Friday, November 30, 2012

Once Upon a Time 2.08: "Into the Deep"

“I was born to do this. I’m done reading about heroes. I want to be one.”
- Henry

We’re at the penultimate episode of the fall season and the writers did a pretty good job of moving the plot forward. At least somewhat. We begin with Hook finally making it down the beanstalk. He finds Cora waiting for him and she’s rather disappointed in his betrayal. As punishment, she’s going to leave in their land and go to Storybrooke alone. She also says she’s going to handle things the “right” way which apparently involves peasant zombies. I guess they had to get in on the zombie kick somehow. Elsewhere in the Enchanted Forest, Emma is grilling Aurora on whether she saw Henry (which we know she did). After a hissy fit from Aurora (Snow admits she’s been in the room and it’s real and likely a result of the sleeping curse) they send Aurora back to sleep to pass on a message to Henry. They need Mr. Gold’s help. Henry wakes up and after excitedly proclaiming that Snow and Emma are alive, relays the rest of the message. Cora is coming.

Mr. Gold and Belle are finally having that burger for lunch. Granny snipes at Rumple, saying the pickles cost extra when Regina bursts in and ruins their date. She brings news of Cora’s impending arrival and while Rumple gloats that he beat Cora in the end, he has a weakness now (Belle). They need to join forces. Back in the Enchanted Forest, the girls are setting up camp so Aurora can meet up with Henry to get the latest intel from Rumple. Mulan gives her some grief about the burns but Aurora wants to do this. We cut back to Storybrooke, where Rumple is explaining that what they need to stop Cora is the ink that he used to sign the contract with Cinderella which allowed Snow and Charming to lock him up. So the girls will have to travel to his cell to get it. Before we see henry and Aurora in the creepy dream room, Snow tries to reassure Emma that things will be all right. On cue, the peasant zombies attack. Henry and Aurora meet in the fiery room but as henry is trying to explain what needs to be done, Aurora gets yanked away and Henry wakes up with massive burns on his arms. Mulan, Emma and Snow mostly fend off the zombies but a couple make off with Aurora. Guess a hostage situation is in the cards (General Matheson would be proud).

Cora brings Aurora some stew in the hopes of using her as bait. She even tries to convince the princess that there’s a way to bring Phillip back. Aurora isn’t buying any of it (she’s actually growing a pair which is surprising) and Cora throws her against a wall, knocking her out. Out in the forest, Snow gets a message from a crow sent by Cora. They have until sundown to bring the compass or Aurora dies (yeah who didn’t see that one coming). Mulan wants to surrender the compass but Emma and Snow talk her out of it, at least temporarily. They’re going to find some more poppies to make the sleeping powder so Snow can back to the netherworld and meet with Henry. Speaking of, Rumple heals his arm and explains why he was injured so badly. Both charming and Regina refuse to let Henry go back there again. Charming says he wants to be put under a sleeping curse so he can venture to the netherworld and find Snow because he knows with aurora out of commission, she’d try to get back there. He thinks that once he sees her, she’ll kiss him and the curse will be broken.

Back in the cave, Aurora is coming round and sees Hook. She panics a little but he says he’s setting her free. He wants to get back at Cora for denying him passage. He also says to give Emma a message: if she lets him go back with her, he’ll get the wardrobe ash for the portal. Meanwhile, in the forest, Emma and Snow are playing the blame game: Emma for Henry going under the sleeping curse and Snow for telling Cora about Daniel and thus setting Regina on a path to revenge. Ultimately, they decide to blame Regina for the whole mess. Speaking of, she’s brewing up the sleeping curse while Henry watches. She assures him she’s only used magic to stop Daniel and to prepare the curse. He seems happy that she’s using it for good rather than evil. Henry does lament that it should be him going back to the netherworld but I have to agree with Regina and Charming on this one. As Rumple explains that Charming won’t be in the fiery room when he falls under the curse, Emma tells Snow to say hi to her son for her. Henry gives Charming the charmed necklace Rumple gave him to control the fire and soon both husband and wife are back in the netherworld.

Charming appears in a room full of mirrors while Snow is in the fiery room. She’s calling out for Henry while Charming figures out (thanks to the bobble from Rumple) how to access the room and he and Snow finally see each other since the season premiere. Charming gets the message across about how to stop Cora just as Snow freaks out that he’s under a sleeping curse. His hope that she’ll wake him with true love’s kiss but they’re incorporeal (duh). Snow is panicking as she wakes up but Charming says that she’ll get back to Storybrooke and she’ll wake him like he did for her. In Storybrooke, Henry is worried that Charming isn’t waking up. In the Enchanted Forest, Snow is still freaking out that she needs to get back to Charming. I don’t quite get why Henry couldn’t give Charming a kiss on the forehead. I worked for Emma. Unfortunately while Snow was out and Emma was keeping watch, Mulan snagged the compass. They track her down and Mulan and Snow have another knock down-drag out fight when Aurora shows up and begs them to stop. It turns out that somewhere off screen Hook took her heart (he flaunts this while being pinned to a rock wall) and Cora is now in control. I have to say that Cora and Hook have some serious sexual chemistry going on. Puppet!Aurora is not going to end well at all.

New Girl 2.08: "Parents"

“It's all right. I'll spend my holiday at a Los Angeles coffee shop, sitting around with people who have nothing better to do on Thanksgiving than work on their screenplay. I probably won't want to blow my head off.”

“Parents” was a cute enough episode of “New Girl,” but especially considering it was a Thanksgiving episode, it wasn’t nearly as epic as last season’s “Thanksgiving.” In this episode, Jess’ (divorced) parents and Schmidt’s cousin all come to the loft for Thanksgiving, and wacky hijinks ensue. While the plots were kind of juvenile, one thing I did really enjoy was the dynamic between Jess and Nick and Jess’ parents. Several years from now, when Jess and Nick can be allowed to finally get their act together, I would totally watch a family comedy about the four of them. A somewhat higher quality “Everybody Loves Raymond,” perhaps? It was just a fun, comfortable, entertaining vibe. I was also excited that Daily Show alum Rob Riggle was in this episode as Schmidt’s cousin, also called Schmidt. Unfortunately, Riggle’s appearance was kind of wasted. The two Schmidts plot was the B story of this episode, and it was very physical comedy focused. I think what the two plots in this episode had in common was immaturity. Schmidt and his cousin compete to see who is the “One True Schmidt,” and Jess desperately tries to “Parent Trap” her parents. What 30 year old woman attempts that? Seriously?

The episode takes place on the roommates’ second Thanksgiving together in the loft, and it opens with Jess explaining that her parents will be coming over in shifts so they don’t have to interact with each other. Jess’ mom, Joan, is going to take the morning shift, and her dad, Bob, is going to take the afternoon shift. Jess’ parents, by the way, are played by the wonderful Jamie Lee Curtis and Rob Reiner. Everyone is shocked (except for Jess) when the parents Day both arrive at the loft at the same time. Cece takes Jess aside and accuses her of trying to “Parent Trap” her parents into getting back together. Apparently Cece and Jess used to watch “Parent Trap” all the time when they were kids. Given their ages, I’m guessing it was the Hayley Mills version (thank goodness) and not the Lindsay Lohan version. Jess doesn’t confirm this, but she doesn’t deny it either. She spends much of the earlier part of the episode trying to manufacture romantic moments for her parents, making sure their song is playing and such.

The crowning jewel of Jess’ parent trap is to have Nick hit on her mom so that her dad will be jealous. This plan has results that are both adorable and awkward. More awkward, though. Let’s just say that Nick’s advances are very one-sided. Nick kind of develops a little thing for Joan, but it’s definitely not reciprocated. Jess’ plan seems to be working when her parents go into the bathroom to talk about their situation and end up making out. Jess sees them make out and is overjoyed, convinced that her parents are finally getting back together after all these years. While, like I said, I found the family dynamics highly entertaining in this part of the episode, I kind of have a problem with the underlying plot. Jess Day is a grown ass woman and shouldn’t still be trying to recreate “The Parent Trap.” I usually love her whimsy and quirk and refusal to conform to expectations. This, however, goes a bit too far for my taste. As an adult, she should respect that her parents are happier apart. Then again, I never understood the whole “staying together for the kids” thing, either. Kids know when their parents are miserable, and they’re going to think there’s something they can do to fix it, and it’s plenty messy in its own way.

Anyway, as I mentioned earlier, Rob Riggle also pays a visit to the loft as Schmidt’s cousin, who also calls himself Schmidt. It’s pretty easy to tell that the older Schmidt, who is retired military, kind of bullied the younger Schmidt when they were kids. Because of this, our Schmidt is kind of determined to show his cousin how cool he is now. They have a rather epic battle to determine which of them is actually the “One True Schmidt.” The competitions are pretty much all stupid macho stuff that involves both men wearing no shirt. Well, that’s not the aspect of the plot I would complain about – what I didn’t really love was just the innate stupidity of the whole thing. Schmidt eventually protests that his skillset is in more refined areas like cooking. Cousin Schmidt was a cook in the Marines, so he’s down for adding a cooking battle to their stupid competition. The men are still neck and neck when Cece suggests that the true sign of manhood is to be comfortable enough to kiss a man. Both Schmidts then vow to kiss an unsuspecting Winston, who is just trying to enjoy his turkey dinner (which was delayed because of Jess’ hysterics…more on that later). Both try and fail to kiss Winston, but then Cousin Schmidt finally goes for it, and Schmidt has to cede the title of “One True Schmidt.” Cousin Schmidt is proud of his cousin’s ability to keep up with him through the competition though, so he starts actually calling him Schmidt instead of other, more degrading, nicknames.

