edwin gives the team directions to find the copper trading villagers and some machinery schematics to trade for the copper. He says he can’t actually go with them, though. It turns out that the directions are bogus. When Peter and Olivia get to the site, nobody is there. Meanwhile, Edwin has gone to the mine, and the team hears a loud noise emanating from the mine. It turns out that Edwin climbed into the mine unprotected to get the crystals. The team gets the crystals, but Edwin doesn’t survive. River goes into the underground data cube room and begins to take over the duties of recording history. Meanwhile, the team uses a different vehicle (an old station wagon that looks like Walter’s old car) to head back to Boston.