So after witnessing her parents making out in the bathroom, Jess is super excited because she’s convinced that they’re finally, actually getting back together. When everyone sits down to Thanksgiving dinner, however, her parents make it clear that while they’re happy to have a fling now and then, they are much happier apart. Jess tries to shove the turkey down the garbage disposal (which made me shudder…see my last blog post for why if you don’t know) and storms off to her room. Eventually, it’s Joan who is able to coax some sense into Jess. She explains how she and Bob really are much happier apart, and some day she and Jess can live together in Florida and “Grey Gardens the crap out of a condo.” Jess is mollified, and the Thanksgiving festivities can resume. After they leave the loft, though, Bob and Joan have one last elevator romp for old times’ sake.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Why the "Right" Age to Watch "New Girl" Shouldn't Matter: Supporting the Revolution in Female-driven Comedy

Earlier today, Salon TV columnist Willa Paskin published an article called "What's the Right Age for Watching New Girl?" Her thesis is this: there are too many women in their 20's and 30's on television today, as opposed to women forty and older, and the character of Jess on "New Girl" freaking out about diminishing fertility at age thirty is possibly naive and a symptom of the greater problem of the entertainment industry ignoring their 40-years-plus viewers. Factually, yes, both of these points are probably true. The statistics Paskin presents do suggest that women under forty are disproportionately represented on network television. I think, however, that in this particular case, she is missing the forest for the trees.

Like Paskin, I am in the demographic cohort that shows like "The Mindy Project" and "New Girl" are written for. I'm 29, and a professional (in a fairly male-dominated field), and until a few months ago, I was living in an apartment with two roommates where the precise routine we had to go through with the garbage disposal to keep the sink from backing up into the dishwasher made me wish Nick Miller could just come over and "fancy fix" our kitchen. I'm also an example of vocational irony (thanks to Dan Fienberg for coining that term). I have a job I love that entails significant responsibility, and I've been told I'm doing pretty well at it for being so new. But my personal life? Let's not even go there. These shows speak to me because the characters are facing similar challenges. I sit down in my living room from 9-10 each Tuesday, and I see that enough other people have been where I am that they wrote television shows about it.

My personal connections to these shows isn't the reason why I think they are important and relevant despite their rather targeted demographic, however. As recently as three years ago, shows like this couldn't have existed. I do a lot of reading about television and the entertainment industry, and I can't even count the number of articles I've read debating whether or not women overall can be funny. As a result of this long-standing perception that women are not as funny as men, and that they somehow keep men from acting the way they need to act to write comedy (read: crudely), women have been (and continue to be) horribly underrepresented in television writing professionally. This article in the Huffington Post quotes a Writiers Guild of America, West study to show that the percentage of television writing jobs flled by women is "stuck" at about 28 percent. A recent study by the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University found that "women comprised 26% of all individuals working as creators, directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors, and directors of photography on broadcast television programs during the 2011-12 prime-time season."

"New Girl" and "The Mindy Project" represent new ground. These are both shows created by funny women with strong voices, Elizabeth Meriwether and Mindy Kaling respectively. Except for the success of a few "Saturday Night Live" alums like Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, women getting this sort of chance has been rare. Networks are finally beginning to trust women to be funny enough to start putting some money behind their ideas. Women bring a new, often unheard from, perspective to television comedy. The result thus far has been smart, interesting characters. Jess Day and Mindy Lahiri aren't just pretty faces. They are both intelligent professionals (Jess as a teacher and Mindy as an OB/GYN) with sharp wit and friends who care about them deeply. Their voices and points of view are unique and different from anything else on television, and there is value to that. While the picture isn't always flattering, "New Girl" and "The Mindy Project" depict women as fully formed human beings, and I think the fact that both shows were created by women is a significant reason why.

Paskin laments that there aren't many shows anymore where the whole family can sit down to watch and get something out of it. The humor of the newest crop of comedies is very targeted to the late 20's-early 30's set. There's a lot of humor for 80's and 90's kids, I admit (and I also admit that I understand it and find it funny). I don't think that all television needs to appeal to everyone, though. Television has evolved and can very much be appreciated as its own art form now. This artistic bent is giving women like Meriwether and Kaling an opportunity to be heard when that was not possible before, and I think that's something to be embraced. As the statistics I quoted earlier show, the entertainment industry overall and television writing in particular has a long way to go to be considered a profession where women are equally represented. Let's celebrate what women have been able to accomplish so far instead of shooting ourselves in the foot by tearing each other down.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

HIMYM 8.07: "The Stamp Tramp"

“Wow, you’re like the LeBron James of strip clubs. Actually, you’re probably tied with LeBron for that title.”

I think “The Stamp Tramp” was the first episode of this season of HIMYM where I actually really laughed for a significant portion of the episode. Sure everything was still more exaggerated and cartoon-y than it was in the old days when I was mainlining seasons 1-3 to stay sane during bar study, but at least there was some actual humor and some heart behind that humor as well. There was some great Barney and Robin stuff in the vein of season one’s “Zip Zip Zip,” which was enough fun that I was able to overlook the needle going a little too far over to Cartoon Barney as opposed to Human Barney. And I trust that the little slip up between them at the end will be rectified shortly. And there was also an attempt to break out that old HIMYM stalwart: the naming of a social phenomenon. This time, it’s the “stamp tramp,” aka the person who gives their stamp of approval to everything so you never take their opinion seriously. Oh, and did I mention there was an appearance from Joe Manganiello, who decided to slum it for a few episodes back with the HIMYM crew after skyrocketing to success in “True Blood” and “Magic Mike,” reprising his role as Marshall’s law school buddy Brad, last seen in season 4 being clobbered by Barney at a Rangers game for daring to take Robin out on a date. And holy crap did I just make a sentence go on for that many lines? On with the recap!

Like I said, the story mostly revolves around Marshall giving his “stamp” to things he has no business stamping. He encounters his old law school buddy, Brad (the aforementioned Joe Manganiello) on the street outside his office. Brad looks very disheveled and seems to have fallen on hard times. It’s so bad that he’s lined up a job as a costumed barker for a nearby hot dog stand. Marshall feels sorry for Brad and says he’ll talk to his boss about interviewing Brad for a position that’s open at Marshall’s environmental law firm. When Marshall tells the rest of the gang about this, they all warn Marshall off of recommending Brad. Robin calls him a “stamp tramp.” Marshall loves everything, so his stamp of approval means diddly. Lilly’s approval apparently carries the most weight with the gang. Robin has taken Lily’s advice on everything from beer to lingerie stores. Ted, however, is a piggyback stamper. He’ll latch on to something someone else has discovered and start recommending it like he discovered it in the first place. He spends the rest of the episode watching his college video diary, trying to find a time when he was the first to “stamp” something. It turns out he gave Lily his stamp of approval to Marshall, which Lily thinks is really sweet, until she hears College!Ted say on the video that Marshall can still sleep around with a few more chicks first before settling down with Lily.

Barney’s got a problem that’s a bit outside the theme of the rest of the episode. Quinn’s back to dancing at the Lusty Leopard, which has been making it difficult for Barney to have fun there, so he’s in the market for a new strip club. Barney has spent a ridiculous amount of money at the Lusty Leopard, and a bunch of other NYC strip clubs noticed this, so they’re all courting him to be his next regular club. Barney’s a bit overwhelmed with all the attention and low-level swag. Robin suggests Barney up his game by attending some Long Island and New Jersey clubs. The NYC clubs will get nervous and start giving Barney Rolexes. Barney thinks this sounds smart, and he asks Robin to be his strip club agent. Robin takes to this job with gusto, and the swag is rolling in. It all falls apart, though, when Robin wants Barney to sign with the Golden Oldies because they gave her lots of swag. Barney ends up choosing a different club in a scene that is supposed to mock the LeBron James “Decision” TV special. Robin and Barney happily leave MacLaren’s, pleasantly surprised how much fun they had together. Barney moves in for the kiss, and Robin reciprocates until she suddenly pulls away, saying she “can’t do this” again. Poor Barney is…again…devastated. Can they just get on with Barney and Robin back together and happy already?

Anyway, Marshall goes against his friends’ advice and convinces his boss to give Brad an interview. Unsurprisingly, it’s a complete disaster. Brad still appears disheveled, and he doesn’t give good answers to any questions. And he talks about his psychic a lot and farts. Needless to say, Marshall is humiliated, and his boss completely loses confidence in him. He’s cut out of the big case he’s been working on, too. Lily, though, has the answer for how to get Marshall back in his boss’ good graces. Marshall has to start making recommendations about tiny, inconsequential things, and eventually he will regain trust. Marshall takes Lily’s advice, and it works, but then his career takes a huge nose dive again. It turns out Brad is actually his opposing counsel on the big pharmaceutical case he’s been working on all this time. Brad has worked for the pharmaceutical company for two years, and everything he’s done in this episode has been a plot to be able to look at Marshall’s firm’s case file. Marshall’s boss is apoplectic, and he says that if Marshall loses the case, he’s fired. Overall, this plot had its funny moments, and it was fun to see Joe Manganiello back on the show where I first learned of him. It was still a bit cartoon-like to really be up in the pantheon of HIMYM, though. I’d like for the show to return to its roots, where the humor came more from real emotion and only slightly exaggerated experiences.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Revolution 1.09: "Kashmir"

“What makes you so sure I know what I’m doing? What makes you so sure I ever did?”
- Miles

Miles and company are getting ever closer to Philly. They’re at a rebel camp about 20 miles away, and Nora and Miles are trying to convince the rebels to help them get into the city. The two rebel leaders (hey there Reed Diamond!) are wailing on Miles pretty hard, but Miles promises them Monroe’s head on a pike. Obviously, that’s not something they can pass up. They make their move that night. Miles is getting pretty drunk, and Charlie tries to call him on it. He waves her off, saying he’s just being realistic and they’re probably all going to die anyway. It sounds like he’s a little scared of going up against Monroe. They have to go under the walls around Philly to get in. Aaron is not thrilled about that.

As they’re making their way through the tunnels with the rebels, Miles thanks one of the guys (Reed) for not killing him. Turns out Reed’s character was a gambler pre-blackout and likes to take his chances. Meanwhile, Charlie learns a little about Miles and Monroe from Nora. They were best buddies until Miles tried (and choked) to assassinate Monroe. Guess that will end a friendship pretty quick. Unfortunately, their conversation is cut short when Charlie steps on a mine. Whoops. Nora manages to stall the trigger, and they bolt in time to avoid getting blown to bits. Not far off, in Philly, Rachel is building an amplifier for the pendant, and she has to give a demonstration to one of the Captains on Neville’s orders. She’s a bit cranky about having to stop work.

As the group keeps moving through the tunnels, Miles takes off after a militia scout. It turns out he wasn’t there. Miles is not the only one having problems. As they are crossing through some waist-deep water, Nora thinks she’s gotten bit by an alligator. Aaron quickly surmises that when the tunnel collapsed, it cut off the oxygen and they are slowly suffocating. They are living on borrowed time now. Miles gets them to the exit that should have been open, but it’s been walled over. They head off in search of another route, and Miles is still tripping. He sees an open door and goes into what we assume is Monroe’s office. That theory makes even more sense when Monroe shows up, and with a huge smile on his face, embraces Miles. They establish right away that Miles is hallucinating. They talk about why Miles left the militia and tried to off his bestie. Charlie pulls him out of it after Monroe says that Miles’ dirty little secret is that he’s scared if they get the Philly, he’ll fall back into his old ways and abandon his family and friends. He’s really having a tough time of it, poor guy. Charlie puts too much pressure on him. Her expectations are too high. Yes, he’s awesome but he’s also just a man. One who happens to be suffocating right along with her. Meanwhile, Aaron keeps seeing his wife. She’s yelling at him, saying maybe he never loved her and that’s why he left her all those years ago. He’s really unnerved by the experience and is basically ignoring her in the hopes she’ll go away.

As they head for a new exit, Reed’s character spots a service tunnel. He tries to open it by ramming it with his shoulder. He gets it started and Miles finishes it. Not really a good idea, as it turns out Reed's character is undercover militia. He shoots most of the rebels that were with them and ushers Miles off at gunpoint. Apparently he was thrilled a while back to get a medal and a handshake from Miles. Miles doesn’t remember him. It takes our crew a little while to get the door open again, but when they do, the rebel girl, Ashley (she’s fighting for the US to honor her father), moves in with a bow. She shoots but misses. She gets shot for her trouble. Charlie moves in and manages to land one right in Reed’s character’s chest. Unfortunately, he has enough life left in him to pull the trigger. Charlie gets hit and falls, smacking her head pretty good on the stairs.

She comes to at home with her dad making dinner. She’s confused and wonders if everything she’d been doing and seeing was really a dream or whether her present surroundings are what’s fake. She begs her dad to tell her that he’s not going anywhere again. He does and tells her to lie back down and get some rest. As he tells her to close her eyes, Miles is ordering her to open them. She’s not complying, and Miles looks on the verge of tears. I like that we’re getting to see a softer side of him. He and Charlie are starting to nicely off-set each other. It makes me like his character even more.

Charlie finally wakes up and seems to be okay. She tells Miles later (after 3 hours of sitting and resting) that she was in a place she didn’t want to leave, and if he hadn’t saved her, she’d probably still be there (aka dead or in a coma). They head off into the unknown. Monroe stop by to see Rachel, and he’s brought Brad to see if Neville was right that she was lying about what she built. Brad takes a cursory look at the thing and declares it to be a bomb. Rachel is begging Bass to let her make a new amplifier, but he’s done with her. Their deal is off and Danny is as good as dead. In a rather shocking move, Rachel stabs Brad in the gut and declares that now Monroe needs her. It’s true that he does. I thought it was kind of a gutsy move. I really have to say I want to know what drove Miles and Monroe apart. I have a feeling it may have something to do with Rachel. Guess we’ll be closer to finding out next week in the fall finale.

Fringe 5.07: "Five-Twenty-Ten"

“I knew the man you were, you and William. You both tested the limits of science, of the universe. You felt that boundless power that comes with omnipotence. You felt what it was like to be God.”

We’re really starting to near the end game with “Fringe” at this point, an unfortunately, I have to say that I’m pretty glad for that. The string of misery inflicted on characters I used to care about has just gotten to be way too much. I can’t imagine the story possibly having a happy, or even neutral, ending at this point. Or if it does have such an ending, it will be achieved by some sort of reset that would amount to little more than a cop-out. And I’m actually starting to think that the latter will be the case. It would certainly fit in with what has happened between the past couple seasons. Anyway, in this episode, Peter gets scarily more Observer-y while Walter deals with the fact that the restoration of his brain has made him more like his old self than he’d like. Peter’s transformation is especially horrifying and tragic, mostly because he and Olivia have been through so much but never seem to be able to find peace. Olivia knows full well that things aren’t right, but she doesn’t really know what to about it yet. On the positive side, we get to see what Nina Sharp’s been up to for the past twenty-some-odd years. Nina’s appearance was the one bright spot in an otherwise downer of an episode. It was cool to see her closeness with Olivia revisited, and it was interesting to get a peek at the Ministry of Science (so far we had only seen the Ministry of Defense).

The episode opens with Peter standing on an sidewalk acting especially Observer-like. He sees an Observer (one of Windmark’s top lieutenants) get in a car with another Observer after protesting that he’s going to be late for an important meeting. Peter then walks across the street (through traffic), seemingly goes back in time, and makes sure the first Observer doesn’t get in the car. Then he calls Aneil (Etta’s old Resistance contact) and says he needs help with something. Peter returns to the lab with some gasses the team needs to keep the de-ambering laser powered up. They’re mildly suspicious that it took Peter so long to procure these gasses, but they let it go because some Observers and Loyalists are just outside the lab. Everyone has to be very still so that the Observers and Loyalists don’t look through the window and see what’s going on. Once the threat has passed, the team frees the next cassette from the amber. The tape reveals that they need to collect two canisters used by the Observers for transportation from William Bell’s lab. That’s why William Bell was ambered and why they needed his hand. There’s some exposition about how the team found out that Bell was on the side of the Observers, and throughout this, Peter’s motions are getting noticeably more Oberver-like.

The team heads to Bell’s old lab, and the place is kind of a mess. Peter points to where the door should be (it’s partially hidden by a pile of rubble), and Olivia notices that Peter is bleeding from his ear. That can’t be good, but Peter tries to play it off as no big deal. The team is discussing how to clear the rubble when Peter gets a phone call from Aneil. The Observer Peter asked him to track didn’t forget his suitcase in the park like Peter said he would. Peter rushes off to deal with that while the rest of the team continues to deal with the rubble. They’re going to ask Nina Sharp for help because she runs the Ministry of Science now and might have some helpful tech. Like I said earlier, the reunion between Olivia and Nina is kind of sweet, although now it’s making remember how much I hated the rewriting of all the characters last season (which is when Olivia and Nina suddenly had a closer relationship).

Anyway, Nina takes the team to the Ministry of Science, and she tells the team that she has a device which can change solid matter into gas. That seems like the perfect method for clearing the rubble in front of Bell’s lab. Nina and Walter also have a conversation about the consequences of restoring the missing pieces of his brain. Walter is still convinced that Peter can keep him from being the power-obsessed man that he was before. Fat chance. Meanwhile, Peter meets with Aneil, and he finds out that the Observer wasn’t distracted watching a girl play in the park like Peter thought he would be. This whole conversation understandably confuses the hell out of Aneil. Peter is going to take care of the briefcase switch himself at a different point in time. He also asks Aneil to go into an Observer district and wait for two Observers to arrive at a particular building for some sort of meeting. When Peter gets in his car, he seems to have some sort of seizure. I’m wondering if this happens every time he moves through time?

Peter goes to what appears to be a bar that Observers frequent, and he successfully completes the briefcase switch. Meanwhile, back at the Ministry of Science, Olivia and Astrid talk about how worried Olivia is that she’s losing Peter again. I don’t get any sense of what Olivia thinks she’s going to do about this problem, though, other than accept her fate. Later, an eager Ministry employee, who really reminds me of a sort of Brandon 2.0, shows off the solid matter to gas machine to the team. He warns them that it could overheat because it’s an old model, and if the lights turn blue, they should run. This struck me as a sort of Chekhov’s gun (as in it should have blown up while the team was trying to use it), but it wasn’t. Walter and Nina then continue their conversation about Walter’s changing personality, and Walter is especially hurtful to Nina. He says that Bell never loved Nina, which is why Nina wasn’t enough to keep Bell from going evil. This is so hurtful to Nina that she starts doubting Walter will be any different than the last time he had a whole brain.

Across town, Aneil sees the Observers arrive for their meeting right on schedule. He’s about to call Peter when an explosion happens on an upper floor of the building. Inside the building, the Observers are going all melty. Peter rejoins the team outside Bell’s lab. He gives an explanation for where he was (he got caught in traffic and couldn’t meet up with Aneil) that seems reasonably plausible, but Olivia doesn’t quite buy it. She lets it go, though, and the team uses Nina’s device to get into Bell’s storage area. Inside is a safe, and they figure that’s where the canisters are. Walter has trouble remembering the combination for the safe, but when Peter gets him to focus, Walter finally succeeds. It looks like the canisters aren’t inside, though. Peter picks up the small device that is inside the safe, and all of a sudden, the canisters emerge from the floor. Olivia is worried that there will be observers outside of the lab when they reemerge, but Peter just walks out. Then Peter says that it’s “logical” that they split up to return to the lab. Olivia just looks resigned to losing Peter again.

Walter sets up another meeting with Nina. He shows her a photo (of herself) that Bell kept in his safe. He apologizes to Nina and says that Bell did love her after all, but it wasn’t enough to keep him from turning evil. He then begs her to take the pieces out of his brain again. Meanwhile, Olivia finds Peter’s “lair” where he’s been writing down the timelines of important Observers. He explains everything to her, including the fact that he put Observer tech in his head, and he asks Olivia to join him on his quest to avenge Etta’s death. Olivia just runs out of the room, frightened and horrified by what she’s seen. The episode ends with cutting back and forth between Walter being sentimental over his lab (I guess in preparation for brain surgery?) and Peter contemplating Windmark’s timeline. Peter’s hair then starts falling out, and he doesn’t even seem to care.

Person of Interest 2.07: "Critical"

“It seems he, too, values his surveillance.
- Finch

This week we begin with Reese heading for what turns out to be the rescue of a repeat number; Leon Tao from the season premiere. Leon seems to have gotten in trouble with the Russian mafia this time. Unfortunately, Reese doesn’t have time to do anything with Leon as they have another number to deal with and so takes him back to the library. Reese and Finch leave Leon with instructions not to leave or call anyone, don’t feed Bear or use Finch’s computer set up. After Ken and Michael not having any scenes together in the premiere, I was very excited they had scenes together this episode. It was nice to have a Miles and Ben reunion. After locking Leon in, our boys head to a big hospital where they’re getting a tour since Finch has donated money for a couple of the wings of the hospital. On the tour, they meet Maddie, one of the heart surgeons on staff and their number for this week. She seems nice enough but the guys are having trouble figuring out what the threat is against Maddie. She has a high profile surgery she’s about to perform and she responds to a trauma alarm of an Albanian gang member with a gunshot wound. Of course, there’s always the possibility it has something to do with her personal life. We are introduced to Maddie’s wife, Amy, who runs a children’s charity. No sooner have we met her, than her life is put in jeopardy. A sleazy Brit name Alastor Wesley shows up in Maddie’s office and threatens Amy’s life if Maddie doesn’t botch the super-secret surgery she’s about to perform. Her patient, Oliver Velt, owns a big energy company and it sounds like someone wants him out of the picture as competition.

We have a smaller storyline related to Lionel and Carter. Lionel shows up at a crime scene to find a guy shot in the back twice at close range. He has one of Carter’s business cards on him. He gives Carter a call and she’s more than a little disturbed to find her card on this guy. For one thing, she’s never even met him. She does some digging into something handwritten on the back of the card and runs into Agent Snow. He tells her rather cryptically that a female someone is on a tear and looking for revenge and she won’t stop until she gets it. We know he’s talking about Reese’s former partner but Carter doesn’t know that and Reese doesn’t seem to get it either when she tries to fill him in later.

Back at the hospital, Maddie is prepping Mr. Velt for the surgery by having him sign some last minute consent forms. He gets wheeled off to the OR and she ducks into a closet full of meds and gets a syringe full of Heparin just like Wesley told her. Finch and Reese have split up to try and keep Maddie from becoming the perpetrator. Reese manages to use the live feed to track the sniper’s position and takes him out. Finch is a little crabby about being stuck in the surgical wing without more access to surveillance and other hackable things. Too bad just after Reese takes out the sniper, Wesley calls and taunts him with the fact he has a whole team of people waiting for the word to take Amy out. Reese has no choice but to go meet Wesley for a drink. Reese calls in Lionel to watch Amy while he goes for that drink. Without his usual tech, Finch calls on Leon to dig up information on who wants Velt dead and who is paying for it.

Reese’s drink with Wesley doesn’t very well. Mostly they’re posturing with one another about who is ex-CIA and MI-6 and who has the better plan. Finch manages to insert himself into the operating team by first creating a computer error in the blood bank reserves and then approaching Maddie to offer his assistance. Reese is concerned that they won’t be able to pick up the other snipers and sleeper members in the crowd. It’s going to be a race against time to stop Maddie from having to go through with killing Velt and keeping Amy alive. Leon calls with some interesting information. He’s found that there was a big wind farm project that apparently Velt vetoed and now someone is short selling stock so if say the CEO dies in a secret surgery, whoever made the sale will get rich quick. Looks like Wesley and his associates are financing their own operation. Maddie is going along with Wesley’s orders and injects the Heparin into the IV but starts to panic and stops the surgery. This of course violates one of Wesley’s rules and he calls as soon as she’s out of the operating suite. He’s obviously got someone on the inside. He lets her talk to Amy and then cuts the call short.

Back at the park, Reese has decided he needs to get Amy out of there fast and so he’s going to have Lionel do a diversion. So what does Lionel do? He starts berating a patrol cop. It’s actually pretty amusing. He’s smacking the guy’s hat of his head, yelling about how he wants the guy’s name and badge number and to know what precinct he’s in. I think what made this so funny was it was partially a locked off comedy frame and also it was done off-screen. Meanwhile, Finch gets another call from Leon. He’s dug deeper and found that someone inside the company has access to all of Velt’s medical information. Finch thinks he knows who it is and approaches Velt’s aid (who knows a lot about the surgery in terms of medical procedures). Turns out Finch is off the mark.

Reese is implementing his extraction plan. He slips a phone in Amy’s bag and calls her, promising to direct her out of the park to safety. He manages to get her to safety and takes out the cop Lionel was harassing. Turns out he was one of Wesley’s plants. Back at the hospital, Maddie can’t go through with the plan. She declares herself unfit and sends everyone out. One of the nurses, Liz, says she’s going to stay and help stabilize Velt but really she’s a plant by Wesley to make sure things of the way he wants. She’s nicked the artery and Velt is bleeding out but with Finch’s help (he’s very squeamish about actually seeing Velt’s open chest cavity) manages to catch the incision and save his life. All is well for everyone involved. Leon is deposited back on the street and the boys live to safe another number another day. Somehow, though, I have a feeling Leon may be back again. He had too much fun helping solve the mystery.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Nashville 1.06: "You're Gonna Change (Or I'm Gonna Leave)

“If any of these adorable baby animals take a crap on me, I’m going to be very upset.”

This episode of “Nashville” seemed to take a lot of the established plots off in new directions, which I definitely appreciated. Rayna continues her quest to make music on her own terms, Juliette makes time with an NFL rookie QB instead of Deacon for once, and the Avery/Scarlett/Gunnar triangle starts to explode. And there are some new twists and turns in the political intrigue department, but I don’t care about that nearly as much as I care about what’s going on with the musician characters. Which I guess is kind of odd considering in real life, I work in government and have music as a hobby, not the other way around. The show overall succeeds much more when it’s an examination of Nashville as a place where people who love to make music come to perfect and have success in their craft. As we saw in this episode, there is plenty of drama and backstabbing in that department alone.

As I mentioned above, Rayna is continuing in her quest to make music on her own terms. Not only is she determined to write all the songs for her new albums on her own, she also wants a new producer so that her sound will be new as well. She’s got her heart set on Irish rocker Liam McGuiness, even though he is new to Nashville and has no connections to country music. Rayna’s manager, Bucky, sets up a consultation. Rayna and Bucky show up at the door to Liam’s studio, but he turns them away. He says he accepted the consult as a courtesy, but music for moms in minivans isn’t really his thing. And then he slams the door in their face. Rayna, ever persistent, goes back to Liam’s studio the next day. She shows spunk and points out that she drives an SUV, not a minivan, and Liam lets her inside to have a real talk.

Meanwhile, Juliette and her team are in overdrive trying to rehabilitate her image after the whole shoplifting seen around the Internet incident. This involves Juliette attending a fundraiser for the local zoo, which obviously doesn’t thrill Juliette. A rookie NFL quarterback, Sean, is running the fundraiser, and he and Juliette seem to get along well enough. A photo of Juliette, Sean and some sort of rodent crawling all over Juliette trends well on Twitter, so Juliette’s PR person wants to set up a date between Juliette and Sean. Over dinner, Juliette and Sean trade insults, but they also seem to develop a grudging respect for each other. Juliette ends up inviting Sean to travel to Miami with her on her private jet. On the plane, Juliette and Sean bond more when Sean starts playing one of Juliette’s songs on the guitar and they sing together. They dance at a club in Miami (although Sean doesn’t drink), and on their way out, Juliette gets hounded by a Paparazzo. In trying to get Juliette away safely, Sean shoves the Paparazzo.

In silly political news, Teddy is still seven points behind in the polls, so Lamar has a devious plan. He wants to set up a traffic stop to keep Coleman from getting to a “clean campaign pledge” signing ceremony on time. Because he’s spineless, Teddy reluctantly agrees. When Coleman is stopped, the police find the Oxycontin Deacon surrendered to him in the last episode, and Coleman is arrested. Coleman has to give press conferences and submit to blood tests to try to get out of this whole mess, and both Teddy and Rayna are pretty pissed at Lamar about it. Rayna more than Teddy, of course, because again, Teddy is spineless. Deacon probably feels worst of all, and he offers to give an interview to clear everything up. Coleman refuses to let Deacon do that, though, stressing that NA is anonymous for a good reason. Later, though, Coleman finds himself in an ethical quandary when a PI approaches him with pictures of Teddy and Peggy’s meeting in the last episode. It really looks like two people having an affair (even though it isn’t), and it could ruin the election for Teddy. Coleman debates leaking the pictures with his wife, who says he should definitely go for it.

In the main plot of this episode, Avery finds out that a major regional promoter will be at the 5 Spot. If Avery and his band rock their performance that night, they could be the opening act for the Lumineers. The performance does indeed rock, but the promoter is only luke warm on Avery’s band. A manager, Marilyn, is listening in, however, and she offers to manage Avery’s band. Avery asks Deacon for advice, and Deacon promises to put in a good word with the promoter. Deacon does as promised, but he also has a conversation with Marilyn. He warns her that she won’t be sleeping with Avery because Avery is his niece’s boyfriend and he doesn’t want her heart broken. Apparently Marilyn sleeps with all her young talent. Gunnar, naturally, hears this conversation since it happens at the Bluebird. Meanwhile, Avery finds out that his band didn’t get the Lumineers gig after all.

Elsewhere in Nashville, while Rayna and Liam are talking about Rayna’s new album, Liam convinces Rayna to stay at his studio a little late for a drink. She wakes up hung over back at home the next morning, and she can’t remember much of what happened the night before. She’s too late to make cupcakes for the Fall Festival at her daughters’ school, and she’s just generally a mess. Instead of trying to make that right, though, she goes back to Liam’s studio, where he shows her a video of her singing the night before, whiskey in hand. Liam turns that recording session into a publishable track, and Rayna shows it to one of her label execs. The label exec have a big argument over where Rayna wants to take her sound and the fact that Rayna is refusing to use a label-approved producer, and Rayna threatens to leave for another label.

Juliette’s PR guru lady has bad news. Apparently the Paparazzo Sean attacked took a really unflattering photo of Sean. It looks like he’s completely wasted and belligerent, even though he actually had nothing to drink. If this gets online, it could ruin Sean’s image and career. Juliette’s got a plan, though. She ends up buying the photos and the accompanying SD card from the Paparazzo, and she also offers to give him the heads-up the next five times she goes out. Sean stops by Juliette’s house to thank her, and Juliette explains that she did what she did because nobody had ever defended her before. Sean wants to have quiet nights in from now on, and he asks Juliette to “hang in” with him sometime. She seems to think that sounds like a nice idea too.

Avery (sort of) valiantly tries to resist Marilyn, but when one of his band mates says he can’t think of anything to do but practice some more, Avery gets too pissed about their lack of success, and he agrees to meet Marilyn that evening. Meanwhile, Gunnar tells Scarlett about how he saw Deacon try to scare Marilyn away from Avery. Scarlett runs off to confront Deacon, who tells her that Marilyn sleeps with all her clients. Avery does still go to the “meeting” with Marilyn, and they pretty much start making out immediately, but when Marilyn tries to take it farther, Avery has second thoughts and calls it off. Scarlett confronts Avery when he gets home, and while Avery insists nothing really happened, Scarlett is still (rightfully) pissed that he would even consider cheating on her to get ahead in his career. Scarlett ends up moving out, and she’s going to be bunking with Deacon for a while. Does this mean that the countdown to Gunnar/Hayley implosion is starting?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving "Classic" Recap: "Buffy the Vampire Slayer": Pangs

“To commemorate a past event, you kill and eat an animal. It’s a ritual sacrifice. With pie.”

Joss Whedon and the rest of the creative team behind “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” only produced one Thanksgiving episode in the show’s seven season run. I guess they figured with “Pangs,” they milked all the supernatural connections to the holiday that they possibly could. The episode was written by Jane Espenson, which means there’s more than plenty of humor mixed in with more serious discussion of how Native Americans were treated by European settlers and the very serious threat that Buffy and the rest of the Scoobies face. I don’t remember especially loving this episode the first time I saw it, but I saw it again this past summer at a bar in DC that shows episodes of Buffy on a regular basis, and I enjoyed it a lot more, mostly due to the humor Espenson works in throughout the episode. This episode also somewhat furthered the transition from Angel to Spike as the main vampire who has contact with the Scoobies, although I found Angel's presence overall to be kind of extraneous. This fourth season episode ran concurrently with the first season of “Angel,” however, so there is a great deal of character cross over between both series, most likely in an effort to build a fan base for the new show. Overall, though, the episode is a rather enjoyable watch.

The episode opens on the UC Sunnydale campus, where they’re having a groundbreaking for a new Cultural Partnership Center. Xander’s construction company will be doing most of the digging (although an anthropology professor gets to do the actual, ceremonial dig), so the gang is all there to watch. Buffy is sad that her mom is off visiting her aunt, so there won’t be any Summers family Thanksgiving. Willow explains how in her family, they don’t celebrate Thanksgiving because it’s really all about the death of the Native Americans. Buffy later decides that she wants to host her own Thanksgiving for all her friends (at Giles’ house, of course, because she doesn’t want to have to do clean-up), and this will set up a side conflict for most of the rest of the episode. Anyway, as he’s digging, Xander falls into a sinkhole. He’s a little bruised but otherwise okay, and he’s made an important archeological discovery. The would-have-been site of the cultural center is the actual site of the long lost Sunnydale Mission.

Everyone at UC Sunnydale, especially the anthropology prof, is really excited about this find. Soon, though, it turns dangerous. We see a noxious green gas rise from the Mission site and coalesce into a Native American from the Chumash tribe. He then proceeds to kill the anthropology prof with a knife from her Chumash exhibit. The anthropology prof isn’t the only person to suffer the ill effects from opening the mission, though. Xander is very sick. The Scoobies figure he’s got every disease the Chumash caught when they were forced to live in the Mission long ago…including syphilis. This is one of only two episodes of television I’ve seen that successfully make syphilis funny. The other would be the first season finale of “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Who’s Zoomin’ Who.” The Soobies, in between trying to prepare Thanksgiving dinner, figure out that the culprit is a Native American vengeance spirit. He was awakened by the unearthing of the Mission, and he wants vengeance for all the horrible things settlers did to the Chumash. This discovery leads to quite the disagreement between the Scoobies, because Willow wants to find some way to stop the spirit without killing it, given that he has a pretty good reason to want vengeance. Giles and Xander are in favor of killing it just to stop the present-day bloodshed.

It can’t really be a classic episode of “Buffy” without vampire action of some sort, and there’s plenty in this episode, although it’s sort of on the periphery. In the episode of “Angel” that aired before “Pangs,” Angel was told about a vision of Buffy being in serious trouble, so he’s come back to Sunnydale to keep an eye on her. Various Scoobies, including Giles and Willow, interact with him, but he is adamant that Buffy not know he’s around. Spike has is part to play as well. He’s got a chip in his brain now, thanks to The Initiative, which prevents him from being able to harm humans, so he’s kind of wandering around Sunnydale not knowing what to do and with no idea how to feed himself. He tries to go back to the place he shared with Harmony, but Harmony kicks him out in a rather funny (in a pathetic way) scene. He winds up on Giles’ doorstep, and the gang reluctantly takes him in, although they don’t give him any blood. He spends the rest of the episode just mostly being cranky and providing the opinion that the Scoobies should just get over feeling bad about the Chumash. The Europeans were a conquering society, and they were doing what all conquering nations do. It doesn’t quite convince Willow, but it calms her down enough that the Scoobies do what has to be done.

The vengeance spirit uses some old Chumash weapons to call up some spirit buddies, and they all descend on Giles’ house. Because Buffy is the best fighter they’ve encountered, she thinks she’s the leader of current-day Sunnydale. That’s why they want to take her out. The house comes under siege while Willow, Xander, and Anya are out trying to warn the UC Sunnydale dean that he could be in danger (which was really kind of a dumb move). Giles and Buffy manage to hold off the spirits for a little while (while Spike becomes kind of a pin cushion for arrows because he’s still tied up in a chair), and eventually the rest of the gang return to help in the fight. They’re still floundering until Angel joins in outside where Buffy can’t see him. Buffy gets a hold of the lead vengeance spirit’s knife, and that actually does permanent damage to him. Unfortunately, the next thing he does is turn into a bear, which has the humorous effect of really freaking Spike out. Buffy stabs the bear with the knife again, and the spirit is finally dispatched. Xander starts feeling better, and the gang finally sits down for their Thanksgiving dinner. Xander observes that Buffy pretty much got it right. There was a big fight, then everyone ate themselves into food comas. Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Arrow 1.06: "Legacies"

“We have something in common. We’re both dealing with the consequences of my father’s actions. What he did then, that’s on him. What we do now, that’s on us.”
- Oliver

This week we begin not with Oliver, but at a bank that’s being robbed. Three guys in playing card masks burst in. One keeps time while the other two do the robbing. Things seem to be going well for them until an off-duty cop tries to play hero and gets shot. One of the employees hit the panic button so the cops show up. In a somewhat clever move the robbers send all the hostages out of the bank in masks and escape through a hole in the floor of the vault. Down in the man cave, Oliver and Diggle are training a bit. Basically it is our weekly excuse to see Oliver shirtless and looking all sexy and buff. He’s intent on going after another name on his father’s list but Diggle points out the bank robbery. Oliver isn’t interested. He says it’s not his job to go after street crime. He also says he’s not a hero (when Diggle points out that he has a narrow definition of the word). We flash back to the island and Oliver is trying to stay warm in the cave by ripping pages out of his father’s book (the pages are currently blank). Just as he tosses a page in, he turns to see his father standing over him.

Over at the legal aid office, Laurel and Joanna are panicking. One of their biggest sources of funding is pulling its support so it doesn’t look like they are going to be keeping their doors open much longer. It doesn’t help that Tommy shows up wanting to whisk Laurel off on his private jet for dinner. He doesn’t get much love from Oliver either. Moira has just told her children their presence is required at brunch the following day. She’s invited the Bowens (Oliver and Thea take turns niggling their mother about how much she thought Carter Bowen was perfect). Right after Oli promises he and Thea will be there, he gets a call from Diggle saying the guy he wanted to go after tried to kill himself and that Oli needs to get to the hospital ASAP. So Oliver takes off and Tommy is left with Thea giving him advice. It’s obvious that Thea thinks Tommy is interested in her but is being coy about it. When Oliver gets to the hospital he realizes Diggle tricked him into helping the injured police officer from the robbery. He agrees to go after the bank robbers.

Oliver does some digging into the crew and after sneaking into the police station in full Arrow garb (and not getting caught. Seriously there have to be some really stupid cops working there) he discovers that the gang is likely the Resten family. Just as Oliver and Diggle agree to keep tabs on the family, Oliver races off for brunch. He’s late. Things are going somewhat awkwardly (I see now why Moira thought Carter was perfect) when Diggle saves the day. Another bank is being hit. So Oliver goes off to try and stop them from getting away.

Over at the legal aid office, Tommy is back with the offer of a fundraiser for the clinic. Laurel is totally against it, seeing it as an attempt to get back together with her but Joanna twists her arm and so Laurel accepts. At the bank, the Restens are making a break for it through the water treatment tunnels when the cops show up. And so does Oliver. A shootout ensues but no one is hurt. Oliver manages to snag the bags of cash and get away clean. In a parking lot somewhere, the Restens are having a little family pow wow. Mr. and Mrs. Resten want to call it quits but the boys don’t think they have enough money to be set for life yet. So they’re going to pull one more job and then they’ll be out of the game. Over at Queen Consolidated, Oliver and Diggle have got to Ms. Smoke for some background on Resten. It turns out he was a factory worker employed by Oli’s dad and he got laid off five years ago. It was a pretty nasty affair. Legal found loopholes in the union contracts that made it possible to get out of paying severance or pensions. Brutal. Oliver is going out to a local bar to see if Resten is taking a trip back to his old watering hole. He’s going to give Resten the chance to make things right.

We continue the flashback on the island. Oliver’s father tells him that if he doesn’t think he can survive, there’s still one bullet left in the gun. Oliver takes it and puts it to his head, saying he’s not as strong as his father thinks and he just wants his death to be fast (rather than by starvation). Back in the present, Laurel and Tommy are trying to decide on cake types for the fundraiser. Honestly, it sounds like they’re planning a wedding. Laurel says she wants carrot cake. Ultimately, Tommy gives in. He’s trying to be nice to her and show her that he can be a good guy but she’s really resisting it. Over at the bar, Oliver tries to convince Resten to stop his spree by offering him a job. He gets turned down and walks away (but not before slipping a bug into Resten’s jacket pocket. Clever little billionaire!

Oliver is disappointed by what he hears on recording. The Restens are still planning on hitting another bank. So it’s up to Oliver to stop them. But first he has to put in an appearance at the legal aid fundraiser. He tries to apologize to Moira about ducking out of brunch but she blows him off. It turns out not to be terrible since he has to go stop a robbery. He gets there and ends up taking down the oldest son. Unfortunately, the security guard is trying to be a tough guy and shoots Mr. Resten. He dies before the cops and ambulance arrive. But as he’s dying and saying that he turned his son into a monster, Oli flashes back again to the island. He realizes he’s hallucinating and comes to. He’s about to toss another page in the fire when the heat reveals writing on both sides. I have to say that sort of reminded me a little of Harry Potter and how the ink in Tom Riddle’s diary appeared in the film. Anyway, back at the fundraiser, Laurel is dancing with Carter and Thea gets a major rejection from Tommy. She ends up drunk and hitting on him. Before she can make too big of a scene, he escorts her out. Laurel goes to check on them and says the only reason she was dancing with Carter is because he made a large donation to the clinic. She really thinks he’s an ass.

Back at the man cave, Oliver comes to realize, with Diggle’s help, that he honored his father’s wishes by trying to stop Resten. So all wasn’t lost, even if he didn’t get the name from the list like he wanted. I guess there is always another time. We end with Oliver and Moira bonding over burgers at Diggle’s sister-in-law’s burger place.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

New Girl 2.07: "Menzies"

“I feel like I want to murder someone. And also, I want soft pretzels.”

While I found this episode hilarious all the way through, I started out being kind of irked by the overall plotline. By the end of the episode, though, the writers turned it around. What started out as an episode that seemed to mock PMS and being a woman in general turned into most of the characters exploring why they were angry, afraid to take major steps in life, or both. PMS just turned out to be an excuse for bad behavior. Really, the only character who didn’t make emotional progress in this episode was Schmidt. Schmidt’s plot could have been cartoonish, but it was really just sad. We can see that even post break-up with Cece, Schmidt still has no sense of self-worth. He talks a big game, but inside, he feels he’s a monster, and he’s willing to take abuse from his boss because he feels it’s what he deserves. I guess Winston doesn’t make all that much emotional progress, but he does at least admit he misses Shelby. He doesn’t suffer a setback like Schmidt. Nick and Jess probably both make the most progress of the episode, but in Jess’ case, she had to go through a lot to get to that point. This was a really good character episode overall.

The episode opens with Schmidt organizing the monthly ritual of paying the loft utility bills. Everyone contributes their share except for Jess. She’s broke, which seems to be a pretty regular occurrence since losing her job, even though she’s had part-time work here and there. The rest of the guys are tired of bailing her out and they want her to get a job already. Schmidt takes this a step farther and says he’s going to have the gas turned off until Jess gets a good enough job that she can pay her share. Jess is incredibly pissed off by this, and she says that she can’t work on job searching because she’s PMS-ing. She does, with the extra motivation provided by Schmidt, get an interview at an adult education center, but she blows it. The hiring manager shows Jess a picture of a tiny dog in a teacup, and Jess starts crying. Then the hiring manager tells Jess that the dog died a few years ago, and Jess completely loses it.

Meanwhile, Nick takes the big argument over money/PMS as an opportunity to work on his own anger issues. He goes for a walk and sits on a park bench, and an older Asian man named Tran sits down uncomfortably close to him. Nick just starts talking to Tran, with Tran saying nothing back. It turns into a full-on venting session for Nick, which is one of those scenes that reaffirms that montages of Jake Johnson saying random stuff is never not funny. In one of the stranger aspects of this episode, Tran offers some rather unique help for Nick’s anger issues. He takes Nick to a pool and performs “water massage,” which mostly involves Tran cradling Nick like a baby in the water. It’s kind of awkward. Something about it works for Nick, though. It releases his tension and makes him less angry. He’s pretty jubilant when he shares this with the rest of the roommates. Winston, on the other hand, has descended into “sympathy PMS,” which was kind of stupid until his admission at the end of the episode that he was just moping because he misses Shelby.

Anyway, when Jess announces that she blew her interview, Nick decides to take her to the pool. He kind of throws her around in the water more than anything else, and it definitely doesn’t look relaxing, but Jess does make an important admission. She admits that she hasn’t been horrible about job searching lately because of PMS. She’s just afraid to put herself out there again after feeling like such a failure for being laid off. With newfound confidence, Jess goes back to the adult education center, re-interviews for the job, and gets the job. Jess, Nick, and Schmidt throw the most hilarious celebration in the loft, jumping around to, you guessed it, “Jump Around.” I have a soft spot for 90’s hip hop- what else can I say? It was one of those quintessential “New Girl” moments that makes the show a goofy joy to watch. As I said in the introduction, I just really appreciated that what seemed to be a typical attempt at period humor got turned on its head and had two characters admitting that the problem wasn’t really PMS (or “sympathy PMS” in Winston’s case), it was something deeper, and they needed to confront that.

And now we move on to the sad story of Schmidt. Schmidt has dinner with Cece and Robbie, and he tells them about how he flirted with a senior VP named Emma at his company. Schmidt decides to pursue things with Emma (since Cece’s showing no sign of leaving Robbie any time soon), and Emma presents him with the contract to end all contracts. I guess she really wants to avoid that sexual harassment lawsuit. Schmidt doesn’t agree to sign the contract right away, but he doesn’t say “no,” either. Then Cece comes over and she and Schmidt talk in Schmidt’s bedroom and they get rather close. Robbie has told Cece that she’s a nice person, and she wants to prove him wrong by cheating on him with Schmidt. Just as Schmidt makes his move, though, Cece has second thoughts. She is a nice person after all, and she doesn’t want to hurt Robbie in that way. Schmidt, however, is convinced he’s a monster. He goes back to Emma and signs the contract, telling her that because he’s a monster, he’s up for whatever she has in store. That whatever turns out to be bondage, which is just kind of awkward and sad. I never thought I’d finish a “New Girl” episode feeling most sorry for Schmidt.

Monday, November 19, 2012

HIMYM 8.06: "Splitsville"

“Please.  I was bro-ing you out. I'm just glad he bought it so quick. Any longer, I'd have had to kiss you.”

 Parts of “Splitsville” were almost unforgivably cartoonish (surprising, nothing involving Barney fits into this category), but the Barney and Robin stuff, especially at the end of the episode, pretty much made me cry.  What can I say, I am rather ridiculously invested in Barney and Robin.  They are pretty much the reason I’ve stuck with the show for the past couple years.  Cobie Smulders and Neil Patrick Harris still have that same chemistry that they did back in season one’s “Zip Zip Zip,” and I’m such a sucker for it.  I’m such a sucker for it that I can almost ignore the stupidity of some of the other aspects of this episode, like Marshall getting so ridiculously invested in a community basketball league and none of the rest of the gang volunteering to babysit Marvin at any point before this.  Maybe it’s time to start counting down the episodes until HIMYM is no longer around to make me angry about how far it’s fallen?

 The episode really looks at both Lily and Marshall’s and Robin and Nick’s relationships, with some side involvement from Ted and Barney.  Apparently there’s a Little Ivies over-30 professionals basketball league in the HIMYM version of New York City, and Marshall is on a team of lawyers called the Force Majeures.  There biggest rivals re the accountants, called the Number Crunchers.  Nick is playing as a ringer with the Force Majeures, and he’s been invaluable to the team.  There’s just one problem- he strained his groin in the latest game.  Not only does this mean that Nick will be off the basketball court for a while, it also means no sex.  Without sex as a distraction, Robin has come to realize that Nick is really, really dumb, and she finds this off-putting.  Robin is tempted to break up with Nick over this, but Marshall begs her not to.  He thinks that a break-up will throw Nick off his basketball game.  Meanwhile, Ted has decided to start his own team in the league.  It’s for architects, and it’s called the T-Squares.

 After a couple failed attempts to break up with Nick (because of Nick showing her his abs or acting sad), Barney issues an ultimatum.  Robin and Nick are going to dinner at desert restaurant and popular break-up spot Splitsville, and she is going to break up with Nick.  If she doesn’t, Barney is going to send Robin’s annoying co-worker Patrice an invitation to a “Robin and Patrice BFF Fun Day.”  Patrice will never leave Robin alone if this happens, so Robin does indeed have some motivation.  Robin and Nick do go to Splitsville, but Robin still has trouble breaking up with Nick.  First, she’s has trouble because he’s so dense that he doesn’t pick up on her hints that she wants to break up.  Then he gets a phone call that makes him sob and Robin thinks one of his family members must have died.  It turns out though, that the call was just from his doctor saying that the groin injury was serious enough that he was going to be off the basketball team for the rest of the season.

 Barney gets fed up, and he decides to go to the restaurant and take matters into his own hands.  He tells Nick straight up that Robin wants to break up with him.  He’s not quite honest about the reason why, though.  He says it’s because he loves Robin.  Which is true, of course, but that’s not why Robin wants to break up with Nick.  The speech is absolutely gorgeous, as is Neil Patrick Harris’ delivery of it.  If you don’t feel for Barney in that moment, you have no heart.  It was pretty much what I’ve been waiting for for eight long seasons.  When Barney said of Robin, “I am hopelessly, irretrievably, in love with her. More than she knows,” I was pretty much a teary puddle of goo on the floor.  Once he succeeds in finally chasing Nick off (straight into the arms of two pretty and also freshly broken-up-with women), Barney plays it off like he was just trying to be a good bro to Robin.  Robin sees through it, though, amazingly enough.  She realizes that Barney meant what he said   They’re about to kiss when Robin’s phone rings.  It’s Patrice, of course.  With all the excitement, Barney forgot to cancel the BFF Fun Day invitation, so Patrice now never, ever wants to leave Robin’s side.  Way to shoot yourself in the foot there, Barney!

 The rest of the episode (which was thankfully a fairly small percentage compared to the Barney/Robin stuff) was way too broadly comedic for my taste.  That seems to have been a trend with HIMYM overall lately, and it’s why I’ve been describing aspects of the show as “cartoon” thus-and-such.  I miss when the show was based in real emotions and aspects (albeit somewhat exaggerated) of what it was like to transition from college to “real” life.  Anyway, in the cartoon section of the show, Ted enthusiastically tries to lead the T-squares to some sort of basketball glory.  He uses his magical architect powers to visualize the perfect angle at which he would need to ounce the ball off the wall in order to make a basket.  Ted succeeds, and he scores the only points for the team in the game.  Then the points are taken away because the ball went out of bounds.  Ted protests, but the decision stands, and the rest of the team abandons him.  On a better not for Ted, he puts the pieces together from Marshall training so hard for the basketball team and Lily not being shy about telling the gang her erotic fantasies to figure out that Marshall and Lily haven’t had sex for a long time.  They explain that with Marvin crying on a fairly regular basis, it’s kind of difficult to get their groove on.  Ted offers to take Marvin out for a few hours so Marshall and Lily can have their privacy, and they are only too happy to agree.  I’m really surprised they didn’t think of this solution a long time ago.

Celebrating Thanksgiving on Hypable!

Sarah and I decided to write another post for Hypable, and since it's almost Thanksgiving, we decided to take a look at great TV found families.  Check it out for some discussion of "Firefly," "New Girl," "Castle," and "Dead Like Me."

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Revolution 1.08: "Ties That Bind"

“Charlie, I commanded that whole damn militia. There was only one guy who scared me. And he’s out there right now. We’re in trouble.”
- Miles

We start this week in Freeport, PA, a mere 290 miles from where Danny is now being kept. Nora is paying a guard at the gate to a bridge so they can pass. Otherwise, they’d have to detour to Morgantown. It seems to be going okay (Nora gives the guy enough gold) and they’re walking through. But Miles senses things are off and they take off running back the way they came. Strauser, the guy Monroe sent after them a few episodes back has caught up and it looks like they were going to ambush our gang. The militia takes off after them and they manage to hide while Miles and Nora relay to Charlie that this is not a guy you want to mess with. Just as they’ve decided to go to Morgantown, Strauser gets word that our gang is lost. So of course he guts the messenger (saw that coming). What I didn’t see coming was that he has Nora’s sister, Mia.

We flash back to when Nora and Mia were little girls and they’re hiding under the bed as a man comes into the room. All we can see is his boots. He’s rifling through things and then leaves. The next morning, Nora goes to check the rest of the house and finds her mother dead. Being a good big sister she lies to Mia and tells her that their mother left a note for them to go find their dad. Back in the present, Strauser gives an ultimatum; Miles and the necklace are turned over within an hour or Mia dies. Nora has no intention of handing Miles over. She’s going to rescue her sister and kill as many militia boys as she can. She really has kick butt now, ask questions later kind of attitude. Miles tries to destroy the pendant but it doesn’t even leave a mark. He has a point though; Monroe can’t get his hands on it.

Back in Philly, Jason is getting a pretty bad beat down on Monroe’s orders. He apparently bribed a stable hand for Strauser’s whereabouts. So as punishment, Monroe is sending him on an expedition to California. And he’s pretty intrigued about the news about the lighthouse courtesy of Aaron and the pendant. Back outside Freeport, our not-so-merry band is planting explosives as a diversion to get Mia. It works (not a big surprise) and they make off. Unfortunately, Strauser is following. We get another flashback of Mia and Nora in Galveston looking for their dad. He’s not there and Nora, growing impatient with her sister’s questions about their mother, blurts out that their mom is dead. Kind of harsh, Nora. Mia is not so thrilled to be reunited with Miles. Obviously she doesn’t trust him. They manage to hide in a drainage pipe when Strauser comes looking. That’s not going to throw him off the trail for long. Mia does at least contribute a little something helpful. She knows a coyote that can get them across the river if they have the funds for it. As our crew moves towards the spot on the river where they should find Mia’s coyote, we get some exposition between the sisters that sheds some light on who they are and how they relate to each other. While Nora became a rebel, her sister became a bounty hunter. And apparently she found their dad. She wants Nora to ditch Miles and company and go to Texas to be a family again. Nora says she promised Charlie she’d help get Danny back. Just as they get to the river, they spot the coyote with his throat cut. Foiled once again by Strauser.

Later, as Neville ponders the map of what are the now the various territories, his wife comes in with their kitchen maid (have they really regressed back to having servants?) with a juicy tidbit. The Captain whom suggested they send Jason to California has a son, too, and his son is a rebel. Naturally, Neville feeds this information to Monroe and manages to protect his own. I have to say though, I really dislike his wife. Back at the river, Mia begs Nora to go with her to Texas again. Charlie gives her blessing and they head off (though not before a rather passionate kiss between Nora and Miles). I really want their backstory filled in. It seems very intriguing. I had a bit of a funny feeling about Nora and Mia going off together. Mia has nicked the pendant off Aaron and delivered it to Strauser. She’s also informed him about Miles’ whereabouts so they can be apprehended. In exchange, she and Nora are free to go. Her reappearance did seem rather suspect.

Nora quickly figures out that most of what Mia told her wasn’t true, especially about their dad being alive. She ditches Mia in favor of her friends and after some fancy maneuvering and Miles pretending to turn himself over to Strauser they take off and end up having to jump a waterfall to get away. Nora tries to apologize to Charlie that night but Charlie understands. We flash back to the girls curled up together one night, both promising to look after the other. In Philly, Mrs. Neville makes a bold suggestion. She thinks it’s time to get her husband in power and that Monroe is just a shadow of his former self since Miles left. Speaking of Monroe, he delivers the pendant to Rachel so she has everything she needs. It looks like she’s being forced to build whatever it was that made the blackout happen in the first place. We end back with Randall and Grace in a big spooky underground area. Apparently they have the ability to track the various pendants and Randall is sending Grace to Philly to stop Monroe. This is going to be a very interesting advance in the storyline.

Book Review: "The Revolution Was Televised"

Book reviews aren’t something we’ve done here at MTVP before, but in this particular case, I felt it was especially appropriate.  Alan Sepinwall has definitely been a major influence on the development of MTVP, although I can’t remember the exact order in which things happened.  Either I thought it would be fun to review television episodes, then saw Sepinwall’s blog and though “oh cool, people actually do that,” or I read some of Sepinwall’s blog and thought “that looks like fun and I want to do that too.”  While Sepinwall and I don’t really have the same taste in television (he tends much more towards cable/serious dramas than I do), I always respect his opinion because there is always a lot of thought behind it.  I also appreciate the length to which he has gone to cultivate an equally thoughtful community of commenters on his blog.  If we are ever fortunate enough to get any semblance of a readership here at MTVP, I’d really like for the community to be as smart and respectful as the readers of What’s Alan Watching.  So I was exited a week or so ago to see in the MTVP Twitter feed that Sepinwall had written and published a book.  It’s called The Revolution Was Televised: The Cops, Crooks, Slingers, and Slayers Who Changed TV Drama Forever. 

 The book contains chapters on twelve very influential dramas, and they are “Oz,” “The Sopranos,” “The Wire,” “Deadwood,” “The Shield,” “Lost,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “24,” “Battlestar Galactica,” “Friday Night Lights,” “Mad Men,” and “Breaking Bad.”  Each chapter tells the origin story of the show in question and hits the highlights of the major characters and plot points, using the HBO-led revolution in TV drama as the framing device to hold it all together.  The book also includes numerous interviews with the creative folks who brought these shows into our living rooms.  Some of the quotes are culled from Sepinwall’s past interviews and interviews individuals have given to other publications, but there is also a significant amount of new material.  There are new interviews with David Milch, Damon Lindeloff, Carlton Cuse, David Chase, David Simon, Jane Espenson, and David Greenwalt, just to name a few.  There is also a prologue chapter which names and briefly discusses some shows of the 1980’s and 1990’s.  These dramas, while they aren’t quite on the same level as the shows given the full chapter treatment in terms of how they apply the concept of “television as novel,” represent steps towards the serialized/anti-hero driven dramas we now know. A favorite of mine among the numerous shows Sepinwall cites in this chapter would be “The X Files.”

 As loyal readers of his blog know, Sepinwall has an engaging writing style and an infectious enthusiasm for television, and he was lucky enough to come up in the journalism business just as television was beginning to become something worthy of study that could be taken seriously as art.  His writing style, enthusiasm, and somewhat academic bent are all present in The Revolution Was Televised.  I read the entire book, despite having only watched four of the shows profiled in their entirety (plus one and change seasons of “Mad Men”), and I got something out of every chapter.  I was more drawn into chapters about shows I had already seen  (“The Wire,” “Lost,” “Buffy,” and “Friday Night Lights”), but even with the other chapters, it was fun to learn about how people who are passionate about what they do made their television writing/producing dreams a reality.  Of all the shows profiled, “Lost” has one of the more interesting origin stories (J.J. Abrams and Damon Lindeloff sold the show, based on an idea from ABC exec Lloyd Braun, with only an outline), and while I had heard the story before, Sepinwall’s telling of it was still entertaining to read.

 Really the only caveat I found with the book, and it’s fairly minor in the grand scheme of things, is the amount of time Sepinwall spends talking about eccentric TV auteur David Milch.  Several of the shows discussed in the prologue chapters are Milch shows (including “Hill Street Blues” and “NYPD Blue”), and the detailing of Milch’s career history in the “Deadwood” chapter feels more extensive than the comparable section of the other chapters.  I understand why this is the case; Sepinwall has been a huge fan of Milch’s work for decades and first made a name for himself writing about “NYPD Blue” online while a student at Penn in the early years of the Internet.  I suppose if I was writing a book about TV dramas myself I would be tempted to focus heavily on Joss Whedon and Bryan Fuller, two writers I hold in the regard that Sepinwall does Milch.  Plus, Milch is an eccentric character, which does make for interesting writing.  Milch’s work just isn’t my taste, though, so the amount of words devoted to him just seemed a bit more than what I would personally prefer.

 What’s really a credit to Sepinwall’s approach to TV criticism is that the book got me thinking about why I like the TV I like and don’t like some of the TV that “real” critics seem to devote most of their words to.  “The Sopranos” began a trend of heavily serialized shows centered on a male anti-hero protagonist.  While I like serialization in my television, a broody male anti-hero isn’t a character with which I identify.  I’ve really started gravitating towards shows like “New Girl” and “The Mindy Project” that speak to where I am in life right now.  If you notice, in the list of shows featured in the book that I have watched, some of those shows actually aren’t focused on a male anti-hero (“Buffy,” “Friday Night Lights”), or in the case of “The Wire” and “Lost,” while male anti-heroes are quite prominent, there are a multitude of other themes and characters in the show to hold my attention.  I love “The Wire” mostly because I love Baltimore, and I appreciate the care Simon and Burns took to depict my adopted city, even if it’s not always depicted in the most flattering light.  As someone who has also devoted much of the past ten years of my life to studying and working in various aspects of social policy and poverty law, I also appreciate that the show is an exploration of what has gone wrong in American cities and the failure of institutions to improve conditions.  With regards to “Lost,” even though I hate Jack rather passionately (he’s an emotionally abusive scumbag), there are enough other endearing and/or interesting even if troubled characters to make watching worthwhile.

 Overall, The Revolution Was Televised is a worthwhile, entertaining read for anyone who enjoys television, especially dramas.  It is a well thought-out exploration of how and why drama transformed over the past fifteen years and provides an in-depth look at the major players in that transformation.  Sepinwall’s writing is engaging enough that it inspired me to try some different television.  I watched the “Deadwood” pilot, and while I decided it wasn’t for me and I won’t be watching more (I’m just not a fan of Westerns), I’m glad I was finally motivated to see what the critics I read have been talking about.  I’m also going to give “Battlestar Galactica” a try once I’m done re-watching the first season of “The X Files.”  While the fact that BSG has been described as serious and morose almost to a fault (not by Sepinwall, but in message board discussions I have read), I’m thinking the sci-fi element might be enough to keep me interested in watching.  So kudos to Sepinwall for getting me to think more about modern television in general and motivating me to give some other shows a try.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Once Upon a Time 2.07: "Child of the Moon"

“I know who you really are, Ruby, even if you lost sight of it.”

“Child of the Moon,” like season one’s “Red Handed” focused mostly on Ruby/Red, and I think the episode was the better for it. Part of what made the episode better than most this season was the focus. There was a little bit of movement on the Snow and Emma stuck in the Enchanted Forest plot, but the vast majority of the episode was centered on exploring Red’s backstory. Oh, and we also got another appearance from Alan Dale as King George/Spencer in all his Charles Widmore evil glory. The other stand out performance in this episode was, of course, from Meghan Ory as Ruby/Red. A British Columbia native, Ory was a local find (“Once Upon a Time” films in the Vancouver area), and the creative team certainly lucked out with her. Red goes through a lot in this episode, both in Storybrooke and in Enchanted Forest flashbacks, and Ory was definitely up to the task. Her struggle against self-loathing at both points in time was captivating to watch.

The episode opens on a rare happy moment in Storybrooke. The dwarves are doing their mining thing, and just as they’re about to give up and go to happy hour, Grumpy throws a little tantrum and manages to find the diamonds needed to make fairy dust. This, naturally, leads to a big celebration at Granny’s. Billy the tow truck driver (who was Gus, one of Cinderella’s mouse friends back in the Enchanted Forest) flirts with Ruby a little. Ruby wants to reciprocate, but it’s the first full moon since the curse was lifted, so it’s kind of a bad time. Belle manages to save Ruby from that awkward explanation by telling Billy that she and Ruby were already planning to have a girls’ night. King George (known as Spencer in Storybrooke) rolls up to the party and threatens Charming. He’s enjoying having a second chance to ruin Charming’s life. After Spencer leaves, Charming heads down to the basement of Granny’s, where he sees Granny and Ruby building a cage. Charming reminds Ruby that she used to be able to control the wolf, but Ruby is afraid she will have forgotten how considering she hasn’t changed in 28 years.

We then, of course, start seeing some flashbacks to show how Ruby first learned to control her wolf side. The first flashback is of Snow and Red running through the forest in the dark, trying to escape the Queen’s men. Red’s cloak gets a small tear in it during the chase, and Red is terrified that it won’t prevent her from changing anymore. It’s the full moon, so she and Snow decide to split up for the night. Someone is watching them from behind the trees, though. Ruby wakes up the next morning, relieved that the cloak seems to have done its job. As she’s getting some water from the river, though, the man who had been watching from the trees the previous evening grabs her cloak and starts to run. It turn out that he’s a werewolf, too, and his name is Quinn. Quinn has Red follow him to the nearest werewolf den, and at the den, Red meets her mother, Anita. Granny had told Red that her parents abandoned her, but apparently that wasn’t actually the case.

Back in Storybrooke, it’s also the morning after a full moon. Granny goes down to the basement to let Ruby out of the cage, but it turns out that Ruby has escaped and the cage has been torn to shreds. Ruby herself wakes up out in the woods. She doesn’t remember the previous evening, which is a sign that she wasn’t in control of her inner wolf. Granny and Charming find Ruby out in the woods, but before they really have a chance to figure out what to do next, Charming gets a call about a double parked vehicle he needs to deal with. The vehicle in question turns out to be Billy’s tow truck, and Billy is dead. Ruby screams, convinced she killed Billy while she was the wolf. Ruby demands to be taken to jail, and Charming reluctantly complies. At the jail, Spencer approaches Charming and makes it clear that he set up this whole chain of events so that the town would think he was incapable of leading.

Back in the Enchanted Forest, Anita tells Red that Granny stole her (Red) as a baby to try and keep her from embracing her wolf. Anita tries to convince Red that being a wolf really isn’t a bad thing at all. In the time she spends with her fellow wolves, Red gets to run with them, and she also learns how to keep control when she changes. Eventually, Snow catches up, and she finds Red at the den. Anita is very wary of Snow, because she thinks all humans are murderous, but Red convinces her that Snow is okay. Just as Anita is about to accept Snow’s presence, an arrow flies into the den and kills Quinn. It’s the Queen’s men, and they followed Snow to the den. A battle ensues, and the wolves prevail. Anita is furious and blames Snow for Quinn’s death. She ties Snow up and demands that Red kill her. Red refuses, so Anita tries to do the job herself. Red stops Anita from going in for the kill and inadvertently kills Anita in the process. Red is sad, but she doesn’t really regret her decision. She considers Snow her family, not Anita.

Back in Storybrooke, Spencer riles up the always convenient (and kind of stupid) angry mob to try and kill Ruby and oust Charming. Meanwhile, Charming and Belle work on setting up a hiding place for Ruby in the library. Ruby has other ideas, though. She locks Belle up in the library and goes to face the mob. She thinks that their wrath is what she deserves for killing Billy. Over by the Sheriff’s station, Charming and Granny find Ruby’s red hood in the trunk of a random car. The car turns out to be Spencer, of course. Now Charming has definitive proof that this has all been orchestrated by Spencer. There’s a big confrontation out in front of the Sheriff’s station where Charming tells everyone that Spencer killed Billy. Charming also shows the mob that Ruby is actually in control of her inner wolf. Once the situation has deescalated, it becomes apparent that Spencer has escaped. Charming, Granny, and Ruby find Spencer out in the forest, where he tosses Jefferson’s hat into a fire. Charming is convinced that he’s never going to see Emma and Snow again. After tucking Henry in, Ruby reassures Charming that he’ll get his family back, and then she goes for a run, having finally embraced her wolf.

While all this was going on, Henry was continuing to deal with the fire nightmares. He wakes up to see Regina watching over him (because, as always, Charming is the worst grandfather ever). Regina notices that there are burns on Henry’s hand, and she takes Henry to Mr. Gold to find out what can be done. Mr. Gold says that this is a residual effect of the apple curse. Henry keeps going back to where he was when he was cursed when he sleeps. Mr. Gold, however, has an amulet that should help. The amulet should help Henry gain control over the dreams. In the Enchanted forest, the ladies are all gathered around a fire at night. Aurora wakes up from her own fire nightmare. She tells Emma and Snow that she saw Henry in her dream and that he put out the fire.